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rhombus

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The Pursuit of Endless Day
« on: July 30, 2018, 11:43:10 pm »
Good evening, everyone! Though it is still a work in progress, I have decided to post the first chapter of my response to the Gang of Five fanfiction prompt challenge. The prompt for June 2018 was quite different from previous months as for this month each author posted a prompt which was then randomized and given to each author. The particular prompt I am responding to is as follows:

"We've seen a lot of issues of culture and inheritance in LBT, but these things are not always received the same way by the next generation. Whether it's a title, territory, or simply their heritage, depict a character embracing or struggling with something they consider to be their birthright."

In response to this intriguing prompt I have decided to step WAY outside of my comfort zone and confront a subject that is hinted at in the television series but has (to my knowledge) yet to be examined in fanfiction thus far: Petrie's belief in the Bright Circle. I hope that I am able to do this subject justice and, as always, I look forward to your feedback. (:

~Rhombus

(PS: For fans of Mender's Tale I must apologize for the lack of updates lately. Working 60-70 hours a week has really reduced my ability to focus on creative pursuits. However, we should have the next chapter to Mender's Tale ready by 8/2/2018.)


Fanfiction link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13019231/1/The-Pursuit-of-Endless-Day

The Pursuit of Endless Day

Chapter 1: An idea is planted

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”
~Marcus Aurelius


The Bright Circle peered over the horizon like a bashful lover, bathing the barren landscape in brilliant light as if it were as worthy as the most beautiful valley.  Against the collision of pinks and blues in the newborn dawn sky, the brown desolate rocks of the cliffs again made their appearance known, standing defiantly against the arrogant sky.  But the flyer would not pay the cliffs any heed.  He had only one target.

He hurled his body off of the cliff, quickly gaining altitude as his wings greeted the air.  He would either return to this place a flyer worthy of name or he would earn his name in death.

Petrie was anything if not stubborn.

---------

Two years prior:

“What are they doing, Momma?”

Petrie clicked his beak shut as his sister asked the same question that he had on his mind.  Seeing flyers coming and going into the valley was nothing terribly uncommon, as most of their kind were migratory.  But the sight that was before them now was something a bit different.

Just as had happened before another male landed on the top of the bluff, his chest puffed out against the wind in a defiant gesture  as he squinted his eyes against the rising Bright Circle’s dawning light.  Then, with a final deep breath, he launched himself into the air.

Volant nodded and said something that Petrie had never heard before.

“May your wings carry you safely.”

Petrie turned towards his mother curiously.  “Momma?”

The elder flyer shushed her children with a wave of her wing before turning towards one of the other females present.  “I’m sure he will be fine, Argent.”

The female nearly responded grimly.  “None of them return fine.  They either return flyers or they die as flyers.  The Bright Circle will decide, as it always does.”

Petrie watched with equal parts concern and confusion as his mother bowed her head slightly in a show of respect even as her eyes communicated shock.  If the other female had any opinion of his mother’s actions she did not show them as she flew off without fanfare.  It was as if whatever her son was about to do were the most normal thing in the world.

The children all stared at their mother questioningly.  Gone was the annoyance at being woken up too early.  In its place was uncertainty and more than a little fear.

“This is the Pursuit of Endless Day,” she began as if she were reciting something from memory, “It is one of the Old Ways for us flyers.  It is something that most of us have put aside.”

The siblings all looked at one another as Petrie and Valaria shared a look.  For once when Petrie asked a question it matched the sentiments of his siblings perfectly.  “This Old Way look like a scary way!  What… uh… is it?”

Volant took a deep breath.  All that Petrie knew was that whatever this was made his mother as uncomfortable as when she explained to them how hatchlings were made.

“This is kind of like the Great Day of the Flyers, children.  But it is something that we flyers do alone.  It is when some of us fly at the Bright Circle to let it decide if we are worthy or not.”

“Worthy to do what?” One of Petrie’s brothers asked.

Volant looked down at her children darkly.  “Worthy to live.”

Petrie did not resist as he and his siblings huddled together instinctively.  In fact he practically burrowed himself into the resulting pile of flyers.

Volant allowed her children a sad smile as she looked back in the direction where the flyers had taken off.  Now all that remained were a few flyers trying to work one another up to making the challenge.  Some followed the Old Ways, some did not, and some were undecided.

“In past times it was common for our kind of flyer to have all adults fly at the Bright Circle for seven days, only eating and drinking what can be grabbed in flight, and only stopping for sleep.”

Petrie’s head peeked out of the pile in shock.  Seven days?

“How they make it?  Petrie lucky to fly around valley and not be tired.”

“You have to glide, children.” She answered.

“Like Guido?” Valaria asked.

“Like Guido,” Volant confirmed,”The flyers who glide can have enough energy to make the journey, but those who fly with their strength do not last.  A flyer must use their inner strength to pass this challenge.  This is why only half who try the challenge live to talk about it.”

She turned back towards her children.  “And this is why I will not permit any of you children to perform this test.  Not while you are in the nest.”

The children nodded at this and mouthed affirmations as none of them were willing to pursue the challenge from their mother’s description of it. 

“Why people do it then?”

This question made Volant pause for a moment.

“The Pursuit of Endless Day is… was… a way to keep the Bright Circle happy.  It was a way to ensure that those who exist in its sky are worthy of being in it.  But once the lands and skies became so dangerous, most decided that the Bright Circle was already choosing the worthy.”

She rubbed her neck awkwardly, as if debating to say something.  “My mother allowed us to choose if we would do the pursuit.  I did not, but three of my brothers did.  Only one of them remained.”

Petrie’s mouth opened in an agape pose as his mother sighed and lowered her head.  Perhaps in that moment she knew that a decision had already been made.


---------

Petrie struggled to resist the urge to flap his wings as he struggled to gain altitude.  He had wisely gorged himself with food during the season in order to build up his muscles and fat for the appointed week, and he had feasted on the day before for the sake of his journey.  At best it would provide him with the extra reserves he would need.  At worst it would make for a fine last meal.

But this created the special problem of maintaining altitude when his weight-laden body seemed to long to return to the ground below.  Thank goodness the Bright Circle decided to hold this test during the hottest time of the Warm Season.

He carefully turned his head, being mindful to not lose too much altitude due to his loss of optimal flight posture, as he inspected the air around him.  In front of him was the long valley of the north, covered in lush vegetation which both served as an enticing reminder of what he was leaving and a sign that no thermal uplift would be found there.  To his right stood the high bluffs, periodically erupting with high mountains which would obstruct any prolonged flight.  To his left, meanwhile, was exactly what he was looking for. 

He turned his wings towards the left, aiming for the flat plateau of the north.  From here he could glide in the direction of the rising Bright Circle and hopefully find his target for the first day. 

Once more he would have to find the Night Flower.  And then it would be time to find the Big Water beyond.

His wings ached already.

---------

Two years prior:

“Are you insane, Petrie?”

“I do not want you to do it, oh no, no, no!”

In retrospect Petrie should have expected this reaction.  It was one thing to talk about having a feast to please the Bright Circle and quite another to mention a bunch of flyers flying until they drop.  In some cases literally.

“Well, um, Petrie not say he do it!” the small flyer defended as he raised a wing defensively, “Me just say it something that momma tell him about.”

He was more than a little surprised when the head of the body he was resting on came into his vision, occluding everything else.

Littlefoot was surprisingly scary when he titled his neck like that.

“We would have an easier time believing you, Petrie, if you hadn’t bragged about Pterano passing the test for half the morning.”

“As if something that idiot does is worth of imitating.”

That did it.  Before he knew what he was doing he was flying directly at Cera’s face.

“You take that back!  Uncle make mistakes, but he not idiot!”

Had he not been enraged at the moment he would have promptly thought better of his choice and gone back to the safety of his friend’s long neck.  However anger makes us do the silliest things sometimes.

As Cera blew in Petrie’s direction, causing him to tumbled end over end in the air, he could literally feel his ego deflate as soon as it arose.  In many ways him colliding into Spike’s flank was the logical result of the events of the day.

“Guys, do not fight!  We do not need that!” Ducky exclaimed as she walked in from of Petrie’s layed out body on the back of Spike’s thigh.  Then, almost as an afterthought, she helped him back to the ground.  It wasn’t until Spike licked him that he became vocal again.

“Urgh… me okay, but me just not know why this happen!  It good to be brave, but why Bright Circle have to choose?  Just not make egg in first place.”

Littlefoot nodded at Petrie’s logical deduction but unfortunately a certain threehorn spoke first.

“Maybe it’s just another stupid flyer thing.”

The longneck closed his eyes. “Well you give it a rest, Cera?  We all have our own ways and wisdoms, and Petrie said that some of his kind do not follow this wisdom.”

“And there is probably wisdom in not following that wisdom,” Ruby pointed out as she joined in the conversation, “I wonder if that is how flyers prevented there being too many flyers.”

“They could just ask for help from sharpteeth, I am sure they would be willing to deal with that problem.” Cera retorted.

“What’s eating you, Cera?” Chomper finally interrupted, offering the threehorn an annoyed expression, “It’s not like Petrie said he is going to do this.”

Petrie watched with barely restrained annoyance as Cera stood resolute against the collective glare of her friends.  Finally, after a sigh, she relented ever so slightly as she broke eye contact.

“Yes, but you-” she nodded at the flyer, “...are thinking about it, aren’t you?”

Petrie opened up his mouth to deny the accusation but her glare made him think better of it.  She had seen right through him.

“Petrie?” Ducky prompted.

He squirmed.  “Well… Petrie think about it a little.”

The reaction was as inevitable as it was overwhelming.

“Petrie!”

Petrie grew silent as he took to the air briefly and landed on Spike, considering his response.

“There is no reason to do something like this, Petrie.  You said that your mom doesn’t do the Old Ways, so you could do her ways instead,” Ruby noted.

“Yeah!  Her ways probably won’t get you eaten!” Chomper added excitedly before cringing a bit under Cera’s accusatory glare.

“Why do you even want to do this?” Littlefoot asked in amazement.

An oppressive silence held for several moments as Petrie lowered his head and tried to think.  Tried as he might he could not put his confused thoughts and motivations into words.

Surprisingly, from Petrie’s perspective, it was Cera who actually understood.

“You have nothing to prove, Petrie.  You are what you are.  Just be happy with that.”

Cera scraped her foot on the ground feigning disinterest before she again looked up at her friends.  What greeted her then was every single one of them staring at her in surprise with Ruby tilting her head at her as if she were some weird unknown specimen and not the arrogant threehorn that they all knew and loved.

“Hmph!  Enough of this Pursue the Bright Light nonsense!  Let’s play something before we get called to lunch!”

