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DaveTheAnalyzer

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We Will Hold On Forever
« Reply #40 on: October 24, 2017, 01:48:48 PM »
Thanks for the feedback. I hope I concluded the Sharptooth two parter in a good and interesting way.

Oh yeah, there’s going to be some great adversity in the future and your inkling is somewhere in the right ballpark. I can’t wait for the reaction to it all.

Sovereign

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« Reply #41 on: October 30, 2017, 08:33:37 AM »
Well, there certainly happened a lot this time! This chapter was packed with great action and interesting plotting from the Gang. The way they handled their "relationship" with the Sharptooth worked nicely and it certainly showed the amount of compassion the Gang have even to their enemies, no matter how hard it was to feel for the villain. There were several interesting scenes in this chapter and a worthy ending for the second part of the fic.

Littlefoot's idea of luring the Sharptooth to the place of his demise was a good idea even if it left me wondering whether the pond truly is that close to the Valley. Despite the somewhat dragging pacing in the middle parts of the chapter, the extremely dangerous and clever plots and Chomper's attempts of negotiate with the predator worked really well. They, along with the, final attack against the beast, sealed this fight and chapter very nicely. The descriptions of the Sharptooth's corpse under the rock was quite haunting as were the Gang's efforts to get their enemy to see it.

As for the ending, it was a bit too traditional and normal at first, but Littlefoot's realization changed everything. What did his dream have to do with the ghosts and will his grandparents join them soon? The questions are numerous and somewhat worrying and if this is only the first part, we're going to have a pretty massive story. Not that I complain! :D All in all, this chapter provided us with a really intense, if somewhat slow, chases that stretched the seven friends' cunning to their limit. You've truly created quite a puzzle for us here and I'm sure things will only get more complicated in the second arc!

DaveTheAnalyzer

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We Will Hold On Forever
« Reply #42 on: October 31, 2017, 04:09:31 PM »
@Sovereign Thanks for the feedback. I kind of thought the pond was close to the valley since the film was cut to show Littlefoot’s convo with his cloud mom wasn’t long after that pond scene. In the novelization, it mentions the sharptooth senses the valley residents are nearby around the pond sequence. It never occurred to me that location might be farther off. Even if I did, I might set it close anyone, for story purposes.

I can see how parts of the chase sequence drag a bit. I want to concentrate on each endangered character but I’m unsure of how to do so in detail without dragging the pacing. I thought with “Chomper’s negotiations with the sharptooth”, you were referring to the moment Chomper was cornered, but I realized you might be referring to Chomper translating the gang’s interactions with the sharptooth. “Negotiations” is kind of an interesting word for those moments but I did like the tenseness of those scenes and the emotions conveyed. They were challenging, to make sure to get the point across while not having Chomper be a character-less translator machine.

It’s nice to hear the action is good and that the gang was clever in their plans. I often make up action scenes as I go along, the next steps only coming in front of me as I type the current steps, so I’m often unsure if I’m doing them right. Here the action appeared before me in a plot I typed out before I wrote it. The balance of making sure the gang does make smart choices while still making mistakes can be tough. At least I seemed to have got that well enough. I’m also happy the swim to the skeleton sequence went over well. I did like the description of it and the desperation of the gang to reach and have the sharptooth see it.

Well, the gang have occasionally extended sympathy to those hostile to them and Littlefoot is dealing with issues with death, so I thought it’d be natural for him to try reach out a hand. And the friendship with Chomper probably made several of them cognizant the sharpteeth usually mean nothing personal, they just need to eat, so Petrie tried to reach out to the sharptooth, even if it turned out the sharpteeth they’re dealing with does have a grudge. It’s good those moments seemed to work well.

Good to hear Littlefoot’s blowup with his grandparents changed your opinion about the conclusion. It was the crux for the end of this chapter. I wrote this scene first before much of anything else. It was my favorite. I do love tormenting characters at times. Littlefoot’s incoming honesty to his grandparents about the dream will have effects for later. I will clarify how the dream relates to the characters at some point, along with the other puzzles. I do like writing mysteries but I do plan to try clearing up most of them in the story. I do like writing building mysteries where the often horrifying truth gets revealed, while developing the characters through them. Things will get more complicated in the second arcs as you say.

Yes, this is going to be a long fic. I originally had this at 22 chapters but since they are all so long, it might be around 43, with 8 or so chapters devoted to each arc. Hopefully, I can keep up the long haul this requires. Looking forward to how readers like you react to the beginning of the second arc. Thanks again.

Edit for 11/18: Welp, I might not be able to update by November's end after all. The monstrosity that is for now chapter 10 needed some scenes majorly changed and I'm rewording a lot of paragraphs as I go. I'm only through pages 37 out of 77 and there might be more major edits in the future. It's all to give the best product I can make. Hopefully I can finish it and be able to post chapters 8 and 9 by December. On the bright side, there will be one month where you get chapters 10, 11, and 12 back-to-back. I doubt I'll be able to maintain the monthly chapter postings as I'm reaching the end of material I already wrote but we'll see. Anyway, thanks for sticking around for this story and I hope you can be patient.  :)

Note 3 on 12/30: So yeah, as you can tell by the date, I won't be posting chapters 8 and 9 this month after all. Chapters 10-12(or 13) took forever to complete one revision of. It's now over 90 pages! I'm on revision two of it all, and so far (knock on wood), it looks like this revision would be a lot faster. I might do one last third one but I'm more confident that the opening chapters for arc 2 will be posted by the end of January. So hang on!
« Last Edit: December 30, 2017, 05:30:46 PM by DaveTheAnalyzer »

rhombus

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We Will Hold On Forever
« Reply #43 on: November 23, 2017, 03:03:08 PM »
With regards to your updated note on the update schedule being pushed back a bit, don't worry about it.  Take all the time that you need to put out the story in the manner that you wish to write it. Myself, and I'm am sure many others, will be eagerly waiting to see what happens next.  :)


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

DaveTheAnalyzer

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We Will Hold On Forever
« Reply #44 on: January 21, 2018, 12:25:55 PM »

Fanfiction.net Link:  https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12535668/8/We-Will-Hold-On-Forever

--1/2

We Will Hold On Forever

by

DaveTheAnalyzer

Chapter 08: New Arrivals Part 1


By the time Littlefoot finished recounting his sleep story and his reaction to it, he and his grandparents were on their way to their nest. The whole tale wasn’t long but Littlefoot felt like he was talking forever when he ended the story weakly by saying he then went to play with his friends. Throughout, Grandpa and Grandma Longneck were silent, nodding encouragingly when Littlefoot slowed, and taking in every word even when they briefly detoured to wash their injuries. They didn’t have anything to say when Littlefoot finished, not yet. The bright circle had descended and the lights of the night started winking in one by one, casting enough brightness that they arrived at their nest without any trouble, their long shadows following their every move. Only when they settled on the grass did anyone speak.

“I wish this was brought up sooner.” Grandpa Longneck said, flicking his tail around himself. “But I understand why you didn’t. It’s an upsetting topic for many to face.”

Littlefoot nodded, unable to meet their eyes. “Are you – do you still feel fine?”

“I feel a bit sore from fighting the sharptooth but it’s far from the worst I’ve ever been injured.” Grandma Longneck made a show of casually looking over his injuries. “I’m sure it’ll pass.”

“The same for me.” Grandpa Longneck smiled reassuringly. “Why, I feel like the two of us will live on for some time yet. You won’t be saying goodbye to us anytime soon.”

“But what do we do when that happens?” Littlefoot asked.

His grandparents looked at one another before Grandma Longneck answered. “This mightn’t be comforting for you, Littlefoot, but it’s likely we won’t pass together. Hopefully one of us will be around to look after you until you grow to be a fine longneck.”

“And I have a feeling the one who will be looking after you will be Grandma.” Grandpa Longneck chuckled. “Between the two of us, you always were the stronger one, dear.”

“Oh, you stop it.” Grandma Longneck whipped her tail at her husband fondly. The two of them laughed lowly.

Littlefoot couldn’t crack a smile. “You did become sick around the time Ali’s herd first came around. Maybe that will happen.”

That quieted the laughter. “Yes, well.” Grandpa Longneck said. “That reminds me – during that time, I said to you that if anything happened to me, you and Grandma should join Ali’s herd for your protection. I hope to assure you we have made better preparations.”

“Do I still have to leave?” Littlefoot asked. “I guess this time I would go with Dad and Shorty. I do like them…but I want to remain in the valley. I don’t want to leave my friends, my home. Please don’t make me go.”

“Let us finish, Littlefoot.” Grandma Longneck said. “Things have changed since Grandpa fell ill. We get along much better with the other grownups of the valley. We have had talks with your friends’ parents and they have agreed that if anything happens to us, they will take you in. Even if you’re old enough to take care of yourself, they will make sure to keep an eye on you.”

“Don’t underestimate how much they value you, Littlefoot.” Grandpa Longneck said. “You have not only saved their children, your friends, but the whole valley multiple times. After all you have contributed, I’m sure you’ll be welcomed warmly by the time we pass.”

Littlefoot nodded reluctantly. He was a bit reassured he wouldn’t have to depart from the Great Valley and could remain with his friends. But that dodged around Littlefoot’s main concern.

“But what do I do when the signs come?” he asked. “Like with the Night Flower, I’ll try to find a cure for anything that makes you sick but if nothing works, should I just stand there and wait? Wait for you to die?”

Grandpa Longneck sighed. “You’re right. We still have much to do. Even in old age, you never stop finding things you want to learn or accomplish. We aren’t eager to part with you anytime soon. We’ll try be with you for as long as we can…but when the time finally comes, having your company, saying goodbye, will be really comforting to us. I’m sure your mother was comforted by your presence in her last moments. Making some peace with loved ones can make all the difference in making sure death holds some measure of happiness.”

“That doesn’t seem like much.” Littlefoot said. “It’ll be so sad. But…I’ll do it for you.”

“Such a process also brings comfort to the living.” Grandma Longneck added. “As tough as it was to be with your mother when she died, we saw it gave you some closure. You got to have your last words and process it so you can continue living. Grandpa and I aren’t unhappy by any means, with you and the friends we’ve made in the valley. Still…”

“As her parents, we wish we could have been with her in that moment.” Grandpa Longneck said wistfully. “Every once in a while, we stop and think about what we could have said to her if we had the opportunity. There’s always a little sting in our chests now that we can’t speak to her. We have made our peace but still…hopefully you can be with us when the time comes. I don’t want you to live with that kind of regret. Understand?”

Littlefoot inhaled slowly. “Yeah. I still don’t like it but…yeah.”

Grandma Longneck smiled. “We know you’re a longneck of action Littlefoot, but the world turns on. No one can live forever. With that, sometimes there’s only so much you can do. Though I know there’s one action you can take that’ll be very helpful to us.”

“What’s that?” Littlefoot asked.

“Sleep.” Grandpa Longneck said.

In spite of himself, Littlefoot laughed. All the tension broke: it was a welcome change after so many hours of terror and uncertainty. He yawned and laid his head down, soothed by the sight of his grandparents following his example. They were fine and that made Littlefoot able to close his eyes more easily. The talk had helped, to some extent. He still had a place in the Great Valley no matter what happened and his grandparents’ interest in staying alive for him as long as possible was a great relief.

Nevertheless, Littlefoot’s stomach still curled at the thought of them dying while he was young. Their acceptance that it might be unavoidable didn’t sit well with him. He didn’t like how they wouldn’t be with him for long in his life, to enjoy the potential joys he would go through. There must be a way to really help. There had to be, in this wide world where so much must be happening few dinosaurs know about. Unbidden, the resigned acceptance of the circle of life by Hyp’s father, Mr. Clubtail, and Mrs. Threehorn echoed his mind.

There was also something else…

“Even you haven't noticed the greatest terror – the one that has been staring you in the face this entire time.”

What did that mean? Littlefoot’s mind didn’t know how to look at the statement. Maybe the sharptooth wanted to mess with the gang as one last spiteful attempt to scare them before he faded. But his confusion and anger thereafter seemed too genuine. What could be around all the time that would scare them? Maybe it was the death and danger always occurring in the world but the gang weren’t exposed to that most of the time. The sharptooth seemed to imply it was around even during peaceful days. Littlefoot was at a loss for what it was then, since he couldn’t think of anything unusual in his many days of play and rest. Still, there was a stir of unease in his chest, as though some tiny part of him noticed something off about his life in the valley…

Littlefoot shoved those worries aside. He wasn’t going to solve anything tonight, not with how drained he was. Littlefoot needed to sleep. He allowed himself to drift until he slipped into a calm, sleep story-less rest.

--

“Mama, it is okay,” Ducky said, “me and Spike are not going to get into any trouble today, really.”

“You didn’t expect to get attacked by the ghost of that dead sharptooth yesterday.” Mama Swimmer said sternly. “Who knows what’s going to happen today. No, I want to make sure you and Spike stay where I can see you.”

Ducky sighed and accepted a sympathetic nuzzle from Spike. She, Spike, their mother, and many of their brothers and sisters were walking in the midmorning sunshine, having already eaten breakfast. They were on their way to one of the Great Valley entrances where a herd was supposed to come through today. Some flyers had informed them of their arrival two day before and it was agreed by many of the grownups to present a united front in assuring the visitors the ghost situation was real and would be taken care of. After yesterday’s close brush, Mama Swimmer had kept Ducky and Spike from running off like they did every morning, to make sure the pair remained safe.

“Will we be able to meet Littlefoot and the others today?” Ducky asked.

“Don’t worry, we’ll likely see them when we meet the herd.” Mama Swimmer said. “If by the end of the meeting you both are cooperative and nothing troubling happens, I’ll consider giving you time to play with your friends.”

Ducky and Spike relaxed slightly. Not being able to spend all day with their friends was a bit disappointing, but the possibility spending some time with them was better than spending no time with them at all.

And at least there was a silver lining to this whole situation, in Ducky opinion. They were given more time to be with their brothers and sisters. They were all walking together, chatting, laughing, and even getting into mischief. A few of them climbed up on Spike with all the eagerness of those who used big loved ones as jungle gyms. Spike giggled and stood up straighter to rock back and forth as though he was bigger than he really was. There were startled cries and giggly whoops.

“Harder, Spike.” A brother from the middle batch said eagerly.

“Yeah, I bet you can’t rock harder.” The eldest of the sisters teased.

Spike obliged by rocking a bit faster, earning more glad cries and he joined them in laughter, reveling in giving his siblings some safe thrills. Ducky laughed and a few of their other brothers and sisters did the same, pointing and clapping their hands to cheer their silliness on. While that happened, some talked with Ducky, and she was able to catch up with those she hadn’t been having much conversation with.

“Hey Ducky, I just figured out how to do a flip!” A sister from her batch said eagerly. “I struggled with it so hard but now I can finally do it!”  

Ducky gave her a high five. “Good job, Bill. I knew you could do it, yep, yep, yep.”

A brother from the middle batch approached tentatively. “Uh Ducky, I’ve heard you talk about how you fight with your friends sometimes. I got into a fight with mine after I snapped at her while I was in a bad mood. How do I say sorry?”

“You explain why you snapped at her and try to make her feel better, Riv.” Ducky said. “Sometimes, explaining your feelings helps, because then you can understand them better yourself and watch for them next time.”

“That does sound reasonable.” Riv nodded along, encouraged. “Thanks.”

“Ducky, hi,” said a young sister from the latest batch. “Uh, tag swim funny. More swim…ah…”

“I would love to do more swimming tag.” Ducky said. “It is called swimming tag, it is, it is. You say fun when you like a game or funny when it’s silly. I haven’t swimmed much in the last few days, really, so I should…” she trailed off. “Wait, I meant swam. You say swam for past swimming. I guess you should not take speaking lessons from me, really, oh no, no, no.”

There were a burst of chuckles from this sheepish pronouncement, and Ducky allowed herself to smile as she joined in. They were looking fondly on her and enjoying her company. There were none of the nervous and awkward looks that came when she talked about her friends’ adventures and suggested they should come along. Right now, they appeared grateful she was spending some normal time with them, being her usual cheerful self, and Ducky was happy about this. At least in this way, she was helping her siblings. It smothered her anxieties about how much she really cared about others, and that was a plus.

She continued to engage with her siblings, dancing with a brother as they marched through puddles and catching up with one of the sisters she hatched with. Like with her youngest sister, she wasn’t always graceful in words or movement but she didn’t care. She was enjoying herself and they were having fun too, and that was what mattered. She loved being with her friends but she loved being with her siblings as well and was glad some time opened up where she could be with them.

While talking with a younger brother, a pronounced growl stirred up from Ducky’s stomach and everyone looked at her, a bit stunned. Ducky blushed and rubbed the back of her head.

“Whoa, that was loud,” said a sister.

“Almost as loud as Spike,” said a young brother, bemused.

“Ducky, have you been eating?” Mama Swimmer asked. “You should have filled up while we had breakfast.”

