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Sleeping-force's-inside

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #20 on: October 21, 2019, 03:22:23 PM »
Chomper escorted them safely through his parents' domain, leading them to the border they had been heading for anyway.

"Do come by for a visit." He called, waving as the small herd of Swimmers was on their way once more.

"We will." Ducky promised, making up the rear of her family as she kept waving until she could no longer make out his form among the trees.

"I didn't think we'd see him again." One of her sisters mused as they maneuvered through the trees.

"Neither did I." Their mother agreed. "But stranger things have happened, have they not?"

"Like a Spike-tail becoming a member of a Swimmer-family?" Her oldest son asked sweetly.

"As if you minded." Ducky countered, poking him.

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

If they were worried about how close Chomper's family hunted to their Courting-grounds, the Swimmer-family did not show it. The field was bordered by a wide Fast Water, the clear liquid cascading down the rocks forming the riverbed.

They were among the first to arrive, the field being mostly empty.

"Well, with Chomper showing us a short-cut we got here faster than I thought we would." Olophia said.

"Does that mean we can catch up on sleep?" The group scattered.

Ducky moved into the low waters, drinking of the fresh liquid. It was cold, coming fresh from the mountains. A small shiver ran down her spine as she moved deeper, her eyes scanning the surface for indications of Belly Dragger who might try and attack her.

She turned back to her family when hearing the abominable song of her brother.

"He needs some practice." She wheeled around, nearly slipping on the loose stones beneath her feet.

A male Swimmer looked in concern as she regained her balance. "Whoops, sorry, I didn't mean to startle you."

"Then cough next time." Ducky suggested. "But yes, my brother needs some practice… and a miracle."

"I didn't want to say it." He smiled at her. "I am Paro, you?"

"Ducky." She returned the smile. "You're here early too, aren't you?"

"Oh, I am one of the resident herd." He pointed to the opposite side of Ducky's family. "We stay on that side of the river because of some Sharpteeth."

Ducky blinked, stopping herself barely from telling him that she knew these Sharpteeth in person and was friends with one of them. "Must be handy to live directly at the Courting-grounds."

"You would be surprised how much it is not." He chuckled. "There is always a terrible mess when all the other dinosaurs have left. And we're left to deal with it."

"That might be less good, yes." Ducky chuckled too. "But I always enjoyed the Far-walkers coming to my place, surely you do too?"

"You're stationary too?" He asked. "Yes, there is something nice about having new faces come along, but still. Just wait until Courting is finished. You won't believe your eyes."

"I am certain I have seen worse." She countered.

"Wanna bet on it?" He challenged.

"A branch of Treesweets." She agreed, grinning at him.

"Deal."

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #21 on: October 23, 2019, 01:21:40 AM »
All Swimmers had dozens of hatchlings over their lives, their main defense against the Meateaters being numbers unlike the Threehorns with their horns and the Longnecks with their sheer sizes. That of course meant that when all Swimmers gathered somewhere, you would soon start talking about herds covering entire valleys from the bottom to the very top.

The Swimmers that long ago declared this valley to be the courting-grounds had certainly taking those numbers into account when doing so, but Ducky still found the thing to start becoming dangerously overfilled as the Courting-day approached. It seemed Paro would win that branch of Treesweets, because she was quite certain she'd never see the like of this again in her life.

His smug grin told her he knew that too.

Her mother reminded her that nothing could top the group she and her friends had and still do form. Now Ducky had a smug grin whenever she saw him, much to his consternation.

She had a feeling he wouldn't let her win so easily.

They became slightly competitive over time, challenging one another to different things each day. They were quite evenly matched, until one day shortly before their Courting-day.

Paro had suggested a simple day of talking over some greens, instead of yet another argument about who was better. Ducky had agreed, joining him higher on some hill where there were some good-tasting Tree-stars, as he had assured her.

"I still think you are far too confident over our bet." Paro couldn't help but state as they munched on the green food,

"I think you underestimate me." She countered, grinning widely. "Just ask my family: I have something that will top anything you can come up with a dozen times."

"They're biased." He pointed out, frowning just a little bit. He looked kinda cute like that.

"Perhaps, but I still think my thing is better than yours." Ducky chuckled.

"What is it then?" He demanded.

"That would be telling, now wouldn't it?" She grinned.

"If I don't know what it is, how can we ever decide who won?" He asked sweetly.

"Oh, as if you didn't think of the answer the entire time." Ducky countered, pushing him lightly.

"And as if you mind." He defended himself.

"I never said I did." She shrugged, turning back to return to her family at the Fast Water. "But that is the solution to our problems."

"Not if we'd decide to stay here." He joined her, walking close at her side.

