Author Topic: Separate Ways  (Read 7507 times)

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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #120 on: June 11, 2019, 04:40:12 PM »
Damn... there is a lot to unpack in this amazing chapter.  The title is quite apt as this conflict has been many chapters in the making and this chapter lived up to the crisis that we all knew was coming.  Though instead of either catastrophic defeat or a glorious victory, our protagonists are left with a more tragic outcome in many ways: a hollow victory.  Far too much has been lost in this battle.  Though Ruby and her companions will survive the ordeal, though maimed, the damage to them personally in terms of actual injuries and lost friends is truly incalculable.

You have succeeded quite well in this chapter in capturing the justifiable (from their perspective) motivations of each of the major players in this drama.  Dein and Terri obviously see Ruby's family as instruments in their son's death and as untrustworthy opportunists.  Pearl and Detras are stuck serving an opportunist (Stealth) upon the threat of death and know that their options are limited.  Ruby and her friends merely want to come out of this alive.  And, in the end, everyone suffers.  Ruby quite directly gets to experience the hollowness of revenge as she Terri dies only after having killed her father.  To add to this tragedy she not only loses Greentail (a source of guilt for her even before her death) but also loses Greentail's brother who blames Ruby for her loss.  In a way the damage to Ruby's tail is a reflection of her own internal losses.  She is still here, but much of what was is now lost.

Though battle scenes are by necessity somewhat chaotic I think that you have done well in capturing the fast-paced action of the battle while at the same time allowing the narrative to be coherent and to capture the emotions of the scenes.  It did not feel like any part of this chapter was too long or too short to me, but rather just the right length to convey the scenes effectively.  As such I honestly do not have anything in terms of constructive criticism to offer you.  I think you handled this long-awaited chapter very effectively.  Now we must await the aftermath of this bloodbath and see how Ruby, Ducky, Pearl, and the others adapt to a much more solemn future.

This is an astonishingly well done chapter.  It hit the emotions that it needed to hit and it paced itself at the proper pace.  I both fear and look forward to what happens to our poor protagonists as they proceed from this terrible battle.

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


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #121 on: June 17, 2019, 10:25:30 AM »
A Brief Rest

A deep sigh escaped Petrie’s beak as he slowly opened his eyes. The first thing he saw was the dark ceiling of the cave he and his siblings had slept in following the long and happy reunion last night. For the first time in what seemed forever, Petrie had truly slept peacefully without any hint of fear or sorrow as the presence of his family seemed to cast those sentiments into nothingness. He looked around himself with a curious look, noticing the morning was still young but despite that, his mother was still missing. However, that fact didn’t bother the boy at all as he knew she most likely wanted to surprise her family happily on a day like this.

That thought alone made Petrie smile deeply as he slowly rose to a sitting position, both looking forward and dreading that what he knew would follow soon enough. His family would certainly want to hear what had happened to him but… he already dreaded how his mother would react to his news about Pterano and… and also just how his siblings would take his tale.

A slight frown rose to the boy’s peak as he looked at some of his brothers and sisters, the seemingly endless days of torture a small group of them had put him through returning to his mind. The image of his older siblings doing their best to humiliate and hurt him still bringing a chilly feeling to his heart. However, he wanted to believe those days to be distant past and there was no reason to believe even his siblings would resume their sickening antics after this reunion. After all, he had been thought to be dead fore many cycles of the Night Circle and certainly even the worst his siblings had missed him at least a bit? Hopeful look rose to Petrie’s face as he rose to his full height, preparing to greet the new day. However, after taking one step, his good mood died down completely.

As his foot hit the ground, the boy immediately felt it slipping in the cold ground… sending him falling straight forward... into a small, frigid, muddy pond he hadn’t seen the previous evening. As the flyer felt his beak sinking into the mud and started to cough the water from his lungs away, he felt a sharp pain to his right side, followed by a cruel voice that he hadn’t missed in the least.

“I’m happy to see you’re still the pitiful, good-for-nothing weakling you always were, Petrie! Hopefully you didn’t forget that fact while you were gone. But no worries, I’m here to remind you again.” For a moment, a few tears formed in Petrie’s eyes as he heard those words, the hurt of those endless days of bullying returning to his mind in full. The past weeks had been enough to cast that pain away but Donnie’s memory had never truly gone away. It wasn’t long before he heard another familiar but almost equally disgusting voice.

“It’s more than a small wonder a flyer like you survived even an hour without momma, Petrie? Did some lonely threehorn protect you all this time while you lied in her nest whimpering?” The boy knew that that voice belonged to Terra and he closed his eyes slowly as he thought about what to answer. Even if the old pain and hurt was still there, only the boy himself knew he no longer was the Petrie Donnie and Terra had learned to know. He knew very well he could defend himself these days but… but could he gather his newfound courage against his long-time tormentors who were also his siblings? Petrie slowly turned to look at the duo and spoke with teary eyes.

“Neither of you… know what you talk about! But believe… believe me when Petrie say me can defend meself… this time…” He said in a voice which turned out to be so meek that not even a ground fuzzy would have taken it seriously. Donnie couldn’t hide his amusement at those words and he nodded to Terra briefly as he started to approach his long-time victim.

“Excuse me, Petrie, but I don’t believe you! You’re still the same runt you always were! Terra, cool his head a bit, it seems like it’s burning!” He said and before Petrie could react any further, the girl used her wings to raise a large amount of water and dropping it upon Petrie as Donnie moved closer, raising his fist.

“And now, I’ll make sure you’ll drop any thoughts you had of “defending” yourself. I’ll just give you what you deserve…” He said as he prepared to hit Petrie in the cheek but before hit the younger male, Petrie sighed deeply as he grabbed Donnie’s hand and regaining his footing. Donnie’s eyes widened as he realized Petrie had managed to halt his hit. It wasn’t possible! He was the strongest of his siblings while Petrie was a complete weakling! The latter’s eyes widened as he growled his answer to his old nemesis.

“Petrie not fear you anymore, Donnie! If you ask me, Petrie just hope you’ll drown in that stream along with…”

“What is happening here? Stop whatever you’re doing, now!” Volant’s voice rang through the cave, waking up all of the remaining children. The older female’s eyes gleamed with disappointment and outrage as she looked at Donnie who frowned deeply before disengaging from his small fight with Petrie. Volant walked forward with shocked steps, clearly struggling to find words as she walked towards her eldest son.

“Donnie… I’ve been forced to punish you more times than I can remember, every time for something more disgusting than the last time. But this… THIS IS THE ABSOLUTE WORST THING YOU’VE EVER DONE! YOUR BROTHER LITERALLY RETURNS FROM THE DEAD AND THIS IS HOW YOU GREET HIM? AFTER ALL THE SORROW AND PAIN I WENT THROUGH? ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR CURSED MIND?!” She cried, not able to believe what was going on. All her life, she had hoped that Donnie would one day change but… but to see him act like this… Deep inside, she was starting to wonder whether the older child could ever change. Donnie looked at his mother for a few seconds before spitting his answer.

“As if anyone ever wanted him back. I, for one, liked it better to not have him as a burden on us others.” He said to which Terra nodded and continued from.

“Indeed. We’ll have many more tests ahead of us and I don’t want Petrie to hold us back ever again! He was never of any use to anyone!” She yelled, causing Volant’s heart to freeze immediately. To hear her own children say things like this… she had done her very best to raise them right and this was how badly she had failed? She had hoped that Petrie’s return would be a joyous one but the duo had ruined everything once again. However, just as her composure was starting to break, she heard a cry which heartened her more than anything at this point.

“Piss off, you two! All of us deserve better than you two’s stupidity on a day like this! And to think I once looked up to you, Donnie and Terra!” The voice belonged to Skybeak, a younger boy who had most of the time joined his two siblings in attacking Petrie. However, during his brother’s absence, deep down he had realized that despite everything, he had always liked, even loved Petrie deep inside. And right now, his blood was boiling at the display before him. That sentiment was shared by Tovi who looked at the duo with murderous eyes and cried to them in a voice that dipped with hate.

“Both of you should be thrown off these cliffs with your wings tied together! Even a sharptooth is worth more than you, Donnie and Terra!” He cried, causing Petrie’s expression to soften ever so slightly. Was this actually happening? Were some of his siblings… actually defending him? Especially Skybeak’s words stunned him as he had once thought of him as something nearly as bad as Donnie himself. The boy looked at the larger male with a dark expression before addressing him.

“Petrie always knew you too bad to ever learn anything, Donnie, and Petrie was right. Me just happy others see it as well!” He cried to approving nods from the other children. Donnie cringed deeply as he felt the outraged, hateful stares upon himself but he would never, ever apologize to someone like Petrie. Not in this world nor in the next. He spat a bitter answer that made things even worse for him.

“I don’t care what you others think but it was clear all along Petrie needed a lesson to cast away any thoughts he might have had of himself! You all know he’s worth…” He started but before he could get any further, he was interrupted by a violent hit on his cheek.

“Silence, now! I will make sure you and Terra will pray for my previous punishments soon enough. I’ve had just enough of you two and I will leave nothing to chance this time around…” She said, her chilly words causing even Donnie’s courage to fail. Petrie couldn’t help but feel slight satisfaction at the situation but he didn’t want this opportunity to shame he further pass away.

“Me hope so, momma, but Petrie not fear him any longer! You just a sad coward, Donnie, and me know you will never hurt Petrie again!” He said, more than happy by his ability to stop his attack earlier. Volant didn’t exactly approve of those words as she didn’t want the bullying to soon turn the other way around but she decided against condemning Petrie’s words in a moment like this. She just took a forced sigh before speaking to the older boy in a lower but just as hateful voice.

“Stay here, Donnie, until we’ve got over Petrie’s…” Volant started but Petrie didn’t allow her to finish. The younger boy realized what his mother was about to say and cut her short as he thought about the coming discussion.

“He and Terra can listen to Petrie’s story! Maybe then…” He started to speak but this time, it was Volant who interrupted him.

“Just let it be, Petrie! Donnie deserves to be punished but I’m not allowing him to say there to be despised by all of you others! I’ve tried to keep us as a family where no one is hated or discriminated against!” She said sternly, momentarily breaking Petrie’s courage. However, he soon recovered it and spoke softly as he looked right at Donnie and Terra.

“No, me not want to attack them but… They think Petrie is just some helpless weakling! Ma… maybe me story will change some of that.” He said in a stable and genuine voice, causing Volant to touch her beak with her hand. There was some wisdom to Petrie’s words and after a moment, Volant finally turned at her two troublesome children and snapped at them impatiently.

“Well, follow me then, both of you! As for you others, say one word against Petrie, Donnie or Terra or you’ll be in bad mess yourselves! I, for one, am interested to hear what your brother has to tell!” She cried as she headed towards the small clearing outside the cave, hoping that this day would continue without any further problems.

A slight look of impatience rose to Ortin’s face as he looked at the flyer family not far before him. He was slightly eager to hear just how Petrie would portray his recent adventures but from the other hand, the boy couldn’t say he was happy by any of the last night’s events. Of course he was happy for Petrie but every moment he spent here raised the chances that Lenel could recover and reach the Land of the Dancing Waters unchallenged. He frowned slightly as he spoke to Glide.

“Hopefully this won’t take too long. I just want to get moving before the evening!” He mumbled to his friend whose expression was more mixed. She took a slight smile as she answered but she simply couldn’t deny that she was every bit as eager to move on as the male.

“So do I, Ortin. Of course Petrie wants to spend some time with his family and I’m willing to give him that but you’re right. We must not tarry here for too long. I just hope Petrie knows it as well.” She said, causing a painful thought to suddenly form within Ortin’s mind. He sighed deeply as he asked a question he knew could be an uncomfortable one for the girl.

“Glide… I’d like to ask about your parents. I know you never liked them too much but… you actively stood up to your dad yesterday! You’ll… they will never see you as family again.” He asked, feeling his chest ache as he thought about his own family. The more the thought of it, the more he had began to despise every member of his “noble” line that he had known. He still wanted to find something positive about it all… but it was getting more and more difficult he thought of them and Peak. Glide grinned slightly as she heard that question, her voice a mix of bitterness and despise.

“Good riddance for them! Ortin, you know I never liked mother or father and now that I know what dad was always up to, I don’t him to even acknowledge me either. It seems like neither of us exactly liked our folks.” She said, clearly happy by the fact that she could now lead her own life. Ortin looked at her oddly, wondering if it were better to completely let his ties to his family disappear. He still loved his father but he had met his end a long time ago whereas his grandmother… Ortin shook his head as he tried to reconcile the good times with her with the elderly flyer’s efforts to kill him. The boy’s voice was meek and bothered as he answered.

“You are right but… even after all, I still have some in my family who I wish were alive but… but your folks are still here. It just doesn’t feel right.” He said, hiss thoughts and emotions a complete mess. He was at a complete loss of what to think but at the very least, the crushing pain he had felt when he had witnessed his family being torn to pieces had disappeared a long time ago. Now, he only had to get to terms with himself. In the end, he had to agree with Glide: despite all, both flyers’ lives were easier now that hey had no oppressive families holding them back. Glide turned to look at Ortin sadly while speaking to him silently.

“We both know by now there are many things in this life that don’t feel right, Ortin. But by all means, let’s hear what Petrie has to tell.” She said as she looked at the flyer family looking at Petrie curiously.

Petrie had never been a dinosaur who greatly enjoyed being the center of attention and even now, he felt very uncomfortable as the eyes of his siblings and mother bored deep into him. Even then, he was more than prepared to tell them everything he had gone through. His chest swelled as he thought about all the good and bad times that he had survived and he truly hoped that even Donnie and Terra would change their opinions about him. Petrie frowned slightly as he heard his mother speak to him.

“Go on, Petrie. Tell us everything as I’m sure there are many interesting stories you have to share.” She asked with a smile even if inside she wasn’t nearly as eager to hear her son’s story. His encounter with Donnie had shown just how much the boy had changed and Volant knew that suck changes simply didn’t happen by accident. She even dreaded about what was to come and she felt already bad for Petrie about it all. The male locked eyes with his mother before gulping audibly and asking her the first question.

“Me will, momma. But Petrie’s story very long and… me would like to know about your departure from the Valley first. Petrie returned there first and… Etta told me that you left because the Valley became a bad place to live in and that the others only fought with each other.” He asked, causing his mother’s gaze to fall slightly. She felt sorry for Petrie for all the fearful searching she had forced him to embark on but before she could answer, Skybeak cried to him.

“That is mildly said, Petrie! The other herds did nothing but argue and threaten each other all day long! They acted even more miserably than you used to, Petrie.” He spoke with a clear smirk, knowing he was testing his mother’s patience. Petrie frowned at first but soon enough, he could tell that his brother’s words were meant to be a harmless joke. Despite that, Volant gave him a murderous stare before giving her answer.

“That is true, Petrie. After the storm ravaged the Valley, I saw no reason for us to stay in the Valley surrounded by those idiots and… and I hated the fact that everything in the Valley reminded me about you. I’m so sorry about everything you went through to find us. I truly am, Petrie.” She spoke, causing the younger flyer’s gaze to fall as well. It had all been just a maze of mistakes and unlucky coincidences that no one had wanted to happen. He took a deep breath before asking another question he still wanted an answer to.

“It okay, momma. But… but why you come here, of all places?” He asked, looking at the wastelands around him. He had been slightly bothered by the fact that he had had no idea where his family could escape in a time like this. Volant took a brief sigh, her guilt worsening be the second.

“Petrie, I should gave told you all from the beginning where we’d go if something bad happened in the Valley. I just never… never thought something like that could happen. In any case, I spotted this place on our journey to the Valley and I found it to be a safe spot surrounded by at least little green food. I thought of this as a temporary place to retreat to from the beginning but I never told it to you, kids. I’m sorry.” She said, looking at the younger flyers with apologetic eyes. Petrie stared at her with a slightly bothered expression, not willing to see his mother like this. He cleared his throat before starting his long story.

“V… very well. As for Petrie, me story a terrible one from the start. The first thing we tried to do after leaving all of you was to try to get Chomper home. Ruby would find her parents at some point but we had no idea where Chomper’s momma and daddy were.” He started, earning worried looks from his siblings. They had feared Chomper from the very beginning and their sentiments didn’t seem much better at this point either. Petrie felt weird as he recited those events, feeling as if he was retelling a dream. It felt like ages since he had last met either of those dinosaurs. It was even like… like he hadn’t met them at all. Like he was telling something he hadn’t really been a part of. Petrie felt his heart aching as he continued.

“But that never happen. Soon, we met a group of fastbiters and… and Petrie was left all alone.” He said, causing his mother to gasp audibly. She knew just how much his friends had meant to Petrie and she couldn’t help but regret the fact that Petrie had been forced to go through all that. Besides, she knew very well how much she owed to Petrie’s friends herself… The older flyer sighed sadly as she spoke to her son.

“I’m… I’m so very sorry, Petrie. None of them deserved that fate… except for Chomper. I wish I were there with you.” She said, knowing her words would do little to help Petrie but she simply wasn’t going to act as if Chomper had been innocent. The sharptooth had been behind all of this when he had killed a denizen of the Valley. Petrie’s expression darkened at first but after a moment, it softened again. What was done was done. He had no wish to argue about Chomper with his mother, not after everything that had happened. He simply continued, not showing in any way he had even heard his mother’s words.

“Me also hurt me wing on that day. For a moment, Petrie even thought me would die out there, all alone and with a broken wing. And Petrie would have… hadn’t it been for uncle Pterano.” At this point, there were even more signs of interest among his audience. His siblings stared at him in interest, Tovi crying to him in clear excitement.

“Pterano? How is he doing? What did you and he do then?” He cried, missing him just as badly as Petrie had. Terra’s face brightened as well but she wasn’t going to ask anything from the flyer she despised so deeply. There were other calls as well but Volant waved them silent. She then looked at her son curiously, genuinely willing to know what had become of her brother.

“I’m glad my brother could at least be of help to someone. But Petrie, I trust you’ll tell more about his whereabouts as you continue.” She asked, hoping the next parts of Petrie’s recount would cheer him up a bit. Deep inside, she knew that was merely a fool’s hope but that’s what she wanted to believe. Petrie’s heavy gaze killed that wish almost completely, though, as he continued.

“Uncle… saved me from a few sharptooth flyers… and gave me a new temporary home. He brought me to a large flyer herd where he acted as one of the leaders’ deputy. That also where Ortin and Glide come in.” He said as he nodded at the duo. Volant didn’t like those words at all as she was far from convinced the duo were the best potential friends for her son, especially as she looked at their scars and their hardened facial features. She couldn’t hide her unease as Glide started to speak.

“Or from my perspective, that’s where Petrie came in! He beat me in a flying race even if he was still clearly hurt by his earlier accident! I can’t blame him but he made my life very miserable as he earned his place among us.” She said, prompting Volant to ask the next logical question. She frowned deeply as she spoke to her son, her heart racing as she thought about the possible answers.

“I always knew you were a great flyer when you were allowed to do it your own way, Petrie. But… I have to know, what herd was it?” She asked, noticing Ortin and Glide’s deep unease at those words. Back in the day, she had been forced to know the names of practically every flyer leader and even in the Valley, she hadn’t skipped the chance to listen to news from the farwalkers. The female’s face fell as Ortin spat in disgust before answering.

“Our herd was led by Peak, Nimble, Nira and Lenel back then. I’m sure you’ve heard those names.” He said in a chilly voice, confirming much of Volant’s fears. One pride-filled flyer was already bad enough but to have four of them… she didn’t know the continuation of the story but she knew it wouldn’t be to her liking. She took a few gasps before sitting down on a small rock to calm her mind. Petrie was about to check if she was alright before he heard his mother ask him almost sternly.

“And what was my brother doing with them?” She brought her hand to her forehead, dreading to learn everything that had happened. The change within Petrie and Pterano’s absence made her stomach sick but even then, she had to know the rest of the story. The boy cocked his head slightly as he thought about his answer. After a moment, he gave it.

“He was Lenel’s deputy and his most trusted one at that.” He merely said but there was no change within Volant’s expression. After a while, the female growled oddly.

“Go on, Petrie.” She said, causing a wave of nervousness wash over the male. He hated the fact that he was going to confirm his mother’s fears but he knew she deserved him to be honest with her.

“Well… Petrie was accepted into the herd and after a while, me got to know Ortin and Glide. We liked each other already but… me tell of it later. At first, Petrie thought uncle Pterano and me new friends would make things good again but… it wasn’t long until bad things start to happen. It all started when… when Ortin’s dad was killed.” He said but before anyone could say anything, Ortin walked closer to the flyer family while struggling to keep his rage at bay.

“He was murdered in cold blood within his sleep! I was at his side all along but noticed nothing! When I woke up, my… my dad lied dead beside me, his throat cut open! And the worst thing is that I’m sure the one we got later for that deed wasn’t the real culprit! It was all a lie!” He cried with teary eyes, causing the other flyers to look at him with either stunned or sympathetic eyes. Volant sighed deeply as she looked at him, not at all surprised that the boy’s life had been anything but easy. However, before she could speak, another flyer answered to Ortin first.

“W… what do you mean? Why would you punish someone who hadn’t done anything?” Tovi asked, the other male’s words not making sense in his mind. Ortin rolled his moist eyes but he didn’t waste time giving his answer about this most sickening of memories.

“I guess he did it but he certainly didn’t act alone! The investigation stopped there because our leaders felt that investigating further would have broken the peace in our herd! My father was Peak’s cousin so… so it was a difficult issue for many.” He said, finally allowing his emotions to show. There were close to no unsympathetic faces around the clearly mournful flyer. Volant crossed her arms before speaking silently.

“All of that sounds far too familiar. All of that plotting and intrigue is the main reason I never searched for safety among the larger herds. I’m so sorry for everything, Ortin.” Volant said, earning only a slight nod from the younger dinosaur. Petrie exchanged glances with him before continuing from where he had ended his little tale.

“But things got worse quickly. Petrie… ran into a problem with Ortin and Glide because… because of me being from the Valley and me already thought our friendship was over. For a while it was… but things got better again but only much later. A bit later, we were attacked and… Nimble was killed in that battle.” Those words caused Volant to look towards the skies, knowing that in the next few seconds she’d hear something she certainly wouldn’t like. She could question Petrie about his friends later but right now, the trio seemed to be on good terms. She merely waved Petrie to go on, a chill starting to form ion her heart.

“After that, the other leaders didn’t trust each other and after a long fight… they decided to break the herd apart. All of them but Lenel… who attacked the other leaders and their followers.” He said with a heavy voice, doing his best to keep himself from losing his calm as he thought about the horrifying night. However, when he heard one of his sisters’ question, he broke up completely.

“But… uncle Pterano was Lenel’s deputy, wasn’t he? Did they win?” She asked but at that point, Petrie could no longer hold his emotions in. The boy turned at his mother and sobbed to her in an inconsolable voice.

“Uncle Pterano never see the next morning! He was slaughtered out there and Petrie could do nothing about it! Uncle is dead, momma! Dead because he served an evil flyer like Lenel!” He cried with wide eyes, looking as the older female stared at him with glassed eyes. For a moment, Petrie looked at his mother with an expression that begged for consoling but Volant wasn’t able to give it. Not now. There was a chorus of mournful wails and alarmed questions from her children as the older female tried to rise to her feet but before she could take a step, she stumbled to her feet, dropping on all fours to the ground as tears started to fall to the ground.

Yes, her brother had done sickening deeds and yes, he had betrayed her trust twice in the most serious way but… but he was still her brother! The duo had shared their entire childhoods and even as adults, they had been closer than most siblings of their kind. Volant started to weep even more as she thought about the days when both he and Tuulen had been there by her side, the three of them facing the future together.

And even after her mate’s death, Pterano had been there. Even if she had been far from happy with him back then, she couldn’t deny the contributions he had given to keeping the children safe and her spirits up. And after his exile from the Valley, she had genuinely hoped he had changed back to the Pterano she knew but… that was all over now. She’d have no chance to tell him how much he had meant to her, no chance for some final reconciliation… nothing. After a moment, she heard Petrie’s alarmed voice speak to her.

“Momma, are you alright? Please get up!” He asked, the sight of his mother practically lying in the ground haunting him immensely. After a few seconds, she slowly rose back to her feet while trying to calm herself down. She took a deep breath before asking her son the obvious question.

“I’m… I’m so very sorry, Petrie. B…but what happened to him? Do you know… what happened to my dear brother?” She asked, tears falling down from her eyes. The other flyers around the duo were either staring into nothingness or sobbing deeply. Yes, they had known Pterano for a short time but they could still remember him during the early days of their lives. It was clear that there would be no moist eyes left tonight. Petrie tore his gaze away from his mother as he tried to find the right words.

“P… Petrie wasn’t there but me… me heard that Peak… attacked him in the back and tore his throat open! Me only saw his body later on… poor uncle…” He sobbed as he thought of that horrible morning. At first, Volant was about to turn around to gather her thoughts until she realized what she really had to do. With forced movements, she knelt besides her
son and embraced the boy slowly. She tried to fight her own sorrow as she comforted the broken child in front of her.

“There, there, it’s over now, Petrie. I… I can’t imagine what it was like out there. I’m so very sorry you had to go all that. No one ever should have but these things happen sometimes. Just don’t blame yourself for any of it.” She said, as she raised her gaze upwards. These news were monstrous enough on their own but to hear what Petrie was gone through… it was all so very, very wrong… She listened silently as she listened to Petrie’s next words.

“Pterano continued to make many mistakes… but he never deserved this. Not even if this was the worst mistake he ever did…” He sobbed, regretting he’d have to continue his story further. He had gotten over the most painful part but the memory of that moment lingered in his mind without any end. Volant slowly let Petrie go before answering to him in a warm voice.

“None of us do if we are willing to learn from everything we did wrong. B… but what is this mistake you’re talking about?” She asked, willing to get over thus most depressing of moments. Petrie sat on the ground behind himself before going on, returning himself into the day that was likely the worst one of his entire life.

“Lenel was evil all along and uncle still helped him! Petrie tell of that later but me continue telling what happened after that. Petrie tried to get out of the herd but when that failed, a flyer called Hoist I had met a few times before appeared. He… wasn’t Petrie’s friend.” He said, his sorrow slowly turning to guilt. Volant was trying to keep her interest in the story up even if her mind lingered within her memories of Pterano.

Glide listened to Petrie with saddened eyes, not having heard that part of Petrie’s past recounted this deeply. At this point, she simply hated herself for trying to end her friendship with Petrie in the first place and adding to the pain the boy had felt. It seemed his past had been even more difficult than she had thought. However, she hoped her thoughts would brighten in the next parts of Petrie’s tale.

“In fact, he started to attack uncle Pterano after his death in the most disgusting ways possible. Petrie… me could stand him and we fight… and me nearly kill him.” He said to many gasps. However, before anyone else could say anything about those news, Donnie walked closer to Petrie and snorted at him in disgust.

“You couldn’t hurt a maimed crawler, Petrie! That is a bad lie and that makes one wonder, how much more of your tale is made up? Perhaps you just hid in some small hole in the ground inventing some story simply to make yourself better in momma’s eyes? And those two are likely some as pitiful outcasts as you are? Am I right?” He asked, Petrie’s eyes widening in outrage as Donnie approached him. Volant turned at her son in outrage and snarled at him in cold rage before she was cut short.

“How dare you, Donnie? Your brother was through all of that and you… STILL MOCK HIM? GET OUT…”

“Is that it? Do you really wish to test just how pitiful we are, Donnie, was it? You really should have taken Petrie’s place as you would have been torn to pieces within a day in our herd.” Ortin said as he walked towards Donnie whose courage nearly failed as he saw the more muscular boy approach him. At first, he thought of simply asking him to get away
from his eyes but then, he simply decided that he wasn’t going to show any weakness to the other flyer.

“How can I know that you aren’t? At least only a fool would befriend Petrie.” He said but inside, his mental blockade was starting to fail. For the first time in his life, he saw someone apart from his mother defend Petrie and he didn’t like it in the least. Usually he had earned his siblings’ admiration by humiliating Petrie but now… now he was the center of despise and outrage. Slowly but surely, he felt doubts starting to rise within him but no matter what, he’d never reveal that to Petrie. His mood fell further as Glide moved to Ortin’s side.

“You know what, Donnie? Hoist was far worse than you were and Petrie beat him all on his own. I can only advise you to stay far away from him if you wish to keep being this small, slimy idiot you are! Come, Ortin. He isn’t worth our time.” She said before turning around, soon followed by Ortin. Donnie looked after them, extremely relieved inside that they had left him alone. Petrie had followed that scene warily but in the end, he was more than thankful to his two friends for helping him on this hour. He cleared his throat again as he prepared to continue.

“Me can tell every word true, Donnie. But after that, Lenel sent me away to the Valley. That was when Petrie thought me would see you again but that never happen of course. But it wasn’t all for nothing because at the very least I learned that L…” His expression brightened as he was about to tell of the longneck’s survival but a sudden realization killed the words within his mouth. Of course he should tell his family the truth but…

The boy suddenly frowned as he realized that if he told that his journey was still incomplete, his mother would try to prevent him from going on or at the very least offer her aid. But doing so would cause his entire family to be put to severe danger when the final showdown with Lenel eventually came. And that could mean only more bloodshed and sorrow. Petrie suddenly felt more miserable than in a while as he looked at his mother’s expectant look, knowing he’d have to lie to her. He could only hope he’d make the right choice for his family, for Littlefoot and for himself.

“I learned that Guido was still out there! Yep, Guido and Etta were both there! Petrie would have wanted to stay in the Valley but… me wanted to find all of you! Me friends gone as well so there not that much for Petrie out there. Especially with everything that happened there.” He said but his little lie wasn’t lost on his audience. Volant frowned as she noticed that Petrie was lying but she couldn’t say about what. And she wouldn’t want to embarrass him before his siblings in a moment like this so no matter how difficult it was for her as a mother, she silently accepted Petrie’s words.

“I already told you I’m sorry, Petrie. I should have been there but… there was no way I could have known you we alive! I thought it was certain that you were gone when you spent weeks and weeks away from the Valley! At least I would have wanted some message from you.” She said heavily, her mind dwelling within her memories with Pterano. She couldn’t help but pity her poor son… it was a wonder he had gone through all of that and still able to be even as close to his old self as he still was. Petrie looked at the older flyer for a while before answering those words.

“M… me wanted to get back but… me no longer knew where the Valley as after the sand cloud. As for uncle, he would have wanted to contact you in the Valley… but Petrie didn’t. Me feared the Valley would still hate me for what happen with Chomper.” He said, only now realizing the full folly of what he had done. Volant shook her head in disbelief as she knelt by her son’s side.

“Petrie, look at me. Yes, the days following that meeting were more than difficult and the domeheads started a real push to drive the longnecks from the Valley. When they left from their own free will, they agreed to drop their demands against Ducky and Cera’s families and me. It is true that many wouldn’t have wanted your return back then… but that should never have stopped you from returning.

I will never let any of my children suffer because of the pride of some foolish herds and I would have done anything for you if I just knew you were still alive. The reason I didn’t head after you immediately was that a real battle was starting to start in the Valley and when that threat was over, you had already managed to head to some place where I didn’t find you before dark and by next morning it was already too late. But if anything like this ever happens again, come back to me as soon as you simply can so that these kinds of messes will never come to pass again. Do you understand?” He asked while she stared deep into her son’s eyes. Petrie returned that look s he took a deep breath before answering.

“Me do, momma. Petrie… Petrie was just afraid back then. Afraid of both the Valley and even afraid of what you say about Chomper.” He said while cocking his head slightly. Volant
pulled Petrie slightly closer to herself as she gave him the answer.