The gang did not hesitate to accept Cera’s escape route for what it was - an attempt to save face.  Within moments shouts of “pinecone” confirmed that a game had been set as each moved into their respective teams.  But despite the situation shifting from what had came before Petrie could not stop thinking about her friend’s words.

Did Cera see some of her kind in this ritual?  And, if so, why did that frighten her?


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

Petrie allowed himself to feel confident as his body sailed across the unseen air like a leaf speeding down a speedy river.  Now that he was faced with the plateaus of northern bluffs he could relax and allow his body to glide under the Bright Circle’s welcoming radiance.

A radiance that was quickly burning his back.

Forcing his eyes on the distant horizon, he ignored the discomfort to the best of his ability.  He had intentionally glided in the heat for the better part of a season to prepare himself for the big challenge.  It was now that the training was paying off.

Me need to find a Night Flower… and then me find watcher.  But me hope Petrie find cloud first!

But the sky was as blue as could be without a cloud in sight.  It was the first sign Petrie had that the Bright Circle was prepared to be a harsh judge.

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

Two years prior:

Cera poked her head out of the warm mud with a satisfied grunt as the annoyances of the day began to fade away.  Her nieces and nephews… her friends... her father’s usual stubborness… her friends… the fact that someone took her share of the sweet bubbles… her friends...

Okay, it was mainly her friends.

She grunted in annoyance as the little voice in her head interrupted again.  That one that forced her to give a crap about their silly problems.  The one that reminded her that threehorns were not always as awesome as they said they were.  The one that she made sure never spoke out loud.

Though it kind of did today.

“Hmph… Darn it Petrie!  Why did you beak-heads have to take a lesson from our stories?”

And there it was.  It was times like this that Cera was glad that she thought about such things in this place where no one could overhear.  The last thing she would want to do is explain something like this to Petrie, Ducky, or…

“Ah, so that’s what it was.”

Or, darn it, the flathead.

She tilted her head to look at the newcomer as the shadow from his massive neck appeared like one of the numerous trees around the mudhole.  The fact that he had managed to get this far without her noticing was a testament to just how distracted she truly was.  Though as the longneck proceeded to walk into her muddy abode her annoyance at her own absentmindedness turned into amusement at the farce she was seeing.  Littlefoot’s longneck physique towered over the mud even as the adolescent he was, with his belly not even reaching the level of the mud.

“Since when did this thing shrink on me?” Littlefoot asked with an amused tilt to his neck.

Cera rolled her eyes.  “I think it was about the time you got big enough to devour entire trees, Littlefoot.  The only way you could fit in here is…”

She never got the chance to finish as the mud in the mud pool gushed in all directions as the bulk of the longneck plopped down into its warm depths.  In the end she was completely covered in fresh mud.

“Ah… that’s better!”

He was rewarded with a retaliatory splash of mud, covering his arrogant flathead face in dark mud.  The laughter, when it came a few seconds later, was genuine from both of them.

Despite the levity, Cera decided to preempt the longneck’s question.

“I mean… I can see why the beak-faces have a Day of the Flyers, they have to fly… but why do they have something that gets a lot of them killed?” Cera half-spat, half-sighed, “I know why we threehorns have stuff like that - we have to be tough!  But he’s just a beak-face.”

Littlefoot gave her a smile.  “Worried he will take some of the glory?”

Cera noted that the longneck’s neck was surprisingly nimble as he dodged her resulting splash of mud in his direction.

“No, you flathead!  It’s, well, I mean he could die.”

The levity suddenly ended at those words as the two dinosaurs shared a look.  Despite the jokes and the usual banter, they both knew what the spiketail in the sleeping area was.

“He could,” Littlefoot nodded, “But then again either of us could of in our tests…”

Cera shook the mud off of her back to expose a scar, hmphing with pride as she did so.  “I was not aware that longneck’s had to fight to show they were tough enough to be an adult in the herd.”

She watched as the longneck offered her a slight smile before suddenly frowning.

“I had to climb up a steep hill to show that I was strong in the Big Longneck Test… and a fall could have broken my neck.  Okay, finding the hidden treestar in the second test was not the biggest risk… but my Dad suggesting that I had to find a way across the melted rocks was.”

Cera sputtered, “He did what?”

He nodded.  “The Big Longneck Test requires that longnecks show good judgement…”

Cera snorted. “So your dad failed then?”

Littlefoot continued as if she had not spoken, “So I had to come to the realization that it was foolish to try to get across the melted rock… which I did.  But what if I hadn’t?  Dad said that he was going to stop me before I tried… but what if he wasn’t quick enough?”

Cera grew silent as that horrible thought registered in her mind.

“I think this is where you make a comment about roasted longneck or something…”

He couldn’t dodge the mud this time.

“This isn’t funny!  You could have died!  And so could Petrie if he decides to do that stupid thing to make the stupid Sky Ball happy!”

“And you could have been hurt too,” Littlefoot noted softly, “We longnecks and threehorns have the most expected of us… so we have to be prepared.  I guess it is the same when flyers have to migrate from place to place.”

Cera nodded, sighing heavily.  “Well… Petrie is here.  So we will need to convince him to not do that stupid test when it is time.”

“And do you think we will be successful?”

Cera did not answer immediately as she arched her head upwards to meet the humid afternoon air.  In the distance and not safe from her gaze were the retreating forms of several flyers, undoubtedly going about their daily routine.  It was both a reminder of how carefree flyers could be in the valley and a warning for what Petrie could risk losing.  Despite her usual bravado her answer when whispered was as honest of an assessment as she had ever given.

“I don’t know.”

---------

Petrie struggled to keep himself level as the heat continued to bear down on his unprotected back.  Against the merciless glare of the Bright Circle there was no opening for escape or respite.  No cloud resided in the brilliant blue sky and no attempt at changing his position relative to the harsh afternoon daylight would work.  He had a schedule to keep.

As his right wing quivered he looked at it accustatorily.  You not fail Petrie now!  Me still have long way to go!

The wing appeared to heed Petrie’s harsh rebuke as it steadied, quickly leveling Petrie’s flight path.  However the incident confirmed something that the flyer would not admit aloud.  If he did not find some kind of shelter soon then he would be in dire straits.

He eyed the river below. 

Doing a brief dip in the river, only long enough to cool the wings and then to take off again, was an enticing option in the midday heat.  However it would take his wings at least several minutes to dry, and each minute lost was a chance for exhaustion to take its toll.  Using the energy needed to go down to the river would undo countless moments of advantage he had gained by merely letting the thermals do his work for him.

No.  Me not risk that.  Me not drink or rest until Land of Mists.

He allowed himself to look towards the distant horizon.  Just where the sky met the ground making distant vistas appear to reach for the blue void, he saw the first sight that gave him some measure of relief.  It was the slightest hint of haze.

Though he would not reach it until nightfall at his current speed, it was the first confirmation that he was on the right track.  He had found the Land of Mists.

---------

Two years prior:


“Oh yeah!  Well, I could make the trip in six days!”

Valaria watched as her brothers proceeded to outdo one another in their boasting.  The possibility of the Pursuit of Endless Day for self-promotion and the attraction of girl flyers appeared to be the only aspect of what they had witnessed that morning which interested them.

“Ha!  Yeah right, Grondo!  You would be one of the ones that never return.  You can’t fly yourself around the valley without getting winded.”

Grondo puffed out his chest in a display that would have made any adult laugh at the attempt.  “I will make it!  You’re just worried about competition.  It isn’t like any of you other losers are even going to try it.”

This made the four other males jump into the circle of agitated flyers.  Each of them shouting out their own laughable judgement of their abilities and how all of the others were losers.

Finally she had enough.

“Many of those who flew today will die.  Maybe you beak-brains should use your beaks to honor them instead of spreading spiketail dung about yourselves.”

Had she hoped to knock some sense into them then those hopes were dashed immediately as they greeted the new entrant into their circle with the same insults they were sharing amongst themselves.

Grondo smirked.  “Heh… it looks like sis wants to do the thing too.  She must think her looks won’t be enough when she goes looking for a strong male!”

Brasko fired back, seeing an opening.  “She’s probably is in it for the Bright Circle crap, just like Petrie.”

What happened next was a blur to the female as all of the banter around her disappeared into a haze of muffled voices and nonsensical sounds.  The only thing that focused in her vision against the darkness of the nest was her brother’s insufferably smug face.  By the time that she struck it with a firm swipe of her wing, all of the other siblings were scrambling to avoid her wrath.

“You guys can go get lost!”

Valaria gave her brothers an exaggerated swipe of her wing for emphasis as she proceeded to move to the edge of the bluff in preparation to take flight.  Sometimes their immaturity knew no bounds.  No one stopped her as she escaped the turmoil of the nest with a single burst of her wings.  Within moments she was within the realm of the clouds.

‘Sometimes my brothers can be so insufferably stupid!  I know that they feel fear and sadness, so why do they not get what some of the other flyers are going through right now?  Some mothers will be left without their children.’

It was when she noticed that she was looking down upon the clouds that she realized that she had lost herself in her rage and confusion.  Feeling somewhat embarrassed she curled her wings close to her body and proceeded to shed altitude.  The last thing that she needed was for her mother to think that she had flown out of the valley.  She assumed that her brother would keep the shame of being hit by a girl to himself, but fleeing the valley would earn her a grounding if it was suspected.  Within a few moments she had flown back through the clouds and the valley’s verdant utopia was again firmly in sight.

She sighed.  ‘At least Petrie wasn’t there to hear it this time.  I wonder if he is playing with his friends again today or…’

Wordlessly she shifted her wings so as to follow the usual thermals along the desolate bluffs to the highest part of the rock wall, the Spire.  The farthest that the little flyers were permitted to go and also the highest point of the valley itself.  The closest ground to the Bright Circle’s domain.

When the distant vista of the Spire came into view she smiled slightly at her intuition.  Against the impossibly tall slender spear of rock, rising into the sky like a thing tail, was a very out of place brown blemish.  As she approached closer she could clearly see the smallest hint of green leaves and a single stick.  It could only be Petrie.

---------

Petrie scrambled to get the leaves in something approaching order as the wind continued its assault on his efforts.  Ultimately, after losing three previous mouthfuls of leaves that he had deposited on the rock, he decided to place small rocks on them to slow their descent off of the rock.  Though he knew it was futile, perhaps they would stay long enough for him to say his piece to the magnificent orb in the sky.

He looked down at his handiwork.  Before his small feet stood four wrinkled treestars that he had acquired one at a time from the valley below, each being held in place by pebbles.  Beside them was the only object of value, his snuggling stick, though he knew it was only personally valuable to him.  In times like this he really hoped that his mother’s stories about this was true.  That the Bright Circle looked at effort and intent, and not mere deeds.

He cleared his throat awkwardly.  He had heard of people talking to the Bright Circle before.  In his mother’s stories it usually happened right before the climax of the story, before the flyer either had his happy ending or a tragic one.  A sign that the Bright Circle sometimes said ‘no’.  But one could not have an answer unless one asked.

