|Az watched Esk and the others leave. Great, now she was alone. Weakened and
tired, she had to prove herself to a great warrior. Turning she found him eyeing
"What do you want of me?" She demanded turning a sharp eye on him, trying to seem stronger then she felt.
"Me of you?" The smile on K'veer's face radiated amusement. "What do you think I do?"
Azonthus growled in frustration but bit her tongue. She was the student know, and one of the things Battleblood had taught her was patience. "Do you wish to test me?"
"An excellent idea, Little One!" K'veer seemed animated, pulled out of his normally somber state. He leapt up and raced into a chamber with an entrance linking to the main cavern. Confused Azonthus followed him. She entered a large room with scrolls filling the walls and a blue white glow. K'veer was facing a black raptor with iridescent scales.
"Just give me a map, Quetzl," K'veer demanded.
"Ha, not so fast K'veer," a glint in the raptor's eye reminded Az of a juvenile showing off to others. "You gotta find it, I'm not just dishing over stuff for ya." K'veer growled and with a bemused grin the black raptor continued. "Ah come on, you're no fun, lighten up!" With this he swiftly tossed a scroll at K'veer who caught it and with a muttered thanks stalked back into the Main Cavern. Az backed up and regarded her temperamental teacher.
"I will meet you in the Underwater Gallery when the sun sets in the west and the moss glows faint." Confused Azonthus opened her mouth to question K'veer but the scroll was shoved in her claws and her teacher vanished. Shaking her head Azonthus regarded what she would know as her first test.
Great, now what? She was in a cave for crying out loud! How on earth was she supposed to know when the sun set? Well, there was that little bit about moss growing faint, but that wasn't much help. Az didn't even know what time it was at the moment.
Well, better get moving now. That way I'll be able to meet him early if he shows up early, Az thought as she moved down the caves tunnels, hoping that she would not get too lost.
After several hours and many wrong turns, she finally managed to get to a cave that looked like it may be the Underwater Gallery. It was a small cavern. The walls were lined with something that could have been crystals or glass. All around her were different bodies of water that seemed to be glowing. There was bright moss that provided light.
Perhaps this was the moss that would grow dim with the setting sun? Az hopped so.
Disappearing into the clan of Xilon caves, K'veer suddenly found himself face to face with Xandu.
"So you're going to teach her, eh?" The old raptor cocked his head and allowed his currently clear, piercingly blue eyes to gaze at K'veer.
"And if I am?" K'veer averted his gaze yet refused to let go of his pride.
"Ah defensive I see. Have no fear young one, I will not take her from you or tell any of the clan leaders," Xandu paused and made K'veer face him. "Though you know the clan leaders strictly forbid it, what do you think LunarFrost would do, had she known what you take upon yourself?"
"I do not know, but I may well find out. I meet her in the Underwater Gallery shortly." Trying to recapture his stance, K'veer straightened. "I must be off." With a slight bow showing his respect to the clan profit, K'veer turned on his heal and left for the sea of cold clans, unaware of a red striped black shadow that noiselessly followed.
Az sat on the cold stone floor to wait, watching the flickering light of the water. It shimmered blue and green in the dim light. Hmmm... Blue. C'xoila, Battleblood, Cyrrus. All three blue. All good friends. Thoughts drifted in and out of her mind for many hours.
I wonder how he will test me. Strenghtwise, I won't be very good. Why did I ever allow myself to grow this weak! I never should have tried to help C'xoila by going to the allosaurs.
The clicking of clawed feet on the stone floor alerted Az to K'veers approach. She quickly stood and tried to look busy. Bowing her head as was expected, she said, "I have been waiting. What is it I am to do?"
Entering, K'veer was still troubled by what Xandu had told him. Azonthus wasn't supposed to be here. He wasn't supposed to be teaching her. Was he betraying his clan?
But when she stood and bowed respectively he nodded in acknowledgment and merely replied. "You will begin your tests." Motioning for her to leave the scroll on the floor in the room, he led her lead through yet another tunnel other than the one he had come through.
They walked in what seemed like circles and Azonthus had the idea K'veer was trying to disorient her. Well if that was it, he was doing a decent job of it. Suddenly they took a turn they hadn't before and Azonthus found herself facing the great shimmering bay whose surface was covered in a shimmery, milky film. Great stone spires jutted out of the water. Az didn't need an introduction to the cavern, Liquid Fire had told her all about it during her stay in the Sea of Cold Caverns. What was she expected to do?