“From the very beginning I thought that allowing Chomper to the Valley was a mistake, Petrie, but I would never blame you for something someone else but you would do.” She said, earning a slight smile from Petrie. He didn’t approve in the least about his mother’s comments about his old friend but… after all this time, he simply didn’t care enough for him to start arguing with his mother. He still loved Chomper but… his friendship with the sharptooth felt so very distant right now. His thoughts were interrupted as Ortin’s curious voice broke the brief silence.

“Who is this Chomper? I don’t think I’ve heard of him before.” The flyer asked, that name causing him to frown somewhat. It was an odd name for any leaf eater and even after everything he knew about Petrie, he wasn’t ready for the answer which wasn’t given by Petrie but by Skybeak.

“Chomper was a sharptooth that helped us a few times but he was still a sharptooth! I feared he’d lose his mind one day and attack someone and it did happen at last! His killing of a resident of the Valley was the real reason all of this started!” He cried to which Petrie finally snapped in an annoyed voice that clearly demanded that conversation to stop.

“Chomper only protect his best friend from the clubtail! He still not a monster even if his attack did kill her! Stop attacking him for that, he deserve at least that much!” He yelled, earning deep frowns from his siblings. Petrie’s own eyes were locked with those of Ortin and Glide’s who stared at him in clear suspicion. They were clearly beyond stunned by those news but even then, both of them realized they shouldn’t have been surprised by those news. It seemed like Petrie could surprise them more and more by the day. After a few moments, Petrie calmed down again and started to speak but before he got much further, he realized one thing he had overlooked.

“Well, after me visit to the Valley, Petrie started to follow two of Lenel’s new deputies… Uhh… me just realized me didn’t tell how that previous battle end. Well… Lenel kill Nira and drive Peak away. He now the only leader.” He said, causing his mother to shake her head once again. At this point, she wasn’t particularly interested in herd politics but she was still disappointed by those words.

“I had hoped better from Olres’ heir but it seems like I can’t underestimate the pride of flyer leaders.” She said, causing Petrie to frown deeply. So, Olres’ name was practically as widespread as he had been made to believe if even his own mother had known of it all along. However, he didn’t allow that to hold him back as he went on to finish the story which he hated deeply but which had made him better in so many ways.

“Anyway, Petrie was sent to the Valley with his deputies and me hid meself from them as Petrie returned to the herd. Etta had told Petrie to start me search for you in the same place the herd was but… Petrie learned nothing new there. There only more bloodshed and death when Peak return to kill Lenel.

It was at that point when Petrie saw Ortin again for the first time since… since uncle’s death. Lenel want to kill him as well because he a part of Peak’s family. He the last one left of it.” He said as Ortin nodded simply to the others to confirm that tale. Volant looked at the boy in clear compassion even if she knew it as well that she didn’t have many tears left for strangers. She only spoke to Ortin briefly, sick from the thought of all that had happened.

“I can’t imagine how you got through all of that, Ortin. I’m so sorry that not even children can be saved from these atrocities.” She said, looking as a few tears fell from Ortin’s eyes. Even if he managed to retain a somewhat brave face, it was clear to everyone he was hurting badly inside.

Petrie glanced deeply at his friend, his mood falling further as he realized this was his time to wrap up his story. If he wanted to keep the remainder of his quest as a secret, he couldn’t tell of Littlefoot’s survival or his lingering feud with Lenel. He hated those thoughts but that was the only way to keep his family safe.

“The worst thing of all is that it happen yesterday. After that, we tried to find some meaning in it all… unless me saw Tovi flying above us. That how we got there.” He said, a moment of silence reigning over the group for a moment. Glide was especially torn as she looked at her friend, realizing very clearly that he was lying. But inside, she was more than content with it as that fact confirmed that Petrie hadn’t abandoned the trio’s plan after finding his family. She was more than unhappy with the emotions Petrie’s tale had raised but of course, all of that was to be expected.

Another flyer who was uncharasterically silent was Terra. She had turned her head away from Petrie, not willing to see him in her eyes. She still despised everything within him but… but his story haunted her mind. She tended to believe her friends that it was all a lie… but her mind told her otherwise. Everything within the boy’s story sounded genuine enough and his two companions supported everything he said completely.

A void started to form within the girl’s mind as she tried to decide what to think and believe. Deep down, she knew her comments of Petrie being a completely hopeless failure had been wrong but… she simply wasn’t a flyer who gave up that easily. She glanced at Donnie whose expression was just as torn, both of them knowing that their carte blanche from their siblings to harass Petrie had come to an end.

Volant stared at her son with a stunned look, everything about his tale sickening her deeply. She knew he hadn’t told everything about Lenel or his search but right now, she was only thankful about that. Her heart was already heavy enough and deep down, she only wanted to get away from this situation to gather her thoughts and start mourning properly. Finally, she spoke to the boy that was simultaneously warm and tired.

“You certainly have a natural tendency to find adventures, don’t you, Petrie? Though, this time everything would have been better if this one hadn’t happened. Thank you for telling all of this to me. You are more than welcome to come speak to me about it all if you want to but… I’d want to have a short moment to think about my brother. But know that I’m beyond overjoyed to see you back here, Petrie. And you two as well.” She said as she nodded at Ortin and Glide.

Inside, however, she knew that nothing would ever be the same again. Petrie had seen countless dinosaurs getting killed before him, including his uncle, and he had even been ready to kill this Hoist in cold blood. All the tragedy and drama that had happened would never leave her son’s heart and Volant realized more than well that his siblings would have a hard time understanding Petrie’s mentality from now on. She couldn’t help but smile solemnly at her son’s lost childhood as he answered to her again.

“Me likely will, momma. But that’s mostly what Petrie been doing lately. Petrie sorry about uncle Pterano but… me had to tell about him too.” He said as he looked at his mother’s haunted expression. The silence around him was deafening as none of his siblings found any words to say after hearing of their uncle’s passing. Volant glanced at Petrie briefly, speaking to him silently before she turned around to take her leave.

“Of course you had to, Petrie. You owe it to him and… we others as well. Children, you can always seek me out if you want. I understand these news will be difficult but… but it is all a part of the Circle of Life. I’m just sad that I…I couldn’t fly it to the end with him.” She sobbed as she headed away from the small clearing, her sense of responsibility still intact within her. Even in a moment like this, she couldn’t go very far or she’d leave her children unprotected.

Petrie looked after her with heavy eyes, hating to see her like this. He sighed deeply, in a clear loss about to do from now on. He locked glances with Ortin and Glide before the duo rose into the air, more than willing to give the distressed family a bit more time to calm down.

After a while of wandering around, Petrie understood just why his mother had chosen to move to this particular place. The peak on which the flyers’ new nest lied on overlooked wide distances of the surrounding lands, making ambushing anyone living on it practically impossible. Even better, its slower slopes resembled a complicated maze and it offered many places to hide from any sharpteeth. The boy smiled slightly as he saw small patches of green sticking out from under the ground sparkles which was a rare sight on this season. Yes, this was a place worthy of being called home but… but that very thought caused Petrie’s mood to fall steeply.

The thing is, he wanted to stay here, grow up with his siblings safe from most dangers and forget everything about Lenel, his herd and the bloodshed he had caused. Even Littlefoot… it would be so much easier to stay here and tell to himself he could never find the longneck anyway. He had everything he needed here, many great brothers and sisters, shelter, food, his mother…Everything would be so very simple if he simply ended his adventure here and started to live a quiet life away from everything bad.

Even Donnie had stayed silent during the conclusion of his tale and their encounter in the morning had proved that the older boy was no longer the threat and nuisance he had once been. A slight smile rose to Petrie’s face as he thought about the future he could have if he simply did nothing. All it would take was to explain the situation to Ortin and Glide and his life would take a major turn for the better.

The flyer sighed as he looked at the sight around himself, more than surprised to see the smoke rising from the Mountains that Burn far, far away in the distance. These lands reminded him of his first adventure even if they weren’t quite as desolate as they were back then. The memories of these areas returned to his mind and in a way, they raised nostalgia to the mind of the young dinosaur. Yes, this would be a good place to call his home and…

“Hey, Petrie! That was quite an impression you made upon the others! I… I didn’t know just how much your uncle’s death affected you. I’m sorry I ever attacked you about him.” Ortin said as he landed beside his friend. Petrie twitched noticeably as he saw the duo land beside him but it didn’t take long for him to calm down and answer that comment.

“It okay, Ortin. Yesterday was a terrible day for everyone. Petrie not even remember that fight anymore.” He said, not finding the strength to care about such things anymore. Ortin gave him a slight smile for that answer but it didn’t take long until Glide got to the main part of the conversation. Her voice was kind but urgent which didn’t make Petrie’s thoughts much brighter.

“That’s great, Petrie. But anyway, we have to get going soon enough! I know you’re happy you found your family but that doesn’t change the fact that Lenel is getting better every second and we can’t waste more time if we wish to stop him!” She said, the implications of her words more than clear. Petrie stared forward for a few seconds while burying his head in his hands. When she finally answered, his voice was a weary and unsure one.

“Me thought about that and… Petrie thought that me have pretty much anything me need out here.” He said simply, causing the girl’s jaw to drop. After everything that had happened, that hadn’t been the answer she had expected to hear. She frowned deeply as she moved closer to Petrie, willing to end this dispute here and now.

“Petrie… we all agreed that we’d stop Lenel and find the Land of the Dancing Waters, remember? This is something we simply have to do.” She said softly, willing to hear no further objections. Petrie turned at her slowly, clearly torn inside.

“But back then, me hadn’t found me family! And now that Petrie has, me don’t want to lose them again!” He said but before he got any further, Ortin spoke to him in a much sterner voice that wasn’t nearly as understanding as Glide’s.

“And because of that, you wish to let the monster who ruined our families off the hook? Is that really what you are going to do, Petrie? Is it?” He asked, not willing to believe this was even an issue. Petrie started to stutter, knowing he was wrong… even if it felt like it was right. He tried to gather his thoughts, hoping to save the situation somehow.

“Petrie sure you could stay near us as well! There no need to go see more death!” He tried to reason but before he could finish, Ortin grabbed Petrie’s arm and spoke to him almost menacingly.

“Even if we could stay, I wouldn’t be able to rest for a moment, knowing Lenel is going to rule our entire kind. After all, it was you who so convincingly preached about the magical powers of that place and if you were right, Lenel will claim all of them! It was you who wanted to find this friend, Littlefoot was it, using those very powers! Was he completely made up or are you willing to abandon your friend to his fate because you tell yourself that your life is complete now? Are you?” He asked, causing Petrie’s beak to shudder slightly.

Suddenly, the brown-colored boy realized just how selfishly he had acted towards everyone. The joy of reunion had just blinded his judgement for a moment but inside, Petrie could feel his heart telling that what he was saying was wrong. Littlefoot was still out there and he simply couldn’t allow Lenel to win, not after he had done to Ortin’s family… and uncle Pterano. Petrie turned to look directly at Ortin and took a deep sigh as he prepared to answer.

“You right, Ortin. Petrie just wanted to believe it all over for me… but me cannot leave you in trouble. Nor Littlefoot. Hopefully you not mad at Petrie.” He said, slowly realizing all the implications of his earlier hesitation. Glide’s face softened first and she even smiled as she spoke to Petrie.

“Don’t worry about that. Of course anyone would want to sometimes lay down and believe the worst is behind us. But finally moving on is the most important one even if I’s sure leaving your family behind is far from easy for you.” She said, causing the boy no nod slightly. He waited for a while before speaking again, already regretting the pain he’d have to cause to his mother again. Still, there was no longer hesitation within his voice.

“Me no know if you realized it but Petrie never told of out future plan to momma because inside, Petrie always ready to move forward. But let me spend this evening here. It… easier for all of to move on in the dark of the night.” He said, looking in deep regret at the small cave she had seen her mother go to gather her thoughts after her brother’s death. He hated everything about his situation but inside, he knew it would get far worse before it would get better. Ortin rolled his eyes as he turned to look at the skies and gave his answer.

“That’s the best we can hope for, I guess. Just remember not to make any fuss when we finally leave a few hours after the Bright Circle sets.” He said, not expecting to hear any objections but Petrie wasn’t completely happy with that order. He quickly turned at the other male and spoke to him even more urgently than needed.

“Petrie not do that! Me mean that… momma, brothers and sisters deserve to know where me go this time. Petrie will wake Tovi up and tell him where we are going to go.” He said with distant eyes, causing Glide to snap at him in near shock.

“You can’t tell him that! They’d follow us immediately!” She cried, not really willing to believe her ears. Petrie, however, wasn’t too happy by the question and his expression was nearly hostile as he gave his answer.

“Of course me not tell them where we going! Me just tell that we off to stop Lenel and find Littlefoot! Hopefully that good enough for you!” He nearly cried before realizing just how excessive his voice was. However, he saw no clear reason to apologize for those words and Glide’s exchange of glances with Ortin confirmed that his plan wasn’t too badly received.” After a while, the girl gave her answer and spoke to her friend in a more silent voice.

“Very well if you truly believe Tovi is trustworthy enough to not alert the others immediately! Let’s go, Ortin. We’ll have a long day ahead of us.” Glide said as she took off, immediately followed by Ortin.

Petrie looked after them for a moment, taking a deep sigh as he turned to look at the Bright Circle which still lingered relatively high in the sky, praying deep down that this wouldn’t be the last evening he’d ever spend with his family. Yes, he still had work to do but… but he could just pray that the things he had already won wouldn’t be stripped away from him by some cruel twist of fate. The flyer looked longingly into the horizon, having decided to savor this short moment of peace before the next, hopefully last part of his journey.

It seems like the last chapter’s reunion was but a small stop for Petrie as after everything that has happened, he simply can’t turn his back to all his friends. Whether his decision will be the right one, it will be seen soon enough… Yeah, this chapter was a much slower one but I felt that we had to see just how Petrie’s family reacts to Petrie’s adventure. To be honest, the idea wasn’t just my own as it was proposed by Rhombus so thanks to him!

You may or may not have noticed but Donnie, Terra and Skybeak were the three bullies from DiddyKF1’s rather recent short story Gone Too Far as I felt that allowing them to make kind of a cameo would make Petrie’s development in this fic more concrete. Thanks a lot for allowing me to use them, Diddy! That being said, I hope you liked this chapter and let me know what you think of it!

Anagnos: I’m really happy about your praise! Battle scenes aren’t what I find the funniest to write so that makes your words even better! Your comments about Greentail are very true as Ruby has been sorry for Greentail’s injury from the beginning and her death will be a huge blow for her, certainly. And it goes without saying that the entire family will have a very bleak future from now on.

And yep, this chapter is certainly very long but there weren’t many scenes I felt could be cut as this installment needed a lot of time to live up to its potential. Though, that won’t be a major problem going forward as there will be one major battle left at most. But again, thanks a lot for the kind review!

rhombus: Hollow victories often tend to be the ones with the most interesting and emotional outcomes, at least in my opinion. Here, it allows us to move on from this long chase but simultaneously creating new plotlines that will help this story in its way towards conclusion. Ruby is most likely the one most hurt by these events and she certainly has much to come to terms with in the next chapters.

I’m also happy by your words about the pacing as I’m quite content with it myself. This battle seemed to move forward naturally to thanks a lot for those words! As for the future, it will indeed be bleak and I truly hope I can build on the apparently well-received events of this installment.

« Last Edit: June 17, 2019, 12:39:49 PM by Sovereign »


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #122 on: June 17, 2019, 12:32:39 PM »
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that Donnie and Terra haven't changed a bit, or so it seemed at first. You did a nice job blending my OCs into this story in a very effective way. I was very impressed.

This had just about everything I could have imagined for this potentially short-lived family reunion. Volant is trying her hardest to be that warm motherly figure to Petrie even after learning of the fate that has befallen her brother, and Donnie and Terra are slowly realizing that this is not the same Petrie they've known all their lives. In fact, it gives me an idea you could use for a future chapter, although I think I'd rather tell you about it in a PM so I don't spoil the idea to everyone else reading this.

Finally, the way the chapter ended gives us another possible heart-stopper. Just as Petrie has gotten his family back, he now faces the prospect of losing them again after so much he's been through to find them. Selfishness is not the answer in a time when the fate of all Flyers will likely rest in their hands (or rather, wings :Mo). Not every adventure will have a happy ending, and Petrie has had to learn that the hard way. :opetrie

I did notice one tiny error where you put Greentail's name in where I think Glide would be the correct one. If I recall, Greentail is dead and was not part of Petrie's story. Just letting you know. :smile

Excellent chapter, and I will eagerly anticipate what will become of Petrie's next move.
Suddenly, I've written so many fanfics that I can't possibly list them all! :P


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #123 on: June 17, 2019, 02:11:40 PM »
It was rather fascinating to witness the structure of Petrie’s family in such habit and also to see Petrie’s own reactions on the matter. Donnie’s characterization in this chapter felt really familiar to Diddy’s own short story. It’s always a pleasure to see someone else expand on OC narratives. Volant’s reactions to Petrie’s adventures since splitting from each other long time ago in the story is in my opinion done very well. Petrie’s transformation must have been a great shock to not only Donnie and Terra but also for the other children and even Volant herself. Also, her reaction to Pterano’s death was indeed quite excruciating experience to witness. Her reactions felt fathomable.

But despite this change, she still cares very deeply for her son. I wonder how she will eventually take the news of Petrie’s departure from the nest. I could see Volant very desperate to protect her child from any dangers outside their nest. Even keeping him there against his will, if you might say because he very much still wishes to see the Land of Dancing Waters.

Petrie’s own thoughts about abandoning his family and even the search for Littlefoot felt… awkward to say the least. I do not really see Petrie as someone who would abandon his loved ones for any reason whatsoever. One other thing that I can nitpick about being how slow this chapter advanced. Don’t get me wrong, I can agree with taking things slow, especially since the last chapter’s gruesome battle but it did bother me nonetheless. I can’t say that I spotted the same error as Diddy did. It is always good to double-check that you have all the names and such correct prior to publishing but I can understand that things like these are very easy to miss from time to time.

That being said, I don’t have anything else to nitpick about. I hope I didn’t come off as too rude or something. It has been quite long and tiring day for me so I apologize if you got that impression. I know that I have said this before but the end is very clearly looming near and it will be very intriguing to eventually see, what you will bring us in the future. :)littlefoot


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #124 on: June 23, 2019, 12:04:36 AM »
The waited reunion between Petrie and his family was certainly an interesting thing to behold.  Previously in this story we did not have an in-depth overview of his siblings so this allowed for a lot of potential possibilities. Though unfortunately for Petrie it appears that although his journey has changed him, time has not changed the antics of two of his brothers.  Petrie's attempt to put them in their place through explaining his story was quite believable and although Donnie might not have explicitly backed down fully, I am sure that he will now have pause concerning how he relates to his brother.

The strong part of this chapter to me, however, are the interactions between mother and son, and Volant's reactions to the news Petrie has shared. Though she undoubtedly must have suspected that Petrie had joined with a flock for some time out of safety, the exact nature of his situation came as quite a shock to her. It must be heartbreaking to hear of the death of one's brother in that way and also, based upon Petrie's story, to know that she will almost certainly have to part from her son once more.  She is quite right that this is not the same Petrie that left the valley previously.  He is a changed flyer in many ways.  Which brings me to my next point...

I must agree with Anagnos, however, that the sudden desire of Petrie to stick around with his family and to give up his search for his friend did not really fit my perspective of Petrie's personality. I could see him being tempted by the option mentally, and to perhaps even doubt himself in some detail, but to basically back down from his self-imposed mission now seemed out of place to me, especially in light with the flyer Petrie has become during his journey.  I am glad to see that he is now resolutely back in favor of his mission, however.

I look forward to seeing what happens next.  With Petrie's story ongoing and Ruby's sad journey at a major milestone (and with fewer members) I can only hope for the best for our three wayward members of the gang.

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


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #125 on: July 03, 2019, 09:48:30 AM »
The Cold Time of Endless Tragedies

The world stopped around Ruby as she stared at the fallen behemoth before herself. The sight of Dein’s dead body was one she had never expected to see, even if right now it made the turmoil within her heart a little bit easier. Looking at the fallen predator indeed ended all these weeks of fear and chasing which was an answer to her prayers. However, that sight was but one of the many things fighting for dominance within her mind.

For now, the deep satisfaction with this victory prevented the stinging sorrow from manifesting itself in the girl’s mind even if they certainly were there. As she thought about Dein and Terri’s ends, she felt a warm feeling within her chest which felt like they weren’t her own at all. Rather, those emotions seemed to belong to another dinosaur she had known and loved deeply and suddenly, she felt a few words leave her mouth even if she felt like none of them were her own.

“It’s alright now, Chomper. Your parents will never hurt anyone again.” She said, that whisper surprising even the fastrunner herself. However, nearly immediately afterwards, a horrifying wave of agony coursed through her body. Ruby screamed as she fell to her knees, taking her ruined tail to her hands, looking at it in horror. The loss of her father coursed everywhere within the girl’s thoughts but for a moment more, the physical pain was enough to overshadow that horrifying thought into the background.

Sickening parts of torn meat were exposed from the tail and the entire area around the cut was horribly damaged and bruised. But worst of all, it was still bleeding large amounts of blood and Ruby realized even in her current mental state that it had to be stopped or she’d die before too long. She suddenly piled large amount of the ground sparkles above the tail, cringing as they melted from the warm liquid. The omnivore sighed in relief as her hand hit the solid ground and she wasted no time taking soil to patch up at least some parts of the maimed appendage. She knew the risks of getting sick later but for now, it mattered little.

In those moments, Ruby was far from conscious about Ducky looking at her from nearby. She had jumped off from the fastrunner’s back as she had charged Dein and right now, she struggled to hold back her tears as she looked at her dear friend. The glassed look on her face as well as her highly unsure and confused movements confirmed the fact that she wasn’t capable of thinking clearly, the shock of her many losses causing her thoughts to get completely jammed.

However, the swimmer shook her head sadly as she knew what would soon follow. It wouldn’t be long now until Ruby remembered everything that had happened during the fight and…

Poor, poor, Ruby. I hope you can stand these moments, I do, I do.

The omnivore breathed almost unnaturally heavily as she looked at the earth and the ground sparkles grow red with her blood. At this point, her mind’s eyes was a combination of pain and sickening flashes from the concluded battle. At that point, there was absolutely nothing plausible within her mind as she looked at her bleeding slowly starting to slow down. The seconds moved on slowly and bit by bit, Ruby’s panting eased… and with them, the mental locks holding back the incoming shock.

Suddenly, the pain from the halftooth’s tail seemed to disappear completely, its place taken by a deep aching of her heart. Suddenly, war tears started to fall into the ground as a scene that felt like a bad sleep story from a previous life returned to her mind. With a haunted look, she turned to look towards the direction where Terri’s earthly remains lie, seeing the dead dinosaurs around her. Ruby’s emotions rebelling against her increasingly vivid memories, she started to walk towards that scene of tragedy. Please, it can’t be true… it isn’t true… Daddy is still alive, he must be! He has to be…

Those kinds of thoughts swirled within Ruby’s mind as groups of other dinosaurs looked for their friends around the battlefield with few of their eyes remaining dry. Some sharpteeth were already tearing into the flesh of the dead but at this point, Ruby didn’t care. From the corner of her eye, she could see Stealth starting to hold his victory speech but that was something that didn’t interest Ruby in the least. The only thing that interested her was the slight of a dead fastrunner that was drawing closer by the second. She was just about to confirm her fears as she saw Orchid and Arial run to the scene, something that was soon followed by an inconsolable wail.

“D… daddy?! Please, daddy, wake up! You have to wake up!” Arial’s cry was soon followed by an even more alarmed cry from Orchid.

“Mommy, come help us! We can still save daddy if we act quickly enough! Please, hurry!” He yelled but Pearl’s pace didn’t improve in the least. Even Ruby would have wanted to believe her brother but the sight that greeted her was very similar to the one she had expected to see. Detras’ entire midsection had been crushed and there seemed to be not one bone intact within the fastrunner’s torso. But the most haunting thing within his remains was his undamaged face that still retained its characteristics despite his horrifying end.

Ruby could feel tears starting to flow down her cheeks as she fell to her knees besides his father, not able to believe he was really gone. All her life, he had guided her forward and always been there for her when she needed it. The memory of that fateful night on the Desolate Rise was far from Ruby’s thoughts as she dwelled in the happy memories from the seasons long gone. Her father was gone, another victim from her failures. The fastrunner looked with moist eyes as Pearl spoke in a broken voice.

“There’s nothing we can do anymore, children. You can see that he’s gone. M… my dear Detras is gone…” She said, not able to hide her own emotions as even the younger children resigned to the sickening reality. Ruby was crying horribly, the pain within her chest worse than anything she could remember thus far because this time, she had lost a member of her own family, some that had been in her life since its very beginning. The girl shook her head, clearly sickened by it all as she spoke to her mother.

“I… it’s all my fault. Without… without me… daddy would still be…” She said but before she could finish, her mother interrupted her in a silent voice.

“Silence now, dear. Come here, all of you.” She said, waving her children to her. Orchid and Arial did so readily but at first, Ruby seemed like she was hesitating. However, at this point, any relief was welcome and after a moment, she approached her mother who then spread her hands around all of her children, trying to stay strong for their sake. Each of them accepted this embrace wholeheartedly, each of them wanting some consolation from the cruel world. She looked at her beloved mate’s remains before her while trying to keep her words somewhat understandable.

“We cannot blame ourselves, Ruby. All we have now is each other. Detras was the best mate I could have asked for but… but we have to survive without him now. At least all of you are still here. That’s the most important thing.” She said, cringing deeply at her own words. It wasn’t long before Orchid spoke to his mother in a broken voice.

“B… but we can’t survive without daddy! We need him so badly! I miss him so very much already…” He said, weeping violently as he spoke. Pearl looked at him with teary eyes, trying hard not to upset him further.

“We all do, Orchid. But we have to move on.” She merely said, not believing her own words. She had no strength left and without her mate by her side, she was at a complete loss of what to do. Detras had not only been a good father but he had also known the best way moving forward always, except that one, horrifying time. Her words caused each of the children to sob even more, none of them noticing the high shadow appearing behind them. Soon, they heard a sharp voice speaking to them.

“Ruby, Pearl, look at me.” A male voice said which they all recognized as Stealth’s. However, none of them was interested in anything the predator would have to say. Soon, the sharptooth spoke in a louder and more demanding voice.

“Look at me, now!” Those words suddenly hit a nerve within Ruby and awakened her somewhat from her pain. She turned at Stealth and cried to him loudly, not even bothering to hide her tears.

“Was it all true, Stealth? Did you really seek me out simply so that I’d call you to mommy and daddy to use them as pawns against Chomper’s parents? Did you?” She demanded so harshly that her mother spoke to her in a silent voice.

“Ruby, don’t make things…”

“I can’t make them any worse and besides, he owes us a few answers! It may be his fault daddy is dead and he better not lie to me anymore! So, Stealth, was that the truth?” She cried, causing Stealth to cross his arms. He was horribly battered and he was bleeding from almost every part of his body but that didn’t seem to bother him at all. He looked at Ruby with a blank expression, her outrage not seeming to bother the sharptooth in the least. He looked at the girl for a few seconds but to Ruby’s further confusion, there was not a twinkle of pleasure within Stealth’s eyes. And when he spoke, the carnivore’s voice was heavy but highly void of emotions.

“All of it was true. I knew just what you’d do and in the end, my faith in your parents’ ability to help me beat those two bastards wasn’t misplaced. However, that isn’t the only thing I foresaw.” He said, something within him suddenly making Ruby’s heart drop even further. Right now, she would have wanted to attack Stealth and make him pay for what he had done. Ultimately, it was his fault her father was dead! But the sharptooth’s tone forced Ruby to ask the next question even if her voice was practically a horrifying cry of pure pain.

“Why would I be interested in anything you have to say anymore, monster?! Everything that has happened is your fault and if everything hadn’t happened, daddy would still be alive! I hope you’ll choke to death before the evening!” She cried, her agony fusing with her despair as she shouted at Stealth’s unmoving face. It felt like the perfect metaphor for her entire life: she was shouting against all the world’s evil, powerless to change any of it and the world not even reacting to her struggles. Stealth crossed his arms and looked at Detras’ corpse, more than happy to see his old enemy dead along with his former masters.

“Everything that has happened is my fault… You are more right than you even realize, Ruby. After all, it was me who put you in that situation in the first place. No, it wasn’t me who sent the fastbiters after you but it was me who finished your little friend’s life and brought Dein and Terri’s fury upon your family.” He said calmly, waving a few of the smaller sharpteeth closer to himself in anticipation of what was to come.

Ruby felt like her heart was freezing as she heard those words. Even if she had expected to hear something disgusting after Stealth’s ominous comment but this… this was far beyond monstrous. It… it simply couldn’t be true. Trying to contain her overflowing emotions, she spat out a few words while her eyes were locked into the ground.

“W… why? Why would you do that… do that to Chomper? Please, Stealth… say that was a joke.” She said, not listening to her own words. Stealth moved closer to Ruby and spoke with a voice that surprised Ruby greatly. It had no trace of malice, it was even compassionate, but it still held absolutely no regret for his actions.

“I must admit it was something I didn’t really want to do. Killing helpless hatchlings is far from honorable but when it comes to Dein and Terri’s son, this Chomper, I had no choice but to act. I knew about your little arrangement but believe me when I say that it was just a lucky, or unlucky for you, coincidence that I was near enough to smell him wandering the desert all alone. I knew Dein and Terri would never forgive you nor your family and well, here we are. I did make it quick for him, though.” He said in a voice that was even borderline mournful. However, he had no illusions about how Ruby would react to his little revelation.

The fastrunner’s hands turned into fists as she started to shake more and more by the second. After everything that had happened, after everything she had lost, Stealth was now revealing he had been behind it all? And she had trusted him like a naïve hatchling once! Ruby’s breaths grew quicker as she stared at the sharptooth, all rational thoughts disappearing from her taxed mind. She’d get her revenge on the sailback now and avenger her father, Greentail and Chomper at the same time! She screamed from the top of her lungs as she began to sprint towards the male.

“How could you hurt Chomper, Stealth?! I’ll make you regret what you did before the end, murderer!” She yelled as she looked at the predator with a hateful look. However, before she could even get close to him, she felt two fastbiters tackle her to the ground and before she even realized what was happening, she found herself lying on her belly, a large fastbiter’s foot pinning her into the cold earth. Her eyes widened in hurt and despair as Stealth spoke to her again.

“And after seeing that my deed on that day helped me cut down my oldest enemies, I would gladly do all of it again, Ruby! I would again kill Chomper and sacrifice your father. But there’s no reason to dwell in that any longer as I have one final offer to you and your family.” He said but Ruby hardly even heard him anymore. She was in a mental lockdown, her pathetic failure blocking the rest of her sentient thoughts. After a few moments, Pearl cried at Stealth with teary eyes.

“We don’t need any more of your offers, Stealth! Just get lost and leave us all in peace!” She cried, willing to attack the sharptooth as badly as her daughter but she knew doing that would only make things worse. She hated the sharptooth from the bottom of her heart but even then, she could never win him in a fight. After a few seconds, another dinosaur joined the conversation, one the fastrunner hadn’t expected to hear.