"I will not leave my friends." Came her abrupt answer. "Nor would I leave my family."

Both fell silent for a short while after that outburst.

"Are they that important to you?" He whispered, looking at her questioningly.

"A friend of mine turned down a chance to live with his long-lost father because that would mean leaving us." The female Swimmer answered. "Another defied his very nature for the sake of being with us. Each of would give their lives for the others."

She saw realization dawn on his face. "Are your friends that which I will never be able to top?"

She nodded.

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #22 on: October 25, 2019, 01:02:55 AM »
A Swimmer's song was the most haunting thing you could ever hear. The music that filled the glade was unlike anything ever to be heard on Earth itself. To describe it was to take part of its' beauty and do it a severe injustice.

Mates, prospective or already found, sung together, weaving their calls into a duet that traveled up to the Sky Puffies, entwining together like two creeping vines. Occasionally a duet was interrupted by a challenger for either gender, turning into a vocal battle as to who was superior.

Ducky and Paro had no such interruptions, because neither were good enough singers to be that interesting to most of the other bachelors on the field. That, or the fact that they had secluded themselves a bit, putting some distance between themselves and the rest of the Swimmers.

The night grew silent, the echoes faded.

Neither of them returned to their families that night, spending it high up on the mountain, talking about unimportant things as the Night Circle made its' way across the vast expanse of the skies.

They hadn't talked about who would live with who again, but both knew that by tomorrow they would have to; Ducky's family would leave as soon as they had had breakfast. Paro left once Ducky had gone to sleep, sneaking towards his own family.

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

He wouldn't tell Ducky where he had been, or what he had discussed with his father that night. He joined her family, he and two others replacing six of her sisters who had chosen to go with their own mates. They left the way they had come, silently hoping they wouldn't run into Chomper and his parents again as they crossed the Sharptooth-territory.

They had no luck, in a way. Perfect in the middle of the forest they encountered a massive blue-grey Sharptooth.

"Chomper." Ducky grinned. "I'm passing through again."

"I hope you don't make that count as 'visiting again'?" He chuckled, ignoring the Swimmers that were new to the group and were terrified of him. "That would be very unfair."

"Says the one who KNEW where we live and never shows his face anymore." Ducky's mother pointed out, lightly glaring at him. "And if you don't mind, we have to go before the new ones start fleeing in a blind panic because of you."

"Oh, very nice." Chomper rolled his eyes. "Hey, don't I know him from somewhere?" He pointed at Ducky's mate.

"He's my mate, he's off-limits." She moved in between, frowning.

"Just wondering." The Sharptooth ducked lightly under her gaze, a move useless since he was still much bigger than the Swimmers. "Lived down in the Valley?"

"Yes." Ducky nodded. "Bye, Chomper."

"Bye." He grinned. "I'll see if I can convince my parents to let me visit you guys soon."

"Do that, I'd hate to have to start arguing with them." Ducky joked, accepting his hug without fear.

The group continued on, Paro staring at his new mate. Yes, she definitely won the bet.

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2019, 03:29:00 PM »
"See?" Petrie told his mate as Ducky finished her story. "Chomper is real!"

"And huge…" Paro added. "I swear I nearly had a heart-attack when Ducky hugged him." He shuddered at the memory.

"Oh really now…" She rolled her eyes. "Imagine how I felt when he and his parents chased me!"

"Are they still as big as they were when we last saw them?" Littlefoot asked, thinking back to their stay on the island Chomper and his family had lived on.

"Oh yes, definitely." Ducky nodded. "With still as many teeth too." She grinned at another shudder of her mate. "Oh, it's not like you will ever meet them."

"No offense, but while I do look forward to perhaps seeing Chomper again, I can do without meeting his parents again." Cera shook her head.

"Says the one who hugged one of them." Littlefoot said with an innocent smile. "Did you ever tell your father about that?"

Cera spluttered at that, her eyes widening marginally. "No and neither will any of you!"

Her friends laughed at her face, their mates only chuckling.

Many of the adventures that had happened had yet to be told about and more often than not the five were left in the dark about inside jokes.

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #24 on: October 26, 2019, 03:29:21 PM »
"You know, I just realized something…" Ducky mused. "Spike doesn't talk…"

"Huh, good point." Cera looked at the Spiketail-male. "Tega, you want to tell us something?"

"I wouldn't be sure what." She looked around shyly. "I don't have anything interesting to mention: we never actually courted and I certainly did not meet some Sharptooth-friends."

"So? I still would like to know how you two got together, exactly because you did not court." Ali pointed out. "From what I remember, Spike was never a guy to go out on his own."