“But I have eaten Mama, I have eaten a lot!” Ducky said. “I do not know why I am hungry.”

“Well, you and Spike didn’t get a chance to have dinner since you nodded off as soon as we returned to the nest.” Mama Swimmer said thoughtfully. “I assume that whole escapade yesterday took a lot more energy than you thought.”

“That might be right.” Ducky admitted. “But how come my brothers and sisters’ stomachs aren’t growling? Were they able to eat anything while underground?”

“The Tinysauruses gave us treestars from their stores,” said a sister. “There were some bugs crawling on them but Guido ate them and they tasted pretty good.”

“Which means you need to eat some more today.” Mama Swimmer said. “Come, look around for any interesting green food and eat while we walk. I don’t want us to linger any more than we have too.”

There were good-natured chuckles, including a few from Spike, who shook his head fondly in Ducky’s direction. That lasted until a louder growl came out and Spike froze, eyes darting about as attention now fixed on him. Ducky put her fists on her hips and leaned over.

“Looks like you cannot shake your head so wisely now,” she said. “You did not have dinner either and you ran around just as much yesterday. Knowing you, you probably need to eat more. Do not go acting wise with me, oh no, no, no.”

Blushing, Spike gave a self-conscious chuckle and lowered his head to Ducky’s point. Smiling, she patted him reassuringly on the cheek. After his passengers disembarked, Ducky and Spike went over to investigate the green offerings in the area while Mama Swimmer and her other children waited with varying patience.

Spike immediately went over to the nearest bush and began munching it. Sometimes, Ducky wondered if Spike was just not picky and would take anything handed to him or if he was the sort who saw value in nearly every plant he came across and thought it would be criminal if he didn’t at least have a taste. Whatever the case, he was already eating with great energy and Ducky wasn’t going to be left behind.

She considered the foliage before her. All of it looked good but she was in the mood to eat something specific. Something peaked up from over a bush and she saw a familiar big leaf. She gave a soft gasp. It has been forever since she had big leaves from the tall grass. They were quite delicious but there was so much else to choose from that it eventually slipped from her mind. Now this favorite was going to make a comeback! Eagerly, Ducky walked through the bushes and set to break the nearest big leafed tall grass.

Out of nowhere, a set of spiketail spikes swung over her head.

Ducky screamed and nearly fell on her behind as she scrambled back out of the bushes. Spike, who had been eating placidly, jerked up alertly and moved to be at his sister’s side. He bayed at her with concern, but Ducky waved it off.

“I am fine, Spike,” she said. “What was that?”

The bushes rustled and someone emerged through the bushes.

“Kids, you might want to take yourselves else – oh.”

Ducky and Spike stepped back. A woman spiketail turned around before them, chewing a piece of grass, the beginnings of middle-aged wrinkles appearing around her lips. She spat some of the grass out as she looked at them. Her dark eyes were laidback but there was a flicker of confusion in them as she looked down at the pair.

“Oops, my bad. Automatic reflex,” she continued. Her words were ever so slightly slurred, as though she didn’t see the point of putting extra energy into them. “Deal with a lot of people – difficult people. Yeah, that’s what I meant.”

“Oh, that is okay.” Ducky said. “Sometimes, me and my friends are still jumpy after having an adventure. Um, can we have any of the food that you are standing close to?”

“Sure, knock yourself out.” The woman spiketail waved her tail out and pressed it against the bushes, revealing the bounty within the small clearing. “Might as well get it over with. There is quite a selection to choose from.”

Ducky hesitated, but went over with Spike to gather what appealed to her, her brother helping in snapping the big leafed grass from their stalks and reaching for other plants. All the while, the woman spiketail stood patiently, watching them with indifferent eyes. It wasn’t exactly friendly but it wasn’t hostile either and Ducky didn’t know what to make of the look. Still, she and Spike quickly finished their selection and backed away from the clearing Tega occupied. Tega nodded appreciatively.

“Glad you didn’t linger in getting what you wanted,” she said. “Now we can be out of each other’s scales.”

“Um, thanks.” Ducky said.

“No need to thank me. Just go and enjoy your food.”

The woman spiketail went back to her place and sat down, chewing a bit more of her length of grass while observing Ducky and Spike, who stayed where they were and watched her. In the confusion churning inside her, Ducky started to feel rising tingles of familiarity.   

“Hang on,” she said slowly, “I feel like I have seen you before, I have, I -”

“Ducky, what was that scream about?”

Mama Swimmer wandered in, faintly concerned, trailed after by their puzzled siblings. She took in the scene of Ducky and Spike not far from the relaxing woman spiketail. Her concern turned into anger.

“What are you doing? Get away from her.”

Mama Swimmer darted forward, stood in front of Ducky and Spike, and pushed them back as they cried out in surprise. Mama Swimmer glared at the woman spiketail.

“Ducky, Spike, has she been bothering you?” Mama Swimmer said.

“Hey, I wasn’t bothering anybody.” The woman spiketail replied. “I just gracefully offered my patch of green food to your kids. I do that too, you know. It can make people like them go away faster.”

“Huh, go away?” Ducky said. “I thought you were sharing the green food with us.”

“I’m not the sharing sort,” she shrugged. “But your kind kick up a fuss when I say no. And if I really tried to drive you off, you all will harass me more than you already do.”

“And for good reason, Tega.” Mama Swimmer snapped. “You can’t just claim certain areas of green to yourself and then whack people with your tail if they don’t go away fast enough. It’s only natural that would make you unpopular.”

“Hey, others are territorial with their greens too.” Tega said. “And if someone is insistent on getting into my turf, it’s my right to defend myself. Really, have I given anything more than mild cuts to anyone?”

“That still doesn’t excuse you. Especially since I’ve heard you like to sneak into other people’s territory and eat their food before they get back.”

“Those are nothing but rumors.” Tega said smoothly. “There’s never been any proof. You know how gossip spreads in the Great Valley. Now, is this over? You clearly got your kids away from me and I’ve got them away from my turf. We both clearly don’t want to deal with the pain of being in each other’s presence, so let’s cut this accusation party short and move on, why don’t we?”

Mama Swimmer gritted her teeth but only said, “Don’t think our issues with you are over for this.”

“Yeah, yeah. That’s what they all say.”

Tega turned and marched out of sight. Mama Swimmer led Ducky and Spike, with their plant pickings in tow, back to the rest of their siblings. They were staring at Ducky and Spike, looking bewildered and a bit uncomfortable over what the pair got into. Ducky winced and looked away as they returned to the path and walked together. Ducky and Spike ate slowly in the awkward silence, watching Mama Swimmer’s back as they considered what had transpired.

“Mama, who was that?” Ducky asked.

Mama Swimmer was quiet for several seconds, as though considering whether to answer. “That was Tega. She’s one of the few spiketails in the valley. She keeps to herself, eating and not doing much of anything remarkable. Now, that by itself I don’t have any issue with. Your friend Pat keeps to himself and he’s a sweetheart. Mr. Clubtail is often seen alone, and though he can be grumpy, he isn’t so bad. Tega, though…as you probably guessed from that exchange, she’s not very considerate.”

“She said she only allowed me and Spike to get food so we would go away.” Ducky said sadly. “I thought she gave it to us because some part of her is nice.”

Mama Swimmer smiled and patted her. “It’s sweet you think of the best of others, but some individuals are very self-centered. As you just heard, people have complained about Tega sneaking in to take their green food and hurting others if they don’t leave her alone. Since she rarely does these things in public, it’s hard to pin these actions on her and she doesn’t do them often enough to warrant discipline. She says she doesn’t want people around to avoid drama and danger...but she’s certainly not going to accomplish that by stepping on people’s toes like this.”

Spike oddly stirred at the “avoid drama and danger” part. He glanced back at where they left Tega, uncertainty mixing in his face as he appeared to turn some thoughts over. Ducky touched her chin as she also glanced back, taking in her mother’s words.

 “Me, Spike, and our friends saw her sleeping by the cave where we met the bellydragger and the sharpbeak,” she said. “After we collapsed the cave, she seemed annoyed and wondered what we were doing.”

“She probably wanted you kids to go away so she could rest.” Mama Swimmer said. “Now I want you two to avoid Tega if you can. She treated you decently this time but if you see her again, don’t approach. She hasn’t done any harm to children that I know of but I don’t want to take any chances. Please pass the word on to your friends. Understand?”

“Yes, Mama.” Ducky said.

Spike made a noise of agreement, reluctantly returning his attention to filling his belly with his and Ducky’s bounty. Mama Swimmer sent a brief smile to them.

“Now let’s put aside Tega. We have a herd we need to make a good impression to. Not to mention you two have friends to see. That will make you happy, right? Let’s focus on the important matters.”

Ducky nodded. Her brothers and sisters were looking bored or uncomfortable with the conversation, and she didn’t want to subject them to this anymore than they had to. Riv looked at her and Spike wonderingly.

“You and Spike sure meet some interesting people,” he said.

“That’s for sure.” Bill said, shaking her head.

Ducky gave an awkward laugh. “Yeah, yeah.” A pause. When she continued, it was with some facsimile of her normal cheer. “So, what are you all going to do when we’re finished with this herd meeting? Play with your friends? Splash around in the Thundering Falls? Have I told you all about a fun way to have the water change your color?”

There were curious noises, and Ducky explained the method. Soon, she was back on cheery terms with her siblings. She tried to mentally put aside Tega as advised and focus on the moment, but the woman spiketail kept resurfacing in her mind. Her mother’s mention of happiness inspired a new line of thought. From that brief meeting, Ducky got the impression of a grownup who approached everything with indifference. Ducky didn’t doubt her mother’s words about Tega stealing others’ food and being a bit aggressive but she couldn’t help wondering if any of that made her happy.

--

“Thanks for keeping us company, Petrie’s mom.” Ruby said.

“No problem, you two.” Mama Flyer said warmly. “You do a good job of taking care of yourselves but after what happened yesterday, I thought there was nothing wrong with an adult keeping an eye on you now.”

Ruby and Chomper were currently journeying to the herd meeting spot. Mama Flyer, Petrie, and his brothers and sisters accompanied them, some flying low while others hovered higher above to keep an eye on the path ahead. The family had swooped in as soon as Ruby and Chomper left their caves and Ruby was glad. The pair had slept next to each other that night but the nightmares were still unpleasant. Petrie and several of his siblings decided to do aerial acrobats around the two land walkers and the flyer youths’ playful energy was a good enough distraction to dispel the bad sleep stories.

Petrie and the others seemed particularly determined to cheer up Chomper. They still owed him for saving Mama Flyer during the Days of Rising Water. Their wings brushed past Chomper enough times that he was giggling and clearly enjoying the game. He even waved up his arms and widened the space between his legs to provide more obstacles for Petrie and the others to fly around. Ruby laughed and occasionally did the same, watching with some wonder at the tricks they were able to do at such a young age. Even with this, Ruby couldn’t help noticing Mama Flyer watching them fondly but beadily. Petrie circled Ruby’s head and landed on her shoulder sheepishly.

“Sorry,” he said. “Look like today ëFolks Worry About Us’ day.”

“I don’t mind.” Ruby said. “It’s nice your mother’s nice enough to include me and Chomper as part of their folks.”

“Still, that mean we might not play as much.” Petrie fidgeted. “Though that might be good thing. Me don’t want yesterday to happen again.”

“Don’t worry,” Ruby said uncertainly, “I’m – I’m sure the grownups’ worries will ease enough that we’ll be back to playing like always before we know it.” She rallied. “Now all we have to worry about is easing the worries of the herd visiting today.”

“Yeah.” Chomper said as some of his cheer faded. “And I have the feeling that me standing around too openly isn’t going to help much.”

“Me thought…” Petrie’s gaze lowered with a drop in confidence. “Well…me thought more people would know about Chomper by now.”

Petrie’s brothers and sisters noticed the drop in mood, and did several more aerial tricks that brought some light back into their eyes. Ruby patted Petrie.

“You’d be surprised by what word does or doesn’t travel around,” she said. “And even if they got word about him, that doesn’t mean they’ll accept him. Don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll get word on the kind of hiding places that would be good for Chomper. From how some flyers saw it, we’ll arrive at the meeting spot before the herd meets us, so we might find something there.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t know about that.”

A shadow soared over and everyone looked up to see another adult flyer had joined the higher flyers. Don flapped with a smooth, graceful precision that belied his old age and he glared down at those below with some disdain.

“The path they are using doesn’t have as many obstacles as the others and sharpteeth are less frequent there.” Don continued. “They might already be here when you arrive.”

Mama Flyer sighed. “What are you doing here, Don?”

“I’m merely correcting the young minds below us.” Don replied. “Knowledge is power and they will need it. Is that so wrong?”

“Not really, but the information you gave is a bit outdated.” Ruby said. “My family has been by that path and me and my friends have taken a few trips down it ourselves. The ground isn’t as smooth, so it would be hard for the land walkers to walk as quickly. Not to mention the wind there could slow things down. You had some difficulty flying in it, right Petrie?”

“Huh?” Petrie said. “Oh yeah, me remember. Me had to hide in Cera’s frill to not be blown away.”

“So we’re in no hurry to be hurried.” Ruby continued. “Thanks for trying to help though.”

Don didn’t appear at all pleased by her expressed gratitude. If anything, he flushed, his lip curling in anger.

“Watch your tongue, girl!” he snapped. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

A few of Petrie’s siblings started, cut off guard while the others rolled their eyes, as though familiar with this reaction. Though jerking a bit in surprise, Ruby met Don’s sudden temper calmly.

“Maybe the path was like that when you were around,” she admitted. “But the earthshakes have changed things since then and the wind patterns have changed direction too. I remember what I saw clearly.”

“You’re still young. You don’t have an elder observing eye.”

“But there were cracks and the wind had changed.” Petrie said. “Anyone could see it.”

“That’s enough lip from you. For Wing Father’s sake, I won’t be disrespected in this way. If you don’t stop, I’ll-”

“Don, control yourself!” Mama Flyer snapped. “Don’t even think of hitting them. That’s no way to handle disagreements, especially from how polite Ruby and Petrie are being.”

“Hit him?” said one of Petrie’s brothers, alarmed. “Hey, stay away from our brother!”

More than one of the adolescent flyers glared at him, wings flapping warningly. Don ignored them, gazing icily at Mama Flyer.

“This isn’t a disagreement about favored tree sweets,” he said. “For Wing Father’s sake, this is a dispute about facts. We can only allow the youth to make so many mistakes before they have to be corrected and they can be quite stubborn in believing their falsehoods are truths.”

“But grownups can be wrong too.” Chomper said, slightly puzzled. “Even old ones. They can be especially stubborn about being told they’re wrong.”

“Don’t lump me in with such idiots. They refused to listen to their elders and have never nurtured their minds to see the world the way it actually is.” Don surveyed the children seriously. “I can see that this generation is going to make the same mistakes. Do you really think you can hide the sharptooth?”

“Of course. Chomper is, um…” Petrie glanced at Chomper sheepishly, “Not big. We hide him in bush with big leaves. No one has good nose like Chomper and if they don’t know he here, they won’t look for him.”

Don sneered. “NaÔve. Sharpteeth aren’t the only ones with good noses.” He began to ascend. “There is more than one way to track someone down. If you continue your ignorant ways, you’ll realize that soon enough.”

And with that, Don flew out of sight, a few of Petrie’s brothers and sisters rolling their eyes and jeering as he left. Ruby and Petrie stared after Don, still absorbing his words. Ruby found it hard to resist what he said about her ignorance. It stung, especially after yesterday. Petrie lowered his eyes.

“NaÔve,” he mumbled. “Me – me think me not that. Am I?”

“We’re all naÔve in some way.” Mama Flyer said. “Don was just saying that to put you down. He has rarely taken criticism well in his old age.”

“You mean he has in his young age?” Ruby asked.

“If he has taken criticism, it mustn’t have been much. From what I heard, he was a wise and well-respected person of his flock. His experience and wisdom had guided them well but when the land and the dinosaurs began to change, he had trouble adapting. When he made mistakes, he began making excuses and lashing out at others. That hasn’t made him popular, so he has been keeping to himself, especially a night circle cycle back after an incident with a sharptooth. He’s often said he doesn’t want to be around those who would disrespect his knowledge.”

“Hmpth.” Petrie crossed his arms. “Maybe if he didn’t start disrespecting us, he might get some of it back.”

“Don’t think too much about his words.” Mama Flyer reassured. “He only says those mean things to make himself feel good.”

“Hmm.” Ruby looked anxiously at where he disappeared off to. “His words about Chomper did sound like a warning.”

“What he says is usually about getting some attention for himself.” Mama Flyer replied. “Whether it’s true or not is secondary to his concerns. Come, we mustn’t dawdle if we don’t want to be late for the meeting.”

“Will Papa be there?” Petrie asked.

