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Sleeping-force's-inside

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Courtship of Ages Past
« on: September 18, 2019, 02:08:12 PM »
Author's Note: This is part one of an series, covering the transition from Single to Committed for our beloved Characters.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Many cold times had passed. Each of the five had grown, being many times the size they had been in their younger days: Littlefoot was now three quarters of his grandfather's size and didn't seem like he'd stop growing any time soon. His skin-colors had darkened, making him look more like his father than ever.

Cera too had grown and was now about Tria's size. Several cold times ago her main horns had broken through, a thing which she had been waiting for impatiently. She still had the same colors as during her childhood, but anyone who made fun of that found himself with a face full of enraged Threehorn (with all three horns, as she'd love to point out).

Ducky had grown darker and larger over time, now looking like her mother while still being smaller, the top of her crest only reaching the lower part of her mother's bill. Her customary 'yep yep yep' had changed in a series of calls through said crest, something which amused and irritated her friends to no end. But they had gotten used to it and by now it was as much a part of her as her 'yep yep yep' had ever been.

Petrie had lost his way of speaking somewhere along the way, now only speaking like that when he felt very strongly about something. When his uncle Pterano had returned after his five winter-exile, everyone had been very amused that by that time the young flyer already looked like he was a smaller, darker-colored twin of the old flyer. The similarities had only increased as time progressed.

Spike still didn't speak much and his main priority was still his next dinner. Considering he too was nearly the size of a grown-up this lead to many amusing situations. His plates and spikes had come through only a winter after Cera's horns (for which he was silently grateful, since he preferred not to see the Threehorn angry at him for being faster in that regard).

Chomper had grown too, causing him to leave the Great Valley. He could no longer sustain himself on buzzing creatures and even fish had soon proven to be not enough for the ever-growing hunger of the Sharptooth. He had left soon thereafter to ensure he would not accidently hurt his friends or worse, harm a Valley-resident. Ruby had followed him, returning to her family. It had been a long time since the two had been seen by their other friends.

All five had only recently returned to the Valley with their families, each returning from Courtship-Day, which was essentially a meet-and-greet for young dinosaurs to meet potential mates and grown-ups to see distant relatives.

They had met up on the very hill they had huddled together after first finding the Great Valley so many cold times ago, their mates at their sides. Littlefoot had Ali resting at his side, which his friends proclaimed was a match they had seen coming cold times ago.

Cera's mate was a bulky Threehorn, whose dark-brown color reminded Littlefoot of earth. His horns were already fully-grown and his eyes were the color of sand. The lighter colors of his underside went only as far as his neck, but his darker back-stripe was flanked by two smaller stripes of the same color as his stomach. He introduced himself as Trike and seemed well underway to prove himself a much calmer dinosaur than Cera.

Ducky's mate was a Swimmer named Paro, who seemed to be a male version of Ducky. Cera jokingly asked whether the Swimmer was sure she had not accidently chosen one of her brothers as a mate. Ducky answered her with a lot of giggles, assuring the Threehorn she had already checked whether he was related to her. The following laughter echoed across the grassy plains of the valley, reaching the grown-ups who could not help but smile at the antics of their young ones, regardless of said young ones' age.

Rana, the dark-red flyer that had followed Petrie to the Valley, dryly commented that he had not exaggerated when calling his friends 'interesting'. Her eyes sparkled with amusement as she nuzzled him. His blush at that move nearly matched her wings.

To his friends' surprise Spike had found a suitable match too. The dark-blue female Spiketail introduced herself as Tega and mentioned that they had found one another over dinner. That made much more sense to the others than the thought that Spike had actually courted her. Tega simply responded that he had courted her… by taking her out to dinner.

"So Littlefoot, how does courting go for Longnecks?" Cera asked after a while of meaningless chatter. "I doubt it's the same as that for Threehorn's…"

"Oh, let's share experiences!" Ducky exclaimed. "It'll be fun!" The deep sound of a Swimmer-crest-call echoed in the cooling evening-air.

"Uh…" Littlefoot looked to his right, where Ali nodded with a big smile on her face. "Ok then. Well, I and my Grandparents left before any of you did, since the Longneck meeting-place is further away from here than those of your kinds. Underway I started talking to Grandpa…"

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2019, 01:12:54 AM »
"Grandpa?" Littlefoot asked, walking beside the older Longneck.

"Yes, Littlefoot?" His grandfather looked back, meeting the eyes of the youngling.

"What exactly am I supposed to do on Courtship-day?" The younger Longneck asked the question that had been bothering him since they had left the Great Valley several days ago.

"Well, the first thing you'd have to do is find a potential mate." His grandfather told him. "But you already did that." He chuckled when the other male suddenly found the ground very interesting. "Not that there is anything wrong with that. Most dinosaurs meet their potential mates well before Courtship-day. Then you'll have to court her, obviously. And if she accepts, you two can do… other things, shall we say."

"Yeah, I got that. But how do I court her?" The young one asked exasperated.

"By watching. The first day is reserved for older couples, or those who lost their mates and search a new one. The young ones are meant to watch how the older ones do it and mimic it the next day. And mostly instinct." Grandpa Longneck explained.

"So… I basically have to watch strangers court one another and then hope I can keep a straight face when meeting Ali the next day?" Littlefoot frowned at the thought.

"Pretty much, yes." A voice from his other side came. Grandma Longneck was walking beside him, her kind eyes watching his reaction in amusement. "Of course, there is a way that would make it less awkward."

"There is?" Littlefoot would have jumped, had he still been small enough. As it was, his eager exclamation was enough to have his grandparents burst into laughter.

"Certainly, if I can get your grandfather to go along with it." Her long neck reached over her grandson, shoving her mate.

He blinked when he realized her intentions. "You want US to participate?"

"Why not?" She demanded. "It has been so long since we did. And if it helps Littlefoot, all the better." Her eyelids drooped a bit, but rather than tired, she seemed… seductive. A small shudder ran down Littlefoot's back at that thought, but it was quickly banished at her next words. "Unless you think you can't perform anymore…"

The older male came to an abrupt stop, his eyes widening in disbelief. "What?"

"Well, you are rather old…" His mate chuckled. "I have heard that age affects certain… things negatively." Her tail flicked back and forth as she walked on calmly.

"Excuse me!" Grandpa Longneck exclaimed, catching up with her. "You have yet to complain about that."

"Prove it." She demanded, facing him directly.

Only now did the old male realize he had run straight into her trap. "Fine, we'll participate."

Littlefoot was no longer sure how he should feel about that one. Then another thought came to him. "Do you think Dad will be there?"

"Of course he will." Grandma turned to look at him. "It's the first Courtship-day of his two sons."

"No, I meant…" Littlefoot looked down, scraping at the earth with his foot.

"As a bachelor." Grandpa realized. Both the older longnecks turned back to face the youngling as he nodded.

"Would it truly bother you if he did?" Grandma asked, catching Littlefoot's eyes with her own.

"I'm… not sure. I never really thought about it." Littlefoot admitted.

"Well, best not to count your hatchlings before they hatch." Grandpa said. "We'll see if he comes alone or not. But always remember, no matter what, he loves you."

"Yeah, we'll see…" Littlefoot started walking again, now flanking his grandmother together with his grandfather. She nuzzled him gently, giving him a measure of comfort.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

The rest of the journey passed without much delay. The Sharpteeth knew better than to attack three grown-up Longnecks, even if only two had reached full size yet. Soon other Longnecks joined them, each heading for the Courting-grounds too. They even met some acquaintances: Doc and Dara were intending on participating too, though the Lone Dinosaur did not seem particularly thrilled at the idea of having to be around so many other Longnecks for such a long time.

