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


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?

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! :)

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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.

When it comes to LBT, I love to write stories! :)
Current Fics: Waves Crashing Upon the Sky, The Threehorn Way, Five Stages of Grief, Scrambled Eggs, and Our Safe Haven.



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!

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.

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Re: The Pursuit of Endless Day
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2019, 09:56:09 PM »
Fanfiction.net link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13019231/3/The-Pursuit-of-Endless-Day

(I have placed the responses to your reviews at the bottom of this post)

Chapter 3: Light above, light below

"Fire may be represented as the destroyer of all sophistry, and as the image and demonstration of truth; because it is light and drives out darkness which conceals all essences."

~Leonardo da Vinci


Petrie's first hint that consciousness had returned to him was a loud groan that emanated from his own body. The second hint was the dull throbbing of his wings at the abuse of the previous few days. It was then that recognition returned to his mind.

Pursuit of Endless Day. Third Day. Not Dead Yet.

Reluctantly, he forced his eyes open.

"Bout time ya woke up! Knacker wanted to talk to ya before nephews woke up."

Petrie hurriedly raised his wing to cover his eyes only to have it forcefully held back by the elder flyer.

"And stop that crap! Obviously the Bright Circle didn't teach you that custom for a' reason."

The flyers held that awkward pose for several moments, with Petrie's right wing raised and Knacker blocking it with his own until both of them appeared to realize how stupid they looked at the same instant and pulled back from one another.

Which gave Petrie just enough time to cover his eyes with the other wing before giving the elder flyer a smirk.

Knacker sighed and rolled his eyes. "I see that Ulan's rubbed off on ya'. Hmmm…"

He then allowed himself a healthy laugh as he cocked his head backwards. The laugh was boisterous and grand, but there was something missing. Something that made Petrie tilt his head with concern. It sounded hollow. The sound that would be made if one's voice had lost its vigor after many coughs. But then again, the emotion was all there. The contrast was jarring to the flyer as if the two should not go together. But eventually, as the first hint of the Bright Circle's rays still hid behind the horizon, his mind put two and two together.

He relieved that he die today.

Petrie didn't know if it was something in his expression or merely a change to his eyes, but Knacker was in his face immediately.

"No don't get all slobbery on me, Petrie! You'll need that energy for the three days of crap coming yer way after I land on somethin' head-first."

Petrie recoiled as if a blasphemy had been uttered. "Knacker!"

The elder flyer, however, merely shook his head. "I've made peace with it, young one. But now, if you are willing, I think that we need to talk about what is coming."

Petrie nodded slowly at Knacker's request as he moved over on the bluff that had been Petrie's sleeping spot for the night. Soon they are both situated side by side as if they were merely waiting to watch the Bright Circle peek over the horizon together. But they both knew this would be the last chance to talk privately before the hurried activity of the third day arrived. The last meal to gorge themselves. The last stretch to prevent cramping. And the last time to look at the Bright Circle before they had to turn away from it for the long unending flight home.

"I already got the nuts and sweet bubbles piled up near em' so that should be enough to ensure they don't have to forage too much," Knacker noted.

Petrie merely looked at the elder flyer as if he had lost his mind. Me should do that, not you. You need rest, you need… Recognition hit him then. You don't need. Today your death day.

"There is enough for you, too, young one. But I would stick to more of the nuts than sweet bubbles in your case."

Petrie paused for a moment before tilting his head inquisitively. "Any reason why?"

"You're not full grown yet, and the trip back is a brutal one," Knacker said matter-of-factly, "The energy from nuts fade slower than from the sweet bubbles. You will need some sweet bubbles though."

Petrie nodded as he remembered bits and pieces of old lessons. "Me need the sweet bubbles' water in case it not rain on trip back."

Knacker nodded. "Right. And even if it does rain I can't imagine flying around like this would do you any favors."

The older flyer then proceeded to pretend to be flying with his beak gaping open and his tongue flopping out. His eyes were wide for emphasis.

In a desperate effort not to wake the others by laughing out loud Petrie held his beak shut with his wing before choking out a sardonic question. "You sure you not have mind sickness too?"

Knacker snorted at this. "Me hatched with that."

Petrie chuckled at the elder's joke as he nodded to himself.

"But it is the others that we need to talk about," Knacker suddenly noted in a serious tone, "Because it isn't until food is scarce and hope is lost that you truly see how people are."

Petrie's expression darkened as well, remembering the sniping at one another and the disagreements when he and his friends left for the Great Valley so long ago. Such pressures could forge friendships and break apart acquaintanceships. There was little room in between.

"If your path is not blessed by rain, then heat will be a problem, especially for the darker flyers. Some of em' might go a bit crazy, if you know what I mean."

"Like… in attack some of us?"

Knacker nodded. "Aye. Or go the wrong way. There are stories that flyers have been lost in the past by following the mad ones or trying to help them."

Petrie's eyes went wide.

Knacker sighed. "But… it is hard to tell how often that happens. Most of the old timers do not want to dwell on that stuff." He then blinked. "Well, dead ones, none of those old timers I talked to in my younger days are around, I suppose."

"You talk to them because you thought about doing this?" Petrie inquired.

Knacker nodded. "Aye, but Knacker eventually decided it was not my way. It was too risky and sounded too awful. I would only do this when it was time for me to die."

It took the elder flyer a few moments to notice Petrie's exasperated look. "Sorry. I guess that wasn't much of a pep talk."

Petrie shrugged. "It not wrong, though. Is there anything else that Petrie should know?"

Knacker smiled. "Just remember to keep yer' wits about ya, kid. Do what you can to keep my nephews on the path, but don't stray from the path yourself."

"But Petrie give you my…"

"Yeah, and that is the problem. Knacker ain't asking you to get yourself killed. This journey is a tough one, kid, even for the most prepared of us. If your help is what keeps some of my nephews on the path… then Knacker will forgive you for the lost ones. I only ask that you do what you can."

Petrie was stunned into silence. He did not want to agree with the elder's modification of the terms, but he knew that he could not argue with the wisdom of his words.

"Want to take a peek back home?"

Petrie turned his head at the elder, not expecting the sudden change of subject. The elder merely shrugged.

"It's not like I will see it again. We will have to fly as soon as the Bright Circle sees us."

Petrie nodded and shifted his position so as to see in the other direction. "Petrie not mean to be rude, but you night blind, right?"

Knacker smiled. "You're a sharp kid. It is more of a gesture. Knacker wants to say goodbye."

This time when Petrie covered his eyes with his wing Knacker did not protest the action. The time for words had passed and the time for deeds had arrived. It was only after an appropriate period of time had passed that Petrie dropped the gesture and stared at the darkened terrain in front of him. Even if Knacker could not see the details of the lands he had departed, Petrie could take in their haunting pre-dawn hues. It was both a reminder of the journey that they had accomplished and a reminder of what was about to transpire.

This gonna suck.

Despite the foreboding that was filling his soul, Petrie did take pride in what he had already accomplished. He had persevered to the midpoint. If nothing else, unless something managed to eat him in the next day, he will have made it to the journey back. That alone was more than those who had sent him here had probably expected. Allowing himself to imagine the route back, he followed the terrain that was visible to him. The Red Cliffs, now clouded in darkness, stood a good day away. And he knew behind them, another day passed, stood the Land of Mists. Then, if he were lucky, home would beckon to him like a light in the darkness.

In fact he could almost imagine that right now as his tired eyes saw an odd glow in the distance.

"Now, Knacker can't see much with his fading eyes. But is that the Grassy Plains on fire?"

Petrie froze at the elder's question as he took a serious scan of the skies. Sure enough, where Petrie's poetic mind had imagined the land beckoning to him, he saw the dull glow for what it really was: a massive wildfire in the distance. Which meant that the clouds in the skies above were something far, far more ominous. Because where there was fire there was heat, and where there was heat there were unpredictable wind currents.

The journey back home had just become much more complicated.

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

"Wake up, you lazy pile of bones!"

Verpos did not get his friend the satisfaction of seeing him be startled awake as he intentionally, and slowly, rose from his perch. My friend, you are entirely too excitable.

"Come on, Verpos!"

The flyer groaned as he opened his eyes and noticed it was still not dawn. "You know, it is a good thing the Bright Circle is not up to see you acting so foolishly. Now what has gotten you so worked up, Ulan?"

"The fucking lowlands are on fire!"

Verpos had not exactly known what to expect as an answer from his friend, but the mere mention of fire was enough to make him quickly take to the air to see what Ulan was talking about. It did not take him long to see the horrific sight in the distance.

Though the night still prevailed over the landscape, the light from the fires enveloped the horizon in a ghastly orange glow. Against such a backdrop the stars, usually quite visible, disappeared from clear view. It was as if outside of the watchful gaze of the Bright Circle the stars of the ancestors had abandoned them. Leaving them to the glare of the uncaring Night Circle.

It was only then, as he stared at the scorched terrain in the distance, that the audible mutterings of fear and concern from the others made themselves known to his ears. It was obvious that any chance to get a longer rest on this third night was now at an end. For better or worse they would have to get by on what they had.

A growling from Verpos's stomach told another story, however. Sleep might be lost to them, but food was another story.

"We focus on eating, then."

Ulan looked at his friend as if he had gone mad.

Verpos put his wing on the other's shoulders. "My friend, if we are to survive this, then we need to focus on what is important. Once we get to the Land of Tears we will not sleep or eat until we get back home."

Ulan sputtered. "That's assuming we get home!"

Verpos sighed. "If we don't, then we don't. You know it is the Bright Circle's will."

He watched over the next few moments as Ulan's demeanor changed several times, from defiance to the thought of not surviving, to fear of the possibility, and then to confusion. You had not considered that as a real possibility until now. Have you, my friend?

Verpos sighed. "All we can do now is stuff our beaks so that we have the energy to get back. As for the fire and the winds… that will be up to the Bright Circle when it rises. All we can do is hope and offer our prayers."

Ulan sighed as he took that in. But then, almost as suddenly, his eyes took on a determined glint.

Verpos rolled his eyes in amusement. Here it comes...

"We also need to make sure that we get water! I will get some sweet bubbles before the younger ones snatch them all! You get the leaves and nuts!"

And just like that Ulan was in flight, hurriedly looking for their final meal in a long while.

Verpos snorted. "Whatever your faults my friend, you have initiative and confidence," he then turned to face the burning terrain once more, "I suspect that we will need it."

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

Enjoy the meal, young uns'. It will be the last one for awhile.

Knacker watched as his three nephews devoured the sweet bubbles, nuts, and leaves that had been assembled in front of the flyers through Knacker's previous efforts. For his part, Knacker ate little, not wishing to entice the coughing sickness into another bout of the terrible gasping that had characterized his last two seasons.

Ol' Knacker was stubborn enough to deal with the cough for six whole seasons! I can hold you off for one more day. I just need to see the end.

His thoughts resolved, he did however partake of a few of the seeds. He had always enjoyed them and, much like a flyer sentenced to die, he took the opportunity to enjoy his favorite food as a last meal. Unlike a criminal, though, he would take things into his own wings.

Knacker smiled grimly. He could not control when his body failed, but he could choose the manner of his end. After a life lived on his own terms he resolved to end it that way as well.

Enough of that. Knacker has already decided. Let's make sure the nephews are listening the ol' Knacker and eating! Andrea never did feed them enough seeds.

He turned his gaze to each of them in turn. The strong and broad-winged Talos stood at the right of the others, as always keeping the right watch from the perch on the bluffs. Unless a cataclysm struck him in the intervening days Knacker was sure that he would survive the journey just fine. Beside him stood Valen, a much more slender and agile flyer. He had no doubts that he could fight the winds, but it would be his lack of energy reserves that might be his undoing. And then there was Galen… the runt of the clutch. He had grown rapidly in the last four years of training for the journey, but the smaller build still remained, making him look like an older version of Petrie. He would have to pace himself if he did not want to join his uncle in death.