"She got a point there." Petrie added. "But if you really don't want to, no one's going to force you."

"Well, perhaps I can tell a little story…" Tega relented. "But I have to warn you, I'm no story-teller."

"Yeah, neither are most of us, if you didn't notice." Ducky soothed her. "Littlefoot just got lucky that his Grandpa is a good Storyteller and he inherited the talent."

"Why, thank you…" The Longneck stated. "You make it sound like that is something bad."

"Just unfair." Ali soothed her mate. "Take a deep breath and forget these small ones."

"Hey!" Cera shot up. "Watch it, flathead."

"Here we go again." Her friends muttered. "Just start your story, Tega, ignore Cera."

"And that'll work out so much better?" Rana wondered.

"No, because I start ramming people when they ignore me." Cera grinned. "But I'll forgive you, Tega."

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #25 on: October 30, 2019, 01:57:48 AM »
Tega moved along with the rest of her herd, sighing in frustration once more. She really did not want to go to the Courting-day, but her parents had all but threatened to throw her out of the herd if she did not go.

It would be the third time in a row that she went, and she just knew that it would be the third time in a row she wouldn't find anyone. Was it her fault that most of the males thought her too unattractive?

So she had decided to not go to Courting this time, only to have her parents force her participation. What were they hoping for? That a blind male would come along and pick her? She had inherited her father's colors, but the dark colors that were favored among the males were a major turn-off in females, leaving her very much at the bottom of any male's list of favorite potential mates.

She sighed once more, walking at the back of the herd listlessly. She was so going to search for another herd, with or without mate, because if she had to go through another one of her mother's lectures she would go mad.

The area where they were heading was an almost-desert like place, with little vegetation, but a wonderful view for Sharpteeth for miles around.

She wouldn't even try this Courtship-day, she decided. She'd just see which herd would be willing to take her and be done with it.

Small clouds of dust got whirled up at her every step, her spiked tail swinging lightly as she passed a small stream.

The rest was already reaching the gathering, but she slowed down and turned to a group of small trees and ferns just a bit off the field itself. Might as well get dinner, she wouldn't miss anything anyway.

The dark-blue Spiketail entered the shade of the trees, finding to her surprise that she was not the only one who had decided to forgo Courting in favor of an early dinner.

He was dark-green – in other words, a guy the girls would fight over – but he was contently munching on some of the ferns in front of him. He didn't even seem to notice her approach him.

At least, she thought that until he looked at her and moved aside a bit, as if offering her some of the ferns he was eating.

Intrigued, she joined him, pulling some of the ground.

They ate in amiable silence then, even as the sounds of Courtship wafted over from the field. He didn't once look up, instead moving from plant to plant, just eating his fill.

She too looked only a few times to where her family was, ignoring them as they started to search for her. She was sick and tired of dealing with their pushiness.

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #26 on: October 30, 2019, 01:58:04 AM »
The male didn't speak up once, which was fine with her. Instead he kept eating up until someone came looking for him.

"Spike!" A female voice called. "Where are you?"

Tega looked up as an orange female entered the cluster of trees. "Oh, who are you?"

"I'm Tega, ma'am…" Tega answered, looking shyly at her.

"Oh, you're the one that herd was looking for?" She asked, chuckling lightly. "Some of them suggested you found a mate, others doubted it sincerely."

"What did the herd do?" Tega asked, not noticing that the male had stopped eating and was looking at her with an unreadable look on his face.

"Left." Came the short answer. "Dunno why."

"Great…" Tega frowned. "I was thinking about switching herds, but they just left me here…"

"You can come with us." The orange female offered. "Spike already seems to like you."

Tega looked at the male, who smiled at her and walked up beside her.

"He doesn't talk, by the way." The female grinned. "So don't expect him to ever actually say it." She chuckled as Spike growled lightly at her, a glint of amusement in his eyes.

"Why?" Tega couldn't help but ask.

"I have no clue." The other shrugged. "You two coming? Preferably before my mate comes along to look for you."

Spike made a sound of irritation, but followed her nonetheless. Tega, having no clue what else to do, followed them both to their herd.
"Are you her son?" She asked the dark-green male beside her. He shook his head.

"He was adopted by a Swimmer-family." The orange female had heard her question. "For obvious reasons he couldn't join them to Courtship so he came with us. He's a stationary Spiketail, while we are far-walkers."

"Oh…" Tega breathed, surprised.

"That doesn't even cover his friends." She added. "But it's your decision whether you want to go with him, or with the rest of the herd."

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

Tega remained awake that particular night, looking up at the stars while thinking about her life.

The rest of the herd was sleeping a short distance away, their chests rising evenly with each breath.