He rubbed his head.  And then there was the matter of how to ask.  Sure, he had simply looked the the Bright Circle before and said stuff like it was another dinosaur or flyer, but this was different.  There were lives on the line, and he didn’t want his puny efforts to make it worse.  The Bright Circle was the Bright Circle, and he was merely a young flyer with much to learn.

He lowered his eyes in a mixture of sadness and uncertainty.  Well… his best efforts would have to do on this day.

“Um… hello, Bright Circle.  It’s me, Petrie!  Me know you already know that and can see me, but me want to talk with you if you have time.”

There was no obvious answer to his words as the Bright Circle appeared unmoved.  The winds did not deviate from their course, and the earth did not shake like in the stories.  It was almost like the Bright Circle was not inclined to answer him at all.

“Me never ask something like this of you before, but Petrie try his best…” he closed his beak as he thought of the words he had planned ever since the events of the morning, “The flyers who leave today are brave.  And they fly towards you to be accepted by you.  Me…” he cringed, “I know they not do that unless they love you.  Please give them a chance.  And, if there anything Petrie can do to help, let Petrie know.”

Not quite knowing what to do next, Petrie merely bowed his head and took a few steps back.  By the time he looked up again another wind gust had arrived, sending his four leaves and his stick falling to the ground below.  He barely resisted the urge to go after them.

‘Sometimes the Bright Circle takes away.”

“Petrie?”

The little flyer nearly went airborne as he flapped his wings in surprise.  By the time he landed Valaria had already raised her wings apologetically.

“I was not on the rock until you finished,” she clarified quickly, “I would not interfere with that.”

Petrie allowed himself to catch his breath as he quickly dropped the glare from his expression.  Raging at his sister for the Bright Circle’s decision would accomplish nothing.  If what the Bright Circle had said was true then things would not go well for some of the flyers.  The dropping of the leaves and his stick were obvious to him - they would have no food or shelter.

“The Bright Circle make its decision,” he said in a morose tone as if he were eulogizing the dead.  “It take snuggling stick and treestars, so no food or help for them.  Me… I don’t think many make it.”

For a moment it looked like his sister was going to say something, but then she clicked her beak shut with an audible sound.  Instead she moved closer to the edge of the bluff and looked down at where the snuggling stick had fallen moments before.

“Well, sometimes the Bright Circle says things that we might misinterpret.”

Petrie’s head shot back up, “What?”

Valaria gestured at the bluffs below.  “Your snuggle stick dropped, yes, but maybe that means that the Bright Circle thinks you are growing up?  You did say “I” for it and did all of this by yourself.” She walked over and placed a wing on his shoulder. “How long have you been setting this up, Petrie?”

Petrie rubbed his head. “Well, since pinecone game end before midday meal.”

Valaria covered her beak. “For that long?  Petrie, it is almost time to go back to the nest.  You have been doing this for nearly the entire day.”

Petrie shrugged.  “It for Bright Circle.  Me do it for another day if it want.  But Petrie not sure what it want really.”

--------

Valaria sighed, not exactly knowing what to say.  She didn’t want to contradict his views as she honestly had no idea the intentions of the Bright Circle, but she also did not want to leave her brother wallowing in despair for an outcome that might very well not happen. 

She finally decided on changing the subject.  “I wish that our brothers would talk to the Bright Circle more instead of talking about themselves.  You’re over here trying to help those flyers, and they are busy gabbing about how awesome they are and how the others are going to die when they try the ritual.”

She did not know what to expect from her brother really.  Anger?  Confusion?  Annoyance?  Those were all emotions that captured her perspective quite well.  When Petrie did speak, however, it made her stare at him open-beaked in shock.

“It because they afraid.  Me afraid too.”

Valaria started at him for several moments.  What?

Petrie shrugged.  “Brothers always talk big when they’re afraid.  Remember when they meet Chomper?  But Petrie… Petrie act more like scaredy egg.” He gestured down at the bluffs below before shuddering. “Clutch snuggling stick.  Talk to Bright Circle.”

“What you call acting like a Scaredy Egg I call acting like an adult,” Valaria soothed,  “At least you accept what happened?  They were just gabbing while I…”

‘While I did nothing but think sad thoughts.’

Petrie now seemed a bit lost in his own thoughts as he did not notice her self-recriminating pause.  That was when she looked at the barren rocks on the top of the Spire.  The treestars had fallen, but the pebbles Petrie had gathered remained.  As if they were waiting to hold something new.

‘Petrie thinks too much of little things, but perhaps I think too little of them.’

“Petrie, I am going to get some tree stars. Would you… um…”

Petrie looked up at her.

“...show me how to do this talking to the Bright Circle thing?  I don’t want to make a bad impression.”

--------

For the entirety of the long afternoon Petrie had longed for the coming of twilight and the end to his wing’s misery.  When it finally came though it merely allowed him to fully experience the ravages of the day.  Where once had been burning now was a dull throbbing.  Where once had been fatigue now was exhaustion.

And now the misty lasts below him had settled into the long shadows and mysterious fog that he remembered from his childhood.  Though at least now he was mostly safe if he stayed off of the ground and stayed in the trees.

Mostly safe.

Settling upon a vine covered tree, he allowed its already overburdened branches to sway under his weight.  Once his wings finally had a chance to stop he felt the fatigue truly set in.

He jerked himself upright to force himself to stay awake.  He had to stay awake long enough to see the Night Flower and give it to the watcher of this place… and then he could finally retire for the night.

“There are some over there; do you see them?”

Petrie jerked again, privately berating himself for nearly falling asleep again.  That was when he saw the person who had spoken to him.  It was an elderly flyer on the branch below.

Petrie looked around to try to see what the flyer was getting at.  It wasn’t until he shook his head that the flyer gestured towards a plant in his beak before he again sat it down.

“I used to live here back before the mists took the place.  Now it doesn’t see the Bright Circle’s love anymore, not much of it, anyway.”

“You’re the watcher for this place?” Petrie inquired, “Petrie thought the watcher for each place not help.  Only other testers help if they want.”

The elder flyer laughed heartily before his laughs were overtaken by a cough which lasted for several seconds.  Long enough for Petrie to grow concerned.

When the flyer looked back up, however, none of the mirth had left his features.  “I’m a tester, young one.  Never did this as a youngster, but since the coughing sickness already has me… I would rather go out big than coughing on a bluff, you know?”

Petrie opened his beak in shock at the words of the elder.  He had never heard of anyone except the young and strong making this journey, but he had heard of a final flight.  Not knowing what to do he bowed his head in respect.

“Ergh… don’t get all soppy on me now, kid.  You’re supposed to save that for after I drop dead.  Probably some time on day three if I had to guess.”

Petrie couldn’t help himself as he glided down to the old one’s branch. “How can you joke about that?”  Then, seeing the indicated flower that had fallen during the old flyer’s coughing fit, Petrie quickly flew down to retrieve it for him.

When he returned with the fallen plant, the old flyer had landed on Petrie’s branch and deposited a new plant on it.  “Decided I liked your branch better.”

All Petrie could do at this point was tilt his head at the antics of the, by his own admission, dying flyer.  A flyer who most certainly looked more rested and upbeat than himself.  Finally feeling defeated by the crazy antics of the other flyer and his own fatigue, he merely lowered his head respectfully, sadness and confusion obvious in his features.

“What’s your name, kid?”

Petrie looked up.  Had it been anyone else he would have protested the ‘kid’ label as he had grown into his own.  “Petrie, sir.”

“Well, my name ain’t ‘sir’; it’s Knacker.  But if there is one thing that I have learned in life it is that the Bright Circle helps those who help themselves… and others,” The elder looked at another tall tree in the distance which Petrie followed with his eyes, “You see that tree a ‘yonder?”

Petrie nodded.  “Petrie does.”

“It has several young ones from my flock.  Now I never really followed the Old Ways much myself, but old Andrea always was different.  She sent her entire clutch out here.  The more that I help with the petty stuff, finding flowers and special rocks, the more they can focus on not starvin’ or getting eaten by something else that’s starvin’.”

Petrie covered his face slightly, feigning dust in his now moist eyes. “That’s mighty kind of you.”

The old flyer shrugged his shoulders.  “You mind I ask something might big of you?”

Petrie nodded and forced his eyes to remain open.  He already owed this old flyer much.

“Keep an eye out after the third day.  The last stretch is when things get rough.”

Knacker smiled before nodding in the direction of the sky.

Petrie looked up just in time to see an older flyer with a red treestar in its beak.  It was the watcher for the Land of Mists.

He let out a warning call which made the flyer circle back and land on Petrie’s branch.  The large female almost dwarfed him in size as she lowered her head to get a good look at him.

“Ah, and we have the lone valley flyer this season.  Well met, young Petrie.  You found the Night Flowers before they even opened.  You familiar with this place?”

Petrie was a bit taken aback.  “Me be here as a kid once… but Knacker point out the flowers for me.”

The elder female looked up at the branch above as the long shadow of the male began to cast itself on the branches below.  She allowed him a soft smile, her eyes tinged with some measure of sadness.

“I can lead you to the rest of the flock, Knacker.  You went a bit off course.  They are on the tree over there.”

Knacker laughed before a cough interrupted his amusement.  “Nah, the Bright Circle led me to where I needed to go.”

“The Bright Circle is down.  It is nighttime,” she deadpanned.

Knacker shrugged.  “Silly me; it’s what I get for flying with my night blindness.  Lead the way, miss.”

Petrie opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out as the two flyers took off into the night.

“T’was a pleasure to meet you, Petrie!”

And just like that they were both gone.  A watcher to confirm his presence on this first setpoint of the journey, and an old flyer whose eyes had long-since faded in the darkness of night.  A flyer who truly could only see when the Bright Circle showed him the way.

Petrie looked down at his night flower plant as it lay beside his feet.  An obvious question plastered in his mind on what was already an exhausting day.  How could Knacker see him or the night flowers in this near-darkness?

The Bright Circle was not around to answer, having more sensibly gone to sleep at the usual time and allowing its lesser brother take watch over the skies.  As a result when the severed plant at his feet finally opened the petals of its now-dead flower, showering him and the tree in its eerie light.  The words of the elder flyer echoed within his mind.

“...the Bright Circle helps those who help themselves… and others.”




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

DiddyKF1

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Re: The Pursuit of Endless Day
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2018, 10:31:55 am »
This is a very interesting read. I am very intrigued to see how Petrie will get through this journey that seems like a death sentence for some. You've really interested me with these stories about how Petrie and the other Flyers have these unique beliefs that nobody else has. To them, it's like the Bright Circle is the "God" of the dinosaur age.

