|Azonthus had no idea where she was going. Leave…leave…leave, became the rhythm of her footfalls. It matched the beating of her heart and throbbing of her headache. She ran around a corner and found one of the walls surrounding the city. She followed it until the entrance sauropods used came into view. Az ran haphazardly through the wet caves.
The darkness of the cave matched the darkness she felt in her heart. She had spent nearly three years becoming a civilized raptor. She had worked hard to distance herself from what she had been in the Basin. But what had happened in the past few days had proven it would not be left behind so easily. It was a part of her that she would never escape.
Bursting through into daylight, she continued to run as fast as her legs would carry her. Her heart was breaking, she was leaving behind all she had come to love and hold dear. Not caring where she was going, she ran till her legs would barely support her weight anymore. Still she kept going.
Twilight was falling and not too far down the path was a farmhouse. The people there would willingly give her a place to stay for the night. No! every fiber of her being screamed against talking to them. She might harm those who tried to give her help.
Still, there would be food there… Azonthus stomach began making itself known. It had been two days since she had eaten. The scent of cooking fish drew her to the house. Sticking to the shadows, she was soon at the back of the house. Outside the back door were several barrels. Opening one, she discovered many kinds of salted fish. The scent of cooking inside only served to whet her appetite. Carefully taking two, she replaced the lid. Both fish were gone in six bites.
The salt in the fish soon made her thirsty. There was a stream by the road; she could get a drink there. When she found the cold water, she plunged her entire head in. The raptor drank deeply, not caring that she would later pay for the large amount of cold water with cramps. All she cared about was the present moment. The future did not matter and the past was better forgotten.
With her belly full and thirst quenched, the next order of business was sleep. Looking around she saw a large barn. There were possibly triceratops here… They would have soft hay for bedding. If she found where the hay was kept she could crawl in and sleep. Then in the morning she could leave before anyone was even up and the people would never know of the thievery that had gone on that night.
Azonthus was greatly relieved to see that the barn was empty of its inhabitants at the moment. There was a large pile of hay in one corner. Crawling into it, she burrowed until no one could tell that the hay held a very distraught raptor.
Even though she was exhausted, sleep did not come easily. Images of what had occurred in the clock and at the healers kept replaying in her mind. She cried herself to sleep that night.
Tusk slowly ambled into his barn. He had spent a long day plowing the fields with Max, his farmer partner. Looking to his bedding, he saw that the old hay had been cleared away. Muriel had probably decided to start cleaning the barn again.
"Ah well," he sighed to himself. "She forgot to put down new hay again. No matter." The Triceratops walked to the pile of fresh hay and thrust his horns into the golden silage.
He then moved to another corner and lowered his horns, allowing the hay to slide to the floor. Sweeping it around with his nose horn, he soon had a shallow bed ready. Lying down, he prepared for sleep but he could still feel the hard floor. "Well," he grunted as he got up again, "another load of hay is nothing."
This time, when he prepared to thrust his horns into the hay, he noticed a red glint. Confused, he carefully brushed away the hay. There, sleeping soundly and dead to the world was a velociraptor. He watched her carefully and was thankful to notice that she was still breathing. "Hey, what are you doing in there?" he asked. When he received no answer he carefully nudged her. Still no response.
Concerned for the raptors health, Tusk galloped back to the farmhouse. There, he awoke Max and led him to where the raptor was in the hay.
In the barn, the wiry old man climbed a ladder to the top of the haystack. There, he saw the raptor. She was curled into a ball and totally unaware of her surroundings. "Well now, wha is tha doin in tha 'ay?" Reaching out, he tried to shake her awake. When she did not awaken he began to worry. Picking up the small therapod, he carried her back to the house.
"Muriel!" he called out, "Ge tha blankets! An soom water!"
"Oh.... what have you found this time?" An old woman in a nightgown and nightcap with gray hair flying out in wisps came out from the back of the house. "Another injured Dimorphodon?"
"Nay. Tis a raptor! An she's in a ba' state."