She honestly didn't know what to do. She had always been a far-walker: it was the only life she had ever known. But Spike had her intrigued… She looked over her shoulder at him as he slept peacefully just a bit outside the herd.

Then she sighed. As if he'd be interested in her! Then again… he was walking beside her constantly, and shared his green-food with her.

She groaned softly. Why couldn't he just tell her what his opinion about her was? Was it pity because her parents and herd simply abandoned her? Or was it something more? She buried her head in her front-legs, remaining like that for quite a while.

A soft, questioning sound had her look up. Spike was standing next to her, concern written all over his face.

She sighed, looking away from him. He laid down beside her, repeating the sound.

"It's nothing…" She told him. The look on his face left no doubt that he did not believe her. "Really."

He nudged her, looking at her with a demanding glimmer in his eyes.

"Why are you so nice to me?" She demanded, glaring at him. "And why don't you talk?"

He did not answer – to be honest, she hadn't expected it anyway – but her eyes widened when she felt a soft tongue lapping her cheek. He nuzzled her, purring softly as he did so.

For a moment, she just stared at him. Then she returned the nuzzle.

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #27 on: October 31, 2019, 01:37:05 PM »
"Aawww…" Ducky cooed. "Spike, I didn't know you were so romantic."

Spike was blushing, making an embarrassed sound as he looked away. The rest of the group chuckled in amusement.

"Must have been quite the shock to be introduced to a group of Swimmers as in-laws, wasn't it?" Littlefoot changed the subject quickly.

"Oh, I got warned." Tega shrugged. "And their faces were sooo worth it." She grinned at Ducky. "Apparently now of them expected Spike to find someone."

"In our defense, had you not wanted dinner at that exact moment, he wouldn't have." Ducky pointed out, poking her sister-in-law in the side. "So there…"

"We could still have walked past each other had he not offered me food." Tega countered.

Spike looked like it wasn't the first time his mate and sister were arguing.

"Reminds me of Trike and Dad." Cera mused as she watched them. "They're arguing the entire time too."

"Because someone told her father she was pregnant." Trike sighed in defeat while glaring lightly at his mate. "Nearly got me killed too… And now I need to hear him preach about 'how I should have waited' and so on."

"That was bound to happen, no matter when I got pregnant for the first time." Cera returned the glare.

"You could at least have warned me." Trike demanded exasperated. "I could have gotten a Head-start, you know…"

"It could be worse." Ducky pointed out. "He could have told you that your kids would get some aunts and uncles that are their age…" She called through her crest half-heartedly. "Like a certain mother of mine did."

Littlefoot looked mildly uncomfortable at that, but in the end it passed over even if it was not quickly enough for Ali not to notice. She decided to ask him once they walked back to their nest later on.

They kept talking for the rest of the day, the five sharing stories about more adventures they had had in their youth.

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #28 on: November 02, 2019, 02:16:16 AM »
Several months passed and the newcomers seemed to settle into Valley-life nicely. Ducky was the first to lay her eggs, her friends one day coming to the resting place of her and Paro and finding a small hill securely holding half a dozen eggs.

The proud mother was resting beside it, still a bit out of breath of having laid them. Paro stood at her side, looking up with a wide smile when the rest of the ten arrived one by one.

"Congratulations." Ali said, leaning down to look at them more closely. "They are beautiful."

"They are, aren't they?" Ducky carefully nudged one of them. "They seemed so much bigger when we were small… I can hardly believe we used to have such trouble moving them."

Littlefoot snorted softly at the fond memory. "Oh yes, particularly moving Chomper's egg. Now I could easily move a whole nest of those…"

"Being big does have its' advantages." Cera smiled as she too looked at the eggs in front of her. She and Ali had still some time to go until they could lay their own nests while Tega and Rana had still not gotten to even carrying them. Neither of them seemed to mind though, figuring that three nests were more than enough.

Considering there were no Egg-stealers in the Valley, most of the eggs would reach hatching, meaning that there would be at least a good dozen hatchlings soon.

"I should start looking for a good nesting-site as well." Ali mused.

"Perhaps talk to Grandma?" Littlefoot suggested, looking briefly to where he could see the necks of his grandparents as they ate. "I'm sure she can tell you where a good spot would be…"

"Later today." His mate agreed as their group fell into a pleasant silence.

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

"A place to lay your eggs?" Grandma looked at the younger female with faint amusement.

"Yes." She inclined her head. "I don't really know if there are designated places for that in the Valley."

"No, but some are off course better than others." The old female smiled warmly. "I might know one for you, if you wish."

"Yes, please." Ali returned the smile with equal warmth, following her grandmother-in-law as she started to move through the trees. They walked up one of the mountains to a ledge higher up – though still hidden from view by the trees.

