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rhombus

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Mender's Tale
« Reply #20 on: September 18, 2016, 07:50:50 pm »
And now for the second part of the 18,000 word chapter

The present:

Orchid sighed.  Despite his attempt to focus on the song, all of his focus was on the events of the day.  

More specifically, his role in what transpired.

“Dad… I only hope that you can forgive me…”

Not at all bothered by the interruption, Mender gave Orchid a concerned look combined with a bit of hope that he’d actually explain what was bothering him.

Orchid gave no indication that he even noticed that the song had stopped, merely shaking his head and staring at the ground.  The hidden runners certainly had noticed, however.

“Is he alright?” Buse hissed in Mender’s direction.  By his standards it was a whisper.

Cynnil sighed as she tentatively stepped in the fastrunner’s direction. “I’m sure your sister is alright, Orchid.  If anything it seems like she may have found...”

“I lied to my parents and nearly got my father killed.  What kind of son does that?”

“I’ve done both to my brother, and he pretty much raised me,” Mender said, “What does that say about me, Orchid?”

Orchid was silent for several moments, making the others think that he was not going to answer.  But when he did answer his voice came through as a hoarse whisper.

“It all began when Arial told me what was going on…”

“Are you alright, Arial?!”

His sister didn’t react immediately, which made Orchid quickly shake her. “Are you alright?!”

“He’s going to kill him!”

Orchid snorted after he gave his sister a quick inspection. “Serves the bastard right!  That’s what he gets for… wait!  Where are you going?!”


“So what happened?” Mender asked, not quite seeing a problem yet. She had, after all, earlier that day tried to eat Nahoda.

“I tried to talk sense into her, but she didn’t listen.  It wasn’t until we ran to the top of the rock wall of the gorge that she finally tried to explain things.

“This is all my fault!  I was the one who pounced on him last night… he must have took it as a…”

Orchid sputtered as Nahoda appeared in the distance, appearing like a small pebble from their height. “You made him your mate?!”

Smack!

“No, you ignorant tail-chaser!  I thought he was you, and I tried to tackle him!”

Orchid rubbed his cheek as his sister’s words registered in his mind.  Oh… Oh.

“He thinks you… no wonder he came back,”  Orchid muttered mutely, “But, sis, what do..”

“We can’t let him be killed because of my stupid mistake!” Arial exclaimed as Detras came into view, a spear in his hand.  That was when Nahoda tripped.


“Even though my sister didn’t get it... I just couldn’t let my dad kill the love-struck fool.  I mean…  Arial…”

“You were pretty sure she was interested?” Mender asked, trying to be sure she understood Orchid correctly.

The fastrunner nodded. “I couldn’t know for sure… but she reacted as if something more was going on.  The situation didn’t exactly give me time to ask more.”

“So what happened next?” Buse prompted.

Orchid sighed. “That’s when it happened...”

The moment seemed to freeze into an eternity of uncertainty.  There was no time to ask any more questions.  The only things that he knew were that his sister had feelings of some kind for this male, even if they were only compassion, and that his father was preparing to murder what he thought was a murderous intruder.  He only had time to act.

And act he did.

Shaking his sister harshly he pointed at the loose rocks on the cliff face.  With any luck they could block their father’s chase.  

“Kick now!”

The two fastrunners quickly burst into action as they placed the entirety of their weight into the loose rock at the top of the cliff.  When it finally did give way they barely had time to scramble onto the wall.

It was only when Orchid regained his footing that he saw the results of his handiwork.

“Dad!”


--------

The past:

Despite the fact that it was his mate up there facing his fellow packmate, Littlefoot couldn’t make himself take much interest in the fight’s proceedings.  The guest pack leader that he had built some camaraderie with was at odds with one of his best friends for some unknown reason, and his own mate refused to say a word to him about.  Worse yet, Leap of all dinosaurs had decided to take Ducky’s place in the fight with Dodger.  Littlefoot could only guess at what Dodger knew about Tracker’s past, but he could assume what his opinion of Leap would be.

What a dark day.

In his mind he contemplated the possibilities.  If Ducky and Dodger did come to blows then he would be honor bound to determine who instigated the fight.  If it were Dodger then he had no doubt that he would put an immediate end to the conflict by ending the threat from Dodger once and for all, but what if it were Ducky?  Could he honestly allow his friend to be ripped apart, even if she had instigated such a conflict?  His directive as part of fastbiter tradition was very clear, but his emotions were not.  Then there was the matter of the two females, Tracker and Violet. What would come of them if such a conflict occurred?

Dark days indeed.

He sighed deeply as he contemplated the dark thoughts that were meant for pack leaders alone.  He had been able to avoid the matters of dominance and competition quite well thus far, but it seemed that the newcomers had brought these long dormant issues to the foreground.  Now the only question was: how to resolve the issue before it became any more severe?

----

Seeing Dodger and Ducky nearly come to blows had alarmed Tracker. Having to tackle Violet to keep her out of trouble alarmed her even more. When this is over I am going to get the truth out of him if I have to enlist Path’s help to beat it out of him, Tracker thought, concerned about her mate and what he might have done. She didn’t think Ducky was blameless, but Ducky wasn’t part of her pack. That made things different.

Taunt was silent and tense after seeing the exchange that had transpired moments ago.  Even his mate seemed unsure about the situation as she had been in the process of walking towards the winners area when the altercation had occurred.  Now all he was left with was a growing concern in his belly.  Please don’t let whatever the fuck this is go any further.

“Taunt, a little help,” Tracker pleaded, still struggling to control Violet.

Both Taunt and Finder broke out of their respective trances as they went over and leaned against Violet, holding her in place.  It was Finder that spoke first, “Easy, girl… going over there is not going to help things right now.”

“What do we do, then?” Violet asked in a defeated tone. She had finally exhausted herself to the point she wasn’t sure she could stand up even if they let her.

“Nothing.  Nothing at the moment,” Taunt replied sadly, “It looks like Seeker put a stop to whatever it was for now, but eventually they will have to work it out.  And perhaps people will have to talk some sense into them.”

“I’ll talk some sense into him, alright,” Tracker said in a tone that suggested doom for anyone that tried to stop her.  Dodger, you know better than anyone what happens when those I care about are in trouble…

Being mindful of Tracker’s tone, Taunt waited a few moments before speaking again. “Violet, if we let you go now will you calm down?”

“I’m not even sure I can stand,” Violet admitted, too shaky on the inside to care about whether or not she looked weak, “I’m tired.” Tired of everything. Why can’t things just work out for once?

You and me both, Violet, you and me both. Taunt then let go of Violet and allowed her to lay down beside Tracker.  Meanwhile, the fight between Ruby and Thud continued on unabated, though no one was paying much attention.

------

“The match goes to Thud!”

Dodger barely heard the announcement. He’d been almost numb since Littlefoot said he was disappointed in him. Never mind that he was not the only target, those words had felt worse than getting a head-butt from a two-footer. And I should know, now that I’ve experienced both.  How do I fix this? Can I fix this?

“I guess it is our turn now,” Leap muttered in a barely audible voice.  He was not looking forward to this at all and completely expected that the vitriol that Dodger had for Ducky at the moment would be visited upon him.  And that was assuming that Dodger still didn’t know the full details of what happened back in Calin’s pack.  His only relief was the fact that he was protected by vines and having his opponent’s claws covered in hard mud.  But it was barely any relief at all.

“Hey, Leap,” Dodger said suddenly. I can do this. For Tracker. Prove to her that I can control myself. That I can let things go. If she wants to forgive Leap, what right do I have to hold a grudge on her behalf?

Cera and Ducky were now watching the interaction with extreme interest.  Despite Ducky’s anger at Dodger, her concern for Leap was overwhelming.  She had no idea how this was going to develop.

Dodger practically got in Leap’s face so he could drop his voice low enough to try to give them a bit of privacy. “I know what you did. All of it...” he whispered, nearly hissing.

Leap grew still.  He was certain he was dead at this point.  Oh shit...

“I also know you and your brother helped Tracker when no one else would…” Dodger sighed, steeling himself for what he was about to say. For Tracker.

Leap forced himself to stay silent, as he was now uncertain where Dodger was going with this.  For despite Tracker’s act of forgiveness, he didn’t really forgive himself.  He always felt that he was tainted by his actions.  The fact that everyone in the pack had been forced to do horrible things did not change those feelings.  The only thing that radiated from him besides fear was the unmistakable scent of shame.