As they traveled on there came a separation of sorts: Grandma would talk to Dara for hours on end, while Doc walked with Grandpa and Littlefoot. Occasionally Littlefoot would catch fragments of what his grandmother and Doc's lady-friend talked about. Most of the times it was about him and one of his many adventures: she never let him live those down.

He was quite relieved when they finally managed to reach the Courting-grounds of the Longnecks: the very same valley they had gathered to prevent the Bright Circle from falling from the skies so long ago.

"How about you go look for Ali and Bron?" Grandma suggested as they crested the valley-wall.

Littlefoot nodded happily, descending down swiftly as the older longnecks followed more slowly. He therefore did not notice when Grandma saw someone and gestured to the other Longneck. Grandpa nodded and both said their farewells to Doc and Dara, now walking towards the dark-blue Longneck she had pointed out.

"Dad!" Littlefoot called out as he saw the familiar silhouette of his father.

"Littlefoot." Bron greeted him, nuzzling the young one. "My, have you grown."

"It's been so long since I last saw you." Littlefoot exclaimed. "Where's Shorty?"

"Drinking." Bron gestured to the small lake. Littlefoot turned and gasped.

"Whoa…" His eyes grew big as he saw his adopted brother.

"Yeah, he kinda shot up there." Bron frowned a bit. "I guess that's simply his species. One day I could easily trip over him, the next he trips over me!"

"Understandable…" His son used a nearby tree to measure the green Longneck. "Shorty doesn't really fit anymore, does it?"

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2019, 09:00:20 AM »
"So, you got an eye on somebody?" Littlefoot asked his stepbrother as they made themselves comfortable to watch the Courtship of the older couples. To his silent relief his father would not be attending this year, instead focusing fully on guiding his two sons through the proceedings. He was talking softly to his former parents-in-law as they prepared to go down to where the courting would start soon enough. They turned, Grandma Longneck leading the way onto the grassy plain.

Bron laid himself down between his sons, frowning as he found that it put him right next to a massive tree. "Couldn't have picked a better place?"

"No." Shorty chuckled. "Where would the fun be in that?"

Littlefoot chuckled, before turning his attention to his grandparents again. They had reached the field now, Grandma crossing it to the other females as Grandpa remained with the other males. He could see Doc down there too, as well as the light-green form of Dara. To his surprise he saw the massive body of Sue, the huge longneck that had saved him from the red belly-dragger, among the females.

Suddenly a vibration started in the ground, traveling up his spine and making him gasp.

"It has begun." Bron stated, smiling. "The females are calling."

"The females are calling?" Littlefoot echoed, looking at the ground. He felt more than heard the vibrations, but for some reason they made his heart thunder in tune with them.

"An invitation to courtship." Bron gestured down with his head. "And now the males answer."

There was movement on the plain, the two groups mixing as each Longneck sought his counterpart. Littlefoot's eyes strayed away from his grandparents to Doc and Dara, who had begun to slowly circle one another. He was about to ask his father if all the Longnecks had the same way of courting when a roar sounded, causing all to look at its' origin. It was no Sharptooth, thankfully, but Littlefoot's grandfather. He was glaring at a dark-blue Longneck as his mate remained behind him, staring with wide eyes at the two males in front of her.

The dark-blue male seemed unperturbed, instead approaching both of them, before starting to drum with his two forefeet. The sounds echoed in the silence as the atmosphere of peace and love was shattered.

Bron gasped in horror. "He wouldn't…"

"What's wrong?" Shorty asked, the tension spreading out through the valley, even when the dark-blue male stopped.

"He's challenging for Right of Courtship." Bron gritted his teeth. "In an established couple no less. How dare he?"

Littlefoot gasped too. His grandparents had told him about challenging for Right of Courtship. It was basically a measure to ensure that a female would only be courted by one male even if more were interested in her. The males would fight, and the winner was allowed to court the female they had fought over. Despite that, – as they had assured him many times – only the female could give the Right of Mating, no matter how often the male had won Right of Courtship. To do so in regards to an already mated female was considered nothing short of barbaric.

The other Longnecks stopped, now only watching and waiting for the old male's reaction to such an outrageous action.

The sound of his feet hitting the floor in rapid succession reached them seconds later.

"He accepted." Bron breathed in disbelief. "Why did he accept?"

Littlefoot's brown eyes were fixed on the two males, watching as they started to circle one another. His grandmother had backed away even more, standing alone near the trees on that side of the valley. Angry roars alternated with the echoing sound of feet crashing down as each tried to get the other to back off. He had never seen his grandfather this angry.

The dark-blue male was the first to break that pattern: he rose on his hind-legs, balancing like that for a few moments before crashing down again, shaking the earth with the impact of his massive body.

Grandpa Longneck mirrored him, his own body now towering far above the trees surrounding the valley.

The tenseness in the air could be bitten in half by a Sharptooth as neither male seemed to back down.

"Oh no…" Bron knew what would come should neither back down after the power-display that was the rising on the hind-legs: battle.

Littlefoot only faintly registered that the empty area surrounding the two Longnecks grew bigger while an older female stood in front of Grandma Longneck. Her voice echoed in the silence: "Neither backs down, neither admits defeat. So it must be: the Challenge was accepted, and now it must be done. Loser loses the right to court, the winner may take all. Begin." She was the judge…

"Dad!" Littlefoot exclaimed. "Can't you do something?"

"No. Your grandfather accepted." Bron swallowed. "This is his fight now."

"But…" He was half on his feet.

"No." Bron stopped him, blocking his path. "If you interfere, he loses. And when he loses, the other may court your grandmother, not he. Stay here."

Both took their places again, though Littlefoot did so with great reluctance. He was about to return his attention to the battle when a horrified scream made his head snap back.

"Dear!" Her every muscle shook with the desire to rush forward as her mate struggled back to his feet. The other male had managed to have him lose his footing, causing several tons of muscle to crash to the hard ground. Grandpa Longneck rose once more, briefly shaking himself to clear his head before returning to his previous position: pressed against the other's side. Their neck crashed together, delivering terrible blows. Again and again their bodies vied for dominance by smacking into the other. Considering their size, the earth shook.

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2019, 02:59:22 PM »
Littlefoot shivered as the fight progressed. He winced at every blow his grandfather got, watching in terror whenever the old male threatened to fall to the ground.

With a loud roar Grandpa Longneck crashed against the blue male, sending him tumbling down. The earth shook when his weight crashed down. Neither moved, seemingly waiting for something.

"It is over." He had almost forgotten the old female. "The Challenge was won. Winner takes all, Loser leaves." She said, stepping away from his grandmother.

Grandpa Longneck did not look at the blue male again, instead turning his attention to his mate. Grandma nuzzled him, smiling in relief. The blue male rose to his feet again, and after catching Grandma's eyes, nodded and left.

Littlefoot sighed in relief, relaxing now that the Challenge was over. Beside him Bron also sagged in relief, watching as the blue male walked away from the field.

"Well, now that has been dealt with for the moment, the courtships continue." He softly said, all three of them watching as the Longnecks down on the field spread out again. "Shorty, you recall whom to watch?" He asked the green Longneck beside him. Shorty nodded. "Littlefoot?"

Littlefoot made a face. As if he was going to watch anyone beside his grandparents during this.

Down below the Courting started properly now.

"Most of the time, the males do all the work. The moment the female starts participating is when she accepted the male. At least, it's that way with Longnecks." Bron explained.

Littlefoot watched as his grandfather slowly circled his grandmother. Grandpa Longneck stopped when he was in front of her again and started to slowly wave his tail back and forth. Then in a matching rhythm his neck and both going faster and faster.

