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OwlsCantRead

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Of Broken Words and Mud Brothers
« on: July 26, 2019, 10:54:29 AM »
June 2019 Fanfic prompt entry.
Time to turn that frown upside-down! :Mo
…or is that the other way around?

FFN Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13347415/1/Of-Broken-Words-and-Mud-Brothers

Description: Ostracized and considered an oddball amidst his peers, a Big Water swimmer tries to prove himself, allowing a storm to send him careening into the Great Valley. Hungry for company, he cunningly entangles his fate with that of five young landwalkers. But can the nascent bonds of friendship between those who are so different really be forced, or will this end up backfiring terribly?



Of Broken Words and Mud Brothers

Words in italics indicate character thoughts.

Alright, I've been away from the prompt challenge for a while due to real life affairs, but I'm back for now and hopefully here to stay for the remainder of 2019. Man, I seriously missed writing for these prompts.

Without further ado, the theme for the month of June 2019 is: "Write a story where a character learns a lesson about the facts of life. This can be played for seriousness or for laughs."

A/N: Prologue chapter is set before the events of LBT IX: Journey to Big Water.



Chapter 1: Vivid and Vibrant Purple

Big Water Mo ho-o-ome!

…but, Mo not like Big Water…


If one could look into the colorful swimmer's head, his thought process appeared to be rather outlandish… in fact, it seemed nonsensically paradoxical.

How could such an opinion possibly come to be? It made no apparent sense. From the very moment that Mo had been born, aquamarine blue already surrounded his eyes. Water was as much of a part of him as his water foot. It was practically everywhere, washing over his body as he swam. As such, how could an individual who was attuned to such a lifestyle ever since young choose not to accept it, especially when they were constantly surrounded by water?

The very thought lies madness!

And yet, that was truly what Mo felt. Unlike what most would think, he had never felt at home in the Big Water…

"Hey, lookie here! If it isn't Mo, my favorite quirky swimmer!"

Mo froze, his body going stiff as he heard the smarmy voice that rang out from the distance. He then squinted his eyes, using his species' innate gift of excellent vision to discern the source.

Although a quick scan through his eyes came up with zilch, Mo felt the length of his body tensing up, the swimmer already preparing for the inevitable. After all, part of the reason as to why he felt this way about his so-called home was because of the one who had spoken from afar.

He spun his tail about, rapidly moving his body in the direction of food and hoping to lose his pursuers. With any luck, he would be able to catch some hapless fish in his jaws and eat in peace.

"Hmph!" A triumphant cackle which permeated through the water put a quick end to that fleeting thought. "Would you look at that, Kelp? I think he's trying to run away!"

Any such luck had eluded him, it would seem. The voice from earlier made a curt observation to his partner-in-crime, and more alarmingly for Mo, was much louder in amplitude than his initial words from earlier, signaling to the distressed Mo that they were closing in on him.

Before he even knew it, Mo saw two shadows fall across his face, telling him without a doubt that the duo had descended upon him.

There they were. Orca and Kelp. The two swimmers who Mo definitely did not want to see right now.

The swimmers in question were similar in their builds and appearances to Mo, the only major difference being their significantly duller colors as compared to his vibrant indigo body and sandy yellow underbelly.

But unfortunately, that was where the similarities ended. They couldn't be more different from him.

"Going somewhere, Mo?" Orca challenged when he heard no response coming from Mo, his brow furrowed as he snorted. "Judging by your apprehensive face, I take it that there's no chance for us to have a friendly chat?"

Mo initially looked away and stilled upon discerning Orca's voice and the unpleasant message that had been conveyed by the male's remark, but he eventually willed himself to whirl around with an exaggerated U-turn, a jovial smile instantly turning his frown upside-down before anyone was able to catch sight of his somber mood. "Well, look like you caught Mo out," he warbled to the two in a careful tone before rapidly waving his fins at them. "So hello there, friends!"

"Hush now." Orca glowered at Mo with a serious expression, signaling for him to cut the gesture. "We are not friends," the swimmer made sure to correct Mo, hitting his bottom fins against each other to further emphasize his point. "The two of us are just kin mates… and reluctant ones at that! Acquaintances, Mo," he stressed again. "Get that fact drilled into your head."

"But that not mean we cannot be friends… Orca still can be friends with Mo!" he cheekily retorted, now feeling calmer as he relentlessly teased Orca. Mo prudently kept the distress he felt out of his eyes, nodding his head slightly to acknowledge the swimmer drifting by Orca's side. "And what brings you here too-o-o?"

"We've been looking for you." The female voice chided, her snide tone of voice allowing Mo to tell even if he hadn't had any visual cues that the curt remark had come from Kelp, who had remained silent up until now.

Mo slowly alternated his tail fin left and right, edging away from the troublesome duo. "Well, you manage find Mo," he said, putting on a tough front as his eyes darted between the two swimmers. "So what you both want from Mo-o-o-o?"

Orca chortled at Mo's embellished enunciation of his name, the swimmer flashing his teeth in amusement. "Don't act all innocuous. That tactic won't work on me—"

"—or me!" Kelp added as she interrupted her partner, much to the male's annoyance. "Acting like you don't know why we're here when you've constantly kept yourself secluded from the rest of us…" she continued. "We wouldn't be pestering you so much if you didn't always seem so keen to dodge our interactions."

Seeing Mo blink at her in befuddlement, Kelp snorted and looked at the swimmer with an expression which conveyed pure disappointment. "You always keep to yourself, you know? I mean, you barely contribute to the overall well-being of our group when we should be a cohesive water kin."

Mo frowned very slightly. It was no mere coincidence, of course. And yet, Orca and Kelp seemed to enjoy bringing this observation up to his attention over and over again. It was as if they wanted to force some change in his behavior by continually embarrassing him, treating his refusal to be around the other swimmers as some sort of scornful act, a deliberate move of defiance on his part.

Quite the over-exaggeration, Mo had to say.

"Ahhhh… Mo not able click well with you both," he tried to shrug it off, downplaying the issue once more by giving Orca and Kelp the same excuse that he'd always given them. "Need more time before we can be friends!"

"Oh, Mo…" Kelp giggled, rubbing her underbelly with her bottom fins in bemusement. "You misunderstand. Orca and I didn't swim all the way here just to pester you."

…for once, Mo added in his mind, fighting to keep the mental scowl off his face.

"We were actually tasked to find you," Orca followed, his amber eyes flashing as they shifted from Kelp to Mo. "Our water kin has called for a meeting, and you, my friend—" he practically sneered the word out, "—are going to be the centerpiece of it!"

"What this about?" Mo hedged, a sense of apprehension slowly swirling within him. "Why water kin want summon Mo?"

Unable to contain her excitement, Kelp held her fin out to stop Orca before he could answer. Her violet eyes twinkling, she spun about in a circle before barking her response.

"It's the Old One! Tenor is calling a meeting!"

As the reverberation of Kelp's declaration died down and her words registered in Mo's mind, Mo found himself unable to keep up his nonchalant charade. His jaw dropped in a spectacular display before a look of concern found itself firmly etched on his face.

Tenor call water kin meeting? Ohhhh… Mo not like sound of this…

"Hey, Mo!" An irritated Orca snapped him out of his stupor before he could dwell on this new tidbit. "I know you're slow to absorb things, but you're not as slow as a star swimmer! So let's hurry and get a move on already!"

Before Mo could even react, Orca and Kelp had made their way to his left and right respectively, surrounding him on both sides. "What you doin-n-ng to Mo?" he asked, looking at them uneasily when he noted that they were both conveniently situated in a position where they would be able to intercept him if he attempted an escape.

"Um… isn't the answer as plain as the Big Water is vast? We're escorting you to the meeting, duh!" Kelp responded with a melodramatic sigh, rolling her eyes at Mo for good measure. The dismissive gesture wasn't needed to show her contempt, however. Her disdainful voice was enough to make it clear that she didn't like the task that she had been assigned in the slightest.

Sensing that he—and Orca and Kelp as well, it would seem—had no choice or say in the matter, Mo relented and didn't put up any additional verbal struggle, letting the two swimmers usher him back to the others.

As Mo swam back under escort and ploughed through the water, he eventually made visual with everyone else. The rest of the water kin was already waiting for them, forming a circle with a large reef structure situated behind them.

To an untrained eye, they were practically invisible as the similar colors between the swimmers and the vibrant coral allowed them to keep themselves hidden from any predators. Even in the unlikely event of any attack, any potential enemy would be quickly spotted as they could only close in from specific angles because the rocky formation blocked all other approaches from behind.

In other words, it was the perfect meeting spot.

Though Mo may have perked up at the sight of his water kin, he inwardly felt a sense of dread.

And the source of that foreboding was the swimmer who was directly in the middle of the clan. His most striking feature was the many maroon red spots and stripes that decorated his body and eyes. It was certainly a unique trait, as most of the other swimmers had an orange hue to these spots.

There was no mistaking him. This was Tenor, the Old One of his water kin.

Every swimmer who swam in the Big Water knew about the Old Ones. They were a collective group of wise Big Water swimmer elders, each one put in charge of their very own shoal of water kin.

However, the reverend title of 'Old One' wasn't actually a static one. It was ever-changing, and could actually be conferred onto any member. As their species operated on a junior-senior hierarchy, whenever a swimmer leader found themselves too incapacitated to carry out their duties or passed on to the Great Beyond, the mantle would be thrust upon the oldest of the next generation, who would then take charge of their group and continue the cycle anew.

For the water kin that Mo was in, the age range and proportions of the various swimmers were relatively on the young side compared to some others. The current oldest swimmer in their water kin was the one named Tenor who Kelp had spoken of with great fanfare earlier, a large and modest middle-aged swimmer. Their previous leader had unfortunately succumbed just the day before, so this was Tenor's first meeting as the newly promoted leader of their water kin.

This change of command gravely concerned him. Tenor was significantly younger than his predecessor and Mo was quite worried that the new leader might end up being easily swayed by the some of the others, especially as he needed to retain popular support among the swimmers lest he lose his flimsy power hold over the small group. He was, after all, a brand new leader who had just taken over.

In fact, it was quite likely the reason as to why Tenor had called for the meeting to begin with. Although Mo did not understand the full reasoning and complex politics behind such a move, even he was able to understand Tenor's intentions through his very own personal philosophy.

When you have more friends by your side, you will have more fu-u-u-un!

"Ah, it looks like Orca and Kelp have managed to locate Mo," Tenor said with a smile when he saw the last three swimmers closing up the circle. "We are finally at full strength, so I think that now is the time. Let us begin in earnest!" he declared to the joy of the waiting swimmers.

As the others cheered, Mo could feel the ominous sense of foreboding surge through him, a feeling that was only amplified as Tenor opened his speech.

"Greetings, fellow water kin!" Tenor started when the noise has subsided, his green eyes flitting around the various swimmers as he addressed the group. "It is with great honor that I now assume the roles and responsibilities that have been bestowed upon me as the new Old One."

There was another round of excited claps and whistles as Tenor spoke, forcing the new leader to clamp his mouth shut until his hyperactive audience calmed themselves down.

His gaze then darkened as his eyes fell on a certain swimmer in particular. "Let us get down to business. I have convened this meeting because of something that has been brought to my attention. It is a topic that I think we are all very well aware of…"

Mo shuddered, hiding his eyes behind his fins as he felt all eyes turn on him even before Tenor had completed his sentence. Though he already had a feeling that it was coming, having it actually play out first-hand was still a frightening experience that no amount of internal preparation can ready an individual for.

Seeing that the swimmers under his charge were a few water feet ahead of him, Tenor decided to jump ahead and skip directly to the point. "As a water kin, we need synergy to coexist with one another. Everyone must band together as a collective team of swimmers in order to succeed. That is why I hold the opinion that excluding a swimmer is bad form, so I would like to know why I've seen the whole lot of you do exactly that to Mo for many seasons prior."

Mo peeked out when he heard Tenor's words. Was he calling out those like Orca and Kelp? Ostensible as it was, the direction of the talk at hand was certainly not what he had in mind.

"Reasons? I can give you a whole lot of reasons, Old One!"

Mo suppressed a groan as Orca jerked towards Tenor, the youthful swimmer looking ready to unleash a barrage of comments. Now this meeting was headed in the direction that he had anticipated.

"This fella right here," Orca gestured to Mo, "is going to make us the laughing stock of the entire Big Water."

"I am well aware of that, Orca." Tenor grimaced. "I have heard that complaint brought up to the previous Old One many times before. You must recall that I have been my predecessor's deputy for many Cold Times past before taking up the position of Old One myself."

Even the brash Orca knew when he had crossed a line. Mo had to admit that he had a wider grin than usual when he saw his rival bowing his head. "My apologies, Old One. I know that you never interacted much with Mo as compared to many of us, but please hear me out, Old One. He… he…" the swimmer trailed off at the end, twiddling his fins together as he struggled to find the most tactful words that he could use to describe Mo.

However, Kelp was much less concerned about being sensitive in front of Tenor.

"He talks like a complete dolt! That Mo… he must have been hit hard in the head by a rock face when he was born! I mean, seriously… he's a complete embarrassment! Who even talks like that? Is it any wonder that no other group wants to associate with our school of water kin so long as Mo remains in our ranks?"

Mo kept on smiling even as Kelp put him down, her negative words cutting him like a swimming sharptooth's jaw. His happy mood was all a front though, but he kept it up nevertheless.

After all, if he didn't smile, he would cry.

"Look, Orca," Kelp gestured to Mo, the female swimmer giggling to herself, "he has that dumb smile plastered on his face again. It's like whatever we say just goes right through him. I mean, it's Mo we're talking about here."

"Please keep your personal opinions out of this discussion." Tenor raised his fins to silence Kelp, an annoyed look flashing across his face. It probably only just hit him that he had to mediate this talk with the presence of such vocal speakers. "We are trying to be as objective as possible," he appended an explanation when he saw Kelp pouting at him.

Kelp only whined further, trying to insist on her point. "You can ask the others, Old One! They all share my opinion!" she professed.

Tenor pursed his lips. "Is that so?" he asked, looking at the crowd expectantly.

Mo adamantly kept silent as the others judged him with their eyes as Tenor looked on. Though many of them had indeed teased him for his distinct manner of speech before, the true instigators were primarily Orca and Kelp. The others usually had to be coerced by those two to join in with the bouts of bullying.

As a result, it was quite imperative that he didn't let those two get the upper hand by opening his mouth. If he spoke, it would be easy for Orca and Kelp to prove their point. And once that happened, the other swimmers would fearlessly join in and sully his good name.

Like Mo had expected, his strategy worked. Without Orca or Kelp to take command, none of the swimmers felt pressured to target Mo.

"Well, Kelp." Tenor finally broke the silence that had ensued. "No one here has so much as said a word in concurrence. Therefore, I feel inclined to believe that what you'd just said pertaining to Mo is not the case—"

"Hold it right there!"

Everyone turned to Orca, who had interrupted Tenor mid-speech. Mo could see that the swimmer was seething at the turn of events.

But then, his anger dissipated almost instantaneously. Mo perked up, glancing at Orca with morbid curiosity. Seeing him calm down instead of lashing out was definitely an unnerving display considering Orca's typical behavior.

Of course, it turned out that Orca had a very good reason for reacting this way.

His jaw curled into a sardonic smirk as he made direct eye contact with Mo. "Say, your bright colors are very noticeable, even when we dive deep down into the depths in areas where the Bright Circle can't reach…" he accused, his gleaming amber eyes flitting between Mo and the many swimmers who now had their undivided attention on him.

"Don't you see, Mo? Because of your striking colors, you are a prominent target who can easily be seen from afar. In other words, you could attract the swimming sharpteeth to us! You're a danger to us all, and you have been for many Cold Times! The safety of the water kin may be compromised because of you and your vivid tint of purple!"

W-Where that come from?!

Mo hadn't expected that at all. He had been prepared for Orca badmouthing him to Tenor, but this was the first time that Orca had ever brought this up. It must have been a last resort, something that he must have saved for a moment like this.

The swimmer suddenly felt very self-conscious. Mo was certainly aware that his body's shade of indigo was more pronounced and brighter in saturation as compared to most of his kind, but it had never once crossed his mind that his distinct color would make such a difference or have such a profound impact.

Bright purple color make Mo special! No other swimmer have color like Mo! So why does water kin think Mo being bright purple is bad thing? Should be good, not bad! Tenor also different color! Why water kin only target Mo!? It not fair!

"I… I never really noticed that before," Tenor confessed, unable to take his eyes off Mo.

As though that remark from their leader was a signal, everyone began chattering to one another, gossiping amongst themselves.

"It's true, isn't it!? Orca has a point!"

"Yeah! Mo's skin color is brighter than the rest of us! It genuinely might be bait for sharpteeth!"

"Is that why my parents used to tell me to stay away from Mo?"

"Like gee, I knew about his speaking issues, but this is probably ten times worse!"