“For that I can only say ëthank you’. Tracker’s willing to forgive you; who am I to contradict my mate in such a manner? Let’s leave the past where it belongs.” That last part was as much for himself as for Leap. “Good luck out there, Leap.” With that Dodger stepped back and moved to his starting point.

Leap sucked in a breath, still stunned by this sudden development.  He realized that this deserved a reaction from him of some kind, but he was unsure what to do and he didn’t trust his voice at that moment.  So he used his body instead.

With a sudden movement, Leap bowed formally and gave a polite nod.  It was the best response that he could give at the moment.  Though he was certain that he would certainly receive quite a beating in the battle ahead, he was relieved by his opponent's gesture.  It was as if a mighty weight had been removed from his shoulders.

Time to get this over with…

With a final bow to communicate to one another that this was a game, both opponents moved into fighting stances.  The match was on.

-------

“Who thought this was a good idea?” Tracker thought aloud, not really directing her question at anyone in particular, “Someone’s going to get hurt.”

Taunt opened his mouth to speak but quickly closed it as he was unsure what to say.  He had guessed what had occurred between her and Leap years ago, but that didn’t mean that bringing that up would be a good idea.  Far from it.  As a result he merely looked at Swift helplessly.

Swift for her part coughed before responding. “I’m… I’m sure that my brother will be fine if Thud authorized this…”

I’m not so sure, Tracker thought in response but didn’t actually say anything, Dodger, please don’t do anything you’ll regret. She’d seen Dodger fight plenty of times. If he wanted to, she was pretty sure he could severely injure Leap without it looking intentional. Remember what you promised me.

-------

“This is such a stupid idea…” Thud breathed to no one in particular, not realizing that the other entrants to the second round could hear him clearly.

Cera breathed deeply but did not speak.  Well… it was his idea…

Ducky was not so silent.  “I should be the one out there.”

Her response caused Thud and Cera both to look in her direction.  Now it seemed that Cera worked up the nerve to speak.

“Heck no, Haven!  You two would rip one another apart.”

Ducky grimaced. “It is Leap I am mainly concerned about… Dodger had more of a reason to strike him than me.” She quickly went silent, realizing that she had said too much.

“Care to elaborate?” Cera asked, both concerned and intrigued, “Dodger seemed pretty calm around Leap.”

Ducky quickly looked down, ashamed. “That… that is something that Leap or Tracker can tell you about.  It is not my place.” She hesitated. “It… well it has to do with Calin’s pack.”

Thud was more blunt, but no less evasive. “Calin made all of his members do horrible things.  Those memories should die with him.”

It was in that moment that the battle that all of them had been fearing began suddenly in the clearing.  Both of the fastbiters traded blows, which were deflected by a sideways retreat.  It was obvious that they were testing one another.

--------

The present:

The fish landed in the pile just like all of the others that two fastrunners had caught.  Despite the fact that enough fish had been obtained to feed the entire family, it seemed that neither was willing to break the silence.

That was until Nahoda finally worked up the courage.

“I’m sorry.”

Detras dropped the fish that he had grabbed, splashing the two dinosaurs in the resulting spray of water.  He had been expecting many things, but an apology wasn’t exactly one of them.

“I um… Arial pounced on me so I thought she was interested, you know… If I had known she was with family I would have done things properly… I...”

Detras closed his eyes as if to contain his annoyance. “You mean you wouldn’t have charged into my family’s territory and pounced on my daughter?” He then pointed a finger in the other’s direction. “How would a stunt like that have turned out without the rock slide, Nahoda?”

Nahoda gulped. “I would be dead, sir.”

Detras turned his attention back to the stream.  I was nearly the dead one.

Detras growled in frustration as the spear embedded itself into the rock wall, causing it to fall harmlessly to the ground.  He wasted no time in sprinting towards the weapon while keeping an eye on his daughter’s attacker.  He would finish this!

But it appeared that the rock wall had another idea.

As he leapt for the spear it disappeared behind a cascading boulder.  That was when the sound reached his ears.  Everything became silent against the roar of the chaos around him.  He had no idea that the next rock had his name on it.

“Dad!”

“Daddy, run!”

Perhaps it was his mind playing tricks on him or maybe it was wishful thinking, but he could almost hear his children over the chaos.

That was when Nahoda tackled him.


“It was a smart move to take the initiative when the rock slide happened, I will give you that.  Most people would have ran but you seemed quite willing to face the threat when it was down.” Detras walked towards Nahoda. “It was wise to run before I got up.”

Nahoda sputtered, “What?”

Detras glared at the male. “You attacked me when I was down and then you ran off, Nahoda.  I am curious why you didn’t try to finish the job.  Or did you think better of it?”

Nahoda merely stared at Detras as if the elder had grown a second tail.  His voice left him in a disbelieving tone, “Is that what you think I was doing?”

The elder snorted bitterly. “Are you arguing you weren’t running away?  Perhaps you were merely advancing in a different direction then?” he added mockingly, though his eyes no longer seemed as harsh.  He had the chance to kill me, but he settled for knocking me off of my feet.  Was that for Arial's sake?

Nahoda’s bemusement quickly turned to anger. “Of course I ran!  Any fastrunner with a brain would!” He then took his turn to point at the male. “The reason why I saved your life, sir, is because you were in harm’s way.”

Detras blinked. “What?”

Nahoda growled. “Did you not hear Arial and your son scream?  Did you not see the rock fall where you were?”

Detras took a step forward, his features guarded but not hostile.  It was obvious that he had heard something that confirmed the younger male’s truthfulness. “Explain.”

The younger male sighed. “It happened after I fell...”

--------

The past:

Leap dodged to the left as he tried to shake off the fastbiter’s latest attack.  He knew that he had a slight advantage in maneuverability, but that was the only advantage that he could count on in this battle.  With that in mind, he quickly jumped to the right and feigned an attack to his other side, leaving his flank open to attack, or so he hoped that Dodger would think.

Being a bit overly cautious after his fight with Taunt, Dodger pulled back rather than attack. He liked for his opponents to truly overcommit to an attack rather than still have room to adjust before he got his own attack in. This is going to be harder than I thought.

Leap simply retreated back as well.  It was obvious that his opponent wasn’t going to take the bait.  He merely resumed his circling of the larger fastbiter, looking for an opening.

Dodger feigned a rush, seeing if he could put Leap off-balance. Hope he doesn’t counter-rush. I nearly pulled Violet out of her fight after her collision with Ponder. Those are dangerous.

Ha!  Just what I was looking for… Leap thought in his mind as he jumped backwards and struck out with his mud-covered claws at the now advancing face of his opponent.

Glad for the extra room Leap had unintentionally given him, Dodger forced himself to stop and turned his slide into an intentional spin, trying to get a tail strike in or at least keep Leap literally off his back.

“Point for Dodger!”

Shit… Leap thought to himself as the ground that had moments before been under him, suddenly seemed to have allowed his face to take residence.  It took him a few moments to realize what had happened. Tail strike...

Dodger did his best not to look shocked. He hadn’t expected to actually connect with his target. He’d expected Leap to retreat and thus buy himself enough time to turn back around. That worked? Best if I don’t tell Leap that wasn’t entirely intentional.

“Urgh…” Leap muttered as he forced himself to his feet, “Got a bit too cocky there…”

Dodger just shrugged. He couldn’t think of anything to say that someone wouldn’t think was mockery. I don’t need everyone even angrier at me than they already are.

Not being aware of Dodger’s mental dialogue, Leap simply shook himself off and positioned himself in a battle stance again. “Ready?”

“Ready.” Dodger settled himself into a defensive stance. He wanted to see how Leap attacked at bit more before starting a round with an attack of his own.

-----

“That… wasn’t so bad,” Cera admitted out loud as she watched the two begin to circle once more.  This was almost as friendly of a match as the prior one with Taunt.  However, the conversation between the others moments ago still ran in her mind.  Seeker will tell me what is going on.

Ducky remained silent as she watched the battle with substantial interest.  She had an agitated expression and only the smell of nervousness radiated from them.

“I am pleased,” Thud noted as he continued to watch the interactions between the two opponents.  After all, observation led to knowledge, and knowledge could lead to victory.  It was with that in mind that he carefully noted the reactions of his packmate and the enigma that was Dodger.

