|Gareth slowed down as he reached the dunes that separated the long grass from the beach were the rest of the group were heading. The run had taken its toll and, though Lucas, Rico, Namir and the Utahraptor were still going strong Gareth was not as good a distance runner. Acid cramped his muscles and he was forced to stop and breathe while the rest of the party crested the dune. Leaning on his staff he swept the sweat from his brow, inwardly cursing his hot cloak. He threw back the cowl of the garment revealing untidy brown hair and piercing blue eyes. Checking that his katana was still firmly secured to his back, concealed under the bulk of his pack and cloak, he started up the dune to where the rest of the group seemed to be having a heated discussion.
He reached the crest of the dune and sat down, taking a heavy swig from a skin water gourd that hung by his side and listened intently to the flying dialects of the argument below, noting a plesiosaur rising from the water just off shore, pecking at where a slight trickle of blood marked the skimming passage of a bullet.
The young man relaxed, breathing deeply in the salty sea air, and waiting for a convenient moment to reintroduce himself. The thunder clouds on the horizon blew ever closer, and a dark mist of rain was now visible out to sea
Tamith studied the array of tracks before her closely. Not too long ago a fairly large animal had crossed this way. A Hadrosaur, if she had her footprints right. She let out a sigh and rose to full height.
"Dylan passed this way not too long ago," she told Triforce. "The tracks aren't rushed, so I take it they weren't running. The caves he spoke of yesterday aren't very far away, so if the directions Featherlight gave us are correct, it shouldn't be long now before we find the human camp."
Triforce grunted a response making Tamith pat her frill comfortingly.
"Naw, I'm sure they are fine. Even if the humans did have weapons, my kind can be stubborn, but not heartless."
She walked ahead of her partner and bent over the ground again to study the tracks more closely.
"Yeah, these are definitely Karua's," she said turning back to the iron Triceratops. That was when she noticed that she had gone completely still, clearly taking in all her surroundings warily. Tamith narrowed her eyes and also looked around.
"What is it?"
Rico frowned. He could have sworn he had seen a girl down there... Well, there had been that bossy guy back on the beach, but he had assumed that guy was shipwrecked too. Namir growled. He didn't like that huge creature down there and wanted to go back to his master. Rico lightly pushed Namir’s shoulder, forcing the cat lower into the grass. They would stay here and watch, for the moment. He needed to know if that horned animal was dangerous and find a way to escape if it was.
"You heard something?" Tamith questioned once she had returned to her partner's side. "You heard nothing??"
Triforce respond made her slightly uneasy. She was right; there was nothing to be heard. only the sound of the wind blowing through the tall grass. No birds, no insects. She didn't like it. Triforce kneeled down offering to give her a ride for some time. Obviously she wanted to leave the place. Tamith acceded and climbed on her back. Once a few meters more over the ground scouted their surroundings once again. The slight movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention. Turning her head towards it, she spotted a huge orange and black, something almost perfectly hidden by the tall grass.
"Triforce, to your right," she said. "What is that? Almost hidden by the grass. What is that? A saber?"
Triforce's response wasn't too reassuring.
"Alrighty then," Tamith concluded, "Let’s get out of here."
Rico stared as a human actually hopped on the rhino creatures back. What strange land was this where girls rode rhinos? Deciding to take a chance, he stood and waved. "Hola!" he shouted.
The appearance of the youth served to calm Tamith and her partner down a bit. It would appear that these were also some sort of Habitat Partners, but their clothing was unlike anything she had seen before. Still…
"Nande? Koraina dande niwata kire. Minna soname shinoi Dylan corosawa nai. Neh? Ashtare noi?"
Rico frowned. "¿Qué? Hablas español? Or English. Do you understand English?"
Tamith blinked. What was he saying? Why wasn't he understanding her? Then it hit her: he was one of the dolphinbacks_ the strange creature with him_ He had to know where the habitat partners of the Fresh Water were. So she gave it another shot.
"Karinde?" she asked. "Karua no Dylan-kun koraima? Cephiro noi. Tamith no Traifor konni na, ne?"
Rico stared at the girl and shook his head. He'd never heard any language like that before.
He did his best to ignore the strange creature next to the girl. Well... Maybe they could figure out names. He placed a hand on his chest and said "Rico," them pointed to her. "¿Quién?"
Tamith blinked. Yes, it was obvious that all she had said hadn't gotten through. She sighed, but followed his movements and strange words. Wait... he was telling her something. She smiled when understanding finally dawned on her.
"Rico," she repeated pointing at the dark-haired youth, "Tamith," she added pointing at herself. "No Traifor."
Now she pointed at her ceratopsian partner who grumbled an affirmative.
"Quielere sai?" She asked him pointing at the saber-looking cat and wondering why it had not been introduced yet.
Quielere? That sounded so close to his own language... He figured she was asking what Namir was. "Tigre, Namir."
