Author Topic: Separate Ways  (Read 12157 times)

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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #100 on: February 28, 2019, 04:50:46 PM »
The Flyer Who Didn’t Accept Defeat

A slight shiver, which wasn’t caused by the weather, run up the boy’s spine as he looked at the distant light before himself, counting the seconds with fearful thoughts. He hated sitting out here while waiting for some, any news of the operation that was unfolding outside. Ortin couldn’t help but let his face fall down as he thought about his life in the past week, hating everything that had happened since that cursed Lenel had attacked his family and stripped the boy himself not only of his old herd but also of his friends, forcing him into this fearful existence where the only thing that seemed to matter was Peak’s endless yearning for revenge against those who had robbed him of his position as one of the leaders of the old herd.

A silent thud could be heard as Ortin sat down and crossed his arms over his knees, sighing deeply as he let his stressed mind wander. There they were, half of Peak’s remaining heard, trying to shed blood without any good reason! Ortin knew that Peak wanted his vengeance against those who had harmed him and indeed, Ortin himself understood the stakes of this day. He felt bitterness seethe within his mind as well as he thought about his own enviable position he could have gained as a member of his family and he yearned for revenge as well but… he couldn’t bring himself to accept the possible cost of all that.

Those feelings were quickly buried under the sights of all the bloody remains of the flyers who had fallen on that fateful night and that battle had also robbed him of what had brought him the most joy. He would have given nearly anything for a chance to meet Glide again but he couldn’t sneak out on his own and after everything that had happened, the boy feared that their earlier friendship had died along with the ruin of his family. Ortin smiled slightly as he also remembered his meetings with Petrie even if he remembered very well on which kinds of terms the two had parted ways. He didn’t regret his words in any way and as long as he was concerned, Petrie could stay out of his life for good!

Another sigh escaped his beak as he looked at his companions in the cave. Near him sat his grandmother whom he still respected very much as well as Peak himself who was slowly walking towards the opening, willing to see just how his followers were doing. His sight was slowly recovering but he still wasn’t in a position to fight. Ortin looked at both of them tiredly, knowing this was all the company he’d have from now on, at least for now. He’d stand by Peak’s side and hope for a better future under a new herd Peak could gather once he had settled the score with Lenel. He slowly turned at his grandmother and asked her silently.

“I… I hope the others are successful in getting rid of him. We cannot afford another bloodbath like… like last time, grandma.” He said, hoping to hear any words of encouragement from the elderly female. The latter slowly looked at Ortin and gave him a brief smile as she answered.

“All they have to do is to send that bastard into the Great Beyond and call the rest of us to escape. Be at ease, Ortin, we’ll make it through all of this.” She spoke warmly, hoping to reassure the young buy as best as he could. Ortin gazed at her sadly before he spoke in a meek voice.

“I just hope we could live normally again. Everything badly after Lenel’s attack and dad’s death. Why can’t things be like they were?” He asked glumly, thinking of the happiness that he had had until that one day which seemed to have panned so very long ago. His grandmother answered briefly as he looked at Peak who was clearly listening to what the two were talking about.

“Things will be much better soon enough, Ortin. I promise it. We’ll gather a new herd with many more friends for you. You’ll see.” She said in a warm voice, causing a slight expression of hope appear to Ortin’s beak. Still, there was one more thing that bothered him deeply, something he would have liked to have asked already.

“I guess so but… what if the others will fail? What if Lenel will get them… what will happen to us? Will we try to escape and live somewhere else?” He asked nervously, knowing full well that a victory on this day was far from guaranteed. He had expected to hear an answer from his grandmother but it was Peak who slowly turned to look at his two relatives with a decisive, even frightening expression.

“That, Ortin, is something we certainly are not going to do. This is Warekli’s line’s final stand where we simply cannot afford to lose. Either we will create a new future for ourselves or we will all fall here together. Is that clear?” He said in a voice that clearly brokered no disagreement. Ortin merely cringed at those words, not really surprised by them even if he would have wanted to hear something else. The boy stared at the older flyer for a few seconds before burying his head in his hands, thinking about the implications of Peak’s words and what they truly meant for him.

“Are you sure that is the exact right course, Kero? You know we’ll have little time for searching out there as things are already bad enough out here.” Lenel said, speaking in an excited but still thoughtful voice. He had already went through this plan with his deputies when they had first informed him of their news but he still wanted to hear Northwind and Kero’s tale again, making sure he’d be informed about every last detail about of the duo’s tale. Kero nodded at his leader eagerly as he answered.

“They said Olres’ secret lies at the western heartlands of the Land of Dancing Streams but that’s all they could say of it. Otherwise, I’m sure even those dumb idiots would have found it a long time ago. It must still be somehow if it has remained a secret for this long.” The younger male said before his companion continued from his words. Northwind was slightly more hesitant to go through all of this again but if that was the prize for his new position, then so be it.

“They seemed to know nothing about the land itself, though. And really, their version of his legend is even hazier than ours. I wouldn’t put much weight to their words if I hadn’t to as I doubt they’d even find their way out here without our guidance!” He said, frowning at his visit towards the Valley as it had been every bit as miserable as he had expected. Lenel locked eyes with the latter speaker for a while as he took a more pondering expression.

“Hmm… the Land of the Dancing Waters is indeed a vast, sparsely inhabited land so it really might house many secrets. I’ve heard it’s a pitiful, glum land of endless forest and rivers but I’ve never seen it myself. I wonder how that description relates to the colors, though.” He said, narrowing his eyes slightly. Northwind blinked briefly as he let out a single word.

“Colors?” He said briefly and his answer was followed by a longer pause from Lenel. It was clear he was rather uncomfortable as he gave his next answer but after a short while, he finally spoke again.

“That is one detail only our line really knows. It is said that every once in a while, that very place casts mighty lights to the sky, as if to call Olres back to it in vain. I have really wondered about it but that northern wasteland might have hidden the secret for a long while. It must be in some very remote place, though, if it has remained a secret for this long.” He said, causing the two other flyers to exchange glances briefly. This was completely new to both of them but they knew better than to question their leader’s words. Kero cocked his head slightly before he spoke again to the slightly older male.

“In any case, our search was a success, Lenel. Surely you remember what we agreed before our departure?” The light-green colored flyer said rather warily, hoping he wasn’t pushing his issue too fast. Lenel had always been a fair leader to him but he still worried slightly about his answer. The light-colored flyer looked at Kero with weary eyes for a few moments before he finally spoke in a casual voice.

“Indeed I do. Kero, Northwind, I name both of you as my trusted deputies as long as you live. Thank you for your service, both of you.” He said, taking a firmer expression as he looked at the duo approvingly. The two younger flyers smiled widely at this confirmation of their new status, more than glad Lenel was a flyer worthy of his word. The two could only say one thing that first rose to their minds.

“You have our thanks, Lenel! We won’t fail your trust!” They said, causing their leader to merely nod to his new deputies briefly. He knew this was an important occasion for the duo but even then, his thoughts were already wandering in completely different issues. His next words sounded more like he was thinking out loud even if he was still looking at the two other flyers.

“I truly hope so. Your first opportunity to prove your worth is when we’ll head to the Land of Dancing Waters and finally find what I’ve looked my entire life! We cannot take everyone with us but I will need at least a few dozen strongest members of the herd to accompany me. We have to act quickly in order to minimize the chance that anyone would want to betray me while I’m gone. Northwind, you’ll come with me. Kero, I name you leader of my herd until I’ll be back. Is that clear?” He asked especially the last flyer whose eyes widened in surprise. On one hand, he was more than happy he had been trusted with a task like this but… he would have always wanted to see the scene of the most beloved of legends. Still, he knew trying to oppose Lenel’s order was hardly the best way to move forward and he merely nodded to his leader.

“It is. You can be sure that no villain will be able to rise against you!” He said, causing Lenel to turn away contently. He then looked at Northwind and crossed his arms.

“I’ll expect nothing less. As for you, Northwind, we’ll start gathering flyers to follow us today. We’ll be on our way soon en…” He started before he heard the alarmed screech that rang through the entire Streli’s Hills. Immediately, the male felt his heart drop in his chest as he would know that voice everywhere. He wasted no time rising to his wings to aid his beloved mate before anything would happen to her.

It all had happened too quickly for Sireia to even properly raise a finger to try defend herself. She had merely been enjoying this brief respite from the seemingly never-ending flying, willing to giver herself even a tiny breather from her duties in intrigue and planning with her mate. She enjoyed helping the male in any ways she could, even liking those responsibilities, but she wanted to see this day as a small chance to recover her strength. That was, until the five flyers had suddenly appeared from the heights above her, their shadows revealing their attack only seconds before they could sink their claws into Sireia’s throat.

Letting out her call for help was the only thing she could do before she felt the impact of the flyers hitting her with all their might and doing everything they could in order to take her out as quickly as possible. Sireia cried out in pain as she felt the attackers tear into her but as she tried to get to her feet in order to have a better chance to defend herself, the female’s eyes widened as she realized she knew these assassins.

All of them had been Peak’s close allies and friends as long as she could remember even if she had actually never spoke to them herself. She also saw a look of surprise and disappointment in their eyes and it was those two things that told Sireia exactly what was going on. They were here to get her mate but they found only her but at the very least they’d get part of their revenge on Lenel by killing her. The female counted seconds while she tried to keep the attackers at bay, knowing she didn’t have long before Peak’s pawns would finally tear her to pieces.

Lenel cursed internally, trying to concentrate her anger and self-loathing into something as he flew as quickly as he simply could towards his and his mate’s sleeping place, hoping against hope Sireia would be alright. He knew full well she was a capable and strong flyer on her own right but there were many flyers who bore ill will towards the duo and the light-colored flyer wondered which one of them he’d meet soon enough. Deron? Peak? Perhaps Haste if she truly was the villain he thought her to be? All of those thoughts were cast away as the sight of the fight reached his eyes.

So, Peak it was then. Lenel recognized the attackers immediately and truth be told, he wasn’t surprised in the least. It would have been very unlike that old moron to simply accept his defeat and try to live the rest of his life in peace. Well, after this outrage he would never allow that old bastard escape alive as he had just breached a red line the male had held sacred for decades now. Nobody would hurt his beloved mate and get away with it! Inside, Lenel knew he could be heading into an ambush but that mattered little. He wouldn’t let Sireia to suffer any more than she already had, that was certain. He quickly called to Northwind who was flying not far behind him.

“Hit those bastards on the left and I’ll take those on the right! Make sure you won’t fail, Northwind!” He cried, looking at his new deputy briefly. Northwind glanced at his leader in affirmation as he did as told. He knew just how much Sireia meant to Lenel and really, he couldn’t deny his own respect at the female. She had proven herself time and time again and she had already been kind towards his past propositions in the herd.

The last seconds before the impact seemed to proceed in severe slow-motion for Lenel as he looked at his mate’s pained expression but it served only to heighten his resolve to kill those who had caused her this much harm. One of the attackers slowly turned to look at Lenel briefly before the impact but the latter’s speed and determination gave him the clear advantage. It didn’t take long before Lenel pulled him to the ground and with both his hands, crushed the other flyer’s throat into nothing. He quickly turned at Sireia and called to her in concern.

“Now, you have an opening, dear! Follow m…” He started but before he could finish, the female cried to her mate with an even more fearful voice.

“Look out, Lenel! Defend yourself!” She cried and the male wasted no time doing as told, no matter it pained him. He gasped deeply as he saw his fears being realized as five more flyers suddenly landed behind him, immediately moving to close on him and his two companions. Even more, he heard Kero’s voice far in the distance.

“Gather everyone somewhere safe! We’re under attack!”

Those words caused Petrie to frown deeply as he thought about what to do from now on. He had listened to the sounds of the initial skirmish with glassed eyes, wondering what to think or do from now on. On one hand, he had received what he had to receive from his old herd and truth be told, a certain instinct told him to simply flee and save himself from any more dangers. He had seen more than enough death within this herd and he had very little will to see what would happen from now on. His eyes had a look of sadness but relative calm as he looked at the small skirmishes that were being born far below him. However, he knew he couldn’t leave just yet.

On his own, he had very little hope of ever finding any trace of the land he had heard so very much on this day and even worse, aside from that one bit of knowledge, he had absolutely no idea about how to find his family or Littlefoot, a thought that made his mood fall even further. The mysterious flyer, who had apparently left the scene while the boy’s attention was focused on the new developments, had sparked Petrie’s interest in the tale even further and the legend’s location, this Land of Dancing Waters, glimmered within the flyer’s imagination brightly. And even more, he wanted to make sure Glide was safe from these new attackers before he could leave with pure conscience.

He took a brief breath as he jumped over the edge of the cliff into the air, looking at which places the fighting seemed to be spreading the fastest. There seemed to be no more than a dozen or two attackers but they had seemingly coordinated their attacks nearly masterfully. It seemed like they were searching for certain flyers even if they were clearly ready to tear anyone down who was trying to hold them back. Petrie cringed as he thought about the horrors of the world of his kind, never expecting them to act like this during his years in the Valley. Inside, he knew he loved so many things about being a flyer but these herd politics were something that truly made him sick.

Despite the whirlwind of thoughts in his mind, Petrie tried to investigate the ground below him in the hopes of seeing even a sign of Glide or Brownbeak, hoping that the mess around him would prevent anyone from noticing his unwanted presence within the herd. However, no matter how much he tried, the boy didn’t even see a glimpse of his friend, a fact that made him frown severely. Certainly she had to be here somewhere! The boy landed on a rather large plateau between two high mountains to calm down while thinking about where the girl could be. A look of worry and fear started to rise to his face before he heard a somewhat pained voice behind him, one that he hadn’t expected, even less wanted, to hear.

“If it isn’t the crazy killer himself. Did you come to finish the job, Petrie?” The boy’s eyes widened sharply as he heard the voice, shivers starting to creep up his spine. He felt his hands turn into fists and his voice starting to tremble as he slowly turned around to look at Hoist’s face. Petrie nearly gasped as he looked at the still-lingering wounds between the other male’s eyes and all the scratches around his body. He was beyond horrified this had been his undoing but the words he had said about uncle Pterano still haunted his thoughts. The shorter flyer crossed his arms and asked even angrily.

“What is it, Hoist? Me gladly do it all again if you learn nothing of the first time. Now, tell me where Glide be or get lost!” There was not a sign of remorse within Petrie’s voice, a fact Hoist noticed very well. However, this time there was a clear change within the bully’s eyes, one that Petrie noticed at least unconsciously. He expected Hoist to start spewing his poison again but instead, he took a slight smirk as he started to speak. There was not a trace of fear towards the flyer who nearly killed him, something that seemed more than curious to Petrie.

“Truth be told, you are not the flyer who I thought you to be. No one before came even close to doing to me the things you did. And that is something I won’t forget easily.” Hoist said dryly, causing Petrie to frown deeply at him. The younger boy had absolutely no idea where his former enemy was getting to but his expression betrayed his deep confusion. However, the brown flyer wasn’t easily going to forget his past meetings with Hoist and unlike the old Petrie, now he simply wasn’t going to trust anyone who said something possibly nice to him.

“Are you simply trying to mock Petrie as before? No more games, just tell what you want!” He said, causing the bruised male’s expression to soften ever so slightly as he started to walk towards Petrie, nearly causing the latter to move away from Hoist but something deep within him told him to stand his ground to the very end when it came to Hoist. He looked at the older boy with an expression that radiated determination but lacked any trace of fear. Hoist snorted audibly before he started to speak to the dinosaur whom he had harmed so very much in the past.

“I simply want you to know that you are much more stubborn and persistent than most of the dimwits within this herd. I am not going to forgive you for what you did to me but I cannot help but respect that someone stood up to a somewhat righteous cause for once instead of simply begging for mercy from me or simply escaping. That is something that I realized in the days after our little incident.” He said, causing Petrie’s confusion to only deepen. Was Hoist actually apologizing to him? Was he acknowledging him in some weird, twisted way? Petrie cocked his head as he answered to Hoist with a slight stutter.

“Are… are you saying that… you were wrong?” He asked, not knowing how to react to those words. His gaze darkened as Hoist spat into the ground before Petrie and turned his back to the younger boy.

“That is something I will not admit to a weakling like you. However, I will say that you were not wrong either. But Petrie, do not understand any of this wrong. I would never, ever be your friend but as a sign of respect, I will leave you in peace from now on and even treat you as an equal.” He said, causing Petrie’s mood to rise tremendously and he simply couldn’t help but let out a laugh at Hoist’s words. They simply sounded too comic for him in a time like this.

“Come on, Hoist! Why you trying to sound like a grown-up? You can speak normally to Petrie!” He said, Hoist’s earlier insults towards Pterano out of his mind for now. Inside, even Hoist smiled slightly at that remark, not having expected to ever have this discussion with the one who had nearly killed him. But inside, he respected raw power and determination more than anything and that was something Petrie clearly didn’t lack. Hoist gave Petrie a brief encouraging look to Petrie before he prepared to head off to safety, still too weak to fly.

“Don’t try your luck, Petrie. I…”

“Hey, you two! We have away from the fight! Now, foll… uhh, Petrie? Hoist? What are you doing here?” Petrie turned to look at the speaker and noticed it to be Glide. The girl was seemingly confused by the sight of the two as they weren’t seemingly ready to tear each other apart. That fact was remarkable in itself as the two males’ last meeting had been anything but friendly or even neutral. Petrie looked at the girl with relieved eyes as she landed beside him.

“It’s alright. Me kinda forgive Hoist after a talk we had. He…” Petrie started but before he could finish, Hoist cut him short dryly.

“As for you, Glide, you can get eaten by a sharptooth for all I care! Try not to get drawn into the fight too badly!” He said as he slowly walked away, clearly in still-lingering pain. Glide immediately crossed her arms and looked after the boy in clear annoyance. She nearly spat the words to Petrie as she finally broke the silence.

“What an utter idiot! Why in earth would you even want to talk to him after what he said to you?” She said as she turned at Petrie who cringed under the girl’s gaze. He took a brief sigh as he gave the only answer he could think of right now. He had far too much in his mind to be willing to talk about Hoist.

“Nothing important, really. B… but Glide, do you know what’s happening out here? Who are the attackers?” He asked, able to hear the cries but luckily, the two children were far away from the main scene of the skirmishes. Glide was far from content with the other flyer’s answer but she saw no real value in trying to keep pushing him for another answer. Her expression relaxed and she lowered her voice as she answered to her friend.

“They are Peak’s former allies and friends who are here most likely to try to challenge Lenel again. But Petrie, follow me, we have to get to safety!” She said but to her puzzlement, Petrie didn’t twitch a finger to do as he was told. He looked at the girl oddly and spoke to her silently.

“Me cannot. The others won’t want to see Petrie again even if Hoist…. no longer hates me. And beside, me not part of this herd anymore so me have no place among you. And this place seems safe enough for me. Besides, me have another thing Petrie want to ask you.” He said, causing Glide’s expression turn into a highly hesitant one immediately. She wanted to get away from ere but she wasn’t certain what to say.

“But Petrie, this is not the right t….”

“This exactly the right time! One other flyer told me Olres’ secret be in the Land of the Dancing Waters! Have you heard of it?” He asked with wide eyes, really interested in what kind of answer he’d receive. However, Glide’s face fell suddenly as she heard those words, seemingly not approving of them in the least.

“Petrie, you cannot honestly say you’re trying to chase that tale! It is just something told to entertain young hatchlings!” She said, not believing in those words herself. She knew just how much it meant to many of her kind but she was hardly happy to hear her friend actually believe it enough to be ready to actually start to chase it. However, the boy wasn’t about to go give up just yet.

“That not how uncle Pterano, Lenel and many others see it! Glide, me do anything to find me friends and family. Me just wish you help me and not someone else!” He said, realizing just that his words sounded even friendlier than he had meant but anyway, they carried his message well enough. Glide looked in the male’s eyes for a few seconds, trying to think about how she should respond. But as she looked at the boy, she realized she couldn’t turn down his request. She took a deep breath and brought her right hand to touch the bottom of her beak.

“Oh, alright. Land of the Dancing Waters, you said? Now, wait for a moment, it sounds familiar… Where did I hear of it… That’s right!” She suddenly yelped to Petrie’s encouragement. It was clear Glide was more than distressed by the battle and the fate of his family but for now, she was happy that she could focus her thoughts into something else. Petrie looked at her oddly and his voice was an eager one as he answered.

“Well, then tell Petrie! Me all ears!” He said but to his puzzlement, he saw a slight cringe rise to Glide’s face. She looked even a bit sad as she prepared to answer the younger flyer’s question. The latter couldn’t come up with any reason for her reaction but his curiosity was quickly sated as Glide started to speak.

“Petrie… only one flyer has ever spoke of it to me. You see… Ortin told me it was close to the land where he and his family used to dwell before they joined with our herd. He should know much more about where that place than any other here. It’s just a shame he had to leave…” Glide said, the obvious linkage still somehow evading her mind. However,
it wasn’t for Petrie who gulped slightly as he spoke.

“But he left with Peak and if Peak here…” He simply started, causing Glide’s eyes to widen greatly as she turned to look towards the scene of the battle.

A grim look rose to Lenel’s face as he kicked the last of his enemies into the ground, her life already having been extinguished earlier. The male spat at the corpse in disgust as he turned to look at her mate with a fearful look, completely ignoring his own wounds which were by no means meaningless. He knelt besides Sireia and looked at her wounds with a sickened look. He had seen more than his share of bloodbath during his seasons but to see his beloved mate like this… it made even the cold-blooded leader cringe deeply.

“Are you alright, dear? They nearly got you.” He said as he saw Sireia cough a few loads of blood from her injured throat but she immediately took a more confident look as she spoke to her mate. She was hurting everywhere but she was also a seasoned fighter and she had been in worse situations before.

“I’d be damned… if cowards like these were able to take me down. You know that as well as I do, Lenel.” She said as she slowly tried to get to her feet, the male knowing better than to try to prevent the female. However, it wasn’t long before the inevitable happened and Sireia cursed deeply as she fell back to her knees, cringing in pain. Lenel prevented her from hurting herself any more as she slowly moved into a sitting position. Lenel’s voice was a soothing one as he spoke.

“It’s alright, Sireia. You did more than enough already. Let me finish the fight.” He said, not really prepared to argue about this particular issue. Sireia knew also that she couldn’t continue in this condition so she spoke the only words she could to help her mate in the minutes to come.

“Very well, my love. But I’m sure they were really after you all along. I… just happened to be in the wrong place in the wrong time. But about those other bastards, I don’t know what they want. Be careful, Lenel.” She said, nearly crying out in pain as she slightly changed her position. Lenel was more than hesitant to leave her here but he still had the rest of his herd to protect. He quickly turned at Northwind who was standing beside him and snapped to him with a voice that was as alarmed as it was decisive.

“Look after her but if she’ll get even more injury than she already has, your promotion will prove to be a short one indeed. As short as the rest of your life, actually.” He gave a threatening look to the other male as he took off, looking at the scene below himself with fearful eyes. There were five smaller fights here and there with the rest of the flyers quickly fleeing the surprising tide of violence. However, one of them caught most of his attention. The one involving two of his deputies and one certain flyer he hadn’t wanted to see again was one that made him more than furious and he wasted no time diving towards the ground in order to prevent any more casualties.

“Taria, look out!” Kero cried as he saw another flyer trying to attack the female. He cursed deeply the situation he and Taria were in, surrounded by a host of bloodthirsty attackers along with four of Lenel’s other followers. He was prepared to take this stand until the very end but the sight of one flyer made him shiver. He had heard Lenel had managed to beat him somehow but Bluegust, Peak’s brother, was still a flyer that anyone who had heard of him feared and respected without an end. His sight alone made Kero’s morale fall but hearing his voice made him cringe even more.

“Surrender now and I’ll make it quick! It’s more than any of you Lenel’s pawns would deserve!” He bellowed as he hit one of his foes, taking him out with one, mighty blow. He glanced at Taria nervously, clearly seeing that she was losing her own battle. There was no way he and his companions could prevail today but on the other hand, Lenel had just said he’d be in charge of the herd while he was gone. How in earth could he ever be worthy of such a responsibility if he didn’t give his all in order to prevail against these murderous traitors? He looked at Bluegust in annoyance as he answered.

“Not as long as I draw breath, Bluegust! We know very well everything about your brother and how he was ready to tear us apart because of his pride! You have shamed the name of your family for good and by Olres’ glory, we will make sure you won’t be able to harm others ever again!” He cried as he headed towards the towering male who mostly smirked at him in mockery. He quickly gave a call to his allies who wasted no time surrounding the new deputy while beating him mercilessly.

The male gritted his teeth as he looked around himself, relieved that his back was secured by two of his allies but even then, he couldn’t stand his ground for long. Sooner or later, he would be cut down if he didn’t receive any reinforcements, a prospect that made him nearly drop his guard. However, it didn’t take long until he again remembered to check the location of the true enemy and that hardly made him breath any easier.

Bluegust wasted no time moving against Taria who was being forced into ever more desperate situation. She frowned deeply as she saw another flyer fall near her by the enemy’s claws and she saw clearly that Kero would not be able to help her out of this situation. She tried to search for any redeeming quality of this nightmare but no matter how she looked, she could only see more enemies around her who were clearly thirsting for her blood. Even worse, she could see Bluegust approaching her far quicker than she would have wanted. She fought off another attacker before she turned towards the massive male and growled at him deeply.

“You will pay for this along with your pitiful brother, Bluegust! I promise to you that you will regret your “victory” before the end!” She cried before she heard a disgusted snort from the other flyer. He cast aside all of his allies as he walked towards the female with narrowed eyes. She was already covered in her own blood and it was clear to everyone that she would never be able to save herself from this situation.

She couldn’t help but feel panic start growing inside herself as she looked at the larger dinosaur’s eyes that didn’t have even a hint of mercy or understanding within them. She started to slowly realize this was the end of the road for her and all the days of service started to flow before her eyes. She had served Lenel nearly as long as she could remember and if this really was how it all was going to end, so be it. She didn’t really question whether it was all worth it as it simply had to be. It was all she had, one thought that made her suddenly sick as she stared at her soon-to-be killer in the eyes. Bluegust crossed his arms as he gave his answer to the female who knew what was coming.

“I possibly will but I’m certain you’ll regret your deeds far sooner than I will, you treacherous moron. Say greetings for that other failure of a deputy for ol’ good Bluegust and my brother!” He said as he hit the female into the ground with one quick move and pinned her down before she could recover. Taria did her best to struggle back to her feet but the more powerful male ensured she had nothing to do but continue her pitiful twitching. Time and time again, Bluegust hit the other flyer’s head into the rocky ground, feeling as her movements grew weaker and weaker. Not even a muscle twitched in his face as he followed the sickening sight of the contents of the female’s head starting to flow into the ground.

Those horrible seconds started to quickly grow dark within Taria’s mind but thankfully for her, the pain started to subside relatively early. That scene seemed far worse to everyone else but to Taria herself whose spirit started to quickly depart her body. Her last sensations were that of melancholy for devoting her life to that one, single cause but it was also mixed with pride for standing up to what she knew was right in this world. For helping the last descendant of the greatest of all flyers fulfill his destiny. And for that service, she was happy as he drew her last breath.

Kero looked at the sight in horror and disgust, his heart freezing as he saw his fellow deputy’s limbs twitch for one, last time. He had respected, even liked the female for as long as he could remember and to see her die like this… it simply wasn’t right. But even worse, he saw her killer slowly turn towards him, asking him in a cold voice.

“Now, are you ready to pay the price for what you did to us? I will kill each and every one of you responsible for what happened to our herd!”

The flyer’s eyes widened as he looked at the end of one of his deputies. Lenel had seen many abominable acts during his life but this was one of the worst. To see Bluegust use his immense power to practically crush Taria’s skull… the light-colored flyer felt nausea and rage rise within him simultaneously as he saw the male turn towards Kero with his nearly insane eyes. He cursed himself for being unable to save the loyal, long-serving female but he had simply been too far to reach her in time. But that didn’t make him feel any better.
Inside, he could see just how clear the similarities between were between this incident and Pterano’s end. In both times, he had failed to save his closest allies and friends, after which he would be forced to watch them die before his eyes. Of course, he knew well over a hundred flyers had died in different fights under his leadership but he had formed longer and closer relationships of trust with those who had served him directly all these Cold Times… losing them never got any easier.

However, Bluegust’s last words revealed his and his despicable brother’s true intentions. They had tried to assassinate both him and Sireia but also take out his entire inner circle in order to utterly wipe out the herd’s leadership. Their worst mistake had been to assume he was in his resting place along with Sireia and because of that, their plot had failed miserably. However, the threat was still very real to his herd, especially as his authority was still more than shaky. But for now, he’d make sure these villains would never succeed in their miserable conspiracy. He cried at Bluegust in utter rage as he prepared to hit him with all his might.

“You will pay for that, Bluegust! You should have simply gone some far away with your brother and never shown your face here again! But now, I will make sure you will not escape again!” He cried as he hit the other flyer, causing him to fall into the ground. He immediately dug into his side as quickly as he could, knowing he had only a few seconds to utilize his advantage. The larger flyer, however, wasted no time in regaining his footing and he turned at Lenel in a mixture of surprise and hate.

“So those fools failed to get you after all? Well, at least I’ll get the chance to repay our last encounter in kind…” He said, more than willing to avenge his previous loss. Lenel looked at him with equal amount of loathing and determination, knowing his fate wasn’t to be stopped by this brute so vey close to his life-long dream. He’d take this monster out before getting his brother and after that, his dreams were only waiting to be realized.

A look of horror and disgust rose to Petrie’s face as he saw Taria’s remains far, far below him. It was something out from a bad sleep story and before he realized it, his wings started to feel all wobbly and weak. He nearly started to fall into the ground before he suddenly realized what was happening. He soon snapped himself out of his repulsion and instead whispered to the girl beside her.

“L… look there. Not even sharpteeth… do something like that.” He said, really wondering whether the sight would hit Glide as anything unusual. However, her voice fell completely as she answered, clear horror apparent as she spoke.

“No, they don’t. I… I knew Bluegust was a monster but…” Her voice died out before she could finish her sentence, a fact that made Petrie feel even more miserable than before. He then turned to look directly at her and asked her in a pitiful voice.

“How… how you able to take this life, Glide? All you others seem to do is just fight and kill in the worst ways possible! This… this just terrible!” He squeaked, making Glide take a deep sigh, forcing her gaze away from the ghastly sight. She spoke to Petrie in a heavy voice that wasn’t completely without guilt.

“I know, Petrie. It didn’t use to be this bad and really, you’ve seen the very worst things about us. But neither did I ever expect things to go like this. I’m sorry you had to see this.” She said, clearly horrified by the amount of evil her own herd had been capable of inflicting. She was clearly disturbed by what had happened and she wasn’t going to hide that fact from Petrie. The boy frowned deeply as he looked at the girl but he decided against pressing the point further. it wasn’t his friend’s fault, after all.

“Well… so is Petrie. But where would you think Peak is right now? Me think Ortin not far away from there either.” He said, more than puzzled by the former leader’s apparent absence. Glide frowned deeply at that question, knowing that fact as well as Petrie. No leader worthy of his name or pride would hide in a battle while still retaining his respect in the eyes of his followers. That could possibly mean only one thing even if that didn’t make the search any easier.

“If Peak isn’t anywhere to be seen, he must not be well enough to do so. Lenel most likely hurt him really badly during their last meeting but even then, he cannot be far away. If I had to guess, he must be giving orders in some gorge or cave very near to us. However, it is impossible for me to say exactly in which was one.” She said, her eyes scouring her surroundings in an effort to find something, anything of worth. Petrie looked at her in clear shock, realizing just how worrying those implications actually were. The fight would end sooner or later and whatever its outcome, the duo’s window of opportunity would be closed for good. He gulped clearly as he turned to look at the girl in clear worry.

“B… but surely there has to be some way we can find Ortin! For example, me don’t believe they’d bring the fight close to Peak if he really so badly hurt? Would it not make sense to look for him in some safe place where he can follow what’s going on while still being safe?” He tried to reason, hoping his words would at least bring some ideas to his friend. Glide glanced at the boy with a confused look, thinking deeply about what he had just said. She slowly turned her gaze towards a plateau where opened a clear view towards the fight, making her frown slightly. She then spoke to Petrie as she changed her direction slightly.

“Peak would not be stupid enough to move to a place that predictable but perhaps… follow me, Petrie.” She said as her eyes fixed on a high hill sticking up from that plateau. With any luck, she’d find the fiend who had caused so much trouble to her and her herd while also being able to reunite with an old, dear friend.

The atmosphere around him seemed to grow more threatening and depressing by the minute. He didn’t dare approach Peak but judging from his expression and body language, things were hardly moving in a welcome direction. Not a word had been exchanged among the flyers in a long, long time and the only sounds that could be heard were the sound of the wind and occasional cursing from the former leader. Ortin found himself suddenly crossing arms as he looked miserably around himself. Peak’s last words had never left him and as his mood seemed to drop continuously, the boy felt a heavy weight climb up his throat.

He had tried not to think of it but Peak had really meant that he expected his entire family to go down with him if this last, desperate attempt to take Lenel out would fail. And now that this prospect started to seem very real, horror started to finally form in the boy’s mind. If Peak decided that the battle was completely lost, would he then simply turn around and kill him? That thought chilled the young boy without an end as he had never seen such a monstrous deed as a real possibility before.

Inside, the flyer knew just what kind of reasoning was behind Peak’s words, however. He had been told many times that the fortune of his line was more important than any of his own thoughts or dreams. That he was supposed to either uphold Warekli’s glory or fade away into the Great Beyond. And as long as he could remember, he had accepted that charge as an integral part of himself and he was even proud of his family. And even now, he embraced his connection to Warekli and his work as the flyer who forever remembered as the most righteous and just of the leaders of the flyer herds of old. He would never disown his ancestor but… as Ortin looked at Peak, his thoughts suddenly grew dark.

Ever since his removal from power, Peak had grown increasingly desperate and willing to throw everything away for one chance to regain what he had lost or at least for being able to have his revenge against those who had harmed him. The boy hated Lenel deeply for what he had done to his family and he wouldn’t have minded seeing the pale flyer pay for his treachery. However, he could very well see that these grand hopes for a righteous revenge were quickly disappearing, mostly because Peak had been too proud or reckless to build a new herd around his name.

A disgusted smirk rose to the flyer’s face as he looked at his higher-ranked relative. As long as he could remember, Peak had never shown a sign of compassion or kindness to him, instead giving all his attention to his own children and now, he had the never to ask him to die because of his mistakes? Inside Ortin, something changed the moment he realized that fact and really, he had absolutely no will to give the ultimate sacrifice to a relative who had led him and those around him into this nightmare. Ortin knew he wouldn’t allow this to happen and he slowly turned at his grandmother and spoke silently.

“You aren’t going to allow him do this, are you?” He said in a fearful voice, hoping his words would have some effect on the elderly female. The older flyer, slowly turned at the boy and looked at him with fearful and saddened eyes.

“Ortin… you know that we aren’t supposed to question the will of Warekli’s heir. I’ve told you so more times than I can remember.” She said, her voice wavering with compassion. She hated seeing her grandson look at her with such wide eyes but even then, she knew her place in the world and in her family. She only hoped the younger flyer would understand his as well. However, Ortin wasn’t about to give up.

“But we are all Warekli’s children, grandma! We can’t let his line die out!” He tried to reason, his words being as genuine as they were desperate. The older flyer looked at the child with a look that radiated clear displeasure but she wasn’t going to raise her voice.

“He deserves better than to see his line being reduced into nothing, Ortin. This simply is how it has to be.” She said, causing the male to frown deeply. He was just about to speak when she heard a loud cry from Peak, a call he knew to be that of an impeding withdrawal. He knew those implications when he looked at the old flyer and spoke in a more decisive voice.

“I’m not going to accept this, grandma. I’m not going to die because of Peak’s mistakes!” He suddenly said, causing the older flyer’s eyes to widen and her right wing to tremble as she heard those words. She was only starting to think about her answer when Peak turned around and cried at the elderly flyer in annoyance.

“Can’t you silence that brat? Things are already bad enough without me being forced to listen to his insufferable whining!” He said, making both of the other flyers sigh in relief. At the very least he hadn’t heard the boy’s words but even then, Ortin had made his decision. He sighed briefly before turning at his grandmother and speaking to her in a voice that radiated sadness and sorrow.

“I’m so sorry, grandma. But I simply have to do this.” He said slowly before he grabbed a stone and threw it right at Peak and cried in alarm.

“You will not tell me whether to live or die, Peak!” He cried desperately before turning around to escape deeper into the cave. He could feel the wind blowing through the tunnel, confirming without debt that there had to be another exit from the cave.

Petrie smirked slightly as he heard Peak’s last call as it confirmed his position with utmost certainty. He knew that the former leader would never make his position known unless he was growing more than desperate. However, that fact didn’t mean too much to the flyer, all of his thoughts now fixated on thinking how Ortin would react to seeing him and Glide. Petrie himself couldn’t cast aside the knowledge that his former friend was apparently close to Peak whose treachery had cost uncle Pterano his life. Inside, he hoped he could make Ortin see the truth about Peak but if he couldn’t… he didn’t know whether he could forgive the blue flyer himself. After all, if he defended the bastard who had taken his dear uncle from him… Petrie decided to ignore those thoughts for now. He soon turned at Glide and spoke to her urgently.

“There seem to be some small opening not far from peak! You think we able to sneak in from there?” The brown flyer asked, causing Glide to look at the direction her friend had pointed closely. It was true that it hardly was a good strategy to simply fly right at the main opening and right ap Peak and really, if the orange flyer was anywhere near as cunning as a flyer of his status should be, he must have reserved himself at least some kind of escape route. She slowly turned at Petrie and spoke to him in alarm, wondering just how much time she and her friend had before Lenel would start looking for the one who had tried to assassinate him in the most despicable way possible.

“That’s as good idea as any! Come, let’s take a look!” She said as she quickly headed towards the cave, hoping that the two flyers’ hopes wouldn’t prove to be unfounded. Inside, she was excited to meet Ortin again but even then, she also knew that it was highly unlikely the events of the last weeks hadn’t left their mark on the blue-colored boy. Even then, she had missed him ever since their parting and any doubts she had of meeting him again were drowned by her still-warm feeling towards him. Petrie followed her immediately, knowing that whatever happened next would be far from easy.

Lenel looked in disgust as the massive flyer before him took one step after another back, looking at his hand that was painted red from a brief touch at his chest. Bluegust panted deeply as he looked at the other male, not able to believe it. Again, he had been bested by the pale flyer even if many had claimed him to be the most fearsome fighter in the old herd. However, Lenel’s agility and patience were something that killed most of his advantage in strength. He had thought of their last meeting as some kind of mistake or anomaly but here he was, even more badly hurt than before. He slowly fell to his knees as the higher-ranked male walked towards him, licking the blood from his own beak.

“Now, you will tell me where your brother is hiding or I’ll make sure your end will become that much more difficult. Now, speak!” He said, kicking the other flyer in his stomach in order to underline his point. Bluegust turned to look at him in pain, thinking about what to do. He remembered Peak’s words earlier this morning as he slowly looked around himself, seeing only that one by one, all of his companions were being cut down. It wouldn’t be long before the last of them would fall under the vengeance of those still loyal to Lenel. He hated the fact that it would all end like this but in the end, the chance for success had been extremely small from the very beginning. He looked at Lenel in clear defeat and managed to speak to him only with great efforts.

“May the Bright Circle curse you, Lenel! You… you took everything from us!” He said, causing Lenel to kneel beside the wounded male and spoke to him in a trembling voice.

“Maybe I did not say it clearly enough! Now, tell me where he is!” Lenel cried as he hit the larger flyer again, revealing his teeth in the hopes of intimidating the other flyer even more. Bluegust was far from a coward and he would have gladly taken any amount of torture if it only helped his brother. However, he wasn’t fond of that option and besides, he didn’t even have to take it.

“Know that your threats have no effect on any flyer worthy of his name! I will only speak because Peak gave me that chance. He knew that we could only win or fade into the past and we both agreed on just that. P… Peak is in the cave in the side of the narrow mountain immediately to the south of this plateau. He will gladly accept any fate the Bright Circle will grant on him but no matter what you do, remember that we will this battle in the hearts of those who come after us! They will know that Warekli’s children went down with pride while Olres’ betrayed everything they ever stood for! And for that, I am content with my role in this life.” He said as he lowered his head, not seeing as Lenel bowed towards him with an annoyed but determined look. He brought his beak near Bluegust’s ear and whispered to him with a slow voice.

“You may say whatever you want to yourself but it was Peak’s pride who brought us to this situation. Warekli’s pride will disappear but Olres’ glory will be reborn so very soon. Peak lied to you all along but as you truly were stupid enough to do his dirty work for him, you would have deserved a far worse fate than this, Bluegust!” He said as he quickly slid the massive flyer’s throat open, turning away before he saw his old enemy’s life depart from his body. His attention was completely fixed at the sight of the mountain that stuck out from the mountainside like a sore thumb. Soon enough, he would be able to repay Peak’s ambush in kind but before then, he’d make him feel every pain he had caused on Sireia countless times over!

The tunnel before him seemed to never end and each sound he heard turned into a roar as Ortin tried to escape from Peak and the rest of his family, the former not approving the least of the young boy’s deed. Ortin knew he had been told never to rise against Peak but on this day, he simply couldn’t stand the older flyer’s attitude and his sickening plans. He had no idea what would happen if they caught him but he certainly wasn’t going to find out. Aside from his grandmother, his long-gone father was the only family member he had really cared about and he simply wouldn’t allow himself to be killed because his grandmother was stupid or stubborn enough to still follow Peak.

“Catch the brat! We have to stay together in this hour, no matter what!”

Ortin cringed deeply as he heard those words, not able to believe any of Peak’s own children or anyone else still believed those words. The boy’s eyes scoured the eyes around him as he tried to avoid getting tripped by some bigger stone in the ground. He could hear his chasers’ footsteps grow closer by the second but even then, he knew he couldn’t give up. He had to get away from here and somehow forge a new life for himself. He would survive and he would ensure the survival of Warekli’s line and make Lenel pay for h…

Suddenly, Ortin felt his right foot hit something in the ground and before he could o anything more, he felt himself hit the floor of the cave. His beak hurt tremendously but he knew better than to waste time thinking about such things. He was just about to get back to his feet as he heard a familiar voice speak to him from the darkness. The sound of that voice made him smile even before he even saw the speaker.

“Ortin! Is that you?” Glide’s voice asked as she looked at the boy’s vague form that was lying right before her. The blue-colored flyer looked at the girl before him, not really finding any words to say right now. He hadn’t expected to meet her here but only now did Ortin realize just how much he had missed his closest friend. He stuttered slightly as he finally managed to form some coherent words.