"Don't worry. It'll go too fast to get ill." His father whispered in amusement. "Besides, that part never lasts long."

The old Longneck meanwhile had stopped, now rising to his hind-legs. He was not the only one: many of the Longnecks now courting were standing solely on their hind-feet. A quick glance told Littlefoot that even Doc was doing so.

"Oh holy…" Bron gasped again. He was doing that often this day. "Littlefoot, don't do that, okay?"

Littlefoot's brown eyes widened when he looked back from Doc. "Holy…" He breathed and even managed to find some time to wonder how Grandpa could possibly swing his neck while standing without falling over. "He HAS to teach me that move."

"You won't use that just yet." Bron ordered. "Not for the first few Courting-Days. And certainly not when I'm around."

It repeated itself a few times: circling, standing, circling, standing… The young Longneck was starting to wonder if Grandma would ever participate or if she would just wait until the Bright Circle had touched down.

The next time the old Longneck rose to his feet, he met the eyes of a different Longneck. Bron's smile stated the obvious: she accepted.

Both Longnecks touched down and now everything got repeated again: they circled one another, rose to their hind-legs, touched down and did it all over again. It became a dance: Grandma deciding whether they circled forward, backward, half a turn, two turns and Grandpa following her every move.

"Finishing touch." Bron nodded. Below them the male slowly approached, resting his head just behind the head of the female. He gently slid downward until it rested on the juncture of her neck and back. Silence…

She mirrored his move, their two necks now resting against one another over their entire length.

They started to move again, eyes closed, slowly bringing their bodies together while ensuring their necks did not break contact.

They wound their long necks around one another and then froze. All over the field other kinds of Longnecks were still working through their routines, either because the females had taken longer to accept or because the courting of their kind was simply much more complicated.

"It isn't much." Bron whispered to Littlefoot. "But every Longneck on that field will agree that the way our kind does it, is one of the most intense feeling-wise. You'll see that tomorrow when it's your turn."

Littlefoot nodded absentmindedly, watching as his grandparents walked to the lake for refreshment. They stayed close together, their sides almost pressed together as Grandpa softly whispered something to Grandma.

"Go on. I'll follow with Shorty." Bron gently nudged him, knowing his son was dying to talk to his grandparents.

Littlefoot quickly made his way around the field to the lake. His grandparents were two of the few dinosaurs drinking, rather than watching what was happening on the field between the other couples.

"Littlefoot." His grandmother greeted him. "Enjoyed the show?"

"Mh-mh…" He nodded. "But…"

"The challenge?" His grandfather asked. "It happens at times."

"But you were an established couple." Littlefoot argued.

"It still happens." Grandpa Longneck countered. "Besides, I won."

"Narrowly." Grandma pointed out. "I feared for you there, dear." She reached out with her neck, resting it under his. "I feared you'd lose."

"Never." He assured her. "I'd never lose when fighting for you. Not to anything or anyone."

Littlefoot merely smiled as he watched them. They kept talking as more and more Longnecks came for a drink after finishing courting. Shorty and Bron soon enough joined them as well, Bron also introducing them to the couple that had been Shorty's example.

Suddenly a silence fell, spreading out from one side of the lake to the other. Then whispers rose…

Littlefoot gasped in surprise when he saw why: the blue male that had challenged Grandpa Longneck for Right of Courtship was heading straight for them, ignoring all talk of the dinosaurs he passed.

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2019, 12:33:56 AM »
"Good grief!" Grandma Longneck exclaimed. "You're hurt."

"I got thrown to the ground." The blue male answered her. "That is quite a fall for a Longneck."

Grandma glared at her mate.

"In my defense, he threw me down first." Grandpa Longneck backed away a bit from the angry female.

"It's alright." The blue male drew her attention to him again. "What else can I expect when throwing customs into the wind and Challenging into an established couple?"

"Uh, what's going on here?" Littlefoot asked.

The blue male looked from him to his grandmother and back again. "I take it this is your grandson?"

"Yes." She nodded. "Littlefoot, this is Toto, your great-uncle."

"Pleasure to meet you, Littlefoot." Toto told the young Longneck. "Please don't try to avenge your grandfather, I think my leg can't take much more."

"I still don't get what's going on." Littlefoot said.

"It's a bit of a tradition I rough your grandfather up. Normally that's verbally, but this time they asked me to do it… not so verbally." Toto told him.

"The fight was staged?" Bron demanded disbelievingly.

"No." Grandpa Longneck frowned at the blue male. "The fight was real. The intent behind it was not."

"Why would you do that?" Shorty asked.

"I have to be sure he can take care of my little sister, don't I?" Toto asked, grinning at Grandpa.

"You still act as if I cannot take care of myself." Grandma whacked him with her tail. "And if anyone, it should be Littlefoot you complain about. He nearly got me killed several times."

"Uh…" It was clear Littlefoot's great-uncle wasn't sure how to react to that one.

"That was so long ago…" Littlefoot muttered under his breath. "Won't anyone let me live that down?"

"I think I'm missing something here." The blue male said.

"Long story, brother." Grandma nuzzled him briefly. "Perhaps I'll tell you tomorrow. For tonight, I have different matters on my mind."

"I was afraid you'd forget." Grandpa softly said to her. "Come along then, dear. I'd like some privacy."

Littlefoot gagged once they had left, much to the amusement of his remaining family.

"They're still so much in love." Toto sighed sadly.

"And that upsets you?" Bron wondered.

"For them? No. For me? Definitely." Toto sighed again, before meeting Bron's eyes evenly. "We are much alike, you know. But unlike you, I never even found my child."

"I'm sorry." Bron whispered.

"There is nothing you need to apologize for." Toto smiled. "Now, how about I get properly introduced to my sister's grandchild? I take it there are some interesting stories there."

"Some?" Shorty echoed in disbelief. "More than Sharpteeth have teeth, I can assure you."

"Hey!" Littlefoot frowned. "Whose side are you on?"

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

When Littlefoot woke the next day he was surrounded by family: on one side were Shorty and Bron, on the other his grandparents and Toto. He rose silently, hoping to get a drink without waking the others up.

Today was the day he'd finally court Ali. He just hoped he'd get that courting-dance right.

"Nervous?" A voice from behind him asked. Toto had woken, joining him at the watering-hole.

"A bit." He admitted, watching as the older Longneck bend down to drink some of the cool liquid. "Did you ever…?"

"Every chance I got." Toto looked up. "Courting is something wonderful to participate in."

"Dad said it was very intense…" Littlefoot mused.

"That too." The older male laughed. "But I'm certain you'll see that later today yourself, am I not mistaken?"

"Yes, with a female from the Old One's herd. You know her?"

"The Old One? Of course I know her! She's my cousin after all." The blue male chuckled. "Aah… Fond memories. So you're intending to court one of hers? Which one, if I may be so bold to ask?"

"Ali." Littlefoot gestured over to where the Old One's herd was still sleeping. "The Pink female."

"Mmmh… Never heard of her, I'm afraid. I guess that's not so strange if she's your age." Toto looked back to where the rest of their family had yet to wake up. "I am a wanderer at heart, switching herds regularly. I can't stay around the same people for too long."

"Oh…" Littlefoot tilted his head. "Did you ever be in a herd with Grandpa and Grandma?"

"Long ago." Toto told him. "When your mother was still a Hatchling, yes. I left several winters before she met your father though. That was shortly after I lost my mate and children. I couldn't stay."

"Sorry…" Littlefoot looked down as he saw the look of pain in the older one's eyes.

