|LiquidFire shot down the corridors and found her way to LunarFrost's cavern. Rousing the clan leader she explained quickly about allosaurs attacking clan ground, leaving out the new visitors in her explanation. LunarFrost growled wearily and told her to get Xilon and a few of the warriors, she would take care of the rest. LiquidFire ran back through the caverns and into the Clan of Xilon's. She easily found the clan leader, got him and a dozen warriors to follow her back to the Main Cavern. When there she found LunarFrost and FireBane along with respective members of the hunting party that belonged to their clans.
Clearing her throat LiquidFire explained that one edge of clan ground had been left unguarded and that allosaurs had broken through. She then bit her tongue and added there was a small group of humans and saurians that needed to take shelter in the caverns. With this LunarFrost's eyes narrowed but Xilon walked up the long corridor that connected to the Temple outside to speak with them about their current situation, leaving the young FireSphere clan healer to help organize the warriors.
When the older black and ash gray striped raptor reached the surface he found more than a "small group" gathered in the Temple courtyard. Looking at them with his good eye he asked to speak with the representative of the group, and warily eyed ShadowStriker and Tigris. Would the larger therapods even fit into the tunnel reaching belowground to safety?
Esk shifted around as she saw these new warriors emerge from the caverns. Great, now what? Allos attacking? Not a good thing.
She walked over to the pure white utahraptor, who was obviously a great leader. "I help you while Azonthus here. When Azonthus go, I go too. What you want me do?"
Xilon turned to the little velociraptor who was addressing LunarFrost. She was taken care of; he may as well speak to the larger therapods. He turned his head upward to face ShadowStriker and Tigris.
"I on behalf of the Temple welcome you to our grounds...though normally it would be customary to ask you to leave, there seems to be danger. I ask you seek refuge in the caverns or assist us in the battle." He cocked his head toward Thakur. "One of our own is injured and obviously was not well enough to guard the border. We ask your assistance in helping." He turned to Triforce who was standing in the corner with another cerotopsian. Despite language barriers, with the help of signals and sign language he made them see their help was needed as well. Esk and LunarFrost walked among the hunting party, aligning warriors and assigning them tasks.
FireBane stood by watching as his clan healer helped sooth Thakur's wounds. That raptor...why hadn't he been watching the border?? Biting back his tongue he promised to give the young warrior a severe lashing when all this was over.
After a long deliberation and Cyrrus and Thistlebud acting as translators, with some help from Tamith, it was decided that most would go to battle while a few like the ornithomids, the wounded and the healers would stay inside.
Clearing her throat and standing up in front of the crowd LunarFrost got instant quiet from everyone milling around in the temple.
"I ask now for patience and acceptance from all. We must work as a team. If you wish to stay behind, we all understand. If not, may you run fast and seek peace. Will everyone please let their intentions for the battle be known one last time. Reaffirm if you go or stay." An immediate roar of approval went up from all Utahraptor's gathered except Thakur. LunarFrost faintly smiled, which was rare and turned her gaze to the strangers on her land. "What is your choice?"
ShadowStriker nodded respectfully towards LunarFrost, "I would be honored to fight with your Clan in the upcoming battle."
Az moaned as someone poked her, trying to get her up. "Not wanna run nuther message...."
"You're not running a message. Now get up!" K'veer roared. He didn't have time for someone who didn't get up when told. If she couldn't get up, then she certainly didn't have the discipline to train as a warrior.
Azonthus immediately recognized the voice as her new teacher and shot up. He had his face thrust in hers and looked very concerned. Before she could ask what was wrong her told her.
"There are allos on clan ground. I have been called above ground. This will probably serve as your training. Now come!" He grabbed her arm and savagely pulled her to her feet. Gritting her teeth, she realized the utahraptor didn't realize his strength compared to a velociraptor and has nearly wrenched her arm out of its socket. But Az had no time to think as her teacher disappeared up one of the many tunnels that connected to the sleeping caves.
Scrabbling to get a grip on the sandy floor she sprinted after him.
His fleeting from moved almost too quickly for her to follow. At times, his large shadow along the walls was her only clue to where he was going. Azonthus sped up.
When they burst through into the growing daylight, her arm flew up to her eyes, shielding them from the suns harsh glare. I didn't think I had been down there that long! she thought. Oh well, just put up with it. She waited a few moments for her vision to clear. When it finally did, she was not pleased with what she saw. The Utahraptor warriors from the Sanctuary were obviously gathering for a council of war. She saw Quickstride and Cyrrus along with Tamith, Rex and Esk.
