Return to the Basin: Part 3

Day 1

We left Bonnaba this morning and are know camping for the night. This is the first time I am going so deep into the Basin without the safety of a caravan. Even though Bracken said the predators would respect us for our mission, it still feels weird to have only a Triceratops and a Corynthosaurus as your only saurian protection. Not that I doubt on Karua and Tri's ability, but what if the predators are in a 'bite first ask questions later' attitude? I don't think the medallions will be much good then. Not to mention Dylan and mine rather limited vocabulary in the few therapod dialects we know. I've been reviewing the information Bracken gave me on the Arctium. This specimen came from the from Bent Root, but I know that it is cultivated elsewhere also. What I am really wondering is were this strange fungus comes from? I know fungus multiplies in damp and moist places but where is it? In the water? Soil? Why an outbreak of it now? Hopefully, we'll-

"Dylan? What are you doing?"

"Come here a sec," he replied looking back at her.

Putting down her journal, Tamith stood and walked up to him. He motioned for her to keep silent then pushed back some of the foliage in front of him.

"Raptor tracks..." he said softly. Kneeling next to him, she inspected the ground.

"Rather fresh too. Not very reassuring."

Karua walked up from behind them and commented something.

"What did he say?" Tamith asked.

"That we better move the camp," Dylan answered, "That Tri and he noticed various pairs of raptor tracks meaning that they hang out around here for some reason. And I don't want to count on only the medallions for protection."

"Nor I, when I scouted ahead, I found a little clear about and hours walk from here, we could camp there," Tamith suggested.

"Sounds good, only that we won't reach it before dark, so we won't be able to explore the perimeter."

Not much choice, Triforce commented, unless you want to set up a buffet. I can smell the raptors. They are close by.

"What?" Dylan asked.

"That I think we better start packing."

LiquidFire looked at the younger healer. She had heard of something similar happening before, but couldn't quite remember the details or how the patient had been cured. Shaking her head sadly, she said, "I am not sure I could be of much help, but I will try."

"Many thanks, LiquidFire." The two Utahraptors made their way through the eerily lit caves of the FireSphere and into the Sea of Cold's.

Walking into the room, they saw ShadowStriker sitting next to the raptor. He seemed to be talking to her, but his voice was low and they could not hear what was being said. Elated to see his patient talking to someone, FeatherDawn began walking over to her, but LiquidFire stopped him. Putting a claw to her mouth to signal silence, she pulled him into the shadows where they could not be seen.


Azonthus was surprised when the black and white Utahraptor came into the room. He didn't look to be injured or in need of any medical assistance; in fact, he looked to be in perfect health. But that didn't matter… Azonthus' mind drifted over anything and everything; from the time when she was a hatchling and had been found trying to string her brother's bow to the first time she had met C'xoila.

She did not notice when the Utahraptor sat next to her bed and did nothing. All he did was sit so quietly that she almost forgot he was there. His constant and unwavering gaze was what finally got her attention.

"What do you want?" she mumbled.

"What's your name?"

"Azon…" she stopped. Azonthus. That was her name, but it wasn't who she was anymore. "I'm nobody."

"I find that hard to believe. You are obviously a warrior."

"I was, once."

"Only once?"

For the first time, she looked him in the eye. What she saw there was compassion and someone who would listen to whatever she had to say. "A long time ago."

"Want to tell me what happened?"

"No, not really…" She hesitated. Perhaps, it would be better to have someone know, someone who would understand. No, the moment he learned what she was he would leave and never talk to her again. But was that fair to him? Was it fair to hide her true self from these kind raptors who had helped her? In fact, by not telling them she was endangering them. She looked into his eyes again. Azonthus didn't know what it was, but she told him the entire story.

By the time Azonthus was finished she felt as if a weight had been lifted. Even the simple act of talking to one who was willing to listen helped. She began crying; C'xoila, I'm so sorry, and deep in her heart wished with all her being that C'xoila could hear her.

