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Author Topic: Mender's Tale  (Read 3445 times)

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Ducky123

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Mender's Tale
« Reply #60 on: March 20, 2018, 04:50:25 AM »
At the risk of missing something, here's my review of chapter 17

Both the pack parting in the past and the pack meeting in the present were really well done. I found the hunt to be particularly refreshing to read (not to mention all the banter LOL) but what really stood out to me were the last two scenes (maybe because that's the only part of the chapter I read today? Nah :P).

The gang singing If We Hold On Together was such a pleasant surprise and I felt like singing alng as I read :DD It is interesting to note how Mender finds her very own connection to the song of her new packmates. I wonder what else there is to reveal about her past - well, to remember in her case :P

Poor Gyos though. The poor soul took the spear to his eye and while that probably isn't fatal the implementations of the injury might be in the long run. It would be a miracle if Mender were able to fix the eye.

Curious to read more but first I need to read and review the entries for the prompt challenge I haven't got to read yet ^^spike
Note to self: finally create that signature lazy bum! :P

rhombus

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Mender's Tale
« Reply #61 on: April 01, 2018, 10:56:47 PM »
Posted as A Tiny Story on fanfiction.net

Well this is a bit of an interesting entry from Historian1912 and myself. As readers of Mender's Tale may have heard from our author's notes, that story's 'past' scenes are based upon a roleplay. And, as an unfortunate byproduct of converting such scenes for a story format, a lot of scenes from the roleplay have to be truncated, changed, or even removed. The little segment we have provided here is an example of one such removed scene. Though it is not part of the narrative of Mender's Tale (it would have interrupted the flow of the story) we do consider it part of the canon involving Tracker and the tiny biters.

But all of that being said, let's answer an unresolved question from chapter 23 of Mender's Tale: just what was Tracker doing to the tiny biters to make them terrified? Let's find out, shall we? d-;


-------------

♪  Frightening ferocious fast biters watch you when your sleep,
They look in your tunnels, never mind how deep!
Frightening ferocious fastibters will find you at any time of day,
 Never mind how hard you try you will never get away!  ♪

♪  Crunch, crunch, crunch goes your bones,
Snap goes your spine!
Never mind how much you resist,
Tracker can hunt you just fine!  ♪


~Except from one of Tracker’s songs for the tiny biters

--------

“So then I tell Bobber that my fish.  He said: that’s what she said!”

Taunt had been seen as many things by many people.  To prey he was a horrifying monster; to Stern Claw he was a loving, caring mate; and to the pack he was a lovable jerk, when they weren’t chasing him down for whatever offense he had caused that day.  But by far his greatest reputation was for his humor.

But by the love of the ancestors did he wish he had not told the tiny biters that bit of information.

“That’s um… funny, Slick Tail.  You may need to work on your timing, though.” Listening to these jokes is like eating a spiketail’s ass.  I might be full, but I feel like I’m dying inside.

“And that is why you should make sure you know who you’re leaping at before you jump.”

Taunt looked over at Tracker as she ended whatever story she had been telling.  

There was something simultaneously odd yet proper about seeing the young fastbiter tell her tale to the enraptured audience.  From Taunt’s perspective Tracker was little more than perhaps ten Cold Times old, one who should only now have been sent off to find a pack of her own, but yet had a lifetime of tragedies and horrors behind her.  It was only proper that she would share her tales with others for the sake of the honored dead, and to teach lessons to the needful.

And these things certainly need some lessons...

However it was when he saw the horrified expressions on the listening tiny biters that he knew a way to obtain salvation from his ignorant friends.

“Ah, Staza!” Taunt smiled. “Care to have a few more listen to your stories?  I am sure Slick Tail will end up agreeing that it is to die for!”

“A big biter story?  Okay, Slick Tail is interested.”  The tiny biter walked over to the makeshift circle of horrified listeners, totally oblivious.

Taunt suppressed a snort as he winked at Tracker. “I’m going to talk to the ëBig Helper’, Staza.  Anything that you want me to tell your mate while you babysit?”

“Why don’t you stay for one, Taunt?” Tracker asked, “You might like this one.”

Taunt hesitated before shrugging and finally agreeing. “Sounds good, Staza.  Is this a happy story or a serious one?”  Even a prankster like Taunt wanted to avoid attempting humor before a tragic tale.  He would insult the living but not the dead.

“It depends on who your favorite character is,” Tracker said with an uncharacteristically mischievous smile.

Taunt smiled back. “Oh…” He then looked at the tiny biters. “Oh.  So you have had some experience with these, hmmm…?  Well… I think all of us need to hear this one.  Come along, tiny biters!” He waved over and very nearly the entire pack went over to the makeshift story circle.  Tracker’s trap had been set.

“Now listen to the tale of the how my siblings and I saved each other from starving.”

------

The song; Seven years ago

Tracker stared out of her and her siblings’ sleeping area in shock, the ground around her looking very different than it had when she went to sleep. What happened? she wondered as she shook her siblings awake to show them what she was seeing.

Tracker had to dodge an annoyed bite as her brother turned over and promptly began snoring again.

Searching around for some way to get her siblings to wake up, Tracker glanced at the white stuff covering the ground. I wonder... She jerked her hand back immediately after touching it. Brrr... that’s cold. She glanced back at the white stuff again, smirking mischievously.

“What the...?”  Snapper exclaimed, accidently sending one of his sisters into the air as he kicked randomly, “Oh no!  The clouds are falling!”

Tracker couldn’t help but fall over laughing at her brother’s overreaction.

“Ahhh!! What is going on?”

Tracker sobered immediately and ran to where her sister had disappeared. “Are you okay?” she asked.

Her only response was a fearful shriek as her sister tried to claw out of the snow, only to fall once again.  But within a few moments she was back in her family’s scrape.

“C..cold… cold… what...” It was then that her sister tasted the snow. “Water?”

“Huh? Water doesn’t look like that,” Tracker said, looking at the snow in confusion before trying some herself, “How can this be water and water be water?” Maybe Mom will know.

“I see my little ones have discovered hard water.”

Tracker turned with excitement as her mother’s soft voice carried in the wind.  It stuck out like a welcoming sunbeam in the sea of cold.

“Hard water?” Tracker wondered aloud before trying to walk on it. She quickly found out that the ëhard water’ hadn’t gotten any more solid than when her sister had fallen through it. “Help! I’m stuck.”

She was greeted by a laugh as her mother’s massive back suddenly broke through the snow, Tracker grabbed onto it out of instinct.

“Careful, my little Tracker!  The hard water isn’t too hard today.” Her voice sounded weary. “And hopefully it goes away soon enough…”

“Where’d it come from?” Tracker asked, “It wasn’t here when I went to sleep.”

Her mother thought for a moment. “Well… let’s see if all of you little biters can figure it out.” Her mother had a smirk. “When you eat the white stuff what does it taste like?”

“Water,” Tracker answered at the same time as several of her siblings.

“And when you smell it?”

Snapper answered, “Like water… but it isn’t water, Mom.”

This caused the elder female to laugh. “The sniffer never lies, dear.  I have seen this before.  When it gets cold enough the river water gets hard… and sky water also gets white.  Get enough of the white stuff, and you get really hard water.” She tilted her head. “So I guess you could call all of this… hard sky water.”

“But it's not hard,” Tracker protested as she hopped down into her family’s sleeping scrape, “I fell right through it.”

