Return to the Basin: Part 4

Esk grumbled something uncomplimentary under her breath about hyper struthies. "How we get them lower it? They not look for two saurians!"

Cyrrus thought for a moment. She could see some saurians, a human, and what looked like a tyrannosaur on the other side. My eyes must be playing tricks on me! Why on earth would a tyrannosaur be over there? After a double take, she was sure it was a tyrannosaur on the other side. "Hey, raptor, how are you at Tyrannosaur?"

"Not bad. Can understand them. Why?"

"Think you could talk to that guy over there?" She pointed.

Esk's eyes widened when she realized just what the struthi meant. "Uh… I try." She proceeded to roar and growl in the deeper, rougher tongue.

After a few moments later, the tyrannosaurs reply echoed across the canyon separating them.

"He say, he ask Nya. Nya put bridge down."

"Good." Cyrrus shifted around. "I'll be glad to get out of the Basin."

They waited the few minutes it took to find the human and lower the bridge in silence. Once it was down, Esk was unsure about crossing. Cyrrus immediately bolted across the bridge, but to Esk, it was leaving her home. She lowered her head and sniffed the bridge. It was a natural enough instinct for a raptor, but what she found would keep her from crossing. "Struthi! Found Azonthus! She crossed here!"

"What?" Cyrrus hurried back. Quickly checking, she too found Az's scent. "Ok, now we know she isn't in Bonabba. But I'm at least going for a few hours. I can't wait for some fresh fruit!"

Esk sighed. "No. We find Az. Clan needs her." She was adamant about tracking down her soon to be leader.

Mathaira had awakened early, the sunlight streaming into the window of the pod house she and Thistlebud shared. Due to her size in relation to the pod homes of Bonabba, Maia was housed at Bonabba's Hatchery in the section reserved for full-time saurian hatchery workers. The Bonabba Hatchery was located near the Sauropod barns, with Mathaira's and Thistlebud's pod home nearby. Mathaira felt fortunate when, upon relocating to Bonabba, that a pod home was available near the Hatchery and next to the Gardens of Bonabba. It was only a short walk from her home to the Gardens, and if she continued further, to the Vertebrae Bridge linking Bonabba to the Rainy Basin. This enabled her to frequently meet with ShadowStriker as he traveled from his Clan's territory within the Basin to the Bridge.

Upon his initial arrival in Bonabba from the Rainy Basin, many residents of the Basin border village of Bonabba were surprised but not shocked at ShadowStriker's presence. After all, living so near the Basin allowed Dinotopians to become more accustomed to Carnosaur presence than would other regions of Dinotopia. Once the story of the traveling hatchery workers' service to the Clan of Greyback was known and the strong bond of friendship between ShadowStriker and Mathaira was observed, the warrior's presence was embraced warmly.


After dressing in a deep green tunic and dark brown slacks, Mathaira broke her fast with a meal of juice, tea, bread smeared with berry jam, and nuts. On the way out she grabbed a pouch, which she filled with a variety of fresh fruit and more nuts. She was not needed at the Hatchery this morning so strolled through the Gardens on her way to the Vertebrae Bridge. Just as she had hoped, ShadowStriker was waiting on the Bonabba side of the Bridge for her. The two friends greeted each other and conversed using a combination of deep roars, low growls, scratchings in the dirt, and a sign language which they had developed. Surprisingly, in spite of their vastly different species, they were able to communicate quite well, in part due to the strong bond which had formed between them.

During the course of their conversation, ShadowStriker's keen senses detected a presence on the Basin side of the Bridge. "Two saurians. I wonder what they want in Bonabba," commented ShadowStriker to Mathaira.

No sooner had he spoken when the Velociraptor began to roar and growl in the language of theTyrannosaurs. Mathaira listened closely as the two communicated, able to pick up many of the words. Realizing that they were asking for the Bridge to be lowered, Mathaira and ShadowStriker quickly located Nya and had him do so.

At the Bridge, the struthi quickly bolted across but the raptor hesitated as if unsure whether she should cross into Bonabba. During the course of communication between the two saurians, Mathaira picked up the name "Azonthus" as the raptor spoke, this drawing the struthi back to the Basin side of the Bridge. Having been exposed to the raptor language due to Thistlebud's heritage, Mathaira spoke loudly enough to be heard across the bridge and replied as best she could in the language of the raptor, "Azonthus was here!"