"I tell you," said Cerule as she munched another cat sandwich, "These things...mmmmmmmm... are civilization's only redeeming quality." C'xoila coughed, but said nothing. "I mean, why else would a carnosaur in it's right mind want to live in a city!? "

"Auw common Cerule!!! What 'bout libraries? Readin'? Museums..." complained C'xoila in irritation.

"Ly-baa-rare-ees! Reading? Moo-see-ums?" roared the Baryonix with laughter, "You have become a wimp, haven't you!"

C'xoila was about to show his friend how much of a wimp he really was, when he saw out of the corner of his eye that something had washed ashore. "Hey, looka that..." C'xoila mumbled as he picked his way among the boulders to see what it was. Turning it over, he realized in shock that it was the raptor he'd seen and talked to in Waterfall City, shrouded in waterweeds. "MistReaver..." C'xoila gasped.

"What? Mist-what?" asked the Baryonix, clambering slowly over the rocky bank.

"A friend, in river, was washed ashore!" yelled C'xoila.

"Oh!" replied Cerule, "We'd better get her back up to the cave!" The baryonix picked up the raptor, and brought her up to drier land. MistReaver stirred, then moaned and spat a plentiful amount of water into Cerules' face. "Oh... she'd better be grateful for this..." muttered Cerule.

Movement...light. Slowly she cracked her eyelids to find she had been hauled off the ground and was moved. She felt sick, and an ample amount of water clogged her throat and stomach. Soon she felt herself placed down. She lifted her head to try and peer and her saviors. A blurred blue face with a long snout met her gaze. Opening her mouth to thank the creature she succeeded in emptying the water logged contents of her stomach. Sheepish she looked at the ground but heard a chuckling. Turning she saw a blue and yellow feather crested raptor. FeatherDawn? No… wrong colors. Though was familiar. She peered down at her with curiosity, and she noticed he had a staff as well. Though it was metal. Confused she felt a bolt of fear shoot through her. Noticing her discomfort the raptor placed his staff on the ground and moved toward her.

"Raptor...saw you, city, allos… saved brother.." cocking her head she looked at the multi-shaded blue creature. With some of her short temper returning she spat at the face currently thrust in hers "What you want, blue one?" This only received a chortle and sheepish again, Mist muttered an apology and lifted her head to look around her.

The struthie puzzled over what to do. It would take several days to get to Treetown, and several more before proper help could be mustered. The little raptor had made it clear that her clan needed action immediately. She paced.

"Well," she finally said, sighing, "I know Az wasn't in Treetown. It's a small place, and I'd have probably seen or heard of her. So..." She paused, tapping her beak with a claw tip. "...I suppose we can head for Bonabba. That's closer and they may have seen her." The struthie smiled at the velociraptor. "Does that sound good?"

Esk nodded. "Long as Az found, clan safe. Let's go." The raptor dashed into the jungle towards Bonabba, making sure that Cyrrus followed. After all, this struthi may be her only hope for crossing the guarded bridge and finding Azonthus.

Where could they be? The expedition to the Basin left about 3 hours ago. I got turned around, where am I?

Jose Salvador circled the skies on his Skybax, Cielo. He was a tall boy from Puerto Rico. Traveling to visit family in Spain, the ship he was in crashed. There were few other survivors. He had been what the Dinotopians called a dolphinback. But that was years ago, now he was a skybax rider.

He was on a mission to the Rainy Basin. Just an hour ago the majestic saurapods and the proud ceratopsians were below him, with their human companions, and his fellow skybax riders were by his side. And then he decided to go scouting. Soy tan estupido! he thought, Soy un idioto!

Just then Jose saw a small band of dromeasaurs, probably traders, traversing a clearing in the forest. He decided to land and ask them for any information they could offer.

Quickstride and Rex descended into the Basin. There was no trail where they were, but Rex's natural sense of direction would keep them from getting completely lost. Hopefully.