“G… Glide! Wh… how? And Petrie? Is that you?” His voice fell somewhat as he saw the other male who walked right after Glide. He was even more surprised to see him with the girl and really, he had never really yearned to see him again and even now, his presence dampened his initial joy at seeing Glide again. However, Petrie smiled at him slightly as he tried to answer the question.

“Yep, Petrie here so…” He started but before he got any further, Ortin suddenly realized just what was going on. He quickly ran towards the two other flyers and spoke to them urgently.

“Stay silent, idiot! Peak and the others are coming and we have to get away before…” He spoke but this time, he was interrupted by yet another voice. Ortin froze still as he heard that sound, not yet able to decide whether it was a blessing or a curse.

“Get here, Peak! I know you’re out there! It is all over for you and your plots as your brother confessed with his last breath!” He cried, causing Ortin to shiver with fright. He had never really liked Bluegust but to hear him to be dead… For some reason, that fact filled him with fear and even sadness. The three young flyers stared into the darkness, each of them realizing that not any footsteps could be heard anymore.

“We’ll have to go face him, Peak. It is far better for us to maintain our honor through all this than to let Ortin steal the last thing we still have left: our pride. I’m so sorry.” The elderly female spoke, her heart filled with sorrow. Inside, she was happy Ortin had made his choice even if she knew his future was still severely ruined by the actions of his family.
A member of a disgraced family never lived for long but in her mind, Ortin deserved a chance. She only hoped he wouldn’t come to regret that choice.
Peak, on the other hand, could only stare before himself with empty eyes, his thoughts swirling around countless different things. For once, the fact that Lenel knew his location meant that Bluegust indeed was dead. Suddenly, all of his days with him flew before his eyes, all the happy times they had as children, as young flyers and even at the head of his herd. Now, he was gone forever, leaving him to face the inevitable.

And Bluegust’s passing meant that he last hopes of saving his family had failed. Everything he had ever worked for lied in ruins, all of his dreams and protecting those around himself reduced to nothing. And even worse, that cursed brat had taken away whatever authority he still had retained and proved that not even his own relatives listened to him anymore. He stared forward for many, long seconds until the elderly flyer finally grew worried and asked the male carefully.

“Peak? You have to decide something!” She said, frowning even more as Peak continued to stare into nothingness for a few more seconds. However, he soon turned at the older dinosaur and finally gave his answer in a faraway and even haunted voice.

“We’ll face Lenel. Ortin will face his punishment in due time but for now, we’ll have to accept what’s coming for us. Follow me one last time.”

Peak’s attempt to regain his former position has failed miserably and it seems like he has accepted what is to come. However, the encounter is still far from over and Petrie and his friends are still hardly safe from the storms around them… I truly regret my slower writing pace but I hope to resume my earlier pace some time during the next month. But right now, it’s again time for another short story so we’ll have to wait for Ruby’s plot to move forward a bit longer.

DiddyKF1: Well, Spike’s death was a development that probably wasn’t a surprise but otherwise, it’s great to hear I’ve kept the future developments as a complete mystery as that’s something I’ve really tried to do. But even then, this wasn’t a good development which only served to make the characters’ lives even more miserable. :opetrie

And yep, there is still so very much about to happen even if this story is slowly turning towards its end. It’s nice to hear you’ve found the last chapter exciting and there is still much more of that to come. I really love to read or watch stuff where the outcome is never certain and I hope you like that as well.

rhombus: Ducky’s journey has indeed been a heartbreaking one and it’s quite clear she and Ruby can relate to each other’s tragedies. Spike’s death certainly will linger in her mind for the rest of her life but at least, she now has someone she knows she can trust to cast away at least some of the pain.

As for Stealth, the situation with him will be more complicated than I gave away in the last chapter. Stealth and Ruby’s reunion will happen soon enough but suffice to say, a sharptooth like him has many personal motives as well… I’m really happy you liked the chapter and thanks for the thoughtful review. :)


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #101 on: March 01, 2019, 09:46:55 AM »
This did feel a little slow-paced, but I guess that's just me. It was slow-paced for the right reasons. This chapter was just filled with massacre and bloodshed, with Petrie on the verge of being caught in the crossfire. As he tries to find clues regarding the Land of the Dancing Waters, he only seems to compromise his own goals further by trying so hard to find just the right Flyer to ask at arguably the worst time possible.

At this point, I must say that it's amazing how you manage to create this abundance of complicated OC's and give them such well-established backstories that bring them where they are now with this violent resolution. I could never dream of doing that in a million years. :P I think that's another reason why this story has amazed me with each chapter I read. The world of the dinosaurs was much bigger than just what we were shown in the movies. There's more than just our familiar Prehistoric Pals in the Great Valley, but this is a story where, as Petrie expressed here, that their world was quite a terrifying place with many of their own kind trying to kill each other in greed to gain power. This has honestly started to feel like it's Game of Thrones with Flyers! :smile

This has been an intense read so far, and every chapter just keeps raising questions for our heroes relentlessly, with next to no answers. It's honestly felt like I'm watching a horror/mystery movie. You've really kept me on the edge of my seat. :smile
Suddenly, I've written so many fanfics that I can't possibly list them all! :P


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #102 on: March 12, 2019, 12:52:43 AM »
The desolation of Peak's ambitions and hopes is perfectly reflected in the bloodshed of this chapter.  For both the readers and for Petrie this story (and this chapter in particular) is an eye-opener into the cutthroat politics of his people, and to the rather unsavory aspects of family loyalty even triumphing over basic decency. With the detailed motivations of the various flyer herds, the complications involving Ruby's family and Chomper's family, and the great unknowns still to come in this tale, it almost (as Diddy mentioned) reminds me of Game of Thrones in many respects.

Despite Petrie's attempts to find the Land of the Dancing Waters and his lost friends it seems that he cannot help but be drawn in once more into the turmoil that he thought that he had left behind.  I can only hope that fate's sick sense of humor finally allows him to reunited with some of his friends.  I suspect they will all need one another in the struggles that are yet to come.

This was an excellent chapter as always.  :) I look forward to seeing how things develop from here.

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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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #103 on: March 25, 2019, 02:59:45 AM »
Phew, finally caught up with this story, I’m sorry for a late review. I’ve been so busy with work, such are the struggles with college but here it is. Better late than never, right? :)

Peak is certainly in between a rock and a hard place as of now not only with Lenel but Ortin as well. His relationship with him appears to be a very malignant. Only cause he seems to be interested about is getting vengeance against those who dethrone him from power. Something that Ortin evidently has had enough of and has now taken matters into his own hands over his life.

Even as strong flier as Bluegust was even he is not immortal and now has flown his last flight ever. I’ve noticed that you seem to be getting better at action scenes and while I still can spot few typos here and there, they don’t exactly bother me awfully, just something to take into consideration when you write future chapters. I do know that when writing even tiny little typos can be missed easily but readers usually notice those little goofs better than us writers.

I’m fairly certain that the Land of the Dancing Waters appears to be were Ruby and her companions are currently, it certainly fits the description of that place. Whatever the case, the future is looking grim for everyone equally so. No matter what is about to happen in future chapters, it will be a challenging experience.


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #104 on: March 30, 2019, 04:02:46 PM »
Stealth’s Pain, Ruby’s Reminder

A slight cringe rose to Detras’ face as the cold night wind ruffled his nearly frozen feathers. He was trembling due to the weather but that was one of the last worries in his mind right now. He eyed the many sharpteeth and halfteeth around himself who were clearly taking him and his mate somewhere. The male could see Stealth’s larger form not far ahead of himself and inside, he couldn’t help but wonder what the hell was going on. He was more than relieved by the fact that he was still alive but that raised the question of what Stealth really wanted from him and Pearl.

The moments flowed forward slowly as the fastrunner saw vague shadows around himself which immediately told him that Stealth was going into some sheltered part of the forest nestled on the upper foothills of the woodland which confirmed the fact that Stealth didn’t want any witnesses to whatever would happen next. After another minute of walking, Stealth finally stopped walking and snapped in a sharp voice.

“On your knees, now!” The sailback said, making it clear to whom he was speaking to. Detras hated being forced to slither before some cursed brute like Stealth or Dein but he and his mate knew that it was obviously the better option than to be slaughtered immediately. He sighed slightly as he felt his knees sinking into the ground sparkles which made the cold feel even more sickening. He slowly raised his gaze at Stealth, briefly looking at the lesser lights of the sky smiling at the fastrunners even on this day which was turning into one of the darkest ones in their lives. Detras, however, forced his eyes back at Stealth and he frowned deeply as he spoke to the sharptooth.

“Could you finally tell what do you want of us? I, for one, am sick of being forced to serve someone who doesn’t even want to tell the reason for it!” The halftooth said, knowing that such behavior likely wouldn’t sit well with the larger dinosaur but really, he didn’t have a whole lot more to lose anymore. If Stealth would end him and Pearl here, so be it, but he wouldn’t allow himself to be reduced into a mere slave before it.

The sharptooth, on the other hand, looked at the omnivore with an unmoved expression, only one small muscle stirring in his left cheek. Even if Stealth’s body language was highly neutral, the two omnivores could see that a deep hatred burned at the back of the predator’s eyes and when he finally spoke, that sentiment was more than confirmed. Stealth’s voice was clearly restrained but it dipped with loathing and rage.

“If you were worth even a ground fuzzy’s rotten toe, you would be able to answer that at least, you sorry excuses of halfteeth! Anyway, let’s start it simple. Do you know who I am?” He asked, his posture telling to the fastrunners that they’d have to think of the answer carefully. Pearl frowned slightly as she thought of the answer. Certain memories had stirred within her mind when Ruby had first told of her new “alliance”, true, but even back then, she couldn’t really come up with anything important or major about the sailback. Despite her lack of knowledge about the other dinosaur, the female still answered in a confident and calm voice.

“I cannot say that your reputation has spread that far and wide, Stealth. But yes, I have heard of you before which is more than I can say of more sharpteeth.” She said, hoping that her answer would do something, anything to ease the situation up a bit but to her fear and disappointment, her words only brought a murderous and bitter look to the sailback’s face. He then approached Pearl and circled her slowly as he presented his next answer.

“My reputation hasn’t spread far and wide, you say? Well, I guess the Cold Time may have just slowed down the news but in that case, I have something you have to see. Sterntooth, Yellowfoot, bring it here!” Stealth cried, causing the two fastrunners to exchange confused looks. What in earth was Stealth talking about? Clearly, something had happened since their departure to Desolate Rise but neither of them had any idea what. Worried thoughts swirled within their minds when a fastbiter and a thinclaw approached them slowly, lowering a certain object in front of the omnivores. Detras looked at it with wide eyes, starting to pant deeply as he tried to form a few words but at first, he failed miserably.

“I… is that… is it…” He started but Stealth didn’t allow him to finish. He nearly spat out the words even if it was clear he enjoyed the smaller male’s reaction greatly. They were talking of his life’s greatest triumph and Detras and Pearl’s reaction were more than expected.

“One of Red Claw’s claws? Indeed it is. That old bastard finally met his end three weeks ago when he and his pawns attempted too brave an attack against a herd of longnecks. Those barkbreaths are dumber than a head-injured bellydragger but trying to take on too many of them at once is always a losing strategy. I guess that poor bastard was starving to death or either he did a massive miscalculation when he engaged the longnecks. In any case, he managed to escape his fight with one large, brown male but he was seriously hurt afterwards.” Stealth said with a grin, knowing that no matter what happened, he’d walk out as the victor from this conversation.

Pearl, on the other hand, was just as taken aback as her mate, knowing the implications of Stealth’s words. Dein and Terri had tried to take him down for many seasons and each time, Red Claw had seemed to only consolidate his position around the Valley. To think that first Red Claw had lost to some longneck and then to a sailback… she had hard time believing that. And considering the amount of allies Stealth now had made her even more concerned. However, there was another thought that fostered within her mind. Red Claw’s passing had been undoubtedly good news and if Stealth could stand up to Dein and Terri as well… Her hopeful thoughts were interrupted as Stealth continued.

“And to that fool’s surprise, it was I who happened to stalk him in hopes something like this could happen. Red Claw’s reign was already starting to go downwards but even then, he gave me a real challenge. Had he been in full health, I wouldn’t have stood a chance. But even now, few sailbacks have ever stood up to a two-footer and even fewer have prevailed.” He said, clearly too full of himself for words. Stealth knew the implications of his deed but even now, he knew full well the limits of his power and knew that taking out a wounded sharptooth didn’t make him invincible. Yet, his antics were slowly getting on Detras’ nerves and he wasted no time answering to the predator’s bragging.

“Well, good riddance then. I don’t think anyone is going to miss that brute. But I ask again, what does all of this have to do with this?” He put his hands on hips and took a more annoyed expression. Yes, he was relieved to hear the sharptooth was gone but considering the direct threat posed by both Chomper’s parents and Stealth, that hardly improved his mood too greatly. Stealth exhaled deeply as he quickly raised his gaze towards the skies before taking the previous, more threatening expression.

“That is a question you’ll answer to yourselves once I tell you the names Sprinter and Whiteclaw. I’m more than certain you’ll recognize those names, don’t you?” He said, confirming what Detras had started to fear a moments earlier. Indeed, those two had been the only two sailbacks he and his mate had met earlier but he still hoped things wouldn’t turn out in the worst way possible.

“I do. They were two sharpteeth whom we attacked many times in the past in order to fulfill our alliance with Dein and Terri. At one point, they likely were killed finally and truth be told, I wasn’t saddened by it. It was purely up to luck that they didn’t kill either me or Pearl.” He said, not really knowing what to say. On the other hand, he had an inkling where all of this was going but on the other hand, his apparent pride and respect were some qualities that Dein had always liked about him and he hoped Stealth wouldn’t see it differently either. Pearl gazed at him in worry, hoping the male knew what he was doing. However, Stealth’s first reaction was far from encouraging.

“Attacked? No, no, no, you don’t seem to understand what happened or either you aren’t honest enough even to yourself! You stalked, tormented them, destroyed them until the merciful end! And even worse, you and your cursed allies tried to slaughter me more times than I can remember!” Stealth cried, finally causing even Detras to take a few steps back in fear. So, it was true. Stealth was that duo’s child and judging by his behavior, it wasn’t hard to see what had happened to them.

Inside, Pearl felt the familiar feeling of self-loathing make itself known. However, this time, she could easily contain it as she knew more than well that blaming her and Detras this time wasn’t reasonable by any stretch of imagination. She frowned deeply as she answered to the young sharptooth.

“Just drop it, Stealth! Yes, we may have been a part of that all but any sharptooth knows that our kind simply has no say in it all! Blaming us would be completely asinine!” Pearl cried, clearly to Stealth’s displeasure. The sharptooth slowly bowed at the fastrunner and his voice trembled as he spoke, slightly rising the further he got.

“You had no say in any of it? Now, Pearl, I have reason to doubt you’re not completely honest with me. After all, many of my allies have told me that there has seldom been a family of fastrunners more loyal to one sharptooth than you were to Dein and Terri. In fact, my own parents told me you worked together as if you truly were their equals, as if you truly respected each other. Say one more time that you never had a choice. I DARE YOU!” He cried as he pushed Pearl against a massive rock before tearing five gaping wounds in her belly with his claws. At this sight, Detras cried at the sharptooth in a mixture and outrage, hoping to do something, anything that would save his beloved mate from any more pain.

“That’s more than enough, Stealth! Just leave Pearl out of this as it was me who brought our family into an alliance with Dein and Terri. They respected me more than many others of my kind and it would have gone against all reason to decline their offer! Yes, we worked with them willing but only in order to safeguard our own situation against those who would bring us harm! I did only what was best for me, my mate and for my children. I’m sorry about what happened to your parents but each of us knows that certain things simply happen that none of us would want to come to pass.” He said, hoping that honesty was the best policy as it had so often been.

Stealth looked at the fastrunner dryly, not really willing to waste any more time with these puny omnivores. Yet, he could see what Dein and Terri had seen within this fastrunner but for him, his unusually courageous behavior meant little. Slowly, he eased his grip of Pearl who collapsed into the ground in Pain and then spoke to the other male in a voice that dipped with hate and bitterness but this time, the imminent danger seemed to be absent.

“And that is the exact reason you are still alive. We all have to make our own decisions but if you think I’m simply going to forgive yours, you are terribly mistaken. After all, your benefactors hounded me and my family for weeks after we had left the Woodland of Plenty, or the Land of Mists as you might better know it, never giving any of us a moment’s rest! Sprinter and Whiteclaw fought their minions night and day but surely, they grew weak and tired. I was there, Detras. I was there to see those bastards tear my parents into pieces before my very eyes. I still remember the look of fear on my mother’s eyes as she looked at me mere seconds before her death before they dimmed forever. And indeed, you were there to make it all possible.” Stealth said, causing Detras to gulp in clear anxiety. He couldn’t deny Stealth’s words even if his and his mate’s role on that day had been merely to scout and find out the sailbacks’ weakest point. Still, he didn’t regret any of his deeds on that day and he knew that no sensible dinosaur would do so either. Right now, he wasn’t certain about Stealth’s state of mind, though.

“As I already said, I’m sorry about everything that happened, Stealth, but you cannot blame us! Can’t you see that?” He asked, trying to reach the sharptooth’s more rational self but at first glance, his efforts didn’t seem to be successful. But after a moment, Stealth spat into the ground and knelt right in front of the fastrunner and took a slight smile.

“Oh, I can see it perfectly, Detras. You did what was best for your family but you know what? What you did was a disaster for mine and even afterwards, Dein and Terri tried to hunt me down for a long, long time. All that suffering simply because they couldn’t stand even a potential challenger to their position, even if my parents wanted nothing but to use their territory in order to escape from the catastrophe that ruined our home. We would have been on our way before they knew it but no, those monsters clearly wanted to show us that there was no room fir other sharpteeth in this world and they slaughtered Sprinter and Whiteclaw for that petty reason!” He said, taking a short breather before he continued to speak.

“And that was how they turned my life into that cursed nightmare. I was forced to hide and run every moment from their minions and even that didn’t seem to be enough. Once, they found me and nearly managed to bleed every drop of my blood away but I managed to lose them in a wide marshland by hiding in those stinking pools for days without end! As time passed, I started to manage to fight some of them off but it was a painful and hard journey. After many seasons, I had finally grown enough so that the weaker dinosaurs couldn’t stalk me anymore and it was then that I started to slowly turn the tables and even bring the challenge to them. And I assure you, I won’t rest before I’ve torn Dein and Terri to pieces and on that day, they’ll learn the mistake they made on that day and on every day since!” The sharptooth cried at Detras who blinked once after the larger male had concluded his story, not at all convinced by Stealth’s story. On one hand, he could understand his reasoning but even then, these kinds of things happened far too often in the Mysterious Beyond. Not finding anything to say just yet, the fastrunner waited for the sharptooth to finish his tale.

“And this is where I want to answer your question, halftooth. You said that you only did what was best for you and your family. Well, that is only what I am doing as well. If slaughtering mine benefited the ones you love, then it only makes sense that I wish to stop you from chasing your own goals ever again, don’t you think? Or even better, I can use your help in order to finally have my revenge on those two bastards!” He said, his eyes narrowing slightly as he spoke, causing Detras to look at Stealth with a slightly suspicious look. He feared where this was going but even then, he knew he could hardly deny any request he would soon be presented. He briefly glanced at Pearl who looked at her mate pleadingly, clearly having as bad feelings about this conversation as the male. Detras merely sighed at that sight before turning back at the sharptooth and speaking a in a low but clear voice.

“So, are you here to propose a new alliance to us?” He asked the obvious question, hoping that the rest of this meeting would go according to the old traditions of forging an alliance bound by the honor of its creators. However, Stealth didn’t wait a second before he answered in a mocking and loathing voice that immediately caused Detras’ heart drop within his chest.

“An alliance? With you? Oh, I think you’ve understood it all wrong, Detras. An alliance would mean that we’d treat each other with respect and that we’d have mutual responsibilities towards each other. What I am offering, or rather giving, to you is a chance to simply serve me and hope you’ll live through it all. You will eat when I allow it, you will sleep when I give you the permission and you will risk your lives when I demand it! And in the end, I will decide whether you’ve done well enough in order for me to spare your lives even after everything you did in the service of those two. Or alternatively, you can simply turn down my offer but in that case, I’ll take you down here and now. So, which one will it be?” Stealth asked, knowing that all of the cards were within his claws. Even if the fastrunners would do the unthinkable, he wouldn’t lose anything of worth whereas the omnivores would lose literally everything.

Pearl cringed in pain as she forced herself back to her feet, knowing just how hopeless the situation really was. She didn’t want to have anything to do with Stealth but in the end, she and her mate shared one key interest with him. The sailback didn’t know of the feud between the sharpteeth and the fastrunners and that fact gave them at least one bargaining chip. As long as Stealth thought that they were helping him simply because they had to, there was a chance that he would come to see the omnivores’ value and loyalty to him. She stepped forward to her mate’s side and finally spoke to the sharptooth again.

“You leave us no choice, Stealth. We agree to your terms. But even then, I’d like to ask why you approached Ruby earlier as we all know that she is of no worth to you.” She said simply, hoping to receive a clear answer to Stealth. The male slowly turned around before turning his head to look at the omnivore as he started to walk away from her.

“Of course she isn’t. No brat like her could change anything in the grand scheme of things but she was desperate enough to believe I actually cared about any of her problems. In fact, I offered her my alliance as I knew she’d lead me to you sooner or later and considering that no one knows Dein and Terri better than you, you might just play the key role in finally sending those two into the Great Beyond. Ruby has already fulfilled her role and she did just as I had predicted. But try to rest now. We’ll move on early in the morning.” Stealth said as he slowly disappeared into the darkness.

Those words didn’t surprise Pearl in the least as she had realized from the beginning that there was something very wrong with Ruby’s story but even then, she was beyond infuriated. The fact that the sharptooth had had the nerve to manipulate Ruby like this sickened her greatly but also the fact that she had no choice but to do as this villain told her worsened her mental state considerably. This was one of the most dangerous situations she had ever found herself or her mate in but even now, Ruby’s situation weighed within her mind more. She slowly spoke to Detras in a voice, making sure none of Stealth’s minions heard them.

“I just hope Ruby, Orchid and Arial will be safe. That’s all I care now.” She said, causing Detras to smile at her sadly. He then spoke in a low voice that mirrored his mate’s tone completely.

“So do I. But try to rest now, dear. We can only protect them if we live through this all.” He said, cringing at the suspicious looks the duo’s conversation earned from the dinosaurs around them. It was clear that they wanted to hear nothing more about them and both fastrunners took a deep and forced sigh as they leaned towards one rocky wall and did as Stealth had told them.

“This is completely ridiculous, Ruby! We have no way of finding anyone in this darkness! And besides, Stealth, or any other sharptooth, has far better chance of surprising us first and I wouldn’t want to see that happening!” Yarel cried as he looked at Ruby who frowned next to him. It was true that the darkness prevented them from seeing even their own hands, let alone another dinosaur. Even then, the fastrunner wasn’t about to give up and she looked at the boy in slight chagrin about his words.

“We already went through all of this, Yarel! We don’t know whether Stealth will rest tonight and if he doesn’t, he will just move forward without ever knowing we even were here in the first place! And if we don’t find him, we have no chance of ever being safe from Chomper’s parents… or even from mommy and daddy.” Ruby added sadly, crossing her arms as she looked at the sky far above her. Her brother and sister looked at their older sibling with worried eyes but they knew better than to try to argue with her about this issue. However, Ducky, who was riding Yarel this time, was far from convinced about the fastrunner’s plans and she asked her carefully.

“Ruby… you know I trust you greatly, I really do, but… I have a bad feeling about this. Even if Stealth is a friend, even nice sharpteeth can do bad things if they think they are attacking someone who is not their friend. I cannot help but think what would happen if a sailback attacked us right now, nope, nope, nope.” The swimmer said, causing Ruby’s mood to fall slightly as she knew that the swimmer was speaking the truth. Stealth didn’t know she was here and unless he paid attention to her smell, he’d have no way of knowing her identity until it would all be too late. However, there were two players in that game as well.

Without further words, Ruby turned her back at her companions and listened carefully to the sounds of the nightly forest. She could only hear the sound of a silent ground fuzzy, the screech of a flyer somewhere far away as well as the wailing of the wind. Even if she tried her best, there was no sounds of footsteps anywhere nearby. She carefully raised her sniffer higher into the air and started to inhale quickly. She continued for a few seconds, only to be interrupted by a worried remark from Ducky.

“It isn’t of any use, nope, nope, nope. Even I know you cannot smell anything from the direction the wind is coming and besides, any sharptooth have better sniffers than we do.” She said while burying her head in her hands, looking at the starry sky with a bothered look. She was soon awakened from her thoughts as Greentail joined the conversation.

“Yu knw… I mean, you know more th… than any of the other swimmers we’ve met before. The other ones have mostly just been an easy prey to the sharpteeth or… or even to us.” She said, realizing that Ducky might take some offense of her words. Ducky snorted slightly, knowing that solemn fact extremely well by now. However, she couldn’t bring herself to blame the injured girl for stating the obvious. However, this was no longer the Great Valley and there was absolutely no reason to really care about other dinosaurs’ sensibilities. She knew her current mentality was a far cry from her Valley days but she couldn’t care less anymore. Every last bit of her innocence had died with Spike.

“I know that more than well, Greentail. Swiftsplash never let me forget that as long as I live and I will not. After all, we swimmers have very few places to hide in unless there is water somewhere nearby. I… I am just sorry mama never told me or my brothers and sisters anything about life outside the Valley and it was so long ago before we arrived there that I have already forgotten all the wisdoms I was told before that day. Maybe… maybe if mama had told us more about how things really were, even Spike could have made it through it all.” The swimmer said as she allowed one, single tear to fall on Yarel’s back. That was a wound that would never heal and truth be told, Ducky didn’t even want it to because as long as Spike lingered within her mind, she felt that at least some small part of him was still with her.

This change within her old friend wasn’t lost to Ruby of course and she frowned deeply as she realized just how terribly life had also hit Ducky lately. But even then, there was no reason to dwell in those thoughts any longer and she cleared her throat in order to draw the attention back to herself.

“Well, she never thought anything like this would happen ever again. She meant well, Ducky, but far too often, meaning well only makes things worse in the future! But even then, we have to continue moving on or we’ll lose Stealth’s help for good and if we do that, things will get even worse for all of us. Stealth isn’t anywhere near us so you can relax at least for a while longer.” She said with an encouraging voice, causing Ducky to look at the fastrunner with a saddened and fearful expression. However, despite her misgivings about the situation, she understood Ruby’s point and truth be told, she didn’t have any better ideas than she did.

“I just hope things will stay that way far longer, I do.” She said, earning an annoyed look from Ruby. She was far from happy about the swimmer’s whining but she didn’t want to start any kind of fight right now. She merely turned around and headed into the woods, praying she wouldn’t lead her friends to their deaths.

Pearl felt like her entire chest was getting crushed under some unseen weight as she tried to force herself into the realm of sleep. She knew that it was the very best she could do right now but even then, every time she closed her eyes she saw either Ruby or herself getting killed in the most horrifying ways imaginable. Either they were slaughtered by Stealth or Chomper’s parents or freezing to death but no matter what, those sights made it impossible for the female to even attempt to fall to sleep.

Carefully, she opened her eyes slightly and saw the rest of Stealth’s allies either sleeping near her or guarding them from any surprising attacks. However, none of them seemed to be following her or any other fastrunner’s actions too closely which enabled her to breathe at least a bit more easily. She slowly changed her position in order to make it at least a bit more comfortable but even then, her inner turmoil made that improvement trivial at best.

The female glanced at the male who was clearly deep asleep, envying him deeply. She knew he was just as horrified by their situation but he had often proven to be far better in controlling his emotions whereas Pearl often seemed to drown within her own anxiety. She brought her hand to her forehead in the hopes of calming herself down even a bit but even then, her inner guilt seemed to only grown within her mind.

She had wanted so very much to find Ruby and to ask for her forgiveness even if it was something Pearl knew she would never deserve from the daughter she had harmed so horribly. But now, even that one dream had ben crushed by Stealth’s appearance but deep inside, the fastrunner decided she’d accept any outcome of her and the sharptooth’s temporary relationship. If it was his role to act as the vessel of justice for her terrifying crimes, then so be it. At least in that case she’d receive the punishment she so very badly des…

Suddenly, the omnivore’s eyes flashed open as she raised her sniffer into the air. That smell was extremely faint and certainly it had to be nothing but her ow imagination… Pearl tried to force her attention away from that brief smell and to attempt to resume her efforts to fall asleep but…. there it was again. This time, Pearl turned to look over the low wall of rocks overlooking a rather large area of the forest it. Not surprisingly, she could see nothing but darkness before her but this time, she couldn’t deny that her sniffer had really caught the scent that was so very familiar to her. As she inhaled deeply, she brought her right hand to her chest as she felt her breaths deepening heavily.

C… could it really be? Could it really be Ruby, Orchid and Arial? But they were supposed to still be hours away from her so why would they be here in this hour? The array of emotions hit her like a charging threehorn as she thought about what had happened. At first, the guilty mother thought about whether it would be best if she simply would let them go and forget everything about their parents’ horrible crimes.

However, even now the female realized the insanity of her own words. She and her mate had deliberately embarked on this journey to find their children and here she was thinking of simply throwing that idea away for virtually no reason. If nothing else, she owed it to Ruby to warn her about Stealth’s true intentions and convince her to give up the folly of seeing him as an ally. A worried frown appeared on Pearl’s face as she started to think about how to draw the attention of her children as she simply couldn’t start to cry at them. She had to do this without raising ant unwanted attention from the other dinosaurs around her even if she knew that would be far from easy.

She couldn’t use her voice and there was no way of sending her own scent against the wind so there was just one way she could do this: by trying to catch their attention by sending them some visible signal of her location. Having a slight idea about how to do it, the fastrunner started to look at the area around her in the hopes of finding some gleaming rock around her. The ground sparkles made that effort even more difficult than normal but luckily, she had seen many such rocks in the past few days and it shouldn’t be impossible for her to find one of them here as well… there’s one of them!

Pearl couldn’t believe her luck as she picked up one sharp, white-colored rock that seemed to already gleam slightly at the light of the ground sparkles. She knew her idea was unlikely to succeed but even then, she had no options. The female sighed slightly as she raised the rock over the wall separating the resting place from the rest of the forest,
hoping her efforts wouldn’t be crushed just yet.

Even if she would wanted to keep her own and her companions’ spirits up, Ruby couldn’t help but start feeling worried herself. She still wasn’t ready to join the others’ fears that Stealth would slaughter them all by accident but she couldn’t lie to herself any longer. The forest was a massive area and the chance that she’d find him in practically complete darkness was terribly low. Even worse, she could see that the frigid night wind was only dampening the group’s spirits further. They had already wandered well over an hour and all the time, the quest seemed more and more desperate.

No matter how much she hated to admit, Ruby couldn’t deny that she didn’t even believe herself that she’d find Stealth tonight. The sharptooth was much faster than she was due to the ground sparkles right now and it was likely the predator had already left the forest altogether. Knowing there was no reason to prolong this futile search any longer, she sighed in resignation and turned to face her companions.

“Very well, you win. We will not find him in this darkness and if we’re not going to find him, it doesn’t matter if we waste the rest of the night looking for him or try to rest a little. I’m sorry I even took you with me on a quest like this.” She said in a mixture of genuine apology and slight vitriol. She had only wanted for the best of her siblings and friends but they seemed only to blame her for being overly optimistic. Seeing Yarel act like this wasn’t a surprise but the rest of the omnivores seemed to blame her for something as well. Orchid crossed his hands as he answered to his sister.

“I’m sorry, Ruby, that we didn’t find him but I’m sure we’ll do it later! There’s no reason to feel bad just yet even if this search was a mistake from the beginning.” He said, not finding anything else to tell Ruby. The older fastrunner then looked at the rest of her companions and saw the expressions ranging from blaming ones into annoyed and sorry ones. Ruby briefly rolled her eyes in frustration before speaking again.

“I know, Orchid, you don’t have to remind me! But for now, let’s just find some place to rest and… uhh, what is that?” The girl said as she suddenly started to point into the darkness. Yarel frowned slightly as he looked at the direction the fastrunner was pointing at and he briefly answered with a dismissive voice.

“There’s nothing out there, Ruby. Just drop it and let’s get to sleep.” He said as he walked towards a nearby rock, hoping it would shield him from the chill for the rest of the night. Ruby looked at him in hesitation, not sure if she had actually seen what she had thought. However, just as she was following the boy’s example, she finally saw that same twinkling light in the darkness and for a moment, panic rose within her chest. What if those were the eyes of a sharptooth, only waiting for a moment to attack her and the other halfteeth? However, she still couldn’t quite hear any footsteps or see any movement and besides, that light didn’t seem like any kind of eyes Ruby had ever seen before. She waved her hand and whispered to Yarel and the others.

“Follow me, everyone. And be silent.” She said, not on the mood to explain anything just yet to her companions. Arial and Orchid exchanged worried glances, the atmosphere in the small group really starting to make them more anxious than they would have liked. Still, they didn’t hesitate following their sister and slowly but surely, they began to follow Ruby.

The knowledge that she was going in the wind’s direction annoyed Ruby greatly as she knew that she wouldn’t be able to smell anything from this direction. Any clever sharptooth would do just that but what kind of sharptooth would like to lay out a trap like this to young halfteeth instead of just tearing them to pieces? There was something fishy in all of this and Ruby was more than determined to find out what. She frowned slightly as she saw a dark form appear from the shadows and for a moment, she felt her heart starting to beat harder within her chest but soon, she realized it was only a wall of rock. But this was the direction the gleam had come from. What in the world…

“Ruby! Don’t come any closer!” The girl’s eyes opened wide as she heard those words, stopping still completely. H... had she actually heard what she thought? Had she actually just heard the voice of her mother? Her gaze slowly moved upwards and she vaguely saw the silhouette of the face she hadn’t expected to see ever again. The face of one of the dinosaurs who had swirled within her mind ever since that fateful day not so very long… Every part of Ruby’s body told her to turn around and ran for her life. She wouldn’t forgive this monster who had tried to take her down in her most vulnerable moment. She would never again call her her mother, not after everything she had done.

Ruby’s mood fell even further as she realized that she was most likely here just to finish her bloody job and make sure she would never see the dawn of another day. Ruby’s expression darkened by the second and all curiosity of her mother’s situation and her father’s whereabouts died under the weight of her righteous fury. She was just about cry her venomous answer when she heard Arial’s confused cry.

“Mommy, is that you? What ar…” She started to speak when she was suddenly silenced by a surprising and worrying sight. Her voice died down in her throat as she saw some other dinosaur’s hand hit Pearl’s vague form and she and the rest of the juvenile omnivores and their swimmer friend heard an annoyed voice speak.

“Just be silent, fool! Others, go check if whoever she was talking to is still there! We don’t need any interruptions!” The voice cried, causing each one of the intruders to turn on their heels and ran a bit further away from the spot. This time, the darkness served to their advantage as nobody would be able to track them down in the complete blackness. Yarel spoke briefly after a moment sharply, knowing they’d have to find some shelter as soon as possible.

“Come on, let’s hide here! If they get too close to us, we’ll still be able to escape further!” He cried, running towards a small pass between two high hills that rose in the middle of the wide forest. Ruby noticed the wisdom in his reasoning immediately and the fastrunners quickly dropped into the ground, hoping that their potential chasers wouldn’t find them here. Seconds passed slowly and soon enough, Ruby heard Ducky speak to her in a low and fearful voice.

“Uhh… Ruby? Was that really your mama out there?” She asked, knowing just how difficult that fact had to be to her old friend. The fastrunner’s expression grew ever darker as he heard those words, her inner rage surprising even the girl herself.

“It was Ducky, sadly. At least she has finally ended up in a company she deserves! I hope they hit her hard and badly!” Ruby realized just how uncharastetically for herself she was acting but at this moment, she couldn’t care less. Ever since she had last met her mother, she had dwelled in a mix of confusion, hurt and self-loathing but now, she realized all of those were nothing but undercurrents for her primary emotion: bitterness. The fastrunner’s hand turned into a fist as she heard Ducky answer in a stunned voice.

“Ruby… that was not nicely said at all, nope, nope, nope.” Was all the swimmer could say but the omnivore didn’t wait for a second before she snapped back at the smaller dinosaur.

“And trying to tear my throat to pieces was? Is that what you are saying, Ducky? Now, is it?” She said in a toxic voice that made the swimmer look even more worried than before. However, she was at least momentarily saved from the difficult situation when Orchid finally spoke to his sister, finally having had enough of her antics.

“Ruby, I know just what they did! If you don’t remember, it was me who warned you about it all but even then, mommy might need our help! She wasn’t able to kill you after all and… and I’d like to meet her again. At least… at least she doesn’t deserve to be bullied by those other dinosaurs that were there with her.” The boy’s expression was an extremely pleading one and he looked at Ruby longingly. However, the pink omnivore frowned at those words before countering her brother’s proposition.

“What is this about, Orchid? I thought you came with me simply because you wanted to get as far away from mommy and daddy and possible but here you are again claiming that you wish me to forget what happened and act like things are how they once were!” She nearly cried, at this point cursing herself for allowing her siblings to come with her in the first place. The boy’s face fell further as he tried to reason with the other omnivore.

“That’s not it, Ruby. It’s just that…” He started but he soon realized that Arial had come to his side, apparently willing to continue where her brother had stopped. Orchid nodded at the girl warmly after which Arial started to speak.

“It’s just that we wouldn’t like to see it all end like this. Mommy was clearly asking for our help which means she doesn’t want anything bad to us anymore. And… even if it was all terrible she and daddy did, we’d still want to think of happier times when things were still well. Don’t you want to believe there is still something good to be regained after all this, Ruby?” She asked with innocent eyes but she still had absolutely no idea just how deeply her words had hit Ruby. The older sibling stared at the young girl in astonishment, feeling as if Arial was staring right into her soul. Her worried, innocent eyes made Ruby feel almost sick as she raised her gaze to look into the far distance.

Not so long ago, she had been ready to give up her life simply to give her family a better future and she had said to Orchid that she was ready to take that step. But only now, the memory of why she had said that returned to her mind. Back then, she had thought that saving a part of her old happiness she had so badly relished to her siblings and to try to make sure that her legacy wouldn’t be that of utter tragedy and pitifulness. A deep frown appeared on her face as she realized one small but important part of her motives on that day: she had still believed that everyone around her acted for the common good and that she still held that small flicker of eternal hopefulness instilled into her heart by especially Chomper, Littlefoot… and Ducky. The swimmer looked at the fastrunner oddly as Ruby gave her a brief and subliminal smile.

However, she soon sank deeper into her thoughts as she again pondered her younger sister’s words. Did she believe that anything good could happen anymore or that this seemingly endless would only grow worse for everyone involved? Inside, Ruby knew her younger self would have been appalled at her words and actions, instead pointing at exactly the same issues as Arial. At heart, she was a fun-loving and optimistic fastrunner but it was true that her recent actions implied otherwise. Right now, her actions were guided only by her bitterness and even if she hated to admit that to herself, she knew that was true.

Again, her miraculous conversation returned into Ruby’s mind. Chomper had told her to move forward… but he hadn’t exactly told her how she should do that. She could either cast aside the advice of the last ones she still had left and leave her mother to those captors or accept that despite her horrible deed, Pearl still had noble motivations and that she could still forgive her and her mother and try to unite the family again that had been so badly torn apart. She suddenly felt her breathing grow quicker and more forced and Yarel moved to support her quickly.

“Are you alright, Ruby? Answer me!” The boy asked as she looked at Ruby’s fatigued eyes. Soon, the female regained control of herself as she glanced at her siblings before asking them pleadingly.

“Arial… Orchid? Do you think you think we can do this? Please… answer me honestly so that I might answer myself honestly.” She asked while panting slightly. The two children looked at their sister sadly, clearly wondering what to say right now. After a while, Orchid cleared his throat and spoke silently.

“I don’t think we know yet. Ruby, we have no right to ask anything of you but at least I think I’d like to see if mommy is still the same one we all knew. I mean, we all make mistakes but we should get over them unless something too bad happened… shouldn’t we?” He asked, earning Arial’s nod. Ducky looked at the two young fastrunners in astonishment, not expecting to hear such great and deep reasoning from such a young child. Ducky had grown to respect Ruby’s intelligence but she hadn’t really expected other fastrunners to shar it to this degree.

Ruby slowly calmed down and brought her right hand to her forehead before taking a deep sigh. Of course, she knew that more than well as her entire life didn’t seem to be anything more than an endless list of mistakes that had actually ended in true disasters. Because of her, many dinosaurs had even lost their lives whereas her parents hadn’t really managed to hurt her in any concrete way. Suddenly, a wave of guilt washed over the fastrunner as she realized just what a sickening hypocrite she had become. In the end, it was she who had clawed her mother’s eye from her head whereas she had walked away unharmed. Slowly, her face turned into a slight, forced smile as she bowed to her brother and sister’s height and spoke to them softly.

“You’ve listened well, Orchid and Arial. Far better than I ever did. I’ve been a complete idiot and you could have said that even more directly because if you had done, I might have realized it far sooner! I have no choice but to go see mommy and ask if she is willing to apologize for what she did.” The fastrunner said, earning smiles of surprise from her siblings who nearly couldn’t believe what they were hearing. Yes, this was what they had hoped for but they hadn’t even dared to dream Ruby would have this kind of change of mind. Orchid cocked his head and started to ask his sister carefully.

“Do you mean… that we’re saving her from those sharpteeth and return…” He asked but to this, Ruby shook her head. Yes, she wanted to reconcile with her parents but Orchid was getting far ahead of things.

“Nope, at least not yet. We still don’t know what she wanted of us and even if she says she’s sorry, we’ll have to see what we’ll do. But no matter what happens, I don’t think there is no return to the life we used to live, not anymore. I just want to speak with her and then see how we’ll proceed. Either we’ll save her or if she is the monster she was when I last saw her, I won’t hesitate to leave her there. Is that clear?” She asked her siblings and her friends and all of them nodded at her in approval. Ruby’s heart swelled as she turned to look at the direction Pearl was in. No matter what, she’d soon be forced to face the worst shadows of her past no matter how badly she had wanted to avoid that encounter.

“If I see you speak with any outsider again, I’ll make sure you’ll really regret it, bitch! You already caused us enough trouble during the chase and we aren’t going to watch anything we deem suspicious from you or your mate.” The dark blue fastrunner asked, looking at Pearl in clear annoyance. The latter was beyond worried by the other female’s words as she knew these kinds of incidents would only make her future more unsure. Detras had also woken up from the other omnivore’s frustrated words but he decided to stay away from this argument at least until he’d learn more about it.

“Understood. I just hope you hadn’t attacked me like that for a few words. It isn’t like we could escape from here even if we wanted to.” She said while crossing her arms. The other dinosaur’s expression grew only darker and she took a few steps closer to Pearl. This time, her voice was low as she addressed the other halftooth.