Returning to his starting point after a surprisingly easy score, Dodger felt it was time to actually launch an attack. I’ve got to be careful about this. Not surprisingly, everyone seems to think I’m one hit away from ripping him into tiny pieces. With that in mind, he rushed Leap with the simple intent of breaking through any blocks and getting a good kick in. That was the easiest way to avoid looking like he was intending serious injury; it was also a good way to leave oneself exposed to a counterattack.

A mistake, Thud noted immediately, Come on Leap, I know that you can take advantage of this.

Seeing the opportunity immediately, Leap leaped backwards to avoid the massive clawed feet, and quickly allowed himself to land hard on the slippery grass.  He promptly used the momentum from his landing to propel himself into the air as he launched a kick at Dodger’s head.

Oh, this is going to hurt! Thud barely had time to think before reality ensued in front of his eyes.

Crash!

Should’ve seen that coming, Dodger thought. Though his head was aching he was glad what were for him instinctual responses. Dodger had let himself drop with the blow and rolled, allowing himself to be back on his feet in a few moments, a very useful skill in a real fight. Dodger instinctively moved into a defensive stance, still trying to get over the dizziness from moving so quickly.

He has seen his share of battle.  That is something that I would expect of my packmates, but not from some youngster, Leap noted, I will have to ask Seeker about this.


“Damn, Leap landed a hard one there!” Cera remarked with a somewhat pleased expression, “I think Dodger will take this battle though.  Did you see how he handled that?”

Ducky nodded but said nothing.  It was obvious that Dodger was a sore subject for her at the moment.

“So… either of you two looking forward to facing me in the next round?”

Cera snorted knowing full well that she had only beaten Thud twice in her battles with the elder fastbiter, whereas Ducky had yet to score a victory against him. “Not wanting to face him yourself?”

Thud did not immediately respond as the sound of Chomper announcing another point for Dodger could be heard in the distance. “I have a feeling that someone else wants to have a piece of Dodger.”

--------

The present:

Nahoda tried his best to keep his gaze on the larger male as he stared at Nahoda with piercing eyes.  It was a gaze that felt threatening, yet not hostile.  An odd contradiction.  Nonetheless he would not let himself show further weakness to this male.

If he couldn't stare her father in his face then how could he protect Arial?

"It all began when I fell..."

Time appeared to stand still for Nahoda.  One moment he was sprinting up the gorge, and the next his foot seemed to step on nothing but air.  That was when his other foot landed on something wet.

The rest was inevitable.

In a moment that dragged for an eternity the beautiful blue sky disappeared from his view and the brown rocks came into fine focus.  As soon as his beak collided with the solid ground he knew that his short life was over.  He would be killed by the father of his desired female.  An ignominious end to a life that had barely begun.

That was when the spear crashed off of the rocks in front of him.

'I still have a chance!'  Nahoda forced himself off of his unwanted perch, ignoring the burning pain from his battered legs.  He could worry about those after he had scrambled to safety...

"Damn!"

...and escape from the angry father.  As Detras's footsteps echoed across the rocks Nahoda realized he only had moments to spare before he was tackled.  His headlong advance continued just in time as the scenery began to move once more.


"I wasn't thinking.  I was just trying to get away...  you can be rather scary, sir," Nahoda admitted.

Detras said nothing in response but retained his imposing stare.  Seeing that Detras's scariness remained, Nahoda was quick to continue.

"I jumped over the giant jagged boulders in the gorge to get away... but you jumped too.  Then I tried to lose you in that one cave..."

Detras finally spoke, "Everyone knows about the cave, Nahoda.  Even the smaller leaf-eaters use it to get to the valley. I took the shortcut and blocked you."

Nahoda nodded. "That was when I heard Arial's brother."

Nahoda screeched to a halt as Detras suddenly appeared in front of him.  His attempt to escape through the cave had been foiled.  'Where did he come from?!'

"Kick now!"

The third voice was a new one and despite his potentially lethal situation, Nahoda couldn't help but take notice.  That was when he heard another sound entirely.

The sound of cracking rocks.

The young male forced himself to look up.  The large boulder that had previously been balanced on the gorge's desolate cliff had taken flight like a wingless flyer.  Its shadow appeared between the two combatants as the determined faces of another male and his beautiful Arial appeared in the rock's absence.  

That was when their determined faces turned to terror.

"Daddy!"

Orchid barely had time to process the situation as the shadow began to shift towards the elder fastrunner's advancing form.  He had no idea the danger that awaited him.  Only Nahoda could see the death that awaited... only Nahoda could barely hear the terror of his children over the wind... only Nahoda could attempt to make the situation right.  Even in the weeks that transpired since Nahoda could not place his exact reasons for what happened next, but whether it was for his love of Arial or his desire to not see another fastrunner be forced to lose a parent, he acted.

Nahoda charged the elder which earned him a momentary look of surprise until Nahoda's body collided into his chest.  As soon as they tumbled to the ground the boulder landed.

Crash!

The elder groaned for a moment as Nahoda struggled to catch his breath.  It was only then that he looked at his handiwork.  The elder male was struggling to rise to his feet as a small trickle of blood dripped from his chest where the young male had struck.  However he was alive.  Arial would still have a father.

Nahoda sprinted away for a final time.  This time he was unopposed.


"So that's what happened." Nahoda finally looked down, giving and exhausted sigh. "I couldn't let Arial be without a father.  Especially because of this horrible misunderstanding."

The elder male simply tilted his head at the younger fastrunner, and for a moment Nahoda briefly considered continuing.  That was when Detras finally spoke again.

"I want to believe you, Nahoda, I really do.  But part of me does not."

Nahoda's heart sank.  But I'm telling the truth!  First my father and now Arial's, why won't they listen?

"Your father kicked you out of the nest, didn't he?"

The younger male blinked, not understanding this sudden change in subject.  He quickly nodded. "He didn't even warn me.  I was getting fish one day to help my mom... and then he chased me out."

Detras nodded at this as he took a bite of one of the fish that they had caught. "My father was the same way.  I knew how to find food and run away, so when my mother had new eggs it was time for me to go." He gestured in the distance. "It was hard for me.  Very hard.  But it inspired me to do things differently for my children.  To make sure they were ready before facing the world."  His voice almost made Nahoda feel at ease.

That was until Detras sprung forward and whispered in the younger male's ear, "If what you are saying is true then my son and daughter nearly killed me in trying to save you."  A breath escaped the older male as he continued, "Do you swear what you say is true?"

Nahoda closed his eyes. "Yes, sir.  But, sir, Arial and your son.  I am sure that..."

"Do you swear with your life?"

Nahoda's beak clicked shut.  The threat was obvious, but he would not back down.  He knew that his words were the truth.

"Absolutely."

Detras looked at his grimly.  "Then forgive me for what I am about to do, Nahoda, but I need to make absolutely sure.  For your sake... and for the sake of my family."

Nahoda blinked. "Sir?"

But Detras did not respond.  Instead he looked towards where Mender was just concluding her song.  He could almost make out the form of his son in the background.  That was when the elder male shouted something that made Nahoda's blood run cold.

"Mender!  I need you for a moment..."

--------

The past:

“Are you ready for this, Seeker?”

Littlefoot did not speak immediately as he tightened up his vine armor around his neck.  Failing to do it successfully, however, Ruby quickly began to tie the vines appropriately.  He didn’t bother insisting otherwise when she began to put vines on his hips as well.  He knew that arguing against his mate would be useless when the matter of his personal security was in play.

“Of course I am ready,” Littlefoot spoke with more than a little bravado, but he quickly felt a pang of shame when he realized that his mate’s normally supportive words were missing in this moment.  Obviously the secrets that both of them had deemed to keep from the other had caused a bit of a domestic dispute. “Thanks for helping me, dear.”

Ruby looked up for a moment and gave a slight smile before quickly resuming her work.

Still pissed, Littlefoot noted, Lovely…

“Very well,” Thud spoke despite clearly seeing the tension in front of him, “But you do realize that this is more than a little spar, right?  I mean, he threatened one of your packmates, and you both have something to prove.”

“I said that I am ready,” Littlefoot barked, before relenting upon realizing his harshness, “What happens now has to happen, and both of you know it.  I can’t back down from something that I accepted earlier.  Regardless of how unwise it may have been.”