"Eat those seeds, Galen!" Knacker chided playfully, before using his wing to throw one into his nephew's beak.

Galen coughed at the unexpected gift. "Uncle!"

Knacker smiled. "Everyone should be so heavy they can barely fly today! All you young uns' will have plenty of time to crap it out on the way back!"

"That's really nice to hear while eating, Knacker!" Ulan protested from the bluff above them.

"Better than hearing about your courtship attempts!" Another flyer retorted from nearby.

"Yeah, that's a long story that goes nowhere that leaves the listener unsatisfied!"

"That's what she said!"

As the banter echoed around them Knacker allowed himself a chuckle. Oh, to have that much fire in my belly again! Not proper before the Bright Circle, but the young uns' will need that fire for what is coming.

It was then that a familiar flyer landed on the bluff. In front of Knacker's nephews Petrie's diminutive form appeared child-like. Which, now that Knacker thought of it, was because that he was.

"Uh… me heard Knacker talk about seeds so Petrie thought you have none." Petrie laid down four large nuts as if he were dropping a massive burden. "Me sorry to interrupt, me…"

Knacker smiled. Oh, no you don't...

---------

"Actually, Petrie, stay for a moment, will ya'?"

Petrie nearly tripped over his own feet as he hastily aborted his attempted take off. He then turned around and gave the slightest hint of a bow.

Knacker put a wing on Petrie's shoulder, a clear sign to anyone present that he considered him worthy of friendship. "I do not believe that I have introduced my nephews to you."

Petrie hesitated a moment as his beak opened and then closed. "Me not introduced, no." He finally admitted.

Knacker wasted no time in gesturing towards a rather robust and strong looking flyer. As Petrie looked upon him he could almost sense a bit of his uncle in the teenaged flyer. His eyes had a certain fire in them though his mannerisms were not unkind.

"This is Talos, the eldest of my dear sister's clutch. It is hard to believe it has been fourteen Cold Times already."

Talos bowed slightly as if replicating a ceremonial gesture. "Pleased to meet you, Petrie."

Petrie for his part replicated the gesture, lest he mistakenly cause insult at missing some unknown detail that he had not yet learned. "The pleasure all mine, Talos."

No sooner had he rose from his bow he was greeted by a wing on his shoulder and a somewhat thinner flyer looking at him as if he were an older sibling of Petrie's. This flyer had the build of a canyon flyer, as his mother would put it. A flyer who would try to outfly the wind itself.

"Petrie, is it? The name is Valen."

Petrie tried not to sputter at the forward greeting. "Glad to meet you, Valen!"

Both flyers, as if sensing that there was no way to break from the greeting without some share of awkwardness, quickly stepped back so that the customary personal space was between them. It was then that Petrie caught sight of the last of Knacker's nephews.

The final flyer, Petrie could quickly deduce, was not graced with either his elder brother's strength or his other brother's agility. Though larger than Petrie he almost looked like a replica of his reflection, a sign of what Petrie might become if this journey did not kill him first. Instantly Petrie's concerns grew. This be one me need to be worried about.

Petrie replicated Galen's bold gesture, clasping his wing on the other flyer's shoulder. "My name Petrie. And yours?"

The other flyer hesitated as if working up the will to speak. "Galen... Nice to meet you, Petrie."

It was then that Knacker's wing on his shoulder made Petrie pull away. Me do something wrong?

As he turned to look at Knacker, however, he only saw a knowing look. The doomed flyer had noticed the same thing that Petrie had. This would be the one to watch most closely.

Petrie nodded ever so slightly. Me know. Petrie keep promise.

And just like that the moment was over as both Knacker and Petrie looked at the three other flyers as if nothing had happened.

Petrie shifted his feet somewhat awkwardly. Between Talos and Galen being near his age and obviously being more prepared to be here, he was filled with doubts which had until then been restrained like a trapped ground fuzzy. Trying to drive those dark thoughts from his mind he posed a question to his new companions.

"You sent here by your mother?" Petrie asked, remembering a bit of what Knacker had told him at the end of the first night.

Talos nodded. "That's right! But we would have gone anyway. Our herd follows the Old Ways."

Petrie did his best not to cringe at the pride in Talos's voice and the obvious dig at those who would not follow the Old Ways. It was as if it were a veiled condemnation at the rest of his family.

Galen nodded as well. "Yep! We have been training for this for more than enough Cold Times. I am glad to get this done!"

Valen seemed to build up some courage that had been lacking earlier as he took on a jocular expression. "You just want to start courting females."

Galen merely smiled. "Don't hate me for my fine looks, brother!"

Neither Knacker or Petrie needed to look at one another before doing synchronized eye rolls. Talos, on the other hand, was noticeably more offended.

"Enough, you two! This is a sacred journey. We can think about females once we survive the Bright Circle's judgement!"

Galen and Valen both went silent at that as if they had been slapped by a chastising parent. Petrie kept his beak shut, but he felt more than a little offput by the reminder of his siblings' harsh words.

"The Bright Circle is not up yet, nephew," Knacker soothed, "It might be best to let them have their moment. A jolly heart is needed to confront the hardships that are to come."

Talos did not immediately answer but instead appeared to look past his uncle and Petrie. Petrie and the others quickly turned to follow his gaze. It was then that Petrie saw the spectacle that he had tried to put out of his mind since he had awakened on this morning.

The distant fire. It was as if the horizon was awash in flame.

Petrie sighed. "Momma wasn't joking when she said the flight back is hardest part."

Valen stepped forward and appeared to size Petrie up for a moment. "Did she only send you out or…"

Petrie shook his head. "You not there when Petrie explain story. But my family not follow the Old Ways."

Talos scowled which earned him a glare from Knacker. Talos, however, did not have any sour words for Petrie. "Then what made you choose to do the hardest of the Old Ways?"

Galen nodded. "Yeah! This isn't exactly easy."

Petrie snorted before cracking a slight smile. "Petrie's aching wings already tell me that. But… me out here not to prove something to my mother or because she make me. Me out here so that Bright Circle can pass judgement."

His words were interrupted by the sounds of a rock falling from the bluff and a hiss of annoyance to his left. As the small assembly of five flyers looked in the direction of the disturbance they could see two familiar faces.

Petrie kept his smile despite the rude interruption. "Ulan and Verpos want to hear story too?"

Verpos glared at Ulan as the other male sighed at being so obviously discovered.

"If it isn't too much trouble we would be honored to hear your story, little o- Petrie."

Petrie took a look at Knacker as if asking permission before waving the others over. "Alright, Petrie tell this story once because me need energy on way back."

The other grew noticeably closer as the other chatter on the bluff also grew silent. It was obvious that Petrie would have an audience of more than six. A chorus prepared to share his story in the likely event he were unable to survive the ordeal.

Petrie's eyes grew determined. This not be last time Petrie tell tale.

"Petrie begin this journey after eleven Cold times… but my path begin one Cold Time ago. It begin with me losing game of pinecone..."

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

The previous year:

"I've got it!"

Petrie focused on the scene before him as he willed his wings into a steady beat. Below him the verdant hues of the flat plain served as their play area for the afternoon. Compared to the wooded sections of the valley, it permitted the widest range of motion without any obstructions which any of them could crash in to.

As if on cue Petrie turned to avoid crashing into Littlefoot's side. He then swerved upwards in a desperate maneuver once he saw what was coming for his flathead friend.

"Oof!"

"Ha! Mine!"

Petrie could only roll his eyes as Cera pushed Littlefoot aside in something just less than a tackle, which sent the miniature pinecone into a rolling spin down the incline towards the side of their play area. It was here that Petrie stopped to take stock of the situation.

Me cannot get in way of Littlefoot or Cera or Petrie get smothered! But me can slip in when there be opening…

He maintained a circle in his flight pattern for several moments as his friends tired themselves out in the muddy field below. Ducky, Cera, and Chomper did their best to keep the pinecone away from their goal, a small hole in the ground, but Littlefoot and Spike's team had a very fast member in it to compensated for their bulky slowness.

"Toss it to me so that I can toss it!"

Petrie's eyes narrowed as Ruby's confident form gestured for the pinecone. As he did this he also allowed his attitude to decline ever so slightly. This Petrie's opportunity!

Ever so slowly he began to drop down and increase his speed, crumpling his wings so as to appear more like a projectile than a flyer. But he knew that if he were going to have a chance to snatch the tossed pinecone then he would have to swoop in before Ruby could grab it. From there he could push it in the direction of one of his friends.

Petrie aimed himself in front of Ruby's outstretched hands as he settled into a speedy glide. In three treestars… two treestars…

It was then that Petrie saw the pinecone sail from the threehorn's violent kick, sending a torrent of mud along with the small object of everyone's interest. But as it appeared to dangle in the air for several moments Petrie began to become aware of several things at once. First, the pinecone was indeed heading right towards the flyer's waiting body. But, second, that body was now being covered by a growing shadow. A shadow that looked suspiciously like Littlefoot's massive tail.

Petrie clicked his beak shut. This gonna hurt.

Luckily for the flyer he caught Littlefoot's eyes just before the disaster could materialize, but not before the slowed tail smacked into both pinecone and flyer sending them into an uncontrolled tumble across the muddy field. As the sounds of grunts and shouts gave way to the sounds of splashed mud and the frantic sound of rushing wind, Petrie put out his wings to slow the dangerous descent towards oblivion.

That was how he crash landed right into the puddle of mud that was their team's goal.

"Goodness, Petrie are you alright?"

Petrie did not move immediately as his frazzled mind processed the situation. It was only when the expected pain did not arrive that he realized that the only thing that had been lost in his crash landing had been his dignity.

Well, and the game.

"Urgh… there reason why Petrie hate mud." The little flyer muttered as he tried to leave the muddy prison that he found himself in. But, as he tried to reach for the threshold of the flyer-sized hole he noticed a problem.

His foot was stuck due to the suction of the mud. Great…

Before he realized it he was being grabbed by his swimmer friend. With the precursors to the Time of Great Growing she was no longer quite as small as she once was. This was only reconfirmed when she pulled him out of the mud in one stiff pull.

"Thanks, Ducky…"

The swimmer merely nodded as she quickly examined him. "Are you hurt, Petrie? Littlefoot hit you with his tail good."

"Me alright… Me guess he not see me very well."

It was then that the sound of running footsteps could be heard which nearly made Petrie go airborne out of fear. It was then that he realized that it was only the arrival of Cera, Spike, Littlefoot, and the others.

"I'm so sorry, Petrie. Are you alright?"

Petrie paused for a moment to look at his mud-covered body. "Well, me need bath now. But otherwise me okay."

The looks of concerned now turned into those of relief as Cera turned towards her longneck friend. "Nice going, flathead! We only get to be rough on one another, remember?"

Littlefoot looked offended for a moment but then promptly sighed and looked down. "I guess it had to do with everything being brown… the mud, the pinecone…"

Petrie rolled his eyes as he tried to scrape some of the mud off of himself so he could once again be airworthy. "...me."

Littlefoot nodded. "I guess that we need to be more careful or play a different game."

Spike grunted with some concern before proceeding to give Petrie a lick.

Petrie laughed. "It alright, Spike! Me can take care of it!"

"You are right, Spike! It is harder to find good games, it is, it is!" Ducky affirmed. "I am too good as swimmer and splasher… Littlefoot and Cera are too good at pinecone… Petrie is too good at hide and seek…"

"And I am the fastest because I am fast!" Ruby acknowledged. "This is a problem."

"Oh no!" Chomper exclaimed as he thought about the problem. "But we always do a lot of games so that none of us are too good at all of them."