Her mother laughed heartily. “When it gets cold enough and deep enough it gets harder…” Her voice became distant again. “...come along and eat some of these ground fuzzies, little ones.  We will need our energy to stay warm.”

“What do you mean find new food?” Tracker asked a few moments later, having barely heard her mother say something to herself she hadn’t quite understood but hadn’t sounded good, “Mom?”

Her mother looked surprised for a moment, but then looked at her children with a loving smile. “Little ones… the hard water sometimes make the food travel to new places… and we will have to follow too.” Her smile became a bit strained. “...just remember what mommy and daddy have taught you all, okay?  Stick together, and stand with your family.”

While her siblings agreed rather enthusiastically, Tracker couldn’t make herself join them. Mom smelled afraid. Why would Mom be afraid?

------

The ëpresent’:

“I remember that Cold Time…”

I am sorry, Crimson, but I couldn't find anything today.
 
Seriously dear!  We will surely starve at this rate.  We need food, Thud!
 
I know... I know...  How is Firehide holding up?
 
He is still sick as usual...  I don't know how much more of this he can take.  He was already so weak even before the food went away...
 
It is okay, mommy...
 
Firehide?  Go back to the nest, dear.  You need time to recover...
 
If you two can't find enough food, then go ahead without me...  I am holding you back and I don't want you to starve.
 
Don't ever say that, Firehide!
 
Dad...?
 
Don't ever say that.  One way or another, we will get through this together.  I will never leave you behind!


Tracker looked over at Taunt, curious and a bit concerned as his eyes momentarily glazed over in solemn remembrance. Hearing Taunt sounding horrified was not an everyday occurrence; even Tracker knew that.

Taunt shook his head as the recollections of his hatchling days, back when he was Firehide, began to fade back into the realm of memories. “We nearly starved back then, and I heard my parents arguing… they couldn’t hunt well with me being a burden.” He looked away, as if ashamed.

Tracker forced herself not to stare, surprised Taunt would say any of this in front of an audience. “I can’t imagine you ever being a burden, Taunt,” Tracker said softly.

Taunt forced a small tail smile at her compliment. “We all have our weaknesses, and it took me a long time to outgrow mine.  We got through that Cold Time, though.”  He then grew somewhat aware of the situation. “I hope that your family did as well.”

“You’ll see,” Tracker replied before resituating herself to be more comfortable, “And Taunt...”

Taunt looked up.

“At least you could outgrow it. Before all this happened...” She gestured all around her. “...your dad asked whether I should’ve been back with my parents.”

Taunt snorted. “What?”

“Apparently I’m too small to have been through more than eleven Cold Times,” Tracker said with a laugh.

Taunt shook his head, a bit dumbfounded. “How many Cold Times have you been through?”

“Thirteen if you count the one we just went through.”

This revelation seemed to hit Taunt like a pile of boulders.  With her small size and innocent expression he had always assumed that she was of pack-finding age at best.  His mind quickly deduced that it would not be proper to outright say this bit of information.

As usual, however, his mouth did not get that important piece of information.

Taunt was silent for a moment before finally speaking in a low voice, “I thought you were only ten Cold Times old…”

Tracker stared at him, stunned.

It was at that point that Flinter decided to speak. “Wow.  Staza old wise biter!  She outlive all of us!”

Taunt allowed himself to breathe again. Whew… saved by the tiny biter.

Tracker couldn’t help herself; she started laughing.  Ten years might have been a long time for tiny biters, but not for her kind. “I’m not that wise, Flinter,” she said between laughs, “but maybe you’ll learn something from my story.”

------

Back to the story:

“I don’t know, Rakkus.  The swimmers are nowhere to be seen, and…”

“We will just have to keep looking, dear.  We have no choice.  You know that the longneck herd must be many days away by now.”

The grown-ups sound worried, Tracker thought as she tossed and turned in her family’s sleeping scrape. Her empty stomach refused to let her sleep. Why is there no food? There’s always food. Stupid hard water.

------

A few weeks later:

Tracker sniffed at a few bones she’d found in the snow. Unfortunately, that was all she’d found. There’s gotta be something, she thought desperately.

Grrrr...

Tracker looked up in alarm, trying to find the source of the noise. She barely had enough to time to get out of the way when her brother rushed her.

As Tracker tumbled in the snow, Snapper leapt upon the bones and began to bite at them, as if to find any meat.  Any meat at all.  It took several moments for any sign of awareness to return to the small biter’s face, and when it did it was filled with horror.

“Snapper?” Tracker asked hesitantly, not wanting to get rushed again but still worried about her brother.

Snapper’s eyes met hers at that moment as her other sisters looked on in the distance.  That was when he did something that Tracker hadn’t seen in years.

He wept.

Seeing her brother crying nearly made Tracker panic. That just didn’t happen.

“Brother?” one of her sisters asked.

Snapper growled as he struck the snow. “Damn hard water!  No food!  I almost… I almost…”  He looked down. “I guess… maybe it has some bone water left…” He then gripped one of the bones in his mouth and bit down.

“Snapper?”

The male excitedly twitched his tail as he began to toss bones at his sisters.  There wasn’t much, but there was some food in those desolate relics of a life long since lost.

For the first time in three days, the children had something in their stomachs.

------

The next day:

“Marle, I feel for you, I really do… but...”

“Don’t push it, Esper!  She was my daughter, and she would have wanted to save her siblings.  She was…”


Tracker shivered against her siblings as they heard Marle begin to cry.  She wasn’t sure what upset her more, the fact that Crystal, one of her half-siblings, had frozen to death or the fact that only Crystal’s full siblings had a chance to dig into the impromptu meal.

Dark days could darken even the most innocent minds.

“M-maybe we s-should go h-h-hunting,” Tracker suggested as her shivering got worse, “Help Mom out.”

“And Dad,” Snapper added, handling the cold only a bit better than his sister, “D-daddy is getting thin too.”

“Then let’s go,” Tracker said more resolutely, forcing herself to stand up. The possibility of getting her father’s attention again gave her the determination to overcome her discomfort.

“Come on,” she urged her siblings to get up, “There might be tiny biters around.”

------

Tracker kept her head down as she trudged through what was for her rather deep snow, trying to pick up a scent. Her brother and sisters were spread out around her trying to do the same thing. There’s gotta be something around here... Her eyes lit up when she saw what looked like a track.

She took a few steps closer to it. “Guys, I think ieee...” Tracker let out a panicked yelp as the snow below her collapsed.

Whiteness, blinding and oppressive reached her eyes as she nearly suffocated in the merciless snow.  All that she could do was thrash and gasp for air as she searched for any salvation.

She eventually found it.

“Whoa,” Tracker said in a whisper as she stared down the icy tunnel she found herself in. It was barely big enough for her, but she could still stand up in it.

I wonder where this goes... Tracker cautiously walked down the tunnel, not wanting to risk running into something on her own. Eventually she came to a small cavern with several tunnels leading away from it in seemingly random directions.

To Tracker’s elation the ground was covered in tracks of tiny biters. While the tracks themselves told her very little about how many there were or which tunnels were used regularly, the scent of tiny biters was strongest down one particular tunnel.

Tracker took an eager step forward, her entire body demanding that she follow that scent and find the food that it told her must be there. I’ve got to tell the others, Tracker reminded herself. She hurriedly turned back the way she had come, her body now quivering with anticipation rather than cold. There’s finally to going to be food. Food!  I could eat the tail off of a live spiketail...

Tracker ran down the tunnel until she came to where she’d fallen through. Guess I’m not getting out this way, she thought, staring at a wall of snow blocking her path.