Az moved towards her friends, but once again K'veer's grasp on her arm pulled her away. She rolled her eyes and followed her teacher. They stopped near the three leaders of the clans. Az's eyes widened as she saw FireBane. She remembered the last time she had seen him and didn't want a run in with him again!
As if sensing her hesitation, K'veer looked back at her. His eyes narrowed; obviously, he was in a bad temper.
Az hurried up to follow. Taking a deep breath, she entered the circle of raptors discussion what to do. She refused to be scared of FireBane. When FireBane looked over at her, his face showed clear recognition. His mouth had dropped and he was about to protest, when Az simply smiled at him and put one claw to her mouth, signaling silence.
He starred at her for a moment, unsure of what to do. Then growling softly at her, he turned back to what LunarFrost was saying.
Once she had a grasp on the situation, Az waited for a pause, and then broke in. "I've dealt with Herak before and know something about how to handle him. He'll look for the easiest way in, but if it's too easy he'll think it's a trap. What you should do is post guards there," she pointed to one tree, "and there," and at a rocky outcropping. "He'll see the guards and try to break through. But we let him. Once he has, we can easily circle his warriors and attack. What do you think?"
LunarFrost listened closely to Azonthus. She bobbed her head in agreement and sent the warriors to their checkpoints and posted a few more hidden among the ruins inside the temple. The rest were hidden among vegetation and some sent further into the forest. The clan leaders stayed in the temple center along with ShadowStriker and Tigris who, though watching the whole event, were yet to make their intentions known.
LunarFrost took a position in the center of the Temple and Xilon stood next to her, a staff at his ready. FireBane stalked along the edges of the temple while Thakur and LiquidFire escorted the remaining group belowground. Triforce lowered her head and snorted something to Tamith. Tamith agreed and the two of them moved forward to hide behind a fallen statue. With the ambushes set up, with all warriors dispatched, the pure white raptor raised her head defiantly and awaited the onslaught.
K'veer grinned as Azonthus imparted her knowledge of Herak's tactics and helped arrange the warriors. He let her go off on her own, not letting her know he'd keep a close eye on her through the whole battle.
Xilon shifted nervously from one foot to another. MistReaver and ShadowRunner were still absent, and both were close family to him; he only hoped they wouldn't show up in the middle of the chaos that was about to start. Though both were fine warriors, and Shadow one of their fastest, he'd rather they not come into a battle unprepared. He shook his head as he heard a distant roar echo from the trees far at the southern end of clan ground.
Herak had had some trouble with returning as leader, but his Allosaurs quickly resigned themselves once again to his rule. They had no choice; Herak was crazy and would do anything.
His warriors quickly moved through the Basin towards what Herak insisted was the grounds of a large Utahraptor clan. Once their land had been taken over food would be that much easier to come by. With the addition of the Sanctuary to their territory, they would now control an area half again as large as what they already had.
"Avy, Rapah, scout ahead, find their weak spot. Nair you take some warriors and go through it. The rest of you, stay here and act as re-enforcements incase of ambush."
Herak moved to the back of his chosen warriors; a leader such as he never led from the front, only the back where it was safe.
ShadowStriker, along with Tigris, stood in the temple center with the Clan leaders, watching the Utahraptor warriors take their assigned positions in preparation for battle. He had earlier let LunarFrost know that he would be honored to fight in the upcoming confrontation but knew that he had to make a more decisive stand to align himself with the Clan.
"I must speak to Thistlebud for a moment," ShadowStriker humbly requested of the Clan leaders. Upon receiving their permission, ShadowStriker joined Thistlebud who was preparing to descend into the caverns depths with the others who would remain within the ruins.
The two friends conferred briefly but intensely. "I know it's probably useless to say...but, be careful, ShadowStriker," cautioned the diminutive Ovinutrix to the massive warrior.
"I vow my loyalty to fight alongside this Clan in the upcoming battle. I will do what I must in order to defend them," ShadowStriker affirmed.
"I understand," replied Thistlebud, for she had also aligned herself with this Clan, at least for the time being, though in a different capacity than the Tyrannosaur.
A flash of emotion sparked in ShadowStriker's eyes, "If anything should happen to me, tell Mathaira that I have greatly valued her friendship."
