|Unsure of the two saurians that warily eyed them, ShadowStriker protectively shielded Mathaira with his bulk from the raptor and the struthi. The struthi was not his main concern, as she looked typically "Dinotopian", but he could sense that the raptor was more comfortable in the Basin, and very probably part of a large clan. Not knowing their intent, ShadowStriker's keen senses kept track of their every move.
Mathaira turned from the Rainy Basin toward the Vertebrae Bridge as she heard a series of high-pitched chirps, squeaks, and trills in the raptorian language. She glimpsed Thistlebud making her way from Bonabba, where she had been at the Hatchery, quickly crossing the Bridge onto the soft Basin ground. As Thistlebud approached Mathaira, so intent was she on her communication she didn't immediately notice the two other saurians hidden partially from her view by ShadowStriker.
Thistlebud's concern was evident on her face as switched from raptorian to Dinotopian and spoke to Mathaira, "Come quickly! The egg is squeaking!" She referred to a Brachiosaurus egg that had been under Mathaira's care for the duration of its stay at the Hatchery. As it's primary caregiver, Mathaira desired to be present when the hatchling emerged from its eggshell.
ShadowStriker could see that Mathaira was torn between her calling as a Hatchery Worker and her strong friendship with him. "You go on. I'll be ok here," he reassured her.
Mathaira hesitantly agreed, then softly laughed as she realized the paradox of a Tyrannosaur warrior assuring a Hatchery Worker that he would be ok without her. Once resolved, Mathaira eagerly headed back toward the Hatchery, looking forward to being present when the Brachiosaurus hatchling emerged.
As ShadowStriker had turned to speak to Mathaira, he had shifted his great bulk, which had left the other two saurians directly in Thistlebud's field of vision. Glancing at the blue and yellow struthi, Thistlebud thought she had seen her about Dinotopia. A biologist named Cyrrus, studying the animal and plant life near Bonabba, she recalled.
She then turned to the green and blue Velociraptor who was staring at her intently. Thistlebud returned her stare and, at that moment, Thistlebud felt generations of Ovinutrix slip away to bring her face to face with her Oviraptor ancestors...
As Thistlebud the Ovinutrix looked into the Velociraptor's eyes, she tried to distance herself from her Oviraptor ancestors by reminding herself that she was no longer considered a raptor.
Once my species was known as Oviraptor meaning "egg stealer", but now we are referred to as Ovinutrix , meaning "egg nurse". We no longer steal eggs in order to consume them but now have the honor of being responsible for their care, with most Ovinutrix choosing the respected profession of Hatchery Worker.
It is not only a profession but a labor of love to care for the eggs, including keeping them warm in transit, preparing egg basins made of hardened clay padding them with soft ferns, monitoring the correct temperature of the incubation room and maintaining a basin of water over the fire to keep the air humid as so to protect the membrane inside the shell. We also have the privilege of being in attendance while waiting for the saurian mother to lay her egg, often offering both various herbs to facilitate easier laying and encouragement in the form of soothing words and touches.
Once the egg is laid we assist the children who are responsible to keep a close watch over the eggs, with all becoming excited when the egg begins to squeak, for that is the indication that the hatchling is ready to emerge from its eggshell. When this glorious event arrives, we again assist the children with working the puppets, which will help the babies imprint the correct parent model.
One particular event stood out in Thistlebud's mind amidst her years as a Hatchery Worker: Spring had arrived in Bonabba and coincided with the emergence of a young Triceratops hatchling who emerged from his eggshell blinking feebly. Of the Line of Greyback, Strongbrow (who was nicknamed Stubbs), had taken ill and refused most food. As the children and I presented Stubbs in the garden, the fresh air and music did little to stir him. Even though he brightened at the children's greeting "Breathe deep, seek peace", it had no lasting effect. The children took turns looking after him. Sylvia joined Mathaira and I one evening in a twilight procession through the Garden of Hope, seeking a cure for Stubbs. In spite of these efforts, Stubbs had grown lethargic and unresponsive. A convoy was sent out into the Rainy Basin to obtain a particular medicine that would help Stubbs. Thankfully, the medicine was obtained and Stubbs recovered.