Mo grit his teeth and gnashed them together in frustration as he heard the influx of disparaging remarks, but otherwise kept up his jolly smile. He didn't want to show his contemporaries just how much they were affecting him by their words. Sucked in by Orca's observation, the others had misconstrued Orca's words, taking the swimmer's exaggerated tales about Mo out of context and completely blowing the whole thing way out of proportion.

Thankfully, he was saved by the Old One himself.

"Silence!" Tenor raised his voice to drown out the chatter before it could get further out of hand, the new leader paddling towards the center of the group as he glared at his kin mates. "Cease your incessant squabbling at once, all of you!"

The effects of his words was instantaneous. The rage in their elder's voice was so succinct that it quelled the formerly rowdy crowd significantly.

As his eyes darted around, Tenor gave the members of his water kin a reprimanding gaze. It was a simple, nondescript look which conveyed volumes about the situation.

The message was clear — keep things under control, or else.

"I have heard enough from all of you," the larger swimmer said, shooting everyone a warning gaze once more. "And loath as I am to admit it, a couple of you have brought up some valid points regarding Mo," he conceded with a sigh. "I am still a firm believer that we must all be close-knit as one water kin. So as reluctant as it may be, if the majority of you truly feel that Mo is not a good fit for us, I may have to let him go from our water kin…"

Mo gaped, making an audible sound for the first time since the meeting had begun. He swallowed, feeling faint as the full ramifications of what Tenor had said hit him.

"Alright! Y'all heard it from Tenor! It is at this very moment that the new Old One has requested that we make a stand about Mo!" As Orca was preaching to the crowd about the momentous decision that his speech had all been leading up to, he covertly shot Mo a shrewd look which screamed of victory.

Kelp also took this chance to speak up, the female gleefully relishing the moment. "Orca's right! Listen up, all of you!" she said to the swimmers. "This is your chance to finally say what you feel about Mo after multiple Cold Times of having to tolerate his nonsense—"

"The Old One has requested for a vote," Orca lowered his voice to bring the topic back on track, the full weight of the situation crashing down as he took a tentative pause to give their kin mates time to ponder. He swam back and forth across the circle of swimmers, sadly shaking his head as he feigned an emotion of despair over having to pose the dreaded question.

"Will Mo be a part of our new water kin… or not?"

Mo held his breath, unwilling to face the crowd. Even without being prompted, he turned his back to the murmuring swimmers, nerves getting the better of him as he began to quiver.

The whole thing all seemed so surreal. Were his kin mates really debating his fate just behind him? Was this really happening?

"Ahem!" Mo heard Tenor clearing his throat, freezing in place as the elder continued to speak. "It would appear that the decision has been made."

Indeed, it was.

Mo felt his heart sinking like a sunken stone as he slowly turned around and swept his eyes across the various members of his water kin. He could do naught but merely blink his aqua eyes repeatedly when he saw every single swimmer in the vicinity raising a fin in agreement with Orca and Kelp.

It was a unanimous vote of no confidence.

Tenor clicked his tongue, despondently shaking his head as he said four simple words to Mo that summarized the situation perfectly.

"I'm so sorry."

Mo composed himself at Tenor's apology, struggling not to burst into tears. In one fell swoop, his name and reputation had been thoroughly besmirched. Even those who had a neutral opinion at first most likely had their impressions of him marred and tarnished when Orca brought the possible safety concern up to their attention.

Needless to say, Mo was absolutely crestfallen, unable to believe that he had deceived himself into somehow presuming that the outcome of the meeting would favor him. Tenor's amiability had caught him off guard at first, allowing Mo to maintain some faith that he would be vindicated when Orca and Kelp had tried to have their way right up to the very end.

He had been terribly wrong. And as a harsh consequence, Mo also learned an important lesson the hard way.

Regardless of how cozy the atmosphere around might be, it was important to never let one's guard down. The cruel stab of treachery and betrayal might strike at any time and come from anyone, no matter how unlikely the source of it might be.

Look like water kin not really friends with Mo after all. They all not want Mo be around them…

Mo very sad. Mo not able trust anybody now…


And indeed, there was nobody that one could trust more than yourself. After all, the truest and most loyal of friends were rare specimens indeed.

To have real friends who could see him for who he truly was and not as a bumbling failure of a swimmer…

…it was but a fleeting dream.



Author's Note:

This fic was supposed to be a oneshot. It was, it really was. However, there were two reasons as to why that is no longer the case. One is the impending prompt response deadline, and the other is that after planning the story outline the estimated final word count appeared to hover around 20K+ words, which is way above my threshold for a oneshot. A combination of those factors eventually led to me splitting this into a multi-chapter fic.

Much like The Threehorn Way, I also feel that this chapter by itself doesn't fully nail the prompt the way that I originally intended. While it certainly works and fulfills the prompt requirement on its lonesome, I'll definitely recommend reading the entire piece when it is complete, and only then, compare it to the prompt as a whole.

Anyway, the main character here is Mo! Surprised? There hasn't been a lot of Mo-centric fics involving him or his water kin (The Perils of the Deep—though Mo wasn't the main character there—and a few chapters of The Swimmer Trials are all that come to mind in recent memory), so I decided to give our favorite optimistic swimmer a moment in the spotlight. Though speaking of optimistic, Mo might seem significantly less jovial than one might expect from his character, but just stick with me on this, okay?

Still, I do hope you enjoy this tale overall. This is my first attempt (second if you count the few sparse moments that the swimmer herd has been seen in Waves Crashing Upon the Sky thus far) in capturing complex herd dynamics and interactions with OC herd members. It's more of a Rhombus and Sovereign thing, really.

Next time, we'll see how a despondent Mo copes with his fellow swimmers kicking him out. :(



Really wanted to have this be a long single-chap oneshot like Five Stages of Grief last year, but alas the time crunch got me for the prompt! I'll be working hard on Chapter 2 now and try to release it asap!
Would it be possible for swimmers and flyers to get more love around here? Both figuratively… and literally.




Sovereign

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Re: Of Broken Words and Mud Brothers
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2019, 02:40:00 PM »
Now this seems like a promising tale. As you said, Mo fics are incredibly rare even if there is a lot of potential in his character and the Big Water as a whole. The events in this chapter are somewhat surprising as Mo’s water kin seemed very happy to see him at the end of the film so that pretty much confirms that this fic will have a somewhat happy ending.

It was rather sad to see the always-cheerful swimmer getting shamed this way and even more so become an outcast even among his own kind. His initial willingness to approach Kelp and Orca was very in-character and I’m sure every reader would have wanted the scene to move on differently. Later, I was happy to see some reasoning for Mo’s banishment as it made the story much deeper and more believable instead of the others just being mean for some vague reasons.

Personally, I prefer to release prompts in one chapter even if they get to 20k words but that, as everything else, varies with every author. It’ll be fun to see just how you’ll continue this fic as Mo deserves better than this. As I said earlier, you’re off to a good start with the water kin’s characterizations as they feel far from one-dimensional which could easily be an issue in a fic like this. Overall, this should be a really intriguing story and I’ll gladly take a look at Mo’s earlier life.



Anagnos

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Re: Of Broken Words and Mud Brothers
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2019, 05:39:21 AM »
Interesting that you chose Mo as the main character in this prompt, but certainly a welcome one. Indeed, it’s true that there are not many Mo fics out there, and so far this seems to be a very promising and intriguing tale. And yeah, like Sovereign said it that Mo’s kin were pretty much against him except for Tenor, who seemed to have some sympathy for our swimmer friend about the decision.

I’m quite used to seeing Mo as a very happy individual without any trouble in the world, so it was also sorrowful to witness this happen to him. Hopefully the ending for this story will be much different in contrast of this chapter. I can definitely see why Mo wouldn’t be very liked among the water kin, but then again, he was nothing but a loving and caring in the film so I guess I’m having trouble seeing him like this. Not saying that there is anything wrong with the narrative. No, just the complete opposite.

I share Sovereign’s point about releasing prompts in one chapter and not making it a multi-chapter story, as with 20k words it wouldn’t have been a burden at all. But, it is true that every author is different from each other and that’s good since we all can’t be exactly the same. What would be the point of our existence then?

All in all, we’re off to a good start with this month’s prompt challenge and the following chapters will likely shed more light on Mo’s current predicament and the eventual happy reunion between him and his water kin. I will very much be looking forward to it! :Mo

rhombus

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Re: Of Broken Words and Mud Brothers
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2019, 05:56:36 AM »
This was quite an emotional journey into an unseen side of Mo and the mannerisms of his kind. Up until this time the fandom has not had much of a focus on Mo's kind (with only one exception that I can recall) but in that case the focus was on stories that Mo was telling the others.

In this initial chapter, however, we get to see that things are not at all well with Mo's relationship with his peers. Whether it be due to his personality or actual deficiencies as a herd-member, it is obvious that he has had trouble finding true companionship among his peers.  And now, unfortunately for him, this dynamic and the general antagonism against him by two members has now led to his exile. This presents a side to Mo, a hidden melancholy, that has a lot of potential and might explain some of his interactions with the gang as seen in the ninth film.  I look forward to seeing how this develops from here.  :)

As for the multi-part nature of this fanfic, I think that a longer one-shot entry (20k+) would be perfectly fine for the prompt challenge, but I can certainly understand your reasoning to make it a multi-chapter story. In some cases simply breaking up a story into chapters can also be helpful in driving the general tenor of the narrative.


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

OwlsCantRead

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Re: Of Broken Words and Mud Brothers
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2019, 01:30:13 PM »
Friends for dinner, friends for Mo… :OhYou

FFN Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13347415/2/Of-Broken-Words-and-Mud-Brothers



Chapter 2: Friends for Mo…?

After being forced to suffer through the stinging throb of cold betrayal, was it really any surprise that Mo ended up losing all track of time?

Once the others had callously decided his fate, the rest of the meeting passed by so uneventfully for Mo that he didn't even realize that the whole thing had concluded until Orca had swum up to him, the swimmer flashing Mo a derisive grin mere inches from his face.

"Well, you heard the crowd, didn't you?" he shot apathetically, wasting no time in rubbing his victorious win in Mo's face. "Come along now, Mo. Shoo already!"

Despite wishing nothing more than to cry foul about the injustice that he had to go through, Mo idly kept silent and remained complicit. Through democracy the swimmers of the water kin had made their choice, and no matter how much he felt as though the final resolution was unwarranted and complete hogwash, he was still required to respect their decision as it had been made in the presence of the Old One.

In spite of how much he hated it.

A deluge of conflicting thoughts swirled through Mo's mind, churning around the swimmer's head in a jumbled mess much like the unpredictable fast currents in an undersea water path. His mind was constantly returning back to where Tenor had ordered the vote, the vivid flashbacks replaying the moment where he had found himself spurned by the mob over and over again.

It was a harsh, bitter reminder to Mo that his reputation was now defiled beyond any foreseeable repair.

For a long time now, there had been a very fine line between his kin mates teasing him and being outright malevolent. This meeting only accentuated just how much the other swimmers had tolerated him despite his best attempts to make amends, to the point that when given the option to kick him out of their water kin with few repercussions, they had all eloquently sided together with Orca and Kelp solely to make their point clear to him.

"Are you still physically here, perchance? Or are you already lost to the void of your own head, wallowing in denial of the cruel and harsh truth?"

Mo flinched back despite himself at Orca's words, jerking his head sideways so as to look away from those glowing amber eyes. He didn't want his cruel instigator to know that he'd hit the mark. The lesser context clues Orca could discern from his body language, the better. "Mo… okay," he finally willed himself to speak when he managed to get his quivering body under control.

"No hard feelings, Mo…" Mo heard Kelp speak in a more subdued tone… as if that alone would somehow make everything all fine and dandy again when her very words contradicted her actions.

He didn't buy the act for a single moment.

Kelp was blissfully unaware of Mo's thoughts, however, and continued to speak in a sweet tone that was laced with faux sympathy. "You really were a terrible fit for us. Nobody's happy with you around." That curt observation cut deep into Mo, but Kelp continued to speak before he could even nurse the verbal wound that her remark had opened up. "As much as we tried our hardest to change you, in the end it was but a valiant attempt, a futile undertaking. Someone like you cannot adapt to our needs and demands… so you're better off on your own."

Orca rubbed his fin against Kelp in support. Unlike her, he didn't disguise his words under a façade of pleasantness. Mo wasn't sure if he appreciated the truthful gesture or not. "Kelp's right. You're far too inept for our water kin's liking. Perhaps you'll be better off with some new friends that would better compliment your…" he paused, mulling over his choice of words before continuing on, "…unique personality."

And therein lies the problem — try as he might, Mo did not know how to find any such friends.

If he couldn't even succeed in gaining any real friendships from the swimmers in his own water kin, swimmers who he'd interacted with ever since he was born, how could he possibly find better company out there in the unknown abyss, with swimmers who would be infinitely less patient than what he'd had to deal with at the present?

But mope and bemoan his misfortune as he may, such was his miserable fate.

Ever since many Cold Times ago, when he was but a fraction of his current size, Mo already had to deal with the cynical, mocking jeers of his contemporaries with regards to his quirky—more colorful and derogatory language would be used to describe it by his detractors at times—style of talking.

He had long since accepted it, and today's hearing was simply the clincher, a reinforcement of that grim truth.

"Orcaaaaaaaa~" Kelp sulked, whining the swimmer's elongated name in an excruciatingly high pitch. Amusingly, this caused Orca to glower at her before he repeatedly bashed his head into the nearby coral formation out of frustration. "Mo isn't replying to me at all," she continued on flippantly, ignoring her friend's blatant display of annoyance. "Think Mo's actually listening to a word I'm saying?"

An irritated Orca stopped his motions, swimming back to her side with a growl. "The answer to that is the same as whether you're listening to my body language right now."

"Hey! Orca, yo-you… jerk!" An outraged Kelp let out an indignant cry at the insult that Orca had stealthily directed at her. But before she could rant and rage, he properly answered her question.

"Forget it, Kelp. Mo's ignoring us again. I should've guessed that rubbing our win in his face is a lost cause. If that swimmer wants to remain ignorant and actively mope about in self-pity, so be it. We've done everything we can to ease him into his new reality."

The swimmer then locked eyes with Mo, shaking his head ruefully. "From now on, he's completely on his own."

Orca's proclamation did nothing to quash Mo's unease. If anything, those words now multiplied his apprehension threefold.

"Roger that!" As Kelp paddled away with a satisfied nod, Mo realized with a jolt that Orca was the only one left in the vicinity.

There was nothing but dead silence as the two swimmers proceeded to stare each other down, both of them unmoving. Only the soft gurgle of warm air bubbles frothing up to the surface could be heard, and without any louder sound to cover up the normally inaudible noise, it only ratcheted up the tension.

Eventually, Orca was the first to avert his eyes. "You're still smiling, Mo…" he noted with a scowl, vexed golden eyes boring into Mo's stubborn ones. "I was eyeing you throughout the whole meeting, and I happened to notice that you only frowned for a brief moment when you saw the water kin voting you out. But then, you just plastered a silly smile on your face and froze like a moron. Are you playing dumb and refusing to see the facts on purpose? Are you!?"

Once again, only silence could be observed from the surrounding waters. Mo didn't dignify Orca's question with a response, crossing his fins to show Orca that he refused to give an answer.

The reason why? It was elementary — because Orca had indeed hit the mark dead-on.

Mo had been belittled and put down ever since he could remember. If one were to tell him that he had been teased ever since the day that he'd been born, the swimmer would actually believe them. Ever since he could remember, he'd wound up being a target for some rather nasty words.

So how did he cope with the immense pressure of having to deal with the constant jabs and jeers?

Mo's solution was so simple that it was actually ingenious. He gradually learnt to put up with it as a constant in his life, politely disregarding any taunts that the others had for him. He would simply smile at his would-be instigators, putting on an optimistic front so as to hide his mental scars. Despite his mistreatment, the downtrodden swimmer remained staunchly unabashed, at least when he was facing down his oppressors.

Orca's current persistence in coercing a response from him was no exception. Mo proudly held his jaw up high, refusing to concede to the other swimmer.

"N-Never mind." Orca shook his head, feeling a sense of annoyance—and briefly, just a slight twinge of pity—at his obstinate rival's refusal to crack under pressure. He proceeded to turn his back on Mo for what was likely to be the last time. "Like I told Kelp, you're completely hopeless. Denial can only carry you so far!" he cautioned with a wry tone before scooting away.

Only when Mo was dead certain that Orca was gone and no one else was around to see him fall apart did he finally drop his cheery persona and let his inner frustration shine through. He furtively hid behind the coral formation, merging seamlessly with the shadows before letting out an upset cry.

Denial can only carry you so far, Orca had told him. And as much as Mo hated to admit it, the brusque swimmer was right.

The harsh, grating comments and opinions of the water kin were like a constant attrition, wearing at him like the crashing of rowdy waves from the Big Water slamming upon the sandy shore. Despite his determination to show his bullies that he was unaffected by their mean words, the stream of taunts and jabs was still able to slowly erode his resilience and mental fortitude. In spite of Mo's outwardly unperturbed demeanor, something eventually had to give from deep within him.

