Author Topic: Separate Ways  (Read 12120 times)

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Separate Ways
« on: April 24, 2017, 11:09:09 AM »
After the nice feedback I've received about my short stories, I've decided to write a long LBT story. It focuses on two rather overlooked characters of the Gang, namely Ruby and Petrie, as they try to overcome a new kind of adventure on their own ways. I'm writing this alongside a World of Warcraft story called Under the Scarlet Banner. I'll post it soon on the Written Word section if any of you are interested. That being said, I really hope you'll enjoy this first chapter!  :)

                                                      The Unanswered Question

A heavy rustle filled the air when a gentle breath of wind flowed through the trees. The noon was high and the unusually hot rays of the Bright Circle forced many of the dinosaurs to seek shelter or at least wait until the hot hours were over. This kind of weather was a perfect time for a group of seven young dinosaurs to learn new things from their long-time teacher, Mr. Thicknose. Ever since their first times together, the old dinosaur had grown very fond of the seven and their conversations had become more usual since then. The curious questions and glad answers continued for a long time in the same manner as they usually had.

“Hmph! Are we supposed to believe the Cold Times become more usual and severe just because of moving far enough in one direction?” Cera snorted as the old dinosaur told his tale about the stories the wandering fliers had told him about their travels a long time ago. Thicknose didn’t seem offended as he had learned to accept that not all of his many stories were true. Once, he had done his best to convince himself of his infallibility but those thoughts had long since vanished from his mind. Thicknose still saw his stories as a source of great knowledge but he nowadays told them with some reservations. However, he still wished that many of his lessons carried some truth in them and that those younger to him would learn something from them.

“Well, I honestly cannot say if that’s the whole truth. Not many fliers go that far and return here. Those lands are so far away that none of us landwalkers can go there. Yet, not every place is like the next one. The way I see it, there could be anything out there. What a shame I’m too old to even the slightest of hopes of seeing them.” The grey elder sighed as he was preparing to conclude his lesson. The hottest hour of the day was slowly starting to pass and the sweet chill of the afternoon started to flow in the air. However, he was immediately alerted when Ducky spoke in an excited voice.

“They might be right. Farwalkers have seen quite a number of things, they have!” Cera sighed as she was about to answer to the Swimmer’s hopeful words. However, Littlefoot knew that things could quickly turn into arguing and decided to end the brewing fight and spoke to the older dinosaur in a thankful voice.

“Thanks for the lesson, Mr. Thicknose. We’ve planned to go look if there’s anything left to be seen in the Canyon of Shiny Stones. It’s likely safe at this point. See ya later!” The whole Valley knew of the incident which the whole Southern Valley had to be evacuated for weeks. Thicknose couldn’t say he was happy to hear about the younglings’ destination but it wasn’t his place to prevent them anymore. The group turned to walk away when Thicknose suddenly called after them.  

“Just be safe! Ruby, could I change a few words with you?” His voice was somewhat tired from all the speaking but it still carried the unmistakable tone of genuine curiosity. The fast runner turned around and approached him swiftly.

“Sure, Mr. Thicknose! But I’ll have to know which you want to talk about f I’ll have to speak about it.” Her voice was interested and her face held her usual amount of cheer and friendliness. Each of those present saw that Thicknose wanted to talk with Ruby in private when Ducky called to her as the others started to depart towards the Smoking Mountain.

“We’ll see you in the Canyon later on! Have fun, Ruby!”  

“I’ll come after you soon!” Ruby called as she turned back on the others to look at the older dinosaur. She was really interested to hear what the other dinosaur was going to ask and she was happy to answer whatever was on his mind. The fast runner was extremely grateful to the aged male for sharing so much of his knowledge with her. All her life Ruby had been a curious soul and she loved to gain and share the information she had gathered in the Beyond. Maybe there was something he thought only she should know?

“You know, Ruby, there has been a lot of stories about different leaf-eaters and sharpteeth but actually very few about you fast runners or half-teeth in general. I’d like to know more about your kind and why there has been so little stories going around about you.” Thicknose’s voice was friendly and Ruby could see that his curiosity was genuine. However, the fast runner wasn’t exactly thrilled by the question. There were many reasons for the relative isolation of her kind, many of which she wasn’t exactly encouraged to share with outsiders. The younger dinosaur wasn’t sure if there was any harm in doing so but many of the wisdoms she had learned seemed underline the importance of knowledge. She hesitated a bit as she started to speak but quickly recovered her usual confidence.

“Well… we don’t usually wish to be causing any messes. My family has always preferred to live in a bit more unhospitable places that provide us with shelter from attention.” Thicknose listened to her and then answered deep in thought. The answer was quite what he had expected but did the fast runner know all of the implications of her words?

“I see… few of us here in the Valley trusted you initially and I can see that in the Mysterious Beyond things get even more dangerous. But I’ve heard that your kind has managed to survive quite well despite all of the distrust and even hostility that exists between our kinds out there.” The indirect question puzzled Ruby at first but she quickly understood what the other dinosaur meant.

“I don’t usually think about it like that. I don’t have to eat red food whereas poor Chomper… But I can see what you mean. The fliers still don’t trust us completely because if they did, they wouldn’t fear us all the time. Then again, I was always taught to get to no one’s bad side because of the distrust towards us half-teeth. Mother told me that I’ll stay safe if I stay out of danger and make no enemies.” Ruby swiftly shifted into a more melancholic expression as she recalled her departure from her family. Even with their brief reunification just before the last Cold Time, she still missed them dearly. As long as Red Claw held his reign of terror in the Mysterious Beyond, she and Chomper would forced to stay in the Valley.

Thicknose looked at her in sympathy as he weighed the younger dinosaur’s words. It was clear that she wouldn’t tell her everything she knew but he was happy to that she had decided to share some of her knowledge with him. He chuckled heavily as he answered.

“That’s quite a different way to survive in life than the one my kind teach their offspring. But at my age I think your advice seems even better. After all, I cannot pick many fights anymore.” Thicknose looked at the fast runner in appreciation when she continued to speak after some hesitation.

“We cannot do so most of the time. We are only fast so we have no choice but to hide and stalk. Luckily, that’s what we’re good at doing. Also, we can eat pretty much anything we need to. I guess there’s some reason why fast runners act the way they do.” Ruby looked at Thicknose in slight uneasiness as she saw the older dinosaur’s slightly resentful look at this knowledge. The older dinosaur seemed thoughtful, as if he was still holding something back. It seemed like the male was trying to take the conversation somewhere Ruby hadn’t expected. She was happy to share her knowledge but she couldn’t help but think about her friends and how their trip to the canyon was going.

The Smoking Mountain was completely silent as the cold wind of late Warm Time blew around it. Everywhere around the volcano the remnants of its last eruption could be seen. The small canyons and ravines that had once dotted the landscape were filled with grey, hardened fire water that had turned most of the mountain’s surroundings into a mostly flat, gray desert. Littlefoot frowned as he looked at the sight before him.

“Doesn’t look too good. I wonder if any of the Canyon survived this…” He still shuddered as he remembered the last trip here. It was once of the closest calls in his life and if it hadn’t for his grandparents, he and his friends would have met their ends there. It had been two Cold Times since that day and only now did the six dinosaurs found the courage to return there.

“There has to be something left… hopefully the Smoking Mountain is kinder to us this time!” Chomper said in deep worry, his mind fixed on their last trip. Petrie’s fear about displeasing the Mountain had also affected him too since the seemingly impossible timing of the eruption.

“It won’t be because it’s just a big, stupid mountain! There’s nothing in there that we can do to please it!” Cera was really getting fed up with trying to calm Petrie and Chomper down over their superstitions. There might have been unfortunate accidents before but that’s all they were.

“Coming here no good way to prepare for Late Warm Time’s Day! This place bring bad luck and could make the next Warm Time cold and rainy!” Petrie’s voice was frightened as he saw the Mountain to his right. Ducky quickly answered to her friend in a consoling voice.

“The Day will go just fine, Petrie. We’ll be back in time to prepare for it, we will.” Petrie looked at her with a still-worried expression and answered quickly.

“If only bad luck not get in those preparations too…” Cera looked at the flier in chagrin. She could listen about Petrie’s celebrations or bad luck on the same day but simultaneously they were starting to get on her nerves.

“Just calm down, Petrie. There won’t be any bad luck waiting for us because there isn’t any! Is that clear?” She struggled not to raise her voice when Littlefoot decided to calm down the situation. He had never taken any real sides with those arguments and he wasn’t willing to begin now. He was having a hard time believing everything Petrie said but in the on the hand, he had seen far stranger things during his lifetime. Silence was the best policy here.

“Be careful here. The fire water doesn’t seem to have sank the whole Canyon but the way down there has been mostly cut. Let’s try to see if there’s any way we can use it.” The longneck looked at the formerly downhill path that had led to the Canyon. Now, a monolith of petrified fire water opened up before him, almost turning the old path into a continuation of the Smoking Mountain’s crater. However, the Canyon itself seemed to have been submerged only partially. Maybe there was something left of it. The longneck looked at the scene in front of him before he started to slowly walk down the petrified mass towards the cliffs that had marked the borders of the Canyon.

“Petrie, could please take a look if the way’s still open before we get there?” Cera asked as she looked at Littlefoot’s carefully moving downhill. The flier shuddered at the question, clearly disturbed as he remembered his attempt to fly over the Mountain itself. However, he wasn’t asked to do that now so those fears would be irrational now. With slight hesitation, he answered.

“Me will take a look. Wait a moment.” The flier took off quickly and followed the flow of the fire water and he saw the answer to Cera’s question. He called his friends as he looked at the remnants of the eruption two Cold Times ago.

“There be some high rocks on the way but you able to get over them. Me think.” His voice was relieved as he returned to the ground. The trip would be easier this time, unless the Smoking Mountain decided to erupt again. Cera sighed as she started to follow Littlefoot.

“You think? That’s always reassuring…”

Mr. Thicknose  looked at Ruby with a thoughtful expression. The young fast runner possessed a great decree of knowledge and insight about life and all its wonders. However, there was something the older dinosaur wished to ask from his purple counterpart.

“Not many of all the kinds I’ve heard about have possessed so many Wisdoms about survival. I can see that the fast runners are quite extraordinary in many ways.” Thicknose didn’t know if he had chosen his words correctly but Ruby looked at him in clear confusion.

“Wh… what do you mean?” She asked in an unsure voice, not understanding what the larger dinosaur was aiming at.

“I mean that fast runners are in many ways better suited for survival in the Beyond. Of course, here in the Valley our kinds do not matter that much but if something ever happens, know that your place in this world is luckier than many others’.” Thicknose seemed a bit hesitant to say it but he knew he was right. He wanted Ruby to know a bit more of her own kind as some kind of exchange for her contributions to his own knowledge. Ruby looked a bit puzzled as she answered once again. Her voice wavered a little as she spoke slowly.

“Well, I guess you’re right… mommy often told me that there are many good things in being what I am… because if I weren’t that… I wouldn’t be what I am. But there are many good things in being a longneck or a flier, too!” Ruby tried to take away the conversation from the subject. She was falling ever deeper in thought by the older dinosaur’s words even if she couldn’t deny them. Thicknose answered in a slow voice.

“There are… But few kinds can escape the danger as well as yours. A longneck can fall to a two-footer sharptooth while fliers have their own adversaries. Of course, you have the fastbiters but I’ve heard that they usually wish to find an easier meal.” Thicknose finished with a firm voice. Ruby looked at him in deep puzzlement and after a moment, she whispered in a wondering voice the only thing she could.

“Why do you tell me this, Mr. Thicknose?” The young fast runner’s question was a one Thicknose had expected and he answered in an honest and friendly voice.

“As I said, I know very little of your kind but I also wanted to share my own knowledge about them. I hope you understand the importance of your kind’s wisdoms, if only for your future.” Thicknose’s answer laid a huge weight on Ruby’s shoulders. Apparently Thicknose thought her departure from the Valley inevitable, if not because of her diet, then at least because of her kind’s way of life. Her voice was low and deep as she answered.

“I… think I understand. Thank you for sharing this with me. I’ll think more about this later, I’ll need to put my thoughts together. Anyway, see you Mr. Thicknose!” Ruby said before she turned around and started to sprint away. Thicknose answered her before she started to run back to her friends.

“Likewise. See you some other day!”

Ruby was deep in thought as she headed towards the Canyon of Shiny Stones. She had never thought about her own kind before as most of those worries had been driven towards Chomper. She had promised to look after him and to try to shelter him from Red Claw. However, she had long since accepted the fact that Chomper couldn’t live in the Valley forever but what about herself? She wasn’t a leaf-eater and as Thicknose had pointed out, it wasn’t usual for her kind to live with the other kinds. Maybe even her own future wasn’t as set in stone as she had previously thought.

Petrie felt his nervousness calm down a little as his friends slowly climb over the lines of rocks blocking the entrance into the Canyon. Not surprisingly, Spike had a hard time trying to get himself over them but with a little help, the spiketail managed to lift himself over them. The five dinosaurs panted a little before they started to look at the sight around them. What had once been a deep canyon now seemed like a tiny plateau surrounded by two lines of stone which resembled a dinosaur’s back sails. But most importantly, the thing that gave the whole place its name was still there.

“Shiny Stones! They’re still here!” Littlefoot called as he looked at the sight around him. Even if most of the Canyon wasn’t there anymore, the former highest part of still contained the gems the place was known for.

“And they’re still as pretty as they were last time! They are!” Ducky said as she admired a large blue crystal sticking out of a wall.

“Maybe you can finally give Tria the stone you lost back then?” Chomper asked in a cheeky smile from Cera who thought for a moment before she answered. The unsavory memory of the long-ago accident returned to her mind only after a moment’s thinking.

“You still remind me of that? Well, I’ll take a look…” She spoke in a normal voice as she realized that Chomper was right. Tria would be surprised to receive the gift she had waited for so long.

Petrie was searching the walls for the prettiest stones he could find. Maybe, if he found something truly spectacular, the passed Warm Time would also like it and pass its good mood to the next one. He didn’t want to think of the possibility that he or his friends would doom themselves to a long time of bad luck.

After some time of searching, the flier’s eyes fixed on a large purple crystal, which was noticeably stinging off from the wall of stone. He could clearly see that he couldn’t break it off by himself. Petrie was about to ask someone do the job for him before Spike hit the shiny stone with his tail. It broke off from the wall and Petrie grabbed it from the ground.

“Thanks, Spike! Me sure the Warm Time will be very happy with this!” Littlefoot smiled at his friend’s joy and was about to answer him before he heard something that caught his attention in an unwelcome way. The ground was shaking slightly, hardly noticeably but he wasn’t about to let history repeat itself. He quickly called on to his friends.

“Uhhh, guys…    The ground is shaking slightly. It doesn’t feel the same as last time but I don’t want to see whether it’s going to get worse.” The others looked at the longneck in worry and Chomper was the next one to speak.

“You’re right! Let’s go, it seems the Smoking Mountain really doesn’t like us.” His voice was miserable and the sharptooth looked even more disturbed by Cera’s response. The threehorn quickly hit the wall and a small, yellow crystal fell down from it.

“Stop it already! I can hear it too now but I’m not blaming anyone for it! Still, let’s go!” Her voice lacked her usual firmness as she couldn’t deny the situation’s eeriness. A small pathway could be seen heading away from Canyon leading away from the Smoking Mountain. It didn’t take a long time until all of the six dinosaurs had escaped the unsteady surroundings of the Smoking Mountain.

Ruby looked at the sight in front of her. The way to the crater opened just before the fast runner but the mountain itself seemed to be emitting thicker than usual smoke. Her expression immediately turned into one of concern as she looked at the sight before her. Even if the volcano still seemed somewhat calm, she knew using the crater itself would be out of question.

They cannot stay there for any longer which they know but… which way can they get away from there? We don’t know if there are any ways out of there anymore!

The fast runner looked at her surroundings in case there were any new paths that gave her any hope of bypassing the Smoking Mountain. After a moment, she noticed there was a small ravine leading to the right direction not far to her left. Ruby sprinted towards it quickly and followed it for some time until the path ended in a dead end. What had looked like a long, usable path was in reality little more than a cleft in the cliffs surrounding the Mountain. She was quickly getting frustrated at her inability to find a way to her friends and was about to turn around to look for another way when she heard a familiar voice from above her.

“We’re almost out of there! The way is already beginning to go downwards!” Littlefoot called as he looked at the narrow, winding pathways in front of him. Only small cracks opened between the high cliffs on the dinosaurs’ sides, with small cliffs here and there. From behind one of them, Petrie thought he heard a faint voice calling for him. The flier thought for a moment before he reacted, thinking the situation only made him imagine things. However, after a moment of thinking he decided that he had actually heard what he thought.

“Me think me heard Ruby call! Petrie check!” He took off before anyone could answer to him and to his relief, he could soon see he was right. The fast runner was standing on a gorge far below the pathway the others used, looking at the approaching flier in relief.
“What you do there, Ruby? That be no way to the Canyon!” Petrie’s voice was somewhat amused as he spoke. He had relaxed somewhat after the Smoking Mountain had calmed down. Ruby looked at him in relief, due to the fact that the flier had heard her call from the ravine.

“I thought you were in trouble and since I couldn’t use the main way, I thought this would perhaps lead to you. It seems I was wrong.” The fast runner shrugged as she answered. Petrie’s antics signaled that nothing serious had happened during their trip even with the threatening behavior of the Smoking Mountain.

“Oh no, everyone safe already. The Canyon not completely buried and we even find good shiny stones for the Celebration! Uhh… what did Thicknose want to talk about?” Petrie smiled as he referred to the upcoming evening. He couldn’t wait to spare his thanks to the Warm Time. Ruby looked slightly disappointed due to the fact that she had missed the apparently successful trip to the Canyon. She answered Petrie’s question in an unsure voice, still not knowing what to make of the old dinosaur’s words.

“Nothing important. He just wanted to know about fast runners and how we survive in the Beyond. Of course, I told him what I know.” Ruby had begun to walk back towards the Valley to meet her friends when they would find the exit from their own trip.

“And what you know?” Petrie asked the obvious question to which Ruby shrugged slightly. She wasn’t exactly excited to recite everything all over again but what else did she have to on the way back? The two friends’ conversation went on as they walked through the narrow pathway back towards home.

“Where are we? This isn’t the way we came here!” Chomper exclaimed as a view of a large forest opened up before him.

“The Smoking Mountain is over there so we shouldn’t be too far away from the Valley.” Littlefoot said as he looked at the scene around him. They had left the endless maze of tiny passages inside in the surrounding hills through what seemed like a mere small hole from the outside. Around him opened a small clearing near the cliffs and behind it opened a familiar woodland which led back to the Valley. The longneck sighed in relief as he noticed that shaking of the ground had stopped. They were safe once again and this time they had managed to bring the shiny stones with them.

“I hope we won’t be going back there in a while, no no no. Something bad happens every time we go there! Hopefully Petrie is alright.” Ducky sighed as she looked at the direction she thought the flier had went to look for Ruby.

“They are probably on their way back by now. We should go too or Petrie will remind us for weeks if we miss the evening’s celebrations.” Cera snorted as she spoke even if she wasn’t exactly opposed to the idea anymore. Even if she had once shunned anything that didn’t have a clear explanation to it, she had since accepted that it was alright to appreciate the good things around her once in a while. She wouldn’t confess it to anyone but she was actually rather looking forward to the evening. Chomper smiled at her as he actually started to sniff heavily in the air. After a moment, he cheerfully exclaimed.

“I can smell them! They’re waiting at the edge of the forest near the Smoking Mountain! Let’s go after them!” The sharptooth started moving towards the forest and the direction where he had smelled the two. Without much hesitation the five followed the blue sharptooth, willing to rejoin their friends. The first, eerie events of the day still haunted the backs of their minds but, for now, all of them yearned to begin the preparations for the evening. Just like the Bright Circle Celebration, this was an occasion all of them waited eagerly. The coming evening and night would be ones to remember.


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Separate Ways
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2017, 03:02:30 AM »
My apologies for the delay in reading this.  I have been so busy with work lately that I have had little time for much else.

This is a most interesting start to this story.  We have some obvious hints as to where things are going, with Ruby being introduced to new ideas and the gang it seems being separated from the valley yet again (albeit from a short distance) in their attempts to once again procure a shiny stone.  In particular, Ruby’s situation is quite interesting as she is considering a new possibility for herself.  One that does not involve necessarily following Chomper outside of the valley.  I don’t have all that much to say as of yet, but I do think that you have captured a certain tension quite effectively that leaves me with suspense as to how it will all turn out in the chapters ahead. (:

There was just one small issue that I found.  In one part of the story you mentioned that Ruby was purple… which would be a change of color for her.  I was unsure if that was intention due to the ambient color in the environment making her appear purple or not, but I figured that I would mention that.

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


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Separate Ways
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2017, 03:11:46 PM »
The Season’s End

The shadows of the evening were slowly stretching further and further in the meadows surrounding the Thundering Falls. The steady noise of the falling waters and the gentle breeze of the twilight wind brought a great amount of joy to Petrie who was getting ready for the celebrations of the Late Warm Time’s Day. From this point on, long periods of skywater would become more frequent and in some, increasingly common circumstances, frozen sky stars. This celebration would signal the preparation for those times and it was an opportunity to show to the Warm Times that their quick return would be a welcome occurrence.

“Everything is starting to be ready with us, Petrie! Do you know when the others are coming?” Petrie’s internal thoughts were quickly interrupted by Littlefoot’s voice who called to the flier as he was flying towards his nest. Petrie quickly turned to look at the longneck who looked at him with an expectant expression. The flier landed quickly near his friend and answered in a happy voice as a gust of wind complicated his landing slightly.

“Petrie’s been too busy to look for the others but the celebration’s gonna start soon! They have not much time left! Me just hope they’ve prepared well!” Petrie answered to Littlefoot who nodded after his friend had concluded. It was clear that the larger dinosaur was also waiting eagerly to the gathering. It was a way to honor the ended the passed season by telling to others some ways when they had helped the others.

“I’m sure we all have, Petrie! There’s happened a lot in the Warm Time and I’m sure some of us have something to tell about it.” Littlefoot said to Petrie who smiled back to him and then spoke shortly before he resumed his journey towards his nest.  

“You right, Littlefoot! Petrie still have some things me have to take care of. See you soon!” Petrie took off quickly and left the longneck looking at his surroundings for a moment before he headed towards the gathering area near the mighty waterfalls. Not all of the Valley’s residents would be present as some kinds like clubtails and domeheads had always had minimum interest in such affairs. Still, Littlefoot imagined most of the seven dinosaurs’ families would be present except most likely for Mr. Threehorn, who seemed to have decided that he had already given in to too many celebrations and Littlefoot’s own Grandfather who had fallen sick lately. Still, Littlefoot was far from concerned as his illness didn’t seem serious but it would probably be best if he were allowed to rest for today.

Cera walked through the forest near the Roaring Falls in chagrin. Even if her father had decided to give in to the Bright Circle Celebration, he had always been even more restrained concerning the other, less known celebrations like this one. Her stepmother would come a little later but it just wasn’t the same if everyone weren’t there. Cera loved her father but there were many times when his preoccupations really got on her nerves. Still, she forgave him largely for the recent compromises he had done with his old behavior and new responsibilities. Still, that didn’t change the fact that he was still stubborn and often ended in arguments with his daughter.

The threehorn’s feelings became slightly more relaxed as she approached the Falls. Even without her father, she hoped this would be a very enjoyable evening, as she had become very fond of these meetings due to the many silly things she would be allowed to laugh on and the new, interesting things she could learn about the others. Cera looked at the canopy of the trees and the pale moon shining above them. Today’s weather had been unusually hot for the late Warm Time but it had paved way for a perfectly pleasant night. Cera turned her gaze into the small lake that opened under the Roaring Falls and saw that a number of dinosaurs had already arrived to the meeting place, among them a certain familiar longneck.

“Littlefoot! Haven’t any of the others come here yet?” The threehorn said as she approached the longneck. She was a bit surprised by the fact that Petrie hadn’t been the first one but on the other hand, the flier had been very busy the whole day and in the end, it was hardly surprising that Petrie was still on his way.

“Hi, Cera! It seems so but I just met Petrie and he said he’d be here soon. The others are probably on the way already.” Littlefoot restrained his smile somewhat as he saw Cera’s somewhat weary eyes. It was clear she had been through a tiring conversation that hadn’t gone her way. The threehorn answered shortly to her friend’s words.

“So your grandpa’s not coming here today?” Was her brief answer to which Littlefoot gritted his teeth somewhat. The threehorn saw his grandmother standing nearby but her mate was nowhere to be seen.

“Nope. He’ll be fine but it’s a shame that he couldn’t come here.” There was clear regret in Littlefoot’s voice but he knew there was nothing he could do and spoiling his own evening because of it would help no one. Cera was looking at the longneck, preparing to answer when she saw Ducky and Spike approaching from a nearby hill. The two approached swiftly as Littlefoot called to them in an excited voice. Many others had already come to the meeting place and the rest of the prospective attendees would also come soon.

“Hi guys! What took you so long?” The longneck called as he turned to look at the two newcomers. It was clear that he was happy to see the two join the rest during this evening.

“Spike was in hurry eating but it didn’t matter now that we are here, nope, nope!” Ducky said as Spike stopped walking near Cera. Ducky dismounted her adopted brother as he stopped. Soon, Petrie, Chomper and Ruby joined the others in anticipation for the soon-to-start tale-telling event. Petrie looked at the others expectantly, clearly willing to hear how the others wished to honor the ending Warm Time. The flier thought of his shiny stone, hoping it would be enough to please the passed time of Warmth and plenty.

Unlike the Bright Circle Celebration, today marked the day of gratefulness towards the whole season of Warmth and the good times it held. It was the culmination of the time of goodness and friendship as well as the most hospitable season of the Valley. To mark that gratefulness, the celebration would end in a day-long fast to mark the possible coming shortages in food, especially true to the herds roaming the wastes of the Mysterious Beyond. As a symbol of gesture for the Warm Time, everyone could offer a gift to it, a colorful stone, good food or any other small token of gratitude. And of course, telling funny stories about events that happened lately.

As most of the herds that were expected to be present today, Littlefoot’s grandmother thought it was a good time for the celebration to begin. She was one of the few in the Valley that everyone would listen immediately and because of that, she thought she should start the celebration. The longneck took a few steps forward from the spot at the edge of the forest she had been standing on and spoke in a loud voice. Her voice was somewhat tired from the already long day but it carried the same joy and expectation that was present in most other attendees’ voices.

“I think we’re all here now. The night will be quite long so without further waiting, is there anyone who would like to be the one to tell the first tale?” The massive dinosaur’s voice silenced the sounds of light-hearted chatter in the meadow and most gazes turned to look at her. Obviously, not everyone had the chance to tell about their experiences so only the most eager and willing usually took their turns. The familiar speaking rock stood near the edge of the field, waiting for the next one to climb on it to relay their stories forward.

Ruby looked at the elderly longneck with a joyful expression as she spoke. She wasn’t prepared to speak herself due to her still-conflicting thoughts but she was willing to hear what the other ones had to say. The night had already fallen and the calm, clear night created an enchanting environment on an occasion like this. The fast runner was surprised as she heard a familiar voice speak beside her.

“I’ve got a good one! Wait just a moment!” Ruby chuckled as she looked Chomper head towards the rock. Even if she hadn’t known that the sharptooth had something he wanted to tell, the fast runner wasn’t exactly surprised by it. Chomper was very fond of sharing his experiences and this was a good opportunity for that. The overall mood was amused by the fact that the sharptooth wished to start and none of them had anything against it. There were some that still weren’t completely trusting of the young carnivore but they had been forced to come to terms with his presence in the Valley.

Chomper had a bit of trouble rising to the stone but he quickly started his story. Chomper’s speech was fast due to his excitement but he quickly noticed it and calmed down. The audience was silent as the sharptooth spoke.

“This all happened a few weeks ago, on a cold day. I was walking alone when I noticed something that looked like fun! A few tinysauruses were trying to cross a river but they were too small for it. They were trying to use stepping stones to cross it but the water was moving too fast for them. I offered to make sure none of them would be caught in the streams downstream and we continued for some time and we all found that like a great way to spend time. However…” Chomper took a mischievous smile as he took a short break. There was a twist to the story that he hoped would earn a few laughs from his audience.

“However, we didn’t know the wind was rising while we played. One, very small tinysaur was suddenly swept away by the wind towards the streams near the spot. I tried to swim quickly to get her but my arms aren’t too good for swimming. I caught her soon and she was a bit scared but it was alright. As a reward, they offered me a good amount of crawlers.” Chomper licked his lips as he concluded his small story. Some of the audience looked a bit unconvinced, even disgusted but it did earn some laugh in among the crowd. No matter what those present thought about Chomper’s antics, it was a good, lighthearted way to start the evening. Chomper smiled as he jumped off the rock and headed towards his friends once again.

“I never knew you did something like that, Chomper.” Ruby whispered to the sharptooth as he approached the fast runner. Chomper answered only when he had stopped on his caretaker’s side.

“I thought it would be a good surprise for you too, Ruby.” Ruby merely smiled as an answer as an expectant silence fell upon the assembled dinosaurs. They waited eagerly who would be the next one to speak. Seconds flew by before anyone stepped forward. Before the situation turned into awkward, however, a certain form stepped, or rather, flew forward. Volant, Petrie’s mother, landed on the stone as she prepared to start. She eyed the crowd in front of her for a moment before the flier started to speak.