Ruby coughed slightly as if to remind him that her opinion of the stupidity of him facing another pack leader in a spar was brought to his attention earlier by her.  Nonetheless she offered no disputing of his assessment of the situation.  He would have to give the next fight his all regardless of the consequences.  It was one thing for a pack leader to lose a spar to a packmate in a friendly spar, but it would be another for a pack leader to lose a spar to another fastbiter after disciplining the fastbiter in question.  The unfortunate situation had been set in motion, and now it simply had to play itself out.  It was now Cera versus Thud and Littlefoot versus Dodger in the second-to-last round.  Littlefoot knew that he had to put up a strong show for the sake of his honor and the honor of his packmates.

 Nothing else would do.

------

“This could get really ugly…” Taunt muttered in a low voice to Breeze as Spike looked on with an unreadable expression, “Seeker won’t want to be easy on this one.”

Breeze shifted on her sore leg partially out of the continued pain that radiated from it due to her recent hunting injury, but also out of nervousness for what lay ahead, “What in the name of sanity happened between Haven and him anyway?  He is lucky that Seeker didn’t escalate things further.”

Spike spoke lowly, as if to avoid being heard by Dodger in the distance, or his fellow packmates, “She won’t say, but whatever it was really pissed my sister off.  She hasn’t moved from her spot over there even though we are in the final rounds… I don’t think she trusts herself around his pack…”

None of them realized that the wind was carrying the sound of their conversation straight to Dodger’s perceptive ears.

Well this can’t possibly get worse. Well, technically it can, but somebody would end up dead at that point. I don’t plan on it being me. Dodger sighed. He really didn’t want to fight Littlefoot. He didn’t even want this mess of a conflict with Ducky. What I want is irrelevant. It doesn’t change anything. He checked his vines’ tightness one more time. If Finder thinks this is going to be one-sided, though, he better watch closely. I’ve been through far worse than this. Dodger shuddered at the memory of his fight with Prowler the previous Cold Time. He wasn’t entirely certain that fight hadn’t ended simply because neither combatant could stand up on their own anymore. There’s no possible way this can get that bad. Not without Seeker breaking his own rules.

“You ready for this?” Tracker asked. She’d been trying to help with Dodger’s vines, but, being unfamiliar with them, she wasn’t as much help as she wished she was.

“Since when did being ready matter? It’s not a fight I can walk away from.”

“Dodger, what happened over there with Haven?” Tracker asked, wincing right after speaking. That was not the best thing I could’ve asked.

“I said I was glad that Finder got a bit hurt in his fight after what happened to you when we fought him,” Dodger said, feeling somewhat ashamed. I definitely shouldn’t have said that out loud.

“Thanks for sticking up for me, but you can’t get into a fight over stuff like that. It sets a bad example for Violet,” Tracker replied. She really didn’t feel right correcting her mate and pack leader, largely because she wasn’t sure she wouldn’t have done the same in a similar situation, though most likely a situation involving Violet. Tracker had yet to see a fight where Dodger hadn’t done far better than both of his packmates. “Be careful out there, alright?”

“I will.”

Violet, who had been standing a bit of a ways away and not really paying attention for most of the conversation, being too focused on trying to figure out what everyone else was thinking, cut in before Dodger entered the fighting area.

“This isn’t fair. You’ve been through two fights already, and Seeker’s had a chance to watch both of them. He’s already bigger than you. Is he trying to humiliate you?” Violet was rapidly approaching hysterical. Nothing was making sense, and that frightened her.

Dodger gave his sister a reassuring squeeze on the shoulder. “If he thinks he’s going to humiliate me, he’s got another thing coming, little sister.” With that, Dodger turned and entered the fighting area. I’m probably going to need a new skull after this, though.

Littlefoot fixed his stare upon Dodger as he took in the sights and smells of the moment.  It pained him to act so coldly to his counterpart, but he knew what honor demanded of him in that moment.  He had been given preferential treatment in the fight by starting late in the same manner that Thud had, as pack leaders started from a position of advantage to show that their underlings fighting them were doing so as a competition, and not as a formal challenge.  However, this made the current situation all the more difficult for him.  It meant that if he were beaten here then Dodger would not have only caused a dispute with one of his packmates, but he also would have humiliated him in front of his pack as well.  This would be an unacceptable outcome for him.  In fact, he thought glumly, he might as well give the leadership to Cera or Chomper at that point.  If he couldn’t defend the honor of his packmates then he owed it to them to let someone at the helm who could do the job.  It was with this in mind that he acted next.

“Still remaining silent?” he asked in a blunt fashion.  It was an obvious reference to his unwillingness to speak earlier when he asked what the dispute was between himself and Ducky.

“I don’t remember you asking the same of Haven, sir,” Dodger said as calmly as he could. It was pretty close to being completely disrespectful, regardless of his tone, but he wasn’t about to just tell his part of the tale while Ducky escaped with her dignity intact.

“That is a matter for myself and my packmates to attend to,” Littlefoot responded cooly.  His facial expression now had a tenseness to it that appeared almost feral.  It was obvious that Littlefoot was fighting back his emotions at the moment.  Though he was angry at Dodger, most of his anger was directed at the entire situation.  But he couldn’t attack a situation. He could attack the fastbiter that stood before him. “Any last words before we do this?”

Dodger bit back a very long series of insults that weren’t so much directed at Littlefoot as they would have been an expression of just how little faith he had in the other pack leader’s ability to deal with Ducky even if she had been directly involved in an attack and he’d done nothing but defend himself. Violet also doesn’t need to hear any of that. Instead, Dodger just shook his head. He wasn’t entirely sure he could control his tongue once he started talking at this point.

Littlefoot merely nodded slightly as he shifted into a fighting stance. “So be it.”

--------

Littlefoot considered his opponent with some concern.  It wasn’t that Dodger was particularly strong or fast, but it was the, for the lack of a better term, “leader-ness” of his opponent that had him disturbed.  It was a trait that he had seen in himself, in Thud, and, to a lesser extent, in Ruby and Cera.  The ability to read their opponents and exploit their traits.  It was something that he would have to be mindful of.

Come on… attack me you arrogant bastard!

Dodger held his position for a moment longer. Apparently deciding that waiting further was pointless he rushed in completely appearing to make an attack on Littlefoot’s right but truly intending on jumping to the fastbiter’s then exposed left at the last moment.

Acting purely on instinct, Littlefoot shifted into the attack deciding to meet Dodger’s claws with his own outstretched feet.  It was an incredibly aggressive strategy that nearly ended in disaster as Dodger’s head barely missed ramming into Littlefoot’s exposed stomach, instead hitting his hip and causing the elder fastbiter to roll back on his feet.  In response, Littlefoot resumed his circling, internally cursing his missed opportunity.

Damn it!  The last thing I need to do is to show him my strategy without even getting a fucking point!

Dodger feigned a rush and quickly pulled back. He immediately followed this up with the real thing, intending to continue normally as last time, but this time he intended to drop and try to knock the other pack leader off his feet with his tail. For this to work perfectly, he would need to roll completely back on his feet quickly regardless of the attack’s effectiveness and exploit any opportunities created.

You have to be shitting me… Littlefoot thought in a hurried frenzy as the other fastbiter began to rush towards him again.  In that moment he knew that he had to decide on the best course of action, preferably one that would not provide his opponent momentum to use against him.  That was when he saw the fastbiter ever so slightly look down.

Gotcha.

He jumped.

Nearly turned sideways as he prepared to drop Dodger jumped away and let what could have been a messy landing turn himself back towards Littlefoot. As soon as he was turned back around he leapt at his opponent.

Damn this all!  Littlefoot now decided to use the ground strategy and kick upwards towards his quickly falling opponent.  Even if it resulted in a point from the opposition, he wanted to make him pay for it.

Crash!

Littlefoot slowly regained full awareness as he rolled upon the hard ground.  He felt his feet collide with Dodger’s stomach and also felt the tell-tale sensation of another head colliding with his own.Chomper’s voice confirmed the situation a few moments later.

“Split point.  One to one.” His lack of enthusiasm was now obvious compared to the previous fights.  Chomper realized that this was now more of a duel than a friendly spar.

Well… I’m not going to give him the satisfaction of seeing me on my back. Littlefoot fumed as he rose shakily to his feet.  The next round was about to begin.

----

“We have to do something!” Violet hissed as her talons dug into the hard ground.  She could not bear to watch much more of this fight.  She had already seen the tranquility of Seeker’s pack turn cold in an instant, and now she saw a fastbiter that she had learned to both respect and fear kick her brother in the stomach.  She had no idea what to do anymore.  She just wanted the madness to end.