Oddly, Quickstride felt strangely at home in the jungle. The home of my ancestors, she thought. She hoped just enough of their spirit had remained in her family through the generations that she could get through this alive.

Nothing happened their first day of travel- a good thing. They camped for the night, taking turns watching for threats, and in the morning set off again. The plan was to keep heading northwest until they came across the caravan route, and follow that before leaving it for the area the scroll seemed to imply the Sanctuary was. Unfortunately, that day their good fortune was about to wane.

The Monolophosaurus must have just happened to be in the vicinity ahead of them, and rather than stalk and risk being heard had simply stood motionless in wait for his prey to pass by. Quickstride and Rex were almost within biting range when the predator's patience gave out and he leapt from the forest. With squeals and yelps of fright the two travelers turned and bolted, the crested carnivore in hot pursuit.

Quickstride knew they'd never make it. While she could outrun the monoloph in a flat run, the forest was too dense and slowed her too much. Rex could navigate through the greenery better, but he lacked the speed to escape. Survival for both of them didn't seem too good.

Suddenly, the monoloph stopped. Quickstride realized this when she no longer heard the crashing of trees behind her. Rather than looking back, she continued on- right into a giant leg hidden by foliage. She fell to the ground, and as she rose heard the monloph yelping as he retreated, his footsteps growing distant. Quickstride looked up- right into the toothy mouth of a Carcharodontosaurus!

Great, she thought, we've just traded carnivores.

It was of great shock when the carcharodont spoke to her in fluent Ornithiomimus, and especially when she said "I believe I know one of your relatives."

The struthi and raptor had been traveling for several hours. Soon, Esk hoped, Soon they would find Azonthus. It was critical that they did. Even though the Sharpclaw had soundly defeated the Hunters, the Hunters could easily attack and defeat a leaderless pack.

Her worry over the survival of her clan caused Esk to be rather irritable and snap at Cyrrus for the smallest things. "Hurry up slow one! Need get to Bonabba fast!"

The blue and yellow struthie looked at Esk with mock indignancy "Slow one?? I'll show you slow one!!"

She shot off like a rocket, her clawed feet gripping the soft ground of the Rainy Basin. She could feel it getting harder, more rocky and solid. Cyrrus looked up and saw the base of the Backbone Mountains, and traversing a dip in the rock was the Bonabba vertebra bridge. She skidded to a halt to give Esk a chance to catch up.

"Well, Bonabba is right over that bridge. Only problem is we have to get them to lower it somehow... "

High above the basin, Highsoar, the translator skybax, was cruising with the others looking for the rider who had decided to go scouting. Highsoar didn't have a rider now, her rider, Matthew, had died several years ago in a rescue attempt in the basin. Now she mostly acted as a translator, because like the famous Windchaser, she could speak human language (but not saurian) sometimes helping out in the library and sometimes accompanying the caravans into the basin. She cruised on the warm air currents, her huge leathery wings occasionally flapping slowly once or twice to speed up a little. She looked down through the trees, watching the unfolding drama between the carcharadont and the small Gallimimus, but was also keeping an eye out for the missing rider and his skybax.

Quickstride was so shocked by this development that her mind didn't even register the skybax soaring overhead in the sky- a rare sight over the Basin.

"Tell me, does one of you're relatives wear glasses?" the carcharodontosaur asked.

Quickstride managed to nod. Her grandfather's glasses were unmissable; besides it being rare for dinosaurs to need them, since he had no external ears they were more like goggles fastened around his head.

"And he has reddish feathers?"

Quickstride nodded again.

"What is his name?"


The great carnosaur nodded to herself, apparently satisfied that she was correct in her evaluation of the newcomer. "Your scent was similar to his, so I thought you must be related. He is a good friend of mine. Has he ever told you of me?"