At that the two saurians showed an obvious interest but would still not cross the Bridge. ShadowStriker took it upon himself to cross the Bridge and motioned for Mathaira to follow him, human and Carnosaur both headed into the Rainy Basin. Standing on the soft ground of the Basin, the two groups eyed each other warily, each unsure of whether they should approach the other.

No one said anything, just sat in silence. The smaller raptor was obviously uncomfortable and Shadow was now on thoughts of his sister. She had left by order of Xilon to go find out what had been going on in Waterfall City. And where was she now? Squirming in the stone seat he rested in next to the padded nest bed, he could hold it no more.

"I um...have to be going." And with that he disappeared through the doors. Az opened her mouth and silently voiced a call for him to return. She liked the raptor's presence; he listened to her, never judged, and had saved her. Now she was alone. Watching the shadows thrown off by the blue fire, she sat silently thinking to herself. He never even knew my name...

ShadowRunner rushed through the caverns. A cold breeze blew through this tunnel, and the only sound was the rapid clicking of his claws on smoothed rock as he went up the steeply inclined tunnels. He had rushed past FeatherDawn a while back who had tried to ask what was going on but had no answer. Now storming through the deepest caves and maze of tunnels in the Sea of Cold Clan caverns, ShadowRunner found himself facing the Sea of Vapors. Roiling fog covered his feet and the entire ground of the clan cavern. The stone rock was cold and the mist parted and swirled around him as he walked to the edge of the thin ledge that surrounded the water. It parted slightly so the surface of the shimmering blue-purple-gray water was visible. The fog in the cave made the rock slick but ShadowRunner didn't care. MistReaver, where was she...where... He sat down at the waters edge, and after inhaling deeply slipped quietly into the shimmering water. The surface barely rippled as he began his decent, and soon the mist covered the surface as though nothing had ever occurred.

Herak silently watched his clan from the trees. He knew Saar had taken leadership, and she would pay. The shadows cast from the dense trees gave him perfect cover. Even anyone who knew he was there would have hardly been able to see the skilled Allosaur warrior.

He had followed his clan ever since they left the city, he had waited before returning to let his wounds heal. HE HERAK, wounded by the claws of those insolent city raptors… No-one defeats Herak and gets away with it. If anyone of them, of THEM, those little insolent raptors, who were even hardly out of their eggs was still alive they'd all pay with much more then just there little lives.

But first he had to wait for the moment his wounds had healed an he had gained the strength to regain his position as leader of his clan. In the first days after leaving the city Saar had obviously been nervous... And with reason. Herak thought grimly.

She had always been trying to find his weak spots, as if she thought he didn't know she wanted to lead the clan. His eyes became slits. Just enjoy it for as long as it lasts Saar, he laughed inwardly.

Observing his clan he had heard a lot that his clan members rather not wanted him to know... He could take profit from this situation, he now knew several of his allies in the clan were not real allies, they'd be punished greatly...

The day of revenge was almost there... The insolents would learn just who Herak was, his name would shake the basin. He grinned. His pride would be restored or he would no longer be Herak.

It was a few days later when he felt he had to take back leadership, It was the same day a large part of his clan was disagreeing with their new leader and would probably gladly accept Herak back. Perhaps..... Yes. A sudden surprise attack would be best.

They were standing in the clearing, Saar and about twenty other Allosaurs, they were discussing if they'd move on east or downriver. Foolish Saar wanted to follow the river, One of Herak's most trustworthy comrades apparently still hadn't given up on trying to explain to her there'd be not much carrion there, because of several Tyrannosaur clans.

Tyrannosaurs... How he hated them too.

He stalked through the bushes until he was right behind Saar, then he stepped into the clearing with a challenging roar. He laughed as he saw her whirl to face him "You fool! You thought you'd be rid of me this easily? I thought you'd be smarter then that. He charged, Saar ducked. "I... I... There was no food left in the city Herak, You must understand, we could not stay there!

He didn't listen and tackled her "No excuses, everyone knows you didn't do it for the best for the clan, you're too foolish for me to even bother killing you."

He looked up to his other clan members snarling with anger in his tiny black eyes "Spread word that Saar is Banished and that nay other who goes against me will face the same punishment. Any Questions?" No one reacted; Herak let Saar get up and glared at her as she silently left the clearing.

Az sighed. What was going to happen now? Now that he knew of what she had done, she would probably be forced to leave. Well, I'll just save them the trouble of making me leave. I'll go on my own.