“This is a story some of you might already know but I still see it as one that I thought would be something that would fit today well. As I often do, I was flying near the western end of the Valley at the start of the Warm Time. The tour was quite on ordinary one, with no surprises. That was, until I saw two hornbills in the far distance, barely alive after their long journey. Hadn’t it been for me, the siblings would probably have never have made it. They were thirsty and weary but to their luck, I happened to be near that day. However, there was a clear problem with helping them. You see, bringing water and food to them was far from easy…” Volant flew off for a moment to search for something that could underline her story even more. She soon returned with a huge leaf that was almost as large as the flier herself. She nodded to a pair of fliers in the audience, who smiled back at her.

“I had to rely on the other fliers’ help. We can fly with one leg grabbed on something so we took a leaf like this to the two poor things and after drinking their fill, they spent a few days here in the Valley. Some of you might remember them.” The flier allowed a small time of gossip about the visitors which lightened the mood considerably. After a moment, Volant concluded her story.

“They moved on after a while because they felt their place wasn’t here. In any case, I thought this was a good occasion to remember them. I enjoyed their company as long as it lasted.” The flier’s story sparked loud cheers to an extent Volant almost blushed. In any case, she soon flew off from the stone, giving the next possible speaker a chance to take the stage. Volant felt a rush of relief as she landed next to her offspring, happy to have contributed to the evening’s main event. At this point, the meadow was full of friendly chatter and warm laughs.

The wait wasn’t long until the next one to step forward. It was an adult crestback who moved towards the rock with firm steps. He smiled as he thought about his story in advance. The crowd looked at the newcomer in great interest as he started to speak. It wasn’t usual that his kind partook on occasions like these so his readiness to speak in front of everyone was highly surprising.

“Well, let’s see… During the dry days in the middle of the Warm Time, as you remember, the food was again becoming rather scarce and some of us were struggling to find enough green food. I was almost resigning to the thought that me and my family would have to survive on the dry, bitter, leaves that seemed to be the only thing that we still had left. But fortunately, luck changed at least on us soon. My mate found a cave that had great streams of water and as such, at least some green food. However, we weren’t the only ones willing to eat it.” Many of the residents of the Valley remembered the small draught in the Warm Time but it didn’t matter a lot for many of them. The crestbacks’ yearning for food was overshadowed only by that of the spiketails’ so the subject of the tale wasn’t a great surprise for many. Even then, they were intrigued to hear what the speaker had found in the caves surrounding the Valley.

“There lived many ground fuzzies that weren’t too happy about our coming. Things could have gotten tricky if one of them hadn’t been able to speak our language. What followed was an endless argument that almost ended in a failure but finally we came to an agreement. We could go eat them every second day so that they we wouldn’t be able to destroy all of their food. Luckily, the dry time ended sooner than we thought but this experience taught me a lot about ground fuzzies. Without them, we would have been forced to a time of starvation.” The crestback’s dramatic ending prompted many laughs in the audience as all of them knew there never was a concrete risk of famine anywhere except in the crestback’s ever-hungry mind. The four-legged dinosaur frowned heavily at this reaction but he was still happy to hear that his tale managed to brighten the others’ day and he walked towards his family with a happy expression.

The night continued in a similar manner, with more than a dozen dinosaurs telling about their own happy memories about the past months. Among the speakers were Ducky’s mother, Ura, Mr. Thicknose and Littlefoot who told about one of his and his friends’ many adventures during the Warm Time. The wind rose slightly in the warm night and the few clouds disappeared under the perfectly clear night. Weariness started to creep over the dinosaurs’ minds as the night grew older but the stories and the mood of the celebration kept everyone well awake. After the sixth speaker, Petrie briefly spoke to Ruby because of his excitement at the way the celebration was going.

“Petrie think everyone more grateful to the Warm Time than ever!” Petrie’s voice was excited and it was clear that he was happy with the way things were going.

“Yes, they are! Everyone seems happy to be here… even though this is the day to be happy.” Ruby answered in an amused voice, looking at Thicknose who was about to take the stage. Petrie answered quickly, as the old dinosaur was rising to the rock.

“Me also hope Warm Time happy… at least with the presents we’ll give soon!” Petrie turned to look at their teacher who had already started his tale. She whispered to the flier in a quiet voice.

“How long have you thought that Warm Time will be happy if we tell tales?” Ruby asked in a neutral voice, genuinely willing to know what was behind Petrie’s odd belief. Petrie turned to look at the fast runner and asked after a moment.

“Why you ask?” His voice was confused as he spoke. Ruby shrugged slightly as she answered.

“Well, I’ve wanted to know what makes you so eager to believe in these things… even if I myself wish to think so too.” Ruby said as she looked at Thicknose speak. She didn’t turn her gaze away from the old dinosaur when she heard Petrie’s answer.

“Well, Petrie no sure… That makes life much easier. Littlefoot said long time ago that there be so much we not know and me think so too. Also, Petrie love celebrations!” Petrie lightened up the mood with his conclusion and chuckled slightly. Ruby simply smiled as she turned her gaze to the flier before once again returming her attention to listening. After Thicknose, there were still some who wished to share their experiences. However, eventually the volunteers ended and after a while of waiting, Grandma Longneck once again spoke as she noticed that the storytelling was over for tonight. The longneck’s voice was rather tired but one part of the Late Warm Time’s Day was still unfinished.

“Now, I think it’s time for us to move forward. Does everyone have a gift for the Warm Time?” The longneck asked in an interested voice. It was clear that each of those present had had enough interest to get a small, simple piece of gratitude to the Warm Time. Most attendees had most likely left them at their nests as the night would be too long to carry them along. As the longneck saw a series of nods and small gossip start, she spoke in a kind voice.

“Well, let’s go get them by all means. We’ll meet again soon here.” The massive dinosaur turned slowly around as she headed towards her nest and she was soon joined by Littlefoot. Petrie looked at the others scatter and he quickly took off so that his mother saw it. After all, there wasn’t any reason for everyone to go get the shiny stone which he had found earlier on the same day.

The journey to his nest would have been quite long for a landwalker due to the unsavory cliffs and turns but for a flier, it was far from a tasking trip. Petrie flew by the steep mountainside until the extremely familiar sight of his nest came to his view. The flier landed to the cliff and took a few steps forward as he tried to remember where he had left the stone. Quickly, the sight of the beautifully shining stone came into his view and the flier was still mesmerized by the fact that he had found such a present for an occasion like this. Petrie grabbed the stone and after a moment of investigating it, he once again took off.

The second part of the Late Summer’s Day’s celebrations would be the concrete token of gratitude for the season that could be given in a simple way. This time, the celebration would be held on the streams before the Roaring Falls, ¥middle of the central meadows of the Valley from where the river flowed towards the southern borders of the protected land. There, the willing residents of the Valley would give the gift of their choice to the river which was thought to be the central part of any season, due to times of drought, flood and freeze.

Ruby found beliefs like these extremely odd as the fast runners very seldom spoke of gratitude to invisible things. Most of the times, Ruby would agree with Cera on her thoughts on things like these in principle but then again, were things like Starday that much different? Even then, she enjoyed occasions like these tremendously. The fast runner looked at the large berries she had collected yesterday and decided that these would have to do. She would have rather eaten them herself but she wished to respect the other dinosaurs’ traditions. Additionally, if there was a small chance that giving these things to the Warm Time would improve things, why wouldn’t she use it?
Dozens of dinosaurs had assembled around the river and were already giving their offerings. Many different kinds of green food, stones among other things and they quickly headed towards the Roaring Falls.

“What are you thinking Ruby? Let’s just throw them there so we’ll get to sleep!” Cera said as she threw some large treestars into the river. This was the part she liked the least as the threehorn couldn’t understand the wasting of food but, like Ruby, she partook in the tradition due to the fact that she enjoyed it. The fast runner snapped from his thoughts and answered quickly. The weariness was also creeping to her mind and she would be more than happy to head for her nest in the Secret Caverns.

“You’re right, Cera. I’ll do it right away.” Ruby walked to the riverside and threw the berries to the water quickly. She looked as they flowed towards the Falls and their slow disappearance into the night’s dark waters. Hopefully the Warm Time would be happy with her offering. One by one, her friends also gave their gift to the dying season and walked to a hill near the stream. Littlefoot spoke slowly with a yawn.

“Well, happy Late Warm Time’s Day everyone.” The overall mood among the seven was weary but it still carried held an atmosphere of happiness and even enchantment. the stories, the long night of happy chatter together and the thanking of the season brought great happiness and appreciation to them and they hoped that they had managed to please the Warm Time. Regardless of that, they at least knew that their own night had been successful and enjoyable.

“Yes, do have a great night everyone!” Ducky said in a cheerful voice which resembled that of Littlefoot’s. The night was long so there was still time for get enough sleep. Petrie answered to Ducky’s comment.

“Petrie hope so too… but Petrie also tired. Me will see you again tomorrow…” The flier waited to the others’ answer before he prepared to depart. Littlefoot was the first one to admit that the celebration had taken its toll.

“We’re all tired so I guess it’s time to go to sleep. It’s very late after all. Well, see you again in the morning!” The longneck was the first one to turn away, heading towards his grandma who looked at him in anticipation. A last set of goodbyes was exchanged as each of the seven dinosaurs started to leave to disappear into the warm night. Chomper walked on Ruby’s side, the two talking about the evening’s events until they arrived at their home. Both of them had learned to love these occasions in the Valley but at the moment, they found the coming sleep even more precious.

Here's the second chapter to this story. I hope you found it enjoyable and any feedback is always welcome! From this point on, I will be using the names established in the Seven Hunters for unnamed characters. Separate Ways is not set in the Seven Hunters continuity but I thought things would be simpler for the reader (and the writer) if I'd use those familiar names. Thank you Rhombus for giving me the permission to use them!  :yes


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Separate Ways
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2017, 08:46:35 PM »
This chapter gave some very interesting insight into the traditions of the valley.  Though I found the details of the traditions for the Late Warm Time Day to be interesting, of more interest, in my opinion, were the details about how the gang responded to these traditions.  Petrie and some of the others were quite enthusiastic for them, whereas Cera and Ruby were noticeably more skeptical.  Though Cera has become a bit more accommodating with the tradition out of a willingness to go along with the flow of the valley and her friends, Ruby seems to want to participate in order to learn more about these traditions and their meaning.  That being said, the wasting of food to give thanks to an invisible entity seems to strike them both the wrong way.  Cera due to her practicality; and Ruby due to her memories of how precious food is in the Mysterious Beyond.

I am now quite curious to see how this bodes for the future, and how these different perspectives among the seven will play out in the future.  I am getting the impression that Ruby is viewing this like the anthropologist who has been let into a tribe - both an outside observer and a willing participant.  In such circumstances both tribe and scientist can gain much in the exchange, and I wonder if this will hold true in this circumstance as well.

This was a great chapter.  :)  I look forward to seeing what develops next.

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


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« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2017, 11:21:39 AM »
Chase and Disaster

The pale light of the Night Circle shone across the darkened landscape, it’s rays also finding their way to the Secret Caverns, only highlighting Ruby’s desperate struggle to try to fall to sleep. The fast runner usually fell easily to sleep after the long, happy days in the Valley but today she could only twitch around awake, unable to clear her mind and give way to her weariness after the long night of celebration. The reason for the fast runner’s inability to fall asleep was clear, however. Mr. Thicknose’s words rang in her ears, making her thoughts a maze of doubts and uncertainty.

I hope you understand the importance of your kind’s wisdoms, if only for your future.

The old dinosaur’s last answer dominated Ruby’s thoughts as she finally rose from her lying position, knowing that she wouldn’t be able to sleep before sorting out her conflicting thoughts. Ruby walked silently in order not to wake up Chomper and walked to the mouth of the Cavern, sitting down to the edge of the cliff overlooking the sleeping Great Valley. There was no reason to go to her Thinking Place at this hour: nobody would bother her anyway. Also, the way to the higher cliff could turn dangerous in the dark of the night. The fast runner turned her gaze to the surrounding Valley and fell to her thoughts.

How had her parents and the residents of the Valley seen her entrance to the haven of leaf-eaters? She had never given much thought that anyone had problems with her living in the Valley but it was true: she was the only fast runner she had seen during her time there. Of course, Ruby knew that Chomper’s time there was limited but the event of the young sharptooth being forced to leave had always felt like a distant prospect. And when that day came, what would become of her? She had become Chomper’s guardian and she had taken that role without thinking much of the long-term implications of that position. By that time, there was little Ruby could do to protect him from Red Claw. What would she do when that day came?

Ruby’s half-closed eyes searched the nightly Valley, looking at a few swimmers walking at the distance. Behind them opened one of the openings of the Valley towards the Meadow of Jumping Waters. Every part of this place felt like home and she felt like a part of it. Even then, she wasn’t a leaf-eater and her and Chomper’s presence was never really accepted by large segments of the Valley. Her friends would always be there for her but even then, would this ever be truly the place she would call her home?

The fast runner’s head rested on her hands when her eyes caught a surprising and terrifying sight. Three dinosaurs she had never seen before were heading from the clubtails’ nest’s direction, holding one large egg in their hands. They were quickly heading for to the northwest, a surprising direction that didn’t seem to lead out of the Valley. Still, Ruby quickly snapped out of her half-sleeping state, realizing that it was up to her and Chomper to try to return the egg if they just could. She rose up from the cliff and headed back to the cave, whispering to Chomper in an urgent, alarmed voice. The sharptooth was a heavy sleeper and it would sometimes be even difficult to wake him up prematurely.

“Chomper! Wake up, now!” The little carnivore didn’t wake up to her friend’s words so the fast runner repeated louder and pushed him slightly, just enough to ensure his waking.

“Chomper!” Her voice was slightly sterner than she would have wanted but it worked as Chomper slowly opened his eyes and spoke in a sleepy voice.
“What… is it?” Chomper quickly saw the look in the fast runner’s eyes and her answer woke him up immediately.

“Egg nappers, Chomper! We have to stop them!”

It was mere minutes until the two dinosaurs were heading towards the northern edge of the Valley, trying to keep up with the three egg nappers without being seen. They moved carefully among the tall grass in order to keep their position a secret and to move as silently as they could. If the three grown dinosaurs saw their chasers, the chase would be over before it began. Chomper looked worried as they tried to sneak behind the three unknown thieves. Suddenly, he whispered in a hesitating voice.

“How… how are we going to stop them? There’s three egg nappers and we’re just us!” The sharptooth’s voice was far from confident as he tried to come up with a plan that could guarantee the return of the egg. The borders of the Valley were getting ever closer and it was becoming obvious that the thieves were going for an exit from the Valley even most of its residents didn’t know of.

“We cannot just steal it back. We have to make them leave it for us, even if making them do that won’t be easy. And if we cannot make them give it back, they have to be scared to do so. There’s no one else who can do it but you, Chomper.” Ruby whispered in a kind voice to her companion even if it’s content had the potential to unnerve the young sharptooth. It wasn’t like this would be the first time he did this but it didn’t mean he enjoyed these occasions.

“Uhhh… I’ve never tried to scare grownups before. Are you sure this will work?” The time when he had scared Rhett away which in turn earned him the wrath of the whole heard had worked simply because of the reason that Rhett had never seen a sharptooth that close before and the herd saw that his horror was real. These egg nappers, however, had probably seen a lot more during their life and they wouldn’t run away at the sight of him.

“Just try not to show yourself. If they don’t see you, their mind makes you bigger than you really are. If we’re lucky, they might forget the egg and run away in fear!” The fast runner looked at the sharptooth as she explained her plan. Chomper merely swallowed as the duo saw the egg nappers approaching an area that seemed like another large groove in the long mountainside of the Valley. The thieves didn’t have the least of idea that they were being followed and to Ruby and Chomper’s great surprise, they entered a small cave behind a small thicket of long trees.

“I didn’t know there even was a cave there! Where does it go?” Chomper asked in surprise as the last of the three entered the cave. Ruby answered thoughtfully before she started to move towards the opening which was hidden by a group of large bushes by the mountainside.

“Neither did I but it could give us an edge!” Ruby exclaimed happily in sudden realization. Chomper looked at the cave for a moment until he realized what his friend meant. He knew how greatly talkbacks enhanced voices. With that increased impression, there was a far better chance that Ruby’s plan could work.

“You’re right! Even my roar could sound scary in there! Let’s go!” The sharptooth quickly ran towards the tunnel, knowing that the egg nappers weren’t going to slow down until they were a safe distance from the Valley and safe from its residents’ wrath. Ruby followed her friend into the narrow cave, taking one look back into the lush thicket and the Valley, still surprised by the many secrets the Valley held within its walls. How many places were there still to explore that she had never heard about?

The cave itself was very narrow and dark, forcing Ruby to be careful with her each step whereas Chomper walked rather normally due to his superior eyesight. Ruby could see the outlines of the larger stones but overall, falling and alerting the thieves was a real chance. At this point, that would mean the end of their hopes to stop them and in the worst-case-scenario, could even put the two in danger. It was likely that they wouldn’t be too happy with the two telling the whole Valley about the accident.

Slowly but surely, Chomper’s sniffer started to send out ever more disgusted signals. The sharptooth had tried to tell himself that it was just his imagination but in the end, he had to admit that he had only once smelled something so terrifying. Was this tunnel another gateway into the Hidden Canyon? Ruby could smell it, too and after seeing her friend’s disgust, spoke to Chomper in a concerned voice.

“I know you don’t like this smell, Chomper, but we have to go there! Not going there would mean not going after the thieves!” Chomper merely nodded as he walked closer to the Canyon. Maybe he could use the nausea this place gave him to his advantage in his roars? He could still smell, albeit faintly due to the overwhelming reek, that the egg nappers hadn’t gotten far. It seemed that they, too, had had a hard time moving through the tunnel. The light of the Night Circle started to shine through the opening of the tunnel in the distance, signaling that if Chomper wished to make his grand entrance, it would have to happen now. He looked to Ruby briefly who simply nodded to the blue sharptooth. Chomper tried to use the terrifying smell around him as additional help in motivating himself as he let out a loud roar which was multiplied by the many talkbacks in the narrow cave, turning his still-meek cry into a terrifying roar.

The resulting voice rang through the nightly Hidden Canyon, the roar of the small sharptooth being dramatically enhanced by the cave. The three egg nappers quickly turned to look behind them, looking in fear in the direction of the tunnel. One of the three stuttered in fear to the others, his eyes widened as he tried to see the mysterious chaser.

“What was that? There… there shouldn’t be any sharpteeth in the Valley!” His voice was meek as the roar started to die down. One of the others started to put on a brave face as he tried to calm down the others.

“And there aren’t! I don’t care what kind of prank the sap-suckers have put on this time but I’m not buying it!” His brave face started to melt away as Chomper’s shadow started to appear on a wall near the mouth of the tunnel, illuminated by the Night Circle’s light. All of the three egg nappers felt their blood run cold as another roar emanated from the tunnel. At this point, it was getting difficult to deny the sharptooth’s existence and the danger the trio suddenly found themselves in. None of the three were ready to face off this new threat and each of them resumed their run towards the gaping mouth of the Mysterious Beyond at the back of the small canyon. In the surrounding dry plains they could try to lose the attacker.

Ruby looked in deep worry as the egg stealers only quickened their pace with the egg. It was clear that they had to do far more in order to try to stop them before they had escaped beyond the duo’s reach. With an alarmed voice, she spoke to Chomper.

“We must chase them but we must not be seen! Quick, we must scare them even more!” Chomper nodded quickly to his friend as the two started to chase the three thieves. The sight of the duo would do little to scare the egg nappers but with roars and other loud voices, they might make the right impression. Both of the young dinosaurs tried to walk as heavily as they could while retaining a quick pace. Chomper did his absolute best to sound older and to the fast runner’s surprise, his impression was rather successful. If she didn’t know any better, she could have thought herself that there was an almost-fully grown sharptooth on the hunt.

The three egg stealers quickened their speed as they heard that their chasers were on their trail. None of them had the courage to turn to look behind them as the angry snarls were creeping ever closer. The exit from the Canyon wasn’t far but what would deny the chaser to abandon the hunt at the edge of the Valley? The egg-carrying dinosaur’s heart pounded in panic, completely knowing that one meal wasn’t worth the trio’s lives. The egg only showed them down and getting rid of it would improve their chances of survival. With a rude snort, she threw the egg to her companion’s hands, speaking quickly.

“Take it! I’m out of here!” The female’s voice was sharp as she headed past the others. Her companion looked at their companion in bewilderment, then exchanging glances with his other companion who called to him before he went after their third pack member.

“Leave it! There’s no reason to carry dead weight if it gets us killed!” The other egg napper looked at his spoil in hesitation, not willing to leave the meal they had worked so hard to get. But his companion was right. If there was a sharptooth on their trail, as it seemed, it would be pure madness to carry any more weight than they absolutely had to. With a deep sigh, the dinosaur let loose of the egg, dropping it into the soft ground and it rolled towards a small bush by the small stream flowing through the Canyon. It got stuck in the lush vegetation, stopping in a firm place near the river.

Ruby looked the egg in deep joy and relief, positively surprised by the fact that her desperate plan had worked. She looked at the three egg nappers disappear from the opening, most likely running as far into the Mysterious Beyond as their legs could carry them. Ruby walked quickly towards the egg, grabbing it quickly. Chomper’s voice reached her ears soon after.

“I can’t believe it actually worked! Am I really that scary?” The young sharptooth nearly laughed as he, too, was incredibly joyful at the success of their quest. Ruby answered to her friend in joyful voice, thankful that his roars had been as effective as she had hoped.

“Only to those who don’t know, you Chomper. Even them, you can actually pretend very well. Thankfully, if you weren’t that scary, we wouldn’t be here now. Come on, let’s return this and go back to sleep. There’s still a lot of time to rest.” The fast runner started to walk back towards the cave, followed by Chomper who was equally relieved by the turn of events. Even then, the sharptooth wished to leave the Hidden Canyon as quickly as he could as the smell was getting too overwhelming for his sniffer. The sharptooth ran past Ruby, quickly speaking to the fast runner his antics.

“I’ll get to the tunnel, quick! The smell’s horrible!” Ruby chuckled as he watched Chomper run towards the exit from the Canyon. Ruby could very well remember the sharptooth’s reaction last time and it wasn’t much better than this. She turned her gaze to the small river sparking with the rays of Night Circle, appreciating the sights around her. It was a shame that the small tunnel would have to be sealed tomorrow in order to prevent accidents like these from happening again, once again closing off this beautiful place from the rest of the Valley. The fast runner was turning her gaze back to look towards the cave when she felt her right leg hit something rough and sharp. The next few seconds were characterized by sharp pain around her body and blurred forms. Soon after, Ruby found herself lying on a pile of rocks, the hard soil making her fall even more painful. However, it was only after she felt some warm, thick liquid flowing on her fingers that her heart started to race and her mind starting to give in to panic.

Ruby quickly raised her head to look at the sight before her, seeing scraps of the ruined egg close to her hands, its contents flowing around the fast runner. Most hauntingly, the shape of the unborn hatchling peeked from among the pieces of the egg. It took a few moments before everything that had happened started to register into Ruby’s mind.

The egg… destroyed… What… how… what can I do…

Different questions ran through Ruby’s mind as she quickly rose back to her feet, looking in horror at the results of her accident. She could hear her breathing quicken and feel her legs moving slowly backwards as the truth was slowly starting to form in her confused mind. She had done her best to save the hatchling but in the end, it was her own carelessness that had finally turned out to be the egg’s fate. Tears started to form in Ruby’s eyes as she looked at the scene before the horrifying implications forced her to turn her eyes away from the inconsolable sight.

Chomper hadn’t seen the fall itself but he had heard the sound. He was relieved to see that his friend wasn’t seriously hurt but he was also overwhelmed by the sudden turn of events. He stood still for a moment before he started to move towards Ruby. The fast runner was crying heavily as the blue sharptooth reached her. After a moment of hesitating, Chomper asked the obvious question.

“I’m… sorry, Ruby. What can we do?” His voice was silent and mournful as he looked into Ruby’s eyes. Both of them were extremely confused but Ruby was the next one to speak. Her answer was intermittent and extremely fearful as she spoke.

“We must hide the egg!” No one must know what happened here today!” Ruby whispered in a sobbing voice as she looked at her companion and started to gather the cracks of the eggs from the ground and hide them into the larger bushes. Chomper joined her quickly and the two dinosaurs tried make the scene seem like nothing extraordinary had happened. Most of all, the unborn clubtail had to be kept hidden. Unfortunately for the two, neither of them saw a lone, small flier in the sky, his eyes fixed on the ghastly sight far below him. Soon, he fled in fear, unwilling to believe the terrifying deed he thought he had just witnessed.

Ruby was panting heavily as last of the pieces of the ruined egg had been hidden in the bushes of the nightly canyon. The overwhelming panic had been replaced by a sense of fear, sorrow and failure, fully knowing what the residents of the Valley would say if they saw her now. A fast runner, covered in the innards of an egg in the middle of the night. She spoke to Chomper in a weary, broken voice as she sat down to a rock for a moment.

“I have to clean myself before I can go back. We just have to hope that no one will know about this chase. How I hoped it would have ended otherwise.” Ruby sighed and looked at the stars in melancholy, trying to find some comfort from them. Chomper simply looked at her in sympathy, answering her in a somewhat comforting voice.

“They won’t, Ruby. And we did our best! Why would they be angry at us?” He tried to put on a brave face even if he partially knew the answer. Neither of them had wished to dwell in the implications of the long conversations during their original arrival in the Valley about three Cold Times ago. It had been a long, difficult process to let the duo in and they were warned that even small, suspicious activities could result in their banishment or even worse. Ruby knew it and she didn’t have to answer as she headed towards the small stream. However, before she reached it, she heard a call that made her blood ice cold.

“Ruby! Chomper! What are you doing here at this time of the night?” The voice belonged to Petrie’s mother Volant who was flying towards the two young dinosaurs. Her voice was confused and concerned but it held no real anger or antagonism. However, something in her appearance raised deep horror in the two dinosaurs as Ruby quickly submerged herself into the river to prevent the flier from seeing the egg’s contents on her. After a moment, she answered to the newcomer, trying to keep her voice as close to normal as she could.

“Uhhh… we’ve gone to this place often because it’s such an enchanting place in the night! And we… just thought it would be a good idea to come here today. Why do you ask?” Ruby tried to put on a distantly natural expression while Chomper strived for an embarrassed, toothy smile. This kind of answer wouldn’t have satisfied Volant even in normal circumstances and now it was even less believable. Her voice was took a much sterner turn as she eyed the two.

“I was told a different story. The story I heard was that you two were doing something you shouldn’t be doing.” Volant hated to interrogate the duo like this but she wished to see if there was any truth to Dasher’s accusations. She had learned to respect the two dinosaurs during their time in the Valley but still she was more willing to believe her own offspring. Ruby’s apparent fear did little to ease the flier’s concerns. Chomper tried to answer in a hesitating but genuine voice and he succeeded in controlling his voice better than Ruby.

“And what is that? There’s nothing going on here.” The sharptooth sounded somewhat anxious but his voice almost would have calmed Volant down if it weren’t for the report she had been given. The flier then answered in a sharp, weary tone, eager to get this issue over with.

“Where did you hide the egg? And why did you take it in the first place?” Volant looked directly at the two young dinosaurs, willing to underline the seriousness of this conversation. Time seemed to freeze for Ruby who now understood that there was no getting around the real story. Volant hadn’t been too accommodating even during the duo’s initial arrival into the Valley, the flier being one of the main opponents of letting the two into the Valley. How would she react this time? With a fearful sigh, Ruby rose from the stream, the egg’s liquids not completely washed away. Volant gasped heavily, not wanting to accept the sight before her eyes. She truly hoped that there was more to this incident than lied before her eyes.

Ruby walked in shame, not finding any right words to say. Not only had she endangered her own position in the Valley but Chomper’s as well. No matter what happened, his safety was her responsibility until he could rejoin his parents and she had just compromised her whole charge. The fast runner felt the entire world’s weight fall upon her as she pointed to the bush where she and Chomper had hidden the remains of the egg. Volant walked there without a word towards the bush, seeing what she feared she would see. She turned in rising anger towards the two dinosaurs and spoke in disbelief.

“Why? What have you done? Do you have any idea what this means?” Volant’s voice seemed to shatter Ruby’s last remains of composure as she tried to come up with anything that could save her and Chomper’s face. However, what followed was her complete breakdown.

“It was all an accident! There were two egg stealers here and we stopped them! But… this was my fault! I fell while I was trying to return the egg and it broke! Please, just believe me!” Ruby hoped telling the truth could save the situation but to her horror, Volant’s expression didn’t soften in the least. In fact, it only grew more suspicious, only adding more fuel to the fire.

“I wasn’t told about any egg stealers, Ruby. I was only told that you had stolen an egg, broken it and who knows why! This was exactly what we feared would happen. I really want to believe that you speak the truth but the fact is, one of the Valley’s children died before their birth, possibly because of you!  Do you think the clubtails would accept an apology, after all the trouble you two got through to receive their approval?” Volant’s expression started to crack slightly, the conversation threatening to get the better of her. Her own voice felt alien as she listened to it, horrified by what she herself was saying. She had learned to trust the two but that didn’t change the fact that both of them were partial or complete meat eaters. Even if she tried to convince herself otherwise, she couldn’t deny the possibility of the fact the two had given up to their nature. She looked at the fast runner in a mixture of fear and understanding as Ruby answered in a fearful voice.