“Oh great!  Brothers and sisters make mess again!”

Tracker stared at the snow with interest. She could hear muffled tiny biter voices from the other side. Maybe if I just wait here a few moments...

“What’s going on?”

“One of us must have fell.  Help me dig, Fig!”

“I outrank you, Gentle!”

“.... then what do you order?”

Tracker held perfectly still, not wanting to make any noise. Come on. I want food.

“Okay… I dig; you get help.”  The sound of digging resumed, followed by the sound of collapsing snow.  The digger on the other side of the fallen snow was now alone.

Tracker carefully lowered herself down into a sitting position, perfectly content to wait and let her food come to her. Good. She’s alone.

“Gentle need to bring help soon.  I can’t feel my feet.”

Tracker could hear the snow starting to move. She quickly scooted back some distance so as not to be immediately seen.

The snow began to shake as the sound of the tiny biter putting all of her weight into the snowpack caused snow to fall from the ceiling of the makeshift cavern.  Then, with a final powerful charge by tiny biter standards, the female tumbled through the snow like a rampaging boulder, landing on the ground.

She breathed heavily. “Gentle can do rest.  Fig wants to eat.”

Tracker shifted from a sitting position to a low crouch, her eyes locked on the prey in front of her.

“Well, off to the spiketail, I…” That was when the tiny biter locked eyes on her predator.

But it was too late.

Tracker exploded from her crouch, going directly for the tiny biter’s throat. She bit down hard and shook her prey as hard as she could. Just die already, you stupid food. Eventually she let go, having made herself dizzy from her own shaking.

Tracker grabbed the tiny biter’s tail and started dragging it back the way she had originally come. “Come on,” she panted, not having much energy left, “I want to eat, too.”

------

The present:

“Ahhhh!!!!”

The sound on panic could be heard from the tiny biters as Tracker described in detail how the tiny biter had met her end.  Meanwhile, Taunt looked on with utter amusement on his face.  She didn’t need to read his mind to understand his thoughts.

This is our payback for your stupidity, tiny biters!  Enjoy the song!

No tiny biters were going forward to ask what happened next, so Taunt helpfully volunteered.

“And what happened next, Staza?  I’m curious what happened to all of those innocent and defenseless tiny biters in the snow.  Aren’t all of you interested, too?”

A chorus of ëno’s’ and fearful shaking greeted his ears.

“See?  They are in suspense!  Tell us how the bloodba… story ends.” Taunt exclaimed with a sadistic smile. Staza has a very dry sense of humor.  I like it!

“Well, I tried to drag the tiny biter out of the tunnel to show my siblings,” Tracker began, “but then...”

------

Back to the story:

Ugh. The food is too heavy. Tracker collapsed from exhaustion not having gone even the length of her own body away from where she had started. I’m so hungry. Maybe just a nibble...

------

“Fig, I bring help!”

Gentle waited for a moment for Fig to answer, but she received no reply.  This led to a shrug on her part.  Maybe she done digging and go to Spiketail?  Jerk leave us to do rest of work.

She looked at the small hole in the snow.  It was large enough for a single tiny biter to go through if they squeezed.  With a sigh she looked at the help she had brought.

“You help dig here. I will squeeze through and dig from there.”

“Why I dig out here?  It’s windy out here!”

Gentle smirked. “I know.” Gentle can pull rank too.

With steady hands and a careful focus on the makeshift entrance that Fig had made in her absence, she carefully squeezed her way through the snow.  That was when she noticed something odd.  Something in the air.

Blood… maybe others find new food?  No wonder why Fig leave us to do work!

With renewed focus she dug into the snow and soon barreled out of the entrance and into the tunnel itself, though in her haste she tripped over something and landed in something wet.

That was when she looked upon a scene straight out of her nightmares.

The entire tunnel gleamed in crimson as the lifeblood of its former inhabitant greeted the luminous snow in its loving embrace.  The entire contents of Fig’s stomach had been spilled upon the snow-covered ground along with the entirety of her intestines, which had been thrown in all directions like vines on a tree.  Fig’s eyes, wide open in shock on her now severed head, were well away from the rest of her body, as her shattered and exposed vertebrae testified to the force that had ended her short life.  Feathers, muscle, viscera, and gore covered every inch of the scene.

Except for the small biter standing over her fallen prey.

Tracker raised her bloodstained head up as she swallowed yet another delicious bite of tiny biter. Upon doing so she spotted a green tiny biter staring at her in horrified shock.

Tracker shook with happiness like the child she was. “Food!” she exclaimed as she rushed the tiny biter.

Gentle’s scream was deafening as the predator advanced.  She barely had enough time to make for the entrance before her luck ran out.

The tiny biter managed to pull herself through the hole almost entirely except for her tail. Then Tracker bit down upon the tail and started to pull her prey away from the escape route.

“No!”

As Gentle struggled to claw her way forward she could see her companion’s terrified face.  Pain radiated from her tail as she finally broke free.  That was when she suddenly felt a stinging sensation in her lower back and then numbness.

Crunch!

Her companion could only watch in horror as Gentle’s eyes went wide and she opened her mouth to speak.  But no words came out.  Only the mute scream of the doomed tiny biter greeted his vision as she was promptly dragged out of sight of the entrance, her blood soaking the snow in her wake.

He ran.

------

Parley stopped her search for her sister momentarily when she heard screaming. Tiny biter? Her stomach rumbled at the thought. Food! She hurriedly called for her siblings.

It did not take long for her to hear running footsteps as Snapper barreled past her. “Quiet around prey!” he hissed as he sniffed the air, “This way!”

“But I...” Parley started to protest. ...found it.

It did not take long for the others to arrive. “Hey, Snapper, wha…”

“Is Tracker okay? We heard a scream…”

“Silence!”

The children all went silent as Snapper continued to sniff the air.  That was when he found what he was looking for.  Tracker’s scent and tiny biter blood.  There was a massacre here, but it was one of his sister’s making.  That was when he gestured for the others to follow him.

Save some for us, Tracker!

Snapper led the others in the scent’s direction at a hurried pace, not bothering to hide. Eventually they came to what looked like a sloped hole in the snow.

“Listen,” Snapper whispered. The siblings went quiet immediately.

From the tunnel the scream of a panicked tiny biter echoed. He’s coming towards us, Snapper realized. “Get back. Hide.” He gestured for his siblings to surround the hole and lie low as he did the same. They did not have long to wait.

The tiny biter ran through the tunnel with as much speed as his legs could carry him.  He had no idea how long he had been running as he ran through the twisting warren of makeshift tunnels.  All of them going to the frozen dead spiketail that had kept his pack alive, but not all of them having been planned.  His only focus was on leaving the tunnels.  If a predator was in his home, then it made sense to leave his home, or so his mind reasoned.

As he began his assent to the surface he had no idea that he had just doomed his home to complete annihilation.

Along with himself.

Once he finally entered the cold air of the outside he didn’t even have time to realize what hit him.  Weight, all encompassing and oppressive, crushed against him on all sides as claws and teeth ripped into his flesh.  It was only the one who attacked him from the front that he was able to see as the sharp teeth bore down upon his fragile skull.  Pressure now reigned upon his head until suddenly there was nothingness.

------

The present:

“I think me sick…”

“...whimper…”

Taunt actually began to feel sorry for the tiny biters as Tracker’s story continued to resonate with the group.  That was when he noticed something interesting.