“That is the least you can do, Stealth! None of us deserve to be told what to do from a bad sharptooth like you! Chomper was a far better dinosaur than you will ever be, he was!” Ducky yelled with an appalled look. To think anyone would ever want to kill Chomper… Ducky had always wanted to see the good in other dinosaurs but… but Stealth seemed to be beyond any hopes of redemption. And inside, she was slightly bothered she wasn’t even slightly sorry about that.

She may not have been as close to Chomper as Ruby had been but she had still loved him deeply and hearing about his demise had hurt her deeply but to hear Stealth brag about his deed to Ruby… that fact alone made something boil within the swimmer. As her memories moved towards her happy times with the small sharptooth, her inner rage towards Stealth only worsened. Inside, she wanted revenge on him as badly as the omnivores but there was even less she could do about it.

Stealth snorted at those words deeply but did his all to retain his composure. The smaller dinosaurs’ words meant nothing to him even if he couldn’t deny there was a small voice in his conscience that told him that his deed has been wrong but on the other hand, he had righted a terrible wrong with his plot. The sailback looked at the swimmer briefly but looked at Ruby and Pearl as he spoke.

“Indeed, I am planning to leave all of you alone very soon but before that, I still want something from all of you. The life of the one who, along with her mate, helped Dein and Terri to track down my parents in the first place.” He announced, causing each of the omnivores to gasp in horror and disgust. They simply couldn’t believe what they were hearing and Orchid spoke for all of them.

“Leave mommy alone, sharptooth! We already lost too much because of you! You can’t take her as well!” He cried, hoping this was just some cruel joke. Pearl herself looked at the sailback in shock even if she hadn’t been too surprised by the male’s words. Her answer was a pained one but the fastrunner made sure not to sound pleading in the least. She’d never slither before this monster, no matter what the cost.

“We had a pact, Stealth! We would help you get rid of Dein and Terri and you would let us go! Show that you have at least a modicum of honor and keep your word this one time!” She pleaded but Stealth merely grinned briefly before he started moving towards the hapless female. He revealed his teeth as he spoke, making clear he had already decided how to move on.

“The way I remember it, I promised you I’d consider allowing you to go free if you served me well. And Ruby just confirmed you were plotting behind my back last night in order for you to escape my judgement. Though, I had heard that conversation myself so there’s no reason to be upset about that, Ruby.” He looked at the younger fastrunner whose misery clearly worsened by the second. Pearl looked at the sharptooth in disgust, speaking the only words she could at this point.

“Don’t take me for a fool, Stealth. If that really was your only reason to killing me, you would have abandoned it the moment this little plot of ours never succeeded and thus, we never hurt your interests in any way. Admit it that your only reason to slaughter me is that you never even thought of letting me or Detras escape. Just admit it, Stealth.” She said with a wavering voice, everything around her feeling so unreal. It had been ages since she had faced the world without her mate and the gaping hole and sorrow inside her tortured her without an end. This day had turned into a perfect nightmare from which there was no escape. Stealth spat into the ground before answering.

“You are correct about that, Pearl. I never planned to let you go as I want everyone responsible for my parents’ deaths to pay the price. But look at this this way: with your death, you will buy your children the safety they only dreamed of when Dein and Terri were still chasing them. They hadn’t been born the day Sprinter and Whiteclaw still lived so I have no reason to hurt any of them. But I certainly will if you decline my offer.” He said, not really caring what answer he’d receive. In the end, he’d get what he’d want, one way or another. However, before Pearl got a chance to even speak, another horrified wail rang through the air.

“Don’t listen to him, mommy! You must not allow yourself to get killed by this monster, no matter what! We’ll get out of this together, I promise you! Just don’t give Stealth what he’s after! Think about what daddy would want!” Ruby yelled, trying to make her words as clear as possible through her tears and chaotic mind. However, immediately after he finished, she cringed in pain as the fastbiter pinning her into the ground tightened his grip and whispered to her in disgust.

“Stay silent, brat! Nobody wants to hear any of your thoughts now!” She said, her expression telling Ruby that she meant what she said. Even then, the only thing she was interested in now was her mother’s answer and she stared at her with a pleading look. She had already lost her father and now she was about to lose her mother as well. All eyes were gathered on Pearl whose gaze suddenly darkened greatly.

In many ways, the offer interested her greatly. it would finally give her the opportunity to redeem herself from her terrifying crime towards her daughter and reunite with her beloved mate again. Ruby, Orchid and Arial would be safe and free to go on with their lives in any ways they saw fit and her own pain would forever be extinguished. The female even smiled as she thought about it all but even then, doubts lingered within her mind.

The pleading looks of her children haunted her greatly as the twins gazed at her with lost and horrified. Could she let them down again? Inside, she knew they needed a mother on their journey towards adulthood, a thought that made her heart ache even more. Her eyes grew even more moist as the female’s eyes met those of Ruby’s, not willing to hurt her once again. Still, she knew that Ruby would do just nicely without her already but she also realized her daughter still wanted to have her mother still in this world.

However, when she looked at the sight around herself, the fastrunner’s face fell further. Two dozen sharpteeth were looking at her with murderous eyes, ready to rip both her and her children to pieces if she answered the wrong way to Stealth. In a way, she had no choice in this matter. Either she’d accept Stealth’s ultimatum or she could try to escape with her life but in that case, she would very likely doom her children to an eternity of fear and hiding or even immediate death. Here, she could end all of that, forever.

Pearl slowly turned to look at the sky, a look of deep longing appearing on her face. Her place was by her mate’s side and inside, she knew what was the right thing to do. Here, she had the option to make things right for her children as well as follow her mate wherever he went as she had pledged for many times. Ruby would take good care of her siblings, Pearl knew that much. The fastrunner then looked at Stealth in a hurt and horrified face but she knew in her heart she was doing the right thing. Without her mate by her side, she could never hope to withstand an enemy like Stealth.

“Stealth, if I agree to your proposal, do you swear in the name of your ancestors to leave my children at peace from this moment on? Swear it to me now, sharptooth!” She snapped in a demanding voice but before Stealth could answer, Arial cried to the older fastrunner in a horrified voice.

“Mommy, you can’t mean that! Please, mommy, don’t do it…” She cried as she sobbed against the older female’s plumage. It broke Pearl’s heart but she was doing this all for Arial and her siblings’ sake. Stealth looked at the halftooth and after a few moments, he spoke to her in a slow, crystal clear voice.

“I swear that in the name of every member of my family who came before me. I give you my word that I will never harm Ruby, Orchid or Arial as long as I live.” He said, causing Pearl’s forehead to tighten greatly. She knew that Stealth’s word wasn’t worth much after his little deal with her and Detras but it was all she got and right now, she had no better options before herself. She had never expected to survive this day, after all. With a pained nudge, she pushed Arial further away from her as she finally answered to Stealth.

“Very well. I accept your proposal then, Stealth, even if I had hoped it wouldn’t end this way. But I guess this could be seen as the final payment between our families.” She said, falling to her knees as she saw Stealth waving a few fastbiters starting to approach her slowly. Orchid looked at the scene in horror and he quickly started to run towards his mother, wailing heartbreakingly.

“You can’t do that, mommy! Please, you…” He cried but suddenly, he was pulled backwards with a harsh force and his eyes widened as he saw it was one of Stealth’s fastrunners who Pearl could identify as Jaros. He cried at him in growing panic, his heart pounding violently in his chest.

“Let me go! I have to go help her! LET OFF!” He yelled but the older male’s grip held steadily. He then whispered sadly but firmly at the boy.

“It’ll be over sooner if you don’t watch. I owe it to your father to make this at least as easy as possible for you.” He said, knowing there was nothing he could do to prevent the inevitable from happening. Deep down, he prayed that there’s be some better way he could repay Detras for saving his life during the battle but he’d at least do as much as he could. Orchid looked at the larger omnivore in outrage but no matter what he did, he couldn’t free himself of Jaros’ grip. He saw from the corner of his eye that Arial was also
caught by another fastrunner, also being pulled further from their mother.

Ruby could only look at the scene unfolding before her eyes in shock and outrage. How could her mother do this? She simply couldn’t abandon her and her siblings like this! It had to be some mistake that she could and would make right! There was no other explanation than her mother being deeply confused by something and wasn’t thinking clearly. Suddenly, she raised her hindlegs upwards and hit the predator’s stomach with her claws and immediately afterwards, tried to pull herself away from under the sharptooth’s foot was just as she felt like she was about to break free, the grip tightened again and the girl cringed in pain as the carnivore started to sink her claws into her back slowly and surely. She growled at the fastrunner in hate, looking as her belly started to bleed.

“Do that again and I swear I’ll crush your ribs one by one, halftooth. And I will keep my word.” She said, making sure there was no way Ruby could ever escape. She even put her hand before the halftooth’s mouth, knowing what kinds of wails would soon be heard if she was allowed to speak.

That scene was from some kind of bad sleep story for Ruby. Here she was, unable to move or speak and forced to watch as the fastbiters moved closer to her mother, preparing to strike the killing blow. The girl tried to free herself in any ways possible but it was all for nothing. With a horrified and fearful face, she looked at her mother’s calm expression, praying she’d change her mind before it would be too late. She simply couldn’t lose both of her parents on the same day. She simply couldn’t!

A slight frown appeared on Stealth’s face as she looked at the struggles of the three children. Deep down, he couldn’t help but see himself somewhere deep down within all of them, running for his life after the loss of his parents. He could see the same emotions swirling within their eyes but after thinking about his own seasons of suffering, he wouldn’t call this execution off.

And besides, there was one difference here that made him calm despite the eerie comparisons between himself and the probably vengeful children: he was a sharptooth, they weren’t. Even if one day they’d want vengeance against him, they would never be a threat to him and for that simple reason, he could keep his word to Pearl. Looking in disgust at the last surviving harbinger of his parents’ deaths, he spat at his followers in a sharp voice.

“Finish it. After that, our mission here will be complete.” He said, not even bothering to look at Pearl’s last moments.

The aging female herself looked around herself surprisingly calmly, knowing that she’d never know if she had made the right decision or not. It could be possible that she had made the best decision in a long time and safeguarded her family’s survival or she could just as well have only rubbed her beloved children of their mother while giving them nothing in return. Yet, she wouldn’t allow her son and daughters to live in an eternal tyranny of fear if she could only help it. After the deaths of Dein, Terri and Red Claw, the Mysterious Beyond would be a safer place for a young fastrunner to grow up in any case. She looked at the sharpteeth around her briefly before speaking to them in an almost neutral voice.

“Well, don’t waste any more time! Ruby, Orchid, Arial, just stay safe! I only want you to grow up, have children of your own and to live happy lives yourselves. Hopefully you can forgive me one day for everything.” She merely said, looking as one rather large fastbiters sank his claws into her throat, ripping its contents to pieces with a one, powerful move. At first, the fastrunner felt a stinging pain but it faded away so very quickly… One final thought lingered within her mind as she fell into the ground.

Wait for me… Detras, I’ll follow you wherever you go, dear…

All the voices on the small clearing within the deep forest died down the moment Pearl fell into the ground. That silence descended eerily upon Orchid whose eyes had been covered by Jaros the whole time. He could already tell what had come to pass but still, he was beyond disgusted by Jaros’ presence. He suddenly swept his hands from his eyes and turned to look at where his mother had been… and saw the sad sight he had expected. That was a moment the young boy would never forget, no matter how badly he would have wanted.

For the third time on this same, cursed day, Ruby felt like the world was falling apart everywhere around her. When she had woken up, she had thought about whether or not she’d be able to forgive her parents but… but now it was too late for that. In the matter of half an hour, she had been turned into an orphan which was something she almost couldn’t take. She tried to press her eyelids together as her sobs intensified again. This day was every bit as horrifying as the one during which she had lost her friends.

Slowly, the fastrunner felt the pressure on her back easing as the predator raised her foot away from her. But even then, Ruby hardly stirred. What was there left for her to do anyway? She was parentless and it, as usual, was her fault. She hated everything and everyone and she would have wanted to simply attack the predator will all her might and make at least her pay for what had happened. But… even then, a small voice could be heard within the girl’s heart. She’d have to bid her mother a proper goodbye, at the very least.

With weak and forced movements, Ruby rose to her feet but before she could take ten steps, two sharpteeth blocked her way in determination. The fastrunner paid them little heed, shouting them in deep outrage.

“Go to hell, all of you! You will not prevent me from saying my farewells!” She cried but immediately, she received a harsh hit to her chest which sent her falling into the ground again. She looked in disbelief as the sharpteeth spoke to her.

“We owe you nothing more, pitiful halftooth. Join your friends and get lost from here, now!” One of them said in a voice that made Ruby’s jaw drop in disbelief. She suddenly turned at Stealth and cried from the top of her lungs like she had never done before.

“IS THIS ALL A JOKE, STEALTH? TELL THESE BASTARDS TO GET OFF SO THAT I CAN AT LEAST BID MOMMY GOODBYE!” She yelled, not able to comprehend anything of which was happening. All of it happened like something that could never happen but here she was, denied even a chance to look at her dead mother for the last time. Stealth glanced at the girl one last time before answering to Ruby harshly.

“I promised her only that you’d leave this place unharmed and I need no children like you swarming around me or my herd anymore. Do as I told you and leave this place immediately.” He said, preparing to revel in his triumph. For the first time in many seasons, he was free of his thirst for revenge and at least for the duration of the coming night, he’d be willing to spend in peace and to think about his next move. Ruby’s breaths grew quicker by the second and even a wheezing voice started to escape from her lungs. She was sickened beyond words and the worst thing was that she was powerless to do anything about it. She slowly started to stutter with a forced voice, clearly at a loss herself.

“I… I’m not going to… I’ll see mommy again…” She started but before she could continue, she heard a gentle touch on her right hand, one that made her breath at least a little more easily.

“Let us go, Ruby. There is nothing for us here anymore, there is not.” The utter storm inside the fastrunner died down a little as she heard the soft and familiar voice speak to her. With glassed eyes, she turned to look at Ducky’s sad face and after staring at her for a few seconds, she merely nodded weakly. Slowly, she followed the swimmer towards her siblings, their movements closely followed by the group of sharpteeth and omnivores. It wasn’t long before the four hapless dinosaurs disappeared into the darkened woods.

It wasn’t long before they had to stop as they simply had no strength to go on. The three siblings were in no way capable of moving on at this point, each of them crying their hearts out against the cold wind of the forest. The fastrunners sat down on a group of rocks, none of them capable of having any kind of conversation right now. However, in a certain way, it was Ducky to whom this situation was the most difficult one.

Here she was, forced to witness Ruby and her siblings’ sorrow while being unable to do anything to help any of them. She felt like a total outsider as she couldn’t fully partake in the siblings’ sorrow, only able to witness their loss from the sidelines. She felt more than bad for Ruby’s parents but she had met them only a few times which prevented her from sharing Ruby’s agony. Ducky had always been a compassionate swimmer and the fact that she was unable to help her dear friend in her hour of need agonized the girl greatly. Tears dropped from her own eyes as she looked into the distance, hearing sounds of Stealth’s minions feasting far in the distance.

Even then, she thought she really understood just how Ruby and her siblings felt. She had lost her father a long time ago as well as Spike, a memory that haunted her still to this day. True, his passing wasn’t in any way her fault but the pain of losing a loved one who you saw every day was a horrifying experience to any dinosaur, let alone a child. And the swimmer knew full well that there was absolutely nothing she would have wanted to hear in the immediate aftermath of Spike’s death. He, as well as Ruby’s parents, was gone and no words could ever change that fact.

However, Ducky hated to see the fastrunner like this and inside, she prayed there was something she could do to at least somewhat ease Ruby’s pain to a certain degree. Even if she couldn’t undo what had happened, she could at least attempt to break the despair within her friend’s mind. She had no illusions about what she could do but she’d t least have
to try. If there was anyone who could get to Ruby, it was her. With forced movements, she moved towards the omnivore and whispered to her hopefully.

“Uhh, Ruby? That feeling will pass in time, I kn...” She  started but before she got any further, Ruby mumbled with a broken voice, not a trace of her former optimism or cheer to be seen or heard.

“Go away, Ducky. I don’t deserve anyone’s company anymore.” She said, not even looking at the girl. She was reliving her entire life before this point, seeing her parents’ smiling faces on her stardays as well as their proud expressions as she learned ever more skills. They had looked after her when she was sick and encouraged her forward whenever she was feeling down. And now, they were dead, all because of her. The omnivore started to sink her claws into her thighs which started to bleed slightly. Ducky cringed as she saw that but decided against giving up just yet.

“I just want to thank what you did back there, I do. You saved me from a certain death and for that, I am forever grateful.” She said, hoping that something within her words would at least catch Ruby’s interest in some way. However, the omnivore gave no indication that she had even heard what the swimmer had said and after a few moments had passed, Ducky decided to try again.

“I am just saying that you did what you could to save everyone. You could save me… and you did, yep, yep, yep!” She said and this time, Ruby finally turned at her and snapped at her in anger.

“Do you seriously think I care about that in a moment like this, Ducky? I had always thought you’d know better than that. Mommy and daddy are gone and… and I couldn’t care less what I did today. It all happened because of me.” She said while starting to weep even more violently. There was not a flicker of light within her mind and the swimmer’s words felt like they were at most mocking her and her sorrow. The only upside was that Orchid and Arial were too broken to even speak at this moment. Ducky, however, wasn’t finished just yet.

“I know, Ruby, I know. And none of us deserved what happened out there. But… I was all alone after Spike left me and… you aren’t. We are still here because of the things you did right in the past days! Your mommy and daddy died because of Stealth but we’re here because of you!” She tried, praying her efforts would pay off. At first, Ruby only stared forward, as if to think about how to answer to the swimmer’s words. After a moment, an odd twinkly appeared in her left eye as she started to speak.

“Ducky… everyone is dead because of what I did in the Valley and because I couldn’t keep Chomper said. Nothing else is important. So, please your mouth shut AND DON’T TRY TO CHEER ME UP WITH YOUR DAMNED LIES THAT NOT EVEN A STUPID GROUND FUZZY WOULD BELIEVE! I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF IT!” She yelled, momentarily stopping to think of her own words but just as it seemed she was going to apologize for her outburst, her expression hardened again and she turned away from the swimmer. Her voice became much slower but also much more toxic than before.

“It’s true, Ducky. It should have been me who died out there and not mommy. She was innocent about it all. It would be better for everyone if I just died here.” She said, investigating a small rock she picked up from the ground absentmindedly. If she thought about things more rationally, she would have realized the folly of her own words but not in this moment. She then threw the stone violently against a nearby tree, imagining that she was hitting another copy of herself. Orchid and Arial looked at their older sister in shock but neither of them found anything more to say.

The swimmer looked at her friend in deep compassion. She knew each of those emotions very well as she had felt them herself. She also knew her chances of getting to Ruby were abysmal and those fears had already been reinforced during this discussion. It was as if Littlefoot had told her that one wise dinosaur had told him: everything would get better with time but only with time. Her voice was meek as she spoke, hoping that her next words wouldn’t make things any worse.

“You know that isn’t true, Ruby. Your brother and sister need you and… and if you did that, your mommy and daddy’s deeds would be for nothing. Besides, I need you, Ruby. I want to return to the Valley one day but I will never make it through this Cold Time without you. You will realize it in time that most of what went wrong wasn’t your fault. We all make mistakes whose consequences we won’t learn until much later and we can’t be blamed for them.” She said, realizing how much she sounded like Littlefoot overall. Those words weren’t something she would have said in her Valley days but so much had happened for her as well since then. Inside, she was just happy that she had learned something from Littlefoot who had been, in his own way, the wisest dinosaur she had known. Ruby snorted deeply as she answered, not liking this conversation in the least.

“But that doesn’t change the fact that if things had went differently, none of this hell would have happened! Greentail wouldn’t have been maimed and killed, daddy’s body wouldn’t lie out there in pieces and mommy wouldn’t have practically killed herself! So yes, I do blame myself for that, thank you! This… this is just…” She started to again cry more audibly, the sight of her mother being slain before her eyes haunting her deeply. And the knowledge that it had been Stealth who killed Chomper… absolutely everything had gone wrong her during her journey.

She was just about to bury her head in her hands when her ears heard something that caused her to turn around and reveal her claws before her mind had even realized what was happening… just in time to stop Yarel’s incoming blow. The thinclaw gritted his teeth in a horrifying, his trauma clearly guiding his actions. His voice seethed with hate as he spoke.

“I’m surprised you even remember that my sister existed at all, fastrunner scum! A pity you never did so when she was actually alive!” He cried with a teary expression which revealed immediately that his conscious mind had absolutely no idea about what he was doing. Ruby cringed as she struggled to keep the boy at bay, finding just enough strength to defend herself. The fastrunner’s voice, though, was beyond resigned as she answered to the other omnivore.

“Y… Yarel? I thought that… that you would be gone by now…” She said, not willing to admit her guilt once again. Her heart ached as she looked at Yarel who was just another of her many victims in the girl’s eyes. Yarel started to sob ever more pathetically as he heard those words, practically spitting the next sentence from his mouth.

“Gone… where exactly, Ruby? I have no home or any dinosaur to return to, thanks to you! Greentail was all I had and she lies out there, getting as cold as this cursed world! WHERE DO YOU THINK I WOULD GO TO? WHERE?” He demanded, not sparing any of his hate against the fastrunner. A sudden wave of weakness washed over the female as she heard those words which was just enough to break her defenses. Ruby’s eyes widened in fear as she fell into the ground, doing her best to safeguard her throat against the other juvenile omnivore’s attack. Her next words were more like desperate wails but it was all she could form at this point.

“I… I know, Yarel. If I hadn’t ever met you… I’m so very sorry about everything, Yarel.” She had no strength left to defend herself nor did she even want to. The male gave a surprised look but he didn’t end his efforts for a moment. He’d get his revenge, no matter what. However, he cringed deeply as he noticed the two younger fastrunners jumping on his sides, crying in outrage and fear.

“Leave Ruby alone, Yarel! It wasn’t her fault!”

“You won’t take Ruby from us, thinclaw! Get away from here!”

Arial and Orchid, cried respectively as they prepared to attack the other omnivore. Yarel looked in slight shock as they aimed their claws into his belly and back, knowing even their claws were capable of hurting him severely, possibly even taking him out. However, he wasn’t about to be outdone by the duo and with one blow, he cast away Ruby’s arms and aimed right at her throat. He growled in hate as he spoke to the twins.

“Harm me in any ways, pipsqueaks, and your sister will pay the price! If I were you, I wouldn’t even bother to defend this villain!” He cried as he looked at Ruby, cursing the day he had first met her. That was the day his life had been ruined and the day that had led him to this situation. Orchid and Arial gulped in fear, doing as they were told. However, all of the dinosaurs present realized they had reached a dead end in this struggle… all except Ruby.

While she would have sacrificed herself to bring any of today’s victims back to life, she still didn’t want to die… not like this. She suddenly remembered that it was only on this very morning that she had still seen Yarel as her friend but here he was, ready to kill her if he only managed to wrest the situation back into his control. The girl looked at him pleadingly, trying to keep her words at least somewhat intelligible.

“Yarel… this isn’t what you are. This isn’t what your sister would have wanted.” She said but it didn’t take long until she realized her mistake. Yarel’s eyes widened immediately and he wasted no time tightening his grip on Ruby’s throat as he gave his answer.

“Don’t talk about her! None of us knows what Greentail would really have wanted since she was practically gone ever since her injury! My sister… she never was the same again and I have no way of knowing what the old Greentail would have wanted! And it was all because of you!” He cried, the boy clearly having a hard time keeping his own composure together. Ruby inhaled deeply, trying to somehow convince Yarel that his line of thinking was twisted even if her heart told her she was wrong. At this point, it was her primal will to live that guided her rather than her own mind.

“But she was still Greentail after the injury! Yarel, I know you are upset but it was Chomper’s parents who did this to her! And if you think I got out of that fight without losing anything, both of my parents are dead! Slaughtered by Terri and Stealth!” She yelled, struggling to prevent herself from simply giving up. Her self-loathing emotions told her Yarel was right but something prevented her from simply resigning to her fate. The thinclaw looked at the fastrunner for a moment, surprised by those words but his mind was too twisted right now to play that much heed. His voice was a cold one as he gave his answer.

“So it seems there is at least some justice in this world, Ruby. Your parents apparently payed the price of your stupidity alongside my sister which is more than fair in the end!” He spoke, some cracks starting to appear in his shield of hate as he saw the deep pain on Ruby’s face. However, at this point Ducky had seen enough. She walked closer to Yarel and cried to him in a pleading voice.

“Yarel, you don’t want to do this! We didn’t know each other for a long time but during the few days we spent together, I saw that you aren’t a heartless killer that you look like now! Deep down, I know you are a good dinosaur so don’t let that sorrow ruin your entire life lie this! You know you don’t want to kill Ruby!” She spoke, hoping her words were correct. She indeed had learned to respect the thinclaw but still, she wouldn’t call him a friend just yet. Yarel was about to give a prompt response but the words died down in his throat. He waited for a few moments before he finally spoke again.

“What do you know about all of that, swimmer? You hardly know me and you weren’t out there to see it all! And what do I care about how you would react if I killed Ruby? I don’t have a future anyway without my sister!” He yelled with a hurt voice that made the smaller dinosaur to cringe deeply. However, it was Orchid who spoke to the enraged omnivore next.

“We worked together for many days to even reach this day and you joined us voluntarily! I lost my mommy and daddy but I wouldn’t want to insult them by attacking someone who isn’t responsible for their deaths! Yarel, please, I know there were times where you liked all of us… and we liked you. Don’t do this. I’m sure Greentail wouldn’t want you to do that either.” He spoke and to his extreme surprise, Yarel seemed to stop suddenly. His eyes seemed to stare into nothingness but as seconds passed, the boy started to weep increasingly violently as he started to cry again suddenly.

“I… I’m not a good dinosaur and I never enjoyed anything during this journey… at least since Greentail’s injury. After that… I never cared about anyone else than her… without her, I am nothing.” He said as he suddenly brought his hand to his face and started to shake heavily. Ruby breathed in deep relief as Yarel leaned against a nearby tree, slowly collapsing into a sitting position. All of the other dinosaurs present suddenly gathered around him, more than relieved the moment of dread had passed. Ruby looked at him with a bothered look, not really even feeling bitterness towards the boy despite what he had been about to do to her. At least, she could clearly see now that he wasn’t a threat anymore.

“Do you really mean that? Did you join us on the Rise… simply because of your sister? In the hopes she could recover her skills faster?” She asked, bothered by the implications. Even now, she was more than certain that deep down, Yarel still thought of her and of the others as friends but even then, she felt more than guilty for never before bothering to ask about anything from Yarel before. The male looked at Ruby in the eyes, all traces of malice vanishing from his face.

“I do. After we left the Rise, I never cared about the rest of you, only about the possibility that… that one day the old Greentail would return to me. It was a folly but… but you don’t know how close we were back in our home forest. You didn’t know… how much she meant to me. So in the end, I used all of you to my own ends.” He said, guilt starting to flow into his mind. Only now did she realize the depth of his mistakes even if his heart still reminded him that if he had never met Ruby, none of this would have happened. Though… if he had not agreed to follow Ruby, all would be well too… the boy shook his head which was starting to increasingly hurt. He hardly heard anything when Ruby spoke to him in a heavy and teary.

“But… certainly you would have left me immediately if you never wanted to come with me, Yarel. I’m sorry to hear all of that but…” Suddenly, the fastrunner’s words were interrupted by a magnificent display of colors which rose to the sky over the forest, illuminating everything around the small group of dinosaurs as it was day. Ruby’s eyes widened as she looked at the dancing colors, immediately recognizing that they were similar to the ones she had seen previously. But this time, they were much closer than before and they seemed to sallow the whole sky under its radiance. Those colors were reflected within Ruby’s moist eyes and the fastrunner’s breaths grew even heavier as she looked at that display. After a moment, she whispered o the other dinosaurs around her.

“Look at that… it is those dancing lights again. I just wish I knew what they meant.” She said, earning many agreeing nods from those around her. After a while, they died down again, disappearing as quickly as they had come. The dinosaurs were again left in the dark day of the Cold Time and it didn’t take long before Ducky spoke t the others.

“I saw them before as well! But they were never this powerful before, they weren’t!” She said but immediately, she realized her enthusiasm wasn’t shared by her friends. Ruby took a deep sigh as she looked at the swimmer, her earlier despair returning to her face.

“I’m sorry, Ducky but… but I’m not too interested in that right now. I… I’m not really interested in anything more.” She said, sitting down again while she looked at Yarel. Inside, she felt only disgust and guilt and her curiosity had been completely buried under those feelings. The thinclaw shook his head again while affirming the other omnivore’s sentiment.

“I agree, Ruby. I agree.” He said, the feeling in the small group sinking immediately. For a moment, the only things that could be heard were Orchid and Arial’s continuing sobs and Ruby and Yarel’s sniffs which made Ducky frown deeply. She hated to see her old friend like this, a sight which awakened old memories within her mind. Littlefoot had been very similar to Ruby when he had first met the her soon after losing his mother.

Sure, she hadn’t known it back then and it had been a few days since the tragedy at that point but… but the longneck had shown her that even in a mind full of despair, there was still courage that had to be awakened. She cringed as she thought of herself after Spike’s death but deep down, she realized that Swiftsplash had managed to pull her away from her near-fatal sorrow. The swimmer looked at the fastrunner and spoke to her in a soft voice.

“But… that was what we had already decided to do, wasn’t it, Ruby? Besides, we cannot just stay here doing nothing, no, no, no.” She said, causing ruby to look at the sky, apparently thinking about the swimmer’s words. However, before she could answer, Arial gave her answer.

“I don’t want to go anywhere if mommy and daddy aren’t going with us! I’d rather just stay here, Ducky. There… there isn’t any reason to go on.” She said, burying her face in her thighs. Ruby looked at her in horror, not having expected to hear such words from her sister’s mouth. To see the usually-happy child speak like this… It made Ruby to slowly realize what she was doing. Even after everything, her siblings still depended on her for survival and if she gave up… so would they. Without really even realizing it, the fastrunner hit her first into a nearby rock, crying with all her might into the skies.

“How could you do to us, mommy? How am I supposed to look after Orchid and Arial when you escape into the Great Beyond like a cursed coward? That… none of this is fair! Screw you, mommy! Screw you!” She cried into the heavens as her composure failed once again. Everyone around her looked at the girl’s outburst in shock, the two younger children’s eyes also widening in horror and sadness. They were extremely bothered by their sister’s reaction, not expecting or wanting to hear those words right now. Ducky looked at her old friend with an expression that was one of the most serious ones the swimmer had ever given to anyone in her life.

“That is where we are now, Ruby. But please, do the right thing at least for your brother and sister’s sake. They have no place to go and you are the only one who can give them any kind of a future. That’s what your mommy wanted all along.” She looked Ruby directly in the eyes, causing the latter to start weeping deeply. She was extremely upset by all of this and she looked at her siblings for a few seconds, her heart growing heavier by the second. After a few seconds, she turned at Ducky again and spoke in a lower voice to the swimmer, willing to merely disappear into the air.

“I cannot look after them, Ducky! I said it already after we left the Rise and I already proved that point, didn’t I? I… I just can’t do this!” She said, cursing the fact that she was again in a situation like this. For so many times already, she had been pushed to these kinds of tragedies and each time she had been right about her own faults. Even then, Ducky whispered to her slowly, hoping to get over this debate as soon as possible.

“You know I am right, Ruby. You cannot leave them to die.” The swimmer said in an almost grave voice that made the fastrunner freeze completely. To hear such terrible words
from the swimmer… it finally made the terrible reality come to life around the omnivore, one that she had tried to deny ever existed. She could only look at Ducky with half-closed eyes but she was soon interrupted by Yarel who walked closer to Ruby with a sickened expression.