Littlefoot nodded. "We can still do that for now, but I think that we will just need to be more careful."

"Hmph!"

Littlefoot sighed as he looked at Cera. "Fine, I will be more careful."

Petrie gave Ducky a look. "She never let him live this down."

Ducky shook her head. "Nope, nope, nope."

The banter continued for several moments as the now towering pre-adolescent longneck was half-teased, half-criticized by the yellow threehorn. For the others, however, the game question was still an open one as Petrie was confirmed to be fine.

"Well, swimmer and splasher might help Petrie clean off." Chomper suggested.

Petrie groaned as he did not like swimmer and splasher, but he could make an exception this time. "Me okay with that."

Ducky nodded. "And I am okay with that!"

"What a surprise it is that a swimmer wants to swim." Chomper teased as Ducky gave him a playful glare.

Spike, on the other hand, had a different response as his stomach growled so loudly that it even distracted Littlefoot and Cera from their argument.

"Uh… Spike might have a point," Littlefoot noted somewhat awkwardly, "I'm sure our parents will call us for lunch soon anyway."

Cera grunted. "Have to eat a few more trees so that you can keep on growing like a tree?"

Littlefoot smiled as his tail nudged her in the side. "You're growing too, you know? You're just mad that you can't get to the good treestars."

Much to Petrie and everyone else's relief, Ruby ran into the clearing and waved her hands before chuckling at their banter. "Maybe we can tease each other about eating after we all get to eat!"

The fastrunner was greeted by two glares for several moments before both dinosaurs could no longer keep up the facade, and they too began to chuckle at the situation.

"Yeah, I guess if we are acting like our parents in a valley meeting then that means that we should get some lunch," Cera finally muttered.

Littlefoot nodded. "Let's all meet up at the Snaggly Tree after lunch!"

This was greeted by affirmative grunts as everyone broke away to go to their respective families. It was quite telling that in the parting that no one even mentioned that Petrie's team had lost the game. It was good enough that everyone was happy and healthy.

With a final glare at his muddy wings, Petrie took off into the welcome blue skies and the glorious Bright Circle that bathed the land in its light. Within moments he was soaring many longneck-lengths in the sky where even Littlefoot's retreating form looked like a small buzzer. It was here that all problems, no matter how large, appeared miniscule and insignificant. Such was the blessing of the flyers.

It was exactly with that thought, and with the realization that he had some time before his mother expected him over for lunch, that Petrie's mind settled upon the Bright Circle once more. He had often asked the Bright Circle for help with big problems, but perhaps today he could ask for its advice on a small problem? Surely since the Bright Circle see everything it would also know of many games that the gang could play?

Little did he know that this thought would soon lead to disaster.

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

"Hey, Zagar, get a load of this guy!"

The small blue flyer quickly hurled himself up to the perch where his friend was sitting. True, he could have flown out from his perch and landed as normal, but he did not want to look like a scaredy-egg. So a vertical rise while still in the tree's canopy was the only thing that would do.

He gave the slightest exhale of breath when his talons landed on the branch securely. He then quickly walked over to where his friend sat in order to see what he could be focused on.

He was more than a little perplexed when he saw him looking at a smaller flyer.

"What is it, Culus? Did the kid take your treestars or something?

Culus glared at him before rolling his eyes. "If the moron had done that then I would actually be impressed. No, it looks like MeMe over there is keeping to the Old Ways."

Zagar blinked. "You mean he is going to do the big flight thing?"

Culus groaned. "No, genius, I am saying that he thinks that he is keeping the Old Ways. But do you honestly think this moron could pull something like that off?"

Zagar smiled maliciously. "No."

It was then that Zagar watched the flyer a bit more closely. They had come to calling the flyer MeMe due to how much it annoyed him. But MeMe, truth be told, actually seemed to be following the procedure correctly from what the elders had told him during their lessons the last time he was grounded. Some treestars was left for the Bright Circle, the flyer was alone, and he was talking to it in hushed tones.

Zagar paused for a moment. "Actually, I don't know. He seems to be doing it right, Culus."

"Are you daft? This little moron is acting like he is top flyer in the nest when he would die in the first day of the big test. You know what we think about big beaks who can't back it up!" Culus stared him down as if he were sizing him up. "Or are you so scared of MeMe?"

Zagar was taken aback. "Don't be silly! I'm just saying…"

"You worried that he is going to beak you to death?" Culus mocked with a playful smile, "You know the others would just love to hear about this. The mighty Zagar brought low by MeMe and his mighty snuggling stick!"

Zagar was now incensed as he went into Culus's face. "Don't be a miserable night-shitter, Culus. You know that isn't what this is about!"

His friend now smiled back. "Oh? Then you can prove it."

There was silence for a moment while Zagar tried to collect his thoughts.

"You know that the others will give me shit for this, right? I hardly think that giving MeMe shit is going to impress the girls."

Culus, for his part, nodded and leaned back. "Not at all, but if you remember you did dare me into shitting on a scary-looking threehorn. So consider this payback. I get to get talked to by the Elders for a lack of shit control, and got humiliated in front of everyone, and now you will get a talking to for pestering MeMe."

Zagar glared at Culus while he was greeted by a self-satisfied sneer as Culus began to examine his own talons.

"I will consider us even, Zagar. You know the rules of our little flock… we always pay our debts."

Zagar clicked his beak shut as he examined his friend. If there was nothing else that kept himself, Culus, and the others together it was a common resolve to be fair to one another. Pushing the revulsion down he looked at MeMe once more and then looked at Culus once again. "Fine! But we are even after this. No more of these stupid dares."

Culus nodded with a satisfied gleam to his eyes. "Agreed."

Zagar sighed as he turned to face the task ahead of him. But before he could take off he was greeted by a cough from Culus. "What now?"

"Oh, nothing much. Just wait for a moment while I get the others to watch this. After what I went through with your last dare I am not letting you off easy."

And with that Culus flew off, leaving Zagar to reflect upon the humiliating task ahead of him.

-----------

Petrie examined the work in front of him as he prepared for a brief prayer. Me have treestars… me not bring snuggling stick since Bright Circle say Petrie too old for that… and me have enough rocks so treestars not go away. It looks ready to me.

That was when muffled laughter could be heard in the distance over the roaring winds.

The small flyer sighed. His usual spot for this kind of talk with the Bright Circle had been chosen for its clear, unobstructed view of the bright orb. But this unobstructed view also made it popular for the cohort of flyers who were a few Cold Times older than him. As both the males and females of that age acted like his brothers on a bad day, Petrie had no desire to keep their company. Nonetheless, the task that he sat aside for himself took priority. Surely the Bright Circle would forgive some background noise in the distance.

Not even jerk interrupt talks with Bright Circle. Petrie assured himself as he put the distant sounds of conversations and laughter out of his mind and proceeded to push his stack of treestars to the edge of the bluff.

"Hello, Bright Circle. It Petrie again. I had a question for you if you have time."

Petrie waited the customary amount of time before continuing. He knew by now that the Bright Circle did not answer verbally, but still it seemed impolite to rush into things.

He ignored the laughter in the background.

"Petrie apologize for noise, some people are rude. But Petrie have small problem with friends. We growing too big to play some games together, and, well, you know many games Petrie is sure! If you could give Petrie some ideas, me.. I appreciate it!"

As was by now the customary ritual for him, he bowed his head, pushed the leaves out to the edge, and then stepped back as if to grant the Bright Circle some space.

It was then that he ran up against something blocking his path. Eyes widening, he swung backwards in order to see what had stopped him.

Only to see a young flyer looking straight at him with his wings folded.

"Perhaps you wouldn't have that problem if you played with the right kind of friends, MeMe."

For a moment the only sound that came to Petrie's consciousness was the wind blowing up against his flesh. Everything else went away. There was no smell, no sight besides the being in front of him, and no sensation. Instead a certain numbness came to him. A numbness born in confusion and shock.

It this happening?

The numbness disappeared in an instant as the flyer nudged him in the chest.

"What's wrong, MeMe? You can't hear right either?"

The laughter that had been background noise suddenly erupted again, but now Petrie could discern its character. It was a mocking laughter. He could also deduce that it was coming from a rather large audience.

Petrie did his best to keep his beak from quivering as the bitter taste of adrenaline touched the back of his throat. His mind was a confusing garble of conflicting orders. Flee! Finish the prayer! Beg him to stop! But in the end it was what the flyer did next that governed his next steps.

Zagar looked over at the other flyers who were watching the proceedings from the adjacent bluff. As Petrie briefly glanced that way he could see four males of around his age laughing at the proceedings with a few females looking on with noticeably mixed expressions.

"I guess MeMe can't speak right either!"

Petrie swallowed as his vision began to narrow at the flyer. When his voice did escape his beak he was shocked by its clarity.

"Me hear just fine. You do not. Otherwise you would know that Petrie praying."

A chorus of 'ohhs' and laughter erupted now from the unwanted audience as the flyer turned around with a widened eyes. It was at that moment, however, that Petrie realized several things in quick succession. One, he had just talked back to a flyer who was noticeably larger than him. And two: he had never fought one of his own kind before.

Petrie swallowed as he willed his body to not shake.

"What was that, MeMe?"

Petrie struggled to keep his eyes level with the other flyer. "You heard me."

Before he could understand what happened next he felt something collide into his chest as his back collided with the bluff wall.

"Stop it, Zagar!" a feminine voice protested.

"That's enough!" said another.

Zagar, however, was beyond caring as he proceeded to advance on Petrie. Petrie had little time to realize that he was being forced into a corner.

"No, I don't think that I did!" Zagat roared, "No one talks to me like that!"

Petrie's heart was pounding now that he realized his predicament. He was against the rock wall of the bluff and had no room to maneuver or to take flight. The voices around him became mere echoes as all of his focus was on the threat before him.

He had just enough time to see his adversary's wing slam into his beak. In that one instant everything went clear. Petrie's head felt fuzzy as no conscious monologue remained, but all the same his mental turmoil was resolved. There was only one thing left to do.

"By the ancestors, Zagar, stop!"

Petrie did not notice Culus grabbing his friend's wing. He also did not notice the sudden hesitation in Zagar as an opening for flight presented itself. No, as Petrie swayed and his talon's tried to regain a firm hold on the ground, it was something firm and hard that reached his consciousness.

A small rock. One of the rocks he had used to hold his offering.

What occurred next would be questioned in Petrie's mind for much of the next year. Could he have done anything different? Could there have been time to think up another course? But in such moments it is instinct more than thought that govern our actions, making us slaves to the images that come into our minds. In Petrie's case what came to mind were the pinecones from the game earlier. How he could use his talons and takeoff thrust to hurl them into the air. And as soon as that thought appeared it became his destiny.

As his heart thundered in his chest and his muscles burned with energy, Petrie placed all of his weight onto his talons. Then, with all of the force of a desperate takeoff, he kicked the small rock into the air as if it were a pinecone. At the same time sending Petrie himself into a tumble that only the ground eventually served to stop.

A deafening sound erupted on the bluff as the rock found its target. Zagar's head was twisted back at the impact as his beak slightly opened as if trying to speak. But it was not to be. Without any further sound or reaction, Zagar's eyes rolled into the back of his head as his body swayed like a reed and eventually began to fall over. Leaving Culus and his horrified companions to gaze upon Petrie's handiwork.

Petrie and Zagar both hit the ground at the same moment, but only Petrie got back up.

"We need to get help!"

"I'm outta here!"

The chatter around him gave way to the sound of panicked alert calls and retreating flaps as the once mocking audience surrendered to the terror of the moment. But none of that really registered in the flyer's mind as he scrambled for another rock. The only thing that he knew was that there still a flyer before him. Maybe he had missed?

As he gripped another potential projectile, however, his ears finally ripped the youth from his delirium. He heard whimpering.