Thistlebud recalled her feelings of joyfulness at that moment and tried to focus on them instead of the raptor in her field of vision. She continued to tell herself that she was an Ovinutrix and tried to block out the fact that her ancestors were Oviraptors who once inhabited the Basin, that she was no longer of the raptor species as the Velociraptor she now observed.
Thistlebud's reverie was broken as the raptor spoke to her in their own language, "I am called Esk, of the Clan of Sharpclaw. Where is Azonthus?!"
At the demanding tone in the raptor's voice, ShadowStriker stepped protectively toward Thistlebud, who answered more calmly than she felt, her thoughts still in turmoil, "Breathe deep, seek peace, Esk. I am called Thistlebud. Azonthus passed through Bonabba several moons ago. She was injured. She wouldn't accept anyone's help but headed straight into the Basin."
ShadowStriker had understood a bit of what was being said and now offered his own reply in gutteral Tyrannosaur , which Esk understood, "I am called ShadowStriker, of the Clan of Greyback in the Rainy Basin. I trained as a warrior under Azonthus. I would like to help you find her!"
As Thistlebud listened to ShadowStriker's offer of help to these saurians who were not known to them, she was torn between her desire to remain Thistlebud the Ovinutrix, traveling hatchery worker based out of Bonabba or to venture into the Basin and come closer to her Oviraptor ancestors who had once resided here. With but a moment's hesitation, Thistlebud looked directly into Esk's eyes, "I would like to help you find Azonthus." A fleeting thought crossed her mind, Do I want to go into the Basin to help find Azonthus or to find out more about myself?
Esk carefully studied the Ovinutrix. She was unsure of the egg nurses motives for coming, but any help would be welcome. She nodded once. "You come. But not slow me down, or I leave you." Turning to Cyrrus, she growled to cover up the fact that she would actually miss the struthi, "You go now. Better for you if stayed in Bonabba." She turned and headed back into the forest, not looking back to see if anyone was following her.
Still somewhat unsure of her own motives for heading into the Basin, Thistlebud picked up the pouch of fresh fruit and nuts that Mathaira had left on the soft ground in her haste to head back towards the Hatchery. ShadowStriker looked questioningly at Thistlebud as if asking her whether she was sure she wanted to go. As she viewed Esk's retreating form, Thistlebud nodded her head emphatically. An unlikely pair, the Tyrannosaur warrior and the Ovinutrix hatchery worker, followed the clan raptor into the Basin.
Jose Salvador sat in the small house in Bonabba. The rescue party had found him after the raptors tried to rob him. A claw mark marred Jose's side and he covered it in a bandage. Now, sitting at a table, he rested. He'd been in this house for six hours and was bored. Suddenly, there was a knock on the door.
The whole walk back to the healers cave at the Sea of Cold Clan Azonthus didn't say anything as she wondered just what she had started here. Again… Again my foolishness brings friends problems, again… Again, again…"
LiquidFire had the torch and was walking in front of the small group. She really wondered what was going to happen now, she quite obviously had just been thrown out of the FireSphere Clan. She turned her head a little so she could look back at the Entryway of Flame without being too obvious about it.
Most may find the caves behind it downright creepy but when you were born and had grown up there you learned to see their beauty. It hadn't been a very good place, ever since FireBane, but it was still home. And if I'm not around… Who's gonna be the clan's healer? Half the clan is too stubborn to go to another clan for help…
She looked into the blue flame, the flames just continued their innocent game of light and shadows. Where did it start? Where will it end? She just wanted to be alone to think, but the group of four had only one torch; she had excellent night vision and could just give the torch to someone else then leave, but then they'd think she wasn't grateful for staying at the Sea of Cold Clan…
Besides, if she ran away from this problem it would become a lot more then just her problem. It already was actually. She noticed ShadowRunner seemed to be worried too, but she could sense it had nothing to do with had just happened. The small Velociraptor was a silent as ever and hadn't done so much as look around the whole time. FeatherDawn was just quiet because he was to shy to break the silence and because he was worried about his patient.