Quickstride tried to think. She never got to see her grandfather enough- he lived in Cornucopia, delivering messages and packages to the many settlements around Deep Lake- and had told her so many stories, both real and imaginary, that it was hard to distinguish them from each other. She tried to remember the stories he told of the basin, tried to remember that specific encounter he had once spoke of... Quickstride stared at the cacharodont's markings. She was a pale white with purple back and black stripes. Suddenly the gallie remembered. "You are Tigris."

"Yes. So he has told you something of his adventures here with me. Fear me not; of course I would never harm any of his kith and kin. Tell me. What is your name, and who is your friend?"

Quickstride introduced herself and Rex.

"Ah," replied Tigris. "Now then, what brings you to this place? If I can then I will help you."

Quickstride told the entire story about the allos and the runaway raptor and the Sanctuary.

"There has been much unrest among the allosaurs recently, though I would have never thought they'd do that. I have not seen this raptor you speak of, but I think I may be able to help you find the Sanctuary."

"Really?" Quickstride couldn't keep the delight out of her voice.

"Come. I don't know where it is exactly, but I know the area where it can be found. And you will be much safer with an escort."

That's for sure, thought Quickstride. And so with the great carnosaur they set off, thanking her every chance along the way.

Leaning against a tree, the dark ochre utahraptor sighed and swatted at a passing bug. No one was out at midday and he had to be on guard duty. A skybax soared overhead but the raptor barely noticed, it may be Nimbus for all he knew (or cared), she was after all message runner for the clans, but wasn't there something about her being in Tentpole of the Sky for a while? Shrugging again Thakur slowly drifted into a sleepy state, leaving the western border of the clan grounds unguarded, but mighty waterfalls and a great river, smaller branch of the polongo ran along the boundary so who would even try to get in? Quietly laughing at his own ingenuity, he slipped into a deep sleep.

Snarling and muttering to himself, the older raptor kicked the juvenile that was temporarily on guard on the border. The smaller cream, bronze and blue colored raptor curled into a ball to escape K'veer's wrath.

"Stand up!" the true guardian demanded. Thakur was of the FireSphere clan, and the temper known to that clan flared as he confronted K'veer with determination. The two of them locked stares, a cold deep blue to harsh amber. Neither was willing to stand down, and knowing the only way to settle the dispute was a battle (they were both warriors as it was, and honor and pride wouldn't allow for a peaceful discussion.) As the elaborate swords were pulled out from the deep caverns, the two quietly met in the center of the Temple. No one would watch, that was far from necessary. Though anyone who would come near would be soon to view what was one of the actual battles fought with weapons left on Dinotopia. The metal flashed in the warm glow of the now setting sun, and a cool breeze traveled through the temple. As the warriors took their stances, yet again the southern border of the grounds was left unguarded.

ShadowRunner did an amazingly good job at hiding his surprise when Azonthus told him all that had happened in Waterfall City. He knew the Allo's, well, mostly their leader Herak, hated everything civil. But this was unheard of.

Azonthus glanced at him, wondering what judgment she would get. It would be no more then logical if they'd kick me out of here now... She suddenly got all cold. What am I gonna do now?

Slowly her tears dried up and her shoulders stopped shaking, Shadowrunner still sat there, waiting for the smaller raptor to calm down.

"You... you probably want me to go now, don't you?"

Shadowrunner still stared at her. "Why would I do that? As I see it, you worked to save a friend and put your life at risk to save him."

"Because I nearly killed him! I'm worse than other carnosaurs; I had the power to stop it, and I didn't!" She was near tears again.

Shadowrunner sighed, this was going to take some work. Perhaps distraction... "Hey, what were you before?"

Az looked confused.

"Uh.... what did you do? What was your job?"

"I was a message runner, but before that I was a warrior." She smiled slightly, "It was fun as a runner. It's a great honor to be trusted with important letters to people all over the island. I had to take messages all over Dinotopia. That's how I met your sister she ran messages too.

"Oh! Yes, she's.... Ok. Sorta. She helped save Fer'dri and me from Herak in Waterfall City. But in the battle, she got kinda..." Az stopped, unsure of whether to tell him or not of Mist's injury.