“No, unfortunately.” Mama Flyer said. “With how our conversations the last few days, I think he wants to stay away from this supernatural drama.”

Petrie was a bit disappointed. Still, he was in better spirits as he took off from Ruby’s shoulder and they continued moving. He couldn’t help noticing as he flew Ruby still appeared thoughtful. Ruby noticed this about herself but her mind was focused on the warning tone Don suddenly adopted before he flew away.

--

Littlefoot stood by his grandparents in a large clearing with many other grownups. He was relieved to note that his friends were present and not far off. Though from how close they were to their families (And in Ruby and Chomper’s case, Mama Flyer), their parents must still be jittery and wanted to make sure if something went wrong, at least their children were in sight. Littlefoot understood and sympathized but he wondered if they would be allowed to hang out even under their parents’ watchful eye.

He was far from the only one not happy about the current arrangements. Mr. Clubtail stood right by Grandpa and Grandma Longneck, swishing his tail, and eying the bright circle impatiently.

“Why do I have to get up early?” Mr. Clubtail grumbled. “It’s not like I’m needed anyway.”

“The herd needs to be presented with a united front.” Grandma Longneck said. “It’ll be hard to convince them that ghosts are real, so if we’re all here, that might give pause to their doubts.”

“Hmpth.” Mr. Clubtail looked around. “Not everyone is here though.”

“Not everyone can be.” Grandpa Longneck said. “That would be quite a feat and it would intimidate rather than reassure the herd. Many have needs and duties to attend to, so it’s up to us who can make it to fulfill our public responsibility. Don’t worry, it won’t be long. We’ll let you go as soon as matters are settled.”

Mr. Clubtail didn’t appear pleased by this explanation but settled for muttering. “I also have needs to attend to. Staying up tonight is going to be an even bigger hassle now I have to do this.”

Grandma Longneck smiled apologetically before glancing down. “Are you feeling alright, Littlefoot?”

“Huh?” Littlefoot suddenly realized he was rubbing his chest. “Oh, it’s nothing. My chest just feels a little cold. I must have slept on a cold spot, that’s all.”

Grandma Longneck nodded before returning her attention forward. Littlefoot didn’t pay much attention to Mr. Clubtail’s continuing grumbles. He was watching his grandparents carefully. Despite the troubles of yesterday, they all went to sleep early and they appeared wide awake. Some of the scratches and bruises from the battle with the sharptooth came in the light of the new day but if they were providing any problems for the elderly couple, they didn’t show it. They had all the energy and alertness of people who long experienced struggle and thus weren’t going to be downed easily by a simple battle. In some ways, Littlefoot was reassured.

DaveTheAnalyzer

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We Will Hold On Forever
« Reply #45 on: January 21, 2018, 12:27:56 PM »
2/2

*They’re stronger than I sometimes think. It looks like my worries might be overblown.*

Nevertheless, Littlefoot couldn’t help stepping closer to his grandparents. After the nightmare of yesterday, even after their talk the night before, he still felt jittery about wandering too far from their presence. He knew the feeling would go away with time and he ached that his friends were in sight but he couldn’t be with them for now. Nevertheless, he was guilty to admit he felt some contentment with being in his grandparents’ presence.

Meanwhile, Ruby and Chomper had wandered away from Petrie’s family, the former gazing around speculatively at the foliage behind the line of dinosaurs.

“Let’s see.” Ruby hummed. “What’s a good place where no one can see you but you can see everyone else?”

“It’d better be someplace I’m not allergic too.” Chomper said. “I remember having to hide in a bush from a bad sharptooth and when I came out, I had itchy bumps all over. It took forever for them to go away.”

“We’ll pick something good,” she reassured. “Let’s see…that’s too prickly, you can see through the leaves of that bush, and that tree’s too high for you to sit in-”
   
Before she could go on, Chomper suddenly sniffed and looked back at the path with concern.

“Uh Ruby, I can smell the herd coming,” he said. “You might want to hurry it up.”

“Oh, hurrying up is not always good for getting up ideas.” Ruby said. “Wait – what about others’ ideas! Hey, does anyone have a good idea of a place we can hide Chomper!”

The other dinosaurs gazed at them with a mix of bemusement and annoyance. Some started looking back at the foliage to be of assistance but Cera was the first to call out.

“There’s a bush with big leaves near where we’re standing,” she said. “He’s surely not going to be seen in there.”

Ruby and Chomper rushed off in the direction of Cera’s family, only slowing to give a thankful wave to Mama Flyer. Once within reach, Cera helped push Chomper to the bush behind the threehorns. Mr. Threehorn watched them disgruntledly.

“More nonsense with Chomper?” he said. “Cera, you were too close to a sharptooth yesterday, why-”

“Don’t even start, Dad.” Cera said. “He’s too much of a sap to be a threat.”

“Not to mention Chomper helped when we were fighting that sharptooth.” Ruby said. “Without his helpful sniffer, we wouldn’t have gotten back to Cera and the others, and did the plan that defeated the sharptooth.”

Mr. Threehorn grumbled but only said, “Well, hurry it up then.”

With Tricia looking on and babbling with curious amusement, Cera and Ruby rushed Chomper into the big-leafed bush. As they lifted up the leaves to push him in deeper, Chomper looked up at Cera, annoyed.

 “Did you have to call me a sap?” he said.

“I was only talking about how mushy you are, not you’re size.” Cera said impatiently. “Geez, you have more height issues then Littlefoot. Can we concentrate on the issue at hand now?”

“When the herd becomes distracted or quiet, I’ll signal when it’s a good time to leave.” Ruby said. “Now though would be a good time to be quiet.”

Abruptly, she and Cera let the leaves fall down and shield him from view. Chomper made a muffled startled sound but immediately quieted. Satisfied, Cera and Ruby walked off so as to not attract attention to the bush and stood next to Mr. Threehorn, Tria, and Tricia.

They were just in time, Littlefoot observed. Several shapes were already emerging into view up from the path into the valley. As they got closer, Littlefoot noted they were a mixed herd, with big and medium-sized dinosaurs of all shapes walking together. Littlefoot glimpsed a longneck, a two-crested swimmer, and a threehorn, among many others. At the head of the pack was a spikethumb, who moved seriously and with authority. Those sharp eyes glimpsed Grandpa and Grandma Longneck. Recognizing another authority figure, the spikethumb made a slow, dignified beeline for them. When the spikethumb at last reached Littlefoot’s grandparents, Grandma Longneck nodded invitingly.

“Welcome to the Great Valley,” she said. “I hope you’re journey has been safe.”

“Physically, at least.” The spikethumb replied, her husky voice identifying her as a woman. “Tell me, is it true the Great Valley is as safe as rumor says? That dinosaurs here live in peace with no fear of danger.”

“No place is immune from danger.” Grandpa Longneck said. “Sometimes, a sharptooth might get through and the weather can be a hassle among other stranger threats. Still, the valley is safe compared to other places. We value our lives here.”

“Stranger threats.” The spikethumb leader repeated. “Tell me, what are those strange threats? Even if they’re rare, I must know what they are so I can protect my herd. Do they relate to the injuries some of you possess? There must be a reason so many of you are here to greet us. Spare us our feelings. It’s better to be informed and scared than live oblivious to danger.”  

Everyone went quiet. The spikethumb leader’s herd watched Littlefoot’s grandparents attentively and there was a nervous hush from the present valley denizens. The herd suddenly glanced at the gang’s parents, noting their purpling bruises and red healing wounds warily. Grandpa and Grandma Longneck exchanged worried glances, weighing what words they should use. The spikethumb leader’s stare was unwavering, as though she could clearly see the longnecks’ thoughts and she wasn’t going to hold back anger if deceit was involved. At least, Grandpa and Grandma Longneck sighed.

“I know this might be hard to believe but these past few days, we’ve been dealing with a…well, let’s be frank… a ghost problem.” Grandpa Longneck said. “This isn’t just wild rumor. We have personally seen six of them ourselves.”

The herd stirred nervously, and whispers followed. The spikethumb leader’s face was inscrutable.

“Ghosts, you say?” she said.

“So far, only seven of them.” Grandma Longneck answered. “When these ghosts come around, only those who were close to them can see them. Six returned to reunite with loved ones and one returned to seek vengeance against his enemies. They make those close to them believe they’ve always been alive, and they fall under that belief too. Once they’re forced to confront they’re dead, they fade. Only two have been hostile so far, but…the real damage comes from the emotional wounds they leave behind.”

“Emotional damage?” The spikethumb leader said. “So they’re only a torment of the mind?”

“Not exactly.” Grandpa Longneck said. “The latest one, a sharptooth ghost, was able to become angry enough to inflict physical damage on others, as can be seen from some of our injuries. We were lucky to survive. We’re aware this might be hard to believe, but many here have seen at least one. It’s the truth.”

“So ghosts of passed loved ones and enemies are coming back and unwittingly or otherwise causing emotional turmoil to others. Have I got that right?”

Grandpa and Grandma Longneck nodded warily. For a moment, Littlefoot and the others watched the spikethumb leader stoically consider these words, expecting her to laugh or scoff at their supposedly ludicrous claim. To everyone’s surprise, the spikethumb leader’s expression instead became troubled.

“So…not even the valley is safe from this danger,” she said softly.

This time, it was the watching valley denizens who stirred and started trading whispers. Littlefoot’s grandparents were shocked.

“So these ghosts are appearing out there too?” Grandma Longneck asked.

“Common enough that they’re spoken of wherever we go.” The spikethumb leader replied. “Only a lucky few have not had their community blighted by them. The situation you describe has been reported elsewhere – wherever these phantoms go, they spread despair and sadness in their wake. I haven’t seen them myself but enough have begged to join this herd for that reason that I have a hard time disbelieving ghosts anymore. We’re all seeking sanctuary from the emotional damage of these ghosts but this is the first time I’ve heard one has caused physical harm. That is…troubling. These ghosts could be one-time events or hints of threats to come. Whatever it is, one thing seems clear – there seems to be no place to go to where anyone can escape them.”

There was a heavy silence. Many wore apprehensive and uncertain expressions. This wasn’t limited to the Great Valley and the surrounding area. This was going on from wherever word could spread, and it was hard to grasp the size and implications of this phenomena. Littlefoot looked down, heart heavy. He had no idea what this meant or foretold. He dreaded what might come and what it could mean for those he loved wherever they were.

Yet Littlefoot was mostly aching that these false reunions were more widespread than he imagined, occurring between friends, family, and enemies. All those promises to do more together, to mend relationships, to settle unfulfilled scores, would shatter into heartbreak when the truth came out. How many times have loved ones had to exchange tearful farewells before one of them faded forever? How many more times shall those painful scenes occur? The thought that any person, friend or stranger, would have to go through this, once or even more times, broke Littlefoot’s heart. Bad enough death was a reality. But to have loved ones reappear only to be ripped away again? He wished there was something he could do.

Everyone else was quiet as well, contemplating whether this hinted at a bigger disaster or new normal. No one knew which would be worse. Grandpa and Grandma Longneck surveyed the others and attempted to put on reassuring smiles.

“Please be assured, the valley is still a very safe place.” Grandpa Longneck said. “Though people have been hurt both physically and emotionally, death is rare and even then mostly through age or sickness. So far, only one ghostly event has occurred per day and we’ve already come up with a system for how to deal with them. If you want to stay, we’ll do our best to make sure that you’re protected.”

“If you want to move on to somewhere else, at least rest and rejuvenate for a few days.” Grandma Longneck said. “We have had herds pass through the valley before and we can suggest routes to use if you have a specific destination in mind.”

“We’ll consider your proposal.” The spikethumb leader turned to her herd. “Everyone, we’re going to stay here for a few days. Don’t go wandering off but you can eat and chat with the valley residents now. I’ll speak to these longnecks so we can plan our next course of action. Now, can you give more detail about…”

As his grandparents and the spikethumb leader talked, Littlefoot couldn’t help noticing Mr. Threehorn hadn’t said anything. In previous meetings, he always at least made his opinions known and more often ignited tempers with his incendiary statements. Now, Mr. Threehorn had only watched stoically. The little emotion Littlefoot could glimpse was guilt and anxiety when the ghost conversation came up. Apparently, Mr. Threehorn was still reeling from his reunion with the ghosts of his family and having inadvertently made the sharptooth a bigger threat. He barely seemed to have any of his old fire in him. Littlefoot disagreed with Mr. Threehorn on many things, but seeing his friend’s father so drained and downcast disturbed him. Littlefoot might want him to let go of some of his beliefs, but he didn’t want him to be unhappy.

From how Tria was acting, he wasn’t the only one preoccupied either. She remained reserved and unsure, quite unlike her easygoing cheerful self. She would risk glances at her mate filled with either concern or reproach. Littlefoot didn’t know what was going on between them but the strain in their normally affectionate bond was clear. Cera would sometimes look at her parents and sigh. She was just as ignorant about the issue and seemed caught between worry and exasperation.

With the spikethumb leader’s dismissal, the herd disbanded from their formation behind her. Many have already noticed the plentiful green food in the surrounding trees and bushes and made a beeline for them. Some only moved far enough to sit down and relax after a many days’ travel. A few even wandered the immediate area, looking around curiously and chatting up the valley locals. There was a certain ease with these actions. The worry about the ghosts had been tabled for now and most had determinedly moved on to give at least the appearance of being interested in lighter concerns.

Among the wandering herd members was a threehorn. He looked around curiously, taking everything in with sky blue eyes. His mossy green skin was worn and tough, as though he faced a lot of tough obstacles in life and he had the muscles to show he came out stronger for them. His stroll was casual and he took his time milling from one part of the area to the other, deftly cutting between dinosaurs, appearing to take down every detail he could see. It was on one of these sweeps that he passed by Cera’s family. He gave a casual look at Mr. Threehorn, then did a double take.

“Topps?” The threehorn said.

Mr. Threehorn’s eyes focused…and then widened. “Verter?”

The threehorn known as Verter stepped closer, disbelief swiftly subsumed by delight. “It’s you…it’s really you. Hello, old pal.”

All the life came back into Mr. Threehorn’s face. Laughing, he and Verter clanked their horns together in a complicated gesture, with the old surety of having done it many times before. When they disengaged, they stared at each other, glowing.

“Wow, how have you been?” Verter said. “Man, you look like you’ve been through a lot.”

“Look who’s talking?” Mr. Threehorn retorted, smirking. “You look like you fought every sharptooth you could find to get here.”

Verter raised his head proudly. “Looks good on me, doesn’t it? I do often recommend the battle worn look to other threehorns but for some reason they don’t find being hit in the face by a sharptooth’s tail a dozen times appealing.”

They laughed heartily. Cera glanced between the two, not sure what to make of this stranger and their camaraderie. Tricia made a questioning warble and Cera though she faintly heard Chomper make an ever-so-slight confused sound. Cera turned to Tria to make a wry comment only for her stepmother to approach Verter, stunned.

“It really is you, Verter.” Tria said.

Verter turned and did another double-take. “Tria? You’re here too? Why, this is quite a reunion! So you two decided to make this valley your home.”

“Oh, we came here separately but,” Tria blushed, “we did make another decision together.”

Mr. Threehorn lowered his eyes awkwardly. Verter looked at him, Tria, and back again, face blank. Then something clicked.

“You’re…together? As in a couple? Wow, I didn’t think that was…congratulations. I guess some things do last beyond childhood.” Verter smirked. “Tell me, does he still turn into a stuttering mess when you flirt with him?”

Tria looked at her mate teasingly. “I don’t know. What do you think, handsome?”

“Tria.” Mr. Threehorn said, blushing and averting his eyes. “Must you?”

Verter chuckled. “That’s the spirit. I’m glad there are some things that don’t change in life.”

Tria giggled and even Mr. Threehorn raised his head with a smile of mirth. Before the three could say anything more, an impatient voice interceded.

“Excuse me Dad, Tria, are any of you going to explain who this is?”

The three looked down. Cera looked at them with a mixture of annoyance and interest, Tricia pressing close to her, eying the threehorn stranger curiously. Coughing sheepishly, Mr. Threehorn stepped forward.

“Cera, Tricia, this is Tria and I’s friend Verter. We knew each other during the Time of Great Growing. Verter, these are our precious daughters, Cera and Tricia. Say hello, girls.”

Tricia trotted up and mumbled a collection of syllables that were her closest approximation to a greeting. Cera gave a proud yet not unfriendly nod.

“Hello, I guess,” she said.

Verter lowered down and stared at the girls, fascinated. “My, kids too? I should have known this Cera was your daughter. She has your attitude.”

Cera raised her head proudly. “Thank you. I learn from the best. Though I’ll probably not learn that weird horn trick. What was it anyway? Some kind of guy thing?”

“It’s a Time of Great Growing thing.” Tria said. “You tend to become a bit strange while you’re becoming an adult.”

“I’m already plenty weird, how weird can this Time of Great Growing make me? Will I suddenly float in the air like a flyer? Will I wake up one day and suddenly know how to speak sharptooth?”