"Sooo…" LiquidFire started, as they entered the healers', "Next time you need to stretch you legs, I advice you d not cross the bridge we crossed on the way here, ok? FireBane might get slightly annoyed if you do."
"That's the understatement of the century" Az responded as she was being put back on her nestbed.
Topaz slung her saddle over her shoulder and headed for Tibet's barn, humming a jolly tine she couldn't get out her head. She arrived in the barn and began to tie the saddle round Tibet's back.
"You get comfy in that quickly, Tibet," she said, "It's nearly sunset. We're late."
But despite that fact, Topaz just wasn't in the mood for rushing around. It was one of the hottest days of the year - and no one was in any mood to work. She and Tibet were no exception.
Tibet shuffled around in the saddle - for it was no ordinary saddle. And Topaz and Tibet were no ordinary pair. Topaz had had this saddle made by Silverclaw, the legendary craftsman Troodon, for it was to fit a special purpose. Every night Topaz and Tibet flew over the Waterfall City, Topaz playing a song to say goodnight to the sun on her Dragonhorn. Topaz could play the Dragonhorn while riding Tibet, as their hopes of someday being the Habitat Partners or Arial were crushed when they had that accident.
Tibet gave a snort to show he was comfy, and Topaz climbed on, and got into position; they were off.
As Tibet and Topaz set off for their Farewell to the Sun flight, Tibet nearly had a fit, and veered off their usual course, which was very strange, because Tibet was a very routine kinda guy. Then Topaz noticed a strange flashing light, it seemed to be coming from the Rainy Basin.
"Come on, Tibet, lets see what it is," said Topaz. As if Tibet needed any encouragement. He sped off, Topaz vainly trying to hoot out some of the Farewell to the Sun symphony as they went.
Somewhere, in the midst of the Rainy Basin, Topaz thought she saw an utahraptor who seemed to be guarding something. Panicked that something was wrong, Topaz forced the already stiff and soar Skybax to go faster.
Tibet had a crippled wing; everyone knew that. Tibet could only fly short distances, at a slow and steady speed. Everyone knew that, too. So why ever did Topaz try to push him beyond his limits? No one knew that. Not even Topaz. And she would regret it. Now.
A storm blew in from the East. Topaz was to find out later that this storm had not been predicted on any chart anywhere. It was the sort that looks like it will never happen. Until it does. But for now Topaz thought that this was all her fault, and she had endangered her and Tibet's life. And to add to that, the raptor was gone. If he WAS guarding something, he was more than likely to have rushed to gat reinforcements.
Topaz was so near to tears that she never noticed Tibet was heading down. More than likely Tibet wasn't aware of that, either. So it came as a shock to both of them when Topaz opened her eyes to find they were within four Necks away from the ground; too late to pull up.
Cyrrus stared off into the jungle as Esk bound into the interior and sighed. And it's back onto that dratted jungle once again. Oh yes, I'm defiantly Keelk's cousin. She chuckled and turned, waving to the kind person who lowered the bridge for them.
"Thank you, but something's come up. Breath deep, seek peace!"
With that, the struthie turned and darted after the smaller dinosaur; Esk's form was already shielded from view by the foliage.
Esk smiled to herself as she scented Cyrrus and the others following her. She paused a moment to wait for them to catch up. While she waited, she bent to the ground and picked up Azonthus' scent again. Once she was sure she knew what direction the raptor had headed in, she jogged slowly along the trail. Soon, she knew it. Azonthus was within reach...
ShadowStriker, the largest saurian in the group, had to constantly dodge the lower hanging jungle branches which the smaller struthi, raptor and the Ovinutrix cleared with ease. As the path became narrower, leafy foliage brushed against the great bulk of the Tyrannosaur.