The younger tiny biters… seemed to be enjoying it.

He watched their mannerisms as the scent of fear radiated from them, but the twitching of their tails and the focus of their eyes confirmed that they were engaged in the story.  It seems that they had not lived long enough to truly grasp the full horror of what Tracker had described.

Like telling stories of the Unkillable Threehorn to younglings.  They enjoy it because it scares them.  He rubbed his chin. I wonder if this will have a lesson at the end as well.

He focused on Tracker once more as he listened to the remainder of her tale.

------

Back to the story:

“Guys, you found me,” Tracker said as she saw her siblings approach. She then noticed the blood coating her siblings. “And food. I found some too.”

“I didn’t know tiny biters dug like ground fuzzies!” Parley exclaimed as she stepped into the now nearly frozen puddle of blood that had accumulated in the tunnel.

“Me either. It smells like there’s a whole lot of them down that tunnel,” Tracker said, gesturing behind her, “Want to go hunting?”

Snapper grinned as he looked at his sisters.  His words spoke for them all. “Follow me, everyone!  We had lunch; now let’s have dinner!”

Tracker stepped to the side, trying to make enough room for siblings to pass. Let’s do this. More food! With a smell like that there must be enough for Mom and Dad, too!

Maybe we should have waited till we got to that bigger place, Tracker thought a moment later as she unintentionally was pushed into the wall by her passing siblings.

“Hmmm…” Snapper touched the snowy ceiling with his clawed paw as a torrent of snow fell in front of him.  It was not enough to cave-in the snow tunnel, but it certainly made a dent. “This will work…”

“What will work?” Parley interjected.

Snapper did not immediately answer but again sniffed the air.  “The tiny biters are smaller than us, right?”

“They’re even smaller than Tracker!” Parley replied.

“Hey!” Tracker protested before shushing her sister. I’m not that little.

“But what if they attacked us as a pack?”  Snapper cautioned, “What did Mommy always tell us about hunts?”

“We’re stronger together?” Tracker suggested.

Snapper nodded. “And that means the tiny biters will be stronger together too.”

“Then what do we do?” several of the siblings asked at once.

Snapper thought for a moment before a smile appeared on his face. “This is what we are going to do...”

------

The tiny biters congregated around the frozen spiketail hindquarters like their lives depended on it, which, in a way, they did.  For the better part of the Cold Time it had served as their main food source, the cold helping to keep it preserved.  Though it had been joined in the previous month by bodies of their fallen kin, this only added to the available food.

In such cases, nothing could go to waste.

It was here, however, where the tiny biters protected something of almost equal value, their young.  The juveniles that had hatched that Warm Time had only now left the Helpless Times, but that was not to say that they were ready for the rigors of survival.

“Teak!  Quit chasing your brother!”

The mother tiny biter shook her head as two of the siblings she had cared for nearly collided into the spiketail’s remains.  No one knew whose kids were whose in the communal nest, but she had felt the need to guide those two.

“Mom?  Can I go to relieving spot?”

She sighed. “Go with brother, Teak.  And be right back.”

She went back to digging out a scrape for the two young ones as she glared in Opal’s direction.  Thinks she can take Ala’s sleeping space!  Ala will get it back as soon as...

She shook her head as soon as she felt something cold.  She looked up to merely see more snow fall on her face.  This was not an unusual circumstance in their makeshift shelter under the hard-packed snow, but it was still irritating.

“Ahhhhh!!!”

She jumped as the child’s scream reached her ears.  “Teak!”  It only took her a moment to reach his screaming form. “Where’s brother?”

Teak merely shook as another adult ran into the chamber.

“Biters attack us!  Protect the pack!”

------

Parley, couldn’t you have just waited a little longer? It wasn’t even a full grown one, Tracker thought irritatedly as she watched her sister drag a young tiny biter corpse past her. “Snapper’s going to be mad...”

Hearing approaching footsteps, Tracker turned to run into another tunnel. “Come on. We can’t let them get close to us yet.”

Parley looked mournfully at the tiny biter corpse. “But I... oh, alright.” She reluctantly followed her sister into the tunnel.

“Block the tunnel!  If they not get around us then they not get to them!”

Suddenly the sound of a screech could be heard as Parley ran forward and rammed into her sister’s rear head-first.  It was only when Parley crashed into the ground that she looked at her sister with a horrified expression.

“What do we do?”

“Keep moving,” Tracker replied, remembering her brother’s precise instructions, “We can’t let them trap us.”

“It’s working!  They run!”  Parley could practically feel the tiny biter’s breath as she chased her down the tunnel.  Mostly out of panic more than anything else she jumped in surprise.

Sending a torrent of snow upon them all.

“Move faster!” Tracker shouted, fearing the tunnel was about to collapse on top of her and her sister.  It was only after the cascade of white faded that she permitted herself to assess the situation again.

Muffled screams greeted her ears as Parley’s gasping head emerged from the snow.  If the screams were not coming from her sister then…

“Get ëem,” Tracker said, going for the nearest twitching pile of snow. Forget the plan. They nearly bit my sister.

------

“Ah!  Snow in over here!”

“We snow in everywhere!”

“Can’t see!”

“No, don’t dig…”

Snapper watched as the tiny biter defenders struggled to find an escape out of their snowy prison.  In their head-long attempt to chase the children out of the tunnels they had neglected their own safety.  Now, with two of the three tunnels blocked off, there was only one way out for the makeshift tiny biter squad.

Through him.

He watched as the tiny biters finally turned to run in his direction, trying to seek their only possible source of refuge.

That was when he leapt on the snowy ground with all of his might, sending the delicate tunnel into an all-out collapse.

His sister Twirl helped him out of the hole he now found himself in. “Did it work?” she asked.

Snapper shook himself off as he looked at his handiwork. “Trapped… Mommy and Daddy will love their meal!  Ten of ëem!”

“So we don’t get any more?” Twirl whined, “I’m still hungry.”

Snapper laughed. “We still need to… wait, where’s Tracker?” He looked around. “We lost her again!”

------

“Come on, Tracker. I can smell more of them this way!” Parley called as she led her sister through the tunnels.

“Parley, shouldn’t we...” Tracker stopped when she stepped into what was comparatively a massive cave. That’s a lot of food, she thought as she stared at the tiny biters in front of her. “Let’s eat!”

Parley ran into the chamber as tiny biters scattered in every direction.  In the resulting turmoil it seemed that the tiny biters were utterly at a loss concerning what to do.

Tracker smiled.  It was the perfect opportunity.

------

“Guard the…”

“Run!”

“Ahhhh!!!”

“Help!”

The tiny biter stood in the center of the makeshift cavern, his eyes transfixed on the horror all around him.  Left and right his packmates fell as their blood strewn the muddy ground and snow.  The screams of those who ran into the tunnels only confirmed the worst.

They were trapped.  There was no escape.

He sucked in a breath.  He was the thinker of the pack.  It was his duty of finding some way out, some escape.

“Help!”

The sound of the screaming youngling finally snapped him out of his stupor.  Even if he had no idea what to do he had to get the younglings out.

No matter the cost.

“Children, run towards me!”

His legs burned with exertion as he sprinted towards one of the collapsed tunnels.  It was a long shot, but if he could escape with some of the others then maybe… just maybe…

Suddenly, four more fastbiter younglings entered the cavern. The largest one rushed towards him while the other three scattered, going after panicking tiny biters.