Surprised, Muriel ran back to the bedroom and came back carrying some heavy blankets. She laid them in front of the fire and arranged them into a comfortable nest. "Put her there," she motioned to the blankets. Then, going into the kitchen, she came back with warm water and a washcloth.
When she came back, the raptor was in the blankets. Soaking the cloth in the warm water, she began to wash the raptors face. As the dirt of travel came off, she noticed the extensive scars on the left side of the raptors face. "Looks like she must have just left the Basin. Look at the scars here."
Her husband leaned over her shoulder and peered at them. "Aye, twould splain why she was in tha' hay. She would na know bout Dinotopian 'ospitality."
Muriel continued to gently wash away the light covering of dust on the raptor. Carefully wiping up her forehead, Muriel worked her way back. On the back of the raptors head, she found a large purplish bruise. She tried to be as gentle as possible.
Comforting warmth and a slight dampness on her face slowly began to awaken Azonthus. She was so warm... Now was not the time to awaken. Now was the time to enjoy the heat and rest.
Flaring pain jolted Az to full consciousness. Her eyes flew open and she roared in agony. Springing to her feet she looked around. Two elderly humans were kneeling on the floor, both had apparently been trying to help her.
No... it had happened again! Trembling, Az backed up as far as the fireplace at her back would allow.
"Dear, it's Ok," the woman spoke. "Nobody's trying to hurt you. You're safe here."
"But you're not safe from me!" she screamed as she ran between them and back into the darkness.
"Well, that was certainly odd..." Muriel said. "Max, go after her."
"Nay, she di'na seem ta wan' 'elp," the old man shook his head. "I think wha she need be soomwhere safe."
"Well, lets go back to bed then. There's nothing we could do for her."
Az was again running. Again, she had almost harmed someone who had only been trying to help her. No more... no matter what, she would stay away from places where she was likely to meet someone.
Az ran only as her heart led her. She did not know where to go or what to do, but she ran perpetually west. She stopped only when hunger pangs forced her to fish in any stream she saw. When she did stop to eat, she took a small drink.
Time lost all meaning. Azonthus didn't know how long she had been fleeing from something within herself when she came to a small town. Only the tall bridge that led into the Basin identified it as Bonabba to Az.
It was early morning and the town was not fully awake yet. Just maybe she could cross the bridge without being seen...
The Basin was definitely where she belonged. She wasn't civilized; it had all been an illusion.
The red raptor carefully entered the town. She was lucky and managed to reach the bridge without meeting anyone. There, she ran into a guardian.
"Sir, please, I have to cross," she pleaded with him.
"Well, I'll be letting the bridge down in a few hours when the caravan comes back. Would you wait till then?"
Az was frustrated. She was supposed to be in the Basin! She had to get there as soon as possible, before she harmed anyone. She shook her head. "No, I have to go now."
"It'll only be a few hours. There is a caravan returning from the basin. I'll let you across then." Up to this point, the raptor hadn't looked him in the eye, but when she did, he was startled by the desperation and ferocity he saw in them.
"I have to go now," she spoke slowly and clearly.
"I'll go see Old Joe about it. You stay here, Ok?"
Azonthus nodded. As long as she got across the bridge, the village was safe from her.
The heck with letting her cross the bridge! She's going to get some medical help now. Nya had absolutely no intention of letting her cross. He had noticed the way she moved; the raptor was exhausted and clearly under weight. If she went into the Basin like that, she would be picked off easily by even another velociraptor.
When he came back with Old Joe, the village healer, the raptor was laying on the ground. She jumped up when she heard nearing footsteps.
"Are you going to let me cross now?"
Old Joe was surprised at the condition of this raptor. As Nya had said, she was underweight, trembling from huger and exhaustion, and the dullness of her scales suggested malnourished too. "Ho no you don't lassie. You're coming with me."
The raptor stared at him. "I have to cross! This entire village isn't safe until I'm back in the Basin!"
"Oh, we aren't safe with you here? Are the allos from Waterfall City coming after you?" Nya was concerned. If that was the case, then perhaps the allos would follow her back to the Basin…
"No! I'm too dangerous. Just let me cross."