"Traifor?" Rico questioned, pointing to the strange, horned creature.
Tamith nodded. So she had gathered that the other youth's partner was Tigre'namir. Now all she had to try to do was find out where Dylan was! Easier said than done... She closed her eyes and thought of a way to communicate what she wanted to tell him.
“Dylan,” she started pointing again at Rico then pointing at herself. She doubted that would work so she decided to add something else.
“Traifor, Tamith,” she said pointing at herself and the Triceratops, “Rico, Tigre'namir,” she added pointing at them. “Dylan, Karua” Tamith then finished pointing at Rico again gesturing that she was looking for another human male and a very larger saurian. She then bit her bottom lip wondering if any of that had gotten through.
Oh boy, what was this girl trying to tell him! Something about a Dylan and Karua, or something really big...
Namir began pacing about, restless and hungry. And why had he been sent with this silly boy? His master was in danger and it was his job to protect him. The tiger turned and ran, he couldn't possibly leave Lucas in trouble.
“Namir!” Rico watched the tiger run off.
Without a second thought he turned and ran after the tiger, motioning for the girl to follow him.
Tamith blinked at the reaction from the big cat and the boy. She saw him take off after the feline and call back at her. Hesitating for a moment, Tamith wondered if she should indeed accompany the boy.
Triforce nuzzled her back encouraging her to follow.
“Alright,” she told her partner as the three-horned saurian kneeled for her to climb on, “Let’s go see what kind of trouble those two got themselves into this time.”
Triforce started ahead at a moderate pace to catch up to the boy. Tamith stretched out a hand gesturing for him to climb on as well; after all, only with Triforce running would they ever catch up to the large feline.
Taking his chance, Rico grabbed Tamith's hand and jumped up. She managed to help haul him on top of the great animals back and they raced after Namir.
The tiger made it back to the beach and hurried to Lucas' side. Rico, Tamith, and Triforce showed up shortly after, to view the insane scene with carnosaurs and people waving guns around.
"Oh, boy," Rico muttered. He slipped off the saurians back and hurried to Lucas' side too. "Sorry, Senor, Namir no listen! He run off and not come back. Had to follow." In his excitement, he slipped back to slightly poorer English.
Tamith's jaw dropped. This was nothing like what she had even dared to expect. In the frenzy of people and saurians she caught the familiar face of Mathaira, a Hatchery whom she had met on previous occasions. She still couldn't see Dylan, however. Tamith followed Rico with her eyes and saw him talk rapidly to an older man who clearly didn't look too happy about something. Completely lost and confused, she decided that she better see what was going on before rushing in to anything. Triforce bellowed a warning and she immediately noticed the carnosaurs.
“Oh boy...” she muttered. “This is so not good.”
A distance away she then noticed the large orange and purple form of Karua.
“They're here Triforce,” she told her partner feeling both relieved and worried. “Now all we have to do is figure out what on earth is going on!”
Dromaeosaur the Megaraptor heard a Triceratops ahead. He was not interested in killing the saurian but had not heard another saurian for days. There was a human girl with it. She seemed to be conversing with a young dolphinback male.
A large cat appeared out of nowhere and was running straight at him! He ran. Luckily he was faster then the odd cat, but it wasn't by much. He heard noise up ahead. He smelled carnivores, hadrosaurs, but most of all he smelled dolphinbacks.
He hid his pearly white scales in a small forest of cycads and watched the scene with his large eyes.
Something was behind him. He slowly turned around, and to his horror he saw an abnormally large Giganotosaurus! "Breath Deep, Seek," he tried to say, then blackness.
Dromaeosaur awoke. Apparently the Giganotosaur he had run into had not bothered to eat him. He must have blacked out in shock. He tried to think but he was still very light headed. He must be somewhere along the coast, yes that was it. He started to walk down the coast. Looking for what, he didn't know.
Fireeyes, named for his unusual reddish-brown eyes, cawed happily; this was his first flight with his clan to their dinosaur graveyard. He soared and caught a thermal. His father was the leader of the clan.
Uh-oh, he thought, here comes that elder, Dazzlewing. Fireeyes turned away, and thought he saw some humans up ahead. He noted that he could catch another thermal and head there way to scare them. He smiled inwardly.
Dazzlewing flew up to his side. “What do you find so interesting about those humans?" he asked.
"Just the way they walk," the young Pteranodon said. “The dinosaurs are fools to think they are even worthy to talk to them.”
But Dazzlewing said, “One day you might regret that."
Fireeyes smirked inwardly. "Yes, and carnosaurs may fly."
Dazzlewing shook his head and flew off.
Fireeyes noticed the clan was far ahead. Now, he thought, To frighten those humans. He dove and caught the thermal; something told him not to do it, but it was too late. Only then did he notice that he had been wrong. Instead of swooping over the humans, he was heading for a tree! The last thought he had before the impact, was that his clan was too far away to see him. And then he hit the tree.