“But it’s true! You’ve got to believe me! We didn’t even know about the tunnel leading here! And even if we had known about it, we wouldn’t have been able to hide that tunnel from our friends!” Ruby was stunned to hear another familiar voice entering the conversation as she was about to continue her defense.

“She speak the truth! We all thought Hidden Canyon walled off long ago! And Ruby no egg stealer! Me know it!” Petrie landed by her mother’s side, seemingly agitated by the display. Volant looked at him in surprise, asking the obvious question.

“What are you doing here, Petrie?” The older flier asked, looking at Petrie in an angry look.

“Me saw you heading off after Dasher told you about me friends. They would never do something like this!” Petrie was completely resolute, willing to see that the issue would be resolved quickly. Volant sighed, not happy in the least by this turn of events. Petrie’s arrival would only complicate the issue which was something that had been decided many Cold Times ago already. She would have to make sure that Petrie would also understand.

“I don’t know what to believe, kids. But when the word spreads about this, I fear there are many that would no longer accept your presence here. The clubtails, the domeheads… even the threehorns would find it difficult to believe this story. I cannot hide this accident because here in the Valley each herd has to trust each other.” Volant’s words’ hit the three other dinosaurs like a terrifying weight, each of them lacking words any to say. Petrie was the first one to open his mouth but he was waved silent by Ruby who whispered in a silent voice, tears flowing from her eyes as her gaze dropped towards the ground.

“I understand, Ms. Flier. I failed the Valley. We’ll leave right away.” With a great struggle, the fast runner raised her eyes to look directly at Volant and Petrie’s. Her and Chomper’s pledge had been mutual. If one of them breached their promise, both of them would suffer the consequences. Petrie answered immediately in clear alarm. He had never expected to hear those words from Ruby but here the fast runner stood, ready to leave the Valley that had been her home for many happy days.

“It be no your fault, Ruby! You cannot be blamed for things you didn’t do!” Petrie’s voice was pleading and he, too, was on the verge of tears as Chomper answered briefly. Even at his young age, he could see that there was no speaking out from this horrifying situation.

“We promised too much, Petrie. We’re sorry.” The blue sharptooth couldn’t believe that things had escalated this far but he had been forced to accept the fact that his life in the Valley wouldn’t last forever. However, he had always wanted to believe that it would happen on good terms. But he never would have thought it would end like this, being accused about things that never happened. Before anyone had the chance to continue, Volant looked at the two and spoke in a confused voice.

“So am I. Ruby, Chomper... If it were for me, I’d give you another chance because I’m willing to believe you. You’ve helped me so many times in the past but that’s not my choice alone. I know you two will survive out there and I hope you’ll be able to rejoin your families. I promise you that I won’t you be seen as the enemies of the Valley even if you might not be welcome here anymore. Petrie, it’s time for us to go.” Volant prepared to take off, not willing to dwell in this unfortunate situation any more than she had to. The flier only prayed Petrie would follow her without too much arguing.

“We cannot do this! You’ve got to believe us, momma! They would never do something like this!” Petrie tried to desperately plead to his mother but it earned a mere angry look and answer from Volant.

“You heard me, Petrie. There’s nothing we can do.”

The younger flier’s thought were a complete flux of conflicting thoughts and emotions, most of all concerning his conflicting allegiances. He simply couldn’t let Ruby and Chomper leave like this but… what could he do? He knew the delicate agreement between the two and the Valley and the flier understood the severity of the duo’s alleged crime. Yet, he also knew that they wouldn’t have done such a heinous deed. If there was anything he could do later on, he and his friends would do their all to try to convince everyone about the duo’s innocence. Anything we could do now would only make matters worse. Petrie looked at his friends in an apologizing look while he tried to give the expression that this wouldn’t be the farewell. He tried to keep the situation as painless as he could as he spoke to the two before he followed his mother. His voice was little more than a whisper, its message only targeted for the two hapless dinosaurs.

“Me know you not do it. Petrie promise that this be no farewell. We find you again and make things all good again!” The flier then took off in an fearful if hopeful look, trying to believe that today’s events weren’t as momentous as they seemed. Maybe, one way or another, there could be a way to reverse his mother’s judgement and to try to prove Ruby and Chomper’s innocence and bring them back into the Valley.

After Petrie’s departure, the fast runner and the sharptooth were left alone in the rapidly aging night. Even after Petrie’s reassuring words, they couldn’t help but feel that today had happened something irrevocable. Each of them felt empty and betrayed after their originally benevolent chase had turned to this. Ruby felt tears of sorrow and anger once again falling down her cheeks when she spoke to her companion, her eyes fixed into the endless distance before her.

“Let’s go, Chomper. We don’t belong here anymore.”

Chomper simply nodded, tears finally forming in his eyes and as he followed the fast runner into this new journey. No more words were exchanged as the two dinosaurs headed towards the exit to the Mysterious Beyond, accompanied by only each other and their own, fear-filled thoughts.


  • Ducky
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« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2017, 03:40:31 PM »
Awesome study great exciting chapter it was very good and amazing the story was well written and I liked where it went


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« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2017, 11:15:22 AM »
Goodness, I wonder what the rest of the gang will do when they are informed of what happened.  This is probably one of the worst fears that runs through Ruby's mind: what if one of their actions is misinterpreted as a threat to the valley?  They are probably lucky that the person who discovered them was Volant, who allowed them to leave first as opposed to simply trampling and asking questions later.

Now, however, they must truly go on their separate ways from the rest of the gang.  Ruby and Chomper will need to use their kind's wisdoms far sooner than either of them could have expected.

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


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« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2017, 09:39:47 PM »
Looking forward to the next new chapter


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« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2017, 11:22:31 AM »
Starting the Search

The long hours after his friends’ departure seemed to drag on for days for Petrie. The flier was lying alongside his siblings in his nest, not even trying to fall to sleep. What had transpired was taking a heavy toll on him as he had never thought and even less hoped to be forced to bid his farewell to any of his friends. He had followed his mother to the nest simply to provide some kind of trust to her that Petrie had been able to accept her decision and in order not to escalate the conflict even further. However, that wasn’t the case.

Petrie waited eagerly for dawn and to meeting his other friends. There was no choice but to head after Ruby and Chomper and to try to bring them home somehow. There was no doubt that the other four dinosaurs would agree with him in trying to put things right once again. Even if he had known Ruby and Chomper far less time than his original companions, they already felt like an inseparable addition to the five original friends. As Petrie tried to pass the time by remembering about his times together with the two, the endless snoring of his siblings was really starting to get on his nerves, most of all Dasher’s who was to blame for this whole tragedy. He would have wanted to exchange some harsh words with him but Petrie knew it would accomplish nothing and only deepen the rifts inside his family. It was only when the black expanse of night started to give way for the day when Petrie slowly rose up, ready to gather his friends and to begin the task of tracking down the two.

After a short flight through the still dim Valley, Petrie landed on the longnecks’ nest because it was the closest one to his own. To the flier’s surprise, Littlefoot was already waking up. He was twitching sleepily but his stretch-like movements and partially open eyes confirmed that he was slowly shedding the cover of sleep. Still, he wasn’t yet attentive enough to notice the approaching flier. Littlefoot turned slowly to look at Petrie when he heard the flier’s voice call from nearby. Petrie spoke silently, almost whispering in order not to wake up the older longnecks.

“Littlefoot! Wake up, quickly! Petrie knows something you need to know!” Petrie’s voice was even more panicked than usual and Littlefoot noticed this immediately. He woke up immediately and quickly turned to look at the flier whose expression mirrored his voice perfectly.

“What is wrong, Petrie? Why are you so scared?” The longneck rose to his feet and walked towards the flier as he spoke. After a moment of hesitating, the flier answered briefly.

“Chomper and Ruby gone! Me tell more when everyone here!  Me tell the others to go to the usual spot near the Sinking Sand!” Littlefoot’s heart sank as he heard his friend’s answer but he didn’t get the chance to ask his friend before the flier had once again taken off. Ruby and Chomper were gone? What did Petrie mean by that? He wasn’t broken enough to implicate that they were truly gone bit the longneck couldn’t guess what else Petrie might have meant. Littlefoot was left with a dumbstruck and fearful look as he slowly started to head towards the edge of the forest that was the most usual meeting place of the seven friends.

It took only a short while before each of the five dinosaurs had assembled in the small glade, most of them yawning heavily, most noticeably Spike. Still, Petrie’s message had alerted each of them greatly and prompted them to head to the meeting immediately. The last one to arrive was Cera as she had the longest walk from her nest and she was the last one Petrie had woken up. It was she who broke the silence when she followed Petrie into the thicket.

“What are you doing, Petrie? How are they “gone”?” Cera sounded worried most of all even if she was also displeased by the early awakening. Her tone wasn’t as commanding as usual as it sounded almost like a request.

“Yeah, what has happened?” This time the voice belonged to Littlefoot who seemed even more distressed than Cera. He looked directly at Petrie, unintentionally making the flier even more fearful. Petrie tried to gather his thoughts but the words had a hard time forming in his conflicted mind.

“They… I tried to stop Momma… how can Petrie tell this…” Not only was Petrie scared of the whole situation but he tried to tell the news in a way that wouldn’t upset his friends even more than they had to. His stuttering was interrupted by Ducky who tried to relieve the flier’s nerves.

“You may tell us, Petrie, you can. Where have Ruby and Chomper gone?” Ducky shared her friends’ sentiments and after glancing at the swimmer for a moment, Petrie calmed down a little and with great difficulty, he started to speak in a quiet but clear voice.

“Ruby break an egg after which momma drive them away. Petrie sure they not do it but she no listen! Ruby and Chomper were driven from the Valley…” The initial shock was easily readable from the others’ faces as they struggled to understand Petrie’s words. Their two friends exiled from the Valley? Littlefoot was the first to answer, his voice filled with disbelief and fear.

“But… they have proven themselves to all of us. We all know Ruby’s no egg stealer. How could your mother do this after all this time?” Littlefoot had never feared anything like this could actually happen. He had wanted to believe the other herds had shed their distrust of the two over the past Cold Times and he was extremely upset after being proven wrong. Even with Petrie’s alarmed awakening, the longneck didn’t have the least of ideas what to except. To think that there still existed such a gap between the two and the rest of the Valley brought great waves of sadness and unusual anger to his mind.

“She say some herds not believe their story and demand their departure. Momma said she had no choice but to do what she do. Petrie try to tell otherwise but it no use.” Petrie spoke in an extremely nervous tone, keeping small pauses while trying to sort out his thoughts. Cera was about to give her disagreeing response but immediately stopped when she realized that Petrie was most likely right about her father. She didn’t want to think about it but her father had never trusted the two too much and this kind of misunderstanding might actually prompt him to act irrationally. This realization made her more angry than anything else.

“But… what were they doing with the egg? They couldn’t have taken it, no no no.” Ducky stated matter-of-factly. Each of the five knew that she spoke the truth and turned to look oddly at the flier. Petrie returned her glance and soon realized that it would be best if he told the whole story. He explained everything what he had heard about the egg-stealers, the accident and about the last conversation with the two hapless dinosaurs. The others listened with differing expressions, not willing to believe their own ears. This seemed like a bad joke or something like from a bad sleep story. A brief moment of silence followed after Petrie had concluded his story, the pause first broken by Ducky’s silent bemoan.

“Poor, poor Ruby…” She looked at the ground, most of all disappointed by Volant’s actions and sympathetic and apologetic towards Ruby for her accident. Ducky felt extremely strongly for the fast runner for this kind of treatment. She wasn’t even starting to contemplate all of the practical implications of this accident when Cera’s extremely agitated voice cut her thoughts.

“How COULD she do this? They’ve always lived like us and we’ve helped her in any ways we could! This just isn’t fair! We should just go to her and teach her a lesson or two… Those, stupid, arrogant, wingbrains…” Cera fumed until her insults finally went too far to Petrie’s liking. The flier confronted her quickly in an angry voice.

“Stop that! Momma make a mistake but she no bad! Stop saying those bad things about her!” Cera realized immediately that Petrie would find her words insulting and stopped her rant. Still, she felt that her words were justified and she wouldn’t apologize for her outburst. She simply snorted Petrie away and tried to calm herself down to her best ability which was far from easy. Littlefoot frowned to her antics but he couldn’t say that her outburst was unjustified unlike on many other times.

“Things like this shouldn’t happen, Petrie. We all knew the things Ruby and Chomper promised but this is just too much. They would never do something like this. Was there really nothing you could do?” Littlefoot found it hard to believe that the situation had been as brief and decisive as Petrie had told. The brown longneck knew he wouldn’t have given up trying to save the two. Petrie simply shook his head and answered in a silent, regretting voice.

“No. Momma said there was nothing we could do. Me tried to defend them but she say there nothing she could do. And there be nothing Petrie could do to change Momma’s mind.” Petrie looked into the longneck’s eyes mournfully as he spoke. Littlefoot didn’t look quite convinced but he had to believe Petrie’s words. He swallowed audibly before he answered again.

“I think we all agree that we can’t just let them go. Come on, we should go speak some sense into Petrie’s mom before it’s too late.” Littlefoot had already taken a few steps before Cera walked before him to block his path.

“Did you already forget what Petrie said? She won’t believe whatever we say and even if she did, what can she do? They’ve already left and even a flier won’t find them right away!” Cera’s voice still boiled with anger but Littlefoot knew it wasn’t aimed at him. Also, he couldn’t question Cera’s logic. Volant wouldn’t go against the Valley’s decisions voluntarily.

“What else can we do? It’s not like we can go after them ourselves!” Littlefoot spoke before thinking too much. This answer earned a new rebuke from Cera whose words was very resolute.
“Why wouldn’t we? It’s far from the worst reason why we’ve gone to the Mysterious Beyond or do you still think helping the Yellowbellies was smarter?” Cera tried to lighten the mood somewhat while provoking her friend somewhat. To her slight amusement, it seemed to work.

“But we don’t even know where they went! They could be going anywhere right now!” Littlefoot quickly accepted Cera’s line of thinking but that didn’t change the fact that there were many things they didn’t know at this point. Cera seemed to hesitate in her answer until they heard Ducky’s voice. It was pondering and careful as the swimmer tried to put herself in the duo’s position.

“They could be looking for their parents to ask them what to do. We don’t know where Chomper’s parents are but we do remember where we found Ruby’s family…” Ducky reasoned as she tried to come up with some logical explanation for their friends’ destination. It was also possible that they were still near the Valley or going somewhere else entirely but she tried to think where she would go. The swimmer was happy to earn an enthusiastic answer from Littlefoot.

“Hanging Rock! That’s right! Her parents are likely their best bet for them at this point! It isn’t even too far from here. We could catch them soon enough if we hurry.” The hidden shelter of the fast runners was located in the middle of a maze of winding, narrow paths in a mountain range near the Valley and it was nearly impossible to find unless one knew the way there. Luckily, Cera and Ducky had been with the two when they had last visited there.

“But… the way from Hidden Canyon one of the fastest ways there! How we catch them when they left before the Bright Circle rose to the sky?” Petrie asked as he thought about the many possible ways to the Rock. Only a few of the openings from the Valley were faster than the one from the Hidden Canyon and in case they were already approaching the Rock, there was a chance they would lose the duo’s trail for good if they didn’t hurry. The others pondered Petrie’s point but the flier was right. It took a long time until Littlefoot came up with an idea that even he hated himself. The longneck gulped as he prepared to voice his proposal.

“Actually… there is a small way that I think leads there quite fast. Back when I spotted Ali’s herd for the very first time, I found a small opening which led to a very narrow cliff that overlooked the trails leading towards the Hanging Rock. Even if it will be tough, I think there’s a good chance we could get down the cliff side that leads very quickly to the Rock. That, together with the many streams outside the Hidden Canyon slowing Ruby and Chomper down might just buy us enough time to catch them!” The longneck tried to put on a hopeful smile which turned into a mix or forced positivity and evident hesitation.

“Uhh, where was that again? I can’t remember where we were playing that day.” Ducky remembered the day of their friend’s first arrival but she couldn’t remember where they were passing their time earlier on that day. Thankfully, it had stayed tightly in Littlefoot’s mind ever since for obvious reasons.

“It was that small field not far from Ruby’s thinking place, just next to the hills near the mountains. There are many small cliffs that lead overlook the Beyond… I almost dropped from the one I told about.” Littlefoot smiled warmly to his memories, even that one scary moment turned happy in his mind by the later events of that mostly happy day. It took a moment when the others tried to remember the location and it was Cera who was the first to answer.

“Oh, you’re right! It’s where I got us some extra leaves from the tree with my horn! That place is not even far from here!” Cera’s mood seemed to lighten greatly as she recalled that distant day’s events. Littlefoot answered to her in an equally nostalgic voice.

“We just have to make sure that the grown-ups don’t see us. I don’t really want to get another talk about Ruby and Chomper from them. I just hope the way won’t be too difficult for us.” Littlefoot’s voice turned back into an almost unnaturally bitter tone for him as his thoughts shifted back into the matter at hand. He frowned as he called to the others.

“Let’s go. The sooner we get this thing done, the sooner Ruby and Chomper will be back.”

The walk to the familiar meadow was short but it took some time to find the right cliff from the many similar ones. The five dinosaurs looked if descent from the other cliffs was possible but those ways down into the Mysterious Beyond seemed far too dangerous. It took four tries until Littlefoot was fairly confident that he was standing on the same cliff as on that nostalgic day. The same desert path which Ali’s herd had used opened below him, surrounded by many mountains that dotted the landscape around the Valley. Behind the ranges around the desert lied the Hanging Rock which was hidden from view by the many, sharp needle-like peaks of the Mysterious Beyond. Even with the promising view, he was shocked to see that even this descent would be extremely dangerous. Spike was the first one to follow Littlefoot and when he saw the fall, he whimpered in fear and begun to back quickly. Littlefoot took a concerned look as he begun to eye the others’ reactions.

“That far too steep. You can not climb that!” Petrie said as he flew over the ledge and looked downward in horror. The wall was almost vertical with a few cracks here and there. It seemed to get a bit easier near the ground but no one would be able to get down there alive. The longneck frowned as he saw similar reactions from the others. His voice was pleading as he tried to address their concerns.

“It’s far worse than I remembered. But we have to go this way! Otherwise we’ll never catch Ruby and Chomper in time!” He couldn’t hide his own fear but he knew that he was speaking the truth. If they didn’t use this way, their friends could get out of their reach. Cera’s expression was equally fearful and she would have liked nothing better than to start an argument with the longneck. Even looking down to the desert made her feel sick in her head but she couldn’t deny his point. Each moment they hesitated increased the chances they’d never see their friends again. Her internal conflict was interrupted by Ducky’s hesitating comment.

“But we won’t catch them if we fall either. I don’t think there’s a chance we’ll make it, nope nope.” The swimmer exchanged worried glances with Spike which prompted Littlefoot to rethink their chances of making it down to the ground. He had to agree with his friends that they would need some help with the descent but there was no getting around the main reason they were there. Littlefoot looked around, trying to get some kind of idea. Soon, the young longneck spoke in an excited voice.

“We should get some vines to support us, like back when we followed Pterano and the others. This time we only use them to prevent us from falling down! There should be something them nearby…” Littlefoot run back to the Valley, with his friends following the longneck quickly. There were a lot of vines everywhere in the Valley but only few of them would be strong enough to support the larger members of the five friends. After a few minutes of searching, Ducky’s call summoned the others to look at what the spiketail and the swimmer had found. The vine was thick and probably long enough to reach until at least halfway of the descent and it seemed strong enough. Its actual reliability was still unclear but everyone agreed it was worth the try to use it in the descent. The only issue left was to decide where they should tie it so that it wouldn’t break prematurely. The narrow cliff was far from an ideal place to search for one but after a moment of searching, Littlefoot called to the others.

“I guess this stone is as good as it gets. Let’s try to tie the vine around it as well as we can!” Littlefoot and Cera started to circle the thick vine around the stone, trying to make sure it wouldn’t detach from the stone while they were still trying to reach the ground. Cera looked at the vine and in an unusually unsure voice, she spoke to her friend.

“I really hope this will last long enough. I would never do this if we didn’t have to.” The two exchanged nervous glances as Littlefoot took the vine to his mouth and threw it down the cliff. He then answered to Cera in an apologetic and fearful tone.

“Neither would I, Cera, but we have to make this. If we’re lucky, we’ll be back before the evening.” The longneck tried to calm himself as he saw that the vine reaching only a bit over halfway of the drop. Luckily, the slope seemed to smooth somewhat near the vine’s end. With luck, they might be able to reach it safely.

“Petrie will help when you need help if Petrie can.” The flier said as he looked at the vine to check that it was in as good place as it could be. His words were mainly directed towards himself as there was very little the flier could do in case their worst fears came to pass. When he had some kind of idea on how to do this, Littlefoot turned to the others and said in a quiet voice.

“I’ll go first. Only one of us can go at once so wait until I’m down. And Spike, try not to eat the vine when it’s your turn.” The longneck smiled as Spike moaned in clear disappointment. The others looked at their friend in concern as Littlefoot grabbed the vine with both of his forelegs. The longneck first lowered his hind legs over the edge. He tried to search for some kind of footholds in the crags and to his surprise, he found a few that would help in starting the journey down. Littlefoot knew better than to look down but even the sight of the endless plains to his left raised cold sweat to his face. The longneck could feel the gazes of his friends boring into him as he inched downward slowly but surely. Littlefoot closed his eyes and tried to put all of his concentration to seeking comfort from the wall of stone and to move down as quickly as he could.

The brown longneck felt the breath of wind trying to make his task even more difficult as the rough stones continuously scratched his legs. He no longer had any idea how long the way down still was but he still knew that he was moving steadily downwards. After a time that seemed to go on for hours, he felt to his horror the vine ending. Littlefoot opened his eyes and looked below him for the first time since leaving the cliff. The ground was still far away but there were some widening cracks in the rocks that just might be able to help him to the firmer, more moderate ground.

Littlefoot continued to move slowly but soon, he felt the cracks getting even bigger, allowing him to breathe a bit more relaxed. The fall was getting less steep and the longneck called to Petrie who was flying near him. He panted heavily as he spoke. He wasn’t safe yet but he knew he could get down from where he was standing.

“Tell Cera… that she can come now. It’s… it’s okay.” Petrie looked at his friend in concern, fearful for the others’ descent. Littlefoot had been lucky but how would it go with the others?

“It not look like okay. You almost drop!” Petrie said but Littlefoot’s expression told him the longneck wasn’t willing to argue at this point. The flier returned to the narrow cliffs where the others were waiting in tangible concern and fear about their own turns.

“Cera can go now. Littlefoot say it be okay.” Petrie’s hesitation was evident but Cera tried to put on a brave face as she headed towards the edge. The wind was already howling in her ears as she closed her eyes and grabbed the vine. The threehorn felt her heart sink as she felt the ground vanish from beneath her. Still, if Littlefoot had managed this, so would she. Even if she had learned to question her kind’s inherent superiority in all things, her self-confidence was still intact. Although, that didn’t change the fact that she had always hated heights and an ordeal like this felt like an extra punishment for her.

The threehorn had reached almost halfway when a violent gust of wind blew by the mountainside. To her great horror, Cera felt that she lost her footing as the barrage of air hit her against the wall, disrupting her balance and compromising her hold on the vine. The threehorn would have wanted to scream as the vine took off from the mountainside, causing her to hang in the air for a moment, with only a huge emptiness opening below her. Had the vine snapped at that moment, Cera knew she would have had no chance of surviving the fall. After a few moments, she once again felt the mountainside to her side to her great relief. Still, the threehorn had to find her footing again. She was overjoyed to hear Petrie’s voice near her.

“Cera, try to hold on a bit longer! The cracks here… and here!” Petrie took Cera’s hind legs and showed where her previous footings had been. Cera stayed still for a moment, overwhelmed by the unfolded situation. Had there been one more unfortunate coincidence, she would be gone by now. The situation wasn’t exactly new for the threehorn but it was never a pleasant or easy thought. With trembling feet, Cera continued her descent and only a few, less powerful gusts hampered her descent. In a few minutes, she reached the vine’s end and, like Littlefoot, managed to reach the ground safely. Cera would have wanted to collapse to the ground in relief but retained her footing because she didn’t wish to show the depth of her fear to the others.

Spike and Ducky eventual turns were less eventful even if the vine creaked menacingly under the spiketail’s weight. Each of the four waited until they reached the safe, even ground beneath the menacing cliff. Ducky was the last one to join her friends and even if the swimmer had an easier time than her friends, it wasn’t easy on her either. Her voice was exhausted as she called to her friends.

“I wouldn’t want to do that again. The wind almost took me and the climb was very high, it was. I just hope that we find Ruby and Chomper soon.” Ducky sat down on a rock to rest for a moment from the ordeal. Littlefoot smiled to her, relieved by the fact that his idea had worked yet again and that his friends were safe. He answered after a moment in a cheerful voice.

“I think we will. The Hanging Rock should be right behind those mountains. Come on, let’s get our friends back home.” The longneck was preparing to leave until a thought crossed his mind. He turned to look behind him and spoke to Petrie briefly.

“Oh, Petrie, could you go cut the vine from the rock? We don’t want that someone from here uses it to get to the Valley.” Petrie answered quickly as he started to fly back to the cliff. The flier also felt much easier to see that his friends were safe once again.

“Me be back soon! Wait for Petrie!” The brown flier reached the cliff quickly, looking at the rock to  decide how the vine would be easiest to cut. As he was trying to cut the plant, Petrie saw to his great horror a big brittle in a part of the vine that was intact before. It was almost half of the vine’s thickness, meaning that it wouldn’t have been able to support the next one who would have used it. The thought filled Petrie’s thoughts with fear as he examined the plant. There was no way he could cut it from the intact parts but the brittle was already weak enough. He took the weakened part in his beak and cut it in half without difficulties. The flier returned to the ground as soon as the vine’s other end had hit the ground far below.

“The vine be cut, Littlefoot. No one use it anymore!” There was no reason to frighten the others even more by telling of the extra danger they had put themselves in. The flier had a disturbing inkling that things wouldn’t go as smoothly as the five dinosaurs hoped. As if to underline his fears, just as Littlefoot was about to answer, a loud, horrifying roar rang from the mountains bordering the desert. A roar of a hungry sharptooth. Each of the five took a few steps back by instinct, fear being evident from their glazed faces. As soon as the roar died down, Littlefoot gulped audibly and spoke in a silent, terrified voice.

“Hopefully whatever made that voice leaves before we get in there. And I… I hope Ruby and Chomper haven’t run into it yet.” The longneck’s words echoed the others’ sentiments and slowly the five dinosaurs started to move towards the mountains and to the place they could only hope their poor friends were also headed.

I answered to rhombus on fanfiction but thank you for your kind words as well, ADFan.
 :) I hope you enjoy this chapter, everyone!


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« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2017, 04:05:08 PM »
And now the inevitable journey begins.  I quite like the banter between the gang as they debate on how to proceed, and I find their interactions to be quite in character.  Though I am curious to see a bit more of their individual internal thoughts with regards to this situation; in particular, I am curious if Littlefoot had suspected that this day might come eventually.  As for their departure from the valley, I can certainly understand their desire to take the speediest way possible, though I am curious why Petrie was not sent ahead in the hopes of scouting out where the duo might be.  In any case, it does appear that they all are not alone...

A good chapter as always.  I look forward to seeing how things develop from here.  :yes

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


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« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2017, 07:33:45 AM »
Yes it was amazing and fantastic chapter I enjoyed it very much


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« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2017, 11:18:53 AM »
A Comforting Discussion

The wide, empty plains around the Great Valley loomed pitch-black before two distressed friends. Ruby and Chomper had walked for in complete silence a long time since their departure from the Valley, their emotions too conflicted to start a conversation. They had had no real destination other than to leave the Valley and the terrifying night behind them. Finally, as the horizon started to grow slightly lighter, Ruby finally broke the oppressive silence, speaking in a broken, sadness-filled voice.

“I’m so sorry, Chomper. It’s all my fault, my fault it is. If I hadn’t been that careless…” Ruby was going to continue but Chomper cut her quickly, too saddened to hear more self-pity from the dinosaur he trusted most. The young sharptooth looked at his caretaker in an empathetic and supporting look. There was not a trace of accusing or disappointment, only a caring and appreciating smile behind the mask of sadness.

“It’s not your fault, Ruby. We tried to do the best thing we could.” Chomper sounded surprisingly calm and it was clear that he had spent many nights wondering about his eventual departure from the Valley. It hurt even more than he had expected but he was thankful he didn’t have to leave it alone. At least for now, his closest friend would still be with him.

“But it is! Without me and my stupid chase and my fall, everything would be fine! We would be sleeping in the Secret Caverns, ready to spend another day with our friends! Now, we are here, with no place to go!” Ruby sat down to the ground, shaking her head between her hands. She begun to calm down somewhat but the endless self-blaming hadn’t left her mind.

“I know, Ruby… Why can’t we just be there right now… It’s all Dasher’s fault! Why did he have to tell his mom…” Chomper couldn’t deny that without their trek, things would have been much better. Even with his relative acceptance of the events, he couldn’t accept the lingering distrust Dasher had shown towards him and his friend. The young sharptooth had never been one to hold a grudge but he couldn’t help but feel angry at the flier’s deed. Ruby could easily share Chomper’s sentiment, feeling pure betrayal in tonight’s events.

