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Waves Crashing Upon the Sky
« on: October 18, 2018, 10:16:24 am »
Waves Crashing Upon the Sky

Hi, y'all! It's probably quite clear by now that I enjoy writing for Land Before Time, but this is the first time I'm going for a WIP multi-chaptered story, something which I've wanted to do from the start. Yep, one of those stories! Wish me luck, guys! As always, words in italics indicate character thoughts or flashbacks.

FFN Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13096361/1/Waves-Crashing-Upon-the-Sky



Chapter 1: To Tempt a Flyer

Time.

Just what was time?

One could ask any dinosaur that question, and the individual would say that for them, time was something that constantly passed on by like flowing water — something that brought meaning to their life by introducing change with every passing day. After all, the only situation where the passage of time didn't make a difference to a dinosaur was when they had already been lost to the streams of time themselves, having passed on to the Great Beyond, a place where time was infinite and held no meaning.

But to the mortals who still roamed this earth, time was something which they cherished, for its constant motion guaranteed another day where they could live out their lives. In an unpredictable world where one could easily lose their life to predators, hunger, and other ailments, every rise of the Bright Circle was treasured, for it brought forth the promise of a new day… and new experiences.

Although the primitive dinosaurs were unable to measure time in absolute units, time itself was a concept that they were able to grasp. To them, it was something that simply continually passed on by for them like a flowing river. Unable to measure time precisely, however, led to it being relative to their experiences.

All one had to do was ask any poor leaf-eater who had managed to survive being chased by a sharptooth about their terrifying ordeal, and they would undoubtedly tell you that even the briefest of moments during the chase felt to them as though their sprint to escape the predator's pursuit had spanned the entire length of time that it took for the Bright Circle to cross across half the sky.

So if the relativity of time was debatable for even small periods, how would one then define a span of time which stretched over multiple cold times? Perhaps to an elderly dinosaur who was well past their prime, five Cold Times would pass on by in the blink of an eye.

But to someone who was in the prime of their life, like a certain flyer who had perched himself on the branch of a tree that had shriveled up, five Cold Times felt like an absolute eternity.



"Five Cold Times… oh, woe is me! Five entire Cold Times! It's a complete travesty, I say!"

Many of the nearby flyers ignored the habitual laments of the large brown flyer. They continued to grumble amidst themselves as their ears continued to hear the flyer complaining about his current status. Just about every single member in the flock considered him to be a nutcase — a flyer who had spent too much time flying with his head in the clouds.

"A banishment of five Cold Times, but alas, until now only a mere two and a half of those five has passed. To think that I still have an entire half of that punishment to fulfill… it's truly a depressing thought!" He let his head crest droop before glancing up towards the morning sky in resignation. Wait… was it really a feeling of resignation? Or perhaps, was it one of resentment?

There were certain days where the flyer woke up and found that he was unsure of the answer himself.

"Gragh! I simply cannot stand this torment any longer!" he snapped as he repeatedly stomping his foot against the branch he was standing on, rustling it so vigorously that if the tree hadn't been devoid of tree stars, they would have all fallen off from the shaking. "Even after I've been forced to accept that I would have to wait it out, the end of that banishment is so far away!" he bemoaned, either unable to notice or deliberately choosing to ignore the other flyers rolling their eyes in unison at his antics.

"I've seen the Bright Circle rise and fall so many times… oh, so many times! And yet, the end of this sentence taunts me by being so far out of my grasp!" He let out a wistful sigh, finally calming himself enough for the tree branch to stabilize and return to a state of stillness. "Please, Mr. Threehorn… can't you have just the tiniest shred of mercy on an old flyer like me and absolve me of my exile?"

Eventually though, the flyer brought his dramatic whining to a stop. Honestly, he'd already known deep down that his question was rhetorical — Topps couldn't hear him, and the threehorn wouldn't accede to his request even if he somehow did manage to hear those words.

But what could he do about that, really? Honestly… nothing. There was nary a thing that the flyer could do at the moment to change his current situation. His banishment from the Great Valley had been a unanimous decision made by the various dinosaurs who had gathered around the Rock Circle to discuss his punishment for his crimes two cold times ago.

"Oh now, please…" he had begged, clasping the fingers on the end of his wingtips together as he pleaded to the many angry adults all surrounding him. "None of the farwalkers want anything to do with me. I'll be alone and defenseless in the Mysterious Beyond!" He wrapped one of his wings around his chest, trying to garner as much sympathy as he possibly could from the dinosaurs around him after his ploy had backfired back on him in a spectacular fashion. "Is that really fair?"

"Yes!" the Great Valley residents surrounding the flyer cried out in unison, causing him to flinch back from their combined voices. After the resounding echoes from the combined yell had died down, Topps proceeded to spit an addendum in response as the threehorn stormed forward, closing in on the flyer who had just shakily recovered from falling to the ground at the combined yells.

"Mark my words. If I'd had it my way, this banishment would have been a lot longer for you, Pterano!"

The gray threehorn shot a nasty glower towards the two large longnecks by his side, making it clear to everyone who was paying attention just who had been the ones who'd forced the stubborn Topps to tone the flyer's punishment down. "It's either you take the five Cold Times, or I swear that you're going to be seeing my horns fill your entire vision!" he growled as he took a step forward, a serious expression donning the dinosaur's face. "So you better hurry and take your pick before I get impatient and make the decision on your behalf, flyer!"


And that was that. After Topps had lashed out at him, Pterano had left the Great Valley with his pride and dignity in shambles, but at least with all of his bones intact.

Not even his very own sister had been able to save him from the valley's retribution when news of his treachery hit the leaders after his coup fell apart. While Skylar had shot her brother a pity-filled glance from her vantage point, that was all the sapphire blue flyer had been able to give to him — mere visual support.

She wasn't going to stand up for his actions.

Although frankly, Pterano didn't blame her for it, the flyer quite certain that his sister would have been unable to overturn the verdict even if she had. And thus he'd haughtily flown away from the Great Valley, only sparing a final fleeting glance towards the family that he'd been forced to leave behind before he began his new life.

Ironically, he'd been wrong with his own prediction in the end. Despite his fears of having nobody to pay him company in the Mysterious Beyond when the valley had banished him, Pterano had been resourceful and actively scoped out others to be with. As a result, he'd managed to join flocks of migrating flyers from time to time, at least until they eventually split up.

Although, there would be one constant which would invariably remain no matter which herd Pterano found himself being a part of — his assertive personality tended to drive most of the herd members absolutely bonkers. This had consistently persisted until he eventually learnt to keep his beak shut the hard way, opting to remain quiet and choosing not to speak up as a defense mechanism so that he could still find himself being accepted by the flyer pack. After all, the alternative of flying alone through the Mysterious Beyond for five whole Cold Times without any company was something far worse to Pterano than being unable to fully utilize his leadership skills.

"Hmph! Why complain about a situation that you cannot avert? Instead of whining about it, why not actively take the initiative to change your fate for the better?"

Pterano perked up, glancing around the area curiously when he realized that one of the flatbeak flyers was actually speaking to him directly, instead of muttering complaints behind his back — something which was quite a rarity these days.

He soon caught his culprit when he saw the flyer in question tapping his talons in an impatient manner below him. The speaker was a flyer of an unusual coloration — a dirty, bleached yellow that made him look like the same coloration of the damp sand that tended to be situated near the Big Water. The flyer appeared relatively young, looking to be about three to four Cold Times older than his nephews and nieces, appearing as though he was on the cusp of adolescence.

Still, Pterano couldn't help but gulp as he caught sight of the smaller flyer's menacing golden irises gleaming under the Bright Circle. "Say, I don't think I know you…" he muttered as he put one of his wingtip fingers up to his chin, rubbing his beak as he looked down at the newcomer with suspicious eyes.

An amused smirk crossed the youngling's face. "Well, of courseeee…" he drawled sarcastically, "I mean, this is the first time we've met!"

Pterano didn't let his guard down at the flyer's attempt to lighten the mood, making sure to keep his vision locked firmly on the newcomer instead. "…and yet, somehow it appears that you knew of me beforehand," he rightfully pointed out.

"Hahaha! Of course I do!" The pterosaur's relatively high-pitched voice gave him an aura of childishness as compared to that of an adult flyer, causing Pterano to shake his head imperceptibly with a sigh. Having dismissed him as a threat and being thankful that this wasn't going to end up being another Rinkus and Sierra situation, Pterano was just about to shoo the little flyer away when the yellow youngling suddenly continued. His voice lowered by about two octaves, which had the effect of giving him a sinister tone as he spoke.

"It might have been a bit of a pain to dig up the details, but fortuitously I now know everything about the overzealous flyer who vowed to find the legendary Stone of Cold Fire…"

The larger flyer's eyes went wide, those words physically hurting him. He puffed up his chest, immediately letting out an angered yell at the smaller flyer. "How dare you! Just who exactly do you think you are? Don't even try to talk to me about that wretched stone!"

After exhaling an angered huff, Pterano wasted no time in his retaliation and flew down to the ground, waving his wings dangerously in the same motion as he whirled onto the smaller flyer. "Not only did that lousy excuse of a 'stone' take everything from me, but to add insult to injury, the whole venture had been all for naught from the very start! It's gotten me nothing! Nothing except for a worthless dud that wound up being blown to miniature pieces, and a banishment of five Cold Times at the end of everything! Oh, the tragedy!"

"Exactly. I completely agree with your sentiment there."

Pterano whirled his head around as the flyer said that. Of every retort that he had expected to hear in return, a concessionary statement hadn't been one of them. Yet, in spite of his concurring words, the sarcastic tone and hidden anger in the flyer's voice alone was enough to catch Pterano's attention.

"But enough of chasing down worthless legends, eh?" the flyer murmured, "How about a legend which I for one know isn't simply mere folktale told underneath the Great Night Circle for the sake of telling a story that only hatchlings would buy?"

He seethed with anger at the eccentric flyer's words. "How about you get away from my sight before I get really angry!" Pterano recognized the style of pragmatic speech that the young flyer was using — after all, he'd done the same to Rinkus and Sierra. Thus, he was very well aware on what the flyer was trying to do, and he wasn't going to have any of it.

"Oh, poor Pterano…" A lament that had a hint of mockery imbued in it accompanied a sigh as the flyer shook his head at the cold reception that he was getting from the larger Pterano. "You miss your nephew, don't you…?"

Pterano narrowed his eyes, glaring daggers at the mysterious flyer suspiciously. "How do you know about Petrie!?" He flexed his wings, questioning the flyer in a tone that practically demanded for an answer. "And why we're on the subject matter… just who are you, anyway?"

The small flyer remained unperturbed by Pterano's interrogation, instead choosing to shrug brazenly at his raised voice as he let out an amused cackle in response. "Who I am, as well as what my name is, doesn't really matter. It is an irrelevant piece of information, Pterano…" he replied in a dismissive manner before peering up and locking his golden eyes with those of the larger flyer's. "But as for your first question, I personally think the answer to that is rather rhetorical. I mean, who doesn't know the story of the five remarkable leaf-eaters who'd miraculously managed to overcome all the odds and take down Sharptooth himself?"

He carried on rattling straight from memory as the harsh light of the Great Circle high above the duo beat down unrelentingly upon the two flyers, "Who would have thought that a ragtag group of hatchlings consisting of a longneck, a threehorn, a swimmer, a flyer, and a spiketail would succeed in accomplishing the impossible? Truly, the unlikeliest of herds — one whose members managed to cross between different species…"

Pterano perked his head downwards when he noticed that the small flyer had hissed the last few words with pure venom in his voice. "Hey, be careful with that tone you've got there," he grumbled, "One of those dinosaurs is my nephew, in case you've already forgotten your own words!"

"Oh, Pterano… there's really no point in suppressing your anger and trying to act all nice, you know? I can feel the brunt of my insults getting to you." He shook his head with the trace of a hidden grin on his face when Pterano's momentary glare proved him right. "Or perhaps it's the anger of your unrighteous punishment that still seethes within you. Don't you want payback on the pesky ground dwellers who'd wronged you and your quest for your paradise?"

Pterano remained silent, causing the flyer to let out a brutal laugh before tilting his head up to Pterano with a gleam in his eyes. "There is a way for you to circumvent your banishment, you know?"

He perked up at the perky newcomer's bold statement. "What did you just say? D-Do you… really mean that?" Pterano asked hesitantly, a slight tinge of disbelief creeping into his normally bold voice, afraid that if he got his hopes up too high, it would only hurt more when they ended up being shattered into pieces once again.

"Heh! You doubt me? Well, to be fair, you wouldn't be the first one…" he shrugged before clarifying. "What I speak of is a legend spoken of only under the stars. Yes, a legendary stone—"

"Why, you little… are you trying to mess with me!?" Pterano hollered, forcing the smaller flyer to indignantly hold out his wings as a countermeasure.

"Wait, wait, wait!" The yellow flyer flailed his wings, gesturing towards a rather irate Pterano to calm him down. "Don't jump the sky puffy just yet! I'm not talking about the Stone of Cold Fire, so calm down, sit back on your perch and listen to what I have to say!" Coughing as his voice turned hoarse from the yell, the flyer proceeded to clear his throat before continuing his speech as he started to pace up and down. "As I was saying before being rudely interrupted, said artifact is a legendary stone, one much tinier than the Stone of Cold Fire. A relatively miniscule sparkling stone, one that can even be held in your very own hand."

Pterano had an eyebrow raised at the flyer's monologue. "Say, you seem to know an awful lot about this, considering it's just a legend…" he commented bluntly, unfurling his wings at the observation. "Hold on… it's more than that, isn't it?" Pterano questioned, his body growing slightly tense as he began to feel uneasy.

A coarse laugh with a hint of pride emanated from the youngling. "Hah! To think that you caught me out so quickly. I'm rather impressed, Pterano." His eyes glistened in the sunlight as he straightened up, his voice lowering further to add to the uneasy atmosphere.

"Yes, I do indeed know more than I'm letting on," he said nonchalantly as if it was no big deal. "I have seen it with my own two useless eyes… the Shiny Stone of Great Change!"

"The Shiny Stone of Great Change?" Pterano repeated after him, tilting his head and crest at an acute angle.

He nodded once in confirmation. "Yes, indeed. Don't you see the beauty of it, Pterano? That there exists something with the power to transform one into whatever species they so desire? Amazing, isn't it?" He leaned his head back, small bursts of laughter causing his body to shake. "There are multiple of these things, in fact, and I can spare one for you. To heck with your punishment, Pterano! You can forge an entirely new identity with the shiny stone! With it, you can waltz right into the valley and they'll never know that it's actually you!"

Pterano contemplatively strummed his fingers together. "Pardon me for the interruption, but this sounds too good to be true. What's the catch?" he asked with a cautious voice.

"Well, all you simply have to do is agree to my terms and conditions, and voilà! A stone will be yours to keep. Without the valley's watchful eye, you can finally be reunited with your darling nephew—"

Pterano snarled, interrupting the proposed offer before the flyer could get a single additional word out of his beak. "You've got some nerve to ask that of me! Pray tell, are you under the impression that I'm a fool who would get himself sweet-talked into doing exactly what you want as helplessly as a treestar that's at the mercy of the whims of the wind currents?"

The flyer youngling scratched his head. "Well, uh—"

"Because if you do believe that, then allow me to inform you that you're terribly mistaken," Pterano chastised, ensuring that he maintained his calm outer composure despite his rising anger within. "How dare you use my nephew's name to drag me into whatever scheme you want me involved in? Well, you can forget about it, young'un!"

"But…" the flyer tried to plead with him, but Pterano wasn't having any of it, stretching out his entire wingspan in an intimidating manner.

"Begone already! Shoo off!"

"Feh!" The flyer glared back, rather humiliated. "Just you wait! You'll regret this, Pterano…"

"Yeah, yeah." Pterano mumbled back as the young flyer took flight and left his perch. "Good riddance to you, young pest."

When the flyer was no longer in his sight, he let out a heaved sigh of relief. Pterano was remiss to admit that there had been a small part of him, deep down in his heart, that had been tempted by the flyer's offer to cut his punishment short.

"Petrie, your mother's right," Pterano had said, turning to his small nephew to stop the distraught flyer from objecting further to his punishment on his uncle's behalf. He refused to let Petrie get dragged into something that was his own fault. "We must all be accountable for our actions, much like how the valley is holding me accountable for mine right now."

Petrie's beak quivered as he heard those words. "Me will miss you, uncle…" he admitted softly, using a wing to wipe away stray tears.

"Do not fret, Petrie. I promise you that I'll be fine. And when five Cold Times have passed, I shall return to the herd and prove that I can truly be a trustworthy flyer who can lead other dinosaurs," he reassured his nephew with a jovial smile despite his impending punishment. "I just know that there is much that I can contribute to the valley herds if given the chance. But I'm afraid that that chance will have to wait." Pterano leaned down and wrapped his wings around Petrie, hugging his sniveling nephew to console him for one final time.

"U-Uncle Pterano…" Petrie looked up, blinking away stray tears from his eyes as he looked up at his uncle. "Me guess… this is goodbye…"

That simple gaze alone spoke volumes to Pterano. The longing in Petrie's brown eyes made it clear that the young flyer knew that this would be the last time that he would ever lay his eyes on his uncle for a long, long time. Pterano subsequently tightened his grip on Petrie, whispering one final, fond farewell to his nephew.

"Oh, dear Petrie… I will miss you too…"


As he recalled the loving embrace which he had shared with his young nephew two Cold Times ago, Pterano knew right there and then that he'd made the right choice in refusing the flyer. He knew that despite everything that the flyer offered, Petrie would be devastated if his uncle had resorted to his old ways just for a shot to reunite with him before his banishment was over. It would defeat the whole purpose of his punishment, and his well-mannered nephew almost certainly wouldn't accept a reunion in such a manner, despite how much he wanted to see his uncle. He imagined that Petrie would be distraught if he ever realized that his uncle had pulled a stunt like this out of pure selfishness.

Pterano was so wrapped up in his relief that he didn't see the flyer from earlier eyeing him from above with a rather nasty snarl, quite unhappy by the rejection that he'd been handed.



Look at that Pterano, looking so overjoyed at stomping over my kind proposal. Hmph! Who needs him, the flyer thought.

It was regrettable, but only a minor hindrance to his plans at worst. He would just amend his plans a little by tinkering around with a few minute details. Besides, Pterano would come crawling back to him sooner or later anyway.

But as of right now, he didn't require the services of a flyer like Pterano. He already had more than enough allies under his wing. In addition, he didn't actually need to recruit the flyer for a cause that he knew was basically nothing but a wild goose chase.

And why was that? The answer was elementary, of course — because he had been the one who had engineered said wild goose chase in the first place, rather much like the conversation which he had expertly engineered by redirecting the questions until they'd arrived at the question that he wanted.

Sure, redirecting the flow of a conversation sounded like it would be the specialty of a swimmer, given that the species could generate small currents and waves as they paddled about in the water. But who was to say that flyers, with their flapping wings causing mild eddies in the winds, couldn't redirect the flow of a conversation as well?

As a matter of fact, it was well known that flyers were the masters of spreading messages rapidly and widely. If there was any juicy rumor or gossip somewhere out there in the Mysterious Beyond, chances were that the various flyers were the reason that the news had ended up spreading like wildfire across migratory herds.

Yes, very much like the chain reaction that he'd most deliberately started up. He grinned as he glanced towards the ground to see the flyers down below still chatting engrossingly about his prior conversation with Pterano.

"Pssst…" A flyer hissed to another flyer next to him. "Did you hear those two fliers talking? From what I could hear, this random flyer said that there's actually a way to change between species!"

"Hah!" the second flyer laughed. "I'm calling spiketail dirt on that one! That sounds like hogwash that some yellowbelly made up!" he snorted.

"B-but…" The voice lowered to a whisper, one that forced him to crane his neck downwards to hear, "what if it's true?"

"Get real, ya nitwit! Only hatchlings would believe in dumb rubbish like this! This whole thing's utter nonsense, and you know it! The flyer that Pterano's talking to is even crazier than he is!"

"Hmhmhmhmhm!" The flyer chortled to himself, a harsh grating quality embedded into the cruel laugh. "I'm afraid that my plan will come to fruition… with or without you. Of course, I would prefer if you of all dinosaurs witness the end, but whatever. I have my ways of securing your help…" he mused as he shot a final passing glance toward Pterano before flying away and leaving him in the dust.

"But you will pay rather dearly for disrespecting me, and I'll be sure to return the favor… by using your precious little nephew."

He veered to the left, squinting his eyes as he tried to look out for the valley. Unlike most other flyers, he was unable to use the flash of vibrant green from the lush vegetation of the valley as a visual cue to the valley's location. Hence, he instead looked out for the telltale sharp peaks of the mountains that surrounded the Great Valley.

The same valley which housed those leaf-eater kids, that special herd of seven.

Those damned kids.

Truth be told, he himself hadn't believed the stories when the initial rumors of them had first spread across the Mysterious Beyond five cold times ago. It didn't help that the stories were mostly butchered retellings that had told him virtually nothing of use.

But then again, the same could be said of the species-changing stone… the very same one which he now possessed a multitude of.

"'It's only a myth, you fool,'… that was what all those naysayers had said right to my face. Ahahaha! Well, who's laughing now? Who's laughing now, you imbeciles!?"

Laughing at the absurdity of it all helped to pass the time. Before he even knew it, he was already at his destination.

The Great Valley.