"It's not your fault." His grandmother's brother soothed him. "I do not even blame the Sharpteeth; after all, all they wanted was food and it just so happened that they had decided my family was to be that food."

"I guess so." Littlefoot looked up as another set of footsteps came closer. Grandpa Longneck had woken too, joining them.

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2019, 02:54:00 PM »
"Why did you even ask him to Challenge you?" Bron asked once he had woken too.

"I felt like it." Grandpa Longneck chuckled. "Besides, it was a good example for the young ones to know what to do when they're challenged."

"And what if he had won?" Littlefoot asked.

"Then he would have won." Grandpa stated. "And Littlefoot would have been forced to watch someone else. Such are the rules of Challenges."

"Though I would have turned him down immediately." Grandma said, rubbing her neck against Grandpa's. "I really don't need to be courted by my brother."

"I had no intention of winning." Toto supplied. "Otherwise I would have gotten up instead of waiting for the older female to call it quits."

"But enough of that." Grandma Longneck stated. "I believe it is nearly time for the youngsters to court." She gestured up with her neck, where the Bright Circle was steadily climbing up the sky, shining brightly down on them.

"Well, I guess this is it?" Shorty wondered. He took a deep breath. "Let's hope this goes as planned."

"Good luck." His grandparents nuzzled Littlefoot. "You both will do great."

"Speaking of which, you never told me if you had an eye on someone." Littlefoot told Shorty as they walked to the same field they had watched the older Longnecks the day before.

"Nope, I wasn't as lucky as you." Shorty chuckled. "Maybe I'll find someone."

"I'll cheer for you once I and Ali are finished." Littlefoot yelped when his adopted brother hit him with his tail.

"Just rub it in, why won't ya..." Shorty complained. "I just might try and steal her from you. Kidding, kidding!" He backpedaled when seeing his brother's face.

"You better." Littlefoot brightened when seeing that Ali was already waiting for him.

"At least the chances that anyone would want to steal her are small." Shorty looked around. A quick headcount told him there were almost 2 females for every male. "Cya tonight."

"Good luck." Littlefoot moved to the side of the field Ai was, facing her. She smiled at him, gesturing behind him with her head. He turned to look what she pointed at and saw his family as well as Doc and Dara looking down from the valley-wall. Well, talk about having an audience.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

The rumbles traveled up his legs and reverberated along his spine. His heart matched their rhythm and his eyes remained fastened on Ali. He saw the vibrations travel down her legs and moved forward. He circled her, her blue eyes following him around her body. He stopped in front her, his eyes meeting hers and started to wave his neck from side to side. His tail followed soon enough, the air swishing in his ears.

He slowed to a stop and after a moment pushed himself to his hind-legs. Thank goodness his grandparents had insisted he practice that particular skill as he grew up. He thought it better not to try and swing his neck: he was pretty sure he'd taste ground then.

He grunted softly when he crashed down again. Without anything to break his fall, his legs bore the full brunt of the impact. He circled her again, repeating the maneuver.

He wondered how long it'd take for her to join in. He hoped not too long, his legs couldn't handle too many of those actions. He silently counted in his head.

Finally he met blue eyes at his highest point, Ali smiling as they went down together. They circled one another, short nods from her indicating when to rise. The earth under their feet rumbled as their bodies fell from the sky, their feet hitting the ground with enough force to leave dents in the fertile soil.

"You really are going to make me work, don't you?" He whispered when they rose for the umpteenth time.

"Definitely." She answered, smiling at him. "Want to be certain of my choice, don't you think?"

"I thought saving you from Sharpteeth several times should be enough for that, don't you think?" Littlefoot countered teasingly, grinning as they circled one another again.

"True that." She stopped, but did not rise. "I'm thirsty, let's finish."

He chuckled, reaching out with his head to rest it just behind hers. He lovingly moved it down her slender neck, resting it at the juncture of her neck and back. He felt her head come to rest behind his and she mirrored his move.

He gasped softly. Over the entire length of his neck he now felt her pulse, the steady rhythm her heart had been beating since before she hatched. It was... intense.

They remained like that for a short while, both simply savoring the experience and then Ali made the first step. She brought her body closer to his, slowly enough that a slime-dragger could have kept up with her.

All the time they twisted their necks to keep contact, stopping only when their chests nearly touched.

They only broke contact when it just got to uncomfortable.

"How about a drink, my love?" Littlefoot softly asked, gesturing to the lake.

"I'd love to." She agreed, following him off the field. From the corner of her eye she could see his grandparents descend from the Valley-wall. His father remained up there, waiting for his brother to finish.

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2019, 02:04:38 PM »
"He did find someone, by the way." Littlefoot finished his recounting of his Courtship-day. "You'll meet her when they next visit."

"What about that Toto?" Ducky asked. "After it was cleared up he seemed really nice."

"Oh he was." Ali assured her. "But he left during our courtship and no one knows where he went. Perhaps he'll come here, perhaps he won't."

"Ah, pity…" The swimmer sighed. "I didn't meet any hidden relatives while we were courting."

"Neither did I." Petrie agreed. "Though I had to watch Mom and Uncle Pterano court."

"Awkward." Everyone chimed. "How did that happen?"

"Basically the same way Littlefoot with his grandparents." Petrie told them. "Only neither had a mate of their own."

"Well, tell us all about it then." Cera smugly stated. "Especially the juicy details."

The scream Petrie send to the skies then was memorable, as was Cera's laughter. She was nearly rolling with it as tears ran down her cheeks.

"Me no need to hear that. Me no want to think that. Me no WANT!" Petrie shook his head to clear the image from it. His other friends were no help as they chuckled and laughed along with Cera.

Even Rana, his own mate, laughed along while patting his shoulder comfortingly.

"Me no want to think about that." Petrie shuddered. "Me like Uncle Pterano as Uncle."

"And no one wants it to be any different, I assure you." Littlefoot soothed him. "How about you tell us all, excluding the non-existant juicy details?"

"But how about we do that tomorrow?" Rana asked. "I do not know about your Courtingplaces, but ours is quite a flight away from here and I'd like to rest."

"Ditto." Ducky agreed. "Well, minus the 'flight'-part, obviously."

And so each said a brief farewell to the others, returning to their resting-grounds so they could sleep.

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2019, 05:47:54 AM »
"Are your friends always like that?" Rana asked Petrie the next morning.

"Pretty much." He nodded, offering her some green food. "But they're nice."

"That much was obvious from the stories of your adventures." She swallowed some tree-stars. "Though I still doubt that Sharptooth-part." She shook her head.

"Chomper did exist, does exist." Petrie defended himself. "You can ask anyone in the Valley. They'd support me in this."

"Fine, fine…" She raised her wing-hands. "So what happened to him?"

"Happened to whom?" Littlefoot's head appeared beside them, shortly followed by Ali's.

"You'd expect flyers to be the fastest eaters, considering their smallness." Cera's voice floated up to them from ground-level.

"I'm sure they just slept in." Ducky stated, a crest-call echoing in the cool morning-air to emphasize her point.

"Yeesh." Petrie flapped his wings a few times, landing on the Longneck's back. "Are you all in a hurry?"

"Well, we have still four more stories to cover." Trike said softly. "And no doubt more, if Cera's hints are any indication."

Rana joined her mate on the brown back, looking a bit unsure at the Longneck. Littlefoot merely smiled. He certainly was big enough to carry them both for a short while.

"Oh well." The dark-brown flyer shrugged. "Same place as yesterday?"

"How about the River-edge?" Ducky suggested. "If we go somewhere else for each story we can show our mates the Valley as we talk."