“Chil…”

He never got the chance to finish the sentence.  As his throat erupted into a cascade of pressure and pain, he slumped to the ground.  He didn’t need to see the blood erupting from his neck to know that the fastbiter youngling had killed him.  Only the screams of his packmates serenaded him as he faded into the dark.

Sorry… I try...

------

“Mommy, we found food!” Tracker called as she ran over to her mother, “Lots of it!” She was completely unaware that she was still covered in tiny biter blood.

Esper leapt into action as Tracker’s bloody form appeared seemingly out of nowhere.  She glistened like a ruby in the pristine white field.  In the hunger-filled Cold Time it was obvious to her what must have happened.  Whoever did this to my daughter is going to meet the ancestors!  She was at Tracker’s side in an instant.

“Tracker!  What happened?”

“We found food!” Tracker repeated, not quite catching her mother’s panic due to her own excitement, “There was a bunch of tiny biters and even a bit of spiketail...”

Esper was frozen in confusion.  The entire pack had been hungry for days with little sign of anything to eat.  She simply stared at her daughter. “Wh.. what, dear?”

“We went hunting,” Tracker explained, her tone now shifting towards worry. Maybe we weren’t supposed to...

Esper sniffed her daughter and scanned her for any injuries.  Sensing no injuries she quickly nuzzled her. “I am so proud of you all!  Is there enough for…”

“Follow me!” Tracker hurried back towards her siblings, waving for her mother to follow.

Esper could only follow in a mixture of excitement and amazement.  For the first time in days it looked like the pack would not go hungry.

------

The present:

“And we all ate well that night... and we all survived that horrible Cold Time,” Tracker finished.

The older tiny biters continued to shiver in fear at the horrifying story, while some of the younger biters whimpered.  The overall mood was one of horror.  No one dared to speak.

Well, except for Taunt.

“Very nice!” Taunt said with a smile as he watched the reactions of the horrified tiny biters, “So not even a single youngling survived?”

“You mean Big Biter!” Flinter finally spoke with despair in his eyes, “Now no more packs from family pack.  Entire pack dead!”

“And why was that?” Tracker asked the tiny biters sternly, “What did that pack do wrong?”

Flinter looked confused for a moment, but finally he answered, “They… they not work as pack until too late?”

“No, they not have enough scouts!” a red colored tiny biter retorted.

“So, what was the first mistake made?” Tracker asked, hoping to see if the tiny biters could figure anything out for real or if they were blindly guessing. So two at least half wrong answers. One too vague, the other a sign of not paying attention. They had no scouts at all.

“Was it that they were too tasty?” Taunt questioned.

“Orange One mean!” Flinter protested as Taunt smiled with his tail.  The other tiny biters were in disarray for several moments until a young biter finally answered.

“They split up… right?”

“Finally,” Tracker said with a sigh. Someone has a brain. “That was the first mistake. So, what would have happened had the two that found the collapse not split up?”

“The other one could have warned the others…” Flinter shivered as he looked up at Tracker, “Before you find other mean Big Biters.”

“Do you want me to eat you?” Tracker asked, getting rather annoyed with Flinter’s characterization of her siblings. Not very smart for a leader, but this guy is fast, she thought as Flinter fled to some nearby bushes behind the tiny biter pack. “Does anyone else want to get eaten?”

The other tiny biters began to back away as Taunt looked over at Tracker and whispered with a smirk, “I have no idea why Leap and Verant hasn’t chased them off yet, but I don’t think they want us to eat them, Staza.  Well, Leap doesn’t anyway.”

“Don’t insult my siblings, and we won’t have a problem,” Tracker bluntly told to the tiny biters, “You do realize insulting those you’re talking to is a bad idea, right?”

The tiny biters muttered amongst themselves as Flinter peaked behind the bushes. “Sorry, Big Green One… what is lesson?”

“Well, besides making sure you have tunnels pointing in more than one direction if you ever dig any,” Tracker began, “what could have been done when my sister and I found the nest? If you can’t figure this out you might as well not bother becoming a family pack.” Your kids will just die before they reach their first Cold Time if you’re that stupid.

“Have attackers delay them in tunnel while others escape,” Flinter replied with a grim look on his face, “We already do that too many times.  Well, without tunnel.”

“Almost. Had the pack not panicked like a bunch of hatchlings, they could’ve chased me and my sister off without losing anyone, collapsed the tunnels behind us, and dug some new ones to escape. Even if that were too hard, they had no one actively watching the younglings that could’ve gotten them out of there, at least none that I remember. How do you keep your hatchlings from walking off and getting eaten, anyway?” Collective nest, my tail. More like collective excuse to not take any responsibility.

Flinter looked around awkwardly at her explanation. “That a lot to learn.  We um… we have watchers for young ones.  At least we have watchers when we younger.”

“And these watchers won’t simply run off if a couple of fastbiters showed up for dinner?” Tracker asked. Instead of, say, hiding the younglings?

Flinter looked away. “Watchers probably ones you killed that ran with younger ones.” He was obviously emotional at this point. “Why you tell us all this?  We don’t like to hear about family pack dying!”

“So you might learn something from their mistakes and not die yourselves,” Tracker said softly as she gave the tiny biter a sympathetic look, “You’ve already made a huge mistake coming here in this barren place where you’ll only end up eaten. Your pack won’t survive making another.”

It was at this time that Taunt finally rose from his position. “Well, I think it is time that I speak to the the Great Helper…” He smirked at Tracker. “Can I trust their lives in your capable claws?”

“Well, does anyone want to hear another story? I do know some funny ones. No one dies, I promise,” Tracker said after nodding at Taunt. If I leave out most of the endings, I should be able to tell a few more.

The tiny biters began to shift uneasily.  It was obvious that Flinter’s word would carry the day. “No dead tiny biters?”

“Well, there was the time I saw some tiny biter younglings bothering a flyer’s nest...” Tracker suggested.

Taunt simply shook his head as he bounded off into the grass.  They’re your problem now, Staza… or are you their problem?

------------

A few moments later:

“Oh, Great Helper of the tiny biters, your dull-minded pack casts their small little eyes upon you for guidance.  Alas, my lessons in humor can only go so far with lesser minds.”

Dodger could only groan at the haphazard attempt by Taunt to speak in a high manner.  Only he would utter an insult in the same manner as another would recite a song.

Taunt, I really don’t know whether to laugh or take it as the insult you made it sound like, Dodger thought. “Please tell me you’re never going to be responsible for creating a song.”

Taunt puffed out his chest in mock pride. “Already have ten to my name!  If you want I could sing them in order…”

“You really want me to hurt you, don’t you?” Dodger asked, cutting Taunt off. His tone wasn’t entirely jocular.

Taunt shrugged nonchalantly. “Not particularly, but I am sure others wouldn’t mind.” It was then that he appeared to notice the extent of Dodger’s agitation. “Um… is everything alright?  Leap is still doing alright, isn’t he?”

“As alright as he can be,” Dodger replied, “I really thought we might lose him, or at least the way we knew him.” Having Mender forget a bunch of stuff last time she was that hurt was scary enough. Having Leap forgetting even the past few days would have been a disaster.

Taunt nodded.  “Ah, good.  So you are just annoyed with me.  Nothing new then… anyway I was thinking about the night watch.  And since you and Mender have had enough excitement over the last few days, I will go ahead and volunteer…”

“I’m taking first watch,” Dodger said, daring Taunt to contradict him.