Being voted out by those who he had seen as friends for many seasons and Cold Times was that last straw.

Mo vigorously shook his head, rubbing his reddened eyes as he promptly made the decision to leave the premises. The upset swimmer couldn't bear to stay a moment longer at the reef where they had decided to banish him. Without looking back, he flicked his water foot around as fast as he could to propel himself away from the surface, diving deep into the depths below.

Even as he swam, he couldn't escape his thoughts. Though Mo was undoubtedly disgruntled at being outcast from the others, he suppressed the feelings of resentment and longing that took root deep within him.

Yes, longing. Despite Orca and Kelp being the ringleaders of the constant stream of verbal torment that was directed at him, a part of the swimmer just yearned for them to stop teasing him, hoping for their approval in spite of the improbable odds.

The yearning urge and the insatiable itch to seek out the company of others — it was a primal need for practically everyone. Maintaining and upkeeping a cordial network with various like-minded dinosaurs—or what one could call their friends—to interact with and avoid the crushing despair of loneliness was quintessential.

"Is Mo really born wrong?" he dejectedly echoed out in his native tongue, lamenting as he whistled through his species' signature talk-back waves that rippled across the vast Big Water, allowing anyone within proximity who was willing to listen the chance to hear the symphony of his sordid tale.

But alas, where he was right now, fast approaching the deep and dark trenches that pervaded all throughout the Big Water, there was nary a soul around who could hear him brood, not even from afar.

"W-Why water kin choose kick Mo out?" he continued to bleat out a soliloquy, despite knowing that no one out in the dim wilderness would answer him as he was well below the warm surface where most sane creatures thrived. "Do water kin all think that Mo talk funny?!"

"I can't speak for the rest, but I for one can most certainly assure you that I do not."

Mo let out an abject cry of pure horror when he actually heard a response to his rhetorical question, whirling on the suspect as he came face-to-face with Tenor, his new leader suspended in the waters about a few paddle-lengths away with a serious expression on his visage.

Wait, scratch that. Former leader should be the right term he used when referring to Tenor. After all, he was no longer under him, was he?

Mo shook his head imperceptibly to shake away the wayward thought. He had bigger problems to address now than the proper term of address to use. Despite his best efforts in hiding his rant from everyone, the new elder had heard everything that he just blurted out in a moment of weakness. Mo froze in terror, his eyes widening when he realized that he'd let his guard down in front of Tenor.

"Mo, please understand." Tenor swam towards the stiff Mo, gently nudging the silent swimmer with his nose. "We're not banishing you without purpose. The others do have a point. It is for the greater good…"

Once Mo saw that playing the dumb, optimistic swimmer would not work now that his cover was blown, he immediately dropped the façade and sighed miserably at Tenor.

"You follow Mo dow-w-wn here?" he prodded, jerking his long nose downwards as he asked the question.

Tenor nodded. "While others might have left immediately after I had concluded, I instead circled around the meeting place so as to keep a close ear on the situation. Not too close where I might be seen, but not too far from where my ears are unable to discern whatever is happening. And from the look of shock in your eyes, I see that I've succeeded in my endeavor," he chortled, controlling his laughing fit by placing his fin to his jaw.

Without warning, Tenor completely halted his laughter, face turning deadly serious. "But that is not the important part. The key point is that I did it to ensure that you weren't hurt too badly by our choice. But by sheer accident, in the process of checking up on you, I managed to overhear Orca sending quite a few snide remarks your way—"

"So Old One know that Orca ba-a-a-ad swimmer!" Mo interjected, before clasping his fins over his mouth and shifting his head down in apology. Tenor was an Old One, and even though by age he could barely be considered an elder, by rank he most certainly was. Interrupting them while they were speaking was very rude, and would be generally considered as bad form.

But despite his minor infraction, Mo began to have a glimmer of hope, his body vibrating excitedly. "You know what this mean? Mean Old One can make bad decision go bye-bye!" he waved his fins, jabbering excitedly. "You can reverse ruling for Mo!"

"Oh, you know I can't do that."

Tenor let out a long-suffering sigh of his own, the larger swimmer shaking his head to Mo's great despair. "I like you, I really do… but now that I'm a part of the Big Water swimmer Old Ones, I have a reputation to uphold." He scowled slightly at the thought, muttering a muffled complaint under his breath. "With my new role I now have to see the bigger picture and maintain an unbiased view. Even if Orca could have put it across in a better way, he does have a point, and unfortunately the swimmers of our water kin have used his pointers and made their choice."

Mo wasn't having any of this. "But why swimmers need listen to what Orca say!?" he asked, crestfallen. "They no fun at all!"

"Orca might have a bit of a superiority complex, but when push comes to shove, instincts always come first." Tenor gestured to the rings situated around his large eyes. "Our species are nimble, can hide our bodies among colorful plants, and have excellent eyesight… those traits play into our strengths. However, only our swift speed can save us against swimming sharpteeth. We have no other defenses besides our skin and speed, our large size a detriment when trying to maneuver away from our hungry pursuers."

Tenor lowered his voice, a hint of melancholy entering his tone. "I can see why Orca is concerned that your unusual color scheme might one day ensnare a sharptooth which we cannot evade… his statement hits close to home and stands up to scrutiny."

Although Mo knew that Tenor's observations made sense, he was too dismayed to concede and admit defeat. Orca had to have known about his dazzling color for ages, and yet he deliberately dropped the fact only at that specific timeframe for the sole purpose of fearmongering, relying on the shock value to unite everyone against him.

"Mo just want be accepted," he muttered bitterly, indirectly chiding his new leader's neutral response to Orca's aggressiveness in trying to remove him from his swimmer 'friends' at the meeting earlier. "That so hard to achieve…?"

Tenor blanched at Mo's hardened question, the normally optimistic swimmer's irate voice giving him pause. Turning pale as he slowly backed away, a contemplative expression crossed his face as he attempted to mull over the best response. It didn't take long, however, before the swimmer elder lit up like the Bright Circle, a subdued smile creeping onto his jawline.

"Perhaps your goal might be easier to achieve than you might think. How about we strike a deal, Mo?" Tenor offered, a wily glint reflecting off the irises of his shifty eyes. "If you succeed, I promise that I'll be able to convince the others to reinstate your position in my water kin."

The emphasis on 'my' in Tenor's statement didn't go unnoticed. After all, it was a less-than-subtle reminder that this swimmer was now the one in charge. Tenor was fresh blood, assuming the reigns of a group of Big Water swimmers who had been used to taking command from a different swimmer just the day prior.

Still, Mo tried not to get his hopes up too high. After years upon years of nothing but shattered promises under the previous elder to control the bullying from his kin mates when Mo had secretly confided about his situation to Tenor's predecessor, the swimmer knew better than to mindlessly believe in the elders.

Nevertheless, Mo glanced at Tenor, intrigued. "Mo can come back to water kin? Mo interested hear about this," he began, turning his body in the direction of the elder, "What deal does O-O-O-Old One have for Mo?"

Tenor's maroon spots appeared to glow as he swam above Mo. "Once every year during the Warm Time, the Big Water will slowly but surely grow choppy." As he spoke, his voice grew dire, eyes darkening as he tilted his head up in the direction of the surface.

"Mo know that about Big Water!" Mo said, swinging his tail-cum-waterfoot about in an erratic manner. "Big Water become very rough on Mo! Rough waves always hit Mo when going up to surface. Mo not like at all!"

The elder swimmer couldn't help himself and chuckled, breaking composure for a brief instant. "As I was saying, this is because the Warm Time brings forth the Days of Rising Water."

"Mo hear about that too! It mean lots and lots of sky water!"

"You are quite right there. Sky water will pour down for the next couple of days. Very much coincidentally, it is this unique circumstance which allows for quite the unusual phenomenon…"

Mo cocked his head, befuddled until Tenor began to elaborate, the leader letting a sageful tone befitting an elder populate his voice. "Water that flows down to Big Water from the land is normally hard to swim through because the current is headed towards Big Water, so swimming upstream against the flow is quite a struggle for us swimmers. But during the big storm, the river will be flooded, reversing the flow of water and allowing swimmers like you and I to momentarily swim upwards… against the usual direction of the water currents."

He continued to nod his head, jaw agape as Tenor droned. Truth be told, however, Mo didn't have the slightest clue as to the specifics of what Tenor was blabbering about. It didn't take long before Tenor himself noticed that Mo was bored out of his mind at having to sit through his lecture. "Uh… this was what the other Old Ones told me before I stepped up, at least…" Tenor mumbled sheepishly, clearing his throat before he switched things up, jumping ahead to the more important part.

And sure enough, Mo perked right up when he realized that Tenor was now talking about his ticket back into the water kin.

"My challenge for you is to tackle a new venture which has been undertaken by no other swimmer prior. Use this opportunity and make your way up to the deepest and innermost part of land—to a place where none of our species has ever traversed before—and return back to the Big Water in one singular piece to tell your tale."

Tenor gently placed his fin to Mo's body as a show of reassurance. "Do not fret. It will be a perilous journey fraught with many difficulties and ordeals, but if you manage to prove to your contenders that you can survive a harsh journey to an unexplored realm all on your own, I think that I would have enough leverage to pull a few strings and reverse my prior decision to banish you, thus reinstating you back into our water kin with glory."

Though Tenor had painted him a very optimistic outlook of the outcome, Mo remained skeptical of his promise. "You can really do that for Mo? All Mo need do is swim up to innermost part of land?" He frowned, "But Mo not think water kin like if Mo come back."

"It matters not, Mo. If you do succeed in my challenge, you would have proven Orca's point moot," Tenor pointed out. "If you have enough perseverance to survive a trip of such magnitude, someone of my rank can fervently fight in your favor. Who can argue with hard facts when you have proven yourself a most capable swimmer, able to survive anything that the Big Water can throw at you in spite of your physical deficiency?"

Mo pursed his lips. Well, when Tenor put it so eloquently…

His offer was tempting. Sorely tempting.

To be one with the water kin once more…

In the end, the deciding factor in Mo's choice was Tenor's reassurance of re-inducting him back in. The indescribable despair he would otherwise face as he swam around the expansive Big Water by his lonesome was his only other option, and Mo would rather take a tenuous reunion with Orca and Kelp than paddle around the Big Water aimlessly, fraught with crushing pangs of loneliness never leaving his side.

The other benefits weren't as tangible or attractive to him. Winning the swimmers of his former water kin over? No matter how Tenor tried to spin things and embellish his words, Mo couldn't see that ever happening.

He already knew that he'd lost the battle with his inner self. His distaste for Orca and Kelp, as well as the rest of the swimmers for their 'betrayal', was nothing compared to having to face the alternative of never interacting with anyone for who knows how long. As a social swimmer who loved to make small talk with others, such a fate was the ultimate torture, a cruel torment that he couldn't envision living through for the rest of his days.

Right as Mo was on the verge of accepting, a deeply recessed memory sprung to the forefront of his mind, causing him to waver momentarily as he recounted a fateful night spent at the surface long ago…

"Such is fate, Mo! As much as you yearn to reach for it, it is unreachable! Your path will never intertwine with that of what you desire!"

Mo vehemently shook his head to expel the haunting words that reverberated in his head. Before the seeds of indecision could take hold and cause him to doubt himself, he hastily propelled himself to Tenor's side and shook the leader's fin, sealing the deal lest he dithered to the point where he ended up backing out of Tenor's offer.

"Mo say yes! Mo will go up to land and come bac-c-c-ck to water kin!" he declared to Tenor, mouth vibrating as he trilled the syllable.

Tenor saluted the other swimmer with his fin before whirling around and swimming back up to shallower waters. "I trust that you will," he beamed with a glowing smile, halting his ascent midway so that he could turn his head back to Mo before bidding his farewell.

"All the best to you, Mo."

As the other swimmer disappeared, Mo felt something that he hadn't had for a long time.

Hope.

That was another lesson for him today. Never give up hope, even in one's darkest hour.

Now smiling for real, Mo headed out of the dark crevice and rocketed up to the top.

Right before he was about to break the surface, his ears twitched as he picked up multiple faint ripples coming from above.

Sky water! Mo realized as he screeched to a halt, blinking his eyes rapidly when the ripples increased in both amplitude and frequency. Lots of it! Big Water getting lots and lots of sky water!

Mo tilted his jaw upwards, seeing that the entirety of the Big Water had darkened, even though he had ascended to near the surface, an area that was supposed to be brighter since the rays of the Bright Circle were supposed to illuminate the shallow water.

Unless the Bright Circle was missing in action, that was…

Now acutely aware of the sky water, he carefully broke the surface, popping his head out to make a quick visual scan. Taking in a deep breath and observing his surroundings, Mo could already feel the sky water pouring onto his upper body, drenching it with liquid even as he bobbed out of the Big Water.

With dawning comprehension, Mo felt the rough waves pounding onto him and concluded that the torrential amounts of sky water that were falling from above must have caused the tide to rise by increasing the capacity of the Big Water.

Just like Tenor say! When sky water fall, Big Water mo-o-r-re water. It start flooding! Means Mo can swim up and reach land!

Now, Mo just need find lan-n-nd!


With a trusty plan by his fin, Mo quickly made haste, scanning his eyes along the horizon in pursuit of the land that would be his salvation. As arduous and daunting his journey was, he had to accomplish his mission. He had to succeed.

Squinting his eyes, Mo scanned the horizon for any telltale signs of land, soon finding himself being rewarded when he spied a speck of gray standing out against the murky color that permeated the water surface.

Things were certainly looking up. Mo grinned, smile stretching from ear to ear. At the rate that he was going, he'd be reinstated back within the water kin in no time at all.

As he strode towards the unnatural object that seemed to be floating on the surface, Mo couldn't help but notice something weird about it.

Why land mo-o-v-ving? Mo was utterly confounded by what he was witnessing. Although he was a creature who lived under the depths, he wasn't completely blind to the world around him. Even a swimmer like him knew from his few scant visits to the shore that landmass was not supposed to move.

Come to think of it, the piece of gray land that he saw seemed smaller than what he'd expected. At such a close proximity to him, wasn't land supposed to stretch across at least half of the horizon from the front of his eyes?

Only when he continued to flounder towards the mysterious object did his astounding mistake come to light.

Mo gasped in terror, screeching to a halt as hard as he could. Gray slits narrowed from the lumbering giant that Mo had been swimming towards.

What he'd laid eyes on was not land. Not even close.

In actuality, what he had been approaching was a swimming sharptooth.

The enormous predator had been virtually invisible, its key defining features masked by the extreme amounts of sky water until it was nothing more than a blurry haze from the distance. The wall of falling droplets obscured Mo's visibility to the point where the colorful swimmer had found himself being so close to the sharptooth just to make it out that the sharptooth could probably sniff Mo out in return.

And did that it did. The creature raised its monstrous jaws up, sniffing tentatively as it caught a tantalizing whiff of the tasty morsel that would soon be its dinner.

That was yet another harsh reminder of the lesson that he'd learned at the meeting earlier — even when the unpredictable beast that was life relented, never let your guard down.

Mo let his jaw go agape, swallowing a gulpful of salty water before turning tail and fleeing for dear life. Mere moments later, the sharptooth began its pursuit with a mighty bellow.

Fortune was a fickle one indeed. One never knows just what could be teeming right around the corner…



Author's Note:

Orca might be a stereotypical bully character, but he's also no fool. His concerns are perfectly valid and in line with what his cohorts want. With Tenor hesitant to simply allow Mo back into his water kin despite being aware of the hidden conspiracy to get rid of Mo, our cheery swimmer must now make his way up to land to prove his worth… after dealing with one terrifying sharptooth, that is.

Man, Mo's style of speech is seriously hard to nail down. He speaks like Petrie for the most part, but has additional vocal trills and a major aversion to long sentences. A tricky combination indeed…

As many have noted, what Mo is going through and how he's being portrayed in this story is rather different from his usual carefree depiction in canon.

Others have commented on this, but I must say that I definitely would have released this fic as a long oneshot if the deadline for the June 2019 prompt wasn't looming around the corner. I always go for quality first and foremost, so proofreading everything in one chunk would have likely burst the deadline. Splitting into chapters also allows me the flexibility to go more in-depth with scenes and descriptions, so now I suspect that the final word count will be closer to 25K-30K words. :P



Sovereign: I am glad to hear that you think the herd isn't one-dimensional. I'd tried to write Orca with a more realistic take — while he primarily takes issue with Mo's speech and personality, a secondary concern revolves around his own—and the water kin's—safety around Mo. People aren't usually spiteful to others without some underlying reason, even if it is pettiness which drives them.

Anagnos: Mo might seem like an unorthodox choice for a main character, but I am someone who revels in treading new ground, writing concepts and scenarios that others haven't touched upon yet. It is not just the focus on Mo that is a rarity, but also his personality due to what he's currently going through. In fact, you might find yourself surprised by his thought process and actions in this fic…

Rhombus: On your comment about being able to see a different perspective to Mo's interactions with the gang, there is one specific scene in LBT9—that I'll highlight in due time—which inspired this unusual outlook for Mo to begin with. And for what it's worth, you are completely right in your other prediction, as the split into chapters has managed to provide me with adequately spaced breakpoints that make for great cliffhangers. :)



In the next one, how will Mo outwit the nasty swimming sharptooth that's hot on his tail?
Would it be possible for swimmers and flyers to get more love around here? Both figuratively… and literally.