Once he was within the vicinity of the valley, the flyer made haste in scoping out his targets. An easy task when all he had to do was look out for a group of children with varying species. He'd spotted them very quickly and proceeded to hide himself by perching on a branch poking out of the rock cliff, making himself comfortable as he eavesdropped from above.

A small issue did bother the flyer though. Although the tales that he'd heard spoke of seven children, he could only spot five of them at the moment. Nevertheless, he simply shrugged the discrepancy off for now… since the two which he did want to focus on were there.

"Petrie! It looks like you are going to be 'it' for our game of hide-and-seek today! You are, you are!"

The flyer had to admit that he cocked his head when that unusual style of speech was the first sentence that his ears was able to discern from the group. It was frankly amusing how quickly the tones of conversation had shifted. Even with young kids and their relative innocence, you'd be hard pressed to hear a carefree sentence like that in the Mysterious Beyond.

The whole tone of the sentence reeked of innocence. Perhaps it was fitting that it was the small swimmer who'd said those words.

"Wh-what? You want me be seeker!?"

The yellow flyer raised an eyebrow when he heard a second dissenting opinion from the group. "Really?" the longneck asked the swimmer, "You want Petrie to be the seeker? Um, I don't really know about that…"

From his vantage point, he was able to observe that the longneck's body language had changed ever so slightly from the swimmer's proposal, made even more obvious by his own apprehensive comments. The longneck's legs appeared more rigid, making the dinosaur appear rather tensed up. A smirk crossed the flyer. That longneck's nervous, he deduced.

And sure enough, he was right. The longneck proceeded to add on to his question with a worried remark. "You know, Petrie is very good at being 'it'," the longneck observed, shifting his neck towards a small flyer, "He's a flyer, he naturally has an advantage. Maybe we should have someone else be the seeker instead."

"Me already know me have advantage in hide-and-seek, but me certainly like that!" The flyer—Pterano's nephew—called out to the longneck with a voice that had a hint of mischievousness in it. "After all, it make game fun for me!"

"Fun for you, but what about us?"

The flyer watched in silence as the longneck and flyer bantered back-and-forth, subtly filing away the young Petrie's name. He hadn't actually believed Pterano when the flyer had unintentionally blurted out his nephew's name earlier, but to hear another dinosaur refer to him as Petrie pretty much confirmed that it was indeed the name of Pterano's nephew.

"Hah! Bring it on!" An arrogant taunt caused him to shift his gaze onto a snobby threehorn. "I bet you can't find my hiding place before time's up, Petrie!"

"But, Cera…" the swimmer whined in Petrie's defense, "Petrie is very good at being finding others when it comes to hide-and-seek. You should know that. You should, you should."

At those words, the threehorn promptly scowled down at the small swimmer from earlier. "Yarghhhhh! Come on, whose side are you on, Ducky!? I don't care if he's good, Petrie can't possibly beat me!" she boasted with a confident smirk.

The hidden flyer felt his beak rising in vicious glee upon hearing the threehorn's remark. With that, he now knew that the swimmer went by Ducky. Now this was certainly useful knowledge to have.

So… Ducky and Petrie, eh? Nice to know. Very nice to know indeed…

He held his head high as he let out a vicious cackle, armed with the knowledge that he now had. From what he could gather from their interactions, Ducky was the swimmer and Petrie was the flyer. Amazingly, with the exception of Petrie, that was the first time he'd managed to get a name of any of them — all the tales that he'd heard omitted the identities of the dinosaurs who were part of the fabled group.

Just as he was about to gloat inwardly at his victory, the flyer suddenly felt threatened, a sense of foreboding rising up within him out of instinct. The feeling felt almost as though someone was strangling him by the scruff of his neck.

Straining his neck as he leaned forward, the flyer roamed his eyes around before noticing why he felt that way. His beak fell open in surprise when he spotted that one of the five who he'd painstakingly scoped out had unfortunately also managed to spot the sinister flyer perched on the top of the rock wall above.

"Uummfhhh!"

A growl left his beak as the spiketail let out a warning bellow to warn the others of the uncanny flyer spying on them from above. That observant little pest was going to ruin everything!

But fortunately for him, the flyer quickly realized that it was the least problematic of the five who had managed to notice his presence. As a result, he simply watched from above as the spiketail on the ground kept on futilely gesturing his neck up towards him.

"Found you! Yep, yep, yep!"

There was an audible giggle from the tiny swimmer below as she struggled to hold in her laughter after tagging the spiketail. "Hee hee hee! You should not have given away your position like that, silly! Nope, nope, nope! And to think that I am not even the seeker!" she shook her head, amused by the whole affair. "You have got to be more careful than this, Spike. If I was Petrie, you would have been done for. You would, you would!"

Two narrowed golden eyes focused on the small swimmer below wagging her finger in a lecturing-like motion to tease the spiketail. It appeared that luck was on his side. "Stupid spiketail…" he muttered as the spiketail continually grunted up in his general direction, despite getting himself caught out from his hiding place by doing just that. It seemed that the game had escaped the spiketail's focus in his single-minded pursuit of revealing the mysterious flyer that he'd spotted.

That said, the flyer perceived that he was beginning to cut it close. He was very fortunate that the spiketail was unable to vocalize his thoughts, but to wish for a miracle twice was unfeasible.

He knew that more than anyone.

Yes, now was certainly the time for him to go. He definitely wasn't going to throw everything that he'd worked for away in one fell swoop by getting himself caught at this critical juncture. Not when the spoils for his grand scheme were finally beginning to bear tree sweets.

His glorious dream was so close to becoming a reality. So very tantalizingly close.

"You should be honored, dear Ducky and Petrie…" the flyer triumphantly said, his eyes never leaving his two targets even as he ceased his reconnaissance mission and soared back up into the sky.

"…for the both of you are the chosen harbingers of my new Mysterious Beyond! Heheheheheh!"

As he left the jutting peaks of the Great Valley behind him, the yellow flyer only gave one final ominous warning for things to come, his voice turning deep as his sinister words echoed faintly across the dry Warm Time wind.

"The specter of death looms upon us all…"



Author's Note:

First off, a happy early 30th anniversary to The Land Before Time! :D This would be going up exactly one month before the original film turns thirty years old!

Now I've certainly said this before, but I used to—and still do—lurk the Land Before Time fanfiction archive. A lot. From there, I'd observed that there are two fandom-specific plots that are quite popular and thus have been written quite a few times in various different stories.

First is the "lone human winds up in the LBT world" concept, made popular by The Land Before Time Retold series (it's at least the most famous/popular one anyway) — with the trope being extremely popular a few years ago, even though these stories seemed to have tapered off recently.

Next is the "Gang turn into Sharpteeth" dark fics, best exemplified by The Seven Hunters and its sequels. These have certainly become quite the popular trend to write, with quite a few stories following behind its footsteps (at least the darker undertones part) for these past couple of years.

Despite those two fan-favorite plots seemingly being very different, I'd noticed that they primarily share one thing in common — an unusual out-of-this-world, earth-shattering experience from someone's point of view. Which now leads me to my point — I don't think I've actually read a LBT transformation-based story that isn't about a human turning to a dinosaur, or a flattooth (*cough* usually our beloved Gang *cough*) turning into a sharptooth.

At least, that was until the Gang of Five forum recently started up a roleplay with this exact same concept. Um, oops? Well, I'd already drafted up this story when they chose to start it up, so I can't really throw all my work into the garbage, now can I? But with the exception of that, species transformation is quite a wealth of untapped potential, so I shall try my utmost best to make this story a success. :)

Anyway, I better address this at the start and quickly get it out of the way — this story will eventually be a Ducky/Petrie fic, as the swimmer and flyer duo is my personal pet LBT pairing (feel free to judge me :p), and there really aren't a lot of stories featuring said pairing. That being said, please don't let it turn you off the story if you aren't a fan, as I'll be going for something different instead of the usual fluff that this pairing would normally imply due to the nature of this story.

And yes, I know I did say that the fic will try to break the mold and be different from others… yet a magical artifact much like the Stone of Cold Fire appears to be the catalyst of the whole premise yet again. Yeah, bite me. I need a crutch for this to work, so allow me this one leeway, alright?

I'll be interested to hear your thoughts in the reviews, but until then, once again, here's wishing an early happy thirty years to The Land Before Time!



Yep, yep! As I'd said in my FFN story A/N, by sheer coincidence the sudden change of species roleplay had started up right as I'd finished up the main outline for this story. I suspect that it'll meander off in a completely different direction regardless. :OhYou

Yeah, that's all, I suppose. Can't really say much about this prologue chapter.
A quaint creature who soars when the Night Circle is highest in the dark sky, messing up his circadian rhythm in the process. Truly, a tragic flyer.

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



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

DiddyKF1

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Re: Waves Crashing Upon the Sky
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2018, 12:15:28 pm »
Wow. I new multi-chapter story! I must say that the prologue offered a little hindsight for things to come, and I'm pretty interested in what will happen as the early stages of this story develop.  I'll be looking forward to that.  Nice start!  :)
My fanfics:
Love is an Adventure
Waters Rise, Illness Flies
A Swim of Silence
A Swimmer's Sad Secret
A Broken Family
The Hurting of Desire

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


Sovereign

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Re: Waves Crashing Upon the Sky
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2018, 04:07:55 pm »
This is certainly a funny coincidence with the new rp! It seems that these transformation stories are getting more common every year! As for this first chapter, it provided a rather enjoyable premise and a mystery at the same time. First of all, who is the mysterious flyer and what exactly is the Shiny Stone of Great Change?

I really liked your characterization of Pterano and you really caught his way of speaking and thinking in this first chapter. His guilt, willingness to shorten his exile at least a bit and his eventual resignation to the fact that supernatural things don’t exist were very well elaborated. However, the other flyer’s identity left me wondering because if the stone is real this time around, I’m quite sure he has used it himself already. It remains to be seen if he is an old acquittance of ours…

The ending gave a clear hint of what is going to happen with Petrie and Ducky and it’ll be interesting just how their tale will proceed. All in all, this was a rather solid first installment to this new fic and it kept most of the story’s future a secret for now. I’m not a great fan of Ducky/Petrie stories and there have been a good deal of them before. Yet, I’m confident you manage to keep the story exciting in more ways than just the pairing and I’ll look forward to seeing what you’ll come up with in the future chapters! :)littlefoot

rhombus

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Re: Waves Crashing Upon the Sky
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2018, 09:07:25 pm »
First of all, my apologies for the delay in leaving a proper review.  Now this is certainly the harbinger for what is to be a great tale.  The premise of a species-changing stone, and the desire of a certain flyer to get what he wants at all costs, sets up a fascinating dynamic for the coming chapters.  And as an obvious fan of species-changing stories ( :p ) I look forward to the new twist that you plan on giving this plot point.  With Ducky and Petrie being sought out I have a feeling for what might be about to happen, but there are still mysteries ahead.  Namely in who this flyer is, and if we have seen him before perhaps in another form...

In any case I look forward to seeing how this story develops.  :yes  Your capturing of Pterano's simultaneous regret and self-pity was very well done, as was your capturing of his mannerisms and that of the "newcomer".  It will be interesting to see what role each of them play as the story develops.  :)


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

OwlsCantRead

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Re: Waves Crashing Upon the Sky
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2018, 09:48:45 am »
Here's update numero due. :p

FFN Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13096361/2/Waves-Crashing-Upon-the-Sky



Chapter 2: Arrival of the Swimmers

Something that was treasured by the leaf-eater residents of the Great Valley was how routine everything was.

Now, that might not be something that seemed like it would be taken for granted, but the many farwalkers who roamed the Mysterious Beyond felt otherwise. Unlike the unpredictable and unforgiving Mysterious Beyond, the dinosaurs who resided in the valley were sheltered from their natural predators and thus could afford to let themselves lapse into a constant—if predictable—routine style of life.

But to the valley inhabitants, life being predictable was a good thing. Sure, it was boring, but the monotony that they faced was an acceptable compensation to most of them, who would greatly prefer a stable life to one of excitement and high risks.

…yes, most of the valley. Not all of them. Because as it went with every group, there were always a few outliers whenever one tried to generalize them. In this case, the blatant exceptions to the norm were the young children who were enjoying a game of hide-and-seek on this afternoon.

"Ready or not… here me come!"

The flyer who'd made the announcement, an eccentric Pteranodon who went by the name of Petrie, darted his eyes all around as he flew high into the air and scouted for his hiding friends. Petrie was a young flyer, the runt of the litter in a family that consisted of five flyer children. He was hence the meekest of his brothers and sisters as a result, something which did bother Petrie quite a bit, as it had resulted in the flyer becoming something of a joke between his siblings.

But unlike his more judgmental siblings, his friends were much more accepting and kind towards him. They held no gripes with his personality or flight patterns. And thus, they were much more fun to have around when it came to playing games and letting Petrie enjoy himself.

Without feeling the tiniest shred of shame, Petrie had to admit that hide-and-seek was one of his favorite games. As a flyer, he had an intrinsic advantage over his other friends when it came to this specific activity — whether his role was designated as hider or seeker.

"Hm… me think me spot Littlefoot!" Petrie declared as he spotted a flash of brown trying to remain still behind a tree.

That would undoubtedly be Littlefoot, a brown-colored longneck with a cream underbelly who was the undisputed leader of the group. While Cera would sometimes claim otherwise, no one usually bought her protests for long when the group found themselves caught up in the heat of the moment.

Those situations always forced Littlefoot to take charge. And take charge he did, usually in a most magnificent fashion. Always perpetually optimistic, the gang could count on Littlefoot to make a rational decision and helm the front whenever things got rough. His encouraging, vigor-filled words often motivated the others in their many misadventures.

Making a note as to where Littlefoot had made himself scarce, Petrie then swerved away, rapidly changing directions to look for the others. It was better to let Littlefoot think that he hadn't been spotted yet — as the others would seek out better hiding spots the instant the first hider was found, after all. With a cheeky grin, Petrie sought to find all of the gang before they even realized that he was on to them.

A slight shaking of a treestar bush caught Petrie's eye. Further analysis revealed a sharp horn trying to remain hidden under the cover of the shrub. No doubt that the owner of the horn was Cera, a threehorn who was cautious, easily angered, and always ready to dish out a sarcastic insult at a moment's notice.

But Petrie had to admit that she'd definitely mellowed out compared to the first time they met. Back during their initial trip to the valley, she had been actively malicious towards him and the others. These days, Cera had changed quite a bit, turning from the antagonistic jerk she once was into a stubborn, albeit loyal friend who Petrie could always count on giving her friends a healthy dose of reality whenever she was agitated, something which happened rather often considering Cera's species and uptight personality.

Petrie lifted his left wing up to drift to his right, the flyer quickly spotting a very obvious dark green spot among the sweet bubble bush as he performed the maneuver. It wasn't really a surprise to see the gang's most voracious eater, Spike the spiketail, choosing to hide in a place where he could simultaneously partake in his favorite hobby at the same time — gobbling down food. Which in this case, said food constituted his hiding place, the very treestars around the sweet bubble bush that he was supposed to be using as cover to hide.

He cocked his head in confusion as Spike tried to inconspicuously munch on a treestar snack. If Petrie's hadn't already spotted Spike before this, then he would have most certainly been able to catch the spiketail out by simply listening to the sound of Spike's teeth gnashing against the fibrous texture of his afternoon snack. A cavity in the vegetation was slowly forming from the amount of treestars that Spike was shredding with his teeth, making his hiding place obvious.

In the end, Petrie shrugged before rolling to the left, leaving the lunching Spike behind. Food was always on Spike's mind first and foremost… the spiketail's utmost priority, despite how little sense it made at times.

Now, there was only one member that Petrie had left to locate — Ducky, his bubbly swimmer friend.

Now, where would Ducky be hiding, Petrie asked to himself while scanning his eyes around the area. The problem was that Ducky happened to be significantly smaller than the other three—the swimmer about Petrie's own size—which made spotting her a lot tougher since she was able to camouflage herself much more easily as compared to her larger-sized friends.

Good for her. Not good for Petrie though, especially as he happened to be in it to win the game since he'd already found everyone else… with the exception of the swimmer.

Petrie spent quite some time looking all over the area to no avail, still being unable to spot Ducky. By now he found himself nervously wondering if the others will lose patience should he take too long to find Ducky, since his current strategy was to catch them all in a single pass so that he could keep their guards down. But on the flip side, if he couldn't find Ducky soon he would end up losing the whole game as his friends would call a time-out and claim that Petrie hadn't been able to spot a single one of them.

He could prevent this by simply locating one of the others first, but that would put Ducky on alert, and she was already hard enough to find at the moment. Eventually, Petrie decided to chance it, opting to soar higher into the sky to give himself wider coverage. While this made Ducky harder to spot as the swimmer was already small enough as it is, at the very least Petrie would be able to track her down to an approximate location, his eyes being able to cover a larger range compared to when he hung low.

Still, try as he might, Petrie wasn't able to find the hiding swimmer as easily as all his other friends. He strained his eyes, looking carefully all over the general vicinity, and yet Ducky continued to elude him. But Petrie remained unperturbed by this turn of events. He had a determined expression on his face, his beak widening slightly out of frustration as he made up his mind to take this setback as a challenge that he would undertake.

He firmly resolved to himself that he would absolutely catch out Ducky, even though the task at hand was surprisingly challenging. In all seriousness, Petrie found himself racking his brains as to where Ducky could've possibly kept herself hidden.

A brief flash of green submerged among aqua blue finally gave him the answer that he was seeking. Aha! Nice try… but me gotcha, Ducky! Petrie chuckled with glee as he finally managed to locate the well-hidden swimmer. But me have to say, that good hiding place…

And with that, all four of them had been caught out by his watchful eye. Yes, only four. Normally Petrie would have to scout out two more dinosaurs to conclusively win the game of hide-and-seek between them, but he'd gotten lucky today and managed to get away with the win due to the absence of the additional two.

One was a friendly purple Sharptooth named Chomper that the leaf-eaters of the gang had helped hatched about four Cold Times ago, which had resulting in him becoming a fierce and loyal friend despite having a very different diet from them. The other was a quick-witted fast runner with an outstanding pink coloration known as Ruby, who'd come down to the valley with Chomper in hand less than a few Night Circle cycles ago from a place in the Mysterious Beyond known as Hanging Rock.

Together they formed up the titular Gang of Seven — a group of seven dinosaur children of various species who banded together through thick and thin.

Petrie hummed a merry tune as he swooped down, relishing the rare opportunity of coming out on top, something which rarely ever happened thanks to his siblings. Despite everything, Littlefoot had been completely right about his earlier protests with regards to having him be the seeker. A flyer truly did have an unfair advantage in searching for others when it came to this game.

He made sure to pick out a very disgruntled Cera first — spotting her hiding place first was deliberate on Petrie's end. After flying away from a very mad threehorn, he flew over to a large tree and landed atop of the sauropod hiding behind it, causing Littlefoot to sigh when Petrie chuckled from the top of his head.

Spike was next. Amusingly, the spiketail didn't care at being found, and showed no visible reaction even as Petrie landed next to him. Instead, the spiketail lunged forward and munched on his next mouthful of treestars.

Petrie could only shrug at Spike's indifference and complete the game. Last but not least was his good friend Ducky.

Oh, he had definitely saved the best for last! It was certainly the most creative hiding spot of the lot… he'd give her that much!

He veered towards the river stream, cooing down at the water below. "Nice try, Ducky!" Petrie called out to the still water with a triumphant smile. "But me saw you hiding in there, around those water greens!"

Now that was a hiding place that had been incredibly hard to spot. Truth be told, if Ducky wasn't of such a bright green coloration that even the deep blue of the water wasn't able to mask her, Petrie might have missed her altogether.

With a giggle, Ducky jumped out of the water and landed on the riverbank, shaking off drops of water clinging to her body as Petrie landed next to her. "Oh, you got-ed me. You did, Petrie, you did!" she commended her friend as the others began to make their way towards the two.

"Yeah." Littlefoot added on to Ducky's statement, the disappointment of losing the game forgotten as he smiled at Petrie. "Congrats on winning, Petrie. You've earned it!"

Petrie beamed at the heap of praises that his friends bestowed on him. "Hooray! Me win game!" he said with a wide smile, the flyer whooping for joy as he leapt up into the air, joyously spinning around in a loop-de-loop that went a full three-hundred-and-sixty degrees. "Me so glad that me flyer. Make it real easy for Petrie to win hide-and-seek game," Petrie admitted, gleefully chuckling at his victory.

"Hmph!" Cera raised her head high and brandished her horn at Petrie, quickly shutting the flyer down from making any further disparaging comments out of an innate fear of retaliation from Cera. "Don't count this win as yours just because of your species!" she grumbled with a haughty voice. "I bet that if I was the seeker, I'd be able to find all of you as well!"

Her smile turned slowly predatory, causing Petrie to gulp nervously as he took solace in the fact that he was now high atop a tree and thus out of Cera's reach. "Hee! I'd simply bash down every hiding spot in sight until you're all forced to come out! Now that's an idea!" Cera laughed, jerking her head—and horn—forward, her mind vicariously enjoying the mental images of smashing various things down. "Alright, now I demand an immediate rematch! I'm gonna kick all of your butts!"

"But I think that is enough hide-and-seek for today, Cera. I do, I do."

Petrie heaved a sigh as Ducky managed to alleviate the tension, something which he in particular found especially hard to pull off with Cera, especially when she felt like being a sore loser. "Me agree with Ducky!" he hastily seized the opportunity to give his agreement with the consensus to hopefully outvote Cera's proposal.