Thistlebud murmured softly, "I will. Breathe deep, seek peace."
Though somewhat awkwardly, the fierce warrior embraced the gentle Ovinutrix in a rare display of emotion as he replied, "Breathe deep, seek peace."
Masking his emotions, ShadowStriker quickly turned away as Thistlebud descended into the Sanctuary to rejoin the others. Again the fearsome warrior, he respectfully approached the Clan leaders, "As a warrior, I offer my humble skills to your Clan. I will do my utmost to defend this Clan from its enemies in the upcoming battle, doing what is required by its leaders in order to accomplish their goals."
He then backed away and lowered his massive head, awaiting the response of the Clan's leaders.
Tigris waited impatiently for the tyrannosaur to return. When he did, she watched as he bowed to the Clan leaders, pledging himself to them. What was this? Asking permission to help? Tigris thought it quite silly, but knew many of the warrior tribes of the basin had various rituals and customs. Oh, well, she thought, you are on raptor land, so play by raptor rules. She stalked up to ShadowStriker's side, and bowing her head made a similar pledge. ShadowStriker, from the corner of his eye, seemed to glare at her momentarily, but this was quickly forgotten as they now together awaited a response.
The group had shrunk considerably, after the warriors had left; Az, Esk, Tigris and ShadowStriker had all decided to join the battle against Herak. Then Thakur, not wanting to avoid battle had wanted to join too but since he could barely stand he had been kindly told to stay in the sanctuary until further order. The humans understood they better not get in the way of an angry allo and decided to go underground too. Which left LiquidFire to ask Thistlebud to stay and translate for the humans. The ornithomimids were to stay in the sanctuary too, which left LiquidFire and Thakur to wonder just where to take them.
To her own clan wasn't an option, rowing everyone across the waters to the sea of cold clan's caves would take forever, which left Xilon's…
Cyrrus was running from one carving to the other, wondering just what they all meant, the carvings consisted of recognizable images of raptors and other suarians, and there were a lot of symbols and carvings in an ancient raptor language she didn't understand most of. She then decode to forget the history carvings for a while and try to find out what would happen next.
The group was scattering a bit trough the cave which gave entry to the Sanctuary, Quickstride had found a side-cave which led to another room. Her first urge was to explore it but if she suddenly disappeared the other might get worried and she herself might get lost in the caves. "Hey LiquidFire what's in here?" She asked.
The raptor grinned, "Well that corridor leads to the big, scary, ornithominid eating… CAVE MONSTER!"
On instinct Quickstride took a few steps back before she noticed the raptor was grinning widely at this reaction.
"Just kidding!" LiquidFire smiled to the group who was now eyeing her and the cave, "That cave goes to the library, anyone wanna come and see?"
As the Ovinutrix translated between the saurians and humans, Thistlebud immediately recognized LiquidFire's strategy as she listened to the raptor's offer to show the group the Sanctuary's Library. The clever Utah intended for the group to absorb themselves in perusing the numerous scrolls in order to keep their minds off of the battle which would soon rage outside.
If this is how I can best serve this Clan, then so be it. 'One raindrop raises the sea.'
In spite of her anxiety in the presence of the intense raptor, Thistlebud boldly proclaimed, "I would like to see the Library," and she headed towards the cave entrance which LiquidFire indicated.
Quickstrides sentiments were quite the opposite of Thistlebud's, and despite LiquidFire's attempt at diversion, she was for once not interested in looking at scrolls. She wanted to play some part in the battle she knew would occur, and not have others in danger while she was safe. Her reasons for this were less than noble: really, she didn't want to be looked upon as someone who let others fight for her without helping. Sighing, she followed the others as they walked through the entrance. Perhaps she would get her chance...
A large, muscular figure moved through the underbrush toward the noise he heard. He was a blue Utahraptor with white stripes called Fireblood, only survivor of the Silverclaw clan. Once, he had been a great warrior but had been unable to accept defeat by his father, Quickslash, for leadership of the clan. The battles for leadership continued not to the death, but until one participant was too badly injured to continue. Firebloods injuries had forced him to loose. Rather than accept defeat, he fled into the basin to live as a hermit.
He had returned after many years, hoping to battle again for leadership, but the clan was nowhere to be found. Asking among other clans, he was told some had died and others had set out for the Sanctuary of the Clans. However, they seemed to have disappeared after that as nobody had heard from then after they left.