Sovereign

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Re: Of Broken Words and Mud Brothers
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2019, 02:45:39 PM »
Alright, it’s not difficult at all to see which way this fic is going. Tenor’s offer explains a whole lot of how Mo got to the Valley in the first place and his mission is quite interesting. I quite enjoyed his character as he showed at least some kindness to Mo while trying to force the other swimmer to prove the others wrong. It was just enough to give him some hope to help him move forward which is more than encouraging to see.

Orca sure wants to make Mo’s life miserable and he certainly has succeeded in it very well. One can only hope that he’ll pay in some way soon enough even if he had his reasons for all of this. I liked how Kelp rose against him, showing that the latter will have few friends left at this pace. As for the ending, it’s quite obvious which sharptooth we’re talking about here and it’ll be interesting to see whether it and Mo will meet again before the film’s events. This was a good chapter and I’m sure the rest of this story will be great as well. :)littlefoot



Anagnos

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Re: Of Broken Words and Mud Brothers
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2019, 02:22:04 PM »
It is indeed very comforting to know that Mo isn’t completely alone in this challenging endeavor he is now doomed to face after being kicked out by his own kin. Tenor certainly appears to view Mo in a lot more different manner than the others. Where they see only failure and shame, he sees something much greater than that. And this particular change in the story where Tenor hands out the objective to Mo that he needs to fulfill in order to return to his water kin certainly explains the events which transpired into his appearance in the Valley.

And yes, while Orca might be a major bully, in my opinion at least, he does raise some valid points about Mo that cannot be quelled anymore. Even so, the way he is doing this is absolutely disgusting and unforgivable. I can definitely see why someone like Mo wouldn’t be very popular among the swimmers, but at least I’d expect him to show some form of sympathy and understanding. And might I add, I think he actually did. Of course, I could always be in the wrong about that as well. The future chapters and the eventual reunion with the water kin will no doubt clear some things that are in the dark right now.

Now I realize that my text might seem a bit, I don’t know, sluggish or judgmental. However, that definitely is not my intention, so apologies about that. It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, even reviews seem to be harder than before. Anyway, another wonderful chapter and I completely share Sovereign’s views about the future of this tale. ;)

rhombus

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Re: Of Broken Words and Mud Brothers
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2019, 04:11:12 AM »
Now this is an interesting turn in the story. Tenor's offer to convince the others to let Mo back in their good graces provided that Mo accomplishes a difficult task is certainly understandable from both a political and utilitarian point of view, which this leader certainly has. Tenor must maintain his reputation if he is to maintain power (lest power might fall upon one of the more ambitious and less far-sided would-be claimants) and he must also look out for the well-being of his group. If Mo can prove his worthiness with this challenge then Tenor gains assurance of the later, and secures a way to pull rank and let Mo re-enter the group without risking his power base. As far as political leadership goes, Tenor is the most sympathetic member of the group portrayed thus far, especially when Orca and Kelp are used for frames of reference.

This is an excellent way of providing Mo with a pathway to interacting with the gang. I look forward to seeing Mo's perspective of the events to come.


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

OwlsCantRead

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Re: Of Broken Words and Mud Brothers
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2019, 11:07:13 AM »
I had a lot of fun with a specific scene in this one… :Mo

FFN Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13347415/3/Of-Broken-Words-and-Mud-Brothers



Chapter 3: Journey to Big Land

Mo swam for his life, slicing through the surface at a respectable speed as the sharptooth loomed sinisterly behind him, hot in pursuit of his prey.

Why must this happen to-o-o-o Mo!? He thought with disdain, not daring to chance a glance behind him to see just how close the sharptooth was to closing in on him. In his mind, Mo could already hear Orca's taunting jeers, almost as though the smug calculating swimmer was right next to him and making those very curt remarks in real time.

"What sort of idiot are you? What kind of swimmer would actively approach a sharptooth!? Are you stupid or something!? Do you have a death wish, Mo?"

He spat out a spray of water in disgust at his own mental thoughts as he sped through the rough waves. No… this wasn't how he was going to go down.

Mo need to live! Mo not can die like this!

He refused to let Orca be proven right. His tormentor had used the excuse of his body's outstanding colors as a possible reason as to why a sharptooth would eventually get him one day. Mo had no intention of authenticating his foreboding prediction.

But even though Mo adamantly refused to turn back to look at his pursuer—partly out of denial, partly out of fear—he didn't need his excellent vision to tell that the sharptooth was gaining distance on him. All he had to do was hear the snapping sound of its powerful jaws getting louder as they constantly opened and closed in anticipation.

Fear gripped onto his heart and refused to let go. Quaking as he proceeded to move in a zigzag pattern to throw the sharptooth off and gain some time, he tried to think of another strategy.

Mo didn't want to dive into the depths, as his gut feeling told him that a creature of that size would have a distinct advantage over him underwater as it would be able to charge at him from any angle and direction — be it top, bottom, left, or right. All it would take is a few seconds of losing cognizance with regards to the sharptooth's location and the end result would be him being completely blindsided. A loss of awareness over where his pursuer was at any given time in the vastness of the Big Water would likely result in him ending up as a meal.

He shook his head, flicking stray beads of water on his fins away as he continued to propel forward on the surface of the frothy ocean. A tasty meal, he wasn't going to be!

Besides, Mo was certain that he wasn't palatable. The times where he'd bitten his tongue by accident and tasted nothing but blood was the proof of that hypothesis.

As he continued to swim frivolously, Mo was rewarded for his perseverance at long last. The swimmer's eyes shone, feeling a second wind flow through him when he saw land creeping up from the horizon. And yes, since it did indeed stretch across more than two-thirds of the horizon from where he was, Mo was certain as to the authenticity of the landmass this time round.

No more swimming sharpteeth hiding in the mist… one was already bad enough for him to handle, Mo didn't need any additional reinforcements overwhelming him and interfering with his escape.

A wide grin stretched across his face as he quickly approached land and saw the mouth of one of those rivers which Tenor had told him about. He seized the opportunity without hesitation, knowing that he may never have another chance to make this journey should he opt to forgo it.

Well, to be exact, he wouldn't have another shot until at least the next Warm Time. But that would be far, far too long of a wait for him.

That, and a sharptooth was on his tail. If Mo missed the chance by bypassing the river to escape and found himself having to wait, he was likely to either lose visual with the landmass as his sense of direction was terrible, or find himself in the creature's jaw long before the next Warm Time even came close to arriving.

It was now or never.

All Mo need do is swim up… and huh!? What wrong? Why Mo stuck? Mo need swim up ri-gah-ver!

Even with the added boost from the Big Water expanding due to the sky water flooding and encompassing the land, Mo wasn't strong enough to utilize the change in currents to swim upstream.

And the reason as to why soon became apparent to Mo. There was a huge caveat to what Tenor had assured him about his mission earlier in their conversation, a fundamental flaw with the mechanics of the overflowing river which the swimmer did not realize until it was far too late.

Old Ones wrong! Big Water grow in size, but so do water from high up in land! Water current not change at all… it still flow dow-w-w-n-wards!

Mo's heart sank as he opened his mouth to take in a deep breath. Unfortunately, it appeared that Tenor's logic had been flawed from the start.

While the increase in sky water falling into the Big Water did cause it to flood the land during the Days of Rising Water, it didn't change the direction of the currents because the copious amount of sky water falling from the sky also fell upon the land. And there, the extreme amount of runoff had all collectively flowed down from higher to lower ground, accruing greater and greater volume until it was an unstoppable flood running downstream.

In other words, it was much harder for a swimmer of his stature to fight against the ridiculous amount of outflow than Mo had been assured. The massive amount of water accumulated from land was being discharged at the point where the river met Big Water, resulting in a frothy mess of muddled currents that was incredibly tough to fight against.

This your fault, Tenor! You never warn Mo about this! Mo thought with dismay. He had been told that the sky water would make things easier. Ironically, it appeared that the very inverse was true.

Mo continued to fight against the invisible force that was pushing him back at the mouth of the river, grinding his jaws together from the sheer effort he was exerting when trying to swim in the opposite direction of the speedy currents.

Kkkeeggghhhh…

Making out the sound of a growl from behind him quickly put a halt to Mo's efforts. The swimmer stopped his struggles against trying to swim up the river, reflexively leaping to the side right as two humongous rows of teeth slammed shut around where he was floating at barely a moment ago.

As Mo somersaulted before landing back down with a large splash, he suddenly had an epiphany thanks to the instinctive reaction he'd performed when the sharptooth chose to make his move. He didn't need to fight against the fierce currents… he could simply jump up the river to make his way upstream instead of forcing his body through the rapid fast water!

Mo wasted no time at all with this discovery, springing himself as high as he can to avoid as much contact with the fast-moving river as possible. As he cleared the troublesome mouth of the river which had given him so much trouble and distracted him so much that it nearly ended him, Mo let out a shrill cry of joy.

But in the midst of his premature celebration, a grovel interrupted him as it reverberated around the surrounding area.

"Hmph. You're quite naïve, aren't you?"

Mo gasped, so completely astonished and taken aback when he heard the articulated calls that were synonymous with his species coming out of this enormous beast's toothy jaws that he screeched to a halt, allowing the water current to slowly shift him back towards the Big Water as he stared in shock at what he'd just heard. "Y-You… you speak o-o-u-ur swimmer language?"

Yellow, pupilless eyes gazed upon Mo as the predator remained still, its body half-submerged and unmoving. "What did you say?" the sharptooth snapped grumpily, "I don't speak landwalker."

Crisis momentarily put aside, the swimmer gazed at the one who had been chasing him in awe. Though a part of him was inwardly screaming at him to take the chance to flee while his foe remained still, Mo briefly put that feeling aside for now. Instinct mattered naught to him. Curiosity had tugged upon him, and he hence repeated his query.

"You talk our swim-m-m-mer language? Only big water swimmers talk like this!" Mo made sure to demonstrate his point by switching languages, squawking back at the sharptooth in a display that would have come off as a garbled "Bleh gn-n-n-nah neh!" to an untrained ear.

But to anyone who was literate and attuned with their species' echoes and bleats, the message would be clear and concise.

Upon seeing the beast narrowing his eyes at Mo's words instead of looking befuddled, the swimmer had all the evidence he needed to conclude that the swimming sharptooth understood his words this time. The cocky reply afterwards made using his species' call was just the kicker.

"I do indeed," he confirmed with a toothy grin. "Surprised, young one?"

"Mo impressed! How you speak like Mo!?" A concerned Mo continued to press, inquisitively tilting his head at the sharptooth as the huge swimmer proceeded to make squeaks and squawks that Mo was able to decipher because he was using the way that Mo's species communicated with each other over great distances, typically between two schools of water kin.

"Does it really matter, foolish swimmer?"

Hearing the sharptooth swimmer scoff at him after having to deal with Orca's unrestrained words from earlier caused Mo to snap, wiping the smile off his face as he fearlessly shot back. "Mo not foo-l-l-lish swimmer… Mo is Mo!" he countered, before trailing off and darting further up the stream. "Wait… why Mo introduce name to bad swimmer…?"

The sharptooth let out a snort, his breath so powerful that it caused the surface of the water around his front to churn and distort. "So you go by Mo?" he concluded. The small swimmer had introduced himself in third-person for quite some time, but he had dismissed it as a verbal tic until Mo personally confirmed his folly himself. "Very well, I suppose. It shall be a pleasure to know the name of my soon-to-be-dinner."

Mo shuddered when he realized he was being casually likened to a meal, taking a cautionary backwards leap to put some distance between him and the swimming sharptooth.

That prudent measure was very well worth it when the predator let out a cruel laugh.

"Know my name, pathetic whelp! I am Lagda, undisputed ruler of the Big Water!" the sharptooth proclaimed in a conceited and haughty manner, fully raising his head above the surface of the choppy water and flashing his sharpened teeth at Mo as a result. "There isn't a single swimmer out in these waters who has challenged me by betting their lives and survived to tell their tale." He paused, eyeing Mo as he lowered most of his dark green body beneath the waves once more. "You won't be the first, young'un! Tremble and perish between my jaws!"

Lagda charged forward, speedily surging through the river as though the opposing currents from the massive discharge of water were nothing.

Realizing that the hunt between them was on once more, Mo let out a panicked cry and jumped for his life, slowly making his way up the river as Lagda followed him.

This act between them barely lasted moments before Mo realized that it couldn't persist. It was at this point where he began to hyperventilate, inhaling deep gulps of oxygen as he realized that he had reached an impasse. He couldn't dive down beneath the water or swim on the surface of the raging river lest the downstream currents end up pushing him back towards the sharptooth and thus, his doom.

But unfortunately for Mo, jumping constantly to ascend was not a very efficient method of swimming. Without the need to constantly somersault high into the air the way Mo did, Lagda was steadily gaining distance on him. At this rate, it wouldn't be long before the sharptooth caught up and the arc of his next jump would terminate in Lagda's waiting mouth.

Yet, he was exhausted of any other options.

"How dare you resist your impending demise for so long?!" Lagda sneered. "Quit jumping into the air and hold still so that I can have you for dinner already, measly little snack!"

"N-o-o-o-o!" Mo pouted, shaking his head right at the apex of his jump. "Mo not want be snack for bad swimmer!" he added for emphasis before landing back in the water belly-up.

Lagda didn't take Mo's show of defiance too well.

"So you're one of those feisty ones, hm? Very well, then. A prey who puts up a fight is always more rewarding to gobble up in the end! Allow me to demonstrate firsthand why a sharptooth of my size is deservedly the ruler of my domain!"

Mo chanced a glance back upon hearing the sharptooth's brash declaration, only for his eyes to widen to comical proportions when he saw the creature raising its right front fin up high, the movement accentuated by a burst of sky fire that lit up the sky. With a malevolent smile, Lagda forcefully slammed his fin down onto the water, causing a huge wave to roll upwards as the water found itself being displaced from the massive splash produced.

He openly gaped, gurgling as a large volume of water took the opportunity to enter his large mouth. Though it stung, Mo couldn't help it — it was simply a reflex. He sprung to the air once more, taking the chance to stare at the wave of water that had been made from the impact of Lagda's fin while he was airborne. It was headed straight towards him, and worryingly the crest of the displaced wave was taller than the top of his head when his body was half-submerged in the river.

Mo's face turned serious as he realized his grim situation. The way out of this conundrum was obvious, but that didn't make the solution an easy one. He needed to outpace the wave so that it wouldn't break over him and drag him under. As both the wave and him were travelling upwards, it would eventually lose its momentum, losing its stability before it crashed and dissipated.

But if he couldn't outswim it and the massive wave ended up breaking over his body, the force of the water from above would almost certainly drag him under the river surface. Once he was claimed, he would pretty much be a slave to the fast and anarchic currents. Mo visibly quivered as he imagined himself being knocked around in every direction physically possible should he be caught in it.

Needless to say, it would be almost impossible to break out of. By the time he managed to reorient himself, Lagda would be upon him.

Having gotten a good sense of his watery opponent, Mo landed back down with an unceremonious splash. So all he needed to do was accurately ration his energy so that he could repeatedly jump against the downwards current and still keep ahead of the dangerous wave that Lagda had produced.

His lips curled upwards in a smile.

But where was the fun in that?

Deciding to halt the continuous jumping spree that he'd been doing ever since the mouth of the river just to fight against the current, Mo turned around, facing the oncoming wave and Lagda head-on.

Wait for it…! Mo carefully narrowed his eyes, rapidly kicking his tail about as he focused his undivided attention on the wall of water that was quickly closing in on him. Mo need tim-m-m-e-e this right!

The face of the swimming sharptooth changed from one of unbridled glee to pure befuddlement when he saw his prey swimming towards him. Just as Lagda thought that perhaps Mo had given up, the colorful swimmer took to the air again.

"What the…"

As Mo was swimming with the current instead of against it, he had drastically picked up speed. This increase in speed translated to an increment in both his airtime and height, which combined allowed him to soar much higher and longer than previously.

Mo beamed as he looked down. He had timed it just right. At the very peak of his jump, his bottom fin made contact with the swelling crest of the wave. As Mo began to descend, he managed to catch the wall of water right as it passed underneath him. This allowed the water to scoop him up right as he landed directly on top of the wave with a flourish and proceeded to ride the top of the crest with a huge grin plastered on his face, with Lagda watching the unbelievable stunt play out in front of his eyes with utter shock.

"Y-You…!"

He exhaled an amused chortle as he heard Lagda's cry of outrage when the swimming sharptooth realized that he'd been outplayed. The startled gasp of anger was like harmonious music to his ears, so much so that he couldn't resist making a snide remark in jest.