Verter chuckled. “She has your wit too. Like father, like daughter. I guess that’s only natural, eh? Are you strong like your dad, Cera? I’ve seen him crack some mighty boulders when we were young.”

“Cracked some, toppled others, I’m racking up experience.” Cera said casually.

“Not too long ago, Cera pushed down a particularly big rock to drain a lake and put out some fire-water,” Mr. Threehorn said. “Helped save a friend’s father. She’s really useful when danger’s afoot.”

“Fascinating.” Verter said, watching Cera. “Well girl, if you’re this strong now, you’ll be freaky strong when you grow up. I can see you smashing apart boulders even bigger than any of us.”

“Uh, thanks.” Cera said. Her smirk was a bit skeptical but amused. “If that’s one way I’ll be freaky, I won’t mind it at all.”

There were laughs. Ruby chuckled, and Cera could barely make out Chomper’s suppressed giggles. Cera couldn’t resist a genuine smile. She couldn’t help liking Verter. It wasn’t because he praised her, though being buttered up was nice. There was a wit and personable charm about him that made him easy to talk to. He also dragged Mr. Threehorn and Tria out of their morose states and got them smiling and laughing again. In Cera’s book, that was a great point in Verter’s favor. Verter looked around as the laughs ceased and he spotted Ruby quietly standing near the threehorn family in front of Chomper’s bush.

“Is that a fast runner?” Verter said, bemused. “What’s she doing in the valley?”

“She’s Ruby.” Cera said quickly, moving to stand beside her. “She’s a friend of mine. She had to go here after some sharptooth trouble in the Mysterious Beyond and the valley gave her permission to stay.”

“Interesting.” Verter murmured. “Don’t fast runners eat meat and eggs, with a usual diet of greens?”

“The egg thing is not true for my kind.” Ruby explained. “It’s some rumor that got out of hand. I eat a lot of the green food everyone else eats. As for meat, it’s mostly snapping shells.”

“In other words, her diet doesn’t include us.” Mr. Threehorn said firmly. “That wiggle room allows a few kinds like her to live in the valley.”

“Ah, so it seems your circle of friends fall under the definition of weird too.” Verter teased.

Cera laughed nervously. “Ah, you don’t know the half of it. All of them are here right now – there’s Littlefoot the longneck, that’s Petrie the flyer, and Ducky and Spike are over there with their mother. Spike’s adopted, so that’s why he’s with the swimmer family. Most of them are weird – Ducky and Petrie speak strangely, Spike doesn’t speak at all, and Littlefoot’s always moralizing – but there’s a reason I stick with them. They’re there for me when I have a problem and when we’re on adventures, they’re helpful when we come across danger.”

“And they come across danger far more than I like.” Mr. Threehorn said sternly. “I’ve never really approved of these escapades she and her friends get into.”

“If you don’t approve, why did you just brag about what she accomplished on one of these escapades?” Tria teased.

Mr. Threehorn huffed. “Well, if she’s going to be successful at things in these adventures, I’d be letting down my duty as a father if I did not brag about them.”

Verter barely appeared to be listening. He was scanning the area, visually pausing on every friend Cera noted.

“So all of your friends are here, huh?” Verter said.

“That’s right.” Cera answered. “We kind of had some close calls with the more dangerous ghosts, so our parents want us to be nearby.”

“I see. Where they can see you?”

Ruby nodded. “My folks aren’t here, but my friends’ folks try to look after me in their place.”

Verter stepped closer to Cera and Ruby, having another look at Littlefoot and the others before glancing at Cera and Ruby. Strangely, he also eyed the grass behind them.

“If the parents are so worried about close calls, why are they allowing a child to hide in the bushes behind you?”

Before Cera and Ruby could react, Verter closed the distance and lifted the big-leaves of the bush with one mighty swoop of his horn. Chomper cried out and attempted to back deeper into the bush, but too late, he was clearly visible in the full morning daylight. Verter froze, shock radiating from every pour at what he was seeing.

“Is that a…sharptooth?” he said. “A juvenile sharptooth? What’s it doing -?”

Cera and Ruby immediately slid in from the sides, standing in front of Chomper.

“Chomper’s not a threat!” Cera said. “His name’s Chomper, and he’s the sweetest guy I know. He wouldn’t hurt any of us.”

“He only needs to eat bugs and occasionally snapping shells.” Tria said quickly. “He came with Ruby to get away from that sharptooth problem Cera mentioned.”

“The valley knows, and gave us permission to stay.” Ruby said. “The only reason we hid him is because meeting new people is always risky.”

“That’s right.” Chomper nodded rapidly. “I once had a herd of longnecks chase me. I had to run very fast in order not to get stepped on. I won’t hurt any of my friends or your friends, I swear-”

“Amazing.” Verter interrupted. He stared at Chomper, fascinated. “It – he can talk. Are you kids really friends with this sharptooth?”

“Me and my friends even witnessed his birth.” Cera said. “We ran screaming from him too – long story – but that was before we really got to know him. He’s been with us for I don’t know how many cold times and he’s been pretty helpful when we get into trouble.”

“I wasn’t present at his birth but I was present when we became friends in the Mysterious Beyond.” Ruby said. “He’s a very good friend and he always has something nice to say that makes me feel good.”

“Sounds like a swell guy.” Verter said. He turned to Chomper. “Hello, Chomper. Unless you didn’t catch it, my name’s Verter. Sorry for scaring you there. I was just having a little fun catching you off-guard but it turns out you’re the one who caught me off-guard.”

Cautiously, Chomper relaxed. “That’s okay. Some of my friends are like that. How did you find me anyway?”

“I picked up your voice and saw the grass and bush was disturbed.” At Chomper’s guilty wince, Verter hastily added. “Don’t take it personally. I’ve trained myself to notice when people might be hiding. Comes in real useful when dealing with predators and rivals.”

“Is that so?” Ruby said, rubbing her chin. “I didn’t think about that…”

“Anyway, you must come in real handy with your friends.” Verter continued. “Intimidating bullies with a simple look? Getting rid of obstacles with that sharptooth strength? You and Cera must work together a lot.”

“Oh, no.” Chomper smiled self-consciously. “I’m not very scary looking. I usually don’t want to be, but when I try, the others just laugh and think I’m funny. I’m not very strong either. Cera works with Littlefoot and Spike to push down things more, they’re the strong ones in the group.”

“Don’t underestimate yourself. There’s a saying that the nicest guys can be quite scary and tough if wronged in some way.”

“Yeah, well.” Chomper rubbed the back of his head. “I do have a good sniffer. I can track down friends and warn about enemies in a pinch. I’m quite proud of that. I even taught Spike how to sniff down stuff like me too.”

“Now that is handy.” Verter said.

“I can even smell some blood on you.”

Verter’s smile froze. “What?”

The threehorn family and Ruby double-taked at the statement and even some nearby dinosaurs looked around. Chomper frowned as he tilted his head, nostrils flaring as he took another whiff.

“Yeah, it’s faint but it’s there,” he said. “It’s not yours. Where did it come from anyway?”

Verter shifted ever so slightly. Ruby glanced at Chomper with concern.

“Uhh, Chomper…”

“Huh?” Chomper said blankly. He jumped guiltily. “Oh, sorry! I didn’t realize how creepy that sounded. You don’t need to answer it, just…”

“No, it’s okay.” Verter recovered with a head shake. “I can answer. That blood must have come from fighting sharpteeth and…some threehorn battles. Out there in the Mysterious Beyond, people can be quite aggressive or want to eat you, so you sometimes have to be a bit bloody so they would get out of your face.”

“I can confirm the threehorn thing.” Tria said. “It’s one of the reasons I came to the valley. It’s tiring to deal with that nonsense.”

“Hmm.” Verter then glanced at Chomper with a smile. “It’s a hard life but it’s what you have to do to survive. I know smelling it might’ve been a bit creepy for you but…”

“Oh, it’s fine.” Chomper waved dismissively. “I’ve smelled blood on some of the dinosaurs who live here too. I just guess they did some things in the past they aren’t proud of and want to be quiet about it.”

Some nearby dinosaurs who listened to the conversation shuffled back warily. Verter watched Chomper beadily.

“Now that is real handy.” Verter said. “Don’t go underestimating that skill. It would be mighty useful. Don’t do that for your strength either. I’m sure it’ll come around if you work at it.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that.” Chomper said modestly.

“I’m being serious! I’m sure you’ll grow handy in strength too soon. Some of the strongest opponents I had were sharpteeth. Don’t you lose hope.”

Even with some doubt, Chomper rose a bit, encouraged. “Do-do you think so?”

“Yeah, but in your case, you’ll use your strength to smash away obstacles and carry your friends. It’ll happen, but it’s a matter of preparing as you grow. Some might find your strength intimidating, but once they see how nice you are, you’ll be popular. Kids will beg you to give them rides and there will be those who want to wrestle with you. If any of your friends are being annoying, you could always squish them with a hug. That would shut them up.”

Chomper laughed, delighted by mental image of walking up to his friends and pinning them down with a hug. Some would struggle and huff while others would roll along and have fun with it. Mr. Threehorn coughed and rather pronouncedly cleared his throat. Even Tria awkwardly averted her gaze. Ruby’s smile was tolerant but nervous. Cera could understand why. The topic of Chomper’s future in the valley as he grew was an awkward one, at its most optimistic filled with complications. Cera quickly pushed those thoughts away in favor eying Chomper dryly.

“If you try that on me,” she said, “I’ll sit on you.”

Chomper giggled. “Not if I sit on you first.”

Cera walked up to Chomper and pushed him down. Chomper got right back up and clung to Cera’s face, the pair pushing back and forth in playful challenge. Tria and Ruby looked on fondly, Tricia cheering her sister on, while Mr. Threehorn sighed and rolled his eyes. Verter watched thoughtfully.

“You two have such potential,” he said. “It would be a shame to have it gone to waste or not awakened sooner. Can you hear out a proposal, Cera and Chomper? What do you think of me training you?”

Cera and Chomper stopped their shoving contest to stare at Verter in confusion.

“Training us?” Cera said, stirring.

“What do you mean?” Chomper asked. “And would you train sharpteeth?”

“Let’s just say I met enough sharpteeth to have a good idea of what it takes to make them stronger.” Verter said. “C’mon, it’ll be great.”

“That sounds nice,” Cera said, “but do you know anything about train-”

 “I’ve gone through the training threehorns get during the Time of Great Growing. It’s called the Threehorn Ascension – a spiffy name, has a nice ring to it – and I think you kids are experienced enough to be up for it.” Verter briefly turned to show his rough skin and rippling muscles “Many threehorns have gone through these thorough trials and have ended up stronger for it. If you two are still going come across dangers, you might as well prepare right?”

“That does sound useful.” Chomper said thoughtfully.

“We did train to swim after nearly drowning one too many times.” Cera admitted. “I think I might’ve heard of this Threehorn Ascension before. But how thorough are its trials?”

“Very thorough.” Verter’s face got closer, almost filling Cera’s vision. She felt Tricia lean into her foreleg. “There are laps to build endurance, rock ramming practice to learn how to break apart boulders of various sizes, sparring to finesse fighting abilities…it runs the full gambit for what a threehorn needs to learn to be strong in this tough world and much of it also applies to sharpteeth. You’ll come out of the exercise stronger and braver, and you’ll be of greater assistance to those you wish to help. What do you say? Does that sound useful to you?”

Chomper nodded eagerly. “It does, it really does!”

“It’s been awhile since I got a really good workout.” Cera said, slowly smirking. “I might check it out to see how tough of a threehorn I really am.”

“Great! As soon as I get a lay of the land here, I’ll tell you when we’ll start and-”

“Hang on!” Tria interrupted. “I don’t think these kids are ready for that kind of tough training.”

Verter aimed a tolerant smile at her. “From the sound of their adventures, they sound pretty ready to me.”

“Surviving on your own and finding ways out of danger on the spot is one thing. Taking these Threehorn Ascension regiments is a whole other level. It’s tough in ways these children mightn’t understand. Even with the proper supervision, many during the Time of Great Growing and even some adults have collapsed from the sheer rigor of it. I would know, even I couldn’t-” Tria stopped, glancing away with some embarrassment, before forcing herself to continue. “It’s not safe for children, even for children as hardy and adventurous as Cera and her friends.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t go that far.” Verter said. “I wouldn’t have them roll giant boulders up hills or scale cliffs. The training will be hard but I’ll have it be age-appropriate.”

“Still, even a basic version of the training is taxing on such young bodies.” Tria replied. “They’re still growing. If something gets strained the wrong way, it could affect them in later life. Tell them, Topsy.”

“Huh, what?” Mr. Threehorn said, blinking.

“You went through those trials. You still have some of the aches from it. Do you think even a modified version would be appropriate for these two?”

He looked at Tria’s stern, expectant expression and Verter’s eager, hopeful countenance, appearing like he didn’t want to be caught up in this argument. Mr. Threehorn turned to Cera and Chomper, looking them up and down, taking in their small, youthful forms. His face showed the clear conflict of his loyalties but something fatherly seemed to win out and he turned to Verter.

“I’m sorry, but I have agree with Tria.” Mr. Threehorn said. “Cera and Chomper are too young. There’s a reason we wait until the Time of Great Growing to do the Threehorn Ascension. Less of your body is developing then and you have more of an idea of what you’re doing. My daughter and her friends go through enough risks, I don’t want to throw another in their lives if I can help it.”

“I see.” Verter said. He almost looked disappointed. “Well, you’re the father around here. It’s understandable why you’d want to protect them.”

There was an awkward silence. Tricia, who had been leaning nervously into her sister’s leg, relaxed. Cera and Chomper had mixed reactions. Though Verter’s proposal was enticing, Tria’s counterargument woke them up to the downsides of such training. Chomper in particular appeared caught between wanting to improve himself and not wishing to get unnecessarily hurt. Though she thought it might be a fun challenge, a small part of Cera couldn’t deny being relieved. Verter had been pushing the idea a bit too strongly, and it was almost overwhelming. Looking almost guilty, Tria coughed and looked around.

“So, what have you been up to since we last saw you Verter,” she said. “You must have some interesting stories to tell.”

Verter seemed encouraged by this track. “Oh, like you wouldn’t believe. I haven’t gone through the adventures Cera and her friends had, but I’ve met some interesting characters,” he chuckled. “For example, there was that one time I was having a friendly sparring match with another threehorn and she stopped me mid-charge just so she could eat some weird tangly vines, because they were her favorite. She took so long to fill her stomach I thought she forgot about our match and…”

Soon, he was having them laughing once more and they all put aside that awkward moment. Cera glimpsed her happy parents and Chomper’s laughter, and sighed contently. After all the doubt and pain of the last few days, it was nice to laugh and be silly again. Ever since Verter said the first word, she hadn’t thought about the pain of her dead mother and sisters or the terror of the sharptooth ghost, and that was a blessing. Cera hoped this Verter character stuck around. She had a feeling they would need some joy if these ghosts problems weren’t going away anytime soon.

Next time…

Part 2
« Last Edit: January 21, 2018, 12:57:26 PM by DaveTheAnalyzer »

rhombus

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« Reply #46 on: January 23, 2018, 02:31:27 AM »
The initial scene with the longneck family was quite touching, and it shows quite clearly how much the events of LBT 4 have led them to consider what to do if they pass on before Littlefoot can fully grow.  It also shows how much the valley has grown to respect (perhaps grudgingly at times) the abilities of Littlefoot after his and his friends numerous adventures.  The valley knows that he is an asset to them all.

The initial appearance of Tega is also interesting in that it allows Ducky and Spike to challenge their tendency to assume the best of other dinosaurs.  The indifference and self-centeredness of Tega is quite pronounced even when she cloaks it in civility in terms of letting the kids get what they wanted, but Ducky might be correct in her emphatic insights about the character.

But the appearance of Verter is truly the highlight of this chapter both in terms of the interactions between him and Topps and with the kids, but also in some details that seem very, very odd but which I suspect will be answered in the chapters to come.  For one his quick acceptance of Chomper and Ruby seems very uncharacteristic of what we have seen thus far from most threehorns, as does his proposal to help train Chomper.  I am quite curious where this development goes and what it means with regards to the ghost situation.  Though one thing is now clear from these developments: the situation is not just affecting the valley.  This might greatly complicate things in terms of finding a potential solution.

This was quite an enjoyable chapter to read that opened up as many questions as answers.  I look forward to seeing what develops in the next few chapters, especially with regards to Verter.  :)

Speaking of which, there was one minor awkward piece of wording I wanted to mention with regards to Verter.  One line of his dialogue in the chapter was as follows:

Quote
“Wow, how have you been?” Verter said. “Man, you look like you’ve been through a lot.”

Perhaps a word other than “Man” should be used here considering the time period and the fact that men will not evolve for several million years.  Perhaps an exclamation like “Wow” or “Whoa” might work better in context.  It is a very minor point, but something that stood out.