“Do what you want, it hardly bothers me! I… I’ve had enough of all of you!” The thinclaw said, causing Ruby to turn at her. The fastrunner looked at him sadly, asking him the only question she could. Inside, she had expected to hear something similar from Yarel and after his attack, she wouldn’t have wanted his company anyway. In a situation like this, she could forgive Yarel’s unthought assault but it had scarred her deeply. This would be their parting of the ways.

“Where are you going, Yarel?” She asked simply, causing the boy’s eyes to flash swiftly. His answer sounded like a belly slider’s hiss as he turned away from the omnivore.

“Anyplace that is just far away from all of you! Also, I will not ask for your forgiveness about that attack before you ask.” He said with a deep voice. The fastrunner frowned deeply as she looked at him, more than outraged by his antics. She was happy to bid him farewell but there was one question she still wanted an answer to.

“I never expected that. But Yarel, when you say you never wanted to follow me, was that also true before the hunt in the nightly valley? I want you to answer honestly if our entire friendship was a lie from the very beginning?” She asked, looking with some relief as Yarel stopped for a moment, his body language confirming that there indeed was some hesitation and regret within his mind. The boy took a deep sigh and after a few seconds, he turned his still-teary face at Ruby. When he spoke, his voice nearly broke down completely.

“Ruby… I’ll just say I hoped things would go differently, that… we might be able to call each other real friends but… that’s over now. Right now, all I just hope is that may our paths never cross again.” He said as he disappeared into the forest, something deep within Ruby repeating those same words. All along, she had only brought sorrow and tragedy to Yarel and his sister and in all honesty, this might just be close to the best circumstances they might have separated from each other. The girl took a deep sigh as she looked again at Ducky, speaking to her in a soft voice.

“I never wanted any of this but… let’s finish the journey we started. That’s what… what mommy and daddy would have wanted.” She said with a heavy voice, not even trying to hide her tears. Inside, she no longer cared about her quest at all but Ducky was right: she couldn’t freeze to death with Orchid and Arial here. The fastrunner turned to look at the direction the dancing colors had come from, praying that whatever waited for her wouldn’t be even worse than what she had already gone through.

Unknown to them, Ruby and her companions weren’t the only ones to see the sky colors. Stealth looked at them in deep awe, not having expected to see them again after the last display a few nights ago. Back then, he had simply cast them away as something of little consequence to go on with his revenge but now… now he couldn’t help but feel he had seen them for some real purpose. Inside the sharptooth rose a new curiosity, one that he knew he could extinguish.

Unconsciously, the sharptooth licked one of his many wounds when the unnatural display ended, the Cold Time’s afternoon’s gloom again setting over the wide forest. A deep smile rose to his face as he thought about it all. He had just achieved his lifelong dream in full and right away, fate offered him a new path forward in life. He was already the most respected predator in the Mysterious Beyond and whatever had made those colors would only serve to make him one of the sharpteeth of legend.

Even then, he knew more than well that his own injuries were severe and his followers would want their rest before moving forward. He would allow the Bright Circle to set and rise
again when he’d make his move but one way or another, Stealth knew he’d soon achieve another great victory to make up for his past. A confident smile rose on his mouth as he looked into the horizon, hardly able to wait for the opportunity to make his next move.

After the tragic events of this chapter, Ruby and the others have decided to resume the journey that they had been forced to halt due to the conflict. But will they find the strength to move forward or have the endless losses finally broken their resolve? Yeah, this chapter became much darker than I originally wanted but I’m in many ways rather pleased with the result. I hope you like it as well and see you next time as always! 

DiddyKF1: I’m happy to hear you approve of my usage of your characters and thanks again for letting me use them! And yep, Petrie’s mother was in a tough spot in this chapter as her situation was far from easy or pleasant. Donnie and Terra were also up for a lesson but it’s hardly this was the last we’ll see of them. As for the chapter’s ending, that indeed was left open but the fact is that Petrie will have to face his quest’s final part on his own. As for how it will end, that still remains to be seen…

Anagnos: It’s a relief that the story part didn’t seem to drag for too long as I feared that going through the old story again could get boring. But apparently Donnie and Terra as well as Volant were written will enough to pull that sequence through the finishing line which is a relief. And yep, it was quite sad to write Volant’s reactions because there were practically no news that would have been more devastating for her.

Even then, I understand the contrast to the last chapter was a profound one so it makes sense this installment might have been a little bit low-key compared to the last one. And don’t worry, that review is a completely fair one and thanks for sharing your thoughts as always!

The Rhombus: Yeah, Volant’s reactions to her son’s change were one of the main part here but I’m also glad to hear you found Donnie and Terra’s inclusion a good decision. They just offered the best mirror to Petrie’s character at this point. But indeed, the new Petrie is a shock to her mother but all of those thoughts were buried under the pure joy of reunion… until the news of Pterano’s end, at least.

However, I am genuinely surprised by the reactions to Petrie’s hesitation. I tried to portray his hopes of staying with his family as a moment of weakness that he didn’t fully believe even himself. I thought that the scene would make Petrie more sympathetic as he only wanted to simply stay with his family and have a normal life after the months of tragedy. Maybe I didn’t do good enough job to show that, though. Anyway, thanks for the review!


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #126 on: July 03, 2019, 11:54:00 AM »
Oh, my God. This whole chapter seemed to turn Ruby's entire story into a tale more tragic than it seemed to be. To say that I was absolutely shocked by Stealth's confessions was an understatement. Ruby has come to realize that she was dragged into this whole mess mostly through no fault of her own. From the moment the Gang was separated, her story seemed sealed for the most part. Each and every paragraph of this chapter just turned it more and more into a depressing, hopeless tragedy, and you really drove this one effectively well, all the way to the possibility of contemplating suicide. There were actually several points in this story where I really thought Ruby was going to die and her story would reach its conclusion, but it's a relief to see that she's survived so far, even if she's not willing to go any further. She is completely broken with absolutely no ambition for anything anymore, but she still has those she needs to protect, and her road to recovery may take the rest of her life, if she survives, at least.

I hadn't been paying too much attention to Ruby's story as I had for Petrie's, because of my character bias, but this chapter was a pure tearjerker, and you have absolutely outdone yourself with emotions in this installment. I really felt for Ruby here, and now that her story seems to have changed completely for the worse, I can't even begin to think what will become of her next ...
Suddenly, I've written so many fanfics that I can't possibly list them all! :P


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #127 on: July 05, 2019, 02:44:44 AM »
Although I was expecting a brutal follow-up to Ruby's story this chapter hit especially hard.  Now not only has Ruby been grievously injured, lost her father, and lost a friend who is now an enemy, but now she has lost her mother in the worst way imaginable. In the end Pearl's sacrifice for her family must stand in contrast to Ruby's unwillingness to join Chomper in death or to be killed by her father, which can only further increase her pain.  And as if this was not enough she now knows the full extent of Stealth's scheming which absolutely blind-sighted me and Ruby alike.  He is easily the greatest hate sink in this story for me.  All because of him and his ambition an entire family, no, two entire families have been left brutalized and destroyed.  Ruby's willingness to just end it all right here is believable considering the circumstances and, ultimately, it is the need to be strong for her siblings that is keeping her going.  I can only hope that will be enough for the struggles to come and that, in time, she can find some measure of peace. (and that Stealth dies horribly)

Although my review might be less verbose than previous ones rest assured that this chapter exceeded expectations as it explored the depths of Pearl's love for her children, Ruby's despair, and Stealth's brutality.  But much like Ruby's emotions in this chapter there are certain things that cannot be explored adequately with words.  All I can say is that Ruby's tale is truly a dark one and it has now entered into some of the darkest depths imaginable.  Hopefully by the time her tale comes to an end she will be able to get some measure of peace for herself and for all of those she has lost.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2019, 02:46:45 AM by rhombus »

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


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #128 on: July 07, 2019, 07:18:49 AM »
First of all, I would like to say that I am sorry that this review is a little late compared to my previous ones. Without further additions, let us go over the newest chapter.

I must say that this chapter is perhaps the saddest part of the whole story and it even made me a bit sad when reading the aftermath of the bloody conflict between Dein, Terri and Stealth. It seems that my assumptions hit quite the right place earlier in the case that Stealth wouldn't leave it at that and continue his life in the Mysterious Beyond after finally avenging his parents. Ruby not only lost her father, but also her mother to this cruelty. The future does not look good for Ruby and the group and they will certainly face further threats to their existence. I actually assumed that Stealth would, however, eventually, have tried to kill the rest of the Ruby’s family. This little  ’’mercy’’ shows that Stealth is not a complete monster as many would see him as. I see him as an individual who has had terrible experiences and as a result has changed.

Now that Stealth has accomplished his goal of killing Chomper's parents, will he eventually become a power hungry fool? His reputation may be a good one in the Mysterious Beyond as of now, but when one has a lot of power, they may eventually be corrupted by it. And the thing about Stealth being responsible for Chomper’s death… I didn’t see that coming. I guess I have to keep more of an open mind about things from now on? I do have to agree with Rhombus’ statement that Stealth suffers a horrible fate sooner or later.

I fully understand Yarel's feelings. It is not easy to get over the death of Greentail. Especially when she was actually the only person left in his life that he cared deeply about. Life alone in the world can do bad things to a person, especially if the person in question is not quite clear in their mind and after this massacre none of them seem to be completely fine. But time heals wounds, or at least make the pain easier to deal with when enough time has passed.

I was looking forward to reading this new chapter so much and it goes without saying that this was once again quite well written. The upcoming chapters may not be as sad as this one, but if you consider what this story has been like so far, it has been quite moderate in my opinion. Exciting things are in store and I can’t wait to see them occur. :)


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #129 on: July 11, 2019, 09:48:10 AM »
Two Final Departures

Shivers ran through Petrie’s body as the flyer slowly opened his eyes. He had only returned to his nest about an hour ago and during that time, he hadn’t even thought of falling asleep. No, he had waited for all of his siblings and mother to fall to sleep one by one, his mind more than heavy because of what he was about to do. He looked in fear at the mouth of the cave, knowing the night was turning out to be a very cold one.

He sighed deeply as he resigned to the reality. Ortin and Glide were waiting for out there and no matter how much he would have wanted to just curl besides his siblings and resume some form of his old life, he knew he had to do this. Lenel would have to be stopped and he would find Littlefoot, no matter what. The flyer’s expression turned into a decisive one as he rose to a sitting position, smiling slightly as he saw that the others really were asleep.

He was more than happy by the fact that Donnie and Terra would have to sleep outside the cave with little food the next week as a punishment for their reaction to Petrie’s return so there was no reason to worry about them. Petrie felt his heart beating in agony as he started to walk towards Tovi, not willing to leave his family again without letting the others know where he was going. The boy walked as silently as he could and after a few moments, he knelt besides his brother and brought his hand to his shoulder gently and whispered.

“Tovi, wake up! Petrie have something to tell you. Be silent, don’t wake up others!” He said, more than nervous as the other male opened his eyes, clearly surprised by this interruption. He looked at Petrie with sleepy eyes and tried to ask his brother the obvious question.

“Wh… what is it, Petrie? Why would y…” He started but before he got further, Petrie literally shut his beak with his hands and spoke sharply.

“You’ll see but now, just follow me! Petrie promise you can go to sleep again soon!” He said, able to breath easier as he saw Tovi wake up a bit more and nod to him. Petrie then released his beak and spoke to him again with a silent whisper.

“Good! Come with me!” He said, taking a deep breath as he noticed they hadn’t woken up the others. Tovi looked at his brother with a confused look, growing slightly worried by Petrie’s antics. He had never been one to approve of Petrie’s past adventures and something within his body language told Tovi that he’d soon hear something that he wouldn’t be happy about. He looked questioningly as Petrie stopped near the mouth of the cave, gulping as he saw the sky stars flying nearly horizontally, knowing that the weather was absolutely horrid for flying. However, his observations were soon interrupted by Tovi who finally wanted some answers.

“Well, Petrie, what is it? You can’t just wake me up and then keep me wondering about what’s happening!” He said, taking an almost stern look towards Petrie. The darker colored boy twitched slightly as he heard those words, the many things racing in his mind having already made him forget about his sibling’s presence. However, his focus returned immediately as he heard Tovi’s voice and he turn at him while taking a deep breath. He then spoke in a bothered and almost pleading voice.

“Tovi… me know you not like what Petrie gonna say but… no matter what, don’t tell momma and the others before the morning. Promise?” He looked his brother in the eyes which caused Tovi’s mood fall even further. He didn’t approve of Petrie’s tone at all but even then, what could he answer but the thing Petrie wanted? If he started to argue about it, Petrie might decide against telling what was within his mind. Tovi’s voice was nearly an annoyed one as he finally gave his answer.

“Yes if you just tell me what’s going on!” He said simply, causing Petrie to frown deeply as he looked into the dark skies once again. However, soon enough he looked back at the other boy and sighed deeply as he spoke.

“Well… me tell you. Petrie gonna leave all of you again this night.” He said matter-of-factly, causing Tovi’s heart to drop immediately. Had he actually heard what he thought? B… but Petrie couldn’t do that! He had just returned from the dead and… and why would he head off again? Tovi took a grim expression as he approached his brother and spoke to him even with an inquisitive voice.

“W… why would you do that, Petrie? You can’t go! I and many others missed you for so long and you saw how happy momma was to see you again!”! He said in disbelief, causing Petrie to gulp slightly. He was in no way eager to answer that question but he knew it couldn’t be avoided. He looked at Tovi with heavy eyes for a few seconds before he gave his answer, hoping Tovi would find it in himself to understand.

“M… me wasn’t completely honest with me story. You see… not all of Petrie’s friends die in the Sand Cloud… or at least not one. Littlefoot is still out there and Petrie have to find him.” The flyer said with a forced voice, causing his brother to look at him extremely oddly. He was highly surprised by these news, not really having believed that Petrie would lie to his family about things like these. He spoke to his brother again after a few moments.

“Why didn’t you tell us about this? Why… why lie to us and then leave us like this?” Tovi was starting to feel even hurt as he had always loved his brother deeply and he was far from happy to see him act like this. Petrie’s face fell slightly but he didn’t wait before giving his answer.

“Tovi… just think what momma and the others would have said. Me know they don’t want me to leave and momma could even try to prevent me from going. Me tell this to you because of all me brothers and sisters, Petrie trust you the most.” He said with a smile which made Tovi’s mood ease a bit. He returned that smile and he couldn’t help but appreciate the other child’s words. However, he was still far from finished with this conversation.

“Th… thanks a lot, Petrie. B… but we are your family, Petrie! I… I can’t believe you abandon us again just to search for one of your friends! You might not find us again or you might even… even… die.” He said with a meek voice, his face falling as he looked at the ground below him with a highly unsure voice. Petrie, however, didn’t want his brother to take this meeting any worse than he had to and he grabbed his right hand and looked the other boy in the eyes.

“You know just how much me friends mean to Petrie. Without them, me would never have found the Valley and without them, Donnie and Terra would have made me life far worse than it really was. Me not want to say this but… but of me family, I love only momma and you as much as I do me friends. And Littlefoot was the best of us… after Ducky. Petrie has to find him, no matter what.” He said slowly, the eye contact with Tovi not breaking for a moment as he spoke.

Those words made the lighter-colored boy’s heart grow even heavier. Yes, he knew very well that Petrie had spent far more with his friends than with his family but for some reason, he had still thought of Petrie as just one of his siblings rather than as one of his eccentric group of friends. But indeed, now that he thought of it, it had often felt like his friends had been the sole light within Petrie’s life. Deep down, his heart told him that there was no way he could persuade Petrie to abandon his quest but he still wanted a few more answers.

“I… I think I understand, Petrie. But… but you know how momma will react to this. It may take ages before you find Littlefoot if you ever will.” He said, his mood falling further by the second. He had been so happy to see Petrie return to his family and before, Petrie had been one of his favorite siblings as well. But he also knew now that Petrie really was his own flyer these days and he had no way of stopping him. Petrie looked at Tovi with weary eyes as he spoke.

“Me know but at least you will tell momma I will return one day. As for Littlefoot, me think me have a clear idea about where to look for him.” He said, earning another nod from Tovi. He had nothing more to say as deep inside, he would have wanted to alert his mother to stop Petrie but he didn’t wish to betray his brother’s trust and start any further drama inside his family. Knowing he had but one choice, he gave his last, mournful answer.

“I think I understand, Petrie. I wish you good luck. Just… just return to us alive.” He said, preparing for one final embrace with his brother, a gesture which Petrie seemed more than happy to accept. However, the scene which could have been a touching display of love between the two siblings soon turned into a mockery of itself as the two heard a voice that made both of their hearts freeze in their chests.

“Oh, leaving already, are You, Petrie? I thought a brat like you could have taken a bit more than that to escape us but apparently I thought too highly of you!” Donnie’s voice rang through the mouth of the cavern, causing both the boys to frown in deep annoyance. Petrie looked at Donnie and Terra with deep bitterness, praying he could still save the situation somehow.

“Get lost, both of you! Is your punishment not bad enough or do you want even more!? Leave Petrie alone!” He hissed, knowing he could very easily make the duo’s lives even more miserable if he told his mother but that was it: je simply didn’t want her to know of his departure just yet. His only option was to try to send the duo on their way without alerting the others, a task he knew would be beyond difficult. And indeed, Donnie moved closer to him with a mean expression, clearly not willing to do as he was told.

“I just might do that, Petrie, if you tell everyone you are a shameless liar who told made-up stories to look good in front of the others! I heard you say you lied to everyone which was something I knew all along!” He said, not caring about Tovi and Petrie’s increasingly defensive postures. Terra then looked at Petrie herself and spat her words out of her mouth.

“The worst part was that I was almost dumb enough to believe you! At least you’ve learned to act better than before and it would be a shame if mommy learned that you use that for betraying her trust!” She said, causing Petrie to frown deeply. He wasn’t taken aback by those words at all and he put his hands on hips in ager as he gave his answer.

“Petrie lied about Littlefoot simply to protect all of you, Donnie and Terra! All of what me said was true except that and that me journey would continue this night! Me swear it!” He would have wanted to yell but he kept his word low in order not to call the others. However, those words only earned mocking laughter from the duo and Terra whispered to her brother briefly.

“As if his word is worth anything at this point! Can you really get any dumber than that?” She spoke, earning a wide smile from Donnie. The older boy shook his head before speaking to Petrie again, this time in a far more hostile voice than before.

“Terra is indeed right, Petrie. You’ve lost all credibility long ago and soon not even momma will believe you. We won’t forget easily that it was your lies that doomed us to shudder outside in hunger for a full week and we’ll make you regret that very soon.” He said while he started to approach the younger boy but before he got any closer, Tovi stepped between the two siblings. He looked at Donnie with a hateful glare, speaking to him with a clear threat.

“Back off, Donnie! Petrie is starting a journey to find a long-lost friend and he deserves far better th…” He started but before he got any further, Petrie cut him short with an uncharasterically hostile voice, one that Tovi hadn’t expected to hear those words from his brother.

“Don’t tell any of what me told to him, Tovi! He doesn’t deserve to know any of it!” He said, annoyed that Tovi had already forgotten his order not to tell about any of that to anyone until the morning and here he was, already telling of it to the flyer who he should have told of Littlefoot the least. However, he immediately realized that the damage had already been done the moment Donnie approached him again with a wide smile on his face.

“I’d really like to know what I don’t deserve to know, Petrie. There is a whole lot of explaining to do for you.” He said, relishing in the control he had over the situation. The growing fear on Petrie’s face betrayed his growing distress as he had no good options at this point. He exchanged glances with Tovi briefly, accepting his look of apology and deciding that he had only option to move forward: to tell the truth or at least the parts of it that mattered to Donnie.

“You have to allow Petrie to leave! Even besides Littlefoot, there are so many dinosaurs out there who might depend on Petrie to succeed! Just please, listen to me this once, brother! Just let Petrie go!” He said, looking at Donnie with a pleading expression, only now realizing he had never spoken to Donnie like this. Right now, there wasn’t even a hint of fear or disdain for Donnie n his eyes, only genuine hope that the other boy would do the right for the first time in his life.

That sentiment wasn’t lost on Donnie as he suddenly realized the same thing that Petrie had. Deep down, he realized that this wasn’t the same sad runt he had bullied for so many seasons. No, this was a different Petrie but even then, he couldn’t let the younger boy go like this. Maybe there still was something for him to gain by pushing this a little further…

“Only in your sleep stories, Petrie! But if you really are so afraid of being caught out here, what do you say we get everyone here to listen to your tales? How does that sound?” He asked, relishing as he saw Petrie’s eyes widen more by the second. At this point, Petrie knew his wish to leave in peace was in shambles and knowing his older brother, he realized that no matter how he answered, the others would know soon enough. He didn’t want to slither in front of someone like Donnie but he had to try one more time and hope there was still some sense within him.

“Don’t do it, Donnie! Petrie has never asked anything like this from you but just this once, do as Petrie say!” He would have been ready to do practically anything to make his brother give up just this once but it wasn’t long before a wide smile formed on Donnie’s face. He turned to look deeper into the cave and to his younger sibling’s horror, cried in a loud voice.

“Petrie is trying to run away from home, everyone! Come here to help me stop him!” He cried but that yell was just too much for Tovi. He gritted his teeth in pure anger and started to run towards Donnie, more than willing to make him regret those words greatly. However, before he got even close to him, Terra stepped forward and before the boy
could even blink, Terra tackled him to the ground while laughing in clear mockery.

“That was a sad show even for you, Tovi! You’re soon starting to look like the old Petrie!” He chuckled, Donnie joining her in laughing to the poor flyer’s shame. Petrie looked at the scene in deep shock, starting to hear surprised and confused murmurs from the nest. His attempt to leave undetected had failed and right now, he had only two options. He could either try to flee now and hope he wouldn’t be caught or he could stay and try to make his mother see things his way. The decision had to be made in a matter of few seconds and that decision was far from obvious.

His instincts told him to leave now and ignore his family but in his heart, Petrie could see that the option was a cruel and even a dangerous one. Even if he, Ortin and Glide could escape unnoticed, Petrie felt already bad for his mother if he left her like that. He had just returned to her and… and to practically flee in the dark of the night… he already knew it would hurt her very deeply. Even if Tovi told her the truth, that would still be a parting both he and his mother would regret for a long, long time. And if he were caught by the older flyer, that would only make the coming conversation all the more guilt-ridden and awkward than it had to be.

Deep down, Petrie knew that staying here and trying to explain things to his mother was the only true option. Even them, the boy couldn’t help but fear for the coming minutes. If he couldn’t change his mother’s mind, he would have to do practically what Donnie had suggested and run away from home, a thought that made his face fall even further. No, he would get through this even if it would hurt far more than he had wanted. Petrie glanced at Donnie in anger and murmured between his teeth as he looked at the shadows starting to move before him, a confirmation that the meeting he had wanted to avoid was approaching quickly.

“Awesome stuff, Donnie. But at least Petrie will confirm that you will not get away with this.” He said, knowing that his mother would believe him over Donnie on any day. The older boy looked at Petrie in annoyance and spat before him in disgust as he answered to his brother.

“That’s what I think of your threats, Petrie! Soon, everyone will see just what a lying weakling you really are!”

A concerned look could be seen on Volant’s face as she headed towards the direction of the cry. She could already determine it had belonged to Donnie, a fact that already made her feel sick. Inside, she couldn’t help but starting to doubt whether she could ever turn him into a good and responsible flyer as no matter what she did, he seemed to ignore her completely and continue his senseless bullying. True enough, outside of his group of siblings, he acted nearly normally but for some reason, he and Terra simply couldn’t leave Petrie in peace.

She still loved each and everyone of her children but she couldn’t help but feel helpless around those two but even then, she prayed in her heart that they, too, would find their places in this family and world one day. That’s all she could do at this point. However, the words she thought she had heard made her even more bothered. Donnie had said that Petrie… was trying to run away from home? Those words made her even madder than before and one thought swirled in her mind.

You better not be up to no good again, Donnie, or you will regret it before morning!

It wasn’t long before she saw four shady figures in the distance, immediately realizing who they were. She didn’t even bother to wait until she had reached them before she cried in an annoyed and demanding voice.

“Well, start to explain, all of you! Donnie, if this another of your stupid “pranks”, I will make sure the last laugh won’t be on you!” She said, seeing Petrie’s clear distress. This scene certainly seemed far too familiar but even now, she didn’t want to make any rash judgements. Her oldest child looked at her in mock alarm as he nodded towards Petrie.
“It is exactly as I told! He was trying to leave us forever until I stopped him and called all of you here!” He spoke, trying to sound as genuine as he could. Even then, Volant could see right through him and her voice was beyond doubting as she turned at her younger son.

“Well, is it true, Petrie? Or is he lying as usual?” She asked, not even considering the former option as a possible one. She could see no reason for Petrie to do something like that so she didn’t even find a reason to consider that possibility. However, Petrie’s immediate gloom made her heart sink soon enough as she realized there really was something bothering him. She looked at him in shock as the brown-colored flyer finally started to speak.

“Most of it true, momma. Me want to come back to you but yes, Petrie was trying to leave again.” He said in slow voice, earning a chorus of surprised gasps from his siblings. Volant’s eyes flashed wide open as she thought about those words, nearly sickened by them. Why in earth would Petrie even think of something like that? Her thoughts were a horrible flux as she knelt beside Petrie and asked him in a haunted voice.

“Wh… why, Petrie? Why would you something like that? You risked your life so many times to return to us… so why? Please, tell me, Petrie!” She said as she put her hands on Petrie’s shoulders. The boy’s heart sank as he looked into his mother’s distressed eyes, for a moment feeling as if his courage would completely fail him. At first, he felt like he wouldn’t be able to form any coherent words but after a moment, he started to stutter some words that seemed to Petrie as if they were coming from some other dinosaur’s mouth.

“M… me wanted to go find Littlefoot and stop Lenel! I have to do it momma! Please, let Petrie go!” He said pleadingly, only after saying those words realizing how little they made to her mother. And indeed, Volant’s wide eyes turned into frowns as she looked at Petrie, not even able to decide what to think. Even in her willingness to receive answers, she realized that she’d have to remain calm to speak her son out of any folly he had in his mind.

“B… but Littlefoot is gone, Petrie! You said it yourself! And Lenel will never hurt you or any of us again. I promise you that, my dear child. Forget all of that and…” She said before Petrie interrupted her abruptly. His voice was a heavy one as he started to speak again and his eyes were even starting to grow moist as his gaze fell to the ground. Already, he had brought so much unnecessary pain to his mother without any good reason and the boy knew she deserved to hear the truth. Now that he thought of it, he should have told all of it yesterday. The flyer took a brief sigh as he started to speak.

“No, that not true. Etta told me in the Valley that Littlefoot still alive out there somewhere. Petrie lied because… because me wanted to leave in secret. Me told Tovi and Petrie wanted him to tell you in the morning because, somehow me thought leaving alone in the night would be much easier.” He said, causing Volant to bring her hand to her forehead, slowly scratching the corner of her eye. At this point, she was still shaken by her brother’s death and she still hadn’t been ready for another shock. Her voice was one of disbelief as she answered t those words.

“Why, Petrie? Why didn’t you want to tell me about it all? Don’t you have any idea how much pain and concern it would have caused me if you had succeeded in leaving without me noticing it? Don’t you?” She asked with a wavering voice, more than bothered by all of it. The implications of Petrie’s plan as well as the looming argument made her feel even more miserable. Petrie looked into the ground as he gave his answer.

“P… Petrie think me know. B… but me didn’t want to argue with you because me know just how badly that would hurt you, momma. B… but Petrie ended up making it all just much worse. Me so sorry about it all.” He asked, only now knowing how wrong he had been. Volant looked at him for a long time, her disbelief almost drowning her shock under it. She didn’t really want to think of the implications of Petrie’s words just yet but she wanted some answers.

“So you should be.  But… you’ll never find Littlefoot out there on your own. And how does Lenel relate to all of this?” She asked while looking at the boy oddly. Everyone around the two flyers looked at them in silence, none of them wanting to get drawn into this fight. Neither of them noticed it just het but even Ortin and Glide had heard that something was wrong with Petrie’s plan and their moods fell as soon as they saw their friend facing his mother in that emotional display. However, that scene was slightly broken as Tovi joined the conversation.

“I asked it too and Petrie says he knows where to look for him, momma. But… he didn’t tell me anything about Lenel.” He said, not really surprised that the same questions that he had asked also haunted his mother. Petrie glanced at his brother briefly before giving his answer. He gulped deeply before continuing from where Tovi had left.

“Well… it kinda the same thing. Say, momma, do you know anything about Olres’ story?” He asked, genuinely curious about the answer. By now, he expected her to know something which was an odd thought as during their common seasons, he had never asked her about his kind’s stories. Volant looked at the boy very oddly, not really knowing what to expect. She waited for a few seconds before she whispered her silent answer.

“Yes, I do, Petrie. But what about it?” She said gravely, frowning as Petrie turned to look at her. To his surprise, that revelation didn’t raise any emotions within the child as only now did he realize just how Olres’ legacy had shaped the world of the flyers. He took a deep sigh as he answered to the older flyer.

“Lenel after his secret… and so is Petrie. He wish to use it to get its power like uncle Pterano whereas Petrie… Petrie just wish to find Littlefoot.” He said, not really knowing what kind of reaction he should expect. Volant stared at him in disbelief, not expecting that kind of an answer. Volant looked into the cold night in deep thought, completely astonished by what she heard. She simply couldn’t get her mind around it as it was just a tale for children! She was just about to give the obvious answer when Ortin suddenly made his way besides the female and spoke to her in a serious voice.

“I know it’s hard to believe, Volant was it, and we’ve had to explain it to many flyers before but it’s true. Lenel is after his ancestor’s secret and he must be up to something. He isn’t a flyer who would waste so much effort and time to chase pure tales. I promise you he’s up to something.” He said, causing Volant’s face to fall even further. She stared at the boy for a few seconds, not really finding anything to say. It was at this point that Terra decided to interrupt the conversation and add her own thoughts to it.

“You hear that? They are trying to use some another stupid, magic thing to g…” She tried but Volant’s voice stopped her immediately. The older female’s voice was an annoyed, even angry one, as she looked at her daughter.

“Silence, Terra! You and Donnie have already spoken more than enough for today! As for you, Petrie, I don’t know Lenel myself but if anything you told of him was true… I cannot let you go face him again. I’ve already lost your father, my brother and… and I cannot lose you as well. I just can’t.” She said, causing the guilt within Petrie to only grow more profound.

The boy hated to see his mother in mental distress because of him but… but he simply couldn’t help it. Not this time. He walked closer to his mother, his face more than gloomy after the mention of his father and Pterano. She couldn’t remember anything about Tuulen as he had died only days after his children were born. There had been long nights when Petrie had wondered what it would have been like to have his father with him but… in one way, maybe it was for the best that he hadn’t passed away later on as the pain would only have been greater in that case. Yet, Tuulen had been in Petrie’s thoughts more often than most knew but right now, he couldn’t allow the thought of his father to prevent himself from getting through this parting.

“Me know it, momma, but… me friends have lost so very much because of Lenel and… Petrie has to find Littlefoot. Me know Lenel might be dangerous but… me have met him many times before and survived. Petrie and me friends just make sure he never gets what he wants and then we try to find out where Littlefoot is. Petrie promise you, me won’t fail on a trip like this.” He said, each word radiating genuine faith that he believed what he was saying. However, those words earned only a cynical snort from Volant who was far from happy with that answer.