“There’s nothing we can do. Do you want to embarrass Dodger by stopping the fight?” Tracker asked, frustration at the whole situation evident in her voice. Now you know what it feels like to be truly helpless, Violet. I’d rather not introduce you to anything else I’ve been trying to keep from hurting you, so please get a hold of yourself or I’ll get someone to do it for you. Tracker took a deep calming breath. She needed it.

Violet shook despite Tracker’s words. “Why is this happening?” She had a hard time believing that her brother, or Haven, for that matter, could have caused such a divisive rift to form between the packs.  Now all of Littlefoot’s packmates were in one area, whereas Thud’s were in another.  All other battles apparently having been forgotten for the time being.  Her and Tracker were alone with their agitation, watching a battle whose ending they could not foresee.

“We defend those we’re closest to,” Tracker replied, explaining without really explaining. She really didn’t want to get into this with Violet. She’d either be mad at her brother or want to take Ducky on herself if she knew the whole thing. Neither were good options.

“So then we should defend Dodger,” Violet offered as a shout from Chomper confirmed that Littlefoot had gotten a point on Dodger with a tail strike to his face.  A modest attack but one that still caused the agitation in her belly to grow further.

Violet’s last comment finally went past Tracker’s ability to remain calm and not react. “Violet,” Tracker said in a surprisingly dangerous tone, grabbing her friend’s head and forcing her to look her in the eye, “If you care about your brother and don’t want to make him look weak, you will sit there and be silent unless directly addressed until this is over. Do you understand me?” She wasn’t going to release her friend until she got an answer.

Violet quaked under the gaze of the sole source of stability that she had at the moment.  To have Tracker effectively berate her and pull rank was psychologically devastating.  It was all that she could do to quickly nod and close her eyes to avoid showing her distress.  She had gone from intense desire to do anything to effectively shutting down.  She would simply surrender to the situation and see where it led her.  It wasn’t like she had any choice.

“Point for Dodger.  It is two to two.”

-----

“This is hard to watch.  Seeker just got kicked in the fucking face.”

Cera could only make a snarky reply to that, “Yes, Taunt, we know.  We all have eyes too, you know?” But the usual humor was gone in her voice.  She was just as concerned as the others.

“This is horrible, but I fear it could get worse,” Spike noted with some urgency, “What are we to do if, well, you know…”

“It turns into an actual challenge?” Ruby offered, “It won’t come to that, Finder.”

“How can you be sure?  It isn’t like this entire situation hasn’t turned into a huge mess in an instant,” Breeze questioned.

“Dodger blames himself for everything.  Haven’t you seen how he has reacted since he has been here?  He almost has been Seeker’s shadow the entire time,” Taunt finally burst out, “I think this is mainly about saving face for him… he won’t challenge.”

The others were silent for a moment as Petrie landed nearby, his eyes still fixed on the match despite obviously moving to get within earshot of his friends.

“This not good!  Any idea why this happen?  They act like enemies, but me know they not.”

Spike sighed. “Dodger and my sister had a fight, as I am sure you noticed.  No one decided to speak to him about what caused it, so now Seeker is pissed at Dodger.”

Ruby looked down. “I should have told him what it was about…”

Cera glared at her. “Was it your fight?”

Ruby looked at her with surprise. “No, but…”

Cera nodded. “Then it wasn’t your story to tell.  You know how these things work, Ponder.”

Ruby shook her head as she looked at the fight with more than a little despair. “But this is stupid and hopeless.  It is hopelessly stupid.  Seeker likes Dodger.  I know that he doesn’t want to do this.”

Breeze simply looked at Taunt with a knowing expression.  Before they had been packmates in Seeker’s pack they had been packmates in Skytail’s pack, and as such they knew how these things had to proceed.

“This simply has to run its course, Ponder.  Then we will help pick up the pieces,” Breeze finally spoke, “That is what friends are for.”

Murmured affirmations were given as everyone continued to watch the fight before them.  The only question was: in what shape would their leader be by the time the battle was done?

------

Never thought being close to winning would actually be problematic, Dodger thought almost distractedly as his fight with Littlefoot continued, I have no clue what that might mean outside of these fights, but I know this is my last no matter what. I’ve got nothing left for another one. He knew he was tiring, and his injuries were just making the situation worse. Despite being one strike from potential victory Dodger was on the defensive, trying to avoid further serious injury. Why is nothing ever simple?

Littlefoot approached the fastbiter with another series of slashed attacks with his claws.  He now seemed almost possessed, as if the thought of losing was worse than death for him at this point.  His eyes communicated a craze that he had only seen once before.

The time when he had fought Prowler.

He’d quickly figured out that his former friend didn’t care if he killed him as long as he won the fight. Seeing the same look in Littlefoot’s eyes nearly panicked Dodger and put him in complete defensive mode. If I give him an opening I won’t be surprised if he tries to break something.

It did not take long for Littlefoot to try to seek out an opening once more.  This time he lunged at his counterpart’s neck with bared teeth while simultaneously striking at his chest with his two hind feet.  It was an all-or-nothing attack.  One that was surprisingly reckless and desperate from the pack leader.

Dodger let himself take the hit in the chest but made a point of hitting Littlefoot in the jaw, or at least trying to. He missed, but it gave his opponent pause. Want to try that again, Seeker? Are the rules irrelevant now? I thought we weren’t supposed to used teeth?

“Point for Seeker.  It is now four to four.” Chomper intoned with the same demeanor that one would expect from someone narrating a funeral.  It seemed just as nonplussed by the attack as Dodger was.

“Surprised you fell for that.” Littlefoot muttered as he rubbed his jaw.

“Whatever you say, sir.” Dodger didn’t believe the pack leader for a moment. He hadn’t tried a single biting attack himself the entire time in any of his three fights. He had assumed that meant fake biting attacks as well.

“This will be for the game,” Chomper said in a tired voice as he gestured for them to spread out, “Begin.”

------

“This is getting dangerous now,” Leap spoke with great concern, “What in the hell was that?”

Thud twisted his mouth as he considered the situation. “He is facing a new opponent and doesn’t know how to respond, but yet he can’t fail here and save face.  In that situation you use everything at your disposal.  Even if it is a dirty trick.”

Swift nodded. “All is fair in battle.”

Leap grunted. “If this was a battle then Dodger would already be dead.”

Thud nodded. “All the more reason to ensure that it doesn’t turn into a battle.  If Seeker loses and they go at it, I want you to do exactly as I say…”

Both Swift and her brother looked at their pack leader oddly.  It was Leap that finally answered, “Anything you say, sir.  But what do you have in mind?”

Thud spit on the ground as if the idea he were about to say left a bitter taste in his mouth. “In that case Seeker would be in a bad position, and technically Dodger could make a challenge, which the others would not allow… but if I made a challenge I could give either of them pause.”

Swift blinked. “You wouldn’t!”

Thud nodded. “Of course I wouldn’t!  But it would be enough for them to focus on something other than themselves for a moment.  Then cooler heads could pull them apart.” He shook his head. “But hopefully it doesn’t come to that.  Hopefully they both walk away and get checked by a healer.”

As he said this the obvious form of Ruby could be seen entering the area with a handful of healing plants.  She was joined by another green fastbiter, who likewise laid the healing plants down on the ground.  It was a green fastbiter who looked noticeably upset.  The angry form of Cera and Ruby only confirmed the source of her angst.

Good… well at least she realizes the trouble she has caused.

Thud gestured to his two packmates. “Get behind me, pack.  Let’s at least stand at attention for what is about to come.”

-----

So it comes down to this…

Littlefoot gritted his teeth.  He simply could not lose this fight.  He would have let his packmate down, and betrayed his own reputation.  He was the fastbiter that had bested Calin.  He had been the fastbiter who led the pack to victory on numerous occasions.  But yet here he was being one point away from defeat from an upstart.  Had peace defeated him to such an extent that he could be bested by a novice?  As much as he didn’t want to admit it to himself, this was now as much about ego as it was about his packmate’s honor.

In that moment he could not see that the ënovice’ in front of him was a fellow fastbiter who had been trained by misfortune to be a fearless fighter.  His arrogance and fear of shame had driven him into a place where there was no escape.  Every fastbiter had its weakness, and in that moment Littlefoot had found his.

Pride.

He awaited an opening from his opponent.  Any opening.  The only thing that mattered right now was victory, and that would not be stripped from him.