DaveTheAnalyzer

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« Reply #47 on: January 23, 2018, 05:01:51 PM »
Thank you for the review. It was a great thing to wake up to on my birthday. :)

I enjoyed writing Littlefoot’s conversation with his grandparents. The talk about where Littlefoot would go when they pass also showed that they have grown to trust the gang’s other parents and other major valley figures, most of them non-longnecks. Even if they want him to be with Bron, the latter mightn’t come around to the valley for a while when they pass, so it’s good to have plans. Though as I show, I believe they respect Littlefoot’s choices enough that they’d allow him to stay in the valley.

Tega challenging Ducky and Spike is something I had planned. I sort of created her with that intention in mind. Glad you liked Verter. I tried to characterize him carefully. His name comes from a Triceratops scientific name or a person related to the species but for the life of me, I can’t find where I got that name now. As for him deviating from the usual threehorn, well…since all the threehorn characters of any significance are family to Cera, I’d say our sample size is a bit skewed. I sometimes muse if Tria is the norm or exception among female threehorns. Even if this sample size is accurate, some variation of personality and values is expected, though you’re right to keep an eye on him.

As for the “man” thing…I didn’t consider “man” and “woman” so intrinsically connected to humanity that it couldn’t be used in other contexts. I still don’t to some extent, though I can only think of one other story I might go out of my way to use that expression and I mightn’t even write that story. Having “wow” and “man” so close together as similar expression do look odd.

Using “dude” in place of “man” would be odd but oho…what if dinosaurs, flyers, and sea creatures based around the ocean use that? That could be either delightful, terrible, terrightful depending on execution.

Sovereign

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« Reply #48 on: January 23, 2018, 06:09:33 PM »
Well, this installment surely raised many questions and a lot of uncertainty for the future and I must say, I'm impressed with how you build those mysteries in this fic. The long, enjoyable dialogues and nice character moments quickly take a deeper, even weirder turn as was apparent in this chapter especially with Littlefoot and Verter's scenes.

The first scene with the longnecks was a really nice one and it showed how much the recent events have impacted Littlefoot's way of thinking and the way he sees life these days. The characterizations worked really well but the main thing that puzzles me here is what really is going on.What is this "greatest terror" the Sharptooth spoke of? The way Littlefoot thought about his life surely made me wonder whether there has been something terribly amiss for a very long time. This seems like a really promising mystery and one that I'll certainly wait forward to learning more about.

As for Verter, his whole character seems really odd and even wrong in some way. He does't act like a threehorn at all and I can't help but feel he knows something about the ghost issue he didn't tell yet. His proposal to train Chomper is close to the weirdest part in this character as there's no way an ordinary Farwalker would offer to make a sharptooth any stronger than he already is. On a negative note, "the woman spiketail" really caught my eye and it didn't sound too good.

That being said, I'd even say this could be close to this story's best chapter yet as it finally started to establish larger and even more complex mysteries than the last ones and it begun to show a glimpse of the possible character development we'll see later on. It'll be a thrill to see where things develop from here as it certainly feels like we're going to witness something surprising or even shocking in the near future. Great job with this one! :)

DaveTheAnalyzer

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« Reply #49 on: January 24, 2018, 01:15:33 PM »
Thanks for the review. I find I do like marrying character pieces and mysterious together. I did go over and write those two moments carefully, just so they would foreshadow and hint at things to come in hopefully the right way. Glad they intrigue.

Yeah, I noted “woman spiketail” didn’t look right in the last checks and reading while posting. Fortunately, we know her name now, so I won’t be using that again. Looking forward to the reviews for the develops in the next chapter.

DaveTheAnalyzer

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« Reply #50 on: January 28, 2018, 12:47:01 PM »
Fanfiction.net link:  https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12535668/9/We-Will-Hold-On-Forever

--1/2

We Will Hold On Forever

by

DaveTheAnalyzer

Chapter 09: New Arrivals Part 2

Littlefoot watched with relief as Cera, her family, and Chomper laughed at Verter’s tall tales. He had been worried when Verter came close to Chomper’s hiding spot but now all misunderstandings appeared to have been swept away. The only one who wasn’t enjoying herself was Ruby. She was standing to the side, her pondering expression troubled. He waved his tail to get her attention, making his expression of concern clear. Ruby looked bemused but then shook her head and smiled reassuringly. Whatever was bothering her was no big deal and Littlefoot needn’t talk to her about it.

Nodding reluctantly, Littlefoot turned away. The herd was becoming pretty relaxed, chatting easily with the valley denizens or eating and relaxing amongst themselves. The worry about ghosts had apparently left most people’s minds and they were at least keeping up the appearance of good spirits.

Among the many herd members walking about, Littlefoot glimpsed a longneck who didn’t bother to keep up such appearances. She was young, around her late teens and three-fourths the size of the average longneck adult, yet no guardian was with her. She weaved a slow, single path through the herd, gaze moving about without looking at anything in particular. The longneck teen didn’t appear depressed but her movements were pensive and there was a familiar sadness in her amber eyes.

Littlefoot felt a stirring of sympathy, a coolness in his chest. Whoever she was, she had no parents or guardians with her and she didn’t act close with any of the herd members. She looked quite lonely. Littlefoot had been that lonely once, so lonely after experiencing the greatest loss of his young life. He had been reminded it would be the first of many through that talk last night.  With that reality in mind, he wouldn’t feel right if he didn’t at least come up and tried to make someone’s pain at least a little better.

Littlefoot moved away from his grandparents and maneuvered through the herd until he caught up and walked alongside her.

“Um, hello,” he said. “I hope I’m not being intrusive but…are you alright?”

“Hmm,” the longneck teen said. “Oh, I’m fine. I’m just thinking about what to do after such a long journey.”

“Ah. Okay.” Littlefoot chewed his lip. “Do you need any water? Food? Migrating can make you hungry. The treestars from that tree are quite delicious. You can eat them and no one will mind.”
A slight smile was pulled from her face. “Don’t worry, I’ve already had my fill on the way here. I’m pretty experienced with these long travels, so I know when and how much to eat.”

“Oh. Sorry.”

“It’s okay. You didn’t know.” She glanced at Littlefoot. “Why did you approach me anyway? It’s kind of strange for a kid to go up to just any random stranger.”

“I know, it’s just…” Littlefoot looked away. “The way you were walking by yourself…you looked really sad. I thought if I came over, I might be able to help and keep you company.”

The longneck teen stopped walking. She looked Littlefoot over curiously, not knowing what to make of him. She appeared to chew something over and at last met his gaze.

“Thank you for your concern,” she nodded in greeting. “I’m Patty. Sorry if I was a bit rude. I keep to myself, so that doesn’t make me the politest of company.”

“That’s okay.” Littlefoot smiled. “Funny thing, the valley also has a Patty…uhh, a Pat. He keeps to himself but he’s super nice. We keep trying to invite him to things but he keeps saying he doesn’t want to intrude. There’s nothing wrong with being a loner, so don’t feel bad about it.”

“You’re correct.” Patty said thoughtfully. “It does take all sorts to make a world. Why should I follow the crowd?” She gave him a considering look. “What’s your name?”

“I’m Littlefoot. Nice to meet you Patty.”

“Littlefoot.” Patty repeated. She smiled wryly. “That name’s going to be quite ironic if you grow to be big.”

Littlefoot laughed. “I know. Some have suggested I change it when I grow up but I don’t know…I’m quite attached to it. My mother gave me that name. Well, it kind of came from my dad but my mother chose it for me. It wouldn’t feel right if I changed it to something else.”

“I can understand.” Patty agreed. “Patty’s the name my mother gave me. I wouldn’t want to change it either. Your mother must find it very sweet you want to keep the name she gave you.”

“Uh, maybe she would.” Littlefoot lowered his head. “I don’t know. My mother passed away several cold times ago.”

“Oh.” Patty’s eyes widened. “I’m sorry. It seems I brought up some painful memories.”

“It’s okay. I’ve gotten used to it. I’ve got my grandparents and made some great friends but I do miss her.”

Patty appeared to have a hard time taking this in. She gazed up at the sky sadly.

“It seems this tragedy is common in the world,” she said softly. “You see, my mother also passed away some time ago. She died defending me from a sharptooth.”

Littlefoot’s breath hitched. “I’m sorry. That must have been so hard,” he paused. “My mother died saving me from a sharptooth too. One moment, she was encouraging me to go to the valley, the next, she didn’t say anything again. I had to go on without her.”

“Oh, that’s heartbreaking.” Patty said. “It’s amazing that you actually made it here.”

“I almost didn’t. There were many times I nearly gave up. But I managed to make friends along the way. Without them, I’m not sure I would’ve been able to get here and we’ve been having fun together ever since. They’re even here right now, with their parents. They’re over there, there, and there. I’m glad to have them as friends.”

Patty looked in the directions Littlefoot pointed, taking in each of them with great accuracy. She was quiet for a moment.

“Does your circle of friends include that sharptooth?” Patty said.

Littlefoot turned and saw that Verter moved, leaving Chomper in plain view for anyone to see him. Littlefoot saw some of the herd members stare at the sharptooth youth laughing at Verter’s stories. A few talked questioningly with the valley denizens, who whispered and sighed while shrugging in helpless bemusement. Patty watched Chomper with a foreboding expression. Hastily, Littlefoot stepped in front of her feet.

“Chomper wasn’t with me during that time but he is my good friend,” he said. “Don’t worry, he’s nice. He only eats bugs and snapping shells. He wouldn’t do anything to hurt anyone.”

“I can’t see why you would make friends with a sharptooth after what you experienced.” Patty said. “Why would the valley allow him to live here anyway? That’s just danger waiting to happen.”

Littlefoot sighed. “We sort of accidentally hatched him. Long story, but I couldn’t find it in my heart to abandon him. We gave him back to his parents but we met him again and he helped us out of a tough spot. When he and his friend Ruby needed help, we barely managed to get the valley to trust them. After they helped rescue some people, they were allowed to stay in the valley.”

Patty was blinking. “I’m sorry, I’m still stuck on the part about you hatching and raising a sharptooth.”

Littlefoot laughed. “Yeah, pretty amazing, huh. It was only for a day. Funny thing. When me and my friends had to come clean about our friendship with Chomper so they would listen to us about him and Ruby staying, my grandparents were pretty caught up on that. When I took care of Chomper, I asked them how to take care of babies. That weirded them out and they later told me they were shocked the truth was stranger than some of the worried explanations they were thinking up in their heads.”

Patty stared and, when she caught on to what he was implying, chuckled. “They thought you saw or heard about…um, egg creation? Oh my, that is funny. It didn’t sound like the truth was any more reassuring though.”

“Nope. But I managed to sway them. They know Ruby and Chomper really well now and anyone who really gets to know those two can’t be suspicious of them for long.”

“I see. So this Chomper and the fast runner Ruby are really-”

“Nothing but good friends. They’ve rescued me and my friends so many times. I – I do worry about their future here but – all they want is a peaceful life.”  

The suspicion drained out of Patty and she gazed at the two thoughtfully. “Amazing. So I guess sharpteeth also have loves and want a peaceful life but with their diet…well, as long as they don’t hurt anybody. This valley’s more incredible than I’ve heard if it can accommodate so many different kinds. It’s good this place allows you to spend time with your diverse company of friends.”

“Yeah, it is.” Littlefoot smiled softly.

“So, your grandparents take care of you?”

 “That’s right. That’s them over there. With Mother gone, Grandpa and Grandma were the family I had here. They’re doing the usual, making sure people are calm and helping in any way they can,” he smiled fondly at them.

“They sound like they mean a lot to you.”

Littlefoot nodded distractedly. “They’re so nice. Even when I’m being a brat, they’re patient with me. They have interesting things to say and can be very funny. Grandpa knows some very cool stories while Grandma gives me advice on how to stay safe. They do a good job looking after me. I wasn’t always close to them but…I’m glad I got to know them better.” Quietly, he added. “I just wish there was more time we can be together.”

Patty considered him, surprise mixing with sympathy. “You’re so strong. It isn’t right you have to deal with such struggles but you seem to have been able to ride them out. You’re so fortunate to have friends and family that look out for you.”

“What about you?” Littlefoot asked.

Patty shook her head. “I have no one. My father might still be out there but Mom didn’t talk about him much. My grandparents passed before I was born. We were always on the move, so I didn’t have time to make friends. I only had Mom, and when she was gone…”

Patty trailed off. She was lost in thought until Littlefoot went over and gave her foot a brief nuzzle

“Sorry,” he said, “I was only trying to make you feel better but I only loaded my problems onto you.”

“That’s okay.” Patty said. “When you meet someone, you sometimes want to unload all your feelings – both the good and bad. Your kindness is enough to make me feel better.”

Littlefoot welled up a smile. “Well, why don’t we focus on the good things then. What do you enjoy doing? Do you play toss the seed? Swimmer and splasher? What games do you love?”

“I’m afraid I’ve grown too big to play such games.” Patty said wryly. At his bemused reason, she added. “Not in a grownup kind of big. I mean my size. When you’re with a herd, you have to mind what you do so you don’t step on someone’s foot…or someone small. You can’t just move wildly about.”

“Oh.” Littlefoot blushed. “I should’ve known that. It’s kind of sad you have to give some things up when you grow up.”

Patty smiled. “I’m not grown up yet and I haven’t given up on all things. When I’m alone and sure no one would get hurt, I sometimes play with my tail.”

“You mean like whipping off treestars?” Littlefoot said eagerly.

“I’ve done more than that. When you’re traveling and have all the time in the world, you learn there is more than one way to use a tail. For example, I can do this…”

She started swinging her tail in slow, gradually faster loops. Once she got the desired momentum, the tail flicked downward and she lifted her rear feet. The tail sailed right under them. The feet fell back down but as soon as the swinging tail returned, they jumped once more. Patty kept up the rhythm, the tail speeding up but her rear feet never making contact or staggering. Littlefoot watched, fascinated. A few other herd members stopped what they were doing to do the same, bemused or amused. When at last Patty slowed her tail to a stop and stood on all fours, she barely looked winded and there was more animation in her eyes.

“Whew, it’s been a while since I’ve done that,” she said.

“That was amazing!” Littlefoot exclaimed. “Can you teach me that trick?”

“If you’re willing to put up with your tail hitting your feet, stomach, and back.” Patty said.

“Well, ah…” That gave Littlefoot pause. “I’ve dealt with worse. Besides, it sounds like fun.”

“I might teach you.” Patty said. “It would be amusing way to pass the time. It beats the usual routine of walking around, eating, and attracting strange looks with my weird games…”

“Littlefoot? Littlefoot, get back here!”

Littlefoot jumped and walked back to his grandparents, Patty not far behind him. Grandpa and Grandma Longneck had finished speaking with the spikethumb leader, who stood aside and was now visually sweeping the area as though to count out her herd members. His grandparents were looking at him with a mix of relief and reproach.

“There you are.” Grandpa Longneck continued. “We got worried when we couldn’t see you.”

“Don’t bother our guests.” Grandma Longneck said. “They’ve had a long journey and need their rest.”

“Sorry.” Littlefoot hung his head. “But I saw one of them had a lot on her mind and wanted to make sure she was alright.”

“Don’t be hard on him.” Patty said. “He was only trying to help. Talking to him did improve my mood. He’s very kind. You must be proud to have such a grandson.”

Grandpa and Grandma Longneck stared at her, slightly surprised, before allowing themselves to smile.

“Why, yes.” Grandpa Longneck said. “He fills us with as much worry as pride, but we wouldn’t trade him for anything else. He’s such a good helper.”

“Even if his timing mightn’t always be perfect.” Grandma Longneck said. “Thank you for putting up with our grandson.”

“It’s no problem.” Patty replied, smiling. “In fact, if you have no objections, I’m willing to put up with him a lot more in my stay here. I never had a sibling before and kids can be fun to play with.”

“Now, don’t entangle yourself in babysitting duties so soon after a long journey.” Grandpa Longneck said. “Settle down. Think it over. We have been your age once, and it wasn’t always fun to keep children company.”

“If you’re still willing though… we’d be more than happy that you’d keep our grandson company,” Grandma Longneck added, noticing Littlefoot brighten. “These last few days have been tough on him and his friends. If you’re really willing go out of your way to brighten their day, it would be appreciated.”

“Thank you.” Patty said.

“Everyone, can I have your attention?” The spikethumb leader was saying loudly. “These two have informed us of the usual sleeping locations for visiting herds in the valley. Follow me so I can show you where they are and then we can debate our next course of action. I don’t want any stragglers. All must be present. When night falls, I want everyone at the usual sleeping spots, understand?”

There were nods and grumbles, but the herd members started following the spikethumb leader as she led them onward. Patty sighed and turned to Littlefoot and his grandparents.

“Looks like I can’t stay long. I’ll see if I can meet with you tomorrow. Will that be fair?”