“Few dinosaurs head out there, thinking it is their last journey, Petrie. I know that a leader of a flyer herd will not hesitate to get rid of you if they know you’re up against them so you might very well die out there. But I know I cannot prevent you from going without tying you into the walls of this cave with a few vines and because of that, I will have to go with you.” She said in a bothered voice, causing each of her children to gasp in shock. All of them knew the implications of those words and immediately, Petrie knew none of it would be possible. However, it was Tovi who answered that comment first.

“D… does that mean we’re all going to go? B… but that isn’t possible, momma! Just think of it yourself!” He cried, earning an approving nod from Petrie. He was more than concerned by his mother’s words as well but deep down, he was certain she would accept the obvious before too long. He cocked his head slightly as he looked at her carefully.

“Tovi right. The Land of the Dancing Waters many days away from here and… me not mean anything bad but Petrie know not everyone here will make the journey quick enough. And momma… even if we get there in time, you will just endanger all of us. The rest of you have to stay here. That exactly why me wanted to leave in secret.” He said, more than saddened by the mournful look within Volant’s eyes.

However, his mother was far from his only listener. Donnie looked at his younger brother with a dark expression, more than happy he was about to leave. Deep inside, he had to admit that there was something within the new Petrie he liked even himself but he’d never, ever tell of it to anyone. But if he left on his own, he’d never have to tell anyone why exactly he had stopped haunting the younger flyer and when, or rather if, Petrie returned one day, he could simply forget it. He spoke to Terra with a silent voice, surprising even her with his words.

“Bullying him will no longer be worth it, apparently. I miss the old Petrie as he was far easier to make fun of. But at least he isn’t as annoying these days.” He said, the point he was making not lost on Terra. She looked at her brother in astonishment, not really sure what to make of them. She had always seen Petrie as the worst and most pathetic dinosaur she knew but… now he seemed like a completely other dinosaur. His reaction to his mother’s arrival had proven that and his calm and kind reasoning had made an impression even on her. The girl’s voice was tense as she spoke, the situation making her more than uncomfortable.

“I guess if you say so, Donnie. I’m just annoyed that he had the last laugh.” She said, cursing the fact that she’d have to suffer her punishment to the end even now. But if Petrie ever returned, she’d never become his friend after all this but with any luck, they wouldn’t have to hate each other any longer. In her heart, Terra was no longer sad about that prospect.

However, Petrie’s words had an even greater effect on Volant. She had raised her gaze away from Petrie, the implications of his words hanging heavily upon her. She indeed had to admit that not all members of her family were capable of flying for days with minimal sleep and it was true that if they lost the race to Lenel, embarking on that journey in the first place would make little sense. And Petrie and Tovi were right: endangering her own family to prevent Petrie from getting himself hurt made little sense.

No matter how badly she wanted to believe otherwise, she could see she had no way of convincing Petrie to abandon his journey. Her options indeed were overseeing him for every moment of the day and forcibly prevent him from leaving or she could just accept the inevitable. The latter thought was beyond a difficult one for her and she could feel her emotions swirl deep within her.

She knew Petrie was capable of great deeds and that he had survived encounters few grown flyers could survive but… he was still her child, one of the precious babies she had looked after and taken care of her entire life! As she looked at him, she suddenly started to feel a mix of pain and helplessness. It had been Petrie whom she had already thought she had lost during the great Earthshake, it had been Petrie who had caused so much sorrow and worry before the Great Day of the Flyers and it had been him who she had thought had perished along with his friends those few cycles of the Night Circle ago.

The more she had thought of it, the more she realized that even until now, she seemed to have been able to affect her son’s fate even before now. All his life, Petrie had been unlike any of his siblings: he had made more mistakes, he had in many ways more flaws than the others… but most of all, she had to admit he had always been his own flyer. A sting of agony shot through her as she realized that he had always learned the most important lessons with his friends and that she had never been as important in his life than a mother should have been, a thought that at the same time made her swell with pride and shiver in guilt simultaneously as she thought about it all. She started to weep slightly as
she knelt in front of Petrie and spoke to him in clear distress.

“Petrie, my child, I know I cannot keep you from going and I know just how much your friends mean to you. Believe me, I’d like to prevent you from going with all my heart but as it has been so many times before, that is not up for me to decide. It pains me that I’ve never been able to protect you when you most needed me but on the other hand, I am happy I have a son who’s more able to look after himself than most adults of our kind. In many ways… you are one flyer who I’ve never been able to take care of as you yourself and your friends have done it for me.” She said in an emotional voice, causing Petrie’s chest to grow heavy as well.

He hated to see his mother like this but on the other hand, he was more than astonished by the praise and the kind words she had for him. This moment seemed almost unreal: here his mother was telling him just what she thought of him and in many ways, those were some words the young flyer hadn’t expected to hear. He looked at Volant longingly as she continued to speak.

“But… even then, it never was right for me to have to worry about you so much! The days when I had to deal with Pterano’s betrayal and your siblings after your disappearance and our departure of the Valley were one never-ending bad sleep story for me and… as a mother, I can’t stand the thought of losing you. Even now, I already see some flyer bringing me the words of your death in my mind and just think how I’d feel at that moment. Just think of it, Petrie.

But still, there’s nothing I can do to prevent you from doing what your heart tells is right. I just pray to you, Petrie, that you never forget that you can always stay with us. We are your family and you know just how much you mean to all of us. But if you really have to go… just don’t forget that you have to survive, for your own and for our sake. Promise this to me, Petrie.” She said with moist eyes, hating this feeling of utter powerlessness. She knew there was nothing she could do and to her, that was the worst feeling of all in this night.

Petrie frowned deeply as he looked at his mother, a sad look forming on his beak. The last evening’s brief moment of hesitation returned to his mind and he couldn’t help but feel the concern and fear in his mother’s eyes. He would have wanted so badly to do as she wanted but even then, that wasn’t possible. He had to embark on this journey for everyone’s sake. For his friends’, Littlefoot’s, even his family’s. His voice was a tender one as he answered to the older flyer’s appeal.

“Petrie promise me do me best out there. But as me said, this simply is something Petrie has to do. Me more than thankful you understand me well enough but me also try to return to you as soon as Petrie can. Who know, maybe we together again in just a few days!” He said, earning a weak smile from his mother. Volant knew there was nothing more she could say and her face was slightly more relaxed when she spoke to the boy.

“I’ll wait for you each and every moment you’re gone, my son. But I and your brothers and sisters will welcome you back when you’re done. Good journey, Petrie.” She said, praying for this meeting to end already. She was feeling miserable as a whole and she was starting to wonder how long it would take for her fears to overcome her judgement and prevent Petrie from leaving. The boy then nodded at Volant for one more time before speaking silently.

“Thanks a lot, momma! Me hope you stay safe as well!” He said as the older flyer suddenly grabbed the boy to her embrace one more time. That embrace was a brief and pained one and it was over before Petrie even knew it. He looked at the female with an odd look as she released him.

“Go then, Petrie. We’ll meet each other again before we know it.” She said, earning a longing look from the boy. Petrie looked at her for a long while before finally turning around and heading towards his two friends. It all felt surreal to him as he looked at his siblings, nearly each of them watching at him in shock and concern. However, Petrie cast that off and spoke to them in a meek and silent voice,

“Well, see you again, everyone! Petrie will miss all of you too.” He said as he started to hear a chorus of equally unsure farewells from his siblings. Petrie’s legs felt like stones as he tried to keep his emotions at bay as he drew ever closer to Ortin and Glide. However, there was one flyer among the flock who was only relieved by that sight.

Donnie looked at his brother with a confused look, even he had to admit Petrie most like was not lying and the way he acted here… it was a highly odd sight for the boy. The Petrie he had used to know was truly gone, replaced by someone who felt like a different flyer altogether. He exchanged brief glances with Terra, once again gladdened by the fact that he would leave for a while longer. Even if Donnie didn’t realize it himself just yet, he didn’t even want to sabotage Petrie’s departure in any way. He could only look after the younger boy with a deep frown along with all of his siblings.

His voice was a rough one as Petrie spoke to his friends. The duo could see very well the mental turmoil within him and this time, neither of them would blame him for it in any way.

“Let’s get on the way. We waste too much time here already.” He said as he started to prepare for takeoff. The two other flyers simply nodded at him silently, not finding anything to answer to Petrie’s clearly saddened words. Ortin looked at him for a short while before finally saying to him the only words coming to his mind.

“We indeed have. Glide, let’s go. There’s nothing more for us here.” He said as the trio spread their wings and headed towards the dark skies. Petrie’s heart ached deeply as he felt his feet leave the ground, praying he could keep his word to his mother. He didn’t even want to think what she would do if he perished on this journey but those were some thoughts he’d have to bury for now. A new adventure waited for him and he’d see it to the end, no matter what.

The sight of her son vanishing into the darkness was a haunting one for Volant and she didn’t even notice that she was shuddering slightly in emotion. Inside, she despised herself for allowing Petrie to leave as it wasn’t something any sane mother would have done. However, she had to admit that she done the only thing she could have and now, all she could do was to wait for Petrie’s return… or news about his demise. She nearly broke to tears as she turned around, speaking to her children.

“Let’s get back to sleep, children. There’s nothing more we can do for him but try to keep ourselves as calm and hopeful as possible.” She said as she headed back into the cave even if she knew she’s hardly be able to fall to sleep on this day anymore. The younger flyers did as told, the ever increasing fall of the ground sparkles slowly hiding the cave’s opening behind its soft curtain.

A slight jolt of pain flashed through Lenel as he took another step forward. He cursed at the enduring effects of Peak’s poison but at the very least he could move once more. However, his bad mood was largely lifted as he heard a warm question from behind him.

“Are you sure you’re feeling alright, dear? You still seem to be in a lot of agony.” She said, causing her mate to stop for a moment. He slowly turned at the female, his earlier frown turning into a careful smile. He was more than happy Sireia was here with him as it had been to a large degree her love that had given him the courage to recover from Peak’s treacherous assault. He could very well understand Sireia’s worries but on the other hand, her condition was hardly much better than his. Lenel’s voice was a calm and approving one as he started to speak.

“You’re right, Sireia, but we have waited for long enough already. I can fly perfectly and a few reminders of that bastard’s plotting won’t hold me down! Besides, your wounds haven’t fully healed either.” He said, regretting her injuries but even then, it was clear at this point that she’d recover from her injuries completely. However, those words caused only a brief snort from her as she walked closer to Lenel. She looked at the pale flyer’s eyes, speaking to him in a serious tone.

“Those were just normal wounds but Lenel, you were poisoned to the brink of the death! I still say we should wait for a few more days and we’ll both be in much better conditions! There’s no reason to begin risking everything we have worked for because of impatience!” She said, hoping the male would listen to her. She cringed slightly in the cold wind, looking at the white plains around the peak the duo were now standing on. It was a normal sight of the season and one that Sireia dearly hoped would turn into blooming meadows before long.

At first, Lenel was at a loss of what to say. He knew she was right but… but on the other hand, he simply couldn’t wait for any longer. The day he had longed for ever since he was a hatchling was within his grasp and he simply didn’t want to see his day of triumph against escaping into the shady horizon. And to be honest, he didn’t even have to be in his prime for this journey as the only threat he’d have to think about was this small group of traitors and even then, Lenel knew he could withstand any challenge he’d receive. He took a brief breath of the Cold Time’s wind as he spoke to Sireia.

“My love… I know both of us have waited for this ever since we first met. You know how much it means to me and… and I know you yearn for that day as well. I know you want to lift our kind to new heights by my side and I… I also want us to become a real family without further delays. That’s what we agreed on, isn’t it?” He said softly, thinking of the day when the duo had decided to delay having their first bunch of eggs only when it was certain the hatchlings could grow up in peace and safety under their then-legendary father’s protection.

Those words caused Sireia’s heart to drop completely. Yes, she couldn’t deny the truth in the male’s words as the future of the flyers meant just as much to her than it did to him. She wanted so badly to secure the place of her kind in this world but it was also true that there had been many days when Sireia simply felt… felt lonely or rather, incomplete. She couldn’t deny the inner voice inside her that yearned to be a mother and as she looked into her mate’s encouraging and expectant expression, she couldn’t help but return his smile. She then asked him kindly.

“Yes, I want all of that so very badly, my love. But… but Haste and her possible allies are a threat to all of that. I don’t think… I’d be able to take it if… if our dream died this close to it becoming our reality.” She said, her mind slowly starting to see the other female as the probable traitor more clearly by the day. She was torn inside between her yearning for the next phase in her life and the many threats that still could turn her and her mate’s triumph into tragedy. Lenel took her hand and looked her in the eyes with half-closed eyes.

“We’ll have many of my most trusted flyers to accompany us. I’d put my life into their hands and if Haste, or whoever our enemy is, tries to harm either of us in any way, I will send them to the Great Beyond with their help. Just listen to yourself, Sireia. Are we really too weak to defend ourselves against some pathetic assassination attempt?” He asked, hating the fact that he even had to ask such a question. However, those words caused Sireia to really think of her situation and she looked nervously around herself as she prepared to answer. She knew her mate wouldn’t like her words but they were ones she had to say.

“Against one flyer alone, I believe we could. B… but we don’t know how many enemies we’ll have in our group. Wh… what if most of them… will be our enemies?” She asked, praying that she was only seeing dangers where there were none. However, Lenel’s next, amused words caused her to realize the folly of her comments.

“If most of our herd were off to get us, they would have done so when we were in far worse condition, dear. This group of traitors cannot be larger than a few flyers which is why we’ll be able to stop any treacherous attack they think they can throw at us. We’ll be fine out there, dear. I promise.” He said with a wide smile, cocking his head softly as he looked at the female. Sireia took a deep sigh but in the end, she found no real reason to distrust her mate. Even if she was far from happy about what he had done to Peak’s family, she understood it was more than necessary and even besides that, Lenel had always known the right path forward. After a moment, she looked the male in the eyes and spoke to him happily.

“I guess you are right, Lenel. I’ll be more than happy to share this journey with you… and whatever comes afterwards.” She said, praying in her mind that everything would go the way Lenel had said. She looked in expectation as the male turned around and walked to a nearby cliff overlooking the herd and let out a brief but loud call. It didn’t take long before three familiar flyers rose into the air and headed towards their leader just as Lenel expected them to do. He looked at Northwind, Kero and Haste approvingly as they landed in front of him. He cleared his throat briefly before starting to speak.

“I thank you for coming here this quickly, all of you. As you can see, I’ve finally recovered well enough from that coward’s attack and certainly all of you know what that means?” He asked, crossing his arms. Of course, the question was purely rhetorical as the plan was clear to everyone at this point. Kero was the first one to speak and hopeful tone didn’t surprise Lenel in the least.

“O.. of course, Lenel. But shall we proceed as we agreed upon earlier?” He asked, his question’s true meaning not lost on Lenel. He looked at the other male darkly, not willing to argue with him at this point.

“The answer is yes, Kero. You will stay here to oversee the herd but I’d ask you to understand that it might be a far more important task than my other deputies’. If all goes well, all who accompany me will be just wasting their time.” He said, his tone telling the other male to simply forget any further complaints. Kero tried his best not to seem disappointed but he knew that further complaining wouldn’t do him any favors. Haste looked at the with a weary look before asking the obvious question.

“Are you sure you can make the journey, Lenel? You still seem a bit weak and it’ll be far from an easy flight, with all due respect.” She asked, causing the male to look at her with unreadable look. However, it wasn’t the pale flyer who answered the question but Sireia. She was deeply uncomfortable with Haste speaking about Lenel’s health and deep down, she hoped the deputy would just disappear. But without proof that she really was behind the false rumors about her leader, she simply could do nothing about her or she’d risk Nira’s old followers breaking away from the herd.

“He’ll be just fine as will I, Haste. I’m more concerned about our other companions.” She said, causing Northwind to look at her with an agreeing nod. it wasn’t long before he asked the obvious question.

“Shall we begin assembling the group that will accompany us, then, Lenel?” He said simply, earning an approving look from the higher-ranked flyer. He then spoke to the other male in a serious but expectant voice.

“Indeed you will. Do as we agreed earlier and gather thirty able flyers that will be able to fend off any challenge we might face and be quick about it! I want to get moving before the Bright Circle reaches its highest point in the sky!” He said sharply, causing the three flyers to nod at him in respect and then be on their way. The moment of his triumph was indeed growing near and every second he had to wait for his group to be assembled felt like an eternity for him. However, it wouldn’t be a long time anymore until he’d finally take his place on Olres’ side in the history of the flyers…

And indeed, it hardly took an hour before Lenel gazed upon roughly thirty flyers in front of himself, more than happy about what he was seeing. Despite the many battles they had been through, none of these males and females were seriously wounded and they’d do more than well in the days to come. The pale flyer also saw the rest of his herd gathering in the plain under Lenel’s hill, each of them eager to hear just what their leader had to say. He was accompanied by his three deputies and by his mate as he spoke to the thirty flyers in a deep voice.

“I’m more than grateful that you could answer my call this promptly, everyone, but I promise to you that you will not regret coming here for a moment. I’m not sure if my deputies told you just what I have to tell you but in any case, I won’t keep it as a secret. I want all of you to follow me to the Land of the Dancing Waters to find my ancestor’s secret to his legendary abilities. If the Bright Circle is merciful on us, we should face no obstacles at all on this journey but in case anything should happen, you need to keep the dangers at bay. However, I promise you a great reward for your efforts before long.” He said, hoping to hear no further questions. However, he soon realized that such hopes were a complete folly as one of the males asked him in a surprisingly rough tone.

“And what is this “reward” for days of flying, fighting and being away from my family? If I were completely honest with you, Lenel, you’ve taken your fair share from us already!” He said, the lighter-colored flyer recognizing him as one of Peak’s old followers. He was hardly a threat to his rule but Lenel was far from happy to hear such whining at this point. He moved closer to him and looked at him sternly, willing to end this kind of talk immediately.

“What happened before was necessary for all of our unity, my faithful follower. However, this journey will make up for everything that has happened as I promise you that I will use Olres’ wisdom to all of our common good. And certainly you, who made it all possible, will receive a huge share of what I’ll have to offer to our kind!” He spoke, earning a doubting look from the other flyer. He found no reason to continue arguing with his leader, knowing it wouldn’t lead anywhere. However, it didn’t take long until Lenel heard another question.

“And how long it’ll take for us to reach this Land of the Dancing Waters? And answer us honestly, Lenel, are there any threats that we should be prepared for?” One female asked, those questions causing him to smile slightly. He walked closer to her and answered matter-of-factly.

“The flight there should take four or five days if we don’t waste much time resting. As for the dangers, I’ll be as honest with you as I can. Of course we can be attacked by our own kind or by sharpteeth, as can happen everywhere, but other than that, I don’t know. In fact, I have no idea what will wait for out there except that Olres’ secret will lie out there.
There might be no real dangers out there or there may be but no matter what, keep your eyes and ears open. That’s why I bring you with me. Any further questions?” He asked, slightly disappointed by the doubting and unsure expressions of his followers. It was clear that many of them had many misgivings but none of them were willing to be the first one to ask what would happen if they declined the offer.

The same detail wasn’t lost on Sireia and she was far from happy with it. She walked closer to her mate and spoke to the others with a serious but encouraging voice.

“I know some of you might be nervous about this plan but I swear to you that you won’t regret this journey! It will be a flight of legend and each of us will be remembered for countless cycles of the Bright Circle as the ones who made the world like it should always have been! Do not fear and accept this honor any flyer would be proud of!” She said, earning a surprised but happy smile from Lenel.

After a moment, restrained murmurs of approval could be heard among the gathered flyers and slowly, their mood started to improve. Maybe this journey wouldn’t be another slaughter like Lenel’s previous plans had turned out to be. The highest-ranking flyer then turned towards the gathered herds, knowing they’d want to hear what was going on before his departure. His voice thundered through the mountains like never before, powered by the swelling pride and excitement inside the flyer.

“My dear herd, I know you want answers about what’s going on and by the honor of my family, you will receive them! I know many of you are still recovering from the many losses Peak’s treacherous assault caused upon us and I know there are some among you who are all but broken by our recent losses and I partake in each of your sorrows. I was nearly poisoned to death myself and I also nearly lost my mate to a most cowardly group of assassins but all of that is in the past now! The cowardly Peak lies dead as do all of our other foes. Only Nimble’s killer is still out there but we have no idea where he or she is but we’ll act once we get a word about that bastard.” He said, more than happy Deron had already left the Hills as he wanted no more drama here. There were some agitated flyers in the herd eager for his blood who would have been sickened to know of their leader’s deal with

“But none of that matters anymore. What really matters is that your mates, your children and your friends will accompany me to uncover the most precious secret of our kind, my ancestor’s gift that will make our herd the first among equals in the upcoming golden age of our kind! Their efforts will be needed to secure that powers but I promise to you that within two weeks, we will dwell in glory like none of us ever imagined!” He yelled, earning many cheers among the gathered flyers but also many angered stares. Lenel knew the recent rumors and battles had turned large swathes of his herd against him but with any luck, all of that would also be history once he took his place as Olres’ heir.

“I also swear to you that my companions won’t be put to any major danger and that they’ll return to you in good health. All I ask from you is patience and loyalty for the duration I’ll be gone. But do not worry, I leave the charge of keeping the peace to my most trusted deputy Kero and I’m sure he’ll keep you safe and comfortable for the time I’ll be gone. I have complete trust in his abilities.” He said as Kero walked to his side, showing himself to his new followers. He still would have wanted to go with Lenel but as he heard the cheers and sounds if approval, a small smile rose this face. Maybe his part wouldn’t be that bad after all. He hardly listened as Lenel continued to speak.

“I know some you might question me for seeking out a scene of a story but I swear to you that it exists. I have waited for this day my whole life and all I have done I’ve done to receive Olres’ gift and to deliver the world to the flyers and in particular, to our herd. I promise that when I’ll return, I’ll pave the path to that future for us all and on that day, you’ll know it has all been worth it! Now, my friends, we’ll take our leave but when we’ll return, all of our worries will be over!” He cried as all of his companions gathered around him to rousing cheers. Not all of the flyers were happy with what they had just herd but they knew better than to start sowing discord in a moment like this.

The gathered herd looked with hopeful eyes as the group of flyers took to the skies, flying over them as they headed into the wide plains of the Mysterious Beyond. That sight alone was an enchanting one for many as they couldn’t help but see this expedition as the culmination of their hopes for a better future. Maybe after all, their leader had been right to assume control of the herd, no matter what.

Lenel himself could hardly believe this day had finally come. This day, he’d begin his journey he was born to complete, for both his own aske and for the sake of all of his kind. He first glanced at Haste, briefly, wondering whether his doubts about her were misguided or not. However, when he caught a glimpse of his mate flying besides him, a wide smile rose to his face. Inside, he was starting to realize that her mate was at least as dear to him than anything he would find in the Land of the Dancing Waters. He smiled deeply as he looked at Sireia, feeling genuinely happy as he headed towards his destiny.

Now all of the loose ends within Petrie and Lenel’s stories have been tied together and all that remains for them is their showdown in their destination. How all of that will end remains to be seen… Funnily enough, I don’t even know myself as this is the point where my detailed plans end. I’ll likely take a few days to think about this fic’s ending as the end is quickly beginning to approach. In any case, now it’s time for another short story so it might take a while for the next chapter to be released. Still, I hope you liked this chapter!

DiddyKF1: Yep, maybe I’m starting to get too cruel for Ruby but indeed, this might be her lowest point yet. I have to remind, though, that Ruby blames herself for all of this as after al, it was her ruining of the clubtail’s egg in the third chapter that launched this entire tragedy and gave Stealth a chance to do what he did.

And yep, there were a few points where the fastrunner’s demise might have been close but as much as I hate to say it, a story’s protagonist always has a bit of plot armor. But you are completely right that Ruby will never be her old self again, this day confirming that at the very last. Anyway, thanks for your kind words and I’m beyond glad to see you taking a look at Ruby’s story as well!

rhombus: Your take of Pearl achieving the noble end that Ruby would have wanted for herself is a very interesting one as I hadn’t really even thought of that myself. However, it is indeed true that everyone else around Ruby seems to be able to achieve at least something good while she just keeps making things worse. As for Stealth, as I said in the AN, I still don’t know what happens for him so that remains a complete mystery.

That being said, I’m glad that found found this chapter effective as I feared if I had gone too far here. But indeed, there were parts where there was nothing to be said and it’s likely that the next chapter or two won’t be in any fay easy for Ruby either.

Anagnos: I’m happy about your thoughts about Stealth as I hoped to leave at least a modicum of goodness within him by showing him to be willing to be brutal only to those who
he thought had wronged against him or those who could help him achieve his goals. Stealth is a villain at this point but I hoped to leave him at least in a slightly grey area when it comes to his morality.

As for his future, all I can say is that his fate is still tied to Ruby’s as both of them are heading for the same direction even if they don’t know about it yet. I’m also glad that found Yarel’s part to be good enough as I really wondered whether my portrayal of him worked here. But it’s true that he has a long road to a mental recovery but it is very unclear how much more we will see of him.


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #130 on: July 11, 2019, 10:52:56 AM »
This chapter was released pretty suddenly. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. The separation between Petrie and his family was a very pretty decent one, which didn't really leave questions to ask. Although I am a little surprised by how fast Volant allowed Petrie to depart from the nest to prevent Lenel’s plans and also seek out Littlefoot eventually. But viewing the reasons given by Volant, it didn’t cause a terrible headache in the end.

And Lenel has now finally been healed enough to continue his journey to the Land of Dancing Waters to obtain Olres’ wisdom for himself. However, I do have to point out about one theory I have in mind for the following chapters about Lenel. I do believe that not everything will go exactly according to his plans so my expectation is that something dramatic will happen sooner or later that will leave an everlasting impact. It must also be admitted that we may see another brutal brawl between Lenel and Stealth occur soon. With the way the both of them act, apparently they do have similar sentiments about discovering and obtaining this ’’magical’’ power, if you could claim it that, as their own.

Hopefully, even our own familiar gang will cope with these upcoming trials. They have undeniably seen far too much suffering for one lifetime already. Who knows how much their sanity will still last before it finally collapses. We might also see a bit of infighting occur in the following chapters. Haste definitely has something planned, and I don’t see that the conclusion of that will be so great for Lenel and Sireia in particular.


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #131 on: July 11, 2019, 12:23:24 PM »
I was trembling before I even started reading this chapter. I knew that Petrie's parting was possibly not going to end well, even if I wasn't sure if his family would accompany him or not. Donnie and Terra are still trying to be their old selves, I see, but even they can see now that this new Petrie is so different than the one they had always been used to from the day of their births.

I'll admit that I had a very tiny glimmer of hope when Volant stated that she and the family would accompany Petrie on his quest, but that hope was just as quickly washed away. She has truly come to see the new Petrie for what he really is; determined, emotionally broken by so much loss and driven by all of that to put an end to all the misery that has impacted him so that his family will not become victims themselves. Volant and Petrie's final goodbyes were very heartbreaking to read. I honestly felt myself being in Volant's place and just wishing he wouldn't just leave her just so he can save all Flyers of the world from this wrathful Lenel and his potentially unimaginable power ... if he were to end up winning ...

Meanwhile, speaking of Lenel, he is not wanting to wait any longer, either, just as Petrie's companions aren't, and I can see this slowly turning into an eventual Petrie vs. Lenel showdown for the power of all Flyers, just as his own uncle tried to do. Familial ties were the only thing that stopped bloodshed before, but this is completely different.

Petrie's story has essentially become "The Stone of Cold Fire" all over again, except with different companions, a new villain and even more sinister motives than Petrie could ever have imagined. Pterano, I'm sure, would never have wished for this ... :opetrie

Emotional partings are never easy, but you've nailed it with this depressing chapter. It was very saddening to see that Petrie's "epic quest game" could not gain another five allies, but in good time there will be reason that it was for the best. Great job on this one! :)petrie

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Suddenly, I've written so many fanfics that I can't possibly list them all! :P


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #132 on: July 14, 2019, 02:39:23 AM »
This chapter did a rather effective job at aiming Petrie and Lenel on a collision course with one another, and removing the last remaining obstacles to the coming confrontation.

When Petrie first tried to part from his family but allowed himself to talk to Tovi first I thought that he might succeed in escaping as he intended, but ultimately this was not the case as Donnie and some of the others acted as they always had.  Though I think for Petrie that this unwanted interruption was actually a blessing in disguise as it allowed him to fully come clean with his mother about why he had to do what he had set his mind towards, and it allowed his mother to make her peace (as much as possible) with his decision as well. One has to truly feel for her here as she has done her best for her children, but ultimately Petrie has always flown on his own path, and she now recognizes that this might be the final time that their paths cross.

With Lenel now healed and his motivational speech made to his pack, it is obvious that he will stop at nothing to gain Olres’ wisdom. But with multiple factions now fixated on the same goal I sense that he will not find his route to glory an easy one.  The only thing that is clear at this point is that the ultimate confrontation is coming soon.

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


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #133 on: August 24, 2019, 04:31:31 PM »
A Journey of Sorrow and Fear

The deep pain jolted the swimmer’s heart almost immediately as she opened her eyes. The white, cold sky’s calmness was in stark contrast to her inner turmoil which mercilessly consumed her thoughts after leaving the blessed world of sleep stories. All the memories of the previous day returned to Ducky’s mind after the sweet calmness of her rest even if it, too, had been far from a calm one. She would have almost preferred to simply close her eyes and escape the reality for at least a while longer.

The girl’s eyes grew moist as she thought about the events of the momentous battle as well as the sickening scene that had followed it. Even if none of those who had fallen had been particularly close to her, she still knew none of them deserved their fates. And to see Ruby’s world fall around her… it made Ducky’s heart ache terribly. It had just seemed like a bad sleep story and Ducky knew today would hardly be much better. Yet, if she had the chance to stay at Ruby’s side during these days, she’d happily help her get over the most difficult time of her life.

With slow, weary movements, the swimmer turned to look at the direction her companions lied. She looked at Orchid and Arial sadly, regretting that they had been forced to this mess as well. In a way, it was even more sickening to watch the suffering of the two younger children as they would have a real hard time growing up without their parents. With a forced move, Ducky turned her gaze further left… and blinked again as she saw nothing but a large hole in the cover of the ground sparkles.

That fact made the swimmer even more worried. Even if it was most likely that Ruby had just woken up before her, there was one small doubt lingering within the back of her mind. After seeing just how broken she had been, certainly… certainly she wouldn’t be trying to hurt herself? Inside, the swimmer remembered that there had been a time when she had even wished for a chance to join Spike in the Great Beyond but… but certainly Ruby wouldn’t do such a thing? Ducky slowly rose to her feet and looked at the footmarks in the ground and looked towards a nearby clearing. At least it wasn’t difficult to find Ruby and hopefully, she wasn’t doing anything rash. With a bothered face, the girl headed after her friend, more than willing to help if there was anything she could do.

Ruby’s limbs were completely still as her teary eyes stared at her ruined tail. She was more than sickened by the wound which was still bleeding in some places. There were some pieces of flesh practically hanging from the stub which bothered her greatly. Right now, her mind was a flux of countless differing thoughts but even then, she knew her tail would never heal. It would forever be but a disgusting memory of what it once was which in itself was enough reason for the tears that were falling all around it.