“For some time, I felt like we actually belonged in the Valley and that we were part of it. But if we were part of it, we would have been trusted. Petrie’s mom showed I was wrong.” The fast runner wasn’t as angry as Chomper but she felt far more lost than her friend did. Not only had her hopes been proved wrong but she had already failed in her charge to keep Chomper in the Valley to protect him from Red Claw.

“My daddy and mommy were right when they said that I wouldn’t be able to live in the Valley for long. They never thought I would get there anyway and if I did, I would never be accepted by most herds. They let me go only because they fear Redclaw more than they dislike the leafeaters.” Chomper looked at the star-filled sky as he tried to calm down from the emotional weight of the night. He hadn’t met his parents in ages and he hoped that day wouldn’t come anytime soon. Even if he loved them, he didn’t want to part with Ruby and the rest of his friends just yet. He knew that they wouldn’t just leave them after hearing about the duo’s fate.

“It seems like you’ve thought about this a lot, Chomper, like that it seems. I should have seen it more clearly that you weren’t feeling like home.” Unusually for the fast runner, Ruby spoke without giving it too much thought. Chomper turned to look at her in surprise, speaking in a confused voice.

“But I did! I did enjoy my time in the Valley as much as anyone else but mommy and daddy told me that I couldn’t stay there. I… I am a sharptooth after all. We don’t belong there.” Chomper spoke melancholically, finally bringing the long-hidden thoughts of his years in the Valley. No matter what he did and what dreamt of, he was a sharptooth. Chomper looked into the starry sky, hoping that one day he would find the path he hoped for. Ruby looked at the blue sharptooth, surprised to hear such thoughtful words from the innocent sharptooth.

“I can believe that, Chomper. My parents never gave me any advice other than to keep you in the Valley until Red Claw is gone. But... I cannot look after you anymore, Chomper. If he comes after us, there’s nothing I can do to keep you safe.” Ruby finally voice his most pressing fear, being forced to separate from her dear friend this early. Tears started to once again flow to the ground as Ruby started to think about the implications of their banishment. Chomper looked at the fast runner in a fearful look, answering quickly to her remarks.

“I won’t do that because of that flier! There must be some way to make things good again. Whatever happens, Littlefoot and the others will come for us, Ruby! Petrie said so.” Chomper let momentarily his frustrations aloud as his thoughts drifted once again to Dasher. He wanted nothing less than to be forced to part from his closest friend because of a false accusation. Ruby looked mournfully at the Night Circle as she waited a moment before answering.

“Of course they will but there’s nothing they can do to get us back in. Even though I’m not sure if I even wanted to go back there after this. How I wish they were here right not but I’m afraid they won’t be able to do anything to help us. And they could make things only worse for themselves.” Ruby didn’t even wish to voice her conflicted thoughts aloud. On the other hand, she wanted to continue her life with her friends but she knew that reuniting with them would make the eventual parting only harder for everyone. None of them would want to say the final goodbye and would the others return to the Valley without them?

“You cannot think about it like that, Ruby. We both want to see them again and we’ll come up with something. These three Cold Times mean too much to me to leave them like this.” Chomper’s voice cracked as he realized just how much his recent life mattered to him. He had lived the life of a sharptooth with his parents and as much as he longed those days too, his time in the Valley had been the happiest time of his life. He wasn’t willing to turn his back to it just yet. Ruby felt a similar rush of nostalgia flow through her when she heard Chomper’s words. These Cold Times had left their mark on the fast runner too.

“I know, Chomper, I know. It wouldn’t be fair to just leave like this, not even trying to make them understand. Not after the welcome I got when we first arrived in the Valley. Thank you, Chomper, for making me to join our friends in the first place.” Ruby remembered the aftermath of the bitter debate when Chomper first reunited with his friends. Ruby had never had any acquaintances outside her own kind and very few friends overall during her youth. The fast runner had led a largely solitary life, fitting for her kind. She had originally planned to stay as an outsider in the Valley, observing their life while looking after Chomper. She would be eternally grateful to Chomper for making her abandon those original plans.

“You couldn’t have been alone all those days, Ruby. You deserved better than to be left alone. I knew my friends enough to know that they’d take us both in. And you got me into the Valley: of course I wanted the best to you, too. You’re my friend!” Chomper looked at the fast runner in a small but sad smile as he heard Ruby’s acknowledgments from those faraway days. It comforted him somewhat to hear that Ruby was slowly calming down.

“And even after our first meeting, I often was overly serious and had a really hard time to fit along with them, hard time I had. I guess we both learned a lot that our kinds wouldn’t usually learn. And something most residents of the Valley still have to learn.” Ruby added as the strong sense of anger once again flowed through her. As she thought about the behavior of most domeheads and threehorns, it sometimes seemed like she and Chomper were more like the other leafeaters than they were. The thought was confusing and she wasn’t sure what to think about it.

“Yeah… I was far more sharptooth-like before I got to the Valley. I had to bury my urges and feelings to live there. There’s only one thing I’m really scared of right now.” Chomper kept a pause in order to gather his thoughts to voice his concerns. ruby turned to look at the blue sharptooth and asked the obvious question.

“And what is that? I wouldn’t blame you if there were more than one reason to be afraid.” Ruby said absentmindedly as she waited for the sharptooth’s answer. Had she been less thoughtful, she would have guessed where Chomper was going with his words.

“What now? If Littlefoot doesn’t get us back in, will we go back to being what we were? What do I have to do to be able to live my life? I have killed other dinosaurs before but now… I don’t know if I could anymore.” Chomper felt a flicker of fear in his stomach as he asked himself this question. Would he be able to return to his old life? Ruby turned to look back at the night sky, sympathizing with Chomper’s thoughts. She had known almost from the beginning that there was more to Chomper’s past than he would want to talk about so Chomper’s words didn’t bother her too much.

“I’m sure you can, Chomper. I don’t want to say it but I’ve heard that sharpteeth get unpredictable when they’re hungry and won’t let themselves stay hungry for long. Make sure that won’t happen to you. I know that I’ll keep in mind the lessons I learned in the Valley. At least I can try to fit my time in the Valley together with my future: I can at least keep most of it with me.” Ruby said in an empathetic voice. Even if the fast runners weren’t known for their habits to live with other kinds, it was usually unheard for a sharptooth. No matter what, her entry to her new life would be much easier than for Chomper. His caretaker’s words hit Chomper especially hard and his breathing increased tremendously. He quickly moved closer to Ruby and started to speak in a panicked, pleading tone to the confused fast runner.

“I cannot do this, Ruby! I cannot go back to killing and hunting alone! I… I just can’t! It’s not what I want!” Chomper started to cry as he saw the horrific images of his presumed future flowed before his eyes. His bloody past and even worse future seemed to mix into a continuous line of fear for Chomper who could only see his friends in his future hunts. Ruby looked at him in sympathy, immediately regretting her blunt words in this difficult moment.

“I’m sorry, Chomper! I didn’t think about what I just said because if I had, I would have never said it! Yes, you have to hunt but you could do it before, too. You will need to accept it but you will still be you! It doesn’t have to happen too fast so you will have time to decide what you will keep with you and what not. I know you can do it.” Ruby placed her hand on the sharptooth’s shoulder and smiled mournfully. Chomper was still her responsibility until they could find his parents.

“But… where should we go now? We have to find our friends before it’s too late!” Chomper spoke in deep fear, clinging to the only hope that lingered to avoid the dreaded future. Ruby sighed as she tried to think about a logical answer to her companion’s question. It was clear that they should go somewhere where their friends would find them without difficulty. The Valley’s surroundings wouldn’t do because it was likely that their parents wouldn’t them to follow the two banished dinosaurs. There was only one place that the fast runner could come up with, one that that lingered in her mind since their flight from the Hidden Canyon.

“Hmm… the way I see it, they’ll try to think about where we will likely go. And where we’ll likely go is to our parents! I’m sure they’ll head for Hanging Rock! Also, if everything goes wrong, maybe my parents know where… your mommy and daddy are.” Ruby added in an apologizing voice, willing to make the sharptooth accept that there was a chance that this would be the duo’s last journey together. Chomper looked at the fast runner in fear, forcing him to nod as he continued to fight the lingering panic.

“But I don’t want to go with them! Not yet… I wanna stay with you guys!” Chomper said as tried to prove to himself that there was nothing he could do. Ruby looked at the sharptooth for a moment, answering in a stern, almost rude voice, letting her exhaustion finally come out. True, Chomper was far younger than she was and less capable to accept these things but still, she didn’t want to listen to the objections at this point. She didn’t wish Chomper to make things even worse than they already were.

“Chomper, if I could make things like they were I would! But I can’t and that is why we have to do the best we can and complaining about such things isn’t the way to do that! Try to understand that I’ll do the best I can but there are some things we cannot change! Do you understand?” Ruby softened her voice nearing the end to show that she was still willing to listen to her friend’s concerns but she wanted Chomper also accept the situation. The sharptooth turned his eyes to the ground, knowing that Ruby was right. He sniffed once before he answered in a silent, regretting voice.

“I do. Hopefully Littlefoot comes up with something better than this. I guess we’ll see at Hanging Rock.” Chomper tried to put on a more hopeful face as he looked Ruby. The fast runner took a deep sigh as she tried to gather herself together. Her leadership would be vital to get Chomper to the Hanging Rock.

“Hidden Canyon is a good way to get there but we have to cross a few rivers somehow and to find a safe way through the mountains. But we should get there before the Bright Circle reaches its peak in the sky if we hurry.” Ruby looked at the slowly lightening horizon and the mountains that rose in the far distances. She didn’t wait the journey eagerly but there was no choice.

“How are we going to cross the rivers? I can’t swim all that well, as you know.” Chomper said in a resigned voice. He had to follow Ruby one more time as a sign of respect for his caretaker. Ruby finally rose from her sitting position and tried to chuckle as she answered. It wasn’t convincing but it was better than the endless gloomy whispers.

“I cannot know everything now, silly! We’ll find a way when we reach them! Come on, if we’re lucky, we’ll get to meet my parents and our friends soon enough!” Ruby was the first to walk off, going with a rather quick pace to force Chomper to follow her without further complaints. It had the desired effect as Chomper started to follow her quickly, even if his fears were still apparent in his nervous walking. The sharptooth took one last look to the Valley’s direction, wondering whether he’d see it ever again.

The Bright Circle illuminated the hapless expanse of the dry plains surrounding the Great Valley’s borders. The wind was rising steadily which made the duo’s trek somewhat more comfortable. For an occasional traveler, each of the surrounding mountain ranges would have seemed like monotonous, menacing obstacles that held nothing of interest, only existing to hinder their lonely journeys. For Ruby, however, one of them held a special meaning, one that loomed far in the distance, cloaked by a slight curtain of sandy air. Unlike the other ranges, it had small spots of green surrounding it which made it a popular stop for farwalkers. However, none of them knew what lied in the range’s heart, surrounded by many blocs of rock. The fast runner looked eagerly as that range drew steadily but slowly closer, both looking forward to meeting her parents and friends but fearing how those meeting would end.

The fast runner and the sharptooth shared long if forced chatters about their surroundings and the days before they reached the Valley, those being the only subjects that wouldn’t stir major new emotions in the two. They looked with weary eyes as the first of the rivers started to appear in the horizon, its azure waters glimmering in the ever-brown and orange desert. It wasn’t too long before the two young dinosaurs reached it and not long after, realized that they couldn’t just ford it anywhere. After a short search, they found something that for the first time since the Celebration gave them some relief. A small rapid which was narrower than the main part of the river lied near them and it was dotted with small rocks that were just large enough for their legs. Chomper was the first one to try the crossing, looking warily at the rapid. He could see that it wasn’t too violent but it would be dangerous to fall from the rocks as the waters were dotted with rocks. The young sharptooth swallowed and fixed his gaze steadily on the next rocks before him, concentrating to reach the next steady spot. With steady, slow jumps, the sharptooth managed to cross the river even if a few and slicky stones almost felled him. Still, Chomper kept his eyes on the river and slowly reached the opposing shore safely.

“Come on, Ruby! It’s not that difficult!” A childish pride at his deed was apparent in Chomper’s voice as he called on the fast runner to follow him.

“I’ll be there before you know it, Chomper! Just wait and see…” The fast runner said as she jumped on the first rock. Ruby’s larger legs had a harder time finding a safe place but they also made her jumps easier. However, one of the rocks she jumped on was even more slippery than the others, completely getting her by surprise. The fast runner’s legs stuck out in opposite directions as she let out a fearful, quick squeak. However, Ruby soon realized that another, luckily not sharp, rock prevented her from flowing further downstream, saving the situation which could have been dangerous if her luck had been worse. The fast runner was still in shock when she suddenly heard restrained laughter from the shore.

“I’m sorry, Ruby, but you looked so funny when you fell there! Your face, your legs…” Chomper continued to chuckle as Ruby rose to the rocks again. When she had calmed down, she joined her friend’s laughter as she realized how she must’ve looked. The little incident improved their moods somewhat as she continued her fording. It wasn’t long before they both were on the other side of the wide stream, ready to continue their journey. The Bright Circle was already high on the sky, slowly approaching its zenith. That moment was approaching swiftly.

The looming mountains drew slowly closer, almost agonizingly so, as the two dinosaurs started to grow hungrier and more tired under the heat of the desert. It would still be over two hours before they could hope to reach their destination but they would have to wait until the mountains’ surroundings before they could find something to eat. As their chatter slowly grew less frequent as they grew more tired, the two walked past a gaping gorge in the ground, most likely formed by one of the many earthshakes in the area, a large spiketail skeleton who eyes were fixed pleadingly on the horizon which ironically housed its probable destination, the Great Valley, and the second river, much narrower than the first one. It was rather easy to cross even though its depth was much larger than on many other rivers. Ruby was forced to carry Chomper on her back to get him across the body of water, like Littlefoot had done during the two dinosaurs’ search for Saro. The fast runner panted heavily as she reached the other shore, slowly getting exhausted by their journey. To her chagrin, there was still no food here and she was starving. Luckily, her mind quickly registered another possible source of food in addition to plants that had become her main diet as of late.

“Chomper, can your sniffer smell any scaly swimmers in the river?” She asked tiredly as she looked at her companion. Chomper returned her gaze in surprise, overlooking that thing due to his overburdened mind. The young sharptooth had resigned to the idea of hunting a few ground fuzzies near the mountains. However, he ran eagerly to the shore and put his snout under the water. The scaly swimmers weren’t his kinds main source of food but , in the end, they were made of meat too. Soon, Chomper raised his head and spoke to his companion in an silent but happy voice.

“There are lots of them! We should be able to catch a few without much waiting! We just have to wait for them to come towards us…” Chomper had already waded waist-deep into the water, staying still in order not to scare the scaly swimmers away. With careful, slow movements, Ruby joined him and also put her own face under the water. The fast runner could see the scaled swimmers swimming here and there, oblivious to the danger preying around them. It wasn’t long until they completely forgot the newcomers and approached them once again without fear. When they got close enough, the two immediately closed their hands around them, impaling their prey with their sharp claws and ending their struggles before they truly began. Neither of the two were strangers to eating scaled swimmers but Ruby hadn’t feasted on them in a long time. Her skill was left but the same thing couldn’t be said about her tastes.

During her time in the Valley she had strived to eat green food and the occasional snapping shells didn’t change the whole picture too much. The leaves and the berries’ had become her main source of food and she hadn’t eaten meat in a very long time. Now, the taste of blood and flesh in her mouth felt awkward, even disgusting after all those Cold Times of leaf eating. The plants’ taste was very mild in comparison to meat and scaly swimmers were no exception. In her youth Ruby had loved them but now the whole sensation of warm blood flowing through her mouth and crushing viscera between her jaws almost made her throw up immediately. However, her hunger made the fast runner to overlook her misgivings and with a very forced gulp, she swallowed the scaly swimmer. Ruby looked in a mix of envy and concern as she looked Chomper devour two scaly swimmers in a matter of seconds. The fast runner grabbed another one before and ate it quickly before turning to return to the shore. It was clear that she, too, had some getting used to her natural diet.

“Are you already done, Ruby? You only ate two!” Chomper asked quickly as he was greedily swallowing another scaly swimmer. It was clear that his friend hadn’t eaten her fill even if it were her idea to stop to eat in the first place.

“I’ll survive with this, thanks. They weren’t that good. Of course, you can eat more, if you want to.” The fast runner’s disgusted face told everything the sharptooth wanted to know as he looked at his caretaker in mild disappointment. It was clear that she hadn’t ended her hunger but maybe she would still be ready to finish the journey.

“Nope, I’m done! Let’s go when you’re ready!” Chomper said as Ruby slowly calmed down. The Bright Circle was slowly approaching its pinnacle in the sky, confirming that the journey had went on far slower than they had expected. Still, they weren’t exactly worried as there wasn’t any particular hurry.

“Very well, let’s go meet our parents!” Ruby was about to answer when a loud roar rang from the hills in front of them. It was far enough for its cause not to be an immediate danger but the voice was coming from the same direction where Ruby and Chomper were heading to. The two dinosaurs looked forward in fear, clearly disheartened by this unwelcome turn of events.

“It’s… it’s a sail-backed sharptooth.” Chomper whispered in a silent voice, the amount of horror in his voice surprising the sharptooth himself.
“Oh no… not sail backs…” Those words were all the fast runner could say as she thought about the coming hours. Even if she wasn’t exactly surprised to meet sharpteeth outside the Valley, its kind brought a sickening feeling to her stomach. That sharptooth kind wasn’t the fastest or the sneakiest but they were more persistent and violent than many other kinds. They wouldn’t give up a chase until their prey lay broken in their teeth.

“It’s roaring near one of the passes that lead to the Hanging Rock! It sounds like it is going even further towards it! We have to be more silent than it is if we are going to avoid meeting it.” Chomper said as he started to think about their chances. The voice belonged to an adult so they would have no chance if they confronted it headlong. Trying to avoid any meeting with it would be their best chance to reach their destination safely. They had to use that particular way: even Ruby wouldn’t be able to find her home if they tried to head for the maze of rocky corridors from the wrong opening.

“The wind is blowing towards us! We may have a chance to hide our coming from it if we’re clever. There are some smaller paths around the sharptooth, other paths there are! The sail back won’t catch us if we use ways it cannot use!” Ruby said as she pondered the situation. The entrance to the hills was near them so they wouldn’t get another chance to think about their strategy, no matter how unpredictable they could prove later on.

“I hope you’re right, Ruby. Mommy and daddy always told that I should stay as far as I can from them, at least until I’m fully grown. They eat everything they can get their claws into.” Chomper said to Ruby who tried to look more relaxed than she actually was. Still, now wasn’t the time to turn back or go adventuring with new, unknown paths. If her guess was correct, their friends would soon be faced with the same ordeal to trick the large carnivore.

“My parents have lived with these sharpteeth for years, Chomper! If they can avoid these, so can we if we can just hide our presence from it!” Chomper looked at his caretaker with a friendly but unsure expression, not knowing what to think. However, Ruby had a good point in saying that these beasts were far from invincible. There could just be a chance to go past it with a bit of cunning and luck. The two started to approach the mountains carefully, determined to stay one step ahead of the sharptooth at all times. Even then, they couldn’t give the villain their undivided attention. At the back of the fast runner and the sharptooth’s mind lay the knowledge that behind that carnivore waited either a cheerful reunion with their friends or their heartbreaking and possibly final parting of the ways.

And here's the next chapter! Ruby and Chomper are having a hard time coming to terms with the recent events but at least they now have an idea on how to survive. I hope you enjoyed this one!


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« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2017, 02:16:12 AM »
"For some time, I felt like we actually belonged in the Valley and that we were part of it. But if we were part of it, we would have been trusted. Petrie's mom showed I was wrong." The fast runner wasn't as angry as Chomper but she felt far more lost than her friend did. Not only had her hopes been proved wrong but she had already failed in her charge to keep Chomper in the Valley to protect him from Red Claw.

This truly captures the overall situation and the tangled emotions that surround their departure from the valley.  Chomper can only be angry at the lack of trust and in being forced from the valley, while Ruby is left with the feeling of guilt and disappointment.  Her goal of protecting Chomper, and in earning the valley’s trust, now seems to be in ruins.

Ruby had never had any acquaintances outside her own kind and very few friends overall during her youth. The fast runner had led a largely solitary life, fitting for her kind. She had originally planned to stay as an outsider in the Valley, observing their life while looking after Chomper. She would be eternally grateful to Chomper for making her abandon those original plans.

And this truly captures the full magnitude of what they both lost.  Chomper has lost direct contact with his friends, whereas Ruby lost the first non-fastrunner friends she had ever had.  Now, being forced to take on a solitary existence once more (aside from Chomper) she feels the impact of the loss all the more fiercely.

And then the unsurprising acknowledgement that Chomper had killed before shows another side to his time in the valley, a less beneficial side to the story.  Chomper is now afraid that he cannot bring himself to kill again, but of course his diet will force this change.

Overall, between the very significant dialogue between the two dinosaurs and their mutual struggle with confronting a future apart from their friends and the life in the valley they had grown accustomed, this chapter has greatly expanded the personal connection between the reader and our beloved dinosaurs.  The addition of the sailback in the near-future, and the coming adventure of the rest of the gang to find their friends, point at a coming physical conflict in addition to the personal ones.  And, in a manner that I too often use, I see that you have also ended the chapter with a bit of a cliff-hanger as a hook. :p  This was a great chapter and a joy to read.  I look forward to seeing what develops next. :)

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


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Separate Ways
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2017, 03:28:57 PM »
A Close Skirmish

Petrie shuddered in fear as he saw the small rocky path growing narrower and slowly starting to slope upwards. The dreary walls of rock were nothing new in the hills of the Mysterious Beyond but the sudden, eerie silence of the sharptooth creeped the flier to the core. He was flying high above his friends, trying to see any trace of the carnivore in the pathways below. To the flier’s great concern, the sharptooth had disappeared as if it never had never been there in the first place. The brown flier couldn’t help but see the vision of the sharptooth jumping from one of the countless caves of the region, attacking his friends before they could get any chance to try to defend themselves.

“Petrie! Do you see anything?” Littlefoot called silently from under him, his voice almost as concerned as Petrie’s. The flier quickly descended to give his answer. They did everything as silently as they could as it was of utmost importance that they tried to keep their presence a secret as long as they only could.

“No… Petrie see nothing! The sharptooth must be hiding somewhere in the caves!” Petrie said fearfully to Littlefoot who felt the concerned grip in belly only tightening by the minute. Had the sharptooth already smelled them? Was it hiding and waiting for the five friends in some spot or had it went to rest due to fatigue or simply left the region? Whatever its whereabouts, each of the dinosaurs had to prepare mentally to the danger that hung over them like a pitch-black cloud. After a moment, just as Petrie was about to take off again, Ducky asked in clear hesitation. Her voice seemed like a forced one and it was hiding clear frustration. However, for now it seemed to be hidden quite well in the swimmer’s neutral expression.

“Umm, Petrie? I was wondering about the last time you met Ruby and Chomper…” Ducky was seemingly disturbed by the event. She couldn’t comprehend Volant’s actions and neither could she accept the fact that Petrie was completely unable to help the two. She didn’t want to accept it herself but she couldn’t help but feel that Petrie could have prevented this entire journey from happening. Petrie looked at the swimmer in a mixed expression, somewhat disappointed by the fact that the issue was brought up once again. The night and the morning had been a distressful one for the flier and he felt the horror of that moment still lingering in his mind.

“Petrie already tell what happened, Ducky. Me so sorry for that.” Petrie couldn’t say anything that he hadn’t said already. He felt immense guilt for being unable to help the two but as he saw it, there was nothing he could have done. That didn’t drive away the sickening feeling away but it gave him some comfort. Ducky was very unimpressed by the answer as she knew she wouldn’t have given up so easily. Ducky knew that Petrie was often unsure and fearful of his own actions but this had been a moment when the flier should have stood up for himself. Her voice was piqued and increasingly angered as she answered to the flier. It was slowly starting to get the attention of her friends.

“I don’t blame you, Petrie, but it was just so wrong. Why didn’t you follow them or call us quicker? We could be with Ruby and Chomper already if you had done something quicker!” Ducky seemed to be more like pondering out loud than outright accusing her friend of the situation but its effects were already being seen. Littlefoot tilted his head as he watched at the two. In the longneck’s mind, the whole situation was like a terrible coincidence that had created only accidental victims without any notable villains. He had oftentimes wanted to hope that his and his friends’ lives could continue like they were forever but in the back of his mind, he knew that was impossible. In the light of the new thoughts that forcefully rose in his mind, the longneck was at a loss what to do even if they found Ruby and Chomper. His voice was soft and somewhat troubled as he spoke.

“I don’t think Petrie could have done much more, Ducky. We cannot know what we have done in Petrie’s position back then. We cannot blame him for that” Littlefoot tried to put Ducky in Petrie’s position but he was only partially successful. Ducky could easily understand Littlefoot’s point but something in the whole situation made her somewhat disappointed in Petrie. It wasn’t usual for the swimmer but there were things which could force her misgivings rose to the surface unwillingly. The fear of losing her dear friends was one of those situations.
“We cannot but Petrie could have done more to convince his mama! At least he could have asked her to let them stay in the Hidden Canyon, he could, he could!” Ducky’s voice turned into a more agitated one. Petrie wished to hear nothing more of it and the flier’s expression darkened quickly the more he heard.

“That unfair! We be in enough trouble already and Petrie need no suck talk! If that what you think, Petrie have nothing more to say!” Petrie said in clear anger, his own anxiety intensifying his reaction to the swimmer’s accusations. She had never attacked him this straightly and the flier could see that there were more concerns underlying in the swimmer’s mind. Yet, Petrie cared little for it at the moment. He was incredibly hurt for being forced to face that situation and he certainly wasn’t going to face those accusations for it. He had gone through enough already. The swimmer was about to answer when Cera quickly moved between them. The threehorn looked at the two in chagrin, willing to end the brewing argument right away.

“If you didn’t notice, we’re in the Mysterious Beyond stalked by a sharptooth! We cannot let you two begin a fight here so calm down!” Cera looked at the two in anger, willing to end the argument right away. The two looked at the threehorn and knew that she was right. Littlefoot looked at her in appreciation, thankful for her intervention. He would have almost wanted to chuckle of the many memories that he had about these kinds of Cera’s antics during their journeys together. He had seen that same look targeted at him many times before, most recently during their search for Littlefoot’s father, Bron, and those times hadn’t been pretty. Still, both Littlefoot and Cera were deeply surprised as they heard Ducky’s stern answer to Cera’s words.

“If Petrie had done better, none of this would have happened! It’s his fault!” Ducky sputtered in clear anger, stunning each of her friends still. Was it really Ducky who had said those words? None of the four other dinosaurs found any words to say, even Spike looking conflicted at first. Petrie looked at the swimmer in growing annoyance, his patience being heavily tested. After a moment, Littlefoot tried to ask in a worried voice.

“Ducky, what’s wrong? Why are you acting like this?” The longneck tried to offer the swimmer an opening to explain her behavior but it earned only an annoyed sigh and a reluctant answer. Ducky’s whole composure changed immediately from an angry look into a sad and resigned one. Her voice turned into a silent and dismissing one.

“It’s nothing. Let’s just go on.” Ducky took off from her friends, signaling that there was nothing more she wished to discuss at the moment. Littlefoot and Cera looked at each other with concerned, asking looks but the two couldn’t offer each other any answers. Spike looked at his sister with a sympathetic expression, slowly starting to understand the reason for the swimmer’s behavior. The spiketail was the first to follow Ducky, willing to provide her the most comfort he could offer. However, the swimmer’s words had already done their job.

Petrie looked at his friend in chagrin when snorted heavily and headed back towards the skies, his mind working overdrive to contain his feelings from the unexpected attack. The flier had been more than disturbed by the earlier events of the day than he would have wanted to admit. Most of all, his enraged thoughts were focused on his brother, Dasher, and his mother but even those feelings brought more conflict to his mind as he wanted nothing less than to start a conflict within his own family. He would have to have a deep conversation with them when he returned and he was far from looking forward to it. That, combined with the emotional impact of seeing Ruby and Chomper turn their backs on the Valley left precious little patience for Ducky’s attacks. Had the flier been in his normal state of mind, he could have probably understood more readily the mess that was the young swimmer’s current mind.

Ducky almost shuddered as she felt Spike’s tongue touch her back. However, at this point she felt a mix of resentment and imminent guilt. She knew that she was being unreasonable but the events of the last week had already burdened her mind greatly. She had managed to hide it from her friends but today’s events had broken her already stretched limits. However, Spike’s gesture managed to relax the swimmer down somewhat, especially as it was her brother who was in the center of her concerns.

Ducky had noticed that recently Spike had started to drift even further from his family, a development that didn’t seem to bother her siblings greatly. She was increasingly forced to choose whether she wanted to spend time with her other siblings or Spike. That wouldn’t be a problem if one of her sisters hadn’t escalated the situation by pointing out the spiketail’s appetite and lack of speech as negative traits. Ever since her and Spike’s arrival in the Valley, her siblings had most of the times stayed to themselves, leaving Ducky and especially Spike on their own. There wasn’t real disagreements with the spiketail’s presence but it had far too often been a distant relationship. However, the recent attacks were something Ducky couldn’t stand, especially as they brought to mind her own attacks against Spike during their first real Cold Time. Those wounds still lingered in the young swimmer’s mind even if the issue had been a long time ago. As a result, she had gone through many arguments with her siblings that had even caught the attention of their mother, even if they were still unsolved. Some of them had turned into rather mean ones and they had stretched Ducky’s mind to a great degree already.