“If you think arguing will make your situation any better, you better think again. Stealth will already most likely get rid of you when all is said and done and if I were in your position, I’d strive for a different kind of attention to change his mind.” She said, her words not surprising Pearl in the least. If things went as she hoped, she’d never have to bed Stealth to spare her life but that was still a long time in future. For now, she wanted to ask one different thing from the other fastrunner.

“Tell me, why are you following Stealth even if he clearly doesn’t allow any kind of freedom or protection to his allies? I’ve known many sharpteeth and Stealth really is really one of the most insufferable one and it’s clear he couldn’t care less about our kind!” She said in a sharp voice, causing the other omnivore step forward in an even more threatening fashion than before. She narrowed her eyes as she answered the other female.

“On that, you are terribly mistaken. In many ways, Stealth gives us more than our fair share when it comes to food and he isn’t allowing any of his allies suffer if he can only prevent it. And before you ask, no, I don’t believe for a second he cares about any of us as he is a sharptooth after all but at least he knows how to keep his allies loyal to him. But as he already said, you are not his allies and most likely never will be! The thing is, Stealth won’t forgive easily those that have harmed him or his amb… Ouch!” Sudden, the omnivore was interrupted as a sizable stone collided with the back of her head. Immediately, she turned around in clear outrage and cried into the darkness.

“Whoever that was, do it again and…” She started but before she got any further, another rock hit her snout, causing a few drops of blood fall into the white ground. The fastrunner wiped the rest of red liquid away with her hand before heading towards the direction where the stones had come from. Yet, she didn’t get far before she heard a young male voice cry to her mockingly.

“Well look at that, a grown halftooth that badly triggered by a few rocks! Maybe I should hit you for a third time and then we’ll see what you’re going to do!” Yarel cried, causing the female’s mood to fall further. She couldn’t understand what the boy wanted of her as there was no way he hadn’t seen her fellow guards and even if we hadn’t, such childish games would result in his death very soon. She spoke to the male silently before preparing to turn around.

“Get away from this place now, brat. I don’t know what you want but I have no time to play your stupid g…” She spoke but again, her sentence was cut short as another, even larger rock hit her cheek, this time causing more blood flow down her cheek. And to her surprise, it didn’t come from the direction of the boy, confirming it hadn’t been him in the first place… What in earth…

Suddenly, she felt herself falling into the ground as she felt herself being tackled into the ground by the young boy, something that took her by complete surprise. She was shocked as she felt her head hitting the ground, not having expected such an irrational attack. However, Yarel had managed to grab her hands and immediately, she lout a loud growl, calling the rest of the guards to her help.

And that was the exact signal Ruby had been waiting for. Ducky’s rocks and Yarel’s cocky attitude had paved the way for at least a minor distraction for the few guards and if she acted quickly enough, she might just be able to get out quickly enough so that her friends wouldn’t get in too much danger. Orchid and Arial would help them if needed but the girl wanted nothing less than for them to risk their lives because of her. She frowned deeply as she headed for the stone wall beyond which her mother was, hoping that her gambit would have a happy ending.

She saw that there were a few more omnivores and one fastbiter heading towards Yarel and Ruby felt stomach starting to feel sicker by the second. Yet, Yarel and Greentail had agreed to this plan and she’d see this through, for better or worse. With one, mighty jump she leaped towards the edge of the wall and to her immediately relief, she felt her fingers getting a tight grip. The fastrunner wasted no time pulling herself to the of the wall… only to face the dinosaur that she had hated from the bottom of her heart for so many days.

The mother and daughter locked eyes immediately, sharing a silent moment in trying to come to terms with the feelings of this reunion. Ruby tried to keep her mind on her earlier thoughts, attempting to remember just why she had decided to give a chance of redemption to her mother but now, it was more than difficult for the young dinosaur. Only the ghost of that fateful lingered within her mind’s eye as she looked at her mother’s ruined eye. However, before her conscious thoughts got over this haunting situation, Ruby felt herself jump down from the wall… and slap the older fastrunner at her cheek hard and speaking in a low and bitter voice.

“How could you do that? After all what we’ve gone through together, you still thought it would be best to simply take me out at night and slaughter me like a damned ground fuzzy? And most likely you were here to finish the job before you were caught, is that it?” Ruby felt like someone else was speaking even if the words came from her own mouth.
Pearl, on the other hand, was beyond taken aback by her daughter’s greeting as she turned back to look at her. Unlike Ruby, she had been happy to see her daughter again, even more so than she had expected. It was as if a part of her own heart had just healed when her oldest child was again before her, even if she hadn’t greeted her in the way she had hoped. Ruby’s accusation hurt der deeply even if she knew it was more than justified. She could see tears starting to run down Ruby’s cheeks and on that moment, she did the only thing she could. She brought her hand below Ruby’s chin and raised her gaze to meet with hers. She then started to speak, sobbing slightly as she tried to do at least something to ease Ruby’s justified anger.

“Ruby, my child, listen to me. Y… you know we never wanted it to happen but there is nothing we can do to justify what we did. But time is off the essence and we can go through all of that later on but now, you have to listen to me!” She said, her heart aching for having to talk to Ruby like this after all that had happened. Detras walked next to her mate but decided against saying anything just yet. Ruby looked at him in suspicion but did as was told, knowing that Pearl was not oblivious to what was happening around her.

“Well, say what you have to say before there will be more tragedy caused by your mistakes, “mother”!” The way she emphasized those words made the older female cringe deeply but she knew that tone was more than justified. She acted as if she hadn’t even heard what Ruby had just said and continued from where she had left off.

“I don’t know what it is that you want of me, Ruby, but I cannot go with you. We could never escape from Stealth tonight and besides, we share the same goal with him for now! He wants to get rid of Chomper’s parents and we have to act as his unwilling helpers! That is the best way we could ever live free of their threat.” Pearl spoke, causing Ruby to frown deeply. The latter had no way of knowing just what had happened between the sailback and her parents but even then, she was glad for not being forced to decide to leave her parents here because of her own decision. Her expression softened somewhat as she took a more neutral tone, knowing that wasting time by fostering her bitterness would be the worst idea moving forward.

“B… but… why would you have to act like that? I mean he is our ally because we two decided to forge an alliance on that day!” She said, her doubts starting to rise slowly. She hadn’t known that her parents were Stealth’s prisoners but if she had known that, she wouldn’t have even put forward a dangerous plot like this. She was more than torn about how to feel about these news when Detras finally joined the conversation.

“Stealth only did that so that you’d lead him to us… in order for us to end up like this. He carries a grudge against Dein and Terri and that is all he cares about.” He said, making Ruby’s heart sink immediately. If her father spoke the truth, then this would only be another of her mistakes with horrible consequences. She wasn’t sure about whether to believe him but unless he lied, she had done just what the sailback had wanted all along. Her voice was a sickened one as she turned at Pearl, speaking weakly.

“Is… is that…” She started but her voice died down when she saw her mother nod at her sadly. Inside, the girl’s self-hate grew tremendously but she’d have time to think of that later. She could hear that Yarel and her siblings were increasingly threatened by Stealth’s minions and in this moment, she realized that she had absolutely no right to judge her parents for what they had done.

“Then… what should I do? Tell me how I can help so that none of us has to die because of Stealth! Quickly, I don’t have much time!” She said pleadingly, the urgency within her words confirming just how badly the latest revelation had hurt her. Detras wasted no time doing as told and she spoke to his daughter urgently but softly.

“Stealth wishes to judge us after we take down Chomper’s parents. Ruby, we have no right to ask anything of you but if you have it in yourself to forgive your foolish father and mother, follow us and when that day of battle comes, do what you can to help us beat those two and if possible, to help us escape Stealth’s final decision. But even now, you did well to call him to us as without Stealth, we’d never be able to down Dein and Terri. Do you understand what we ask of you, Ruby?” He said with a smile, causing Ruby to pant slightly as she tried to keep her emotions at bay. Now that she had heard of the miraculous path out of this nightmare, she felt more glad to have given this reunion a chance. She then spoke with moist eyes to both of her parents one more time before taking her escape.

“I do, daddy. I… I just hope you two will survive out here until then. I’m sorry for drawing you into all of this but now that I know what happened out here, there’s no way I can blame you for all of this. See you soon again, mommy and daddy. I… still love you two, regardless of what happened.” She said as she pulled herself over the wall of rock, not sure how to feel about that reunion but at least, she had at least began the path towards reconciliation with her parents which was far more than she had ever dared to dream about. It still remained to be seen where all of this would eventually lead but it was a question that would be answered by the coming days. Ruby jumped down from the wall and disappeared into the black forest, turning to look behind here one last time.

However, that scene hadn’t stayed as the secret Ruby or her parents had hoped it would be. Even if a fastrunner couldn’t see perfectly the darkness, it wasn’t the black wall for an eye of a sharptooth. Standing on a large mound overlooking the clearing, Stealth grinned slightly as he looked at Ruby’s flight, rather surprised to see her here as she had told the longbeak that she would still be at the Desolate Rise. Well, this was only good news for him as she had very effectively proven her parents would never serve him without hidden motives. He had never thought of sparing them when all was said and done but this conversation had told him that he’d have to get rid of him immediately when they had outlived their usefulness.

Stealth’s smile only widened as he thought about everything he had heard. He was beyond amused that the fastrunners thought they’d be able to outsmart him but in the end, both Ruby and her parents would pay the price of his long suffering as well as for their readiness to betray him. Soon enough, he could finally put that chapter below himself and take his place in the Mysterious Beyond. And on that day, he’d…

Suddenly, the sharptooth’s thoughts were cut short as his sniffer caught a faint and distant scent that was carried by the night wind. It was a scent he had dreaded for so long and one he had grown to hate more than anything in this world. The expectant look on Stealth’s face grew only deeper as he thought of the implications. The scent of dried blood came from probably a day’s journey away but the implication was still clear in Stealth’s mind. It seemed like his day of reckoning against those who had been so intent to take everything from him was drawing even closer than he had dreamed of.

And with this chapter, Ruby has finally reunited with her parents for the first time since that tragic night but things have hardly become any less threatening. With Stealth’s plans for the fastrunners looking far from promising for them and the coming final confrontation with Dein and Terri, the future hardly looks anything but bleak for Ruby and her family… Again, I’ll next get to writing another prompt response but this time I’ll try to get it done faster than last month. I hope you liked this chapter and see you next time!

rhombus: Those indeed are key issues that I wanted to open in this story. I didn’t want to make any of the herd leaders evil per se but as I mentioned to Owls, I like doing characters whose ambitions or other things make them do extremely questionable things. You’re also correct that this might seem like some kind of Game of Thrones and indeed, I wanted to replicate its genre and style to a certain degree.

As for Petrie, he still has a role to play with his old herd but it still remains to be seen where all of this will lead for him. I can only say that his trials are far from complete just yet.

Anagnos: It’s absolutely great to see a new reader so thank you a lot for your review, Anagnos! Indeed, Peak is far from the best relative to have as his yearning for revenge has taken a turn for the worse to everyone involved. He’s abusing his power over his family, knowing that none of the others will ever question his self-destructive plans. Only Ortin finally had enough of him but it remains to be seen how things will end for those two flyers.

I’m happy to hear that you’ve found the action scenes getting better as they’re something I’ve never been really excited to write. As for the typos, yeah, it’s often difficult to fix every one of them but I’m doing my best to proofread the stuff I write. As for your final thoughts, yep, I’m not letting Ruby and Petrie get off the hook anytime soon and the coming chapters will indeed be challenging for both of them. But again, thanks a lot for the review and that you’ve read this story this far!

DiddyKF1: Of all the chapters I’ve done, it’s a bit surprising to hear this was a slow-paced one. In all seriousness, Petrie was more than unlucky to be forced to again witness this sickening bloodbath but I’m sure that if he’ll end up with some precious information, he’ll be more than content with his part in this chapter.

I might have mentioned it earlier but trying to show just how wide the LBT world actually might be was one of my main goals here and I’m happy to hear you’ve also enjoyed what I’ve done here. The flyer plot is something I’ve especially enjoyed doing myself and in many ways, those OCs are my favorites as well. But even if they’re a far cry from what we’ve seen in the films, at least Petrie has learned the lessons I’ve forced him through pretty well. But thanks for the kind words and I’m extremely happy you’ve liked this story that much! I certainly love writing it as well!


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #105 on: March 31, 2019, 03:59:22 PM »
I didn't think Ruby and her parents would reunite this soon, and I especially couldn't believe she could forgive them after what they'd done. I haven't really been paying close attention to Stealth's dangerous games, but I just know he's up to no good after reading this, and it's become clear that both sides of this story have more trials to come before they can finally settle down.

With all that has been established at this point, I must again say that this is becoming "Game of Thrones"-esque on both Petrie and Ruby's sides of this story. I quote Cersei Lannister, "When you play the Game of Thrones, either you win or you die. There is no middle ground." This is exactly what the case has become for Ruby and her family. Once they come into their final conflict with Dein and Terri, they will either win or die. Those Sharpteeth I'm sure are not willing to let them live once they find that Ruby is still alive, and with Stealth trying to force them into his servitude, and with Petrie in the middle of a bloody Flyer battle, it has now become apparent that absolutely no character in this story is safe. Once again, your sense of uncertainty and leaving our heroes on the brink of hopelessness has taken great effect, and I know no other author who does it as effectively as you do.
Suddenly, I've written so many fanfics that I can't possibly list them all! :P


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #106 on: March 31, 2019, 04:40:04 PM »
There was quite a lot to take in during the events of this chapter, but I think that you put it together quite nicely.  First, we are confronted with the differing perspectives of Ruby and her siblings concerning her parents.  For Ruby, understandably, there is lingering anger and revulsion towards her mother and father, whereas Arial and Orchid are more hopeful for some kind of resolution or acceptance of at least their choice to leave.  But, at the same time, with Stealth's minions about this further adds to the difficulty of the conversation between mother and daughter.

Stealth's motivations here have been laid bare to us, the readers, but less so to the protagonists of the story.  Though Detras may have faith in his ability to play the high-stakes game of politics in the Mysterious Beyond, he has no idea that Stealth has already decided on the destruction of him and his mate once they have outlived their usefulness. It would be both tragic, and poetic in a twisted way, if the fastrunners were destroyed by the backlash of their own plots and machinations.  Despite their past mistakes I am hopeful for those two, but it is obvious that they will have a struggle ahead of them.  Though, as this story has shown, it seems that everyone has a struggle ahead of them as they pursue their separated ways.

This was another good chapter that added some further details on the fastrunner side of the plot.  I look forward to seeing what happens next. :)

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


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #107 on: April 01, 2019, 03:06:45 AM »
Just to clarify one thing, I'm not actually a new reader. I've followed your story ever since it started, however back then I didn't have an account yet made. But I can see it's easy to confuse the two.

Oh, Stealth, are you planning to become the next Red Claw? Mysterious Beyond seems to be filled with opportunists and power hungry frenzies no matter where you go. Everyone is out for themselves in a world such as this. I was actually very much surprised how fast Detras and Pearl met up again with Ruby and the gang. I would've thought it would take at least few chapters before that happened, but this works just as well too.

There is lot of bad blood between Ruby and her parents, and while she may never forget and forgive what they tried to do, at least she can work with them for mutual gain; staying alive. Troubled timed will be ahead of them all, not only with Stealth and his allies, but with Dein and Terri too. Can't imagine them giving up now. Just how will they react to Stealth when they meet him in the future?
And Red Claw is dead. Now that came as a surprise to me. It doesn't really seem to matter how big and strong you are, anyone can be killed.

I will very much be looking forward to the continuation of this story. Keep going!  :)


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #108 on: April 16, 2019, 10:10:47 AM »
The Bloody Price of Peace

The seconds seemed to creep forward ever so slowly as Lenel looked at the dark opening of the cave not far below him. Somewhere out there was the flyer who had been a thorn on his side for so very, very long and who had tried to take his beloved mate away from him with his cowardly assault. Lenel felt himself struggling to prevent himself from entering the cave already and snuff the life away from that bastard but even then, Lenel knew that he couldn’t allow his followers to see him act in such a brash and vulgar way. Even now, he was his herd’s leader and he had to keep up his appearances, no matter what.

The male quickly glanced at his companions, glad to see that neither of them seemed to be wavering just moments before the final showdown even if the pale flyer remembered that he’d do well to never forget to keep an eye on them as it was still likely that one of his deputies wasn’t as loyal to him as it seemed. Lenel again looked at Haste briefly, wondering whether he could see any threatening gestures from the female as even now, she bore the majority of his suspicions but to his slight relief, he could see no trace of ill intentions within her.

Lenel sighed slightly as he turned to look back at the cave, knowing that right now, Peak was the one he’d have to worry about. He knew that his foe was in that cave and the orange flyer would almost certainly answer to his challenge as Peak was more often than not a ruthless and merciless foe but he would never shame himself or his family by trying to escape from a direct challenge. Yet, Lenel was still more than concerned as he couldn’t believe he had just yet seen all the tricks within his enemy’s disposal…

A slight but crazed grin rose to Peak’s beak as he headed towards the cave’s opening, the weight of the situation hanging heavily over the once-proud leader’s mind. He knew he had lost and that his brother and deputies were dead but none of that seemed to matter to him anymore. For so many nights, he had only seen Lenel’s smug face haunt his sleep stories and he was the one dinosaur who had brought all of this sorrow and regret to him.

He had already cast aside all hopes of ever regaining his family’s former glory and even the slightest chance that that would ever happen had died with Bluegust. Peak was still severely injured by his last fight with Lenel and even worse, nearly blind from his nemesis’ attack. He would never be able to overpower Lenel in a fair fight but luckily, that wouldn’t be necessary.

A slight chuckle arose from Peak’s beak as he looked at the oddly-colored forms of his claws, hitting two of them together in expectation. Yes, the poison he had painted his claws with would bring him the final absolution he’d need within this world. He would only have to sink them only once into Lenel’s flesh and the flyer who had brought so much sorrow to him would follow him into the reaches of the Great Beyond. That one thought seemed to make up the fact that this would be his and his family’s last day because the singular dream of revenge was sweeter for the flyer than anything else.

Peak narrowed his eyes slightly as the pale rays of the Bright Circle started to invade the dark tunnel, overwhelming Peak’s damaged eyes momentarily. Even then, his final moment of glory was drawing closer and he even smiled as he saw Lenel’s form not far above him, accompanied by his two remaining deputies. The orange flyer waited for a few moments before he broke the silence, calling to the other leader with a voice filled with bitterness and rage.

“So, you had the courage to come face me yourself? I hadn’t even dared to hope of such a thing when you attacked and killed my herd in their sleep, you cursed treacherous ground crawler!”

Petrie cringed slightly as he heard those words, knowing how that scene would continue. He had zero will to witness or even listen to further bloodshed and he knew that Glide had similar sentiments. But even then, the coming fight would mean that the three young flyers would have a chance to flee this cave and escape before anyone would find them out here. He turned to look at Ortin and Glide and spoke to them in an urgent voice.

“We have to get away from here as quick as possible! Petrie think me know a good place where we could h…” He started but before he could finish, Ortin cut him short with an annoyed voice.

“Since when do you think you can tell me what to do, liar? The way I remember it, we didn’t part as friends and even worse, it was your uncle who helped Lenel attack my family!” He said, looking at Petrie in disgust. He had always known of Petrie’s uncle’s position as one of Lenel’s most trusted and after the battle, his disgust at Pterano had skyrocketed. And during the days since that fateful night she couldn’t help but think about the times he had been friends with the nephew of that bastard.

Petrie, on the other hand, was beyond stunned by those words. Had Ortin actually just said those very words? He knew the two hadn’t parted in good terms but… considering Glide’s change of mind, the boy had hoped that Ortin would forgive him as well. And now that Ortin brought it up, Petrie felt himself suddenly boiling from one fact he hadn’t even thought of before. His voice rose immediately and he heard himself cry to the other flyer in outrage.

“And someone n your herd killed uncle Pterano, Ortin and still you blame Petrie?! Maybe it would be best if me hadn’t…” He started, surprising even himself by his sudden wave of anger but before he could finish, he heard an equally annoyed voice snap him short mercilessly.

“Silence, Petrie! We don’t need any more fighting here! Ortin, just cut it. Petrie has been a far better flyer than most of those within our herd by a large margin. He even beat Hoist in a one-on-one fight, something none of us has done before! I have been more than ready to forgive him and so should you!” The girl said as she stared at Ortin’s stunned eyes. Glide would have wanted to reunite with her old friend in a far different manner but if Ortin wanted to be like this, then so be it! She’d make him see sense or force him to see it! Ortin’s expression eased slightly as he asked the female in a lower but still as toxic voice.

“So you forgave him for simply beating someone? Hoist is a complete idiot but that still doesn’t change what Petrie did to us. And besides, his uncle…” Ortin started but again, Glide saw absolutely no worth in allowing him to finish the sentence. She didn’t want the situation to grow any more hostile and she knew that the best way to do that was to take control of the situation and once for all.

“And his uncle didn’t act on Petrie’s behalf! You heard what Petrie said and he has just as much reason to hate you. But you know what, Ortin? Neither you nor Petrie is to blame for what happened. So you two might just as well forget it because I know neither of you wanted any of this to happen!” She spoke, this time also looking at Petrie sharply. She crossed her arms, not about to drop this conversation before at least some kind of truce would be established between her two friends. Petrie was just about to speak but it soon became clear that his words died down within his throat. His face softened slowly as he realized that Glide spoke the truth. Besides, if he wanted to ever get any answers of the Land of Dancing Waters from Ortin, he’d have to calm down, no matter how much he would have wanted to continue his assault on his former friend.

“Ortin… she right. Petrie liked you once and no matter how much me miss uncle Pterano, it not you who kill him. Me willing to apologize on uncle Pterano’s behalf if… if you do the same.” He offered, his chest feeling like it would burst from a sense of injustice. Yet, he knew that what he was doing was the best outcome for everyone and that knowledge was right now more precious to him than his irrational emotions.

A suspicious look rose to Ortin’s face as he looked at Petrie who was slowly offering his hand to the other boy. At first, he was about to just cast it aside but he just couldn’t shake off Glide’s judging face from his mind. He wanted so badly to earn back her friendship but… but he couldn’t just apologize for what her family had done by himself! He carried the position of being one of Warekli’s children with pride and he knew he was far better than treacherous piece of crap! Even if he could forgive the other male’s lies, he’d never apologize for his family’s…

Suddenly, he felt his entire line of thinking break apart. He had just freaking ran away from the head of his family after realizing just how crazy he was and how foolish it would be to throw away everything he had simply in order to please Peak who quite clearly didn’t care about anyone else anymore. Would he really be willing to risk his rapprochement with his oldest and best friend simply to defend someone who was more than willing to kill him if need be? And besides, he was starting to realize just how petty he had to sound and really, he’d never be able to prove his superiority over Petrie by acting as some spoiled brat! Ortin crossed his arms and looked at Glide with an angered but calm expression.

“Very well, Glide. Petrie can stay but he better not make too big a number of himself. I’ve had enough of that already.” Ortin said as he glanced at the other boy who clearly took offense of Ortin’s words. At first, Petrie wanted to confront the other flyer but inside, the knowledge that Ortin could be his key to finding his old friends was the one thought that kept his emotions down. He frowned slightly before he spoke again while spreading his wings.

“If you say so, Ortin. But let’s get away from here! Petrie fear things will go from bad to worse!” He said, listening to the growing cries from both Peak and Lenel not far away from him. He was far from willing to be close to that duo when the inevitable conflict would start again. However, he was almost immediately stopped on his heels when he heard Ortin speak again in a frigid voice.

“We’re not going anywhere, Petrie. I want to be here in order to help my grandma survive no matter what happens. She needs my help and I’m going to give it to her!” He said, immediately earning another look of anger from Petrie but it was Glide who answered to her old friend. Her voice was more compassionate than before but she didn’t make her displeasure at his words unclear.

“Ortin… I’m so sorry but there’s nothing we can do for any of them. If I know anything, they are willing to follow Peak no matter what… and we both know who the winner will be. By the way, why aren’t you with them?” Glide asked in a mixture of genuine curiosity and a hidden sense of what the answer would most likely be. Ortin was about to give a quick answer when he suddenly realized the implications of the girl’s words. It was true she had decided to stand with Peak until the end but… but certainly he could convince her to leave with him!

“That doesn’t matter, Glide! She just doesn’t know that she wants to come with me yet! She’s just confus…” He started but before got further, Glide caught his hands and looked deep in his eyes. Ortin felt like his entire world stopped when he saw the dead serious and pleading look on the girl’s face. It was as if something within those orbs spoke directly to his heart, reminding him of where he really was. It… it was all true. No matter how badly he wanted to believe otherwise, his grandmother wouldn’t leave Peak’s side… even if the orange male allowed it. Ortin suddenly felt warm tears starting to flow down his cheeks as his entire body started to shake in despair. He only now realized just how terribly the whole nightmare was affecting him but he couldn’t go on lying to himself in front of his closest friend. Deep down, he knew his grandmother had already made his choice and that realization hurt far more than the boy could ever have thought. Those sentiments only grew worse as he heard Glide speak to him.

“You know what we have to do, Ortin. Let’s go.” She merely said, seeing that Ortin agreed with her even if he didn’t want to admit it. She knew the boy well enough and she could see that despite their brief separation, he was still the same flyer she had known all her life. Ortin swept most of his tears away with his hand as he spoke to Glide, even giving an expression that even looked apologetic to Petrie, something that wasn’t lost on the latter.

“You’re right, Glide. I can only pray that she makes the right decision before it’s too late but it’s clear that at least I can’t change her mind. Now, let’s get out of this…” He started but before he could finish his sentence, the entire cave started to shake heavily. Ortin looked around himself in clear shock before he realized where the shaking was coming from. He turned to look at the cave’s mouth only to see heavy boulders falling down into the floor, hiding more and more of the white sky that could be seen even from deep within the tunnel. Petrie looked at that sight in horror, knowing just what all of that meant. However, he wasn’t about to give up just yet and he wasted no time starting to run towards the pile of large rocks.

“Glide, Ortin, help me open the way! This is our only chance that doesn’t go through Peak and Lenel’s fight to get out of here!” He cried as started to clear some of the smaller debris around the larger rocks, hoping that the collapse hadn’t buried them inside the cave for good. However, a slight smile rose to his face as he saw both of his companions starting to help him without second thoughts. Maybe there was still hope for his friendship with Ortin, a thought that made Petrie feel happier than in a long time.

The orange flyer’s words were far from a surprise to Lenel even if their hypocrisy still angered him without an end. Yes, his original coup hadn’t been the most honorable one but Peak had cast aside all of his rights to attack him over that night today. Inside, the pale flyer wasn’t even sure what he thought he’d gain by arguing with Peak here but he was determined to uphold his own code of honor here by giving Peak a clean and unhumiliating death.

“Considering that you did the same to me today, I’m not going to lose any of my sleep over what I did, Peak. At the very least I bested your brother in fair combat, a far cry from the cowardly assassination you had ordered upon Sireia!” Lenel said, knowing that his point was entirely valid. He had even received some kind of acknowledgement from Bluegust but Peak’s murders wouldn’t have given Sireia a similar chance. Inside, Lenel knew he didn’t have a lot to brag about his methods but Peak had managed to launch an even more cowardly attack. The latter looked at Lenel with a slightly amused look on his face before he gave his answer in a low, trembling voice.

“About that, you have only yourself to blame, Lenel. After all, who was it who slaughtered most of my herd in the dark of the night after which you told your lies to the rest of them? Now, Lenel, you know as well as I do that a direct attack would have been a suicide mission and I simply couldn’t challenge you alone because… well, because you nearly ruined my eyes and bled me to death only a few days ago! My only hope was to take out your mate and your deputies first but to my greatest regret, it seems like my last allies failed miserably. I guess congratulations are in order for repelling my last efforts.” Peak said as he started to applaud mockingly. It was clear that he was only doubling down on the reasoning his strategy but Lenel wasn’t about to play any more of his games. He frowned at Peak’s mocking behavior and wasted to time answering to his smears.

“In any case, you have lost once and for all and in the process, you have also managed to stain Warekli’s honorable name with your treachery. If you want to at least save the reputation of your line, bow before me and I will take your life gracefully and even hold a speech exonerating you from your worst acts of cowardice. This I promise by my right as the leader of the herd we built together!” Lenel said in a steady and calm voice, hoping to get over this issue as fast as possible. He doubted Peak would simply accept his proposal even if he wasn’t quite sure how exactly the other male would even expect to survive this encounter. Lenel’s spirits fell even further as a smile rose again to Peak’s face.

“Save the reputation of my line? Oh, Lenel, I hadn’t thought I’d hear that even from someone like you as I really doubt there is too much left of Olres’ name anymore either. That being said, I’d gladly face my judgement from the hands of someone as dishonorable as myself. Come then, Lenel, and claim your reward!” Peak cried, causing the pale flyer’s eyes to widen immediately. Had Peak actually said what he thought? There was no way his old nemesis would simply lay down his life to his old enemy, no matter how desperate his situation was. This wasn’t the Peak he knew and he wouldn’t take whatever bait Peak was lying before him.

“What are you planning, Peak? I know you wouldn’t simply surrender to me, not after everything you’ve done.” Lenel simply said, wondering what kind of answer he’d receive. He could see similar looks of puzzlement from Haste and Northwind even if neither of them were willing to interrupt the conversation of the two leaders. Peak looked at the other male for a few seconds before he abruptly started to laugh deeply, causing Lenel to frown even more.

“What am I planning? You already saw my plan and you yourself ordered me to surrender and when I do so, you think I am up to something? I must say, I’ve heard many stupid things from your beak but this certainly nears the top! Act before I change my mind!” Peak suddenly finished with a far more serious expression. It was even a commanding one and no matter how bad feelings he had of this all, he knew he couldn’t go on arguing about this point without looking like a complete fool. He slowly turned at his two deputies and spoke to them silently in a clearly worried tone.

“Make sure that no one else is going to surprise me. Be vigilant as I don’t trust that murderer in the least.” He said, not really expecting any kinds of objections from the two. He then nodded at Peak, signaling that he was about to do as told. He slowly started to lose altitude as he prepared to land near the mouth of the cave to complete his task.

It was a heavy ordeal for Peak to hide his excitement about what was to follow. He hid his claws behind his back, trying to keep the thought of sinking them into Lenel’s flesh and to see the pale flyer head into the Great Beyond with him. His revenge was so very close he could already smell it! All thoughts about the fate of his family was long gone from his mind, the fate of his own children mattering none to the near-crazed flyer. His position within the herd had mattered everything to him and without that power, nothing had any worth to him. Peak knew his ancestors would understand the value of having his revenge and his family would most likely do so in the next life.

Peak looked at his counterpart expectantly as he landed before him, the two locking eyes for a few moments as if to assess each other’s sentiments in this critical moment. Peak could only see deep disgust and uncertainty deep within Lenel’s eyes whereas the latter couldn’t read anything about Peak’s real thoughts about this meeting. Even then, he knew this was his chance to get rid of Peak once and for all and in the name of the Bright Circle, he’d take that chance! Lenel crossed his arms and spoke to Peak in a voice that resembled a growl more than normal speech.

“Kneel and I will get on with it.” He simply said, causing Peak to grin one more time before doing as he was told. He slowly fell to his knees, even dropping to all fours while carefully looking at Lenel. The pale flyer nodded at his former fellow leader with a somber look before speaking to him in a low voice.

“May your final flight be a calm one, Peak. Farewell.” He said as he raised his hand to open the major arteries on the flyer’s neck with one coup de grace. However, just as he was about to give that one blow, Peak knew that his time had finally come. He quickly turned at Lenel and without any thinking, he charged towards Lenel but before he could hit the other flyer, Lenel jumped into air and even managed to scratch his enemy in the shoulder before fleeing from his path once and for all. Lenel looked at Peak in a relieved even if joyless expression.

“I didn’t think for a moment you could be trusted, Peak. I don’t have any idea what kind of madness would make you think like you could ever again stand in my path but know this: your time for repentance came and went and now, I’ll make sure an ugly and despised memory will be the final heritage of Warekli’s line!” Lenel said, causing Peak to curse internally. He had missed his first chance and once again, Lenel had been one step ahead of him, a fact that was starting to haunt Peak’s mind more severely by the second. However, even now he had his secret weapon and no matter what, he’d deliver that one scratch into Lenel’s flesh, no matter what. The orange flyer cringed and dodged Lenel’s first attack before turning to look at his enemy and crying to him in a vitriolic voice.

“I don’t care about anything that you threaten to do anymore but I’ll be damned in front of the eyes of my ancestors if you’ll be able to spread those lies yourself! Your reign of terror comes to and today, monster!” Peak cried as he charged toward Lenel who didn’t hesitate to use the advantage granted to him by his better eye sight by quickly jumping into the air and preparing for another attack against his foe. However, Peak had a far different idea about how the battle would proceed from now on.

Throwing away every rule of battle, Peak followed Lenel in a highly disadvantageous position and aimed his poisoned claw at Lenel’s thigh but the pale flyer was more than determined not to allow his cursed enemy cause any damage to him without a good reason and he quickly turned around, determined to show Peak the depth of his mistake. The pale flyer quickly turned around in order to turn the gravity itself into Peak’s foe. Speeded up by his momentum, Lenel grabbed Peak’s hand and forced him to halt his own course, determined to force the other flyer into the ground and finally crush him there.

Peak realized that his situation was deteriorating by the second but he knew he still had a very decent chance to fulfill his goal in this fight. With herculean efforts, Peak tried to force himself from below Lenel in order to prevent himself from being utterly crushed by the upcoming impact. Lenel knew that the fight started to seem far too easy but for now, he was willing to simply think that Peak was far too desperate to even plan clearly. His eyes were locked on the quickly approaching ground, determined to keep Peak in the position he was now… until Peak managed to save himself in the last moment possible.

With one last, powerful effort Peak managed to kick Lenel out of his commanding position and prevent himself from being complete smashed when he finally hit the ground. However, his earlier injuries made that impact all the more hurtful and even if he wanted to ignore that fact, he’d soon lose this fight once and for all due to his accumulating wounds. Peak concentrated all of his strength into trying to overpower his opponent… only to realize that he simply couldn’t do that anymore. He was getting far too weak and he would fall soon enough before the other flyer’s relentless assault. Knowing that he had only one chance left to turn his revenge into reality, Peak did something his opponent found unthinkable. He suddenly pulled his hands from holding back Lenel’s which opened his entire neck open for any attack. However, that final maneuver allowed Peak one chance to scratch Lenel’s sides and to ensure this to be his final day as well… The orange flyer hardly noticed anything else but the sight of his claws sinking into Lenel’s flesh and in that moment, he realized his work was complete.

Lenel, however, couldn’t believe his luck. For some unknown reason, his opponent had given up his defenses completely, allowing him to end this fight once and for all. He didn’t even notice Peak’s seemingly harmless wound and he was preparing to deliver the final blow… until he heard a terrified cry from Northwind.

“Lenel, look out! Another flyer is coming your way!” The deputy cried, causing Lenel to curse deeply. The last thing he wanted was to have another fight after getting rid of his old enemy but that mattered little now. He wasn’t going to let Peak out of this mess, no matter what. He raised his claws again to end it once and for all… before he noticed he was too late.

In less than a second, a shadow fell upon the two flyers and before Lenel even knew what was happening, a familiar flyer landed just behind Peak… and sliced his throat wide open before Lenel could even move a finger to prevent him. The newcomer then whispered to the quickly fading Peak in a triumphant voice.

“I promised you you wouldn’t be able to run forever, Peak. May this be the payment of everything you once forced me through!” He said, causing Peak’s eyes to flash open last time. It was a gigantic effort for him to turn to look at his killer one last time but even if he was far from happy to see him, Peak’s voice was a content one as he spoke.

“You were too late… Deron. I already did what I wanted… It’s just a shame… that I never were able to repay you… for what you d…” Those were the only things that the once-proud leader could say before he fell into the ground, the last vestiges of life departing from his body swiftly. The flyer who had once brought so much hope and safety to those following him had embarked on his final journey in a way very few would have said he’d deserve. Lenel looked at his dead enemy while panting heavily, realizing the implications of what had happened. He had defeated his most bitter foe and in the process, secured himself from another threat.

And even more somberly, Lenel realized that he was now the last surviving leader of the old united herd. Some part within Lenel still felt terrible guilt for having been forced to go through that as for a long time, that union between the four leaders had been Lenel’s pride. Even now, there were moments when he would have wanted to return to those days… but there was no changing that. Now he alone would be responsible for fulfilling his destiny and now he had the chance to prove himself to be his line’s best, only second to Olres himself. Peak had been a fool and a murderer all along and his departure would only be a blessing to all of the flyers.

However, the pale flyer’s moment of reflection was cut short as his gaze turned at the other flyer before himself. He felt his heart starting to beat faster in rage as he looked at Deron’s smug expression, more than upset by what his opponent had done. He had never met Nimble’s killer before and inside, he would have wanted to make the other male follow Peak into the Great Beyond for starting these days of endless fighting and bloodshed with his attack. However, there was no reason for brash decisions and he spoke to the other leader in a trembling voice.

“So we meet at long last, Deron. I trust you understand that you had no right in the least to prevent me from killing my old enemy myself.” He said, narrowing his eyes as Deron started walking towards him slowly. Lenel didn’t like his antics in the least and to his increasing concern, the area around the only wound caused by Peak was starting to ache increasingly severely. Deron crossed his arms behind his back as he answered Lenel’s words.

“That might be, my good Lenel, but I assure you that I have far more reason to despise him than you do and thus I took the liberty of ending his wicked life myself. I’m sorry I had to hurt your interests in the process but I’d do it gladly again in order to kill that bastard.” He said, knowing that there was very little that Lenel could say or do anymore. Deron knew he had all the cards in this conversation that his counterpart didn’t even want to have in the first place.

Lenel, on the other hand, was beyond puzzled and outraged by the other flyer’s words. Who did he think he was, simply coming here to act like he was some great flyer of legend? The pale flyer knew he couldn’t argue about Peak but he had another thing in his mind that he knew was far more important than some stupid feud about who had the truest right
to take Peak’s life. Lenel took a more confrontational look as he spoke again to Deron.

“Tell me one reason why I shouldn’t kill you here and now for what you did to Nimble. Your little attack caused us many internal fights and I lost dozens of good flyers because of what you did!” Lenel raised his voice considerably while he started to feel a certain amount of vertigo starting to make itself known inside his head. Even his stomach started to feel sicker by the second but he managed to hide that from his counterpart… for now.

“And everything went the way I had hoped. Your fights tore your herd apart which of course made it easier for me to have my revenge against Peak for ruining my original herd and doing his all to prevent me from forming another one. I guess apologies are in order as I never had anything against you nor Nimble.” He said somewhat genuinely as he did something that made Lenel even more puzzled. Deron knelt besides Peak’s lifeless body and raised his as if to investigate something about it. However, that answer hardly made Lenel feel any easier and it was starting to be a real struggle to prevent himself from engaging the shameless bastard.

“And I promised to my herd that you’d pay for that attack! I couldn’t care less about your and Peak’s past. I only care about all the sorrow and tragedy you’ve caused me and my herd.” He said, wondering what kind of answer he’d receive next. A few seconds of silence followed after which Deron slowly rose back to his full height and turned back at Lenel. His voice was a mockingly heavy one and he spread his arms as he taunted the pale flyer.

“Well, if you want to do it so bad, then attack me and we’ll see who’ll prevail. However, look at things my way also, Lenel. If you do just that, that will lead only to a major battle between our entire herds. It has been quite easy to hide my followers among all the flyers gathered in these Hills and I’ve been forced to notice my herd is larger than yours now that you’ve managed to slaughter nearly half of your followers. But in the case you managed to win, I wouldn’t be able to save your life. Say, you must be feeling pretty miserable already, no?” He suddenly suggested, causing Lenel’s frown to deepen considerably. That was true but how could Deron know anything about it? Inside, Lenel heart started to beat faster as he realized something was terribly wrong.

“Wh… what are you talking about? Explain, now!” He demanded, slowly starting to float sickening thoughts within his mind as he felt the pain within his body starting to worsen by the second. Deron gave his fellow leader a brief snort as he nodded at the small scratch in the lighter-colored flyer’s chest.

“I saw from the beginning that something was wrong with you and as I looked at Peak’s claws, I could see just what. That old fool had painted his claws with a substance called Sneaking End. It is received from a plant that grows far to our south, where I was born and I don’t even want to guess how Peak got some of it to his own use. But my main point is, that poison will probably kill you in a day or two.” Deron said with a slight smirk. Lenel felt his heart jumping into his throat as he heard those words even if he wanted to hide his shock. He… he simply couldn’t afford to die here now that his lifelong dream was within his grasp! He snapped at the other flyer even if the pain within his chest and stomach confirmed the horrible truth.

“You’re lying, Deron. You have no idea about what happened.” He said, fighting against the increasingly powerful urge to fall to his knees in pain. The other flyer shook his head slowly before addressing the other flyer again.

“I don’t know who you are lying to, Lenel, and truthfully, I don’t care.  I only wanted you to know that some healers within my herd might just be able to treat your injury so that you might be able to live another day. I’d consider that as a fair price for you to drop your hostility towards me and my herd due to our accident with Nimble, don’t you think?” He asked, causing an increasingly strong rage grow within Lenel. This upstart was treating him like a helpless hatchling which infuriated him without an end. Yet, even worse was his inability to do anything about it and inside, he knew that Deron was his only hope to live through all this. He cringed in pain as he spoke to the younger flyer.

“And why would I believe these “healers” aren’t going to kill me when I’m most vulnerable? What is all of this up to you, Deron?! Answer me and no more games!” Lenel said, knowing that even in a situation like this, he simply couldn’t make stupid decisions. For all he knew, the darker-colored flyer could be lying and Peak’s poison could be less dangerous than he claimed. The other leader narrowed his eyes as he turned to look at the white skies.

“A better question would be what killing you would be up to me, Lenel. I have absolutely no claim to your herd and as I said earlier, I only wanted to get rid of Peak and I have absolutely no ill will towards you, Olres’ heir. I only want to end one cycle of hatred when it is still possible. We could even have a fruitful alliance in the coming seasons.” He said calmly, not a hint of hidden motives within his voice. Lenel looked at him for a short time, deciding that Deron’s explanation was believable enough. After all, no sensible leader would start long-time feuds without any good reason and lending his healers’ aid didn’t really cost the younger male too much. However, there was still one thing to be said before Lenel was ready to accept his counterpart’s offer.

“My herd will never forgive you for killing Nimble. Each of them will yearn for your head as long as they live.” He said, knowing that neither would he forgive the other flyer for his attack but right now, survival was the utmost thing within his mind. Deron looked at the nearly-white flyer in slight disappointment. He then brought his hand to his forehead and again shook his head slightly. Lenel wasn’t sure how severely exaggerated that gesture really was but he didn’t even really care right now.