"This fu-u-n-n-n! Mo no be your dinner when me up here!" he lambasted the dumbfounded Lagda using his native tongue. Lagda had told him that he didn't understand the landwalker language, and Mo wanted the remark to stick.

With a cheer, Mo continued to use the momentum from the wave to propel himself forwards and upwards until the top of the wave eventually broke against the river.

As he landed back on the surface of the river, Mo found himself very glad that the currents pushing against his body was much weaker at this point. It appeared that he had reached level ground, so he didn't have to fight as hard against the fast water now.

Why, he wasn't even required to continually jump upwards just to swim here!

Right as he was getting cozy, he could hear a furious cry coming from downstream.

"The nerve of you! You dare make a fool out of me!?" The humiliated Lagda howled loudly from far below, even though opting to express his dissent in Mo's language took away much of the ferociousness—this was due to the fact that Big Water swimmers sometimes communicated with cries and squawks, which looked laughably awkward when heard by outsiders who had no context whatsoever with the intricacies of the language—as compared to if it had been made in the harsh cry of a sharptooth snarl.

But just like Mo before him, Lagda wanted his prey to understand the intent behind his disdainful words, as well as to hear the threat that followed them. "I have had it with you, swimmer! You are mine!"

"Mo no think so!" he refuted with renewed vigor. "You just try make Mo scared. But Mo free swimmer! Once Mo get to top of land, Mo can join back with water kin!"

"Top of land?" Even though Mo couldn't see Lagda, he could hear the snort which followed. "Hahahaha! Whoever ordered you here actively sent you here to perish!" Lagda cruelly stated. "There is nothing at the top of this place except for a waterfall which nourishes this very river! Even though you made it past me, you'll have no proof that you made it all the way, and I'll be waiting to gnaw on your cheeky little body during your return trip back down!"

Mo froze in terror, Lagda's vow striking him right where it hurt by slamming at the heart of his insecurities.

"It will be a perilous journey fraught with many difficulties and ordeals, but if you manage to prove to your contenders that you can survive a harsh journey to an unexplored realm all on your own, I think that I would have enough leverage to pull a few strings and reverse my prior decision to banish you, thus reinstating you back into our water kin with glory."

The sweet words and eventual reward that Tenor had promised… only worked out if he came back alive.

It couldn't be… could it?

Could it be that Tenor wanted him out of the way, choosing to send him on a mission that was almost impossible to complete just so he could deal with two problems with one solution, managing to settle both the afflicted party and his new water kin simultaneously.

It did make sense. Tenor had given him incorrect information on how the river worked during the Days of Rising Water, forcing Mo to think outside his normal parameters just to ascend up the river in the first place. Could he have simply tried to sabotage Mo by setting a challenge which he deliberately made impossible? In his own words, Tenor had described it as something that no other swimmer had succeeded in before, so that train of thought wasn't really that far out?

By doing it this way, Tenor could rest easy knowing that he had managed to please both the dissenters in the herd that wanted Mo gone, as well as to mediate any cries of unfairness by giving Mo a fair chance to return… hypothetically, that is. Although he appeared to have seemingly given Mo a fair shot, could it be that the odds and eventual outcome had already been predetermined before Mo had even set off?

Was this merely the illusion of choice at work…?

Mo looked down at his own faint reflection on the surface of the water, the image being distorted by the constant ripples being made by the falling sky water.

"Such is fate, Mo! As much as you yearn to reach for it, it is unreachable! Your path will never intertwine with that of what you desire!"

Once again, those ardent words from long ago rang out in his mind as a cold reminder to Mo about the harsh realities of life. At that memory, he let a single tear fall, the streaking tear trickling down his cheek before falling into the water below and making a ripple that was soon joined by multiple other raining sky water droplets.

In hindsight, there was no way that Orca's profound comment at the meeting about Mo's inexplicably bright colors didn't get to Tenor. From a leader's viewpoint, would he really want a burden such as Mo in their water kin?

Did Tenor set him up for failure from the very beginning, wiping his fins off what Orca and Kelp had likened as a problematic member of the water kin in the most tactful way that he could?

Mo vigorously shook his head in denial, continuing his swim upwards before Lagda could hurl any additional remarks that threw more things into doubtful disarray.

Tenor was on his side! It couldn't have all been a façade… it couldn't!

With that fiery, defiant thought, he shook off his uneasiness and continued to swim up the river to his destination. After what felt like an eternity, Mo managed to clamber all the way to the top of the river — the innermost part of land that Tenor had challenged him to reach.

Rather distressingly, Lagda had been right. Mo could see huge jutting peaks standing firm and tall to his front, the sight accompanied by a huge waterfall that blocked any possible way forward from this point on.

But by this point, it didn't matter to Mo. He had made it as far as he could possibly go, successfully completing what Tenor had challenged him to do whether the young Old One leader had planned for his success or failure. All he had to do now was return in a blaze of glory and they would have to let him back in, whether they wanted to or not!

Unfortunately, as the swimmer made a U-turn and prepared to depart, he saw a sight which made his blood run cold.

Lagda was waiting for him downstream. While the swimming sharptooth couldn't see Mo as he was at a lower altitude, Mo could clearly see him from his vantage point. It was quickly apparent that Lagda had also made his way up, strategically positioning himself in the middle of the river, just like he said he would.

Though the banks of the river were clearly flooded, which made the "river" wider as there was water in places where there normally wouldn't be in less wet conditions, Mo doubted that he could outmaneuver the swimming sharptooth. He had already pushed his fragile little body to the absolute limit, especially in the initial part of the voyage when he had continually jumped up and down.

Mo shuddered. He had only gotten away from Lagda by using the element of surprise to ride the wave that the sharptooth had produced. With Lagda fully anticipating him this time, he doubted that he would get lucky twice.

But alas, there was no other way back to the Big Water. He was forced to attempt a very risky pass through Lagda, who was patiently waiting to ambush him the moment Mo tried just that.

As Mo looked around the flooded plains in search of another way out, he was astounded when he realized that he quickly managed to find exactly what he was looking for. There was a point where the depths of the accumulated floodwater he was currently swimming in was actually higher than the tall rock wall, thus forming a small water path that allowed access past the obstacle to his front.

Without a moment's hesitation, Mo took it.

He regretted the rash decision moments later when he realized that the narrow passageway between the peaks and large volume of water backflowing through it caused the water to quickly coalesce into a rapid, swirly whirlpool-like current.

"This fu-n-n-n too!" he managed to say before accidentally swallowing a mouthful of water as he tumbled upside-down. "But-t-t-t… Mo now di-z-z-z-y!"

After being continually spun about, Mo suddenly felt no water below his fins. As he performed a double-take, he realized that he had just passed over a steep drop — which made sense, as the route that he had taken was technically excess water overflowing from a tall peak.

Just like how it worked with an undersea chasm, cliffs gave way to a valley. And unfortunately for the now airborne Mo, the water under him had tapered off, gravity forcing it down the instant there was no ground under it.

With a shriek, he fell down before landing in a lake filled with the surplus floodwater in a subdued splash. Submerged in the water and confident that he had finally shaken off the persistent Lagda, Mo opted to recharge his battered body by taking a well-deserved snooze.

He would find his way back to the Big Water when he awoke.



Author's Note:

If the mental image of Mo riding the top of a wave with a massive troll face has now been immortalized in your head, it means that I have been successful in my goal. :Mo

Watching Jurassic World in theaters was my reintroduction to dinosaurs, and the Mosasaurus in that film really enlightened me to just how terrifying oceanic apex predators really are. They're like sharks… except way worse!

Building upon that, opting for a Liopleurodon to be LBT9's sharptooth of choice really made it stand out in a series where most of the predatory threats are predominantly raptors and T-rexes (especially by the later sequels), although the film itself doesn't really do it justice in terms of narrative tension. So here's hoping I rectify that!

Now that a Mo who is doubtful about his very mission has made it to the valley, things should probably start playing out in a rather familiar—yet different—way. A journey to Big Water awaits!



Sovereign: Mo really needs some comfort, doesn't he? He has definitely been placed in a scenario which is clearly out of his comfort zone, that's for sure.

Anagnos: I suppose when you look at it that way, Orca is a swimmer who comes off as more of a practical realist, someone who's "cruel to be kind" with his words for the sake of the greater good, even if the intentions get muddled somewhere along the way.

Rhombus: Tenor's definitely in a tough spot: first day in and he already has to appeal to the crowd. As someone who has trouble making tough decisions involving other people, I certainly don't envy his position at all!
Would it be possible for swimmers and flyers to get more love around here? Both figuratively… and literally.




Sovereign

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Re: Of Broken Words and Mud Brothers
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2019, 03:12:50 PM »
This was indeed a strong chapter filled with intense action as well as some nice looks into Mo’s thoughts. We saw actually nothing of the swimmer’s inner motives and feelings so that makes those kinds of looks into his mind that much more interesting. The first half of this installment was certainly an exciting one as the chase itself and Lagda’s introduction were very well done and the latter was something I hadn’t really thought we’d see.

The sharptooth’s conversation offered a good example of his sadistic instincts while also offering Mo some new insights to his mission. It’s more than believable that the beast’s words would dishearten Mo even further but luckily that didn’t happen. Tenor didn’t seem like a treacherous swimmer but we’ll most likely see his true motives before the end. Though, I must say that parts of Lagda’s dialogue felt rather cliché and reminiscent of a generic, moustache-twirling villain. It wasn’t that bothering but still noticeable.

As for the latter parts of the chapter, they certainly were intense. That wave demonstrated very well how Mo reached the Valley and it seems like we’re approaching the film’s starting point soon enough. It’ll be fun to see where you’ll end this story but thus far, it has been a good ride. :^^spike



Anagnos

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Re: Of Broken Words and Mud Brothers
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2019, 06:28:10 AM »
It is indeed very true that this chapter gave much needed insight to several issues from the previous chapters. Until now, the storytelling has been quite slow-paced, but the initial density is long gone by now, which will only take matters into a much better direction. The chase portion at the start was a grand surprise admittedly, but a welcome one as it gave this story that boost of action which was definitely required to make things roll and much more interesting in the long-term.

Mo’s tactics against the swimming sharptooth in this chapter was a very interesting conception that not only offered more insight to Mo, but also for his newfound enemy and a massive threat, Lagda. Indeed, he appeared to do everything in his power to discourage Mo from completing his task, something that didn’t exactly work in his favor in the end, as his taunting actually made him more inclined to complete his mission and while it’s a complete mystery as of now if Tenor really mislead Mo to get him severely hurt or even killed, it certainly wouldn’t be impossible to believe so.

Personally, I didn’t find anything in this chapter that managed to disappoint me or my expectations on what would occur this time around. True, we have now crossed over to the film’s starting point, so we will definitely see more familiar scenes in the future installments and it will be quite the experience to see what you’ll come up with in the future chapters. I wholeheartedly agree with Sovereign’s point that it’s been a remarkable journey so far.

rhombus

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Re: Of Broken Words and Mud Brothers
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2019, 07:51:04 PM »
This chapter was a nice change of pace as the (entirely justified) slow world-building of the previous chapters has given way to frenzied action as Mo fights for his very life. There are many things in this chapter that work well - from the sarcasm of the predator, to Mo's uncertain thoughts mixed with mischief and hope, to his crowning moment of triumph on the wave - and their rapid-fire order in this fic shows that we (and Mo) are now in uncharted waters. This rapid change of pace did not seem out of place, however; far from it. It actually gives one the impression of being forced suddenly into a new realm of possibilities.

I look forward to seeing what awaits Mo after he regains consciousness. :)


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

OwlsCantRead

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Re: Of Broken Words and Mud Brothers
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2019, 10:28:51 AM »
Mo back! :Mo Any mud brothers mis-s-s-s Mo?

FFN Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13347415/4/Of-Broken-Words-and-Mud-Brothers



Chapter 4: Littlefoot and Waterfoot

If he wasn't having an outrageously wild sleep story, the only thing that separated the realm of consciousness from unconsciousness for Mo was his active mind, as there would always be some active thought occupying it when the animated swimmer was awake.

As a result, when Mo finally garnered enough energy to flicker his eyelids open from his deep slumber, he knew he was awake for certain when his mind was able to piece together a conclusion from cobbled pieces of information. Funnily enough, the first coherent thought that came to his mind was one that was surprisingly plain, yet astute.

Sky water no fall down on Mo anymore!

Mo observed that fact with an exultant sense of glee. It was quite a simple deduction for him to infer, even without him making visual confirmation with the sky. He had made a note that not only was the water surface calm and free from disturbance, but the overcast sky partially obscured by the liquid above his body was much brighter compared to the murky gray that had prevalently loomed above during the duration of the storm.

Mo very happy that sky back to being bright and blue again! Bye-bye to sky water giving Mo so many problems! Mo not like, glad see bad weather go away! Haha!

As Mo was able to convince himself that the horrid storm had subsided, he decided to make a break for the surface. He propelled himself through the water in a downwards arc before flinging himself out of the surface to get some fresh air.

Saying that he didn't expect what he saw at all was the understatement of the Cold Time. Now this was entirely new to him. Mo was—for lack of a better word—flummoxed, the swimmer completely flabbergasted by the sight which was bestowed upon his eyes.

"Where Mo now?" he found himself murmuring in amazement. Though he had flung himself out of the Big Water on occasion for the express purpose of greedily gulping down air, the only thing that would usually greet him in the past was the sky and its usual spectrum of colors — cycling between blue on a normal day after dawn, gray when a storm was brewing, orange when the Bright Circle was touching the Big Water, and black when it was night.

But never had it been green before. Green was not in the repertoire of colors that Mo typically saw in his typical Big Water habitat, and thus he had not anticipated such a sight as a result.

Yet, wherever he had ended up after the exhausting chase, green overwhelmed his vision. Green grew by the bank where the water touched land, green extended into the air in a manner akin to that of water greens (except these greens didn't have aqua blue surrounding them).

Basically, green was everywhere here. The biome itself was littered with green as far as the eye could see. The scope of how far the ubiquitous color appeared to be sprawled across the landscape was frankly, enormous. The closest equivalent that Mo could liken the sight to was the expense of the Big Water, but with the cerulean blue of water instead replaced with luscious greens that combed the land which he'd previously tended to stay away from while he was a member of the water kin.

With the green plants seeming to tower high towards the sky from the point where Mo was situated, he couldn't help but find parallels between the perilous depths of the Big Water and the moss-green cluster of shadowy greens situated away from the body of water. The dense undergrowth appeared almost like an impervious fortress, the thick foliage obscuring the view behind them. In a way, the woodlands reminded Mo very much of the numerous crevasses and deep trenches that lay at the bottom of the Big Water, dangerous traps which would often lead a swimmer to a dark and bloody demise should they venture into them by accident.

Yes, this place was really similar to the Big Water that Mo knew well… perhaps, could he call this place Big Land?

Good name! Big Water, Big Land! Mo like, Mo excite-e-e-d!

Instead of the cautious and fragile mask that he typically wore on his face, this time Mo allowed himself to smile in earnest. His irrepressible grin was so wide that it could practically split his face cleanly in half.

"Use this opportunity and make your way up to the deepest and innermost part of land—to a place where none of our species has ever traversed before—and return back to the Big Water in one singular piece to tell your tale."

…and what a tale it ended up being! Tenor was definitely not kidding when he'd said that the deepest and innermost regions of land were unexplored by their kind, even amongst the Old Ones who ruled the water kins. Who knew that behind the drab exterior of the sandy coasts which layered the coasts would lie such an amazing secret hidden from view?

Mo was certain that the sight he saw before him today would have been passed down through word-of-mouth if another swimmer had made this discovery prior, as this was a place that none of them had ever seen before. Their species were naturally communicative, so a riveting tale like this would spread incredibly quickly through their warbled echoes. The fact that no one mentioned a squeak of this up till now meant that in all likelihood, he was the first of his kind to end up here and learn of this astounding site.

And to be fair, Mo could garner why. There were no hints whatsoever of such lush greenlands at such a location, so any self-respecting Old One would never lead their water kin here. Mo himself would never have been able to tell that such an unusual habitat could even exist just from peering at the outskirts of the boring landmass from the coastline.

As a matter of fact, if Tenor hadn't challenged Mo to swim up to prove his resilience to survive despite his unusual coloration, he would never come up here on his own and end up being treated to such a visual spectacle. Even the swimming sharptooth who had relentlessly pursued him didn't know of the alcove which had led Mo to this hidden lake with the canyon, claiming that the water source contained only a torrential waterfall and completely unaware that the tall peaks masked luscious plains within.

But if someone like Lagda wasn't kept abreast of this detail, then it was very likely that Tenor didn't know either…

Mo shook his head, forcing those negative thoughts away. With the adrenaline of the sharptooth chase having subsided long ago, he could finally look at the chain of events that had led him here with an objective view… if it wasn't for the fact that such matters weren't actually his concern at the moment.