Luckily, with the exception of Cera, the rest quickly caught on to the ruse. "I agree with Ducky and Petrie as well," Littlefoot added as Spike slowly nodded.

"Littlefoot…" Cera muttered dangerously.

Sensing that Cera was about to blow her top, Littlefoot quickly tried to justify his stand. "Besides, it won't be much fun to have a game without Chomper and Ruby joining in. Look at how quickly Petrie managed to catch us. Maybe we can wait until another day?" the longneck counter-suggested.

Seeing that she was completely trounced four-against-one, Cera decided to call it quits and cut her losses while she could still maintain some degree of pride. "Hmph! Fine then!" she relented with a haughty huff, making it clear that this conversation wasn't over. "Fine, I'll wait for Chomper and Ruby! But the next time we play hide-and-seek, I'm definitely gonna beat all of you!"

"Hahaha! Now that's my girl! Defiant to the end just like a true threehorn!"

Petrie almost flinched back and fell from the tree branch at the booming voice that'd just popped up from behind the gang. "Eeep! Cera dad here!" he cried, nervously letting out a chuckle and praying that Topps hadn't heard the vitriolic banter between him and Cera.

Fortunately for Petrie, Littlefoot cut in and saved the flyer from being the center of attention should Cera decide to tell on him. The longneck bowed his head respectfully, greeting Topps amiably. "Hello there, Mr. Threehorn."

Unlike Littlefoot, Cera had a much more different reaction to the surprise entrance of her father. "Daddy?" she acknowledged her father while casting a suspicious gaze at him. She knew him well enough by now to know that he wouldn't interrupt their games for petty affairs. "Alright, what is it you need from me this time?" she quipped, the young threehorn getting straight to the point.

Topps nodded his head with the barest flicker of a smile, knowing that his intelligent daughter had figured out that he wasn't here to strike up a mere chat. "Come now, Cera. The time for games with your friends is up. Right now we've got a meeting to get to." His eyes briefly hovered to Littlefoot, the elder threehorn narrowing them ever so slightly before breaking eye contact with the longneck. "And if you want someone to blame for this meeting, then aim your horns at Littlefoot's grandparents on my behalf, why don'tcha?"

"Great…" Although Cera's words signified her concurrence with her father's demands, the accompanying eye-roll told a very different story. "Another meeting…"

Topps turned his head back, not one to miss the sarcasm in his daughter's reply. "You and me both, Cera. You and me both…"

Cera actually stopped in her tracks as her father's words reached her ears. She was genuinely surprised to hear her father hiss at the thought of joining a valley meeting, as he was normally one of the most active participants when it came to them.

To actively show disdain in attending this specific one… now that was intriguing.

She wasn't the only one to notice this unusual behavior, though. As Cera recovered from the shock and marched away in tow with her father, Ducky beckoned Petrie downwards from his perch. The small flyer made haste, landing on the ground without any worries since he knew that there was no longer a need to hide from Cera now that she was gone.

"There must be something interesting about this meeting if Mr. Threehorn is unhappy with it," Ducky whispered into Petrie's ear. "There must, there must."

Petrie concurred with a hushed voice. "Me agree! Cera's dad always like to yell during meeting. Why he no like this one then?"

"Want to listen in on the meeting to find out, guys?" Both Petrie and Ducky nearly jumped when Littlefoot lowered his head to join their not-so-secret conversation, the eager longneck having the same desire to quench his thirst of burning curiosity.

"Sure thing, Littlefoot! I like this idea… oh, yes, yes, yes!"

"Me second that!"

"Mmm-humph!"

Unlike Cera's prior proposal to continue the game, Littlefoot's current plan to join the meeting was unanimous among them all. Not that it was much of a surprise, given that butting in when they weren't welcome was something which they were quite infamous for.



And thus, with the various dinosaurs this time gathering in front of the valley's largest tree sweet tree, the Great Valley commenced yet another meeting…

…with four additional participants sneakily listening in from the top of a hill surrounding the area.

"Look! There's Grandpa and Grandma!" Littlefoot gestured to the others with his neck, a broad smile on his face as he looked down at the towering figures that were his grandparents.

"Ohhhh, me see Mom!" Petrie excitedly hopped, unintentionally kicking the top of Littlefoot's head with the gesture, much to the longneck's displeasure.

Littlefoot winced from the glancing blow. "Petrie!" he scowled.

"Me sorry, Littlefoot!" The flyer flashed an apologetic look upon looking down and seeing Littlefoot's upset expression, mentally making a note that he shouldn't make any sudden movements while perched atop his friend's head.

"I can see my mama too! Yep, yep, yep!" Ducky turned towards Spike, gently moving his head with her head so that the spiketail could spot his adoptive mother as well. "Do you see our mama, Spike?"

Spike nodded his head in confirmation to Ducky's query, happy to catch a glimpse of the swimmer who he called his mother.

Before any of them could make any further comments from their vantage point, a sudden cough abruptly came from behind the four, signifying that someone was behind the four children. This "someone" immediately followed up with a gruff, dry voice.

"Hey! Just what do y'all think you're doing here?"

The four eavesdropping dinosaurs jumped at the sudden intrusion. As they turned around, sheepish at being caught out, they all quickly made up excuses as to why they were here. Said excuses were about to leave the tip of their tongues—except for the ever-silent Spike, of course—until they actually laid their eyes on the one who had just spoken…

…a giggling yellowish-orange threehorn.

Their indignant cries were made in unison. "C-Cera!?"

"Hahahahaha!" Cera hollered, the threehorn switching back to her normal voice as she resumed her laughter at her partly-awestruck, partly-annoyed friends. "You all should have seen the looks on your faces when you thought that I was one of the grownups!" She had to take a moment to catch her breath before adding a final remark, "It was priceless, I tell you! Hehehehe!"

There was a moment of silence after Cera finished where the only thing that could be heard was the sound of her resounding laughter. Littlefoot eventually broke the ensuing silence, looking at the threehorn with a disgruntled face. "That prank wasn't very nice, Cera…"

Cera ignored Littlefoot's glare, strolling towards the longneck with a mischievous smirk decorating her own visage. "Ah, whatever. Just relax, Littlefoot. Can you blame me for wanting a little payback after what Petrie did to me earlier?"

"B-but you sound-ed so different, Cera!" Ducky pointed out, her beak dropping in amazement. "You did, you did! You almost sounded like Mr. Clubtail, actually…"

Cera appeared quite proud of herself as she heard that comment. "Well, it took me quite a bit of practice to learn that impression, let me tell you." For a brief moment, she dropped her usual arrogant face and shot her swimmer friend a genuine smile. "But I'm glad that unlike Littlefoot here—" she ignored the frown on Littlefoot's face, "—at least you liked it, Ducky."

Ducky cheerfully flashed her teeth. "Oh, that is no problem at all, Cera. Nope, nope, nope!"

"But some of us no like it!" Petrie complained atop of Littlefoot's head, the flyer still shivering from the scare he'd received when he honestly thought that he would be getting into trouble.

"Ah, be quiet…" Cera huffed, retorting to the flyer in jest.

Petrie sighed, knowing that responding to a statement like that would get them both nowhere. Thus, he wisely changed the subject. "But why you here, Cera?" the flyer asked out of curiosity, tilting his head slightly as he glanced between Cera and Topps. "Me thought your dad come earlier so that you listen to valley meeting? So why you up here?"

Cera stepped closer to the edge of the cliff, looking down to gaze squarely at her father, together with her adoptive mother Tria down below. "Well…" she started, "my daddy happened to see the four of you hiding up here." She stopped momentarily so that the remainder of the gang had a few moments to futilely feign ignorance at their blatant attempts to listen into the meeting. Snorting as they did so, Cera continued on, "Daddy pretty much just gave up and let me go so that I could join all of you."

"Well, that was very nice of your daddy. Yep, yep, yep."

Grandpa Longneck's composed voice then broke through the clearing, shutting down any further chatter from both above and below. "Everybody, please quiet down. The valley meeting is about to commence."

Littlefoot enthusiastically smiled at his grandfather. "Guys," he hushed at the rest of the group, "It's starting!"

Grandpa continued on when the ambient noise around him reached an acceptable level. "Firstly, we would like to announce to all members of the valley some very important news." There were excited murmurs from both the crowd situated below and the children looking down from above, their combined voices slowly rising in amplitude as Grandpa Longneck's proclamation hyped them up for the news.

He raised his neck high before speaking, "Today, there is a large swimmer herd looking to take up residence, here in our Great Valley."

"Swimmers?" Littlefoot quipped, the longneck tilting his head and craning his neck forward to get a better view.

"Ohhh! That mean they just like Ducky!" Petrie commented with a gleeful smile, only for Cera to shoot the flyer an unimpressed glower.

"Yeah. Swimmers… just like Ducky. It's not as if that's really obvious." The exaggerated eye-roll that she made out of exasperation—in what was pretty much known as a Cera trademark to the Gang—immediately after her words had left her mouth only served to further emphasize her frustration with Petrie's antics.

"A herd full of swimmers just like me and my brothers and sisters will be joining the Great Valley?" Ducky put a finger to her beak, tapping against it in contemplation. "Hmm, this sounds very exciting to me! Yes, yes, yes!" she nodded with a smile.

The buzzing finally quietened down when the crowd saw a well-built dark green swimmer wander forward with a confident strut. All eyes were on him as he walked underneath the pink tree sweet tree, bending his head forward with a small bow as he proceeded to take center stage.

"Greetings, oh wondrous and glorious Great Valley!" he addressed the curious onlookers, beginning his announcement with a stern and booming voice. "I must say, what a joyous occasion this is. I've heard many tales of this wonderful leaf-eater paradise, but this is the first time I've actually stepped foot in it." He puffed his chest out, slowly sweeping his lime green eyes around his surroundings. "And I must say… this place certainly lives up to its legend!"

"Well, I'm glad that you've have that impression." Grandpa Longneck leaned his neck down, a gentle smile adjourning the aging longneck. "After all, it is the reason we have so many farwalkers coming here."

The swimmer concurred with Grandpa Longneck by flashing the longneck a smile, absentmindedly wagging his tail about. "Same to you, longneck! I can certainly see why any leaf-eater would want to visit this place. But enough small talk, heh heh!" he chuckled to himself. "I don't think I've properly introduced myself to you folks yet."

Holding a hand to his chest, he closed his eyes and flashed a jovial smile to the crowd. "The members of the herd call me Geoffrey! Yours truly is the head of the migratory swimmer herd you see before you today! Very pleased to make your acquaintances, everyone!"

"Bah, just what we needed…" Topps muttered with a disgruntled scowl as the bipedal dinosaurs all around the threehorn began to applaud at Geoffrey's speech. "More darn swimmers…"

"Excuse me? That comment was uncalled for, Mr. Threehorn!" Ducky's mother, a dark green swimmer named Shoal, folded her arms and stared at Topps indignantly at his impertinent remark.

Topps shot a passing glance over to Shoal before driving his front foot into the ground, his annoyed expression shifting to an indifferent one where he tried to hide his irritation. "Bah, forget it! It's nothing, swimmer. Just me and my usual ramblings…" he mumbled under his breath.

"Now, Topsy… we've been through this before. You need to be nicer to others. You don't want to be a bad influence to Tricia, do you?"

Topps groaned when Tria called him out for his behavior. "Well, I… ah, forget it." He stumbled on his words before simply giving up when the pink threehorn gave him a condescending look that basically told him to relent.

"Now, now, Mr. Geoffrey," Grandpa Longneck wisely chose to take this opportunity to redirect the conversation before Topps could make any additional unsavory statements towards the swimmer. "I have a few questions for you. For starters, how long do you think you and your herd would be staying in the valley?"

Geoffrey placed a finger to his temple, tapping it against his head as he hovered his eyes downcast in thought. "That's a good one…" he murmured before letting his shoulders go slack, shrugging at his audience. "I don't really know myself, I must confess."

Before the dinosaurs around him could begin to gossip, he raised a finger into the air, hastily appending onto the end of his statement. "That being said, I think we'll stay until at least the Cold Time. That's about a few Night Circle cycles, I believe?"

"Absolutely right!" Skylar, who was better known around the valley as the gentle mother of a multitude of flyer younglings — Petrie included, confirmed Geoffrey's claim before anyone else could beat her to it.

Topps grunted, mumbling a curt remark as the dinosaurs around began to chatter excitedly among themselves. "I, uh, knew that… from the very start!" he ascertained in an uncertain voice.

That apprehensive tone was the sole reason why not one dinosaur bought into Topps' claim. "Right…" Skylar folded her wings, shaking her head with a knowing smile. "You actually knew that, Mr. Threehorn?" she questioned him skeptically.

"Bah, shut it." Topps fired back at the flyer, his displeasure slowly beginning to become obvious to the valley residents by this point.

…inclusive of the gang.

"I do not think that your daddy is happy right now, Cera." Ducky moved over to Cera's side out of concern as the tense threehorn silently watched her father seethe from above. "Oh, no, no, no…" the swimmer lamented when she saw herd leader Geoffrey appear confused as to why his apparent audience was more interested in the affairs of the elder threehorn as compared to him.

"He's been real mad ever since he first heard about this," Cera admitted. "I wonder what's bothering my daddy so much." She lowered her voice before looking at Topps again, "I mean, they're just swimmers…"

"Ah, pardon me for the interruption, ma'am."

Cera found herself about to shoot a snark-filled reply at being interrupted, her words only stopping right before they left the tip of her tongue when she suddenly realized that she didn't recognize the voice. The threehorn hobbled around at the realization, the others following suit, the meeting below quickly forgotten as they came face-to-face with a swimmer around Ducky's size.

He had a light green coloration, a similar shade of green to the color of pale and faded treestars that have fallen to the ground. But with the exception of that, his outward appearance wasn't really all that remarkable.

The most visually striking thing about him, however, was the body posture that he was currently adopting. The swimmer had his entire body weight supported on his front leg, causing him to lean forward as he tiptoed on the balls of his back foot so that he could retain his balance. His eyes glinted with mischief as he slowly started to grin, both of his arms firmly planted by his hips. Long story short, he was standing in a proud manner that was more befitting of a threehorn, the swimmer acting like he owned the place from the sheer outlandishness of his staunch posture alone.

There was dead silence as the group of leaf-eaters simply stared at the swimmer's sudden entrance. Eventually, Ducky broke the awkwardness by speaking up. "What is your name?" she asked with a curious tilt of her head.

"Glad you asked that!" he replied in a refined manner, the swimmer's style of speaking and tone of voice quickly grating on the gang. "I'm called Ferris!" he said, introducing himself with a palm to his chest.

"Ferris?" Littlefoot repeated after the swimmer.

"That unique name!" said Petrie.

"Why, thank you!" Ferris chirped. "I'm new to this valley, of course. Came over here with the herd, in fact," the swimmer said, shooting a glance over to Geoffrey standing by the tree down below. "And what about you?" he asked, quickly returning with a question of his own which was directed to the swimmer who'd first posed him a query.

"Well, I am Ducky!" she answered Ferris with a wide smile, adding on her usual trademark triple affirmation while nodding her head, "Yep, yep, yep!"

"Ducky? Now that's a sweet name," he complimented, breaking his pose from earlier to step towards Ducky. "Please to make your acquaintance, my pretty."

Ducky didn't miss the flirtatious remark, her cheeks tinting pink as she stuttered back an uncomfortable response. "U-um… okay?"

"You heard me!" Ferris' smile only grew wider, a sudden aura of confidence creeping onto his face as he continued to walk towards Ducky, stopping only approximately five paces in front of her. His face took on a contemplative expression as he mused out loud. "If I were to be honest with you, I was so enchanted by your beauty from the very instant I saw you…"

"What?" Ducky coughed, an onset of awkwardness rapidly surrounding the swimmer as quickly as the rushing torrents of the fast water. She nervously glanced towards Littlefoot and Petrie, who could only give a clueless look back to her in return. Still, it was starting to get apparent from the way Ducky was fidgeting that she felt uncomfortable by the sudden shift of focus on her.

But unfortunately for Ducky, she didn't realize that Ferris wasn't finished talking. With a flourish, he took a bow and completed his sentence.

"…that I simply must propose to you!"

The gang's reaction to that request was pretty much instantaneous.

"WHAT!?"

So much for having a perfectly normal day, it would seem. Because right now, it seemed that the status quo that the gang had been enjoying up till now looked to be pretty much dead, floating like a corpse along the flowing fast water.



Showdown time.

The yellow flyer licked his lips as he touched his talons down on the grassy plains of the Great Valley, feeling the soft blades of grass tickle his feet as he apprehensively eyed the place.

He took in a deep breath, momentarily letting himself relax after his long flight. It helped that the Great Valley itself was quite deserted, no doubt because of the meeting that was currently being conducted at this very moment halfway across the valley.

The flyer couldn't resist a snort at the very idea of a meeting. Did they really have to go to such lengths just to welcome a swimmer herd? In his opinion, the valley was so tasteless, so… gaudy. Did the dinosaurs who lived here really think that they were safe from sharpteeth just because they were members of a herd with large numbers?

Those spineless fools! That line of thinking couldn't be further from the truth… being in a herd was useless! Completely pointless!

And he was going to prove that, once and for all. The flyer cackled, lifting his head back as he reached for the tiny objects that were dangling around his neck like lucky charms. He held them up to his eye with a wing, admiring them both with genuine glee.

Two small shiny stones lay in his grip, the stones threaded through a vine that was fastened into a circular loop so that they could hang freely around his neck, which allowed him to carry them with him even in flight. He chuckled as he let go of them, feeling the loop of the makeshift necklace vines go taut as they returned to their original position.

The one drawback to wearing them like this was that the objects themselves were glaring — no doubt standing out from his body. If anyone in the know was able to see him now, they would quickly notice that he was wearing what appeared to be small pendants around his neck.

The species-changing stone.

It was a definite shame that he had to make such a huge detour, leaving the valley and making a seemingly unnecessary to-and-fro trip just to retrieve the stones and return back to the valley.

But the flyer had his reasons. He was extremely cautious when it came to this, not wanting to be seen with the shiny stones by anyone who didn't need to know. In fact, he had chosen not to take a calculated risk and forgone wearing a visible stone that he'd intended to bring to the valley after his meeting with Pterano, even if it meant that he had to take an extra return trip after scouting out the children just so that he could collect them from his stronghold.

And besides, his whole precaution had been well worth it in the end, since Pterano had managed to figure out the ruse even without the shiny stone hanging from his neck. The flyer narrowed his eyes warily at the memory. Truthfully, he really didn't need Pterano to get visual confirmation that the stones of legend were at the tip of his wings.

He tapped his talons against the ground impatiently. For now, he would just have to remain hidden until nightfall. When the Night Circle took the place of the Bright Circle in the sky — or more accurately, when he saw the stars above begin to shine, he would make his move.

Strolling towards the nearby stream, the flyer peered forward at the riverbank so as to look into his reflection on the surface of the water.

Or perhaps, he might be able to accelerate things by—

"Hey there!"

Panic momentarily flashed across the flyer's eyes when his thoughts were interrupted by the purple sharptooth who'd waved at him from behind. "Hello!" he greeted with a genuinely merry grin, one which seemed very out of place on a sharptooth's face. "I'm Chomper! Are you new to the valley?"

So those crazy rumors were true after all… The flyer took in a deep breath, feeling himself calm down as the oxygen reached his lungs. But before he could fire an annoyed retort back, someone else beat him to it.

"Chomper!"

The flyer watched in amusement as the sharptooth instinctively hung his head down upon hearing the unhappy cry from afar, one which came from a cross-looking fast runner that was sprinting towards the scene.

"You shouldn't sneak up on a poor unsuspecting dinosaur like that. Look at what you've done now, Chomper." She pointed a finger right at the remorseful sharptooth, never taking her stern eyes off of the sharptooth as she gently reprimanded him. "Oh dear! This flyer looks scared to death, scared to death he looks!"

The fast runner then held her hands to her hips, squarely focusing on the sharptooth. As a result, she missed the look of utter rage that the flyer himself showed towards her words.

How dare you…! Yo-you actually think a damn sharptooth child scares me? He seethed, glaring daggers at the duo. Don't you dare underestimate me! What do you know!? I've endured much worse horrors than this!

He couldn't prevent a vicious chuckle from escaping his beak. He had been forced to survive for many lonely Cold Times out in the Mysterious Beyond. Whatever "friendships" that he'd made were always out of necessity, and with the exception of one—and he'd hesitate to even call that one a friendship, more so a partnership—every other bond that he'd made was always torn asunder for one reason or another.

Just the way he wanted it. The advantage of having no close emotional bonds was that no one in the Mysterious Beyond would be able to have any influence over his actions. No one.

And after he'd suffered alone for almost ten Cold Times, what would a mere ground-dweller sharptooth—not to mention one that he could simply fly out of range to avoid, no less—end up being worth to him?

Nothing… nothing!

"Hello…? Are you still there?"

The flyer blinked as he heard the sound of the fast runner snapping her fingers, quickly swirling his body towards his left at the fast runner's curious greeting.

She stopped snapping her fingers when she saw that she had managed to get his attention. "Oh, I'm so sorry! You kind of spaced out there, kinda spaced out there, you did," she said apologetically, finally noticing the annoyed look that he had plastered onto his face.