He returned to the basin and lived there many years after loosing his clan. Thinking the best thing to do was wait where they had intended to come, he took up residence near the Sanctuary of the Clans, but never actually talked to the inhabitants of the subterranean culture.
He was searching for a particular herb he needed when he had heard a commotion. There were several raptors, speaking in concerned tones and looking very worried. He noticed two velociraptors and a few others that had never before been to the sanctuary. After reaching the group, he heard talk of a battle.
Though blind in one eye, from the battle with his father, he longed for the chance to use his skills as a warrior again. He slowly walked up to a large white leader. "I will join the battle against Herak" he said. "I am Fireblood, of the Silverclaw clan of Utahraptors. I was once a warrior but had retired. I want to fight again. Yes, I am blind in one eye, but I can still fight. Will you have me?" He shifted his weight and waited for a reply.
Lunar Frost nodded, all help would be welcome and this was a warrior. "One of our own is half blind, it makes no difference. You may join in the fight."
LunarFrost solemnly nodded her head toward the two massive carnosaurs, telling them that they both had enough experience to choose an appropriate position. She thanked them on behalf of the clans for helping defend the Sanctuary. She bowed in return and her head shot up as she heard another blood curdling roar from the forest.
"Warriors! Pull together in your time of need, do not kill for pleasure, but instead work toward peace and equilibrium, hurt as few as possible!" With this a few allosaurs broke through the far edge of the forest, advancing into the trap the Sanctuary had set up.
Azonthus sat carefully balanced in a tree. She carried no weapon, there were none in the Sanctuary made for one her size. She could use a standard deinonych bow as a long bow, but no utahraptor bow would fit her.
Funny, she thought, I left the Basin after a war and now return at the beginning of one. She leaned her head against the trunk of the tree she was in. As she tried to relax and prepare for the battle, all that she could think of was how much she didn't want to do this. She hated fighting and war; it was the whole reason she had left the Basin in the first place.
Her eyes slowly closed as she thought of all the events of the past. She was not asleep, but she certainly was not paying attention to her surroundings. A heavy thud and the sharp scent of a large carnosaur broke her reverie.
Dang it! Here I am trying to remember all the lessons Battle had taught me and what do I do? The first thing he had to break me of! Daydreaming when I should have been at my guard… She inwardly growled at her self. Despite her anger, she did not move. Azonthus did nothing to betray her position.
Slowly, trying to be silent, three allosaurs moved under her tree towards the Sanctuary. Az held her breath as they passed. Once they were gone, she relaxed a little, but immediately tensed again. The battle would soon begin… She only hoped she would not get herself killed or someone else harmed. This battle would prove if she was worthy of leading her clan.
A deafening roar shook the air as the three allosaurs began the attack. They swiftly moved on one Utah who had been set to look like a normal guard as a coordinated pack.
Suddenly, hidden Utahraptors poured out of their hiding places, ready to attack. One of the Allosaurs fell easily; he had been totally unprepared for the assault. The other two recovered quickly and retaliated.
Azonthus stayed in her tree, watching the beginning of the battle. How she wanted to get down there and help! But that was not her purpose in this battle. Her target was Herak. He would be the one that many of the hidden raptors would capture in the pincer movement.
Azonthus was forced to sit by helplessly as she saw raptor after raptor fall and only a few Allosaurs. The allosaurs were doing much better than the Utah's, but that had been how the beginning of this war was planned.
Many more allosaur warriors ran under the very tree she sat in, but all were so focused on what their psychopathic leader had ordered that none noticed her.
Esk had volunteered to be one of the first to attack. She knew that this was a dangerous mission and risk of injury was high, but something in her forced her to accept it.
When she saw the first one go for the guard, she lunged at the allosaur's neck. The nearly vertical jump was easy for her, this was a young allosaur and he wasn't very tall. She hit her mark and the allosaur was dead in moments.
Hot, fetid breath warned her of impending doom. She leapt to the side, barely avoiding one of the other allosaurs reaching jaws. Not stopping to think, she leapt onto his head and hung on for dead life. He reared up, enraged, shaking his head like an angry dog. Esk dug her claws in deeper to keep her balance, but this only served to increase his wrath. One more massive shake and she went flying through the air.
The stony ground rushed up to meet her. Esk felt her body impact and blackness reach its cold embrace for her. Refusing to pass out, she desperately fought for consciousness. Through pain-clouded eyes, she saw a giant foot coming down to crush her...
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