Ducky turned to meet her adopted brother in a weary manner, forcing a fleeting shadow of a smile before rising to his back once again. The swimmer wasn’t on the mood to talk anymore as she feared her own frustrations would get the better of her. She would resolve her dispute with Petrie in time, when her feelings were more settled down. Before that, however, she still had this trip to complete. No matter what, she would try to stay silent before they found Ruby and Chomper.

The late morning continued in a silent and tense manner. There was very little chatter because of the apparent disagreements and the ever-present danger of the sharptooth ambushing the five dinosaurs from any given direction. There was still a good walk to the Hanging Rock and each meter of the way could be the one where their trek would end. The way could have been covered in less than an hour without the ever-present need for caution. Every shadow that the mountains cast upon the pathways housed a potential life-threatening foe that could end their wondering in a blink of an eye. The tangible threat was nothing new for the five dinosaurs but that didn’t mean that it wouldn’t cast an additional, menacing shadow upon their march.

Littlefoot couldn’t help but wonder what was going in the minds of his friends. He knew that Ducky required a good reason for her behavior but he couldn’t tell what it was. The longneck would have been willing to help her but he could do little if he didn’t even know what was the reason for her anxiety. This disturbed him greatly as he wanted things to be well among his friends. Also, the longneck could only pray that Petrie wouldn’t take too much offense for the brief exchange of those inconsiderate words. He could sense that Cera wasn’t in any better mood than he was but Littlefoot hoped this issue could be resolved before it got out of hand. He knew from experience that underlying concerns grew only more difficult and stronger the more one dwelled in them. He could only wish they wouldn’t be let loose in a manner that could strike more dividends among his friends.

Time passed and to everyone’s relief, the fears of the sharptooth’s imminent attack seemed to dissipate. It wouldn’t be long before the Hanging Rock appeared from among the hills. The Bright Circle was nearing its zenith in the sky and with luck, Ruby and Chomper were near. The longneck was slowly starting to hope that at least the journey itself would go as they had hoped. That was, until he heard another, loud call of a hungry sharptooth.  To his additional horror, Littlefoot saw a menacing shadow casting against a rock wall in the distance. It was but a tiny, fleeting sight but Littlefoot’s eyes caught it nevertheless. He whispered quickly to his friends in a frightened voice.

“Quickly, go into hiding!” The others heard immediately from Littlefoot’s tone that he was serious. There were remnants of rock falls everywhere that provided enough shelter for the five. While trembling heavily, Littlefoot carefully looked before him and to his horror, he could see that the shadow resembled a sharptooth’s claw. It seemed to stay still which perplexed the longneck greatly. Why would a sharptooth stand still seemingly in the middle of nowhere? Unless of course…

“Let’s go back, now! It is trying to smell where we are!” Each of the five started quickly move back the same way where they came from. With luck, the continuously changing direction of the wind would hold the carnivore away long enough for the leaf eaters to escape. They moved as silently as they could as the way started to slope heavily upwards. However, the ground started to shake violently, the shudders coming far too constantly for the voice to be any other than their worst fear. They immediately quickened their pace, hoping to lose the massive predator in the maze of the small pathways.

Petrie was the only one who had the chance to look at their chaser. To the flier’s horror, it was a large sail-backed sharptooth, much larger than the one they had met after going after Guido. It was moving in long steps which almost resembled leaps and it was approaching its prey quickly. Realizing that he had an enormous advantage in this labyrinth due to his gift of flight, he quickly flew off upwards, trying to find a way for his friends to escape. Petrie could feel cold sweat flow in his forehead as he saw the bluish beast approach his friends. The flier’s heart beat in his ears as his eyes scanned the many pathways below him. After a moment, he saw something that caught his interest and raised some initial hope. The flier quickly started lose altitude as he went to advise his friends.

“There be a cave to the left! That be the best way to escape!” The sharptooth was only two longneck’s lengths behind the four as they headed to the smaller pathway that was supposed to be their rescue. The pathway was very narrow and it had many rocks that hindered fast movement. The sail back followed them immediately, the massive predator breaking parts of the walls as it headed towards the cave. To the sharptooth’s surprise, it lost its scent of its prey immediately as it entered the cave.

The underground hall was a large one, with a seemingly deep lake in the middle of it. There were large parts of vegetation here and there with a few ground fuzzies running to their dens as the predator entered the cave. First, it stood almost still, searching for possible hiding places for its prey. Soon, it started to walk around the hall, not intending to let its dinner escape this dead end they had so willingly got themselves into.

Cera shuddered as she listened to the sail back walking around the hall, the footsteps occasionally growing louder and sometimes weaker as the beast continued its search. The carnivore’s deep breaths were distinctly audible as it tried to locate the threehorn and her friends. They were protected by a group of water plants that smelled strongly as well as the many ground fuzzies but each of them knew that it was only a temporary shelter. Sooner or later, the sharptooth would tear down each plant and rock until it found its prey. The sail backs never let their food escape if they had the least of chances to catch them. Each of the five dinosaurs knew that they would have to move away and fast if they wished to live until the evening.

“Let’s go this way! The tunnel seems to lead somewhere!” Littlefoot whispered in a barely audible voice as the sharptooth continued to search the caverns different parts. They could only hope that the darkness could shroud them long enough for them to make it into the low tunnel. Their hearts beat desperately as they heard the sail back’s steps grow weaker once again. Now was the best chance they had to run for the escape. Littlefoot could feel his stomach sink as he took the last breath before going. The longneck eyed the pitch-black opening before him, praying from the bottom of his mind that his run wouldn’t end prematurely.

The sharptooth heard the first steps the five friends took. Littlefoot looked in panic as the predator approached him with a terrifying pace. The longneck closed his eyes, preparing to feel the dying scream of one of his friends or the teeth of the ravenous sharptooth closing on his sides. He could see that the rescue was getting closer as the cave’s ceiling grew ever lower. That was when, to the longneck’s great horror, when he heard a painful cry from beside him. He immediately looked at the source of the cry but and he was expecting a terrifying, brutal sight but, to his immense relief, he was proven wrong.  Spike had suffered a gaping wound to her tail which was bleeding but otherwise he was safe. The sharptooth could no longer catch the five friends from the corridor. Its leg was still scouring the small tunnel but it was several meters away from its prey.

“Are you alright, Spike?” Littlefoot asked carefully as his voice still held a high degree of concern. He regretted any injury his friends suffered but this time he had to be thankful for surviving with such a small injury.

Spike shuddered as he looked at the sharptooth snort in annoyance and walk away. The spiketail moaned sadly but it was apparent that he wasn’t seriously hurt. He had been sure the beast would get her when he felt the stinging pain in his tail. The spiketail looked at his blood dripping to the floor with a pain-filled expression but he knew better than to complain. He was more than lucky not to be in the sharptooth’s belly right now. Littlefoot smiled as he watched at his friends who were slowly regaining their calm after the close call.

“Let’s go. The sharptooth can’t follow us this way. Let’s go meet Ruby and Chomper.”

It wasn’t long before the overwhelming darkness gave way to a bright day. The tunnel opened on a small mountain ledge overlooking a steep cliff beyond which lied their destination. The Hanging Rock gleamed deep yellow in the light of the late morning. They would still have to find their way through the ravine and an opening that led to the Rock. However, Littlefoot knew that they were already past the most dangerous part.

“Well, at least we’re here. Ruby and Chomper better be too!” Cera said painfully as she looked at the sight before her. The threehorn sighed in relief as she smelled at the fresh air after the intense minutes in the dark cave.  Ducky and Petrie didn’t wish to partake in the jubilation just yet as the earlier argument still lingered in their minds. The two looked at Littlefoot and Cera as they started to head towards the ravine.

“Come on! We’ll be there in no…” Littlefoot was about to say until his voice turned into a panicked scream. The entire ledge he was standing on seemed to break into a thousand pieces as the snout of a sail backed sharptooth hit the narrow pathway. The longneck twitched in horror as he hit the ground a few meters down the ledge he had dropped from. To his great luck, the longneck didn’t wait a second until he started his escape. The sharptooth’s leg hit almost immediately the spot he had landed on. Littlefoot’s head was still confused by the hit and it took a lot of effort to not crash into the rocky walls.

Cera, Ducky, Petrie and Spike looked in terror at the sight unfolding below them. Littlefoot wouldn’t stand a chance against the beast but what could they do? There was nothing in their disposal that could even hurt the massive carnivore. It was closing in on around Littlefoot and there was nowhere the longneck could even run at this point. It seemed like his end was finally at hand. However, Cera wasn’t about to let it happen. Littlefoot was her oldest and first friend and she wouldn’t let him fall here and now. The threehorn jumped quickly down to the ravine and headed after the sharptooth. Either she would save her friend or they would go down together. Petrie looked in panic at the escalating situation. His help was needed if the two were going to make it.

Littlefoot looked feverishly around himself, trying to find an opening that would let him escape. The canyon around him was slowly widening and there were a few openings but would they lead anywhere that could provide him with a chance of escape? He could only listen as the sharptooth’s steps drew quickly closer, soon to be heard on his sides before his whole body would be crushed to pieces. He was already preparing for the abrupt end when to the longneck’s great surprise, he could heard his chaser hit the surrounding rock wall and then fall to the ground. When Littlefoot turned around, he saw Cera panting in fear. Apparently the threehorn had toppled the sharptooth by hitting it in its sol.

“Cera! Run, it won’t be long before the sharptooth is on its legs again!” Littlefoot called, still prepared for the possibility that he wouldn’t be able to flee in time. However, Cera answered in a similarly eager manner.

“Without you? Don’t be foolish, Littlefoot! That way seems to head somewhere!” The threehorn said while she pointed to a small opening that headed downwards to what seemed like a small lake. Seeing that his friends had a chance once again, Petrie realized that he had a chance to buy them some extra time. The flier landed on the sharptooth’s snout as it was rising to its feet. He knew that the sail back wouldn’t let him touch its eyes, the flier circled around its head, forcing it to continuously guard is eyes. This mischief bought his friends many seconds before the sharptooth could force Petrie away from the danger zone. However, to the sharptooth’s great frustration, the two had already escaped. Luckily, it had seen which way the two had taken.

“Ewww! What is this?” Cera said as she looked in disgust at her legs. They were covered in disgusting-smelling, brown goo that covered the entire small plateau in the middle of the swirling mountains. It was a small but rather deep bog, one that had seemingly claimed many lives who had tried to cross it. It was apparent  by the many decaying bones floating in the deeper part of the swamp which was most likely a potent deathtrap.

“I don’t know but at least it covers our smell well. Let’s make sure that this time the sharptooth won’t find our trail again!” Littlefoot said resolutely as he looked from the small bush they were hiding in. It w3as clear that he meant every word but that didn’t change the situation they found themselves in. They were in a similar trap than in the cave, only waiting until the sharptooth would find them. They couldn’t run without being seen but they would be found without long. Both the longneck and the threehorn tried to come up with a successful plan but the time was running short. To their great luck, Petrie got an idea that could possibly end this nightmarish chase for now. The flier headed towards the opposing side of the swamp, near a large rock that was also a potential hideout for the leaf eaters. To further enhance the impression, Petrie started to call to his friends as if they were near him. However, his words were really targeted to Littlefoot and Cera but the flier realized that the sharptooth wouldn’t understand whatever he said. Of all the sharpteeth they had met, only Chomper was able to speak their language.

“Go when the sharptooth near me! Petrie hold it here long enough!” Petrie called in a loud voice. The sail back had learned during its life that the leaf eaters were far from clever and it didn’t wonder for a moment whether the flier was stupid enough to reveal his friends. It ran as fast as it could in the disgusting ichor but it managed to reach the rock rather quickly. The sail neck’s attack was brutal as it jumped over the rock, smashing everything around it. Pieces of rock flew here and there when the sharptooth unleashed its rage after realizing it had been tricked once again. However, that realization came too late for the enraged carnivore.
Littlefoot and Cera both knew that this was their chance to escape. The sharptooth wouldn’t be able to see their flight from the position it was now and its sense of smell was still overshadowed by the intense reek of the swamp. The threehorn and the longneck quickly headed towards a path that they hoped would lead towards the Hanging Rock. The way rose steeply and took a sharp turn to the right. The two continued to run for many minutes, waiting with dread for the sound of the footsteps to once again appear behind them. However, it never reappeared. The sharptooth didn’t follow them and soon enough, the sight of the Hanging Rock opened in front of the two. Even in the huzzle, they had managed to go to the right direction. It wasn’t long until a familiar voice called silently from nearby.

“Littlefoot! Cera! I’m so happy you’re alright! Come, I and Spike found the way while you were away!” Ducky said from a lower ledge.

“Petrie tell them where you are! The sharptooth went the wrong away and it not coming back! It not even know where we went” Petrie called as he flew towards his four friends. He had flown high enough for Ducky and Spike be able to see where the their friends were and to allow them to try to find for a way towards them. Even if the intense relief of the situation was by far the dominating tone in the flier’s voice, it still held the traces of chagrin towards the swimmer which could also be read in Ducky’s gestures. It was clear that not everything was right between the two.

Petrie looked at the Hanging Rock, overjoyed by the fact that they had managed to escape this sharptooth attack in good health. Still, he was fearful what would follow when they found their friends. And even more imminently, what was wrong with Ducky? He would have wanted nothing more than to get the issue over with but not without an apology. Petrie wasn’t one to hold a grudge as it only made him feel very bad about his antics. However, Ducky’s behavior wasn’t something he wanted to just pass up. The swimmer had often been his closest friend and he was willing to forgive a lot for her. He only hoped she would see reason soon enough.

Littlefoot was already focusing all his attention on the following meeting. He would do his all to bring Chomper and Ruby back home but he couldn’t even think about what was going in the heads of his two friends. He knew they would want to reunite with their friends but would they return to the valley at this point? How would he try to assure them that they still had a place to return to? No matter what, the longneck knew that the coming hours would be far from easy for anyone involved. He could only hope it had a happy ending.

And here's the next chapter! I hope you'll enjoy this and any feedback would be appreciated!  :)


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Separate Ways
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2017, 09:10:00 PM »
Interesting, it seems that the tension from Chomper and Ruby’s departure is beginning to show in the relationship between Petrie and Ducky.  Though such an argument would normally be out-of-character for the hadrosaur, in the context of this extreme situation it makes perfect sense.  And when combined with the growing distance between Spike and Ducky’s siblings… it paints a picture where Ducky has a lot to deal with at the moment.  The separation of Ruby and Chomper reflects an internal separation within her own family, a reminder of a domestic conflict that she cannot resolve.

The escape from the sharptooth and the resolution to the threat was handled well.  Furthermore the developments involving Ducky and Spike, and its parallels to the Chomper and Ruby situation, has great promise to present an interesting dynamic in future chapters.  I find these developments to be very interesting and I look forward to seeing where they lead.

The only thing that struck me as somewhat off-putting in the chapter was the use of ëtelling’ the audience what the characters’ motivations and thought processes were as opposed to ëshowing’ them.  Now to a certain extent this is unavoidable, but in some cases in this chapter I think it could have been avoided more, or at least broken up in such a way as to make the ëtelling’ seem more organic.  For example:

Littlefoot couldn’t help but wonder what was going in the minds of his friends. He knew that Ducky required a good reason for her behavior but he couldn’t tell what it was. The longneck would have been willing to help her but he could do little if he didn’t even know what was the reason for her anxiety. This disturbed him greatly as he wanted things to be well among his friends.

Could be reworded into something like this:

The sauropod shook his head at the antics of his friends. What has gotten into those two?

The longneck would have been willing to help her but he could do little if he didn’t even know what the reason for her anxiety was. The distress on his features were visible to all. Littlefoot was not one to let conflict fester among his friends, but in this case he had no idea how to proceed.

It is still mostly telling in this form, but it flows better and the addition of a direct thought makes the reader feel as if they are in Littlefoot’s head a bit more, better maintaining the immersion.

Now please don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed this chapter and its developments certainly are interesting in relation to the overall narrative and theme of the story.  I just noticed that I sometimes fall into the same “telling, not showing” trap in my writing, and I wanted to mention it.

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


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Separate Ways
« Reply #15 on: June 27, 2017, 10:17:03 AM »
Of Memories and Reunions

Ruby listened in distinct fear as the sail back’s roars rang through the mountains. She couldn’t see it among the endless cliffs but it was clear that it was on the hunt. She shuddered to think what would happen to its poor prey but sadly, it was something that happened daily in the merciless expanse of the Mysterious Beyond. Especially as she was rather sure that her five friends wouldn’t arrive anytime soon, there was no reason to dwell in compassion for the others as each day was an ordeal for everyone in the endless struggle for life. In the end, the fast runner felt most of all gratitude for the sharptooth’s preoccupation with the current chase. Ruby merely shrugged as she peeked from behind a wall to check that there wouldn’t be more surprises on the way. She whispered to Chomper in a hopeful way.

“The way is clear, Chomper! Let’s go while we have the chance!” The two started to move fast towards the direction in which the Hanging Rock loomed. They looked in deep fear around them, praying from the bottom of their hearts that there wouldn’t be any new threats hiding in the menacing shadows. Only the wandering wind accompanied the sounds of the chase as the fast runner and the sharptooth headed towards their destination. Even then, one concern loomed in Ruby’s mind. The Hanging Rock served as her family’s shelter in times of danger but it wasn’t guaranteed that they would be there even now. Her mother had told Ruby to seek her there if she wished to find her but what if she couldn’t expect Ruby’s return? Even then, she knew that her family never went far from the Rock so finding them shouldn’t be too difficult in any case.

The fast runner gritted her teeth as she expected the image of her family’s appearance from behind the next rocks. It seemed like yesterday when she had last seen her family come to greet her from the cave on the ledge overlooking the highlands surrounding it. She had walked this hidden pathway countless times and right now, it felt like the only home Ruby had ever had, even if she had left it in a highly regrettable manner. The fast runner remembered that day like yesterday even if it felt like a complete lifetime since it happened. It had been an abrupt end to the endless, happy days she had spent with her family. The sights that opened in the gorges below took her immediately back to her seventh Star Day and the last day when she could fully and completely say she had a family.

“I’ll find you soon, find you I will, Arial! Just wait for it…” Ruby said in mock menace, shivering her eyes in order to see any small movement by her siblings easier. The three loved to play the game, which very closely resembled Hide and Seek. Instead of merely seeking a hiding place, the focus of the game was to work together to hide from the seeker in a rather large area. Even if the oldest sibling was often the seeker, there were times when Ruby could also join the hiders. They had been playing for some time while waiting for their parents to prepare Ruby Star Day surprise.

The fast runner’s eyes scoured the surrounding rocks, willing to see a flicker of a small, pink tail somewhere but the two young fast runners were unbelievably cunning for their age. Trying to find them was always big if pleasant a challenge to their older sister. Ruby enjoyed these games immensely as it a good way to combine having fun with her family with the necessary training for the future.

“Orchid, you cannot hide from me forever…” Ruby said in a deep voice after which she took a more mischievous expression. A small flicker of pink feather could be seen on a cliff above her, but she showed nothing that implied that she had seen the other fast runner. She continued to walk normally, even if she headed towards a pathway that led upwards towards the cliff. Of course, she knew this would prompt the hider to seek shelter elsewhere but that was exactly when Ruby jumped on the ledge, immediately making Arial flee in a desperate attempt to remain unseen. However, Ruby could immediately tell where she was going and she was rather surprised to hear another voice slowly trying to get further away from her. Ruby jumped immediately on a rock to her left, smiling a mischievous smile as she spoke to her brother.

“I found you, Orchid! You should know these hills better than this!” Ruby looked as Orchid looked in fake embarrassment at the ground, knowing full well that Ruby was much more capable of remembering the terrain due to her age and larger experience.

“Aww, I couldn’t know that you came this way! You’ll never find me next time, you see!” Orchid said as Ruby suddenly sprinted away from him, surprising the other young fast runner behind the other wall. Ruby’s voice was triumphant as she called to both of her siblings, chuckling at her success.

“You both did well but I did better! It’ll take much more practice before you’ll beat your elder sister!” The two younger fast runners exchanged glances as they took mischievous smiles. They spoke nothing but started to slowly approach their sister, looking at her very oddly. Ruby was just about to ask what was going on when they jumped on her, tickling her heavily and felling her to the ground. In the midst of her struggles and laughs, Orchid spoke in a teasing way.

“You cheat, Ruby! There’s no way you didn’t listen to where we went!” Orchid’s voice was highly smug and it carried a sense of joy at the payback to their sister. Arial continued quickly in a similar tone.

“Yeah, you’ll see! We’ll eat your snapping shells for this!” Arial looked in amusement as Ruby finally broke away from her siblings’ treatment. She continued to laugh as she answered in an equally mischievous and teasing voice.

“No, you won’t! It is me who deserves some extra, you little vermin. Attacking your older sister like this deserves some punishment, don’t you think?” Ruby answered in a cheeky grin, willing to tease the two children even further. They were overly competitive with each other and with her but otherwise Ruby was grateful for each day she could spend with them. Even if overseeing them got on the older fast runner’s nerves often, she loved each of them dearly due to their playful and cheerful attitudes. The two seemed concerned at first but then they countered quickly.

“You remember what dad says, Ruby! Only the real lessons affect our meals!” Orchid smiled in a smug way before Ruby countered him quickly.

“You only obey to daddy when it benefits you! Or do you claim to always listen to his every word!” Ruby grinned as she thought about her brother’s double standards. Neither of the two were any more obedient than any other children their age and their attempts to justify their mischief always brought great joy to the oldest sibling. Ruby was about to answer when an urgent, even alerted voice called from the distance. It was her father, Detras, and it was clear that there was something he really needed to tell which wasn’t related to her Star Day in any way.

“Ruby, Chomper, come here now!”

Ruby sighed in chagrin as she would have been willing to continue her games with her siblings. She looked at the two in clear disappointment before she spoke to them in as kind voice as she could.

“Come with me. Let’s see what’s wrong with Daddy.”

The two adult fast runners were waiting for Ruby in one of their most usual spots in a small opening deep within the hills which was centered on a small, shallow lake. Chomper was with them, looking around himself with a highly unsure expression. He had lived with the fast runners for five days by now, ever since his parents had deemed Red Claw’s threat too large for him to stay with them. The fast runners were indebted to the sharpteeth for saving their lives even if they had in turn provided them a group of spiketails hiding nearby as a meal in return. None of the fast runners were happy or proud about such arrangements but any of them would rather sacrifice another family instead of their own. Also, the two families had been “allied” since that day, respecting and trusting each other’s ability to stay useful and helpful to the other. Chomper was still slightly anxious about his new, temporary home as none of the others seemed too happy about his presence. Ruby was the only one who had showed him some kind of companionship during his time with the fast runners even if she, too, still preferred to spend more time with her siblings than with him. He couldn’t blame her, though, as not many non-meat eaters welcomed the presence of a sharptooth.

“Ruby! Thank goodness you’re alright!” Ruby’s mother, Pearl, said as she saw her daughter approaching from the upper hills. Her voice was clearly alerted to a degree which scared Ruby greatly.

“What’s wrong mommy?” She asked carefully before she noticed Chomper looking at her with an almost fearful voice. His expression told her that something bad was going to happen.

“Ruby, we’ve seen that Red Claw is searching these hills for us. It’ll take a lot of time and luck but he’ll find here eventually and, no matter what, we’ve got to keep Chomper safe or else his parents… won’t be happy. We’ve got to take him out of here.” Pearl’s voice was clearly saddened and fearful as she spoke to her daughter. Ruby was still oblivious to her proposition until Detras cleared his throat and joined conversation.

“Our safety is at the stake, Ruby, and we’ve got to keep the trust of our few allies against Red Claw. Arial and Orchid are too young to move too far and you’ve been a good friend to Chomper during his time here. We cannot ask it from you but could you take Chomper to the Great Valley and keep him safe?” Detras asked carefully in order not to make the breaking of the news too difficult for the younger fast biter. Ruby stood still, her mind unable to process all of the information at once. Was she being asked to leave her family and to live somewhere else, possibly alone? Her parents had always told her that staying safe was the way to a long life but this time the request was too big for her. With a wavering voice, the young fast runner looked at her parents and at Chomper who was visibly bothered by the conversation.

“But… but I don’t want to leave you, either! Chomper’s really nice but the Valley is far away and you’ve always told me not to trust leaf-eaters easily! I wanna… I wanna stay here with you!” Ruby looked at them pleadingly, not willing to leave her family just yet. She had heard the reason for the request but it helped little at this point to the young child. She didn’t feel ready for this kind of charge. Her feelings were further conflicted as she heard Arial’s pleading voice behind her.

“Ruby can’t go! She belongs here with us!” The young fast runner looked at her mother in a shocked expression, not even willing to think about the full implications of the words. Orchid quickly continued from his sister’s words.

“We’re good at hiding! The mean sharptooth won’t find us we are real careful!” Orchid tried to reason and he even believed his own words. Still, he couldn’t hide the fact that he dreaded the prospect of Ruby leaving as the three siblings had often been nearly inseparable. Pearl waved the younger children silent and continued to speak to Ruby.

“Don’t worry, we’ll always be here for you, Ruby! I know you don’t want to go but it is not safe for Chomper to be here anymore! You may visit us whenever you want but, please, do this. We cannot afford to get more enemies than we already have! Do you understand, Ruby?” Pearl looked Ruby in the eyes, willing to make her daughter understand what was at stake. Ruby sobbed slightly before she bowed her head and answered in a silent voice.

“Yes, mommy. I’ll go.” Ruby felt terrible for agreeing to the proposition but she knew this was a chance to help her family survive. With any luck, the life in the Valley wouldn’t be too terrible. The young fast runner had often been warned that one had to sacrifice for her family during times of need but it had never happened before. Her parents were seemingly relieved by Ruby’s display of maturity and Detras then spoke in a more cheerful voice. He seemed happy by the development and his voice was a mix of pride and relief.

“But we mustn’t forget that today is your Star Day, Ruby! It is supposed to be happy so look at what we have collected for you!” The two adult fast runners walked behind a nearby rock and revealed a giant leaf filled with sweet bubbles and clapping shells, her favorite food. Just as she was getting ready to thank her parents, Pearl spoke in a warm voice.

“We wouldn’t want your Star Day be sad, wouldn’t we? For today at least, everything will be like it always has been.” Ruby took an overjoyed expression and moved on to hug her parents, speaking in a soft voice while she prepared to dig onto her food.

“Thank you so much mommy and daddy! Thank you for making this Star Day so special!” The young fast runner moved on to eating her food while her parents smiled to each other. After a long time of eating and playing together, when the afternoon was growing old and the overall celebrations were starting to end, Pearl wished to voice the main and final congratulations to her daughter.

“Happy Star Day, Ruby! I’m glad we could spend this Star Day together.” Her voice was near to melancholic, knowing that tomorrow was the day of their first longer parting. Still, this was the life of a fast runner. Ruby’s voice carried a similar underneath tone but her words were extremely heartfelt and bittersweet when she answered.

“Me too, mum. Simply saying I love you doesn’t say how much I love you.” The fast runners locked each other in one final embrace to which Pearl answered shortly.

“And we love you too, Ruby.” Her expression was appreciating due to the overall situation and to the way Ruby handled the difficult situation. Once again, the coming journey came into her mind and the younger fast runner took a sadder, more serious tone.

“I already miss you and I haven’t even left!” Ruby looked at Pearl when she heard her father’s words behind her. His voice was kind and he looked at his daughter in a melancholic way.

"Well, you must learn how Chomper’s friends in the Great Valley work together.” He had mentioned about the group of young dinosaurs in the Valley but the overall prospect of getting to know them made the young fast runner fearful. She had been taught that the leaf eaters didn’t trust her kind at all and that cooperation between them and the fast runners had oftentimes been difficult and tense. Moreover, her own shyness helped things none. She turned her head
anxiously back towards Pearl who started her attempt to continue from her mate’s words.

“Yes, Ruby. That knowledge could one day save us all from…”

“Red Claw!”

The sudden cry from Chomper turned everything upside down immediately. A few hurried, unthought words were exchanged between the fast runners which quickly decided that the time for departure had come. The following hour had turned into a mixture of fear, concern and blurred images in her mind, caused by the massive upheaval of that day that had changed her life for many Cold Times. Could it be that today’s return would be the closure of that saga in her life, in both good and bad? That day floated in her mind as she prepared to meet her family and to pray that she hadn’t betrayed their trust by returning prematurely, possibly infuriating Chomper’s parents. All the fears and hopes fought for dominance in their mind but Ruby wanted the possible reunion to be as easy as possible.

The fast runner started to run towards the opening, exclaiming it in distinct jubilation as she called there in a hopeful voice. She waited in deep elation at the possible answer, more than ready to rejoin her family for even a moment.

“Mommy, daddy, I’m back, back I am! I’m so glad to see you again!” Ruby’s voice was unsure but hopeful as she waited for an answer from the cave. Seconds went by, the fast runner waiting to hear the overjoyed calls of her younger siblings. To her great concern, none ever came. She took a more anxious expression as she started to move closer, deep concern beginning to creep on her face.