Instead of the nice reply that the fast runner must have been expecting from him after her humble apology, the flyer chose to react in a manner contrary to what she'd expected. "Thanks for the compliment, pal." He didn't dial down the sarcasm in his own response, instead cranking it up to eleven as he proceeded to shoot both the half-tooth and sharptooth a sour face.

Her expression immediately turned from that of a modest apologist to a somewhat annoyed look in the span of a single second. "Come on, there's no need to be so mean about it…" she groaned, crossly folding her arms in response.

The flyer sharply inhaled, taking in a deep breath of air as he debated on whether to escalate the argument. To be fair, he had been trying to keep his anger in check and kept under wraps, so if the fast runner had been able to tell from body language alone that he wasn't of the soundest state of mind, then that was very bad.

As a result, he retreated by verbally dialing back, defusing the situation instead of exacerbating it. "I guess you're right…" he conceded, shaking his head with a sigh. "I hope we meet again. You two… are an interesting bunch."

Before the two could reply to his statement, he swiveled around and strutted away from the two dinosaurs, walking on foot along the direction of the flowing river and leaving his ominous promise lingering in the air around them like an unpleasant stench.

"Hey!" the flyer could hear the sharptooth call after him. But instead of acknowledging Chomper, he simply grunted a noncommittal reply and continued walking along the river, not even sparing a single glance behind.

"Just ignore him, Chomper."

"But, Ruby! I think—"

Ruby interrupted Chomper, finishing the sharptooth's sentence for him. "…I think we've made him upset, made him upset we did!"

A reluctant pang of acceptance from Chomper could be clearly discerned after he heard Ruby's advice to dismiss the matter. "I guess you're right…"

Once the flyer heard the subsequent sigh that emanated from Chomper after Ruby had dissuaded the sharptooth from going after him, he could only resolutely continue his forward pace, inwardly glad that they had decided to leave him alone.

As it should be. It wasn't their time yet… not yet, at least.

He coyly grinned as he thought back to the two dinosaurs who he'd just interacted with. So these were the last two of the special seven dinosaurs who'd broken the species barrier. He hadn't expected to run right into them, but it wasn't going to be a drawback in the long run. This so-called Chomper and Ruby having knowledge of him would certainly be useful in the future, but as of now he wasn't going to jump the sky puffy.

He wished to focus on the immediate future, and he certainly wasn't going to let anyone or anything deviate his plans before he put them into motion. The flyer stopped walking at a bend in the river, a malicious smirk etched onto his face as he clutched onto the stones around his neck with a wing, hanging onto them like they were his lifeline.

Whoever would have thought that such a tiny stone could be such a life-changer? He for one certainly didn't, not even when he had first managed to acquire a whole cache of them with the help of an unusual acquaintance seven Cold Times prior. The reason for that was simple, of course — he'd initially been after the ability to switch species for a completely different reason.

As a result, he knew for a fact that the Great Valley wouldn't anticipate the true allure of the shiny stones either. So then, how would they react when he bestowed one of them to a hapless valley resident?

How would they behave? Would they change or still be the same dinosaur they once were?

The flyer had a sneaky suspicion that he already knew the answer to the question that he had just posed. For the record, his question was so rhetorical that even a dazed yellowbelly could respond with the right answer. It was as black and white as the world he could see around him.

And yet, despite all that, he still wished to execute the experiment just to prove his point. Yes, if one looked at it in a certain way, all of this was just a little experiment… a test for his poor unsuspecting victim.

Or if he wanted to be more precise, victims. In plural.

He clasped one of the two shiny stones in his hand, flipping the tiny object back-and-forth using the digits of his fingers in an almost flippant manner. If giving up two of these precious stones so he could observe the unfolding chaos was the price to pay so that he could be proven unequivocally right, with no way for anyone to ever debate him ever again, then he was perfectly willing to write them off as a loss.

After all, what was of much more importance to him was the end result. The flyer wanted his hypothesis proven right beyond any measure of reasonable doubt, substantiating that his personal view of how this miserable world worked was irrefutable, once and for all.

That was all this whole gamble meant to him. Nothing more, nothing less.

And if he was forced to play with the lives of others just to make his point… then well, he'd most gladly oblige.



Author's Note:

The story begins in earnest with this chapter, as the previous chapter was more of a prologue — a preview of sorts for things to come. And what a preview it was! I wish to take this time to thank everyone for the reviews in the last chapter, especially as the consensus was everyone generally liked the concept.

So in this chapter, we have a couple of new faces, in addition to a cast of familiar ones. Like with other authors before me, I'll be giving Ducky and Petrie's mothers my own unique names so as to personify them more than in the sequel films. In this story, Mama Swimmer is named Shoal, the exact same name that I'd given her in Five Stages of Grief, while Mama Flyer will be going by Skylar… even though I still firmly stand by the opinion that Rhombus' name for her—Volant—is still the coolest sounding name ever. :p



DiddyKF1: Thanks for your encouragement! And if it's any consolation, I enjoyed reading through Secret Love when it debuted last year! It's one of the few stories with this specific pairing that partially inspired the creation of this fic!

Sovereign: I'm glad you enjoyed Pterano. It was tricky to balance his characterization, since I want him to change somewhat, yet still be close to the same flyer as he was at the end of LBT7, if a bit nicer. And yeah, I don't expect you to magically like this pairing. Even at times I flip-flop on whether I prefer to see Ducky and Petrie together (unlikely in canon as it stands) or with members of their own species.

Rhombus: I'm glad you like my foray into the species-change genre! So here's to another fic of the species-change plot point which ended up being somewhat inspired by you, I guess, haha! Anyway, I especially liked how you inferred in your review that our oh-so-mysterious flyer has the desire to "get what he wants at all costs", because that's basically the gist of his inner monologue in this chapter!



So, will poor Ducky manage to escape from her very unusual plight? Furthermore, just what plan (the gist of it is obvious, but still) does this vicious flyer have concerted for our beloved dinosaurs? Well, you'll have to find out next time!



That's Chapter 2! A couple more things as compared to the prologue, some new people, and the pieces are setting up for an initial conflict. Hope you enjoy! :D
A quaint creature who soars when the Night Circle is highest in the dark sky, messing up his circadian rhythm in the process. Truly, a tragic flyer.

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



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

DiddyKF1

  • Monkey of Many Mysteries from the Fruitiest Forests
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Re: Waves Crashing Upon the Sky
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2018, 01:17:12 pm »
This chapter seemed to start off just like any other typical day in the Great Valley. All the kids were very much in character, and I feel as if stories like these need to start off just like that, as if no one suspects anything is coming to them. You especially cracked up the suspense level with that strange Swimmer towards the end that seemed somewhat creepy. I actually suspect this stranger might have something to do with the coming plot, but then again, I could be wrong.

I didn't know that "Secret Love" inspired you to write this! I'm happy to have been an inspiration for you, my friend, and keep up the good work. To me, it's unfortunate that there's not that many DuckyxPetrie stories out there. This has gotten off to a good start so far. Everyone is well in character, and the plot is building up very slowly. I like it when stories build up slowly, but not too slowly.
My fanfics:
Love is an Adventure
Waters Rise, Illness Flies
A Swim of Silence
A Swimmer's Sad Secret
A Broken Family
The Hurting of Desire

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


rhombus

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Re: Waves Crashing Upon the Sky
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2018, 07:08:06 pm »
Now this is certainly a way to crank up the suspense of what is to come.  From what began as a simple game of hide and seek with the most overpowered seeker the Great Valley turned into a very strange place, with the arrival of a mysterious herd and the most creepy of swimmers. I can only hope for the creeper swimmer than Ducky resolves the situation before Cera resolves it in her own special way - horns.  :p  I suspect that this swimmer has something to do with the overall conspiracy, but what it is is an open question.  A question that becomes even more pressing as we once again see the flyer...

I have nothing really to say in terms of any constructive criticism.  The characters are all in-character and the pacing is working wonderfully in keep the story coming along.  I look forward to seeing what chaos the flyer is about to cause with our favorite dinosaurs. I sense that a major adventure is about to be underway.  :)


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

Sovereign

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Re: Waves Crashing Upon the Sky
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2018, 03:05:00 pm »
And now the plot around the Gang begins to form. The first part of the chapter was a rather traditional one even if the Hide and Seek did introduce the setting to us quite effectively. The descriptions about the Gang resembled the films somewhat which brought a rather decent touch to that scene. Petrie’s effortless win was quite fun to read even if the outcome was rather clear from the beginning.

And the latter part of this fic brought more hints about the way this story will take in the chapters to come. The banter and arguing among the grownups worked rather well and it was very in-character. However, I’m quite sure Ferris’ introduction was the most important part of that sequence because his immediate interest in Ducky is quite weird. It’s quite clear he’s not completely oblivious to the flyer’s plot…

As for the flyer himself, we’ll soon see just how his plan will move forward (even if we’ve received many hints already). His motives are still a mystery but we’ll see if his stones will find their way into hands other than those of Ducky and Petrie. In any case, this chapter was a rather quiet one but there are many interesting things to look out for. You’ve certainly created an intriguing premise with these two chapters. :^^spike

OwlsCantRead

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Re: Waves Crashing Upon the Sky
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2018, 10:11:18 am »
I'm ill but well enough to update. Hypocrite, I know. :P

FFN Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13096361/3/Waves-Crashing-Upon-the-Sky



Chapter 3: One Abhorrent Admirer

"I was so enchanted by your beauty from the very instant I saw you… that I simply must propose to you!"

There was a short silence as Ferris finished, although said tranquility didn't last very long.

"WHAT!?"

Every single one of the friends who were gathered around the area had articulated that single word in shock of what they'd just heard, with only two exceptions — Spike… for obvious reasons, and Ducky, who was too stunned to even utter a meep.

To say that Ducky was being put on the spot was a huge understatement. Her lower beak literally fell agape from the unexpectedness of Ferris' words. "Um… um… I am sorry. Wh-what did you just s-say?" she stuttered, the normally talkative swimmer at a complete loss of words for once.

Ferris quirked his head when he heard Ducky stumbling across her own sentence. "Well," he rubbed his ear, "I said that—"

Cera took one step towards Ferris, interrupting the smarmy swimmer before he could utter another word. "Don't you dare repeat that!" she yelled without restraint, losing control of her anger momentarily before taking in a deep breath and regaining her self-control. "We all heard what you said. Every last one of us heard your request," she continued in a slow voice, one which her friends knew meant that she was trying to restrain her rising anger. "And we don't like it, so quit it with your sappy pickup lines already!"

"Come on, now…" Ferris dejectedly shrugged towards the threehorn, despite repeated visible warnings from Littlefoot to hint at him not to get into a verbal spar with Cera. His voice had an abundance of arrogance embedded in it, although it appeared that Ferris himself was unaware of that little detail. "Was there anything wrong with what I said? I'm merely stating my thoughts…"

"Ohhhh, that swimmer real self-centered," Petrie commented with a whisper to Littlefoot, shaking his head at the conceited tone that the swimmer was subconsciously using. "He acting just like Cera."

"…I heard that, Petrie."

Petrie let out a terrified squeak, before chuckling nervously when he saw Cera had quickly redirected her anger towards him. Her furious glare quickly sent Petrie an implicit message — he wasn't going to be safe on Littlefoot's back if he didn't quickly clamp his beak shut.

Actually, judging from the murderous look on Cera's face, Petrie got the feeling that he wasn't going to be safe from her wrath even though he'd stopped talking the moment she'd called him out. No one insulted Cera and got away with it, after all. Denting a threehorn's pride never ended well. It meant that someone like Cera would always be seeking comeuppance against those who'd wronged her.

Now that had been a lesson that he was forced to learn the hard way a couple of times before. "Heh, heh, heh…" Petrie couldn't keep a nervous laugh from escaping his beak as he reminisced about those painful memories.

Ferris shot a passing glance over, but quickly decided to ignore the tense stares between the threehorn and the flyer. "Truth was," he started, turning towards Ducky and bowing his head in her direction, "I was so entranced by your beauty when I first caught sight of you that I absolutely felt that I had to approach you to make my stance clear!"

Ducky's clouded mind finally cleared up as Ferris himself definitively stated, beyond any shadow of a doubt, the reason why the swimmer had come up to the top of the hill.

H-He wants to be with me? Oh, I do not like this at all! No, no, no…

The reason that Ducky was so averse to that outcome wasn't because the swimmer was physically unattractive. In good faith, Ducky couldn't deny that Ferris' pale green coloration was rather unique, as most swimmers she'd seen—her siblings included—either had a bright or dark green color. A pale light green was something she hadn't really seen before on a swimmer, and was a unique feature that would probably allow Ferris to have a myriad of females worshiping his feet had he been slightly older.

Rather, it was more of his pushy attitude that Ducky found a problem with. While his upfront and direct attitude might work on some other swimmer, she found herself being naturally apprehensive about the offer. It was that commitment of being mates that made Ducky uncertain. She wasn't quite sure that she wanted to take the plunge and be involved in something like that at the moment.

She was only ten Cold Times old, yep, yep, yep! She could definitely wait a little longer before finding a significant other.

Perhaps Ferris might be more enthusiastic than her in his endeavor and quest to find his life mate, but was the way that he was approaching the matter warranted? Well, in her opinion, Ducky didn't quite think so. Nope, nope, nope!

But before Ducky could state her uneasiness and slam a waiting Ferris with her frank opinion, a peeved threehorn beat her to the punch. "Hey!" Cera snarled, yelling in such a loud voice that it was a miracle that none of the adults gathered down by the tree sweet tree noticed her. "Learn to read the mood, you jerk! Does my friend Ducky look like she's even remotely interested in you!?"

Ferris backed away slightly, but didn't stand down. "Well, she didn't actually say no," he countered with a defiant tone.

Cera's brow visibly twitched. The swimmer was either very brave or very foolish to talk back to her in that manner. Neither of the two boded well.

"Um… well, my mama says that I am much too young to be finding a boyfriend," Ducky said with a tinge of nervousness, hoping that her made-up excuse would work on Ferris. "She did, she did."

Considering that Ducky had meant to shut down the conversation topic with that remark, she wasn't expecting a follow-up question to her response. "How old are you?" Ferris asked in an inquisitive voice.

"Um… ten?" she answered apprehensively, quirking her head as she wondered as to why he would require that information from her.

Ferris shot Ducky a wry smile at her answer, his expression causing Ducky to back away very slightly. "Well, then that's no excuse for you! I'm nine Cold Times old, which means that I'm actually younger than you!" He clucked his tongue, "If I hatched a whole Cold Time after you and still can scout for a future girlfriend, then there's nothing stopping you from focusing on getting a future mate as well!"

Ferris didn't notice the crestfallen look on Ducky's face as he cheerfully continued on with a wave of his hand. "My Pops hopes that I'll be able to find a suitable female around my age in the valley who can become my future consort." He tapped his foot impatiently, flashing Ducky a sincere smile. "And I've already made my choice. You, my lucky swimmer, shall be it!"

Ducky shook her head, desperation starting to show in her eyes as Ferris gleefully pointed at her. Her blue eyes, usually cheerful and enthusiastic, now instead showed apprehensiveness and a tinge of fear. "Um, I do not think that I would like that. No, no, no!"

"Ah, nonsense!" Ferris grinned in spite of her refusal. "Please don't delude yourself like that! You just happen to be stunned by my sudden move on you. Give it a little bit more time, and I assure you—"

"Hey, bonehead swimmer! What part of 'no' do you not understand!? My friend already said that she doesn't like you, so buzz off already!" Cera's feet grazed the ground as she leaned forward and reared up for a charge. "Unless you want to be sent careening off this cliff, you better back off!"

The two swimmers turned around at the sarcastic remark to see a fuming Cera, the expression on her face so twisted and contorted with anger that she looked ready to impale something… or someone with her horn. She had chosen to speak up on Ducky's behalf, sensing that the mild-mannered swimmer was too meek to violently object to Ferris' advances herself.

And to be honest, Ducky knew that her friend was right. The swimmer smiled at her friend's intervention. "Cera…" she beamed with relief in her voice.

Cera's words were a feint, of course. Ducky knew that her friend wouldn't really throw Ferris off the hill, no matter how much the swimmer rubbed her the wrong way. But Ferris, new to the valley and not certain of the threehorn's personality, didn't know that, and thus wisely chose to back down.

Glancing towards the meeting still ongoing in the plains down below, Ferris' lips curled down into a frown. "Perhaps this isn't the right time…" he grumbled. Ducky could see Ferris gritting his teeth in agitation. It looked like he'd decided to play it safe, although his slight scowl showed his unhappiness of things turning out in a way that he hadn't anticipated.

With a miserable expression, Ferris spun about on his heel and showed his back to the others. As he walked away, he raised his left arm to acknowledge his leave. "Farewell! Do not fret though, I'll be back at a later time." Just as he was about to go out of sight, Ferris chose to add a final remark.

"…when that terrifying threehorn who's next to you finally calms herself down."

"What did you say!?" To no one's surprise, that shrill yell came from Cera. "You little punk! Why you… you…" she struggled to form a coherent threat, before eventually giving up and going for what worked. "You better pray that I never see your tail again… or else!"

Ducky nervously restrained a chuckle as Cera pounded the poor earth that was by her front feet. She could venture a guess as to what 'or else' could mean in Cera's mind.

However, the rest of their friends had no reservations about remaining silent at Cera's vicious threat. They simply burst into uncontrollable laughter.

"Aughhhh!" Cera glared at Littlefoot and Petrie as the longneck and flyer laughed heartily. Seeing them show no signs of stopping, she then directed her gaze towards Spike, who was also guffawing at Cera. "Just what's so funny, huh!?"

Petrie managed to give Cera an answer in between bouts of laughter. "H-he… he call you terrifying threehorn! Oh, he have no idea how right he is!"

"Oh…?"

Petrie abruptly stopped laughing when his ears caught Cera's tone lowering by at least two octaves. Hesitantly glancing down from his resting point atop Littlefoot's back, Petrie gulped when he saw that the threehorn had a vengeful grin on her face. "Uhhhh…" he struggled to speak, although nothing coherent could leave his beak as Cera's smile grew proportionally larger with every stammer.

"So I'm terrifying, eh? Well, shall we test just how 'terrifying' I can be, Petrie?" Cera's white teeth shone as she gave the flyer an enthusiastic smile.

"Y-Y-You no need do that, Cera!" he held his wings out in an attempt to dissuade her. "Me already know how terrifying you are!"

Only when those words left his mouth did Petrie realize his mistake. He slapped his beak shut with his wings, but unfortunately the damage had already been done. It quickly became apparent to Littlefoot, Ducky, and Spike just what a grave error Petrie had made when Cera's teasing smile was soundly wiped off her face, the threehorn having been stunned into silence by his words.

"Uh… um… bye!" Petrie flapped his wings in a hurry, soaring high into the air before Cera was able to break out of her stupor and react. And react she promptly did, in a most spectacular manner.

"Get back here, Petrie!" the threehorn howled, charging after the fleeing flyer. "Don't you dare run away!"

Littlefoot could only shake his head and close his eyes with a subdued groan. "Uh, guys? I think Petrie's kind of gotten himself into a pickle," he pointed out with a chuckle. "Do y'all want to help save him from Cera's wrath?" he leaned down to ask Ducky and Spike, the only two remaining dinosaurs by his side.

Ducky hesitantly glanced down at the ongoing meeting, which appeared to still be horribly derailed at the moment. Every dinosaur's attention was focused on the protesting gray threehorn instead of the swimmer herd leader.

She sadly sighed, gently kicking at the ground. As a swimmer, she'd genuinely wanted to find out more about the swimmers in the farwalker herd. But it appeared that probably wasn't going to happen anytime soon, if the way her mama and Mr. Threehorn were clashing was any indicator.

Besides, if she chose to stay here on the off chance that the meeting would get back on schedule so she could find out more about the farwalkers, there was always the probability that Ferris would hold true to his promise and return. And without Cera by her side as a mediator, Ducky wasn't sure if she could refute the persistent swimmer.

It truly was a tragedy that the first swimmer who she'd gotten to know from the new herd actively spooked her. Making up her mind, she gently looked up at Spike, the spiketail absentmindedly gazing at Ducky upon feeling his sister's gaze. "Oh, I think that we should be saving Petrie. Yep, yep, yep!"

"Yeah." Littlefoot nodded. "The grief that Ferris caused Cera was intense. I can tell that she was bottling it up. But if Cera decides to unleash all of that anger out on Petrie, then Petrie's mother might be unhappy with Mr. Threehorn the next time they meet."

The longneck involuntarily shuddered as a mental image of a stern blue flyer entered his head. From what he knew of Petrie's mother, she was a relatively understanding and amiable flyer… except when her children were involved. The number of times that she'd told Littlefoot off for incessantly dragging her beloved Petrie into all sorts of crazy trouble was proof enough of her protectiveness when it came to her own flesh and blood.

Thankfully, they didn't have far to run. Within just a few seconds, the three leaf-eaters caught a glimpse of orange threatening a grounded Petrie. Petrie was situated by the edge of a stream, the flyer evidently too exhausted to flap his wings and remain in the air any further.

"Cera!" Littlefoot shouted, causing the threehorn to glance back at the approaching longneck.

Petrie immediately perked up upon seeing his salvation. "Littlefoot, Ducky, Spike! Me very glad to see you!"

"Do not fight Petrie, Cera!" Ducky clasped her hands together to plead with her friend. "I am sure that Petrie did not mean it that way when he told-ed that to you. He does not, no, no, no."

"Y-yeah!" Petrie stuttered. "Me sorry! Ducky right! Me no mean it that way!"