The films showed us a lot about the traditions of Longnecks and Threehorns (somewhat), but all we've really seen from the Flyers is the Great Day of the Flyers, and nothing more. We really should see more stories that do justice to old Flyer traditions that we never got to see in the films.
My fanfics:
Love is an Adventure
Waters Rise, Illness Flies
A Swim of Silence
A Swimmer's Sad Secret
A Broken Family
The Hurting of Desire
Secret Love

"It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices." -Albus Dumbledore


Sovereign

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Re: The Pursuit of Endless Day
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2018, 02:59:15 pm »
Now this seems like a strong entry for the challenge. The premise of Petrie heading on a journey like this to prove his worth to the Bright Circle he has respected for so long is an awesome one. Even if this fic is still unfinished, I still enjoyed the progression of the flyer’s journey as well as the events that led him to embark on a seemingly crazy challenge such as this. The way this idea is introduced to him and his siblings was one that despite his mother’s efforts to warn her offspring, one of them would obviously remember into adulthood.

And the following discussions with the Gang showed how Petrie’s doubts of himself turned into a desire to truly show that he’s in no ways inferior to his brothers and sisters. The Gang seemed to accept his idea rather easily but I guess it was because Petrie was just floating the idea in that scene, not actually proposing it yet. Littlefoot’s later words to Cera, though, were rather optimistic as the chance he had died in the Longneck Test were a bit lower than in Petrie’s case. Later on, his attempts to talk to the Bright Circle and his words to Valaria (nice to see her again, too) show just how much the flyer doubts himself and just why he has embarked on a flight like this.

Anyway, it’s nice to see another short story from you and this promises to probably be your strongest one this year. The numerous motives and the great storytelling were established marvelously and I’m sure things will get only more intense the closer Petrie’s challenge gets to its end. Great work with this story thus far!

rhombus

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Re: The Pursuit of Endless Day
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2019, 06:15:58 pm »
*Rhombus pokes story with a stick*

Alright, it turns out this story is still alive. :p The necessary inspiration to continue this story has finally returned to me so I am glad to report that this tale and Mender's Tale will have priority for the remainder of the year. :) As I mentioned before this story is both an experiment and a challenge for me as I am doing two things which are outside of my comfort zone: address religion in a story (albeit one that is basically LBT canon to some extent) and use Petrie as a main character in a story. As such I welcome any feedback that you may have. And, as always, thanks for reading!

This chapter also constitutes my entry for the December 2018 Gang of Five Fanfic Prompt Challenge. This challenge entailed using any one of the following:

One word prompt: Belief (x)

Dialogue Prompt: "Some things you see with your eyes, others you see with your heart."

Major Prompt: Religious or not, we all have beliefs or certainties that sustain us, even in our most desperate moments. Write a story showcasing a character relying on his/her beliefs, morals, or philosophy to overcome an obstacle or hardship.


------

Fanfiction.net link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13019231/2/The-Pursuit-of-Endless-Day

Chapter 2: A tentative peace


“Little did I know that today was only the start of everything getting very, very much worse.”
― Gabrielle Williams, My Life as a Hashtag


The flyer groaned as the warm moist air of the swamp settled into his nostrils, blanketing his beak and body under their opaque haze.  Like a cloud overtaking the Bright Circle in their wake only obfuscation remained.  But as the expansive void of the evening gave way to the faintest light of the dawn, their appearance only served to delay what on any other day would be a welcome sight: the coming of the Bright Circle.

The flyer’s breathing became heavier, more labored under the shapeless forms that obstructed the air.  With each inhalation of breath the sound of gasping became more and more pronounced.  Until finally something spasmed deep in the elder flyer’s chest.

Knacker rose as if kicked by an unseen attacker as his beak opened wide in a silent scream.  To any outside observer it would have appeared that the elderly flyer were imitating a hatchling begging his mother for food, a flyer’s first tentative steps into the race of life.  But as his chest heaved twice in silent agony, the truth showed itself as if mocking the cycle of life itself.  For this was not a hatchling entering life, this was an elder preparing to leave it.

A final heave of the chest finally broke the silence as wet gurgling finally echoed from his body, followed by a pained wheeze.  This was followed by another heave of the chest and the sound of strangled breathing, giving way to pained coughs.  Each one garbled as if coming from a bellydragger under the water’s depths.  Finally, after a tolerable amount of phlegm had liberated itself from his lungs, the flyer could collapse and allow himself to resume his pained respirations.

Knacker lay there for several minutes.  Only his pained breathing and his racing heart were there to keep him company.

Or so he thought.  As the pained breathing gave way to his usual labored respirations he became aware of a shadow lingering over him.  Heh… guess the Night Circle decided to save me the job.  Could’ve been considerate and got Knacker before all of that!

But as the shadow did not say anything or move, Knacker gave it a closer look.  The clear elongated forms of two wings and a beak confirmed to him that the Night Circle was not here to take him away. 

His eyes finally focused when several sweet bubbles were deposited in front of him.  This allowed him to take a look at his companion’s concerned face.

“It’s not catchable if that’s what yer worried about!” he spoke in a ragged voice, though filled with mirth, “It’s one of those old flyer sicknesses that eventually off us.  Coughin’ sickness, head sickness, sharpteeth…” as if to punctuate his point he was overtaken by another coughing spell, which this time was mercifully less violent.

“Momma said that her momma died of head sickness.  Well, she would have if she not do her final flight.”

Knacker spit up the last of the obstructive fluid from his beak as he nodded.  Aye, kid.  You know what I’m doing then.

Knacker cleared his throat.  “Don’t tell the young ‘uns, but I plan to make mine tomorrow.”

Silence fell over the duo for several moments as the pronouncement seemed to take on a finality that it hadn’t had before.  The old flyer had known exactly what he was doing on this flight and so did his nephews, but he had never decided upon the hour of his doom.  The odd calmness that suddenly fell upon him gave him pause.  It was as if knowing when his body could quit gave it the resolve to keep on going until then.  Its labors would be done soon enough.

When Petrie did speak it was on a totally different topic.

“Petrie already get the others up.  We got these sweet bubbles for you…”

It was then that several things became apparent to Knacker in rapid succession: Number one, Petrie was doing his best not to meet the old geezer in the eyes; number two, if the sweet bubble juice of his beak was any indication then the others had already eaten; and number three…

“Oh, Tarpits and Sky Fire!  You young uns’ should’ve woke old Knacker up!  No reason for all of you to wait on me!”

Petrie rubbed his head as he looked at the sky in the distance.  “It no problem, Petrie used to getting up early… me think Knacker want to talk with nephews today.”

Knacker’s eyes fell upon the other flyer one more time as he noted the clear signs of fatigue already present.  Petrie had sacrificed a longer sleep period for himself to benefit the others.  A manifestation of piety in a challenge that was in itself a test of that quality.

Looks like I chose well.

“Thank you, Petrie.  But don’t you go worrin’ about Knacker tomorrow!  Unlike old Knacker here you want to live through this thing and that means gettin’ sleep.  Because no one gets sleep on the way back,” he placed one wing over the younger flyer’s shoulder, almost entirely covering him, “You understand what Old Knacker is saying?”

The younger flyer merely nodded, not daring to speak.  Knacker removed his wing in understanding of the younger flyer.  It was hard enough facing one’s mortality when another openly proclaimed it.  But for Knacker the dedication and respect was enough.

“Uncle Knacker, you’re up!”

The old flyer turned to greet the newcomers before giving Petrie a finally knowing nod.  A confirmation of the secret and the bond that now extended between them.

It’s too late for old Knacker; you worry about these young uns’, young un.

---------

Several hours later:

Petrie allowed his wings to fully extend in the late morning air.  In the radiant light of the Bright Circle he could feel the warm air greeting the underside of his wings like a silent promise.  A gift from his benefactor, allowing him to persist in the air without the single flap of a wing.

But his mind was elsewhere at the moment.

He allowed his eyes to focus on the group in front of him.  Though still mostly a stranger to them, the five young adults were the closest thing to similarly aged companion that Petrie had on this flight.  They were obviously a few years older than him, but still young enough to be rough around the edges.

And then there was Knacker.

The old flyer had obviously lived a life that made Petrie’s still brief foray into the living world a brief afterthought in comparison.  A life that more than likely involved mates, children, and many migrations to lands that Petrie had only heard about at this point.  But that life was now flying to the end of its course.  Part of Petrie’s mind morbidly speculated about how such a thing was done.  Did one merely intentionally run into the ground at full speed?  Did one tempt a sharptooth?  Despite his mind’s speculations, Petrie really did not want to know.  He just wanted to be sure that Knacker’s end, when it came, was quick and merciful.

No one deserved to go through what he had witnessed that morning.

“You seem awfully quiet today.”

Petrie did not turn his head, but instead allowed his eyes to shift towards the flyer who had slowed down enough to catch up with his glide.  It was Verpos, one of the older flyers.

“Yeah, um… me just thinking.”

The elder snorted as he shifted his wings slightly, allowing his velocity to again match Petrie’s. 

“The pursuit allows a lot of time to think.  But one must be careful not to get too lost in them.  Regrets are no use out he...”

“Petrie regret nothing,” he responded in a cold monotone, even catching him by surprise.  In the resulting silence Petrie decided to clarify his response.  “This something Petrie had to do.”

The elder’s right eye locked onto Petrie’s for one moment before the head slightly bobbed.  “Of course.  When the Bright Circle calls us then it is not for us to reject its summons.  It is just surprising that it called one so young.”

“Careful wastin’ energy on talking!  You can’t blab your way back home!” one of the other flyers mocked playfully before doing a rolling maneuver around the entire group of flyers.

Verpos snorted as he gave Petrie a nod and then repeated the rolling maneuver.  “Doesn’t mean that I can’t try, Ulan!”

“Joy for us,” Knacker deadpanned as several of his nephews laughed.  Despite the slight annoyance on display, the maneuvers were a clear sign that morale was high.  Petrie knew that they would need it for the days ahead.  Especially the three-day long retreat from the Bright Circle.  It was easy to hold one’s head up high when one had sleep and food.

Petrie suppressed a sigh despite sharing a smile at the antics of the others.  As a younger kid he would have imagined doing this journey out of pure devotion to the Bright Circle.  But it was amazing how fast things could change over a few years.

---------

Two years ago:

The sweet bubble appeared to stare at the flyer, its red skin shining in the Bright Circle like a round gem.  Its enticing appearance and sweet fragrance appeared to mock the small flyer as he flapped his wings just to maintain his hovering near the target.  It was enough to make the flyer click his beak in annoyance.

You not get away from Petrie!

Narrowing his eyes, Petrie again slammed himself into the stubborn sweet bubble.  He forced his wings to flap like he was fighting against a strong gail and practically imbedded his beak into the fruit to forcefully dislodge it from its arboreal prison, but yet it refused to move.