Her brother nodded in agreement. Tega stood a bit behind him, watching the other dinosaurs talk.

"Fine with me." Petrie agreed and the ten set out to a bigger clearing at the River-edge, where they were less likely to get into someone's way.

"Remember how this dried up?" Littlefoot asked his friends.

"Oh yeah, Dad was being his charming self over THAT one." Cera shook her head.

"When Cera thinks someone is overreacting, you know it's bad." Ducky chuckled, which earned her a glare from the Threehorn. Trike softly whispered into his wife's ear, somehow soothing her quickly.

"So, who's next?" Paro asked.

"Petrie." The Gang chimed, Littlefoot nudging the flyer, nearly throwing him down.

He rolled his eyes as he regained his balance. "Ok, well… we left as one of the last, since flyers are the fastest travelers…"

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2019, 02:05:45 PM »
On the way the weather turned nasty, Sky Water falling for quite a while. Pterano and Saphira, Petrie's mother so named for her stunning blue color, lead her children to a cave in the mountain-side to await the next day when the flyers could go no further because of the sheer amount of Sky Water, drenching their bodies to the bones and weighing the frail skins of their wings down.

The dark-brown male peeked outside, before looking at his sister. Several of her children were sleeping, but Petrie and two of his siblings were still awake, watching the grown-ups.

"I just hope the weather tomorrow is better." Pterano sighed in worry. "Otherwise we won't make it in time."

"At worst we'll simply have to fly through the night." Saphira answered him, frowning a bit. "We really can't afford to be late this year."

"No kidding, sister." He sighed again. "Come along, you three." He ushered his two nephews and niece to their siblings. "You have to rest for tomorrow. I know your mother, she'll actually do that."

His sister whacked him with her wing, before laying down to rest beside her children. Pterano stayed awake, watching out over the Mysterious Beyond to ensure no flying Sharptooth could come upon them unawares.

Pterano woke them all early next morning when the Bright Circle was still peeking over the horizon. During the night the Sky Puffies had left, leaving only a clear blue sky.

They flew the entire day, only resting for a bit when they came across a river. Petrie felt the desire to jump in, but if he did the water would weigh him down too much and they'd have to waste valuable time waiting for him to dry up.

They stopped early that evening, the Bright Circle still some time from setting down.

"It'll be several more days of flight." Saphira said, shooing the youngsters into bed. "Tomorrow we will fly the entire day, so that on the day after we can show you how to court and how to react to it. So sleep a lot now and rest your wings. You won't get any tomorrow."

"I wonder if the others have to travel this much too." Petrie muttered under his breath, settling down beside his uncle.

"I am sure they do." Pterano chuckled. "I still remember that one time when I flew over the Threehorn Courting-grounds."

"You did?" Petrie looked up, not noticing the silent glare his mother threw his uncle to remind him to stop with the lies.

"Sure did." Petrano nodded faintly, telling Saphira that he got the message. "It was during my exile after that Stone of Cold Fire incident. I even saw Old Threehorn there."

"Oh, I remember." Petrie nodded. "He and Tria left and when they returned, Tria was carrying Tricia's egg."

"Well, that was to be expected after what I saw there." Petrano winked at his nephew. "Anyway, I flew over there several flight-days from the Valley. So you can imagine how long they would have to travel by foot."

"Huh, I guess that should make me feel better, but I think Cera would skewer me should I ever tell her that." Petrie chuckled softly. "Good night, uncle."

"Good night, Petrie." Pterano nuzzled him, watching as the younger flyer curled up and covered his head with his wing to sleep.

"Good night, brother." Saphira whispered from his other side where she was resting. He nodded, already halfway to sleep.

She chuckled softly in amusement, before curling up herself. Soon enough the entire family was asleep. None noticed the Night Circle rising above the Mysterious Beyond, casting everything in a soft light.

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2019, 02:01:45 AM »
'Fly the entire day' had been the worst understatement his mother had ever used, Petrie decided. They only touched down long after the Bright Circle had set and he felt like his wings could fall off at any moment. The only ones who did not readily agree with him were his mother and uncle, having flown such distances many times over in their lives.

"I'm sure it'll all be worth it." Pterano assured him.

"Yeah, tell my wings that." Petrie sighed, trying to find a comfortable position that required as little wing-movement as possible. His uncle merely chuckled, patting his head in comfort.

They were roused early next morning, their wings stiffer than a Threehorn's frill.

"Considering you're most likely not flying today, that's not so bad." Saphira assured them, smiling slightly at her disheveled hatchlings – woe if she actually called them that, though. Pterano was standing a bit behind her, watching as she talked to her young.

"Which is why I'll perform with your uncle." Petrie's mother finished her speech.

"Can we skip the waiting-part though?" Pterano asked. "I really do not want to 'wait' for you, sister."

His nieces and nephews laughed at that, but his sister did not. "You at the very least will have to demonstrate what 'waiting' is. The boys will get no chance to peek at their elders, because they will have lost their place on the field by then."

Pterano groaned, but obediently moved a bit to the side. "You owe me for all this, Saph."

"We covered that already." She frowned a bit. "A branch of treesweets."

"A big one." Pterano muttered under his breath. "The first to laugh is the last to find a girl." He threatened the youngsters. They wisely kept their beaks shut.

After one last groan Pterano leaned forward, supporting his body with both his feet and hands and tilted his head upward. He took a deep breath and started snapping his jaws in quick succession. The sound echoed over the empty land, setting of reactions in any who listened. Despite the blood-relationship, the flyers were reacting to the message in the snapping: I am a healthy, strong male looking for a mate.

Soon the older flyer fell silent again, rising back into a more comfortable position. "And that is 'waiting'." He stated, brushing off his hands. "You do it either until nightfall or until a girl has taken interest in you."

"So what do we do when we have to wait until nightfall?" One of Petrie's brothers asked.

"Try again next year." Pterano stated. "Unlike the other herds, flyers only court for one day. If you fail to find someone this year, you either try next year or not. It is all up to you in the end."

"Now comes the complicated part." Saphira said. "Where you actually court."

"Does it require flying?" Petrie asked. "I don't think I could manage that today."

"It requires quite a bit of flying." Pterano crushed his hopes. "But none of you have to fly today: your mother and I will do that."

"Thank goodness." One of Pterano's nieces sighed. "I don't think I'd be able to do that today."

Her mother chuckled. "You'll have to get used to these distances, dear. At any rate you will only watch and rest today. Ready, brother?"

"As long as only they are watching." Pterano stated, moving into the 'waiting'-position again. "Ladies start, after all."

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

"Whoa…" Petrie gasped as he flew behind his uncle.

"These are the Courting-grounds of the flyers!" Pterano called back to the youngsters. "Tomorrow this is where you will find your mate."

They started to descend, gliding down in a wide spiral to a wide beach with sparkling white sand. It was empty, but in the surrounding hills and forests other flyers were already nesting, waiting for the day that the men would claim a piece of sand and 'wait' for a female.

"Rest well today, boys." Saphira told her sons once they had touched down in the hills. "You will need all your energy tomorrow."

"The same goes for you." Pterano told his nieces. "You do not need to 'wait', but you will need to be able to do the entire routine."

Petrie sat a bit to the side, drawing in the sand with his wing-tip.

"Is everything alright?" Pterano sat down beside him, being able to look the younger flyer square in the eyes by now.

"Me worried." Petrie whispered. His uncle's eyes narrowed when he noticed that he had reverted back to his childhood's way of speaking.

"What is it then?" Pterano coaxed. "You know you can tell me."

"Mama ever tell you about Day of Flyers?" Petrie looked away. "Me nearly mess up. What if me do again?"