Kie opened his eyes very slowly. His body was one big pile of bruises, or so it seemed. There was someone's tail in his mouth; and his rather large Ouranosaurus friend, Peb, was sill on top of him.
"Someone's biting my tail, and they had better stop!" A high voice threatened from somewhere off to Kie's left. It was Sharpfeather, the Sinosauropteryx. Kie dutifully let her go. The tail slithered along his gums until finally it was gone. There was still the problem of Peb, though.
"Hey guy! You had better come look at this!" A voice called from a distance. From the sound of it, Kie guessed (Correctly, of course) that Quickquill, the other Sinosauropteryx in the quartet of friends, was on top of the hill that they had all recently tumbled down off of. Kie tried to roll Peb off of him, but it did not work.
"Sharpfeater. Could you..." Kie began. His friend already knew what he was thinking. Very gently, of course, she bit into Peb's sunset-colored fin. That got him up.
"Come on, you three! Get up here!" Quickquill hollered. He was usually not given to bouts of waving and yelling, so the others went up to him as soon as they could. Naturally Peb grumbled to Sharpfeather, but that was forgotten once they reached the top of the ridge.
Below them a strange scene unfolded itself across the Blackwoods. Kie's young cousin, Ava, and a few other Saurians were being treated in a most un-Dinotopian fashion by a group of Humans. Peb pointed out, as he was want to do, that it looked very dangerous; but the others ignored him. Sharpfeather and Quickquill knew the importance of true family, and Kie was not about to let his cousin be treated like that. They charged down the slope.
On reflection, Kie decided that he should not have blown his Parasaurolophus' horn as they went, but that was a mistake of the past. What mattered was that Peb had tripped again and the whole lot of them had tumbled to the other side of the hill much in the same way that they had earlier. The nasty Dolphinbacks could not help but notice them, especially with the racket that Kie had been making.
Ava looked at her cousin incredulously as he was placed beside her in the confinement. She had a few harsh words about following her on what was supposed to be a private trip. As for getting caught in the attempt to save her, well that was not so surprising knowing Kie and his friends, but it did not improve things.
"Well, at least there are more of us here now. Maybe we can work an escape from the inside out." Kie suggested. Ava was still angry at him, but he did have a point. She got the attention of the others, all the while trying not to attract the attention of the nearby Humans. A ragtag group of an Ouranosaurus, a Corythosaurus, two Sinosauropteryxes, and two Parasaurolophus’. How were they ever going to get out of the encampment without being noticed? Ava mustered her strength and began: "Alright. Our rescue party here [She glared at Kie] did not do so well, so we need to escape on our own. Any ideas on how to do that?"
Gareth stood on the ridge that overlooked the small human encampment. A mass of people were now arguing or standing, looking dumbfounded at the bright scales of the various saurians that were trying to make them selves heard over the ruckus. As he watched, Mathaira was trying to decipher the three different languages being thrown at her. Though she could speak perfect English, it would have been a long time since she had used it, Gareth thought. He pondered going down to the camp to help her but thought better of it. The appearance of another native, especially one dripping with a variety of lethal weapons, might annoy or unnerve the dolphinbacks and Gareth had sworn to protect, not endanger the citizens of the island.
However it looked like the argument was being peacefully concluded without his aid. Mathaira had managed to make herself understood and was talking to the leader of the dolphinbacks who was looking more and more incredulous. The talking Utahraptor somewhat convinced the captain, not only with her language but with the gleaming killing toes with which she was tapping the ground slightly impatiently, leaving narrow gauges in the soft, silky sand. A loud peal of thunder shook the air above them as the eye of the storm began to drift over the main part of the island and the other side began to cause large waves to spill onto the sand and buffet the plesiosaur who now vanished into the ocean.
Gareth wrapped his cloak around himself once again and slid down the sandy dune, slipping and getting a mouthful of sand as he tripped on a matted root system of the dune grass. By the time he reached the mass of humans and saurians, fat drops of rain had began to make pock marks in the already wet beach and the wind was becoming stronger every moment.
“Mathaira! Tell these people to grab their belongings and get moving! We need to get everyone over that dune before the gale starts really blowing!”
The woman nodded and said a few words to the sailors who glanced furtively over their shoulders before dashing to the crates of food and supplies and beginning to lug them heavily up the sandy slope. Mathaira and Gareth began to free the bound dinosaurs while K’ren chattered to the free ones who immediately, and to the great astonishment of the dolphinbacks, grabbed the heaviest boxes and easily walked up the dune, depositing their ninety kilogram cargo safely in the lee of the dune. By the time they had all hunkered down behind the wall of sand the waves were crashing only a few feet away from where they had been standing scant moments before and the wind had picked up to at least eighty miles per hour. The lines of palms along the beach bent and swayed in the strong wind and rain spat fiercely in almost horizontal sheets. Gareth threw his long waterproof cloak over Dylan and the two huddled against the damp sand of the dune, sheltering from the wind and rain.