Taunt stared at him for a few moments as if sizing up the extent of Dodger’s resolve.  “I suppose that I can’t change your mind by telling you a lot of hilarious tiny biter jokes in exchange for your cooperation?”

“I’ve had enough of tiny biters to last me the rest of my life,” Dodger said, disturbed at the idea that tiny biter jokes even existed.

Taunt’s tail twisted into the tiniest bit of a smile.  It did not escape Dodger’s notice.

“What?” Dodger asked, looking at Taunt with more than a bit of concern.

“Oh… nothing much.  It’s just you do realize that someone should watch the tiny biters as well… unless you want our food to possibly disappear,” Taunt’s tail jerked in the other direction but still in a fastbiter’s version of a smirk, “And Mender wants to make sure that nothing bad happens to the rot plant until the little shits have its scent imprinted on their skulls.”

“Are you volunteering?” Dodger asked.

Taunt’s smirk did not abate.  “No, but Mender did call the second watch for the tiny biters unless you can talk her out of it… and…” he began to drag out his words for dramatic effect, “...as Thud has agreed to help with the first watch for the pack, a new wonderous opportunity awaits you for the first watch.”

Dodger just glared at Taunt. “If it wouldn’t drive my sister insane, I’d tell Flinter to follow you until either he or you was dead.” I just can’t catch a break, can I?

Taunt shrugged as he gave his counterpart a smile.  “I tried to talk her out of it, but you know how you two are… but on the bright side I don’t think the little shits are helpless.  I am sure they will not forget Staza’s little lesson about hard water anytime soon,” he paused for a moment, “...well, Flinter got the lesson anyway.”

“Maybe he actually can learn something,” Dodger thought aloud. Now if only that involved some common sense. The rest of his pack is hopeless. Still, it can’t hurt to see if these guys have a chance or not. I don’t want everything my sister has to done to be for nothing.

Taunt tilted his head as Dodger continued to be lost in thought.  “Your not going to give Flinter another lesson, are you?  Just remember if you end up killing him you get to explain it to Leap, and you get stuck with ëStick Arm’ as their thinker.”

Taunt gestured at him. “So, as Ponder would say, think before you try to outthink a thinker.”

I don’t think you’ll ever have that problem, Taunt, Dodger thought, suppressing his amusement,  Now what am I supposed to do about Flinter? Maybe if I... Ugh. This is going to be a long night.


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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Mender's Tale
« Reply #62 on: April 05, 2018, 03:24:48 PM »
This was a quite nice story which certainly built more backstory around the latest installment of Mender's Tale. As usual, the past storyline of this tale was established effectively and the idea of Tracker hunting the tiny biters earlier because of such tough conditions was very believable. While I like what you did here, I can't help but feel Tracker has a darker side to herself for being this casual about her past around her new allies.

The buildup of the story was extremely well-written and also a good look into Tracker's past. I enjoyed this brief look at Tracker's family and her efforts to help her family in this dangerous situation worked too. It was a good touch, as always, to see the action from both points of view even if it's true that all of this make Tracker seem like a real jerk. It's easy to understand her lack of compassion towards the smaller dinosaurs but this still creates a whole new, and not a positive, dimension to her character.

That being said, this fic was a good read as a way to deepen Tracker's character as well as a continuation to the last chapter of Mender's Tale. With funny banter and forced yet sorely needed lessons to the tiny biters, this story, while perhaps not the most memorable of your tales, was well-written and a nice sidestep from Mender's Tale. :)

Ducky123

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« Reply #63 on: April 17, 2018, 09:22:33 AM »
Review of Chapt. 18:

Mender seems to feel very much at home at the Hunters' lands. Everyone may have gotten older and wiser but some things never change *cough* Taunt *cough*

Nahoda is being quite proactive huh? Already building a nest and traps... :lol

I didn't quite catch what the context for Mender's song in this chapter was but it seems like Thud's pack got into a bit of an unlucky situation to put it mildly. :P

By the looks of it, the next chapter won't have such a comedian touch as this one since Mender will have to live up to her name. Also, I doubt the Rainbowfaces are wrong about their suspicion. The next few chapters should be interesting (but then again, nothing else to be expected from you ;) )

Great chapter as always yep yep yep!

rhombus

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« Reply #64 on: May 12, 2018, 02:09:22 AM »
@Sovereign

Thank you for the review, Sovereign!  :) Separating the side-story away from the main chapter was a tough decision, but ultimately a necessary one for the sake of the narrative.  In the end it does show a bit of a darker side of Tracker's character but one can understand how it developed.  A bit of a running gag between my co-author and I is that Tracker probably needs to join "Tiny Biters Anonymous" to help quit her addiction.  :p But on a more serious note, the lack of compassion to the food in Tracker is meant as a bit of a reminder to readers that not all allied predators will be graced with the perspective on herbivores as nuanced as those in Seeker's pack.  ultimately we are all products of our experiences, both good and bad, and that is something that this story tries to represent.

@Ducky123

Yep, Mender has grown as a person, though she is still herself.  As for Taunt, well, his humor has matured like a fine wine... or so he would like us to believe.  :p As for Nahoda, he does seem to be developing into a protective father for his possible future kids.  Now if only he can manage to keep himself protected from the same traps...  :DD But you are quite correct in that things will be getting much heavier in the coming chapters.  I look forward to your thoughts when get to them.  :yes

rhombus

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Mender's Tale
« Reply #65 on: May 12, 2018, 02:13:18 AM »
Chapter 24: Arrivals

As the latest story of Mender's past comes to an end, the events of the present rear their ugly head.  Though the refugees have arrived at what they believe to be a sanctuary, can anyone truly be secure among the growing chaos in the Mysterious Beyond?  As Fate begins to lift its veil the shadows of conflict will continue to stir.  But shadows can always be deceiving.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11964771/29/Mender-s-Tale

Sovereign

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« Reply #66 on: May 22, 2018, 03:25:55 PM »
It’s nice to see another chapter that took forward so many different plotlines. Fitst, after a long run, the rest of the survivors of Wrok’s wrath have reached safety in Seeker’s territory. I especially enjoyed Gyors’ reunion with his parents as the last time they met certainly wasn’t on a note any of them would have hoped for. Their talk to their injured son was a believable one and I liked how Staza and Verant comforted him in this difficult hour. Overall, that scene worked nicely but the relieved, happy atmosphere wasn’t to last as Petrie and Chomper’s conversation elaborated.

Wrok’s plan of trying a divide and rule policy is truly some impressive storycrafting. His patient, wide-ranging strategy to crush any united front is against him getting quite interesting but its success is still far from certain. Will the domeheads stand for this plot and even if they do, will the spread of distrust and paranoia in the valley be as effective as Wrok believes? Ignis is also having some hard time, especially with her counterplot with Penol seems to lie in ruins. Until she’ll find some way to manage to outwit Wrok quickly, she could find her herd and her own herd crumble right under her very feet… Also, the scene with Orchid talking about his relationship with Ovie with Mender was a nice one. As I’ve said before, he’s one of my favorite characters and I think his rather awkward portrayal here was a good continuation to his long character development after his departure from Hanging Rock.