Not that it was the only thing she had lost nor had it even been the most painful one. Inside, the fastrunner felt a certain peace settling in as for the first time in a long time, she wasn’t really threatened by anything or anyone. Though, even that turned out to be a curse as that void was filled by the memories of her parents’ deaths as well as the fates of her thinclaw friends. Yes, she had survived it all but lost nearly everything in the process.

After that, practically nothing excited the omnivore at this point. She looked glumly at a nearby tree, realizing that she hardly would even move away if it happened to fall on her. She was a fool whose mistakes had turned her into a cripple and destroyed the lives of her family and those who had trusted in her. A deep sigh escaped from her lips as she thought about it all. Yes, she had some kind of goal even now but inside, she couldn’t care less about those colors in the sky right now. All she cared about was her own misery. What reason did she even…

“Umm… are you alright, Ruby?” She suddenly heard a voice ask her carefully. She immediately knew whom that voice belonged to but at first, she didn’t even make one gesture to imply she had heard that question. Ducky looked in concern at her friend’s unmoving back and she was just about to speak again as the fastrunner finally gave her answer.

“How could I be, Ducky? Losing my family hardly makes anyone happy and considering that happened only yesterday, it makes only sense that I lack the things that make you happy.” She said absentmindedly, not even turning to look at Ducky. The swimmer slowly moved to sit on a branch next to her and spoke to the larger dinosaur carefully.

“I know, Ruby. It would have been better if we had been able to get rid of Stealth but… we are safe now. Chomper’s parents are gone and Stealth won’t hurt us anymore. Even Red Claw is gone, yep, yep, yep.” She said, the uncharacteristic relief at another dinosaur’s demise not lost on Ruby. She knew her friend was right but at this point, none of that mattered to Ruby. Yes, she had managed to make things again after having caused those very problems and sacrificed most of those around her in the process. Her voice showed not one hint of happiness as she spoke again.

“Among so many others. I guess daddy and mommy would be glad Red Claw’s not here anymore at least. But what does any of that matter at this point.” She asked with a silent voice and Ducky found no real answer to those words. After a moment, she spoke again but her tone was quickly starting to resemble that of the omnivore’s.

“I’m still happy you’re here, though. For a long time, I thought you were gone as well and I’m so happy you’re not, I am.” She said, earning something resembling a smile from the other girl. However, it was at that point that Ruby decided to bring up one issue that had bothered her for a short while now.

“Ducky… after we find out what caused those sky colors… what are you planning to do after that?” She asked, causing Ducky to blink momentarily. She hadn’t expected that kind of question from the fastrunner and at first, she wasn’t sure how to answer.

“What do you mean by that, Ruby?” The swimmer questioned, willing to hear the other dinosaur explaining herself. For the first time since the start of the conversation, Ruby turned to look at the swimmer and her voice grew more serious even if less sad as she emphasized her point.

“You do want to return to the Valley, don’t you? Certainly you want to be with your family rather than wander these wastelands forever?” She asked, causing Ducky to narrow her eyes as she thought about those words. She waited for a few moments before locking eyes with halftooth. She hadn’t thought about it at all and her answer was a rather prompt one as she spoke again.

“Why, that is what I wanted all along. And surely you, Orchid and Arial are welcome there as well!” She spoke, not really thinking about what she had just said. Ruby rolled her eyes as she looked at Ducky even sternly, hoping she hadn’t said that.

“I can’t go back there, remember? I and Chomper were only allowed there after a long debate and we failed the terms that we were given. They won’t give me a second chance anymore.” She said, those thoughts having swirled within her mind countless times. Ducky immediately frowned in shame, regretting she had upset her friend even further. Of course she should have remembered that and no matter how much the swimmer’s once-naïve mind would have wanted to claim everything was alright, she knew Ruby spoke the truth. However, her next words were little better than her previous ones.

“Certainly we can find some other place out here where we can be together. There has to be other places the Valley, there has to!” She said but this time, she earned an even more direct rebuke from her friend. Of course, the fastrunner knew Ducky had likely had less time to think about all of this but it frustrated her to tell all of these most obvious of things to the swimmer.

“There isn’t, Ducky. My kind has searched far and wide but we’ve never found another place like the Valley. And even if we found one, I doubt it would be worth losing your family for good.” She said, causing Ducky’s expression to fall further. She had never given that much thought but… Ruby’s words made a lot of sense. However, she wasn’t willing to give the implications much thought just yet. Instead, she decided to ask the only thing that came to her mind.

“You might be right, Ruby, but… what are you going to do after all of this?” She said, genuinely curious about the answer. However, Ruby turned to look into the distance with empty eyes, pain more than evident within them. Any observer could have seen the utter feeling of loss within the girl and her answer hardly lessened that impression in any way.

“I don’t know, Ducky. I just don’t know. The only ones that keeps me going are you and my brother and sister… and if I lose you, I have one less reason to go on. If I’m completely honest, I see nothing but sadness and sorrow in my future and if that’s all there is, it’ll be really difficult for me to ever find my future.” She said, the graveness within her words almost startling Ducky. The swimmer moved closer to the fastrunner as she gave her answer.

“Don’t say that, Ruby. I know you will get over all of this, I do. You wouldn’t have survived everything that has happened if you weren’t meant to do so.” She said, causing Ruby to snort silently. She meant no offense to her friend but it simply reflected her inner disgust at her own life. After a few seconds, she turned at Ducky again and spoke to her in a dreamy voice.

“But certainly you understand what I’m saying, Ducky? Where I’m getting at with this talk?” She said, earning a sad nod from Ducky. She hated to see the sad resignation on her friend’s face but right now, she didn’t know how to argue against her point. She simply played along for now, hoping that at least something good would come of it soon enough.

“I do. You’re telling that this will be our last journey together. Though, if I don’t remember wrong, we said the same thing when we were taking Chomper home, didn’t we? And here we are again.” She said, trying to smile weakly as she spoke. She knew she risked raising painful memories within Ruby but she also wanted to give her some encouragement. The fastrunner, however, was far from convinced.

“We only reunited after countless losses. I don’t mean to offend you but if I could trade our reunion to us never meeting those cursed sharpteeth, I’d eagerly take it. So many things would be far better in that case.” She said, immediately making Ducky’s slightly hopeful look die down. Even if it pained her to admit it, things would be far better if she and Ruby had just parted ways for good all those weeks ago. Her entire journey would never have happened and… and her brother would still be here with her. Her own courage in trying to cheer up her broken friend was starting to fail when she finally found something to say.

“But here we still are together, we are. Even after all of this, we still have each other and… and it is worth a lot, at least to me. And I’d still like to be your friend after this journey!” She said, trying to find some way to get through Ruby’s despair. However, the fastrunner’s guilt and sorrow continued to poison her words.

“We can’t do that, Ducky. Or at least it will be worth nothing if we live in different words. It’s not even certain we’ll ever meet each other again and it’d be far better for you if we didn’t. Everyone around me simply have their lives destroyed.” She said with a sad look. Ducky, however, realized that her moment had finally come and she rose from the log and moved to face Ruby headlong. Her voice was warmer and softer than it had been on the entire day, knowing that she’d have to et message through now.

“That’s where you are wrong, Ruby. During the journey when Littlefoot first reunited with his father, he nearly decided to leave us and go away with his daddy! He was very sad about it and he did not have any idea about what to do! But then me and the others sang to him that no matter where he might go in this life, we’ll still be his friends! Friendship is not something that just dies if you are far away from each other! It is something that will follow you for the rest of your life!” She said, her happy voice causing Ruby to frown slightly. Ducky was more than happy to think of those better, bygone days but Ruby’s next words broke the swimmer’s optimism to a large degree.

“That isn’t anything like I’ve ever heard, Ducky. Friendship is something that has to be kept alive every day and there isn’t any special connection between us and to think so is more than weird! I saw daddy and mommy meet their old friends from time to time and they seemed far from happy some of the time. We make friends to be happy for a short amount of time and when the situation changes, we’ll get new friends to replace them! I loved all of you very much, Ducky, but I always knew that our friendship would only be temporary.” She said, her heart aching somewhat as she spoke.

That indeed was one of the wisdoms of her kind: enjoy life when you can but don’t hesitate to turn it around whenever it can benefit you or those around you. Ruby had always been ready to leave the Valley forever had her family called upon her. It had never bothered her back then but… but now she realized that a fastrunner’s life was all about letting go, even more so than the other kinds’. That thought saddened her slightly but even then, she understood the wisdom in that completely. Ducky looked at the omnivore with a stunned look, not having expected to hear such words from the mouth of any of her friends. She stuttered as she struggled to answer.

“H… how can you say that, Ruby? W… we always thought we’d… that we’d stay together forever! I can’t believe you never care-ded about us even that much!” She said, clearly even hurt by those words. Ruby looked at her sadly before her thoughts were interrupted by two very familiar voices.

“Ruby? Ducky? Where are you?”

“Come back here, please! Stop hiding!” Orchid and Arial cried to which Ruby yelled back in a slightly more silent voice.

“We’ll come back shortly! Just stay there for a moment longer!” She called but before she did as she had said, she knelt towards Ducky and looked her in the eyes as she gave her last answer.

“I always cared about you more than you know but that didn’t mean that I wouldn’t have been ready to change all of that had Chomper or my family required that. I don’t think you’ll understand that, Ducky, but all you have to know is that I’ve always felt like I’m your friend and as long as we’re together, that’s all that matters. What happens once we part ways, no one can say. But anyway, let’s go. We have a long journey ahead of ourselves.” She said, trying to wrap this discussion up with a slightly happier note.

Ducky, however, was far from convinced. What she had just heard was so far from what she had learned in her life that it shocked her to hear such words from the fastrunner. She
had never once thought that any of her friends would voluntarily end their friendship but on the other hand, Ruby had always said things she didn’t quite understand. With a worried and distressed look, she headed after the omnivore, hoping that this day wouldn’t offer any more tragedies.

It didn’t take long for the four hapless dinosaurs to leave the forest finally in search of the mystical source of the sky colors. Each of them knew that they had come from a bit further north, just across vast fields of nothing but plains as far as eye could see. At first, it was a welcome reprieve for them after the never-ending, oppressive atmosphere of the woodland that had taken away so very much from them. However, it wasn’t long until each of them realized that that momentary relief was nothing but a folly.

Orchid cringed deeply as he received another hit from the cold wing against his snout, accompanied by a rather large pile of the white ground sparkles. He shuddered deeply as he hardly saw before himself through all of the flying ground sparkles and the wind that nearly forced his eyes to remain shut. Even worse, it practically penetrated its way through his plumage and the boy couldn’t help but feel sick due to the cold that was quickly creeping under his plumage. Slowly but surely, his entire world was starting to turn into a frigid ordeal from which there was no escape. With a shuddering voice, he spoke to his companions.

“I… it was far better back… in the forest. This… this is getting terrible.” He said as he took another step forward, cursing the temperature with all his heart. Ducky looked at him with a compassionate look, the swimmer also suffering from the coldness.

“It was, it was. But… I do not believe there’s reason to turn back now. At this pace, we should be there before tomorrow evening.” She said, looking into the distant horizon with a hopeful look. She knew very well it would be a real ordeal but if the weather got any warmer, this trip should succeed. However, Arial soon rebuked the swimmer’s words with a sickened voice.

“Tomorrow evening? We will freeze to death long before it! We’ll never survive that long! Not without mommy and daddy at least!” She cried in a broken voice, her movements ceasing for a brief moment. Ducky could easily tell what was going on within her head and she was more than saddened by the fact that she could do nothing to help her. Orchid wasted no time joining that sentiment.

“We’ll not survive a week without them anyway. I miss them so very, very much.” The boy said as he stopped still to think about yesterday. Even now, he harbored some hopes they would one day return to him as his young mind refused to accept the obvious. Tears started to flow from his eyes as he thought about all of it. Only one day earlier, it had seemed very possible that they could all return to the Desolate Rise together and be a family again… a great void appeared in his chest as he stopped for a moment. Arial looked at him for a few seconds, his sorrow quickly moving to her as well. Even then, he spoke the words her childish mind wanted her to say, even if she understood it to be wrong.

“They’ll return to us soon. It was nothing but a bad sleep story or we might still be in one. There’s no reason to… to be… sad.” She said as she suddenly stopped in her tracks and started to weep. The memories of her father getting crushed and her mother being bled to death would never leave her and she knew perfectly well they were not results of any sleep stories. However, it was at this point that Ruby decided to end that discussion.

“Don’t lie to yourself, sister. Because if you do that, you’ll make all of this even more difficult than it has to be. As for our journey, I’m more than sure that we’ll find some cave or a gorge where we’ll be able to spend the…” She said with a stoic voice, trying to prevent her own feelings from jumping into the surface. However, she was interrupted by Orchid who spoke in an alarmed voice.

“Stop, everyone! Do you smell what I smell?” He asked and immediately, everyone did as they were told. Ducky looked at her companions oddly as they started to sniff at the cold air, knowing she’d never be able to catch the scent they smelled. She was even more concerned by the fact that she didn’t know just how concerned she should be. After a few seconds, Ruby asked carefully.

“Umm… I’m not sure as I don’t what I’m supposed to smell.” She said but immediately after she had finished, Orchid waved the others to follow as he crouched and started to move forward. Ruby looked at him in concerns but followed his example, knowing that her brother wouldn’t act like without a good reason, at least in a moment like this. However, it wasn’t long before Ruby started to get a hint about what Orchid was up to.

She suddenly noticed a faint scent in the air, one that was coming from another dinosaur… and not from any dinosaur but a group of sharpteeth. The fastrunner felt her heart starting to beat faster as she started to think just how many sharptooth herds there would be out here and with a silent whisper, she spoke to the others.

“Silent now. Don’t let out any unneeded sounds.” She said, her worries lessening slightly as she noticed that the wind was blowing right from the direction of where they were going, ensuring that they wouldn’t be smelled themselves anytime soon. Ruby walked forward with bothered steps, slowly climbing the side of a rather steep cliff. Carefully, she raised her head over its peak… and immediately pulled her head back down, sitting down in the ground while panting heavily. Arial looked at her in concern, asking the obvious question.

“What’s wrong, Ruby? What did you see?” She asked, knowing better than to look herself. Ruby exchanged shocked looks with Orchid who clearly had been able to tell the sharptooth’s identity as well. Ruby’s voice wavered with hate as she spoke, even now remembering to keep her voice slow.

“It’s Stealth, again. Why can’t he simply trip on some hard water and crush his damn brain! I’d give anything if I could simply send him to the Great Beyond myself! That bastard… How could he?” She asked as she hit the ground in anger. She started to weep as she thought about their last meeting, even now unable to understand the monstrosity of it all. Ducky moved closer to the fastrunner and laid her hand on her friend’s shoulder and spoke to her softly.

“I am sorry for all of this, I am. But apparently he did not see you?” She asked, wanting to confirm that detail before everything else. Even now, there was no telling whether Stealth would honor his promise he made to Pearl. Ruby spat into the ground as she answered.

“He didn’t. But if he had, I would have had a chance to make him regret everything he ever did! He’d curse the day he ever hatched!” She yelled, not able to suffer the thought of Chomper’s killer in her mind. Of all the dinosaurs she had met, Stealth was the very embodiment of evil. Even Red Claw and Chomper’s parents hadn’t descended to that level of barbarism. Ducky looked at the omnivore with a bothered expression and her voice was grave as she spoke.

“Let us hope we never meet him again. Because if we do, your mommy’s sacrifice would have been for nothing.” She said, knowing she spoke the truth. Pearl had bought her children peace with her own blood and even if she wasn’t a fastrunner, Ducky could only respect her deed. However, it was at this point that Orchid joined the conversation and he
was clearly far from amused by the swimmer’s words.

“Mommy should never have done that! We could have just escaped together and then we’d all be together! HOW COULD SHE DO THAT T…” He started but before he could finish, both Ducky and Ruby moved towards him to cover his mouth. Ruby hissed to him in anger, not willing to tolerate that kind of behavior in the least.

“Shut up, Orchid! We can’t let them hear us and even if I don’t know about you, I don’t want all of us to follow mommy and daddy just yet!” In truth, she was only speaking of her siblings as she would have been completely alright with being eaten here and now. It didn’t take long for Orchid to realize his mistake and as the two other dinosaurs released his mouth, he continued in a lower but equally outraged voice.

“You know it’s true! If she hadn’t been that damn stupid, we would never have lost her! I don’t even think we have to be so damn sorry because…” He spoke but before he got any further, Ruby hit her with a more violent force than even she had expected. Orchid fell into the ground, keeping his bleeding nose as he looked at his sister in shock.

“Never, ever speak about mommy like this again, Orchid! She cared about us enough to give her life to us and I’m not going to listen to you attacking her memory after she gave everything for us! Try to think a little about your rants before you start to speak!” She yelled, more than saddened as she looked at her brother’s nose starting to shed more blood by the second. She hadn’t meant to hurt him this badly but maybe, just maybe he’d remember this lesson for a bit longer because of her gaffe. And indeed, the boy’s answer implied heavily that would be the case.

“I know, Ruby! But I just feel so lost without her! She always showed us the way forward but now she’s gone! It’s just so very wrong!” He wept as he looked into the ground, knowing he had just made things worse with those words. Ruby, however, relaxed slightly after she saw the boy admitting his mistake and she knelt beside him, taking a handful of the ground sparkles with which she cleaned her brother’s blooded cheek.

“I know, Orchid. But that doesn’t justify what you just said. We should be thankful to her for every second of our lives. And to daddy as well.” She said, again starting to wonder just why she was speaking about all of this. Her heart wasn’t within her words and even now, she was in no way interested in what the others had to say. She… felt nothing but void and pain and it felt like she was but a bystander in her own life. Orchid sniffed deeply as Ducky decided to ask the most important question in a situation like this.

“Umm… Ruby? Did you see where Stealth and the others were going?” She asked, deep worries starting to form within her mind. Ruby turned at her slowly before raising her gaze at the skies. Almost immediately, she realized where the swimmer was getting at with that question and she wasn’t particularly happy about it. Her voice wavered clearly as she gave her answer.

“To the north… the same direction where we’re going. You… you don’t think he’s heading to the same place we are?” She asked in worry. The implications of that question bothered her deeply as she knew very well that it would complicate their quest considerably. Arial’s next remark didn’t improve her mood any.

“Anyone nearby must have seen the colors! It only makes sense that we’re going the same way!” She said, causing the others to look at her in deep worry. Ducky especially breathed deeply as she thought about all of it. The only thought within her mind was one that was shared by all of her companions.

“Sh… should we turn around? I do not want to meet Stealth again, no, no, no.” She said as she brought her hands to her cheeks. Orchid looked at her oddly and spoke again after a few seconds.

“B… but he promised he’d never attack us again! We should be safe!” He said but it didn’t take a long time before Arial looked at him in slight annoyance and snapped at him.

“After everything he did, you should know better than to trust him, Orchid! He is a brutish murderer and nothing more!” She yelled, causing Ruby to sit in the ground, crossing her arms slowly. She was more than bothered by all of this, knowing that everything her sister had said was true. It was more than possible that the next time they met the sailback would be their last one and as much as she wanted revenge upon him, she knew that those plans were only a folly. She would only throw away her mother’s sacrifice for no reason whatsoever and she knew better than to do that.

So, it would make sense to abandon this quest altogether but… but even now, Ruby didn’t want to do that. Her earlier conversation with Ducky lingered within her mind and she knew that a journey to take Ducky back home would be her only option. But not only did she want to part from Ducky just yet but… but the journey to the Valley would be a long and perilous during the Cold Time. Even more, they were so very close to their destination…

Even after all of this, Ruby knew there was only one real choice here. She had absolutely no reason to believe the sky colors were in any way special or interesting, at least to the degree that she’d actually be ready to sacrifice the lives of her family, not after everything her mother had done for them. It pained her deeply but she had to call this journey of and to simply admit that there was no reason to taunt death any more than she had already done. Her voice was a slow one as she started to speak.

“You’re right, Arial. He’d attack us the moment he saw us again. We have no choice but to…” She started but suddenly, her words stopped dead in her throat as she stopped still. Her companions looked at the fastrunner oddly, frowning as they saw the change in her. Ducky asked her friend carefully, not having any idea what was going on with Ruby.

“Umm… Ruby? Is something wrong?” she asked but Ruby heard none of her words. Her head ached heavily as her mind’s eye shifted to a scene that troubled the girl deeply. In a matter of seconds, the white plains around her disappeared, giving way to a completely new sight. Her entire world was filled with the dancing colors of the sky as she fell to her knees, the omnivore’s gaze completely fixed in the endless distance. Immediately, Arial ran to her side and cried to her in alarm.

“What’s wrong, Ruby? Please answer me!” She yelled but the older fastrunner heard none of her words.

Ruby saw only a wide forest opening before herself, one that resembled no place she had seen before. Whereas most woodlands had been rather unremarkable, this one seemed… different. This one seemed… darker than the other ones and it made the girl’s heart run cold for some reason. Ruby herself tried to tear her gaze away from it, knowing it was all wrong but she was unable to do so in this strangest of moments.

Slowly, she was pulled closer to the forest until she landed in the ground, gasping as she looked around herself. Most of the trees around her were dead, a sight that made her frown even more deeply. They weren’t like most trees in the Cold Time, waiting for the warmth to wake them from their long slumber. This place, on the other hand, seemed like it had been dead and decaying for countless ages by now.

The omnivore’s breaths grew more panicked by the second as she looked at the rotting place around her. Ruby knew immediately that it was by no means a natural sight and she would have wanted to simply turn around and run for her life. However, in this vision, she couldn’t do that no matter how she would have wanted to. She tried to even scream but that, too, failed miserably.

“Ruby! wake up! Please, tell me what’s wrong!” Orchid cried as she shook Ruby from her shoulder. Each one of the three dinosaurs were growing panicked as they seemed to receive no contact with the girl, despite her being completely alright only a moment earlier. They couldn’t afford to lose Ruby as well after everything that had happened! They simply could not!

However, Ruby’s strangest of visions went on. She was more than panicked herself but soon, something happened that made her uncertainty and concerns grow even worse. A few spheres of light appeared from the woods, starting to circle around her in an ominous way. For some reason, Ruby suddenly felt like she’d have to move forward and slowly but surely, she headed further into the darkness.

She shuddered as he she looked at the gloom around herself, noticing that the ground had no trace of grass or even of the ground sparkles. All of it… all of it seemed like it had been completely burned and now that Ruby thought of it, it was true that the trees seemed like they had been consumed by flames as well. What in earth was this place? The girl grew more and more distressed by the second as more and more of the spheres gathered around her. She noticed that the ground was slowly sloping upwards and that a few rocky walls were rising on her left side. Slowly but surely, a feeling of curiosity started to rise within her as the lights seemed to begin lighting this blighted place.

It seemed to her that they were even trying to talk to her but for now, she recognized none of the words they were trying to say. She frowned deeply as they suddenly seemed to stop and the girl looked before herself in confusion. It seemed like the lights were slowly stopping moving and slowly but surely, something seemed to form within the darkness… something that made the scene around the fastrunner finally disappear.

Ducky’s heart nearly skipped a beat as she suddenly saw Ruby falling into the ground, panting heavily. At first, the swimmer thought her condition was deteriorating further but it wasn’t long before she noticed something that raised her hopes greatly. Ruby’s eyes were staring into the ground in horror and confusion, telling that she had recovered her senses after this oddest of phenomena. The smaller girl asked with a startled tone as she knelt beside the fastrunner.

“Ruby, let me know if you can hear me! Please!” She said as Ruby turned to look at her with a haunted look. She panted for a few seconds before she gazed around herself further, seeing the equally horrified faces of her siblings. She didn’t waste much more time asking the obvious question.

“Wh… what in the name of ancestors happened to me? Ducky, tell me!” She said, thinking about how her entire world had failed around her, only for her to find herself lying in the cold ground after a time that had felt like an eternity. Orchid moved to Ducky’s side and answered on the female’s behalf.

“Suddenly you fell to your knees, looking as if you weren’t yourself at all! You heard nothing we said and seemed like you didn’t even know we were near you! It was terrible, Ruby!” He said, his sorrow slowly starting to mixed with an increasing worry for his sister’s wellbeing. The older fastrunner looked at her brother with a scared look even if she wasn’t exactly surprised by anything that he had said. She brought her hand to her forehead as she started to speak again.

“I saw a dead, rotting forest with odd lights guiding me ever forward. I was just reaching its center and seeing some… something when I woke up. It… it was terrible.” The fastrunner said as she pulled her legs against her body and crossed her arms around her thighs. Ducky and the young omnivores exchanged worried expressions and the former gulped deeply as she thought about what she had just heard. She moved closer to the fastrunner and spoke to her softly.

“Ruby… do you have any idea why you saw that? Was it familiar to you in some way?” She said as she tried to help Ruby handle this most shocking of developments. However, the halftooth was far from relieved by that question.

“It wasn’t, Ducky. In fact, it didn’t look like it was from this world at all even if I have no idea from which world it could be from if it wasn’t from this one. In any case, Ducky, I’m scared by all of this. Why does all of this happen to me alone?” She asked silently, starting to wonder whether she was simply starting to grow crazy. After everything that had happened, she would no longer be surprised by such a development. Even then, everything that had been going was slowly starting to pile up a heavy burden on her heart. She had no idea how much more he could take before she’d break down completely. Ducky moved closer to her and whispered silently.

“Do you have any idea why this happened-ed? Could it be… because of the odd sky colors?” She asked, them being the only explanation she could come up with right now. Inside, this whole quest was starting to seem like a folly to her and inside, she would have almost preferred to set this search aside. Ruby frowned deeply before giving her answer.

“I don’t know, Ducky. But you’re right that they might be the only true explanation.” She sighed deeply, something within her vision bothering her even more by the second. However, the swimmer’s next words made something change inside her in a way she hadn’t expected herself.

“In that case, don’t you think it would be better if we just forgot about all of this and went home? With Stealth and now this, I do not like about this at all, I don’t.” She said, not expecting Ruby to disagree but when the fastrunner spoke, Ducky’s eyes widened quickly.

“Let’s not think about that, Ducky. After all, we haven’t faced a mystery like this in a long, long time.” She said in a much lighter voice, causing Arial to cock her head and speak silently to her sister.

“But… it’s getting far too dangerous, Ruby! And truth be told, I don’t care about mysteries anymore. I don’t even know what I care about anymore.” She said, causing Ruby’s heart to grow heavier as she heard her sister’s despair. Her tone was a king and mournful one as she next spoke to the younger omnivore and the swimmer.

“That’s exactly why we need some kind of direction, Arial. We all feel the same way, I most of all, but we cannot simply give everything up. Not after what mommy and daddy gave up to create a future for us. And Ducky, if we turned around now, we’d have to part ways for good.” She said, causing the swimmer to look at her with a long face. Of course it was true but… but the smaller female was growing more worried for Ruby by the second.

“Ruby… only a few seconds ago, you were clearly afraid for yourself. It only makes sense to do the same and I would gladly accept the inevitable instead of seeing you get more of these accidents. I would, I would.” She said, earning a few nods from the other omnivores. Yet, that sentiment didn’t change Ruby’s mind and her voice was suddenly a much more forceful one as she next spoke.

“I’ll be fine, Ducky. I can take a few more of the visions if it means that I’ll be able to finally solve this mess! And I truly hope all of you will stay with me along the way. I promise you that the worst is already behind us. What we’ll find will be of no harm to any of us and Stealth won’t bring us any more harm. Trust me.” She said but her words did little to raise Ducky’s spirits any. It almost seemed to her like Ruby wasn’t being herself at all, as if it was some other dinosaur speaking through her. Yet, she also knew it more than well that she had no real chance of changing Ruby’s mind at this point. She hated her situation deeply but she decided to play her role at it all to the end. Her voice was a resigned one as she spoke to her old friend.

“Alright, Ruby. I hope you’re right. But if we do go on, promise that you’ll be alright. Please?” She asked as she looked at the fastrunner’s eyes. Ruby nearly gasped as she saw just how distressed the swimmer looked, suddenly realizing just how deeply Ducky cared for her. For a brief moment, her determination failed but before long, the previous confidence returned. Ruby cleared her throat as she prepared to give her answer.

“Of course we’ll be alright. But come on now! The sooner we continue our journey, the sooner we’ll be where we need to be!” She said as she turned around to continue this oddest of journeys. Ducky’s eyes were riddled with worry and she sighed deeply as she started to follow the other girl. She was no longer even worried that this would be their last journey together. She was more concerned that this would be their last journey altogether.

The two next days had both been unusually cold and neither had the pale light of the Bright Circle done much to bring warmth to the wide plains bathing in its rays. Luckily, the wind had died down almost completely which had made the trek somewhat more tolerable. Ruby had earlier been right when she had suggested that there would be just enough caves or gorges where the small group would be able to spend their nights. They had been short, bothered sleeps but at the very least they were still able to go on. Even then, the familiar problem was slowly starting raise its head as Arial spoke to her brother in a weak voice.

“I’m so cold, Orchid. Why can’t this Cold Time just end already?” She asked, trembling tremendously as she took another step forward. Orchid looked at her in worry, knowing he wasn’t in any better condition than she was. He was freezing and hungry and truth be told, he would have given nearly anything if he could have stopped this horrifying march.

“I’d hope for that to happen as well, Arial, but we know it won’t end in many weeks. Though every one of us would be happier if the Cold Time went away, never to return. But we have to go on as there’s nothing for us out here.” He said as he looked at the white mounds everywhere around him. Deep down, he was growing worried whether he’d make it through this journey himself as he looked at the hapless world around him.

Ducky wasn’t in much better spirits. Her near-death had made her even weaker against the cold which had turned out to be a true curse in the past days. Even then, she managed to keep up with the others even if it had felt many times that she could just fall into the ground in exhaustion. However, her concern for Ruby’s well-being kept her moving forward as she was more than bothered by her apparent yearning to reach her destination, whatever it might be.

Her earlier impression that the fastrunner seemed like a whole new dinosaur after her off vision had only been reinforced in the two days following it as Ruby no longer seemed nearly as broken as she had been before, instead seeming like she was driven forward by a long-time passion. However, she hadn’t told anything about any of that when Ducky had asked about that, making the swimmer all the more distressed. Inside, the many weird things she had seen in her life returned to her mind as she looked at her friend. After all of Littlefoot’s tales of his mother watching over him as well as the more than clear manifestation of bad luck, was it so unbelievable that something could be driving Ruby forward?

It had been clear from the beginning that the sky colors in no way seemed completely natural but even then, the swimmer could find no clear connection between them and Ruby’s actions. It all seemed so very odd to the swimmer and even worse was the fact that she had no idea what she could do to help her. At the very least, they hadn’t seen Stealth after that one encounter which was something that made Ducky breath a bit easier. She spoke to the two younger fastrunners wearily as she continued to walk forward.

“They indeed would be. I cannot believe I and my friends were actually happy to see the falling sky stars for the first time!” She said, letting out a deep sigh. Cold times only raised bad memories within her as her words at Spike back before his departure with the other spiketails hurt her even more now that he was gone. Orchid looked at the swimmer oddly before he gave his answer.

“I was happy about that as well, Ducky. I loved Cold Times when I was younger but when I tried to help my family during one night, I got lost in the cold darkness and I nearly froze to death. After that day, Cold Times were never the same.” He said, still thinking about what had happened on that night. Especially the fastbiter that had saved him caused him to frown as all of that had seemed like it had been from a sleep story. The fact that the predator had led him to safety, the fact that he had never seen it and its tail’s bright-red tail… deep down, Orchid would have wanted to believe that whenever he was in trouble, this mythic dinosaur would save him again. His thoughts were interrupted by Ducky as she looked at him and spoke warmly before turning at Ruby.