Up ahead on the path, ShadowStriker saw Esk slow down and scent the ground in front of her. His keen senses also picked up the scent of the raptor that had trained him as a warrior: Azonthus!
As Thistlebud followed Esk and Cyrrus deeper into the Rainy Basin, she again felt generations of Ovinutrix pass before her to bring her closer to her Oviraptor ancestors. The soft ground cover along the Basin floor padded her quick footsteps and the leafy foliage brushed gently against her sides. The faint sound of the Polongo River and the scent of decaying leaves stirred her senses. Unexpectedly, she began to feel at home here in the Basin. A sense of belonging pervaded her being which she couldn't describe even in her own mind.
Right in front of her on the path, Thistlebud saw Esk slow down and scent the ground in front of her. The Ovinutrix's newly heightened senses picked up the scent of a raptor of some sort, one that was similar to Esk's scent. This could be none other than the Velociraptor warrior, Azonthus!
A multitude of thoughts raged through Thistlebud's mind at this moment. Now that she recognized the scent of Azonthus, would she be able to do her part in helping to locate her? Would Azonthus be among other raptors? Possibly among her Clan? Would these other Clan raptors welcome Thistlebud, the Ovinutrix, whose Oviraptor ancestors were their kind, yet she herself who was not their kind?
Topaz got up and dusted herself down. Luckily, she seemed to be ok. But Tibet was in big trouble. She started towards him, only he growled at her, and showed her his wing, sprawled out at such an odd angle Topaz had nearly trodden on it. She rummaged in her bag to try to find her box or bandages. But it was missing. It must have been dropped when they crashed.
Topaz squinted through the pouring rain, trying to see any traces of the raptor that had been guarding something; she was sure she had seen him. But there was none. He had just.... disappeared. Topaz regarded the injured Skybax. "Looks like we're gonna be here a long time, Tibet," she said, and started to make camp.
Highsoar was still soaring over the basin trying to keep up with the Gallimimus and the big meat eater when she saw the skybax and rider go down. She watched as they plummeted toward the ground and braced for a crash but it didn't happen. They were lucky, she thought. Thoughts began to flash back into her mind. A rescue mission three years ago. She'd been with her rider Matthew for two years then. The Tyrannosaurs had attacked a convoy on its way to Bonabba. They were told to distract them. She was dodging in and out of trees trying to keep the carnosaurs attention. One of the rexes snapped its jaws at her. She felt the jaws close on the trailing edge of her right wing. She pulled up at a steep angle. She managed to get high enough to escape the Rex but she was now fighting to maintain control. She dove again but could not maintain control. She managed to get into a tree but her rider slipped from the saddle. She heard the crack of branches and the thumps as he fell toward the ground. She made it to the ground later but he was dead. She had been watching this rider intently upon seeing the injured wing of the bax. She was worried another rider would go to her death as Matthew had, but they landed safely. Trying to let the thoughts go, she focused back on the Gallimimus and carnosaur talking in the clearing a short distance away. She dove towards the trees and perched in the branches of a tree above the two saurians.
Unwittingly coming closer to Cyrrus and the other party from the Treetown area as they made their way to the Sanctuary from the opposite direction, Quickstride, Rex, and Tigris were too absorbed in their quest to notice the skybax observer. Tigris, a lifetime resident of the Basin, ordinarily would have noted such; the unwary did not last long in the Basin. However, they had other problems at the moment.
Tigris had scented the tarbosaurs long before Quickstride and even Rex had noticed. The tarbosaurs had also smelled the small party, and try as she might to avoid their path, the Tyrannosaurs were not about to let just anyone invade their territory, even a 50 ft long Carcharodontosaurus.
The two young tarbosaurs strode gracefully into the trio's path, and spoke to Tigris in their growling tongue. Quickstride didn't understand most of their words, and got the feeling she didn't want to. Tigris, however, translated for her benefit.