"In the end you managed didn't you?" The older flyer asked. "Just as you did then, you can do again now. Besides, even if you by some miracle mess up, there are plenty of chances to try again. And there is no shame in being single your entire life. Look at me."

"You lots of trouble." Petrie pointed out.

Pterano made a face. "Yeah, but that was because of my pride, not my singleness. You are a marvelous flyer, Petrie, I am certain you have been told that more than once. And in the end, that is what this courting is all about: females judge a man by how he flies first and only later on what kind of man he is. On both counts you really should not have a problem."

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2019, 02:17:18 AM »
The Bright Circle burned in the sky, only a soft gust giving some reprieve of the heat. Not a single Sky Puffie floated overhead. But Petrie paid the heat no mind, only 'waiting' on the white sand of the beach. He had managed to claim a piece of beach in the center of the flock, where – as his mother and uncle had told him – were the best spots. He had no time to see where his brothers were, having to focus on the females flying overhead.

He faintly saw his mother making slow circles higher up. They had talked long about it, but in the end he and his siblings had told her that if she wanted a new mate, they wouldn't mind.

His jaws started to hurt, but he ignored it. A particular gust of wind hit him as a Flyer landed in front of him.

The female was smaller than he, and with a beautiful dark-red shade. "Wanna fly?" She asked, tilting her head a bit and spreading her wings.

"Ladies first." Petrie smiled, watching as she took to the skies and following her. The Courting of Flyers was simple really. Most other dinosaurs had complicated dances or rituals, but not the Flyers. The female simply needed to know if the male would be loyal to the end. If he would risk his own health for hers or their hatchlings'.

Had any other Dinosaur been watching, he would have declared Flyers to be mad. He'd think they lost all sense of self-preservation.

They flew up, carried by the currents, Petrie following the dark-red female. They glided away from the general tumult above the beach and turned to the Big Water.

"My name is Rana." She introduced herself.

"I'm Petrie." He answered her, smiling. "Think this is high enough?"

She looked down, measuring the distance to the waves below. Then she nodded, grinning a bit. He grinned too, ignoring his thundering heart as he flew forward and then turned to meet her head-on.

Their claws locked in each other. The next thing he realized was that they were falling. Their wings folded at their sides nothing kept them aloft, sending the two crashing down to the blue expanse of the Big Water.

The wind howled in his ears and every instinct told him to let go and spread his wings to stop his descent. But that would mean giving up and Petrie would not give up. Rana looked at the white foam beneath them, then at him. She nodded.

They let go, breaking their descent just a Threehorn-height above the water. Petrie flew to Rana, running his beak along her spine.

"How about a little show?" He asked, grinning.

"Certainly." She smiled at him. They spend the rest of the midday flying around one another, cork-screwing down to the waves or just gliding on the currents.

The beach became empty as more and more flyers found their potential matches.

Petrie found a patch that was modestly private and invited Rana over.

"What would you prefer? Coming with me and what remains of my family, or have me join yours?" He asked, resting on the green grass.

"You'd actually leave your family?" She asked surprised. "I watched you yesterday and you were so close with them."

"Yeah." Petrie nodded. "But what kind of potential mate would I be if I just told you to come and not consider your feelings?"

"I'd like to come with you." Rana told him. "I don't have any proper family to return anyway."

"Oh, I'm sorry." Petrie apologized.

"They're not dead." She quickly assured him. "I just… don't have a good relationship with them."

"Well, I'm sure my mother will like you." Petrie smiled. "She and my uncle when probably beseech you to keep me out of trouble; they never quite forgave me for getting into many, many troubles when I was a hatchling."

"Your uncle?" Rana asked.

"The older flyer you must have seen yesterday too. My father is dead, killed be a Fast Biter." Petrie smiled wistfully. "I do not even remember him anymore. He died just a few Night Circle Changes after I and my siblings hatched."

"Oh…" Rana tilted her head. "You look a lot like your uncle."

"Yeah, I heard that quite often when growing up." Petrie grinned. "Littlefoot once wondered how it was possible I did."

"Littlefoot?" It did not sound like a name any sane parent would give their child.

"A friend of mine, a Longneck." Petrie grew amused at her face. "My friends are a bit… mixed in that regard."

"Okay…" She blinked a few times.

"All in due time I'd say." Petrie gestured to the forest. "Shall we go look for my family so you can meet them?"

"Yes." She agreed.

As he led the way into the sky, she turned to look to a spot further down the coastline. Then she followed him, not looking back to where her parents were.

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2019, 12:58:03 AM »
"Huh, decidedly less drama than Littlefoot had." Cera stated. "Unless your mother did not like her."

"She loved me." Rana chuckled. "She did mention something about 'hoping that he won't run off into the Mysterious Beyond anymore'."

"They never let us live that down, do they?" Littlefoot wondered.

"Never." Ducky agreed. "Then again, we did get lost quite often." A crest-call punctuated that statement.

"Often enough to make us wonder if there was a way we could stick you to us." Grandma Longneck came from the foliage. "Or put you all on a leash."

"Grandma." Littlefoot exclaimed.

"I can say such things." She stated. "Come along, everyone is waiting for you ten."

"For what?" Cera rose to her feet.

"Introductions." Grandma smiled. "Besides, your father is starting to get decidedly frustrated with the lack of his daughter. I think he fears the worst."

"Urgh…" Cera groaned.

Trike merely snorted. "There we go again."

The old Longneck left now that she had delivered her message. Littlefoot tilted his head as she walked away, frowning a bit, before turning to look at the Threehorn. "What is that with your father?"

"He is overreacting to the fact I found a mate." Cera groaned. "I think he fears he'll become a grandfather the moment he turns his back on me."

Trike chuckled at that. "Considering the amount of Threehorns you beat up, I think he needn't worry."

"Yeah, I did, didn't I?" Cera grinned. "Serves them right for not accepting 'no' though."

"Uh, guys?" Ali piped up. "Aren't they waiting for us?"

"Good point." Petrie agreed. "Race?"

"That would be very unfair, it would, it would." Ducky stated, walking at the front of the group. "You can fly."

"So?" Petrie looked down from where he was flying.

No one answered, just looking at him with exasperated faces. He was already quite ahead of them all.

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2019, 01:09:16 AM »
"That was awkward." Ali told Littlefoot. "Mr. Threehorn really dislikes Cera no longer being alone, doesn't he?"

"I don't think I need to answer that." Littlefoot chuckled. "If looks could kill, Trike'd be dead in a matter of moments."

"He'd not be the first." Cera sighed, covering her face with her forelegs. "You should have seen Dad when I was being courted. I think the only reason he didn't beat up every guy that came close was because he had to protect Tria."

Trike solemnly nodded beside her.

" 'Protect Tria'?" Ducky echoed. "Why would he need to protect her?"

"It's the Threehorn-courting-method." Cera explained. "Men beat each other up for a girl, and the winner can become her mate. Or at least try to become her mate."

The others blinked a few times as they digested that.

"No rituals?" Ali wondered.

"Only if 'beat the others up' counts as a ritual." Cera gestured to Trike. "He beat up about half a dozen."

"Eight, to be exact." Her mate pointed out. "And then I stood up to her father, which was a challenge all in itself."

The Gang nodded solemnly at that before breaking out in loud laughter. After all these Cold Times, Mr. Threehorn was still much like he had been in their youths, breaking in a rage at the tiniest excuse. They still remembered when a lone Fast Biter – not Screech or Thud – had managed to sneak into the Valley and threatened Tricia. He had nearly been catapulted out again by the enraged father. It had ended when the Fast Biter, with bruises all over, had sprinted out faster than anyone would have thought possible.