"But there's already a nest here." She said in surprise, looking at a collection of 5 round eggs.

"I know." Grandma softly said, walking up to them to check on them.

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #29 on: November 03, 2019, 02:50:27 AM »
"But… Won't their mother mind me being here?" Ali softly asked, looking around to look for her.

"No, that won't be a problem." Grandma smiled serenely at her. "I wouldn't have led you here if I minded you being here, after all."

"You?" Ali had to do a double take, looking from the nest to the older female in shock.

"Yes, I." Grandma chuckled. "And yes, I know I am old, no need to point that out."

Ali merely blinked at that, watching as the other Longneck curled around the nest with her body.

"But… when?" She murmured, hesitantly settling down on the ground as well.

"Probably the night after I and Grandpa Courted." She laughed at the younger female's face at that tidbit of information. "Oh dear, you should know how eggs are made by now!"

"Yes…" Ali shook her head, chuckling as well. "I just forgot that for a moment. Uughhh…"

Grandma struggled to calm down, succeeding only slowly. "Oh my, it has been far too long since I could laugh like this."

"You're welcome…" Ali snorted. "Does Littlefoot know?"

"I think you would have noticed had we told him." Grandma pointed out. "His scream of horror and disbelief at the fact his grandparents had a nest would have echoed in the Valley, don't you think?"

Ali laughed now, imagining her mate's face once he found out. "Can I be there when you tell him?"

"Certainly." The old female smiled warmly. "So, what do you say? Will this place be adequate for your nest?"

"I think it will do." Ali smiled gently. "At least I'll have support and help halfway across the clearing."

"Hey now, you'll have to do most of it still." Littlefoot's grandmother hoisted herself up again. "Well, let's tell Littlefoot then, shall we?"

Ali giggled as she followed the old female out of the clearing.

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

In the end Littlefoot did not scream, but he looked near ready to puke, much to his grandmother's amusement.

His friends reacted much like his mate did: laughing their asses off at his face.

"Well… And here I was complaining about my kids getting aunts and uncles their age." Ducky snickered.

"Oh, shut up…" The Longneck glared at her lightly.

"You're not happy for your grandparents?" Grandma demanded with an innocent face. "Really now, Littlefoot."

"I'm happy, I just want Chomper to eat my brain now." He groaned. "I got the worst mental image at the moment."

Even more laughter followed after that, which was followed by another glare of the young longneck-male.

"How did Grandpa react?" He asked in the end, hoping that changing the subject would save him.

"He was as surprised as I was that that had managed to happen at our age." Grandma rolled her eyes fondly. "He can't wait to tell the rest of the Valley though for some obscure reason…"

"Probably to watch them all react in the same way Littlefoot did." Cera snorted.

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #30 on: November 04, 2019, 01:41:50 AM »
And react in the same way they did, much to the amusement of the two old Longnecks. Sadly Littlefoot was not there to see it: Ali had started laying the eggs and he wouldn't miss that for anything in the world.

Though he couldn't stop himself for occasionally peeking over at his five aunts and uncles, whose eggs were covered with branches to keep them shaded while their mother was elsewhere.

"They're beautiful." It was perhaps halfway the morning that all thoughts of his grandparents' eggs were banished from his mind. Two perfect round eggs rested securely on a rise, their mother resting beside them with a proud smile on her face.

"That they are…" She looked from her nest to the one just a short distance away. "Well damnit, we have been outdone by your grandparents, Littlefoot."

"We can try to get more next time." He chuckled. "Still young and all that…"

Both laughed softly at that statement, keeping their voices low as if to lessen the risk of the eggs being disturbed. It would have been funny to them, if not for the sheer love they already had for their unhatched children.

Their heads turned as one when the sound of rustling leaves reached their ears. Grandma Longneck had returned to her own nest, smiling warmly when she saw that Ali had too laid her eggs.

"Bigger than those of your mother." She told Littlefoot softly after regarding them for a while. "You best guard them well so Tickly Fuzzies will not see them as an opportunity for an easy meal."

"We will." He assured her. "What about yours?"

"Well, what do I have you two for?" She teased him before walking over. "I bore many nests in my life, Littlefoot. While devastating, I can handle the loss of an egg. But would you be able to do the same with your small first?"

It was a rhetorical question, but one that carried quite some truth. Even if it might seem cruel that a mother would talk so about her own children.

"How many nests did you have?" Ali asked curiously.

"Four before this one, totaling about 20 eggs. Fifteen of those hatched, and ten lived long enough to become grown-ups."