Shadowrunner was concerned, but didn't want to push her for anything she didn't want to say. Heck, he hadn't even gotten her name from her yet!

The two sat in silence, both unsure of what to do next.

Tamith unearthed the roots of yet another sample of Aractium longevous. She studied it briefly before wrapping it in wet cloth and putting it in her pack. She stood up and walked over to Triforce who was taking a drink from the near by river. Tri commented something of her newly acquired tan.

"You would be like this too if you were human and had spent 11 days in the Basin," Tamith replied smiling.

"Not to mention the bug bites," Dylan added walking up to them, "I have the water sample you wanted, nothing looks abnormal in it, but I don't have anything more powerful than that lens I showed you to check it out either. When we get back, it's the boring lab work for us."

Tamith grimaced. She wasn't particularly fond of being locked up in a lab all day. She rather preferred what she was doing now. Sun. Fresh air. Rain. Yes, even the bugs. For the last 8 days the excursion had been following a small branch of the Polongo in search of the tea plant and it's strange new parasite. So far they had gathered a huge number of plants with the fungus in different stages. What was strange was that the fungus didn't really seem to harm Aractium. So what was the point in all of this? What was interesting was that neither she nor Tri had ever seen such fungus. She had also taken in samples of other plants in which it grew, and a few other goodies for Bracken to enjoy. Dylan, on the other hand, had been busy with whatever it was that he had been doing for the last few days. And Tamith had a funny feeling that it wasn't only research for Magnolia.

"I'm just about ready to go back," she said, "We could start to head back in the morning. We'd be back in a couple of days, if that's ok with you..."

Dylan had turned so she couldn't see his face. What was he hiding?

"Actually..." he started, "I need to... Ummm... Get a few other samples farther up stream. It'll only take a few more days, and we have more than enough supplies..."

"Right," Tamith said clearly not buying a word he had said, "Ok. What is it? What are you hiding, it's so obvious I don't know why you are even trying. I know you better than that."

"Nothing! Really... I just need..." he trailed of when he saw her, "Am I that bad at it?"

Tamith nodded. Dylan sighed.

"Ok, I guess there's no point in pretending any more," Dylan began, " Truth is I already had more than enough stuff to work on for a few weeks when we get back. The last few days I've been chasing after a myth. Don't look at me like that! Ok, ok, I thought of it since the begging. I stumbled on a few old scroll at Waterfall City that spoke about the a city. A place sacred to all dinosaurs that the jungle supposedly swallowed up. You know what I big archeology freak I am... We were in the Basin and this was an opportunity I couldn't let slip by..."

"So you figured walking aimlessly around the Basin would get you there?" Tamith said smiling.

"No! Not aimlessly. You see, the scrolls didn't specify it's location, but it did say that a river ran through it. If we follow this one farther, we might stumble on it."

Again, Tamith smiled. "Do you have any idea how many branches of the Polongo, rivers and streams run through the Basin?"

"I know! But I had this feeling in my gut that I am going to find something," he insisted.

"So you are proposing that a pair of saurians and two humans wander around the Basin a few more days based on a feeling you have?"

"Yeah," he said with a half smile, "You know I'm always right at the end."

"Right at getting us into trouble," she replied. Sure why not? What would a few more days mean? She wasn't too thrilled about going back either so she could play along until then. And Dylan did have a knack for this sort of thing. She looked at Tri and asked for her opinion on matters.

"Ok, we'll stay four more days then start back, we can't play with our supplies for much longer."

"Ok, agreed, what ever you say boss," Dylan answered with a wide grin. Just then, Karua burst through the surrounding foliage and said something to Dylan.

"He said he found something!" he translated. His blue eyes sparkled with excitement, "C'mon, we have to check it out!"

Tamith smiled, grabbed her knapsack and quickly climbed on Triforce's back. Quickly they both followed to where Dylan and Karua led.

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