Since then Mr. Threehorn had earned the nickname of Brokenhorn – though heaven forbid you ever called him that to his face – since he had rammed a boulder so hard one of his magnificent horns had lost its' tip.

"Wait, does that mean you watched your father fight the entire time?" Petrie wondered.

"Pretty much." Cera nodded. "I guess it's my turn?"

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2019, 12:46:07 AM »
"How far is it exactly?" Cera asked, watching as her father plodded ahead. He was leading the small herd, since there were several Threehorns participating this year and they had decided to travel together.

"About a week of travel." Tria answered from beside her. Tricia had stayed behind in the Valley, still being too young to attend the Courtship. Not that she minded, since she thought romance was icky. Her father was very happy with that.

Cera groaned at that. "Really?"

"The Great Valley lies quite a bit away from the place where we court." Tria told her. "But don't worry, there isn't much climbing involved."

"Not much?" Cera echoed. "What is 'not much'?"

"Only the mountains around the Great Valley." Tria assured her. "Nothing more."

"Well, I guess it could be worse." Cera muttered under her breath.

Both of them fell silent, walking through the desolate landscape into the direction where the Bright Circle was at its' highest point and they only stopped when it had long set. The Night Circle was bright this particular night, casting its' light far across the field they slept upon.

Mr. Threehorn joined his daughter and mate somewhere in the middle of the night, having spent the first half of it on the lookout for Sharpteeth.

Most of the journey was uneventful, except for an incident about halfway to their destination where they were ambushed by a pack of Fast Biters. While they managed to hunt them off again, one of their herd-members was wounded and would be unable to make the rest of the journey. One of the older couples offered to help him back to the Valley, forsaking their chance to attend this year. This way the herd had lost almost a quarter of its' members and would lose even more when youngsters would leave with their mates rather than return to the Valley with their peers.

Cera glanced at the youngsters in her herd. Aside from her and the male that had been forced to return to the Valley to await the Courtship of next year, there had been three others that would attend for the first time. Then there was another older couple aside from Tria and her father and one old widower who wanted to see if he could find someone to spend his last few Cold Times with.

Tria had explained to her extensively what Threehorns looked for in a mate, so she passed the time by subtly judging the others. She and Tria would be among the most sought-after females from this group, because of their rare coloring and good descend (which basically meant that if your father could beat another threehorn up, your sons would most likely be able to do the same, hence the boys would like you more). She had snickered when Tria told her that piece of information. Her father really was perfect in that regard.

Her father had no reason to worry either – aside from the fact he already had a mate and was only going to reaffirm that relationship while escorting his daughter to her first Courtship – since he was amongst the most massive Threehorns Cera had ever met. He once uprooted several trees just because he didn't want to walk around them and then had had enough strength to topple a huge boulder.

The widower was similar enough in build to her father that she doubted he'd get any trouble, aside maybe from his age which had to have some negative effects on his stamina.

The other older couple was moderate. The female would not get fought over like she was the last Tree Star in a desert, but also not ignored completely. Cera of course could not say anything of her 'descend' since she doubted she'd meet the older female's father. Her mate, while certainly muscled and well-build, was suffering from an old Fast Biter wound which would act up after long use of the leg it was on. She doubted he would be able to fight many duels as she had been told were common at Courtship.

The other three participants were a bit harder to judge. One was a male who was not yet fully grown, being slower in that regard since he had suffered from lack of food when he was young. While smaller, he still was well-build and his horns were surprisingly thick for a Threehorn his size. She guessed he might not get one of the best females, but certainly get one of the better moderate females.

The second was another female. While her mud-brown color was not something that would entice many males to her, her descend could make up for that. Cera had seen the female's father briefly and to her own dislike had to admit that he was possibly better than her own father.

The third was another male, brother to the female. Sadly he had more of his mother than his father. He was a shade of pale-grey much like her father's belly color and was quite shy for a Threehorn. She doubted he'd have the guts needed to fight more than one or two duels if at all for a female.

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2019, 01:05:34 AM »
Their courting-grounds were a wide open field of low ferns surrounding an impressive water-hole. When Cera broke free from the forest on one side she gasped softly at seeing the sheer number of Treehorns grazing peacefully.

"Less than last time I was here." Tria said absentmindedly as she looked the field over. "Though there is a better distribution."

"Huh?" Cera was only listening with half an ear to her step-mother.

"Last time there were almost three times as many males as there were females." Tria smiled. "This time the numbers are more evenly matched, I say."

"Is that good or bad?" Cera looked at her.

"For you it doesn't make much difference." Her step-mother told her. "But for the 'lesser' females it does." The pink Threehorn broke free from the small herd, walking to another group in the distance. "Want to meet my family?"

"Sure." Cera answered, following the older female over to where she saw several Threehorns with similar coloring to her step-mother. Her father kept leading the other Threehorns from the Great Valley to a different spot where they would rest during the nights.

"Tria!" An older female greeted the other. It was only then that Cera realized she was lagging behind. She quickly caught up with Tria, waiting as she greeted everyone.

"And who is your friend here?" One of the males said. He was colored a deep purple and an ugly-looking scar ran down the entirety of his shield.

"This is Cera." Tria introduced the orange female. "Topsy's daughter. Cera, this is my older brother Ridus."

"Ah." He said. "Pleased to meet you, Tria told us much about you."

"Likewise." Cera nodded in greeting. "Do I want to know what she told you?"

"Only the good stuff." A dark-brown female answered, chuckling softly. "I am Cornia, Ridus' mate."

"Good stuff?" Cera echoed, looking at her innocently smiling stepmother. "Triaaaa?"

Tria chuckled. "Nothing too bad or embarrassing, I swear. I saved the embarrassing for your father."

"Okay…" Cera wasn't sure how to react to that, so she just went with the flow. The rest of the conversation was a lot less awkward, mainly introducing the others to her and telling interesting stories. She even heard one or two about her father. It was hilarious.

Though halfway through one of them her father actually appeared and he thought it a whole lot less amusing than she and Tria did.

She became worried when her father and step-uncle locked horns after a short shouting-match, but her step-mother and step-aunt assured her it was just how those two behaved around each other.

"Your uncle wasn't that happy with how Topsy acted in the beginning." Tria explained. "He still hasn't quite forgiven him."

"Is that how he got that scar?" Cera watched as the two males disengaged, now merely glaring at each other.

"No, that was a Fast Biter." Cornia said. "He got that when he was protecting a sleeping me from it. I am a deep sleeper and would have slept straight through it too had he not bumped into me."

"Really?" Cera asked, giggling under her breath.

"Jup, ask Tria. She was still in the herd back then." The brown female gestured over to the pink one.

"I wondered about that, actually." Cera said. "You appeared in the valley without a herd, what happened?"

"Broken heart." Tria simply said. "It's a long story really. Let's just say I wanted to see if I had a chance with your father for several reasons I won't delve into right now."

"Yeah, that might have almost not worked out, no?" Cera remembered, laughing softly at the trouble she had given Tria back then. The laughter coming from her side told her that Tria was remembering the same thing.

"It was a pretty close call." Tria admitted after their laughter died down. "Had I just known you were more like your father, I'd have confronted you like that sooner."

"No doubt." Cera rolled her eyes. "'Cera, you look tired, are you alright, sweety?'" She mimicked Tria in a sweet voice. It didn't work at all.

"I don't sound like that." The pink threehorn objected.

"You sure did." Her orange step-daughter countered.

"Most assuredly not."

"Most assuredly yes."

"No."

"Yes."