Dodger finally went on the offensive to give himself some breathing room. He really only had enough strength for one major attack, but he would need a very good opening. As it was he went at Littlefoot with a standard set of kicks and strikes, never going more than three strikes at a time before withdrawing. Getting a bit more creative he stopped attacking towards point-awarding targets and went for Littlefoot’s leg, trying to unbalance him.

He’s getting tired.  This can be used to my advantage… Littlefoot retreated backwards while keeping his face towards his opponent.  He just needed to get him into the right position…

Littlefoot smirked ever so slightly.  He knew just the spot.  With an almost sprinting gait, he propelled himself towards the left corner of the fighting area.

Dodger turned and followed Littlefoot with his eyes. Oh, I see what you’re trying to do, Seeker. I might just turn that back on you. He advanced on Littlefoot’s position, intending to back him into the tree and pummel him until he got a real hit in. Okay, so this is do or die. Well, hopefully not die…  He rushed his opponent.

Littlefoot smiled.  Gotcha.

As Dodger collided with his adversary, Littlefoot allowed himself to fall over onto his back and let the other fastbiter’s momentum carry him Littlefoot the ground.  Then, with the same basic maneuver Dodger had worked against Taunt, he firmly kicked his feet into Dodger’s stomach, forcing him airborne and straight into the tree that loomed above him.

Crash!

Littlefoot lay on the ground for several moments, waiting for the signal from Chomper that he had finally won the match, and kept some of his dignity intact.  Instead, however, only stunned silence and a gasp reached his ears.  That was when he finally allowed himself to rise and look at his handiwork.  His satisfaction evaporated immediately.

Dodger lay under the tree in a prone position and his eyes closed.  It was as if the fastbiter were in a deep sleep.  Suddenly all thoughts of victory left his mind.

Oh Mother, what have I done?

--------

The present:

Mender approached the two fastrunners somewhat awkwardly, not entirely sure why Detras wanted her.  She didn’t need to look behind her to know that Orchid was close behind.  It was Arial’s distant voice that spoke first, however.

“Dad, what are you doing?!”

Detras gestured towards Mender as looked towards Nahoda.  It was as if he had not heard his daughter.  “Mender, if it isn’t too much trouble I would like to borrow your sniffer.”

“Okay...” Mender replied, “What for?” You’re sniffer’s probably better than mine, but if you want my help...

The elder fastrunner detected her unease. “There is one thing that even the worst fastbiter sniffer is better at than a fastrunner’s, and that is detecting fear…” He looked sideways at Nahoda who was now trying to appear calm, but failing miserably. “...and if someone is telling the truth.  Care to be a truth-finder for a moment?”

Mender just nodded her acquiescence.

It was at that moment that Arial’s sprinting body arrived on the scene.  It took her brother and the hidden runners to prevent her from rushing Nahoda as Mender advanced.

“It’s okay, sis!”  Orchid desperately tried to calm his sister, “Mender’s not going to hurt him!”

“Then why…”

“He is checking for the truth, dear,” Cynnil clarified.

“Could you please be quiet for a moment?” Mender asked the onlookers. I can’t focus like this.

It was then that Mender finally took a long look at the smaller male.  His eyes were wide open and fearful, but his facial expression was as calm as he could muster.  It was as if he were trying to appear brave for the sake of his audience.  The slight tremor in his legs and the rapid twitch of his tail gave away his inner apprehension, however.

“Hello, Mender.  I hope this goes better than our first meeting,” Nahoda offered with fake bravado.  His words were kind, but she could tell that his attempt at humor was for the sake of the nearby female fastrunner.

“Just hold still a moment, Nahoda,” Mender said, somewhat ignoring the fastrunner’s words in favor of getting the task done more quickly.

“Alright.” Detras walked over to Mender’s side as he rubbed his hands together. “Nahoda, is it true that you had no ill intentions for my daughter?”

The fastrunner did not hesitate. “It is true.  I love Arial.”

“He’s not lying,” Mender said after a few moments. He could really use a bath, though.

“And is it true…” Detras began again, pacing, “That you thought that my daughter was interested in you because she pounced on you?”

Nahoda became defensive. “She is interested in me!  She just needed to know me better.”

“And how many times has she seen you to get to know you better?”

Nahoda looked embarrassed. “Um… well it stopped after the two-footers got into…”

Detras repeated himself, “How many times?”

“I don’t know… twelve, maybe?”

“He’s mostly telling the truth,” Mender said carefully, “I’m not sure whether he’s just unsure about the number or if he doesn’t want to say the real one.”

Nahoda relented with a sigh, “It was nearly every night until the two-footers came.  She helped me to find scaly swimmers.”  He looked up at Arial with an apologetic expression at telling their secret.

Mender turned to Detras and nodded her confirmation.

Arial stepped forward against the protests of her mother, who had now arrived. “Dad, that is enough!  We can tell you…”

“Two more questions.” Detras looked at his children, ignoring Nahoda entirely. “Did my children cause the rockslide, and did you tackle me to save my life?”

Orchid looked sick. “Dad…”

This is not good... Mender thought.

Nahoda nodded his head. “Yes, on both counts.  But, sir… I’m sure...”

“Your assessment, Mender?” Detras interrupted.  He was now looking at nothing in particular.  It was as if he were glaring at the sky.  The scent of resignation washed over him like a rainstorm.  A storm tha


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

Ducky123

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Mender's Tale
« Reply #21 on: September 19, 2016, 03:34:30 pm »
Review of Chapter 5:

Well, there's not much to comment on in detail here. The pace of the chapter is a bit slower which is certainly not bad since you don't need action and drama to make a chapter full of dialogue and "the talk" interesting ;)

While this is probably not necessarily super important for what might come next, it was still an interesting read  :p

(I'll add reviews for Chp 6 + 7 to this post in a day or two so don't reply yet, rhombus  ^^spike )

EDIT: Here's chapter 6:

Well, this chapter was a fun to read again. Who couldn't love Taunt's comments and just the general banter of these guys?  :DD

The conversation between Seeker and Violet was also an interesting one. One thing that got me a little confused though is the end. I didn't quite get how Violet got hurt  :p Did I misread something there?  :unsure:

Anyway, will be reviewing chp 7 tomorrow, probably ;)

EDIT 2: Uhh, kinda late but here's chapter 7's review: :p

Ducky is yet again proving that she is still the gentle, kind and compassionate swimmer that she used to be. :)

Dang Tracker, what have you gone through? I feel like personally ripping out Calin's inner organs one after another now, that bastard. This is unexcusable! Well, he's dead so that's good :p

Violet can't smell!? Well, that was unexpected... and like Ducky mentioned, it explains a few things. Maybe it's not hopeless though? If Cera and Taunt don't kill each other (wouldn't surprise me :p) there might be hope they can help her :yes

Oh Littlefoot, you know females get angry when the males do all the fun stuff like hunting things while they're on watch duty. I wonder if we get a little snippet of Ruby and Breeze tearing apart their mates in the next chapter? Would be amusing to read for sure, yep, yep, yep!

Well, what should I say, the Rainbowfaces are still confusing me sometimes :p Looks like we're gonna have some present plot in the Great Valley too... with possibly problemic outcome. Curious to see how that unfolds :)

(you can reply to the reviews now, will post the next when you have the next chapter up ^^spike)
Note to self: finally create that signature lazy bum! :P

rhombus

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« Reply #22 on: November 14, 2016, 02:54:35 pm »
Due to the insane amount of time it takes to format my chapter to the forum, I have decided to use Fyn's method of posting a description here and then posting a link to the story on fanfiction.net.  If any of my readers would prefer me to keep to the past format then please let me know and I can change back.  It is just that the old way of doing things could take nearly an hour for some of the longer chapters.