“Okay.” Littlefoot said. “Have a good day, Patty.”

Verter, meanwhile, had turned to the spikethumb’s leader’s words and sighed dramatically.

“Being part of a herd does have its downsides,” he said. “Still, I’m sure things’ll settle down. Topps old pal, I’ll have fun with you and your lovely family later.”

Mr. Threehorn nodded and smirked. “Don’t take too long, Verter. We still have a lot of catching up to do.”

“I look forward to it. Bye, kids!” Verter added, nodding cheerily to Cera, Tricia, Chomper, and Ruby.

He walked away and, in his departure, brushed passed Patty.

“With how sleeping arrangements are even in some of these bigger places, I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re packed next to each other.” Verter chuckled.

To Littlefoot’s surprise, Patty turned away. “If that happens, I’ll make sure I’m not packed next to you.”

Verter snorted, but the pair only separated as they walked in the same direction, disappearing behind a distant clump of trees. Littlefoot blinked and looked up at his grandparents.

“What was that about?” he asked.

“Maybe their personalities rub each other the wrong way.” Grandma Longneck said. “Remember, Littlefoot. People can be good or share the same goal, and not always see eye to eye. It’s pretty normal in a community.”

Littlefoot couldn’t help but shrug in agreement. He had seen more than enough examples of those dynamics in the valley to believe the claim. Still, a stirring of unease ran through him. What could Patty find so offensive about Verter?

“The meeting’s over? Thank goodness. I was about ready to fall asleep on my feet.”

Mr. Clubtail walked over bleary-eyed, his grumpiness veiled by relief. Not far behind, the gang and their families gathered closer

“We’re very sorry for awakening you, Mr. Clubtail.” Grandpa Longneck said. “You did well here. Have a good rest.”

“Thanks.” Mr. Clubtail said. “Climbing those Great Wall paths is going to be rough at night, so I’ll need the rest.”

“What’s so special that you need to be on the Great Wall tonight?” Cera asked.

Mr. Clubtail averted his eyes. “Well, there’s going to be a great sight. It only happens once a cold time, so I want to make sure I’ll be awake to see it.”

“What is that great sight?” Ducky said curiously.

“It’s, uh…it’s kind of embarrassing to say.”

 “Is it something salacious?” Grandma Longneck said warily.

“No, nothing like that. It’s just…you’ll laugh.”

“Hey, me and my friends get up to all sorts of weird things.” Littlefoot said. “Compared to us, it mustn’t be that bad.”

“We’ll try not to laugh.” Ruby said. “I can’t guarantee that for everyone, but…”

Littlefoot and the others nodded seriously, doing their best to compose their faces so they wouldn’t be inclined to snicker. After a moment, Mr. Clubtail began to relax.

“You’re right. The valley’s full of weirdos. I guess even I can’t escape it,” he said wryly. “Well, the truth is, at a certain time tonight, the night circle is going to turn orange. It’s quite beautiful to look at, but that’s not the only reason I’ll be up to see it. The truth is…it reminds me of sweet bubbles.”

A wind blew by and the distant trees rustled. The reaction he got wasn’t laughter but some blinking and confusion.

“Sweet bubbles?” Cera said incredulously. “What does the night circle have to do with sweet bubbles?”

“As I said, it’ll be orangey tonight.” Mr. Clubtail replied. “When I look at the orange night circle, it makes me crave orange sweet bubbles. They’re sour but quite good and if you’re put in the right mood, they’re very delicious. Don’t look at me that way. I’m sure some of you do the same thing.”

“Looking at something else to remind you of food?” Petrie said. “Me don’t get it.”

“I guess that’s a thing some people do.” Chomper said reluctantly.

Mr. Clubtail sighed. “I knew you kids wouldn’t understand.”

“Hey, I kind of do that.”

Mr. Clubtail looked at Ruby, stunned. “You do?”

“Sure.” Ruby said encouragingly. “When I look at purple flowers sometimes, I do get a craving for purple sweet bubbles. When the night circle turns blue, I think about blue sweet bubbles. It’s kind of fun to find inspiration for eating your favorite foods in all kinds of places.”

Spike nodded rapidly and made understanding “uh-huh” sounds. Ducky drew up a smile.

“Even if some of us do not understand, it does seem to makes you happy,” she said.

“To each their own.” Grandpa Longneck murmured, smiling. “We all have our enjoyments we’re guilty of admitting aloud.”

Mr. Threehorn shrugged. “It’s silly, but harmless enough.”

“Thanks, you guys.” Mr. Clubtail said, relieved. “Can you…keep it a secret? I do want to limit the number of people who’ll make fun of me for this.”

“Hey, we aren’t that bad, right?” Cera said.

“Yeah, we only do good-natured ribbing.” Mr. Threehorn said. “You don’t need to take it so seriously.”

Mr. Clubtail snorted. “You two sometimes have a hard time knowing when you’re ribbing stops being good-natured. I’d rather not have to deal with any more people with such a lack of inhibitions.”

Mr. Threehorn and Cera grumbled to themselves. Tria stepped forward smoothly.

“Whatever the matter, we’ll respect your wishes,” she said pleasantly.

“Yeah.” Littlefoot said encouragingly. “You go out and have fun.”

“Just be sure not to gorge too much.” Cera said.

“Yeah, remember to leave some sweet bubbles for the rest of us.” Mr. Threehorn said.

Irritation flickered in Mr. Clubtail’s eyes, but he merely made a face at Cera and Mr. Threehorn, causing chuckles from the others. He turned determinedly from the pair.

“Thank you. I do appreciate the support of some.” Mr. Clubtail smiled widely before a yawn broke across his face. “And speaking of that, I’m going to need the support of some extra sleep for tonight. Don’t expect me to get up early tomorrow. I’m going to need the rest.”

“We’ll give you the space.” Grandpa Longneck said. “Have a nice nap.”

Nodding and appearing more refreshed, Mr. Clubtail walked off. Littlefoot, his friends, and their parents watched his departure with fondness or amusement. Cera watched with annoyance.

“Oh, he is going to gorge himself tonight,” she muttered. “Oh well, at least I won’t have to be there for his disgusting burps.”

“At least there’s a plus side for everyone.” Littlefoot said sheepishly.

With the herd members leaving, most of the other valley denizens had also dispersed, to go back to what they were doing or to rest and recover. That left mostly the gang and their families. Littlefoot and the others eyed each other speculatively before they turned to their parents.

“Grandpa, Grandma,” Littlefoot said, “is it okay if I play with my friends now?”

“We haven’t gotten ourselves in danger yet.” Cera said brightly.

“Yeah, the most that happened was me getting spooked.” Chomper said.

“And some of us making new friends.” Ruby said.

“It pretty lonely without my friends.” Petrie said. “Can we go? Can we?”

“Pretty please?” Ducky said. “Please, please. Please.”

Spike bayed to each of their parents, making his eyes as wide and pleading as his sister’s. Their parents stared uncertainly at the gang before glancing at each other.

“I don’t know.” Mr. Threehorn said. “You kids still need supervision.”

“We can’t keep track of you together all day.” Mama Swimmer said. “We have responsibilities to attend to.”

“Oh, that’s true. Most of you have siblings we need to watch over.” Mama Flyer said.

There was a pensive silence as they considered this dilemma. Petrie scratched his chin nervously.

“Maybe…we all stay with Littlefoot’s grandparents,” he suggested. “Littlefoot’s brother not in valley and herd business done now. So we won’t bother them much.”

“That is right.” Ducky said. “You can trust Littlefoot’s grandparents. They are very good watchers, they are.”

“We won’t go far.” Chomper said. “We’ll stay close to them while we play. Cross our hearts.”

“They can escort our friends back to you parents when it’s time for bed.” Ruby said. “And for me and Chomper, they can escort us back to our cave. It sounds like a perfect arrangement, right?”

Grandpa Longneck smiled wryly. “And you suppose just because we only have Littlefoot, we have all the time in the world.”

“You do remember our ghost duties, right?” Grandma Longneck asked.

Ruby almost blushed. She and the others awkwardly averted their gaze.

“Well…” Cera said. “Are there any ghosts you need to deal with now?”

Grandma Longneck chuckled. “Fortunately for you, today there is a bit truth to us having some free time. We’ll be going around to make sure the herd is settling in well but otherwise nothing too taxing or attention-consuming.”

“We’ll be more than happy to watch you children for the day.” Grandpa Longneck said. “Having an opportunity to have you all over is a treat – that is, if it’s okay with your parents. Rest assured, we’ll do our best to look after them and if a ghost issue does come up, we’ll escort your children back – under that scenario, Littlefoot, Chomper, and Ruby might have to stay with one of you as well until we deal with our duty.”

Mama Flyer only hesitated a moment before smiling warmly. “Of course. I know you’ll make sure Petrie and the kids don’t get up to any mischief. If ghosts or anything else happens, I’d be more than willing to look after Littlefoot, Chomper, and Ruby.”

“Just make sure not to look for any adventure, Petrie.” One of Petrie’s sisters teased, causing good-natured laughter from the other flyer children.

“Um…” Mama Swimmer looked between Ducky and Spike, her hand to her lips uncertainly. Looking to her other children, she sighed. “Okay. At least I know they’ll be well watched. But Ducky, Spike, behave. I don’t want to hear of you doing anything that gives Grandpa and Grandma Longneck more work. And if you get sent back, cooperate, understand?”

Ducky and Spike nodded rapidly, instantly contriving to look angelic. Since Ruby and Chomper were guardian-less, they merely walked over to stand next to Littlefoot. Petrie wasn’t far behind, a bit embarrassed at the teasing but smiling all the same. Ducky and Spike initially matched Petrie’s speed, but slowed upon the neutral or uncertain gazes their brothers and sisters gave them. At length, they waved Ducky and Spike off. Ducky and Spike crossed the remaining distance to Littlefoot, Petrie, Chomper, and Ruby.

Now everyone watched Mr. Threehorn and Tria, who both seemed to have the most misgivings. Mr. Threehorn in particular stared at Cera as though fearing she would evaporate. However, upon seeing Littlefoot and the others in the comforting shadows of Grandpa and Grandma Longneck, Mr. Threehorn sighed.

“You’d better watch my Cera very closely,” he warned. “If any harm comes to her…”

Grandpa Longneck nodded. “We know. We would say the same if you had to look after Littlefoot.”

Mr. Threehorn nodded, stepping aside so Cera could go. She began to walk forward when she felt Tricia press against her foreleg, looking up sadly and making a pleading warble. Cera was confused until she remembered the trauma of two days back.

“Don’t worry Tricia, I’m not going away. I’m just hanging out with my friends.” Cera said. “I’ll be back tonight. Count on it.”

Tricia made a questioning sound, like a version of “You’re sure?” and Cera gave a comforting nuzzle. Her spirits picked up, she gave a cheerful wave as Cera walked off to join her friends. Tria still appeared worried.

“Cera, don’t be reckless,” she said. “Keep your promise to Tricia about being back tonight.”

“We’re not going on some mission.” Cera complained. “We’re just going to play. You don’t need to get bent out of shape over it.”

She didn’t get a response. With final waves and farewells, Mr. Threehorn, Tria, Mama Swimmer, and Mama Flyer departed with their other children in tow. Grandpa and Grandma Longneck turned to smile at Littlefoot and the others.

“Well, let’s get going.” Grandpa Longneck said. “Stay close, kids. We don’t want to disappoint your folks by losing you immediately, now do we?”

Chuckling, the gang started walking in the wake of Littlefoot’s grandparents, at ease now they were in each other’s presence. Though difficult, the meeting with the herd had put some of them in a good mood. Chomper was humming, a cheerful tune that encouraged a few to join in. Normally, being able to hang out with Grandpa and Grandma Longneck made them happy. Their easygoing and gentle demeanors made them comfortable company. But Cera was notably grumpy.

“Me, be reckless,” she said. “Why do they think we would be that way now?”
« Last Edit: January 28, 2018, 01:59:08 PM by DaveTheAnalyzer »

DaveTheAnalyzer

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We Will Hold On Forever
« Reply #51 on: January 28, 2018, 12:49:55 PM »
2/2

“Your dad and Tria are only worried about you.” Littlefoot said. “Yesterday was a close call.”

“It was, it was.” Ducky said. “We were so scared me and Spike went to bed without eating anything.”

“Really?” Petrie said. “That amazing for Spike.”

Spike giggled bashfully, almost as amazed as the others. Chomper lowered his eyes.

“Me and Ruby slept next to each other,” he admitted. “We…wanted to be close in case there were bad sleep stories.”

“There were bad sleep stories.” Ruby said. “They were better to deal with together…but they wasn’t fun to deal with at all.”

“Though things have been less fun for some of us than others.” Cera said.

Everyone gazed at Littlefoot, who hesitated but didn’t turn away. Certainty started to settle into him. After a long day, where Littlefoot was able to brighten the mood of someone he shared a common tragedy with, he now felt ready in more ways than one to talk with his friends about what he was worried about.

 “Are you feeling alright, Littlefoot?” Ducky said.

“I’m okay.” Littlefoot answered. “Sorry for falling apart last night. It wasn’t a pretty sight.”

“Hey, yesterday super scary.” Petrie said. “Me surprised more of us not fall apart, especially me.”

“My parents did that more than I did.” Cera admitted. “I’ve never seen Dad so blank and nervous, or Tria so down. They haven’t been talking much since we came back and had me and Tricia pressed between them when we slept.”

“I don’t blame them.” Littlefoot said. “I don’t blame any of our parents. Yesterday was…difficult. It brought out a lot of issues that I didn’t want to think about but now…”

“That offer to talk is still open.” Chomper said gently.

“I’m ready. If this becomes too uncomfortable, say something. This might be a bit heavy…”  

Gradually, Littlefoot laid out his fears about mortality and his grandparents, and how they all started with a random sleep story four days ago (Had it only been four? Everything that happened since made it feel so much longer). His friends listened attentively, some gaining looks of understanding or sympathy. They did little more than nod and make encouraging noises, so Littlefoot was wary of their full reactions. By the time he finished by detailing what he and his grandparents talked about last night, he waited for someone to speak up.

“Huh.” Ruby said. “That explains why you’ve been more concerned about us than you already are.”

“I hope I haven’t been too insufferable these last few days.” Littlefoot said.

“Hey, it is okay.” Ducky said. “Worrying about how long you will be with your grandparents is normal, it is, it is.”

“We don’t blame you for wanting to protect them.” Chomper said.

Littlefoot allowed a smile. “Thanks, guys. I just…it makes me really sad. I love Grandma and Grandpa. I don’t want them to leave anytime soon. You guys should count yourselves lucky. At least your parents will still be around when you’re grownups.”

“Maybe.” Cera said. “Dad is always grumbling about how he’s too old for this or that and Tria must be his age. I think they’re middle-aged, so they’ll still be around but maybe...not as long.” She shook her head as though dismissing a thought.

Ruby nodded sadly. “My parents are a bit older than Mr. Threehorn and Tria. By the time me and my brother and sister are grownups, they will be old grownups. Not to mention the Mysterious Beyond is very tough and it can be hard to stay tough in old age. And if Redclaw doesn’t go away anytime soon…”

“It’s tough for my parents too.” Chomper said. “I mean, they aren’t old but Red Claw really hurt them. With how many wounds they got, they wouldn’t have been able to do anything but scavenge for a while. And if someone picked a fight with them…” he fidgeted. “I – Ruby’s dad said they’ve gotten a lot better when we visited her family. I hope their injuries are gone now. Being a sharptooth is tough enough, they shouldn’t suffer for the injuries they got because of me…”

Chomper and several others appeared pensive for a moment before he looked up and started guiltily.

“Sorry Littlefoot,” he said. “Uh, we didn’t mean to make this all about us.”

Littlefoot shook his head. “It’s okay. I guess it’s only natural me worrying about my folks will make you worry about yours. That’s all the more reason we should do what we can for them while they’re still around.”

“Yeah, me agree.” Petrie said. “But Littlefoot, when that happen – and me hope that not for very long time – you can stay with my family. Well, maybe on side of nest, since me don’t want you to roll over in sleep and fall off cliff. But there not enough room, so maybe sleep in back of nest. But that might crowd brothers and sisters. Um…”

Littlefoot chuckled. “That’s okay. I appreciate the thought. Whatever happens, I’ll be sure to visit often.”

“And we will visit you too.” Ducky said. “We can even have sleepovers. That would be fun, oh it would be, it would.”

“Aren’t sleepovers a childish thing?” Cera asked.

“The great thing about being a grownup is being in charge of when you want to be mature and when you want to be childish.” Ruby said. “Being in charge of how you’ll hang out with your friends is also a benefit.”

Cera eyed her dryly but only said. “Well, I guess it would be nice to have a place to escape to when my parents are being insufferable.”

There were laughs. Littlefoot shook his head fondly, unable to stop his giggles and feeling much lighter in spirit.