“That’s unfortunate, Lenel. However, I am still more than ready to even agree to some tentative peace with your herd if that suits your aims better. Do we have a deal?” Deron said as he turned to look Lenel in the eyes. The pale flyer knew he’d never agree to these terms in an ordinary situation because if rumors of his deal with Nimble’s killer would spread among his supporters, there would really be severe consequences. Besides, Lenel wasn’t sure if his sorry state had been somehow arranged by the other flyer as his offer of help seemed a bit too convenient. But if that was the case, Lenel simply couldn’t help but admire his counterpart’s intelligence. He smiled slightly as he gave his answer to the other dinosaur.

“We do, Deron. But before we’ll get to fulfilling our pact, I want to finish one task before that window of opportunity will be lost for good. If even one of Peak’s family lives, I’ll never be safe from their efforts to avenge that villain.” He said, turning to look at the cave with weary eyes while calling at his deputies to help him. He knew this would be a mere formality as every flyer capable of fighting would have been utilized in the battle itself. Lenel knew his opponents would be nothing more than children and elderly but that meant nothing to the seasoned leader. Sometimes one would have to do distasteful feats in order to guarantee his future and sparing any of Peak’s family would simply be too risky. Deron nodded at the other leader briefly while speaking to him seemingly absentmindedly.

“Be my guest. I already blocked the only other exit from the cave in order to make sure Peak wouldn’t live until dusk so you cannot fail. I can wait for a while longer.” He said while glancing at his deputies who were following the events from the upper cliffs. Lenel knew he didn’t have a lot of time to see his bloody task through and he quickly called at his two deputies to his side. He did his best to hide the pain within his voice as he addressed them in a slow voice.

“Let’s finish this. But no matter what you do, don’t tell about what you saw to anyone. If anyone asks, Deron will still be our enemy and if any of you says otherwise, I’ll make sure you’ll regret it until the end. Is that clear?” The pale flyer asked, receiving quick nods from the two other dinosaurs. Lenel then sighed quickly, heading towards the cave with only one intent: to make sure none of its denizens would ever haunt him again.

“Only a little further! I think we get through this soon enough!” Petrie cried as he threw another rock aside into the quickly growing pile of debris the three children had removed from the collapse. There was no telling just how much of it was left between the three friends and freedom but Petrie had always been one to at least attempt to keep one’s spirits high. However, he soon learned that his companions didn’t see things in as positive light.

“Just stop such foolish hopes and save that energy for digging, Petrie! We don’t have a lot of time!” Glide cried in growing desperation, more than aware of the raging fight outside the cave. She had no idea what would happen after it had ended but by that point, she’d much rather be somewhere far away. Ortin continued without any pause.

“And after we’re out of it, either Peak or Lenel will come to get us! So, don’t waste time and… do you hear that?” He asked, suddenly turning to look into the darkness. Glide immediately turned at the boy and snapped at him in annoyance.

“Hear what, Ortin? You just said that…” She started but Ortin interrupted her very quickly. A growing fear was rising within him as he spoke in a haunted voice.

“I hear nothing, Glide. And that means… that the battle has to be over. I just wonder how long it has actually been this silent already.” He said, starting to shiver slightly. He knew that in his condition Peak simply had no way of winning against practically anyone… which meant that the orange flyer… the head of his family for his entire life… was gone. The boy shuddered heavily as a cold breath of wind dash through the cave, making the child feel as if the fallen flyer’s spirit had just flown through him. But due to the older flyer’s recent deeds, he felt no sorrow, no regret… only emptiness and fear about what would happen next. However, his moment of reflection was stopped as Petrie quickly cried to him in growing alarm.

“Then we have even less time to spare! Ortin, help us!” The brown-colored boy cried but to his growing horror and annoyance, Ortin didn’t seem to hear what he was saying. His entire mind was focused on what would soon happen to his grandmother and the rest of his family. The struggle was over and deep down, he still remembered everything that Peak and his father had told him about the importance of one’s family and he was growing increasingly alarmed about what would soon happen.

“Ortin, we need you! Now, just forget it and helps us!” Glide cried as she looked at Ortin who looked like he was under some kind of evil spell. She knew as well as her friend about what was at stake here and she had always regarded her friend as a strong-willed flyer and to see him act like this bothered her immensely. However, after a few moments Ortin turned around and looked at the duo in clear fear. His voice was a meek one as he answered his two companions.

“I know, I know. It’s just that…”

Suddenly a cry of horror filled the cave and at that moment, Ortin knew that it had begun. He couldn’t even begin to think rationally before he realized that it was now or never. If Peak was gone, then there was some chance he could save at least some of his family from the coming doom. At this moment, it mattered little how exactly they would escape from this place but she cared only about saving his grandmother from this terrifying situation. Without further hesitation, the flyer rose to his wings and headed towards the cry with the pleads of his friends tightly shut out of his mind.

“Do what you wish, monster, but we will not bow to your cursed schemes. We will not sell our pride to you nor your deputies!” An elderly female voice cried to Lenel as the former cut down the third child with one, decisive blow. There was not even one trace of regret within Lenel’s eye as he turned at the other flyer, speaking to her in clear disgust.

“Nor would I even accept any of you into my ranks anymore. I’m capable of forgiving many things but treachery isn’t one of them. Besides, I’d never be able to trust you that your loyalty wouldn’t still lie with Peak. So keep your pathetic words to yourself.” Lenel said as he ignored a cry of pain from another dead child. The old female’s expression didn’t even twitch at Lenel’s words and she crossed her arms in defiance.

“Then do what you want, Lenel, but know that the truth about this day will spread sooner or later! We will prevail in th…” She said before a desperate sob of another child drowned the older flyer’s voice under itself. A young boy suddenly fell to his knees in front of Lenel, clearly broken by the ghastly scene around him. Lenel hardly even understood him through his tears but the pale flyer still stopped to hear him out to the surprise of his deputies.

“Please, just… just stop this! I… I and my brothers and sisters will do anything for you, Lenel!. J… just spare the rest of us! Please… I… I ask you…” He said before his voice died down under his sobs. As he witnessed that hapless sight, for the first time today, a slight thought of remorse awoke within Lenel. This child had most likely not asked for any of this and he had probably just followed his family’s lead as any young flyer would have done… only to find himself in this kind of nightmare. The higher-ranked flyer couldn’t help but realize how very wrong all of this was but that didn’t change the situation they were in. The scene was quickly cut short by Ortin’s grandmother’s angered cry.

“Highwing, stop that, now! We cannot bow before that murderer, not now, not ever, no matter what!” She cried but clearly to no avail as the boy didn’t show any signs he had even heard those words. Haste glanced at Lenel and asked him carefully.

“Can I take care of that brat, my leader? I’ll make it quick.” She asked, more than puzzled by Lenel’s sudden change of mind. However, Lenel quickly woke up from his thoughts and spoke absentmindedly to the female.

“No, no, no. I’ll handle this one.” He said as he slowly knelt in front of the weeping child, remembering just mow much he hated situations like these. Even when it seemed like everybody was out to stop him doing what was right, there always appeared one tiny spark of light, one tiny spark of innocence that had to be cast away in the face of the merciless reality. Lenel knew very well about the monstrosity of his act but sometimes one had to make sacrifices if he wanted to walk the path of righteousness until the very end.

“I’d gladly do that, Highwing, was it, but alas, that is not possible. I know you were there not to blame for anything that happened today and you nor your siblings deserved any of this. I am more than sorry I had to put you through all of this, so very sorry. But do you know something?” Lenel asked softly, taking a short pause to hear if he’d receive any answer. The boy looked at him with wide eyes, not able to utter one sound from his beak. The older flyer sighed slightly, trying to keep the rising pain within his body still for a moment longer. This child would hear the truth before the end that and that was more important than his own agony. The higher-ranked flyer continued in a kind voice while his deputies continued their bloody work, a contrast that would have made any witness cringe in disgust.

“But you are still one of Warekli’s heirs and one beautiful day, one of your brothers or sisters would decide to take up Peak’s mantle again and most likely avenge to me what happened today. Now, hush, I know that better than you most likely even know. But that’s the whole truth and that is why I can’t let any of you escape this cave. I’m so sorr…” He said but just as he was about to give the final blow, Lenel felt himself be tackled into the ground, a development he didn’t expect. He heard an enraged voice cry to him as he tried to struggle back to his feet.

“It is you who will die here, child murderer! You must not hurt any other flyer with your lies and treachery ever again! This one’s for each of the dear children you’ve killed, Lenel!” The elderly female cried as she tried to crush Lenel’s throat with a quick blow. However, the seasons had taken their toll and the pale flyer was able to stop the older dinosaur’s attack practically in its tracks. Lenel panted deeply as he slowly forced the greyish flyer’s attack back and he cringed deeply as he took a hold on her head and forced it slowly downwards, finally able to press it against the ground. Lenel breathed deeply due to the shock and the increasingly unbearable effect of Peak’s poison.

“As I said, I’m sorry for that but I doubt your precious Peak didn’t have any extra blood within his hands either. That is how our world has always worked and will work after both of us have become one with the earth! This is just my little payback for your brainless following of Peak!” Lenel cried as he pushed the female’s head tighter into the ground, smiling at her desperate twitching. However, he had never enjoyed torturing those weaker than him and with one, swift blow he dropped his foot right at the female’s spine which broke down under the male’s strength. One, final cry escaped the dying flyer’s mouth as she departed this world. However, that scene was soon broken by a loud cry from deeper in the tunnel.

“Grandma, get up while you still can! Don’t let that… Grandma, no!”

Ortin’s eyes grew wide with horror as he saw the sight before himself he had feared the most. He had flown with all his might in the darkness, hoping there was still he could do. Each and every second seemed to last for an eternity as the dark tunnel went on, the fears about what he’d find at its end. The boy had wanted so very badly to believe he wasn’t too late even if he knew there was very little he could do even if he reached the scene of the bloodbath in time.

And when it finally came to his view, the child saw only his dying grandmother falling into the ground, turning to look at him with her last strength. Around her lied the lifeless carcasses of Peak’s sons and daughters, each of them ripped open in a gruesome way It was a scene from every dinosaur’s bad sleep stories and immediately Ortin felt tears starting to swell within his eyes. This simply couldn’t be true! Even if he had momentarily accepted his grandmother’s loyalty to Peak, he had still tried to hope he could somehow… in some way she could be saved. But now, when she lied dead before Ortin, the boy only realized what he had lost. The only member of his family who had ever cared for him aside from his beloved father.

And in the center of the carnage stood the flyer whom he had learned to hate more than anything else. The form of the same flyer who had betrayed his close allies by attacking his herd in the dark of the night, the same flyer who had caused Peak’s descent into madness and who his grandmother had told him had ordered the murder of his father loomed before the boy like some kind of evil spirit, only yearning to cause more death and sorrow around him. Ortin felt his sorrow starting to fuse with rage as he looked at his grandmother’s lightless but pleading eyes, wanting nothing more than to bring at least some justice to this cursed bastard.

“You… you’ll pay for this, Lenel! I’ll make sure you’ll not get away…” Ortin started but as he started to fly towards Lenel, he suddenly felt his speed dying down as he felt his leg getting grabbed by some other dinosaur. Before he could even start to think about the implications, he heard an older male voice speak dryly.

“It seems we have one left, Lenel. I take it that he’ll join the others, no?” Northwind asked with a bored voice, hoping that this massacre would already have been over. Lenel was equally annoyed by the bloodbath and he merely sighed as he gave his answer.

“Just do it, Northwind. We have to finish the job, no m…” He began before he was interrupted by a desperate cry from deeper in the cave. The pale flyer frowned as he turned to look at the direction of the cry, not really willing to have any further interruptions.

“Don’t allow it, Lenel! Ortin not wish any bad for you or anyone else!” Petrie cried as he landed before Lenel, causing the older flyer’s eyes widen immediately. He had thought that Petrie had stayed in the Valley and to see him here brought a mix of disappointment and surprise to his mind. Ortin looked at Petrie, not willing to have that fool defend him in this case. Lenel took a stern look as he looked at the young boy, giving him a brief and cold answer.

“So you didn’t honor our pact after all, Petrie. Didn’t I tell you that your presence is no longer possible within my herd? Perhaps I should have emphasized that once I agree to something, I expect them to keep their part of the bargain!” He said, his condition growing more painful by the second. Petrie knew that his presence here was unlikely what Lenel wanted but right now, he had only one thing in his mind. He looked at Lenel with pleading eyes and tried to portray himself as harmless and well-intentioned as he only could.

“Petrie sorry about that and me promise that me leave as soon as me can before anyone else see me. But before that, please let Ortin go. Petrie know he a good flyer and he not in any way guilty of what Peak did. Me heard from uncle Pterano that you a wise and kind flyer and me know that you agree that sparing Ortin cannot be bad in any way.” The bloody sight around him made Petrie recoil deeply as he thought about the words he said. A wise or kind flyer would never kill a bunch of children in cold blood and inside, Petrie couldn’t help but wonder why his uncle had ever followed this monster. He couldn’t help but see a hint of his own siblings in the dead flyers around him, just thinking about how Ortin had to feel right now.

Lenel raised his beak and crossed his arms as he looked at Petrie. He had little desire to debate with a child like Petrie but he had found that listening to others and explaining his point of view often brought more benefits than simply silencing them outright. He didn’t really know why exactly Petrie wanted to protect Ortin but one way or another, the higher-ranked flyer was determined to force the boy to drop that position.

“How gracious of you to try to use my own, loyal deputy against me. Petrie, there are wise leaders but not kind ones and the sooner you realize it, the better. Pterano always understood that sometimes one had to do what was best for as many flyers as possible and that’s what we always did. As for Ortin, I’m sorry but I cannot do as you ask. That brat is the last member of Warekli’s line and if he himself doesn’t want to one day take Peak’s old position himself, some desperate old ally will seek him out and make him the leader! Even if I knew he holds no bad blood against me, I still couldn’t let him live. And his attempted attack didn’t exactly improve his chances any.” He said, looking at Petrie with pompous, even arrogant eyes. Petrie cringed deeply at those words, not liking them in the least. If Lenel spoke the truth, Pterano had most likely done more bad things with Lenel and in that case… Poor, poor uncle Pterano. However, the younger male wasn’t about to give up just yet and he spoke to Lenel softly, noticing Glide landing beside him.

“But that does not have to happen! What happened was terrible but Petrie know you can both walk out of this alive! If Ortin his family’s last member, then you can agree to peace with him, can you not?” Petrie cried in an almost desperate voice. He knew his chances of making Lenel see reason were growing thin but he still had to try for Ortin’s sake even if he knew just how foolish his hopes were.

However, to Lenel’s own surprise, those words moved him more than he had expected. Petrie’s attempts at making these kinds of decisions were nostalgic in their naivety and he couldn’t help but smile at the other flyer. Yet, even now there was no way he could do as Petrie asked as the stakes were simply too high for him. He was far past the point where he would show mercy against his better judgement as that was the only thing that had taken him this close to his lifelong dream. Yet, he spoke softly to Petrie, hoping the younger flyer would at least get away from his way. He harbored no ill will at Petrie and deep down, Lenel prayed the other flyer would yet see reason.

“Oh, Petrie. You still have so much to learn and I’d like to do as you say. However, there is simply too much at stake to trust a child’s promise of peace. You’ll see that one day, Petrie, if you are anything like your uncle was. I promise you that you will thank me for the good I will bring upon all the flyers before long. Northwind, do it.” That moment seemed to go on for hours for Petrie due to the countless thoughts swirling within his head. Again, the comparison between him and his uncle made the boy cringe deeply as did Lenel’s words. The more Petrie thought about it, the more he realized just how Lenel’s hubris resembled that of Pterano’s concerning the Stone of Cold Fire and the boy could even see the familiar flame within Lenel’s eyes. Deep down, Petrie couldn’t help but wonder if his uncle would have been ready to do this kind of abomination in order to claim the Stone but that mattered little to him now.

The one issue that filled his mind was the monumental decision presented to him now. He could let Lenel’s deputy kill Ortin in which case he could leave this place in peace and he wouldn’t have to worry about Lenel’s vengeance again. He could still continue searching for Littlefoot and his family, no matter how unlikely that prospect seemed these days.
However, Petrie realized immediately that option was something he couldn’t genuinely consider. Even if he could let Ortin die, he knew Glide would never forgive him for such a decision. But even worse, he knew Ortin was his only chance of finding the Land of Dancing Waters and of having a somewhat realistic chance of finding his friends and family. Petrie realized the implications of any move against Lenel or his deputies but to him, that decision was a no-brainer. He had to save Ortin, no matter the consequences. He looked as Northwind raised his claws to strike the child down but before he could deliver the blow, he was up for a surprise.

With all the might he could muster, Petrie dashed towards the older flyer, sinking his beak into his stomach. A cry of pain filled the cave as Northwind turned to look at Petrie, preparing to crush the upstart brat once and for all. However, before he could do it, he could feel a stinging pain in his hands, feeling his warm blood flowing down his arm. He cringed deeply as he realized what was happening but before could prevent it, he saw Ortin being able to break away from his grip into the air. He heard a frustrated cry from Lenel, realizing the depth of his mistake.

“Kill Ortin with any means necessary and help me catch those two other fools! Don’t waste any more t…” The highest-ranked flyer tried to command but as he tried to rise to his wings, he felt a stinging pain that nearly made his consciousness fail. Hit his head in the rocky ground before rising back to his knees, panting heavily. So this was his limit. The poison had spread too wide and now he’d have to call for Deron’s help or let his dream die along with him. Lenel looked in annoyance as he saw his deputies get closer to him and he snapped at them in anger.

“I’ll be fine so get those brats, now, or I’ll make sure you’ll be sorry before long!” He said before he saw the two other flyers finally do as he told them. He would have wanted to finish this himself but inside, he couldn’t help but feel slight satisfaction that his last encounter with Peak wasn’t one he’d ever forget in his entire life.

Petrie listened to his heart beating in his chest furiously as he tried to avoid hitting the walls of the narrow tunnel. He couldn’t believe his luck as he hadn’t even known there was something wrong with Lenel and he was determined to make most of this unexpected opportunity to escape. However, he still knew that his and companions’ shot at escaping was a small one but he was more than determined to try. He looked at Ortin briefly and called to him in a worried voice.

“Are you alright, Ortin? Or… at least as alright as possible.” He added in a sadder voice, hoping he wouldn’t offend the other boy in any way. Ortin didn’t give any hint that he had even heard Petrie’s words and tears started to flow down his cheeks. The realization that he really was now alone in this world was a horrifying one for him but deep down, he knew he couldn’t give up. Not after everything his friends had done to save him. The blue-colored flyer quickly glanced at Petrie and answered in a forced voice.

“I… I guess, Petrie. At least… I’m not hurt.” He said in a broken voice, making Petrie’s own expression fall. He could well relate to Ortin’s pain and he in a way admired the other flyer’s courage at being able to even fly after such a tragedy. However, there would be more time for mourning later on and Petrie was woken up from his thoughts by Glide’s cry.

“I think I know a good enough place where we could be able to shake those bastards off our tails! Follow me as closely as you can!” She cried as she remembered something that made her heart skip the next beat. Before her lied the wall of fallen rocks that she and her friends still hadn’t managed to break. However, remembering everything that was at stake, she knew she had options but to hope that the pile of rocks was now thin enough that she could force her way through the smaller debris on top the larger boulders.

Glide knew very well how dangerous that plan was but there simply were no alternative. She closed her eyes, preparing for a painful, possibly even dangerous impact. However, to her surprise, she felt only a slight ache in her head as she realized that the smaller rocks were collapsing everywhere around her. The three flyers had practically cleared the collapse earlier and she could see the light of the Bright Circle greet her like an old, dear friend. Glide let out a deep sigh of relief while looking thankfully at the wide skies. Flying in the cave had been a dangerous chore and one Glide hoped she could avoid in the future. Yet, she also knew that being in the open gave their chasers a clear advantage due to their larger and more powerful wings. There was only a short while for the three young flyers to find shelter and Glide could only hope they had enough time to follow her plan.

“Nicely done, Glide! Petrie ready to follow you!”

“Show the way but please hurry! We don’t have much time!

Hearing the two males’ cries of approval, Glide took a deep breath as she looked at the looming peaks around her, thinking about the best route she could take. After a few seconds, she closed her eyes momentarily and stopped beating her wings for a moment, sending her on a nosedive towards the rocky ground. She knew that her idea was excessively dangerous but she also knew that Lenel’s deputies were neither fools or physically weak so she knew she had to try something unexpected if she wanted to outsmart them. She could her heart jump to her throat as she looked at the quickly approaching ground.

The whirlwind of conflicting thoughts filling Ortin’s mind shifted momentarily as he followed Glide as she had told him. No flyer feared the heights but a seemingly senseless plunge towards a certain death wasn’t something any of the boy’s kind was exactly fond of. One part of Ortin’s mind wouldn’t have minded joining his father and grandmother into the Great Beyond after today’s tragedy but especially Glide’s presence brought at least some light into his inconsolable mood. Yet, his sorrow started to slowly change into horror as he looked at the ground being merely ten longneck lengths away before him… then seven… then four… then two…

“Straighten your wings and don’t screw the next part up or at least don’t blame me if you do!” She cried as she put all her efforts into stopping her dive as quickly as possible. She knew the chance of failure and death was extremely high but she didn’t care right now. The only thing she cared was that she could lead her friends to safety and to ensure Lenel’s deputies would have nothing to report to their master but failure.

Haste frowned deeply as she looked at the three flyers before her, more than annoyed that she was even forced to this chase. Northwind had made a horrible oversight that may have just let another threat off the hook. The female couldn’t help but remember that she had been instrumental in the success of Lenel’s coup and it was more than clear she could one day also be forced to face the consequences of letting Ortin off the hook.

However, to her growing relief, she was closing the gap between herself and the three children quickly and it wouldn’t be a long time now before she could end this ridiculous charade and once again get forward with her own plans for the future. No matter what those brats were planning, they could never lose two much older and more experienced flyers. A slight smile rose to her beak as she looked at Glide’s desperate maneuver but even then, she was in no way taken aback by it. They could try to do some fancy moves but in the end, the outcome of the chase had been decided the moment it began. It wouldn’t be long now until… Suddenly, the frown returned to Haste’s face as she saw just where the three young flyers were heading towards.

A deep gulp could be heard as Petrie looked before himself. An extremely narrow crack in the mountain opened before him, one that was barely wide enough for even the three friends to fly through. He had seen countless challenging places to fly in his life but this was something that made him more nervous than most. His speed was exceedingly high after the long plunge and even one mistake would result in a serious injury or even death. With a worried voice, he called to the girl.

“Glide, Petrie not so sure this is a good id…” He started but the other dinosaur wouldn’t hear it. She briefly glanced at Petrie and yelled in annoyance.

“Shut up and follow me as I told you! This is our best chance to lose them!” She cried, her own voice betraying her fear. Petrie’s eyes widened as he looked at the small pass growing closer terrifyingly quickly but even then, he knew Glide wouldn’t do it until she was certain this was their best chance. And if she was ready to do this, so was he. Petrie was no longer going to deny that he was a better flyer than the vast majority he had met and by the Bright Circle, he was going to show it now!

Petrie narrowed his eyes as the light of the Cold Time’s day was suddenly blocked by the walls of rock around him as he entered the narrow crack. He moved his wings only a little bit at one time, knowing that any unthought moves would only cause him to either tear his wings at some sharp rock or entirely crash against the mountainside. But before he had even got used to flying in such a narrow pass, he heard a loud cry from Glide.

“Turn right, quickly! The turn’s steeper than it seems!” She cried causing Petrie to lean more towards the right, cringing at his speed as he did as told. If Glide didn’t know how to navigate this pass, there would have been no way he could ever have taken this path himself. Luckily, it seemed like the crack was starting to widen slightly so…
Suddenly, Petrie felt himself being plunged downwards as he felt a large pile of ground sparkles fall on him from the upper reaches of hillside. The impact was a heavy one and before he even noticed it, his arm hit the wall to his left, causing him to cringe in pain. It wasn’t long before he heard an alarmed cry from above himself.

“Are you alright, Petrie? Answer, please!” To the boy’s surprise, it was Ortin who called to him. Even more surprisingly, he sounded genuinely worried about him which wasn’t something Petrie had even dared to hope for. The brown-colored boy struggled to ignore the pain in his hand as he tried to stop losing ever more altitude. It would be all over soon if he couldn’t regain his balance… Suddenly, Petrie realized that he wasn’t about to allow himself fall here, not this close to being able to ask Ortin about the Land of the Dancing Waters.

A deep cringe rose to Petrie’s face as he again straightened his wing, noticing to his instant relief that it wasn’t at least broken. He took a deep breath before he slowly turned it upwards before finally starting to regain some of his lost altitude. The flyer panted in clear relief as he cried back to Ortin.

“Me doing well enough, Ortin. Petrie just hope we don’t have to go on for much longer!” He cried, his mood falling as he didn’t hear an immediate answer from Glide. However, he had been hurt far worse than this in the past and he’d go on for as long as needed. He knew Glide wouldn’t force him to suffer any more than needed.

Northwind cursed as he saw the three younger flyers disappear into the small pass, realizing immediately that neither he nor Haste could follow them into it while retaining at least some of their speed. He sighed deeply as he cried to the female in clear annoyance.

“We have to fly over the pass if we wish to keep up with those fools!” He yelled, causing an equally hostile answer from Glide. The male was already frustrated by his earlier oversight and the wound Petrie had caused only made him feel more miserable.

“That should be apparent for even an idiot like yourself, Northwind! It is because of you we’re even here so stop talking and fly faster!” She cried, looking murderously at her fellow deputy. The latter revealed his teeth as he looked back at Haste but decided against taunting her further, knowing that any further blame of this chase would fall upon him. He quickly turned back towards the skies, knowing time was off the essence if he wanted to avoid Ortin and his companions from escaping for good.

He was slightly revealed as he noticed that the pass wasn’t as long as had thought as he looked at the crack from his natural perspective. It was difficult to try to see the trio far below him but at least he knew there was no way they could ever disappear from the pass without him or Haste noticing. In the end, this chase was only a waste of time as he simply couldn’t fail in making up for his mistake… or at he thought so.

Petrie’s accident hardly made Glide feel any easier but she knew that the make-or-break part of her plan was soon approaching. Flying through the pass had bought her and her friends some critical time to try to make the next part of her grand escape work. She looked at the pass’ looming mouth with a deep cringe, knowing full well that Northwind and Haste were still closely on their trail. She would have wanted to address her companions about what was coming next but she didn’t want to make Petrie’s situation any worse.

The seconds passed slowly as the girl watched the widening end of the crack in the high mountain grew ever closer. She had only a few seconds before the chasers would see them again and at that moment, it would be all over. Luckily, she had remembered correct. Before her opened a small forest located on a cliff overlooking the land surrounding Streli’s Hills. This place was her best shot at finding some kind of shelter before it would all be too late.

“We should be almost there! Hang on, Petrie!” She cried as she turned left where the withered trees provided the best cover she could ask for. It was far from easy to try to dodge the trunks that were all around her but at least her speed had died down a bit after her daring plunge. Somewhere around here, there would have to be some kind of place where she and her friends could hide from their chasers…

It didn’t take long for Haste to realize what Glide’s plan was. She cursed under her breath as she saw only a brief hint of movement at the other end of the pass, finally admitting to herself that she might have underestimated the three younger flyers. From now on, finding them would be far more difficult but even then, she wasn’t going to give up just yet. She frowned deeply as she stopped just over the canopy of the trees, looking below herself carefully. The children were still here as she hadn’t seen any of them fly away yet. Now, she and Northwind would only have to search them out from here and put an end to this crap. A silent sound left her feet as she landed into the soft ground sparkles. She sighed slightly at the cold air before turning to look at her companion in a weary expression.

“They are somewhere near. I know it. Now, don’t screw this up again or I’ll make Lenel know who’s fault it’ll be if that brat gets out of here alive.” She said, earning a dark look from Northwind. The male hated at being spoken to like this but even then, he knew he had practically no leverage over this issue. He snapped at Haste in annoyance, trying to regain at least some ground in the duo’s mutual feud.

“Fine. But only of you keep your own thoughts to yourself.” He said, causing the female to snort briefly at Northwind’s proposal. Haste looked around herself for a good while before taking a slight smile. At least the cliff was a very small one and there weren’t many possible places the cursed trio could be hiding. Only a few bushes and…


Suddenly, the female turned to look at the direction of the sound. It had come from a nearby cave and that sound made her more relieved than anything else that could have happened right now. It seemed like the nerves of the three children had finally started to break and now, they had sealed their fate. Yes, Haste remembered very well Lenel had only wanted Ortin dead but after all this, Haste was slowly starting to believe that she’d have to explain a slightly larger “accident” to Lenel soon enough. She quickly waved to her fellow deputy and called to him in a low voice.

“Come here! I guess our job is going to be done very soon.” She said, not really expecting things to turn out any differently than she had just said. She had spent her whole life trying to compete against her sister’s efforts to dominate their entire herd and to prove her worth to Nira and all of those efforts had been for nothing. But never before had she been forced to seriously try to outsmart children and as far as she was concerned, they were as dumb as blind bellydraggers. And besides, there were countless other, more interesting things swirling within her head in addition to chasing some children. However, her oversight was the mistake which would cost her today’s mission.

“Now, we no have much time! Get up, now!” Petrie yelled as he looked Haste head after the stone he had thrown. He had prayed deeply that the effort wouldn’t only make things worse but it seemed like the older flyer had taken the bait. Now, it would be the time for him and his companions to take their leave before anything else could happen. The boy looked at the large boulder hiding the trio from haste and Northwind and with any luck, it would cover their escape just long enough.

Seconds passed forward ever so slowly and he worried about whether his heart would beat the next time in this moment of utter fear. However, the distance between the three friends and Lenel’s deputies grew quickly and after a short while, they were able to finally turn right, finally ensuring that they had managed to finally lose their chasers after the long and horrifying chase. Suddenly, Petrie let out a long and forced sigh that he hadn’t realized he was keeping.

He knew the trio would have to get more distance between them and Lenel’s herd but for now, they were safe. Despite the carnage he had been forced to witness, he allowed a wary smile to rise to his face as it seemed like Ortin had finally forgiven him and with any luck, he would be able to help him reach the Land of the Dancing Waters. He had lived through another bloodbath and with any luck, it would be the last major ordeal he’d have to face in a long, long time.

Despite the terrifying situation, Petrie has once again managed to survive through the storm even if countless flyers fall all around him. Now, he might have an old friend to guide him to the place he wants to find so badly but there might just be an unexpected reunion in the horizon before that… This chapter turned to be a long one and I even needed to drop a few scenes I had planned to include in this installment. However, I think it turned out quite well and I’ll wait with interest to your thoughts about it.

DiddyKF1: I can see why Ruby and her family’s reconciliation might seem premature but the way I see it, her inner guilt coupled with her hesitant acceptance of her kind’s even more distasteful traditions made her readier to take this step. The family hasn’t returned to what they were beyond that night of tragedy but at least they’ve come to some agreement about how to proceed.

As for Stealth, he has his own agenda even if it’s correct his plans are something that will in no way seem good to the omnivores. Yet, it remains to be seen how his plans move forward from this point. I’m also quite happy to hear the GoT-comparison as I tried to make the plot a bit more complex than what could have been expected. There will be many deadly tests still forward but you’ll learn more of them in due time. But thanks a lot about the kind words!

The Rhombus:  Yep, I tried to present Ruby and her siblings as having differing views about the recent events and really, I would have wanted to emphasize that point even more. However, as you said, the chapter’s plot was already quite stacked and one has to cut about some parts sometimes. About Ruby and Pearl’s conversation, in many ways it was this exact lack of time that perhaps made that talk even as successful as it was as ruby was given no chance to dwell within her bitterness.

As for Detras and Pearl, well, they indeed are in more danger than they even think but now, Ruby’s presence at least gave them one potential helper when the coming struggle finally comes. However, it really remains to be seen how much her and her friends’ presence will turn the tables, especially as Stealth himself knows about their plotting and he most likely won’t hesitate to use that knowledge to his advantage. Thanks for the review!

Anagnos: I’m sorry for the mistake but in that case, I’m even more happy for having such a long-time follower! As for the question, I’d prefer not to give away too much but unlike Red Claw, Stealth is driven by his bitterness as opposed to simple will to dominate others as seems to be the case with red Claw. However, despite their differing motives, we’ll soon see whether the result will be very different.

And yeah, the reunion might have come a bit quickly but rest assured, that plot twist is needed at this point and I hope to justify that in the coming chapters. About Ruby and her parents, despite that horrifying night, there still lingers a flicker of love deep within Ruby’s heart for her family and her decision wasn’t driven only by her analytic mind. As for Red Claw, I’ve seen him in enough fanfics already so I thought I might as well use him to emphasize that Stealth is a sharptooth to be reckoned with. But as always, keep those detailed reviews coming!


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #109 on: April 20, 2019, 05:02:59 AM »
It is always such a pleasure to sit down, drink a cup of coffee, and enjoy another installment of the Separate Ways, but without further ado, let us get into it.

I was fond of the pace and the suspense you managed to implement here very satisfyingly. The chapter was especially strong in the area of keeping up that sensation all the while. You have also managed to develop the characters quite well not only in this story, but the chapter in integrity.

Peak’s end has now come, and quite honestly in my opinion he got exactly what he deserved in the end. All the while this chapter moved forward he kept showing very insane tendencies, no doubt because of the previous chapters events concerning Lenel’s coup. But can’t dismiss the fact that Peak did leave a parting gift to Lenel before his anticipated demise. Will Deron keep his word to help Lenel survive the poison in his veins? Only time will tell.

And Lenel, need I say anything about him and his deeds in this chapter? Murdering children should definitely be over the line, no matter the circumstances. The flyer in question evidently doesn’t have any kind of grace regarding Peak’s family, who despite following their leader, would be considered innocent in this situation. But then again, there are really no rules or laws in the world they live in. Only the ones that they make, which appears to be the phrase; survival of the fittest.

Now, what is Haste exactly planning to do in the future? Another coup, perhaps? Was all of her show of allegiance to Lenel just a scheme? No doubt we will see the answer to that in the future installments of this story, and I will be awaiting for that eagerly.

And Petrie, Glide and Ortin have now managed to escape the hellish place that was Streli’s Hills and have departed for the Land of the Dancing Waters. Maybe we’ll see a reunion happen soon between the gang? They have been out of touch with each other for too long in my opinion, and I can’t wait to see that transpire.

Before I end this review, I would like to say a few words. I have noticed that some parts of the dialogue were bit hard to read occasionally, but nothing major. Also I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but you seemingly used a wrong name during the chase with Haste and Northwind. And I apologize if my review sounds bit weird, today apparently isn’t my day with writing at all.  :(

Other than that, good chapter from you as always. I’ll be looking forward for the following chapters of this story!  ;)


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #110 on: April 26, 2019, 09:45:12 AM »
Old Enemies Gather

The Bright Circle was only starting to peek over the eastern horizon even if the morning was already growing old. The sharptooth cringed slightly at that fact, missing the longer and brighter days of the Warm Time but even then, she knew that couldn’t be helped right now. Today, only one thought swirled within her mind as her eyes caught the form of a distant flyer in the sky. The only thing she cared about was to finally end the lives of those who had again and again betrayed her and whose fault the death of her only son had been.

She glanced quickly at her mate, struggling to hide her bitterness and displeasure. She had already went through this again and again with the male but he had never even come to admitting he had been wrong despite his terrible mistake. More times than once, Terri would have wanted to take the argument even further and to force Dein to admit it had been because of his gullibility that had saved Detras on that fateful day which now felt like it had happened many cycles of the Night Circle ago.

The female could hardly force the memory of the day when Detras and Pearl’s treachery or failure had been revealed to the sharpteeth from her mind. It seemed like Dein had actually trusted the fastrunners to keep their end of the bargain but when the time for them to present Ruby’s dead body to the sharpteeth had come, they had already escaped for good. Terri couldn’t help but think that if she had had her way, at least Detras would have been slaughtered on that fateful day. However, all of that mattered very little right now as she spoke silently to her mate.

“Well, there she comes. Hopefully she has at least some news as I’d hate to learn that we’ve lost their trail on a chase which we never should have been forced to start in the first place.” She growled tensely, causing Dein to look at her in growing anger. He had been forced to listen to his mate’s whining for days now and he was quickly getting sick of it. He spoke coldly to the female before turning his gaze back at the approaching flyer.

“A sharptooth must always strive to build a more secure future for himself and as you know more than well, that was my reasoning from the very beginning. Now, if you have anything of worth to say, then spare your breath and stay silent!” He said, not able to escape the fact that she had never felt as uncomfortable around his mate as now. It was quickly becoming clear that unless they’d catch the fastrunners, it would soon become the times for the two sharpteeth to part ways for good. However, he prayed that wouldn’t come to pass as the predatory flyer landed before him. Dein wasted no time addressing her in a stern voice.

“Spit it out already, Sharpclaw. Did you see any of those cowards?” He asked in a threatening voice. He knew that neither the flyer of the four fastbiters he and her mate had managed to summon to their aid had been happy with being forced to assist their allies on a mission like this but despite the recent setbacks, Dein knew none of them would question any of their orders. The female flyer looked at the massive two-footers with wary eyes but wasted no times giving her answer.

“In fact I did. They were sleeping no more than three hours’ walk away from us. If you hurry, you should be able to catch them well before the day turn towards evening.” She said, knowing that the ground sparkles only increased the two predators’ advantage in speed compared to the smaller dinosaurs and that they especially slowed the fastrunners down as their feet sank nearly knee-deep into the ground sparkles with each and every step. She with some fear as Terri turned at her mate with a slightly hopeful but still bitter expression.

“In that case, there is still hope that we’ll be able to make up for your mistake, Dein. To be honest, that’s more than…” She started, preparing for another fight with the male but before she got any further, the flyer interrupted her again.

“But there’s also something else you have to know. Detras and Pearl… they were spending the night with a group of halfteeth and sharpteeth… and they were led by Stealth.” She said nervously, knowing that this piece of news would hardly please the two larger dinosaurs in the least. And indeed, Dein gasped briefly before bowing to his pawn’s height.

“Stealth? Are you sure it’s him?” He took a menacing grin as he looked at the flyer, not in the least pleased by these news. Yes, Stealth was a despicable weakling that had been a thorn in his and his mate’s sides for many seasons but his feud with the sailback was completely meaningless compared to the sickening and personal treachery and insult of Detras and Pearl. The flyer gulped deeply at those words but knew that she’d win nothing by lying about anything she was asked.

“I am. I’ve tracked him long enough to know him anywhere.” She said simply, thinking about all the times she had tried to find that elusive bastard in the past seasons. Every time she thought she was closing in on him, Stealth always seemed to have more and more tricks to lose his chasers. To see him out here wasn’t something the flyer was happy about but at the very least, Dein and Terri were here to take care of him this time. Terri quickly looked at her mate, an elated tone apparent in her voice.

“Things keep on getting more interesting, Dein. We are already in good enough condition to take out a sailback even in our sleep.” She said, more than glad that the duo’s recovery from their old wounds had been faster than they had expected. Terri knew that at least she was still weaker than she should have been due to the massive amounts of blood she had lost but overall, her wounds had mostly healed and the many pains caused by her injuries were increasingly becoming a thing of the past. Dein looked back at his mate, taking a more thoughtful look. He decided to ignore the other dinosaur’s words for now and addressed the flyer one more time.

“How many allies does Stealth have with him? Are they able to stand against us? Speak as truthfully as you can as our very survival can depend on it.” Dein said, knowing that no matter what, the flyer nor his other allies were able to escape him or his mate in this life. Especially after Detras’ betrayal, he had decided not to trust in any other dinosaur, save for his mate, ever again and he’d double down on that sentiment in the coming battle. The flyer looked at the sharptooth in deep thought, looking at the still-dark silhouettes of the trees around her for a moment.

“If we face them in a fair and honest fight, we will crush them without the slightest of doubts. However, if they know we are coming they can choose the coming battlefield and besides, Stealth is one of the most cunning dinosaurs I’ve ever seen. We’d do very well not to underestimate him, especially with Detras and Pearl by his side.” The flyer said, hoping that her answer would be good enough for the larger sharptooth. Dein looked at her for a few seconds before turning to look at his mate.

“Very well. Terri, we have no idea about what those murderers are up to this time but at the very least, we’ll have the chance to take out many more old friends we had even dreamed of.” He said, earning an approving nod from the female. For the first time in days, Terri gave something that resembled a smile from to her mate as she spoke to him.

“But before we get ahead of things, we have to make sure we won’t do the same mistakes as before. This is what we should do to ensure those three won’t escape this time…”

The light started to slowly make its way into the forest, the night wind slowly giving way to a relatively warm and bright day. However, that didn’t improve a certain fastrunner’s mood any as she sat alone on a small rock, her head buried in her hands. She hardly noticed as another tear flowed down her cheek before dropping into the ground, melting its way through the soft sheet of the white ground sparkles. Ruby didn’t have any idea about how long she had sat there and right now, she didn’t particularly care. All she cared was trying to even start solving the countless thoughts entangled within her mind.

The poor fastrunner had already went through the meeting with her parents more times than she could count and each time, she felt the guilt penetrate her heart. Yes, she had practically promised to forgive them for what they had done but in what world had that been the right decision? She could still see the genuine guilt and sorrow within her mother’s
eyes as she asked for her understanding but even then, that didn’t make that night in the Desolate Rise any less monstrous.

Yet, neither could she forget the delighted faces of her companions when they had heard what she and her parents had decided. She had seldom seen Arial and Orchid as happy as they had been when they had realized a reconciliation with their parents was still a possibility but even then, Ruby herself wasn’t nearly as sure. It had all happened so very quickly that she had any time to really explore her own emotions about what was really the right way to go.

Could she actually ever see her parents as anything but cold-hearted killers? And even if she could, what then? Would she simply return to the Rise and pretend that nothing had ever happened? No, that simply wouldn’t be right for anyone. The girl’s heart ached as she thought about her mother and father’s still-loving but clearly disturbed looks on her parents’ faces, knowing that her decision had been a foolishly premature one. Yes, she would help them in their efforts to finally defeat Chomper’s parents and then…

“Wh… what’s wrong, Ruby? Why are you crying?” The fastrunner was suddenly awakened from her thoughts by a worried and innocent voice that belonged to her younger brother. Ruby didn’t even flinch as she heard him, instead looking at the lightening sky before turning to look at the boy.

“Oh, hi, Orchid. I’m just thinking about everything that happened yesterday. I just cannot shake that off from my mind because if I could, I would do that in a heartbeat.” She said in a low, broken voice as she grabbed a handful of ground sparkles from the ground and looked at them slowly melt in her hand. Orchid moved slowly to her sister’s side before stopping still. A clear aura of obliviousness hanged around him as he had absolutely no idea what Ruby was talking about. He looked his sister in the eyes, dreading about what
kind of an answer he’d receive from the other fastrunner.