Looking down at the small raptor K'veer motioned her forward to the edge of the water. He didn't step forward and she noticed he was breathing shallowly. Looking before her, she saw some of the toxic bubbles that contained the carbon-monoxide type gas rise from the beautiful calm water. Bay of Sleep...Feeling tired...
Sleep was calling to her. Azonthus wanted nothing more than to just lay down and sleep. No! She couldn't! If she went to sleep in here she may never awaken. But, she was so tired. So, tired. Tired. Gradually, no matter how much she fought it, sleep overtook her and she collapsed onto the shores of the noxious water.
K'veer watched as she drifted into slumber. She had fought it for a long time, longer than most he had seen. Now, he would see how strong her mind was.
The sleep the water induced was not an ordinary sleep; it was always one filled with nightmares and visions. How she came out of it would be another matter all together.
He quickly walked up to her and slung the sleeping raptor over his shoulder. He got out of there before he fell asleep himself and they were both in trouble.
Carrying her into another caver, he watched her as she slept. While he could not see what she did, her reactions to her dreams would be real. It was that he wanted to see.
Az was walking in a green meadow. Birds were singing and the sweet scent of flowers filled the air. The cool breeze tickled her face and sent seeds from the flowers flying through the crisp, cool morning. This was such a peaceful place she couldn't help but smile.
She slowly made her way down to a stream that was meandering through the meadow. Perhaps there were fish there.
She kept walking and walking to it, but no matter how much she walked, she never got any closer. She began running; still, she didn't reach it. In a flash, the peaceful meadow was a battle zone. All the grass had been burned; the air was thick and full of soot. She coughed, and looked around for someone, anyone.
There! A few feet to her left, Battleblood! "Battle!" she called out happily. But he didn't hear her; he just stood there, gazing at something. "Battle!" she called again. Still no response.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, from the charred earth, sprang seven raptors. They had no faces that she could see and their claws were huge. They leapt on Battle, viciously attacking him.
"No!" She tried to run, she had to defend him. She had failed once, but she wouldn't again. She lurched towards him, but couldn't move. Somehow, she had turned into a tree. Her feet had become roots and her arms had grown stiff, but she could still see what happened. Again, her brother was carried off, still struggling, to be slaughtered by Hunters.
Then, she was a bird, flying through the air. She flew over Waterfall City and watched herself betray her friends. Only this time, instead of C'xoila mistakenly attacking her, she attacked him. And reveled in his death. To Azonthus' horror, she watched herself go crazy, harming and nearly killing everyone she loved.
Suddenly, she was a jaguar. Azonthus had never seen one in her life. Only once had she seen a picture of one, but she knew what she was. She ran from all the pain and destruction she had caused. But it kept following her. No matter how fast or how far she ran, it was still there.
No, no more running. She turned and faced her past. She would not let it control her; she would accept it and put it behind her. Learning from it and making sure her mistakes were never repeated was all she could do.
As she looked at her past, it turned into a Tyrannosaur a mile tall and with a hunger for her. If she allowed it, it would consume her. She looked the tyrannosaur in the eye and would not budge. As she watched it, the tyrannosaur grew smaller and smaller. Eventually, it shrank away to nothing. She had triumphed.
Again, she was in the calm meadow and a velociraptor once more.
K'veer watched Azonthus as she slept. She tossed and moaned and at one point cried out even. He considered waking her but held himself back. No, it was her testing. What she saw, if she survived, that was the true test.
"You wish her to fail?" A soft voice came from behind. K'veer spun around to find Xandu behind him.
"Why are you here??? She is my responsibility!" K'veer was afraid now, how had he been followed without knowing it?
Xandu regarded him with a cold stare now. "It is with the one that comes the battle, it is with the actions of the unsure, the ignorant or the betrayed that bring the downfall of the empire and the ruins collapsing on him. It is the actions of one that burn down the entire Basin. It is with the actions of one that the rest of the world is brought to suffer." Xandu spat out this final sentence and turned to disappear around the corner of a corridor. K'veer was visibly shaken when he turned back to Azonthus who had sat up and was gazing at him intently, or was she looking past him?
Az had wakened in time to hear the last words. It is with the actions of one that the rest of the world is brought to suffer. Yes, that was true, but the opposite was also true. She just hadn't been able to see it till now.