"They want to know why we are invading their part of the Basin. I have told them that we are only passing through on urgent business, and mean them no harm whatsoever, and that we shall pass through as quickly as we can. However, I'm not sure they believe me."
"Why not?" asked Quickstride, eyeing the tarbosaurs uneasily as they eyed her hungrily.
"I think they believe I mean to take over their land. We of the Basin rarely come into contact with each other, unless we are competing for land and food."
The tarbosaurs, impatient, snarled at Tigris in response after conversing with one another. While Tigris could have taken on one tarbosaurus without difficulty, as they were both under 40 ft in length, a duo could be a real problem. Tigris translated. "They say that might makes right in the Basin, and if we are going to pass we must first defeat them in battle." As she said this the tarbosaurs started to stalk in different directions, surrounding the three adventurers.
Highsoar listened and though she wasn't exactly fluent in Tarbosaurs, she understood the part about 'defeat them in battle'. She could never lift three dinos at once. She didn't know any of them but had seen the Gallimimus around the rookery before and knew she must have a position of some importance. She thought maybe a distractive move would work. She let out a screech and dove toward the tarbos, climbing upward just before they could get her. "Try to run while I distract them" she shouted to the Gallimimus, who she knew would be surprised at the skybax speaking Gallimimus. "Or do you have any better plans?" she asked, dodging the snapping jaws below her.
The tarbosaurs abruptly stopped, utterly confused by this new development. The more experienced Tigris, however, could recover from such shock much quicker. Seizing the moment, she charged, grabbing at the one Tarbosaur neck with her jaws. The younger animal yelped and broke away. As he did so, Tigris wheeled around and knocked the other tarbosaurus to the ground with her heavy tail. Landing awkwardly on his leg, the second Tarbosaur let out a similar yelp. All the while the unknown skybax shrieked from above and made mock dives at the tarbos, adding to the chaos. The second tarbosaur got up and limped as fast as he could to his brother, who was bleeding from the wound in his neck. Together they fled into the forest, frantic to get away from the strange intruders. Though neither was seriously injured, they'd learned an important lesson that day: never mess with a Carcharodontosaurus. Especially one with air support. The strange skybax turned and landed gracefully in the new clearing formed from the brief struggle. Quickstride and Rex, who had sought refuge in the dense undergrowth, emerged from hiding, and Tigris turned to face the newcomer.
It was Quickstride who spoke first. "I don't know who you are, or how you can speak ornithomimine, much less the gallimimine dialect, but we all owe you a great thank you."
Jose jumped at the sound of the rapping at the wooden door. Who could be visiting him here in Bonabba? He went to answer the door, and it was an elderly man that he had seen around. He appeared to be an important individual, though Jose really didn't know what he did. The man introduced himself, and in a raspy voice told Jose of an assignment that he was to do: Join a group that is looking to rescue a downed Skybax rider and find someone by the name of Azonthus. Having quite recently known the fear of being stranded in the Basin, Jose immediately accepted. He filled Cielo in on the mission, saddled him up, and flew towards the other side of Bonabba for further briefing.
Mathaira had been elated when the Brachiosaur hatchling had emerged from her eggshell in the Hatchery's Incubation Room just as twilight arrived in Bonabba. The hatchery worker spent the remainder of the night in a nest bed near the hatchling's own nest bed, both human and saurian resting comfortably until the sun began to rise over the pod houses in the Basin border village. Upon morning's arrival and seeing that her young charge was now being tended by the children eager to begin the puppetry work which would help the hatchling imprint the correct parent model, Mathaira took leave of the Hatchery.
As she strolled through Bonabba, she became aware of a small group of people outside of one of the pod houses, where a Skybax rider soon emerged. Listening to the voices in the crowd, Mathaira heard snatches of conversation..."Jose attacked"..."raptors"..."headed to Basin"..."in search of Azonthus". Upon hearing the name of Azonthus, the hatchery worker's interest grew, but before she had a chance to speak to the rider, she watched him saddle and mount a Skybax who he addressed as "Cielo", and the two headed to another region of Bonabba. Since both Thistlebud and ShadowStriker had headed into the Basin in search of the same raptor, Mathaira desired to speak to the rider regarding his mission, and she also headed toward the same region of Bonabba where the Skybax and rider had gone.