“Well, I’m glad you all plan to be there for me but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves,” he smiled warmly. “Thanks. For listening. Letting you guys know about my worries is a lot off my chest.”

“Of course.” Petrie said. “We talk about our worries all time. Now it your turn.”

“Who knows what might have happened if you held it in any longer.” Cera said. “It is nice to know.”

“Not to mention it reminded some of us of what is important.” Ducky said.

“Uh-huh.” Spike nodded, nuzzling Ducky who hugged him in return.

Littlefoot’s heart melted at the sight. Before he could say anything, Cera bumped into him, eyes sharp and mischievous.

“Hey, now that you got those worries off your chest, let’s go and have some fun,” she said. “How does tag sound? I bet I can catch you guys faster than you blink.”

Littlefoot slowly smirked. “Why, Cera. Are you volunteering to play the role of sharptooth? I thought you didn’t like that.”

“Oh, be quiet. After getting chased all over the place these past few days, being the chaser would be great for a change. Any objections?”

“Not really, it is just…” Ducky giggled. “Because we have been chased so much, we are prepared. You will not be able to catch us so easily, you will not, you will not.”

“Being a sharptooth, I do know how to run from them.” Chomper said.

“And being a flyer, me can just fly until you grow bored.” Petrie said.

“Is that what you think?” Cera said.

Cera eyed him. Suddenly she pounced at Petrie, who squeaked and flew out of the way. He flew above her just out of reach and blew a defiant raspberry. Cera was unoffended.

“You can’t stay up there forever,” she said.

“Yeah, well me can try!” Petrie retorted.

“Flying might have advantages but being a fast runner also has advantages.” Ruby said. “Can you outrun me?”

“Everyone feels like making big boasts today.” Cera said. “Who knows? Let’s test them.”

Cera crouched as they walked, head low as she eyed her friends speculatively. The others followed her example, Littlefoot with his tongue stuck out as he made sure to keep pace with her. Everyone kept their distance. Then Spike started crawling closer, barely able to stifle his giggles, and a riding Ducky cried out in alarm. Cera took the bait and pounced but Spike jumped out of the way just in time.

Laughing, they all began running, ducking and dodging in and around foliage, Cera almost always reaching but not quite tagging any of her friends. Littlefoot could see his grandparents watching them out of the corner of their eyes with content smiles. Littlefoot and the others were smiling as well. Cera eventually tagged one of them, leading to the role of tagger switching around, but they were glad that was their biggest worry. As the sun began to sink on the horizon, Littlefoot and the others were glad to have an ordinary day of play.

--

Mr. Threehorn gazed with some relief at his daughters. As promised, Cera had returned by nightfall and was sleeping next to Tricia, contented smiles on their faces. Tria lay beside them, no longer holding the same anxiety of the previous night. Mr. Threehorn couldn’t resist a smile. Today had done them some good. His family were as they should be, happy – and safe.

Safe in spite of his own blunders.

Mr. Threehorn shoved the thought aside and readjusted his position, but sleep continued to evade him. He had watched his family wink out one by one only for him to remain awake. Now the night circle had risen wide and full, a bright orange-yellow, and it didn’t look like he was going to get rest anytime soon. It looked like Mr. Clubtail wouldn’t be the only one awake tonight. Stifling his grumbles, Mr. Threehorn closed his eyes and put his head down, attempting to see if staring at the inside of his eyelids would eventually do the trick.

“Topps. Psst, Topps!”

Mr. Threehorn jerked up and looked around alertly. He found a shape had appeared in front of the trees ahead. He tensed, wondering how it slipped past his notice. His wariness gave way to relief though when the shape stepped forward and revealed itself to be Verter, beckoning with a head wave.

“Come over here,” he said. “Let’s talk.”

Mouthing in incomprehension, Mr. Threehorn got to his feet and walked over to Verter, standing in the shadows of the trees.

“Verter, what are you doing here?” Mr. Threehorn asked. “Didn’t – I thought that spikethumb said the herd should stick together?”

Verter smiled slyly. “Well, that wasn’t going to stop me from spending some time with my old pal. Besides, is anyone really going to know that one of their number took a stroll come morning?”

Mr. Threehorn tried to give his best stern look but Verter’s devil-may-care grin was such a fond echo of so many nights of youthful mischief that he couldn’t really keep it up. Mr. Threehorn looked away.

“Just don’t let them catch you,” he muttered. “I might have to say something then.”

“Don’t worry, I’ve been out in the wild, I’m good at not being noticed.” Verter reassured. “You don’t sound like you’re up to as much mischief as you used to be.”

“I’m a father now – childish shenanigans aren’t so fun when you’re dealing with them on the parent side of things. Besides, the world is tough. That doesn’t leave much time for fun.”

“Why, you make being a grownup sound so boring. It can’t be that bad, right?”

“Oh, there are some good points.” Mr. Threehorn admitted. “The company here in the valley can be weird but reliable in a pinch. There are my daughters. As much as they can frustrate me, they always find a way to make me smile. There’s Tria – she makes sure things don’t get boring in my life. Those happy moments are the reason I try to protect them so much.” A quiet moment. “I just wish I’ve been doing a good job of it.”

Verter tilted his head, puzzled. “Topps, that sounds weirdly…vulnerable. What’s up with you?”

“The past several days have been…very trying.” Mr. Threehorn said. “They’ve brought to the forefront several things I don’t like. I haven’t been telling you everything I went through.”

Verter put himself in a listening position. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“I shouldn’t be unloading my problems on you. I should be able to handle them on my own.”

“Friends are there to hear each other’s problems. I’m sure Cera does that with her friends all the time and doesn’t that leave her in a happier place?”

Mr. Threehorn hesitated, but he couldn’t dispute that fact. “Well, the truth is…Tria isn’t my first mate. I had more daughter before Tricia came around.”

Verter widened an eye quizzically but Mr. Threehorn continued.

“I had another mate. She was tough, and smart. We had sparks. It got so intense we kind of had a…daughter,” he blushed. “We were young parents, so we fumbled a bit. Fortunately, she didn’t hold it against us and went on to have twins. Being a grandfather this early is a privilege. Erm, anyway, after we became older and more experienced, we had another batch: Cera, Holly, Rita, and Duane. They were rough, tumbling, and got up to trouble. They were our light and stars. Then…” he sighed. “The Great Earthshake happened. Cera got separated from us.

“We were trying to find a way to the other side. We searched everywhere. We tried to be careful but the earth was delicate after the earthshake and at one of the cliffs…you could guess what happened to them. When Cera came back to the valley…I was the only one waiting for her. For so long, it was just the two of us.”

“I see.” Verter stared. “You’ve been through some tougher crud then I thought.”

Mr. Threehorn nodded distractedly. “That’s why I’ve been so protective of Cera, and Tria and Tricia. I did all I could to make the best out of the bad situations that come up and I’ve been trying to put the past behind me but then…you heard about those ghosts, Verter. She and my little girls came back.”

“Oh. Now that’s some really tough crud.”

“It was nice to be with them one more time, to have a proper goodbye, but I had to face again that I couldn’t save them. I was as helpless to prevent them from disappearing as I was to prevent their deaths. Like before, I felt I was only there to watch. So when that sharptooth ghost attacked yesterday, going after Cera and her friends, I thought, at least I can help them. Here was something I can do.”

“I can surmise from your expression it didn’t go well.” Verter said.

Mr. Threehorn laughed hollowly. “The others warned me, as they always warn me, but I didn’t listen. I started taunting the sharptooth, attempting to make him feel as small as I felt the day before. Here was someone who deserved no sympathy that I can vent my feelings to until he turned tail and disappeared. Instead…I only made him angry enough that he could touch and injure us. Our children were the ones who had to put him down in the end. It was because of my selfishness that Cera and her friends nearly died yesterday.”

“Oh, I’m sure it isn’t that bad.” Verter said. “Even a parent makes a big mistake once in a while. Just be glad nothing happened.”

“This wasn’t the first time…there was that moment when there was fire in the valley and I nearly led Cera into being burned alive…I almost broke up the herd when the swarming leaf gobblers drove us out of the valley and Cera and her friends left to keep us together…I led a crusade against some tiny longnecks over a misunderstanding and nearly got them buried alive, which released fast biters into the valley that nearly got Cera and her friends…No matter what I do, I keep screwing up and putting my daughter in danger. She and her friends have done a much better job at solving these problems, and they’re kids! They shouldn’t have to. I’m proud of what she’s done but I fear how long her luck will last before…before…”

Mr. Threehorn’s vision blurred slightly but he shook himself, breaths wet and barely controlled. Now he knew how Littlefoot felt yesterday, how all the fear bottled up inside grows until it pushes you to the breaking point. But that longneck boy could let it all out, he needed to cry, and he had his grandparents to rely on during that vulnerable moment. Mr. Threehorn was a grownup, the protector of the family. He should know how to deal with these emotions better than this. He didn’t have time to breakdown and he couldn’t burden his family like this. Mr. Threehorn shoved those feelings down but they kept rising back up and he shut his eyes to attempt to control them.

Then he felt a bump on his head. Verter pulled back and gently pressing the side of his frill against Mr. Threehorn’s again, again, attempting to reassure him with brief, strong moments of contact. Mr. Threehorn didn’t expect it, but it turned out to be just what he needed to draw in enough breath and compose himself.

“I shouldn’t have done that.” Mr. Threehorn said. “It was stupid. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

“There, there.” Verter said sympathetically. “Even if you prepare for everything, life’s surprises still sometimes get to you.”

“Right.” Mr. Threehorn sniffled and welled up a tired smile. “Thanks, Verter. I really needed that. It’s just…I fear what’ll happen to Cera and her friends. They always keep getting into dangerous trouble and if they continue to tangle themselves in this ghost business…”

“If they’ve gotten into danger so many times, surely you and the other parents must be experienced enough to recognize the signs, and stop them.”

“We try. But it’s hard to be on the alert all the time and they always think of clever ways to slip away while we’re distracted.”

“Hmm…” Verter frowned, appearing to find this strange. “Well, Cera and her friends do sound like a determined bunch, I’ll give them that. It sounds like they aren’t going to stop their adventurous ways anytime soon, so we might as well hedge our bets.”

“Hedge what bets?” Mr. Threehorn said, confused. “Wait, you mean…”

“That training offer is still open.” Verter said. “Those kids will need some strong support out there and if no grownups are around, it might as well be Cera and Chomper. You already said Cera broke some big rocks in her recent adventures. Why not make sure she can do that on a more reliable basis? We’ve known some older kids who could push down boulders without breaking a sweat. It would be good for Cera to have that sort of strength. Chomper, too. Why not make sure he builds up all the strength and endurance a sharptooth possesses?”

“I’m not sure it’s a wise idea to make Chomper more dangerous than he already is.” Mr. Threehorn said.

“Why, you sound like you don’t very much trust the boy.” Verter said.

“It’s complicated.” Mr. Threehorn looked away. “If there’s one thing you can say about him, it’s hard to think he’s up to anything dangerous. I’ll admit I even kind of like him. It’s his sharptooth side I’m distrustful of. Right now, he’s content with eating bugs but if he gains the confidence that comes with that added strength you talk about, I fear what’ll happen when bugs won’t be enough for him.”

“Ah, yes.” Verter nodded wisely. “I believe training might still be the solution then. We can have Chomper trained to be strong but I can discipline him to use that strength wisely. You and Tria must be experienced with disciplining your daughters. Doing the same with Chomper will be no different. He only needs a strong, guiding paw.”

“That might be useful.” Mr. Threehorn said slowly. “If you can make Chomper a safer friend to be around…”

“It will benefit everyone. I’m sure you can persuade Tria to see the good in this. Cera and Chomper will surely jump at the opportunity to be stronger. I’ll train them firmly but fairly for their age. They need this in our dangerous world. Come on, Topps. You know I’m right.”

Mr. Threehorn hesitated. The offer was very tempting. The world was a dangerous place. Mr. Threehorn knew this, thought he could handle it, but the endless crises were wearing him down. No matter what he and the other parents did, Cera and her friends still wound up getting involved in the latest life-threatening escapade. If their wanderlust couldn’t be stymied, at least they should be equipped with the skillset needed to survive, right? Not to mention Cera and Chomper did express genuine interest in Verter’s proposal. No matter the difficulties, it would be worth it if Cera and her friends had a higher chance of coming back home.

Just as he began to feel encouraged, Mr. Threehorn remembered the true extent of the difficulties involved in that training. He sighed.

“No.” Mr. Threehorn said. “I’m sorry, Verter. I really am. But Tria’s right. The Threehorn Ascension training is too much for kids like Cera and Chomper. I don’t want Cera to carry any lasting injuries and if something happens to Chomper, we would have to answer to his sharptooth parents. It’s just not going to work out.”

“But Topps, they’ll be more vulnerable if we don’t -” Verter pleaded.

“I’ll raise the possibility with Tria again when there’s time.” Mr. Threehorn interrupted. “I’ll bring up your points but…don’t get your hopes up. We’ll be keeping an eye on the kids in the meantime. No ghosts appeared today, so maybe that means things are settling down.”

“I see.” Verter said, disappointed. “Well, you’re the father here. I should…defer to you.”

“I’m really sorry. Maybe something else can be worked out. But don’t think you’re unwelcome. We loved how you distracted the kids from the ghost troubles and we wouldn’t mind if you come along again. We sure can use a few laughs.” Mr. Threehorn covered up a yawn. “Anyway, I have to sleep. It’s getting late. Go back to your herd before your absence is noticed. If nothing else horrible happens tomorrow, we can meet up. I can’t wait for us to catch up. Goodnight, Verter.”

“Yes.” Verter welled up a smile, all disappoint gone. “Have a nice rest, old pal. See you in the morning.”

Mr. Threehorn turned and went over to settle back with his family. Within a minute of closing his eyes, he was asleep. Verter slowly walked back to the herd. He had dropped his smile.

*Nothing else horrible, huh?* he thought. *Well…who knows what’ll happen tomorrow.*

--

“Ah, that is a rather scrumptious kind of orange.”

Mr. Clubtail resisted the urge to smack his lips as he gazed up at the night circle. It was a clear, sky puffy-less night and the stars were out in bright bloom among the expanse of blue-black. The night circle hung round and wide, almost seeming to loom over the valley, smudged with mysterious dark spots and light pockmark holes. The bright orange filled every detail of it, as though it was water died by the sweet nectar of a tree sweet. It was an amazing sight and Mr. Clubtail wondered why more people didn’t stay up to see it.

*I can’t be the only one awake tonight. How can people ignore this?* he thought. *Oh well, more for me.*

He continued walking, staying clear of the drop to his right. Far behind him, he heard the faint crackle of pebbles parting from the ledge and tacking down to the grass below. From his vantage point, the lower part of the moon was obscured by the mountain tips and, though it wasn’t much, he wanted to see the whole of it in all its unobstructed majesty. He was moving on one of the ledge paths that protruded from the Great Wall, having chosen the widest that were closer to the mountain tops than the forests below.

Currently, he had a good view of much of the valley, with the night circle and stars providing enough light to see the trees and the pinprick forms of resting dinosaurs below. Up high here, Mr. Clubtail felt like he was the only one awake tonight, with just himself and the night circle to keep each other company. It was a wonderful feeling and he wasn’t eager to leave anytime soon.

Gradually, he moved from one end of the valley to the other, legs slightly sore from the distance he had to cover. Despite what the view from up here might tell someone, the valley was a big place and it would take a lot of luck to get to most of its locations within a single day. Mr. Clubtail didn’t look forward to the long walk back but assured himself that on the bright side, some sweet bubbles would be waiting for him and he wouldn’t be tossing and turning as much when he finally fell asleep. He paused once he reached the other side, where he at last had a clear view of the moon.

He stared up appreciatively, drinking in every detail. Already, the orange was reminding his tongue of previous tastes, the burst of sour that came when the surface was penetrated, the dabble texture of the fleshy fruit as it got chewed up. Mr. Clubtail was looking forward to getting some orange sweet bubbles when he was done. Being prepped to crave a favored food only made that food all the more delicious when the time came to eat it.

Mr. Clubtail sighed contently, glad the only sounds around were the distant buzzes and chirps of nocturnal insects and the woosh of wind blowing through the leaves. With the usual valley hullabaloo quiet for the night, his mind could now focus on the beauty hovering in the sky and the sour delicacies that awaited him when he returned.

*I wonder if Ruby or any of those kids ever had a taste of orange sweet bubbles.* Mr. Clubtail mused. *It was nice she didn’t make a big deal over my silly obsession. Maybe I can talk to her about sweet bubbles and other greens.*

His mind buzzed agreeably. Mr. Clubtail always preferred the simple life, so having someone pleasant to occasionally swap food stories and suggestions with sounded grand. He would give neighborly tips to Ruby about what to try next, to brighten her day, and if she had recommendations, well, he wasn’t going to turn them down. He hadn’t been everywhere in the valley. Her inquisitive nature might lead her to foods he never noticed or couldn’t reach. It would benefit everyone. He took a few steps forward as he looked at the night circle, smiling at the possibilities.