Whimpering that wasn't his.

Petrie blinked, still staggering over the pile of leaves and small stones. That was when he finally saw the full extent of his handiwork.

It was something out of a nightmare.

Zagar's body still heaved with unsteady breaths as it lay where Petrie's rock had felled him, one of his wings covering much of his body and beak. His eyes appeared to stare at something in the distance as his body seized as if shivering in extreme cold. Behind one of them was a gash where the stone had done its work. And, beside the fallen youth, was the stone itself. The very stone that Petrie had kicked. A stone that was now spattered in blood.

Petrie blinked again in mute horror as the reality of the situation came to him. Me did this.

That was when the figure above the fallen flyer moved, making Petrie hesitantly grip on the rock again. Though now the will to fight was lost in him.

"MeMe… Petrie, just let me try to help him, alright?" Culus's voice choked out in something between a whimper and a plea. It was then that Petrie followed his gaze and realized what Culus was staring at.

The second rock that was now underneath Petrie. Culus thought that he might be next.

As Petrie hurriedly moved away from the second rock, Culus did not advance towards him or take any other offensive action. Instead he merely proceeded to shake his friend and whisper his name.

"Zagar, hey! Zagar, can you hear me?"

Petrie opened his beak to speak but then closed it. He was in a place where no words could undo what had been done. So, in that moment of confusion and terror he did the only thing that came to his terrified mind. He flew away as fast as his wings would carry him.

No one present dared to stop him.

My apologies for the delays, everyone. This entry actually constitutes my (late) entry for the January 2019 prompt challenge. I have now taken the strategy of trying to write 500 words a day in at least one of my stories without exception, so hopefully I will be more regular in my updates in the months to come. Currently it is looking like this will be the post schedule for the rest of the story:

By the end of April: Chapter 4 (response to the Conflict prompt response)

By the end of May: Chapter 5 (response to the May prompt)

By the end of June: Chapter 6 (response to the June prompt)

By the end of August: Chapter 7 (response to the August prompt) and the epilogue

Thank you all for your patience! I look forward to your thoughts and reviews. :)


OwlsCantRead: You are quite right in you suspicions, as this chapter has shown. We will soon see the aftermath of Petrie's attempt of self-defense and how the flyer's handle such disputes. Because in both the "past" story and the "present" story the time of no return is soon approaching.

Sovereign: Thank you for the review and the kind words. I am glad that you enjoyed the exchanges between him and his mother, and also between him and Cera. It is here where Petrie's own motivations have been questioned and also clarified. I also did enjoy creating the scene where the flying test was encountered. I find Petrie's siblings (at least as I imagine them) to be fun to write despite their obvious faults and excesses. In many ways they both show Petrie's strengths and weaknesses as a flyer through their respective traits. What Petrie has in abundance, however, is tendency for self-reflection and self-improvement as manifested through his commitment to the Bright Circle and abiding by its 'signs'. With the events of this chapter, however, I think that you have a new insight as to why Petrie might be doing this journey. The aftermath of what happened here will be explored in some detail in the next chapter.

Ducky123:  Thank you for the review. :)  Yes, Knacker's fate in this story is quite a sad one, though it comes after a long life. As for Petrie's greatest challenge... yeah, besides the obvious task fo the journey back home (and its high mortality rate) he must now elaborate upon a very difficult tale of why he is out here in the first place and confront the reality of Knacker's impending demise. But, as they say, one story's ending is another's beginning.  Petrie knows that this is the end of Knacker's tale, but is it the beginning or end of his own? Only time (and, in his mind, the Bright Circle) will decide.

Diddy:  Yeah, the previous chapter revealed much with regards to Petrie's thinking on things, but, as we have seen with this chapter, there is still much more to reveal.  I quite enjoyed writing the interactions with Petrie's siblings and their mischief during the flight.  In many ways this test that he passed was a way of showing a growing confidence in him despite his small size and uneasy constitution.  A confidence that played a role in the events of the chapter that I have just now posted.

As for Volant, I must admit that this dialogue was some of the most difficult to write, but also some of the most rewarding.  I see her as a parent who is conflicted with the understandable desire to have their children live and thrive, but also being aware that they need to choose their own lot in life.  She would not be one to deny Petrie the chance to do whatever his beliefs tell him to do, but she also wants to make sure that he is fully aware of the potential consequences and her reasonging for doing what she did. In many ways this represents Petrie's shift from being told what to do into being told to think of the consequences for himself.

Thank you all for your reviews and feedback! I hope that you have enjoyed the latest chapter.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2019, 10:13:42 PM by rhombus »

DiddyKF1

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Re: The Pursuit of Endless Day
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2019, 03:12:28 PM »
Nice to see another chapter from you! :smile

I honestly felt that this chapter didn't offer too much in terms of the plot, I guess except for that mysterious fire. I wonder what could have caused it, and will it play a role in a later chapter? Aside from that, as you mentioned, Petrie is becoming more conflicted with himself as he anticipates the journey ahead. It will be a long three days, and not only does he have himself to worry about, but he's got companions he may end up becoming responsible for.

The strong point in this chapter was once again the flashbacks. They are doing such an immense job at building Petrie's backstory leading up to this pivotal journey in his life. It seems that everywhere he goes, he's being made fun of, whether by his friends or by seemingly every Flyer in the valley. So continues everyone's tradition of having Petrie become laughing stock for every Flyer in the world, it seems. I'm sorta guilty of the same thing. :opetrie I was really intrigued by that religious touch you put into Petrie's character, if only it could've lasted longer had it not been for those troublemakers.

Finally, the ending of that flashback ... OMG! Surely, could he really have gone that far? It may have been accidental, but facing the prospect that he could have seriously injured, or worse, KILLED someone? What could the consequences have been? I'd be eager to find that out in a future chapter. This story is really turning Petrie into such a complicated and conflicted character. These explorations into his past are giving great ideas to how he got this far. You're really doing a good job, my friend. Take your time and keep up the good work on this! :Mo

Sovereign

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Re: The Pursuit of Endless Day
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2019, 03:31:14 PM »
This chapter introduced a rather surprising detail in Petrie’s past and changed the tone of the fic to a large degree. In the present, he is getting to know new flyers who might be of help later on but it also seems like his past is darker than we expected. We’ll see soon enough what kind of effect it had to Petrie’s life in the Valley but it’s likely there will be repercussions soon enough. Life is not fair, at least when it is filled with assholes like Zagar. :anger

I’ve quite liked Knacker’s role in this fic though that is probably because I usually like these kinds of old guiding characters. Still, the contrast between him and Petrie as well as the understanding they still have for each other make their relationship an interesting one. Also, the scene where his nephews get acquainted with each other seems to imply that they will have some kind of role to play later on.

The flashback sequences with the Gang are also a really nice addition as they show just in which ways Petrie has changed in the past years and how he is different from the character we’ve learned to know before. They also deepen the narrative regarding Petrie’s mentality and motives in this fic. As for the ending, Zagar certainly didn’t raise any sympathies towards himself. Petrie really is someone who seems easy to bully (I know it well :p) but Zagar really was insufferable. What followed was more than unfortunate and something nobody wanted but the damage is done, nonetheless. The pacing worked nicely there and even if the scene was a quick one, accidents seldom warn of themselves in advance and I think you showed that well here.

On the whole, the plot in the present advanced slowly in the chapter but considering Zagar’s end, it’s likely that there will be a major focus on the past in the next chapter and it’s more than probable that this tragedy changed Petrie in more ways than one. You’re doing a good job building different storylines in both past and present and it’ll be interesting to see how they’ll move forward. :)

rhombus

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Re: The Pursuit of Endless Day
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2019, 01:02:15 AM »
Fanfiction link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13019231/4/The-Pursuit-of-Endless-Day

Chapter 4: Trial by fire
“If you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm.”
~ Frank Lane

Petrie sighed as he finished his confession.  Now the truth was out to the pious flyers that, up until now, had been his companions.  Now they knew exactly what he was.

The silence dragged on.  The young flyer could only wait for the inevitable talon to drop.

“What kind of flyer attacks during a talk with the Bright Circle?”

Petrie’s body jerked a bit at the recrimination before he realized a few moments later that it was not directed at him.  He found himself staring at Talos who, like his brothers, now wore expressions of anger that were not directed at the killer in front of them.

“Yeah!  Surely no one can blame you for ending the fight,” Galen suggested

Petrie could only blink at the response from the audience around him.  As he briefly glanced at the others he only found the same expressions: pity, sadness, but no recrimination.

“But… me kill someone,” Petrie spoke in a voice that was barely a whisper, “You not upset that you fly with killer on this important flight?”

There was silence for several moments as Knacker appeared ready to fly over to speak to Petrie, but that was when another familiar body landed beside his. Never one to stand on ceremony, Verpos placed a wing against Petrie’s chest.

“This flight was meant to pass judgment on you, was it not?”

Petrie remained silent and merely nodded, obviously not understanding what Verpos was getting at.

“Then there are two outcomes, Petrie. One, you die in this awful spectacle in which case the Bright Circle will have made you pay its price - who are we to add to its judgment? Or, two, you do not die in which case the Bright Circle finds you not guilty.”

Petrie blinked at the explanation as the other began to nod and murmur with agreement.

“And, lad, killer or not you sound like better company than this Zagar fellow,”  Knacker added with the slightest bit of humor to his eyes,  “And trust me, I have lived long enough to see bad company.”

Petrie could only shake his head at the reactions.  Perhaps there was much about the Old Ways and the flyers who followed them that he still did not understand.

“Thank you,” Petrie finally said with a slight bow.

It was exactly at that moment that the first significant hints of light began to appear across the horizon.

Ulan snorted.  “No rest for the weary, I suppose.  Everyone ready for three days and nights of this shi… stuff?”

Verpos sighed and shook his head before looking at the first hints of the Bright Circle in an apologetic manner.  “Ready or not, my friend is right.  Let’s be on our best behavior for the Bright Circle. It will be watching us closely now.”

Knacker nodded. “Fly strong, live proud, die well.”

There was silence then as the old flyer spoke the commonly heard mantra.  Everyone knew what he meant.  This time when everyone raised their wings to cover their eyes in the traditional ritual, Knacker did not protest.  Petrie knew what that meant.

He do it today.

The moment ended as soon as it had begun as the flyers removed their wings from their faces and stared at the coming light.  It was an invitation for some journeys to continue and for at least one to come to an end.

As Petrie took off once more, possibly for the final time, he was not short on company as the flock ascended into the skies.  But in his mind he couldn’t help but replay the events that had led him to this place one last time.

Little did he know that he was not alone.

Petrie’s wings twitched as if in protest as tendrils of wind reached them that did not make sense.  Feedback from bodies that were simultaneously welcome but all together too close. It almost felt like he was back in formation again with his brothers.

He moved his gaze to his left.

The eyes of Knacker, Talos, Galen, and Valen all followed him ever as they kept their beaks forward-oriented in order to guide their bodies through the treacherous air.

He then gazed to his right.

Ulan and Verpos both flew in close formation.  A formation so close that one could hear the others against the wind.

Petrie couldn’t help but laugh at the display even though part of him wanted to cry at the same time.  They were awaiting the end of his song just in case.  For Knacker to tell it to the ancestors, and for the others to tell the living… just in case Petrie also joined the ancestors soon enough.

He forced his eyes into conveying gratitude and mirth as he spoke in a loud but clear voice.

“Thank you.  Petrie did not know what to do, so me go to only place me think of…”

---

One year ago:

If anyone had asked Petrie where he was going he would have not been able to give them an intelligible answer.  More so than at any other time in his short life his experiences and sensations felt as if they were happening to another person.  The wind against his wings, the thermals spotted by his eyes, the bluffs ahead of him, they were all being seen by someone else… all being controlled by someone else.  Everything in his mind told him that what just happened couldn’t possibly be real.