Slowly, painfully, she forced her way out of the bed. Her muscles were still exhausted from the strain she had put on them fleeing to the basin. Stumbling around, she eventually found her way to the door. Looking down the dark caves, she staggered down the long passages using the walls for balance.

She wandered around until she realized that she was totally and completely lost. Confused, she walked down another passage. Upon entering the cave she was stunned by the sheer size of the room. It was huge! The floor was nearly flat. On one end of the round cave was a platform; it held two marble pedestals with torches containing the same eerie blue fire she had seen in the Healers room. Looking around, she saw a deep well encompassing the room with a small ironwork rail on the edge of it. Walking over to it, she peered down. All she saw was inky blackness.

Great, just great. She was lost and didn't know if anyone even came into these caves. Sitting down, she resigned herself to the fact that she had probably found her grave in a deep cave.

Suddenly Az heard a soft voice behind her "Hey, how'd you get in HERE?"

Az turned to see the speaker was a tall orange and red female Utahraptor with green eyes. Az crouched into a defensive position, being in strange surroundings she did not trust the newcomer and the eerily lit cave with its wide chasm wasn't helping her discomfort. "What you want?" She growled.

"Shhh," the Utahraptor hissed with a claw to her mouth, "Be quiet, follow me, talk later."

Az raised an eyebrow, "Why?"

"I'll explain later, you better come, unless you want to die," The Utah said, turning to walk away.

Az noticed the Utahraptor seemed to be very eager to leave the cave with or without her. Az counted the odds, this raptor seemed to be willing to help her, and maybe she could also tell her where the exit was.... She began to limp after the Utah, "Wait…"

LiquidFire stopped at the call and asked if the smaller raptor needed support to walk. The only response she got was a growl. LiquidFire smiled, another warrior.

Az noticed they were almost out of the cave when she smelled another Utahraptor; LiquidFire seemed to smell it at the same time and got a bit pale as she looked for the source. Next thing Az knew the raptor pushed her into the shadows rather roughly and clamped a hand over her mouth.

"Now WHAT?" Az growled angrily.

"Quiet!" LiquidFire growled back. "Stay here." LiquidFire walked into the light again as she heard the other raptor come in and pretended she was looking for something.

"Who's there?" and aggressive growl coming from the newcomer echoed through the cave.

Azonthus shuddered with fear as she heard his fierce growl.

LiquidFire thought quickly, she knew her clan leader didn't like anyone coming in here when it was not meeting time. She also clearly remembered all the times FireBane had injured and even killed his own clan members for small things like walking into the wrong cave at the wrong time.

That was also why she had tried to hide Az, he'd kill them both if he found out a non-clan member was in the cave. She hoped with all her heart the small raptor would be wise and stay hidden.

LiquidFire grabbed one of the blue torches. "It... It's only me. I-I-I lost my bag, I thought I may have left it here."

FireBane leapt in front of her, snarling, only now he had jumped into the light of the torch. Az noticed just how large and strong the clan leader of the FireSphere clan was. She was beginning to understand why she had been pushed into the shades. LiquidFire seemed to be scared too.

Firebane glared at LiquidFire who bowed her head and avoided his eyes. "Are you telling the truth, healer coward?"

The inevitable happened, Az could not stand by and watch this cruel Utah bully the smaller one; it went against everything she had ever been taught in her warrior training. With a roar she burst from the shadows, hoping to take him by surprise.

Though still weak, Az did manage to throw him to the ground. Biting and clawing she tried her best to drive him into the depths of unconsciousness so she and this other raptor could escape.

Unfortunately Azonthus had seriously underestimated FireBane. He whirled on the attacker and threw her to the ground, madness in his eyes, roaring. "You dare touch me?! Stranger to the clan, you must die!" With that he pounced and was about to deal the unfortunate velociraptor a quick death when suddenly the entire cave seemed to light up as more raptors with torches entered.

Azonthus raised her arms to protect her face and cringed in fear, prepared for the blow that would end her life. A new voice seemed to make FireBane freeze. "Just what is going on here?" the icy voice asked.

LiquidFire, who had been holding her breath the whole time finally dared to breathe again.

A pure white raptor and several others, Xilon and FeatherDawn, among them walked in.

Firebane hissed at the newcomers and left his prey alone.

"This is not how guests of the Sea of Cold Clan should be treated," the pure white female with ice or eyes and voice continued.