"K'veer, don't listen to him. Yes, harm is done by one person; I know that better than most. But one person can also do good. And what you are doing, training me, is good. You won't be harming your clan; you'll be helping another clan. Perhaps, through this, our packs can form an alliance? The choice is up to you."
Shaking his head K'veer replied. "I'll teach you. But I make no promises of anything that will happen if we are caught. And I most definitely make no promises about an alliance. My clan leader is LunarFrost. But the choice would not be hers alone, it would be made by the other clan leaders as well as a group of highly respected clan members. One of them being Xandu." K'veer sighed and looked at Azonthus.
"But come, tell me....what did you see?"
Not holding back, Azonthus explained everything she had dreamed. She had a little difficulty explaining a jaguar, but he eventually got the basic idea.
He nodded slowly. "Then, you are worthy to be trained. I suggest you get a good nights rest, tomorrow will not be easy."
He silently stood and led Az to the Sea of Colds sleeping cavern. There he gave her a few fish and some water. Pointing to one corner where there was a small area of floor with some warm sand he spoke one word, "Sleep," and left.
Laying down in the one sandy spot, Az tried to get comfortable. His silence had not been comforting. She knew he had been holding back on something and it was driving her crazy not knowing. She rolled over and slowly drifted to sleep, hoping that he would not be too hard on her tomorrow but willing to take whatever he could dish out.
The arrival of Quickstride's party, plus Highsoar, had eaten away valuable time. Introductions made and stories briefly recounted meant it was not until evening that everyone was ready for their next move. Quickstride didn't much like the idea of entering the raptors' sanctuary in the dark, though she could see well enough at night, but she, Rex, and the others had gone through so much to get here she wasn't about to stop and wait until morning. After all, a lot could happen in those night hours, and she wasn't about to have some misfortune befall her or the others out here simply because of the darkness. Or to Azonthus in there.
So thinking, she trotted through the archway, stopped, and turned to regard the others, who gazed at her expectantly. "I'm heading in now," she said. "Who's coming with me?"
After explaining to the humans K'veer was NOT going to get them dinner and they had to find the other people brought into the sanctuary's grounds LiquidFire headed for the exit, also to avoid trouble with the clan leaders who didn't really like total strangers in the sanctuary without permission.
The guards had still not been replaced and thus the group had not yet ran into any MORE trouble. As Quickstride prepared to enter the sanctuary Thakur got up from lying on the ground trying to ignore the pain of the wounds from K'veer's swords. "You'll get lost in there, I'll go with you and see if we can find someone to help us."
That moment Cyrrus yelped as she noticed a small group coming out of the Sanctuary, without second thought she sprinted to Esk, leaving her group far behind tough they all caught up soon. "Where's Az? Did you find her? Is she ok? How did Tamith and Dylan get here? Who's the new raptor?" She started firing questions at a rate no one could have answered them while she was constantly hopping from one foot to the other. When she finally ran out of questions she cocked her head "Well??"
Esk took a deep breath to answers it all, "In the Sanctuary, yes, not really, by foot, LiquidFire, know enough?"
Cyrrus laughed, "All right, I asked for that one, now what did we miss?"
That moment a blood curdling Allosaur roar reached their ears, everyone froze in the middle of the greetings and introductions.
LiquidFire had a feeling she didn't even want to know but she asked Thakur anyway "Is anyone guarding your and K'veer's post?"
Thakur looked at his feet ashamed and the healer knew enough.
"I hope you now understand WHY the borders should be guarded?"
"Yes... But please don't tell Fire Bane! He'd kill me!" K'veer pleaded.
"Well we'll just have someone else tell him then, I'm going to get help, I guess we have no choice but to take the group into the safety of the sanctuary, permission or not. You take care of them," and with that LiquidFire ran back into the sanctuary to get the hunting party and the clan leaders.
"Great..." Thakur moaned
Saar gazed down at the Deinonych, unsure of what to do. He was an enemy, the whole reason she had been forced to leave the basin. Destroying him would ensure her place in the clan once more. But, he was the only one to defeat Herak, not only once, but twice! Perhaps they could work together and get the clan lands back....
But he also was the one and only reason she had gotten into so much trouble with her clan, in fact he was just big enough to silence her hunger... Then there was that injured Utahraptor right over there, she would be an easier target.