“Wh… what are you talking about? We… we will be able to go back home soon enough, won’t we? How is that a bad thing?” He asked meekly, more than worried about what he’d hear. Ruby took a faraway smile but didn’t answer to her brother in any way. Orchid looked at Ruby in growing fear before asking the only thing that came to his mind.

“Why aren’t you answering? Ruby, please tell me if there happened something that you didn’t tell us last night!” He nearly pleaded, earning a tired sigh from Ruby. After a few seconds, Ruby turned to look at the boy for the first time, finally deciding he deserved an answer.

“That’s it, Orchid. It isn’t so much about what we said but about what we didn’t get to say. That whole meeting lasted less than a minute and the situation forced me to do what it took to protect you and the others. I was never given a chance to go through what I really wanted to tell them and because of that, I’m forced to accept what happened as some kind of necessary evil. What complete crap!” Ruby suddenly cried in a sobbing voice as she threw another ball of white sparkles against a nearby tree. Orchid took a step back in clear fear, not remembering Ruby acting like this since their departure from the Desolate Rise. However, he still wanted to help her in any way he could and he cocked his head slightly as he spoke.

“B… but what more did you want, Ruby? I mean, you agreed to forgive them… didn’t you?” He asked, the situation getting weirder to him by the minute. He had fallen asleep thinking everything was fine, only to wake up to see that being nothing but a lie. He could see Ruby’s face growing tenser by the second, as if she was beyond disgusted by some sight before herself.

“I guess I did but if I had had a real choice, I don’t know what I would have done! It was all as if that choice had been made for me the moment I faced mommy and daddy because if I had declined their offer, our plot would have been for nothing. And because of that, I went on to forgive those two for something that can never be forgiven and neither should it!” Ruby felt another tear flowing down her cheek but did nothing to stop it. For the first time since the start of this conversation, Orchid started to understand what the problem was. He knew it better than anyone besides Ruby and he would have lied if he said he was completely fine with the situation himself. However, his answer hardly changed as he whispered to his sister silently.

“You’re right, Ruby, but we went through this yesterday. Don’t you remember why we did what we did? It was all because…” He was about to go through his and Arial’s previous reasoning about moving on from the tragedy but Ruby wasn’t willing to listen further. She suddenly cut him short in a nearly hostile voice.

“It was all because we have to hope for a better tomorrow and because we all make mistakes. I remember it very well, Orchid. However, I never knowingly wanted to kill anyone and I don’t think I’d never be able to do that, no matter what. And neither should anyone else.” She said in clear bitterness, causing Orchid to frown even deeper at his sister’s words. He was really growing worried about the direction of this conversation but he was still willing to trust in his older sister’s rationality. However, he also wanted to make sure that she wasn’t willing to throw everything away because of her inner rage.

“Of course not. But Ruby… we need to help them. It’s our only way to get rid of those mean sharpteeth. That’s something we…” He started but again, Ruby didn’t allow him to finish. This time, however, her tone wasn’t that of hate but rather of decisiveness. Her hands turned into fists and fires flamed within her eyes as she gave her answer to the other fastrunner.

“You’re right that we have to finish those two for good or we’ll never have a moment of peace. I’m sure Chomper would understand after everything they’ve forced us through. But after that, I won’t allow mommy and daddy to decide about how long I deserve to live ever again. I’ll part ways with them for good and I don’t care whether we’ll be on peaceful or hostile terms on that day. Not after all they’ve done.” She said coldly, her decision being more than clear to the young boy beside her. There was not one hint of hesitation within her voice, something that wasn’t lost on Orchid. He looked at Ruby in acceptance but even then, he couldn’t help but wonder how Ruby’s words would affect him and Arial in the not-so-distant future.

A slight frown formed on Detras’s forehead as she slowly rose to her feet. He had hardly been able to sleep at all after Ruby’s sudden appearance and he could easily tell today would be one of the most difficult ones in his life. That sentiment was only reinforced by his physical and mental fatigue but the reality of the moment also returned to his mind quickly. He could see that his mate and new, temporary packmates were also waking up slowly as the first hint of the upcoming rise of the Bright Circle appeared on the morning sky. He was just about to speak to his mate when he saw the now-familiar form suddenly approach his pack from the nearby hill. Stealth’s voice was a neutral one but it was clear to the two fastrunners that nothing he’d say would bode well for either of them.

“I would have liked for us to be on our way earlier as we simply cannot afford to wait for the rising of the Bright Circle every morning on this dark season. However, I allowed you this small luxury because today will be a momentous one and I need each one of you at your best.” Detras suddenly felt his mate grabbing his hand in an apparent show of support but Detras’ mind was mostly tied around Stealth’s words. He had heard very few sharpteeth talk like to this subordinates and Stealth sounded almost kind as he addressed his followers. But even then, Detras couldn’t help but realize that whatever was coming, it would hardly be good news for him nor his mate. Stealth waited for a few seconds before he continued to his followers.

“All of you know that we embarked on this journey in order to finally get rid of Dein and Terri for good and to take our rightful place in these lands. As I’ve told you many times before, only those two stand between us and the sweet safety we have yearned for countless Cold Times. Only after their demise will we be able to live in at least relative peace.” Stealth said, causing Pearl to frown deeply. She knew what Stealth’s real motivation was and inside, she fumed at the hypocrisy within Stealth’s words. Killing Dein and Terri would be just trading one tyrant for another for Stealth’s allies and inside, the female would have wanted nothing more than to speak out against Stealth’s outrageous words. Yet, she knew that would only make things worse so she decided to stay silent for now.

“And to all our relief, the last night and this morning have brought us nothing but one lucky occasion after another. First, we found those two bastards’ most trusted allies and recruited them to our cause and now, I was able to smell Dein and Terri themselves in the cold night wind!” Many gasps could be heard after Stealth said those words as none of his followers had expected to hear those words.

Detras and Pearl, however, cringed deeply and looked at each other in clear shock. They both realized the full implications of Stealth’s announcement and they made Detras’ head ache under the never-ending mental shocks. He moved closer to his mate and whispered to her carefully.

“So they were able to find our trail. And if they were actually this close to us, they would have caught us soon enough.” He said, stating the obvious before earning an approving nod from the female. The implications were rather concerning and Pearl’s answer mirrored the sentiments of both of the fastrunners.

“Maybe finding Stealth was our salvation after all, no matter how difficult that is to believe. But hush now, Detras.” She finished, nodding at the irritated looks she and her mate were receiving. Besides, she had no idea just how sharp a sailback’s hearing was but she didn’t want to give Stealth any more information about the duo’s current situation. To her slight worry, Stealth didn’t show even the slightest of signs he had heard the duo’s whispers even if it was almost certain he wasn’t completely oblivious to them. However, those doubts were soon cut short by an excited question from one of the fastbiters.

“Then we’ll get to business far earlier than we had suspected! How far away are they?” The smaller sharptooth asked, a clear will to kill evident within his voice. Stealth turned at him slowly before answering in an approving, even respecting voice.

“They cannot be more than a few hours away from us and it’s probable that they are already on the move. But I’d be more than surprised if they were alone. I saw one very familiar flyer in the sky earlier and I know she serves those two. They might have at least a few more fastbiters along with them as well.” He said, earning a few concerned looks from his other allies. It was clear that their spirits had been hit by that knowledge as they knew very well what kind of enemy they were going to face. Some of the smaller dinosaurs had known Stealth for many, many seasons and during that time, they had also seen Dein and Terri more than once. Detras himself took a highly thoughtful look as he heard the same fastrunner who had guarded him and Pearl last night ask a worried question.

“D… do we stand a chance against them? With all due respect, you are not quite capable of facing those two yourself and we others will hardly be able to keep five or ten fastbiters at bay. We have only three of them ourselves.” She asked, knowing full well the realities of the moment. A sailbacked sharptooth was a formidable and dangerous fighter but one would seriously struggle to stand his ground against even one two-footer, let alone two of them. Stealth’s mouth turned into a slight grin as he heard those words, of course knowing the omnivore’s words to be true. He made no secret of his kind’s limitations to his followers but even then, he could hardly hide his amusement at the smaller dinosaur’s words.

“I’d appreciate at least a bit more courage from you, Jaros. I hope you are not expecting me to simply send all of us to our deaths, now are you?” He asked, willing to test the omnivore a bit. The latter knew very well he wasn’t in any danger as Stealth was anything but respectful to his allies but he still wanted to know just how strong his position was within his own pack. He wasn’t willing to watch others slither before him but neither did he want to endanger his life as well as his position to some kind of uprising from his own subordinates. The fastrunner looked at Stealth oddly but didn’t hesitate a second before giving his answer.

“Of course I don’t but… we simply are not ready to face them like this!” He said, earning judging expressions from the others around him. However, he knew spoke on behalf of most of his packmates and he deserved to simply ignore the damning stared in his back. Stealth glanced around himself, investigating each of the his followers with a look that betrayed none of the sailback’s mood. After a moment, Stealth shook his head before addressing the fastrunner he had called Jaros again.

“We embarked on this journey simply to take those bastards out and really, I’m surprised none of you brought up your fears earlier. It seems like you see me as some suicidal fool which is more than a little disappointing. However, that wasn’t my plan. It is true that they have the advantage when but comes to brute strength but we still stand a very good chance of leaving this forest as victors. After all, we will be able to choose the place of the battle and to forge a deeper plan for the coming struggle. And neither can we forget our newest packmates and their purpose for even being here.” Stealth said in an oily voice as he slowly turned to look at Detras and Pearl who cringed deeply at the sharptooth’s words. Detras almost started to stutter while giving his answer but managed to gather himself before he started to speak.

“What do you mean by that, Stealth? I don’t believe I ever heard exactly what you wanted of us.” He said, hoping to test Stealth’s mood a bit further. While it was true Stealth hadn’t concretely explained his plan for the two fastrunners, Detras could very easily tell what it would be. Stealth’s expression changed into a darker one as he looked at the male omnivore, knowing very well that Detras was merely playing some games with him. The sharptooth snorted in disgust but was more than careful not to take Detras’ bait.

“Your role here is to tell about Dein and Terri’s usual battle plans to us and to give some advice about how to counter them. After all, you know them better than any other living dinosaur.” Stealth said while crossing his arms, making sure not to let his hate for the other dinosaur to show too badly. After all, if Detras or his mate thought they had absolutely nothing to lose, they could be more likely to lie to him in the hopes of at least taking him to the Great Beyond along with them. Detras glanced at his mate quickly before he answered to the sharptooth in a clearly forced voice.

“Very well, I guess that pretty much sums up what you told last night, Stealth. Well, let us see… It is indeed true that we were very close to Dein and Terri and I helped them create many of their plans. Those two know very well that few can stand against their combined might so they mostly want their allies to make sure that they are not ambushed in some treacherous way. However, they are also not afraid to risk the lives of their followers if they deem such a move to be necessary. But if they think they are facing a formidable enemy, they are always willing to take the lead in getting rid of them.” He said, knowing every one of his words to be true.

After all, it was also in his interests to see Stealth get rid of those two for good and at least in that part, he was more than happy to help him in any ways possible in finding that duo’s weaknesses. Stealth looked at the fastrunner expectantly, clearly ordering him to go on. The male fastrunner took a quick sigh before he spoke again, hoping he was giving the very best answer he could.

“As for today’s fight, I’d advise us to try to find the most advantageous place to face them and spread a bit more in order to make sure we won’t be ambushed in the heat of the battle. But if we are to win, we have to have some more advantages over them we don’t have just yet… Perhaps some kind of ambush or favorable environment. If we are able to take the initiative, we stand a chance but if we aren’t, we are as good as dead. I’m sorry, Stealth, but that is the whole truth.” He said, being as honest and realistic as he simply could. How Stealth would receive that information was completely up to him.

Stealth didn’t answer immediately, instead taking a short moment to think about the fastrunner’s words. He had indeed sawn his own fair share of Dein and Terri’s pawns’ early attacks with which they clearly hoped to confuse and weaken their foes before joining the fight themselves. So, that was something that would have to be taken care of immediately as without a fear of attack from their flanks, both the sailback and his allies could make a more formidable behind the two mighty beasts. However, there was one thing that made Stealth even more worried.

“Very well. That is all part of the overall plan but there’s one thing we all have to be careful of. They have a flyer in their service whereas we don’t. So, if we wish to have at least some element of surprise, stay in the denser parts of the woods and go into the open only if you find it absolutely necessary. For now, I’d advise you to form two groups and to make sure that Dein and Terri’s pawns won’t be able to surprise us when the time comes.” He said, knowing that both of the groups would be able to fend off an assault by three or four fastbiters and this was the only way he would be able to face the inevitable in as favorable position as simply possible. However, his thoughts were interrupted by a demanding
voice from one of his subordinates.

“And what about you, Stealth? Are you not going with either group?” A female fastbiter asked, causing the larger sharptooth to look at her briefly. He wasted no time giving his answer as he of course had thought of that very question as well.

“I won’t. I will move on alone in order to scout a bit further and to try to see just how far our foes really are from us. But I will stay close to you in case you decide to screw something up.” He said with a voice that had absolutely no sense of humor in it. Pearl cringed deeply at announcement, knowing just how liked she and her mate were in this pack but it couldn’t be helped now. At the very least she knew that Stealth still needed them and as long as that was true, they’d be able to live even among their hostile packmates. And as long as the two fastrunners were able to stay together, they’d be ready to face any challenge.

“Are they preparing to finally move on? I for one, have had enough of lying here doing nothing! I’m freezing!” Arial complained, visibly shuddering as she lied on her belly in the white ground. Yarel looked at the girl with a slight frown, not exactly happy about her words. He quickly snapped at Arial in clear annoyance, hoping to silence her at least for a moment.

“Sshh, Arial! We don’t want them to hear us even by accident! He said, immediately causing Arial to look at him with an apologizing look. She understood the situation as well but she wasn’t as good in fixing her mind completely around it due to her young age. Ducky gave Yarel an disapproving glance but decided against defending Arial over this spat.
Instead, she looked at Ruby and asked her carefully.

“So, are we going to just follow them as we decided-ed earlier? This could be a long walk, it could.” She said, not exactly excited about that thought. She could still feel that moving her limbs was more difficult than usual and she couldn’t help but tremble without any pause. The fastrunner looked at the swimmer on her back and spoke in an apologizing voice. She had managed to calm down at least a bit since the morning but she was still far from her normal, cheerful self.

“That cannot be helped, Ducky. We have to follow them until they’ll find Chomper’s mommy and daddy because if they find them without us being around, we will not be able to help them escape from Stealth when the time comes.” She said, her own words clearly haunting her deeply. She was still far from happy about the truth about Stealth’s intentions and her mood wasn’t helped any as Arial asked her carefully.

“B… but I thought Stealth was your friend… or at least some kind of ally. Why do we need to escape from him?” The young omnivore asked, causing Ruby to roll her eyes in annoyance. She thought she had mentioned the reason for that earlier but it seemed like her sister had either not listened or understood her explanation.

“Because I was stupid and believed what he told me during the worst day of my life! He lied to me all along and of course I was foolish enough to actually believe he would need me for anything else than his own, selfish schemes! Any other questions?!” She cried in an angry voice, the ghosts of her past haunting her mind without an end. Arial’s eyes widened as she looked at her sister but before long, Ruby’s expression softened quickly. She took a sigh and spoke again to the other girl.

“I’m so sorry, Arial. I never meant to sound like that but you just awakened some memories I would have wanted to forget and your words just made forgetting them more difficult. But in case, we have to move on. And remember to be as careful as you can as we have no idea where Chomper’s parents are right now. Follow me and be as silent as you can.” She said as she headed after the diverse pack before her. Ruby’s companions all frowned at her words, knowing full well the danger they were in but all of them knew they had no choice. One by one, they headed after Ruby and disappeared into the cold, still-dark forest.

The entire scene made shivers running down Pearl’s spine as she took another step forward. The trees were growing so near to each other that it would be a real challenge for a two-footer to find his or her way through this cursed forest. However, that fact also made it more difficult for her to see very far before her, meaning that she had no way of defending herself in case some hidden runner or a particularly sneaky fastbiter attacked her. However, the eight other dinosaurs around her made her breath a bit more easily because at least she hadn’t been ordered to either of the wings which would most likely be the first places to be attacked in case they were ambushed.

She could also see a calmer expression on her mate’s face and she could quite easily tell his reason for it. After all, Dein and Terri’s followers were most likely still far away and there shouldn’t be very large chances that they’d be attacked just yet. Even if she could sense the tension hanging in the air, she had one thought lingering in her mind, however. One question to which she hadn’t received a good enough answer even if its implications were quite severe for everyone in the Mysterious Beyond. She gulped quickly before turning at her companions, hoping to improve the mood among the group at least a bit.

“So, Red Claw is dead once and for all. I’m quite surprised those news haven’t spread too far by now.” She said, hoping the other dinosaurs wouldn’t take her comment in any bad way. One fastbiter glanced at the female with a slightly disapproving look but gave his answer in a rather neutral-sounding voice.

“Considering the season, it is small wonder that there are few dinosaurs travelling anywhere to spread the word. However, when the Warm Time finally comes, all will know that that fool is no more. Stealth’s victory was a vital one for everyone in the Mysterious Beyond.” The predator said, looking at Pearl with a weary expression. Even if there was no real kindness within his tone or his body language, Pearl was at least relieved by the fact that there was no hostility to be seen either. However, it hardly took a second before the fastrunner Stealth had called Jaros answered to his companion’s words.

“They’ll hear that we were able to best a wounded sharptooth, you mean. If you ask me, Stealth is making far too big a deal of his “win”. Red Claw never stood a chance with his hand broken and leg torn open.” He said with a stinging voice, causing Detras to cringe deeply. He knew very well that speaking in such a way of one’s leader was a sure way to get killed and he immediately turned at the other dinosaur and spoke in a slightly alarmed voice.

“If I were you, I’d keep such words to myself or else…

“…or else I’ll be Stealth’s dinner today? Oh, Detras, I can see you’ve served a crueler sharptooth for so many seasons. Stealth knows very well that trying to force us to stay silent about anything will only make things worse in the long run and I could have said those words right at his face and he wouldn’t have raised a claw against me.” He said with a slightly bothered look which made Pearl take an odd expression. If Jaros held this much confidence in the sharptooth, what was the reason for his slight melancholy? However, she decided to answer his words and see if the next answer would give her any more hints.

“Even if that were true, you must also remember that no matter what, a sharptooth cares about nobody but him- or herself and Stealth is no different. I don’t wish to offend any of you but that is the truth.” She said, testing whether the male’s words were true. However, Jaros’ expression darkened immediately as he heard those words and when he next spoke, his voice was a much gloomier one.

“Any member of our kind won’t live long if he forgets that one fact. Of course Stealth cares about our survival only as long as it suits him but that is simply how it is. However, I’d give anything if we could simply get rid of those larger sharpteeth once and for all so that we could one day be free.” He said glumly, each of those words mirroring the thoughts of every fastrunner everywhere. However, it didn’t take long before the fastbiter looked at his companion in a mockingly threatening way and spoke to him in a clearly joking manner.

“In that case, I would have the pleasure of recruiting all of you others into my own service and I’m rather sure I wouldn’t be quite as kind towards you others as Stealth is!” He said with a slight grin, causing Jaros to frown deeply. It was clear he wasn’t comfortable at all with that joke but he decided against answering that question. Detras looked at the duo with a rather strange look before asking one more question from his new companions.

“And if Red Claw is dead, I trust there are no other two-footers anywhere close to the Hanging Rock?” He said with a hopeful voice, knowing he’d never get rid of other predators but only the most powerful and menacing ones were capable of threatening entire regions at once. One of the other omnivores snorted at Detras’ question before answering, knowing full well in which direction he was trying to take the conversation.

“I’d advise you against thinking of home just yet, Detras. Even if we survive until the evening and prevail against those two, don’t forget that your life is still in Stealth’s hands and I don’t even want to begin guessing about his motives. So, for now just try concentrate on living and try to get used to the idea that you’re not going to see the Hanging Rock ever again.” He said, no real compassion to be heard within her voice. Detras looked at her dryly, not exactly happy about that answer. Of course, she knew nothing about Ruby and her companions but the male was still far from happy to hear that his life was likely to over within a few hours anyway. He suddenly lowered his voice and turned at Pearl who looked equally unhappy about the other dinosaur’s words.

“Don’t worry, my love. We’ll get through all of this. Ruby must be somewhere near us and I know she’ll keep her word.” He said, earning an empathetic nod from his mate. The latter’s eyes gleamed with worry but it was clear that neither had she given up on hope just yet. She still wanted to think she would be saved by her family after which things would be well enough once again. She gave the male a smile as she spoke to him.

“I know, Detras. I know she’ll do anything not to betray her promise and she is in some ways more cunning and sharp than either of us. I just hope it’ll be enough.” She said before she heard a loud cry from one of her companions. It was the fastrunner whose better eyesight was able to see something between the trees a bit further away. The gloom of the Cold Time hid it from the halfteeth but to the sharptooth, that sight was nearly as clear as during any day.

“Well, look at that! That might really be a place where we could face Dein and Terri.” He said as he nodded to his left. Pearl turned at that direction, narrowing her eyes but even then, she could see nothing just yet. However, she had met enough sharpteeth during her life to question their instincts and hardly a second passed before one of the other dinosaurs said with a slightly hopeful voice.

“Well, let’s take a look at what you saw, Charger. We have already wasted enough time wandering here aimlessly, at least if you ask me.” He said, earning a few approving murmurs. As they drew closer, Pearl’s eyes started to slowly make out just what the sharptooth had seen earlier. Before her opened a rather long and narrow pass that opened between two hills that spread as far as she could see. During a Warm Time, it was likely that a two-footer would be able to simply climb over them but now they were two treacherous to support their weight. Detras smiled as he stopped in front of that sight, looking at the pass in a clearly approving way. He soon turned at his companions and spoke to them briefly.

“I think this will do perfectly. This will allow us to take the initiative immediately and to make sure we won’t be attacked from our sides. Now, we only need to… do you hear that?” The fastrunner asked as his ears suddenly caught a sound he hadn’t thought he’d hear during this season. His mate looked at him oddly before asking the obvious question.
“What do you mean, dear? I don’t think I hear anything.” She said as another cold breath of the wind blew past him. Detras frowned as he realized that the whistling was most likely hiding the voice he had heard under itself and he spoke with a slightly annoyed voice as he waved the others to follow him. They looked at the fastrunner in slight suspicion but decided against questioning him.

Detras listened carefully as he walked forward, hoping to make sure that none of Dein and Terri’s allies would be able to assault them while they were out in the open. Luckily, the flyer was nowhere to be seen and as long as they were quick, they could retain their advantage against the two sharpteeth. Luckily, it wasn’t long before he found he was looking for. He turned at his companions as he brought his right hand under his chin.

“I thought I heard flowing water and it seems it is flowing fast enough to prevent itself from being covered completely. Though, there are section of it that are covered by hard water. A re you thinking the same thing as I am?” Detras asked, looking especially at the fastbiter and Jaros. Content smiles rose to their faces as they realized just what Detras
was speaking about and Charger grinned at the slightly smaller dinosaur in expectation.

“I certainly think we are, Detras. If we are able to lead them here from the right direction, they will be up for a surprise. I can already see just why Stealth wanted to spend so much time on getting you two to our ranks. However, we have to weaken the hard water a bit to make sure it’ll collapse under either of those bastards. Grab some stones and crack the hard water while making sure it doesn’t break completely. Quickly now, before we are seen!”

“Wh… what are they doing? Why are they hitting the ground with all their power?” Ducky asked her companions as she looked at the distant sights of Stealth’s pack members. Her sight was even weaker than the fastrunners’ and she hadn’t even seen the river just yet. Yarel smiled slightly as he looked at that distant scene, growing more and more optimistic about this journey as he followed Ruby’s parents’ efforts. It was clear they knew that they were doing and with any luck, they’d be able to finally end this chase that seemed like it had continued for an eternity to Yarel. He spoke in satisfaction to Ducky as he peeked over the stone they were hiding behind. It was located on the lower slopes of the hill surrounding the pass and it offered only miserable views towards the river.

“They are weakening the river’s hard water just enough to cause those sharpteeth fall through it in the heat of the battle. And even if that fails, they’d still have a much better position in the battle if Stealth plays this smartly. We’ll get them this time, Greentail. I promise it to you.” He said while smiling at the swimmer. Right now, his own desire for vengeance against those who had permanently injured his sister growing by the minute. Back in the day, he had been ready to move on with his life but it seemed like his and Greentail’s decision to follow Ruby had been the correct one after all. The other thinclaw looked at her brother with a bothered look, clearly wondering how to answer to him.

“I… I guess that will be for the best, Yarel. I just hope no one else will have to die because of them.” She said slowly, clearly surprising even herself by being able to pronounce all those words correctly. Her speech would never be normal again but at least she could still voice her thoughts. That was the most important thing for her. To her inner regret, she still didn’t remember her fateful night but she had accepted that fact a long time ago. Ruby, however, wasn’t nearly as optimistic as her companions as she joined the discussion.

“So do I, Greentail. However, I just hope daddy and mommy aren’t underestimating Chomper’s parents. They have made mistakes in battles before but if they were just going to run into a cold fast water like that, they wouldn’t have lived this long. I don’t like this, not at all.” She said as she looked towards the grey sky over her. Orchid and Arial looked at her in worry but found nothing helpful to say. Greentail looked at Ruby with a hesitant expression as she answered to the other girl.

“You’re right, Ruby, but neither are your parents likely to trust on that one hope. I know you don’t want to hear it but if they really were willing to kill you in order to protect Arial and Orchid, I’m sure they’ll do anything for you now. They did a terrible thing but at least they always did what they believed was right. At least that’s what I want to believe.” Greentail said, causing Ruby to frown at her deeply. She was far from happy to hear such words from her companion but deep inside, she knew she couldn’t dispute the other juvenile omnivore’s words. Instead, she muttered an absentminded answer to her.

“I guess so. At least I won’t have to wonder about their plan for long. I just want to get over today’s fight.” Ruby said, not even looking at Greentail as she answered. The other girl looked at Ruby oddly but decided against pushing her point further. The silence was next broken by Ducky who started to speak to Ruby carefully.

“We all do, Ruby, but…”

“Silence, now.!” Ruby said as she suddenly closed Ducky’s mouth with her hand, drawing surprised looks towards herself. Ducky tried to force herself free from the fastrunner’s grip but Ruby merely raised her other hand to point towards some point in the distant horizon. Her siblings and Yarel could easily tell something was seriously amiss here and they decided against questioning Ruby. Ducky stopped her struggles a few seconds later which was followed by Ruby letting her free again. The swimmer stared at her old friend with a worried look, not liking her new characteristics in the least. Of course Ruby only wanted to keep everyone safe but to Ducky, it sometimes felt like Ruby was treating her as a burden, not as the dear friend they had always been. Yet, for now she forced those thoughts away as the fastrunner hissed in a barely audible voice.

“Three fastrunners heading towards mommy and daddy. They clearly don’t see them coming.” She said in a clearly tortured voice. Her announcement was followed by a stunned silence which was quickly followed by an alarmed proposition by Arial.

“Then we have to tell them of the danger! Ruby, call them now and…” She started but before she got any further, an angered look from Ruby forced her to cut her sentence short. She felt her heart growing heavy at her sister’s hostile antics but it didn’t take long before she received a clear answer.

“Not under any circumstances, Arial! We must not make our presence known to mommy and daddy’s companions because they simply wouldn’t ignore us after we’ve dealt with these attackers and after that, we couldn’t help them when we face Chomper’s parents themselves. The only thing we can do is to steal those fastbiters’ element of surprise from them by trying to force them to reveal their position prematurely. Yarel, follow me. You others, stay here. You too, Ducky.” She said, her eyes only briefly meeting those of Ducky. However, her words weren’t well-received by Ducky who suddenly brought her hands to her hips and spoke to her old friend in a stern but still silent voice.

“Don’t you remember the times when we embarked on all our adventures together, Ruby? I know you don’t mean anything bad but please, let me help! I missed you so very, very much and I don’t want you to see my as some stranger, no, no, no!” She said, causing Ruby to frown deeply. She looked at the swimmer for a few seconds before speaking to her in a voice that bordered between a pleading and hostile one.

“This isn’t the time for this discussion, Ducky! Stay here and don’t cause any trouble!” She said before turning around, leaving the swimmer to look after her with disappointed, mournful eyes.

“I think this is enough, everyone. We shouldn’t test our luck any more than we have to.” Detras said as he looked at the deep cracks within the hard water under himself. It wouldn’t be able to take many more blows before breaking completely and besides, every second that passed would only increase the risk of the flyer seeing them and revealing their plan to the two sharpteeth. Jaros nodded at him while turning to look at the thick forest to his right.

“Not to even mention that we may be ambushed any moment around here… we should seek out Stealth and tell him we’ve done our part for now.” He said, looking in worry as the
naked branches of the trees were moved by the gentle wind. The knowledge that every movement out there could be an attacking two-footer made him more than sick and he forced his gaze back to his companions. Pearl gazed at the two other omnivores briefly before giving her answer.

“Indeed. Our plan is still a long shot but it’s all we can do for now. Now, we must…” She started before being interrupted by a sudden cry from the nearby forest. None of the gathered dinosaurs wasted no time turning to look at the direction of the sound but before any of them could do anything more, the thing each one of them had feared came to pass. Suddenly, a distant shadow appeared among the dead trees, one that grew clearer by the second. But even worse, another predator appeared from another direction… and attacked one of the fastrunners brutally. Pearl gazed at the scene with wide eyes before crying in horror at her companions.

“Don’t just stand there, help him!” She cried as she charged towards the fastbiter, knowing just how disadvantaged she would be in that kind of confrontation. However, she simply couldn’t stay still while her packmate was being torn to pieces and she looked as Jaros and Detras moved to help her. The group’s sole fastbiter turned to face the other beast that attempted to attack Pearl’s back but even then, it wasn’t enough. A third sharptooth ran to block the helpers from helping the poor omnivore and Pearl couldn’t help but look in disgust as she looked at the fastrunner whose sides had already been ripped open. It was already too late for him and even worse, it seemed like she and her surviving companions wouldn’t be able to withstand the rest of the onslaught. She gulped deeply as the two sharpteeth finally left the halftooth and started to advance at her and her companions with menacing expression. One of them finally spoke to Detras and Pearl threateningly, hate clearly apparent within his voice.

“How lucky that we found you two in the first group we met around here. Dein and Terri hoped to be the ones to end your cursed lives but it seems like that’ll be up to us. Not that I complain in the least.” The predator spoke slowly, making Pearl frown deeply. This had been exactly what she had feared all along on today’s quest but that was a risk she simply couldn’t have avoided. She looked at the predator coldly but before she could give her answer, Charger spoke to the other fastbiter, his expression proving he meant every word he said.

“Neither will I complain once I get rid of you and your despicable masters once and for all. Those two bastards have been a curse on these lands once and for all! Turn around now and you might still walk away of this fight alive!” He cried, knowing that his words were little more than a bluff. He knew that his five companions had a numerical advantage over the three sharpteeth but even then, a fastbiter would beat an omnivore in any situation and Charger cursed the thought that he might fall here alongside a bunch of halfteeth. However, he still served Stealth and that meant that the only thing that mattered was to keep her words for the sailback. One of the attackers growled to his companions in clear annoyance as she prepared to charge upon her prey.

“Just stop the useless banter and take those weaklings out! Dein and Terri won’t want any further del…” She started before she suddenly heard a loud thud behind herself. The female fastbiter turned around just in time…. just in time to see a large leg fall down upon her lower body, crushing it completely as she felt an intense pain flow through her as she felt the life starting to flee her body. Stealth bowed towards his opponent and spoke to her in a cold voice.

“Dein and Terri will want nothing but a clean death before I’m done with them. I made it easy for you only because I am in a desperate hurry.” Stealth said as he crushed the hapless predator’s body with his teeth, looking in disgust as the bloody carcass fell into the ground. He wasted no time turning at his subordinates and cried to them sternly, his eyes flashing with a thirst for battle.

“Well, what are you waiting for? Take the fight on those monsters without wasting any more precious time!” He cried as he charged against the two other fastbiters who looked at him in horror. Detras was slightly taken aback by the brutal display before himself but it didn’t take long for him to recover. After all, he had seen too much death in his life to be seriously disturbed by Stealth’s kill. He was just about to join his companions in attacking the remaining sharpteeth but they knew more than well the battle was lost. They looked at each other briefly before coming to the same conclusion about their situation. Both of them turned on their heels and headed back into the forest, racing each other on trying to flee as quickly as possible. Detras turned at Stealth and asked him carefully.

“Should we chase them, Stealth? I know it’s a long shot…” He started to say but Stealth wouldn’t let him finish his question. The larger dinosaur looked at his subordinate in clear anger but also urgency, clearly not wanting any suggestions from his followers.

“Not another step, halftooth. We have to keep this position as Dein and Terri are only a few minutes’ journey away by now and we cannot afford to lose any more of our packmates. Detras, Charger, fall back towards the pass, the others will stay with me here. Pearl, I need you to alert the rest of our pack here as quickly as possible! They aren’t too far to our south and you should be able to find them by following a smaller stream out there!” He said, clearly not wanting to hear any further questions of objections from the other dinosaurs. Pearl quickly nodded at him and Detras before doing as she was told. The sailback then turned at his remaining followers and spoke in a slightly calmer voice.

“They managed to surprise us far more badly than I had expected but no matter. This is where we will stand our ground and by the blessing of our ancestors, we will prevail against those tyrants. Remember that each of your lives as well as those of many others hinge on us being able to bring Dein and Terri’s reign of terror to an end. It’s a shame that they now know of our plans but that cannot be helped.” Stealth said, his words followed by complete silence.

Detras looked forward with sickened thoughts. The last thing he had wanted was to be separated from his mate right before this fight but on the other hand, she was now safe from the first dangers of the bloody battle. With any luck, she’d be able to avoid the worst of it which would relieve the male from one of his worst fears. Now, the only thing he’d have to worry about was his own survival… and that of his unseen helpers as well.

A slight smile rose to the fastrunner’s face as he glanced at the woods on his right. He knew more than well that it had been Ruby who had thrown the stone at the sharptooth and bought him and his packmates at least a few precious seconds to prepare their defenses. Detras regretted it deeply that he was forced to rely on his daughter’s help in a fight like this as he knew more than well he didn’t deserve it.

However, there was simply no reason to dwell in such thoughts right now. For better or worse, the family of fastrunners would stand together once more against those who had sworn to destroy them one by one. Detras grinned in expectation as at least one last time, he would stand as one with his family and be able to free himself from his guilt and fear of the future for the duration of the beginning battle.

This chapter was kind of an interlude before the potentially destructive fight between the long-time foes and I feel it was in many ways slower than the previous installments. Even then, I felt it was necessary in order to create a good build-up for this decisive moment in Ruby’s story and I hope you are also content with the result. Also, with this chapter Separate Ways has passed 400k words which is of course a massive milestone after two years of writing. Thank you to those who have followed our heroes’ journeys all this time and see you again soon! :)littlefoot

Anagnos: It’s great to hear you felt like I managed to keep the intensity of this chapter intact throughout its length. Your comments about Peak and Lenel are also very true and especially when it comes to the latter one, this indeed was his darkest hour thus far. What he did was of course horrible but on the other hand, Stealth’s example shows just what bitter surviving children might be capable of if left alive.

And yeah, the part in Streli’s Hills has finally come to an end but it will prove to be just a stepping stone to the final parts of this story. I’m sorry that I cannot answer the latter half of the review due to spoilers but even then, I’m happy these important issues have caught your eye. Thanks a lot for the review!


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #111 on: April 26, 2019, 10:52:59 AM »
This definitely fits the description of outset that is about to escalate into a battle between the opposing sides in the following chapters, in my opinion you managed to create this one very smooth and while I'm a bit disenchanted by how curt this chapter was, it did keep me in the suspense until the end, so my compliments for that.

The interaction that Detras implemented with Stealth's pack was intriguing to behold, it allowed us to explore the pack's dynamic bit more. To me Stealth comes across as not your typical antagonist, like per say Red Claw, but instead as a unique figure with a spontaneous personality. For your remark about my review for the previous chapter I quite agree with you, right now Stealth's only worry is to get his vengeance on those who have hurt him in the past, and for that I don't think we can fault him much.

And congratulations for 400k words, can't believe it has been two years already. Time sure does fly by past and at that time you have created a story that I'll always recall even after years have passed. I'll be quite eager for the next chapter, as always you have done a remarkable job!  :)


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #112 on: May 05, 2019, 06:47:15 PM »
Review of chapter 39:

I quite like the ominous way that you begin the chapter, with the concerned thoughts of Lenel and the vengeful ponderings of Peak. This leads in quite nicely to the lingering tensions between Petrie and his former companions.  This creates an initial impression of growing tension which is threatening to imminently explode.  In writing the initial setup is often the most important aspect of a successful chapter and you accomplished it in this offering.

The confrontation between Lenel and Peak proceeded according to plan only until Peak decided to make his move… but Lenel was genre-saavy enough to realize something was amiss.  Though Lenel did get his strike in, the intervention of Deron only further complicates this tangled web of coups, plots, and intrigues.  A peace agreement would seem to be in order here, but, of course, Lenel has no way of knowing if Deron might not be partially behind Peak’s attempt at revenge or not.  If nothing else Peak’s death and the poisoning does seem awfully convenient from a political perspective.

And then comes the elimination of Peak’s line.  The dilemma that this places on Petrie is an immense one that not only makes Lenel’s appeal to utilitarianism go against Petrie’s idealism, but it also puts Petrie’s self-interest in finding his friends in peace go against his own personal values.  The intense flight away from their pursuers is nicely done in an understandably rushed way.  This is one of those cases where terseness is a blessing in conveying the speed of the narrative.  And, in the end, we are left with a Petrie who has now survived once more through horrors that he could only have dreamed of a season or two ago.  It will be interesting to see, at this rate, if his surviving valley friends would even recognize Petrie.  He may still have some of his ideals of right and wrong but, contrary to Lenel’s views on the matter, it is safe to say that Petrie is no longer naive.

I eagerly look forward to reading the next installment.

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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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #113 on: May 05, 2019, 07:16:35 PM »
Review of chapter 40:

Now this chapter begins with a double whammy of emotion. First we are faced with Dein and Terri acquiring information about the whereabouts of Detras, Pearl, and Stealth, and the acknowledgment that a great toll is being taken on Dein and Terri’s relationship personally. Second, we are faced with Ruby’s ponderings about her parent’s and her resolution to cut off with them as soon as their safety is assured.  There is hesitation there, but there is also the echoes of immense pain after the horrible burden that she has been put through.

The shaping up of the battle is an interesting one.  The two two-footers would have an immense advantage over Stealth, especially with their use of a flyer.  However, Dein is also working against impatience and this will allow for Stealth to pick a favorable area to present a battle.

The banter within Stealth’s pack of helpers is also a very interesting one.  Though many of them show neither compassion, nor anger at Detras and Pearl, their honest answers are no less concerning.  They seem quite aware that Stealth’s victory over Redclaw (and possible victory over Dein and Terri in the coming battle) will merely tell everyone that a power vacuum exists.  Killing a wounder sharptooth might be seen as a sign of weakness and potential opportunity as opposed to a sign of a new power in the region.  The result, in short, could be chaos.  I will say this for Stealth’s helpers, at the very least they have a good pragmatic view of what probably awaits them.

The tension between Ruby and Ducky is somewhat disheartening to see, but entirely believable, as Ruby tries to silence her when she notices the threat coming at her parents.  The resulting ambush on the fastrunners, and Ruby’s timely assistance, is nicely conveyed.  Now the battlelines are set.  And, in the end, it looks likely that none of the major characters will be safe in the coming confrontation.

Nicely done once again!  :) I look forward to seeing how the battle develops from here.  In any case, I sense that what is about to come will get far worse for our characters before it gets better.

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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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #114 on: May 07, 2019, 09:41:24 AM »
A Twinkle of Light in the Darkness

A deep cringe appeared on Petrie’s face as he forced his wings into another beat even if fatigue and the pain caused by his small accident in the pass made themselves known more severely by the minute. It was becoming a real chore to even move his wings and besides, any signs of Streli’s Hills had long since disappeared behind the distant horizon. Petrie sighed slightly as he turned his wings into the gliding position before yelling to his companions who seemed just as tired as he was.

“Petrie think we can land now! After all, Streli’s Hills already far away and we seen no sign of those two!” He cried, knowing he spoke the truth. Glide glanced at him in annoyance at first but just as she was preparing to rebuke his proposition, her eyes stopped at Ortin who looked like he hadn’t even heard Petrie’s call. Glide regretted having to watch her old friend fly by her side for hours with only stoic lack of emotion and inconsolable sobbing rotating on his face. Glide would have wanted to fly further but she knew Ortin deserved a small moment to sort out his thoughts. Glide sighed deeply as she turned at Petrie and cried to him.

“I agree, Petrie! We can afford a small stop after all this flying!” She yelled, earning a relieved look from Petrie. Ortin gave no sign that he had heard that brief exchange but he followed the two other flyers in their rather steep descent towards the ground. Petrie relished the feeling of the air flushing in his ears as he looked at the white ground quickly growing closer behind him. However, he had no will to test how well his wings would hold after his injury and he made a much softer and careful landing than what he had grown used to making. He panted deeply as he put his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath after all these hours of flying. He looked at Glide and gave her a quick smile.

“Well done out there! Petrie already thought we could be caught!” He said, knowing such a scenario would have hardly ended well for him or his companions. Glide returned the look and answered quickly before turning at her other friend.

“You did well as well, Petrie. Without you, we wouldn’t have been able to save Ortin. Ortin, are… are you alright? Or at least as alright as possible.” She said silently, hoping to avoid upsetting the boy any more than necessary. She had no idea what to say to him but it was clear that he simply couldn’t continue staring into the nothingness with broken and moist eyes. Ortin waited for many seconds before answering, a horrifying oblivion filling his entire mind. He had no idea what to think or believe anymore and everything seemed like some faraway nightmare. However, he soon managed to speak even if he couldn’t give those words any serious thought.

“T… they’re all gone. My entire family is dead. How… how in earth could I be alright, Glide?” He asked as more tears flowed down his cheeks. His entire body trembled as he thought about all the times with his grandmother and father in the seasons gone by. In this moment of loneliness. even those story times with Peak felt like treasured memories even if he knew more than well that it had all been that one flyer’s fault. Glide took a compassionate look as she approached her friend, hoping he wouldn’t cast her away immediately. She was simultaneously happy and worried as the male didn’t react in any way to her.