That was when everything suddenly lurched as the sound of Sky Fire erupted around him.  He barely had a moment to celebrate the realization that the fruit had finally been dislodged until he realized a problem that he should have foreseen: he was still attached to the fruit.

With panic building he pushed his wings against the fruit, struggling to dislodge his beak from his adversary.  But it was to no avail.  The sweet bubble would have its revenge against the predator that had taken it down.  In the end Petrie couldn’t even give one final scream.

It was at this point that he landed on someone’s yellow hide.

“It looked like you needed some help so I rammed the tree.”

Petrie barely registered the voice as his vision slowly cleared.  As it did so several things became apparent.  For one, most of the sweet bubbles that had previously been on the tree now had fallen to the ground below.  And second he was now entirely covered in red goo.

So much for Petrie finally getting sweet bubble.  Me just not strong.

“Great.  Now Petrie look like something Chomper want to eat.”

He felt the resulting ‘hrmph’ as much as he heard it.  “Petrie, I think you always look like something Chomper wants to eat.”

Petrie merely groaned as he rolled over like a fallen treestar upon Cera’s back.  “That not really make Petrie feel better.”

In response Cera blew at the flyer as he promptly took flight and gilded right back onto a sweet bubble as a perch.  Maybe they would serve him better as a perch than an adversary.  Besides, he had a meal to attend to.

“Why don’t you just eat them in place if they are too much trouble to knock off?” Cera inquired.

The flyer looked up from his impromptu meal, looking like something out of a weird sleep story.  A flyer with a blood red head and eyes gleaming in the sunlight.

“Well, um…” the flyer hesitated, suddenly self-conscious, “Petrie need to grab them sometime.  So Petrie practice being strong!”

Cera closed her eyes as she muttered under her breath.  “Ancestors give me strength...”

Petrie grumbled silently as he cautiously cleaned his wings of the sticky, yet tasty, innards of the destroyed sweet bubble.  If Cera was going to mock him then he would give her the silent treatment.  The foolishness of this course of action only became apparent when another lurch of the tree sent him careening towards the threehorn.  He barely had time to glide to a soft landing.

“We need to talk,” the threehorn said simply as she began to walk away from the tree taking her unexpecting passenger with her.

The flyer responded by crossing his wings indignantly.  “Why not talk at sweet bubble tree?  Petrie was eating.”

Though he could not see it, he could hear the threehorn roll her eyes in her response.  “Exactly, you were eating.  And you were paying as much attention as Spike does when he eats.”

Petrie opened his mouth to protest, but his beak promptly closed with a click. Cera not normally talk like this.  Is something on her mind?  What could...

“We need to talk about your Sky Ball.”

Petrie blinked for a moment.  Sky ball?  Sky...

“Hey!  It is Bright Circle!”

Cera snorted.  “Yeah, the Bright Circle.  As opposed to the Night One.”  Her voice then suddenly softened in a transition that made Petrie’s annoyance shift into confusion.  “So… this Pursuit of… what did you call it?  ...Endless Day?  This is a big thing for you flyer’s huh?  What is it supposed to do exactly?”

The flyer was stunned into silence for a few moments at the genuineness of her question.  Gone was the sardonic humor or the acerbic wit.  There was concern and interest here.  Well, as concerned as Cera would allow herself to show.

Petrie thought for a moment.  “Momma explain it to us like this: flyers who follow the old ways do it to prove they are big flyers.  It normal flight for three days, with sleep and eating at night, but then last three days there no stopping for rest.”

Cera stopped and turned her head.  “You flyers don’t stop?  Like, at all?”

Petrie shook her head.  “Mama said we have to glide like Guido.”

Cera sighed and shook her head.  “Petrie… do you want to know something?”

Petrie looked around uncertainty at the sudden question from the threehorn.  If anything hearing Cera sound concerned and nice was freaking him out more than thoughts of doom.  He reluctantly nodded.

“We threehorns have a lot of ‘growing up tests’.  A lot of ways to prove that we are strong enough to help the herd.  Threehorns are like that.  We need to be.”

The corner of the eye which she had facing him seemed fixed upon him like a beam from the Bright circle.  Unrelenting and all-encompassing.

“But we threehorns have nothing like this.  Our herds would be dust if we lost half of us in some stupi…” She stopped herself at Petrie’s sudden glare. “...damn it, Petrie!  What else am I supposed to call it?”

Petrie stared at his friend in shock for several moments as her exasperated question hung over him.  It was not contemptuous in any way, nor condescending despite the words used.  What does Petrie call this?

Finally he opened his beak, not sure of what he was going to say until he actually said it.  “Me guess it is stupid.  But if it what Bright Circle wants…”

She stomped the ground in irritation at this answer.  For once Petrie understood her irritation.

“Me not like that either… and me not sure if Bright Circle still want it.”  He rubbed his head crest with his wing as if trying to think hard.  “Me not sure what Petrie decide when it my time in five Cold Times.”

Cera jerked her head in his direction so fast that he nearly fell off of her due to the jolt.  “In five Cold Times?”

Petrie blinked, uncomprehending for a moment.  But as soon as the words registered in his mind her let out an amused laugh.  “You not think Petrie stupid enough to do it now?  Me die!  Pursuit of Endless Day is for adults.”

Both dinosaurs stared at one another for several moments, with Cera’s head and body cocked at an awkward angle in order for the flyer to be visible on the edge of her back.  Finally though, the impromptu staring contest gave way to a sudden rising and falling of his friend’s back.  It wasn’t until she shook him off into a patch of tall grass that he heard the audible laughter.

“So we have five cold Times to make you see sense then!  Hmph, it might be enough time!”

Petrie couldn’t help snorting as well though he maintained an annoyed expression at her good-natured insult for the sake of his honor.  But he knew genuine concern when he saw it.  And it was really only then that a chilling thought entered into his mind.

Me really scare them with this…

He looked back towards the sweet bubble tree as the Bright Circle began to fall to a position right above it in its inevitable dive towards the horizon.  Me not know what Bright Circle want, but me know it not want to make others scared or sad.

“Petrie.”

Petrie ignored the threehorn as he was focused on the bright orb.  What would it want him to do in this situation?

“Hey, beak-face!”

He jumped into the air in something between a takeoff and a jump as he glared at the threehorn.  He was greeted by Cera’s cheeky grin.

“Just don’t keep this stuff between you and your Bright Sky Ball, will ya?  We may not get your crazy flyer stuff, but we can listen.”

Taking Cera’s invitation for what it was, Petrie gave her an understanding nod.

“Petrie will do that.  And Cera?”

Cera paused and nodded for him to continue.

“Thanks.”

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

Still in the past; A few days later:


“Okay, children, we are going to be doing something different today.”

No kidding. Grondo thought to himself as he carefully kept in formation with his siblings. Notwithstanding Petrie’s innovation with the Great Day of the Flyers, he was not about to break formation and be as much of a fluff-head as his brother.  Keeping formation was now the least of his concerns, however, as the protective rock wall of the Great Valley disappeared behind them.  What is Mom testing us on now?

“What are we doing, Mom?” Valaria’s voice called out.

Grondo grimaced as his face burned in remembrance of his sister’s recent smacking of his beak.  Oh, quit sucking up, sis!

Volant appeared to be unaware of the bad blood between the siblings as she turned to her side in a slow, circling motion.  It was a classic holding pattern which used the thermals to maintain altitude without flapping.

Grondo opened his wings wide to join into the change in formation, nearly crashing into an annoyed Brasko in the process. Finally.  My wings want to fall off.

Volant allowed for an entire half-circle to elapse before she spoke to her children.  In the meantime they had all settled into the unofficial hierarchy of the family flock within their classic V-formation, with Volant at the head, Brasko and Valaria on opposing sides of their mother, Grondo and Altair behind them, and with the others following behind.  Petrie, as usual, was fine with bringing up a place in the rear with Valo.

“In the last season we have worked on survival skills.  Children, can you tell me what you have learned?”

There was silence for a moment before Valo answered.  “Um… how to find our way home at night without the Night Circle.”

Volant wavered in her flight in a gesture that was the in-flight equivalent of a nod.  “Good, what else?”

“We learned how to fly in formation on a windy day,” Brasko offered.

“And how to make alert calls when we see threats!” Valaria called against a sudden gust of wind.  They all quickly put the previously aforementioned skills into action as they maintained their formation with minimal disruption.  Even Petrie did not waver.

Grondo snorted.  Only took him five days… but could be worse.  He picked that up faster than the Day of the Flyers stuff.

“Grondo?”

Upon hearing his mother’s voice the flyer swerved back into formation as if he had been struck.  The laughing of several of his siblings made his blood boil at the humiliation at being caught out of formation.  Part of him wanted to rage at the flyer who had invited his loss of focus.

But Petrie was silent and merely widened the V-shaped formation in order to allow Grondo to resume his previous spot with minimal difficulty.  Any immediate anger at him died with that gesture.

“Today, children, we are going to be doing something different.  This is something that the other younglings of nine Cold Times have been doing this season.  And now it is your turn.”

All of her children kept their focus on their mother as they closed in the formation around her.

“Today all of you will be flying back home alone.”

As if to make her point she widened her wings and came to a rest on a nearby cliff.  But as Valaria tried to land she let out a squawk making her abort her landing and take to the air once more.  The rest of the formation, now confused and frightened, scattered into a several broken circles of young flyers, each circling their mother from a distance as if to wait for her to announce this was a joke.

“You can’t be serious, Mama!” Petrie squawked, “What if big flyer eat us?”

Volant made a shrugging gesture before folding her wings.  “Did you see the other flyers on the bluffs, children?”

The circling flurry of young flyers began to slow as they all looked back towards the line of bluffs.  It was obvious that they had not seen the other flyers.

“That’s what I thought.  Well, let this be a lesson, children.  Some of the other adults will keep the skies clear, but it will be up to you to get back to the Great Valley before nightfall… unless you want to be grounded to the nest for five days…” 

The reaction was unanimous from the little flyers.  “Five days!?!”

Volant nodded.  “Five days.  I take it that you all have been keeping just as good attention on the path that we took to get out here?”

Grondo hesitantly looked at the other wings and beaks whizzing by him.  Each one representing one of his brothers or sisters.  But as he did so he noticed the same reaction each time.  The same look that merely said ‘you paid attention to how we got out here, right?’  It was exactly at that moment that he knew how the night would end.

Crap.

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

“We should go this way, Brasko!  That can’t possibly--”

“Oh, give it a rest, sis!  You said yourself that you don’t know the way!  What makes you think that this way is wrong?”

“Well the mountain in our way should be a clue, crest-for-brains!”