He couldn’t have done that… could he?

But in such times thoughts are often trampled under the stampede of mindlessness that is instinct.  As a result the entire flight was like a blur.  An incomprehensible cascade of images and sounds that faded into the background.  It was only when he landed with a loud thud that consciousness truly returned like a slap to the face.

“Ahhh!!!”

“Whoa!”

Petrie did not particularly appreciate the loud voices or the screams as his overwhelmed senses tried to make sense of the situation around him.  It took him a few moments to register that Brasko was shaking him.

“Petrie, what happened?”

“Stop, Brasko!  You might hurt him worse!”

The shaking suddenly stopped without any retort from his brother as Brasko allowed Valaria to examine her brother.  Now there were two faces staring back at Petrie with all of the intensity of the Bright Circle’s harsh glare.

Petrie forced his beak open.  His voice, shaky but certain, then felt as if it spoke of its own accord.  “Got in fight.  It got pretty bad.”

“Trampling threehorns!” Grondo exclaimed.

Brasko, on the other hand, looked at Valaria for a moment as if conferring with her silently before turning back toward his brother.  “With your friends or…”

Petrie merely shook his head.  “Ol-older flyers.”

His voice felt like his own again, some part of his hazy mind noted.

Valaria looked over at the other siblings.  They were all looking over at Petrie’s form with shocked expressions, but they all also carried more than a hint of uncertainty in their wings.  No one knew what to do.

“Grondo, go get mother,” Valaria order quickly.

This seemed to break an unspoken order among the siblings as muttering and whispers resumed as soon as Grondo’s form retreated into the skies.

Brasko stepped forward grimly and looked at his sister, “I will get one of the Elders.”

Everyone went silent in an instant.

---

Elders…

Instinct threatened to overtake Petrie again at that word, but some part of his wavering mind held firm against the tides of fear and confusion.  It was as if that single word encapsulated the full extent of what was happening… and the possible consequences.

Two flyers fought.  Either it would be resolved by the Elders or it would become two families fighting.  And considering how the fight had ended…

Petrie hesitantly moved his wing towards his beak.  Despite suspecting what the wetness was he was not prepared to have it confirmed.  As a red wing tip greeted his eyes he tried to choke back his fear.

“It’s alright, Petrie, we will get you cleaned up!” Valo noted in a frightened voice.  “Uh… I guess you can go to the drinking puddle and…”

Petrie paid his brother little heed as he examined his wing in silence.

Blood.  His own blood.

It was a silent confirmation of what had transpired and of how bad the fight had become.  And considering what he had done…

“No, you not clean Petrie up!” Petrie barked suddenly in a voice that made his siblings jump back.

Valo held his wings out in a placative manner.  “It’s al-lright, Petrie. Whoever hurt you is not here, we just…”

Valaria nodded, offering her best attempt at a reassuring smile. “Your wings are good and it looks like you just got a busted beak, but that will heal.”

Her words had the opposite effect of what was intended, however, as Petrie closed his eyes.  “Me hurt other flyer much worse-er.”

“Well, serves him right!” one of his brothers asserted before being agreed with by several affirmative nods.

Valaria, however, took on a grim expression.  “How much worse?”  She finally whispered.

Petrie merely looked down.  That was all the indication that she needed.

She sucked in a deep breath.  “Luca, get Aunt Frena and Aunt Wista here now.”

Luca looked back at her in confusion.  “Sis?”

Valaria looked at her brother grimly.  “We need to defend the nest.”

---

On the other side of the Valley, by the Snaggly Tree:

The massive longneck peered over the medium-sized tree with relative ease while taking the occasional bite of its green foliage.  To anyone who was watching from a distance she would appear to merely be enjoying an afternoon meal.  But her decision to eat here had another purpose entirely.

And Volant was seeing right through it.

With a smirk on her face, Volant landed on a rather enticing looking branch before the massive sauropod could snatch its accumulated leaves.

The flyer snorted upon seeing Grandma Longneck roll her eyes in an expression that did not appear to match her dignified and aged face.  “I thought it was my turn to watch our adventurous children,” Volant admitted.

Grandma Longneck nodded before grabbing some leaves on Volant’s branch, causing the branch to shake and the flyer to let out a surprised squawk. 

The sauropod could only smirk at Volant's look of mock indignation as she landed on a nearby branch.

The longneck then swallowed her quarry of leaves for a moment before speaking.  “Grandpa and I decided that two pairs of eyes were better than two.  Our grandson asked us a question about Blue Petal Plants this morning.”

Volant sighed before shaking her head with amusement.  She couldn’t help but look over in the distance at the rapidly growing preadolescent longneck.  “Those only grow past the Mountain that Roar.  Does he really plan on walking halfway to the Big Water?”

Grandma Longneck merely looked at Volant.

Volant rolled her eyes.  “Forgot who I was talking about for a moment.  Well, maybe they will think better of it.  They haven’t gone on one of their journeys in the last two seasons.”

Grandma peered over the tree again as she watched the threehorn kick a rock in frustration as Chomper and Ruby walked around awkwardly.  The fact that her son was saying something and that the threehorn’s grunted answers were somewhat audible in the wind confirmed that some kind of argument might be developing.  A quick headcount confirmed that everyone was there… Ruby talking to Chomper as Spike and Ducky looked on… Littlefoot trying to calm down Cera… and…

“I think they are waiting on your son,” Grandma noted before she took another bite. 

This made the flyer go silent for a few moments.  Petrie was old enough in flyer terms to be free during much of the day, even under the looser standards of the New Ways, but there was something odd about him not showing up on time with his friends.  Volant was not under any delusion that Petrie spent any more time with his siblings than he had to.

“That is odd…” Volant noted before taking a leaf for herself,  “My son does keep to the Old Ways more than his brothers and sisters so he might be talking to the Bright Circle about something.”

The longneck looked at the flyer for a long moment.  “Does that trouble you?”

Volant shook her head after a pause.  “My son and I have talked about it.  I will respect his future choices though I hope he does not go beyond his talks with the Bright Circle.  If it gives him peace, then who am I to interfere?”

Grandma Longneck took another bite.  “I suspect a similar talk will come in the future with our brave grandson.”

Volant couldn’t help but smirk.  “You think he has a bit of a herd leader in him?”

This earned her a snort from the longneck.  “He leads a little ‘herd’ with many kinds in it.  Makes trouble when life doesn’t give him enough trouble to keep him occupied.  And he has a lot of his father and our daughter in him.”

Volant thought about asking what that meant but held back, remembering that their daughter had long-since went to the Great Beyond.  Instead she asked another question that wasn’t really a question. “A lot of will in him then.”

Grandma Longneck smiled with her eyes.  “Bron’s reputation preceded him before he became a herd leader, while our daughter once got stranded on a tree branch.  If that tells you anything.”

Volant couldn’t help but laugh at the mental image of a young longneck somehow getting up a tree and then being stranded up there of all things.  “Did you ever tell him about that?

Grandma laughed.  “By the stars, no! Grandpa and I did not want to give him any ideas!”

This made both parents laugh heartily as they made sure once more that their children were still in the clearing by the tree. Their continued presence confirmed that all was well.  All except for one notable absence.

Volant sighed.  “Well, I should probably go looking for my son before Cera threatens to ram him into a tree or something.”

Grandma looked at her with surprise.  “You can hear what Cera is saying from all the way over here?”

Volant laughed.  “No, I am just assuming.”

The flyer prepared to take off from her perch with some reluctance.  She always enjoyed her chats with the elder longneck.  But if she could save her son a headache then it was worth it.

That was when her branch lurched.

“Grandma Long-” Volant began to protest before she noticed that the longneck was not anywhere near her branch.  Instead her perch had two new arrivals.

Her heart began to beat rapidly as soon as she identified the newcomers.  What happened?

She spoke in a much higher pitch than normal as she tried to force down the sense of growing dread.  “Frena? Wista?  What’s wrong?

Both of her sisters looked physically ill, with Frena’s blue hide appearing to sag on the branch even as she clung to it.  Wista’s brown form looked little better as she held her head up high, looking like a stubborn leaf that would not fall from the tree.  In the end it was her that spoke.

“Brosko, your son, tried to find you but he came to us.  We made sure that Elders Doran and Gravis were watching the nest before we came-”

Volant could barely control herself as she took a wing and practically grabbed her sister.  “Spit it out, Wista!  The children… are the children okay?  What happened?”

Grandma Longneck could only look upon the scene with a sinking heart as it played out.  Her head turned in the direction of the Rock Circle as if suspecting that a tough valley meeting was soon to be declared.

Wista swallowed.  “The children are fine… only Petrie was hurt.”

Volant gripped her sister’s wing as if ready to fly off at any moment.

“He is okay.  He will recover,” she continued, “He just got a bloody beak and some scrapes from the fight.”

“A fight?” Grandma and Volant exclaimed at the same time.

Wista nodded slowly. “Yes, a fight.  Zagar messed with the wrong flyer.”

Volant’s wings shook as her eyes narrowed in rage.  “The bully?  I will make sure that bent-beak won’t fly for a season!”

Both sisters went silent and merely looked at one another with a knowing and cold expression.  The sudden change in demeanor was not lost on Volant.

“What?” she asked finally.

Frena sighed.  “Your son already made quite sure that Zagar will not fly.”

Grandma Longneck’s face contorted into open-mouthed silence while Volant’s shifted into confusion, as if not believing what was being insinuated. 

Wista finally killed any doubt.  “Zagar began the fight, and Petrie ended it.”  She looked up with as much compassion as she could muster for her stunned sister.  “It doesn’t look like Zagar will wake up.”

Volant took off without another word. 

---

If anyone had asked Petrie what had happened since the Elders had arrived at the nest he would have been unable to give a coherent answer.  All that he knew was that in one moment an Elder was standing watch at the edge of his family’s perch and the next moment he alone was being guided into a cave by a formation of four adult flyers.  It was only when one of the elders landed and gestured for Petrie to follow that his numbed mind comprehended where they were.

A cave?

There was no answer to his unspoken question.  There was merely the other flyer gesturing for him to follow into the cavern’s unknown depths.

The somber journey continued then with Petrie following the flyer hesitantly while walking on his wings.  He had no idea if he was to fly or not so he did not dare try.  As such it took them several moments before the sudden influx of light in one path made him realize exactly where they were.

“The Cave of Many Voices?”

Petrie was horrified by the voice that left his beak.  Against the reflective walls of the cavern his words echoed like the wispy winds from a distant storm.  The elder flyer did not say anything immediately as Petrie’s hoarse voice echoed around them for several moments.  It was only when it died down that he spoke into the darkness of the chasm around them.

“Yes,” the elder began in a soft whisper, “I suppose that is one word for this place.  Some of the older flyers call it “The Place That Talks Back”.  It is a place to listen to our own words and to reflect.”

Silence fell upon them as the elder looked down at the battered flyer.  Petrie’s beak still contained dried blood which had congealed into a black stain upon his distraught features.  All the while the flyer’s body shook with uncertainty.

The elder sighed.  “This is a place to tell your side of the story.  To listen to your own words and to hear if they sound true.”

Petrie swallowed as he looked up at the male.  “What happen now?”

The elder’s voice did not reassure him as he refused to meet Petrie’s eyes.  “That is up to you, young one.”  he then placed a hand on his back and gently patted it, “Speak now.”

The young flyer’s mouth quivered as the expanse of the cavern appeared to stare back at him.  Despite being bathed in light from the ceiling openings, it’s numerous shadows hinted at things unseen.  At truths unspoken.  In many ways an audience of no one was more terrifying than being questioned by the entire valley.  Uncertain of what the elder meant exactly, Petrie turned to ask a question.