He could focus on what this meant to him later, oh yes. But right now, all Mo wanted to do was stare at his surroundings in awe, the swimmer feeling completely reinvigorated as he took in a deep breath of fresh air. Nothing could detract him from this new experience… or at least, that was what he'd thought at first.

"Huh! It's a swimmer!"

It took a while for him to piece together what was happening, but then everything clicked at once, Mo suddenly realizing that there was someone out there on land who had managed to catch a glimpse of him. Staying cautious after his near escape from Lagda, he lay low and squinted his eyes to see if he could spot his mysterious stalker.

But alas, try as he might, he could not manage to spot the one who'd spoken — the lush vegetation must have kept them out of sight… if they existed at all. Just as Mo was about to accept that perhaps it was his imagination playing tricks on him, he decided to confirm it before dismissing the theory by deliberately drawing attention to himself.

Mo leapt out of the water, lithely flipping his body so that his cream-colored underbelly faced the sky at the apex of his jump to see if he could catch any sight of his mysterious observer.

Right as he reentered the lake with a splash, his sensitive ears managed to catch the first words of someone speaking. Though he quickly ended up under the water, the swimmer's sharp sense of hearing allowed him to discern the latter part of what the stranger was saying about him even though he had dived back out of sight.

"Wow! I've never seen one like him before!"

That settled it. Now Mo knew for a fact that the voice was no figment of his imagination. There really was someone out there eyeing his antics!

Incredible… absolutely fantastic!

"Oh-ah!" Mo warbled ecstatically as he skimmed just below the surface of the water. "Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!" he trilled, bobbing his head up and down in a melodic rhythm.

"Don't be afraid!" the mystery voice called out to Mo once more. Since Mo took special care to stay hidden beneath the surface, they were still not able to see him… which was probably why they were using a tone that was almost as mellow as Tenor's. "I won't hurt you!" they continued to assure soothingly, "Hello out there!"

Mo decided to humor the voice with another trill, keeping up the suspense by keeping himself scarce. It wasn't often—almost never, actually—that he found himself attracting positively-natured attention, and as a result of this unexpected turn of events the swimmer was now brimming with energy, his head abuzz with many wild ideas on who the dinosaur that was trying to summon him from the shore could be.

Finally unable to keep himself in suspense any longer, Mo decided to make his way towards his wondrous salvation.

…but why do that in what others would call the "normal" way when he could instead do it the Mo way — fun, flashy, and flamboyant?

"Wahey-y-y!" Mo chirped as he propelled himself out of the aquatic body of water, used his momentum to twist and twirl his body around so that he was performing a really cool-looking aerial somersault. "Oh-ho-ho-ho-ho-ha!" In that brief moment where he found himself suspended above the pristine water, Mo was finally able to catch sight of his mysterious observer just out of the corner of his eye, seeing a brown… long-necked landwalker trotting in his direction along the shore.

So you landwalker who try lo-o-o-oking for Mo? Sound like you having fu-u-u-n. But look like Mo manage find you before you find Mo-o-o-o, haha!

Crooning with palpable joy as Mo landed back in the water, the swimmer found himself continuing to smile, finally satisfied at being able to lock onto the precise whereabouts of the prowler who had been driving him frantic. Making sure to suck a large gulp of water into his mouth, Mo stealthily made his way back up and broke the water surface right next to the other dinosaur, making sure to squirt his newfound target's face with water relentlessly.

The dinosaur was caught off guard and thus ended up completely drenched by the sneak attack, much to Mo's amusement. Mo quirked his head when he saw the brown creature clenching his eyes shut and shaking his head to flick the spray of water droplets off. "Hey! Brrrrrr!" he shivered before finding himself blinking his eyes in surprise when he saw Mo's head poking out of the water right in front of him. "…huh?"

After Mo emptied the mouthful of water he had on the creature, the swimmer could finally get his first actual close-up of the brown figure who had plagued his curiosity.

The first thing that struck Mo was that the dinosaur had four feet, and was in fact a fair bit larger than him. Having swum right up to the shore, he actually had to swim backwards using his water feet just so he could keep the creature's entire body within his frame of vision.

Although the dinosaur on land was like nothing he had ever seen before while frolicking about in the Big Water, it didn't make an iota of difference to a non-judgmental Mo, who in his current state of loneliness was quickly galvanized into action to maintain the land-based dinosaur's attention on him by acting in the same way that he would have towards his own kin — by waving a fin with a merry squeal while chuckling in glee.

"Ooohhhh… ahhhh!" Mo greeted, so blissful and happy that he unintentionally slipped into his species' trademark chirp calls out of habit.

Hello! Mo very glad meet you!

Even though Mo was quite sure that a landwalker like him couldn't understand his swimmer language, the wave of his fin had no such language barrier, and through context alone the other party was able to derive the general meaning of his amiable greeting.

And indeed, it certainly elicited a response from him. "Wow!" he gasped, thrusting his elongated neck back in surprise when he finally saw Mo with his warm russet-brown eyes.

Mo had to say that it felt good to be the focus of attention for something positive for a change. Far too often in the water kin had Mo found himself being the focus of unwanted attention because Orca or Kelp drew the spotlight onto him so they could ridicule their victim alongside a derisive crowd.

But here, things were different. Mo noted that the landwalker was staring at him with curiosity brimming in his eyes, almost in the same way Mo himself would explore an exquisite water plant.

Seeing that his impromptu performance had captivated his audience from the very beginning, he submerged beneath the surface to try and recapture that feeling of awe from his observer.

"No, don't go… please!"

An underwater Mo raised a brow, surprised. No one ever tell Mo come back before! He thought to himself, unable to stop smiling even as he continued diving down. Usually they tell Mo go far, far away! Feeling jubilant, Mo surfaced once more, deciding to reward the landwalker with yet another playful squirt of water right to the face.

The landwalker reacted pretty much identically to when he had been shot with the spray of water the first time round. "Hey!" he cried, a tinge of mild frustration creeping into his voice. The brown dinosaur couldn't keep up his agitation for very long, an amused smile quickly finding itself on his face as he shook the water off his head. "Okay… very funny," he admitted.

Mo performed a spontaneous backflip in response to his remark, which caused the landwalker to wade into the shallow water until the level of the lake reached his underbelly. "That really looks like fun!" he said.

"Hee hee hee hee hee!" Mo giggled at the praise, performing another backflip as thanks.

"I wish I could do that!" his audience of one exclaimed, his eyes widening.

That settled it for Mo. Unlike the frequent jeers that he had been subjected to under Orca and Kelp, Mo couldn't detect a trace of jealousy in the landwalker's comments. They were all made from genuine awe and wonder.

Landwalker no fake friend like water kin… he real friend! Heehee!

Though one could not easily tell from his outwards appearance as Mo always tried to keep a perpetual smile on his face, he was more ecstatic than ever before, the swimmer knowing that he was on the cusp of a breakthrough in achieving the one goal that he'd sought after for so long.

A real friend.

An honest and true-blue friend by his side.

With that thought firmly in mind, Mo steeled himself and gathered the courage to stop showing off and instead interact with the newcomer directly. "Who-o-o… you?" Mo asked, the first word coming out gurgled due to him prematurely asking the question while his jaw was still submerged in water.

The landwalker gasped in surprise before answering Mo with a smile. "I'm Littlefoot."

"Yi-ttle-foot?" Mo echoed after him, a lilt to his tone.

The four-legged creature laughed at that. "Heh heh! No!" he chuckled at the mispronunciation, "Li-Li-Littlefoot!" the landwalker tried again, enunciating the first syllable of his name in hopes that Mo would get it down.

It was an interesting name, Mo had to say, considering that this Little-foot towered over him. Nevertheless, Mo tried his best to follow along, squinting his eyes shut and willing himself to not mess up again. "Yi-Yi…" he hesitated on the first syllable just like this 'Yittlefoot', before finally managing to get the name out after constantly rolling it around on the tip of his tongue, "…Yittlefo-o-o-ot?"

"Heh, heh! Well… that's pretty close," Littlefoot conceded, before turning the question around and sending it hurtling right back towards him. "What's your name?"

The vibrant swimmer grinned serenely at Littlefoot. "Mo," he replied warmly.

"Nice to meet you, Mo!" Littlefoot replied as Mo swam around him in a wide circular arc.

"Ha ha!" Mo treaded the water underneath him using his fins, sizing up the half-submerged landwalker by gaining a bit of height on him with the maneuver, "Mo no got land foot like Littlefoot…" The swimmer cheered inwardly when he realized that he'd finally managed to get the pronunciation of Littlefoot's name down. "…Mo got… water foot!" he concluded with a clap with his fins, completely and utterly pleased with the pun that he'd made.

Littlefoot let out a chuckle when Mo made a deliberate show of his tail fins to prove his point. "Yeah, I see," he said.

"You like to have fu-u-u-u-n?" Mo offered, his body vibrating as he held the 'u' syllable on the final word.

"I sure do!"

The instant Mo's sharp hearing caught Littlefoot's answer, he used his front fins to splash water all over the other party and swim for cover.

"Hey!" Littlefoot chortled in mock outrage, caught off guard by Mo's attack. "I'll get you!" he said as he lurched towards Mo and started to chase the retreating swimmer.

Mo chuckled as he fled, taunting Littlefoot in the name of good fun. "Haha! Surprise! Try catch Mo if you ca-a-a-an! Mo very fast swimmer!"

He had a wide smile plastered on his face as he sped away from the shore, splashing around in the tepid water as he allowed himself to linger on an optimistic thought as he eyed an enthusiastic Littlefoot right on his tail.

This game of chase fu-u-u-n! Littlefoot like fun brother Mo no have before. He brown like mud. That make him m-m-m-mud brother!

Perking up as he came up with the term of friendship on the spot, Mo made a sharp U-turn and dove down to swim under Littlefoot, much to the longneck's shock and consternation when the poor soul realized that Mo was making his escape by swimming in between his legs. "H-hey! That's not fair!" Littlefoot cried, struggling to turn his bulky body around in the waist-deep water as Mo jumped out from behind Littlefoot's tail and propelled himself away.

Mo tipped his long jaw out of the water, letting out a victorious yet playful chuckle as he made it to shore. A glint in the swimmer's eyes, he muddied his front yellow-soon-to-be-brown fins by scooping up the soft mud that bordered the shoreline.

Right as Littlefoot charged at him through the water, Mo jerked his fins outwards to fling the mud right at the body of his target, clapping his fins extravagantly when his projectile scored a direct hit.

"H-hey!" Littlefoot cried, slowing down and staring at the mud spreading over his body. "What gives? I'm all dirty now…" he complained.

"Mo throw mud at Littlefoot! Now Littlefoot mud brother, wahahahaha!"

Littlefoot cocked his head in confusion, his brown eyes drifting upwards as he pondered Mo's declaration over. "Mud brother?" he repeated, "What does that mean? I'm a longneck… not whatever a… mud brother is."

"Oh, no," Mo said, paddling towards Littlefoot. "Friend no understand Mo. Mud brother mean Littlefoot now Mo's bestest friend!"

Littlefoot bent his neck down, leaning close to Mo. "You mean… you want to be my friend?" he asked.

Mo inhaled a deep breath. It was now or never. "If Littlefoot let Mo be mud brother. It your choice!" he insisted, anxiously fidgeting with his fins underwater but otherwise pretending that Littlefoot's decision wouldn't affect him.

He needn't have fretted.

"That's great!" Littlefoot gave the swimmer an affirmative nod of his head, easing Mo's inner fears in one fell swoop. "I was wondering when you would ask! I would love to be your mud brother, Mo!"

Mo extended his head towards Littlefoot with disbelieving eyes. "Really? You mean it?" he seeked a confirmation from the larger dinosaur, wagging his tail around and making ripples around his body.

"Of course! We're friends now, aren't we?" Littlefoot used his neck to smear the mud stains more evenly across his back. "If being a mud brother means that I'm your friend, then I would gladly be your mud brother!"

"Yes!" Mo launched himself out of the lake with a jaunty somersault, flashing the happiest smile in a long time. When he plopped back into the water, he circled Littlefoot twice before clapping his fins repeatedly. "You nice friend! Now you mud brother!"

"Oh, silly Mo!" Littlefoot shook his head with a small smile as he walked back onto a grassy patch of land and shook himself dry. "Did you think I was going to say no to a face like yours?"

He didn't manage to answer that question as Littlefoot immediately let out a chuckle, causing Mo to realize that Littlefoot had meant for it to be taken rhetorically. Instead of dwelling on the fact that he'd hit quite close to home, Mo instead laughed along with Littlefoot, taking solace in his successful endeavor in making a new friend.

As Littlefoot continued to laugh, Mo's sharp ears managed to catch the sound of murmuring and rustling grass. Quickly glancing to his right and seeing his mud brother still distracted in the throes of his laughing fit, Mo stealthily dived down to hide.

Not a moment too soon, too. Right after he submerged himself, Mo heard a befuddled voice ringing through the clearing. "Littlefoot, is that you?"

Other landwalkers here! They just like Littlefoot?

Mo stayed silent, listening attentively from behind an underwater rock formation. He couldn't see anyone but Littlefoot from where he dwelled, but the reverberations from the other voices still rang across the water and could be easily picked up by his astute ears. "Oh, hi, guys," he heard Littlefoot say — from where Mo lay, he could hear snippets of the conversation. "Guess what? Mo and I just became mud brothers!"

"Mo?" A female voice spoke up.

The next voice was a nasally male voice interspersed with sniffles. "Who Mo?"

"Yeah, Mo who?" the female who was the first of the newcomers to speak deadpanned.

Mo instinctively shivered, the brashness and sarcasm laced in the tone of this specific speaker reminding him a great deal of Kelp, with her even employing the same snide tone as Orca's partner-in-crime. Too alike. Mo no know who you are, but me now name you Landwalker Kelp!

"He's my best friend!" Littlefoot answered Landwalker Kelp, causing Mo to croon in approval.

"Best?"

"What do you mean, best?!"

"Yeah, I thought we were your best friends!"

Mo felt a stinging sensation in his heart. The single scene that played out before him encapsulated the entire essence of his life — a single lone swimmer trying and failing to fight against a society who ridiculed him just because of the way he was born and how he acted around others. Try as he might to acclimatize himself into the viewpoint of his peers, Mo could not succeed, and instead the majority were trying to assimilate and suppress his nature with their haughty and lofty critiques.

Surely they accept Mo to-o-o-o? Mo pleaded in vain. They friends with Littlefoot!

"Well…" Littlefoot hesitated, trailing off. Mo felt his heart going out to his mud brother, having been thrust in that situation many times before. Thankfully, Littlefoot soon managed to splutter out a response. "I-I just mean that he's my newest best friend, because he lives in the new water. You guys want to meet him?"

"A new friend?" The female who wasn't Landwalker Kelp audibly perked up, "Oh, yes! Yes, yes, yes!"

"But, Ducky…" Landwalker Kelp muttered, being a complete killjoy, "remember what the grown-ups said about the new water?"

"Oh, yes… that is right." This Ducky's voice turned resigned. "Since Mo is from the new water, we have to be very careful, because… he might be dangerous."

Even though he was already mentally prepared for it in his heart, hearing her denouncement still hit Mo like a strong current to the jaw. His mood swerved a complete one-eighty as he visibly drooped, expression now solemn as he averted his eyes from shore.

"Don't you see, Mo? Because of your striking colors, you are a prominent target who can easily be seen from afar. In other words, you could attract the swimming sharpteeth to us! You're a danger to us all, and you have been for many Cold Times!"

…Ducky was right, just as Orca was before her. The fact that the opinion came from someone who initially seemed willing to accept him rather than Landwalker Kelp made it all the more poignant, only highlighting what he already knew — that he was dangerous.

In the water kin it was because of his vibrant colors, and here it was because he was from some 'new water' — if he were to guess, the landwalkers were probably referring to the Big Water he hailed from.

He should have known, really. Why did he even bother trying to fool himself? This was the harsh truth of reality… he was a lousy swimmer rife with many issues, and he always had been.

That was what Orca and Kelp had told him time and time again, and with the entire water kin backing the dastardly duo up after Orca rallied them to force Tenor into expelling him from his home. What could Mo really say in defense of that? He couldn't very well deny it when all available evidence pointed to the contrary…

"Such is fate, Mo! As much as you yearn to reach for it, it is unreachable! Your path will never intertwine with that of what you desire!"

The profound quote which accompanied a deeply repressed memory that targeted Mo's darkest and innermost fears came roaring back with a vengeance, once again hitting Mo with a surprise gut punch that threw off his mental faculties, causing him to drop any remaining trace of the smile that he'd always kept up on his face as a coping mechanism for all the insecurity which he felt on a constant basis and instead replace it with his true feelings — a depressed frown as despair and loneliness once again suffocated him.

As a downcast Mo quietly made himself scarce when the landwalkers began to loudly argue with one another, he didn't notice a pair of shining golden eyes glaring at the scene with hatred from the depths below.



Author's Note:

Hel-l-l-looo, everyone! Me back with fun Mo story!