Petrie remained in formation as his sister Valaria argued with Brasko about the best way back to the valley.  As a result the group of young flyers went from a V-formation to something like an overly stretched line.  As the two would-be second in commands argued over the best path forward they both went further apart.  Soon their argument turned almost inaudible as they had to yell at one another over the winds.

Why do brothers and sisters have to be like this?  If both not know way then admit it.  We probably grounded anyway.

He looked towards his left and then his right, catching the expressions of his siblings.  To his left there were his other two sisters flying close to Valaria in a show of support against the arrogance of Brasko, whereas to his right were four of his brothers showing at least superficial support for his brother’s suggestions.  Poor Valo, meanwhile, was shifting from one group to another as if uncertain about the best course of action.

“If you keep flying over Petrie you make him dizzy.” Petrie jested earning a double beak-click from his brother, the rough equivalent of sticking one’s tongue out. Petrie merely chuckled at this though as the gesture was not mean-spirited.

The same could not be said about two of his other siblings, however.

“Well, my sisters and I will get home without being grounded!  Have fun, boys!”

“Yeah? Well us guys will show you!”

It was at that point that Petrie closed his eyes despite being in the middle of flight.  His sisters were prepared to follow a ravine that he was sure they had never seen before, while his brothers were prepared to fly towards a mountain for reasons only the Bright Circle could understand.  He, meanwhile, was left with the realization that even if his siblings knew where to go he would have rather gone anywhere else at that moment.

He opened his eyes.

The desolate landscape below him reminded his vision that he was still in the Mysterious Beyond regardless of the mindless assurances of his siblings.  To his left was the ravine leading to places unknown, and to his right was the mountain leading to… the mountain.

Seriously, why brothers want to go that way?

He shook his head and swerved into a making a long circling motion with his flight, letting the thermals lead him higher and higher.  He had to stay focused.

How do friends find their way in the Mysterious Beyond?  Others sometimes get lost, but…

His eyes twinkled with recognition.  But not Ruby!  How she do it?

He examined the landscape again.  This time with a focus on the other aspects of the terrain.  The sort of thing that a fastrunner who lived out in the Mysterious Beyond might focus on.

A dusty haze encapsulated the landscape below him, coating the entirety of the terrain in a thin covering of dust.  This dust appeared to be easily displaced down below as wind gusts caused it to rise from the ground into odd patterns and even into small dust devils.  The only places that seemed to escape this fate were some areas closer to the ravine that his sisters were eyeing.

So brothers being stupid, but are sisters right?

He shifted his circular holding pattern into a momentary dive which allowed him to pick up speed before engaging with another thermal.  Soon he was again in a circling pattern, albeit closer to the ground.

Petrie did not notice his brothers and sisters circling well behind him oddly.  They had all gone silent as they watched his maneuvers and his odd focus on the ground.

“What is he--”

“Shush, Valo!”

But Petrie was quite distracted from his siblings’ antics as he looked at the terrain again.  Dust not as loose over there… that like when we go to Big Water.  Water and air with water smell have less dust.  So if valley that way there should be sign.  What did...

An image of threehorn peak and saurus rock suddenly appeared in his mind.

Petrie smiled.  Me follow until me find those!  And then me home free!

He finally circled back as he broke out of his previous pattern.  He doubted any of his siblings would listen to him but maybe Valo or his sisters would follow.  When he did finally circle back, however, he saw an odd sight.  Both groups, his sisters and his brothers, were likewise circling in formation as if waiting for him to follow one of them.  But he knew better.

Petrie’s eyes narrowed.  Sure, follow Petrie and take all credit for yourselves!

The little flyer’s mind shifted its focus from the terrain to his siblings as he made one last circling in the open air.  He could feign ignorance right now and then follow his sisters before telling them the secret.  This would result in his brothers being grounded, sparing him of their nonsense outside of the nest for a good five days.  Or, another part of his mind suggested, he could pretend to not know which way to go and then be the only one to get to the nest in time!  That would show them all!  But…

He followed the little wisps of dust on the ground as they shined with the reflected radiance of the light above.  The light that allowed him to see the way back home in the first place.

He sighed.  Bright Circle not show me this to be selfish… me just wish siblings not be selfish too!

Petrie did not say a word as he increased his altitude to that of the bluffs around him.  Then, breaking out of his circling, he merely gave an alert call to his obviously watching brothers and sisters.

None of us be grounded today!

He did not see his mother watching the scene from the bluffs with a pleased expression.

-----------

“I told you there was a mountain!”

“Oh, buzz off!  That rock was not the mountain you idiot males were going for!”

“Was too!”

Petrie willed himself to not say anything as his eyes rolled as far as they could manage.  No matter what his brother had to have the final word.  But the important thing was not what was said, but what was done.

He landed on the rocky cliff with a satisfying click of his feet.  It was only then that he looked behind him and towards the fading light.  Still a small sliver of the Bright Circle greeted his gaze as if it were smirking at the scene.

Made it.

“If it wasn’t for us girls, you boys would have flown to nowhere!”

“Oh yeah!  Well you girls--”

This worse than when adults argue.  Petrie decided to give himself and everyone else the gift of silence. “You both right, there was mountain and we follow ravine.  We all only remember part of way.”

Petrie did not look back at his siblings as he kept his focus on the scene outside.  As a result he did not see Brasko’s beak hang open for a moment, nor did he see Valaria look as if someone had wing-swiped her.  In the end all Petrie heard was Brasko’s hasty offering of ‘Yeah, I guess we all did some good.”

Petrie closed his eyes as awkward silence then followed.  Finally Petrie can hear self think even though Petrie too tired to think!  He only had a split second to enjoy his small victory, however, before a shadow suddenly appeared over him and the rest of the kids causing them to scatter to allow the newcomer to land.

“Indeed you kids did.  In these decadent times it usually takes young ones several times to pass this test.  The newer generations are soft.”

Petrie was a bit too distracted by making sure he wasn’t landed on to take offense at the adult’s words.  Brasko, on the other hand, had quite a bit to say.

“Soft?  We are not soft, we are…”

The elder male flyer merely chuckled with amusement at the other flyer’s words.  “The fact that you felt insulted is a good sign.  We flyers are nothing without our pride.  Perhaps that pride will make some of you consider the Old Ways one day.”

Petrie felt something tug at him as the elder male spoke.  The Old Ways… does he think we are ready for that?  And why not Mama telling us this?  Me thought she said…

“They will decide that when they are out of my nest.”

Petrie did not have time to move out of the way as Volant landed between him and his siblings and the elder male.  An outstretched wing from his mother gave the silent command for them all to assemble at her side as a sign of respect for an elder.  As Petrie did so he was left with an odd sense of confusion at the conflicting signals.  She commanded them to respect this elder while she was openly defiant to him.

The strange male tilted his head for a moment before nodding his acquiescence.

“Of course, Volant.  Your nest is yours to rule.  But I hope that you can forgive an old timer like me for noticing talent when I see it.  At least one of the younglings from this ninth Cold Time passed the Test of Direction on their first pass.”  The male’s eyes briefly locked on to Petrie’s as the smaller flyer’s mind went blank.  He then turned his focus back to the other kids and Volant.  “So… to see an entire group do well is a pleasant surprise.”

Petrie blinked.  He mean me!  So they notice Petrie… um...

Volant gave the male an expression that none of the kids could see.  But it was enough to make the male put up his wings in a placative gesture.

“Very well.  I am here to announce that due to the special circumstances of your clutch passing the test it is the judgment of us elders that with some practice your children will pass the usual trials… and if you change your mind about the rest… you know who to talk to.”

Volant then slowly lowered her head in a bow before waving her wing for the children to repeat her gesture.  “Thank you, Elder.  I trust your judgment in this.”

The male merely smiled.  “You trust my judgment in some things.  In any case… goodnight, Volant, and congratulations, children.”

And with that he took off.  If he could hear any of the children saying goodbye his upward trajectory gave no sign of it.

Volant let out a deep breath that made some of Petrie’s sisters look up with concern.

“You all did good work today, children.  You ended up working as a team, which you should have done from the beginning…” She looked at Valaria and Brasko who averted their eyes from her gaze, “But what is important is that you succeeded in the end.  We will practice this test some more and I think you children should make sure that you understand how Petrie figured it out before you do this alone.”

“We have to do this alone!?!” came several voices at once.

Volant nodded with a smile.  “Mhm… so you might want to thank a certain someone and listen to what they have to say.” It was now her turn to glance in Petrie’s direction.

Petrie cringed as he attempted to fade into the darkness of the cliff face that served as their nest.  For once he wanted to be unnoticed which was his usual fate with his brothers and sisters.  But the reaction was not expected from the small flyer.

Grondo stepped forward and put a wing on Petrie’s smaller shoulders.  “Thanks, Petrie. You helped point us in the right direction.”

It was then that the others joined in and proceeded to offer their thanks as well as Petrie tried to both comprehend the change in tone and his siblings being nice to him for once.  His mother, on the other hand, had something else on her mind.

--------

Later that night:


Petrie’s eyes flew open.

Oh no!

With growing horror the small flyer pushed off with his hind limbs and wings in order to go airborne without a second thought.  It was only when he saw the rocking outcropping that was his nest disappear underneath him that he allowed the sensation in his body win against his self-control. 

He sighed with relief before circling back towards the nest.  Me forgot to go before going back to nest.  Me have to stop doing that.

He carefully inspected the nest before guiding himself on a return trajectory.  His brothers and sisters all appeared to be asleep so his late night diversion caused no harm.  The last thing he wanted was to invite ridicule as “Petrie the night shitter” again.  But the lack of discernible movement confirmed that he had been spared that fate tonight.  Instead there was another absence from the nest.

Where’s Momma?

He aborted his landing as he looked at the adjacent bluffs.  At first he could not see anything out of the ordinary to indicate the presence of his mother.  But then a very small part of the bluff began to wave like a flyer’s wing.  It took him only a moment to realize that it was his mother and she was waving for attention.

Uh oh… now Mamma probably thing Petrie try to go on adventure.  Just great!

Sighing, he carefully adjusted his altitude and made a landing beside her that was as silent as he could manage under the circumstances.  As a small click reached his ears he realized that he had succeeded in his maneuver.

Petrie looked down as if he had been caught doing something wrong and then looked up towards his mother’s face.  It was only when she offered him a small shake of the head that he realized that he was not in trouble.

“All of your friends are asleep so I know it is not one of your friends’ adventures, Petrie.  Relieving yourself at night is hardly something to be ashamed of.”

Petrie’s eyes went wide.  “You…”

“Yes. We parents check to make sure that none of you are sneaking out,” Volant said in a sarcastic monotone at the incomplete question, “When one of you goes out we know that all of you go out.”

Gone was the shame from Petrie’s demeanor, and in its place was embarrassment as he rubbed his head with his wing.  Guess we found out.