“At least you are still alive which is more than they would have wanted. At least I am beyond happy that you are still with me instead of in the Great Beyond because of Peak and Lenel’s plotting.” He said warmly as she locked eyes with Ortin. The latter looked at Glide with teary eyes before suddenly losing his entire composure to another wave of despair washing over him. He suddenly took hold of Glide as he wept deeply against her shoulder.

“Why did it all of this have to happen! If Lenel had accepted his position, if Peak wasn’t so insane… all would still be well! Grandma, dad… why…” He said before his voice broke down completely. Many seconds passed as Petrie only stared at the other boy, not able to help but feel the pain Ortin felt. He knew that feeling more than well and it wasn’t long before he decided he had to say what little he could to console the distressed flyer. He walked slowly closer to him before speaking softly to him.

“Petrie know what you feel, Ortin. When uncle Pterano died, me had no one me could turn to. Petrie has lost me old friends as well as me family and it more than horrifying. But… you are not all alone, Ortin.” He said simply, hoping beyond hope that Ortin would listen to him instead of continuing to cast him off as some kind of foe. However, a certain change in the blue boy could be seen after Petrie’s words. He stopped sobbing and he slowly regained his footing before turning at the other male with a dark but more controlled expression.

“You came to help me, Petrie, even if Lenel offered you a clear chance just to walk away, after I had done nothing but insulted you all the time. Why?” Clear sobs accompanied Ortin’s words but his tone communicated nothing but real curiosity and even respect. Petrie was completely taken aback by this question, not having expected to hear it. Yes, that moment had been a chaotic one but inside, Petrie wanted to believe he hadn’t even hesitated back then. He looked at Ortin with wide eyes and stuttered deeply in response.

“Me… me not really know. It just… happened. Petrie believe the reason is that I simply that me couldn’t watch you die for nothing in Lenel’s hands. Despite our fight, Petrie still want to see you as the same flyer who accepted me before all the others into the herd. Me can never forget that, Ortin.” Each one of the boy’s words were genuine even if Petrie knew that his question had also contributed to his decision but for now, that fact could wait. Ortin frowned deeply at his friend’s answer, not really able to decide what to make of it. His words were a complete mess and he couldn’t decide what to think or even believe. His voice wavered as he spoke again to the brown flyer.

“But… I had already told I no longer considered you my friend! No one would risk his life for a jerk like me! For someone who had gotten into that danger because I still wanted to believe in something good!” He cried, tears starting to once again flow down his cheeks. Glide looked at her old friend with a worried look and moved to Petrie’s side before speaking to the boy warmly.

“Just stop it, Ortin! You did what every sane flyer would do and no one can blame you for that. Of course you wanted to save what remained of your family but my dad’s deeds proved to me today that one’s family need not be the most important thing in one’s life. At least for me, my friends have always been more important and after this day, I’ll never have anything to tell me dad ever again. Not after seeing him covered in the blood of children.” She said, causing Ortin’s eyes to widen momentarily. Yes, he could very well tell just what Glide meant and most often, his own family had done nothing but hold him back. His voice continued waver as he spoke to the girl.

“T… thank you for that, Glide. I… I understand just what you mean. When I lost dad, it was you who was there for me the most… and you also, Petrie.” Ortin said, clearly ashamed for his words earlier today. Petrie sighed deeply as he walked towards the other boy, stopping just before him as he spoke slowly.

“It more than good to see you remember all of that, Ortin. Petrie has missed you greatly since we last saw each other.” He said, hoping to get the message through to the other child. Ortin looked at both of his companions for a long time, remembering once again who he could really trust in this world. Not once had either of them done anything hostile towards him and he had only repaid them by listening to those who had wanted to harm all of them with all their power. Not only did he feel the shame flow through him but inside, he started to feel at least some relief for knowing that he’d never again have to listen to Peak’s poisonous words. Even in his sadness, Ortin forced a slight smile to his face as he spoke to the two other flyers.

“Me too, Petrie, even if I had tried to hide that fact from even myself. I’d still be willing to call myself your friend… if you still accept that, of course.” Ortin spoke to Petrie, not feeling that confident about his own words in a long, long while. He knew Glide had already forgiven him but he had also harmed Petrie far more severely. However, it was hardly a second before a far wider smiler appeared on Petrie’s beak and his cheerful voice greeted Ortin’s ears.

“That’s what Petrie has wanted all along, Ortin! Me forgive everything you said to me because me know very well why you said them. But me not want to look at the past, only at the future.” He said silently, meaning each one of those words. Ortin looked at Petrie in nearly complete silence, not really knowing how to answer to the other flyer’s heartfelt words. His entire mind was such a flux of emotion right now that he simply couldn’t even begin to gather them together. He merely gulped and said the only words he could think of in this unprecedented situation.

“Th… thank you so very much, Petrie. Thank you for being here for me. You too, Glide.” He said, a faint hope starting to foster deep inside his heart. His mental fatigue was drowning most of the happiness under itself but for now, the all-crushing horror and emptiness he had felt was passing away. His gaze rose slightly as he saw Glide walk towards him, grabbing the boy’s right arm softly.

“I was there always for you, Ortin. I’m just glad that Peak nor my dad will no longer be able to hurt us.” She said, locking eyes with the male. Petrie smiled at the two softly, willing to give the two old friends a bit more time. However, despite knowing just how miserable Ortin had to feel right now, a deep sense of urgency rose within Petrie’s mind.

There had been one more reason why he had so badly wanted to save Ortin and while it wasn’t even nearly the most important in his mind, it was one Petrie no longer wanted to ignore. Yes, Lenel was apparently injured but there was no telling when he would be on the move again. And besides, a deep sense of longing started to make itself known within Petrie’s chest more and more every day. A longing for his old friends and for his loved ones. Petrie cleared his throat awkwardly before he spoke again.

“Ortin… there another thing Petrie would like to talk with you, if you only feel good enough.” The flyer said, causing Ortin to frown slightly. At first, he wanted to rebuke the other boy for even suggesting such a thing but inside, he knew he couldn’t blame Petrie for anything that would follow. He had proven his friendship many times over but even then, Ortin felt like teasing Petrie before hearing his question.

“I thought you had no hidden motives to saving me, now had you, Petrie?” Ortin crossed his hands behind his back and cocked his head questioningly. Petrie started to stutter slightly as Glide followed that scene with interest. She wasn’t sure this was the right moment for Petrie to present his question but she wasn’t willing to question him either.

“Wh… no, Petrie… me would nev….” The flyer tried to speak but his fears of offending Ortin prevented him from forming a coherent answer. However, to his relief, Ortin was willing to let him off the hook this time.

“You should have seen your face, Petrie! Now, it’s more than alright. Ask whatever you wish.” It was clear Ortin’s mood fell as he spoke but even then, Petrie knew very well it wasn’t because of him. The flyer only hoped his question wouldn’t earn any ridicule from the other boy no matter how odd it would most likely sound to Ortin.

“Alright, me will. Me talk to Glide earlier today and she… she tell you and your family came from the Land of Dancing Waters.” Petrie said awkwardly, causing Ortin to frown somewhat. The bluish boy glanced at Glide who gave no hints about where the conversation was going. However, Ortin saw no reason not to give his answer so after a moment of hesitating, he spoke to Petrie.

“Not quite. We used to live in the plains surrounding it but yes, that place is familiar to me. Why?” He asked the obvious question, not even willing to guess why Petrie was suddenly interested in his old home. The brownish boy waited for a few seconds before he gathered enough courage to reveal that very reason. He remembered very well Glide’s reaction to it and Petrie feared Ortin’s reaction would be little more understanding.

“The thing is that…Petrie has heard a lot about Olres lately and me have been told that by seeking out the place he became what he was supposed to become me could find me family and friends again. And Petrie heard that place is in the Land of the Dancing Waters.” The flyer spoke, sounding more miserable by the second as he looked at the growing disbelief that was appearing on Ortin’s face. It was clear the latter hadn’t expected this answer and even Glide rolled her eyes beside Ortin. Still, Petrie knew this was something he had to ask, no matter the reaction it would receive. Ortin nearly laughed as he heard that question, only his mood preventing him from doing so.

“That was a good one, Petrie! Do you also want to seek out the remains of the egg from which the Bright and Night Circles were born?” He asked, even chuckling weakly. Petrie’s gaze fell completely as he looked at Ortin’s reaction and neither was Glide completely content with the other flyer’s reaction. She crossed her arms and spoke to the bluish boy.

“He is being serious, Ortin. I know it might be surprising to you but it is true.” She said simply, causing Ortin to look at her with wide eyes. He hadn’t expected Glide to take Petrie’s side as he had always thought Glide to be a realistic and level-headed flyer. To hear her also repeat such nonsense… it brought him completely to a loss of words. He tried to stutter some kind of answer but Petrie decided to speak before Ortin could gather his thoughts.

“Petrie more than serious, Ortin. Me have heard bout it from Lenel, that old flyer of Streli’s Hills and even one flyer who didn’t tell who he was. But Petrie at least know that Lenel wouldn’t search for something if he wasn’t sure about what he was looking for.” The flyer said, causing Ortin’s earlier amusement to turn into disbelief. It was clear his two companions seemed to know something he didn’t but even then, it couldn’t be true! Olres’ tale was just a legend that didn’t even have a modicum of truth to it! Even Warekli was only a symbol his family had used to justify their position to their followers! It had to be that way!

“B… but none of it ever happened, Petrie. Certainly you realize it even by yourself?” He asked, his expression taking even a pleading hint. However, Petrie only shook his head as he gave his answer, wanting only to get his message through as quickly as possible.

“Petrie not completely sure but it me best hope of finding my friends and family. Besides, me know Lenel searching for something that that mysterious flyer said it was Olres’ secret. And Olres was Lenel’s ancestor so Petrie think that make sense.” He said, causing Ortin to bring his hand to his forehead. He had already been through too much to be able to believe that some stupid legends were actually true. He tried to reason one last time in an effort to make Petrie and Glide see some sense.

“Even if I believed the rest about it, no one knows where all of this happened. Olres went through his change in that legendary battlefield and even the legend itself didn’t tell where that was.” He said, knowing what he said was true. Glide, however, decided to answer this question as she had already heard that answer from Petrie.

“Dad and Kero apparently found the answer to that question in the Great Valley whose flyers have had the chance to question countless Farwalkers about many issues. Now, I have hard time believing that myself but apparently many others do believe it.” She said, causing Ortin to make a much more wondering expression as he thought about what he had heard. He simply couldn’t believe what he had just heard but it seemed clear that both Glide and Petrie did to at least some degree. The more he thought about it, the less repulsive it all seemed for him. He waited for a few seconds before saying the only thing that came to his mind.

“Even if I agreed to what you say, there was absolutely nothing to see out there. I lived there for many seasons and Land of the Dancing Waters was like most of the other places I’ve seen. There were many large fast waters here and there as well as a few waterfalls but other than that, it is just a large forest. To suggest that it is somehow an important place would be utter nonsense!” Ortin said, his mind simply refusing to accept what he had just heard. However, neither was Petrie simply going to accept that statement.

“If you never thought of it as anything special, then there may be a chance you never explored it thoroughly?” He said with an excited look to which Ortin rolled his eyes. Apparently the other boy was simply not going to take the hint which was something that was slightly starting to annoy the bluish flyer. Yet, he gave the only answer he could at this point with a low voice.

“I guess there is but I don’t think this is a good idea in any way I can imagine… Glide, are you ready to follow him out there most likely for nothing?” He asked, hoping to get some understanding from his other friend. To his surprise, Glide merely shrugged her shoulders before answering the question.

“I wouldn’t really mind it. After all, neither of us has any real place to return to and besides, I’d be happy to make sure Lenel and dad are never able to hurt anyone again.” The girl said tensely, her hatred for the two flyers evident in her voice. Inside, she was also increasingly interested to see whether there was anything out there that would really explain what had happened on that day so very long ago. Ortin took a deep sigh as he looked at the female, slowly coming to the conclusion that both of his companions had already made their decision. And as Glide had just said, he didn’t have a home or family anymore so he was free to accompany the duo on this journey. He slowly turned to look at Petrie and finally gave his answer to him.

“Very well, Petrie. I’ll take you out there as it might be good to look at my old home after everything that has happened. At the very least I’ll do anything that will help thwart that monster’s plans. It’ll be at least five days’ flight but that won’t be a problem after all we’ve been through.” Ortin said, making Petrie’s heart swell immediately. He was more than happy both of his friends had agreed to help him which was something he had never even dared to dream. He was just about to give his answer when he suddenly froze as he looked far into the horizon, only now thinking of his location.

Carefully, Petrie’s eyes investigated the white wastes before him, his heart starting to beat even more as he saw a thin, distant mountain rising in the middle of the grey skies, realizing he had seen it before, so very, very long ago. Slowly, his eyes moved to scan the area immediately around himself and his beak turned into a soft, nostalgic smile as he returned to the days long gone by. This was the very same place he, Ducky and Spike had gone to search for comfort from the sharptooth during their sleep after they had found their first proper meal of green food since finding each other after the Great Earthshake. Seconds passed as the flyer thought of that distant day and he was only woken up from his thoughts as Glide asked him in clear worry.

“What is it, Petrie? Are you alright? Please, answer me!” She pleaded, only now getting Petrie’s attention. The boy twitched noticeably as he finally remembered the duo around him and he was able to mutter only an absentminded answer as he slowly turned around, willing to see what remained of the scene of one of mis most precious memories.

“Petrie alright but me want to see something before me tell more…” He said, causing Ortin and Glide to frown at each other in clear astonishment. They decided not to follow Petrie just yet, hoping he’d give a better answer soon enough.

Petrie, however, had completely moved back six Cold Times as he looked at the large dead tree trunk that still lied in the same position as it had all those seasons ago. Petrie smiled as he walked under it before laying his eyes to the ground before himself. That sight was slightly disappointing as there was practically no trace left of the massive footprint of the sharptooth as it had of course been swiped away by time long time ago.

However, it was still clear to the flyer that this was the very place where he had joined Littlefoot in his sleep with the rest of his friends, affirming their friendship forever. That was a thought that brought a clear smile to Petrie’s face, deep joy swelling in his chest as he gazed upon that scene, softly starting to remove some of the ground sparkles away from the ground. It was more than fitting that he, Glide and Ortin would ensure their friendship in the same place where even Cera had admitted her need for companions in her own, proud way.

Petrie slowly closed his eyes, for a while imagining that when he opened them again, he would once more see his dear friends again after all this time. Petrie sighed slightly as he realized that his hopes were nothing but a complete folly and he slowly turned to look at his two friends who stared at him in complete loss. His voice was a meek and longing one, the boy not even trying to hide his nostalgia about the days long gone.

“Th… this is where Petrie and me old friends for the first time accepted each other. This is where me knew me had friends for the first time in me life. Me remember like it happened only yesterday.” He sighed happily, his mind going through the array of emotions he had felt after meeting true friends after a childhood being bullied by his own siblings.
Ortin looked at Petrie oddly before she asked the only question she could.

“I certainly hope we will one day be able to find them again. But I thought you lived all your life in the Valley.” He asked, not even thinking of asking if Petrie’s friends had been other than flyers. Petrie would have burst into a laugh at Glide’s obliviousness if the subject hadn’t made his heart ache so badly.

“We were on our way to the Valley and we got there later. Me just hope me wouldn’t have lost them those few cycles of the Night Circle ago. And no, we did belong to different herds: Littlefoot was a longneck, Ducky was a swimmer, Spike was a Spiketail and Cera was a threehorn.” He said while crossing his arms slowly. Glide cringed deeply at those words, having little good to say of the mentioned kinds even if she had known from the beginning that such friendships hardly were uncommon in the Great Valley. Ortin, however, was too deep in his own loss that he had little will to think about what kinds of dinosaurs Petrie’s friends had been.

“But… but how can you be so sure they’re still alive? If I understood right, you were…” At that point, Ortin was interrupted by an absentminded look from Petrie. The brownish boy shook his head as he gave his answer.

“Me know they not dead. Or at least not all of them. When Petrie last visited the Valley, me heard that at least Littlefoot still alive there somewhere. And Petrie will not rest until me know where he and the others are!” He said in a trembling voice, causing Glide to cast him a careful smile. She then spoke to him comfortingly, making more than clear she meant each and every one of the words she spoke.

“Then I hope you’ll find the answers you seek, Petrie. You deserve at least that much.” She said, causing Petrie’s heart to swell. He once more turned to look at the spot behind himself, not able to wonder if there was some kind of magic in this place that brought ailing friendships back together. At the very least, he would forever remember this place warmly and it was also more than clear that the next part in his long journey had now started.

The first thing Lenel heard after regaining his consciousness were violent and sickening coughs that made his entire body tremble weakly. His vision was more than vague but even then, he could see many drops of blood before himself, more likely a result of the coughs that started to slowly ease up. His entire world was that of pain and fear as he tried to
make sense about it all. However, before his panic grew any worse, he heard a familiar and loving voice near him.

“Just take it easy for a little while more, my love. It will be alright.” A female voice said and even in his ailing mind, Lenel decided to do as her mate had told her. He slowly turned to look at Sireia but it took a few seconds before his eyes could finally see well enough to make out just what kind of expression the female had. It was that of extreme concern but also that of careful hope. Lenel frowned as he realized that his voice was a silent and weak one but he still managed to form somewhat clear words.

“Where… where are we? What… has happened?” He would have most likely been able to answer those questions himself but his head hurt already badly enough without forcing himself to think any more than he had to. Sireia was more than unhappy that her mate had to ask those questions but it hadn’t come as a surprise to her. She wasted no time giving her answer, hoping that they would help Lenel’s mind to wake up from its horrifying sleep.

“It was all because of Peak’s poison. We’re still in the cave where you lost your consciousness but Deron’s followers tended to your injury the best they could. Don’t you remember any of it?” She asked, hoping to receive at least some kind of answer from the pale flyer. Lenel rolled his eyes as he looked at the cave’s roof, smiling slightly as the first memories started to flow into his mind. The sight of Peak’s apparent surrender, Deron’s arrival and the end of the orange flyer’s family… yes, he could still remember all of it even if those memories were still vague and seemed like they had happened in some other life. He then turned to look at the tan flyer, giving her another warm smile.

“Y… yes, I remember it. Wh… what did Deron and his followers say? Will I live through this?” He asked the most important question, even if he suddenly remembered his last thoughts before losing his consciousness. The Land of the Rising Waters waited for him and he simply wouldn’t afford to die here, not now. Sireia’s expression darkened as she answered but there was trace of any kind of despair in it.

“When they started treating you, they said your life was in the hands of the Bright Circle only. But they also said that if you ever regained your senses, your chances would improve greatly. And… here you are. How are you feeling, dear?” She asked, hoping to hear at least some good news from him. Lenel thought about his answer a bit but when he finally spoke, his voice was far less tortured than before.

“Every part of my body feels like it’s burning and heavy clouds hang over my mind. However, it is nothing when compared to fighting a herd of bellydraggers for two days straight. Don’t worry anymore, my love, I will survive.” He even chuckled, recalling one of his fights of old that Sireia also remembered clearly. However, those words finally brought a clear catharsis to Sireia who could no longer hide her feelings from the male. She suddenly brought her beak against that of Lenel’s and brought her arms around him. Happy tears flowed down her cheeks as she spoke in a wavering voice.

“I already thought I had lost you for good, Lenel. I already thought you were going to die, that our common dream would be over and… and that we’d never be able to start our family together. I’m… I’m just so happy you’re still here.” She sobbed while rubbing her beak against that of Lenel’s. The light-colored flyer wasted no time returning that gesture and answering in an equally happy voice.

“So am I, my darling Sireia. I wouldn’t have traded our future for anything in this world. I would go through the Great Beyond itself only to return to you. We decided long ago that once we’d have Olres’ secret, we would finally have a family and live happily ever after… while also leaving our mark in this world like few flyers ever have.” He said, just thinking about the coming weeks. He and Sireia had agreed to delay having their hatchlings until their great journey had finally led them to their dreams and Lenel hadn’t forgotten for a second that fact either. The two flyers slowly broke their embrace with Sireia taking a more serious look once again.

“But do not try to get up at least today or tomorrow. You need a lot more rest if your body is to have the power to overcome the poison inside you. We are safe now so we can wait for two more days. I… I am also far from being in my best condition.” She said as she showed some of her worst wounds to the male. Lenel frowned deeply as he saw those injuries, regretting the injuries brought upon her beloved mate but he could also tell that her wounds were no longer life-threatening either. However, one part of the female’s words made Lenel suddenly feel sick inside and he wasted no time whispering his answer to her mate.

“No, we are far from safe, Sireia. Not as long as Deron and our deputies cannot be fully trusted. I have bad feel…” He started but before he could finish his warning, he heard a wary voice calling from the mouth of the cave.

“We couldn’t help but hear you’re awake, my leader. We already worried whether that fight had been your last.” Northwind spoke as he and haste slowly approached the pale flyer. Lenel cringed deeply as his sense of unease about the flyers around him hadn’t gone anywhere. He tried to rise to a sitting position but almost immediately, the pain in his back forced him back to the ground. His voice was a forced one as he answered his deputy’s words.

“I’m sure Peak thought the very same, Northwind. I trust you made sure that no further traces of Peak’s or his herd’s filth remains anywhere on Streli’s Hills?” He asked, eying the duo’s movements closely. Haste investigated Lenel for a few seconds before he gave his answer to his leader. Something within her made chills creep drown Lenel’s spine but he managed to hide such sentiments from the female.

“We left no rock unturned when we worked to safeguard our herd’s safety. Even then, I have to tell you to my utmost shame that Ortin and the two other brats managed to escape from us but I assure you, none of them are anywhere nearby to us anymore.” She said, her stoic expression telling that she expected no hostile answers from Lenel despite her failure. Northwind cleared his throat in clear unease as he continued from where Haste had just stopped.

“I will never be able to recover from the shame my daughter brought upon us all by siding with Peak’s murderous family. But I promise you that I will never again see her as my own. To me, Glide is nothing but another traitor should I ever meet her again. I hope you will find it in yourself to forgive me in due time.” He said in clear sorrow. It was true that his opinion about his daughter had nosedived in the past weeks but he still loved her deeply. On this sickening moment, he couldn’t help but feel her decision had been somehow his fault but even then, what was done was done. His place was by Lenel’s side and Glide had thrown away her place in the herd once and for all. Lenel eyed his two deputies with a tense look before he tried to raise his voice which however failed immediately.

“Are you telling me that my hand-picked deputies, whom I have given the highest honor in my power, failed to catch three children who had only a head start of few seconds? Is that what you are saying?” He asked, his weak hands trembling in rage and disbelief. This was the kind of outrage he hadn’t expected, even less wanted to hear and to his increasing annoyance, only Northwind seemed to have any real remorse about that fact. The male deputy cringed deeply and his voice was a meek one as he gave his answer.

“We apologize it greatly, Lenel. We failed you on this easiest of missions but if the Bright Circle will be kind to us, that will never happen again.” He said, trying to force himself to stay as calm as possible. Sireia could only share her mate’s disdain but she knew that she had no real power over the two deputies and she decided to allow her mate to do the speaking. Lenel looked at the two in utter rage when he finally snarled between his teeth.

“Get out of my sight, both of you! I will decide soon enough whether you will ever serve under my direct commands again!” He said, all fears about a potential coup disappearing from his mind as he looked at the duo. The two saluted briefly before turning around and doing as told. Haste’s face turned into a mocking one as she silently whispered to Northwind on their way out.

“He’s a cheerful one, isn’t he? As if he hasn’t made any mistakes himself.” She said, not even looking at Northwind as she spoke. The male’s eyes widened as he looked at the female, sputtering out the first words that came to his mouth.

“He is our leader, Haste, so show him some respect! We’re in enough trouble as it is!” He said, causing the female snort slightly. She then closed out the conversation with an absentminded and cold answer.

“For now, we are. But I’m not going to allow that fact be true for much longer.” She said, knowing the other deputy would most likely understand his words as a sign to earn back Lenel’s favor. However, he wasn’t able to see the determined and ambitious expression on her face as the two parted ways for now.

The long night of the Cold Time had fallen for a long time ago but Petrie simply wasn’t ready for sleep just yet. He continued to gaze at the sky, thinking about everything he had heard on this long day. One of the main things in his mind was of course the sickening carnage but even then, there were more questions swirling within his head about his new destination. The old flyer’s story wasn’t disappearing from his mind in his mind and now that he was heading for that country of legend, the many question started to return back to his mind.

He had already asked the question about what was it exactly that had made Olres change to what he had ultimately become? Of course, a flyer could change mentally rather dramatically as the flyer knew very well. Every day, Petrie had been forced to comfort the fact that he was growing more serious and cold which wasn’t something he was completely happy about but even then, it couldn’t be helped. But to see a meek, fearful flyer become a true, wise leader in one night… that was something Petrie couldn’t quite grasp.

The mysterious flyer had told him that Olres had visited the scene of the massive battle that night but what else was there to be seen aside from countless corpses and dying dinosaurs? Petrie cringed at that thought as he had already seen enough death in the past weeks. Of course, it was possible that the story had been twisted heavily afterwards but even then, Petrie couldn’t help but wonder just what Olres had found. In a moment like this, the boy couldn’t quite prevent his thoughts from drifting to things like the Stone of Cold Fire… or Littlefoot’s mother guiding him even after her death.

Suddenly, Petrie couldn’t help but shiver as he suddenly saw all the spirits of the fallen in his mind’s eye, wondering if that place had for some reason turned into their home. Ghosts weren’t something Petrie had met himself but even then, the world was full of things no one could quite explain. If Lenel believed in that story and his uncle in a stone that could make him rule the Valley alone, there was no reason for him to turn his back on any option regarding Olres’ change. Besides, the story of the Saurus Rock and the longnecks’ sleep stories only reinforced the fact that even he had heard crazier stories than a group of spirits deciding to haunt a place like that.

However, there was another question that kept Petrie awake. In every such story before, the location of the mysterious events had been told clearly but here, Lenel had been forced to go to extreme lengths to locate the scene of that carnage in the Land of Dancing Waters. Why had a place of such importance been forgotten like that? That fact alone made Petrie to believe that legend more easily as most flyers had been honest and respectful enough to admit their lack of knowledge about that particular issue. If it was nothing but a lie, certainly some flyer would have filled those gaps with some nonsense?

Inside, Petrie yearned to uncover Olres’ secrets himself and at the very least to prevent Lenel from ever fulfilling his dreams. The pale flyer didn’t deserve it after his sickening carnage and after attempting to kill Ortin without any remorse. The boy frowned deeply as he thought about all the times Pterano had told him about Lenel’s wisdom and inside, he couldn’t help but admit that his dear uncle had once again been deceived which was something that made Petrie feel even worse for him.

However, his fatigue started to slowly get the best of him and slowly, Petrie felt the sleep starting to overcome his consciousness. The sight before him started to slowly fade as his body prepared for the coming flight… before his eyes once again went wide open. He immediately rose to a sitting position and started to stare into the sky, trying to see the same thing he thought he had just seen. The boy immediately narrowed his eyes and again saw a flicker movement in the wide sky and at that moment, he felt happiness creep into his heart in a way he had seldom felt.

It… it had seemed like one of his brothers, most likely  one called Tovi. He could recognize that pattern of flying anywhere and his silhouette in the sky resembled him nearly perfectly. Petrie wasted no time thinking about how he could possibly be here at this hour but he’d find out the reason without further delays. He was already starting to rise to his wings when he heard Glide ask him with an odd voice.

“Where are you going now, Petrie! Why can’t you just try to…” She started but before she could get any further, Petrie spoke to her in deep excitement.

“Petrie think me saw, Tovi, one of me brothers! Me have to catch him before he gets away!” He said in a loud voice, not waiting any longer before he dashed into the darkness. Glide looked after him in astonishment, not believing her ears. How could any of Petrie’s siblings be here and besides, it would be a miracle if he could really see anything in this dark night. She turned to look at Ortin as he took a deep breath and spoke to the girl in a dry voice.

“Well, let us follow him them. I don’t think we can let him go out alone, now can we?” He asked, more than certain that Petrie hadn’t actually seen anything of worth. Still, it would be a good idea to make sure he wouldn’t get attacked out there and both of the flyers headed after their friend, neither of them really knowing what to expect.
Petrie, however, didn’t allow such doubts keep his hopes down. He was sure it was his brother and if it really was him, then the rest of his family simply couldn’t be far away either. This was a dream come true: just as he was about to embark on that long journey, he was about to find his family even without the Land of Dancing Waters! Of course, Littlefoot was still out there but that hardly even registered in Petrie’s mind.

As he finally reached the altitude he had seen that vague form, he finally stopped for a moment and realized something that made him extremely worried. No matter where he looked, he could no longer see anything. There was no flyers aside from Ortin and Glide to be seen and he couldn’t even see any trace of movement anywhere. Petrie felt his heart starting to beat in his chest more and more by the second as he realized he no longer had any confidence that he had even seen what he had thought. He suddenly heard a call from Glide who was quickly catching up to him.

“Well, where is he, Petrie?” She asked simply, causing Petrie to tremble slightly. Had he actually just woken his friends without any good reason? Had his imagination really tricked him this badly? Petrie frowned deeply as he thought about it. It simply couldn’t be… he had seen something and he’d find out what!

“Just wait for a moment! Petrie look into it!” He cried as he suddenly started to fly around, trying to catch site of anything that resembled a young flyer in any way. However, seconds passed slowly without the boy being able to see anything but some small sky puffies, the Night Circle and the lesser lights of the sky. Slowly, deep sorrow started to invade his mind as his gaze fell towards the ground as he knew that he had been mistaken. With a heavy heart, he landed on a small mountain in the middle of the wastes, muttering a small apology to his friends.

“Petrie… Petrie so sorry for bothering you. It seems me just imagined all of it.” He said, crossing his hands behind his back in a mixture of shame and resignation. Ortin looked at the boy for a few seconds before he snorted his answer in clear annoyance.

“Well, maybe you now know better than to wake up because of something like that. Come on, Petrie.” The bluish flyer said as he turned around, preparing to return to their sleeping place. Petrie looked at his friend with saddened eyes as he prepared to rise to his wings. However, before he could rise into the air again, he heard a voice that stopped his entire world.

“Petrie? Is… is it really you? It really is! Thank the Bright Circle, it really is you!” Before Petrie could even twitch his finger, he felt a crushing embrace nearly force out the last trace of breath within him. He could recognize that voice anywhere but before he could fully appreciate the moment, he forced out a meek but extremely heartfelt request.

“Could… could you please release Petrie? Me… no… can breath!” He said, his brother suddenly realizing his mistake. He soon eased his grip but didn’t release Petrie just yet who was finally able to return the gesture. He could hardly speak and his voice wavered deeply as he spoke.

“So it really was you, Tovi! I… I was searching for you but you managed to lose me! Petrie so happy to see you again.” He said, not believing he was looking at his sibling’s eyes again. It had been so long… the last time he had last seen Tovi had been back at the meeting of the herds back at the Great Valley, something that seemed like it had happened dozens of seasons ago. The other flyer spoke to his brother softly, all of their past fights and bitterness having vanished like a lone ground fuzzy into a dark Cold Time’s night.

“We… we all thought you had died, Petrie! You had been gone for so long that we had accepted that we’d never see you again! Where… where you all this time?” He asked, finally releasing Petrie from his embrace. The brownish flyer looked at his lighter-colored sibling in disbelief, still not able to accept that it really was him. Petrie stuttered slightly as he started to speak again, willing to ask some questions of his own.

“It a really long story but before Petrie answer that, please tell me… is momma and me other brothers and sisters alright?” He asked in clear worry, staring into the other boy’s eyes. Tovi frowned slightly at Petrie’s answer but he understood of course that Petrie wanted that answer without any further delays.

“They are alright, Petrie. I was just about to return from a small test flight to find one certain mountain alone in the night back home. They were all already waiting for me until I noticed you three starting to follow me! I already thought I had three sharpteeth on my trail!” He suddenly started to laugh which also caused Petrie to chuckle deeply. So that was the reason he hadn’t found the other flyer too easily. Glide smiled at the sight of the reunion, deciding this would be the best time to introduce herself and her old friend.

“It must have been a real disappointment to learn you were mistaken, Tovi! In any case, any friend or sibling of Petrie is also a friend of mine. My name is Glide and his name is Ortin. It’s great to meet you.” She said, not really finding any reason to distrust the other flyer.

Tovi, however, looked at the duo for a moment and couldn’t bring himself to smile at them immediately. He immediately saw that both of them already had numerous scars and that both of them had already went through a lot during their short lives. Something within them made Tovi feel rather uncomfortable as he had seldom heard good rumors about the flyers of the Mysterious Beyond. However, he could see very well that Petrie was more than fond about them so he found no reason to spoil the scene by showing signs of hostility for Petrie’s friends whom he knew absolutely nothing about.

“I’m happy to meet you as well. I cannot thank you enough for the things you’ve done to help Petrie find his way back home.” He said warmly before Petrie spoke to him again in still-lingering worry.

“But why did you fly away from the Valley? Me returned there for nothing and Petrie was really worried when me didn’t find any of you back there.” He asked, just thinking about all the open questions he wanted an answer to. Whatever the reason, that decision had made his journey much more miserable and he had spent the past days worrying about whether his family was alive at all. Tovi took a slight sigh as he looked at Petrie, still trying to gather his thoughts following this miraculous reunion.

“It started after we thought you were dead, Petrie. If you returned to the Valley, you’ll already know just how things are there now… and momma didn’t want to live in the middle of that endless fighting and arguing and especially the fact that everything reminded us from you there from you and none of us wanted to live like that. Petrie… I know what we did to you was wrong. In a way, I would have understood if you had just moved further away from me once you saw me in the sky, especially if you have found such good friends. I’m sorry for all the sorrow I used to cause you.” He said, his sad look more than confirming his honesty to Petrie.

The latter stared at his brother for a few seconds, forced to wonder whether any of this was even real. None of the endless mockery he had grown to expect from Tovi could be seen, replaced by genuine regret and joy. However, the other flyer’s earlier words made Petrie cringe slightly as it was more than clear that his sibling understood absolutely nothing about what he had gone through. Even being bullied by his brothers and sisters would be a paradise compared to all the heartbreak and horror he had seen but even then, he couldn’t blame the other flyer for being unable to imagine his recent adventures. He gave Tovi a quick nod before answering his question.

“Petrie has already forgotten all that, Tovi. Let us just say that me have seen far worse things lately. It completely okay.” He said, causing the other boy’s face lighten considerably. He hadn’t even dared to dream that Petrie would forgive him this easily but it was more than clear there was still much catching up to do. The lighter-colored dinosaur then waived at Petrie and his friends happily, waving them to follow him.

“Thank you, Petrie! But now follow me! I bet you want to meet momma and the others again! I’m also rather sure they’ll allow you two to stay for at least a while.” He said, winking at Glide and Ortin who exchanged brief glances, both of them agreeing that there was no real reason to decline the offer. Both of them were confused about what this would mean for their quest that hadn’t even really started just yet but that would have to be sorted out soon enough. Petrie then prepared to take off himself while he spoke to his brother happily.

“You right about that, Tovi! Just show the way and Petrie and me friends follow!” He cried, his heart feeling as if it was trying to escape from his chest as he thought about the reunion that was waiting for him after all this days of longing and fear. He was more than surprised it had come this abruptly but it was true that meetings like this could happen sometimes and he would accept this stroke of luck without hesitation. He smiled deeply as he once again headed through the skies, counting the seconds before he would meet his beloved family again.

Another flyer who counted the passing seconds stared into the sky, already starting to worry about the return of her son. It had already been rather long since his departure and each passing minute brought the sickening pictures of him being ripped to shreds by sharptooth flyers grew more profound within her mind. However, she simply had to force her children to learn to find their way through these wastes even in the night while at the same time being able to evade the predators at to some degree. She hated that fact but that was something she really had no power over. Either they’d learn those skills or they’d be in a world of trouble on the day they’d have to leave the nest. Her worried thoughts were soon cut short by one of her daughters.

“Tovi sure is taking a lot of time. I bet I would have been back an hour ago already if I were him!” She said, giving a vague smile as she spoke those words. She had always expected him to fare badly on a flight like this and she’d make that he wouldn’t forget his relative failure anytime soon. However, Volant had radically different plans as she addressed the girl.

“This isn’t any kind of a race, Relia! Your safety is the most important thing on these flights which is something I hope you’ll remember tomorrow when it’ll be your turn! But whatever any of you do, I don’t want to lose any of you due to willingness to prove something to each other! That isn’t why I send you on these practice flights.” She said before crossing her arms, causing the girl’s bravado to fall steeply. She hated to speak to her children like this but they would have to learn key issues like this. However, it wasn’t long before another of the children spoke.

“But… if he doesn’t return soon, we have to find out where he is in case he has gotten himself into trouble!” One of the boys asked, causing Volant’s mood to fall further. Of course he was correct but even then, she wanted to her children that she had enough faith in them to believe they’d be ready for a test like this, no matter how difficult it was for her. The female’s chest was still aching over the second most painful loss of her life.

Every morning she woke up, she still expected to see each one of her beautiful children sleep beside but each time, one of them was missing. Slowly, that realization had started to be a slightly easier one to accept but even then, her heart still ached when she thought about Petrie. To think she’d ever have to go through that again… she didn’t even want to consider it. For many seasons, she had spent mourning the death of her mate, Tuulen, and now his memory was accompanied by that of Petrie’s. She fought back one bitter tear as she answered her daughter’s question.

“Don’t even speak about that, dear. He’ll return to us soon enough. I promise it.” She said, hoping that those words would silence any further comments that might by accident make her feel any worse. However, that turned out to be but an empty wish as Relia continued to bombard her mother with another question.

“But we cannot tell if he’s okay or not! You also promised us that Petrie…” She started but she was interrupted by Volant before she got even close to finishing her sentence.

“Didn’t I ask you not to remind me of Petrie without a good reason? Didn’t I, Relia?” She asked, immediately regretting her words as she realized the young girl was about to start sobbing due to her mother’s words. Volant’s momentary anger subsided immediately and she then spoke in a silent and regretful voice.

“I’m so sorry, dear. I… I just miss him so much.” She said, knowing that each of her children shared that sentiment fully. However, to her immediate relief, that scene was interrupted by a silent thud before her and a heavy burden dropped from her heart as she heard an eager voice speak to her in a surprisingly lighthearted tone.

“I’m sorry I took a bit longer than expected, momma! I had a few hindrances on the way.” Tovi said, something definitely off within his voice. Even then, it was completely lost to Volant who was just happy to have that sickening moment left behind her. She brought her hand to her chest as she spoke to her son.

“Thank goodness you’re back, Tovi! We were already starting to worry about you! Well, did you find the White Peak?” She asked, meaning the mountain about two hours’ flight away from her nest rather close to the Mountains that Burn. She slowly started to notice the odd eagerness on the boy’s face but decided to ignore it for a while longer.

“It wasn’t even difficult after the hints you gave me. The darkness hardly even mattered when I could tell my position from the lesser lights, as you promised me.” He said, meaning every word. The lesser lights were an invaluable asset to any flyer as his mother had told him earlier. Volant crossed her arms and nodded at her son in approval.

“Very well done, Tovi. I trust you’re not lying to me about that as that wouldn’t sit well with me at all. You may tell me more about your journey later on but I must ask, what took you so long? Of course I’m happy you managed to stay safe through it all but you should have already returned a good while ago.” She asked, knowing she’d find out the truth about Tovi’s words soon enough anyway. She’d order each of her children find a different place in order to avoid them from being able to tell each other about those landmarks. Volant’s breath started to ease slowly but the boy’s answer wasn’t something she had expected to hear.

“Well… I would have been back sooner but there was something holding me back… a certain somebody, I would say.” Tovi spoke very uncharastetically for himself, willing to tease his mother about the reunion for a bit more. Volant’s eyes widened slightly as she heard those words, not knowing what to expect? Guido? Etta? Even Pterano?

“Well, who was it? Get over it so we’ll all be able to get to sleep finally.” She demanded, causing Tovi’s face turn into an ever more expectant smile. He let out a short whistle and before Volant could even ask her son another question, a shadowy figure quickly landed between her and his brother, that sight nearly causing Volant’s heart stop altogether. Her mind didn’t even manage to form one coherent thought before she heard a voice she had never thought she’d ever hear again.

“In fact, it was Petrie who found Tovi! Uhh… me hope you not at mad me about what happened back then.” He said, not able to hide his guilt about all the sorrow he had caused to his mother during the past months. Such sentiments were nowhere to be seen on Petrie’s face but he hoped to make sure. However, all of his doubts were immediately cast away as the older flyer started to speak again, not at a loss of what to say in the least.

“Petrie… it is you! B… but how? Y… you are…” She spoke as she slowly fell to her knees, closing the younger flyer between her wings as she started to weep deeply against her son’s shoulder. Petrie returned that gesture, being just as emotional his mother was. He fought against his tears as he answered his mother’s words, hoping this moment would never pass.

“Petrie was alive all this time, momma! You… you don’t know just how badly me missed all of you all this time. It… it good to be home again.” He said, just thinking about all the happy times and catching up the recent events that would follow from now on but all he cared about for now was to relish this night with all his might. Long gone from his mind was the fact that Littlefoot was still out there somewhere but that would have to wait. This was the happiest day in Petrie’s since his original arrival in the Great Valley and one that finally rewarded all the struggles he had went through… and survived.

This reunion was something Petrie hadn’t been able to foresee but sometimes it is true that not all surprises are unwelcome ones. Now, he has the chance to relish in this momentary joy but his friends are still out there and it might soon turn out this night will be but a milestone on this long journey of his… I hope you liked the developments in this chapter as I fully know they most likely came as a surprise to many. Anyway, thanks for reading and see you with my next prompt response!

Anagnos: I’m more than happy that my descriptions about Stealth and his pack worked well as they were in a way the main point of the chapter. I wanted to show that Stealth is no tyrant who only wants everyone to worship and serve him but as a figure who genuinely wants to work together with his allies for a common goal. I also wanted to show Stealth’s motivations and leading style in more depth here. And thank you for the kind words as it’s great to hear such comments from your own stories!

The Rhombus: Chapter 39. It’s good to hear that the start to this chapter worked as I regarded a slower beginning to the coming fight as Lenel and Peak have had a long history together already in this story. Yeah, Lenel knows very well how this all works but as for Deron, I thought I had mostly laid out his plan. He was in a way responsible for this fight due to his first attack but after that, he had mostly just kept his eye on how the situation developed around Peak until he made his move.

And it’s also good that the ending was done well as I feared I rushed it too much to keep the length at somewhat acceptable levels. And yeah, Petrie has gone through a lot but it still remains to be seen just what will happen before the final reunion will be upon us.

Chapter 40. Your observations are rather point on and I’m happy you’ve noticed the emphasis I’ve put on the characters’ conflicting motives and painful realities. It’s a bit difficult to balance that kind of analysis with a smooth pacing so it’s good to know I’ve succeeded in that regard. About Stealth’s followers, I wanted to show the “normal” situation in the Mysterious Beyond through them and it’s true they have no real love or hate for either Ruby’s parents or Stealth. Right now, the latter is completely focused on his revenge and neither he nor his pack have thought about what comes afterwards.