Now, I'm not going to lie — I got a tiny bit miffed when I saw the 2020 Fanfic Prompts since Of Broken Words and Mud Brothers could theoretically be entered for the May, June, and July entries since it happens to meet all those requirements. I should have saved this idea for 2020, geez.

Anyway, to preface this, I was pleasantly surprised by how many readers enjoyed this perspective retelling of our favorite Big Water swimmer. I was not expecting such a response for a Journey to Big Water fic of all things, to be honest. The movie in question is not even a common pick of an inspiration for Land Before Time fics!

This chapter is a little short and might feel empty compared to the previous one, but that is because I intend to expand on the gang's meeting with Mo in the following chapter, so I kept things concise and split the Littlefoot section from the others, since from what I've written after splitting my draft into two chapters, the interactions with the rest of the gang will be a long chapter indeed.

But besides that, you might notice that this is probably the most "vanilla" chapter of the story thus far, given that for the first time since the story had started, it is actually detailing events that have taken place in the movie itself — namely, Littlefoot's friendship with Mo and how they became mud brothers. But remember, this fic is an expansion from Mo's point of view, so don't be hasty in jumping to conclusions about where things are headed…



Sovereign: I'm glad you liked the insight into Mo's thoughts, because we truly don't get much out of him besides what he outwardly says and displays in LBT9. To be honest, I don't intend for Lagda to be a standout villain, because as you might have seen in this chapter, the real antagonist of the story might not be physical, but rather a mental obstacle…

Anagnos: I won't say much about Tenor, but indeed the mystery regarding his intentions is still up for debate. The chase scene was necessary to explain how Lagda and Mo ended up in the valley, as Mo himself only gave a watered-down version in the movie.

Rhombus: I'm glad you enjoyed the previous chapter as chase scenes and large action set-pieces are not necessarily my strongest suit, which was probably why I chose to balance it out with a bout of humor by having Mo ride a ripple wave made by the swimming sharptooth, which was something that was completely written on a whim.
Would it be possible for swimmers and flyers to get more love around here? Both figuratively… and literally.




Anagnos

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Re: Of Broken Words and Mud Brothers
« Reply #13 on: December 22, 2019, 11:47:36 AM »
Now things are certainly starting to get interesting as we arrive at the point where the film first introduces Mo and his story. Unlike in the films, here we are presented with a clearer outlook into Mo’s characterization and the events surrounding his sudden appearance in the valley that you managed to flesh out without any major problems surfacing. Let me say that I was particularly paying close attention to what Mo felt like throughout the chapter, and I certainly wasn’t disapointed in that regard as everything worked as I’d expected them to. That and adding more purpose for Mo’s character certainly work in your favor as it is one of the main things I thoroughly enjoy watch happen and you most certainly do it well.

While it may have been a relatively short chapter for exchange, I feel like that ultimately proves to be profitable once the tension starts to rise later on. And we for sure got a bit of that with the little inclusion towards the end. This works to be the groundwork for things to come and I cannot wait to see how you will tackle those developments when we eventually get there. I will be looking forward to more in-depth angles in this story in the following chapters. :)

Sovereign

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Re: Of Broken Words and Mud Brothers
« Reply #14 on: December 22, 2019, 02:58:11 PM »
Finally, we reach the point where this fic meets the movie. I quite like the way you portrayed Littlefoot and Mo’s first meeting as it gave us a deeper look into what was going on within Mo’s head during that encounter in regard to his past relationships as well as the overall notion of just how alien the Great Valley must have looked to the swimmer. Those revelations really evens the field between the longneck and the swimmer as even now, we know very little about Mo’s real thoughts from canon stories.

Also, it was good to see that scene being extended as it makes the plot seem far more complete than before. Of course, there weren’t surprises in terms of the plot here but you did a great job in incorporating your story into the film. From now on, however, it’ll be intriguing to see how you’ll move the story forward. Will there be major skips to go through the film asap or will there be changes to the film’s plot? In any case, this was a good installment. :)petrie



rhombus

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Re: Of Broken Words and Mud Brothers
« Reply #15 on: December 23, 2019, 02:09:05 PM »
Oh wow, one really has to feel for Mo in this chapter!  From his joy that the storm had passed, to his perplexment at the green hues around him, to his joy at finding a new friend, and then to his despair at seemingly losing that promise of friendship, Mo has gone through an entire rainbow of emotions in a relatively short span of time.  The use of Mo's perspective during the initial meeting with Littlefoot provides a lot more detail into the swimmer's thoughts and emotions during this critical scene.  As others have said previously, this is something that is lacking in the canon material so it is nice to see more of Mo's insights here.  I look forward to seeing how you incorporate the canon material into your story from here on out, but thus far you are going a great job.  :Mo


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

OwlsCantRead

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Re: Of Broken Words and Mud Brothers
« Reply #16 on: May 17, 2020, 10:59:13 AM »
Came out of a rough hiatus feeling just like the swimmer in this prose. :p

FFN Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13347415/5/Of-Broken-Words-and-Mud-Brothers



Chapter 5: Imaginary Friends

Mo lingered at the bottom of the lake, the tranquility causing him to feel as one with the darkness and gloom that surrounded him. Down here, the light from the Bright Circle wasn't able to permeate through the clear pristine water, providing Mo an alcove for him to collect his thoughts.

A torrent of surging thoughts that plunged his mind into a frenzy.

He should never have gotten his hopes up with Littlefoot. Him doing so was just asking to be emotionally hurt. While the landwalker had managed to bond with him in a way which no one ever had prior, even when it was all going down Mo knew in his heart that it was too good to last. And now that he had a brief respite and a taste of true friendship before it was forcefully yanked from him, the sting of reality ended up being much harsher for him to accept.

Mo felt his body quivering and placed a fin to the rings around his eyes. Feeling the onset of upset tears coming out, the despondent swimmer squinted his eyelids tightly shut.

Even with his vision occluded, he didn't need to see his surroundings to know that he was crying. The pain Mo felt from within was enough to tell him that.

The salty tears that trickled out of Mo's eye rings ended up being readily absorbed, amalgamated and evenly mixed with the turquoise freshwater he was swimming in, thus quickly disappearing as fast as they formed as he continued to cry. His choked sobs and the violent wracks his body produced were the only hint that he was even crying in the first place.

Being assimilated into an entirely different environment like they'd never even existed — in a cruel twist of irony, what was happening to his tears turned out to be a better analogy than expected in summarizing his current futile situation.

Shaking his head with a sharp jerk to get his emotions under control, Mo bashed his long jaw against the silk bed in agitation. Of course all of this would be like being the joke of a cruel prank by the Old Ones. He couldn't even catch a break even when he was in a completely new environment, could he? Even here, in a verdant green land that was entirely foreign to him, he was doomed to never be accepted by its inhabitants.

…just as Orca had sworn to him.

Removing his fin from his eye, Mo brooded in the water, mulling over the recent events.

What was he going to do? All he had left going for him was Tenor's claim — that the new Old One would reinstate him back into the water kin after he successfully returned from his journey.

But now that he had the chance to view the agreement which they'd shook on with an objective lens, Mo couldn't help but feel as if Tenor had planned to get rid of him all along while recalling his adrenaline-fueled chase up the stream.

Lagda himself had alluded to the possibility while relentlessly pursuing him upstream.

"Hahahaha! Whoever ordered you here actively sent you here to perish! There is nothing at the top of this place except for a waterfall which nourishes this very river!"

While the swimming sharptooth could have said those words just to throw him off during the chase, Mo had seen with his own eyes that the source of the flowing water did indeed come from a waterfall. The water path which led into the lake was hidden and likely completely unknown to Tenor, and if it didn't exist would have been Mo's demise. He would have been trapped, and no one in the water kin would be the wiser to his fate.

Nobody except for the one who had told him to venture up here in the first place, that is.

Ohhhhh, Mo not liking where this going…

The more he thought about it, the more his heart sank. Tenor's request had seemed so innocent and at the time Mo even thought it benevolent, but after everything he had been through now it seemed shrewd and malicious in nature, a carefully calculated offer made to simultaneously appease the will of the water kin members who wanted Mo gone while also being able to get rid of the exiled swimmer in a way which would ensure he never returned.

A win-win situation for the newly succeeded Tenor.

The worst part of it all was that even on the off chance that Tenor was being truthful, it dawned on Mo that it wouldn't matter in the long run. The damage had already been done after Orca pulled his stunt in the previous meeting. Tenor might be able to persuade and maybe even resort to downright ordering the others in the water kin to tolerate his antics if he successfully returned to them, but so long as Orca and Kelp were there, they would never let up. In the long run, the duo's influence over his tattered reputation probably even outweighed the elder's.

Who was he fooling? The members of the water kin had already formed their opinions, and successfully outmaneuvering a swimming sharptooth need not necessarily overrule the risk of him attracting more sharpteeth to them because of his conspicuously bright dorsal colors.

Of course, all of that meant he'd undertaken the journey for absolutely nothing.

Mo felt like huddling himself away and crying all over again. The brightly lit water that he had lovingly frolicked in earlier now felt cold and suffocating.

Everything had all been for naught. He had nothing left going for him.

Absolutely nothing…

"Moooooo?!"

Huh? That be…

Mo perked up as he heard Littlefoot call his name out with a confused timbre, the longneck's voice echoing across the area as it reverberated around the tall mountain range surrounding the lake.

Now that was rather peculiar… Mo hadn't expected his disappearance to be noticed so quickly.

Maybe, just maybe, he wasn't forgotten…

Pulling himself together, Mo used his excellent hearing to make out what the landwalkers were saying. Even when he was hidden near the bed of the lake, their voices clearly reverberated through the water in waves similar to his species' shrill articulated calls and was still able to be picked up by him.

Unfortunately for Mo, the first thing he heard after he poked his head up towards the direction of the surface to focus on the landwalkers was not exactly… pleasant to the ear.

"Sounds to me like you just made him up."

Mo shivered as Landwalker Kelp channeled her Big Water counterpart with a tone which almost made the swimmer dart his eyes about, looking around for Orca and his sister, instinctively believing that they were in the vicinity even though common sense dictated that they couldn't logically be anywhere near him after his lengthy journey inland.

He wasn't the only one to have an adverse reaction, though. Littlefoot himself countered the accusation indignantly. "No, I didn't!" he insisted.

"Suuurrreeee you didn't," Landwater Kelp jipped sarcastically.

"Hrrrgh?"

Mo then heard a grunt which was quickly followed by an agitated retort from Littlefoot. "Well, I didn't!" he protested, "I wouldn't talk to an imaginary friend."

"Why not?" the nasally male voice asked next. "Me talk to imaginary friend all the time."

Imaginary friends?

If Mo could snort underwater at the sheer inanity of that term, he would have done so. What a fitting expression to describe his conundrum. Any possible friendships for him were, after all, merely imaginary… just a figment of his yearnful mind, nothing more, nothing less. They were but a sobering sleep story, and would never become reality. That feeling of longing stemmed unfulfilled, the emptiness slowly consuming Mo even as he tried his best to ward off the feeling of unworthy loneliness.

But those friends who would accompany him needn't be imaginary…

That was the real kicker for Mo, the possible what-ifs and maybes that permeated his doubts — the ever lingering minuscule possibility that perhaps this time he could defy his destiny and manage to attain real friends who would stick by him through thick and thin.

Maybe landwalkers finally be goo-o-o-d friends who accept Mo! Mo have faith!

"Nah-nah-nah, nah-nah-nah, nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah… imaginary!"

Mo found himself rhythmically nodding his head and humming along when he heard them singing.

…maybe they… oh, Mo gonna do it!

Getting into position before he could get cold fins and change his mind, Mo jumped up into the air like he did earlier to once again draw attention to himself. If the sight of his vivid body flying midair didn't draw all eyes towards him, the noisy splash when he reentered the water certainly would do the trick.

"Oh, lookie!"

And if Ducky's exclamation—hm, was that her name?—was any indicator, it certainly did!

"Come on, everybody. It's Mo!" Littlefoot's ecstatic voice preceded his appearance, though he was quick to dash into view when he finally caught a glimpse of the swimmer that he had been searching for, the longneck accompanied by four others who were quickly following his lead.

It was only then, as Mo once again surfaced so that he could greet them in earnest, that he got his first good look at Littlefoot's other friends. But to his surprise, the rest of the landwalkers didn't share his mud brother's appearance or features at all, lacking the long neck he'd come to associate Littlefoot with. Coming from a pod which mainly consisted of similarly featured Big Water swimmers, Mo had expected Littlefoot's land kin to be as homogeneous as his, but they instead came in a myriad of differing sizes, colors, and even species.

How very peculiar.

Nevertheless, he propelled himself to shore, though he couldn't keep the fretting out of his heart. While his jolly face stayed unperturbed, Mo could feel his heart starting to race.

Were they going to be just like Orca and Kelp? Or perhaps, his water kin? Even Tenor, who appeared to stay by him after everyone else chose to exile him unanimously, had also apparently turned his fin on Mo, leaving him for dead in the middle of nowhere.

His chest continued to pound as he eyed the land-based dinosaurs warily. In his eyes, they didn't seem all that enthused to see him. And frankly, he couldn't blame them. Though it looked like they were unperturbed by his bizarre tendencies, they could simply be faking their enthusiasm, only to turn on him later when he least expected it, just like his fellow water kin.

Of course, Mo made certain that the inner turmoil he felt wasn't too obvious to an observer. The huge—if slightly fractured—smile that he put up as a front made the internal turmoil and discord that was broiling deep inside him almost imperceptible to discern unless one was actively looking for it.

The façade worked like a charm. None of them even batted an eye.

"Mo, these are all my friends." Littlefoot began, turning to a small green dinosaur who was standing on top of another much larger dinosaur and proceeding to introduce her. "This is Ducky."

Yes, he knew that much. He'd overheard her name earlier when the landwalkers were conversing while he was underwater. But what caught Mo's eye now that he could get a good look at her was that she had blue irises, just like him.

"Hi, Mo," Ducky greeted him using the same sweet voice that he'd heard her use earlier, adjusting her position to face him and opening her arms wide open as if she wanted a hug — which he would've gladly reciprocated if she were closer to store. "I am a swimmer too!" she gleefully added.

Mo let out a gasp, turning himself belly-up to reveal his tail fins. "A swimmer and landwalker?" he said, shaking his water foot before somersaulting into the air. "You special!"

"Oh, yes, yes, yes. I am." Ducky giggled bashfully at the praise, holding her legs together and hugging them as Mo landed with a splash, "I guess…"

While Mo grinned at that, he also proceeded to clamp down his jaw and bite his tongue, restraining himself from instinctively making a disparaging addendum after his observation.

After all, being special wasn't necessarily always beneficial. He too had been considered a "special" specimen because of his vivid colors, as Orca had so cruelly attested to when he stealthily used Mo's congenital attributes to turn the water kin against him. Being different wasn't always something worth celebrating, and in the case of the Big Water swimmer his overbearing personality and physical appearance was so out of the norm that he had been looked at with fear and scorn instead of acceptance.

He subtly shook his head, forcing such negative thoughts away. Ducky got both land foot and water foot, she go-o-o-od kind of special, not bad!

As Mo bobbed his nose up and down and looked at the dazed looking dinosaur Ducky was standing on, Littlefoot caught on to his unspoken question and continued on with his introductions. "And this is Spike."

"Ehhhh…" Spike grunted.

Right on cue, Ducky slid off Spike's back and right onto his head. "Spike is very special too," she commended as she cuddled his neck while using it as a foothold, eliciting a jovial smile from Spike. "Especially good at eating," she giggled as he proceeded to demonstrate just that by taking a large bite of a plant growing next to him.

"Ah-h, ah-h!" Mo emulated the sound of Spike's munching, even clapping his fins together to exaggerate the effect. He had to admit, he did like Spike — the dark green color of the landwalker's body reminded him of the deep sea plants he used to munch on. And well… Mo did enjoy his meals.

He continued to laugh as he swam over to a dark brown landwalker which was standing on a mossy outcropping.

"And this is Petrie," Littlefoot helpfully supplied.

"Me a flyer! See?" the so-called flying creature wrapped one wing around the front of his body before flapping his land arms in a manner similar to the way Mo would use his water foot to take off and suspend himself into the air. "Ta-da!" he bowed as he landed. "Nice meeting you, Mo!"

"Ha-ha-ha-ha!" Mo clapped at the flyer's performance, though it did not escape Mo's notice that Petrie spoke in a very similar way to him.

"He talks like a complete dolt! That Mo… he must have been hit hard in the head by a rock face when he was born! I mean, seriously… he's a complete embarrassment! Who even talks like that?"

Mo couldn't resist a grin. Take that, Kelp! Mo not only one who talk this way!

He had to say though, the knowledge that Petrie shared his manner of speech wasn't the only thing to cheer him up. The entire conversation was uplifting as a whole.

Their generosity. Their sincerity. Their compassion.

It was invigorating, their approval like a symphony to his ears and without a doubt one potent boost to his previously downcast mood. Mo languished in their intoxicating words, the yellow-purple swimmer feeling as though he could subsist on them forever. Their positive support was able to push back those feelings of impotence and boost his morale and self-worth.