Cera glared daggers at Petrie, causing the flyer to yelp and shield his face with a wing to prepare for the worst. As a result, he missed seeing Cera's face softening slightly.

"Fine! Consider our little chase payback for the hide-and-seek game!" Cera strutted back to Littlefoot's side, but not before giving a final warning glare towards Petrie.

With Cera finally off his back, Petrie heaved a relieved sigh as he got to his feet. "Oh, me glad to see you!" he said as he ran to Ducky's side, profusely thanking his savior.

"It is no problem at all, Petrie. Nope, nope, nope!" Ducky smiled as she tapped Petrie on the beak three times, timing each tap of her finger at the exact same time as the "nope" that left her beak.

Petrie let out a laugh before glancing back towards the cliff that they had been at earlier. "But me no get one thing. Why that swimmer choose you, Ducky?" he asked, the unusually gutsy Ferris hot on his mind.

"Yeah," Littlefoot concurred. "We were all hiding completely out of the way." This much was true, especially so as none of the adults ever bothered to look upwards when they were engrossed in participating in a valley meeting. "Ferris would have had to climb up here willingly just to talk to you, when he probably had a whole lot of other swimmers down below at the meeting area. If he wanted someone to be with, why did he choose you?"

Ducky sighed, her hands to her reddening cheeks. "I do not know the answer to that," she admitted, "but I am glad that he is gone. He is creepy, oh, yes, yes, yes."

"Well, I for one don't personally care why he did it! He was a colossal jerk to Ducky! And not to mention that he had the gall to insult me!" Cera's smile turned predatory as thoughts of the swimmer invaded her mind. "If he ever dares to show his face to me or Ducky again, I'll make sure to—"

"Just what were you thinking, you imbecile!"

Cera stopped short when an annoyed voice from behind her cut into her rant.

"Nice try, Cera!" Petrie looked at the threehorn with a wry grin. "But me no fall for your trick twice!" he declared triumphantly, folding his wings around him.

Cera rolled her eyes at Petrie's reaction. "Wasn't me this time," she muttered. "I can't throw my voice yet!"

"But if it is not you, then who shouted just now?" Ducky wondered, confusion falling across her features.

She didn't have to ponder about it for very long.

"If you're going to be late, at least have the decency to give a valid excuse!"

Ducky turned her head to face the source of the voice and quickly caught sight of two squabbling dinosaurs further down the stream. The rest of them quickly followed her lead and inquisitively turned their heads towards the commotion as well.

The sight that greeted their eyes was not what any of them had expected. Upon a closer look, it was clear that the two feuding dinosaurs—one yellow, one dark green—were both swimmers, their stature roughly the same as Ducky's. The only clear visual differences between the two were physical. For instance, the dark green swimmer had a more pronounced head crest and was slightly larger than the other hadrosaur.

"What going on here?" Petrie whispered, before closing his beak sheepishly when he found himself hushed by Ducky and Littlefoot.

In the meantime, the yellow swimmer placed his hands by his hips, continuing to soundly lecture his dark green counterpart with a reprimanding tone. "You know, for a navigator, you have this profound habit of getting yourself lost! To think that you only made it to the Great Valley when Geoffrey's speech is about to be over… how are you possibly going to explain this to the herd leader, huh?"

"I-I already said that I'm sorry! I really didn't mean to miss Geoffrey's big speech!" The other swimmer spoke in a jittery manner, darting his eyes about nervously as he tried to refute the first swimmer's statement, only to end up tongue-tied and forced to give a weak and easily refutable excuse instead, "You all scouted ahead and reached the Great Valley way ahead of me! That's why I got myself lost after I told y'all the way to the valley, honest!"

An eyebrow was raised. "So you're saying that it's because Geoffrey made the call to leave without you and the other snoozers?"

"That's exactly right!" he answered in a firm voice. "When I was left behind, I was forced to trek along all of your footsteps in the desert to try and guess the path you guys took here!" Seeing that the yellow swimmer was still unconvinced, he clutched his hands together, all but begging him. "Please! You've got to believe me, Valent!"

The yellow swimmer, Valent, maintained a piercing gaze on his dark green counterpart, who cowered under the force of his unrelenting glare. "It's not that I don't believe you," Valent finally said. "It's just that your reliability as a navigator has come under fire before, and this incident is getting rather close to the tipping point. Your bumbling is seriously getting out of hand recently."

"Uh, Valent?" the dark green swimmer spoke up, raising his arm to interrupt him. "I think we have company!"

"Oh, no, no, no," Ducky gasped, ducking behind Spike's front legs for cover. "I think that we have been spotted!"

Cera rolled her eyes. "You think?" she mumbled sarcastically.

Valent's teal eyes glazed over to where the other swimmer was pointing at, shooting a passing glance over to the five leaf-eater dinosaurs by his side. "Fine," he muttered. "I won't fault you for this any longer, not when you and I have an audience watching us."

"We're an audience?" Cera growled, gnashing her teeth at the swimmer's words.

"Just, please… for the sake of the herd, don't do it again," Valent reminded the green swimmer in a cautionary tone before strolling off in the opposite direction, following along the bank of the river.

"Whew!" The lone remaining swimmer wiped his brow in relief. "Thank goodness he's finally gone! I'm not sure how much longer I could've taken his scolding…"

It was at the opportune moment that Littlefoot decided to greet the swimmer. "Hello there!" he called out.

"G-gack!" The hadrosaur jumped into the air upon hearing the sudden voice. "Whoa… wahhhhh!"

As the swimmer landed on the ground after springing into the air, he accidentally stepped on his tail and clumsily tripped over it. He flailed his arms wildly around as he slipped and fell backwards, landing on his rump as the soft grass below cushioned his fall with a whump.

"Wow… great going, Littlefoot," Cera muttered sarcastically upon seeing the swimmer's haphazard fall. "He got scared so badly that he fell right to the ground. Geez, he must have thought that you were a sharptooth sneaking up on him or something."

Ducky walked on over to the fallen swimmer who was sitting on the soft grass, offering him a hand to get back to his feet. The swimmer went wide-eyed at the gesture for a moment before he hesitantly reached out and took her hand, pulling himself up with support from Ducky.

Upon seeing him upright again, Ducky decided to console him. "Do not be scared-ed. Littlefoot means no harm. He did not mean to scare you." Her eyes slowly shifted in the direction of her sauropod friend. "He is a very nice dinosaur. Yep, yep, yep!"

"Littlefoot?" the swimmer prodded, tilting his head sideways in confusion.

Ducky giggled when she realized her mistake. "Oh, I am being silly! I forgot that you do not know who Littlefoot is!"

"You're correct about that," the swimmer sighed, placing his hands behind his head. "Mind if you introduce yourselves?"

Ducky flashed the swimmer a thumb-up before using her other hand to point to all her friends in turn. "The brown longneck over there is Littlefoot! Say hello, Littlefoot!"

"Hello!" Littlefoot greeted as the swimmer squinted his eyes, turning his head and darting his eyes all around the area until he spotted the longneck and gently waved his arm as a greeting.

"The spiketail grazing on the treestars way back there is my brother Spike—"

Before Ducky could continue further, the swimmer cut in. "Huh!? Wait… that's your brother? B-but… you're a swimmer! How can you two possibly be siblings!?"

"Because my mama adopted him! She did, she did! Isn't that right, Spike?"

Spike lifted his head, pausing his meal to give his sister a cheerful nod before resuming his early dinner.

Ducky simply shrugged at Spike's response, before frowning slightly when she looked back at the swimmer. The swimmer she had been talking to seemed even more pale than before, his whole face now tense and clammy. Perhaps he was having trouble remembering names?

Nevertheless, she pressed on. "My name is Ducky! Yep, yep, yep!" she introduced herself with a wide grin before gesturing towards her good friend. "And that flyer over there is Petrie!"

"Nice to meet you!" Petrie cawed.

"So… uh, who's the threehorn?"

Cera snorted at the swimmer. "Hah! Who am I, you ask? Well, I am the greatest threehorn to ever—"

"…Cera. Her name's Cera." Littlefoot hastily interrupted Cera's haughty spiel before the topic ended up being magnificently derailed. It didn't take a genius to realize that threehorns were the most profound species when it came to accomplishing a sudden switch in conversation topics.

Still, Littlefoot's move was met with much displeasure from the prideful Cera. "Yeah. That's my name," she gruffed, "You got a problem with that, swimmer?"

"No, no, no!" The swimmer shuddered, swallowing a gulp with terror-filled eyes. "I'm sorry! I'll abstain from any further comments!" he said, waving his arms frantically about while backing away.

"But you no even make any comment about Cera!" Petrie pointed out, causing the swimmer to chuckle nervously.

He twiddled his fingers before speaking. "O-oops… my bad. Sorry, I'm used to saying things that get me in trouble. That's all…"

"What do you know…" Cera grumbled under her breath. "I think we finally found someone who behaves almost the same way you do, Petrie." Petrie could only sigh in response, unsure of whether Cera had made that observation in an encouraging or spiteful manner.

Ducky walked forward, giving the newcomer a reassuring look. "Well, there is no need to be shy. We told you all of our names, so what is your name?" she asked, the prompt eliciting another shudder from the swimmer, who began to back away slightly, his left foot shifting backwards.

"M-M-My name?" he stuttered, nervously averting his amber eyes away from the overenthusiastic Ducky. "W-Why do you want to know my name? I'm just a normal ol' swimmer, that's all! Nothing special here! There's no need for an introduction like that!"

"But I have not seen you before today. That makes you special to me. Oh, yes, yes, yes!" Ducky nodded her head thrice, causing the olive green swimmer in front of her to groan as his lie of omission was promptly caught out. "So, are you new to the valley? Are you? Huh? Huh?"

The dark green swimmer hung his head once he realized to his great dismay that he would be unable to escape the conversation. "Well, yeah. I guess I can't hide it any longer, since you managed to figure it out. I am kind of new to the valley."

"So does that mean that you are a farwalker?"

"Wh-whatever makes you assume that?" he yelped, twiddling his fingers.

"Hey, swimmer!" The swimmer jolted at the grating cry from behind him, and let out a gasp of fear as he came face-to-face with one very agitated threehorn, Cera having moved behind the swimmer to talk to him at close proximity. "Look, I don't know who you think you're fooling with that answer… but it certainly isn't going to be me!" She bared her horns, marching forward until she was literally right in front of the petrified swimmer. "So how about you quit the act and spill it already!"

His face began to pale from Cera's order. "Well… I… uh…" he stuttered.

It was at this point that Littlefoot cut in, deciding to go for a tamer approach to coax the answer out from the terrified swimmer. "I think what Cera meant to say was that you don't have to hide it from us. We overheard part of your conversation with that other swimmer from earlier."

"Yo-you heard my conversation with Valent?" the swimmer asked with widened eyes. "The entire thing?"

"That's right," Littlefoot confirmed with a nod of his head. "That was how we knew for certain that you were with the herd."

"Plus, that Valent guy say you herd navigator!" Petrie recounted. "That mean you must be with farwalker swimmer herd!"

"Yep, yep, yep!" Ducky agreed. "That is not even mentioning that if you had come-ed to the valley along with the other swimmers, you must be one of the farwalkers!"

As the leaf-eaters in front put the pieces together even without any prompts, the swimmer found himself reluctantly answering their question, knowing that there was no longer any point in keeping it hidden from these persistent dinosaurs any longer.

"Jovi…"

"Huh?" Ducky quirked her head. "What did you just say?"

He reached up with his arm to scratch his head crest. "That's my name. Jovi." The hadrosaur found himself unable to make eye contact with the leaf-eaters by his front, his fear most likely the cause for that. Instead, Ducky and the others observed that Jovi's amber eyes hovered downwards, aimed towards the ground in shame.

Composing himself, Jovi took in a deep breath before carrying on, "And what you'd overheard Valent say earlier was true. I'm the herd navigator for Geoffrey's herd. Wherever he wants to go, I plan out the best route to avoid sharpteeth and get us to our destination in the quickest possible time."

Littlefoot raised his eyebrow at the description of the swimmer's role. "Wow! That sounds like a really important job!"

"I agree. Sounds very important to me! Yep, yep, yep!"

"Yeah, me too. If only we had someone with us that could scout for the best possible route to take whenever we went out to the Mysterious Beyond," Cera muttered sardonically.

"…why everyone looking at Petrie?"

Jovi laughed as Petrie grew flustered. "You have a flyer with you? Why, they'll make the best navigators! Too bad that we're a swimmer herd, haha! Flyers come and go whenever they so please, so we swimmers can't rely on them for planning travel routes. So when I proposed to join Geoffrey's herd on the condition that I'll be his full-time navigator, he accepted my proposal instantaneously."

"So does that mean you're a good navigator?" Littlefoot asked.

"Heheheh, you doubt me? Of course I am! That question is moot!" Jovi chortled, raising up an arm and pointing his thumb at his eyes. "The herd navigator has the best eyesight. How else can they plan the swiftest routes to their destinations?" He took a small bow as he concluded his sales pitch. "The very fact that they selected me is proof of my talent!"

"But we heard that other swimmer say that you were not that good at your job. No, no, no…"

Jovi shook his head, clenching one of his fists. "Valent…" he grimaced, his face contorting. "That swimmer… of course he'd say that. He really takes great joy in putting down others."

"That no very nice," Petrie frowned, the flyer knowing very well what it was like to be mocked, in his case for being the runt of the litter.

"I agree. It is not nice to walk all over others, nope, nope, nope!" Ducky affirmed.

"Well, it's just a Valent thing. His personality is rather unique, even amidst all the swimmers in our herd." Jovi gave a passing glance over to the downstream river, looking at the direction that the yellow swimmer had walked off in. "But to be frank, the reason that he'd made that comment in the first place was due to our argument from earlier."

"Your argument?" Littlefoot prodded, stepping closer to the swimmer.

"Yes. I take it you heard our argument from the start?" Jovi questioned, quickly knowing from their silence that their answer was affirmative. "Yeah, so what happened was sort of dumb. Basically, I'd already drafted out the herd's route to the valley the night before, but I worked so hard on planning the optimal route that I overslept. Apparently Valent tried to wake me up, before giving up and telling me to make it to the valley on my own. The herd leader wasn't waiting any longer for slowpokes like me."

"So that's the reason he was so mad at you?" Cera blurted out. "That's dumb! The only reason you were even late in the first place was because of him! If he'd actually bothered to wake you up, you wouldn't have been left behind and ended up missing the valley meeting!"

Jovi pursed his lips. "Well… you do have a point there. But I'm not going to pursue the matter. Really, Valent already has enough on his hands with Ferris…"

The reaction to Ferris' name was instantaneous. In an instant, all five leaf-eaters rounded onto Jovi.

"You know that guy?" Cera scowled, making her displeasure known.

Jovi backed away slightly to get away from the mass of faces that were surrounding his field of vision. "Of course I know who Ferris is," he mumbled as he dusted himself off. "Which swimmer in this herd wouldn't be able to recognize the herd leader's very own son?"

There was dead silence for a moment as the dinosaurs around processed Jovi's words. The only sound that could be heard was Spike gnawing on his food.

"Ferris is the son of the herd leader?" Ducky clutched her head, feeling a mounting headache coming upon her with this revelation. "Oh, I do not like that at all. Nope, nope, nope…"

"Me surprised too!" Petrie was dumbfounded by the news. "He no act like herd leader's son."

"I agree with Petrie. For example, Littlefoot acts a little like his dad when it comes to taking charge. He does, he does," Ducky pointed out as she looked at Littlefoot, who could only chuckle in response.

"Yeah, I see where you're coming from, Ducky." Littlefoot appeared deep in thought as he recalled the confident herd leader speaking in front of the entire Great Valley. "Ferris and Geoffrey seem like two very different swimmers."

Jovi nodded at the longneck. "Yep! If you didn't know better, you'd think that Valent was Geoffrey's son, not Ferris. Their personalities are like night and day."

"Wait! You're serious?" Cera finally growled after hearing Jovi's previous statement, the threehorn tempted to smash the nearest rock in sight upon hearing the information. "That guy is the herd leader's son? Of all the swimmers…"

"Well, Ferris is certainly Geoffrey's son," Jovi confirmed as he wagged his tail about, before his voice turned wistful. "The day that this herd is unable to recognize the face of the herd leader's firstborn son is a dark day indeed."

"Hah! Like I'll forget his face!" Cera growled at the very thought of the insanely daring swimmer. "Especially when that swimmer jerk had the guts to propose to Ducky!"

"He proposed to you?" Jovi gasped, before shaking his head in sympathy at Ducky. "Well, good luck with that. I'm afraid Ferris is used to getting what he wants. It's why he considers Valent quite the annoyance. To think that it's all because Valent is a rather curt reality check for him. Petty, isn't it?"

"Well, you can consider me reality check number two," Cera proudly declared as she held her head high. "If bashing into Ferris with my horns will send him careening back down to reality, I'll do it without a moment's hesitation!"

"Heh heh heh!" Jovi giggled at Cera's brash proclamation, showing a genuine smile on his face for the first time since the conversation had started. "Well, Valent isn't as physically violent as you. He just never got along well with Ferris," he explained.

"Why?" Petrie asked, finding the relationship between the swimmers quite fascinating. Maybe it was because the only swimmers he was close to was Ducky and her siblings, swimmers who were always amiable and caring to one another. It was normally the flyers—and his siblings in particular—that gave him a headache with their downright mean remarks at times. So to see this terse relationship in swimmers… was something quite new to Petrie.

"I don't know, to be honest. I only joined this herd about six Night Circle cycles ago. Whatever animosity or crazy grudge that happened between them took place way before I came along."

Petrie tapped a digit against his beak. "Me see… so that mean you no know why they no like each other?"

"Not a clue," Jovi shrugged before pointing up to the sky. "I'm not like the numerous stars up there, hanging out in the sky. Unlike our ancestors, I can't see or know everything that transpires in the Mysterious Beyond."

"So they don't like each other, huh?" Cera's eyes glazed up, the threehorn deep in thought.

Not noticing Cera's apprehensiveness with the topic, Jovi answered her query. "That much is indisputable. Ferris and Valent are not the best of friends. In fact, I'd peg the two of them as rivals." He turned towards the stream, shaking his head. "Their many feuds are legendary among the herd."

"Count me interested—"

"I think that's enough for one day." Littlefoot sternly cut in before Cera could finish. The longneck had a feeling that if he didn't stop them now, they would regret it down the line.

Before Cera could retort, Jovi heaved a sigh of relief and went back to the shy personality he'd had at the start of the conversation. "W-Well, I guess that's it, then…" he bowed before timidly backing away. "It was nice meeting such a varied herd. Bye bye, now!"

"Littlefoot! Why did you stop him from saying more?" Cera raged as Jovi took his leave by running into a treestar bush. "I was this close to finding out useful information about that creep! That was supposed to be a treasure trove of blackmail at my disposal!"

"Cera!" Littlefoot gently rebuked her. "Violence isn't the answer to Ducky's predicament!"

"Oh yes it is! I don't care if he's the herd leader's son! That Ferris is going to get it from me no matter what!"

Littlefoot was aghast by her response. "But the grownups allowed them to stay in the valley. We can't hurt them without a valid reason if they're temporary valley residents!" he explained, trying his best to quell Cera's rising anger.

"Oh yeah? Last I checked, the meeting was still ongoing. Maybe they haven't been officially inducted into the valley yet," Cera said with vigor, breaking into a run as she ran back to their earlier rendezvous point. "If that's the case, then I'm gonna give that arrogant swimmer a piece of my mind!"

"C-Cera! Wait! Don't do it!" Littlefoot took off after her, but not before using his neck to beckon the others to follow him.

"Coming, Littlefoot!" Ducky climbed onto Spike, waiting for the spiketail to munch on his last treestar before he slowly trotted after Littlefoot. "Let us chase after Littlefoot, Spike!" Ducky ordered in a playful manner. "Tee hee!"

"Wait up! Me coming too!" Petrie called out. But just as Petrie was about to soar upwards, he felt an arm reach out and grab his wing.

"Wh-whooaaa!" he yelped, quickly aborting takeoff and landing back down onto the ground. Petrie began to hyperventilate, breathing in heavily from the near scare that he'd received. He had almost taken off with that extra weight, a scenario that would have been disastrous as the additional weight would shift his center of gravity and quickly send the flyer careening someplace else, a place that would certainly end in pain no matter where he ended up being directed.

Petrie jolted when he heard a voice call out to him. "Psssttt! Petrie, was it?" The voice was uncertain but firm. "It's me!"

He turned around, only to come face-to-face with the swimmer who had retreated into the vegetation earlier. "Jovi?" Petrie cocked his head. "What you want? Me thought you already done talking!"

Jovi sheepishly placed his hands behind his head, propping them up against his crest. "Well, sorry. I literally just remembered something important. And well, since you were the only one left, I guess you're the perfect one to tell."

"What this about?" Petrie folded his wings in an annoyed manner. "Make it quick! Friends waiting for Petrie at top of hill! Me holding them back!"

"Tell me, Petrie." Jovi's eyes narrowed as they darted between the flyer in the foreground and the swimmer riding on a spiketail in the background. "Do you and your friends happen to be particularly close?"

Petrie frowned. "That dumb question! Of course we close! Me, Ducky, Littlefoot, Cera, Spike, Chomper, and Ruby! We seven bestest friends!" he answered without hesitation.

"I see…" Jovi began to pace about. "If that's the case, then for your sake, you better hope that Ferris doesn't succeed in impressing your female swimmer friend."