“Well, I am very happy you didn’t die back then, I am, I am!” She said, finally prompting Ruby to join the conversation. This time her tone was a completely normal one which was something that eased Ducky’s worries for a brief while.

“So am I, Orchid. It’s a bit sad just how I missed while I was away from you though, there are other things I would have missed if I had been with you as well.” She said with a slightly cheeky expression, causing all three of her companions to gaze at her with weak smiles. They were more than glad to see her speak even a bit as her recent behavior wasn’t lost on her siblings either. Arial started to answer but before she could finish, her attention turned to another sight near her.

“I know, Ruby. Though, most of the time our lives weren’t nearly as interesting as y… what is that?” She asked with a sharp voice, causing Ruby and Ducky to gasp and turned at the direction Arial was looking at. At first, the older fastrunner was more than fearful that Stealth might be on the move but she was relieved to learn that wasn’t the case. She was just about to sigh in relief and give her answer her answer when she suddenly realized something odd. The falling of the ground sparkles had hid it mostly but as Ruby walked closer to it, she spoke in wonder.

“It… it looks like a cliff. Follow me to see just what we have to see!” She said as she walked forward, only now realizing just how totally the ground sparkles and the sky dominated the world during this season. They seemed to blend together to cover the landscape inside itself which had made spotting the cliff more than difficult. At first, Ruby thought that she was unlikely to see anything apart from more plains but as seconds passed slowly, she realized she had been mistaken. Her eyes widened as she looked at the vast woodland opening below herself. The forest seemed to spread as far as her eyes could see which wasn’t a small feat. Ruby gulped as she realized just how massive a drop opened before her, estimating that it was the height of at least twenty grown longnecks stacked on top of each other. Ducky’s initial reaction was similar to Ruby’s but her excitement died down rather quickly as the reality started to sink in.

“Aww. It’s just another forest and we’ve seen more than enough of them already, we have. Let’s go. There is not much more to be seen here.” She said as she grew increasingly dispirited, not even taking the slightest joy in the breaking of the eternal monotony of plains and hills. Ruby, however, frowned deeply as she looked at her friend, something within her preventing her from following Ducky’s example. She snapped angrily at her siblings, her tone surprising even the girl herself.

“Don’t listen to her! She doesn’t know what she’s talking about and she’d just trying to lead us all astray!” She said, immediately bringing her hands to her mouth in shock. She hadn’t meant to sound that rude and she closed her eyes in shame as her three companions stared at her in astonishment. She started to soon stutter slightly as she started to apologize.

“I… I’m sorry, Ducky! I didn’t mean to sound that rude!” She said, causing the swimmer to shake her head sadly. It seemed like her fears weren’t being diminished to any meaningful degree as Ruby’s behavior continued to get ever weirder and weirder. Even then, she didn’t want to make her feel any more miserable than she already did. She moved closer to the fastrunner and spoke softly.

“It’s alright, Ruby. Let’s not talk about that any more. Come, let’s go.” She said, causing Ruby to frown slightly. Even now, she felt like the swimmer was making a serious mistake but if she tried to argue about it even a bit, the others would only see her growing more in sane by the second. She was deeply torn for a few seconds before something happened that made her relieved and scared at the same time.

Suddenly, the entire sky over the four dinosaurs started to shine with the light of the weird sky colors, this time covering the small group with its radiance. Ruby let out a sigh of awe, not having ever seen something so beautiful. It seemed like the bland, white world had been replaced by these dancing hues that took away everything old before it. The previous sightings of this magical phenomenon were nothing compared to this and almost instinctually, the omnivore turned to look towards the forest below her… and it didn’t take long before her eyes widened in shock.

It seemed as if some kind of whirlpool was rising from some distant part of the woodland, sending all of those colors into the sky. That sight puzzled the girl deeply and with a forced movement, she moved to point at that direction.

“D… do you see that as well?” She asked as the others looked at the direction she was pointing at. Ducky frowned deeply as she did as Ruby asked, not having the slightest idea what to expect. However, she too gasped as she saw that scene. The swimmer immediately turned at her friend and spoke in marvel.

“You indeed were right, Ruby! This is what we were looking for, yep, yep, yep!” She exclaimed as the colors started to wither away as they always had. Ruby brought her hand below her chin as she looked at the scene thoughtfully, speaking again in a low voice.

“I don’t know how I knew what I knew, though. I had no way of knowing that those weird sky colors came from here but for some reason, I just knew it!” She said while spreading her hands. The two younger omnivores looked at her in confusion and Ducky looked at her with a torn expression before she finally decided to reveal just what had haunted her thoughts for the last few days.

“Ruby… this only confirms that all of those strange things are caused that somehow, whatever causes those colors, also affects the way you think and I do not think that is a good thing. Because if whatever is doing that can do that much, how can we know what else it can do? I do not like this at all, I don’t.” She said while looking pleadingly at the fastrunner’s eyes. Suddenly, Ruby felt like she was awakening from some dream, realizing that Ducky almost certainly spoke the truth.

Chills started to creep down her spine as she looked at the forest, her earlier vision suddenly returning to her mind. Even if it looked normal from here, she had no way of knowing what horrors lied in its depths. What if her long journey would only be rewarded by some grisly end that no one could have foreseen? Yet, as that odd shroud also got lifted from her mind, the earlier despair started to return. The only way in which that mattered was that if she’d fall out there, it would only serve as an insult to her mother’s memory.

Yet, other, more pressing concerns also started to creep to her mind. She and her companions had travelled for days with minimal amounts of food and the fastrunner knew very well that they would hardly be able to march all the way back to the scene of her parents’ last battle, let alone to the Desolate Rise or the Great Valley. Likewise, if she didn’t face whatever was lurking within that forest, how could she ever know she would be free from its influence or control? She sighed slightly as she looked at Ducky, regretting deeply what she was about to say.

“Neither do I, Ducky. I regret all of this so very, very much. But we both know we have no chance of going back without green food and we have to find out just what has caused me to do the things I have done. Otherwise we’ll perhaps never get rid of it.” She said, this time knowing she was speaking what she really thought. Ducky, however, was far from

“But it’s also possible that everything will only go worse if we go there! And I don’t want to meet Stealth out there, I don’t.” she said, knowing that the sharptooth was still a very clear threat. Ruby, took a deep breath before she spoke again.

“Neither do I but… but do you want to walk back the entire way? I know we’re all hungry and at least out there should be some green food.” She said, finally receiving Ducky’s attention. The swimmer’s stomach let out a loud growl in emphasis, telling the girl she’d never be able to get home, at least not during the height of the Cold Time. After a while, she let out a deep sigh as she glanced at the omnivore.

“You are right about that, Ruby. But if that forest is the same one you saw, it does not sound like something that has any good green food.” She said, trying to one more time change Ruby’s mind. The larger dinosaur cringed deeply before she answered, not having thought of that before. she glanced at the woodland briefly before turning back at Ducky.

“Indeed but as you see, that part at least looks perfectly normal. I’m sure it can sate our hunger for many, many days. What do you think, Arial and Orchid?” She said as she noticed her siblings’ worried looks. The duo had found nothing to say just yet as they would have wanted to believe their sister but her behavior worried them as well. After a brief pause, Orchid finally asked one but important question from his sister.

“Do you really believe this is a good idea, Ruby? Of course I trust you but… you know what has happened lately.” He asked, ending his sister’s bravado almost immediately. Even if Ruby had already concluded she was thinking for herself, how could she know it herself? Was there even a small chance she was following some other being’s orders and leading her family and Ducky to their deaths? Suddenly, she realized that it was a real possibility and as she thought about it, her courage failed in a matter of seconds. Her breaths grew quicker by the second and she slowly realized she couldn’t do this alone. She sat on a nearby rock as she buried her face in her hands. Her voice was a mournful one as she finally spoke.

“Of course I do, Orchid! And you’re right that I cannot make this decision alone! I’ve already made enough mistakes and now I cannot trust myself even as much as I used to! For once, tell me what to do, Ducky! Tell me what you and your friends would have done on your older adventures!” She said in a pleading voice, causing the swimmer to look at the fastrunner in surprise. She hadn’t expected Ruby’s mind to change this quickly and she was even more taken aback by her sudden despair. Her voice wavered slightly as she answered.

“But… I am no leader, Ruby! I never once made any decisions for the others!” She said, thinking of all the times Littlefoot and Cera had fought for the things they thought were right. She had always looked at them from the sidelines with Petrie and Spike, never once imagining to challenge the duo’s ideas. Though, there were times when she had told them they were wrong like when Cera had led them astray when they had looked for Petrie after the Sand Cloud during their search for Littlefoot’s father. However, Ruby was far from content with that answer.

“I don’t care about that, Ducky! At least tell me what Littlefoot or the others would have done!” She said, causing Ducky to look into the distant horizon. What would Littlefoot have done here indeed? Ducky had always looked up to the longneck and admired his leadership and suddenly, some new feelings crept into her heart. Littlefoot had always cared about the wellbeing of his friends first of all and as she looked at her companions, she could very well see that all of them were ready to listen to her in this moment.

Her mind told her to turn back here and now and forget everything about this forest but… she knew as well as Ruby that they could very well starve before they got back. And that left only one options… the one Ducky had feared the most. She took a deep sigh as she looked at Ruby, hoping that the other girl hadn’t just passed the fateful decision upon her. And even if she wanted to deny that fact, it made sense that facing the force that had played with them firsthand was the way to go. She looked at Ruby sadly, her voice wavering as she spoke.

“Very well, Ruby. We have to do as you say but please, promise that you try to keep any odd feelings at check at all times. Please?” She asked, that question causing the fastrunner to draw a long, forced breath.

“I promise, Ducky. I promise that I do my all to keep you safe if anything worse should happen. I just pray it won’t come to that.” She said as he and the younger fastrunners looked at Ducky questioningly. The swimmer was more than taken aback by this, never having expected to be the one the omnivores would follow. Even then, she could very well see that Ruby was in no position to lead and her siblings were far too young for all of that. With a resigned breath, she turned around and spoke happily, willing to complete her role here as well as she could.

“Well, follow me then! We should find a safe road down before anything else!” She said as she started to investigate the hillside, not noticing Ruby’s torn expression. The fastrunner’s mind was being consumed by her sorrow, fear and regret and as she started to follow Ducky, she seriously felt like she wouldn’t be there to witness the end of this last leg of her journey. With that feeling chilling her heart, Ruby followed her companions, knowing that their final rewards would soon be known to her as well as her companions. She could only pray things wouldn’t end up any worse than this bad sleep story she felt like she was drowning in.

So, the long wait for Separate Ways’ next chapter is finally over. I apologize for the two months’ break but planning this story’s ending and writing the two long short stories took quite a bit of time. From now on, I plan to release new chapters at a faster rate even if the next one will be delayed due to a trip of mine. In any case, I hope you liked this slightly slower installment and see you with the next chapter sometime next month! 

Anagnos: It’s true that Volant could have tried to stop Petrie more forcefully but I gave a lot of reasoning for that decision and I’m happy you found them understandable. As for your theory, I can indeed reveal that Lenel won’t have the smoothest of rides in the chapters ahead but I’ll leave the answers for the rest of your theorizing unanswered for now. As for our main characters, their situation indeed grew even worse in this chapter so your thoughts might not be a stretch at all.

DiddyKF1: I can see why you would have wanted Petrie’s family to accompany him but it indeed would not have made much sense and no matter how I looked at it, it wouldn’t have been a good decision from this story’s point of view. It’s great to hear how deeply you were invested in this chapter and it kinda shows me I did something right with it. As for
Petrie and Lenel, you may trust on that they will meet again. Overall, thank you a lot for your review, Diddy!

rhombus: Your observations about that scene were completely correct and I’m glad you emphasized Volant’s realization about her and Petrie’s relationship during their times together. That indeed was one solemn detail I wanted to underline and it’s great to hear you liked that idea as well. As for the confrontation, you are also right but I doubt it won’t be like you might expect at this point…


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #134 on: August 24, 2019, 08:31:24 PM »
You seem to be just as masterful at character emotions as I am. This chapter clearly shows how two complete opposites are struggling to accept whatever comes to them, even if it's for the worst.

My heart was certainly aching for Ducky and Ruby in this chapter. Despite all the optimism the Swimmer is trying to offer, Ruby is buying none of it, and I think their friendship is probably not going to last much longer. This appears to be the beginning of the end of what should have been a long-lasting friendship, which hurts more than anything. :(petrie

The chapter itself seemed largely uneventful and very slow, but emotions make up for it once again. I'm especially concerned about Ruby; it seems as though she may be slipping into insanity judging by her disturbing behavior and strange visions. She clearly has no obligation to stay alive, and only her companions are what's keeping her from possible suicide. I have this gut feeling that this will not end well for Ruby and that things will only get worse as her mental health goes downhill.

This almost feels like playing Fahrenheit (a.k.a. Indigo Prophecy) and having Lucas Kane's mental health on the verge of zero (Game Over; Lucas commits suicide, turns himself in and goes to prison for murder (life sentence), or gets locked up in a mental asylum). This is essentially Ruby at this point in the story. :sducky

Great work, as always! I'll be eagerly awaiting what comes next! :)petrie
Suddenly, I've written so many fanfics that I can't possibly list them all! :P


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #135 on: August 25, 2019, 03:22:06 AM »
This was a deeply emotional chapter where the consequences of the previous chapters continue to impact Ruby, what remains of her family, and Ducky. They have all lost so much, but they must now face an uncertain future and, additionally, a very uncertain path. 

The conversation between Ducky and Ruby is one that was both unavoidable and deeply impactful. In it we get to see the two contrasting worldviews of swimmers and fastrunners. Swimmers, by necessity, see the herd (and family) as everything and consequently Ducky cannot comprehend the idea that some friendships would simply fade or be put aside in time. Ruby, on the other hand, has been raised in the Mysterious Beyond for all of her life and has lived the uncertain life of a fastrunner. She had to always prepare herself for going elsewhere if it was necessary for the wellbeing of her family. Though it seems that Ruby soothed some of the tensions manifested in their conversation, the seeds of doubt still remain in the swimmer.

Then we have the developments as the group travels to the Sky Colors.  Ruby and the others are now aware that Stealth is heading in that general direction, which of course fills them with doubts, but then we also have Ruby's odd behavior.  Not only do we have her outburst at Ducky, which the swimmers seems to brush off, but then we have her visions.  I do not know what to make of these visions thus far, but, like the others, I am sure that they do not bode well for the group.  One thing, however, is certain: all of the major players seem to be moving in the same direction and towards a final confrontation.

This was a nice chapter as always.  :) I look forward to seeing how Ruby, Arial, Orchid, and Ducky's journey develops from here.

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


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #136 on: August 25, 2019, 04:36:39 AM »
Now this was a very interesting and a good chapter undoubtedly. The agonising emotions these young minds have to deal with indubitably cause massive grief to their already broken spirits, and will no doubt go through much more heartache before they reach their ambiguous destination sooner or later.

The discussions and interactions foremost between Ruby and Ducky was necessary to drive the story further on with the much needed confrontation being the central point of the whole case. Both of their viewpoints of how the world works for their own kind, and likewise comprehension of their differences required both of them to cogitate each other’s lives thus far. Fortunately, nothing irreversible took place whilst their conversation.

Despite the sensation that the chapter developed moderately slowly, it will no doubt be the overture before the conclusive result of this story, which is positively something to look forward to when the time comes. Ruby’s hallucinations about what might be awaiting the group when they in due course arrive at wherever it is they are currently en route will be particularly intriguing to bear witness to, as this particular mystery is especially distinct for them the most. Her behavior is worthy of being taken under consideration, as it could mean a number of things, and none of them will probably be very hospitable.

Indisputably, we are approaching the final portion of this story that will no doubt stir up all kinds of effects to take place as we advance further towards into the skirmish between many opposing sides of the conflict. It is definitely going to get more interesting from now on, and I am very anxious to see the results come into effect in due time.


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #137 on: September 11, 2019, 02:54:45 PM »
The Arrival of the Flyers

A weak look of relief rose to the flyer’s beak as the Bright Circle cast its pale warmth on her back. She looked at the wide valley below her in expectation and the shimmering lake far in the distance made her heart swell even if her thoughts weren’t quite concentrated around her surroundings. They were a welcome break from the relative monotony of these lands but even then, her mind concentrated only on the quest at hand. Or rather, the speed with which it was coming to its conclusion. Sireia’s voice was an impatient one as she turned to look at her mate.

“It feels like we’re going to get nowhere at this pace, Lenel! We should already be there by now!” She said, catching the male off-guard. He frowned as he turned to look at Sireia, completely taken aback by the sudden rant. His tone reflected that sentiment as he answered his mate’s words.

“What do you mean by that, dear? We’re making great progress and we cannot ask for more from the others!” He said, already thinking of all the nights and days he had forced the others to push on without rest. He had expected many of them to seriously start showing signs of fatigue or even dissent but to his amazement, all of them had stayed by his side all of this time. However, Sireia was far from content with that answer.

“That may be true but we shouldn’t waste a second unless we absolutely have to! I’m already more than eager to reach the Land of the Dancing Waters and start building the future we’ve always wanted!” She said, this time earning an appreciating smile from Lenel. His earlier confusion had turned into warmth at his mate, making him thankful for every day they spent together. Not once had Sireia darkened his day nor showed any hesitation at their common goals and inside, he couldn’t wait to find Olres’ secret to please the female along with realizing his own dreams. However, he couldn’t help but speak to her cheekily but warmly.

“I wonder who was the one who said that we’d have to wait for my recovery back at Streli’s Hills? If I remember right, it wasn’t me.” He said, causing Sireia’s expression to change completely. Gone was the frustration which was quickly replaced by a smile which in turn changed into confusion. Her voice wavered slightly as she finally spoke, her earlier confidence completely absent from her voice.

“You’re right, my love. It’s just that… I’ve thought about our future far more during all of these days of flying. I’ve just realized that we’ve never lived to our fullest, always trying to outsmart other leaders and having to live without hatchlings. Back at Streli’s Hills, I only thought about our eventual goals but… but lately it feels like the promise of all of that is hanging right in front of us, waiting to be grabbed! And I cannot wait for it any longer!” She said, knowing very well that her mate understood her point completely. Lenel’s eyes widened slightly and he took a deep sigh as he prepared to answer.

“I know, my darling Sireia. But even in that case we cannot push the others any more than we have already or we wouldn’t be worthy of this most important of roles. About other things, have you noticed anything weird with Haste in the past few days?” He asked, willing to make his mate think about other things for a while. Especially as this issue was a pressing one as well. Sireia looked at the lake that was opening far below her as she answered.

“Absolutely none, dear. It seems like she is trying to act like any normal flyer would and I can easily see just what you mean by speaking about that.” She said, earning an empathetic nod from the male. The duo knew Haste wasn’t far behind them but the whistling of the wind would bury their conversation among its loud whistling.

“Indeed. She is acting far more casually than she usually does and rankly, I’m getting tired of playing her waiting game. We need her for a while more and we have to try to get more evidence against her if we wish to take her out without risking more violence.” He said, his words brightening Sireia’s expression as well. The female’s voice grew even excited as she answered to her mate, more than happy about his idea.

“I completely agree, Lenel. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” She said as she quickly nodded at Northwind’s direction. The latter didn’t notice her gesture but Lenel did and she gave his mate a deep smile before he turned at his deputy and called to him in a loud voice.

“Northwind, come here! I have something to tell you!” He said, his lack of effort to hide the coming conversation confusing Sireia for a while. After all, Haste could see just what was happening but after a moment, she relaxed. After all, even if Haste realized what was going on, how would this kind of talk improve her position any, especially if she couldn’t hear what they were talking about? Northwind immediately did as he was told as he approached Lenel, asking in an eager voice as he reached his side.

“What is it, my honored leader? What needs to be done?” He asked, earning an unreadable look from Lenel. The pale flyer cleared his throat as he started to speak to the other male.

“Nothing major, Northwind. You just have to go speak with a special someone…”

A mournful look could be seen on Petrie’s face as he flew ever forward, looking at the mountains below himself that looked little more than small needles sticking up from the ground. His wings were tired from all the flying but he knew he couldn’t give up or even lower his speed. His flying was still far from perfect from his slight injury during his escape from Lenel almost exactly a week ago. It had been days since he had left his family and there hadn’t been one moment after that night when he hadn’t questioned his actions back then.

Especially the thought that he might have seen his mother for the very last time hung heavily over the young boy as it was a possibility too monstrous for him to even consider. Even then, the expression of endless sadness on his mother’s face haunted him deeply as he had never wanted to hurt her like this. He had hardly smiled after that parting of the ways even if he had tried to stay focused on the task before himself. However, there was another thing that haunted his thoughts. He sighed deeply as he approached his two friends and spoke to them in an odd voice.

“You know… Petrie feel as if me have always been through a quest like this.” He said, causing both of the other flyers to frown and turn to look at him. That admission had caught both of them off-guard and Glide was the first one to speak to the boy.

“What’s that supposed to mean, Petrie?  Have you tried to attack Lenel before you met us or what?” She asked, not sure what to make of his words. Petrie looked into the distance with a thoughtful look, waiting many seconds before he clarified just what he had meant. His voice was a glum and unsure one as he turned to look at Glide.

“Before me tell that… Glide, is it common among our kind to miss the time before Olres’ days? The one when our kind the greatest anywhere?” He asked, those words only confusing the girl further. However, it was Ortin who spoke next and he was even more flabbergasted as the girl. He sounded almost frustrated at Petrie’s words even if he refrained from sounding anything that resembled hostile.

“Most of our kind miss that time, yes! Even Peak used to tell us about that being the Golden Age of not only for our kind but also for the whole world! But come on, Petrie, just tell us where you’re getting at!” He said, hoping his friend to finally tell what he really wanted to ask. Petrie’s expression didn’t even imply that he had heard those words as he only looked into the ground with a stoic face. It was clear his mind was dwelling in some distant memory, one that haunted him for some reason. Ortin was preparing to ask him again when the darker-colored boy finally spoke.

“It really seem so. Back in the day, that what uncle Pterano wanted to do too.” He said, causing his friends to look at each other askingly. Neither of them knew anything about Pterano’s past and neither had they ever expected it something worth hearing. As far as they were concerned, he had just been another insignificant deputy to a leader both of them despised deeply. Ortin spoke to his friend with a confused voice as he tried to determine just what would be the best question to ask here.

“And how was he going to do that? He wasn’t a descendant of anyone noteworthy and he knew nothing about Olres’ secret. Was it just some weird dream of his?” He asked, causing Petrie to shake his head glumly. Petrie still didn’t look at him but this time, he didn’t wait until he gave his answer.

“Nope… He… he try to do that using the Stone of Cold Fire.” He said, causing a curious look to rise to Glide’s face. Petrie wasn’t sure what to make of that reaction but to his relief, Glide spoke to him almost immediately after he had finished.

“The Stone of Cold Fire? That’s just another story told to the hatchlings to make them fall asleep! Did your uncle actually believe in that story?” She asked with a slight laughter. Petrie frowned at that question, able to tell just how oblivious that kind of question was during a search for a similar hatchling’s story. However, there was one other thing he wanted to ask Glide.

“If you know what that story really is, could you please tell Petrie about that? Me never really heard what kind of story that truly be.” He said, wondering just what Pterano had expected when he had called upon the Stone’s powers. Of course he had heard the rainbowfaces’ words but his uncle had never told about it himself. Glide looked at Petrie oddly, wondering just how he could be so ignorant of all of the flyer stories.

“I’m not completely sure about that myself, Petrie, but if I remember right, Stones of Cold Fire were supposed to be a flying rocks that fell into the ground very seldom but ones that carried great potential and mystery with them. They always shine with freezing flames but every time, no flyer has ever been able to find them once they had fallen into the ground. Nobody really knows what they are but many flyers see them as sacred as they come to us from places higher than any flyer can fly.” She said but at this point, Petrie cut her short. None of what Glide had said gave an answer to his uncle’s behavior and of course, there was another hole in her story.

“All flying rocks come from places our kind cannot go to, Glide. Why they more interesting than the others?” He asked, genuinely interested in what the girl was saying. Ortin knew all of this of course but he had decided to allow the female tell this story.

“Because of the fire, Petrie! Most of our kind believe that only those who have passed on can fly that endless darkness over us and it is said that the only explanation for that kind of flame is that they originate from… from the Great Beyond.” She said, something within her own words making her suddenly more concerned about something. It seemed like Petrie had started to shatter her skepticism about the flyer stories and… to be honest, the boy’s comments about the Stone forced her to wonder if that tale could be true as well.

Those words made Petrie thoughtful as well. Now that he thought about it, a ball of pale blue flying through the night sky did sound rather ghastly… but them being born in the Great Beyond? At this point, Petrie regretted deeply not being able to ask about all of this from Pterano himself. The boy’s voice wavered slightly as he spoke next.

“From the Great Beyond? But… but that not possible! Nothing return from back there!” He said, knowing his words were true. Once someone passed away, there was no way for them to ever walk this world again and even the suggestion that there was some connection between this world and the next chilled him. Glide would have shrugged had she hot been flying and her voice was a completely neutral one as she sated Petrie’s curiosity.

“At least it shouldn’t happen but on the other hand, who knows what lies way up there? It might not be the Great Beyond but it would fit all of our beliefs about a flyer’s last flight. After all, it is said that the dead are able to fly where the living cannot. Anyway, some believe that those Stones are gifts… or remains of those in the Great Beyond which might be able to give us the power of someone who died long ago… or at the very least tell us a little bit of the Great Beyond itself.” She said, causing Petrie to frown deeply.

Suddenly, the rainbowfaces’ words returned to his mind. They had also suggested that the Stone could be some kind of message which was something that made more and more questions rise within the boy’s mind. Was the Stone a well-known story among other kinds as well or had the rainbowfaces told a story they had heard from the flyers? Even then, those ponderings sank under the flyer’s other thoughts. He looked at Glide in an unsure look, his voice a meager one as he finally opened his beak again.

“That make sense. Uncle thought the Stone could give him power so maybe he thought some other flyer in the Great Beyond could give it to him. Me just wish he would have told Petrie about all of this while he still live.” He said, looking sadly at the hills below him. It seemed like the world hid a countless amount of secrets and mysteries but Petrie couldn’t help but find all of that worthless without anyone to share them with. Of course he had his new friends… but he still missed his family and old friends. Ortin looked at the other male for a moment before asking him in a serious voice.

“But what does that have to do with our journey, Petrie? You started this talk when you said that you’ve seen all of this before.” He said, causing Petrie’s eyes to widen slightly. He had already forgotten his main point in this discussion and he was more than happy that the other boy had reminded him of that. He turned at Ortin and spoke to him eagerly.

“Well, me went through many adventures with me old friends but that was one Petrie will remember always. Just think of it, Ortin. Back then, we try to prevent a flyer from acquiring some great power he looking in order to make the flyers something we once were! Uncle Pterano say that he want to help flyers get our rightful place in the world and he tried to use some kind of magic to do that! Do that sound familiar?” He asked, causing Ortin’s expression to fall immediately. Of course it did and to Petrie, it felt almost unreal to go through all of this again. Apparently, there were many flyers who shared that dream… and truth be told, Petrie could see why. However, Glide’s next question caused Petrie to nearly freeze in his place.

“Well, why did you stop him back then?” She asked, causing Petrie to look at her oddly. He tried to find something to say and he only found somewhat adequate words after a few seconds.

“Umm… uncle took one of me friends with him and he team up with bad flyers! He also do bad things before but… let’s not talk about that. Why?” He said truthfully but he was beyond surprised by the direction this conversation had taken. And he was even more astonished by Glide’s answer.

“Why what? Don’t you find it a dream worth pursuing?” She asked, that admission causing the boy to look at her oddly. Glide actually agreed with Pterano and Lenel’s plan? To say that that was a surprise for Petrie was an understatement and the only words he could come up with mirrored just that.

“Well… if you think so, why you try to stop Lenel?” He asked, trying to find something in his friends’ sentiments that could make it easier for him to get through this discussion. However, Ortin’s words made the boy almost regret he had ever asked that question.

“Because he is an insane murderer, that’s why! There is a difference between the thing someone wants to do and the one doing it and I’d never want Lenel to lead even one flyer ever again! The fact that we want to stop him does not mean his plan itself is bad!” He said, causing Petrie to look in front of himself with a torn look. Of course that made sense but… the boy still remembered when he had tried to reason with his uncle. Didn’t making the flyers what they once were hurt other kinds? Inside, he wondered how he’d explain this to his friends but… it was true. His friends were here no longer.

All of those issues made Petrie’s head hurt. Just how should he respond to his companions? In a way, he could see just why the flyers saw themselves the way they did but as he thought of Donnie and Terra, he couldn’t see them being anything greater just because they had wings. Though, Petrie could remember that neither had Ducky’s family life been that great most of the time and as the boy looked into the horizon, he couldn’t help but accept that he was blessed to see the world like this. Maybe it was a mark of something and at the very least, it was more than likely that his kind understood things better than the others due to their unique perspective.

Petrie rolled his eyes as he thought about it all, not really able to answer his own question. He had grown to appreciate some of the aspects of the life of a flyer but even now, the memory of the Valley lingered within him. Though, as he thought about what he had seen during his last visit there, his mood darkened. If his family had been forced to leave it due to the actions of the other kinds, maybe it was true that his old life had been an aberration and that the vision the Valley had offered might not be sustainable after all. He looked at Ortin and smiled slightly, slowly starting to see things the way his friends did.

“You might be right, Glide and Ortin. Me thoughts more than torn right now but none of the other kinds have quite as great vision as ours! Me guess me start to understand what uncle Pterano wanted all along but me think more about that later. Now, we have more important things to think about.” He said with newfound confidence, earning approving nods from his friends. He was surprised that even after all of this, they believed in their kind this much and that thought made Petrie’s heart swell as he stared into the horizon with keen eyes.

The flyer crossed his hands as he looked at a nearby pond, more than disappointed by the fact that it seemed to contain more mud than water. He spat them into the ground before cleaning his beak, narrowing his eyes as he looked into the darkness. Many of the other herd members had already fallen asleep, more than happy to utilize each and every chance to rest during this long flight. Inside, Northwind hoped he could join them but even then, he knew he was lucky to have received a task from his leader. Every time he could please Lenel improved his position in the herd and in the time after the conclusion of his quest.

Even then, the male couldn’t help but feel worried about this particular charge. Did Lenel really think it was a good idea for him to go ask one of Haste’s closest followers about her plans? Inside, he knew that his chances of finding out anything important were close to zero and that fact made him extremely worried. Yet, he couldn’t see his life being threatened in a situation like this and that made him breath at least a bit more calmly.

The deputy took deep breaths as he landed near the spot where Haste and her group had decided to spend the night. At the very least Haste herself seemed to have fallen asleep herself and Northwind saw her follower named Grace lying not too far to her leader’s right but with any luck, he could avoid waking up Haste if he was careful enough. He looked at a few guards keeping an eye for any sharptooth around the sleeping group but at the very least they weren’t interested about him. There were two flyers keeping an eye on Haste but the rest of the flyers were unguarded. To his further relief, Grace was lying on a nearby cliff alone, allowing Northwind to hide herself almost completely.

Taking great care of not making any sounds, the male approached the other flyer, the deep darkness hiding his presence from the others. He knelt besides the female and put his hand on her shoulder before whispering to her ear softly.

“Wake up, Grace. We have to talk for a moment.” He said, the other flyer twitching noticeable as she heard that voice. She immediately rose to her feet and took a defensive posture as she looked at the male whose features were obscured by the dark of the night. Her voice was a hostile voice as she spoke to him.