For the first time since he had been expelled from the water kin—okay, second if one counted his brief interaction with Littlefoot earlier—Mo felt as though he belonged.

As a matter of fact, he was comfortable enough to bestow the rest of them with the honorary title of mud brothers and sisters as well.

Yo-o-u mud sister, and yo-o-u mud brother, and yo-o-u mud brother, and—

Mo stopped short when he realized there was one final landwalker who he hadn't been introduced to yet.

Littlefoot turned towards an orange dinosaur with a peculiar looking face. A very peculiar face indeed — her face reminded him of the coarse clumps of coral which he often swam around while in the depths of the Big Water.

"And this is Cera."

Mo kept his guard up as Littlefoot introduced the last member of his posse. By process of elimination given all of the other voices he'd already heard, this had to be the derisive dinosaur who'd made him feel down earlier with her words… Landwater Kelp.

Using the same snobby and suspicion-laden voice, she proceeded to stare Mo down. "You're not from around here, are you?" she probed.

Whup, this wasn't good. He shook his head, hoping that Kelp's distaff counterpart would drop the topic.

She didn't.

"Then just where are you from?" Cera demanded. She looked like she had a plethora of other burning questions that she wanted to ask him, but settled for that one first.

Oh well, it wouldn't hurt to tell.

…or would it?

Despite his outwardly carefree demeanor, Mo came to the realization that he should actually be meticulous with his words. He didn't want to divulge any personal details that could implicate him, especially after Orca had tricked him into unwillingly revealing compromising details about himself in front of his peers and thus coloring their opinions of Mo, which the bully then used as a trump card to influence the other swimmers into voting him out of the kin.

Well, Mo had learnt a valuable lesson from that, and he refused to be blindsided a second time. But still, seeing the rest of them looking at him expectantly, he realized that it would be hypocritical if he didn't furnish some details about himself given that he was such a curious one himself.

He eventually settled on a compromise — while he could tell them about himself, he didn't have to go into specifics and could just respond as vaguely as possible.

"Mo-o-o-o from Biiggg Wa-ter," he replied with a backflip.

A resounding gasp rang across the shore at his answer. "Big Water?!" they uttered in unison, gobsmacked.

Mo had to admit, he was shocked that judging from their reaction it appeared that they knew about the Big Water. After all, he was an inhabitant of the place and conversely never knew a thing about the landwalkers and their amazing Big Land.

Petrie shot up, pointing to the distant falls with one wing while staying airborne with the other. "But… how you get here when Big Water wayyyyy over there?"

Mo pensively looked at them, nervously flicking his water foot back and forth. Petrie had brought up a very good point. After all, if everything had turned out well he would have never found his way over here. It seemed unusual that someone like him would venture this far inland to begin with… which of course, was the entire point.

"Use this opportunity and make your way up to the deepest and innermost part of land—to a place where none of our species has ever traversed before—and return back to the Big Water in one singular piece to tell your tale."

Hm, what should he do? Mo was in a dilemma. He couldn't very well tell them about his estranged relationship with his water kin, now could he? What would they think of Mo if they knew that his very own kind had practically disowned him? That the only reason he was here was because of a wager meant to prove his worth?

Yeah, no-o-o-o-o.

Once bitten, twice shy, and thus this time Mo opted to give a simplified snippet of the events that had led him here while deliberately omitting key details such as Tenor's deal with him and his skirmish with the sharptooth Lagda.

If new mud brothers know big secret, they probably be scared of Mo, just like old water kin was! No-o-o-o… Mo no want Littlefoot and friends leave! Mo want friends!

"Oo-o-h-h-h! Skyplace make lots and lots of sky water!" Mo started with a shrill, proceeding to slap his tail against the surface of the water to create a spray of droplets which quickly splashed down to give the appearance of a small-scale storm.

He then sloshed about in the water, making choppy currents which battered his body as he frowned. "Make big waves in Big Water. Mo scared…" he admitted.

It wasn't exactly the truth. All his life when he was living in the Big Water he knew to stay away from the surface whenever there was a storm. His species' excellent eyesight and hearing made it possible for Mo to hear the pitter-patter of falling sky water coming from above, and thus he knew to avoid the choppy waters whenever the sky water decided not to play nice. As such, while he didn't like rough currents, he wasn't exactly scared of them. He'd battled tougher.

But he had to gain their sympathy, so he trudged forward with his sob story. It was a given that he wasn't going to mention his skirmish with Lagda, as revealing that knowledge would be a dampener on the uplifting mood he currently had going.

"So Mo swim into small water path, then p-u-u-u-h-wish!" He proceeded to rapidly swim in a tight anticlockwise circle that began to generate a miniature whirlpool. "Mo do like th-i-i-i-i-s!" his voice reverberated as he spun, the world spinning around him as he went into a spiral.

"Then, f-a-a-a-a-a-ll!" Mo drew out the last syllable, before diving down and corkscrewing into the water with a flourish to punctuate his action. After he escaped his spin, he ascended till he was just below the surface, eagerly awaiting their reactions. What would they think, he pondered.

"All the sky water must have washed him over from the Mysterious Beyond," Littlefoot concluded.

Oh, yes, Mo thought. Let Littlefoot think it one big accident Mo here.

Ducky knelt down on the ground in distress, compassion written all over her visage. "Oh… poor, poor Mo." Still in a kneeling position, she leaned her body forward as Mo surfaced, "Did you get washed-ed over all by yourself?

"Mm-hmm," Mo repeatedly nodded to reiterate, "Mm-hmm, mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm."

Cera took this moment to step forward, seemingly unconvinced by his response. "And you're sure that no one else came with you?" she pressed.

Right at that exact moment, Mo heard a low growl emanating from below. And to his horror, he recognized that sound. "Mo… all alone," he fibbed, apprehensively kicking his fins rhythmically underwater.

Not a single swimmer from any water kin by his side, that much was the truth…

"But now, Mo have new friends!" he affirmed with childlike wonder in his tone. "Oh, ho, ho, ho!" Hoping that he wouldn't come off too conspicuous, he used his laughter to back away from shore before leaping back into the water with a declaration of, "Have fun-n-n!" at the apex of his jump.

Once he had disguised the dive into the lake as one made in excitement, Mo headed down to investigate the depths below, swimming in the direction where he had heard the unsettling noise come from. But as he descended, a large shadow slowly drifted into view from the rocky lakebed below.

He recoiled at the sight, jaw opening wide as his fears were realized. No, it couldn't be…

"L-Lagda!" Mo gasped in fright, instantly recognizing the dark gray hide that adorned the swimmer sharptooth. How could Mo not, when his failure to do so from afar in the first place had led to him being chased all the way up to this quaint lake that he was currently dwelling in.

He stared at the approaching sharptooth in horror as the predator's yellow eyes narrowed to the size of silts, glinting in stark juxtaposition to the comparatively bright turquoise water that surrounded both swimmers. To say that the sharptooth was unhappy would be an understatement. When Lagda charged forward with a battle cry, his gravelly voice was laced with so much venom and hatred that it put the scathing tone that a dismissive Orca typically used when being discriminatory towards Mo to shame.

"You little pest! I spent an entire night waiting for you to show from behind the rock wall where I'd assumed you were futilely hiding yourself from me, but it turns out that you'd managed to find some way to ditch me upstream!" Lagda hissed, adding a rough accent to the distinctive bleating of Mo's kind as he cut through the water, his eyes screaming bloody murder as he continued to surge at his target.

"O-of course Mo going find way escape when you want trap Mo!" he stuttered as he dodged to the right. "You just mad because Mo outsmart you, you bad swimmer!"

Even though Mo had avoided the sharptooth's attack, Lagda continued to surge upwards to the surface, the momentum of his large body forcing him to continue in the direction he'd committed himself to. "Grrrrr! That's exactly right! How very polite of you to point it out yourself!" he snarled viciously, "But you made me look like a fool in the process… and you'll pay for that, tasty morsel!" The predator peered back at Mo, before his eyes gleamed menacingly as he focused them on the group of landwalkers who were congregated at the surface, all five of them still blissfully unaware of the sharptooth's presence from the depths below.

"…or rather, your little landwalker friends will!" Lagda glanced back at Mo with a smirk, continuing his rapid ascent. "I was eyeing you talking to them for quite some time now, and though I might not know how to speak landwalker, even I am able to tell that you've bonded with them."

Mo blanched when he realized exactly what Lagda was insinuating. "You going after mud brothers…!"

"That's right. I'm going to exact my revenge by hitting you exactly where it hurts — by tearing your new friends apart from you… literally limb from limb!"



Author's Note:

Mo really does have a hedonistic view of happiness…

Yes, the song Imaginary Friends did inspire this chapter. I'm not particularly fond of the premise of the song, but it is too catchy for its own good. Otherwise, this chapter is mainly about the rest of the gang's introductions with Mo. Nothing much else to add, really. If the last chapter was vanilla, this one is even more so.



Anagnos: I like that you paid attention to Mo's feelings. Sometimes life just throws a curveball like that. Indeed, having Mo have a driving goal instead of being just along for the ride does make him a more relatable character.

Sovereign: Yeah, we've never actually had any Mo appearance that went further than cameos which just showcase his carefree nature, in part because he seems like a purely one-dimensional character. For all the movie does to paint Mo as an ethereal creature compared to the gang, it doesn't really gloss over what Mo himself thinks about the differences between him and them beyond a cursory glance.

Rhombus: Upon a rewatch, it actually caught me off guard that Mo doesn't actually appear as much as I remembered, but Mo is such an imposing driving force throughout the film that he is the topic of contention even when he is out of sight. Mo is such an expressive and talkative character that we can often tell how he's feeling through his antics or simply by him saying so. Like what I said to Sovereign, as someone who goes by "show, don't tell", I kind of wish to subvert the initial expectations of being easy to read through his appearance, especially now that we are into canon material.
Would it be possible for swimmers and flyers to get more love around here? Both figuratively… and literally.




Anagnos

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Re: Of Broken Words and Mud Brothers
« Reply #17 on: May 19, 2020, 09:25:48 AM »
It has been some time since this story was last updated that I even forgot some of the details from the previous chapter, my apologies for this beforehand. I actually had to go back and read the story up to this point because I couldn’t recall a single thing about this story at first, but I’m by no means pinning the blame on you due to recent inactivity, but rather of my own poor memory that made this little accident possible.

Seeing Mo in low spirits right at the start was quite the saddening turnaround from the usually bright and joyful swimmer, especially right after making a new friend. The film’s depiction of this is very much unlike what we’ve seen here where it is detailed without leaving a stone unturned, so to speak. You can practically feel Mo’s pain as if it were your very own and the situation was made worse by Mo’s own internal struggle with his personality and the trouble he’s had to endure because he’s different from the rest of his water kin.

I liked the comparisons you made here either intentionally or by chance in regards to another character that this same issue hits very close home to, and that person is Petrie. It heavily reminded me of the issues the flyer has to deal with on a daily basis from Mo who has faced the same with his two biggest antagonists, Orca and Kelp. In light of this, you have made something new out of nothing as we didn’t really see how the water kin conducted their everyday lives when Mo was still part of them. For this, you deserve to be applauded.

Luckily, Mo’s short-term disillusionment is eased when he is introduced to the rest of the Gang, and let’s be honest, some of the descriptions and first impressions the swimmer had of them were quite funny and well done. But then this sweet, but short-lived moment is interrupted by none other than the ghastly sharptooth swimmer, Lagda. If it weren’t for the film, I’d be very worried for the Gang right now, but as we’ll very likely follow the plot of the entire movie (or at least a bulk of it), there is no need to be worried about what’ll happen next. However, knowing you, there likely will be more into it than just a concise jump scare incoming. ::)

RainbowFaceProtege

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Re: Of Broken Words and Mud Brothers
« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2020, 03:25:59 PM »
I've spent the past few days catching up to where you left off in this story, and I've thoroughly enjoyed it. :Mo LBT IX was the very first LBT movie I ever saw, so this has been a flood of nostalgia for me! As far as I know, a Mo-focused fanfic has been nonexistent up to this point, which is sort of odd considering that he seems to be a fairly popular character in the fandom.

Right from the beginning of this story, Mo was a very sympathetic character. I was taken by surprise at how much I connected to him as this story developed, considering that, though I always enjoyed Mo, he was never a character I felt a shred of relatability towards whatsoever. The way you built onto Mo's character and showed us what's often hidden behind that unfaltering smile, however, really brought me to care about him in a way that I wouldn't have expected for this character. Yet, even as you caused me to question how I'd previously thought about Mo, the way you seamlessly worked his new character development into existing scenes from the movie evaporated any doubt I had that this character is, indeed, still genuinely Mo, the cheeky, plucky swimmer I've known since childhood. The scene where Mo evades Lagda during the storm was especially a delight to read, with Mo's determination and irreverent taunts towards the sharptooth providing a great spotlight for the young swimmer's courageous yet playful nature.

I did notice, as others have mentioned, that Lagda seems like a typical one-dimensional, dark, dramatic villain, but I didn't think it detracted from the story at all. As you said, Lagda is not the true antagonist of the story here--to give him too much development/focus would distract readers from the inner battle Mo is fighting with himself. And to be honest, I thought Lagda's cliche villainy made the moment when Mo fights against and eventually overcomes him (culminating in that awesome image of "Mo riding the top of a wave with a massive troll face") an even more fun read. The scene reminded me of all those fables out there where a large carnivore gets outwitted by a smaller, smarter animal. Classic. And even though I had the movie to fall back on and knew full well Mo would escape unscathed, I was still on the edge of my seat waiting to see just how he'd get out of this. You, my friend, know how to write an effective chase scene!

Getting back to earlier in the story, I thought your description of how Mo's water kin was structured was interesting and well-done. World-building has always been one of my favorite things to find in a story! Here, you provided a parallel to landwalker herds that we've seen in the movies before, with an "Old One" in the lead. The "groupthink" at work within these swimmers was completely believable, too, a trap many in real life have fallen into and one that's certainly heartbreaking to see Mo trying to fight against. Ah, Orca and Kelp...IHATETHEMIHATETHEMIHATETHEM but I suppose that was the point. :lol

Moving on to Tenor, I was suspicious of his motives in sending Mo on that journey early on. I've got quite a grudge against this Old One right now, as I fear Mo's worries regarding him have hit the nail right on the head. Only Tenor's reaction to Mo returning home will tell what my final opinion of him will be.

The scene where Mo first enters the valley was an absolute joy to read! His sense of awe and wonder at the strange new place he's found himself in is contagious, and the way he interpreted everything in relation to Big Water made perfect sense and was very entertaining at times. (Cera's face being like clumps of coral--haha!) Your retelling of Mo's first interactions with Littlefoot especially played out beautifully, a wonderful contrast to the oppression Mo has faced up to this point. Finally being able to see the moment when Mo christened Littlefoot his "mud brother" was such a treat. :)

I'm also going to mention that, as far as writing skills themselves go, I seldom encounter any fanfiction authors whose work is as polished as yours. I can't find so much as an improperly-placed comma in your grammar, and your word choices are varied, interesting, and perfectly chosen for the tone of each scene.

Overall, I really love this story so far, and I'm sure looking forward to seeing where it will go from here. Excellent job!

(One last note: I never understood so many people's pure hatred towards the "Imaginary Friends" song myself. You can't say it isn't catchy as heck...finally someone else admits it!) :p
Going through my fanfics to make sure I don't want to change anything before I post. (This might take a while.)

:rainbowwave Remember this, reader of my signature: there is much more to what you call the great circle of life than you can possibly imagine!

rhombus

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Re: Of Broken Words and Mud Brothers
« Reply #19 on: June 01, 2020, 02:08:18 AM »
First of all, I would like to offer my sincerest apologies for the delay in reviewing this latest chapter.  It has been a rough week on my end, but reading this chapter was a nice way to get back into the swing of things again.   Your writing certainly did not disappoint as we got to see Mo meet the rest of his valley friends.  :)

In many ways this chapter focused on the building of trust between not only Mo and his new friends, but also trust in his own prospects.  For in the beginning of this chapter we get to see the self-doubt and inner turmoil residing in Mo, which was lacking in the canon film.  Here we can feel his concerns about ever being accepted even if his mission ends in success and was made as a true mission, and not merely something to eliminate him from the herd.  The lack of empathy from Orca and Kelp would indicate continued antagonism even if he came home successfully.  But this changes when he finally gets to meet the rest of the gang.  For in each of them he sees a quality that reminds him of some of his own qualities, including, in Petrie's speech pattern, a similarity in terms of what was used to mock him.  Whether they know it or not, the gang is solidifying the swimmer's willingness to trust them simply through truly being who they are.  Which, from what we have learned about Mo in this story, is a quality that he would respect.

Though, with how this chapter ended, I think both Mo and the gang will need that trust going forward.  Lagda is shaping up to be more menacing than what we saw in the film.  I look forward to seeing how Mo deals with this predicament without worrying his new friends.


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