Chapter 11: Pondering one’s path

After Nahoda's rescue from the clutches of Mender, bot he and Arial must deal with the aftermath of her father finding out about the past. Meanwhile, Mender is haunted by memories of the past when her friends were caught in a similar predicament.  She can only hope that the current drama will be resolved for the sake of her new friends.
https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11964771/12/Mender-s-Tale

rhombus

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« Reply #23 on: November 14, 2016, 02:57:34 pm »
Chapter 12: A path offered

Things finally come to a head as both Orchid and his father comes to grips with the revelations of the day.  Though as Orchid contemplates leaving his home, his father laments his options.  What is the right thing to do?  Meanwhile, Mender remembers the resolution to an old conflict in her past.  Like Orchid and Detras, both Seeker and Dodger respected one another.  But one never knows how one's words sound to another person's ears.
https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11964771/13/Mender-s-Tale

rhombus

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« Reply #24 on: November 14, 2016, 03:00:54 pm »
Interlude: The hidden side of the hidden runners

Politics is the art of the possible, but who can say what is possible in the era after the Stone of Cold Fire?  One must be careful when looking at the water's calm exterior, as one can never be sure what lurks behind its azure depths.  Observe then as the veil is lifted on the world of the hidden runners.  Could their budding intrigues soon shatter the relative tranquility of the Mysterious Beyond?
https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11964771/14/Mender-s-Tale

rhombus

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« Reply #25 on: November 14, 2016, 03:17:23 pm »
My sincerest apologies, Ducky.  I completely missed your previous review.  :slap

Quote
Well, there's not much to comment on in detail here. The pace of the chapter is a bit slower which is certainly not bad since you don't need action and drama to make a chapter full of dialogue and "the talk" interesting

Yeah, in the early chapters Historian and I fleshed out the characters a bit more.  At this point the overall path of the story was not yet known, but it was clear that each of the characters had something to learn in their path to formal adulthood.  However, as you shall see, this opens up the way for a closer confidence between these two fastbiters...

Quote
The conversation between Seeker and Violet was also an interesting one. One thing that got me a little confused though is the end. I didn't quite get how Violet got hurt dino_tongue.gif Did I misread something there? unsure.gif

With her previous concussion even the slight head collision from earlier caused some after-effects.  These did not become apparent, however, until after she resumed her play for awhile.  Thankfully, her injury was not too severe, just some minor concussive symptoms. (which suck, by the way, as I have experienced that before)

Quote
Ducky is yet again proving that she is still the gentle, kind and compassionate swimmer that she used to be. smile.gif

Dang Tracker, what have you gone through? I feel like personally ripping out Calin's inner organs one after another now, that bastard. This is unexcusable! Well, he's dead so that's good dino_tongue.gif

Yeah... Calin really went unhinged after he got his 'protection' from Redclaw, and he dropped any pretext of being limited by his position.  After all, one who has no emotional connections and nothing too lose would have no reason to hold back on his darker instincts.  Though I based his pack off of some of the child armies that were used in certain African wars, I did not directly address the rape issue in the Seven Hunters for thematic reasons.  Merely leaving the matter for the reader's imagination.  However, in this story, I wanted to show some of the consequences of this kind of evil for the victims who suffer through it.  To show that such victims can recover and become stronger than before in some cases, but that the mental scars sometimes never go away.

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Violet can't smell!? Well, that was unexpected... and like Ducky mentioned, it explains a few things. Maybe it's not hopeless though? If Cera and Taunt don't kill each other (wouldn't surprise me dino_tongue.gif) there might be hope they can help her in-yes.gif

Exactly.  :yes In a pack she can use her other talents for the benefit of the group, and rely on others to compensate for her disability.  Though, to a fastbiter, being smell-blind is about as bad as being visually blind.  There is a reason why parents often put such younglings out of their misery...

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Oh Littlefoot, you know females get angry when the males do all the fun stuff like hunting things while they're on watch duty. I wonder if we get a little snippet of Ruby and Breeze tearing apart their mates in the next chapter? Would be amusing to read for sure, yep, yep, yep!

Unfortunately, I did not include such a scene.  :p Though we can imagine whatever scolding Littlefoot received he had to hear it twice, knowing Ruby.  :lol

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Well, what should I say, the Rainbowfaces are still confusing me sometimes dino_tongue.gif Looks like we're gonna have some present plot in the Great Valley too... with possibly problemic outcome. Curious to see how that unfolds smile.gif

Indeed.  The present plot is still developing, but I am as curious as the readers to see how it turns out.  Let's just say with the last chapter I posted (interlude) it appears that things are going to get very complicated indeed.

Thanks again for the review.  :)

ADFan185

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« Reply #26 on: November 14, 2016, 03:50:40 pm »
It's a good chapter and well written one.

The Chronicler

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« Reply #27 on: November 16, 2016, 07:45:21 pm »
I don't visit Fanfiction.net much anymore, so I've been reading this story only when it was updated on this topic. I was starting to wonder why it hadn't been updated in a while, but I guess it turns out that I just wasn't looking in the right place. Looks like I'll have a bit of catching up to do...

"I have a right to collect anything I want. It's just junk anyway."
- Berix

My first fanfiction: Quest for the Energy Stones
My unfinished and canceled second fanfiction: Quest for the Mask of Life
My currently ongoing fanfiction series: LEGO Equestria Girls


ADFan185

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« Reply #28 on: November 16, 2016, 08:14:47 pm »
I don't either but I have read of few stories there. I'll catch up as well someday,

Ducky123

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« Reply #29 on: December 12, 2016, 01:42:56 pm »
Review of chapter 8:

I seem to have forgotten that the tale is happening in the past. At present, Ruby is a parent herself and her siblings juuuuuust in that age where one starts looking for tail ;)

It seems like Mender and her pack just almost ate Arial’s possible future mate :DD Though it seems like things are far from being settled so far. Wonder what Detras has in store for “the intruder” since I’m sure going fishing is only his secondary priority ;)

Oh dear, I knew Tracker’s past was messed up but now I think it was pretty messed up… I guess Leap, if anything, is doing even worse. Tracker has forgiven him but he hasn’t forgiven himself, apparently.
This was a very tricky and edgy scene to write I can imagine. You’ve done a great job though :)

Those Rainbowfaces… :lol

Great chapter again! :)


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Review of chapter 9:

Dodger is a good mate for Tracker, I’m sure they will be happy together just like all the pairings among the hunters :)

Now that the whole “Tracker was abused by Calin” plot seems to end soon, I wonder what’s next :yes

I shall read on.

The Hunters seem to teach their guests quite a lot, huh? ^^spike

I really wonder what Arial has to tell, she seems to be quite upset about whatever happened between her and Nahoda unless I’ve completely missed the point there :p

Too bad we don’t actually see the actual fight between Ducky and Tracker but I guess that would be pretty uneventful compared to Taunt vs. Dodger anyway :smile I thought Taunt was gonna win to be honest, and I’m even more surprised about his civil behavior after his defeat.

Arial and Nahoda… so that’s how they met… funny :p It sounds like Pearl had to kill her brother to save Deitras back then so Arial is lucky, I guess.

Good chapter again! Can’t wait to read part 2 of this :lol


Ducky123

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« Reply #30 on: December 12, 2016, 01:44:01 pm »
(double post due to emoticon limit)

Review of chapter 10:

Uh oh, I sense a very brutal match in the second/third round :p Dodger better be careful if it comes to that :unsure:

Uh oh again… (Fastrunners have spears? Wow :D) You better run fast, Nahoda.

Littlefoot, you’re a bad sharptooth, you’ve scared poor Violet :p I guess Violet was still doing better in a fight than Tracker though.

Cera wins, she’d be very proud about that back in her leafeater time :smile

Whoa, Ducky. :unsure: I’d love to see Ducky in rage (she’s so funny when she’s mad… at least as a harmless swimmer :smile). The vines protect them so they could fight relatively safely despite their anger. However, I think Littlefoot might be right when he tries to prevent such a fight. Leap vs. Dodger is no less dangerous though, I’m thrilled to see how this goes.

(18000 words, dang rhombus! :DD)

So Orchid has a role in this too… I suspect it was a rather poor idea of Arial and him.

Okay, Dodger is more reasonable than I thought. Let’s see who wins.

Nahoda saved Detras? Oh wow and he doesn’t even know it.

Dodger looks like he’s a strong fighter. He could actually win this whole thing :smile

Detras what on earth… I hope he only needs Mender for non-fatal actions :sducky

What a fight… looks like Littlefoot knocked Dodger out :sducky

I was almost sure Detras would ask Mender to scare the living shit out of his children for this. Luckily, he simply used her to detect lies. I see this is far from being resolved though…

Another really thrilling chapter, wow. Lots of trouble that needs to be solved, lots of explosive tension and lots of action. Like it! :smile

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Ducky123

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« Reply #31 on: December 12, 2016, 01:44:24 pm »
Review of Chapter 11:

Geez, do the Fastrunners split up now or what? I hope Pearl can talk some sense into Detras… and Mender doesn’t eat Nahoda :D

I’m glad Dodger is going to be fine. Maybe things can be fixed after all :)

The scene between Ruby and Littlefoot was particularly amusing to read (not to mention that hilarious moment when Ducky catches them together :lol)

It was only a matter of time until the hunters got their “present” plot too. ;) Well, looks like Biter and the others are going to receive the puzzle soon… and the adults have yet another conflict to solve :smile

Must say this is a good point in the story to introduce a new conflict, now that the other conflict is probably close to being solved (or so I assume ^^spike). Let’s see how the story develops huh? Can’t stop reading :p

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Review of Chapter 12:

Well, I think the whole fastrunner situation is mostly just another misunderstanding. First Nahoda and Pearl… (and I forgot Mender too :D) and now Orchid thinks he’s about to be exiled. Which he is not… I guess.