Littlefoot did not ask the question that formed in his mind at that: what had happened to those ten, considering he only knew of his mother as child of his grandparents. He feared he'd dig up a hidden hurt if he did and he loved his grandmother too much to even consider hurting her.

He'd probably never know, the look in her eyes saying enough about the sensitivity of the subject.

A mother will only speak casually about losing her children if she has practice losing them, after all. And losing 20 could almost be considered 'practice'. It was a cruel reminder that life outside the Valley was not as kind to Dinosaurs as life inside of it was...

"You're about ready to burst." The old female stated softly. "What is it?"

"I'd hurt you if I told you." He truthfully told her, briefly glancing at Ali.

"Let me guess: where those ten are?" Grandma Longneck laid down beside her own nest, nudging the branches in place. "Most died of starvation and illness actually. Only your mother and two others died by Sharpteeth. Most of them know better than to attack a fully grown Longneck, after all."

She looked up again, smiling serenely. "Never be afraid to ask something, Littlefoot, you never did when you were little either. If it hurts someone to talk about something, they'll tell you."

"Yes, Grandma." He chuckled softly. Even at his age, she was still a source of wisdom to the still-growing Longneck.

"Now, aren't you getting your grandfather, Littlefoot?" Ali looked up at him. "I'm sure he'd appreciate you telling him that his grandson is going to be a father."

"Yes, dear." He chuckled harder, quickly leaving the clearing before she'd consider hitting him with her tail. Even playful smacks could sting, after all. And Ali was a master at delivering smacks that would sting for days (not that he'd tell her, she'd smack him).

"I wonder if we could convince one of the Flyers to go look for Bron and tell him he is about to be a grandfather…" Grandma mused as she watched her grandson disappear among the foliage of the trees surrounding them.

"It won't hurt to ask…" Ali grinned at the little joke she added in there.

"True, true…"

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #31 on: November 06, 2019, 12:58:14 AM »
Bron's reaction when he was told when he arrived to be present for his grandchildren's hatching was certainly the most memorable: his jaw nearly unhinged from the rest of his body, much the other Longnecks' amusement.

"Aren't you a bit old?" He demanded as he looked from the nest to his in-laws.

"Why is that the first thing dinosaurs ask us?" Grandma looked at her mate with amusement written across her face. "It's almost as if they are not happy for us."

"I am happy for you." The younger male interrupted. "But you have to admit it is unexpected."

"True." Both conceded the point. "What about you, Bron? Any more grandchildren on the way?"

"No." He softly said. "And I doubt there will be, at least any time soon."

"You loved her." His mother-in-law stated, hoisting herself up to look into his eyes. "But you shouldn't cling to her. If you find someone else, you have our blessing."

"I'll remember it." He briefly rested his neck against hers in a hug. "But I truly haven't found anyone yet."

He smiled as he looked over to his son's nest. "Beside, I am about to be a Grandfather soon."

"And there is the age-thing again." Grandpa rolled his eyes fondly. "I am not that old, I assure you."

"Sure you aren't." His wife countered with a snort.

Before he could retaliate someone approached the Longneck nesting-site. Ali appeared among the foliage, Trike in tow.

"Mr. Threehorn is about ready to murder me, so I am hiding here until Tria calmed him down." He told them at their questioning glance.

"Cera laid her nest?" Grandma guessed, snorting in amusement when the Threehorn grimaced as he nodded.

"Four eggs, that much I could tell before I had to run." He snorted as he looked around. "Sorry if I am imposing, but you know my father-in-law."

"He's just like my brother-in-law." Grandpa mused. "He too nearly had my head when Grandma had her first nest."

"He had your head every time he heard I had a nest." She snickered in amusement. "The sight of you running for your life I'll never forget."

Her husband merely groaned at that.

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

"I'm sure Tria will have him calmed down soon." Ducky looked at the mother of the nest beside hers. Cera was fuming, not amused with her husband literally having been hunted away from his own nest.

"Well, she better hide him." The orange Threehorn growled. "Hunting Trike away like that!"

"I'm afraid that is your father for you." Littlefoot softly said. "You know how he is. And those glares he was throwing Trike's way did give another warning."

"It's almost as if… as if he thinks I picked the wrong guy!" The Threehorn snorted in anger.

"I think it's the same with all fathers: no guy can be good enough for their children." Pterano sat on a tree-branch a short distance away, having joined his nephew and said nephew's wife to visit the newly-laid nest. "And in the case of your father… Well…" He shrugged.

Cera snorted again, swinging her head from side to side, making her present friends scatter to stay out of range. "Wonderful… Should we do the same we did with Rhett, only this time with him not running?" She joked.

"If we can get Chomper, we could." Littlefoot chuckled. "Any volunteers?"