Cielo gave out a cry as he began to descend. When Jose dismounted, he saw a few other dinosaurs and humans who he guessed were also there for the mission briefing. They pointed up at the skybax and rider as they came down, and a few now approached him. One caught his attention, though. It was a young woman in an outfit that gave him the impression of someone who worked in a hatchery. She called to him. "Excuse me. You're Jose, right?"
Esk waited for the others to catch up. Once they had, she motioned for silence. Carefully, she crept forward, following Az's scent. Suddenly, it disappeared. She stood up in confusion, now there was some sort of Utahraptor overpowering the velociraptors scent.
Esk was determined to find Azonthus. If this utahraptor had done something... She shook her head. No, first she had to find her future leader.
A raptor cry floated through the air and awoke Esk from her reverie. Looking up, she saw two utahraptors battling. One looked directly at her, anger and fire in his eyes. In one swift motion, he changed opponents and ran directly at Esk.
The two tired warriors had made little progress. By then they had both received a sufficient amount of cuts each and poor Thakur with less experience in wielding a weapon than K'veer was near passing out. Suddenly spotting something the blue and peach raptor shouted out something in his own hoarse raptorian tongue and shot out of the temple. K'veer surprised looked and found a small velociraptor just at the edge of the forest and made out the form of a tyrannosaur further back, an Oviraptor and a nervous looking struthi. The small velociraptor suddenly snarled and backed up slightly.
"YOU IDIOT WE LEFT THE SOUTHERN BORDER UNGUARDED!" K'veer violently roared and shot off after Thakur, taking his sword. Catching up shortly he tripped the younger raptor and sent him sprawling in the dirt. Turning to face the intruders on his clan's ground he felt as his own duty to guard the one section of border he had foolishly left to a youngster. With this he kicked Thakur in the ribs with disgust and approached the group, holding his sword at eye level he looked down on the smaller raptor, ignoring those in the woods and demanded what she was doing here.
"You intrude on the Sanctuary grounds. Be warned nothing holds me back from killing you like the intruder you are, so tell me why you are here, make it good, and be warned I have no intentions of letting you pass. You'll be lucky to leave with your hide intact." With this he waited for the green and blue raptors' response.
Esk was a trained warrior and would not allow this utahraptor to bully her. Glaring up at him, she growled, "You put sword down now! You not know why I come. Threaten trespassers? Where are markers showing your territory? I saw nothing."
K'veer was slightly taken aback by this impertinent raptor. His pupils narrowed to mere slits. "That is none of your business. I ask once more, why are you here?"
Esk held his gaze, not giving him an inch. "I search for Azonthus. Her scent ends here. What you do with her?"
A bemused look on his face K'veer eyed the little raptor.
"I know nothing of this Azonthus you speak of. You are mistaken, small one. Leave my ground now and I will think nothing of it." Turning to go, K'veer felt a sharp pain in his tail. The raptor had dug her claws into it and refused to let him go!
"No, Az here. Smell her. Need to get her now. You stand aside."
Having had about all he could K'veer turned with his sword raised when a weak voice spoke up.
"I think I know what she's talking about." Both Esk and K'veer looked down at the bloody and weary Thakur who lay on the ground. "Isn't she that red raptor ShadowRunner brought in?"
"Yes yes, red raptor!" Esk was obviously excited now and let go of K'veer's tail. "Azonthus is here!" With this before either guardian could reply, the small velociraptor shot between the two of them at a dead run toward the temple. K'veer's jaw dropped and with a roar the larger slower Utahraptor took chase, leaving a sprawled K'veer at the jungle edge with the remains of Esk's group.
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