“Arial? Orchid? Are you here?” The cave that had once served as the fast runners’ home loomed empty and abandoned under the grey sky. Ruby’s heart sank as she entered it, quickly sprinting deep within it, the same sense of loneliness and moodiness hanging in every corner of the cave. She knew each of the small rooms and small hole in the walls by heart, every feature bearing a multitude of memories from her childhood. Still, today it was as if no one had lived there in ages. The fast runner’s mind started to move on overdrive as she heard a forcefully hopeful voice from behind her.

“Don’t worry, Ruby. They can be searching for food or just on a trip somewhere. It’s…” Chomper was quickly silenced by Ruby whose face turned into a mask of horror as a terrifying thought creeped into her mind. Her inhaling quickened and her voice grew quickly louder as she answered.

“What if the sharptooth is chasing my family!? My brother and sister are still too young to ran away quickly enough from that beast! Let’s go, Chomper! We have to make sure they’re safe!” After saying those brief words, Ruby headed back towards the cave opening, quickly looking over the ledge to determine where the beast was now. Her eyes scoured the hills and tunnels almost feverishly, initially in vain. However, after a few seconds a roar, possibly the most furious thus far, rang from behind a group of hills to the fast runner’s left. She quickly turned to look at Chomper after which Ruby said quickly before sprinting away at her fastest possible speed.

“Let’s go, Chomper! I’ll never forgive myself if my siblings don’t make it!” Chomper looked at his caretaker in compassion and dawning fear, fully knowing the danger they were putting themselves into. However, he also knew he would risk his life for his loved ones so he didn’t hesitate a moment before following the fast runner. Her family would need all the help they could get if they were ever to survive the attack.

To her great puzzlement and concern, Ruby could hear the cries of agitation and fury but they no longer seemed to be towards the prey, they started to sound more like frustrated shouts into the air. This realization brought some relief to the fast runner as it at least meant that the sharptooth wasn’t at all pleased with its hunt. A shadow of a hopeful smile crept to her lips when she approached a crossroads in the middle of a rocky plateau, high walls of stone surrounding the small paths in the middle of them. Had Ruby been even slightly more careful, she would have heard footsteps from the path to her right but by the time she heard them, it was already too late. She felt a collision in her legs after which she fell over, finding herself lying in the rocky ground with an aching pain in her body. However, she was stunned to hear a very familiar voice speaking in an annoyed tone.

“Stop running around like an idiot! I…” The voice stopped when another, much more friendly voice spoke. Its sound made Ruby forget everything about the painful fall, immediately rising back to her feet.

“Ruby! Are you alright?” Littlefoot asked in deep surprise, willing to check if his friend was alright after the unsavory fall. The fast runner chuckled as she prepared to answer, only now seeing Cera rising up from the ground. Ruby felt embarrassed for running against her friend in such a brash manner but luckily the threehorn seemed to be alright.

“I am! I’m so glad you found us this quickly! The sharptooth is chasing my family! We have to save them!” The reason for her initial alarm returned to her mind quickly and even if she was overjoyed to rejoin her friends, she had to make sure her family was alright too. That was until she heard Cera rather dry but warm comment.

“Ruby, it was us who were chased. It’s a small wonder we’re all here to tell about it but luckily Petrie could show us the right way to escape. I’m happy to see you too, Ruby.” Cera took a warm smile with the last sentence, being just as relieved to find the fast runner as everybody else were. The threehorn was about to ask about Chomper’s whereabouts when she heard his voice call from nearby, the sharptooth being left a good distance behind by Ruby’s panicked sprint.

“It’s great to see you, guys! I’m so happy to see you’re all okay!” Chomper panted slightly after his run but the elation was clearly readable from his voice and expression. He hadn’t heard Cera’s words so he didn’t know about the close call that his friends had just gone through. Petrie landed on the ground, answering to the sharptooth with a wide smile.

“We be too! We also fear you would be hunted by the sail neck but Petrie happy to see we all here! The sharptooth go the other way so we can forget it for now!” Ruby felt intense relief at the reunion as she had really feared that her guess about the others’ destination was a wrong one. Even then, there might have been other complications that could have cut her friends’ journey in a tragic way. But her earlier fear still lingered in her mind. Her expression turned into a more serious one as she asked carefully.

“So, did you see my family during your journey? We already searched the Hanging Rock and everywhere we searched, we found nothing!” Ruby frowned as she thought about her family’s whereabouts. Even if they weren’t at the Rock all the time, they should have heard her voice or seen her by now.  The fact that they hadn’t showed up by now caused deep concerns to her which Littlefoot’s answer didn’t alleviate at all.

“We didn’t, Ruby. All of our efforts were to avoid getting eaten. Even then, I’m sure they’re okay.” Littlefoot tried to speak in an encouraging tone even if everyone knew that it was nothing more than wishful thinking. Ruby looked into a gorge on their left, her mind wandering in the fearful thoughts about her family’s situation. Chomper knew it wouldn’t relieve his caretaker but he knew it would be asked sooner or later.

“I haven’t smelled them at any time, Ruby. Not even at the Rock. It’s like they haven’t been here in ages.” His voice was now as concerned as the fast runner’s but each of them knew panicking about it wouldn’t help anyone. It was possible that they had moved somewhere else but even then, it raised the profound question: why? What would make her family leave their longtime home? Ruby couldn’t find a satisfactory answer to that question so she merely sighed when she asked the next logical question. Her voice was hesitating and sad when she asked her friends about the obvious issue.

“So… I guess Petrie told everything about the last night?” Ruby looked almost dryly before her, fully knowing what her friends were going to say. She had hoped her family would comfort her in this question but, as so many things in the past few Cold Times, she would have to do as she saw was best. She exchanged glances with Chomper who also knew that the needed and long-feared conversation was coming.

“Yeah, he told everything. Still, you have to come with us back into the Valley. We’ll sort this out in some way.” The speaker was Cera whose voice was unusually calm and unemotional. Chomper was almost afraid by her antics. The sharptooth’s mind was a complete flurry of fears and hopes as he tried to come up with something meaningful to say. He then answered carefully, voicing his own concerns about the coming hours.

“We cannot do that. Even if we came back, we wouldn’t be let in! At this point everybody knows that we’re bloodthirsty egg-stealers.” Chomper’s voice turned angry but it stayed in a controlled tone. His outburst earned a pair of worried glances from his friends, each one of them knowing that Chomper’s words were exactly what everybody thought about the two right now. Additionally, the sharptooth no longer knew if a few more Cold Times in the Valley was worth going all this pain through again. The sharptooth looked in surprise when Ducky jumped from Spike’s back and walked towards the two. Her earlier frustration still lingered in her mind but she tried to target it better than to  fight with Petrie. She tried to hide her anger and to change it into a more caring disguise.

“You shouldn’t care what the others think, no, no ,no! Petrie’s mom might have told them at this point but that doesn’t change the fact that her tale is wrong! If you tell them everything, they might see that you speak the truth! You cannot allow yourselves to be banished because of a lie!” Ducky gritted her teeth in an attempt to calm herself down. Her words sparked surprise from her friends, especially from Ruby and Chomper. They prepared to answer when Littlefoot continued from Ducky’s words.

“Ducky’s right. If we make them listen to us, we might be able to make them let you in again. There are many grown-ups who would most likely defend you.” Littlefoot thought about his Grandparents, Thicknose and others who would more than likely stand for the two. They had been the most outspoken proponents of letting them into the Valley in the first place and there was a good chance they would believe the in the duo’s innocence. Ruby knew it as well but the other denizens of the Valley made her extremely concerned. Letting them back would have to be made by near consensus and creating it would be a herculean task for anyone.

“Many would but how about Cera’s dad or Petrie’s relatives? They would end any talks and the clubtails would drive me away first and ask the questions afterwards. And if they crushed me and Chomper, there would be little to talk about. Also, they already proved that we have to go sooner rather than later.” Ruby was about to continue when she was interrupted by Chomper who looked at her in a pleading way, willing to at least soften the fast runner’s sentiment on their return.

“We should go, Ruby. Neither of us wants to really leave just yet. We don’t lose anything if we try to prove we’re innocent!” The sharptooth looked in concern at his caretaker’s conflicted expression, praying in his mind that she would accept the proposal. After a moment of Ruby’s hesitation, Cera spoke in a mix of internal agitation and warming comfort, willing to create more hope in her torn friends.

“You don’t have to worry about my dad! It’ll be a complete pain but I’ll change his mind with Tria’s help. He never stays defiant for long if we all try to convince him. If we get enough grown-ups to believe us, we might force the others to accept you back!” Cera wasn’t sure whether she believed her own words but for her own peace of mind, she had to. She tried to look as calm as she could when the threehorn heard Petrie’s voice continuing her own assurances.

“Momma did what she did because she had to! She accept you back if the others will. The other fliers will agree, they not care. We will make it happen.” Petrie said while smiling at Ruby and Chomper, fully believing his own words. The others looked at Ruby hopefully who seemed to ponder at the situation greatly. It seemed to make sense but too much bad blood had been created for her to accept the proposition right away. No matter what, she or Chomper would never be seen as real residents of the Valley anymore. The fast runner wasn’t sure if that was the kind of life she would want to lead again.

“That may be but there are many who don’t want us back. And I don’t want to live in a place where most dinosaurs hate us and wait eagerly for the moment when they can get another excuse to kick us out for good! There are far too many who wish to see us leave the Valley forever to make our return make any sense!” Ruby said angrily, looking at her friends in near exhaustion. The situation was really starting to get on her nerves and her outburst didn’t help it any. However, she was surprised by Littlefoot’s frantic answer.

“We want you to come back! None of us should care what someone else thinks but neither of you wants to go yet! We cannot let a few denizens to keep you away and to get what they want. It has always been difficult to keep you accepted and you will have to leave at some point but that doesn’t matter! I have treasured these Cold Times we have had together without measure and I know each of us feels the same way! Ruby, you don’t know how many times we have been tried to be separated! Cera’s dad tried to prohibit her from being with us, Petrie’s uncle kidnapped Ducky and Spike even left us to live with his own kind for some time. Every time each of us did their all to rejoin us again and each time we succeeded. You two weren’t there back then but you are part of our gang now. You have been with us far too long for us to think of ourselves only as the old five friends. You are part of us and I know each of us feels the same way!” Littlefoot spoke quickly and he was seemingly out of breath when he was finished. The longneck spoke without thinking and his words brought a shroud of silence and stunned thinking upon the seven friends, the five original members reflecting this situation on the old ones and to finally realize that the two indeed seemed like they had been part of the gang forever. Ruby and Chomper, on the other hand, were seemingly moved by Littlefoot’s words and they exchanged glances to see if both of them thought the same way. They could easily see the impact the heartfelt outburst had on the two as this was the first time any of seven had voiced their feeling about their presence this straightly.

“Yeah… it seems like forever since we last did something without you. I too had my thoughts but you know what: I couldn’t imagine our lives without you. You two, Tria and Tricia have truly made me who I am these days. My dad and Littlefoot often got my nerves before you came to balance things out. There are many others in the Valley who think the same. Please come back with us.” Cera said slowly, surprising even herself with her voice and unusually kind words. However, this was the moment to voice her thoughts if she wanted to let the two know how much they meant to their friends. Chomper turned his gaze into the ground, seemingly at a loss of words. After a moment, the sharptooth finally started to speak in a silent voice.

“Thanks all. You are the best friends I’ve ever had and you’ve done so much more for me than just saving me as an egg. I would love to stay a few more Cold Times with you. What do you think, Ruby?” Chomper was seemingly moved by the display of loyalty by his friends but Ruby was completely stunned. Whereas the sharptooth had known the others since his birth, the fast runner was completely overwhelmed by the fact that their words had been so clearly to both of them. She had known and felt the mutual feelings between the seven but just feeling it was nothing compared to Littlefoot’s heartfelt words and Cera’s unusual soft moment. It was no longer about her own wishes and fears but rather about the renewed trust between the seven young dinosaurs. Littlefoot was right: she wasn’t about to let a few fear-driven fools stand in her way. The fast runner’s voice trembled as she gave her answer.

“I never dared to think that. I cannot believe that you saw me as one of you even after the adventures you shared without us. And believing that is still difficult after hearing you say that because I never dared to think that. We…” Ruby noticed that she was getting tied up in her own words, not even understanding herself what she was talking about. She looked away from the others in embarrassment before she started again.

“Thank you so much for those words! Of course I want to return home even if it will be a tough fight. But I cannot leave you after you came all this way to find me and Chomper. We’ve come too far to just give up because of my mistake. Thank you for making me see that.” Ruby smiled widely as she looked at each of her five friends slowly. She knew she should have been prepared for this kind of welcome but she hadn’t dared to think so even herself. However, she could feel her heart beat furiously in her chest as she turned to look at Chomper who was equally touched by the conversation. No matter what, the seven would stay together until each and every possibility to do so was spent. The coming evening would be heart-wrenching and tough debate but the five had reignited the duo’s hope of what they thought would be a happy ending.

After a slightly longer than usual wait, here's the next chapter! I hope you'll find this an enjoyable insight into Ruby's past and into the waited reunion of the Gang! Also, thank you rhombus for pointing that out. Now that I think about it, there certainly is a lot to improve in my descriptions. I'll try to put your advice to use in the future. :)  


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Separate Ways
« Reply #16 on: July 10, 2017, 11:40:03 AM »
The Meeting of the Herds

The afternoon was slowly growing old as the familiar walls of the Great Valley slowly started to creep over the distant horizon. All of the seven friends were tired from the day of emotional and physical ordeals but each of them knew that the worst and most challenging part was still before them. They wouldn’t return to the Valley without Ruby and Chomper but what happened if that wasn’t possible in any reasonable way? Luckily for the young dinosaurs, the sail-backed sharptooth didn’t return and they had the whole journey to think of a winning strategy in the coming battle for the Valley’s minds and hearts.

The propositions had been many, from the strict rejection of the Valley’s probable decision to expel the two to the pure coaxing of their parents. Still, in the end, this was an issue for all the Valley’s herds so they should have as many grown-ups on their side as possible. Petrie looked around himself in concern and confusion as he mentally prepared to their return into their home. Surely, the Bright Circle and the Warm Time wouldn’t allow the worst to happen? He and his friends had done their all to please the unseen benefactors of the fliers and the other dinosaurs and he had often wished to live in the belief that he had made it this far with his friends’ as well as the Bright Circle’s help.

Littlefoot’s expression was strictly fearful. Even if many in the Valley had disapproved his and his friends’ actions in the past, none of them had ever been under the threat of an exile. This wasn’t the first time he’d stand up to his friends but it was by far the most serious one.
At least this time each of us agrees on what we are doing. I nothing else, my Grandpa and Grandma should have a powerful say today. Hopefully… just hopefully, I’ll be able to spend the night with them… The longneck thought awkwardly, not willing to think about the alternate possibility. To him, only one outcome was acceptable. He had always gone to any lengths to help his friends and this time was no exception.

Ruby and Chomper walked behind the others, clearing their thoughts to put up as effective defense as they simply could. The coming hour would decide their future for a long time and they didn’t want to let down their friends’ display of trust and loyalty. Chomper felt extremely hopeful inside that he would be able to escape his feared future for now. Ruby, on the other hand, felt distinct concern due to her family’s absence from the Hanging Rock but she had to hope that they were safe somewhere. The two were prepared to go through this together, no matter the outcome. A certain, encouraging message was clear each time they exchanged thoughts.

At least we’re in this together.

The Bright Circle was still high in the sky as a few flying, shadowy figures could be seen over the Valley’s walls. They started to quickly grow closer to the seven friends and it was mere minutes before they could be identified as Volant and her cousins who also lived in the Valley. It was clear that they had spent a long day searching for the lost children but, luckily to them, this time they returned rather quickly and safely. Still, Volant’s voice was far from happy when she and her relatives landed near the seven friends. She got straight to the point when she saw that Ruby and Chomper were with them.

“I’m glad that you’re alright, children, but we all know that Ruby and Chomper can’t go back to the Valley. The herds will never accept it.” The flier put her hands to her hips in a show of resolution and decisiveness. She had stood by her original judgement the whole day and she wasn’t willing to change it now. In the light of everything that had happened, she was rather surprised to hear Petrie’s answer.

“Actually, we think we have a chance, momma. Just give us that chance.” Petrie said in a soft voice, not willing to alienate his own mother and one of the adults that could prove helpful in the proposed gathering. He knew Volant didn’t have a personal drive to exile the two but even letting them to the Valley for a meeting would be a formidable show of trust and personal investment in their cause. If the attempt failed, her own and the fliers’ standing among the herds would take a blow.

“Ruby and Chomper have their homes to return to, Petrie. Believe me this once, things will be better if we won’t take this issue up in the Valley.” Volant tried to plead to her son, desperately willing to avoid conflicts with her son and the Valley. She looked in deep confusion and concern as Chomper approached her.

“We have thought about this a lot, Ms. Flier. It would be easy for us to leave right now but we would really like to live in the Valley as long as we can. We may be sharp- of halfteeth but we really didn’t steal the egg. We could have eaten it before you found us but we didn’t.” Chomper tried to reason carefully before Ruby came to his side. The fast runner took a more serious and apologizing tone.

“We are terribly sorry for what happened. I’ll never forgive myself for the mistake I made but please, believe us when we say we stand a chance to convince the Valley. We’ve helped you and everyone else so many times and I think we have many friends there who would listen to us.” Ruby spoke softly as she looked into Volant’s eyes. The flier looked extremely conflicted when one of her companions spoke to her.

“Don’t listen to them. Even if they end up being innocent, the fight to prove it will create divisions in the Valley for many Cold Times to come! Risking it and our own position I the Valley isn’t worth two children who have to leave it anyway!” The male flier’s voice told everyone that he took no joy in his strict position but he believed that his argument was completely rational. Another of Volant’s companions continued in a more hostile voice.

“And even that’s a big if! A fast runner found with a broken egg in the middle of the night doesn’t sound too innocent to me!” The other flier tried to continue but Volant waved her silent. He could see that Petrie said what he genuinely believed to be the truth and she couldn’t deny her own debt to the duo. Chomper had even saved her life when she was about to drown in the flood during the Days of Rising Waters. He could have attacked her children back had he wanted to but he had only wanted to help. Suddenly, she felt extremely guilty for putting the two in this position even if she still knew her responsibility to her herd. She took deep breaths when she turned to look at the children, taking deep breaths as she prepared to reveal her decision. She was clearly bothered and she held many pauses during her answer.

“Ruby… Chomper… You must understand that I’m taking a huge personal risk with this. And don’t be surprised if I don’t always stand up to you because I still am not sure what to believe. But what I do believe is that you deserve a chance to stand up to yourselves. I just fear it will be much harder than last time.” Volant’s eyes took an apologizing hue as she spoke the last words, implicating that her own stance was still undecided. The male flier to her left looked at Volant in chagrin and fear, saying in a demanding voice.

“That is a huge mistake, Volant! Nothing good will come of this!” The words were largely overshadowed by sounds of jubilation from the children who were seemingly delighted by this chance the flier had given them. Volant felt happiness to see their reaction but she also understood her cousin’s opinion. With a sigh, she answered.

“I don’t know about it anymore but I stand by my words. They deserve a chance. Come, we have to alert the Valley about the meeting.” After those words, the adult flier raised her voice so that the seven friends could hear it also.

“One of us will stay here to check that you stay safe. Come to the Valley as soon as you can, we’ll call the herds. They should be gathered by the time you reach the Circle. Even if I cannot say whether I like it or not, you kids sure have the courage to get things done. Let’s hope it will also be enough today.” Volant took a brief smile before Petrie answered to her in delight.

“Thank you so much, momma! Don’t worry, soon things be good again! See you soon!” Petrie smiled as he took flight. Volant nodded in approval as she and the other fliers save for one took flight. Littlefoot looked at the departing forms and quickly spoke to the others. Volant’s words had invoked further hopes within the longneck of their gamble succeeding and he felt great happiness and even pride as he turned to look at the others.

“Let’s go. Let’s show everyone what we can do.”

Volant looked in clear hesitation as each of the herds started to gather around the Rock Circle, most of them confused about the situation whereas some others looked outright agitated. The fliers by her side didn’t look any more encouraged but they had been with her in gathering this meeting. No matter their opinion on things, Volant hoped they would stay reasonable along with everyone who had come today. The first blow to the flier’s composure came from Mr. Threehorn whose voice was very blunt. He had been very fast to accept the official account of Ruby and Chomper’s fall from grace.

“What is the meaning of this? The egg-stealers are gone and Cera with them! We should be going after them rather than talking here and doing nothing!” The threehorn said in clear agitation as he looked at Volant. His position earned him many cheers among the crowd as usual. The flier waited for a moment in growing despair as the voices started to calm down.

“The kids are on their way back here with Ruby and Chomper right now. I met them and I decided to call…” Volant’s answer was disturbed by a cry from the clubtails’ direction. it was a mixture of outrage and sorrow as the female clubtail tried to cope with the loss of one of her children. She had spent the crying and trying to call for a group to catch the murderers. The clubtail was filled with sorrow and bitterness.

“Then drive them far away from here or even better, crush them! I will not let those child-murderers step to our beautiful Valley ever again! What were you thinking, barkbrain? They have no right to even come here!” The clubtail spat at the flier in clear disgust and fury. Volant felt rage rise over the larger dinosaurs’ words when she heard Petrie’s voice near her.

“Me friends already in the Valley, momma! They here right away!” The younger flier had decided to arrive faster than the others to inform his mother that she wouldn’t have to wait with the others for long. However, Petrie was momentarily disheartened by the grim looks the assembled dinosaurs gave him. He quickly landed by his mother’s side who them whispered to him silently.

“Yes, the meeting will be tough, Petrie. I just hope you and your friends can make your case clear!” Volant said as she prepared to answer to the others. At this point the older flier would have wished she had chosen differently about calling this meeting but there was no turning back anymore. She gulped audibly as she continued to calm the situation down until the seven friends would arrive.

I hope I won’t have to see the others today, I do, I do! Things are bad enough right now!

Ducky thought as she walked through the Valley by her friends’ side. Even if she had calmed down somewhat, the prospect of having to once again meet her siblings brought great concern to the swimmer. Trying to convince the grown-ups was bad enough but if she had to fight with her siblings at the same time… things would get really horrifying. The swimmer’s steps were nervous but she did her best to put on a brave face for the sake of her friends. There was far too much at stake here to worry about such small personal issues.

Littlefoot looked awkwardly at the distance. He could see that all of the Valley’s adults had gathered there. Some of them looked happy to see the seven young dinosaurs, some were confused and some were seemingly hostile. Littlefoot was taken aback by the cold welcome but forced his legs to take the steps forward. Soon, as the longneck was near enough, he decided to break the silence, no matter awkward the manner would be.

“Uhh… hi everyone! I… it’s great to see you’re all here already!” Littlefoot tried to accompany his words with a smile but it quickly turned into a goofy-looking grin. The longneck realized it quickly and he was saddened when he heard the first answer. It was the dead hatchling’s father.

“I don’t care whether it was you who killed my child or your friends, you’re all as guilty! Get out of this Valley now, or I don’t answer for my actions!” It was clear that the clubtail was serious as his voice dripped venom and cold hatred as his eyes glared at Littlefoot. The scary moment was interrupted by Littlefoot’s grandfather who spoke to the clubtail in a calm but commanding voice.

“Each of us partakes in your loss, Mr. Clubtail, but this is a matter left to all of us in the Valley. You may have your say but please, calm down and stop threatening Littlefoot.” The old longneck looked in compassion at the smaller dinosaur whose answer was interrupted by a domehead.

“For what? Those heartless killers don’t deserve to be heard!” The domehead spoke in anger as she looked at the longneck in an accusing glare.

“Ever since we came here, all of the herds have decided upon matters together. No matter what is to come, you will not decide about anything alone any more than I do!” Ducky’s father said matter-of-factly, willing to make the domehead see reason. During these gatherings, each herd had one vote and it had to be formed by consensus within the herd’s families. The system had been adopted due to the fact that the herds with larger families would otherwise soon hold too much power. Sometimes the consensus would be hard to build and in those cases abstaining from the vote was the most usual option. Before anyone else could say anything more, Littlefoot’s Grandmother spoke quickly in order to stop the dangerous escalation.

“Now that we’re all here, Volant can explain to us why she gave Ruby and Chomper a chance to come to this meeting.” The message was clear: the longneck didn’t expect the duo’s case to be accepted. Volant sighed in relief and glanced gratefully at the longnecks. Without further interruptions, the flier started.

“I’m sure we all know by now what happened last night and I’m not saying that I trust our two guests myself. However, seeing to which lengths our children trust them and, whether you like it or not, how much they’ve helped us in the last seasons, I wanted to give them a chance to make their voices heard. I truly believe that they deserve that much. I’m going to be honest, I don’t know what they are up to but I can only ask you to have an open mind. Ruby, say what you have to say.” The adult flier said in a tired voice and the fast runner wasted no time in moving to the speaker’s rock. Chomper followed near her but he didn’t rise to the stone just yet. Ruby felt her heart sink as she looked at all the murderous glares from the audience. With a wavering voice, she started to speak.

“He… hello, everyone! There’s nothing I can say to repair the damage I have done but I promise to you, I and Chomper didn’t do what we did because we meant it. We tried to save the egg from egg-stealers and we succeeded but in a way, I’m a killer also. I tripped and the egg crashed because of my clumsiness.” Ruby felt a tear fall from her eye as she taught about the life she had wasted so stupidly. In a way, she would have wanted to sink inside the rock as she felt unworthy to stand before the parents of the baby who would never see sunlight. Still, it was too late to regret her return to the Valley. Her internal conflict was stopped by Cera’s father who called to the fast runner in an accusing voice.

“It’s useless to paint yourself as innocent! There was never any proof of these eggstealers and it does you no good to invent these things to make yourself look less guilty!” Other voices joined the choir of accusations and Ruby felt like her head was slowly getting crushed under today’s weight. With a desperate voice, she called over the noise in a loud voice.

“But it’s true, true it is! We had a chance to eat the baby but we didn’t! Why would we steal an egg after all this time, break it and leave the hatchling lie in a bush! You have no reason to believe me but it’s not logical! Also, why would we have broken the egg in the middle of the Canyon where any flier can see us?” Ruby tried to reason to the Valley denizens when a voice called from the crowd.

“Maybe the hunger got the better of your judgement, sharptooth!” Another chorus of accusations rose from the assembled dinosaurs and they ranged from pure bloodthirst to the accused stupidity of “all sharpteeth”, including the omnivores. Ruby frowned heavily at this outburst but the fast runner knew she’d have to keep her cool. At this point the rest of the seven friends started to disperse towards their families, resolved to ease the verbal bombardment Ruby was going through.

Cera felt great anger as she walked towards her father, her blood boiling as she listened to his words and cries in the crowd. However, she knew there was no way she could approach the older threehorn in a hostile manner and hope for him to listen. With great effort, Cera approached her father and tried to keep her voice as friendly and neutral as she could. She wasn’t about to listen to his father’s bellowing for any longer.

“Could you please listen for a moment, daddy?” Cera said as her father seemed startled by the sudden words. He turned to quickly look at his daughter who had managed to approach him without the older threehorn noticing. His composition immediately softened as he saw her daughter return safe and sound. Volant had said that she was with the others so there had been no reason to be concerned about Cera’s whereabouts. However, he was more than happy to see Cera gree him even if he could already see what she was going to say.

“I know what you think, Cera, but there’s nothing to talk about! The way I see it, the case is completely clear!” The adult threehorn prepared to listen to Ruby’s next words but Cera’s still-restrained voice took his attention. Mr. Threehorn would have wanted to be left alone with this matter but he knew that Cera wouldn’t give up this easily.

“Didn’t you hear what Ruby just said? If she and Chomper were searching for a meal here, they could have killed any of us during their time here or stolen any egg they would have wanted to. I know you never wanted them here anyway but listen to me this one time, daddy. They were with us in releasing the Valley’s water supply and in getting rid of sand crawlers and they always acted like one of us. They didn’t do it daddy, trust me” Cera was about to continue when another voice which had been silent until now joined the conversation.

“Cera’s right, Topsy. If Ruby and Chomper had been up to no good, we would have seen it by now. I know you don’t easily trust other dinosaurs too often but we do this time.” Tria said as she moved closer to her mate. She had grown very fond of the duo and she was far from happy with her mate’s handling of the situation. The male threehorn looked extremely bothered but he tried to keep his composure intact. He stuttered for a moment before he could clear out his thoughts.

“But… the flier told that she was sure of their guilt! I’m more than capable of understanding that she meant what she said! Leave me alone, there’s a meeting to attend to!” The older threehorn wished to shrug the issue quickly away as he didn’t want to be proven wrong once again. He trusted Cera and Tria’s judgement but there were times he wanted to get something done where he was sure he was right. He had suffered too many defeats in the meetings to take on further setbacks kindly.

“Like many of the times where your decisions were far from perfect? Daddy, I’ve known my friends for a long time and there’s nothing dangerous about them! We must let them stay!” Cera sharpened her voice quickly while her father took a deep sigh. She couldn’t deny Cera’s friendship with them but he wanted to do what he thought was right. The older threehorn was at a clear loss on what to say. After a moment, he tried to counter her argument.