"Ducky is the only one who knows where he lives, and I doubt she'll leave now." Petrie stated dryly. "I refuse to go on a Sharptooth-chase without a guide."

"Perhaps Chomper will finally visit us after I asked him to do so?" Ducky suggested.

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #32 on: November 07, 2019, 12:56:47 AM »
Surprisingly, he did. Though at least the Sharptooth had the decency to send in Ruby to warn them before entering himself.

"Chomper!" Littlefoot beamed, greeting him warmly. "Good grief, you are huge!"

Huge enough to make their mates take double-takes when the Gang greeted him warmly. He chuckled, looking his friends over. "You grew too. Well, aside from Petrie. He shrunk."

Everyone snorted in amusement at the face the Flyer made at that one. "Well, excuse me for not being a Longneck." He playfully whacked the predator's face with his wing, shocking his mate senseless.

"At least I can see how he would warrant some running away." Trike had been told about the conversation they had had while he was with the old Longneck-couple. Thankfully Tria had made it redundant, reminding her mate about how her family had been around him.

Somehow, that reminder had caused a small miracle. Though none dared point that out in fear of reversing it.

"Is that a compliment…?" Chomper looked at the female Threehorn beside the one that had spoken.

"I guess it is." Cera smiled. "Chomper, this is my mate Trike."

This unleashed a series of introductions, during which several of the grown-ups appeared as well, before leaving again. Thankfully Mr. Threehorn was not among them, because everyone could do without his reaction to Chomper's presence.

"What was I suppossed to do?" He countered when asked why they had come to the Valley after such a long time. "Ducky was quite adamant that I should come."

He grew serious after that though. "I have some bad news though: I encountered Red Claw when I came here. I managed to lose him by going deeper into the Mysterious Beyond, but he most definitely is moving around the Valley again."

"He's back?" Littlefoot exclaimed in horror. "Where was that?"

"A few days ago to the side where the Bright Circle rises." Chomper gestured over. "It's why I was coming from the wrong direction: I had to ensure he couldn't follow me in. At least Screech and Thud have abandoned him – or they died, I can't say."

"Wonderful..." Ducky groaned. "The timing couldn't have been worse."

"I – well, Ali – , Cera and Ducky have nests." Littlefoot told their two friends at their questioning glance. "Ducky's are near hatching already."

"Congratulations." Ruby beamed, before sobering. "Yes, that does make his timing terrible."

"Want me to try if I can hunt him off?" Chomper offered. "I think I could take him: he's grown old."

"Most certainly not alone." Littlefoot stated. "I'm not going to let you run against him on your own."

"Same here." Ducky stated. "We're friends, we'll help."

"I'm not going to let Cera go out there alone, Tops would murder my ass." Trike spoke up, suppressing a chuckle.

"Guess we're all going then." Tega finally said something as well, swinging her tail lightly.

"Our parents are going to like this so much." Petrie muttered. "Back into the Mysterious Beyond it is."

"Better get going before they notice." Ducky grinned, pulling along her husband to the nearest exit. "They'll scold us anyway."

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

"The kids are off again?" Their elders noticed the lack of Gang soon enough, realizing almost immediately what must have happened.

"Yes." Hadria rolled her eyes, snorting lightly. "They and their mates are all gone."

"Leaving us to nest-sit." Threehorn frowned, looking at the nest of his daughter beside him. "I wonder what dragged them outside this time."

"Adventure." Saphira muttered, sitting in a tree nearby. Her brother sat on the ground below her, looking over to where he knew the Longneck-nests were. "Same as always."

"Are we going after them?" Tria wondered, watching a Treestar float to the ground.

"They're old enough to deal with anything that might come up on their own." Pterano finally opened his beak to contribute. "And they do have a good track-record in getting back safe and sound, no?"

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #33 on: November 07, 2019, 03:14:08 PM »
"It's been a while since we did this, isn't it?" Ducky stepped over several boulders in her path, her friends walking along around her. Chomper was leading the way, following the scent-trail of Red Claw away from the Valley.

"Cold times worth." Petrie flew overhead together with his mate. "Littlefoot was much smaller then."

"Well, that could mean a change of the Night Circle ago too..." Ali joked, earning herself a playful dive-bomb from the Flyer. She easily moved her head out of the way, swinging it after him.

"Guys, we're getting close." Chomper stated softly, the request of silence remaining unspoken. He progressed alone, looking every bit the predator he was. It was another piece of indisputable proof that they had all grown. Their friend was a true Sharptooth now, despite his lingering closeness to the group.

Not to mention that long ago none of them would have thought about challenging Red Claw like this and now they intended to drive him off. Their mates followed them and Chomper, despite long-held fears of Sharpteeth.