And yep, there is a lot to be covered in the next chapter. The battle will takes its toll but what will happen to its participants after its inevitable conclusion is still a mystery. And yes, the Ruby/Ducky problem isn’t something either had wanted but Ruby’s new outlook has changed a lot for those two. I hope I’ll make justice for all the moving pieces of this story.

« Last Edit: May 07, 2019, 09:45:16 AM by Sovereign »


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #115 on: May 07, 2019, 11:19:31 AM »
This chapter felt really good change of situation compared to the previous chapters. Recently occured massacre though is still very much in the trio’s memory and definitely will haunt them for a long time still

I was little bothered by how fast Ortin seemed to get over about his family’s deaths and to start making jokes and even laugh while at it, I would have thought that he would have been really dejected for a long time for a very good reason, but it didn’t hamper reading the chapter forward.

It seems that Lenel now has survived his infected wound, but what will future bring to him and others in his herd? It remains to be seen and I will look forward to it.

I guess my predictions were quite correct about Haste’s apparent sinister plan to presumably increase her position in the herd. We’ll see what kind it’ll exactly be, but it hardly will be good for anyone other than her.

I have to say that this reunion came somewhat as a surprise to me, because I was quite certain that we would see the gang meet again before this one, but this is good in itself as well. At least now Petrie has one less worry in his life.

As always, I will look forward to the rest of these upcoming chapters, keep doing your good work, friend!  :)


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #116 on: May 07, 2019, 12:53:59 PM »
After all the bloodshed we saw in the last several chapters, this one seemed to give off a completely different vibe, a more peaceful one. We see three Flyer children go from massacre escapees to essential castaways, and I personally think that the first scene was a bit ... awkward, considering how Ortin didn't seem to spend very long mourning his family before he started making jokes again. How could he have recovered so quickly from the violence that completely destroyed his entire family? :thinking

The buildup of the scene, though, did provide the idea that maybe, just maybe, these three children could come up with some sort of plan to put a stop to Lenel's motives, although I see such ideas highly unlikely, and Petrie seems to once again be questioning his late uncle's mindset. He's come to realize just how ruthless Lenel truly is, and there is that negative vibe of him having some very sinister motives that could come into play should he survive the poison.

And lastly, that ending was completely unexpected. I anticipated it would happen maybe ... "Ten Chapters Later..." I was beginning to have doubts that Petrie would ever see his family again, but the sudden appearance of Tovi and the unexpected reunion between Petrie and Volant gave the entire chapter a new light, and a brand new hope for the rest of this story. Petrie is, at long last, reunited with his family, and I can only guess where the family will go from here ... after they share their many stories of what they've been through. I must admit, I'm dreading how Volant will react when she hears about her brother's demise ...

You did such an effective job turning Petrie's story from one of uncertainty and dread to that of hopefulness so suddenly, and the chapter's title said it all right there! It's amazing how you can change the tone or mood of a story so quickly! :yes
Suddenly, I've written so many fanfics that I can't possibly list them all! :P


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #117 on: May 20, 2019, 02:39:44 AM »
The initial conversation in this chapter is quite honestly one of the most powerful in the entire story thus far.  In it we see the culmination of the trials and tribulations that had split Petrie, Glide, and Ortin apart, and, despite Petrie having every possible justification to not rejoin them again, Petrie’s return into their narrative.  Now both Petrie and Ortin have lost all of what they had previously valued and must come to terms with what they still have.  Namely, each other, and the hope for better days to come.

The second scene clearly indicates how things have progressed with Lenel.  He has been successfully healed and the failure of his deputies to kill the three children is now known.  The fact that Glide’s father had now referred to her as a traitor now also confirms that Glide has lost as much as Ortin.  To her parents she is now as good as dead.

And, wow, the last scene.  I must admit that I was not expecting Petrie to find his family so soon, so this is quite a surprise.  Tovi’s understandable apprehension at seeing Petrie’s friends and their scars does make me wonder when he and his siblings might begin to ask some serious questions about Petrie’s own recent past.  I am sure they will soon find out that this is not the same Petrie that left their nest many moons ago.  Even if Petrie’s scars are mainly on the inside.  The thoughts of Petrie’s mother at the end, and her coping and coming to terms with Petrie’s loss, really does set the tone for what is to come.

Overall, I must say that this is one of your strongest offerings in terms of dialogue and pacing.  True, this was not a battle scene and was dialogue-heavy, but that does not make it any less impactful.  Here we have a good arc of emotion, from terrible loss (in terms of family death or disowning) to joyous gain (for Petrie), and the promise of further revelations to come. And I can’t wait to see the continuation of these events in the next few chapters.

Go ahead and check out my fanfictions, The Seven Hunters, Songs of the Hunters, and Mender's Tale
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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #118 on: June 07, 2019, 10:42:42 AM »
The Bloodbath Long in the Making

Tension hanged heavily in the air as Detras gazed into the dark woods in front of him. Somewhere out there, Dein and Terri were approaching him by the second and soon enough, he’d see their massive forms appear from seemingly out of nowhere and very possibly send him to the Great Beyond before he could even move his finger. The fastrunner hated the fact that his mate wasn’t here besides him in this moment where he needed her most. The male glanced at Stealth, who was standing not too far before him, in annoyance, knowing he had sent Pearl away simply to make him more miserable and more hesitant to escape and inside, he knew that Stealth had succeeded all too well in that regard.

On the other hand, he was at least slightly heartened by the fact that Jaros wasn’t too far away from him as even a slightly friendlier face would make the coming struggles that much easier. Charger was far to Detras’ left, making sure that wing wouldn’t be ambushed by any of Dein and Terri’s allies, a job the omnivore knew would be a difficult chore indeed. His thoughts were momentarily interrupted as Stealth spoke in a silent voice.

“Stand your ground. They are approaching us quickly but remember our plan. We will make it through this.” He said, his mind clearly focused on the coming battle. Detras rolled his eyes as he thought about the coming minutes, slowly realizing just how dangerous the plan really was. It would require uncharasteristic mistakes from the two sharpteeth and even then, it would be difficult for Stealth’s allies to stand their ground.

Inside, Detras couldn’t see that luring Dein and Terri to the weakened hard water was a too realistic chance but that was all he and his allies had. If that failed, they’d retreat to the pass to take their final stand, a thought that didn’t really appeal to him. He hated being forced to start the fight in this forest but it was the best way to start luring the enemy to the eventual trap. If it were up to him, he would have just started the fight in the pass but Stealth saw things differently.

And in all honesty, once Pearl would return with the rest of Stealth’s followers, things would already start to look much more promising. They would bring much-needed relief to the defenders and improve their chances greatly. Detras only now realized the frown on his face as he thought about his mate. A simple thought appeared to his mind as he prayed for her swift return.

Please hurry, Pearl! We need your help now, not lat…

“Come help me and don’t waste any more time!” That cry was followed by sudden sounds of battle and pain as one of the enemy’s fastbiters collided with Charger. Immediately, a few of the other omnivores moved to help him but before anything more happened, a similar call could be heard from the right wing of Stealth’s pack. The sailback himself merely snapped in expectation to those around him, looking as if he hadn’t really even noticed the attacks.

“Stand your ground! Our main foes still haven’t shown themselves and until that, we…” But before Stealth could finish the sentence, his eyes widened in shock and fear for a moment. A dark form suddenly ran to a nearby hill and nearly before Stealth could act, it jumped right at him. The sailback only barely managed to roll to his side as the larger sharptooth fell into the ground, the former trying to use the unorthodox assault to his advantage. However, his counterattack was soon cut short as the female sharptooth kicked Stealth further away, growling to him in annoyance.

“To think I’d have to encounter you of all dinosaurs out here, Stealth! I had already thought you had drowned in one of those cursed marshes where you always escaped as any worm like you should have!” Terri cried as she walked towards Stealth who quickly regained his footing. He spat into the ground as he gave his answer, his voice trembling with hate.

“I couldn’t afford to do that, not after everything you and your mate did! You made the worst mistake of your life when you allowed me to escape and I’ll make sure you’ll regret it before the end.” He said, growling at the two-footer threateningly. Terri merely snorted mockingly as she continued to speak.

“I doubt a sailback will stand his ground against me for even for a minute but by all means, try! At the very least I’ll be able to take out both you and your despicable pawn at the same time!” She said as she quickly glanced at Detras who felt chills creep down his spine as he looked at the massive sharptooth look at him with murderous eyes. Now, the main part of the conflict was ready to begin but the fastrunner couldn’t help but think of the obvious question: where in earth was Dein?

“This way, everyone! We shouldn’t be too far away anymore!” Pearl cried as she waved the other dinosaurs to follow her. She was more than bothered for being forced to lead a group of hostile sharpteeth and a few fastrunners alone but even then, if her mate was facing the fight courageously, she would most certainly be able to lead reinforcements to him and Stealth. Besides, her followers didn’t seem to question her in any way, a fact that made her breath at least a little more easily.

The female frowned slightly as she noticed a narrow pass in front of her, knowing just how dangerous it could possibly be to run through such places without knowing just what would wait on the other side. The fastrunner quickly turned at her companions, panting heavily as she spoke.

“I don’t think we should go here! Let’s find some other way that’s saf…” She tried to reason but before she could finish, another female fastrunner spoke to her in annoyance.

“I thought we were supposed to get to Stealth and the others as quickly as possible and I sure plan on doing just that! We’ll use the most direct path!” She said as she headed into the pass, not listening Pearl’s warnings. The latter tried to stutter some kind of answer but before she could say anything, the others simply ran past her, causing the fastrunner to take a deep sigh. It was true that it was highly unlikely that any of Dein and Terri’s pack would be on this side of the row of hills she had seen earlier but this kind of recklessness was against everything she had learned during her life.

Yet, she couldn’t simply stay here either while her companions moved forward. She headed along with the last of the dinosaurs, long in clear worry as walls rose on both of her sides. Only a short time and she’d be able to get away from this place for good and all would be well again… However, before nearly any time passed, she saw an horrifying sight that confirmed her worst fears. The omnivore who had so very boldly headed into the pass before her companions was suddenly impaled by two massive claws that seemed to appear completely out of the blue as she exited the pass. She could even hardly let out a proper scream before violent gushes of blood streamed out of her crushed body.

The world seemed to stop around Pearl as she looked at the bloody remains of the dinosaurs, her bones and broken intestines flowing into the ground. All of the dinosaurs stood still for a fleeting moment but at that point, every last of them knew what would follow. Pearl started to tremble as Dein’s form suddenly appeared in front of the large group, taking out another omnivore before the rest could even properly react. At that moment, Pearl finally managed to shake herself out of the shock and cry to her companions.

“Turn around and escape as quickly as you can. We can st…” She tried to yell to her companions but her words died down in her mouth as she saw three large fastbiters entering the pass behind her. The sickening implications were reinforced as Dein cried to his enemies in an expectant voice.

“There is no escape for you this time, traitor! You and your pitiful friends die here!”

The sharptooth eyed the growing panic in front of him with a wide grin. He hadn’t expected Pearl and her companions to fall into this trap but now he was more than happy he had given them that chance. He briefly looked at the flyer far above himself, more than happy about his help. This small detour would allow him to crush any hopes Stealth would have about getting reinforcements and to get some reprieve from listening to his mate’s endless poisonous words. Whether he’d still call her such after this day still remained to be seen but at least for now, he knew he’d still have to cooperate with her.

The male predator jumped backwards as one of the fastbiters tried to mount some kind of assault towards him but Dein could only give the smaller carnivore a despising look as he threw him into the ground, crushing the fastbiters body completely. This would end today at long last and once he’d get back to his mate, that would be the end of Stealth once and for all.

Pearl’s eyes were wide with fear as she looked at the hesitant and fearful dinosaurs around her who were clearly at a completely loss about what to do. The three fastbiters were approaching quickly and she knew very well there was no way she would be able to get through them. Only now did she notice the flyer circling high in the skies above her and that only confirmed to the fastrunner just what kind of fool she had just been.

However, that didn’t change the grim reality: if she and the others wouldn’t be able to get past three fastbiters, then they’d have to get past Dein, no matter the odds. Pearl frowned as he saw the massive sharptooth cutting down more and more halfteeth while the fastbiters were able to stand their ground for now. However, all of them were stunned as they heard Pearl’s grim but decisive voice.

“Get past him, now! The other option is to just stay here and get slaughtered! Move, now!” She called and even if none of her companions were willing to do as told at first, all of them could see the wisdom in Pearl’s proposition. Dein looked at his foes in clear astonishment ad he could hardly hide his surprise as all of the smaller dinosaurs suddenly started to swarm towards him. Even then, he knew time was on his side and he grinned triumphantly as he stroke down another of his foes while watching his allies starting their own bloody job.

Pearl knew the situation just as well as did the rest of her companions. Four of the fastbiters suddenly gathered in front of Dein and knew they had but one shot at getting through the sharptooth. The three enemy fastbiters were larger than they were and it would have been very questionable whether they could have got past them in time. Pearl moved just behind the four predators, knowing just as well that everything on the line here. If she failed, she’d never again see her mate nor her beautiful children. No, she wouldn’t allow her story end here just yet. She would escape this deathtrap and repent from her terrible sins!

Dein’s grin started to die down as the smaller sharpteeth leapt at him simultaneously, aiming for his vulnerable abdomen and his throat even if they knew that at least some of them would meet their ends here and now. And indeed, Dein sliced one’s side wide open with his claws while biting another’s entire snout away with one mighty bite. However, he was too proud to then step back in order to avoid getting hit by his foes and a look of pain appeared on his face as he felt the duo starting to shred his abdomen with all their might. He tried to cast them off but they could dodge his attacks better than he could have imagined.

The sharptooth tried to focus on blocking the opening and look at his allies take down what remained of Pearl’s group but inside, he knew that his injuries would soon grow far more severe for him to be able to help his mate against Stealth. Dein cursed internally as he took a step back… and finally allowing the smaller dinosaurs escape from the place that had been supposed to serve as their final resting place.

It didn’t take even a second before Pearl followed the remaining fastbiters out of the pass. She heard an outraged cry escape Dein’s mouth and she could tell very well what he must have said. Even if she had managed to escape that deathtrap, Dein’s ambush had still been extremely effective. Only four fastbiters and three halfteeth, herself included, had survived the slaughter and she knew very well how heavy a blow this really was for Stealth and his pack.

Yet, the only option she had left at this point was to try to return to her mate and believe that some odd twist of fate would still be able to turn this fight into her advantage. The rest of the survivors wasted no time following Pearl, especially as Dein and his pawns started their chase without any waiting. Pearl knew that the chances of victory had diminished greatly but as long as she lived, she was not going to give up and neither would her mate and her children.

A look of deep pain appeared on Detras’ face as he felt the other fastrunner’s claws sinking into his chest. The other omnivore was already at death’s gate but from somewhere she had received powers for one last counterattack. However, the potentially lethal attack was soon interrupted as Jaros struck the female into the ground and crushed her throat with one swift move. He then looked at Detras and asked in slight worry.

“Are you alright, Detras? That was a nasty hit.” He asked, some part of him starting to respect the other male. He was a far cry from some other dinosaurs as there was trace of the familiar malice or dishonesty within him. The bluish male used a few seconds to catch his breath and looking at his injury but he didn’t waste any extra time thinking about such things. He spoke to Jaros in alarm as he rose back to his full height.

“I’ll live, Jaros, but we mustn’t linger here! We have to help Charger fend off Terri’s pawns!” He cried as he looked at the fastbiter facing two members of his kind alone. Soon enough, he would be completely overwhelmed and Detras knew his temporary companions couldn’t afford to lose any dinosaurs without at least forcing the enemy to pay a high price. Jaros nodded at Detras before also reminding him of the most obvious issue.

“Right. Let’s do that and soon enough, we can get to help Stealth. His plan will never work like that.” The male said as he looked at the sailback who was continuously backtracking away from the forest. It wouldn’t be long till their battle would be on the weakened hard water and at that point, Stealth would have a real chance of victory. For now, he was clearly struggling but his agility and speed had made it possible for him to dodge Terri’s attacks but it was clear that he wouldn’t be able to play that game forever. Sooner or later, he’d need help or he’d fall for certain. Detras nodded at his companion and spoke in a worried tone.

“You’re right, Jaros. Let’s not waste any more time and we might even live to see the evening!” He yelled as he headed to do as the other male had suggested, not noticing the other group of foes slowly gathering around him and his companions…

“This looks very bad! At this pace, daddy won’t be able to keep them all at bay and if he can’t do that, things will get even worse!” Ruby exclaimed to Yarel as she followed the unfolding of the battle. Thus far, she had decided to stay away from it as she knew very well the limitations of her own usefulness but as she looked at this new wave of sharpteeth starting to circle around Stealth and the others, her heart was starting to grow cold. She had heard Stealth’s order to her mother but she was nowhere to be seen and neither was Dein for that matter. Yarel looked at Ruby with an apologetic look as he spoke.

“I’m sorry, Ruby, but I can’t see any way Stealth and your parents will be able to pull this off. I don’t think there’s any reason for us to linger here any longer. We should just get away from here as long as we are all still alive.” He said, trying to propose the only sensible option to the girl. Ruby frowned deeply as she looked at the boy, not approving of his words in the least. Her tone was sharp as she spoke to the other omnivore, not hiding her displeasure.

“At least I am not leaving as long as my mommy and daddy are still out there! Just wait, Yarel, I’m sure mommy will come here and her group will change the tide of the f…”

“If anyone hears me, please, take out those bastards or we’ll never be able to join the rest of you!” That voice made Ruby’s heart jump and she immediately turned to look at the direction of the cry, already knowing her ears hadn’t failed her. The girl frowned as she saw her mother and a group of other dinosaurs running towards their companions. At first, Ruby wasn’t sure exactly what was the problem but as she saw Dein running right on their heels, she realized just what the older female had meant.

To make matters even worse, the other sharpteeth moved to block Pearl and the others’ chances of joining with the rest of Stealth’s pack which would obviously be their end. Ruby could immediately see some of Stealth’s allies heading to help their packmates but Ruby could immediately tell that a victory with those numbers would be extremely unlikely. She quickly turned at Yarel and spoke to him quickly.

“Come, follow me! We have to help mommy and the others before they’ll all get slaughtered! We have to prevent Chomper’s daddy from doing his worst and the others might have a chance!” Ruby spoke to Yarel urgently and even if the latter had severe misgivings about his friend’s plan, he still saw the wisdom in them. This was his opportunity for revenge as well against those who had ruined his sister’s life and he wouldn’t hesitate to help Ruby in that quest. He would never admit it to his companion but the only reason he even was here was to get his revenge, though he would never risk his sister for that goal, and to find himself something else to think besides Greentail. He nodded to Ruby before speaking to her expectantly.

“Very well, Ruby! We won’t have much time but let’s do our very best! For your parents and for Greentail!” He said, earning a happy smile from Ruby. The two wasted no more time before heading towards the battlefield, neither of them going to spare their efforts to safeguard their loved ones.

Detras had also heard his mate’s call and it hurt him greatly that he weren’t able to do anything to help her. If he turned away now, the fastbiter would very probably take out both Charger and Jaros and in that case, Stealth’s pack’s defeat as a whole would be close to guaranteed. He had to continue the fight and hope for the best as Pearl’s survival also depended on Dein and Terri’s eventual demise.

The fastrunner looked at Charger’s violent counterattack, knowing that the enemy sharptooth wouldn’t be able to stand his ground for long. At this pace, the two-footers would run out of pawns but would that be enough for Stealth to take the two out once and for all? Abd even if he were, Detras knew that without his mate, he would hardly have strength to move on with his life. He frowned deeply as he continued the struggle, hoping it would have at least a somewhat happy ending.

A victorious grin appeared on Pearl’s face as she sank her claws into the sharptooth’s neck, feeling as her lifeblood quickly streamed out of her body. Even her kind couldn’t resist relishing a successful kill once in a while, especially in a just fight such as this. Sometimes it was the right thing to do to just let her carnivorous side to take control of her actions and throw away all caution in an effort to simply hurt the enemy as much as possible. Of course, it wasn’t what she had taught her children but everything had it….

“Pearl, look out!” She suddenly heard one of the sharpteeth crying and instantly, the omnivore leapt forward and immediately turned around to see that it had been mere moments before Dein would have clawed her entire back open. She panted deeply as she looked the sharptooth in the eyes but that close call didn’t change the fact that the situation was beyond dangerous. Pearl could see a dozen fastbiters gathering around herself while her allies were growing increasingly tired. The six dinosaurs Stealth had apparently sent to help the survivors were still a good distance away and the ring around the hapless dinosaurs was quickly tightening.

She could very well tell that her companions knew the situation just as well as she did and that reality hardly made her feel any easier. Her courage fell further as Dein finally addressed her directly.

“Your long escape is finally over, Pearl. My son will finally get justice and you will finally receive your place in the darkest depths of the Great Beyond.” He said as he started to walk towards the fastrunner. However, to his misfortune, Dein didn’t notice the two forms on the hill not far behind him…

The girl could feel her heart beating wickedly in her chest as she looked at the sharptooth towering over her mother. It was clear everyone present that Pearl would be wiped out within a few seconds if she didn’t receive any help and Ruby knew she couldn’t hesitate any if she wanted to save her. The danger was a horrible one but even then, the fastrunner didn’t even think of what might happen to herself now. She was still more than bitter at her mother but for now, the will to wipe out Chomper’s parents was more important to her. Ruby quickly glanced at Yarel and spoke to him urgently.

“Follow me, Yarel! If we wish to save mommy, we have to prevent Terri from attacking her and if we wish to do that, we have to act now! We can’t waste any more time!” She cried as she suddenly rose to her feet and headed towards the massive sharptooth. Yarel nodded at her quickly before he did as told, knowing this was his opportunity to have his revenge on behalf of his sister.

Terri was just about to deliver the killing blow when she felt a stinging pain within her back, letting out a horrifying cry as Ruby and Yarel’s claws sank into her lower back. A deep cringe rose to Ruby’s face as she forced herself further up the sharptooth’s back, knowing that was her only chance of catching her attention long enough to give her mother a fighting chance. Yarel nodded at Ruby and shouted to the girl urgently.

“Whatever you do, don’t drop down just yet! Tear her back open and we can even prevail!” He cried as Dein tried to force the duo hanging from her back off but her hands simply weren’t long enough for that. She slowly turned to look at her enemies and hissed to them in a murderous tone.

“At least we have all of the treacherous bastards gathered in one place. I promise you that you will regret that maneuver before the end!”

“Greentail, where are you? We were told to stay together, we were!” The swimmer’s voice lingered within the girl’s ears as she headed towards the sounds of the battle. A look of deep agony and determination could be seen on her face as she forced herself forward as long as her limbs only moved. Her walking had improved greatly since her injury and she hated the thought that once again, her brother was out there risking his life while she sat still. The thinclaw hadn’t forgotten her limitations but she had always been a proud and self-confident dinosaur and she absolutely hated the thought that for the rest of her life, Yarel would do everything for her. That was something she would not accept, no matter what.

“Just come back here, Greentail! We have to stay together!” Orchid yelled in the distance but Greentail wouldn’t hear any of that. Even if she knew what it most likely meant, she wanted to be of use to someone for at least one more time in this life. Neither she nor her brother deserved this kind of life and she would take this one chance, no matter the cost. A slight smile appeared on her lips as her damaged eyes caught the vague image of movement in the distance, knowing her moment was quickly coming.

As she stopped for a moment to prepare for the coming, a sudden wave of melancholy washed over her as she thought about what she was about to do. Here she was, a severely maimed fastrunner ready to lay down her life only to prove something to herself. The worst thing was that she still couldn’t remember anything from her past life so all her memories were spoiled by her despicable injury and with the never-ending misery of this cursed Cold Time. No matter where she looked, she saw only more darkness and even her relationship with her brother had been much weaker than it probably had been before.

One resigned sigh escaped Greentail’s mouth as she prepared to dash off. If she had learned anything about herself since that horrible night, she knew that the old Greentail would look upon her with pride for the first time since her first encounter with Dein and Terri. That thought made her chest swell with some joy as she started her run towards the massive sharptooth, hoping she could make this charge count.

Pearl looked at the sight before her with deep astonishment and shock. Dein had completely forgotten about her and her companions, instead focusing on getting rid of the two juveniles on her back. A look of deep worry could be seen within her eyes as she looked at Ruby, hating the fact that she could do nothing to help her daughter now. However, she knew just what Ruby wanted with her attack and she knew there was only one way she could repay her bravery. She turned at her companions and cried in a loud voice.

“Let’s take the villains out so we can reach Stealth and the others! Quickly now, we don’t have much time!” She cried as she turned to face more of the incoming fastbiters, knowing that her chances of surviving this skirmish were even now close to zero. Still, only one thought lingered within her mind as she dodged the first of the enemy’s hits.

Be safe, Ruby. You must live through this, no matter what.

Ruby herself cringed deeply as the sharptooth started another effort to shake the fastrunner away from her back. The girl could hardly prevent herself from falling into the ground but she smiled as she looked at the growing streams of blood flowing down the male’s back. She looked as Yarel climbed ever closer to Dein’s throat, clearly more than ready to take his revenge. However, the predator wasn’t about to let it end like this and he quickly moved towards a nearby tree, determined to end this charade here and now.

Yarel looked in growing fear as Dein hit his back against the tree, knowing that the two younger dinosaurs wouldn’t be able to avoid their fates forever. Yarel knew it as well but even now, she could see Pearl and her companions being closer and closer to breaking through Dein and Terri’s pawns. They had most likely succeeded but he wanted so badly to simply end it here, for the sake of his sister… As his thoughts drifted back to her, the boy’s eyes flashed open as he saw the extremely familiar omnivore approaching him quickly. At first, Yarel couldn’t believe his eyes and his voice bordered between an alarmed and pleading one as he cried to his sister.

“Greentail, get out of here, now! We have the situation under control, just get yourself to safety!” He cried but to his growing despair, Greentail didn’t signal in any way that she had even heard what her brother had said. It was only after she had nearly reached the sharptooth that she answered to the male.

“I’ll try to trip him and when I do, send him to the Great Beyond for good! I’ve had enough of being a completely useless burden and I’ll change all of that now!” She said as he continued to approach Dein. Yarel looked increasingly despairing expression and his voice wavered deeply as he cried to his sister again. For the last few months, it had been his sister that had kept him together and even the thought of losing her now made him sick. Greentail was the only dinosaur he truly cared about and without her, he wouldn’t really have a reason to live on.

“Don’t do this, sister! I just want you to stay at my side! You don’t have to be any kind of hero! Turn around, now!” He yelled but this time, Dein didn’t allow Greentail to answer before he gave his own answer.

“No matter what, none of you will escape from this mess! I promise this much!” He cried as he continued to hammer his back against the tree. Yarel yelped in pain as he felt two of his fingers getting squished against the tree but even then, most of his attention was centered on her foolish sister.

For the first time in ages, Greentail found herself being lucky. Looking right at a two-footer’s murderous face staring back at her was one of any leafeater’s or halftooth’s worst nightmares but her weak eyesight dimmed any details of that horrible sight. She looked at Dein’s feet that struggled to find a solid footing during his sickened efforts, knowing that was one of her most promising spots to attack. She headed under the sharptooth, hoping she’d receive a good chance to strike soon enough.

Dein, however, wasn’t about to give her one. He cursed at his situation but even then, he knew he would get out of it soon enough. The duo on her pack was growing tired and he smiled expectantly as he prepared for one, last push to get rid of those two fools. Ruby looked with fearful eyes as she once again got closer to the tree and this time, she realized she didn’t have any chances of dodging it anymore. She quickly turned at Yarel and cried to her in alarm.

“Let off now, Yarel! We’ve done all we can!” The girl cried as she jumped towards the ground, hoping Yarel would follow her soon enough. The boy cringed as he realized Ruby to be right but he wanted to give Dein one, last parting gift. He quickly sank his claws into the predator’s skin. He then slid down his back, tearing the gaping wound into an even bigger one. Dein cried in pain but at the same time, he put himself into a position where it seemed like he was about to trip completely, knowing just how things would develop.

Greentail’s eyes widened as she saw Dein starting to fall right before her, immediately deciding this was just the moment she had been waiting for. If she was in the right place at the right time, she could make the massive sharptooth to fall into the ground and then it could be all over for him! The girl struggled to see where the predator’s foot was, knowing the best chance she had was to be where his heel would soon land. Sure, it would hurt her greatly but even then, she’d accept that without any hesitation if it would help her brother and Ruby finish the carnivore for good.

Ruby looked at the scene in clear worry, understanding just what the other female was attempting to do. She knew just how dangerous that plan was and inside, there was something that made the fastrunner even more concerned than she should have been. She couldn’t completely decide what but she had a strong urge to tell Greentail to get away from there immediately. However, when she finally realized that nothing in Dein’s struggles seemed genuine, it was all too late for Greentail. She cried at the other girl in horror as she realized the danger she was in.

“Greentail, get out of there now! You’re going to die if you won’t!”

Those words made Yarel’s heart drop within his chest, having finally realized the same thing as Ruby. His sister was taking the beast’s bait and if he couldn’t do anything to help her… The boy suddenly sprinted towards Greentail, praying against all hope he wasn’t soon late. He also yelled in alarm at his sister, hoping to make at least some difference in this moment of despair and horror.

“Come towards me now, Greentail! Please, don’t waste any time!”

The maimed girl, however, had no idea what the two were so worried of. Her mind was beyond cloudy and only now did she remember the great toll her injury had brought to her mental capabilities. For a few decisive seconds, Greentail felt like she was floating in some kind of void as Dein suddenly regained his normal position, finally revealing his balancing problems were all a play. Greentail still being below her, he brought his foot backwards, preparing to crush the omnivore entirely.

The world seemed to freeze all around Greentail as she looked at the sight. She knew her damaged body wouldn’t be able to escape in time nor could she do anything to stop the sharptooth’s attack. Only now did she realize the depth of her folly and foolishness. She had practically just come here to die only to prove herself something but in the end, she had only managed to end her pathetic journey in this world and betrayed his brother after everything he had done to help her in her hour of need. She suddenly felt a tear flowing down her cheek as she turned to look at Yarel’s horrified expression, knowing this was the goodbye. She then started to speak to him in a sad voice.

“I’m so sorry, brother. It was all my…” She started but before she could finish, she felt Dein’s massive claws sink into her chest and stomach, crushing the girl’s entrails completely. Her body was then sent flying against a large rock in a destructive force, breaking the rest of her bones to nothingness. Greentail’s tragic life had finally reached its end.

Yarel looked at the sight in utter disbelief, not willing to accept that the ruined, bloody carcass before him was really his beloved sister. It… it simply couldn’t! All the memories of the difficult times he had gone through… the loss of their parents, their wanderings in the endless wastes of the Mysterious Beyond, their struggles to survive in the hostile world…. and most of all, all the memories when she had been there for him in his worst moments. The boy fell to his knees, his eyes locked on the horrifying sight. He had been unable to help her when she needed him most and because of that, she was now dead… she really was gone…

A similar stunned silence reigned around Ruby as she looked at what had just happened. Seeing Yarel’s sorrow broke her heart as deep down, this was all her fault. A haunted look rose to Ruby’s face as she looked at the other girl’s remains, struggling to take another breath. Why did this unnecessary tragedy even have to happen? Greentail had been a good friend all along and… and there was no way she had deserved this! Ruby’s shock lingered heavily as she looked at the towering sharptooth, knowing the battle was still on.

Dein snorted in disgust as he turned to look at the male weeping in the ground before him, not able to hide his satisfaction about his deed. He had despised the two thinclaws with all his heart ever since he had first seen them in that nightly valley so very long ago and he was happy to finally finish his job. He took one step towards Yarel and spoke to him with a deep grin, happy to see him finally suffer for his horrible choice to join Ruby in her journey.

“Our decisions indeed bear consequences, young one and yours was one of the worst ones I’ve ever witnessed. But at the very least you will soon join your sister in the next life, brat!” Dein cried, quickly dashing at the inconsolable dinosaur before him.

Those words hardly registered within the younger dinosaur’s mind as his tears fell into the ground practically without pause. He hardly even noticed the sharptooth approaching him, the image of his dear sister filling his entire vision. What would he give if he could simply wake up from this nightmare back in his and Greentail’s old home forest, far away from all of this sorrow and pain…

“Yarel, rise up! Please… don’t do this! Greentail wouldn’t want you to throw your life away like this!” Ruby cried with teary eyes, not willing to believe this was really happening. First, she had lost Greentail and now Yarel was preparing to follow her into the next world. Dein was already preparing to strike the decisive blow when Yarel finally raised his gaze upwards to face the mighty beast.

Right now, the boy simply couldn’t find any real reason to go on. He had nothing left and the only dinosaur he loved was dead. However, Ruby’s words brought a new emotion to his mind, one he hadn’t expected. That was one of hate and bitterness towards the fastrunner who had appeared to lure him into some useless adventure that in the end had led to this debacle. In his state of mind, he quickly dashed backwards and managed to dodge Dein’s hit by a margin of mere inches. He then turned at Ruby and cried to her in a poisonous voice.

“That is the last time I’ll ever listen to you, bitch! You brought all of this upon us and you can trust you’ll never see me again!” He cried before turning around and heading into the forest. Ever since his sister’s injury, the thinclaw had lived only to help and comfort her. It had been his only purpose to ensure her safety and now that those hopes were destroyed for good, all that remained was pain. Pain that emanated from the fact that it had been Ruby who had caused Greentail’s head injury and it had been she who had forced him to follow those lights in the sky. With those twisted thoughts, Yarel disappeared into the forest, leaving Ruby to look after him with a shocked look. She reached her hand forward, sobbing as she stared at the spot Yarel had disappeared to only seconds earlier.

“Yarel, come back! We need to stick together if we are to survive this!” She cried but to no avail. Her friend was gone, only his footmarks in the ground sparkles reminding he ever was here. Even if that moment was a sickening one for Ruby, her worry for Yarel was cut short as her gaze met that of Dein’s. The massive sharptooth had apparently given up his chase for the thinclaw and his murderous glare caused Ruby’s stomach to swirl horribly. Dein’s voice was a low and hateful one as he spoke to the fastrunner.

“We will get both of you in due time, Ruby. However, first I’ll make sure Terri won’t fail in slaughtering your cursed benefactor and your parents. You can wait for a moment longer.” He said, cursing the fact that he had to ignore Ruby for now but the fact was that chasing the girl here could take a lot of precious time and give Stealth the time he needed to take out his mate. He snorted at Ruby in disgust before turning around and heading to decide this battle once and for all.

“Tiring already, are you Stealth? It shouldn’t take a long time anymore…” Terri said while trying to catch her own breath, locking eyes for a brief while with the sailback. The latter’s expression was a fearful one but even then, it didn’t match his true thoughts in the least. In fact, he was rather happy with the fact that he had managed to lead Terri so far from the forest, enabling him to utilize his plan soon enough. The water path Dein and the others had damaged lied not far behind the female and he was still largely uninjured himself. However, he wanted to keep up his desperate appearance to the female for a while longer.

“Perhaps you are right, Terri, but if you think I’ll go down without a fight, you’re mistaken! I still have a lot of fight left in me!” He cried as he suddenly mounted a counterattack of his own. He suddenly jumped closer to Terri and cut a wide wound near her shoulder. The two-footer of course tried to retaliate but Stealth managed to dodge the blow without much difficulty. Terri cursed at her opponent’s resilience but the duo’s fight was halted for a short while as one of Stealth’s allies cried to him in a panicked voice.

“Stealth, we have to withdraw now! Dein has broken through the others’ defenses and he’s coming for you now!” She yelled, causing the sailback to curse deeply. He had been rather relieved to learn that Dein hadn’t been helping his mate in this fight but on the other hand, he had also been able to guess the fate of his reinforcements at the same time. But now, if he were able to join his mate… Stealth realized his window of victory had just narrowed considerably. He looked at the omnivore and cried to him frantically.

“We will not withdraw for any price! This is the place where we’ll triumph or fall to the last dinosaur!” He yelled, causing the fastrunner to cringe deeply. Terri gave her foe a brief smile as she could feel victory drawing closer by the second. Her voice was an expectant one as she spoke to Stealth.

“At least you know your options well enough, Stealth. But it’s over for you when Dein finally manages to carry his butt out here!” She cried, affirming it to Stealth that his time had come. He knew that this was his opportunity to attempt to take out the female once and for all. He suddenly started to advance against her, trying to find any openings against the larger dinosaur. Terri was slightly taken aback by Stealth’s renewed vigor but even then, she didn’t lose her calm for even a moment, knowing just what she’d have to do to win this fight.

The two-footer withdrew one step after another, causing a slight hope starting to swell within Stealth’s chest. Soon enough, she’d flee to the weakened hard water and then… a smile appeared to the sailback’s face as he started to smell victory drawing ever closer. Only a few more steps and she’d fall into the frigid water and then it’ll be all over… In his desperate situation, Stealth couldn’t even think that there would be even more faults within his plan. Like the one that it wasn’t a secret to his opponent.

Suddenly, Terri moved to Stealth’s side and with all her might, kicked her towards the water path, causing him to fall to his side. The sailback’s eyes widened in fear as he saw himself rolling towards the cracked hard water, immediately striking his claws in the ground to halt his slide into his death. As he panted in fear, Terri leapt towards him while crying in anger at the smaller sharptooth.

“I can’t believe you actually thought you could trick me into such a foolish mistake! At the very least, you gave me the perfect opportunity to finish this fight for good!” She cried as she landed next to Stealth, trying to tear his chest open with one bite. The sailback, however, managed to turn his shoulder in front of the female’s mouth, cringing in pain as the two-footer tore into his flesh, even breaking parts of his bones. Stealth used this moment to recover his footing and look at Terri in shock, trying to ignore his severe pain. He quickly fled further away from the other predator, letting out a stern call to his followers. They’d have to gather around him for one final effort to take out their foes and hoping that
the battle wasn’t as good as lost.

One dinosaur who heard that call had absolutely no idea about what it meant but inside, she didn’t even really care. Ducky didn’t even want to hold her tears as she looked at Ruby’s distant form, trying to keep her own emotions at least somewhat under control. She had seen Greentail’s end which was something that hurt her deeply. She had always been a kind soul and she had already seen enough death in the past weeks and she hated to see the already broken thinclaw getting crushed like this. The last few cycles of the Night Circle had been like bad sleep stories and this certainly didn’t help her any. The swimmer’s morbid thoughts were interrupted only by Orchid’s words.

“Is she heading after mommy? B… but they’ll both be slaughtered out there!” He exclaimed in fear, immediately followed by his sister whose tone was just as tortured as the boy’s.

“Soon enough they’ll all be like Greentail! We can’t simply stay here and wait for it to happen!” She cried, clearly not knowing what to think. She remembered that Ruby had told her to wait here but that didn’t make her feel any better. Ducky raised her hand to her forehead, trying to stop her own sobbing and to comfort the younger children.

“Greentail was told to stay here as well and you all saw-ded what happened to her. We must stay here and hope for the best, we do.” She said, Ruby’s last words to her lingering within her mind. She hated feeling this useless as always before, she had been able to be of some help to her friends. From her serving as the bait for the sharptooth to her ability to cheer up her friends, she had felt like she was needed but now, she was just a useless burden in a terrible adventure she had never wanted to be a part of. That feeling was a crushing one for her and the absence of her brother made the emptiness even worse. However, the fastrunners weren’t willing to give up on their case just yet.

“But if the worst happens, we’ll be without mommy, daddy and Ruby and Chomper’s parents will still likely want to kill us two! Ruby has told us so much about your adventures, Ducky, so surely you will be able to do something! Please, we beg you!” Orchid said as she moved in front of Ducky with wide eyes, not having anyone else to turn to but one of the dinosaurs Ruby respected and loved above everything else. Ducky returned a sad look at Orchid,, not really knowing but to say. For now, she answered in the only way her mind told her.

“Thank you for your words, Orchid, but Ruby is right. I am just a small swimmer and there’s nothing I could do in a fight against sharpteeth and others halfteeth. I would want to help you but there is no reason for us to just go there to get killed, no, no, no.” She said, nearly resigned to her despair. Ruby’s words had hurt her deeply especially because they were so true. Arial soon moved to her brother’s side to address the swimmer.

“But there’s nothing for us left if we do nothing. We two should have been unable to do nothing against a group of any sharpteeth but we helped mommy, daddy and Ruby beat a group of longbeaks! We can and we have to help them, no matter what! We know you know it as well! You would have done anything to help Spike, wouldn’t you?” She asked, earning a sad but surprised look from the swimmer. She hadn’t expected the duo to know about his brother but inside, she knew Arial was right. Even if a sharptooth had come to try to devour the spiketail’s already dead remains, Ducky knew she would have fought to the very end for him. Inside, she was heartened by the reaction of the two children, not even having expected them. She sighed deeply as she answered those words.

“You are right about that, yep, yep, yep. I would never want to lose Ruby either, not even after everything that has happened. You were right all along after all!” She cried, suddenly rising from her sitting position, facing the two fastrunners with a pained and decisive look. She had always given her all for her friends and she would continue to do so even if Ruby wouldn’t want it. Orchid looked at the swimmer in surprise, a deep look of excitement apparent on his face.

“Do you really mean it, Ducky? Are you really going to help Ruby?” He asked, earning an uncharasterically grim nod from the swimmer. She cast a quick look at both of the omnivores before spoking in a silent voice.

“I certainly am. Now, here is what I am planning to do do…”

A feeling of dread and disgust had already lingered for a short while within Detras’ chest as he headed towards Stealth as the sailback had commanded. Growing nausea was making itself known within his mind as he looked at the dozens of broken corpses around him. He had seen bloodshed more times than he cared to remember but he hadn’t before found himself in the middle of a large battle such as this one. He couldn’t find it in himself to be horrified or saddened by any of it but he would have lied if he said that something in the horror of it all didn’t touch him deeply.

However, far more profoundly in his mind lingered the knowledge about how the battle around him was developing. He could see that Dein and Terri had lost more followers than Stealth had and they were now severely outnumbered. However, that knowledge hardly made him feel any better as he looked at Dein’s form that was quickly approaching from the horizon. Once the two-footers reunited, it would take a miracle for the omnivore and his allies to take the sharptooth down. Even then, Stealth’s voice didn’t waver in the least as he yelled to his followers while trying to keep Terri at bay for a bit longer.

“Halfteeth, try to assist me in keeping Dein at bay for a bit longer! Fastbiters, take the rest of their sharpteeth out and then we’ll seize the victory once and for all!” He cried, hoping against hope that his orders were at least somewhat based in reality. Detras glanced at Dein with a worried look, whispering to Jaros who was standing besides him.
“We’ll never be able to stop him. Even trying to do so would be madness!” He hissed between his teeth, earning an agreeing nod from Jaros. The other male was far more fearful than Detras was and he didn’t even try to hide it.