Volant snorted before giving her son a playful rub of the head with her wing, causing him to giggle at the gesture.  “Stop, Momma!”

Volant snorted.  “I will stop when you kids quit going on adventures!”

Petrie playfully resisted the assault.  “Adventures harder now that friends getting big.”

The tickling abated as Volant nodded at her son’s answer.  “I would be lying Petrie if I said that the longnecks and Topps were not relieved by that.  Littlefoot will soon only be able to sneak out if we all go deaf and blind.  Adolescent longnecks are not subtle.”  She then smiled at him sadly.  “Soon enough you all will have your own adventures as adults.  Those may seem boring to you kids, but they can be no less dangerous.”

Petrie blinked at the change in tone.

Volant sighed as she looked towards the night sky and raised a wing. “In some ways it is more dangerous for the land-walkers as they lead their herds, but even we flyers are not immune from our own dangers.  Both from outside threats… and from ourselves.  Part of what you kids have learned lately is how to deal with those.  How to avoid getting lost.  How to out-fly the few sharpbeaks that go after our kinds.  How to find food… but I cannot protect you children from yourselves.  That is something that will be up to all of you.”

Petrie swallowed.  If anyone else were talking to him like this he would try to pretend like he didn’t exist and avoid the situation, but this was his mother.  “You worried about what we do when out of the nest?  Like… the Old Ways?”

His mother looked at him a long moment before nodding.  Her eyes never left his, however, making Petrie feel like she was staring into his very thoughts.  “I’m not sure some of your brothers and sisters understood what the Elder was talking about tonight.  But you did, didn’t you?”

Petrie swallowed and nodded.  “The Pursuit of Endless Day?”

Volant began to nod.  “Some of the Elders think that the newer generations are soft because they take longer to learn certain things.  Some blame the valley.  Some blame that the times are not as hard as they once were.  And others, like me, think that as long as the skills are learned before they leave the nest then we have done our duty.  The Pursuit of Endless Day is only one of those things.  There is other practice that leads up to it.  Otherwise almost no one would survive it.”

Petrie contemplated this.  So there other Old Ways?  Like… what we learn so far only harder?  But Momma not want us to do this so why she tell us about it?

“What do you think, Petrie?”

The little flyer looked at his mother with confusion.  “What?”

Volant looked down at him.  “What is your opinion?”

Petrie opened his beak for a moment as if he did not understand the question.  You already tell Petrie what to think.  Why is Momma asking me?
Volant sighed before looking down.  “Petrie, you and your brothers and sisters have learned a lot over the last few Cold Times.  And you and your friends, as much as we parents would have preferred not, have gone on your own adventures and learned things as well.  But there are certain things that I cannot teach you.  And there are choices in life that only you can make.”

Petrie looked down slightly as he took in his mother’s words.

“Do you want to do the Pursuit of Endless Day?”

Petrie’s breath caught in his throat as the question was suddenly broached like a rock crashing through what had previously been still water.  Despite the lead up to the question Petrie felt as if something were choking the life out of him to force an answer.

“Me…” Petrie made a sour expression and shook his head as he oriented his head towards where the Bright Circle would rise in the morning.  “I do not know.  Pe… I do not know what Bright Circle wants.”

He was not sure what to expect when he gave his answer.  His voice had been scratchy and hesitant as he made sure his words were clear in case the Bright Circle had woken up in the middle of the night like him and his mother.  But several seconds of silence was not one of the possibilities that entered his mind.

He looked up hesitantly only to see his mother staring in the exact portion of the sky where Petrie’s gaze had been earlier.

“I know how hard talking like that is for you, son, so I know who you said that for.  Rest assured if you can’t see it, then the Bright Circle is asleep.”  Volant smiled though her expression had a bittersweet quality to it. “All I can tell you is that though some do not believe… I do.  And I can only tell you what it told me.  The Bright Circle may tell you something different.”

Petrie tilted his head.  “But the Bright Circle only has one path that it takes.  That is what Elders say.”

Volant nodded as she turned back towards him.  “Yes, but it leads the clouds and winds in different directions.  They listen to their instructions, and we must listen for our own.”

Petrie nodded slowly.  “So it kind of like how Chomper have to leave valley sometime, but we all stay.”

Volant nodded.  “Yes, he has his own path.  And some of your friends may decide to leave the valley and follow herds… you never know.  Only the Bright Circle knows.  But it never leads us astray if we listen to what it is saying.”

Petrie nodded but then clinched his wings in annoyance.  “Me wish Bright Circle could just talk!  But me guess if it get too close it burn Petrie up.”

Volant snorted and rubbed Petrie’s head playfully.  “And don’t try flying so high that you catch it!”

Petrie’s eyes lit up.  “You can do that?”

Volant laughed.  “No, silly!  You will get to where the air is too thin and your wings will get tired.”

Petrie blinked.  “Oh.”

She wagged her wing at him playfully.  “The Bright Circle already has thought of that.  That is why in the Pursuit of Endless Day no one ever catches it.  The important thing is that we follow its example and listen, not that we try to take its place.”

Petrie rubbed his head where his mother had messed up his head fuzz, but that did not stop her words from registering in his mind.  The important thing is that we follow its example and listen, not that we try to take its place…  “So my brothers not want to do it for right reason?”

Volant sighed and nodded.  “Exactly.  And many of those who do it for glory and to impress females are the ones who fall.  Sometimes I think the only reason your uncle survived the ordeal is because he was too stubborn.”

Petrie blinked.  “Uncle Pterano went for the wrong reasons?”

“Your uncle went for his reasons.  But the Bright Circle spared him anyway, so perhaps those were the right reasons for him.  Just make sure when you make your decision, Petrie, that it is for the right reasons.”

When Volant embraced him Petrie did not fight the gesture.  Though he was more confused than ever about the right path for him he was confident about how he would find out his path.  Me just listen and Bright Circle tell me for sure eventually.  Though…

“And you still not let Petrie do this while in nest, right?”

Volant chuckled.

“Not unless you want to be grounded until the day I kick you all out of the nest.”

Petrie laughed as well.  That what Petrie thought.

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

The present, end of the second day of the pursuit:

Petrie back to awareness jerked as a familiar wing slammed into his back.

“You’re daydreaming worse than ol’ Knacker here and I have an excuse being old and frail.”

“And loud!” another flyer, Ulan, interjected.

“Knacker’s just showing you young un’s how it’s done.  Bright Circle knows that…”

The old flyer descended into a series of violent coughs with all of the suddenness of a fastbiter ambush.  Where once was a happy and boisterous flyer was now an elder trying to reach for a breath that might not be there.  Within moments the circle of assembled flyers on the bluff shifted formation as Knacker’s nephews half-ran, half-flew to him.

Petrie rose and kept a hand on Knacker’s wing as if willing some of his energy to the elder.  In the fading twilight Knacker’s shadow appeared longer than usual as if he were being dragged away a day earlier than he had planned.

That was when a wet gasp could be heard.  And then a cascade of desperate coughs.

Petrie gave him a pleading look.  You can do it. 

In the span of a few seconds which felt like an eternity there was nothing, but then came the most welcome sound: another gasp.  And then another.  And another.

It was only then that Petrie pulled away from the elder.  “Give him room!”

The nephews took a moment to obey but eventually they did as Petrie has authoritatively ordered.  Ulan, from the other side of the circle, tilted his head at the sight of a young flyer commanding the others but he said nothing.

Within a few moments Knacker appeared to breath somewhat normally again though his nephews looked upon him with grave concern.

Knacker took as deep of a breath as he could manage.

“There…” he cleared his throat before spitting out some phlegm off of the bluff, “are three reasons why we all do this.  Some do it to confirm if they are worthy of sucking down air…”

Knacker took another breath while one of the young flyers pulled on his wing.  “It’s okay, uncle!  You can stop and rest!”

Knacker shook his head.  “...must say this… some do it to confirm if they are worthy of sucking down air, some do it to thank the Bright Circle, and some do it as a final flight.”  With that he gave each of his three nephews a long look with an expression that Petrie could not see from his vantage point.  But the look of shock on their faces, followed by sudden dejection and sunken shoulders, told Petrie all that he needed to know.

“Now don’t get all slobbery on ol’ Knacker!  I’m doing a good enough job as it is!” he declared as he gestured at the disgusting former contents of his lungs, “But I think it is time for Knacker to sleep so that I am ready at my appointed time.”

All three of the younger flyers showed grief on their faces as they covered their eyes with their wings at the mention of what he planned to do.  Petrie did not understand this gesture but upon seeing Ulan do the same he replicated it.

Knacker smiled sadly.  “And this is why Knacker did not mention this before…”  He then sighed. “Young uns, would you mind guiding me to the sleeping spot?”

Petrie actually took a step forward as if he were being instructed by the elder flyer, but as the nephews quickly offered their assistance he realized that this was meant for them.  It was both a request for help and a chance for final words to be exchanged.  Just in case the Bright Circle decided the appointed time was tonight.  It only took them a few moments to disappear from sight.  In their wake they left the circle of assembled flyers in a dead silence which was only broken a few moments later by an elder landing in the middle of the circle and silently counting the assembled items.  It was only when he counted that each flyer present had the indicated item to confirm their travels for the day: a blue water flower, that he went on his way.

Only one more item test remained the next day and then would come the flight back.  A flight back that they all knew meant that some of them would most likely join Knacker’s fate.

Ulan coughed, which caught Petrie’s attention.

“It was obvious that the guy was here for one final flight, but often family do not see what they do not want to see.  Have to admire his effort though.  Most flyers would choose an easier final flight.”

Petrie nodded.  “He want to make sure his nephews did well.”

Another flyer to Ulan’s side, Verpos, murmured approvingly. “Regardless of if he did this before or not the Bright Circle honors sacrifice.”

Ulan sighed.  “Death is kind of a shitty reward.”

Verpos rolled his eyes.  “Not when one is suffering.  And we have no idea what the Bright Circle offers us in death.  Maybe we come back?”

Ulan seemed to mull this over for a few moments before he turned his attention back to Petrie.  It was then that he covered his eyes with his wing again.

Petrie looked back and forth as if uncertain, but then quickly replicated the gesture.

“Alright, stop, Ulan!  You made your point,” Verpos interjected which made Petrie drop his wing in confusion.  What was going on?

Ulan had some mirth in his expression but upon seeing the concern on Petrie’s he gave an apologetic nod.  “Sorry, lad.  It was just obvious.  You don’t know what that was about, do you?”

Petrie shrugged a bit put out.  “No.  Me guess it has something to do with death?”

Verpos nodded.  “It is a final flight thing.  A show of respect for those who are about to fly for the last time.”

Ulan nodded.  “It is usually taught as part of the Old Ways, but sometimes things get rushed.  Not unexpected in the case of someone as young as you.”