Petrie was indignant at Jovi's comment. "Oh, no worry. Me no think Ducky will—"

"He's quite the charmer," Jovi interrupted, looking directly into Petrie's eyes. "Don't underestimate Ferris, or else you might find that your friend will be swept off her feet if she isn't careful," he warned, looking up into the sky. "And then, the next thing you know, those two swimmers will be together for the rest of their lives." He snapped his fingers with a half-amused, half-serious laugh. "Mark my words, Petrie!"

"But me no see big deal about this. Ducky no like him right now," Petrie bluntly stated. Truly, this wasn't very high on the flyer's priority list. "And even if Ducky accept him later, it her choice!"

"Come on! You still don't get it?" By now, Jovi's voice had incurred a tinge of skepticism in them.

"Me really no know what you getting at!" Petrie emphasized.

"Really?" Jovi's disbelieving eyes grew wide, "You still don't understand what's the biggest loss you'll incur if those two are successfully bonded for life?" Without warning, he rushed at Petrie, grabbing hold of both of the flyer's shoulders with his hands before muttering his next words to Petrie in a haunting tone. "I take it that you heard Geoffrey's speech? Do you recall how long he said he'd stay in the Great Valley?"

"Um…" Petrie tapped his talons along the ground, leaning back from the swimmer's physical contact. "Me think he say herd staying until Cold Time?"

"Did he really…" Jovi mused, glancing away momentarily before looking back at Petrie. When he next spoke, his voice turned deadly serious. "You're a flyer, so you might not know this. But when we swimmers find ourselves a mate, the female will leave her family to live with the male's family. You see where I'm going with this, don't you?"

There was silence as Petrie contemplated about the significance of Jovi's statement. When the flyer put two and two together and finally realized what that would imply, he let out a horrified gasp.

Jovi took that as his cue to continue. "You said that you and your friends are very close, right?" He shot a passing glance over to Ducky and Spike in the distance, who were running after an even further Littlefoot and Cera. He let out an amused chuckle at the sight, before turning back to the shaken Petrie.

As the question he'd just asked Petrie was rhetorical, Jovi didn't wait for him to reply before giving the flyer an ominous prediction of things to come. "Just a warning for you and all your friends. If your swimmer friend Ducky successfully gets hitched with ol' Ferris… then it's too bad for all of your close friendships." He tightened his grip on Petrie's wing, looking directly into the flyer's black eyes as he completed his warning.

"Because I'm afraid it would mean that she'll have no choice but to leave with our herd when we eventually head back out to the Mysterious Beyond!"



Author's Note:

Plot-wise, this chapter is a bit on the subdued side, but it brings forth the introduction to two additional members of the swimmer herd, as well as establishing a personal stake for Petrie and the remainder of the gang.



DiddyKF1: I agree wholeheartedly. Setting up the initial setting via an introduction is something that I've learnt to do with story outlines. It's one of those "calm before the storm" sequences that only serves to make the inciting incident that much more apparent in terms of breaking the existing status quo.

Rhombus: Well, it's resolved with words rather than horns. Not that it's that much of an improvement, though you were somewhat close. :P Thanks for the review, and I hope the latest chapter sheds some light about the situation on hand.

Sovereign: Yes, and the fact that he'd immediately zoomed in on Ducky is not missed by the five friends themselves. And with the new information in this chapter, it'll certainly throw a spanner in the works.



Thanks for all the reviews! I'm actually currently down with a bout of flu, but luckily I'd drafted up this entire chapter before the virus really hit me, so all I needed were a couple of minor edits before releasing it.

Next time, we'll see just how Petrie reacts to this horrifying revelation, one that just might come true should a certain swimmer remain persistent in his efforts.



After posting this I'm going to bed and hoping I recover. Coming down with the flu really sucks, especially since I literally got a flu vaccine like two weeks ago. Irony.
A quaint creature who soars when the Night Circle is highest in the dark sky, messing up his circadian rhythm in the process. Truly, a tragic flyer.

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



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

DiddyKF1

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Re: Waves Crashing Upon the Sky
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2018, 01:23:53 pm »
Okay. I'm officially creeped out by this Ferris character. He gives off a very bad vibe, and after seeing how Jovi explained him, he's definitely someone Ducky will want to stay away from. Seeing how the chapter ended with Petrie and Jovi, I have a hunch that Petrie will do anything to keep Ferris away from Ducky.

This chapter didn't have very much plot-wise, but it sure did a good job at introducing the flaws that this Swimmer herd has, and I sense a bit of potential for Jovi in future chapters, and maybe Valent, but I can't say much about Ferris other than the fact that he creeps me out completely. You sure have a knack for character flaws.
My fanfics:
Love is an Adventure
Waters Rise, Illness Flies
A Swim of Silence
A Swimmer's Sad Secret
A Broken Family
The Hurting of Desire

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


Sovereign

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Re: Waves Crashing Upon the Sky
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2018, 03:14:07 pm »
This chapter deepened our look into the developments presented in the last one. The implications of Ferris’ proposal and the overall discord between the swimmer herd were rather nice scenes that made the wheels of the plot start to roll forward. While you are correct that nothing major happened in regards to the story, this installment created pretty good developments for the future.

First of all, the opening scene was a rather intriguing one with the dual personalities on Ferris and Cera fighting for Ducky’s attention. Ferris’ cold determination and Cera’s understandable rebuttal of him worked and the end of that part made me really wonder how far Ferris would go with his decision and even more worryingly, will he resort to violence if he won’t have his way.

As for Jovi and Valent, their roles were left far more ambiguous than Ferris’. The former seems to be rather friendly towards the Gang and he didn’t have a whole lot of reservations revealing the herd’s customs to them. Ducky’s decision will be a major one even if I’m rather confident at this point she’ll reject Ferris’ overtures but before his return, we’ll see if Jovi has some ideas on how to help Ducky.

Also, I found a few issues in the writing itself. Wordings like “Spike… for obvious reasons” aren’t the best ways in keeping the immersion up and his condition could have been explained in other ways. Also, Geoffrey’s name didn’t sound LBT-like nor can I see the word navigator being used in that universe. Not big problems but I thought I’d bring them up.

Despite those issues, this chapter elaborated the future of this fic quite nicely. I’m a bit surprised that the flyer’s plot wasn’t advanced in this installment but I’m sure we’ll see that soon enough. I have a feeling that the next chapters will open this story up more and I’ll look forward to reading them. :^^spike

rhombus

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Re: Waves Crashing Upon the Sky
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2018, 07:48:23 pm »
Now this chapter certainly did answer some questions about the new herd... and Ferris's creepiness.  So he is the herd leader's son and is not one to take no for an answer.  Though Cera and the others helped to earn Ducky a reprieve from his overtures I do fear for her sanity in the chapters to come.  And now that Petrie has an idea for what is at stake I do wonder how he is going to react in the times to come.  Especially with a certain other flyer in the background who I am sure will be making another appearance soon.

Though not much happened in this chapter plot-wise, I did enjoy the new developments concerning the swimmer situation.  I look forward to seeing what happens next.  :)


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

OwlsCantRead

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Re: Waves Crashing Upon the Sky
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2018, 12:43:03 pm »
Alright, here's an update that a whole bunch of you will probably be looking forward to... :^^spike

FFN Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13096361/4/Waves-Crashing-Upon-the-Sky



Chapter 4: Petrie's Faustian Bargain

Petrie looked as though he'd just been slapped in the beak. Hard.

The brown flyer shook his head with an open beak, stammering a hasty denial. "Du-Ducky need go away?" he stuttered in horror, unable to believe what he'd just been told. "Nooooo… me no want Ducky go away! She belong here in Great Valley, together with us friends!" Petrie insisted with an admittedly pitiful whine. "Ducky no belong in farwalker swimmer herd!"

It appeared that today just wasn't going to be his day. To think that his best friend Ducky could very well end up being forced to leave the Great Valley and join up with the swimmer herd against any of their wills? Petrie vehemently shook his head, adamantly refusing to believe the facts.

This couldn't happen to Ducky! It just couldn't! He refused to let this hypothetical, yet scarily realistic scenario become reality!

M-Me no can let Ducky get taken away by that no-good swimmer!

Although Jovi was unable to peer into Petrie's mind, he could roughly guess what the flyer was thinking in his head when he saw Petrie's face cramp up with a mixture of determination and fear. The swimmer let out a tired sigh, gently patting Petrie on the wing in a gesture of support. "Well, I'm so sorry that I had to be the one to break that to you. But I'm just saying that if they do get together, your friend Ducky wouldn't really have a choice."

Jovi paused as he finished, moving his hand under his chin to contemplate his next words before he said them. "Plus, it doesn't help that Ferris is one stubborn and persistent swimmer. He simply won't quit until he gets what he wants…" the swimmer sighed and shook his head. "Guess that trait runs in their family."

As Jovi was musing the situation, the swimmer unconsciously tilted his head slightly downwards. Because of a combination of the posture he adopted and his close proximity to Petrie, the flyer suddenly noticed something off with Jovi's face. "Wh-what happen to your eye?" Petrie stuttered, noticing a small diagonal scar directly above Jovi's right eye, one that was almost invisible unless viewed from the correct angle.

Jovi flinched back at Petrie's observation, reaching a finger up and rubbing the scab wound in question as though it had started to throb again. "Th-that? Just an old injury I got ages ago," he waved the matter off with his other free arm. "Truth is, I forget that it exists sometimes. Despite how it looks, it doesn't actually affect my eyesight, nor does it really irritate me much…"

"That injury look serious," Petrie commented, causing Jovi to grimace as the swimmer squeezed his right eye shut, rubbing the scar further in a way that made it almost seem like he was aggravating the wound.

"It's… it's nothing, really." Jovi stopped rubbing the wound, heaving a tired sigh as he backed away from Petrie to give the flyer some personal space. "If you really wish to know, I accidentally slammed my head into a rocky bluff while swimming a long time ago. Had this scar to remind me of my stupidity ever since," he explained, gently kicking at the ground. "At least it doesn't hurt, and it helps that it isn't an obvious wound. So, I don't really care about it." He stuck out his tongue as he concluded.

Petrie winced as Jovi tilted his head inquisitively. "What's wrong?" the swimmer asked. "You seemed rather spooked."

"How you slam head into bluff?" Petrie tentatively asked, assuming that 'bluff' was a swimmers' term for 'rock'. Admittedly, it was kind of an insensitive question to ask, but the flyer's curiosity was now piqued and he wanted to know the answer, darn it all.

Jovi's eyes widened, the swimmer's face turning pale. "We-well…" he stammered, clutching his head as though he was suddenly suffering a migraine. His right eye twitched as he stared vacantly ahead, freezing on the spot as though he was rooted to the ground. "It's kind of personal…" he finally admitted as he recovered, looking down and averting his eyes with a feeling akin to shame. "Perhaps I'll tell you some other time, okay?"

Petrie grimaced, but accepted Jovi's reasoning. "It okay. You no need feel bad," he reassured the swimmer, which visibly helped to ease Jovi's mood.

"Well, I suppose I better get going. If Valent comes back and finds me standing around over here instead of listening in to what's left of Geoffrey's speech…" the green swimmer trailed off before he could finish the thought, shuddering in fright. As Jovi recovered, he pursed his lips thoughtfully before giving a final reassuring smile to Petrie. "Best of luck to you, Petrie! Pray that Ferris doesn't get to your friend! I'll be rooting for ya!"

Petrie waved farewell to Jovi as the swimmer scurried away in a flustered manner. The flyer then sighed as he found himself all alone again. With those heavy words still lingering in his mind, he flapped his wings and began making his way towards the clifftop where his friends were all gathered.

But even as he felt a gentle breeze flowing over his wings, he couldn't help but feel a sense of uneasiness. Petrie shivered as he flew, shaking away his apprehensiveness when he saw his friends huddled ahead of him.

"Hey, guys! Sorry me late!" Petrie called out to them as he touched down onto the ground. It was only then that he noticed that only a mere two dinosaurs were there instead of the four that he'd expected. "Eh? Littlefoot, Cera?" He turned his head all around but was unable to spot his swimmer friend or her brother. "Where Ducky and Spike go?" he questioned.

Cera huffed as she answered Petrie. "Well, Ducky said she wasn't really feeling too well, so she and Spike went back to her home." The grumpy threehorn then proceeded to grunt at Petrie, grumbling under her breath. "Why did you take so long to get over here, anyway?" She peered at Petrie in confusion. "It isn't even that far! You missed everything because you were late! The entire meeting's over already!"

A stunned Petrie followed Cera's glare down towards the vacant plains below, only to realize that she was absolutely right. Where almost the entire valley had congregated around the grassy plains below just a couple of moments earlier, there was now nary a soul in sight, with only the large prominent pink tree sweet tree left down below.

"Huh… you right. They all gone!" Petrie commented. He supposed that the distinct lack of noise or arguments should have hinted to him as to the meeting's end even before Cera had brought it to his attention.

"That's right, Petrie. Also, Cera didn't mention it…" Littlefoot brought up, willingly risking a sharp glare from the threehorn as he made note of the minor detail, "but it was actually already over by the time that we made it back up here ourselves. They most likely wrapped it up while we were busy dealing with Ferris and Ducky's dilemma."

Petrie nodded. It was definitely a surprise that they had closed the meeting so abruptly, considering that valley meetings usually ran for far longer.

Littlefoot's eyes hovered towards the mountains that surrounded the valley, the longneck squinting them as they fell upon the setting Bright Circle. "Well, it could also be because the Bright Circle's going down," he hypothesized. "It's getting awfully late…"

Cera followed Littlefoot's gaze, standing upright in a rather proud manner as she grumbled under her breath. "You're probably right, Littlefoot. They're all probably getting themselves ready for dinner or something. Yeah, that's the real reason why they ended the meeting!"

"Me see." Petrie shifted uncomfortably as Cera scrutinized his face. "Me guess me better go and find Mom before she get worried about me." Waving a quick goodbye to his friends, he made his way back up into the skies above.

"See you, Petrie!" Littlefoot called out with a pleasant smile.

"Yeah!" Cera added, "And you better make sure that you come back to play with us tomorrow so that I can finally thrash you in a game of hide-and-seek!"

"Hey!" Petrie let out an indignant cry at Cera's threat, his voice accompanied with a grumpy frown as he flapped his wings in a manner that allowed him to look down at her while still maintaining his flight. "Me no going to lose to you, Cera!"

Cera gruffed, quickly firing back at the flyer. "That's what you think, Petrie! But we'll soon see who's the best at this game!"

Petrie shook his head as he flew back to his home. Some things just never changed…

As the Bright Circle slowly dipped below the horizon, no one noticed a second flyer that most definitely wasn't from the Great Valley stepping into the reddened light, the flyer in question fervently eyeing the setting Bright Circle and the soaring Petrie from his current perspective. A perfect view was available to him as he stood by the foot of a large tree located further down the cliff, in the approximate direction that Petrie and the gang had come from earlier.

"It is almost time… the darkness of night awaits," he hissed under his breath as he eyed the descending Bright Circle. "It would appear that the scepter of death… will be looming over your head tonight." He brushed his wings, squinting his eyes as he saw Petrie disappearing into a cavern located at the top of a rocky cliff.

"Now, the question is… will you be willing to take the plunge?"

The straw-colored flyer basked in the rays of light for a while longer, before stealthily retreating back into the shadows.



Nightfall came quickly to the Great Valley.

For a flyer who was currently moping about the current situation regarding Ducky's predicament, the rise of the Night Circle was unfortunately accompanied by the surge of apprehensive feelings within him as well. Petrie kicked his feet in his nest, the uneasy feeling within his quivering body making it difficult, if not downright impossible, for him to drift off into sleep. "Ohhhh, today bad day…" he softly whined, moping as he tossed and turned about.

His movements did not go unnoticed. A concerned high-pitched voice spoke up, shattering the peaceful silence. "Hey… what's wrong, Petrie?"

Petrie turned about at the voice, propping himself up into a sitting position. That distinct voice had come from the indisputable nicest of all his siblings, Gryphon. Petrie was the youngest of his mother's clutch of six, having five older siblings hatched ahead of him. In terms of hatch order from oldest to youngest, the sequence went — Pitch, Yaw, Roll, Gyro, Gryphon, and lastly Petrie himself.

Gryphon was the second-youngest of the six, a perpetually jovial flyer with a light chocolate brown coloration. He was by far the most pleasant out of all his siblings when it came to their favorite pastime of teasing the runt of the litter.

Petrie had to admit that Gryphon wasn't nearly as malicious with his remarks as some of the others, especially Gyro — the uncontested "bully" of the six. Gryphon's mellow behavior could be further attributed to the fact that his default personality caused him to have the tendency of behaving in a humbler manner, therefore resulting in him not being one who took enjoyment out of teasing others.

In fact, back when Petrie had offered Guido the chance to stay with his family during the time nearing the Great Day of the Flyers, Petrie distinctly remembered Gryphon smiling pleasantly at the unusual glider and going, "You're okay, Guido!", in great contrast to all the scathing remarks and questions that his other siblings had for the apprehensive Guido.

Gryphon had given the unusual Guido a chance, doing so with a smile accompanied by a reassuring voice. Although his moral support appeared relatively small in the grand scheme of things, it was significant enough to Guido after he had scoured the entire valley for a place to stay and fit in. Hence, his brother's words had ended up truly helping the teal glider when he was struggling to find acceptance within the valley.

"Me no know, Gryphon." Petrie admitted with a groan as he shook his head. "Me just no feeling too happy." He really didn't want to tell any of his siblings—even Gryphon—that his current mood swing was partly due to Ducky, lest the news leaked to his other siblings, which would surely end with them teasing Petrie about his unusual friendships with non-flyer dinosaurs yet again.

"Are you sure about that?" Gryphon asked, glancing at Petrie with an expression of sheer disbelief. He marched up to Petrie and looked directly at his younger brother, a persistent and stubborn look on his face. "Positively sure?"

Petrie appreciated Gryphon's concern, but he wasn't in the mood to entertain his older brother at the moment. "Me very sure!" he replied as he waved Gryphon away with a wing.

"Whatever you say, Petrie…" Gryphon protectively hovered around Petrie out of concern, before he hesitantly walked away and moved over to another part of the nest.

Left on his own, he was now free to reflect on the day's events. Petrie moped about as he remembered Ferris persistently going after Ducky, the memory overlaid with Jovi's warning regarding the light green swimmer.

"I'm afraid Ferris is used to getting what he wants."

Petrie angrily shut his eyes as he recalled those words. Well, me no want you get together with Ducky, he made sure to tell Ferris in his mind.

"What's the matter, Petrie?"

He jolted when he heard his mother's voice, looking up to see his mom peering at him with a worried expression. He momentarily pondered as to what had caused his mother to approach him, but seeing an apologetic Gryphon hanging further back told Petrie the answer — his brother had sensed that something was amiss and raised his concerns.

Suppressing his frown, Petrie immediately attempted to feign ignorance. "Me fine… honest! You no need worry, Mom!"

"Petrie…" Skylar saw through the lie instantaneously, looking into Petrie's eyes with a serious expression. "You can tell me what's wrong…" she assured, her voice turning gentle as she prodded her son.

It didn't take long for Petrie's inner resistance to crumble and break down. The moment his mother put pressure on him, he felt himself beginning to falter. "Oh, Momma! Me… me…" he began, his voice breaking as he faced away from his mom, looking to the rocky ground. Taking a deep breath, Petrie simply gave in and let the torrent of words tumble out.

"Me scared that Ducky need to leave Great Valley!" Seeing his mother with a befuddled look at his outlandish concern, Petrie proceeded to elaborate for her. "You saw swimmer herd that came to valley? Well, herd leader's son like Ducky and want to take Ducky away! What me to do!? Me really scared of him, Mom!"

Petrie's mother delicately scooted closer to her distraught youngest son and leaned down to cuddle an upset Petrie, letting him cozily seek comfort in the relaxing embrace of her large wings. "Oh, Petrie… you have to take a deep breath and let yourself relax. All you have to do is tell yourself that everything's going to be alright, dear."

"Me scared, Mom. Me really scared and sad!" Petrie glumly confessed to his mother, the one flyer whom he could keep no secrets from. "What if he succeed in getting together with Ducky? That mean Ducky have to leave Great Valley! Then what me gonna do? Me and Ducky been best friends since we first met… me no want her go!"

In one fell swoop, he had whined out all of his concerns in a pitiful manner, which made Petrie immensely glad that this chat between them was a private one. He was certain that his siblings would never let him live it down if they could hear his squeaky voice now, close to the verge of tears due to his anxiety over Ducky's current situation.

Skylar reassuringly cooed at her son, gently rocking him about with her wings in an attempt to pacify him. "There, there, Petrie. There's no point in fretting about the future when it's all so uncertain. Nothing's set in stone yet, you know? I mean, you don't even know if the Bright Circle is going to rise tomorrow or if it'll be obscured by a layer of sky puffies."

As Petrie wiped a tear from his eyes with his wing, she continued on with a motherly voice. "That is why I always tell the others that it's futile to panic when you don't even know what to expect." Skylar darted her head around to make sure that no one was listening into their conversation before hissing a whisper to Petrie in an amused voice. "I even had to tell that little piece of advice to Mr. Threehorn before."

Her words succeeded in livening up the mood. Petrie couldn't stop chuckling beneath his mother's wings at the mental image that his mind had conjured up from those words.