But no one was there.  It was just him and the cavern.

Petrie swallowed as his heart raced with nervousness.  He would have to relive the terrifying moments in his recollection if he were to obey the elder’s summons.  Almost every part of his body protested at him with pain and aches as his mind raged with despair.  But the light from the cracks on the top of the cavern prevented him from acting on his impulses.

The Bright Circle had seen what had transpired.  It would know if he lied.

The little flyer swallowed as he struggled to build up his courage, and to again face the events of earlier that day.

“Me… talk to Bright Circle after playing with friends,” Petrie hoarse voice began as its ominous echo resonated across the expanse, “Me was worried about us getting too big for some things and me ask it for advice.  But… but that when Zagar interrupt.”

Petrie sucked in a deep breath as he willed his voice to cooperate.  Dry eyes or not he would do what the elder had ordered.

“He say mean things to Petrie and then… and then other flyers laugh…”

"I guess MeMe can't hear right either!"

Petrie swallowed as his vision began to narrow at the flyer. When his voice did escape his beak he was shocked by its clarity.

"Me hear just fine. You do not. Otherwise you would know that Petrie praying."


“Me called MeMe and told me can’t hear right… tell Zagar that me praying and that me hear just fine, and that me praying.  And me not back down when he threaten me.”

Before he could understand what happened next he felt something collide into his chest as his back collided with the bluff wall.

"Stop it, Zagar!" a feminine voice protested.

"That's enough!" said another.


Petrie was practically laying on the ground now as if trying to fight off the unseen attacker.  “And then he knock me to rock wall… and then he hit beak…”

Petrie tried to catch his breath as he touched his beak as if to confirm that it was still there.  His beak then clicked nervously.

"By the ancestors, Zagar, stop!"

Petrie did not notice Culus grabbing his friend's wing. He also did not notice the sudden hesitation in Zagar as an opening for flight presented itself. No, as Petrie swayed and his talon's tried to regain a firm hold on the ground, it was something firm and hard that reached his consciousness.

A small rock. One of the rocks he had used to hold his offering.


“Me… me not know what to do!  Me not know if he done or attack Petrie again!  Me too weak to stop Zagar with wing or beak!  But then me remember pinecone game and how Petrie throw pinecone… and me throw rock.”

Petrie blinked, still staggering over the pile of leaves and small stones. That was when he finally saw the full extent of his handiwork.

It was something out of a nightmare.

Zagar's body still heaved with unsteady breaths as it lay where Petrie's rock had felled him, one of his wings covering much of his body and beak. His eyes appeared to stare at something in the distance as his body seized as if shivering in extreme cold. Behind one of them was a gash where the stone had done its work. And, beside the fallen youth, was the stone itself. The very stone that Petrie had kicked. A stone that was now spattered in blood.


Petrie’s eyes went wide as the image appeared in front of him again.  It was all that he could do to cover his eyes and shake his head to make the image go away.  In the end his own echo appeared to condemn him.

“...and me throw rock.”

Petrie could only shake his head.  “Me wish it happen some other way.”

This time his voice did not echo. Instead the small flyer was left with silence as the cool light from above continued to bear down in the desolate chamber.  Against the oppressive silence and his own conscience Petrie finally allowed himself to curl up and weep.

Petrie had no idea how much time passed then.  Against his shut eyelids and tears it could have been moments or eternities as far as the flyer was concerned.  It was only now in the silence that the true weight of his plight fell upon him.  He had hurt another flyer grievously and now Petrie’s own fate was unknown.  All that he did know was that in the oppressive blanket of reality that now surrounded him he had no further control over his fate.  It was now in the talons of others.

Over an imperceptible span of time Petrie wiped his eyes and allowed himself to gradually calm down.  There was a strange serenity in knowing that nothing more could be done.  His fate would soon be decided by someone and there was nothing he could do about it.

When he finally did open his eyes and took in the muted hues of the cavern once more it took him several moments to process what he was seeing.  Because underneath the canopy of rock and the backdrop of reflected light something new now took residence among the shadows.

Flyers… were they there the whole time?

Eight elderly faces greeted him in the distance as they sat in repose among natural crevices in the rocky canopy around him.  Their eyes were almost opaque in their emotions as their beaks stared down at him like accusatory fingers.  Among them there was only one face that he recognized.

Swooper?

The large flyer’s unseeing eyes appeared to stare into the young flyer’s soul as he nodded slightly to himself.  It was as if he were listening to a melody that only he could hear.  When he did speak it came out as a solemn whisper.

“There is no lying in this young one.  Swooper would have heard it otherwise.  He has spoken his truth.”

The other flyers slowly nodded at this as one of their number clicked his beak three times in slow succession.  All the while he did not take his gaze off of Petrie.

Petrie was confused for a moment until a familiar face arrived at his side.  It was the elder that had abandoned him here earlier.

“You may go, Caran.  Join the guard out front.  Petrie has only spoken truth to this council.”

Petrie watched with equal parts surprise and horror as the large adult sighed with relief and bowed to the elder.  “It will be done, Elder.”

Petrie opened his mouth to ask a question, but just like that the flyer darted out of the cave.  Again leaving Petrie in the cavern.  He could only imagine what would have happened if he had not told the truth.

The young flyer turned around again, his head hunched down as if weighted with stones.  Unlike last time he now knew that he was not alone.  In the absence of any confirmation he could only guess what would have happened if he had lied.

It was only with the greatest reluctance that he opened his beak to speak.  A quick wave of the main elder’s wing quickly silenced him.

“The accused has spoken.  Now the wronged will get to speak.”

Petrie could only swallow the lump in his throat.  This did not sound good at all.  But part of him was hopeful.  Wronged?  Does that mean Zagar get up?  Hesitantly he looked around for any sign of the young flyer.  Though he had been wronged by him Petrie knew well enough that a recovered Zagar meant that his worst fears were unfounded.

It was exactly at this moment that one of the elders launched herself from the cavern wall and landed on the ground with a tremendous thud.  As soon as Petrie met her eyes, his sudden burst of hope died as quickly as it had hatched.

The female was not one that Petrie recognized in particular.  To him she was merely one of the elders of the valley flyers; a bluish female with an old and wizened face.  But now as he stared into her piercing eyes he could identify this flyer.  There was only one person she could possibly be.  As a result her introduction was not a surprise.

“I am Escal, Elder of the Valley, sister of Allus and watcher of her clutch.  When my daughter met her end I gave my vow to the Bright Circle that all of her children would be safe.”

Petrie’s eyes went wide as the female fixed him with a piercing glare.

“And today you have made me a vow breaker.  My nephew is dead.”

---

“Where do you think he is?  Petrie is not usually this late, oh, no, no, no.”

Cera could only groan at her friend’s question.  As the threehorn aimed her growing horns at a nearby tree she scrapped the dirt with enough force to send a torrent of dust behind her.  That was everyone’s cue to make a path for the soon to be charging threehorn.

Ruby, meanwhile, continued to study a pinecone suspiciously as if it held all of the answers to their unspoken question.  This did not tell Chomper anything, however.

“Whatcha’ thinking about, Ruby?”

Whether it was due to a desire to get some distance from Cera’s upcoming tree massacre or mere curiosity, Littlefoot decided to trod over to the pink fastrunner as well.  As did Spike as soon as Ducky encouraged him to depart from an enticing-looking bush.

The fastrunner sensed the growing audience and did not speak immediately.  She instead turned over the pinecone in her hand a few times before nodding.

“I have been thinking about pinecones since our last game of pinecone.  We are all big enough to be safe in the game…”

A deafening slam and the sound of cracking bark interrupted her words as Cera’s charge met its inevitable conclusion with her slamming into the tree.

“...as long as only Littlefoot gets to be hit by Cera.”

The longneck’s head may have now towered over most of his friends, but even they could sense the sauropod’s eyes rolling.  “Lucky me.”

Ruby then held up the pinecone for emphasis.  “But Petrie is in danger when he plays near the ground!  So maybe next time each team can get a flyer and they can only pass.”

The sound of an audible thud could be heard as Cera suddenly aborted another attack on the tree.  She then turned around.  “So each team can have passers in the air?”

The fastrunner nodded.  “And that way no one gets crushed!”

The threehorn thought about this a moment before fixing her eyes on the tree again.  Then she began to retreat in preparation for another charge.

Littlefoot watched her warily before taking on a slight reassuring smile for the sake of his friends.  “That might work, Ruby!  Though… if Guido is the other flyer then we need to be in a place with more trees.  He is a glider, not a flyer.”

Ducky nodded.  “And we would have to use a smaller pinecone otherwise Guido would be knocked down!”

A final deafening slam emanated in the background as Cera met her target.  This was followed by the sound of splintering wood and an audible creaking as snapping bark adding to the impromptu symphony of violence.  A symphony that only ended when the tree crashed into the ground with a deafening crash.

None of the gang spoke for several moments as their ears adjusted to the sudden report from the fallen tree.  In the end it was Chomper who spoke first as he gave a shrug to Cera’s handiwork.  “Yep! We don’t want Guido knocked down like that tree!”

Despite her anger this actually earned a snort from Cera, “If Petrie doesn’t want the tree treatment then he had better hurry up!”

Littlefoot sighed as he lumbered over to Cera’s position by the fallen tree.  “I’m sure Petrie must have a good reason to be late.”

Cera growled as she watched a flock of flyers fly to the west.  “He had better…”

Both the sauropod and threehorn watched the parade of flyers for several moments as a dozen rapidly turned into several dozen, and then an uncountable multitude.  That was not what caught their attention, however.  What caught their attention was the usual screeching from the flyers.  Or, rather, the complete lack of it this time.

The flocks were completely silent.

Both Cera and Littlefoot looked at one another with concerned expressions.

“Children.”

Every head turned towards the voice as Grandpa Longneck’s elderly face greeted them back.  His long neck appeared hunched over more than usual and his eyes appeared more tired than he could remember.  Neither of these signs was lost on Littlefoot.

“Grandfather?  What happened?”

---

Petrie could only stare at the elder female in shock as the revelation worked its way through his consciousness.  He had not only killed another flyer; he had killed a flyer under the protection of an elder.  In light of the heavy burden of guilt that now hobbled him there now was the fear of what was coming.

When she slammed her beak shut the resulting sound cracked the cavern.  It was as if she had struck everyone who was listening.  She then raised her wing to gesture at Petrie’s diminutive form.

“Is this what we want for the valley?  A place where a flyer who can’t take his blows can summarily kill?  I watched my nephew and his siblings grow into young flyers and had hoped to see them fulfill the Old Ways as my daughter and our ancestors would have demanded.  If anyone was to judge my nephew it would be the Bright Circle, not this-” her voice hissed in anger before waving her wing dismissively at Petrie, “-nephew of an exile.”

The shock quickly wore off as Petrie watched the display from the angry female.  In its place was a growing sense of unease.  She want things to be even…  she want Petrie to die?

The aunt then covered her head with one wing as she looked away from Petrie.  It was then that he could hear her heavy breathing.  Each breath, labored and heavy, lasted for a few moments.  It was only after a pause that she looked back at the young flyer.

For his part Petrie couldn’t meet her in the eyes either.  His gaze merely looked her in the knees as he tried to avoid her piercing gaze.

“Look at me, child.”

Petrie took a deep breath before following the female’s command.  Between the horror of what he had experienced and the slight to his lineage his expression came across more as a glare than a sympathetic expression.

Escal met his expression with equal fierceness as they stared at one another for several moments in a nonverbal standoff of wills.

“A friend of my grandson held his wing so that he would stop.  Did you not see this?”

Petrie opened his beak but then quickly shut it as he thought back to those horrible moments of terror and pain.  “Me did not.”