Old Joe was seeing more than he wanted. This raptor needed help. She had obviously been through some harsh trauma and felt that the Basin would be the answer. "Why don't you just come with me? I assure you, you will be perfectly safe."
Az started backing up. Trapped… she felt like a trapped animal. Turning, she fled to the bridge. There she climbed as far up as her exhausted limbs would allow. "Put the bridge down now!" she ordered.
"Come back down here! You'll fall," Nya called back.
Old Joe placed a hand on the youths shoulder. "Put the bridge down. She may do something rash if we don't. She's too tired to stay up there for long and if she won't come down willingly, she'd fall. Then what good did you do her?"
"But if I let her go, she'll be killed in there!"
"Just lower the bridge." Old Paul walked as close to Azonthus as possible.
Giving in to his elders' wishes, Nya lowered the bridge. As it started to come down, Old Joe walked out closer and closer to the raptor.
The bridge was almost all the way down. Soon Joe would be able to reach the raptor and help her.
Azonthus was terrified. If she didn't reach the Basin before Old Joe reached her, she would never make it. They would take her back and force her to stay at the healers. Scrambling forward, she managed to keep an even distance between herself and the human.
The jolt when the bridge hit the ground knocked Azonthus off her feet, allowing Joe to come close enough to make a dive for the fallen raptor. Scrambling desperately, Azonthus managed to evade the grasp of the human.
Half running, half stumbling, she made it to the Basin. But she couldn't relax yet, Old Joe was hot on her heals. Dashing into the dense foliage, Az quickly disappeared from view.
The raptor hid in a tree while Old Joe searched in bushes and on the trail for hours. Az didn't dare move for fear of making a sound that would alert him to her presence. Eventually, the human gave up and left. Still, Az waited another hour before she would even consider getting out of her tree. When she did, she tried to stay to the treetops, but was not strong enough to make even the first leap to the next tree.
Az fell to the ground hard. She waited for the pain to recede and her blurred vision to clear before even trying to get up. When she did, she used a tree to balance herself. Slowly, she made her way deeper into the Basin.
Az walked until her strength gave out. Taking a first look at her surroundings, she saw that she was in some ancient ruins. Perhaps she could find a safe place here to rest. Leaving the safety of the forest, she ventured into the ruins. Her foot found a sharp rock and she again fell. This time, Az did not bother to get up. Let what might happen, happen she thought fatalistically.
ShadowRunner was returning from a solo-hunting trip. He had not been successful. There were no new saurian carcasses to scavenge meat from and he had been unable to catch any fish.
Passing through the ruins that hid the main entry to the hidden caves his clan lived in he noticed a velociraptor laying prone on the ground. Running to the raptor he immediately checked to see if she was alive.
"Lady?" he shook her, trying to awaken the raptor. "Are you Ok?" Receiving no response, he stood and paced around for a few moments thinking. He could bring her into the Sanctuary, but she was a strange raptor and he was not sure how the leaders would react. He could leave her out here...No, she wouldn't last long like that. Looking down at her, his choice seemed made.
ShadowRunner gently carried the raptor through the outer ruins. Thakur who was on guard, bristled as the two passed but ShadowRunner paid him no heed. Walking through the airy temple, he paused before the entrance. Should he enter the Sanctuary and bring the stranger to them? Looking down at the velo's face he straightened and walked down, taking her with him to safety.
Mist crossed the bridge behind the falls slowly. Her ribs ached with every step and she slowly felt the binding of her wounds compress sore spots. Stopping and leaning heavily on her staff she knew she wouldn't make it across the bridge. Turning back to look at the grand city on the falls Mist whimpered slightly wishing someone would come with her, anyone. She needed assistance. Walking into the Basin in her state was suicide. Hunching up against the cold spray of water, Mist slowly trudged forward towards the streets of Bonabba.