LiquidFire took advantage of the moment to drag the smaller raptor back to the group at the cave entrance. She immediately sought out FeatherDawn and hissed in his ear, "You idiot! How could you let her walk away? I've never been so glad to see LunarFrost in my whole life!"

Az looked up at the pure white raptor. "Th...thank you. You saved my life. I am in your debt."

LunarFrost gave her a cold look, then gave LiquidFire the same cold look and spoke in her soft urgent voice "Get back to my clan's caves, both of you."

Liquidfire and FeatherDawn picked up Azonthus and half carried/half helped out of the room and down to the Sea of Colds caves.

LunarFrost watched tensely as the healer of FireBane's clan and the small velociraptor left the room. They weren't of her clan but they were better off in her caves. She quietly turned and shot a look at the blue and red healer who immediately bowed his head to cut off eye contact and in a truly submissive gesture rushed out of the cave after the retreating forms.

Xilon who stood to her right turned his good eye to her and cocked his head in a silent question. Without saying anything she turned to FireBane.

"FireBane Pyre, that action against the wounded little one temporarily residing in the clan will not be repeated, and I hope you'll give me assurance on that." She didn't blink and the blue flames of some clan members being her reflected off her white skin making her seem to glow as blue as the sacred fire itself. The leader of the FireSphere clan bit back on his tongue as soon as he met with the white raptor's gaze and he backed up slightly.

"She is in my clan's caves. That foolish healer of mine. I'll teach her to enter the Fire Hall..." he started to get the venom back in his voice but LunarFrost stepped forward.

"There will be no violence taken against either. I take the healer and the wounded ones under my care. Any action taken against them will be taken against my clan personally." With this she turned to walk away, the other raptors who had filled the tunnel retreated as the leader of the Sea of Cold clan moved forward with indescribable grace yet with an aura of cold about her.

"I agree to those terms, clan leader, but keep them out of my clan's caves!" with this said a dull roaring was heard. Sudden panic ensued and the raptors rushed over one another to leave the room. Only Xilon and LunarFrost quietly walked out, the rest of the clan members had scattered throughout the halls. Flames shot dozens of feet into the air around the edge of the cave, and the thundering roar was deafening. FireBane laughed maniacally in the center of the blazing inferno as LunarFrost simply walked out the room, her shadow thrown against the wall of the corridor which suddenly seemed to have a chill breeze flowing down it.

Thakur raised his silver sword and held is over his head aimed at K'veer. The older, stronger raptor held an even more ornate bronze-gilded sword with a small ruby sunstone embedded in the handle. The handle itself was fitted perfectly for talons to hold it and it as well was aimed at his opponent

The floor of the temple was made up of great cracked slabs of marble and granite, some chunks weren't even there and small plants, ferns and vines grew in-between panels. The roof was nearly missing; giant crossbeams of wood and stone left plenty of room for the sun to stream down and filter through the dust that had been raised. The golden sun was now nearly completely below the horizon and twilight enshrouded the temple. Without warning K'veer lunged with a thundering roar at Thakur. The smaller raptor was taken by surprise and stumbled backwards as the flashing metal barely grazed his shoulder.

Thrown off balance by the weight he put behind his attack, K'veer staggered and tried to recover his balance. Seeing his chance Thakur rushed K'veer and swung his sword at the raptor's head. But being inexperienced, he only succeeded in hitting the raptor with the flat of his sword. K'veer howled in pain as the heavy sword cracked against his skull and without bother with his sword raised a clawed hand and smacked Thakur across the muzzle with it. The younger raptor staggered and fell against a statue in the corner of the temple. He held his claws cupped over his nose and squeezed his eyes shut.

Suddenly he opened them and a new fire blazed. He removed his now blood stained hands from his face and grabbed his sword again. K'veer bowed, acknowledging his opponents valor and again raised his sword. Thakur slowly circled the older guardian of the clan ground, feinting here, prodding there. Testing his opponents strengths and weaknesses. After a particularly violent jab at K'veer's underbelly which was deftly blocked, Thakur suddenty stopped and leaning back on his sword, spun and kicked at a diagonal with his sickle claw across K'veer's upperbody. Caught off guard, the older raptor was thrown back and clutched his sword for support. This time Thakur bowed and the two returned to the center of the temple, took their stances yet again, and now in the light of the moon and with stars casting faint light over the warriors, the battle continued with neither raptor willing to admit defeat.

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