I also believe we might see the other two fastbiters in the present too :)

Whew, Ducky and Dodger have resolved their conflict in a civic manner and Violet and Littlefoot/Seeker are finally getting warm with each other :) and I think I might know now how Mender became… Mender :p

Interesting display in the fastrunner territory :D I must say the thought of Orchid joining Mender’s pack is pretty cool to say the least and probably about the savest way to find an unclaimed territory during their journeys. And he could learn...Same goes for our lovelings ;)

Now I hope I remember that correctly… but the last scene must have been Tracker and Dodger with their offspring and Ovie who I don’t know yet unless I forgot that she was mentioned in some of the earlier chapters (it’s been a while, admittedly)

Great chapter anyway and I’ll be damned if I don’t finish reading that last one too today :p

(Okay didn’t end up finishing the last chapter that day… :p)

Review of interlude:

I must say this chapter didn’t really catch my attention as much. I guess this is mostly due to not being able to relate with the situation in hidden runner land :p

My suspicion about Tracker’s and Dodger turns out to be correct. However, they seem to live in direct neighborhood to one of those hidden runner packs and I’m not sure what their intentions are at this point. Everything is a bit mushy at this point but I’m sure the chapters to come will show and explain further :)

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« Reply #32 on: December 12, 2016, 03:30:48 pm »
Thank you for the detailed review.  :wow

I am happy that you seemed to enjoy the Nahoda segment.  I know some of my other readers thought that storyline dragged on for too long, but I quite enjoyed elaborating on the dynamics between the fastrunners.  They are truly in-between two pretty incompatible lifestyles, and how they work through the resulting complications I think is something that is interesting to consider.  I touched on it a bit in the Seven Hunters and its sequel, but I think the "How does everyone react to Arial's boyfriend" was one last angle that I couldn't help but to explore.  :DD

As for the interlude, I do indeed to elaborate on the plot points in that chapter eventually.  It was intentionally written to be very different than the other chapters, focusing almost exclusively on the hidden runner perspective.  This has proven to be controversial, but I hope that the resulting plot developments justify the sudden change in perspective.

Thanks for the review.  :) I should have the next chapter up in the next few days.

ADFan185

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« Reply #33 on: December 13, 2016, 08:12:54 am »
I need to catch up I've been to busy to read anything these days

rhombus

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« Reply #34 on: December 14, 2016, 01:33:04 pm »
Chapter 13: A path traveled

As the fastrunners begin their training they are pushed to their limits, both physically and mentally.  But little do they realize that their struggles mirror that of a certain violet fastbiter many years ago.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11964771/15/Mender-s-Tale

rhombus

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« Reply #35 on: January 06, 2017, 06:43:51 pm »
Chapter 14: A Path Decided

The days of training begin to come to an end for the fastrunners as one of their number makes a key decision, which echoes how Mender made a similar difficult choice in her past.  Meanwhile, the plot thickens with the 'rainbowface game' situation, and Ovie's laying of her clutch of eggs.  Can they be safe in a territory soon to be at war?

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11964771/16/Mender-s-Tale

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« Reply #36 on: January 08, 2017, 04:34:06 pm »
There were some nice developments in this chapter, first and foremost the question of Dodger's pack's future. It'll be interesting to see how they and Thud's pack will fare on the journey but I'm quite sure it'll be far from straightforward. The hour of separation is apparently getting closer...

The evolution of Mender's personality is quite interesting actually: I don't really care for her as Violet too much but I really do like her personality as Mender. Her reaction to Thud's story and the scene in general was pretty good. There are few dinosaurs in the Mysterious Beyond without a personal tragedy.... I see why Thud would want to relay his story to one who might understand. Violet isn't really my favorite character in scenes like these but her change later on is very profound.

Mender's way of lecturing the fastrunners is just great. I really enjoy her mocking yet genuine way of teaching the inexperienced fastrunners to survive. The scene itself was continuation to the last chapter with no major plot twists but it's obvious that they have to finish the training.

Overall, this chapter was a bit slow. It deepened several character relationships nicely and advanced the key storylines while opening up the question of Dodger's pack's future. Yet, I got the feeling that several some of the scenes were a bit stretched and I'm still not quite sure about the Staza/Ovie storyline. We'll see where that develops but for now, it's quite loose from the main story.

Also, was there a reason to break the tradition and call Spike by his current name in the buzzer sting scene? Sorry if I'm nitpicky but I don't see Finder saying "fucking bastards" in the same scene.

Ducky123

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« Reply #37 on: January 13, 2017, 10:37:51 am »
Review of chapter 13:

Well, Violet, despite her own insecurities, seems to agree to the idea of becoming a healer. She will need to be trained but, since her hunting skills are poor, it is the best role for her to play in a pack.

I really like how you proceeded here, rhombus. Violet is first shown making her first steps as a healer (however clumsy they may be) and then applies all of what she learned while eating with her packmates in the evening. You've done a great job transfering some quite scientific details about anatomy and healing plants into LBT talk too :yes

Now I have a feeling that Violet will have to put her new-learned skills into action after the hunt. I have a suspicion that something goes wrong for whatever reason :p

The present part of this chapter was also very interesting to explore :smile Mender seems to like trolling those fastrunners around and keeping them awake and occupied. Well, they have to learn surviving through dangerous situations after all :yes

And I wonder how long it will take those little fuzzballs to invent fire :lol

Certainly a very interesting chapter again, good job :)

Review of Chapter 14:

Oh, more chasing. Sounds good to me :smile

As humorous and awkward as the conversation between Violet and Thud was, it was also full of little lessons. :)

Some  backstory about Violet? The story arc is almost over and now you bring this up :lol:

Oh Orchid is thinking about joining Mender's pack? How interesting... :)

If I had to guess, I'd say they'll end up as a separate pack for the time being. However, I have a feeling we may see Cynnil and Buse in the past storyline eventually...

Though still remaining much of a mystery, we now learn a little more about Ovie (not sure if you chose not to dwell on her character too much of just missed the opportunity)... and shit is about to be unleased as it seems... :unsure:

As always, I am curious to see how things are going to develop :yes

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« Reply #38 on: January 29, 2017, 09:11:38 pm »
Thank you very much for the reviews!  :)

Sovereign:
Mender does indeed slowly change from the insecure Violet to her more confident adult self, but one can still see the original Violet there. Some of that social awkwardness will never go away. :p   But I can certainly understand why Violet's personality might be a bit annoying due to the insecurity. But, as it has been said, a long journey begins with a single step. As for the Ovie storyline... we will see how the connects soon enough. I look forward to your thoughts about this chapter and the overall pacing.

Ducky:
My apologies for the delay in responding, this topic must have gotten buried before I had the chance to see it.  Thank you for the compliment about the scientific names... and you might be correct about the future hunt going poorly.  You know how my stories usually go.  :p And yes Mender does indeed love trolling the fastrunners.  She cares for them, but she still has to deal with the cognitive dissonance of them being food, and Nahoda occasionally being an idiot in her opinion.  Hence we get to see a bit of Drill Instructor Mender.  :lol

As for Ovie she is a character that has not been touched on all that much, but she might be making more appearances later on.  I hope she doesn't simply seem like a random character at this point, but I think we have seen enough from Dodger to understand that he is certainly loyal for those he cares for.  This loyalty will be very important with what is coming soon.

(I will have the next chapter posted in a few minutes)

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« Reply #39 on: January 29, 2017, 09:13:40 pm »
Chapter 15: Challenges

Orchid faces the decision that he has made with a challenge that is tailor made to express his character.  Will he rise to the occasion?  Or will he be found to be unworthy of the honor of packhood?  Meanwhile, Violet has a very important decision to make as the time of parting draws near.
https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11964771/17/Mender-s-Tale