"You both did." The brown threehorn interrupted. "Now stop it. You're worse than those two." She gestured to the two males, who were still glaring at each other.

"Do they usually take this long?" Cera asked surprised that those two were still at it.

"They forget all time." Tria sighed. "I have half a mind to just start flirting with some of the other males and see how long it takes Topsy to react."

"Same here." Cornia nodded in agreement.

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2019, 12:23:34 PM »
The bellowing calls from Threehorns echoed across the field. The females were grazing idly as around them the males fought as if they were possessed. Cera looked up briefly from the ferns she was munching, watching as several males clashed in her field of view, which Tria had told her meant they were fighting over her.

She watched with some disinterest as the victor of one round immediately got challenged by someone else. Her step-mother had not been kidding when saying she would be one of the most sought-after females this year.

As the males fought in front of her she looked over to where her father and step-mother were. Since they were an established couple, the fights between the males were merely for show, though the 'attractiveness' of the wife indicated how many fights the husband had to win to not lose face. It did not look like her father had lost yet.

She absentmindedly chewed the last bit of the ferns as another fight started. She sighed in disappointment that again the victor of the fight was not the one who won the duel before that. If it continued like this, she'd go home lonely because too many had been fighting over her…

The orange Threehorn looked up when a new challenger appeared. Now that was a Threehorn she wouldn't mind winning. He was about her age and towered over several of the other males, dwarfing some of the smaller ones. Several of them backed down, turning their attention to other females, but several still stayed behind, apparently not amused with the fact that there suddenly was a new face interested in her.

He however seemed to care less for all the males now turning on him. Instead he calmly told them to get moving, either by leaving, or by attacking. Most choose attacking.

Cera stopped eating completely now, watching as he literally battled his way through her suitors without seemingly even breaking a sweat. She had to admit she was quite flattered with the devotion he seemed to put in winning the right to try and become her mate.

She flinched when one of the other Threehorns screamed in pain as the sharp tip of one of the horns of the brown male cut into his frill. For him the Courting was over: once wounded, even if he won every battle, most females would turn him down for carrying such a wound.

It was after the fourth victory the male started to pump blood into his own frill, revealing the striking pattern. Now he was really getting serious about this. Several more retreated at that, redirecting their attentions elsewhere.

She faintly noticed that her father had a break in his fights and was now watching what was going on with his daughter. She wondered how he'd react to the blood-filled frill of the male in front of her.

Cera made a mental note to ask Tria about that later. But for now she watched the happenings in front of her, her green eyes narrowing as she studied the few males remaining in front of her.

Her head tilted forward a bit as she saw several of the rejected males return. As if they'd stand a chance this time around…

It took her a bit to realize they would not be properly fighting the brown male and were instead planning to gang up on him.

She snorted in anger. Now that wouldn't do at all.

One of the smaller ones charged as another was occupying the brown male in the front by locking horns with him. But instead of hitting the brown body as intended, the male ran straight into another set of horns, startling green eyes glaring at him in anger. His own widened when he realized who had stopped him in his tracks and was even pushing him back.

"Buzz off." Cera snarled, pushing a bit more. He backed away quickly.

She meanwhile had turned, where it seemed the brown male had won even that battle.

"How about a walk?" She asked him softly, tilting her head to look at him demurely. Despite there still being several hours of light left, she had made her choice.

"Certainly." He answered her, stepping up beside her, ignoring the other males. "Lead the way."

The looks they got as Cera led him from the field were mostly out of jealousy, though she could feel the eyes of her father burn in the back of her head too.

"I am Cera." She introduced herself as they settled down in the cool shade.

"Trike." He told her. "You certainly attracted a crowd out there, didn't you?"

"No kidding." She shook her head lightly. "You joined pretty late though."

"I arrived too late." He countered. "A fast-water flooded, forcing my herd to make quite a detour. But considering you choose me you can't mind that much, can you?"

"True." She relented, watching as he got up and approached her. "You do realize my father is watching?"

Trike looked over his shoulder. "Well, he looks happy." In other words, Mr. Threehorn was glaring so hard even a boulder might crack under the intensity of it. "Mind if we take it somewhere where he does not see us?"

"You want to die, don't you?" The orange female wondered, but she got up none the less.

"Best to die early and happy, than to die later and unhappy." He winked at her. She surprised herself by giggling and following him.

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #16 on: Today at 01:06:30 AM »
"And you survived that?" Rana looked down on the brown Threehorn from where she was perched in a tree beside Petrie. "He doesn't seem to be the type to forgive something like that."

"Barely." Trike admitted. "Broken horn or not, I think he would have handed me my ass on a Treestar if Tria had not interfered."

"He would have." Cera agreed with him, chuckling a bit. "I think even Red Claw would have been hard-pressed to get such a glare."

"That… Is that even possible?" Ducky wondered, her sky-blue eyes wide.

"It is hard to fathom." Littlefoot agreed, looking over to where the rest of the Threehorn-family was grazing in the distance. "But he does not seem to have a problem with you now, does he?"

"It did take him a while to forgive me." Trike stated. He chuckled as well. "Oh, the glares he threw my way. It made me almost regret getting it on with his daughter."

"Excuse me?" His mate demanded, glaring at him.

"I said 'almost', my love." Trike nuzzled her.

"You better." Cera huffed, turning her head away from him. She yelped when he poked her with his nose-horn.

Soon enough her friends were laughing as if there would be no tomorrow and they only laughed harder as she glared at them.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

"These Mud-pools are wonderful." Rana sighed. Cera had invited the other females to join her there for some time away from the boys.

"Even if Ali doesn't fit." Ducky looked at the Longneck resting on the ground a bit away.

"Well excuse me." Ali chuckled. "I could squeeze myself in, but then none of you would fit."

"I think even then it would be a tight fit." Tega stated, resting next to her sister-in-law. The Spiketail rumbled in happiness as she sank a bit deeper into the warm mud.

"True." Cera looked at the other four. "Besides, I think Tria would not forgive us for wrecking her mud-pool."

"I can imagine." Ali dipped her tail in. "It seems to be quite nice."

"It is." Ducky's crest call echoed in the small glade. "Also, I must admit I was wondering about something…"

"Oh?" Rana righted herself, looking at the Swimmer opposite of her.

"Well, we all no doubt did… that somewhere during these last few changes of the Night Circle." Ducky giggled softly. "So I was wondering: who of us already has some eggs on the way?"

The other females looked at her in a mixture of surprise and shock.

"I think I do." Ali suddenly said. "I can't be certain yet though."

"I don't." Rana admitted. "There's not much time for… that…" She mimicked Ducky's way of saying it. "when you're flying."

"I am certain I do." Cera stated. "I haven't told either Dad or Trike yet, so you all shut up."

"I think it might be smarter not to tell your father." Tega chuckled. "I'm not, by the way. Having your mate more interested in eating with you than… doing that with you does not help." She laughed softly.

Now all four looked at Ducky, who despite asking the question, had not yet answered it herself.

"One: why does it seem like you are making fun of me?" Ducky counted on her fingers. "And two: what do you think yourself? I am a Swimmer, not a Longneck. No offense." She looked at Ali at that last one.

"None taken." Ali assured her. "It's true that Longnecks are slow breeders. Especially compared to Swimmers. And yes, they were making fun of you."

"So in short: the Threehorn, the Longneck and the Swimmer will have hatchlings and the Spiketail and the Flyer need to wait a bit more?" Tega summarized. "And the Swimmer gets picked on?"

Ducky glared, but soon enough dissolved into loud laughter. She still couldn't remain upset with anyone, even after all these Cold Times.