Then his perception…changed. He noticed the cave entrance.  

Mr. Clubtail blinked and lowered his gaze to several yards ahead. The ledge path turned and led to a cave opening in a small mountain peak with four roughly ovular openings along his eye level. He was bemused. He hadn’t noticed this unique formation before. Never, until now. One second, his eyes slid over it like it was another part of the scenery. The next, the details became clear as though he dunked his head in water and could see for the first time. Mr. Clubtail thought he would have remembered a place like this and that he missed it on so many of his trips was strange.

But what was truly strange was the warm glow coming from the cave.

Mr. Clubtail stared. The crackle of rocks behind him was the only sound in the air. Caves normally didn’t glow, he thought. Usually, there was molten rock or some plant matter that could be set alight. Yet there wasn’t the orange of lava or the unsteady flicker of fire. Where was the light coming from? Slowly, he began to approach, each step filled with increasing unease.

He stopped at the entrance. He found himself looking into a great cavern, wide and dome-shaped, with grooves straggling up the walls to the center of the ceiling. The ground was smooth and level, without a crack or protrusion in sight. Mr. Clubtail was impressed. There was more than enough room for most of the meeting circle regulars to conduct an assembly here. To his right, the four openings gave a grand, expansive view of most of the valley. If one wanted to get their bearings on where a person or place was, it would be here.

But no matter where Mr. Clubtail looked, he couldn’t find the light’s source. There was no fire or molten rock. There were no crystals or bioluminescent plants. There wasn’t even a crack in the ground that issued earthly light, like that place Grandpa Longneck occasionally used to entertain the kids with stories. The light was simply there, warm and present, but terminating outside the cavern’s boundaries. Mr. Clubtail wavered, unnerved. Caves shouldn’t be glowing for no reason. Was this somehow connected to the past few days’ supernatural events?

Then he noticed the stones. There were eleven of them, unnaturally flat and smooth, aligned in a pattern on the ground. On the outer edges were three rectangular stones, spaced in an odd T-formation, large enough for adult dinosaurs of varying species to stand on. Further in were seven much smaller heptagonal stones that only youths could fit on. At the center, there was a polished circular stone. There was nothing special or interesting about its appearance. It was quite ordinary. Mr. Clubtail’s eyes kept getting drawn to the center stone like a magnet. In spite of himself, he found it hard to look away. It was as though he expected someone to arrive there, to appear out of thin air and stand on that stone any second now…

Mr. Clubtail staggered back as fast as he could, heart beating quickly, an unspeakable fear buzzing in every part of him. He stared at the cave, wide-eyed.

“What – what is this place?” he said.

“You’ve seen too much.”

A crackle of rocks, this time much too close. Mr. Clubtail whirled his head toward the voice. Before he could turn fully, something big and large whammed into his side. He gasped, all of his breath taken away. Before he could react, there was a second wham. He staggered, tried to balance, but then another wham came, and another.

He attempted to turn, to find a way to strike back with his clubtail but the strikes were relentless. His attacker wasn’t giving him any quarter to recover, the pain such he stumbled away to give himself even a second’s respite. Whimpering, it took all he could to keep his wits together. He glanced at his attacker, to search for any weaknesses, and froze in shock.

“You?” he gasped. “Why – why are you-“

His attacker didn’t answer, didn’t pause, but whammed Mr. Clubtail’s head and shoulders, again, again. He shook his head, blinking some red out of his eyes. He found the blows were forcing him back, driving him with purpose toward the edge.

“No!” he said, panicked. “Please, no!”

The words weren’t acknowledged. With another wham, Mr. Clubtail’s right legs shifted on the cliff. He scrambled desperately, searching for purchase, but with the greatest wham yet, he was sent over the edge.

Mr. Clubtail screamed, turning over on his back as he fell, his attacker’s cold face shrinking with distance. Terror and grief consumed him. No, not like this, he still had so much to do, so many ordinary but wonderful things left to accomplish. He waved his legs desperately, trying to grasp something, anything, but he could only watch helplessly as the ground rapidly neared.  

There was almighty crack. Mr. Clubtail was aware of white-hot agony radiating from his back, slicing furiously, mercilessly, through every part of him.

And then he knew no more.

Next time…

Seeking Sanctuary Part 1


--

Note:  Hope to post the next set of chapters by March or April. Haven't written the chapters that follow them and depending on how they go, I might have to alter some details on said next set before posting them.

Sovereign

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« Reply #52 on: January 30, 2018, 01:06:29 PM »
Things are getting quite odd very quickly with this installment. At this point, Patty's character is a complete mystery and things with Verter continue to get quite puzzling. And not to even mention the last scene... While this chapter surely offered new food for taught, it also seemed a bit slow at some points but that can easily be justified with the developments in the coming chapters.

Littlefoot's discussion with Patty was certainly an odd one as the similarity between the duo's pasts and her quick embrace of the younger longneck hardly were a coincidence. She seemed suspiciously friendly and, like Verter, didn't seem like a typical farwalker at all. Speaking of the threehorn, his discussion with Topps seemed somewhat unnecessary and too long, imo, but it showed one, interesting thing. Topps didn't seem like himself at all when he opened up about his past, Verter's effect even reminding me of the ghosts' manipulative abilities.

As for the last scene... I have no idea about what is going on. What was the rock formation and what killed the clubtail? That whole sequence was an interesting one and it was crafted in a good way. However, it contained a few cliche-like sentences like "You've seen too much" and "And then he knew no more." that caught my eye. Still, they weren't enough to seriously disturb the reading experience.

This installment was very heavy on dialogue and, to be honest, it occasionally seemed to slow the pace down even too much. However, those discussions also deepened the new farwalker herd's role in this story and the ending clearly opens a new phase in the whole ghost drama. It'll be an ordeal to wait over a month for further developments!

rhombus

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« Reply #53 on: February 02, 2018, 02:35:33 AM »
This was a nice, dialogue-heavy chapter (except for the ending, which I will get to in a moment) which seems to have established a few additional dynamics that could be built upon in future installments. The arrival of Patty and the resulting conversation with Littlefoot was quite an interesting one.  Despite being a loner, Littlefoot seems to have felt a connection to her which was only reinforced when he began to realize that much of her life was not unlike his own with regards to tragedy. I am curious about Littlefoot and her will get along in the future.  She does not seem as "off" as Verter, but in light of recent events in the story it is understandable that Littlefoot might be a bit suspicious about the newcomers - even if he is not openly expressing it.  The melancholy of Ruby, however, might be hinting that she could be picking up on the weirdness.

The Verter conversation, on the other hand, opens up as many questions as it answers. The weirdness that I noted before is still here, and one gets the impression that he might be attempting to manipulate things towards a particular end.  Or, like before with the other ghosts, perhaps they are both being manipulated with Verter being unaware of his status?  In either case I see this building into further complications in the near future.

...and then there is the final scene.  After showing his innocence in this chapter and his curiosity about natural phenomenons (the reference to the lunar eclipse was an excellent callback to current events if that was your intention) the act of him being mercilessly killed off strikes us readers like a savage blow.  We now have an indication that the valley itself is deeply tied in to whatever is causing these odd phenomena, and it might involve a cave with a distinct orange glow.  I fear that our seven heroes might have to confront whatever killed the clubtail soon enough.

Overall this was an enjoyable chapter.  :) Though some of the dialogue appeared to drag on a bit (in particular Verter's) all of the events in this chapter seem to be building to further development of the plot, and the unknown cause of everything that has occurred thus far.  I look forward to seeing what we will discover in the next installment!

DaveTheAnalyzer

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« Reply #54 on: February 02, 2018, 04:22:46 PM »
@Sovereign Thank you for the review. Yeah, there was a lot of talking. I’m still not good at cutting conversations down, At the moment, I’m  unsure of the point of Littlefoot confessing his fears to the gang, though I’m sure it’ll come up. Sometimes with writing, even when planning, you put things in where you’re not 100% sure what role they’ll play until later in the story.

The next several chapters are going to be talky as well. I’ll try to make it dynamic but all this talk is setting up things to come. The pattern is “talk, talk, talk, talk, wham!” I’m writing the chapters after that which will culminate with the next major wham of this arc, so hopefully once I’m finished with them, I can go back and see if those next several chapters need to be changed to build to that moment.

As for why Mr. Threehorn opened up to Verter…I intended for him to be ground down by the family ghost encounter and the sharptooth mistake. With the worries and guilt from that, I thought he would take less prompting to open up. Don’t know how well that’s executed but I’ll try to keep that in mind when writing him again.
   
Patty is an interesting character. I named her before doing my first rewatch of the series and when I came across Pat in 10, I was like “Dang it, I didn’t notice this when coming up with the name!” After a bit, I decided I didn’t want to change the name, so I was like, “screw it, just acknowledge the similarity and move on.”

Glad you were intrigued by the final scene. I kind of knew those lines were clichÈ but it didn’t occur to me that might be a problem and I thought they fit with what I’m going for. Look forward to seeing your reaction to the fallout from this in the next chapters.

@Rhombus I appreciate the review. Glad you’re interested in the Littlefoot-Patty relationship. Don’t know if Littlefoot is suspicious of her so much as sympathetic to others’ implied plight after the ghost traumas. Ruby’s melancholy is important, but you’ll soon see what it’s about.

The moon thing wasn’t related to the recent eclipse, these chapters were planned and written long before that. It was more a plot device to get Mr. Clubtail somewhere high and dangerous that was related to the few details we know about him.

At first, I didn’t intend to kill Mr. Clubtail but with how I structured the second arc, I thought things would be more interesting and play more into the death themes if there was a murder hanging over everything. I don’t like killing characters, but Mr. Clubtail was enough of a Cedric Diggory character – distinct enough yet not too prominent, hovering between tertiary and secondary – that I felt comfortable with punting him off a cliff. Hope you enjoy the fallout in the next chapters!

Ducky123

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« Reply #55 on: February 09, 2018, 08:23:34 AM »
It's been a while hasn't it? Man, such a joy to reread this :lol

Here's my review of chapter 6:

This chapter already is up to an amazing start! Obviously, Cera and Topps are pretty down from the events of the previous day but how you resolve their gloomy state of mind is very effective and well done!

The conversation between Tria and Topps had a very natural flow and I love how they were talking about such a serious matter and manage to work things out. It is nice to see how Topps regains his usual demeanor throughout the scene and his speech at the end was marvelous :)

I was half expecting Cera to snap back at her friends but she reacted with softness very unlike of her. Well, who wouldn't smile when your friends bring you stuff you like. ^^spike

And damn, that discussion about the events of the first movie... my heart leapt as I read that part. :DD Those words from Cera about how she blames herself for her mother's death and her regret about insulting Littlefoot's mother way back then... perfect :smile Also nice to see the topic switch to the aspect of their relatives still alive and how much they think about them, yep yep yep.

Also that joke of Cera at the end LMFAO xD

Oi, Chomper's parents? That is an interesting addition to the cast of the story. And Ruby's father seems to be with them as well. Apparently, the ghost thingy does have effects in the Mysterious Beyond as well as in the Sharptooth community. Their conversation was quite intriguing and left many questions open. The overall importance of this scene is not yet clear so I'm looking forward to see how that evolves :yes

...and here's where I got seriously worried about my fellow class mates looking at me weirdly. :spit: The gang are trying to make up some theories about the ghost phenomenon. I didn't give it much thought at first but as soon as I got the implementations of their temporary twist of memories... I knew this would be wicked! And you did not disappoint!  :)littlefoot

Who would have thought the next case would be Sharptooth himself?! And damn he's as scary as ever. You wrote that scene extremely well, also making a few decisions that might not make sense for Sharptooth to do naturally but absolutely work out in the context of this story. He does not fade upon being found out. He can understand leafeater (wonder why) and he even gains more power than he previously possessed during the fight, how awesome (scary?) is that!?  :! His fighting style was very remarkable and unlike what we got to see from the little bits and pieces that didn't get cut. He does not simply fight to take down prey, no... he toys with them as soon as he realizes that they can't hurt him (and even more so once good old Topsy hits a wrong nerve xD). I'll admit I was at the edge and beyond my seat during the whole fight and a character death is very well possible at this point!

Can't wait to see what the gang have up their sleeve this time!  :Mo :Mo :Mo :Mo : Mo
Note to self: finally create that signature lazy bum! :P

DaveTheAnalyzer

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« Reply #56 on: February 09, 2018, 05:58:43 PM »
Thanks for the review. It was a surprise that cheered me up. As for why Cera didn’t snap at her friends, I had her be drained from the trauma, so it would be tiring to remain mad at them all the time. Sometimes a trauma can zap the conflict out of you.

Glad you enjoyed Cera’s discussion about mothers and her complicated feelings on it. That wasn’t originally there, but it popped into my mind and, though I debated if it fit with the plans I have, I put it in there. I liked that kind of emotional moment.

The scene with Chomper’s parents and Ruby’s father served two purposes: 1) to build up Sharptooth’s ominous approach as shown in the end and 2) well…spoilers. Don’t want to say more.

Speaking of Sharptooth, glad he was a surprise. I kind of thought the chapter title might give things away. Glad his scenes were scary and exciting. They were among the first I wrote for the whole story in general, since I was excited for them that much. I edited them to improve them and make them in continuity with the rest of the story as it was written

Look forward to your reaction to the fallout of all this drama in part 2. :)

Ducky123

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« Reply #57 on: February 14, 2018, 08:26:37 AM »
And here are the reviews of the remaining three chapters. Unlike with chapter 6 I didn't take notes as I read so I won't go as much into detail (otherwise this review might reach the length of a shorter chapter :P) besides most things have been pointed out already which I agree with for the most part.

For some reason chapter 8 didn't strike me quite as much as the other two so aside from the touching scene between Littlefoot and his grandparents I really have nothing to point out in particular. It was as solid as the rest of the story so far :)

 As for chapter 7, I could point out so many things, analyse your possible intentions but, in the end, I am just going to say this: That was epic :!

Chapter 9, due to just having finished it (and ranting about how long I'll possibly have to wait for the next installment) is a bit more present so I'll refer to some scenes I guess :P

The new herd seems to be interesting in more than one way. Particularly, the information about the ghost situation confirms what the scene in chp. 6 hinted at already.

Verter seems to be a highly curious pal, reminding me in some ways of Pterano. After all, they are both males with a great sense of adventure and no families to dedicate to (as far as I can tell). He seems to be pretty easygoing and open-minded and also a bit of a child at heart. I certainly do wonder what greater role  he is going to play :yes

Same goes for Patty, I am highly curious what role these new characters might play. She seems to get along well with Littlefoot though we do not need to worry about any romantic relationshios due to the age difference :P

And... that cliffhanger is so eeeeevil ^^spike Really wonder what is going on there. Almost sounded like a rainbowface thing but surely they wouldn't kill?

Can't wait for the next one :DD

DaveTheAnalyzer

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« Reply #58 on: March 03, 2018, 12:21:01 PM »
Thanks for the reviews. I totally wouldn’t mind a review the length of a shorter chapter. You don’t have to do one, especially if it’s draining, but fanficers love even lengthy feedback.

Chapter 7: Yeah. A lot of that epic action I didn’t plot out. I didn’t know what a lot of that action was going to be until shortly before I started writing, when my mind gave me a sequence of events, and I had to write it down in a bracketed summary so I wouldn’t forget.

Chapter 8: The conversation with the grandparents was one of the earliest scenes I wrote for the story. I’m a great fan of writing those heartwarming, family moments and there are many more to come.

Chapter 9: Interesting comparison between Verter and Pterano. I didn’t consider that, but I can see it. Except between the parents, romance was never in the cards anyway, so Littlefoot and Patty would have been platonic even if they were the same age. For certain story reasons, she had to be a teenager. I do have several ideas swarming in my mind where the gang meet OCs of the same species around the same age but for various reasons, no romance happens.

Yeah, evil cliffhanger. Needed someone to kill off do as to spice up this arc and Mr. Clubtail was the one I felt comfortable enough doing it too. Let’s just say it’s not a rainbowface (or alien, if you mean), and I’ll leave it at that. I know the wait is frustrating but there are things I need to keep track of in the next several chapters that need to be ironed out in revisions, so I can’t post them right away. It looks like I might be in for the later April release date but even that might be too optimistic, but we’ll see. On the bright side, I’m considering posting four to six chapters in a row and hopefully that would more than make up for the delay.

Thanks again for reading. Looking forward to your reviews of the next chapters.

Ducky123

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« Reply #59 on: March 04, 2018, 10:55:14 AM »
Sounds good, just take your time :)

Personally, I couldn't just hold back posting several chapters but then again I usually don't find much fault with my chapters once they're written down. You do much more planning than I do and it shows in the quality that you deliver ;)