Having been evacuated from Waterfall City via sky galley, Mathaira, Maia and Thistlebud had traveled to Bonabba. While confined to Waterfall City during the recent Allosaur attack, the three hatchery workers had decided to relocate to Bonabba and were now based out of the Bonabba Hatchery. They were still settling into their pod house and working out of the Hatchery before making a planned trip into the Rainy Basin in answer to scroll they had received while in Waterfall City from the Tyrannosaur clan leader, Greyback the Fierce. . .
That morning Mathaira left the pod house to join her partners who were already at the Hatchery. As she strolled among the pod houses, she greeted the guardian near the Bonabba Bridge, Nya, who was conversing with the village healer, known as Old Joe. She picked up snatches of their conversation, first hearing Nya's voice "...raptor was exhausted...crossed the Bridge into the Rainy Basin"... and then Old Joe's "...red raptor with scars...couldn't find her..." . .
Suspicious that this may be the same raptor she had seen in the Great Library garden while she herself was on the roof, Mathaira approached the two men and after receiving a description, determined that this was indeed the same Azonthus she had seen in Waterfall City. Not really knowing what to do with this newfound information, Mathaira headed to the Hatchery to first discuss it with her partner-friends...
On the outskirts of Treetown, Cyrrus trotted up the first of several hills marking the beginning of the Backbone Mountains. She shifted the full pack on her shoulders and reached the top of the hill easily.
"It's a good thing Arthur is a good friend, or I'd never be doing this," she muttered to herself. Going into the Rainy Basin alone was not her choice of pastimes. But Arthur needed several botanical specimens for the study he was currently working on.
Cyrrus had found the scientist riding on the back of a Styracosaur; one of the many evacuees from the Allosaur infested Waterfall City. This group was destined for Treetown, and since 'Rus had a lived there for several years; she decided to join him. Little had she known that Proff. Denison would request her help with his latest project.
Well, at least I can outrun most of the larger carnosaurs... Small comfort, she thought. But if I meet up with any Velos, I'd better have something they want more than my drumsticks. The struthie shivered at the thought, and shifted her pack again.
She increased her pace, speeding up the last of the preliminary hills, and plunged into the Backbones. She looked back, catching one last glimpse of the tall redwoods, thinking how it could quite possibly be her last.
A bitter liquid was being poured down Azonthus' throat when she became semi-conscious. She had the faint impression of two raptors standing next to her before floating back into a deep and restful sleep. When she came fully awake, Az had no idea just how long she had been asleep or how she even got here. She was laying in a soft nestbed in some sort of cave. The walls were lined with stone shelves that contained many different herbs. An eerie blue fire that did not seem to burn the wood that fueled it illuminated the entire room. Thankfully, the roaring headache that had been plaguing her for what seemed forever had receded to a dull pounding.
Sitting up, she had a clear view of some sort of raptor in an adjacent cave. He was blue and red with black and white banded feathers. The raptor hummed quietly to himself as he mixed something in a bowl. Turning, he looked Azonthus in the eye.
"Well," he said as he calmly walked over to her, "I hope you are feeling better." He held out the bowl of whatever he had been mixing.
Az silently took it and sniffed the concoction. It smelled strongly of fish, but there were other scents that she couldn't discern. At the raptors prompting, she drank the foul mixture.
When she began to look slightly ill from the medicine he placed a comforting claw on her shoulder. "Breath deeply, it will pass. You have not had good nourishment for some time and you're reacting to the sudden amount of food." He waited till she looked slightly better.
"How long have I been here?" Azonthus asked. She didn't even know how long it had been since she had left Waterfall City.
Waterfall City! She had forgotten it for a short time; forgotten the pain she had caused, the treachery committed.
"Huh? Oh…" The healers' words shook her out of her reverie.
"You've been here three days. And I'd like to know just how this happened to you."
Az lay down, feeling numb inside. She didn't even hear his question; all the healers voice was to her was a dull drone in the background. Again, images of Waterfall City played before her minds eye. She saw herself as if in a dream; herself capturing Fer'dri, working for the allosaurs, luring C'xoila to the clock where he could be captured, and then in the healers where she had snapped at C'xoila.
The healer placed a claw on her shoulder again. He could almost feel the pain she was in. This raptor needed his help badly; he could heal her physical wounds easily, but he was not so sure about the emotional ones.