In any case, while the last scene was the only major new piece of drama here, it’s always a pleasure to see many deep plots move more while getting tangled with each other. The ever-proceeding cultural contamination wasn’t and isn’t my favorite aspect of Mender’s Tale but we’ll see where the rainbowfaces’ latest screw-up will lead. For now, though, the great struggle between the hidden runners seem to be taking a major portion of the stage and it’ll be intriguing to see how Ignis is going to handle this latest blow at her position.

rhombus

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Re: Mender's Tale
« Reply #67 on: August 06, 2018, 01:52:58 AM »
@Sovereign

Thank you for the review. (: As I am sure this story has shown thus far, any happiness or relief seldom is long-lived. :p I am also glad to hear that you enjoyed the Orchid scene - as it was certainly one of the most enjoyable to write. Much like with Mender in the past scenes, we are seeing the gradual maturation of Orchid as he learns more about the world and himself. As for Wrok and Ignis, the plots and counterplots are indeed in full swing. I hope that I did not lose anyone with the new developments in this chapter. As with the cultural contamination with the boat situation - don't worry. That was merely there to show that people are becoming aware of the excesses of the rainbowfaces. We are not going to have a naval warfare scene in this story with Admiral Taunt or anything like that. :p (though I might have to commission that as an image, lol)

Now on to the next chapter...

Chapter 25: Departures

As Mender and her entourage go forth to the valley in order to "save" its residents, new faces make themselves known and old faces run into trouble.  But as some egos are bruised and others are rebuilt, a much more dangerous game is being played behind the scenes.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11964771/30/Mender-s-Tale

Sovereign

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Re: Mender's Tale
« Reply #68 on: August 07, 2018, 03:10:07 PM »
It has certainly been a while since the last chapter! This instalment held several interesting dialogues as well as great cliffhanger that really left me waiting for the continuation. The first half of this chapter was a bit slow but afterwards, things certainly began to get more intense. The buildup towards the end was done excellently and the preceding scenes also served their purpose.

The initial developments with Mender’s group were done nicely and built their new situation near the Valley rather well. Orchid’s thoughts about his last visit to the Valley was a good look back into the past to remember how much the characters have changed since the Seven Hunters. Petrie’s antics also were quite fun to read as were the lessons Arbur’s parents used Petrie’s presence to emphasize. Also, the Pack’s scenes with their children worked well and the prospect of group punishment and Pounce’s offer to take the whole blame to himself were quite interesting to read. Even in the middle of the escalating conflict, it’s sometimes nice to take a look at more simple things.

As for the ending, the cliffhanger left Mender’s survival unclear. Even if her death here is unlikely, even an injury could bring new twists to her group’s story arch. The buildup to that scene was a great one and the change to the assassin’s perspective was really effective. However, some scenes of this chapter could perhaps have been shortened a bit but the pacing mostly worked nicely. As for your questions, you can write a brief summary if you want. Even if I remember most of the story quite well, I sometimes have a hard time remembering where each character is or the backstories of some chars (most noticeably Cynnil, Buse and some of the less often seen kids). The long month-long waiting times might be at least partly to blame for that.

About the drawing commissions, they are up to you decide completely. However, I’ve previously voiced that Orchid and Leap are some of my favorite characters here so it’d be cool to see them but even then, it’s up to you. As for the third question, it might sound a bit weird but I’ve wondered for a long time how the Packs’ own adolescent or adult leaf eaters selves (if they had ever got a chance to exist) would have reacted to what they became and what they’ve done simply because of an unimaginable twist of fate. In any case, nice job with this chapter as always! :^^spike

rhombus

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Re: Mender's Tale
« Reply #69 on: October 07, 2018, 05:47:49 PM »
@Sovereign

Thank you for the detailed review as always! I must agree with you concerning the pacing of the previous chapter. Though I think it worked out well enough in the end, it still perhaps dragged a bit at times. Ultimately though, it felt like keeping that chapter as one monolithic whole was the best option instead of separating it into two chapters. I am also glad to hear that you thought the focusing on small details worked well. I did want to focus a bit more on the cultures of the various species in this story as I think it not only shows the differences between them, but also the similarities between the various cultures.

I have also added your ideas concerning fanart and a potential story to my notes. I will certainly consider possibly exploring your story idea at some point.

An in-universe author's note:

As promised, here is an in-universe author's note to clarify some of the major developments of the story.  The next chapter should be posted on Wednesday.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11964771/31/Mender-s-Tale

rhombus

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Re: Mender's Tale
« Reply #70 on: October 10, 2018, 11:01:48 PM »
And as promised, here is the next chapter:

Chapter 26: Collapse

As the aftermath of the fastrunner's attack becomes more clear, another question remains unanswered in the deafening silence of impending death.  Will the attack's target be the only casualty of Questor's attack?  Or will the alliance itself fall victim to the resulting mistrust?

rhombus

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Re: Mender's Tale
« Reply #71 on: December 09, 2018, 08:56:15 PM »
Chapter 27: Duties and Vigils

As her pack maintains the death vigil over Mender's prone form, a mysterious dinosaur does his best to replicate his parents' interventions to rectify a great wrong.  Meanwhile, the struggle of the hidden runners move into an even more dangerous phase as some allies find out that not all is as it seems.

(Also from this point on I will also be posting my chapters as a pdf format on the forum)

Sovereign

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Re: Mender's Tale
« Reply #72 on: December 12, 2018, 03:37:51 PM »
And as predicted, we didn’t witness Mender’s end just yet. This installment did a nice job presenting her recovery from this most dreadful of ordeals and the other scenes also did their job in making this chapter an impactful one. I enjoyed the flashback scene especially as it gave sorts of reprieve to the young Mender in her time of need. Also, the final line proved that this was a major turning point in the entire story.

Penol is thus far doing surprisingly well in her mission even if pressure is starting to pile on her not to draw extra interest to herself. The entire scene with Wrok was a curious one as it also showed that the villain is more multidimensional than what we have been led to believe thus far. As for the flashback, it was a great way to show to Violet that she isn’t the only one who can make mistakes. Ducky’s near-fatal error was an eye-opening one for her packmate and also importantly, the latter part of that sequence somewhat closed the authority gap between Littlefoot and Violet. All in all, that flashback was an extremely long one but I believe it fit that spot well.

As for the healing scene, yeah, it wasn’t my favorite part. But the upside is, what happened was so far beyond Mender’s comprehension that she couldn’t learn anything about it. Also, this wasn’t the most serious of technology in this series (the cannon at the final battle of TSH, I’m looking at you) so it was alright. In any case, it’s good to have Mender back and the ending showed that Wrok is going to have his war he so dearly wanted. Yet, we’ll see if Questor has something to say about these developments…

This was a great chapter that at the same time showed a key scene of the past while finishing in a major escalation in the fic’s main story. From now on, it’s impossible to say what’ll happen but it’s almost a given that Wrok will start to move on with his plan now that his enemies start to gather. Amazing job with this chapter! :)littlefoot 
« Last Edit: December 12, 2018, 03:39:23 PM by Sovereign »

rhombus

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Re: Mender's Tale
« Reply #73 on: January 20, 2019, 05:37:17 PM »
Quote from: Sovereign on December 12, 2018, 03:37:51 PMAnd as predicted, we didn’t witness Mender’s end just yet. This installment did a nice job presenting her recovery from this most dreadful of ordeals and the other scenes also did their job in making this chapter an impactful one. I enjoyed the flashback scene especially as it gave sorts of reprieve to the young Mender in her time of need. Also, the final line proved that this was a major turning point in the entire story.

Penol is thus far doing surprisingly well in her mission even if pressure is starting to pile on her not to draw extra interest to herself. The entire scene with Wrok was a curious one as it also showed that the villain is more multidimensional than what we have been led to believe thus far. As for the flashback, it was a great way to show to Violet that she isn’t the only one who can make mistakes. Ducky’s near-fatal error was an eye-opening one for her packmate and also importantly, the latter part of that sequence somewhat closed the authority gap between Littlefoot and Violet. All in all, that flashback was an extremely long one but I believe it fit that spot well.