“I’ve always done what I thought was right! Cera, you must believe me that not once did I put my personal well-being before yours. I always wanted the best and you know It!” Mr. Threehorn tried to put on a brave defense but, to his great shame, they ended up hurting the older dinosaur himself than they did Cera’s position. His grave mistake in the huge forest fire during the drought, his efforts to separate Cera from Littlefoot and most importantly, his inability help his dear mate and children and his poor herd during their journey to the Valley. It was the truth that he had always cared about the others even more than about himself but total failure had more often than not been his prize. The mere thought about his original mate made him want to weep. Cera was his only concrete memory of her, the only thing that bound him to the past he had been forced to leave behind. Looking at Cera’s pleading eyes made something turn in the threehorn’s mind. He had shown his daughter far too seldom how much she really meant to him and the older threehorn understood how much Cera’s friends meant to her.

If this is a way to make you happy, Cera, then so be it. I can do this.

Even if it would hurt him in the power struggle in the Valley, the threehorn could see this was a perfect time to show his appreciation to Cera and to please Tria. He took a much softer expression and almost smiled as she looked at Cera.

“I’ll think about it, Cera.” Something in the aging threehorn’s voice told Cera that he really meant what he said. She took on a much happier face and nuzzled her father gently. This rare display of affection was largely missed by the herds too busy to bombard Ruby with their accusations to pay attention to other things.

Volant looked with a mixed expression at the scene below the large cliff she was standing on. No matter her initial reservations, her opinion was slowly moving to Ruby and Chomper’s side in the argument as she listened to Ruby’s emotional memories about her time in the Valley and the times she had been helpful to the others. Likewise, Petrie’s urgent and genuine efforts to help his friends were slowly starting to register in the older flier’s mind and the initial arguments were rather convincing. She had seen the scene firsthand and, after hearing the fast runner’s descriptions, she was forced to believe that they hadn’t been up to egg-stealing, no matter what it had looked like. Even if Petrie had often been repeatedly manipulated, most prominently by her brother, and easy to persuade, the adult flier could see that this was not the case here. It was clear that he was fuly and completely ready to accept the duo’s innocence. Volant was startled by a sudden comment from her left.

“Well, Volant, this is going much better for you than expected! Even the old threehorn seems to be starting to hesitate! It seems that the kids are quite good at persuading.” The male flier said with an unreadable expression. Even if he had initially tried to prevent this whole meeting from commencing, he was pleased to see his cousin’s initiative hadn’t been crushed right away. He was somewhat amused to hear Petrie’s voice speak to him. The younger flier’s voice was joking but it carried a sense of genuinely and gratefulness to it.

“It easier to trust us when we save the Valley so many times! Also, Ruby a great speaker and she make the others easily see that she speak the truth! Petrie so happy with this meeting!” The brown flier sounded extremely hopeful and the older flier smiled slightly when he answered. Even if he and Petrie didn’t see each other too often, he was rather caring of his young relative and his siblings. Seeing that the fliers weren’t going to be completely shamed today, his tone changed into an almost friendly one.

“Well, I hope this goes well for your sake, Petrie. Who would I be if I voted for their exile just to spoil your day. I’ll help make them stay if the consensus starts to shift towards that direction.” The older flier was happy to announce the good news to his cousin’s son after he realized that the stakes were lowered considerably. Petrie looked at him in excitement before he nodded in approval. He answered quickly to the older male flier in clear appreciation.

“Thank you so much, uncle! Petrie promise Ruby will make the others see how things are! Thank you!” Petrie didn’t find much more to say in this situation but two major blocs, Cera’father and his relatives, had been won to their side. Petrie sat down to the cliff to see how things would turn out. He felt perfectly confident as the rays of the late afternoon shined on him.

Ducky was having different challenges than her friends. Her parents were very understanding to her stance and they were happy to agree with her. Ducky looked in slight happiness at the developments around her. Most notable was Cera’s conversation with her father and the clear uneasiness the older threehorn was apparently going through. Ruby had vacated the stone in order for the herds to be able to think about the developments before the voting process could begin. The fast runner had gone through her points but the others could have their say before the vote, if they wanted to. Ducky looked at Spike in a tired but somewhat relieved look. She was about to speak to her adopted brother when one of her sisters came to talk to her. Ducky had sat down further away from her siblings to avoid this but apparently they had a different idea.

“Is it really that hard to stay out of trouble, Ducky? Mom has been concerned the whole day and now you spoiled the evening with this meeting!” The speaking swimmer was darker green than Ducky and her voice was far from friendly. It was a mixture of smug jeer and real annoyance that had been far too common among the swimmers lately. Ducky closed her hands into a fist and felt her anger rise already as she answered.

“You know where we were, Tide! I know you have never approved of my and Spike’s trips but that’s none of your concern! Could you please go away?” The swimmer felt a flicker of bitterness flow through her as she thought about herself and her siblings. It wasn’t too long ago when they were on good terms but for some reason, which wasn’t completely Spike and his deviancy, that had escalated drastically lately. Now, Ducky wasn’t willing to even see most of her siblings but this time she had hoped she could have escaped this torture. She sighed internally when another voice spoke behind her.

“Without this interruption we would be still playing but now we are forced to be here listening to this boring talk! This is all your and Spike’s fault!” Another young swimmer approached Ducky, this one male, and his expression was just as furious as his sister’s. This time Ducky turned around and her voice started to turn into an extremely toxic one. One that many others wouldn’t have even recognized to have belonged to Ducky if they hadn’t seen them come out of her mouth.

“If that’s what you have to say, you may just leave. We did this to help our friends and if you think that’s wrong, I don’t want to hear it, no, no, no.” Ducky turned her gaze back towards the main group of assembled dinosaurs and prayed in her mind that the other swimmers would leave her at peace. To her great chagrin, that wouldn’t be the case.

“You mean those sharpteeth? We would all be better off without them! It seems your company has turned into an ever more stupid one!” Most of the young swimmers didn’t know whether this behavior was “innocent” teasing or full-blown conflict but in the huge group of siblings it was easy to join this mentality and not question its reasons in any way. There were only two or three who had initially joined in bullying Ducky but it had since become a nonverbal consensus among the children that the two were unpopular. Their parents had noticed some kind of problems among their offspring but they couldn’t guess its severity and Ducky wasn’t willing to tell them. But now Ducky could see that the situation was getting too mean for her to stay. With a barely contained voice, Ducky walked to her brother and whispered to him silently. Spike seemed extremely sad about the situation and grunted in regret. Ducky merely sighed and whispered to him in a nearly tear-choking voice.

“Let’s go see if the others have come back, Spike. I don’t want to stay here any longer.”

“Well done, Ruby! Some are looking really confused!” Chomper said as he spoke to the exhausted fast runner. The sharptooth felt distinct embarrassment for leaving the speaking to Ruby but he couldn’t deny that the larger dinosaur was a better speaker and had a better chance in building confidence among the herds. The young sharptooth waited eagerly for the vote o see if they truly had done well enough to regain the herds’ trust. The formula of the gathering was still the same as the first time so at least it wouldn’t bring any surprises.

“Yes… yes they do, Chomper! Cera and Petrie did well, well they did! I wasn’t shouted silent too many times anymore and some even seemed to realize but my point. At least we weren’t driven off right away as I had feared.” Ruby said while she panted, thankful for her friends for speaking to their parents and silencing at least part of the opposition. Chomper looked at the fast runner in a hesitating, unsure look before he spoke silently and carefully.

“Do you think we’ll win? Silencing Cera’s dad is really a good start but is it enough?” Chomper said with a slight smile on his face. Seeing all the trust and help his friends had given him and Ruby brought him great warmth and relief during this day of distress. No matter what happened, the duo’s fate would be decided within an hour.

“A good start it is but I’m still afraid, Chomper. Some of the herds seem to have turned more understanding to us but the biggest problem remains. Even if most support us, I don’t want to think what the clubtails are going to do if we win or what my parents would do to someone who would have killed anyone of my family. In a way, Chomper, I feel terrible and guilty for defending myself to the family whose child I took from them.” Ruby said glumly as she looked at the blue sharptooth. The fact that she tried to free herself from the crime she actually did, even if unwillingly, made her feel worse than the fast runner had expected.

“Yeah… you’re right. Even if it was an accident, we can never show ourselves to them again. I cannot blame them for wanting our blood but even then, we only tried to help. We shouldn’t blame ourselves for the rest of our lives for a single, well-willing but failed chase.” Chomper sounded beaten as he thought about the full implications of their deed but he chose to trust his own words. That was the best chance either of them had. Ruby would have wanted to talk more about her fears but she knew it would help little if she, who was known to be calm and reasonable, would start to panic. Ruby was about to answer when she heard an elderly, familiar voice speak among the crowd.

“May I have my say? I’d like to tell you something I think could clear the whole situation.” the voice belonged to Mr. Thicknose who had thus far been quiet. His voice was grim but soft and he looked at the others in an asking look. Even if his position in the Valley had taken a massive hit during the fall of the Valley’s first Frozen Sky Stars, his respect had partly been restored by his genuine and invaluable advice later on and his unmatched knowledge. No matter what, the ancient dinosaur’s word would find many listening to them among the crowd. Everyone fell silent in the Valley as Thicknose started to speak.

“Ruby and Chomper have lived irreproachably with us for three Cold Times, without the least of incidents against the Valley. At this point, I doubt they have harbored hostile feelings on us, at least willingly, and because of that, the only thing that could possibly explain their claimed egg-stealing would be the hunger madness.” Loud voices of gossip rose up from the crowd as they contemplated the old dinosaur’s words. Few of them cared about the meat-eaters’ issues and so nearly none of them had heard about this hunger madness. Ruby and Chomper looked at their teacher in puzzlement, unable to decide whether they approved Thicknose’s initiative. Hunger madness was something they both dreaded heinously as their worst memories in their past were from the early stages of that bloodthirsty, meat-craving hunger. It was one of any dinosaur’s worst fears and they weren’t pleased to hear themselves and it in the same sentence.

“It’s close to impossible that Ruby would have succumbed to it back then because she, despite also eating meat, can eat the green food here, as you all know. I can promise you that Ruby wouldn’t have done that willingly and the hunger madness is out of the question. However, there’s a chance she could have done it for Chomper. Even then, I doubt that’s the case here. We should have seen it earlier and in that condition, he should have attacked one of our children brashly, not the eggs. I’ve heard many tales about the times when sharpteeth lose their self-control and this occasion surely doesn’t sound like one. And, as I said, I hardly doubt they did it willingly. The way I see it, this was a pure mistake as Ruby and Chomper claimed, not a calculated kill. I say that we let them stay here.” The old dinosaur’s announcement earned many approving nods but part of the crowd seemed to explode into loud cries and enraged shouts. Thicknose walked slowly into his former place to escape the flurry of cries coming from some of the assembled herds. The whole gathering seemed to descent into chaos until one voice overshadowed the others in its enraged bellowing.

“SILENCE! He had his right to speak and we will not rob it from him! We will vote on this matter as we have always done!” The voice that seemed to freeze the whole scene still belonged to Mr. Threehorn who seemed to have lost his patience due to his internal confusion and the antics of some of the herds. He was surprised to be countered by another, just as furious voice.

“So that we can be manipulated to letting a murderer back into the Valley!? Can’t you see that we’re all being deceived? The kids can’t be the only reason you change your minds about this! I always thought you more reasonable than this, threehorn!” The clubtail’s voice dipped poison and disgust as she looked at the threehorn. An observer could have found the latter’s changed role in the gatherings amusing if the stakes hadn’t been so incredibly high. The threehorn wasn’t used to such blunt-worded opposition to his stance as the longnecks had often been his principal adversaries in the past. Rather unusually for him, he decided to back down a bit from his previous stance. Creating a long-term rift between himself and the clubtails could cause him even more trouble in the meetings of the future. Still, he tried to keep on a rough mask on his face in order to retain his status.

“You don’t have to tell me about such things! I lost many children and my mate to the sharpteeth so I know what you think about this. Still, we must do this according to our traditions or else this Valley would soon fall apart. I promise you, should the vote go your way, the two will receive a just punishment!” The threehorn hit the ground with his leg in order to underline his point. The clubtail looked at him in disappointment but at the sight of the condemning faces around her, she decided to take the chance. In her grief, the clubtail couldn’t see a scenario where she and her mate would lose the vote.

“Very well. But remember: she is a child-killer and a filthy thief and he is a mere bloodthirsty monster! Remember this when you think about your stance.” The clubtail backed down slowly, her eyes looking at Ruby and Chomper with a murderous glance. The two gulped and tried to ignore the voices in their own conscience. The knowledge that each and every part of the unending hatred towards them was earned brought great unease upon the two. Their internal conflicts were interrupted when Grandpa Longneck’s voice could be heard in the clearing.

“It’s time for us to reveal what we have decided. Each of the herds may tell during their turn in what conclusion they have come to. We’ll start from our left side.” The old longneck said in concerns as he looked at the highly tense situation in the meeting. He hated to see the herds this badly split by any issue but there was no helping that now. He could only hope that things would go as well as they could.

The seven friends had gathered back together to hear the decision of the herds. They would have wanted to stay with their families but they wished to prove their point by sticking together at this crucial moment. Ruby and Chomper were still far from safety and all they knew, the vote could still go against them. The five listened in silence at Mr. Threehorn’s and the clubtail’s spat and hoped that it wouldn’t escalate further. Petrie spoke silently as they looked at the tense scene.

“Me hope the Warm Time thankful enough to help us. We gave it a lot of gifts and tales so it should be happy. We can only hope…” Petrie looked at the last day and he couldn’t believe it himself that it had been less than a day since most of the herds had celebrated together in good spirit. It felt like it had happened an eternity ago as so much had happened since the last evening. Cera snorted as she looked at the clubtail’s antics.

“How can that clubtail speak to my dad like that?! He should show teach her to mess up with a threehorn!” Cera looked at her in anger as the clubtail finally gave up and went back to her place. The whole atmosphere felt awkward as they waited for the gathering to resume in full swing. All of them felt a mixture of hope and fear but Ducky felt far more.

How can I make things good in our family again? I don’t want this to continue any longer, no, no, no…

Ducky would have wanted to cry as she thought about the last weeks but she decided to keep her concerns to herself for now. This was far worse than her anger at Spike all that time ago and letting those emotions out at this point could open a whole new feud between her and her friends. For now, the swimmer decided to stay silent and hope that a positive answer could ease her nerves.

Littlefoot could see that something still bothered Ducky greatly but the starting vote captivated his interest more profoundly. No matter how much he would have wanted to help Ducky, the longneck could understand that this wasn’t a place for that discussion. Littlefoot gulped nervously as he heard his grandmother continue from her mate’s remark.

“Hollowhorns may be the first ones to speak. Just stay calm whatever you decide.” The elderly longneck exchanged worried glances with her mate as they thought about the results. No matter what came to pass, one kind of crisis would be brewing in the Valley. The hollowhorns stepped forward and one of them spoke briefly. Their stance was no surprise as they had often aligned with the more isolationist herds in the Valley.

“We vote against them staying.” The answers had to be brief in order not to influence the other herds’ opinions. The hollowhorn sounded firm and unhesitating as he gave his answer. Petrie looked at him in anger. This wasn’t a good start at all to the vote, even if the hollwhorns’ vote went as expected. Next in line would be the swimmers whose stance was as similarly expected.

“We think the two should be able to stay here. We vote for them.” Ura, Ducky’s mother, said in an unsure but decisive voice. Each of the herds weighed the first two herds’ decisions but the gathering stayed somewhat calm. In the following minutes, the votes went mostly as expected: the longnecks voting in favor and the domeheads against the two staying. What really surprised most of the assembled dinosaurs was the fact that the fliers actually voted yes as most of the assembled dinosaurs had expected their internal disputes force them to pass their vote. This brought slight murmurs in the circle but each of them knew fighting during the voting process wouldn’t help. Petrie looked in deep surprise to his relatives who seemed surprisingly calm about their decision.

Thank you momma and cousins! Petrie never forget this. Oh, perhaps we win after all!

The next one to vote were the clubtails and their stance was what everybody had expected. The female’s voice dipped with cold hatred as she announced her stance but, to everyone’s relief, she withstood from further attacks. However, as Mr. Threehorn stepped forward after them, everybody’s eyes turned towards him. It had been expected that he’d stand to his ideals and he’d cast the vote against Ruby and Chomper without hesitation but his apparent indecision had made the others wonder his true stance.

The threehorn had usually strived to a consistent, decisive appearance in these gatherings. He had often been seen as the longnecks’ counterpart and the natural leader for the more traditional forces in the Valley. He had many allies in the other herds and he knew letting them down even once would permanently hurt his image among them. The dinosaur shook his head in an effort to clear out his thoughts. Even if he knew defending the two would be far from reasonable in his position, he couldn’t deny Cera’s points about her friends. The threehorn had once stood against them but none of his fears had been realized. They had never been rude, manipulative or murderous as he had once argued. Even the last night’s incident was slowly starting to confuse him as so many things started point in the duo’s innocence. The threehorn gathered all his courage and regaining his usual, authoritative pose.

“I’ve given this much thought and I’ve finally arrived at a conclusion. The threehorns vote for the two staying.” A total chaos erupted in a moment as the aging dinosaur’s usual allies started to cry in disbelief. One of the most probable herds to vote against letting the two back into the Valley had completely reverted to the opposite side, in effect settling the issue once and for all.

Cera couldn’t believe her ears. Even after all her defense for her friends, she had never dreamt of her father actually voting for them. She jumped in joy and would have wanted to immediately run to her dad and nuzzle him in deep appreciation. However, she could see that the situation was too instable for that. In its stead she spoke happily to her friends.

“Did you hear that? I don’t know how I can ever thank my dad for this! Sometimes I doubt it but at least he listens to me when I really want him to.” Cera took the widest smile she had had in a while as she turned to her friends. Littlefoot also had similarly stunned expression and all of the five would have wanted to embrace at that moment. It was becoming clear that their mission had been successful after all.

“I don’t say this often but I’m really happy for your dad, Cera. Good job for talking to him. You know what this means? Ruby and Chomper are going to stay with us!” The five tried to close the chorus of curses and threats from their minds as they contemplated on their apparent victory. Even Ducky forgot her siblings for a moment and joined in her friends’ jubilation.

On the other side of the circle reigned similar disbelief. The clubtails couldn’t belief the threehorns had turned their backs on their tragedy and instead given in to Cera’s manipulation. Without their support, it was all but certain that the two killers would be allowed into the Valley. Both adult clubtails stood still for many seconds, the outrage of the moment growing by the minute in their minds.

The female locked her eyes on Ruby who was standing near the gathering rock, preparing to join her friends in their celebration. Here the manipulative murderer would be able to join the Valley and receive a full pardon for her deeds while her own unborn child would never take his or her first breath, never play, never feel. And all of that because of the fast runner’s lies and the threehorns’ betrayal. In her highly critical mental state, the clubtail knew exactly what she would have to do. Even if she could no longer help her poor child, she could at least ensure that the fast runner’s manipulative lies would never again deceive the Valley or anyone in it.

What happened in the next seconds was a complex flurry of different, quick actions that none taking part of it could make sense of. The massive clubtail locked her eyes on Ruby and prepared to charge on her. The fast runner was on the way to joining her friends after the miraculous victory. She and Chomper could hardly contain their joy and gratefulness as they begun to digest the news.

I cannot believe there was this much trust in us left in here! Maybe I was wrong about the Valley, wrong I was!

Ruby had decided early on that Volant’s initial decision would be the Valley’s consensus but she had been proven wrong. Maybe most of the dinosaurs had actually seen the two as their equals? The mere thought of that possibility brought a great smile to her face. She and Chomper were on their way to thank and celebrate with their friends when the two heard loud steps and a maddened cry behind them.

“This is for my child, murderers! You will never again hurt another innocent hatchling, I’ll make sure of that that!” The clubtail approached with immense speed and Ruby was momentarily frozen at the sight of the larger dinosaur’s murderous glare and quickly approaching form. Chomper’s mind seemed to grow blurred as the massive leafeater threatened his friend’s life. The sharptooth had to act quickly if he wished to save his beloved caretaker. Far too fast for his conscious mind to react, in fact. For the first time in his short life, Chomper’s instincts took the full control of his actions, doing something that had been unthinkable for the young carnivore for many Cold Times and something he would regret for the rest of his life.

The blue sharptooth ran towards the clubtail who seemed to ignore him largely. Chomper’s pupils enlarged to an unseen degree and his movements told that the friendly sharptooth was no longer in control. On instinct, prompted by his wish to save his friend, Chomper jumped on the clubtail’s neck, his teeth tearing their way into the larger dinosaur’s soft flesh. The clubtail screamed in pain and twitched heavily but her mind was still fixed on Ruby and to ending her disgusting existence in this world. Getting rid of Chomper would have required letting Ruby escape and that wasn’t something she was going to do. A part of Chomper’s mind screamed in panic at what he was doing but the predator’s mind reminded him that this was the only way to save Ruby. The fast runner had started her escape but a mere youngling of her kind couldn’t outrun many adult dinosaurs.

Chomper’s claws dug ever deeper to the clubtail’s neck, dying the young sharptooth completely in blood. Soon, the female’s pace started to drop and, not much later, she collapsed to the ground, her mind darkening quickly. The large dinosaur’s eyes were still fixed on the fleeing fast runner who had just realized what had transpired behind her. Only a single thought rang in her mind as consciousness fled her fleeting mind.

You won’t live long, monsters! You won’t leave this Valley alive! I’m sorry my child, for failing you again…

The time seemed to freeze in the Valley at that moment. No one seemed to take another breath as the badly injured clubtail collapsed to the ground, her breath increasingly weak, and the blood-covered sharptooth rising to his feet from the ground. Chomper’s thoughts were still highly overshadowed by adrenaline but it started to wear off slowly. He didn’t have any idea what had happened initially and the first thing that accompanied his clearing mind was a chest-crushing horror. Was the seriously-injured clubtail truly his handiwork?

Not once in his life had his instincts taken full control of him. Even during his hunts with his parents, his actions were well-thought out and he had never done any more harm to others than he had needed to. Now, however, he had lost himself to the bloodthirst that was the constant companion of any sharpteeth. Even worse, that had been targeted against a denizen of the Valley, her lifeblood slowly painting the ground around her red. Chomper’s chest rose and fell ever quicker as he realized what he had done. In a matter of seconds, his whole mind turned into a flux of horror and fear as the other dinosaurs around him started to realize what had just transpired before their eyes. No questions remained unanswered or unclear. No matter his motive, Chomper had attacked a resident of the Valley with an intent to kill.

Ruby would have wanted to cry right there. The feeling was a mixture of sorrow at the final failure of the duo’s efforts to gain the trust of the Valley but also about the depth of love Chomper had for her to do such a thing for the fast runner. If it weren’t for the sharptooth, Ruby’s body would most likely lie broken on the ground right now, as unmoving as the bleeding clubtail. The thought humbled her greatly but there was no time to dwell in such thoughts. In a few moments, all hell would break loose when some of the adults would want to exact their judgement. With a herculean force of will, Ruby run towards Chomper in an effort to get him to safety.

Littlefoot’s dominating feeling was that of horror. He had seen the handiwork of a sharptooth before far too close to remain unmoved by the brutal display. Ever since the sharptooth’s birth, Littlefoot had cared for Chomper as if the carnivore was his younger brother, he had looked after Chomper in his earliest hours, stood up to him when all others would have doomed to him to death or starvation. This was the same sharptooth whom he had told his heartfelt farewells during his original departure from the Valley and whom the longneck had saved from drowning in the island. They had saved each other’s lives many times and Littlefoot had always seen their bond as a special one. Tears formed in Littlefoot’s eyes as he went through the young sharptooth’s hatching, his efforts to care for him and all the times they had shared in the island and the Valley. Seeing the sharptooth show his primal side like this broke the longneck’s spirit for a moment but he had always decided to stand to his friends. He had to defend his old ideals to force him to get over this most dangerous and horrifying of situations.

“Let’s go! We have to get them to safety!” The four other dinosaurs followed quickly, their lines of thought highly similar to the longnecks. They looked in horror as the surrounding herds started to slowly awaken into the new reality. No matter his motives, Chomper’s unexpected attack had ended all chances of a reconciliation with the Valley.

“Crush the killer! We mustn’t let the sharptooth escape!” One of the domeheads screamed. Many of their herds as well as the fallen clubtail’s mate started to charge towards poor Chomper who heard a familiar voice speak to him.

“Come on, Chomper! Let’s get to the Secret Caverns while we still can!” The longneck’s voice sounded distant to Chomper but he complied with his friend’s command. The young carnivore’s eyes started to brawl as he turned his back on the bloody scene and started to run quickly towards the Caverns and rescue. The chasers initially held back a bit, unsure what to do with the five leafeater children. After a moment, the clubtail called in deep fury.

“Get lost, kids! You saw what they did and if you still defend them, you’re just as guilty!” It was apparent that the adult dinosaur was serious but Petrie’s call spoke for all of his friends along with the flier himself.

“You leave Ruby And Chomper alone! We will not let you hurt our friends!” The flier spoke quickly as the group drew closer to the sight of the cave on a high ledge forward. The clubtail gritted his teeth but didn’t answer. Each of the chasers knew that the die had been cast and no mercy would be given. Whoever defended a killer of a Valley resident deserved no mercy. Chomper felt streams of tears fall out of his eyes as he moved quickly forward. This chase was purely and fully his fault and because of him, all of his friends’ efforts had been wasted. The blue sharptooth would have willingly turned around and sacrificed himself if it had helped the others.

The domeheads and clubtails gained on the children quickly, their escape growing ever more improbable by the minute. However, a sudden and unthinkable development changed all that as Grandpa Longneck who was often seen as frail and weak, ran in front of the chasers and spoke in a thundering voice.

“You won’t threaten my grandson no matter what his friends have done! Back down!” The longneck knew his deed wouldn’t go unpunished but that was a prize he was willing to pay. No matter what, the last memory of her daughter, his beloved grandson wouldn’t be chased by the other dinosaurs, no matter what Chomper had done.

“Move along, longneck! You know what is at stake here!” The domeheads growled as the longneck stood defiantly before them. The smaller dinosaurs knew they wouldn’t get past him quickly enough and they would be overpowered by mere brute strength. Even then, the longneck wouldn’t be able to block them all. They started to spread out to and the older dinosaur was able to stop and hinder only a few them.

The younger longneck looked in fear and admiration as his grandfather bought him and his friends the time to escape. He would have wanted nothing more than to turn around and stood by his side but Littlefoot knew that was out of the question. The younger longneck could only hope that the high status his grandfather enjoyed in the Valley could get him out of the dangerous situation. Tears started to form in the young longneck’s eyes as he thought about the crisis they had managed to create in the Valley.

Be well, Grandpa. Please stay here until we return. We… we’ll back soon, you’ll see!

Littlefoot couldn’t even begin to think about all the good things his grandparents had provided him with during their time together. He felt miserable for being forced to leave them like this but it couldn’t be helped anymore. The seven friends had gained enough distance between the two and the chasers because of his grandfather. The young dinosaurs rose quickly on the ledge that would lead to the Secret Caverns and by the way of the Cave of Many Voices, into the Mysterious Beyond.

Ruby looked at the scene below them as the clubtails and the domeheads started to realize that they were too late. Different dinosaurs were surrounding the old longneck and even if it was clear he wasn’t being physically threatened, he wouldn’t get out of this with mere apologizing. Ruby felt a deep guilt in her chest when she thought about all the mess and sorrow she and Chomper had caused. She was simultaneously grateful and fearful for the young sharptooth. It wasn’t up to any doubting that he had saved her life and she was more than moved that he cared so deeply for her. Chomper had never shown that side of himself before and the fast runner was more than humbled by his instant reaction in saving her life.

However, Ruby knew that Chomper hadn’t done so knowingly. The fact that Chomper wasn’t always in charge of his own actions was a reason for deep concern. The fast runners knew a whole lot about the sharpteeth and impulsive, violent outbursts were never a good thing. They would make them unpredictable and possibly dangerous to be close to. But this wasn’t the time to bring up any more bad news. For now, they were safe but forced to flee from the Valley again, this time most likely for good. The seven friends looked at each other, only guessing what was going on in the others’ mind as they headed towards the Cave of Many voices. There would be many reprisals in the near future, ones that none of them could have foreseen half an hour earlier. Today had been a complete disaster for everyone involved: they could only hope that no one would have to pay for it with their lives.

This chapter is a bit longer than usual but I hope you'll enjoy it! Quite a many things happened here, many that will have very long-lasting implications! I truly wish you find them interesting and let me know what you think! :)


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« Reply #17 on: July 10, 2017, 06:29:59 PM »
My apologies for the delayed review.  Work has been completely kicking my ass lately.  Now this is a chapter that puts much more context to Ruby's departure from her family, and it makes it all the more tragic.  But yet, despite her misgivings about the valley she was able to finally begin to call it a home with her friends at her side... only to have that stripped away again.  Worse yet, it appears that her family is nowhere to be seen.  They could have moved on elsewhere or met a dark end.  Only time will tell.

Thankfully the two groups finally meet up, and give the duo the pep talk and dose of reality that they need.  Though I do wonder if the gang might have overestimated their abilities in getting the valley to agree to let them back in.  Regardless of how that goes, however, at least they now all know how the rest of the gang feels about them.

Now onto chapter 8...