"Frankly, there's no reason to stress yourself out because of something that might not even be an inevitability. For all you know, Ducky might not have to leave at all even if that swimmer manages to woo her. You still got a while to go before you hit your Time of Great Growing, Petrie."

"Me know!" he grumbled. "Me just wish it come sooner! Me already ten Cold Times old!"

Skylar gave her son a knowing smile as he continued to frown at her blunt admission. "But when you get a little older, you'll be surprised by the power held by females in a situation like this one. Why, you might find that Ducky may even be able to negotiate with him," she said to his surprise.

"R-Really?"

"Yes, I mean it. Don't worry yourself silly over this small affair." She released her hold on Petrie, letting her son recover and get back on his own two feet. "Take small steps, Petrie. There's no need to rush for the treestars and get yourself worked up all for nothing."

Petrie nodded, wiping his reddened eyes as he sniffed. "M-me… understand, Mom."

Skylar beamed as Petrie finally began to recover. "Always remember, dear — we're flyers, not threehorns. Unlike those rigid threehorns who would bash down trees just to eat, we can get the best treestars simply by flying to the very top of those trees." Her eyes twinkled mischievously as she knelt down to look at Petrie, her son attentively absorbing her every word.

"You see what I'm getting at, Petrie? There's always more than one way to address a problem. Just take things as they come and adapt to the ever-changing situation," she wisely recounted a quote while opening her wings up. "That is how we flyers live."

Petrie nodded at his mother with a glad smile on his face. "You… you right, Mom. Thank you so much for pep talk! It really help Petrie cheer up!"

"It's alright, Petrie," she smiled back, massaging Petrie's scalp tenderly with her wing. "Don't forget, I'm your mother. I'd always be here for my little boy if I can."

Petrie could only nod at her with a smile. "Well, me think me gonna take quick flight around valley," he told his mother, flexing his wings in preparation for a takeoff. "Me think me need time to clear me mind."

Skylar gently patted the top of her son's head before gesturing to the exit of their home. "Take as long as you need, Petrie," she said as she fought back a yawn before stretching her wings and making her way back to where she had come from.

"Bye, Mom!" Petrie waved goodbye to his mother as she ventured further into their nest, before jumping off the cavern that doubled as his family's nest. Opening his wings to catch the wind as he fell, he let his momentum carry him towards the open plains of the Great Valley.

After that short aerial flight, he landed on the ground uneventfully. Retracting his wings, Petrie found himself looking up to the night sky with a blissful expression on his face. As a flyer, his species was more adept for flying during the day, as the lack of light from the Bright Circle after dusk dramatically reduced his visibility.

But despite all of its disadvantages as compared to a clear sunny daytime sky, Petrie still found himself enjoying the night sky for one single reason.

The stars.

Petrie was fortunate that the weather on this night was virtually perfect for stargazing. The gentle breeze was supplemented by a clear sky, with only a few sky puffies obscuring the view. As a result, the stars could be seen shining bright and clear from the ground, numerous of them scattered throughout the night sky in a myriad of dazzling constellations.

Only on a night like this could Petrie truly see his mother's bedtime stories come to life. "The many stars up in the skies at night are the spirits of our ancient ancestors watching over us," she had said many times before.

With countless stars twinkling up in the sky, their dazzling selves further complemented by the full Night Circle, it was truly a mesmerizing sight for any dinosaur to witness. Sitting down on the grass, Petrie leaned his head back and peacefully enjoyed the breathtaking sight.

Beyond the Mysterious Beyond, indeed.

He let out a sigh as he admired the view, feeling all of his worries oozing away as he exhaled. After turning his head around to admire the night sky that stretched high above him, Petrie then proceeded to focus on a large star in the very center of the sky, one which was isolated from all the other random stars.

Ever since young, Petrie liked to believe that this star in particular was the embodiment of his lost father, a flyer whom he had not seen since he was a very young hatchling.

He would never forget the day that the mortifying news was disseminated to him and his siblings. One fine morning, he had woken up to his mother tearfully telling him and his stunned siblings that their father had disappeared… and that he would never be coming back. Ever.

It had literally happened out of the blue, giving his younger self no time to prepare. Back then, he couldn't even understand why his papa wasn't coming back and was therefore unable to properly grieve over the loss. But now that he was older and significantly wiser, Petrie didn't have to be a genius to understand what his mother's words implied behind her grief.

Can you see Petrie now, Dad?

Petrie sighed wistfully as he talked to the star within his heart, a single tear forming in his eye. Even if he could no longer remember how his dad had looked like because of losing him at such a young age, Petrie still hoped within him that his father could at least proudly look down at him from the Great Beyond.

Me wish you can help me now, Dad, Petrie clasped his hands together, pleading with the glowing star. Me already lose you when me no even one Cold Time old. It hurt, but at least me no lose anyone else close to me since then. But now, me may lose Ducky to bad swimmer!

The very thought made Petrie choke up. He blinked back his tears, making a heartfelt wish up to the white star with all of his heart. If Ducky need leave valley, that mean me can never see her again! Me… me no want lose me best friend!

Daddy… you can help Petrie, right?

"My, my, my… aren't you looking like you're enjoying the scenery."

Petrie gasped at the intrusion, breaking out of his stupor and jolting himself upright as a monotonous voice suddenly echoed across the clearing from out of nowhere. Curious as to where it had come from, he glanced to his left and right but was unable to spot a single dinosaur around. Just as Petrie was about to dismiss it as his mind playing tricks on him, he heard the voice speak again, this time with mild annoyance laced in their tone.

"Honestly, I don't get it. Gazing up at the stars? Peh… just what's so interesting about a drab, muted gray sky?"

Petrie felt a chill go down his back when the sentence all but confirmed that the spoken words must be referring to him, as no one else around the vicinity happened to be looking up at the stars. Now certain that there was someone nearby who was spying on his actions, Petrie tried to get the other dinosaur to acknowledge their presence.

"Who there?" he cried as he darted his eyes all about, still unable to catch sight of the speaker. "Where you at?"

"Tsk, tsk…" A bit of amusement crept into the same voice. "Aren't you a flyer? Well, so am I! Take one guess, then — where do flyers always love to hang out around?"

Where flyers like hanging out around? Petrie pondered the cryptic riddle for a fleeting moment before the answer hit him.

Up in air!

Taking the hint, he tilted his head up, finally tracing where the voice was coming from. At last Petrie was able to notice a small flyer around his size who he had never seen before, the mystery flyer in question perching himself on the branch of a tree. Petrie blinked as he took a step towards the tree to get a closer look at him.

Said flyer was of an unusual dark yellow coloration that reminded Petrie of shriveled up treestars. His wing color was punctuated by his dazzlingly bright golden irises, those eyes in particular looking at the grasslands that was all around him with an expression that could be best described as one of cold indifference.

However, when the flyer made eye contact with Petrie, an abrupt change swept across him. Within mere moments, the flyer's previously bored expression was gone and quickly replaced by one of unbridled glee as he smiled jovially, rubbing his wings together in excitement when he saw that he'd managed to get Petrie's attention.

"Bravo, bravo!" he applauded, slowly clapping in a cynical manner. His deep, low-pitched voice instantly put Petrie on edge, his wariness quickly justified by the mysterious flyer's next words. "You catch on rather quickly. That's a good attribute to have. Very good, indeed…"

"Who are you?" Petrie managed to croak at the unusual pterosaur. "Me never see you in Great Valley before," he noted.

He tilted his head back and let out a muffled laugh at Petrie's astute observation. "Well, of course you haven't. Unlike you, I'm not a valley resident."

"What you want with me?" Petrie whined, making his annoyance clear. He was quickly getting a bad omen from the other flyer's mocking tone. "Leave Petrie alone! Me have a lot on me mind!"

The yellow flyer's beak swung open very slightly. "Oh? Is that why you're taking this walk on this fine, cool night? You want to clear your head?" he asked, before dismissively shrugging at Petrie while holding his head high. "Well, not to worry. I'll be your listening ear. In fact, I can even help you with your problems!"

Petrie could only gape at the other flyer's offer to help. Not only had the flyer's tone when he made his remarks cause them to appear more derogatory than constructive, his complete refusal to make eye contact with Petrie and opting to instead disrespectfully peer towards the Night Circle was the final straw to Petrie. The offer had been made in such an insincere way that the already agitated Petrie pretty much lost control of his emotions in a brief moment of weakness.

"Hey! What you want!?" he flared up, shouting up to the flyer who was perching on the tree. "Why you here? To make fun of Petrie?"

"Make fun of you?" He fake-gasped at Petrie's accusation in an exaggerated manner, holding a hand up to his forehead to further insult Petrie by over-exaggerating his gestures. "Oh, you wound me!" he dramatically uttered, the flyer's voice the very definition of 'mockery'. "How could you even say that? Do you really think that of me?"

Petrie let out a low growl as the flyer continued to mock him indirectly. Perhaps on an ordinary day he might have been able to take the abuse. But for this stranger to act almost the same way that his siblings did on a day where he was near breaking point, the stressed-out Petrie found himself unable to seek refuge in silence for much longer. "Stop it! If you no have anything helpful to say, just leave Petrie alone!" he cawed in an upset voice.

Almost at once, the flyer's attitude switched a complete one-eighty. Gone was the bumbling joker from only a few moments prior. Where he had been chuckling at his own jokes earlier, there was now nothing but a serious expression adjourned on his beak. The change in personality and attitude was so jarring that Petrie performed a double-take, flinching back in shock.

With a stiff upper lip, the flyer spoke with hardened eyes. "Nothing helpful to say? Don't think so little of me, young flyer." His tone was now condescending. "You probably think that I'm wasting your time, huh? Well, you're wrong… dead wrong! I think you'll find that it's actually quite the contrary, Petrie…" He let out a brutal laugh as he glared down towards Petrie. "Heh, heh, heh… yes, I've heard about you before. You're the flyer who are friends with those other leaf-eater children, aren't you?"

His expression briefly turned vicious as he spoke, but within a second his scowl had disappeared, veiled under a mask of faux pleasantness. The mood whiplash was so sudden that Petrie had to rub his eyes just to make sure that he wasn't seeing things.

"So what if me am?" Petrie shot back indignantly, trying and failing to maintain his calm composure. The other flyer's friendly yet mocking attitude, if it was ever there to begin with, had now completely vanished — replaced by one of scorn and brutal honesty.

"Oh, it's nothing. I just thought that it would be nice to let you know that your exploits have traveled far into the Mysterious Beyond." He brushed the tip of his wing, dusting himself off with his free wing. "Very, very far into the Mysterious Beyond," he repeated for emphasis as he stared unrelentingly at Petrie. "Very, very far…"

Petrie began to get the sinking feeling that the flyer perched up on the tree branch above was not exactly what he would call his friend. His next words only further supported this theory.

"You are a very unique flyer, Petrie." Somehow, those words of praise almost seemed like they weren't praises at all when they came from him. "That is the very reason I have sought you out on this lovely night."

There was silence for a moment after he completed his sentence, with the swaying grass that was being blown about by the soft breeze the only discernible noise in the surrounding area as the two flyers looked at each other.

Petrie felt a shiver going up his spine when the other flyer raised a brow at him. "Oh, where are my manners?" he suddenly muttered, breaking the silence and straightening up so that his entire body was illuminated under the pale white light of the Night Circle.

As Petrie stared at him with a stunned expression, the yellow flyer leaned forward, shifting his golden eyes to peer at Petrie. "It is customary to state one's name if we wish to know more about each other. Please, allow me to introduce myself…" He proceeded to take a bow, using his talons to grip firmly on the tree branch he was perching on to maintain his now precarious balance.

"Greetings, young Petrie. My name is Vekal. Pleasure to make your acquaintance." As he stated his identity, the flyer cackled without restraint while smugly patting his chest with one wing. "Remember it, young'un! For soon, the entire Mysterious Beyond will know that name!"

Petrie could only quirk his head in confusion at the gloating flyer. "Wh-what you talking about?" he ventured forward to ask, before stepping back when Vekal laughed venomously.

The pterosaur extended his wings outwards, which had the effect of making him appear even more menacing under the cool soft light of the Night Circle. "You poor, naïve flyer…" he muttered at Petrie, shaking his head confidently as his golden eyes gleamed with amusement. "You have no idea…"

His vague words only confounded Petrie further, causing him to storm a response at Vekal despite his own apprehensiveness. "What you talking about?" he frowned, repeating his question in hopes of getting a concrete answer. "You making no sense!"

However, Vekal was stuck in his own world, going off on a tangent and ignoring Petrie's complaints as he continued to speak. "I must say, it truly is a pleasure to have the honor of finally meeting you in person, Petrie. You know, flyer-to-flyer," Vekal admitted, his eyes twinkling with mirth.

"After all…" he patted his own chest, puffing it proudly outwards as his voice grew sinister, "I've been watching you and your friends for quite some time now…" He only trailed off when he saw that Petrie was getting visibly creeped out, the other flyer already putting pressure on his feet and getting himself ready to bolt away from what he was most likely assuming in his mind to be a clearly crazy flyer.

Vekal scowled at Petrie's impertinent behavior, clearing his throat and smiling to try lightening up the mood. Even so, Petrie could feel the tension in the air. It was like an invisible, strong force that buzzed around the surrounding area, causing Petrie to feel a constant tingling sensation on the surface of his wings.

A soft breeze blew across the clearing, causing trees to bristle slightly. Vekal could only chuckle at the rustling leaves, the yellow flyer finding it amusing that the weather itself seemed to be brimming with anticipation.

As it should be. The time of reckoning had come. All the pieces were in place. It was time for him to bait Petrie into the game. His game.

At long last, it's finally time! Ducky and Petrie… the swimmer and flyer who crossed the species boundary…

Vekal's eyes narrowed as he stared at the young flyer, looking intently at Petrie with a vicious glare that screamed of hatred. Words could not do justice to the sheer amount of loathing that his eyes held within them. The gaze that he shot was so fierce and intense that Petrie couldn't help but to stare back at Vekal with a feeling of mounting horror.

Petrie stepped back in terror, transfixed to the spot as he stared at the expression on Vekal's face. The other flyer was leering at him so maliciously that it was almost like watching two angry threehorns fight a dominance battle — the glare of hatred conveyed by the flyer's eyes alone could likely bore holes into solid rock. That hate-filled glare imprinted onto Petrie's mind instantaneously, and to Petrie's own horror, he found that he was unable to tear his eyes away from the terrifying sight.

That frazzled look was absolutely terrifying to look at. In spite of the fact that Vekal had spoken with nothing but absolute calmness since the start of their conversation, the grave look—one that was precariously teetered on the boundaries that governed sanity—that the other flyer was shooting from his golden eyes at that very moment hinted to Petrie that Vekal was more unhinged than he had initially appeared.

But the other flyer wasn't unhinged and stupid. Oh no, that would simply be too cliché — and among what Petrie could recall, only the eccentric yellowbellies fit that description. Rather scarily, while Vekal occasionally appeared to be mentally unhinged, it appeared as though the flyer had a clear intention and goal behind his incomprehensible actions…

…a truly terrifying combination.

Of course, Petrie had no idea what Vekal was actually thinking in his head while the other flyer was eyeing him. As a result, he was unable to tell that behind those primal eyes, Vekal was surprisingly quite sound. While he was glaring at the terrified Petrie, Vekal was actually laughing inwardly, a dark and triumphant vow crossing his mind.

With these two, I'll finally be able to prove it… yes, I will prove my theory right. No matter what it takes!

At that thrilling thought, Vekal could only lift his head up to the sky above and let out a laugh that Petrie could only later describe as "insane". It was a single, chilling cackle that haunted the empty grasslands of the valley, lasting for much longer than it should have as the end of his holler ended up echoing throughout the plains, reverberating around the valley wall like an unwelcome buzzer.

When the haunting noise finally subsided, he redirected his gaze back down onto Petrie, who was already starting to breathe heavily. Calmly flapping his wings and beginning his descent from his vantage point, Vekal leisurely landed in front of a now-visibly worried Petrie, who immediately had a sudden feeling of dread settling within his belly.

The two flyers found themselves standing on level ground, the previous distance between them now completely gone. Vekal coolly made eye contact with Petrie, raising his eyebrow at the brown flyer in a fashion which suggested that he was prompting Petrie to make a move.

Unfortunately for Vekal, Petrie wasn't one who was keen to take initiative, especially towards someone he didn't trust. As a result, the conversation ended up stalling to a complete halt, devolving into a staring match between the two flyers, with a grumpy Vekal slowly getting more and more impatient as Petrie remained silent.

"Hmph!" Vekal finally snorted, rolling his eyes as he tapped his talons against the ground. "Forget this! I thought that since you're young and impressionable, perhaps I could get to know you better by making small talk. But I think that little plan has failed, since it appears that you're reluctant to even strike up a friendly chat with me…" he grumbled.

"Well, me—" Petrie started, only to find himself being interrupted as Vekal raised his head and laughed to the Night Circle.

"Ahahahaha! I'm such an idiot! Heh, I should have known not to even bother with the whole 'friendly' façade…"

Petrie really didn't like the sound of that comment, especially as he was able to hear the emphasis placed on the word 'friendly' thanks to Vekal's irony-laden tone. The inverted commas surrounding the word was obvious even to a casual listener. He shuddered and began to back away, only stopping when Vekal halted his laughter, the other flyer managing to calm himself down from his hysteria.

When the half-crazed Vekal lowered his head, the first thing that caught Petrie's attention was the wily look on the shifty flyer's eyes. "Since it's not needed, shall we perhaps dispose of this friendly charade?" he muttered roughly, looking at Petrie with gleaming eyes. "Let's get down to business, in the same manner that the dinosaurs in the Mysterious Beyond do their deals… quick, efficient, and to the point."

"Deal?" Petrie grew tense, shivering in fear. "What deal?"

"You'll soon see, Petrie. You'll soon see…" Vekal murmured cryptically as he extended his left wing into an unmarked shrub by the tree that he was perching on earlier. With a flourish, he proceeded to whip out a small shiny stone attached to a vine, which had been expertly hidden in the bush the entire time that the two had been speaking.

"Behold!" Vekal declared with a triumphant voice as he held the shiny stone up to the sky, revealing the object to Petrie as it dangled freely from his fingers. "What you see before you is destiny itself!"

Petrie cocked his head, before squinting his eyes and shielding them with his wings when the shiny stone that Vekal was holding suddenly shone with a fiery intensity. "It glowing red!" he cried while pointing at the stone, which had turned a deep blood-red as it dangled freely in the air, hanging from the attached vine with the end of the loop tightly clasped in Vekal's hand.

"Really?" Vekal murmured, glancing to the shining stone at Petrie's remark before turning his head and looking up to the Night Circle. "Huh. How very peculiar… that was exactly what a swimmer had remarked to me long ago. He'd told me that the stone shines a vibrant red if you hold it up to the Night Circle. I suppose that eccentric pest was right all along…" he mused, tilting his head inquisitively while closing his hand around the glowing stone, grasping the object tightly.

Petrie noted that the other flyer had a peculiar expression on his face and decided to take a chance, his curiosity getting the better of him as he went ahead to ask Vekal about something that had been bugging him since the mud-yellow flyer had first appeared.

"Why you really here?" he asked Vekal with a determined face, trying not to let his anxiety show despite how much the other flyer creeped him out. "You say so much, but what you really want from Petrie?"

"Ahahahaha!" Vekal chortled with a smile, the wry grin on his beak only serving to make the situation even more uneasy. "So you finally figured out that I wasn't just here to strike up a friendly chat! Now, whatever tipped you off to that?"

Petrie ignored the insult and grumpily folded his wings. "Me no want you change subject! Answer me question! What you want with me?"

Vekal heaved a sigh and opened his palm by a fraction, letting red light from the glowing stone shine through his grip. "The answer to that is simple. I am here to make you an offer." His eyes narrowed dangerously as his voice turned pensive. "An offer that you cannot refuse…"

"Well, me no gonna take your offer!" Petrie immediately cut him off, deciding that he wasn't going to play any more games with the nutjob to his front. He spun around and flapped his wings, preparing to take to the skies and leave the loony Vekal behind.

"Oh, really?" Vekal appeared to sound briefly upset by Petrie's refusal. "Well, if that's your decision, don't blame me when your swimmer friend gets together with that other swimmer…"

Petrie almost crashed head-first to the ground as he hastily aborted his flight when he heard those words. "What…!?" he muttered in shock, stumbling around to gape at a smirking Vekal with an open beak. "H-how you know about that?!"

"As I said… I've been eyeing you and your friends for quite some time." Vekal shook his head with a cunning expression. "Did you think I was lying, Petrie? Hmph… the nerve of you!" he spat, kicking at the ground and sending blades of grass flying with his talons.

As Petrie groggily got up from the ground, he saw Vekal strut towards him. "I did not tell a single lie throughout our entire conversation," the flyer informed a surprised Petrie with a completely serious voice. "Not even one."

Sporting a proud expression at this boast, Vekal continued on, "Which means, of course, that what I'd said from the very beginning was true. I told you that I would be your listening ear and that I would help with your problems. Hahahaha! Contrary to what you might think, I meant every last word…"

Petrie could only stare silently as Vekal began to pace back and forth, his mind now a maelstrom of emotions.

"That's right. I know exactly what you want," Vekal smirked at the unmoving Petrie, knowing that he'd now earned the other flyer's full attention. "You want your precious little friend to stay in the Great Valley, don't you? Yes, that swimmer. She's named Ducky, isn't she?"