“It indeed would. But you heard the orders. We have to at least seem like we are trying to stop him, don’t you think?” He asked with a slight smirk, causing Detras to frown deeply. Even if he had absolutely no respect towards Stealth, he had still learned the value of loyalty in the Mysterious Beyond and he was disappointed by Jaros’ words. He was just about to answer when Charger cried to the duo in anger.

“Stop wasting any more time! We can still win but that requires you two to do something as well!” The fastbiter cried as he joined the other members of his kind in trying to take out the rest of Dein and Terri’s followers. Jaros looked at the larger dinosaur in annoyance but he knew he was right so he spoke to Detras wearily.

“Well, you heard him. Let’s go then, for his sake.” Jaros said before he leapt off, heading towards the heart of the battle.

Guilt was the dominating emotion within Pearl’s mind as she headed towards Stealth and the rest of her temporary allies. After everything she had done, she shouldn’t have left Ruby out there practically alone to face the massive two-footer. She knew she had not only failed her role as Ruby’s mother but also as a decent dinosaur as a whole as she thought about the struggles of her daughter and her friends.

She shuddered from both cold and guilt as she headed forward, trying to shake herself awake from such thoughts. After all, this wasn’t any skirmish where she could defend Ruby like she was some helpless hatchling and Pearl wanted to believe she was able to trust Ruby at least this much. Knowing there was absolutely nothing she could do to change any of that, she tried to force herself to concentrate on the coming seconds. She heard Dein’s loud footsteps thundering through the plain but she knew he had no way of catching her up in the immediate future.

Her eyes were locked more intensely on the enemy fastbiters who were in a surprising amount of disarray. She ran practically unopposed and the sight of Stealth and Terri slowly started to appear in the horizon. She was relieved about being able to escape Dein’s ambush but right now, she wanted to find one certain dinosaur, one she had missed feverishly since their separation not long ago. However, that wait was long sooner than she had dared to even dream of as she heard a joyful male voice call to her.

“Pearl, I’m here, dear!” Her face immediately turned into a smile and she wasted absolutely no time turning to look at the direction of the call. This fight had just taken a turn for the better even if its conclusion could still turn all of that into pure sorrow.

Detras looked at the female in the distance with a pleading look, hating the fact that he simply couldn’t head towards her and leave his formation with the rest of Stealth’s followers. His heart swelled as he saw the other dinosaur starting to approach him but even then, Dein was also drawing closer by the second and the best chance to try to stop him was quickly approaching. His only option was to continue with the battle and wait for Pearl to reach him as soon as possible. He felt himself being torn apart by his duty and his love but he had to trust Pearl enough to believe she’d catch him soon enough. The fastrunner frowned deeply as he saw three of the omnivores starting to head towards the sharptooth with a frozen vine, clearly hoping to trip him.

However, that effort ended practically as well as one could expect. Dein snorted in clear disgust before he quickly jumped to his side, gutting two of the halfteeth with one strike. Yet, the third one was able to use this tiny opening to her advantage and she opened another gaping wound into the sharptooth’s thigh. The female was able to dodge the following counterattack only barely. However, the growing chaos around the predator confirmed to Dein that the time to strike was now. He turned to Jaros and other dinosaurs around him and called in a loud voice.

“Let’s go, now! This is the best opportunity we’re going to get!”

Dein cursed deeply as another one of his strikes failed to hit its target. Waves of pain radiated from everywhere within his body as more and more wounds were being delivered on him. This battle wasn’t going nearly as well as he had expected but even then, he wasn’t going to be hindered by these cursed halfteeth! He suddenly kicked another one far away from himself while using his tail to send another one flying into the ground. He would take these fools out one by one if he had to.

It was clear to Detras that each of the omnivores was trembling with fear but at least for now, their courage was enough to withstand panic from overcoming their senses completely. Detras himself looked with wide eyes at the towering sharpteeth above himself but knew better than to flee now. They were buying precious seconds for Charger and the others to take out the rest of the two-footers’ allies and for that end, it would be worth it to sacrifice a few more fastrunners.

He grinned as he managed to land another hit to Dein’s leg but suddenly, the latter turned around and took out another one of the enemies while forcing the rest of them to a highly unfavorable line position. Before any of them could even think about what was going on, two of the fastbiters ran towards the omnivores and sliced three of their throats wide open. Detras’ eyes widened in fear as he realized that if he was only a bit more unlucky, he would have been on his journey to the Great Beyond by now. However, the attack wasn’t over just yet and he frowned deeply as he noticed one of the attackers approaching Jaros.

Despite the short time they had known each other, Detras had learned to somewhat respect the other male and he certainly didn’t want to see him eviscerated by one of Dein’s mindless pawns. Jaros tried to fight back against the sharptooth but obviously he had no way of surviving the encounter without help. He was almost resigned to his death by the time Detras had managed to slip out of the predator’s line of sight and attack him from his back.
The omnivore grinned deeply as he hit a blow after blow against the fastbiters’ back, feeling the spine starting to fail under his endless attacks. The carnivore screeched in pain as he tried to finish the smaller dinosaur’s attack for good. However, that fight ended quickly as Jaros moved towards the pained dinosaur and tore his right hand deep into his throat. The sharptooth gave a weak gurgling sound before it fell into the ground, the last vestiges of life leaving his body quickly. Jaros panted deeply as he looked at Detras, his voice shuddering in shock a he spoke to the other omnivore.

“You… you saved me life, damnit! I guess I have… no choice but to thank you.” He said, trying to understand what had just happened. However, before Detras could give his answer, he heard a female voice speak to him in clear relief.

“You did well, dear, but we have to go now! The others are… they are dead!” The male’s heart swelled as he finally saw Pearl approaching him, happy to finally have her back at his side. He hated the fact that he had been forced to test his luck while she was trying to make her way to him through these grim killing fields. but he had his duty. He tried to catch his breath as he looked around himself. Indeed, the two-footer’s maneuver had allowed his surviving allies to surprise the omnivores and only a handful of them remained, nowhere near enough for them to even dream of taking down a sharptooth like Dein. He gave a brief smile to Pearl while waving the few survivors to follow him.

“At the very least you are still here and Dein is getting hurt quite badly. We have to rally around Stealth and hope the fastbiters will be able to turn the tide in our favor! Besides, Ruby is still out there and I’m sure she will be able to help us as well.” Detras said with a smile and dashing off once again. Pearl looked at him with a bothered look, hoping she’d have the time to inform him of what had happened earlier but for now, they’d have to focus on saving themselves. With a deep sigh, she followed her mate on yet another

However, if Detras had been there to witness her first meeting with Dein today, he would have been far more distrusting of Ruby’s help. The girl followed the course of the battle alone, only her tears and the sickening, haunting feeling in her stomach accompanying her. None of this felt real anymore: ever since Greentail’s death and Yarel’s escape, she had felt like she was following all of the events through some heavy wall of hard water, even her head feeling completely empty. She still couldn’t believe any of it had actually happened but even then, none of it mattered right now. Now, the only thing that mattered was to try to help her parents survive this struggle, no matter the cost.

A look of despair rose on Ruby’s face as he looked at Stealth’s allies’ withdrawal, knowing just how unlikely their victory would be at this point. The only good thing that had happened were Dein’s injuries that were getting increasingly serious by the second. Even then, it would take a miracle if Stealth could defend himself from the two-footers for even a short while but Ruby wasn’t one to give up just yet. She was ready to walk her path to the end even without anyone on her side no matter how badly it hurt her. With a deep sigh, she dashed after the combatants, waiting for the right time to strike.

“This is as close as you two can come with me. I’ll have to continue alone from now on, I do.” Ducky said as she listened to the voices of the dead and the injured not far behind her. She was beyond devastated by them but even then, she had found her courage for the first time since Spike’s passing. Orchid looked at the swimmer oddly, clearly worried by what would follow.

“Alright, Ducky. J… just make your effort count.” He mumbled, not really finding anything better to say. The girl smiled at him, not able to help but find Orchid and Arial’s loyalty towards their family as anything but admirable. She knew she would have given her all to her own mother and siblings as well but she hadn’t been able to see such acts of courage from dinosaurs as young as the two fastrunners before except… A warm smile appeared on the swimmer’s face as she realized she and her friends couldn’t have been any older when they first reached the Valley. Ducky spoke to Orchid warmly as she prepared to dash off on her own.

“I’ll do my very best, I will! You two stay safe as well. I don’t want to tell it to Ruby if anything happened to either of you. Good luck, Orchid and Arial!” She said as she turned to head into the woods alone but before she could get any further, she was interrupted by Arial one more time.

“You won’t have to do that, Ducky! We’ll make sure all ends well, I promise!” She cried, causing a slight frown appear on Ducky’s face. Once, she would have been heartened by those words but now, she saw them only as overconfidence created by the younger girl’s inexperience. A sick feeling crept into her stomach but there was no turning back now. She merely nodded at Arial before she finally headed into the gloomy forest. Arial looked after her with a slightly bothered look, slightly saddened by that parting of the ways. She had learned to like Ducky greatly and she had been instrumental in keeping her spirits up even today. She slowly turned at Orchid and spoke in a bothered voice.

“Let’s go, Orchid. Mommy and daddy need us now!” She whispered to which Orchid could only agree. He spoke in an equally meek voice which he didn’t even try to hide.

“You’re right, Arial. Let’s also show Ruby that she doesn’t have to do everything alone.” He said before the duo turned to face the scene of the battle and heading towards the eye of the storm.

“You still haven’t been able to take that pitiful sailback out, Terri? I’m beyond disappointed in you!” Dein cried with a slight smirk as she stopped by her mate’s side, willing to tease her a bit before finishing this battle once and for all. The female looked at him in clear anger, not really on the mood to argue with the dinosaur whose fault it was that they hadn’t already slaughtered at least Detras.

“At least I didn’t get battered by a group of fastrunners like you did! Now, help me slaughter this bastard so we can get over all of this!” She spoke, causing Dein to roll his eyes briefly. The two then turned to face Stealth who couldn’t deny the deep fear starting to rise within his chest. His plan had failed miserably and he hadn’t been able to even take Terri out before Dein’s arrival! He knew perfectly well that his position was now nearly a hopeless one and that fact didn’t make him feel any better. Right now, there was no reason to see victory as a reasonable outcome for this fight but he wouldn’t give up as long as he drew breath. He looked at the two sharpteeth, hissing to them in rage.

“This isn’t over yet, murderers! I promise you that both of you will lie lifeless in the ground when the Bright Circle sets in the evening!” He cried even if he knew the chances of that happening were decreasing by the second. He knew that time wouldn’t work in his favor today and he attempted to use Dein’s injuries to his advantage before it would be too late. He suddenly jumped towards him and tried to go for his throat but before he could deal his blow, Terri kicked him on his right side, sending him flying into the ground. As he felt Dein starting to dig into his flesh, the sailback knew his chances of prevailing were nearing zero.

Inside, Detras didn’t feel any pity at the sharptooth as he tried to struggle against the two-footers’ attacks. Watching the pompous fool getting beaten made him grin somewhat as each of the wounds he received was well-earned. However, no matter how much he wanted to see Stealth suffer, he still needed his help against Dein and Terri and because of that, he knew he needed to act before Stealth’s life would be snuffed out for good. He turned to look at Pearl and spoke to her urgently.

“We have to help him get up or it’s all over! We can’t help him head into the Great Beyond just yet!” He yelled at the female who immediately nodded back at him. She shared his sentiments completely and she was ever bit as repulsed by the thought of helping Stealth as the male was. Her voice was a low one as she spoke, her thoughts partially fixed on the other, smaller battles around her. They, too, were taking a turn for the worse but right now, only the two large sharpteeth mattered.

“You’re right, dear. If we can’t get rid of them now, we’ll never get a chance again. We have to take one of them down or we’ll fight a losing battle. But we have to hurry if we wish to save him!” She cried, waving the male to follow her to face the two massive beasts, hoping that she wouldn’t only be marching to her own death.

A deep sigh escaped Ducky’s mouth as she looked at the sight below her. The sight of the two predators preparing to finish off Stealth was a horrifying one for the swimmer but she knew well enough that she couldn’t begin to hesitate now. She was slightly taken back by the fact that she still didn’t have any idea about where Ruby was but at the very least she could well see where her parents were. The swimmer gave a brief smile as he noticed that the tree she was sitting in hadn’t shed its leaves, which looked more like small spikes, into the ground. That fact would hide her for at least a while as she prepared to execute her plan.

The girl cringed as she looked at the pile of large, sharp rocks she had carried with her into the tree, hoping that she could use one of them to blind or at least seriously harm the eyes of the two predators and thus give Stealth and the others a chance to beat them. The thought seriously injuring another dinosaur was a disgusting one for the swimmer but she knew just what the stakes were in this battle. She could blame herself later but for now, she simply wanted to help Ruby in her hour of need. She could apologize to Chomper later on but Ruby was still here with her whereas Chomper wasn’t.

Trying to cast those morbid thoughts from her mind, he raised the first stone into the air, looking at Dein’s frantic movement and hoping she’d get at least one lucky shot at her. The swimmer aimed carefully for a few seconds before throwing the rock, praying she’d be of at least some help in this struggle.

Dein growled in annoyance as Stealth fought off his attacks one by one even in his desperate position. Slowly, he came to understand just why her pawns had called him such a difficult dinosaur to catch and kill. Even if the male hated the thought of giving any honors to his enemies, he had to admit Stealth had proven himself to be a real fighter. But it wouldn’t help him for long. The sharptooth smiled viciously as he prepared for another attack but before he could launch it, he felt a stinging pain next to his left nostril.

The sharptooth snorted sternly, not really giving the hit much thought. It had to be just some cursed buzzer and it wouldn’t be worth it to allow such things to delay Stealth’s demise. But before he could charge against Stealth, he felt another similar hit near the corner of his eyes and at that point, he promptly turned around, willing to get to the bottom of this annoying turn of events. He eyes the trees around him with wary eyes but before he realized, it was too late.

The swimmer couldn’t believe her luck as she saw Dein turning to look at her. She didn’t even realize just how absurd it was for her to be happy that a mighty murderous beast stared right at her, preparing to crush her tiny body to pieces. But right now, she couldn’t care less as this was her only way to help Ruby and her family. Just as the predator started to dash towards the tree she was hiding in, Ducky threw the rock with all her might… and it Dein’s right eye right in the middle.

The sharptooth cried as the wave of pain dashed through him. He knew that one rock wasn’t enough to completely ruin his eye but it certainly would take time before it could recover from that hit. Suddenly, he saw Ducky herself preparing to throw another stone but she was more than determined to stop her. As he prepared to finish this tiny nuisance, Terri cried to him in clear outrage.

“Get back here at once, Dein! Come help me keep this bastard at bay!” She called to the male but he wasn’t going to listen to her right now. Certainly even she could keep one sailback at bay for long a small moment? The sharptooth gritted his teeth in annoyance as he kicked the tree with all his might, his claws tearing deep into its interior. He looked at the tree’s swaying in slight eagerness, knowing the swimmer couldn’t linger in there for too long. He still remembered the smaller dinosaur’s face from their previous two encounters and deep down, he was only happy to take out another of Ruby’s friends. Maybe even the cursed fastrunner herself would soon show herself…

The swimmer gritted her teeth in growing fear as the branch she was sitting on started to shudder more violently by the second. Only now did she realize the depth of the danger she had put herself in as before she had somehow thought that her position would keep her safe from the two-footers. Now, however, she started to feel her grip on the branch starting to slowly slip. A look of fear rose to her face as she looked at the predator’s murderous face staring at her, his massive teeth only waiting to crush her entire body for good.

A few sobs could be heard as Ducky realized this would be her end. She couldn’t escape without dropping into the ground nor could she linger here forever. Either option would end in her demise sooner than later, a thought that made her shiver in sorrow and horror. She had only just found one of her old friends and now the merciless fate was separating the two once again. None of it was fair, it wasn’t! Yet, at the very least Ducky knew her sacrifice would be worth more than many others’ on this day.

The fastrunner’s awe had turned into shock as she had followed her friend’s actions. She had been more than impressed that she had bought Stealth more time and that she had been able to damage his sight at least temporarily but all of that had disappeared from her mind the moment she saw the swimmer’s helplessness under the counterattack. Her
eyes widened in horror as she looked at Ducky tying herself into the branch, knowing it was her last effort to escape the inevitable.

A deep frown formed her face as she crept closer to Ducky’s tree through the dead bushes, accompanied by clear disappointment. Why couldn’t anyone simply follow her orders? First Greentail had gotten herself killed without good reason and now Ducky was taking that same path? The fastrunner would have cursed her heart out by that realization weren’t it for her worry for her friend.

Even now, she loved Ducky practically as her own sister and even if her confidence in her had dwindled after realizing the huge weaknesses of her kind. Swimmers were a mere burden in fights like these but after her time in the Valley, she’d never look at Ducky as merely a member of her kind. She was just… Ducky. Her beloved friend, the sweetest dinosaur around as well as her last link to her lost, happy past. Only now did she realize how much she still cared for Ducky and no matter what, she’d ensure her survival through
this battle.

Her grip was starting to slip more and more by the second and the green swimmer realized that her time to decide was quickly approaching. She could simply stay here and eventually drop into the sharptooth’s gaping maw or she could take matters into her own hands one last more and try to buy at least a few more seconds for Stealth and the others. At this point, that was all her life was worth anymore. The swimmer suddenly realized how very unlike herself those thoughts were but it couldn’t be helped now. These past weeks had required everyone else to change around her so there was no way she could resist doing so either. She took a deep breath before she jumped into the nothingness, hoping she’d still be alive by the time she reached the ground.

It was only a couple of seconds before the swimmer felt herself sinking into the ground sparkles and as she felt the cold embrace her completely, she knew she was still alive. Knowing she had no time to waste, the girl glanced above herself… only to see herself glancing into Dein’s dreadful eyes. As the predator slowly showed his teeth, Ducky let out a horrified screech and tried to run away, only to trip immediately as her feet sank into the ground sparkles again.

Tears started falling from the swimmer’s eyes as she attempted to turn around to gaze right into her doom. Ducky could only whimper hysterically as she saw Dein let out a horrifying screech right at her, raising his hands to impale the annoying pipsqueak for good. She slowly curled into a ball, weeping against her knees as she prepared for the inevitable. Amidst her sobs could be heard desperate sounds that would have broken the heart of any other dinosaur but Dein or his mate.

“I’m so sorry, mommy and daddy… I did my best to return to you! I’m so sorry for I’ve done… But Spike, Petrie… the others… I’m there with you in a better place soon enough…” She whimpered, not wanting to look at the claws that would soon crush her body to pieces…

A deep look of horror could be seen on Ruby’s face as she ran forward with all her might. The entire world seemed to freeze still as he looked at the encounter of the swimmer and the sharptooth. She couldn’t help but admire Ducky’s bravery but even then, all of that would soon be meaningless if she wasn’t quick enough. Her heart pounded as she looked at Dein’s claw drawing closer to Ducky… but it would only be a few seconds before she’d reach her friend all would be well again…

The last moments of her life passed agonizingly slowly for Ducky as her life flashed before her eyes. She only wished she’d have more time with everyone dear to her but it couldn’t be helped. Only a little more and… Suddenly, the small dinosaur’s eyes flashed open as she felt herself being pulled from the ground with a strong force.

Ruby sighed a breath of relief as he raised Ducky from the ground, for a while not having believed in her ability to save her herself. Now, she’d only have to get away from here and carry her friend to safety and… Suddenly, a horrifying pain flashed through the fastrunner’s body, one she had never felt before. She let out an ear-piercing cry of agony as she turned to look after her, not stopping her moment for a second. The girl felt her heart jumping into her throat as she saw what had happened.

Dein had finished his trike but instead of Ducky, his claws had hit her tail, ripping a third of it completely off. The sight of her ruined tail would haunt Ruby for many Cold Times to come but for some reason, her mind remained fixed on what she was doing. With tears of pain flowing from her eyes, she put Ducky on her back, crying to her urgently.

“Whatever you do, Ducky, don’t let off from my feathers for a second! I’ll get you out of here!” She cried, dashing away as quickly as he only could amidst the ground sparkles.

Her eyes widened greatly as Ducky tried to understand everything that had just happened. She was still alive, saved by Ruby of all dinosaurs. At first, she was going to thank her to her best ability but the fastrunner’s cry was more horrifying than pretty much anything she had ever heard. The swimmer’s heart nearly broke as she heard Ruby’s agony and as the larger dinosaur placed her on her back, Ducky couldn’t help but look at the omnivore’s stub of a tail with wide, teary eyes.

Her friend had saved her even at a horrible risk to herself and she had payed for it dearly. A certain look of relief swelled within her even in the middle of it all. Even after their previous fight, she had still come here to risk her life for the sake of her friend. Ducky smiled deeply, Ruby’s concern for her washing much of her earlier mental turmoil away. Maybe it had been a blessing he hadn’t died alongside Spike after all.

The sharptooth looked at the escaping duo in shock, not expecting them to be able to trick him once more. He had abandoned his duty alongside his mate and he had nothing to show for it! At this pace, not only would he turn out to be a complete joke to Terri but also to everyone else in the Mysterious Beyond. He suddenly raised his voice and cried in cold rage.

“Stop that bastard from escaping, now! She must not be able to escape again!”

Detras’ eyes widened as one of the sharpteeth fighting Charger suddenly turned around, disengaging from the fight without any clear reason. Sure, he had heard Dein’s frantic cry but he hadn’t been able to tell just his words but apparently they were something that would give him and Pearl at least some reprieve. He turned to look after the fastbiter before seeing one dinosaur he hadn’t expected to see out there: his beloved daughter. His heart sank as he realized that it was Ruby who was the new target of the predators, slowly starting to understand what was going on. Apparently she had done something that had enraged Dein and now the sharptooth was preparing to end this enmity once and for all. She turned at her mate and cried to her in a frantic voice.

“It’s Ruby, dear! We have to go help her, now!” He yelled, at first earning a confused look from the female. Pearl’s heart sank as she saw the same as her mate even if she knew that neither of the omnivores had a choice at this point. They simply couldn’t allow Ruby to die like this, no matter the cost or Stealth’s bitterness afterwards. For a moment, her heart skipped a beat as saw Orchid and Arial helping one of their allies in overpowering one fastrunner, not having expected to see them here. She was instinctually heading to protect them but suddenly, she remembered what her real mission was right now. Knowing she’d have to trust the duo a bit longer in this critical moment, she nodded at the male, giving him the only answer she could.

“Lead the way, Detras. But we must not waste any time!”

“Please, it just can’t end like this! It simply cannot!” Ruby cried as she looked at the predators who were quickly cutting her possible escape routes one by one. No matter how many turns she took, it seemed like another fastbiter would appear of nowhere to block it. Ruby could only hear her own heart beating from her growing despair and the indescribable pain from her bleeding tail. A wide trail of red in the ground sparkles was left behind the omnivore as she tried her best to escape to safety. However, it wasn’t long before she was forced to stop completely as another sharptooth completed the ring around her. Ruby fought back a tear as she whispered to her friend.

“I… I think this is the end for us, Ducky. I pray it weren’t but if I knew how to get away from this mess, I’d tell it without any hesitating!” She said as she slowly started to back down, looking as the sharpteeth drew closer.

Ducky looked at that sight in disbelief, not able to believe what was happening. She had been saved from Dein, only for her to die at the claws of his underlings alongside with Ruby. Yet, in the end, that wasn’t the worst possible fate as at least she’d have someone on her side on the journey to the next life which was far better than simply freezing to death, alone and forgotten. She took a warm smile and locked eyes with Ruby while speaking to her warmly.

“That’ okay, Ruby. I am just so very, very happy you came to save me. I am just sad you had to go through this because of me, I really am.” She said, causing the fastrunner to lower her eyebrows contently, clearly not one regret present with her mind. She nodded at the swimmer before speaking to her silently.

“That’s alright, Ducky. I could never have left you out there, no matter what. I’m just glad to be here with…” She spoke but before she could finish the sentence, she heard a frantic cry.

“Ruby, come here, now! The way is clear!” Those words caused the girl’s eyes to grow wide as she turned to look at their source. One fastbiter lied dead in the ground, taken out by Ruby’s parents. The fastrunner didn’t waste one second before doing as she was told. If there was any hope left of escaping this mess, she’d take it without second thought. She had never sprinted that quickly in her entire life as not only was she defending herself and Ducky, that opening also seemed like a pathway to the future for the distressed fastrunner.

Many curses escaped Terri’s mouth as she looked at the battle around her. Not only had Stealth managed to regain his ground in this duel but Dein’s moronic order to call the smaller sharpteeth to help him trap Ruby had also given their enemies a far better chance to prevail. Right now, the female would have given anything for a chance to rip her own mate to pieces as her hate towards him seemed to grow stronger by the second. Her situation wasn’t helped when Stealth taunted her with a clearly sneering voice.

“It seems neither you nor mate are even distantly worth your reputation, Terri! I’m really starting to wonder what kinds of weaklings you’ve fought before!” He cried as he dodged another of the two-footer’s attacks. The female spat into the ground, increasingly frustrated by her inability to break the impasse. Stealth was a far tougher opponent than those she had usually faced before and his resilience was almost unnatural. If Dein was here, the sailback would already lie dead in the ground but right now, she was only embarrassing herself. She’d never lose to the smaller predator but neither was she able to overpower him.

Suddenly, she heard Detras’ cry nearby, the course of events quickly becoming clearer for her. Blind hate filled her mind as she heard the omnivore’s voice, her own frustration and the knowledge that all of this was Detras’ fault. She knew she’d have to lock Stealth in this duel but on the other hand, it didn’t seem like she’d be able to get anything done against him. In a moment of utter rage and bitterness, the female suddenly cried at Stealth before turning around and disengaging from the fight.

“Relish these moments, Stealth, as any hopes you have of prevailing are utter folly.” She cried before quickly turning around, preparing to slaughter the dinosaur whose treachery had taken her son away from her and whose fault all of these weeks of chasing were.

“Keep them at bay for a little longer, dear! She’s almost here!” Pearl cried as she did her best to dodge the fastbiters’ attack as best as she could. Seconds passed slowly but soon enough, Ruby will be here and at that point, they’d all be able to escape to safety. It wouldn’t be long now and they’d be together once again…

The omnivore cringed as she received another deep wound from the predator, cringing at having to be forced into skirmishes like these. Fighting a fastbiter was always a losing battle for a halftooth but they could delay their advance for a time. And in a situation like this, time was all she needed. Only a few moments more…

Detras heard his mate’s call and his thoughts were highly similar to those of the female’s. He was bleeding from practically everywhere but he hardly felt his wounds as he thought about survival. He’d be able to take dozens of more injuries before it’d prevent him from protecting his own family and even then, he’d fight to his dying breath. For the first time in ages, he felt like he was fighting for a just cause instead of some trade that would only buy him some short-term relief and forcing some fool to pay for that relief with their life. He smiled as he realized that simple fact, allowing himself to allow the thrill of the battle to take over this one time… not knowing that that would be the worst mistake of his entire life.

“Daddy, look out, now! Please, daddy, listen to me!” He suddenly heard Ruby cry in horror but by the time Detras realized what was happening, it was already too late. The male’s eyes widened in fear as he saw Terri’s massive form bow next to him, the sounds of her approach dented by his own duel with the fastbiter. Detras tried to turn away and run for his life but before he got the chance to do so, he felt himself being thrown into the ground, held in place by the sharptooth’s claws. Detras’ eyes widened with fear as he felt the predator sink her claws deeper into his back but suddenly, that torture eased for a second. The fastrunner felt his blood run cold as Terri whispered to his ear.

“At last, you will pay for everything you ever did, halftooth scum! I hope you’ll suffer forever in whatever place I’ll send you, Detras!” She cried, the end of those words signaling to the omnivore that his days were numbered. At the very least he had been able to start repaying his debt to his family and bought them a chance to live on. In the end, he did deserve this end, didn’t he? Detras took on one, last breath before Terri suddenly impaled the fastrunner with her claws, crushing his innards to pieces.

The moment her father’s blood burst into the air was one that seemed to burn to Ruby’s mind. She simply couldn’t tear her gaze away from the calm yet regretful expression that still could be seen on his face as his body finally stopped moving. All coherent thoughts stopped within the girl but some instinct forced her to continue her escape as she didn’t want to waste her father’s sacrifice. She tried to call to him but her voice died down within her throat as she saw the satisfied look on Terri’s face. Suddenly, the girl’s sorrow turned into blind rage as she cried at the predator.

“I will not let you get away with this, monster! I will make you regret what you did to daddy before the end! You will see that soon enough!” She cried as she started to shudder, never before having felt as powerless and enraged. Terri’s disgusted snort infuriated her even further but right now, Ruby knew she’d never be a match to the towering vessel of death before her.

Pearl nearly fell into the ground as the pain within her chest nearly incapacitated her completely. From the corner of her eye, she noticed one of Stealth’s fastbiters took her opponent out but none of that seemed to matter. She fell into her knees, looking into the white ground as tears started falling from her eyes. She had always known the day when she’d have to bid farewell to her beloved mate would come but… not like this! Not yet!

The memories of twenty-five Cold Times flowed through the fastrunner’s eyes as she lied in the ground, all coherent thoughts absent for her mind. The times good and the bad, sorrow and joy… she had shared everything with Detras. When she had felt powerless and weak, it had been he who had helped him through it. He had nearly always been the best father her children could have asked for and it seemed to her like it was some cruel joke it had been one of his few mistakes that had finally got one of the brightest mind of the Mysterious Beyond. She was suddenly awakened from her thoughts by the only dinosaur who could do so.

“Let’s get away from here, mommy! We’ve got to…” Ruby started but before she got further, she noticed something that made her teary eyes grow wide.

Stealth used the opening to his advantage and he spared no risk to himself as he charged against the larger dinosaur. Terri thought she had managed to stop his attack by parrying his first hits but without any fear, Stealth leapt upon her, intent on felling her to the ground. Terri cringed at that attack and managed to tear a long, gaping wound all across the sailback’s right side. Stealth seemed to pay no attention to the new injury, instead deciding to go on with the plan he knew would win him this duel finally. He already grinned as he felt Terri’s resistance finally fail.

A horrifying screech could be heard as Terri’s lower back was impaled by a wide branch that was sticking out of the ground, the sharptooth’s blood immediately starting to spill everywhere around her. Terri forced herself back to her feet without any extra waiting, trying not to ignore as much of the pain as she simply could. She panted deeply as she looked at Stealth, trying to put on a brave face even if she knew the tide of the battle had turned for good.

“Now you’ve really done it, sailback… However, you are still going down today!”

That sight suddenly made Dein realize something he had managed to ignore until now. His and his mate’s fortunes in this battle were going from bad to worse, all because of his earlier lack of judgement. The male cursed deeply as he started to rush towards his mate, determined to do whatever he could to make up for his terrible mistake. Terri had been right all along: he had done nothing but mistakes in the past weeks and because of this, both of them were going to lose their faces… or worse.

Stealth’s surprise maneuver caused Ruby’s mind to snap out of its sorrow for a moment. She could see that the sharptooth’s fight had just become far more forced and painful and for the first time, it was clear that the sailback was taking the initiative. Even now, Ruby knew that the only thing that made her care about such things was revenge. Revenge against the one who had robbed her father away for him. From the corner of her eye, she could see Orchid and Arial stare at the scene with stunned eyes after most likely having helped the others to take down some of Dein and Terri’s allies. Ruby’s hand turned into a fist as she headed towards the scene of the battle, knowing she’d have to do this after everything that had happened. She heard her mother’s voice call to her as she moved quickly forward.

“Ruby, come back here back at once! I can’t lose you as well today! Please, just come back to me!” She cried, clearly begging for Ruby to return. The girl, however, didn’t even bother to answer, seeing her moment arriving quickly. Terri clearly heard her approach but Stealth was pressuring her badly enough to prevent her from doing much about it. The fastrunner picked a large rock from the ground, starting beat the predator’s ankle with all her force. She frowned deeply as Terri did her best to do the same to her that Dein had done to Greentail but her injuries slowed her movements down just enough. Soon enough the mighty sharptooth would come crashing down.

That fact wasn’t a secret even to Terri and the female started to feel fear starting to grow within her chest. She couldn’t escape anymore and she had no way of even defending herself from Stealth anymore. Dein was rushing to her help but she could feel her powers diminishing by the second. Her world started to slowly spin around as more and more blood left her body. Even worse her ankle would soon have to give up under Ruby’s frantic attacks. It was finally becoming clear to the sharptooth that she wasn’t going to win the battle after all.

That same realization wasn’t lost on Ruby either. Terri’s movements were growing more forced by the second and she was even starting to waver slightly. While Stealth was also covered in cuts and by his own blood, none of them were life-threatening and his fatigue was only starting to settle in. However, at this point, Ruby couldn’t care less about the sailback, only the image of his father filling her broken mind. He’d take this monster out, no matter the cost and avenge her father in the only way possible. Ruby’s cry was a frantic one as she prepared to send one, final blow at the predator’s ankle.

“Here’s for daddy, killer! I hope Chomper can finally make you see that everything you did was against what he would have wanted!” Ruby cried, smiling as she heard an audible crack in the beast’s ankle as the rock collided with it. Terri let out a loud cry as she fell to her knees, knowing she’d never again rise to her full height… that she’d never walk again. Even if she somehow lived through this battle, a sharptooth with a broken leg was as good as a dead sharptooth. However, the full truth wasn’t yet known to Dein whose call reached the female’s ears shortly.

“Hold on for a few moments longer, Terri! I’m there soon!” He cried but those words only made the female cringe in hate. This was all his fault and without him and his failures, they would already be enjoying from their victory but now… now she could only stare at Stealth’s triumphant face before her.

A wide, cruel smile rose to the sailback’s face as he looked at the two-footer before him. She was at his mercy and he regretted the fact that the battle was still going on as during many nights, he had only waited for a chance to make the two sharpteeth suffer as he had. In any case, now he had at least the chance to avenge Sprinter and Whiteclaw and his countless seasons of fear and agony. Slowly, Stealth leaned towards the other predator and whispered to her in a disgusted, hate-filled voice.

“I promised you I’d get you and your pathetic mate before my days were numbered, Terri, and I kept my word! I am sorry I have to let you go this easily but I still have work to do! Say hello to mother and father for me.” He said as he sank his claws into the larger predator’s throat, relishing the feeling of tearing her vital arteries to pieces.

Even then, Terri locked eyes one last time with her killer, defiant to her last moment. She knew Dein would follow her shortly and after that, she’d make sure his journey to the Great Beyond would be a painful one. However, one thought replaced her hate during those seconds, one that she had kept in her heart even now. She saw one blue sharptooth within he mind as her consciousness started to fail her.

“Chomper… I’m sorry for… fail…” She started to speak with her last strength but before she could finish, her body fell into the ground for the last time.

The young fastrunner could only stare at the dead sharptooth, emptiness starting to fill her soul as the rage started to die away. Terri was gone but… but so was her father as well. She had kept her threat of making the female sharptooth pay for everything but… but right now, all of that seemed so very worthless. Tears started to flow down her cheeks as she realized she was standing alone among the falling ground sparkles, that sight mirroring her own emotions completely.

Ruby shuddered inconsolably but even then, she heard the sounds of the other sharptooth approaching her quickly. Knowing this battle still wasn’t done, she locked eyes with Stealth for the first time since their first meeting, her parents’ words of the sailback’s motives ringing within her ears. The time of reckoning with would come but right now, she was of too little consequence to Stealth who turned his attention at Dein and cried with all his might.

“Everyone, surround him from every direction! Those who have served under Dein and Terri for two Cold Times or less, fall to your knees now and I will allow you to join my pack without any further punishment!” His words made many of his followers and former foes gasp audibly, none of them having expected to hear such an offer from the vengeful predator, especially after his words to Detras and Pearl. However, his words confirmed he’d forgive none of his old enemies and to their relief, nearly a dozen sharpteeth and omnivores fell to their knees and slowly raising their hands into the air.

That sight made Stealth snort audibly as he turned his gaze at Dein whose eyes widened in shock at the sight of what was happening. Stealth released his teeth at the larger sharptooth as he called to his old and new followers to finish this off for good.

“Well then, go help your new companions and finish him off!” He said as he started to head towards the two-footer, knowing he had to leave that attack himself or his prestige among his followers would never be the same.

That sight was more sickening to Dein than anything he had ever experienced. At this point, he couldn’t care less about Terri’s demise as he rather faced the enemy alone than while listening to her endless whining and attacks. Yet… this really was the end for him. He had two old allies by his side while he was facing over twenty fastbiters as well as Stealth who charged towards him with an expectant gaze. For a fleeting moment, his courage nearly failed and he was about to turn around and flee but he noticed immediately that would never succeed due to the enemy numbers and his injuries. He sighed deeply as he spoke to his remaining allies.

“Let’s make this stand count, at least. Our common story deserves that much.” He said to careful nods, knowing that his and his mate’s names were all he had left and he’d do his best to save as much of it as possible. However, Stealth heard those words and he cried back at Dein with a nearly manic voice that dipped with triumph.

“Your names will go down only as the weaklings who lost to a lone sailback and his allies in a fight that never should have even been close! I’ll make sure your legacy will only be that of shame and pity!” He cried, looking as the two first of the smaller sharpteeth started to attack the injured two-footer. Dein cursed deeply as he fought the duo off but hat left him with only a small moment to parry Stealth’s first attack.

However, that duel was nowhere as close as the one with Terri. Dein’s last allies were gutted in a manner of few seconds and that left the male’s back entirely open to attack. He could only stare at Stealth’s smug face as he felt the smaller sharpteeth starting to jump ever higher to his back, each of them getting loser and closer to his neck. Dein knew it was all over at that point as he couldn’t fight Stealth and defend himself from the fastbiters at the same time. He looked Stealth in the eyes and spoke to him a trembling voice that contained nothing but despise and disgust.

“I hope you’ll die a slow and horrifying death one day, Stealth! My only regret is that I ever let your parents live long enough for you to ever exist in the first place!” He cried, feeling as the smaller predators on his back were getting ever closer to ending his battle for good. Stealth gave the other male a warm smile as he addressed his remaining nemesis one more time.

“I, on the other hand, have had many regrets in my days but this day will never be one of them, Dein. Get away from my eyes!” He said as he suddenly hit the larger sharptooth in his stomach while one of the fastbiters finally tore a gaping hole into his neck. Stealth smiled as he looked at fear forming on the larger dinosaur’s face as his lifeblood quickly left his body. The sailback’s heart swelled as the other male slowly fell into the ground while drawing his last, forced breath. Dein gazed at the other carnivore with his last moments, cursing the day he had ever met Sprinter and Whiteclaw in the first place. Bitterness and failure to avenge his son were the last emotions he felt before his consciousness failed
him for the last time.

The battle was over and with it, the bloody lives of two of the most feared sharpteeth of the Mysterious Beyond.

These events concluded one of the longest-standing plotlines of this story but at the same time, opened new ones. Will we see Yarel again, how will Ruby and her family recover and what is Stealth going to do now? This chapter got excessively long but I felt that I had to give these events the time they needed to wrap Dein and Terri’s part in this fic. There were some parts I’m unsure of myself here but I hope to hear your thoughts about these momentous events as well. That being said, see you with the next chapter.

Anagnos: You are right about Ortin and I noticed that while writing the scene as well. I figured the scene was already too long and that we’ve seen enough depressed kids for a while but when it comes to Ortin, it doesn’t make his character justice. About Haste, you are on the right tracks and she certainly will play a bigger role in the latter chapters. You have made some really good observations before so keep it up!

DiddyKF1: Again, I’m sorry for the first scene but in addition to what I said to Anagnos, I also wished to also show a little that Ortin actually was a little relieved by what happened because for the first time, he was free of Peak and even his grandmother had ruined her memory within his eyes. He was mourning but he also realized he was better off now.

I’m afraid I can’t give away too much about the trio’s future with Lenel but I can promise you they’ll meet again. Petrie certainly is realizing the dark forces Pterano had tied himself to by following Lenel but he knows none of that matters anymore. It’s great to hear you liked the ending as I feared it came too out of nowhere but apparently it worked. There certainly is much to go through for the family but that will be given a lot more time later on… In any case, it’s great to hear you liked the turn near the end as I was unsure of it myself!

The Rhombus: It’s truly surprising you feel in that way as I hadn’t seen the first scene as anything special especially with the issue with Ortin. But you are completely right with both your comments about the scene and they really know they have only each other (thought that changed quickly for Petrie). And yes, Glide’s last link to her parents is broken though that is something she doesn’t particularly regret.

As for the reunion, I hope I can do justice to that scene as there will be high stakes emotionally for everyone involved. In a way, it’ll mirror much of this story as nobody knows the old Petrie better than his mother and she can see better than anyone all of the changes. As for your last comments, I’m extremely happy to hear you found this chapter that strong and hope that I am able to continue to live up to those standards!


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Re: Separate Ways
« Reply #119 on: June 07, 2019, 11:56:40 AM »
Okay. Wow…. firstly, the battle was done very well. You managed to keep the tension high all the while. And now the fight is over for Dein and Terri. I contemplate how their end is going to be taken by everyone else in the Mysterious Beyond, once the word reaches far enough. Now, when it comes to Stealth, he has fulfilled his dream of vengeance against those who hurt him in the past, and while he can’t be awfully blamed for that, I do ponder a lot what the future will bring for him now.

With Greentail’s passing, Yarel has now abandoned his former friend, Ruby, completely. I do understand his frustration about the matter, understandably so. Losing a family member will no doubt hurt you quite a lot for a long time but I don’t exactly believe that Ruby is to blame for that. Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see what will become of Yarel now. Will he want retribution for his sister’s death? I would believe he would at least want some kind of a payback, but with Terri dead that seems unlikely. There’s always the option that he will go after Ruby, but I don’t see that happening.

Ruby has now experienced a loss of a family member. And while their relations might not have been the best possible, Ruby will no doubt feel a lot of sorrow due to her father’s demise. I feel that Ruby also feels some form of regret over Greentail’s death. The thinclaw would more than likely still be alive if the two hadn’t encountered each other. As we saw in the chapter, she feels very saddened as of now and probably will for a long time.

Reverting back to my previous point about the battle sequence, it felt a little bit too long for my taste. Maybe in the future keep them shorter so as not to bore readers too much. But like I said, it was very well done and the good outweighs the bad in this regard.

Now that the battle is over, what will Ruby and her companions do? They will no doubt have to deal with Stealth once more. I don’t think he would just let the group go even after everything that has happened but it remains to be seen what exactly his plans are for them in particular.

Once again, you amaze me with your writing abilities. I have a feeling that the Separate Ways is coming to its conclusion soon, so you can bet that I’m eager for the following chapters. Very well done! :)