She raised an accusatory wing.  “Those who were there saw it…”

“How was Petrie supposed to see anything?  Me bleeding from beak and scared!” he practically shrieked at the female, “What me suppose to do?”

She snapped her beak in anger, “You could have shown some backbone and stood your ground instead of being a coward!”

Several elders quickly leapt from their perches.

“Coward?” Petrie spat out, now beyond caring.  As far as he knew he was already dead.  “Attacking smaller flyer is what coward do!  Me not begin fight, but me end it!”

Petrie barely had time to react as Swooper’s massive form enveloped him, protecting him from the now enraged female.  Now as blind as the flyer which held him down he could not see Escal being held down by several of her peers.

“That’s enough, Escal!”

“By the ancestors, it is!  You know what honor demands!”

Swooper could only raise his head as he allowed Petrie to walk away from his massive form.  “I might be old and blind, but even Swooper can see there is no honor in killing a young one.” He tracked his unseeing eyes to the last place he had heard her voice.  “You’re better than this, Escal.”

Petrie staggered around for a moment before finding his footing.  When he did he could see Escal pacing behind the seven other flyers.  Her steps were as uncertain as his own.

“I used to be better than this.  Now I am no better than any other vow-breaker.” she grabbed ahold of one of the elders’ wings, “I vowed to my dying daughter and to the Bright Circle!  I vowed with all of my honor that I would do right for her clutch.  I know… I know Zagar and some of the others were getting to the Time of Chaos, but even still I… I…”

Two of the elders were there when she collapsed to the ground, letting out an ear-piercing shriek of grief which was only magnified by the reflective walls of the cave.  As Petrie held his ears at the auditory onslaught and watched the horrific scene play out in front of him, he could only imagine his own mother in a similar situation.  Would this have been his mother if Petrie had met his end today?  Might it be her once Petrie faced “justice”?

He looked at the others in turn now.  At the male elder who was trying to comfort the female.  He did not know his name, but he had been the main talker of the council.  At Swooper, who continued to guard the region between the small flyer and his accuser.  And at the others, who all wore similar expressions of regret.  No one wanted to be here today.  No one wanted to be faced with this terrible dilemma, but the events of the day had forced their wings.

Petrie sighed and bowed his head.  He had no idea what to do here, but his mother had always told him that understanding would take you far.

What would Petrie do if friend killed?  If was a valid question in many ways.  He had friends that often got themselves into trouble.  Would he be able to fight the impulse to want revenge if suddenly one of them met their end at the claws of some sharptooth?  Or one of their own kind after a dispute?  Would me feel different than her?

He closed his eyes.  No, probably not.

He looked up at the cracks in the cavern which provided its only light.  They were small enough to permit perhaps the passage of a single small flyer.  If he truly wanted to escape this he could… but there would be one witness he could not escape even if the Bright Circle was not there.

Himself.

He looked over at the elders once more.  They were still off of their perches and several were milling about as if wondering what to do.  If it were any other circumstance it would almost be a hilarious sight.  Instead it just made him feel even more uneasy.

Petrie lightly tapped one of the elders on the wing.  “If, um, me prisoner then one of you need to watch sky lights.”  He then gestured towards the cracks above.

The female elder merely looked at the boy with a sad expression before nodding.  Within a few seconds she had returned to her original perch, guarding the cracks above.
 
"You're better than your uncle then.  You don't fly away from your actions."
 
Petrie jerked back as he tried to spot who had said the comment.  Much to his surprise he quickly realized that it had come from Escal.
 
Her face now fixed him with a curious stare.  The anger was still there, but there was something else as well.  Something that Petrie couldn't quite place.
 
"Me not fly away unless it what that... um... council want."  Petrie hesitantly answered.
 
"Petrie," Swooper cautioned, but Petrie continued.
 
"Me not know, uh, anything about any of this.  How any of this works.  Me just want it to be over.”

The female appeared to consider this for several moments as she rubbed her eyes.  Gone was the rage from Escal, or the cold glare from before, and in its place was something Petrie would have expected from an elder: an almost contemplative expression.

Swooper sighed as several of the elders looked at Escal expectantly.

“Exile would be a death sentence, child.  You are not familiar with the Old Ways and lack strength for that burden.”

Petrie blinked.  “Me thought you wanted me dead?”

Escal practically growled as she looked away.  “There are deaths, and then there are deaths, child.  There are good ways to die and then there are dishonorable ones.  If your mother had taught you right…”

Petrie glared but held his beak.

“...you would be strong enough to have ended the fight with only wing and beak.  And you would be strong enough for the test of justice for things such as this.  Now what am I faced with?  Adding to this injustice with one of my own?” 

Petrie blinked in confusion which made the female sigh in exasperation.

“I am no fool, child.  I know my nephew was brutish. Many children of his age are.  It is the curse of males of our kind that only time sometime corrects.” She then sighed as she looked upon him with a mournful expression.  “He will never get that chance now.  And what can be done to fix that?  Nothing.  Nothing without adding to this tragedy.”

She shook her head sadly as her voice turned mournful. “But doing nothing is no solution here.  The Old Ways are what keep our kind ordered.  Without them our vows are but words, and our deeds are but claims.  But what does that leave me with?” she shrugged desperately, “Having this council let you go and then resorting to keeping my vow as the Old Ways would demand?  A vendetta that would leave our families broken until blood had been met with blood?”

Petrie was taken aback by this.  “Why not use a New Way?”

“My destiny was made long ago when I made my vows, young one.” Escal said solemnly as she examined the small flyer from a distance, “I don’t have it in my heart to meet blood for blood.  Perhaps a last flight is in order…”

Several elders raised their heads in alarm.  “Now, Escal…”

Escal waved them off.  “It is my life and my wings.  A vow-breaker is as good as mud and to that mud I would return.  It is the only way that the honor of my line would be upheld.  It is the only way.”

Despite her arrogance and intransigence, Petrie could only look upon Escal with pity.  She had come across a chasm that she could not fly through.  A maze of her own creation.  No matter what she did it would result in deaths.  Even a sacrifice of herself would not be the end of it.

“If you die then your family still attack mine, and if me die then my family still attack yours,” Petrie deduced solemnly.  “How would you… doing that... fix this?  It sound like it only make it worse-er.”

“Aye,” A male elder agreed, “Sacrificing yourself would solve nothing, Escal. It would be just as pointless as killing Petrie.  And I know you don’t want to do either.”

And there it was.  Petrie was no fool and could suspect what the price would be for the death of Zagar, but up until now it had never been directly stated.

She nodded sadly as her head hunched down.  “I wouldn’t do it and this council would not let me.  But you know as well as I do that I cannot control the rest of the family.  If the Bright Circle can’t decide then you know what tradition requires.  You know how this will end.”

Petrie lowered his head in thought at the somber words of Escal.  Now that the emotions of defensiveness and indignation had retreated what remained was a sense of helplessness.  They were both trapped now, him and her.  Both wanted to do what was best for their families, but there was no clear path forward.  The only thing that was sure was that Petrie had killed and in any possible conclusion he would most likely pay with his own life.

He took a deep breath as he stared at the beams of light emanating from the cavern ceiling.  In the darkness of the cave it looked more like an echo of something in the distant past.  A reminder of how much simpler the world was merely moments ago.  But also, in its own way, a reminder of what there was left to protect.  His family, his friends, his pride...  He may not be able to save himself, but he could save either family from terrible choices.
 
He narrowed his eyes with determination.  “Is... there is some way to let Bright Circle decide?  If there is… Petrie will do it.”
 
And with that Petrie’s fate was sealed.

---

“This should be a valley matter!”

Caran swallowed as he and his two companions stared down the angry threehorn.  The fact that she could not fit through the opening was little consolation when she and the longneck could encourage Petrie’s other friends to do the same.

Reluctantly Caran stepped forward towards Cera's angry form.  “Ms. Threehorn, we flyers would not interfere with a threehorn matter.  We hope that you can do the same.”

“He is our friend!  He is, he is!” A swimmer stepped forward that Caran’s mind quickly deduced was Petrie’s friend.

“And he was defending himself!” A booming voice protested from the adolescent longneck.

Caran took a deep breath as he examined the scene before him.  The well-known gang of seven stood before him against the backdrop of hundreds of flyers perched on the bluffs all around them, causing even the vine-covered rocks to appear brown in the communal gathering of bodies.  They were all silent and solemn as the situation demanded, with the only possible bellgerents having been secluded in the chamber or their nests.  The Elders had seen to that.

“Children.”

The feminine voice surprised the flyer before he realized who it was from.  Then he grew increasingly concerned.  His mother...

Volant landed in front of the children with a soft thud as she raised a plactive wing towards them.  All the while speaking with an almost terrified voice.  “Children, this is something that cannot be interfered with.”

Perhaps it was the tone of her voice but the children quietly down immediately.

“But we have to do something!” Littlefoot protested, “Petrie is our friend.  We should be able to support him.”

Volant looked uncertain as she looked to Caran.  He merely nodded, answering the unspoken question.  He was not foolish enough to lie.  The blind listener heard none.

“The best thing that can be done is to see what they decide, children,” Volant spoke with some relief, “When he comes out… we will give him as much support as possible.”

The fastrunner looked surprised.  “You are Petrie’s mom.  Shouldn’t a mom be in there if they are.. deciding what to do?”

Volant took a deep breath before bowing her head.  “It is our way, children.  He must face this alone.  And then we will do what we can.”

“Indeed we will!” the yellow threehorn affirmed with a booming voice before storming off in the direction that many of the other land-based valley residents had congregated.  The longneck, though sighing, followed her lead.  Soon so did the others.

Caran could only look at the somber scene with equal parts sadness and cynicism.  For many of them this is a spectacle, but for us flyers this is a tragedy.

“Caran?”

He focused again on Volant before nodding.

“My son… did he say what happened?”

“It was self-defense, but you know as well as I that that does not change many things.  I cannot say how the council will decide, but you know that they will want to limit reprisals.”

“Of course.  What are two families when it comes to the flock?” she practically spat out the words, but she did not refute them.  With the utmost reluctance she then flew over to the massive audience of her own kind, joining the multitude of bodies as just another observer  She would have no choice but to watch the decision like everyone else.

It is our way, Caran thought to himself.  It was both an affirmation and an accusation.  It is our way because the alternative is so much worse.

Several long moments passed then.  Against the expectant stares and the muffled conversation was an emotion that hang on the wind.  It was a certain tension that even a talon would have difficulty cutting through.  Both unseen and ever-present.

He did not hear the flapping of wings until Escal was behind him.  “I will announce the decision of this council.  To remove all hostility and to remove all doubt.”

Caran turned around slowly to face the elder female’s stone cold face.  In neither her words nor her eyes was an indication of what had been decided.  But the solemn words clearly indicated what had happened.  There was only one way to resolve such disputes without bloodshed.

He swallowed in fear for what would soon befall the child, but dutifully stepped aside.  Then, like everyone else in attendance, he merely looked upon the female in trepidation.

“Will my kin rise?” her voice commanded with a booming firmness that sounded impossible from someone so frail.

Several dozen flyers disrupted the orderly brown haze on the bluffs by raising their wings in unison.

“The Old Ways will be fulfilled here!  There will be no vendetta!”

The muttering among the flyers reached a fever pitch as her kin slowly sat back down upon their perches, some with relief and others with disappointment.  Against the backdrop Caran could see Volant being attended to by a few others as she finally allowed herself to mourn.  She knew what the Old Ways meant in this context.

Caran closed his eyes.  Good luck, kid.

“Petrie has decided to perform the Pursuit of Endless Day.  The Bright Circle will decide his fate and no one else.” she then gestured at the Bright Circle’s luminous form in the sky with a shaky wing, “May it remove all hostility and remove all doubt!”