As for the healing scene, yeah, it wasn’t my favorite part. But the upside is, what happened was so far beyond Mender’s comprehension that she couldn’t learn anything about it. Also, this wasn’t the most serious of technology in this series (the cannon at the final battle of TSH, I’m looking at you) so it was alright. In any case, it’s good to have Mender back and the ending showed that Wrok is going to have his war he so dearly wanted. Yet, we’ll see if Questor has something to say about these developments…

This was a great chapter that at the same time showed a key scene of the past while finishing in a major escalation in the fic’s main story. From now on, it’s impossible to say what’ll happen but it’s almost a given that Wrok will start to move on with his plan now that his enemies start to gather. Amazing job with this chapter! :)littlefoot 


I am glad to hear that you enjoyed the Mender past story. :) I think it really shows her development as part of a coherent pack. Though the past scenes will become much more sporadic from here on out there will be a few more to show some of the other unseen major developments which led to the current state of affairs in the Mysterious Beyond.

As for Penol she is now really deep in it indeed. :p But, interesting enough, Wrok is not dealing with this plot in the way that Penol or an onlooker might expect. Wrok is certainly more multidimensional than Calin was and this is on account of Wrok having a much different psychological profile. What we are seeing here is a leader whose ruthlessness comes from extreme compartmentalization as opposed to an outright lack of empathy. Though as far as Ignis is concerned this makes him no less of a threat. As for Penol we will just have to wait and see how she deals with her current predicament. Will she follow along and then try to strike again later? Will she be subverted by Wrok's affections? Only time will tell. (smirks evilly)

rhombus

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Re: Mender's Tale
« Reply #74 on: January 20, 2019, 05:41:35 PM »
Interlude: Plots within Plots

The story briefly shifts back to the internal conflicts between the hidden runner factions.  As Penol is confronted with Wrok's perceptiveness and interest she wonders how she will come out of her predicament.  For Ignis, on the other hand, a flyer's message shatters the illusion of security that had surrounded her.

Sovereign

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Re: Mender's Tale
« Reply #75 on: January 22, 2019, 03:41:40 PM »
Now this was an interesting chapter. I must say, I wasn’t sure how Penol’s mission would go but this installment showed it to be more exciting than I had anticipated. Her initial efforts to try to fool Wrok were quite desperate and it was really worrying to think about what’ll happen next. The way Wrok toyed with her was really something I’d expect from a fastrunner like him but I was also very positively surprised by the ending of this chapter.

I really liked how the Wrok and especially Penol’s true motivations were kept ambiguous throughout this chapter as it showed just how interesting characters they can be. While it is obvious that Wrok is just using Penol for his own ends here, it was nice to see he didn’t kill or even outright imprison the female after her failed attempt to murder him. The scene leading to the brief confrontation was done really well as it at the same time made the reader feel for Penol while also questioning whether Wrok is really going to do what you’d expect from a generic villain.

Throughout that scene, I hoped exactly for this outcome as it opens interesting possibilities for the two omnivores and makes things really awkward for Ignis. In a way, I’d wish Penol and Wrok came to trust each other as it would great that Wrok/Ignis fight wouldn’t be completely black versus white in the end. As for Ignis, her situation is rather uncomfortable right night and it really seems her position could soon be questioned by Dravos. If that’s the case, we’re in for a wild ride soon.

As I said, this was a really good take on fleshing out Wrok as a truly interesting villain while possibly one day forcing Ignis and even the Pack to question their own motives. Yet, if Wrok simply ends up killing or abusing Penol, then the path forward is clear. Whatever happens from now on, great job and I really look forward to the next developments in these plotlines! :)littlefoot

rhombus

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Re: Mender's Tale
« Reply #76 on: March 20, 2019, 11:04:40 PM »
@Sovereign

The Wrok and Penol interactions are one of my favorite parts to write in these later chapters. Their relationship, if you wish to call it that, is developing somewhat organically as the story's plot begins to present itself. Along the way each of them must confront their own insecurities and uncertainties. Because as Wrok toys with Penol his own emotions are toying with him as well. All the while the facts of the political situation are going to lead to an inevitable reckoning for both Ignis and Wrok. All the while a third party, Questor, weaves his own web of deceit. I hope that you and the others enjoy what is coming in the final act.  :)

rhombus

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Re: Mender's Tale
« Reply #77 on: March 20, 2019, 11:43:47 PM »
Chapter 28: Valley Happenings

As Mender finishes her recovery and the pack arrives at the valley, trouble brews as news of the coming meeting of the packs filters into the peaceful valley.  All the while the simmering tensions of the widening conflict threaten to expand yet further still.

Sovereign

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Re: Mender's Tale
« Reply #78 on: March 22, 2019, 04:03:59 PM »
This chapter felt like some kind of calm before the storm as it started with a rather quiet note with Mender having recovered surprisingly well from her injury. The first half was a bit of a slow one even if the Valley’s decision was still somewhat surprising. After all, they had seen what Wrok is willing to do in order to advance his goals but it is true its denizens might still want to stay away from the conflict. Still, their debate about the issue was an interesting one and it’s nice to see more of Bron’s new role within the Valley.

I quite liked the exchange between Datum and Orchid as the latter in many ways is even worse in keeping his knowledge as a secret. Orchid’s attempts to learn the rainbowface’s method of healing was more than understandable but the funny thing is, even if Datum slipped out more sensitive knowledge than his parents, his words had much less irreversible effects thus far. Hopefully things are going to stay that way in the future as well.

As for the ending, well, I guess that will open the way for the Final Act. It seems like Questor is about to fully join the party and no matter how his plot ends, it will have profound effects on the future of this fic. I’d probably want to see him succeed as that would send Ignis’ herd into complete disarray which would also open more possibilities for Wrok and Penol as well which I’d say would have really interesting implications. Even if Ignis lives, there will be a three-way war from now on between the hidden runners. No matter what happens in the coming chapters, I have no doubts that the Final Act will have the potential to be this fic’s best one yet. :)littlefoot

Anagnos

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Re: Mender's Tale
« Reply #79 on: March 25, 2019, 02:57:41 AM »
Hostilities are still very much high in the Great Valley, and understandably so considering the incident involving Dein and Terri. Not many are eager to forget about it and if you were a leaf-eater living in the Valley, had lost someone to them, you probably would feel a lot of resentment toward them and any other meat eaters, along with even supposed allies.

The leaf-eater gang markedly take after certain group of friends when it comes to sneaking out of the Valley :)

Sequence with Orchid and Datum was an interesting one, with him being very intrigued in learning from Datum about the rainbowface's almost magical abilities in many affairs. But revealing something like that could lead to disastrous circumstances and of course, they can't allow that.

Treachery in the Valley appears to be more sinister than first thought. Time will tell how it will all play out.

Of course there has to be some family quality time involved too. It brought little enjoyment for the dinosaurs for now.

I do wonder what exactly Questor is up to with Ignis, but it is very clear that nothing good will come out of it.

Little slower pace than I'm used to, but got no complaints from me. Good work from you as always, I really should go to reread the Seven Hunters and Songs of the Hunters yet again, always enjoyable to read those fics, just wish they were canon :) Since I got nothing else to write about, see you around in the next chapter!