Petrie glared at him. “You suggesting Petrie not belong out here?”

Ulan smiled as if pleased by the biting response.  “No, you deserve that.  You are anything if not serious.  But I suspect there is a reason why one so young is here so early.”

The other flyer looked at Ulan with annoyance.  “That is between him and the Bright Circle, and no one else.”

Ulan waved a wing.  “Of course, of course, but it is curious.  That’s all.  Not even the harshest of us send them out until the fourteenth Cold Time.”

“Ulan, just stop.  He might be small but that does not mean…”

Petrie rolled his eyes.  “Me eleven Cold Times old.”

If the stunned silence from the other two flyers did not communicate volumes then their agape beaks certainly did.  It was another flyer that finally broke the silence, however.

“Eleven?”

“Magical spiketail shit, kid!”

Ulan rubbed his eyes for a moment.  “Okay that… okay, so your training was rushed.”

“No shit, Ulan!” Verpos muttered.

“How… how did that happen exactly?” Ulan finally asked.

Petrie sighed as the realization that the others would not look at him the same hit him like a hailstone.  He was in no mood to break the formality of the journey thus far with the details of his past.  “That a long story; and it time to sleep.  After end of tomorrow we not sleep anymore until we land back in valley or die.”

Ulan rubbed his face.  “For someone who doesn’t say ‘I’ you have a way with words, kid.  Alright, we can talk about this tomorrow.  But tell me this, if you don’t mind.  Please tell me that you are doing this because the Bright Circle demanded it and not because of ego or a female or something.”

Verpos cringed and put his head into his wing. “For fuck’s sake, Ulan.  The kid is eleven.”

“Yeah, and if he told me right now he had a mate somewhere it would only be the second most fucked-up thing that I‘ve heard tonight.”  He looked over to where the Bright Circle had set as if to make sure it did not hear his language before finally taking a deep sigh as if to collect himself again.

Petrie kept his expression neutral.  “Me do it because Bright Circle demand it.  It and elders think that Petrie have something to prove - not to myself but to others.”

Ulan opened up his beak to ask another question but Verpos glared at him and raised a wing.  “Petrie is right.  We sleep now and we can talk about this tomorrow.”

Ulan glared back but then looked at Petrie and nodded. Oddly the mocking demeanor was now gone from his expression.  It had been replaced with a distant anger but Petrie could tell it was not directed at himself or Verpos.  “Night, kid.  May your wings carry you safely.”

Petrie blinked and bowed respectfully.  “May your wings carry you safely.”

And just like that some of the other flyers nearby took their leave as well.  It was as if none of them wanted to be part of whatever decision making process had allowed a child to be part of the most dangerous flyer tradition.  It did not take the largest leap in logic to deduce that Ulan was angry at whatever elder has permitted this to happen.  In any case the end result was a distance between himself and the others.  A distance that could not be breached without them going through the same life and events that he encountered.

But, unlike them, Petrie knew that their anger was misplaced.

Me wonder if this what Pterano felt while exiled from valley. 

Sighing deeply, Petrie lowered himself to sleep.  Only now that part of his secret was out did the full weariness of his body weigh upon him.  It was not only a reminder of what they had been through over the previous two days, but also a foreshadowing of what was to come.  But nothing compared to the burden of what had put him out here in the first place.

He closed his eyes as he willed sleep to take him.

Petrie not like exile either.

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

A cliffhanger? Who could have guessed? :p Stayed tuned for next month's installment which will answer the inevitable question: what is Petrie doing out here?


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

DiddyKF1

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Re: The Pursuit of Endless Day
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2019, 08:27:53 pm »
I was wondering when I'd see this story again. I'm astounded by how many questions I had that were answered in this chapter.

I shouldn't have been surprised to see Petrie's siblings apparently up to no good when they had to fly "alone." I'm not complaining, though. The way you portrayed them here shows that although they think of Petrie as pure laughing stock, they have to admit that they respect him because he is learning fast for how young he is.

I was especially impressed by Volant's "religious" views, if you will. Up until now, I had so many questions about Flyer traditions, but the flashback with Petrie and his mother gave me quite an amazing picture about the oldest and noblest of Flyer traditions, and how Volant has influenced Petrie into becoming such a person willing to potentially sacrifice his life to embrace those traditions for the sake of what they believe to be their "God," as I put it in my review of the previous chapter.

And, of course, Petrie is conflicted within his own thoughts as he struggles to know whether he made the right choice in doing this, especially at such a young age. I'll be very eager to see how his journey will go from here, now that the anticipation has grown again. This was an excellent chapter, my friend! :)
My fanfics:
Love is an Adventure
Waters Rise, Illness Flies
A Swim of Silence
A Swimmer's Sad Secret
A Broken Family
The Hurting of Desire
Secret Love

"It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices." -Albus Dumbledore


Sovereign

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Re: The Pursuit of Endless Day
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2019, 03:38:51 pm »
It's great to see you continuing this story after the pause as the first chapter really showed promise. And also, it is rather great that all three first prompts had Petrie (or flyers overall) as their main focus. Anyway, this new chapter did a really good job in telling more about Petrie’s training and his more recent past while also forcing him to confront his reasons to embarking on this journey.

I enjoyed perhaps the most the emphasis you put on Petrie and his siblings’ test and his discussions with Cera and Volant. The latter ones started to create the way for the eventual conflict that will likely start building within Petrie later about the Bright Circle and his beliefs as in both those situations, he was forced to confront his own motives concerning his beliefs. The test as a whole was an interesting and well-written sequence that showed that in many ways, Petrie is far superior as a flyer compared to his siblings (though we knew that already).

Likewise, the scenes with Knacker and his nephews were also rather nice as they continued relaying the themes of the story to Petrie and bringing another question of faith to him, namely death. The risks of his journey are being brought to Petrie quite concretely and it remains to be seen just how he will react once the prospect of his end starts to look ever more real (as it probably will be at some point).

In any case, this was a great return to this story and it really makes one think about what Petrie will face on his flight and also how it will ultimately end. Knacker and his nephew’s part in this story will also be interesting to follow and these two chapters have created quite a great premise for further developments. I really want to see more of this tale. :)littlefoot

Ducky123

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Re: The Pursuit of Endless Day
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2019, 09:58:14 am »
Review of chapter 1:

It really shows that I haven't read any of your work as of late. Your writing style never ceases to amaze.

So it seems that this story is about an old, rather cruel and pointless ritual of flyers with a religious and superstitious touch. As a fellow atheist this should be entertaining :smile

The first scene introduced the ritual and also revealed that Petrie for whatever reason feels inclined to follow the idea of that old ritual...

The gang obviously aren't amused about Petrie's plans/musings when they learn about it. The interactions are very in-character and even Cera's understanding is relatable :p

I like how you are building the narrative of Petrie on his lonesome quest as opposed to the flash backs. It is very very effective :^^spike

The contrast between Cera and Littlefoot bantering and their honest concern for their friend is excellent. I really like them talking about their respective tests of their species and putting them into perspective with what is awaiting Petrie.

Speaking of whom, Petrie is headed to the Land of Mists as it seems and struggling with heat and exhaustion. I feel you could have added another option for him to get a respite from the heat. If he decided to increase his speed then the air around him would be moving faster relative to him and cool his back. However he'd be using additional energy.

OH the scene showing Petrie worshipping the Bright Circle shows the depth of his faith very well. Valaria seems to be the only one on his side while the other guys don't seem to care about the religious aspect of that tradition. Really curious to see how this continues to play out. :yes

OH, this is taking a lovely turn! The conversation with Knacker was simply amazing in both the language that you used and the meaning that their words carry. Very well done! :smile

Apologies for handing you this review two days later than I promised you to.
Note to self: finally create that signature lazy bum! :P

OwlsCantRead

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Re: The Pursuit of Endless Day
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2019, 12:23:27 pm »
Chapter 1 Review: There's a lot of undertones in this fic which really reminds me of Littlefoot's journeys in LBT4 and 10, and I do like that testing rituals for different kinds is brought up. It's nice worldbuilding.

The constant shifts back-and-forth from present day to 2 years ago also gives this story an unusual feel, as the constant flashbacks helps to build why Petrie has undertake this death challenge for himself. I like the way that Petrie steadfastly believes in the Bright Circle in the flashbacks, almost to the point where his personal self hinges on it in the present, given that he's taking on the challenge after all.

He's stubborn and foolhardy, but still the sweet Petrie underneath. My favorite moment in this chapter was Petrie awkwardly talking to the Bright Circle and his sibling relationship with Valaria causing him to drag her into it too. :P

Will get to chapter 2 another day. :DD
A quaint creature who soars when the Night Circle is highest in the dark sky, messing up his circadian rhythm in the process. Truly, a tragic flyer.

In terms of LBT, love to write stories! :)
Current Fics: Waves Crashing Upon the Sky, Five Stages of Grief, Scrambled Eggs, and Our Safe Haven.



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

Ducky123

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Re: The Pursuit of Endless Day
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2019, 07:37:35 am »
And on to the current chapter.

That coughing sickness sounds awful dang. No wonder Knacker is prepared to take the final flight.

Petrie in a whim of altruism skips valuable sleep in order to do the dying flyer a last joy. It further elaborates Petrie's character, his belief in turning the favor of the Bright Circle by performing good deeds. Also, I guess, he wants to return the favor the old flyer did him. Sad to see such a likable character on the brink of death :(petrie

Looks like Petrie's siblings play a significant role in this tale. Their banter was refreshing to hear lol and Petrie is finally making his mark it seems.

The nighttime scene was simply gorgeous. I am glad that his mother supports him even if it is with great reluctance and I really like the way they portrait the Bright Circle. That scene is well done!

And same goes for the final scene, wow. That was some amazing talk and I see you got quite creative with those two flyer's language :smile

So it looks like things are still going OK for Petrie but the biggest challenge still awaits him. That and two events possibly draining him emotionally: Knacker's final flight and the looming conversation with the two flyers... Eagerly awaiting the continuation of this story, yep yep yep!
Note to self: finally create that signature lazy bum! :P

OwlsCantRead

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Re: The Pursuit of Endless Day
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2019, 10:16:02 am »
I find it amusing that Petrie's siblings do want to "follow the leader" by eyeing him when he managed to retrace his way to the valley. Ironic that he tends to get respect in spite of being bullied the most.

The constant foreshadowing of what the Bright Circle wants makes me feel as though Petrie is being pushed against his will to prove something that he believes in. I'm still not sure what to make of it, but we'll see.
A quaint creature who soars when the Night Circle is highest in the dark sky, messing up his circadian rhythm in the process. Truly, a tragic flyer.

In terms of LBT, love to write stories! :)
Current Fics: Waves Crashing Upon the Sky, Five Stages of Grief, Scrambled Eggs, and Our Safe Haven.



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