The flyers then said those words in unison, creating a deafening chorus that appeared to emanate from the ground itself. 

The trial was over.

---

Grandpa Longneck could only look upon the proceedings with a mixture of disbelief and disgust as Petrie’s small form was led away by three elders towards his nest.  As if in a mockery of any consideration for his distraught mother, she was forced to follow them from a distance.

“This is insanity.”

The longneck looked at the threehorn with a tired expression.  “My friend, I have to agree.  This will only end in tears.”

This agreement did little to appease Topps as he scrapped the ground in annoyance.  “Were Petrie a threehorn the matter would be settled.  If someone starts a fight then they have no right to complain about how it ends!”

Grandpa Longneck could only sigh. “It… is a little more complicated with longnecks.  But, yes, our herds generally follow that rule.”

“So what can we do?”  Grandma Longneck asked softly, “Because if we can’t do something then you know what our children will do.”

There was no disputing this unquestionable truth as the adults looked at their children in the distance. Where before there were six friends impatiently waiting on the flyer, now there were six dinosaurs on the warpath.  Who were already talking in hushed whispers as they eyed the general direction of Petrie’s nest.

“And if they do something it will very likely cause the death of more flyers,” Topps deduced, “Urgh! And I thought longnecks were stubborn!”

It took Topps a few moments to realize that the sauropods were staring at him.

“So what are our options?” Topps quickly changed the subject, “If Petrie leaves the valley without this stupid test then we will have flyer fights for seasons to come, but if he goes as he is, well… I mean look at him.”

“He wouldn’t stand a chance,” Grandma Longneck admitted.

“Exactly,” Topps agreed, “The boy needs to thicken up and start training for whenever this thing is.  It looks like he could be blown over by a light breeze.”

This made everyone pause for several moments as the flyers continued to fly from their perches as the trial proceedings broke up.  The flyers, just like the moments until the test, were slowly flying away from them.

“Volant and I talked about the test back when Petrie was excited about it several seasons ago.”

This made both Grandpa and Topps turn towards Grandma Longneck with surprise.

“He talked about this before?” Grandpa asked.

She nodded.  “It is part of their Old Ways, it seems.  Like our Big Longneck Test.  And Volant told me that there was only one person in her family that passed the test in the last generation.”

Topps nodded.  “Now that is an idea!  Someone can train the little pile of bones into something!”

Grandma nodded.  “Yes, but, he is not in the val-”

Topps stomped. “Well then surely a flyer can go fetch whoever this is.  Look, unless we want to watch our children every moment of every day while they wait on their friend to die in this stupid flyer test, we need to help,” he looked at the longnecks assertively, “Now who is this supposedly amazing beak-brain who survived this before?”

Grandma Longneck merely looked at Grandpa Longneck and sighed.  It was at that point that he knew that an evening of arguing lay ahead of them.

“Pterano.”

---

The present:

"Me spare you all the training talk.  You already be through that on your own.  But that Petrie's story."

There were no words for several moments as Petrie's ears were overwhelmed by the sound of rampaging wind from their headlong rush to their final destination.  In the silence the young flyer could feel his own anxieties and uncertainties grow as a small rock grew in the distance.  A rock that soon took on the appearance of a giant spire of stone rising in the distance.

"Thank you for the story, Petrie!" Talos yelled over the roaring wind.  "But I guess we need to conserve energy now?"

"Aye!" came the shout from Ulan's beak as he and several of the others spread out into a wide triangular formation so as to make collisions less likely.

Petrie bobbed his head as if nodding and then quickly elevated himself so as to slow down his forward velocity.  Then, with a carefully maneuvered swerve, he took his place behind Knacker and his three nephews.

The massive rock in the distance continued to grow as the flyers continued on in silence.  Its towering heights extended into the clouds like a gigantic talon poking the sky.  All around it stood flat desolation.  All the while the blazing hot glare of the Bright Circle beat down on the surroundings and on the struggling flyers.  There were now no doubts as to where they were.

The Land of Tears, Petrie thought as he gazed upon it with sad eyes and recited the old warnings, The last place we see while everyone still alive.

He had no idea how right he was.

------------
Thank you, everyone, for your reviews!  I would also like to thank TheWasp1995 and Historian1912 for looking over this chapter prior to its publication. I greatly appreciate your help!

DiddyKF1: You are quite correct that the previous chapter did not offer much in the way of plot in the 'present' scenes and, to be honest, the same can be said of this chapter. The focus has been on the past scenes here in order to establish what befell Petrie and led him to this place. From here the focus is going to shift to the present for the most part, although we shall see some elements of his past. Now that Petrie has had a trial by fire in the caverns he is going to face his true trial by fire in the flight that will either end with his salvation... or his death. I look forward to your thoughts on the latest installment. :)

Sovereign: Indeed, this chapter presents a surprising element to Petrie's past though I am surprised that no one caught on to this possibility before when I hinted at exile in the second chapter. I also enjoy Knacker as a character and quite enjoyed the banter between Petrie, Knacker, and the nephews. I was quite conflicted in the third chapter between wanting to expand upon some of these characters and not wanting to drag down the focus on the chapter too much. It is a special difficulty in some ways due to the constant flashbacks in this story. I wanted to create the feeling that the reader (and Petrie) are caught in time in many ways. His life cannot go forward until his ordeal is finally surpassed. I only hope that I can continue to maintain this delicate balance in the chapters to come.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2019, 01:05:29 AM by rhombus »

DiddyKF1

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Re: The Pursuit of Endless Day
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2019, 08:40:24 AM »
Uh, ... er, ... w-wow. This chapter certainly changed my perspective of this story. Up until now, I had been under the impression that Petrie was doing this because his mother inspired him to do it, but only now I'm reading this and it just so turns out that he's doing this as a punishment for killing someone? :opetrie

This story has definitely taken a dark turn, and this chapter particularly did quite an effective job at explaining the darker side of Flyer traditions. Nearly the whole chapter just about made my blood turn cold just from the idea that Petrie could be tried as a criminal just like his uncle, but worse, ... a murderer. The way it ended, though, seems like you've taken another inspiration from Game of Thrones by having Petrie letting "their God" decide his fate. In my eyes, he's just an innocent child who was dragged into this for all the wrong reasons, and all these flashbacks have painted a very morbid picture of just how he ended up where he is now. I'm actually quite impressed by how effective this chapter was, even if it mostly relied on flashbacks. Nice job, bud! :)

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Re: The Pursuit of Endless Day
« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2019, 03:02:34 PM »
Now this was a strong chapter. It’s nice to have some extra insight into Petrie’s motives to embarking on this journey as it would have been a bit underwhelming if he did it just to satisfy his own pompousness. You also built the feeling and the pacing really well here and the mixture of sadness and despair that was felt everywhere in this installment was rather well constructed.

Starting from the terrible revelation to his siblings, the weight of the accident on Petrie’s life was rather crushing and one could only hope for some way to just go back in time and make things right again. I really liked the empty and disbelieving feeling of the characters and in many ways, the shock and regret I felt while reading was very reminiscent of your very best offerings and the backstory gave this story much of the boost it required.

As for the final meeting of the flyers, that scene was also a good one. This version of a traditional trial worked well and the Elders’ debate and Petrie’s efforts to simply handle the weight of what happened created a good contrast that was simultaneously believable and also created a bit more depth to the flyers’ culture. As Diddy mentioned, this scene changed the nature of the story completely as now Petrie isn’t on a journey to grow closer to the Bright Circle but rather to atone from his past sins.

I’m not going to lie, the first chapters seemed to lack something in terms of long-term tension but this chapter changed all that. It seems like Petrie is also trying to deepen his own faith in the Bright Circle while he’s at it but the real conflict lies within himself and in his ability to one day return to the Valley. Very good job with this installment! :duckyhappy

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Re: The Pursuit of Endless Day
« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2019, 04:59:30 AM »
I must say that this story has been absolutely amazing so far. With every chapter it gets more interesting and I’ll both fear and wait eagerly for the following chapters. Like some others have said, this story begun in ease manner but the plot thickens when the story progresses further. I was also under the impression that Petrie’s intent to take part in the Pursuit of Endless Day was because he was inspired to do so by his mother and even with sating the Bright Circle like he believes.

The accident with Zagar and Petrie in the previous chapter has reached its conclusion which lead to the former’s unexpected death. Petrie’s feelings about the matter were very well written. You can very clearly see the regret and horror he felt when the implications of his part in it became clear to him. That part was rather well done and it made be even feel some form of sorrow not only for Petrie, but also for Zagar’s family who now must live with the fact that their relative will never be with them anymore in this life.

The gathering of the flyers was well made as well and it was interesting to see, how certain herds, mainly the flyers in this regard, act in situations like this. Of course, we have to remember that in this case the perpetrator was a child, who despite didn’t mean to cause a death of another flyer, still made that occurrence happen. Escal’s reactions are very understandable, considering that she lost her nephew far too early to the Great Beyond. However, her later response to Petrie felt somewhat peculiar. Maybe that’s just me, but I don’t see her forgetting something like that so easily.

His friend’s reactions felt righteous, seeing as these seven friends have been through so much in their lives and would no doubt do anything, to make sure that no one in their group suffers from anything. Possibly in the future installments we get to see the gang talk about this matter before Petrie’s imminent departure from the valley? If so, it will be intriguing to see how it will play out.

I wasn’t originally going to read this story but now I realize what a mistake I would have made, had I chosen to stick to my earlier sentiments. I’ll look forward to how this story progresses in the future chapters! :)littlefoot

OwlsCantRead

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Re: The Pursuit of Endless Day
« Reply #17 on: June 16, 2019, 12:52:20 PM »
So sorry that I'm late. Past few months were terrible for my online life. :p

A chapter behind for this but I think I should reach Chap. 4 by next weekend. At worse I'll double-post when I read it.

So, for Chapter 3 review...

The Pursuit of Endless Day continues to succeed in gripping my tension with the daunting challenge that it is. Recently, there's been an influx of all sorts of crazy traditionalist rituals and challenge faced by the hapless dinosaurs in the fic archive, and I must say that almost all of them suck the viewer in like a whirlpool using worldbuilding and dialogue. The many flyers and their different motivations and dialogues to the unfurling events of the tribulations they're facing lends a foreboding and realistic atmosphere to the unfolding events.

On that note, wow that derogatory nickname Zagar and Culus use for Petrie. I'd blow a gasket too. The whole scene was masterfully done and wonderfully foreshadowed with the pine-cone game with the gang before Zagar confronts him. I was literally tearing my hair apart before reading the slow-mo scene where Petrie turns on his instigator with the stone because I just KNEW it was going to happen… what a climax. What a bleak cliffhanger. Yikes…

OwlsCantRead

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Re: The Pursuit of Endless Day
« Reply #18 on: June 30, 2019, 02:45:48 PM »
Chapter 4:

Trial/debate scenes involving elders are always great without exception. Perhaps it's just the black-and-white nature of LBT, but I always find them exceedingly nerve-wrecking. The old traditions seem to always lead to disaster when the young and old meet, and that's fittingly reflected here as it is very much in real life.

I do like that it is indeed presented as a lose-lose to everyone. The tone of loss and Petrie's regret and abject horror is very much akin to a real-life remorseful criminal. Escal is clearly distraught, and yet we feel for her, especially when she realizes that the only way to atone if Petrie doesn't take the trial is to take the test herself. It is also a very Petrie thing to bring up the lax security to the elders that could have allowed him to flee, as well as to opt to undertake the almost crazy responsibility of taking the Pursuit of Endless Day to shoulder the burden instead of letting both families be dragged into a feud.

The final paragraph is haunting and very foreboding. The narrative tension has been building up, and now that the full gravity of Petrie's trial has been revealed, it only serves to rack up the stakes. Splendid overall!