Still something was gnawing at the back of her mind. If she could get this group to cooperate with her it would mean the end of all the insane warring in her clan, a normal life. No clan leader with insane ambitions, no life of starvation and crazy ideas, no more attacking cities when they had clan lands.
But she was still hungry...
She stepped into the clearing onto the small beach in one of the bends of the Polongo. Now all the members of the group had taken on defensive positions.
The Deinonych was obviously about to faint while holding a stick with two thin bladed knives on it, very impressive, riiiiiiiight!
The injured Utahraptor tried to take on a defensive position but fell back into the mud because of her injuries.
What a group... No miracle civilization existed, such weaklings would never survive alone in the basin Saar just stood and watched amused, wondering just what they would try to do
Thinking it over carefully, she decided there was nothing to loose. Having one Deinonych help her take the tribe back would be hard to deal with, but it was worth it. She stepped forward, triggering an attack from the Barionyx.
Cerule growled, "What are your intentions?"
A Barionyx, a fish eater with a long snout, not able to kill large prey, nothing to be afraid of. "What do YOU want?" Saar threw the question back.
"Revenge would be nice." Cerule, who had recognized Saar, said. She too had lost almost all her beloveds in the was in which the clan of Herak had taken over their grounds.
"You are pathetic, Deinonych of the C'xsann." Saar said as she swiftly kicked his weapon out of his hands.
C'xoila started backing away in fright. "No. No. Not again… Noooo."
"Stop cowering, I came not looking for prey but for allies to fight against Herak who has re-established leadership over the clan and is continuing his reign of insanity. He is still looking for you and your friends Deinonych, I heard he is going to attack three large underground clans soon. So I guess fighting him will be in favor for us all."
MistReaver had tried to take on a stance against the Allosaur. But her legs gave under her and she sank back. Growling, she thrust herself up to face the Allosaur currently growling and bickering with Cerule and C'xoila. A war, how pleasant.
Mist leaned against a small sapling when she saw something float past in the Polongo next to her. Dragging herself forward she brightened as she saw her staff. Retrieving it she was pleased to see no real damage. Then she heard the allosaur growl at Cerule. Mist simply shrugged. She was always one to help others but a Baryonix was larger and stronger than she was in her current condition.
But what she heard next made her freeze. Herak...the beast she had struck unconscious and the one who's tail had cause her the damage to her body was to attack three underground clans. Mist's head shot up from the bank of the river and met Saar's.
Her clan. Her brother. No. No.
She leapt forward aided by her staff and for a moment was the lithe agile warrior she had been before the incident in Waterfall City. C'xoila was off to the side shaking and Cerule still eyed Saar viciously. "You speak lies? Or truth? My clans not suffer. My clans will beat yours." Mist's pain clouded eyes narrowed. "My clans survive. You try and kill us. We not let you." Suddenly Mist shrieked and backed up as Saar screamed and snapped her jaws at a black form that had fallen from a tree onto her back. The form was tossed into the riverbank and Mist rushed forward. Recognizing the stripes of white that she could make out beneath the thick blackish mud of the Polongo she cried out.
In response to the Allosaur's sudden violent movement, C'xoila snatched up his staff again from where the Allosaur had thrown it. Teeth chattering with fear, and hands fumbling around with the staff, he managed to push another button on the grip, close to the one that had made the blades sprout from it. The sunstones on the device flared and the six blades (which there were more then two of, Saar miscounted) spun to face to opposite direction. Small clockwork gears in the device started to spin and the whole head of the staff started to vibrate. A mind-numbing hum sounded from the staff, and C'xoila aimed the sound at the Allosaur.
The buzz crept into Saar's brain and made her very sleepy.... What was I doing? she thought, Oh well, it can *yawn* wait.... Saar blinked, trying to focus her vision, then declared in a tired mutter, "Think I'll just take a little nap now..." and fell over on to her side. Snoring soon filled the air as the great creature slept.
C'xoila stared at Saar a moment, and blinked several times. The staff's effects were already getting to him, and everyone else was starting to yawn. Before he slumped over comatose, C'xoila switched the device off.
As everyone, except Saar, shook off the lingering effects of his sonic weapon, C'xoila waded into the water to retrieve MistReaver's brother. Despite his gruesome appearance, being covered in thick, sticky river mud, ShadowRunner was unharmed.
|Back to Realm Previous Story More Story|