Trike looked at his wife sideways as they waited for the Sharptooth to give the signal. She returned the glance, a faint smile pulling at her mouth-corners. It seemed like she was actually enjoying this. Definitely the daughter of her father. He grinned lightly, looking into the direction the Sharptooth had disappeared in.

The Swimmers stood a bit to the back, muscles tight with anticipation. Above them the Flyers circled and above those – well beyond what they would instantly notice – a dark-brown form flew over, peering downward as it did so before turning into the direction of the Valley.

Soon enough the oppressive silence was broken by thundering roars, sounds of battle filling the air.

All eleven moved forward immediately, the ground shaking underneath their feet.

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

"I like being big." Cera looked down the canyon-wall. Far below her was Red Claw, defeated for the last time.

"I can agree with that." Ducky joined her in looking down. "We certainly couldn't have done this a few Cold Times ago."

Paro moved up to his mate, resting his hand on her shoulder. Aside from cuts – and a nasty bite on Chomper's side - they had carried away no wounds from this. "Let's get back to the Valley." He suggested. She nodded in agreement, following him away from the site back to the entrance they had used to leave their sanctuary.

"Let's see how our parents will react to this." Littlefoot chuckled, frowning playfully as Petrie took to sitting on his back again.

"Oh joy." Cera rolled her eyes. "I can already hear Dad's tirade..."

"I can already see his charging horns." Her husband quipped. "He'll kill me for letting you participate in this."

The others laughed at his misfortune of being old Threehorn's son-in-law.

"Mom and Pterano will be upset as well." Petrie murmured. "Here they were hoping that Rana would keep me inside the Valley, instead I drag her outside at the first opportunity."

"Oh believe me: I'll make you regret this." She warned him, poking him lightly. "That way they at least won't blame me."

"You wish." The voice was older than Petrie's, as was her owner. Pterano looked down upon them, before turning away. "Found them!"

"You guys followed us?" Ducky demanded incredulously as several of the grown-ups appeared among the rocks.

"Of course." Grandpa Longneck chuckled. "That you are nearly grown does not mean you can just up and challenge Sharpteeth and have us wait it out calmly, thank you very much."

"That'll only happen after we died." Old Mr. Threehorn agreed, glaring at Trike. "Your mother's – and one grandmother – were frantic when Pterano told us you were aiming for Red Claw of all challenges."

"You're kinda late to stop us." Paro spoke up. "He's already dealt with."

"We know, we watched from a distance." Pterano stated, pointing to a far-away ridge. "You better hope I do not tell your mother about what you did here, Petrie, she'd have your head."

"Hehe…" He awkwardly chuckled, rubbing the back of his head.

"Let's get back to the Valley, shall we?" Grandpa suggested. "Prepare for trouble, young ones. Your mothers will give you hell about this. Especially considering a collection of nests."

"Were we supposed to let Red Claw run around freely here?" Littlefoot dry-panned. "Perhaps we can convince Chomper to take his place."

"Nono, you can't!" Chomper backed off immediately, blood-red eyes wide as Longneck-footprints. "Thank you very much, I prefer staying where I am. No need to throw me down a ravine, nope…"

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Re: Courtship of Ages Past
« Reply #34 on: November 07, 2019, 03:15:30 PM »
"And to think we're grown-ups now…" Littlefoot's head was still reeling from the lecture his grandmother had given him. "This is even worse than the one I got after nearly dying in the Sinking Sand."

"I am beginning to think I made my life a lot more dangerous when I got together with you…" Ali murmured. "Sinking Sand, Sharpteeth, Big Water, Fast Water… Is there anything you did not nearly die with?"

"Treestars." Cera was quick to point out.

"Unless that episode with the Tickly Treestars and their bad luck counts." Petrie chuckled.

"I thought we agreed they did not bring bad luck?" Chomper mused, having been the only one not to get reprimanded for their attack on Red Claw. If only because he had decided to explore the Valley a bit as that was going down.

"I still feel like there are a good many more stories to tell here…" Paro turned to Trike in amusement.

"Totally." The brown Threehorn agreed with him, a smile tugging at his mouth-corners.

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

After that they stayed with their nests until they hatched. Soon thereafter Chomper and Ruby left them again, returning to their homes once more.

The sound of little hatchlings soon filled the air in the Valley, the little ones getting in nearly more trouble as their parents had once done. Their grandparents – great-grandparents in the case of Littlefoot's – were very amused at the karma their children were suffering now.

The Gang understood their frustration a lot better now, more than once having to get their own children out of the same trouble they had once gotten into.

The Circle of Life kept turning right on.