Petrie gasped and fell backwards when he heard his friend's name being casually mentioned. H-how this guy know so much!? He could understand Vekal knowing his name since he himself had a tendency to state his own name due to the way that he talked. But as for Ducky? Now that was a completely different story. He knew for a fact that he hadn't mentioned Ducky to Vekal even once throughout the entire conversation.

So how could a flyer who he'd never seen before like Vekal even know about Ducky? A mounting sense of fear mingled with a small tinge of curiosity in his heart as Petrie suddenly felt very vulnerable.

Perhaps, was Vekal being truthful about watching him and the gang?

"That's right, Petrie. I know all about your little adventures together…" Vekal paused as Petrie gasped in shock.

The yellow flyer stopped speaking to admire Petrie's face, which was now stricken with fear. Vekal chuckled inwardly, taking great joy in watching Petrie squirm by showing the oblivious flyer just how much sway he actually held over the situation.

It was a simple trick, really. Strike when they were vulnerable.

All he did was simply make an intelligent guess as to what the other flyer was internally thinking about. By guessing successfully and answering Petrie's unspoken question, he had been able to catch his opponent completely off guard.

Knowledge meant power. Power meant control.

He relished the gratifying sense of having that control for a while longer before continuing his spiel with a carefree shrug, "Wouldn't it be a terrible shame if you were to lose her because of mere emotions that are out of your control? Ah, so close to the Time of Great Growing. Now, that can really wreak havoc on—"

"STOP!" Petrie yelled, breathing heavily as he cut Vekal off with a shout. "M-me heard… enough…"

"Oh?" Vekal inquisitively raised his eyebrows, calmly strolling towards a trembling Petrie. "What do you mean?"

"Me… me know you know a lot about me and Ducky." Petrie recoiled back as he heard his own words, before swallowing his fear and asking the question which he knew Vekal wanted to hear. "B-but can you… really help me no make it happen? You know… Ducky and Ferris?"

"Of course I can!" Vekal seemed quite annoyed by the fact that Petrie was still doubting his claim. "You think a mere swimmer is a match for me or the power that this shiny stone bestows!?" he snarled, his eyes growing dark. "Well, he's not, and neither is his herd! They're all worthless scum, soon to be swept asunder by the scepter of death!"

Vekal then noticed from observing the cowering Petrie that he had let his emotions run wild again. He coughed out of embarrassment, before looking at Petrie with an expression that the flyer couldn't decipher.

"Anyway, here's the deal. I will give you this shiny stone," he said to Petrie, opening his wing to place the stone in question on full display, letting it glow a dazzling red under the light of the Night Circle. "I assure you that with this stone in your possession, you will be able to prevent your friend from being stolen away by the clutches of unfair love."

Vekal made eye contact with Petrie, extending the wing holding the shiny stone out to the apprehensive young flyer. "So, what do you say? Do you accept?"

Petrie remained skeptical. "What? You only giving Petrie shiny stone? How can that tiny little stone cause Ducky to stay in valley?" he questioned. "You sure you no telling fib?"

"I would never lie!" Vekal swiftly countered, shooting Petrie an annoyed scowl at the very thought before growling under his breath. "Grrrr… even now you still don't trust me? Don't you want to save your friend, Petrie?!"

Vekal's harsh reprimand caused Petrie to reflect. Was that shiny stone really worth it?

He was driving a hard bargain, and his deal hinged on an on-the-spur decision. Petrie frowned when he realized that Vekal had planned things out this way — by insisting on a strict time limit before closing his offer, he had effectively tied Petrie's wings behind his back. Now, Petrie was quickly forced to make a swift decision, leaving him unable to seek an outside opinion or take his time to analyze the deal comprehensively.

"That's it." Petrie heard Vekal snap, looking towards the yellow flyer and seeing him retract the wing that had been previously holding the stone out. "I grow weary of this. I've already spent more time than necessary here."

His eyes briefly shifted towards Petrie, before hovering back up to the sky. "I'm going to count to three… and my offer will rescind if I hit three."

Petrie stared at Vekal in confusion, prompting the other flyer to realize that Petrie wasn't sure of the meaning of the word 'rescind'.

"In other words, my deal will no longer be valid on the count of three," he clarified as Petrie looked at him in horror. "If you still choose not to believe me, then so be it. If you're that willing to risk it, let fate and our ancestors decide this! We'll say our goodbyes, and the two of us will never have to see each other ever again."

Vekal lowered his head and cackled with a crooked smile. "But if that decision causes you to lose Ducky… then I suppose you have no one to blame but yourself."

Petrie audibly gulped, the flyer horrified by Vekal's sudden change in behavior. After being so incessant about his offer to him… was he really going to quit, just like that?

"I'll say this only once. Should I go, you won't ever be able to receive this generous offer again." Vekal lowered his voice, his golden eyes glinting in the moonlight. "This is a one-time deal. Either you take it up and stop me from leaving, or I'll leave the valley and hand the shiny stone to someone who is more grateful for it than you currently are."

He extended his wingspan to their full length as though he was preparing to use them to take to the dark skies above. "Choose wisely, Petrie…" he warned.

Petrie's jaw dropped as he heard Vekal's tone. It was completely serious, without a single trace of deceit behind it. And much to his horror, he soon heard Vekal starting the countdown.

"One…"

H-he being serious about this! Petrie's mind went into overdrive as he frantically considered his options.

On first glance, the obvious choice was to accept the deal. If he were to reject the deal, he would lose the shiny stone. Whereas if he were to accept, he would simply receive it. There were no obvious drawbacks to taking Vekal's offer.

But to be frank, something about Vekal rubbed Petrie the wrong way even now. The very thought of accepting something from him seemed fishy, especially concerning his immense knowledge of the situation.

"Two…"

Petrie began to sweat when Vekal looked at him expectantly. As the terrifying possibility of Vekal flying the coop grew larger and larger, he began to fret.

What me to do? Should me take shiny stone, or no take shiny stone? Me no even know what shiny stone even do? Will it actually help keep Ducky from Ferris, or is it useless rock like that time Uncle Pterano find Stone of Cold Fire?

But what if it actually do what Vekal say it do and me him let fly away with it!?


Even worse, all of a sudden Petrie recounted something of significance that Vekal had said earlier during their talk.

"I did not tell a single lie throughout our entire conversation. Not even one."

That statement had stuck out to Petrie when he had first heard it. For some reason, the way that Vekal had proudly postured when he bragged about it made Petrie inclined to believe him.

But if he was being serious with his words and truly went by those morals, then following that logic also meant that Vekal would hold true to his promise and fulfill his end of his threat… implying that he wasn't doing this for show. In other words, he would actually close off the deal and leave the Great Valley should Petrie not stop him.

Still, there was a slim chance that this was all merely a ploy by that conniving Vekal to convince him to accept under pressure. What if he playing trick on Petrie just so me say yes to him? Well, me no gonna fall for that!

"Thr—"

Petrie's heart almost leapt out of his chest when he heard a disappointed Vekal mouth the beginning of the number '3'.

It was then that he made a split-second decision.

He knew that he would never forgive himself if Vekal was being truthful in his offer to help and he ended up throwing away the opportunity. Even though it was against his better judgement and his usual cautious nature, Petrie found that he could no longer resist the temptation and decided to risk it all, gambling that Vekal was being genuine about his offer to help.

"Okay!" Petrie answered with a firm voice before Vekal could complete his countdown. "You win! Me take your deal! Me just no want Ducky leave valley!"

Almost at once, Vekal smirked, laughing heartily when he saw Petrie give in and accept the offer that he'd been given. "Congratulations. You are a smart flyer, Petrie," he beamed in what Petrie would call the first genuine smile that he'd seen from the other flyer.

"No mention it," Petrie droned, not wanting Vekal to gain any satisfaction out of getting exactly the reaction he wanted when he was forced to accept. "Just give me shiny stone and tell me how me can use it to stop Ducky from leaving valley!"

"Where's the fun in that?" Vekal asked with much amusement. "I'd rather you discover it for yourself…"

Petrie could only sigh at the answer he was given, slowly making his way forward when Vekal beckoned for him to come closer. "I bestow upon you, one shiny stone!" he triumphantly told Petrie, handing him the shiny stone with a smile that Petrie could not interpret.

He couldn't tell whether it was joy, or something more… sinister.

With much trepidation, Petrie took it from him, admiring the glowing red stone. Upon closer inspection, it looked rather different from the regular shiny stones he'd seen before. Besides the unusual vine threaded through it in a circular loop, the shiny stone itself appeared to have a second shiny stone embedded within it, encased within a transparent shell that comprised the outer layer of the shiny stone.

And to Petrie's amazement, it was actually that innermost portion which was mythically glowing red under the Night Circle, refracted out with an eerie glow as the red light passed through the outer transparent layer.

It was now quite clear to him that this was no ordinary stone. Not in the slightest.

"It's beautiful, isn't it?" Vekal murmured in a soft voice, smiling when he noted that Petrie had found himself mesmerized by the stone. "To be honest, I didn't even know that it glowed red under the Night Circle until you'd confirmed it." He appeared briefly uncomfortable at the admission, but quickly recovered. "Anyway, I think you can tell by now that this stone is more than it seems. Please, place the loop around your neck. The stone is meant to be worn on your body."

Petrie did as Vekal said without hesitation, now more confident than ever that whatever this stone was, its power was legitimate.

In fact, he was so entranced by the soft glow of the shiny stone that he didn't notice Vekal smirking vicariously as he hooked the glowing shiny stone around his neck, letting the small jewel rest forlornly by the fluffy scruff of his neck.

"The next step is to just relax and think of your precious little Ducky. Close your eyes and think about your swimmer friend," Vekal commanded, the flyer's smile growing wider as Petrie blissfully closed his eyes and began to imagine just that.

Images and joyful memories of his best friend filled his head. Seeing her giggling visage and bubbly personality in his mind made Petrie smile involuntarily. His eyes still shut, Petrie heard Vekal's voice from around his front. "Now, inside your mind, just imagine saving her from that dreadful swimmer…"

Those words made Petrie cringe, a sinking feeling creeping up on him. He could clearly recall seeing the pale green swimmer for the first time and remembering just how much he had shivered when he heard Ferris' determined proclamation.

"I was so enchanted by your beauty from the very instant I saw you… that I simply must propose to you!"

Jovi's warning then rang out immediately after, the worried swimmer's voice echoing in his mind.

"If your swimmer friend Ducky successfully gets hitched with ol' Ferris… then it's too bad for all of your close friendships. Because I'm afraid it would mean that she'll have no choice but to leave with our herd when we eventually head back out to the Mysterious Beyond!"

Petrie shuddered at that possibility, before all the joyful memories of Ducky made their way to the forefront of his mind. As he remembered all the precious moments that he had shared together with her in the valley and in all their adventures, the flyer promptly made a solemn promise to himself within his heart.

Ducky no going to leave valley… because me no going to let you have Ducky, Ferris! Me swear it!

All of a sudden, the red glow around the stone brightened, the light turning so blisteringly bright that Petrie was forced out of his meditation, jolting his eyes open in surprise. An instant after that, he yelped in pain and fell to his knees as a searing sensation shot through him. It was almost as though the shiny stone was melting into him, and rather painfully to boot.

He used his wing to grab ahold of his neck and tried to remove the stone, but to no avail. Alas, the energy to even unhook the stone from his neck wouldn't come, with Petrie realizing to his terror that even moving the tendons and muscles in his wings now required a disproportionately large effort, one which he couldn't muster up. As a result, for a time he remained frozen in that pose, which made him look as though he was strangling himself.

Wh-what happening to… yargh!

Petrie was unable to process even a single thought as pain shot through his figure. His mind was literally on fire and his body fared no better, convulsing uncontrollably as though he was suffering a seizure. All he wanted to do was scream, but alas, his vocal chords were unable to process more than a gurgle that sounded almost like a dying dinosaur's death rattle.

Finally, as he fell to the ground, the pain gave him a brief reprieve, allowing him to regain some of his biological processes. Unfortunately for Petrie, the first thing he was able to discern with his renewed senses was a dark chuckle.

"Heheheheh…"

Tilting his head up, Petrie could see Vekal standing over him as his vision began to grow blurry. "So you've committed yourself to this choice…" Vekal snorted, taunting the flyer on the ground with a sardonic smirk as Petrie started to gasp for air.

His eyelids growing heavy, Petrie choked out a plea for help. "Wh-what you do… to Petrie…?" he wheezed at Vekal, beginning to see double of the yellow flyer as his vision grew misty. "He-help me!"

There was no reply at first. As Petrie cried and clawed at the dirt on the ground pathetically with his talons, he eventually managed to hear a curt response.

"…I sincerely hope that you don't already regret your choice."

That was Vekal, the flyer muttering the statement with a hard edge to his voice as he stepped forward. He sounded so bored and insincere that it almost seemed like he didn't even care about Petrie, despite the fact that Petrie was writhing in agony right in front of him.

Unable to parse the reply he had been given at first, Petrie quickly grew furious when he realized that Vekal was, quite bluntly, mocking him. If he was physically able to, Petrie would have stood up and yelled at the unconcerned pterosaur.

Because as of this current moment, he was most definitely regretting his previous decision. He didn't know what the shiny stone was, but unlike what the flyer had claimed, it didn't seem like it was going to help with Ducky's problem at all. On the contrary, whatever it was doing to him was anything but helpful.

Why, oh why, had he even trusted this mystery flyer to begin with?

Oh, Ducky! Me so sorry, Petrie managed to apologize in his mind. M-Me only… wanted to… help…

But even his own mind couldn't save him from the unbelievable pain that was coursing through his veins. The last thing that a desperate Petrie was able to see before blacking out was an indifferent Vekal looming over him with a disappointed look, the flyer opening his beak dismissively before letting out a final remark.

"Not to fret, the pain will be over quite soon. I assure you, the first time's always the hardest." With the last of his strength Petrie was able to hear Vekal's voice turning wistful, almost… melancholic.

Before Petrie could take solace in Vekal's assuring-yet-not-really-at-the-same-time reassurance, a cruel chuckle permeated his ears as Vekal spoke to him again. As a final irony, the laments from the ominous flyer managed to reach Petrie's ears before everything could go black for him. Vekal's next words in particular echoed throughout Petrie's hazy mind as he made the spasming flyer a harrowing promise.

"But after that, it's like ecstasy, pure ecstasy! The shiny stone… you'll never want to let it go…"

Mercifully, just as Vekal had promised him, the sharp pain suddenly diminished in intensity. The pain ended up leaving his body as abruptly as it had come… albeit at the cost of his consciousness. Once Petrie blacked out, any final bursts of pain completely ebbed away along with his field of vision.

But although the only color that the limp Petrie could perceive was a pure inky blackness due to his lack of consciousness, the luminous stone obscured beneath his spreadeagled body instead shone a dim, uncanny red in stark contrast.



Author's Note:

And now the plot is starting to fall into place…

Here's a pretty important chapter in the grand scheme of things, and it's one which is concluded by quite the evil cliffhanger. To be frank, having one of these was all but inevitable sooner or later. :)

Well, it's no secret ever since the prologue that our mysterious flyer was going to be a catalyst for trouble. But in this chapter, the ominous yellow-toned pterosaur has finally revealed his name: that of the cunning, smooth-talking Vekal. And with that, he has also simultaneously made his move on Petrie, with disastrous consequences as a result…

By the way, if Vekal happened to sound a lot like a persistent salesperson while trying to convince Petrie to accept… well, let's just say that I personally ran into my fair share of promoters trying to get me to buy electronic products during the Black Friday sale period. :P

Fun fact: there's an actual name for a gemstone that's encased and composited with another gemstone — it's called a doublet gemstone, and it's actually something which doesn't occur naturally. However, it does crop up in man-made jewelry, an example being an opal doublet, which consists of a thin layer of solid opal adhered to clear quartz or even synthetic materials. And yes, I lavishly described the full appearance of the shiny stone in the prose itself solely because there is no feasible way that anyone in the LBT universe would ever use the term "doublet".



DiddyKF1: Your hunch is correct, although whether or not Petrie's feelings of determination and fear regarding Ferris has benefitted him after what has happened in this chapter is anyone's guess. About your point on character flaws in particular, I don't actively try to make everyone flawed, but having one or two quirks does indeed help to make these characters feel more natural and organic.

Sovereign: Thanks for your review and the constructive criticism as well. Upon rereading I do find myself agreeing with you on most of your points. I'll work on them, although on the part of Geoffrey's name I feel like I should confess that coming up with creative names has unfortunately never been my strong suit, but I'll try my best to avoid a repeat of all those points in the future.

Rhombus: For some reason I'm now picturing Ducky being constantly hounded by a persistent swimmer and it's making me laugh and cringe in equal parts. Nope, nope, nope, indeed. I hope that the way Petrie reacted to the news in the first half of this installment was satisfying to read through… at least before the rollercoaster of the latter half of the chapter ends up turning his initial relief into terror and basically forces his hand after Vekal makes his unconditional offer to "help".



Unfortunately, it would appear that Vekal's deal has backfired in a truly terrifying way for Petrie. What will become of our favorite perky flyer, and will he end up being alright? Ah, you'll just have to wait and hope for the best!



Ah, we have the reveal of the flyer at last. I think I spooked myself out while proofreading through his conversation with Petrie in the second half of the chapter. Darn, he's crafty. Well, I hoped you enjoyed this one. :lol
« Last Edit: December 01, 2018, 10:24:10 pm by OwlsCantRead »
A quaint creature who soars when the Night Circle is highest in the dark sky, messing up his circadian rhythm in the process. Truly, a tragic flyer.

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



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

DiddyKF1

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Re: Waves Crashing Upon the Sky
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2018, 03:17:32 pm »
So, Petrie's determination to keep Ducky away from Ferris has come at such a terrible price. I can only guess what has just happened to our favorite flyer, but that's for another day. Your "salesman" concept really played out very well in this chapter. For a while, I was sure that Petrie was actually going to reject the offer and fly off, but this Vekal character has quite cunning antics, illustrated by how he convinces Petrie that this "shiny stone" would help him save Ducky. I have a bad feeling about what will happen to him next...   :sducky

This chapter set the opening stages of the scheme in stone very well, and now that Petrie has been victimized by this evil Flyer, I fear it's only a matter of time before Ducky gets hers. The suspense level keeps getting higher than ever, and you're showing great skills in writing suspense stories.
My fanfics:
Love is an Adventure
Waters Rise, Illness Flies
A Swim of Silence
A Swimmer's Sad Secret
A Broken Family
The Hurting of Desire

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


Sovereign

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Re: Waves Crashing Upon the Sky
« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2018, 03:06:03 pm »
Now this was a chapter that seemed to get this story moving on in full swing. Whereas the first installments had been relatively normal and uneventful, this one really swept those thoughts away. Here, Petrie’s distress was extremely tangible and it showed the depth of the flyer’s caring for his friend. And the ending was one that really left me with a sour mood as I really wanted it to be avoided, even if I knew that wouldn’t happen. :(petrie

Petrie’s initial discussions with Jovi and his mother established his distress in a very good way and it only reinforced my impression that the former will be a major character later on. However, Vekal’s offer and his antics were obviously the main focus of this chapter and one that made all the difference in the emotional side of this fic. His initial teasing and taunting were annoying enough but the way he got what he wanted was truly sickening.

In the midst of all this, I really wonder if the depth of Petrie’s concern for Ducky is completely believable. Obviously, he has deep feelings towards her and losing his best friend would be a major blow to him but still, I had hoped him to show enough judgement to decline the other flyer’s offer. The way Skylar spoke to Petrie hardly helped in this time of momentous choice even if she had no way of knowing what would happen.

And now we’re left with a deeply suffering Petrie whose new condition seems quite apparent from the story’s very premise. To say that the scene was an intense or emotional one would be an understatement even if it truly sickened me without an end. I truly hope he will pay for his deeds before the end and that Petrie will overcome his horrible mistake soon enough.

As I said, this chapter shed some light to the journey ahead of us and the stakes were raised considerably. It’s clear that Ducky will be drawn into this mess soon enough but what happens after that is the obvious question. In any case, this was an anguishing if great read! :)

rhombus

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Re: Waves Crashing Upon the Sky
« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2018, 07:36:55 pm »
I knew that it was coming, but it is quite engrossing to see this story come to its major shift.  Or, to be more accurate, at least the first major shift which will make this story go into full swing.  Petrie's deep concern for Ducky being coerced into a relationship and being deprived of her family and friends is a very believable one as in canon he is shown to be a close friend of the swimmer.  It is very telling to me that Mama Flyer is not surprised at the depth of his concern for Ducky as she attempts to guide his thoughts from their confused tangle into something more open to future possibilities.  It makes a lot of sense for her to point out to him that flyers see things from three dimensions and that sometimes the most direct pathway is not the best one.  Unfortunately for her, I suspect that this discussion about seeking a third option might have made the sale's pitch of the other flyer a little bit easier.

The ending of the chapter on the coming of Petrie's painful and disturbing change is one that turns the building suspension of the chapter into a realization of horror.  And, even though the previous chapters have already succeeded at this, I now have more than a passing hatred for the manipulative flyer.  He has tricked a child into a painful and confusing victimization to further his own ends.  And, I am sure, his misdeeds will not end here.

This was another great chapter as usual.  :) And besides a few minor typos (woe instead of woo, for example) the narrative has been going strong and making me look forward to see how things develop in the chapters to come.  I just hope for the best for our poor little flyer and, indeed, for Ducky as well.  :sducky


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