“Who are you? State your business, now!” She snapped, ready to fight if needed. The darkness prevented her from recognizing the other flyer immediately but it wasn’t long before his voice revealed his identity.

“You know me well enough, don’t you, Grace? Certainly one deputy knows the other one.” He said dryly, seeing as Grace’s eyes narrowed. It was clear she realized that any immediate threat had passed but even then, she couldn’t see how Lenel’s close ally’s arrival could have any positive results for her. She sighed briefly before she gave her answer.

“Of course I know one of Lenel’s closest allies, Northwind. However, that doesn’t explain just why you’d seek me out instead of my master.” She said, knowing that it was far from usual for another leader’s deputy contact those of another leader’s and inside, she could already see what was coming in a way. Grace was every bit as untrusting as her header was nor was she any less cunning than she was. Northwind looked at the female for a few seconds before he spoke to his counterpart.

“It seems that both of us prefer to get straight to the point. Very well. Lenel seems to have reason to distrust Haste for some reason and I’m here to gather some information about that from one of those closest to her.” He said, wondering what kind of an answer he’d receive. Grace looked at him with a darkening expression, smiling slightly as she realized that her initial doubts had been confirmed. Yet, the male’s business hardly made her breath any easier and her voice was a poisonous one as she answered.

“My leader has honored her pledge to Lenel with her every breath, Northwind! I’m not going to listen to you bashing her honor or loyalty! She deserves far better than that!” She spoke in clear frustration but her reaction didn’t twitch one muscle within the other flyer’s face. Of course, Northwind had never expected the female to reveal anything immediately and thinking so would have been pure and completely folly. However, he had also prepared for this possibility.

“Now, I’m certain that Lenel wouldn’t raise such accusations lightly, Grace. As another deputy, I know just how much loyalty to Haste means to you but if you tell just what you know, I assure that a new, far brighter path will open before you.” He said, trying to look as encouraging as he could. However, those words didn’t change anything within Grace’s mind but she was more than curious to see how this conversation would proceed. She had always been on Haste’s side and she had always shared her contempt for both Nira and Lenel and maybe, just maybe, she’d receive some useful information from the male. Grace took a few steps back and leaned against a nearby tree in a bored fashion as she spoke again.

“So we’re speaking about buying my loyalty and turning my back to the one flyer who has always had my and my herd’s best interests in mind? Fine but you better make a really good case for your cause!” She said, knowing that her approach would force the male to reveal more of Lenel’s plans which was something Haste would greatly appreciate.
None of this was lost on Northwind. He could immediately see that the other dinosaur was playing some game with him and he knew it bode very badly for his efforts. However, similarly to the female’s reasoning, Northwind could only hope he’d find out something of worth. He cleared his throat before speaking, knowing that this was the point where he’d have to force his message on Grace.

“I assure you that far more flyers feel the same way about Lenel and within a few days, you won’t find a flyer who won’t sing his praises. If you have any idea about what’s best for you and our kind, he will be willing to make you another one of his deputies and gift you a place of honor in our new golden age as the one who saved Lenel from his only threat.” He said, Grace’s gaze sharpening as she stared at the tall male. Something within her eyes made Northwind’s unease deepen but not to the degree that it compromised his focus on his mission. Grace rolled her eyes as she gave her answer.

“His only threat? Northwind, unless I’m completely mistaken, it was Haste who turned her back on her own sister in order for Lenel to assume leadership of the herd! She was instrumental in Lenel’s victory and still you dare accuse her of treachery?” The dark-colored female’s voice trembled as she spoke but Northwind immediately saw through her. He
took a step forward and this time, his voice showed nothing but clear determination to conclude this argument.

“Drop these games, Grace, and listen to me! Lenel can lead us to better lives while Haste only has the power to break this most glorious dreams to a thousand pieces and to stage a needless bloodbath! I know you have followed her your entire life but this one time, do the right thing and reveal everything you know about her schemes and you will be rewarded greatly!” He said, looking keenly into the female’s eyes. However, he was more than annoyed as Grace stared at her coldly, more than unimpressed by his words. It wasn’t long before she answered in a stale, hostile voice.

“I’m sure Lenel will be more than happy to have a deputy who cannot be trusted serving under him. We all know that a traitor won’t live long in this world.” She said but this time, Northwind didn’t wait a moment before answering. His voice was soft but commanding as he continued his efforts to win the female to his side.

“You aren’t serving Haste alone, Grace! You are part of our one herd and ultimately, you, too, answer to Lenel! But you are right: a traitor’s life won’t be a long one so make sure you remember perfectly where your loyalties lie. Make the right decision and you will never regret it.” He said, his tone telling Grace that she was reaching a dead end with this conversation. However, there was one more thing she wanted to know before sending the male on his way.

“If I were interested in your offer, Northwind, what information would you want to get from me? What is it that my leader is accused of?” She asked, causing the male to frown deeply. He knew she had to know about all of this but at this point, he knew he had to give some kind of an answer to keep his hopes of winning the other flyer to his side alive. He spoke silently while looking at another sleeping flyer twitch in his sleep weakly.

“Lenel didn’t tell me all about it but he seems to be confident that the rumors have been spread by your leader and that she is preparing to betray us all when she gets the opportunity. I want any information you have about that.” He said but what he heard next made his blood boil. Grace suddenly took a deep smile as she approached Northwind, her voice sounding amused beyond words.

“And I’m sure Haste wants all the information about this little meeting of ours. She has been more than worried that your power-hungry master wants to have no competition among the herd at all. What she does with what I’ll tell her is her business bit I must say I’m impressed that you thought you could buy my loyalty away from the only flyer I’ll ever follow. I’ll live and die under Haste’s command and that is my last word to you!” She said, causing Northwind to spit into the ground in disgust. He knew there was no reason to argue with the female any longer and he turned his back to her while spreading his wings. Northwind’s voice dipped with poison as she glanced at the other deputy one more time.

“You will regret those words before the end, Grace. Remember this decision when you fall alongside your pitiful master.” He said as he took off, cursing Grace within his mind. He hadn’t expected to succeed but the sight of her smug, smiling face filled him with annoyance. Even then, he had accomplished his mission. The endless games and clear lies within the other deputy confirmed that she and Haste were up to something and that information would be beyond valuable to Lenel. He didn’t see Grace’s expectant look as she looked at the male disappearing into the black sky.

A deep sigh escaped Petrie’s beak as he raised his altitude slightly in order to catch a better air current above himself. He was glad that the wind did much of the raw work of flying for him but as a tradeoff, he felt like he was going to freeze to death at any given moment. There had been times when the boy had counted seconds in order to encourage himself forward, knowing that the passage of each and every one of them meant that he was closer to his goal. He was slightly relieved that his friends weren’t doing much better than he was but on the other hand, he was also disheartened to see the frowns and curses on their faces.

The trio hadn’t spoken in hours, knowing that there was very little to say at this point. It had been a week since they had left Petrie’s family and during the long days that followed, they had exhausted practically every possible subject to talk about. Now, the only thing that was left for them was the never-ending, frigid flight that was quickly getting on Petrie’s nerves. He would have greatly appreciated it if someone could have told him how much further he’d have to fly but at the very least, he knew he could go on as long as his friends

The flyer raised his eyes towards the sky, sniffing as one of the falling sky stars, probably the first one of many, dropped on the top of his beak. He was far from happy about that development but it wasn’t one that was in any way unexpected for him. As long as the temperature didn’t drop any further, he would be alright with more of the sky stars. His bored and monotonous thoughts were suddenly interrupted by Ortin as he yelped in an excitement he hadn’t shown in days.

“I know those mountains! And that lake! This is the land I used to live a long time ago!” He cried as he looked at the distant peaks and lands below him. His words woke both of the other flyers from their mental sleep and it was Glide who spoke first.

“Are you sure, Ortin? Are you sure this isn’t some other place?” She asked, looking with some relief as the boy started to suddenly smile. She was happy to see him more positive after many days of sadness and fear. She had thought the massacre of his family would have broken his spirit but it seemed like that fear had been exaggerated. Apparently she had never truly understood the depth of Ortin’s disillusionment with his family but those thoughts faded away as the boy spoke to her again.

“Nope. I know each and every one of those mountains, those passes… and that lake. We used to play around it with my old friends. They were happy days and all of us hoped they would go on forever. I have to take a closer look at this place before we leave it again!” He yelled as he plunged towards the ground, immediately followed by his friends. Petrie looked at him oddly but a certain segment of his words raised his interest. His word was an asking one as he spoke.

”Your old friends? What happen to them?” He asked, willing to hear if he and Ortin happened to have any more similarities than he already knew. The other boy turned at him and spoke wearily.

“Nothing special, Petrie. Most of them just stayed around here after we joined Lenel but only the Bright Circle knows where they’re now. The few others who joined the herd along with us, well, we just didn’t feel like playing together anymore. It happens to everyone.” He said, causing Petrie to frown deeply. Those were some thoughts he had never considered before and right now, he wasn’t even in the mood to think about them. His mind was already confused enough as it was. Ortin led the trio towards the ground, his nostalgia growing by the second as he got closer to the ground.

This had been his home when everything was alright, when he even had a family that cared about him. During his early childhood, there was no plotting, no murders and life was something else than constant travelling and fighting. He looked at the glimmering, still open lake, thinking about the Warm Times when he and his friends had played in it from dawn to dusk. Inside, he yearned a return to an easier, more simpler life and this place only seemed to deepen that sentiment. He nearly twitched as Glide spoke to him softly.

“You never told me about your earlier life, Ortin. I only learned about your past a short time ago.” She said, wondering just how much Ortin would want to open about those old days. The boy, however, showed initially zero signs he had heard those words but when he finally spoke, his voice was beyond bland.

“That was because those days weren’t interesting in any way, Glide. I was happy back then but other than that, nothing special happened. My folks lived with a few other families and we fought against the sharpteeth once in a while but other than that, there’s nothing to tell. I always felt that almost everyone else were more interesting than I was and I thought the tales of this place would only deepen those feelings.” He said while the ghosts of days gone by filled his eyes. He could see his old friends appearing around him, the Bright Circle melting the ground sparkles again and the air filling with pranks and laughter. He would have given anything if he could have won that happiness back and if he only had a family waiting for his homecoming every evening. He could feel a warm feeling spreading everywhere inside him as he thought about all of that.

Now, however, he could only hear the cold wind whizzing in his ears as he looked at the scene of his childhood, sadness filling his heart as he looked at it all. It seemed like everything around him was filled with the ghosts of what was there before which made his return to his old home much more somber than he would have expected. The boy frowned deeply as Petrie spoke to him in a careful voice.

“But… if this your old home, that also mean we close to the Land of the Dancing Waters!” He said, earning a weak nod from Ortin. The bluish boy looked at Petrie with a saddened look before speaking to him again.

“Yep, that’s right. It should only be an hour’s flight from here so we’ll be there before we know it!” He exclaimed, earning a slightly odd look from Glide. The girl looked at her friend for a moment before asking him a question that puzzled her greatly.

“But… don’t you want to take a look at this place first, Ortin? It’s your old home after all!” She said, more than puzzled by Ortin’s sudden change of heart. First, he had seemed so very happy to be here but now he looked almost mournful. Ortin looked at the other flyer with an unreadable expression as he sighed deeply.

“Not really. It all just reminds me of everything I’ve lost since those days. Maybe… maybe I’ll get back here after we’ve dealt with Lenel but for now, I’m ready to move forward.” He said, earning a careful nod from Glide. In a way, she understood the male’s reasoning even if she would have wanted to see him at least a bit happier than this. Petrie looked at the other boy with a slightly hopeful look as Ortin started to gain altitude again.

“Then lead the way, Ortin! Petrie more than ready to end all of this once and for all!” He cried, earning an approving look from Ortin. He didn’t look back even once as he headed towards the wide skies.

“So am I, Petrie. So am I.”

And indeed, it didn’t take long until Ortin saw a distant water path below him. He knew that it was one of the borders of the Land of the Dancing waters but he had never once expected that place would be of any interest to anyone. He had always seen it as some kind of a wasteland with absolutely no reason to visit it. Once in a while, he had flown past
it but he had never headed into its forests, woodlands always being a place flyers wanted to avoid.

Even now, Ortin didn’t know what to expect. He had a hard time believing everything Petrie had told him as such things were impossible! The flyer stories couldn’t have been true, at least not literally! He shook his head as he looked at the scene opening below himself, knowing that the central parts of this land weren’t much further away. Soon enough, he could get to the bottom of this folly and if everything went as he hoped, Lenel’s ambitions would be utterly ruined soon enough. He even hoped he’d see Lenel’s demise with his own eyes, knowing that the murderous bastard deserved no better fate. He’d be more than glad when that monster would finally be sent to the Gr…

“Look at that. I had hoped we wouldn’t need to at least meet any sharptooth out here.” Glide suddenly said as she pointed at some spot in the ground, those words chilling his heart greatly. Ortin took a deep breath as she looked at that direction, immediately seeing the same sight that Glide had seen. In the distance, there appeared some group of sharpteeth which were led by a larger predator whose kind Ortin couldn’t quite recognize just yet. However, that group’s appearance forced him to change the course somewhat.

“So had I. Damn… Even worse, they’re going in the same direction as we are. We have to move a bit further east as I don’t want to meet them even by accident. Especially because they have a flyer with them.” He said as he immediately turned right. He wanted to believe that the other flyer was of no threat to him or his friends but to be completely honest, he didn’t want to test his luck. Petrie and Glide wasted no time doing as told and the trio immediately made a good distance from the pack of predators.

Yet, it was only a few minutes after that change of course that Petrie started to feel his wings growing heavier quickly, the fatigue from the days of flying finally demanding their toll. He started to pant more deeply by the second and it was only at this point that he realized this couldn’t go on. The flyer looked at his companions and yelled to them in an embarrassed but serious voice.

“Umm… maybe it time for us to rest for a while? Petrie getting tired and me think you not doing much better either!” He yelled, knowing he was right. The two other flyers panted as much as he did and there was not a sign of Lenel anywhere around them. Maybe they could allow themselves a little rest, especially as the sharpteeth hadn’t even seemed to notice their presence. Ortin looked at the other boy for a few seconds, more than frustrated by his sudden weakness but on the other hand, he couldn’t deny the wisdom in his words. The trio had no idea what was coming so maybe it would be better if they weren’t completely exhausted when the final part of their quest finally begun. The blue male’s voce was an almost friendly one as he spoke to his friend.

“Very well. Follow me, I think I’ll know a good spot to rest for a little while!” He yelled as he headed towards the ground, immediately followed by the two other young flyers. Petrie looked at Glide who was just as oblivious to Ortin’s plans as the brown boy was. However, as Ortin touched the ground, the scene that opened before him surprised Petrie and Glide completely. Below them opened a panoramic view on the plains around them as well as a massive and wide woodland. As the two others landed around him, Ortin spoke to them with a thoughtful voice.

“That is the center of the Land of the Dancing Waters. There’s one water path below all of those ground sparkles but the fast waters are only among those forests. That is what we’ve looked for all of this time.” He said, causing glide to look at him oddly. The girl was clearly less than impressed by the sight and her voice was more than confused as she spoke to her old friend.

“Are you serious? Certainly this cannot be the place where Olres’s secret is hidden! Not here in the middle of nowhere!” She gasped, not able to believe there was anything worth looking for out here. Ortin rolled his eyes as he looked at the girl before casting a doubting look at Petrie.

“That’s what I’ve said all along but still you asked me to take you here! Now, Petrie, do you still believe this place is special in any way? Or did we come here for nothing?” He asked, not willing to sound quite that hostile but he was more than frustrated by this sight himself. This place was just as he remembered: nothing more than another part of these lands that were mostly simple plains or never-ending woodlands. However, Ortin’s tone didn’t bother Petrie in any way and the brown-colored boy’s voice was a distant one as he gave his answer.

“If this be the Land of the Dancing Waters, then this it. Petrie not believe me was lied to all this time so this must be it.” He said with a thoughtful voice, causing Glide to look at him oddly. The girl was clearly far from convinced but there was nothing she could do to prove Petrie wrong. She sighed as she presented the only question that came to her mind.

“But even if Olres’ secret is here, where should we begin? Do you have any ideas about that, Petrie?” The girl asked but to her great confusion, the boy suddenly crouched towards the ground with a deep frown on his face. The sky stars were still falling into the ground but there was something that caught the flyer’s attention. Glide looked at him oddly as the male started to gently pull some parts of the ground sparkle cover away while looking at the ground with a thoughtful look. He hardly heard Glide’s next question.

“What are you doing, Petrie? What’s so very interesting?” She asked but Petrie’s entire attention was fixed on a few footsteps, ones that had nearly been buried under the white ground sparkles. A bothered look rose on the flyer’s face as he looked at them: most of them belonged to young fastrunners as he still remembered how Ruby’s footsteps looked like. That was nothing unusual but one other detail caught his attention even more. Among the omnivore footsteps, there were also those of another dinosaur: those of a swimmer’s.

Inside, Petrie tried to prevent himself from raising any hopes but even then, he had never heard of a swimmer and a group of fastrunners travelling together… except… no, it was impossible. Both Ruby and Ducky were long gone but even then, the sight of those footsteps seemed to raise awaken kind of long-gone ghost within his mind, telling him that there was still hope… even if there wasn’t. These footsteps had to belong to some other group he had never met before. There weren’t other explanations. He was suddenly woken up from his thoughts by Ortin’s concerned voice.

“Why aren’t you answering, Petrie? What have you found?” He said, finally causing Petrie to force his eyes towards the other boy. Ortin was surprised to see a melancholic look on his face and even Petrie’s voice dipped with longing as he spoke.

“It nothing. Me just…. me just thought of something that not there. Petrie sorry for that.” He said, causing Ortin and Glide to exchange unsure glances with each other, not sure at all what Petrie was talking about. Ortin started to speak to the other male before Glide cut him short.

“What do you mean, Petrie? What did you think you s…”

“Into the ground, both of you! And try cover yourselves with the ground sparkles!” Glide suddenly snapped as she did as told herself. The boys wasted no time doing as their friend suggested and just as Petrie was about to ask what was going on, Glide pointed towards the skies.

“It is them. I could recognize Lenel and my dad anywhere. It seems like we have to prepare for action even sooner than we had thought.” She said with a voice that seethed with hate, Ortin immediately mirroring her sentiment. Petrie gulped slightly as he looked at that sight, knowing that whatever was going to happen would happen soon. And he could only hope all of that would have a happy ending.

A look of expectation rose on Lenel’s face as the vast woodland opened behind himself, knowing very well what the implications were. The journey had thus far been delightfully uneventful and absolutely nothing had been able to dampen his optimism during the long days of flying. He had been slightly disappointed by Grace declining his offer but on the other hand, he had received further confirmation of Haste’s disloyalty. Sooner or later, he’d take her out for good. But now, he was here and all that remained was to take what was his! He regretted that very few details of his family’s ancient charge had reached the present day and he was more than disappointed by the fact that he still needed his deputy’s help.

“Well, Northwind, did they tell in the Valley just where we’ll have to go now that we’re here?” He said, looking at the other flyer with a sharp look. The lower-ranked dinosaur glanced at his leader with a careful look, still expecting some kind of repercussions from his failure at interrogating Grace. Lenel had seemingly ignored that whole episode completely which more than puzzled the usually-headstrong male. Even then, he tried to fulfill his duties to his best ability and his voice was as steady as always as he gave his answer.

“They didn’t, honored Lenel. However, they claimed that it is said that the secret will reveal itself to those who are willing to follow the truth to the end. They also said that the best way to do that is to do so by foot, rather than by flying.” He said, again surprised as there was no change in Lenel’s expression. The pale flyer merely nodded but at first, there came no answers from him. After a few seconds, it was Sireia who broke the silence.

“That only makes sense. We have to show respect to whatever power will be waiting for us.” She said, this time making Lenel give an answer. The male immediately started to head towards the ground while speaking to his deputy.

“That is true, Northwind. My family needs to repent for whatever my ancestors did to lose this gift forever and I’m planning to do just that!” He said as he glanced at his followers who immediately followed his lead towards the ground. He was still slightly bothered by the fact that Haste had shown absolutely zero outrage after he had so crudely tried to influence her long-time deputy. Something within her caused chills creep up his spine but on the other hand, he wouldn’t need to suffer her presence for much longer. Soon, he’d fulfill his dream and the likes of Haste would never again bring him extra worries.

The flyer’s legs sank silently into the cover of the ground sparkles as he landed right at the edge of the massive forest. Sireia and Northwind stopped on his sides, soon followed by the large host of their followers. Lenel stared into the woods with an unsure expression, wondering what waited for him out there. After a few seconds, Sireia cleared her throat carefully as she looked at her beloved mate.

“Well, I guess this is it, my love. I think we should tell it to the others as well.” She said, causing Lenel to lock eyes with her momentarily. Now started the hard part: trying to win back his birthright one of his distant ancestors had stolen from him! Slowly, the pale flyer turned to look at the large herd following him and he spoke to them in a surprisingly silent but still encouraging voice.

“We’re finally here, everyone. I cannot express how happy I am for your willingness to fly through so many days nights with me and tonight, your loyalty will finally be rewarded. This is the Land of the Dancing Waters and it is here where Olres’ secret has lied all of these seasons!” He said, investigating at the expressions of his followers. Most of them seemed genuinely excited while some of them seemed wary or indifferent. It was only after a few seconds that any of the others interrupted him and it was Haste. The female’s voice was soft which was something that didn’t raise any more trust within her leader.

“Give the word and we’ll follow, Lenel. Olres’ powers have been lost to our kind for far too long.” She said, the implications not lost on the other leader. It was very clear to Lenel what Haste’s real aims were but what really bothered him was her casual behavior. It was apparent she wasn’t concerned by her situation which seemed to imply that Haste had more allies here than he had expected. Yet, that only made him more urgent to finish this quest and eliminate each and every dinosaur who stood between him and his lifelong dream. And to ensure it would happen, he wanted as much distance between himself and the female as possible.

“Indeed they have, respected Haste. However, I don’t know what is waiting for us out there and in case anything would go wrong, we can’t all head out there together. We need some of our companions to stay here in case anything could go wrong. And that is a role I am willing to place upon you.” He said, causing the female’s eyes to flash wide open. A look of outrage rose to her face as she took a step towards Lenel, taking an extremely confrontational stance.

“You dare insult me like that, Lenel? I’ve sacrificed my sister for your cause and I deserve to be there when we’ll finally solve one of the biggest mysteries of our kind! As one of your highest-ranking followers, I demand to accompany you on this quest!” She said, her expression soon mirrored by Lenel. He crossed his arms as he prepared top give his answer, earning confused looks from the other flyers. Lenel assembled all of his authority into his voice, willing to show the others that this herd had only one leader.

“You have no right to demand anything from me! While you did a great service to us all by rising against your weakling of a sister, only I can give the orders around here! You can choose to either continue to serve me or you can challenge me for a fight you would not win. Which one will it be, Haste?” He asked slowly, knowing he was a far more formidable fighter than she was. The female was far shorter than he was and she had a very slender build that wouldn’t stand a chance against the pale flyer’s attacks. She knew this as well and after a few tense seconds, Haste gave up and sighed in resignation.

“Whatever, Lenel. As long as you hold your promises towards us, I couldn’t care less about what you decide to do.” She said, her sudden change in tone not lost on Lenel. His eyes narrowed as he looked at the other flyers, certain she still hadn’t revealed her real plans. Even if she’d stay behind, he’d still have to always keep an eye on his surroundings. He would have wanted to get rid of the troublesome female immediately but she still hadn’t outlived her usefulness. Lenel sighed slightly as he turned at the others, speaking to them encouragingly.

“Well, the rest of you, follow me! It’s time for all of us to finish all these seasons of searching and yearning. I except all of you to give you’re your all in the hours to come.” He said as he turned to face the forest, trusting his followers enough to expect them to follow him without further words. The pale flyer briefly glanced at her mate and whispered to her

“Are you ready, my love?” He asked, willing to hear her thoughts before moving on. However, Sireia’s tone surprised him with its eagerness and decisiveness. She sounded even more eager than he did which really brought a smile to his face. The change within Sireia was a profound one and something that made him love her even more.

“I was a long time ago, dear. Let’s go. The time of waiting and yearning is finally over.” She said while looking at Lenel for a few seconds. The male nodded at her with a wide smile, slightly taken aback by his mate’s tone. However, it was her encouragement that gave him the power to go forward with all his might. He then spoke to Sireia before heading
towards the forest.

“I expected no less, my darling Sireia. I promise to you that this quest will be a success.” He said as he looked at the two first trees rise around himself. He narrowed his eyes as he tried to see into the darkness, the darkness of the Cold Time penetrating the woodland. Lenel took one step after another, looking as the scene around him grew darker and darker.
All the while, Sireia walked on his side with steady steps, clearly happy that she was able to share this glorious day with the only flyer she loved. This day would be a glorious one.

A minute passed after another and Lenel was growing slightly concerned as he saw nothing out of the ordinary. He had expected his ancestor’s secret to reveal itself to him much quicker but on the other hand, the Land of the Dancing Waters was far wider than he had heard. At this pace, this search would be a far longer one than he would have wanted. The male’s expression turned into a frown as he thought about another option: the one in which the Valley’s tale had been a wrong one, that he was chasing some rumor which hadn’t been true in the first place. In that case, they’d be sorry about it before the end. The flyer’s mind wandered in dark thoughts before he suddenly heard a worried comment from Northwind.

“Did you see that, Lenel? That light near the canopy of the trees?” He asked, causing Lenel to turn at him quickly. No, he hadn’t seen anything but he trusted his deputy to enough to ignore the option of him lying.

“No, I saw nothing but…” He was about to say but he was cut short as he saw an odd light in the distance himself. The flyer narrowed his eyes as he looked at it again, not able to believe what he was seeing. It seemed like one of the lesser lights floating above the white ground, moving quickly through the skies. He quickly snapped at his followers in a voice that wanted to near no disagreements.

“Gather around me, now! We have to see whether it is any kind of threat to us!” He said, his followers not questioning that order for a second. Lenel slowly moved towards the light, his previous fear turning to curiosity. He had never seen anything like that and if he was in the place he was destined to go, then there was a very good chance that the light was in fact some kind of a guide to him, rather than something to be feared about. Slowly, his mate and Northwind followed him while the rest of his followers looked at the trio in fear. Lenel spoke in a loud voice at the odd light, hoping he could get some kind of contact with it.

“I don’t know what you are but know that I, Lenel, have come here to take my place as Olres’ heir as is my responsibility. Please, give me a chance to make my family again what we were destined to be all along!” He said humbly, looking at the light staying still. For a moment, he felt like an idiot for speaking to some mere flying ball but it wasn’t long before the flyer’s eyes widened in shock. He could hardly believe his ears as he heard the light starting to speak to him in a haunting voice.

“We know all of that already. Soon we’ll know which one of your ancestors’ paths you will follow: will you share Olres’ path to greatness or Liras’ to shame and oblivion. The choice will be yours this night.” The voice spoke, causing Lenel’s breaths to grow more fearful. It seemed like whatever was going to happen would be far more complicated and dangerous than he had hoped.

It’s pretty clear that whatever event going to end this story is about to begin. The only question that remains is what will exactly happen. Will Lenel’s quest be successful or will Petrie and the others be able to somehow stop him? And what does Stealth and Ruby have to do with the flyers? No matter what, the reunion of the last members of the Gang is drawing close but will that reunion be a happy one? And will all of them even live to see it? I hope you liked this chapter and are as excited about the final act of this story as I am. See you again as soon as possible!

DiddyKF1: Your opening statement is a very flattering one and I’m beyond happy to hear it from you. It’s true that Ducky and Ruby’s friendship is slowly fading away and it’s unsure whether there is anyway to reverse that process… even if both of them survive the coming chapters. The fastrunner’s mental situation is indeed a sad one and considering there isn’t a spark of optimism left in her anymore, it’ll be close to impossible for her to get over it. We’ll have to see what happens and thanks for the review!

rhombus: I’m extremely happy you liked the duo’s conversation and in fact, it was your earlier thoughts about cultural differences preventing people from understanding each other that inspired that scene. I’ve learned to appreciate such parts myself and it’s good to hear you liked it yourself. As for the developments around Ruby, they certainly won’t make the group’s life any easier but it remains to be seen why exactly Ruby is suddenly acting like this. So yes, there is still a lot to happen around these four, poor characters.

Anagnos: Yep, it was lucky for Ruby that the conversation ended when it did but as rhombus implied, Ducky is still hurt by what is going to happen and Ruby’s sudden change of heart. From this point, there will be more weird stuff in this story but it seems that the prelude to all of that, namely Ruby’s visions, has been received quite well. I was rather worried of that scene myself but I’m happy you found it to fit the narrative. As for the rest of your review, it’s better to leave talk of the ending be for now.


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #138 on: September 11, 2019, 09:55:53 PM »
Now I can really smell the end of this quest nearing. Lenel seems on the verge of reaching his goal, but Petrie and his companions are not far behind, and just as it seems Lenel will succeed, another cliffhanger leaves us wondering just what this light will do to him.

Meanwhile, Petrie is once again beginning to question just how right or wrong his uncle might have been, concerning the Stone of Cold Fire, and he's beginning to see his old adventures in a different light. As if it couldn't get any surprising, he just might be on the verge of reuniting with Ducky and Ruby after apparently finding their footprints in the snow just after finding the so-called "Land of Dancing Waters." Knowing that Lenel is just ahead of them, I'm sure he knows an epic showdown is very near; one that might determine the fates and futures of all Flyers. Now, I'm really starting to get excited for the "Grand Finale."

You've really turned up the excitement in this chapter, even if it didn't contain much other than Petrie beginning to have different thoughts on his old life, and Lenel questioning Haste's loyalty, but it's only a matter of time before everything comes together and culminates into one final confrontation. I'll eagerly await the finale of this dreadful yet epic story! :)
Suddenly, I've written so many fanfics that I can't possibly list them all! :P


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #139 on: September 12, 2019, 11:05:38 AM »
In this chapter there were quite a few intriguing developments, and while the ending is self-evidently the most interesting out of them all and that we are quickly moving towards a bloody confrontation that will end all of it. Things are starting to finally prosper for not only Petrie and his companions after reaching the end of their long and hard journey, but Lenel’s goal is now closer than ever before in his grasp and the way the story develops heavily suggests that there will most certainly be something big underway.

The brief respite that our characters have had the pleasure of possessing has now come to an end with the conclusion of their journey they started in the earlier chapters. It is quite clear by now that whatever challenge these young flyers will face sooner rather than later will prove to be a hard-pressing to pull through indeed, as they now only have to deal with Lenel and his followers, but also evidently must evade Stealth’s own ambiguous ambition, which is certainly not going to be an easy task to achieve.

Affairs in Lenel’s own herd are turning out to be much bleaker than he initially theorized with not only Haste’s indisputable insubordination against her leader what seemingly was always intended to take place one way or another in order to plunge the whole dynamic of the herd into disarray, allowing the female flyer to attempt another possible takeover in the herd. Although I found the encounter and the conversation between Northwind and Grace somewhat dull as it made me feel the entire matter was only about trading fabrications with each other and therefore didn’t offer much to the story in the end.

Despite that small critique I very much looked forward to this chapter upon its release and I definitely wasn’t left unsatisfied by the results. The journey ahead will be a painful one for everyone involved, but it is theirs to make as they have chosen. Nice job with this chapter as always! :)petrie