A small Japanese man walked down a battered path looking from side to side. He'd been edgy ever since some traders told him about what happen at Waterfall City. The details were sketchy, but he didn't think that they were lying. He got halfway around the Rainy Basin and low and behold, it turned out that a group of carnosaurs was in the area around Waterfall City. I just can't stand it! he thought to himself. I've walked countless miles to get there, and the carnosaurs decide to ransack the place. I have friends in Waterfall City. I hope they're okay. Breath deep Aslan, they're okay, you've got to worry about yourself right now. I've got my continent map right here, now where's the nearest settlement? Ah! Right here, on the Polongo River! Not twenty miles away! I should be there in two or three days! Well, not a minute to waste. Got to get moving. He seriously hoped he ran into someone soon.
C'xoila walked through the steamy heat of Bonabba, thinking of how he came to be at the edge of the Basin, a place he did not want to be. Herak, he thought. All his troubles, as far back as C'xoila could remember, were Herak's fault. At least he can't bother me anymore, C'xoila thought, trying to put a lighter spin on things. Yes, but now Azonthus was gone, lost and confused, in the Basin. He shook his head and tightened his grip on his new staff. C'xoila had built it especially for this trip into the Basin, and could feel it humming gently in his hand. C'xoila had created it of Poseidon metal and studded with sunstones and an astounding array of devices. He sighed, closing his eyes and in his mind he could still see the look on Azonthus' face. His mind wandered farther back to the first time he'd seen Herak, when the evil Allo almost devoured him, and his minions had decimated his clan. Out of the 98 members, only 50 survived. Those included him and his family, but not his best friends. He shook the memories from his mind and headed for the bridge.
C'xoila stepped off into the Basin, blinking in the bright light. He intended to call upon an old friend oh his, Cerule Cyanno. The Baryonix was a friend of his from before he left the jungles, and she and her family had helped him and his family escape from the Allosaurs. Cerule had said that if he ever came back to the Basin, to stop by and pay her a visit. He headed off in the general direction of the Polongo, hoping that everything would turn out better then the last time he was here.
Mist stumbled and muttered to herself. Stupid raptor. Stupid stupid raptor. Can't make it on your own. Gritting her teeth she stood and looked down at her bandage. Around her chest, it was stained a bright vermilion and she felt something trickle down her mouth. Growling at her own idiocy she questioned whether she really was worthy of being a warrior. Lifting her staff she threw it violently aside and with her razor sharp ebony claws slashed her bandage to shreds. Leaving is on the dusty ground at the edge of Bonabba, she stood, stretched high on her hind legs and balanced with her tail. A great dinosaur blocked the bridge across the basin. A human and some small egg raptor, and a Maiasaur were there too. Sneaking into the shadow of a pod house, Mist left her bandage in a heap on the ground with small drops of blood staining the dusty ground. She turned to where she had discarded her staff and with a tinge of regret retrieved it. She couldn't get past these people. Unless...
The dark raptor ignored the now dulled pain in her midsection. She ignored the common sense that told her what she was about to do was insane. With her staff level at the ground right in front of the raised bridge, Mist blindly ran from her hiding place and charged everyone in front of the great vertebrae bridge.
Pushing aside a palm leaf, Cyrrus peered down at the strange plant before her. Excellent, she thought, This is exactly what Arthur wanted. Using her straight claws as trowels, the struthie dug a small circle around the plant, and wrapped up the dirt and roots in a piece of cloth. She tied a piece of string around the top to secure the material, and placed it carefully in her pack, letting the top of the plant stick out the top. Now, to get a sample of that flower he wanted...
Cyrrus made her way deeper into the jungle greenery, pausing every few minutes for a quick predator check. The last thing she needed was to have a carnosaur think she was some tasty snack. Maybe I should rub that peppery plant on me so I'll taste bad.. Though, they'd have to eat me to find out.. She shivered, and continued walking.
A tree branch had broken, and Cyrrus hadn't done it. The struthie froze and stared into the green. Something was following her....
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