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


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« Reply #18 on: July 10, 2017, 06:55:03 PM »
Wow!  In some stories there comes a time or event that totally changes the trajectory of the plot and the expectations of the reader.  This, undoubtedly, is the paradigm-changing event in this story.  Not only the children but also their parents put their reputations on the line in order to spare Chomper and Ruby from a premature dismissal from the valley, only for the grief-stricken mother to seek out revenge in their moment of victory.  Chomper's actions are clearly defensive and justified, but in the end that won't matter to the instinct-driven leaf-eaters in the valley.  The herds have seen Chomper draw another's life blood; now he and Ruby have no choice but to flee.

Worse yet for the gang, even if Grandpa Longneck gets by unscathed, Mr. Threehorn, Volant, and Grandpa Longneck will now have their clout in the valley significantly weakened in the eyes of many who will see Chomper's actions of confirming their worst fears.  And as the children are the ones who defended their friends from their premature dismissal... I wonder if the gang itself will still be able to remain in the valley.  An untamed mob is a dangerous thing, and I would not see it as out of the question for the domeheads and spiketails (and possibly threehorns if they go against Topps) exiling the children as well.  

Only time will tell how this situation resolves, but this is obviously the point of no return.  nothing will be the same after this.

Excellent work!  :)

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


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« Reply #19 on: July 18, 2017, 04:23:14 PM »
The Last Night Together

Littlefoot had seldom felt as miserable as he did now. The longneck would have wanted more to turn around and go help his Grandfather through his horrifying ordeal but the younger longneck knew there was nothing he could do to help him. Not anymore. Right now, he was a despised friend of a murderer, no matter how unappetizing that thought was to him. Littlefoot didn’t even want to think about the full implications the ended meeting would have on the Valley but his own responsibilities were on his friends, at least for the moment. He turned around and spoke to them softly and sadly.

“Are you guys alright? None of us wants to do this but we must go now! The domeheads and clubtails aren’t going to give us much time!” The longneck spoke in an alerted voice, already knowing each of his friends’ answer to his comment. It took a long moment until anyone spoke and the words, though expected, that greeted the longneck’s ears brought a heavy burden on his heart.

“It’s all my fault! If I hadn’t… done it everything would be fine! Just… leave me here. I don’t belong with you anymore.” Chomper said in shock, his words prompting many worried looks among his friends. The sharptooth could only see the image of the bloody clubtail before him and his eyes were fixed on his still-crimson claws that had drawn the other dinosaur’s precious lifeblood. It was not a new sight for him but this time he had endangered his friends with his deed and his kill wasn’t intended. Such a reaction was to be expected but, as Littlefoot had said, there wasn’t time to talk about it right now. The awkward, saddened silence was broken by a quick, silent remark from Ruby.

“Chomper, you did the right thing! Trust me, we can talk about this later and you mustn’t blame yourself now! We will talk of this later but right now we must be on our way immediately! Do you understand?” Ruby asked carefully from the sharptooth as she knelt to the same height as her younger friend. Chomper felt his chest sink the more he thought about it but even in his current state, he could also tell that time was of the essence. The sharptooth nodded weakly and the others shared a nervous sigh of relief. Cera spoke quickly as the threehorn started to head deeper into the Caverns.

“We have to get that giant stone out from the way if we wish to get out! Come, on, we have to come up with some kind of idea on how to do it!” Cera realized the downside of getting the boulder out of the way but it couldn’t be helped. That was the friends’ only chance to escape from the maze of these dark tunnels. Everyone remembered the way to the opening and it was mere minutes until they stood in front of the giant boulder. It stood on the same spot where it had landed after their escape from Red Claw on that faraway day, blocking the exit into the Mysterious Beyond. Small flashes of the late afternoon light simmered from the edges of the massive rock, teasing the dinosaurs with the knowledge of what lied beyond this great stone. Petrie inspected it for a moment, his gift to flight giving him the better perspective of the object’s position.

“It seem like the walls not keeping the stone still so well! If we make the hole a bit bigger, the boulder will roll away!” The flier called in a slightly relieved voice. The walls had severe cracks in them so there was a chance that they could be broken with a sufficient push. However, Ducky voiced her concerns about the whole idea.

“But… if we open this, the sharpteeth can get into the Valley! We don’t want that, nope, nope, nope!” The swimmer’s earlier rage had turned into fear lately and her words earned a swift rebuke from Cera. Even with all the distrust she had had towards Chomper during the early days of his time in the Valley, and even the fear that she now felt rising towards the bloodied sharptooth, the clubtail’s attack had made her bitter more than anything else.

“Then it is the clubtail’s fault! No one made her attack us! We had already won before she decided to kill Ruby! We don’t have another way to escape so that is their problem!” Cera knew that she spoke only partially her mind, knowing that most of the Valley residents had affirmed their trust to the seven friends. Still, Cera’s confidence had been hurt by this sudden attack and she felt no immediate problem with the plan. Littlefoot also understood the necessity of swift escape but a part of him questioned his and his friends’ motives. Their return to the Valley had destroyed the authority their parents held in the Valley, took a grieving mother’s life and now they were about to knowingly sabotage the Valley’s defenses. Even then, the longneck knew it couldn’t be helped at this point. Ruby and Chomper’s lives were still threatened and the best way to ensure their escape from the herds’ vengeance was to escape here and now. No matter about his misgivings about the thought right now, the longneck realized his love for his friends exceeded his responsibility to the Valley. Littlefoot looked at Ruby and especially Chomper in a mournful look and thought to himself.

I’m sorry for all this Chomper but we will continue to defend you. I just hope you can get yourself to move on.

“Cera, take the other side, me and Spike will push here!” Littlefoot said to Cera, because he had learned during his Cold Times that Cera was twice as powerful as he and Spike. The threehorn nodded eagerly and headed towards the other side. Littlefoot waited for a moment before he called with a louder voice.

“Ready! Let’s push when I count to three!” The two other dinosaurs waited for Littlefoot’s call and when they heard him say three, they pushed with all their might. For a moment, they thought that the weak sides of the rocks could hold against their struggle but they soon felt the wall give in slightly and make the huge boulder tremble before it rolled through the enlarged opening. Some reserved calls of cheer were heard as the seven dinosaurs noticed their escape path was clear. Only one question was unclear at this point: where should the group head next? This unpleasant but necessary question was first asked by Petrie.

“It great to see that we succeed but… where next? The Hanging Rock empty and we cannot go back to the Valley!” The flier tried to sound calm and reasonable in the face of all that had happened. His thoughts were a total flux and he understood the severity of the danger their friends were in. However, despite Chomper’s horrifying deed, he felt somewhat encouraged by the unwavering trust his friends had put on each other even at this terrible moment. Even Cera had cast aside all of her doubts and had immediately accepted her trust in her friends, even Chomper. Littlefoot looked at the flier in a hesitant look and answered shortly.

“Well, we should eventually be able to return to the Valley if we’re lucky… but I doubt Ruby and Chomper will get another chance. I… I think they have no chance but to return home.” Littlefoot fought down a sniff as the true implications of the events started to dawn upon him. No matter how he wished otherwise, he and his friends were just children who would never be able to live on their own just yet. If they tried to survive by themselves in the Mysterious Beyond, they wouldn’t last long and, as he had learned during his time in Chomper’s old island, homesickness was a terrifying disease they couldn’t fight forever. The longneck turned his gaze on the two who looked to the ground in sorrow. Ruby was the first to answer as Chomper was too grief-stricken to even think of an answer.

“We were prepared to do it before you found us again. I… I guess it’s really our time to go now. I’m sorry that it had to end this way, Littlefoot, really sorry I am.” Tears fell from Ruby’s eyes as she spoke. Chomper’s sobs grew more severe as he struggled to answer. Even in the case it weren’t his own fault, this was a moment the young sharptooth had feared for a long time. Chomper was back then too young to remember it but Littlefoot had once bid him his supposed final farewell and the longneck had told about his fears for their next separation which would likely be their last one. That, combined with his own bloody deed, nearly broke Chomper’s whole mind as he barely managed to keep an eye contact with Littlefoot.

“I never wanted you to see this, Littlefoot! I’m sorry for all the trouble I caused you! Now… now I’ll forever be a murderer for the Valley. I should have left long ago before any of this happened!” Chomper reflected on the endless days of happiness, days when he had thought that everything had been alright, when he thought he could keep his primal nature in check. Even if he would have never admitted it to himself, he had often felt the urge to attack a lonely, wandering child or stalk a deceased member of the Valley but back then, he had managed to keep the calm faÁade. But today, he had crossed that line when he was no longer able to control his own actions. Littlefoot felt sick hearing those words and he had to fight back a sob himself when he answered.

“It should have never come to this. I’m not going to lie, Chomper, I won’t forget this day and what you did. However, I won’t forget any other day we spent together either. No matter what you do now or in the future, you’ll always be our friend.” Littlefoot moved mournfully forward and nuzzled the young sharptooth in a comforting manner, regretting deeply that their times together were coming to an end shortly and in this morbid manner. The others smiled carefully at Chomper who felt a great warmth and shame at his friends’ display of loyalty. He had never thought they would accept him after his deed this readily. To Chomper’s surprise, it was Cera who spoke next.

“We should find your parents as soon as we can! They’re the only ones you’ll be safe with at this point.” The threehorn said as she thought about the future. The Valley was closed to the duo, Ruby’s parents were nowhere to be seen so the two sharpteeth would be their best to search out. Cera surprised even herself at how she was acting: even with all her old doubts, the whole drama of the past day had happened in such a crude manner he just couldn’t blame Chomper for it. Ruby spoke in a hesitant voice as she pondered Cera’s comment.

“Hmm… we don’t really know where they are so finding them will be almost impossible! They never told it to my mommy and daddy so I have no idea where to go!” Ruby concluded in a desperate note. The direction would be vague but that was all the dinosaurs had at this point. Littlefoot cringed at Ruby’s words but he then spoke softly to Chomper.

“Anyway, we’ll try to seek out your parents, Chomper. You’ll be home before you know it!” Littlefoot tried to put on a happy face but even it died under the weight of the situation. Chomper would have wanted to let out a rant of objections but he was too beaten and unsure at this point to do anything but nod slightly. The others exchanged worried glances before the longneck spoke the final words of the conversation.

“Alright, guys. We have to get far from the Valley. Let’s try to move in the dark and escape the fliers’ gaze. I trust Petrie’s mom but some of the fliers may be on the clubtails’ side. Let’s try to get away without being seen. At least none of the others know about this opening.” Littlefoot said as he stepped into the darkening night. He was exhausted by the day’s events and it was dangerous to enter the Beyond in that state because of sharpteeth. However, there wasn’t much of a choice at this point. They would simply have to move silently and unseen.

The extreme stress and fatigue made the eerie images of the shadows even more menacing in the minds of the young dinosaurs. The looming cliffs overlooking the wide canyon casted their long shades in the darkening distance, turning into looming giants to an occasional traveler. Petrie flew low over his friends in order to scout for any danger in the dark landscape while also keeping an eye on any other fliers who were likely to be searching for the seven friends. Petrie felt terrible for being forced to hide from his own family but the flier didn’t even dare to think about what was going in his home. Was his mother being accused of the attack and how had the other fliers reacted to the situation? And how about Cera’s father and Littlefoot’s grandfather? Petrie gritted his teeth in order to prevent himself from flying back into the Valley to check if his mother was alright. Even then, he knew it would be a terrible idea and it would likely cause additional problems to his friends and himself. Petrie forced himself to turn his attention back into the current journey.

Petrie looked at his friends walking below him with some concern. He listened to every small echo of the wind’s whistling as he tried to identify any small hint of a sharptooth’s presence. However, he could hear nothing even if every changing of the wind’s direction and whistling brought chills creeping on his spine. The night was finally falling and with it the threat of the sharpteeth was growing tremendously. The whole situation made Petrie’s head hurt as he tried to keep his attention focused on investigating the horizon and to keep his own fears about this apparent last journey with all his friends in check.

The entire scene felt surreal beyond measure. Here, he was on a journey taking Chomper back to his parents after a defensive kill and hiding from his own family in fear of their attack. The whole thought was something Petrie had a hard time accepting but, like his friends, he knew that this was the best way to move on. The flier often looked at Chomper in concern and there was little improvement in his mood. It was clear that the young sharptooth would need further encouragement later if he ever wished to overcome this most difficult of times.

The next few hours passed slowly as the seven friends headed towards the way that would lead to the north where the sharpteeth were most likely to live. As a hindrance on their journey, they would have to take a turn to the west to find a way to bypass their home comfortably. The walls of the Great Valley had long since vanished behind the horizon and the looming cliffs were giving way to a wider plain when Cera suddenly spoke in a sleepy voice.

“We’re far enough from the Valley, Littlefoot. I cannot take another step.” The threehorn said to the longneck who was about to insist on continuing but he could feel his own legs also begging for rest. Also, the rocky mountainside was a safer place to spend the night than the open plain. To be honest, Littlefoot had a hard time to keep his eyes open when he turned to his friends.

“All… alright, everyone. I think it’s we rest a while.” The longneck looked at his six friends who were happily setting themselves to a comfortable position when Ducky spoke shortly.

“I could sleep for days, I could… At least tomorrow can’t be any worse…” Mutters of approval could be heard among the others as the swimmer fell to sleep almost immediately. Chomper felt a conflict within himself as his internal horror battled with the rising fatigue. The latter was swiftly winning when she heard Ruby speak to him in a comforting, soft voice. The fast runner looked at the sharptooth with unreadable expression. She knew Chomper was extremely angry with himself and Ruby knew she had to be extremely sensitive if she wished the sharptooth to listen to her.

“I haven’t thanked you yet, Chomper. You saved my life back there, my life you did save! Thank you for it!” Ruby tried to sound cheerful and she succeeded to a certain degree. Still, it did little to improve Chomper’s mood as the sharptooth turned to look at his caretaker in an almost bitter look.

“There’s nothing to thank me for, Ruby. I didn’t do anything myself except lose my mind and become a mindless killer. I didn’t mean to save you Ruby… I just looked at the clubtail and suddenly found myself covered in her blood. I couldn’t contain myself and I did nothing I could ever be proud of. I just proved… that I’m another sharptooth ready to kill anyone in my way without thinking.” A tear dropped to Chomper’s legs as Ruby thought about the sharptooth’s answer. She could understand Chomper’s sentiment but he knew even less about the sharpteeth and the fast runner had thought. Even after all that had happened, Ruby wished to give Chomper one more lesson today.

“Chomper… it’s not what you think. Many sharpteeth kill on pure instinct and some even lose their real selves to their hunger, becoming mere bloodthirsty hunters. It is a real fear for you but what you did today was by no means wrong. After all, I wouldn’t be here talking to you about this if you hadn’t acted! You may not have meant it but you decided which one you wanted to save today. I, too, feel great sadness at what happened to the clubtail. If we had stayed strong and declined to return, she would be alive. Do not understand this wrong but today was a reminder about what you really are.” Ruby spoke the last words in a vague manner which Chomper’s distressed mind immediately turned into either an insult or a condemnation. He was about to answer when Ruby continued to speak absentmindedly. She looked into the distance, following a few ground fuzzies on their nightly adventure.

“You are a sharptooth and with it comes the urges that sometimes can make you feel like you’re torn apart. You did well today but, please, for your own sake, you must learn to control your mind, Chomper. Today was a sign that you have to move on in your life but it doesn’t mean that it’s an eternal separation for us two. I’m afraid your reunions with the others will become scarce but it doesn’t have to be so for us. We can find ways to work together far into the future as my family has done with yours.” Ruby turned to look at Chomper whose gaze turned into an ever more conflicted one.

“Even now I fear about the next time I lose control of myself. Who’s the next to die because of me? You? Littlefoot? It doesn’t work that way, Ruby. I have to go now. We sharpteeth have to live only among ourselves.” Chomper said in deep despair as he thought about his panicked thoughts. Before his eyes lied the sight of crushed bodies of his friends and their parents, the surrounding dry land’s desolate winds serving as his only companion. Everything he had loved was gone and nothing of worth came to its place in his horrified visions. Ruby could see that this conversation was a much more difficult one than the last she had shared with Chomper.

“For now, that won’t happen unless you face a quick, surprising choice unless you let those instincts to flow unchecked in your head. My parents have met good and bad sharpteeth, ones who live only by their lower drives and ones who still have a lot more to defend than their own stomach. This won’t be easy on any of us but we must do it, do it we must! Otherwise… things will get real bad.” Ruby tried to sound calm and kind but a certain amount of hesitation and concern was apparent in her voice. Chomper looked at the ground, his tears still falling at a steady pace. When he answered, his voice was low and lost.

“I don’t if I’ll be able to do this or if I even deserve it. I really don’t know, Ruby. Of course you’re right and I’d like nothing more to save what I can. It’s like… it’s like I don’t even know where to begin. I thought I at least knew who I was but now, I have no idea.” Chomper spluttered in an unclear voice. He slowly turned to look at Ruby but to his chagrin, Ruby didn’t seem like she could provide him with clear answers. It was getting clear that he would have to learn this hardest of lessons himself.

“I can only repeat what my parents told me but they know a whole of things. I know your mommy and daddy will help you also when you meet them again. You do trust in them, don’t you? Ruby tried to reason as Chomper seemed to be deep in thought. After a moment of hesitation, he answered.

“I… I guess. They care for me but they don’t seem to understand my feelings. Nobody except you guys do.” Chomper tried to calm down and accept Ruby’s advice but to his surprise, Ruby once again shook her head.

“We don’t, Chomper. I have thought about the life of a sharptooth here and then but I can always escape that fate. As for the others, these things are even harder to understand for a leaf eaters. Littlefoot and Cera have seen too much to be able to fully accept the things you’re going through but they will help you nonetheless. And if they help you, you don’t have to be alone, Chomper.” Ruby said as she started to yawn audibly. She would listen if Chomper had something to say but the fast runner hoped her words gave Chomper something to think about. Even then, Ruby could tell that it was time to go to sleep. Chomper noticed his friend’s weariness and he started to yawn himself.

“Thank you for your words, Ruby. Maybe things will seem clearer tomorrow.” Chomper said silently. His mood hadn’t improved greatly but Ruby’s words had calmed his nerves somewhat. He still had a lot to learn but at least some of his worst fears were now addressed. Chomper smiled to her friend when she prepared to go to sleep.

“They often do. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day than this.” The two dinosaurs fell asleep quickly as the shroud of fatigue quickly overwhelmed them. The pale moon overlooked the dry landscape as a few insects buzzled on their nightly journeys. Otherwise the land was completely still with no major clouds in sight to cover the bright night sky. Little did the friends know that the next day would be as remarkable as the fading one.

The morning that dawned hours later was in clear contrast to the preceding night. The clear skies were slowly being swallowed by flying sand and the wind was rising. On the positive side, the temperature would be much more comfortable today than it had been in the late days, even to a degree that Petrie awoke to a cold breath of wind. The flier had slept dreamlessly due to the previous day’s fatigue and he was surprised to see feel the cool wind blow over the same desolate plain that had been burningly hot on the day before.

Petrie looked around himself and noticed that most of his friends were still sleeping. However, the flier could see that the morning was far enough for them to be starting to wake up soon. Petrie could see especially Ducky moving in her sleep, signaling that the swimmer’s cloud of unconsciousness was slowly starting to drift away. Even in this situation, he could feel a certain sting of confusion and chagrin as the flier looked at his friend. This would be a good time to try to make amends with the distressed swimmer and to ease the overall tense atmosphere among his friends. Petrie flew beside Ducky and spoke in a careful voice, repeating the swimmer’s name many times before she finally registered his presence.

“Wha… what is it, Petrie? We are still trying to sleep!” Ducky’s voice was still somewhat grumpy even in her half-sleeping state. Petrie cringed as he heard his friend’s answer. Gee, this isn’t looking too good!

“Petrie would like to get over our fight, Ducky! Come on!” The flier waved Ducky to follow him a bit further from the others in order to keep the matter just between them. The swimmer looked at Petrie for a moment and pondered heavily weather to accept her friend’s proposal. She wasn’t sure of her own mental state but she wanted to try to make things good again with the flier whom Ducky had often considered her closest friend besides Spike. The disagreement with him hadn’t helped her own mood any. With a hesitating voice, Ducky gave her answer.

“It’s just that… I’ll tell it to you, Petrie.” Ducky said as she started to follow the flier. When the two were a good distance from the others, Ducky started to speak in a sad voice.

“It’s my brothers and sisters. They have made my and Spike’s lives miserable. In each and every situation they pick on us, waiting to say things that are meaner than their last words! I can’t stand it anymore!” Ducky kicked at the ground as she spoke. It was clear that the situation was getting the better of her nerves. Most others would have just settled to encourage Ducky but Petrie wasn’t always the most affectionate among the most group. He answered in an almost normal voice, something that didn’t sit well with Ducky.

“Me siblings also did that on me often! Petrie hate it but they nicer after the Great Day! They saw what Petrie can do and they no longer mean! Petrie sure…” The flier was suddenly stopped by Ducky who looked at her friend in disappointment. The swimmer could see that Petrie meant well but comparisons between him and herself didn’t suit her at this moment.

“You were bullied because of the Day and… because of some of… the things you do! My brothers and sisters only started this a few weeks ago and this is much worse than what you went through!” Ducky spoke without thinking about her words through. She didn’t know the struggle Petrie had gone through but she suspected it couldn’t possibly be worse than her own ordeal. Petrie decided to keep things peaceful and gave in to Ducky’s bitter words somewhat.

“Petrie know no what they say but it no our fault! But perhaps… perhaps they calm down once we come back? It take us many days for us to return and they could be nicer by then!” Petrie offered, disappointed by how things were developing in the discussion. No matter what, after all that had happened, the flier wanted nothing more than peace to be preserved at among his friends and the desperate atmosphere to be at least partially eased. Also, he really wished to make peace with the swimmer but that wasn’t getting any easier.

“Or they might not, even if we can return to the Valley ever again! You cannot be sure about it, Petrie, no no no! Things could get bad in the Valley and there’s nothing we can do to help our parents! This is real bad, Petrie, and wishful thinking doesn’t make it any better!” Ducky wished this discussion ended as soon as possible. Even if she felt somewhat relieved for this time away from her family, the pain they had caused in her was still apparent. Even if she knew that Petrie was only trying to be friendly to her, his attempts were somewhat misguided in their effectiveness. Even if she knew it deep in her mind, she declined to accept that there was no one among her friends who knew about this issue more than the flier. However, it was becoming apparent that Petrie’s patience was slowly starting to wear out.

“We no know that! The Bright Circle helped us many times before even if we no see it! Sometimes things get better if we just wish them to!” Petrie said as he tried to come up with something that could cheer the swimmer somewhat and to see that things didn’t have to get that dark. Petrie had often wished to think that the Bright Circle, along with other unknowns of the world, were helping him and his friends during dangerous times as fliers often did. However, they were often left alone in this belief as many other herds upheld these customs for mere nostalgic reasons as was often manifested in the Valley’s common celebrations. To Petrie’s chagrin, Ducky wasn’t too receptive at this moment.

“The Bright Circle doesn’t make our journey or my family any better. It’s just as Cera said, Petrie. It just is there and that’s it. It couldn’t care less about our problems down here.” Ducky said dismissingly, slowly starting to ponder whether it would be time to start waking up the others. However, her thoughts were cut off by Petrie who looked at her in a piqued expression.

“It just might! No matter what you think, me believe we would have never found the Night Flowers or Spike if Bright Circle hadn’t guided us in our journeys! We have often been too lucky for that!” Petrie said resolutely, willing to make Ducky admit her faults. However, the swimmer just looked at the flier and spoke in an arrogant voice.

“As good luck as when the great Earthshake almost took us away into the Big Underground or when Littlefoot’s Grandpa was almost dying? We have seen many good things but also many bad things, we have! But we should get moving, it is getting rather late already.” Ducky begun to move away, leaving Petrie standing there with an angry look. He couldn’t believe that this was the same Ducky with whom he had shared so many good times. The flier quickly flew after her and said in clear agitation.

“That not nice at all, Ducky! You cannot act like this if we are going on this journey! We have to end this now!” Petrie said to Ducky in a louder voice, finally breaking Ducky’s nerves in this situation. She shouted as he spoke back to the flier.

“I don’t care about that! I just wish to be at peace without someone flying behind me yelling about the Bright Circle! I feel miserable enough without all that!” Ducky finally revealed the depth of her own frustrations and Petrie was immediately taken aback by this outburst. However, he wasn’t willing to listen these insults and answered in kind.
“And I don’t want to journey with someone who just sulks and shouts at everyone! You mustn’t act like this!”

“Then go away! It isn’t nice to hear your whining either! If you can’t stand me, then stay away!” Ducky cried disgusted by her own behavior and Petrie’s antics simultaneously but she couldn’t fight against her inner frustrations. Petrie decided to answer with the next insult.

“Then me almost hope you weren’t here at all! Nothing be better company than you right now!” Petrie would have wanted to cry at this fight but he wasn’t willing to back away from this or Ducky would get the wrong message about their situation. Luckily for the two, their feud would soon be settled by one of their friends.

Cera had slept dreamlessly as the threehorn was slowly starting to drift in her sleep. She was slowly starting to wake up when something caught her attention in her half-sleeping state. It sounded far away but she knew even then that something was wrong. Petrie? Ducky? Arguing? What is going on!?

The threehorn quickly rose to her feet and quickly saw the cause of the noise. The two were in bitter argument not far away from the others, a few dozen meters under another cliff. Cera quickly realized that she needed to do something and quickly ran towards the swimmer and the flier, determined to end the argument immediately.

“Stop! What is the big idea here?” Cera said resolutely as she approached the two. She took on a stern expression to force the two to cease their fight immediately. Ducky was the first to answer.

“He’s trying to preach things I don’t care about and annoys me with his whining!

“She just attack anyone who try to be friendly! She cannot go on like this!

“Silence! I really don’t care what this is about but I’m not going to listen to this any longer! We have a long journey ahead of us and I’m not going to let you deepen our problems! Or do you think Ruby and Chomper wishes to listen to it during our last journey together! Do you?” Cera’s eyes seemed to penetrate both of the friends and immediately brought great shame to both of them. Both of their woes were trivial when compared to what the two were going through.

“Petrie sorry, Cera. You right.” Petrie muttered under his breath, trying to calm himself down. Ducky answered quickly after the flier.

“Me too. This isn’t how I’d like things to go, no, no, no.” Ducky looked to the ground with Petrie as neither of them wished to answer to Cera’s stare. The threehorn snorted and spoke in a softer voice while still maintaining her decisiveness.

“It sure isn’t, Ducky. You have to get over this yourselves as we always have done. Too many things are going on right now for this. But whatever you do, I don’t want to hear these fight again! Is that clear?” Cera took on a more friendly look, hoping it would be a better way to preserve peace within the small group. Before the two gad any time to answer, they could hear Littlefoot’s call from far behind them.

“Hey guys! What are you doing there?” The Littlefoot asked sleepily as he hadn’t heard the voices that Cera had just silenced. The threehorn looked at the others and decided that there was no reason to concern more of their friends with this unfortunate incident. Cera sounded almost neutral when she answered.

“Nothing really. Ducky just wanted to know if Petrie had any idea where we are and I joined in later.” The threehorn sounded suspiciously calm to Littlefoot’s liking but decided against questioning her further. There wasn’t any major things Cera would hide from him anyway.

“Oh… okay. I don’t think Petrie could have soon too much at this point, though.” The longneck could see that the discussion hadn’t been too positive so he decided to end the conversation there. The young longneck turned around to look behind him where he saw that the others were slowly starting to wake up. Littlefoot sighed as he thought about the day that was in front of them.

I hope that at least we find some green food today. I’m getting really hungry.

The plain beyond the long canyon that led to the Valley was a hilly, desolate desert that seemed to continue as far as eye could see. Many areas surrounding the famed refuge of the leaf eaters were very dry and inhospitable to any of the dinosaurs. It was kind of a mixed bag for this journey: the lack of food was a major downside but there were no mountains blocking their path and Petrie provided them with major relief in spotting the sharpteeth from afar. However, that advantage was dwindling with the slowly increasing wind and the thickening sand cloud. The weather was still fair but its intensification was a major cause for concern.

It had been over two hours since their departure to the wide fields and thus far everything had gone smoothly even if the temperature was quite hot even in the strong wind. Petrie’s gaze scoured the increasingly hazy environment and to his major relief, no sharpteeth had been in sight during the whole journey but even then, Petrie could no longer tell which shade was real and which wasn’t. The flier looked at his friends in concern as they moved deeper into the raging desert. Once again, his fight with Ducky had caused deep sadness and anger in the flier to an extent that he was likely to stay away from the others for now. Ducky’s mere presence dampened his mood, something that caused great pain to the flier in itself. Apparently, their close friendship would be frozen until Ducky finally came to her senses. A single tear flowed from the flier’s right eye as he thought about his hurt pride and the larger fight with the swimmer he had been dragged into. Still, he was forced to keep those feelings at bay for now and keep all his attention in the distant horizons. Petrie had growing doubts about this trip and, unknowingly to him, his worst fears would turn into reality soon enough.

And here's the next installment of Separate Ways! The journey to return Ruby and Chomper to their families has begun but menacing clouds are literally rising to the sky, threatening to complicate the Gang's future even further. I hope you liked this chapter and any thoughts you might have are appreciated! :)