“Well, this has turned out to be some field trip hasn’t it!” yelled the boy over the roar of the wind, wrapping a ripped piece of fabric from his shirt firmly around the gash on his forehead.
“Hey, Don’t think it’s anywhere near over yet!”
Close to them the sailors managed to extract a tarpaulin from one of the supply crates and were holding it cooperatively over each other as Mathaira treated the various cuts and grazes on her saurian companions; warm blooded as they were, they shivered in the wild wind. Lucas had also managed to procure some ships biscuits and several cooked fish, salvaged from the ship’s galley stores. Gareth and K’ren nibbled on some of the snapper as Dylan almost broke his teeth trying to bite into a dry biscuit, not knowing that hard-tack needs to be wet before it is soft enough to chew.
Meanwhile Namir, Lucas’s pet tiger, was looking thoroughly dejected, sitting on his haunches, his beautiful orange and black coat lying matted against his skin.
Mathaira jogged over to where they lay.
“Gareth, you’d better come and have a look at this!”
He followed her to the top of the dune where he peeped out over the rim, salt spray and sand stinging his face.
“Una deruos leva aquanta,” said the woman as she peered out to the base of the dune. There was no more beaches. The sea had completely covered it.
“Verai, nac soh recain una myriad,” replied Gareth as Lucas crawled up behind them.
“What did you just say?” inquired the young sailor flattening himself against the steep wall of the dune.
Gareth looked around
“Oh, Just one raindrop may raise the sea, but we got a million!”
Elllie peered over the top of the dune, in a tarpaulin, waving the iron-bound staff with a hook on the end which she carried for gathering herbs that were out of reach. "What's going on?" she called. "I heard the dolphins’ squeeing."
"No, I don't think it can be," answered Gareth as Tamith crawled up next to him. "I haven't seen storms like this for over two years now. If this storm gets any heavier we're going to have to risk moving again because this dune is going to collapse!"
As if in answer, a small section of the base of the dune fell into the waves. Lightning struck a palm only a few hundred meters down the beach.
"This is no good!" yelled Dylan over the roar of the wind and the waves. "We need to get back! Use the bigger dinosaurs as windbreaks and get into cover!"
"Good idea, come on people, lets get out of here!" bawled Gareth, sprinting down the dune, cloak whipping in the gale. They had soon relocated back a few dunes but only just in time. With a sliding crash, the last of the dune they had been sheltering behind at first disappeared into the foaming saltwater.
"Damnit! That was close! Okay people, let's camp here and hunker out the storm. I'll be back in a second!"
Gareth dashed along the dune for about fifty meters and climbed up to the top. Quickly drawing his Katana, he thrust it hilt-first into the damp, concrete-like sand and rolled back down the dune. Hardly had he gone twenty steps back when lightning struck the sword, illuminating the blade and temporarily blinding Lucas as he looked on.
"Won’t that be a bit to much for her?" asked Mathaira, the only person there who knew the true value of the sword to the wandering teenager.
"No, I think she'll be able to stand it. Tok made her for me; finest titanium bonded stainless steel you know. I just hope she keeps the lightning off!"
"Well master Gareth, it seems as if we're going to have to stick by you for tonight," said Luca. "But, tell me, is the weather always this terrible on your little island?"
"I should hope not!" grinned the swordsman, wrapping his cloak around himself even tighter
With the sudden blowing in of the storm, Tamith ran by her partner’s side to the shelter on the inland vegetation. Following the coast, she eventually got to where both natives and dolphinbacks had made their new camp. Ignoring everyone else for a moment, she went directly to the place her injured friend and his partner rested. Upon seeing her, Dylan grinned despite the obvious pain he was in.
“I should have known you’d come after me at one point or the other,” he told her as she sat down next to him.
“Naturally, you always need somebody to save your tail,” Tamith replied.
“I’d call it socially dependant,” he said smiling. “Magnolia won’t be happy, will she?”
Tamith sighed. “I really don’t know, but you did do what you set out to do, just got a little sidetracked… again,” now it was her turn to smile. “So how are you feeling?”
“I finally discovered what it feels like to have Karua sit on me without actually having to ask him to,” the older youth said. “I’ve had better days. Beautiful weather we are having, isn’t it?”
“Tell me about it,” Tamith replied. “This storm blew in really suddenly… this should really slow down the team from Waterfall City.”
“Yes,” she replied. “I sent Featherlight after them, but with this weather, it could be days before they can set out, to say nothing about getting here.” She then grinned. “I sent him after your brother.”
“You didn’t!” Dylan said, sitting up suddenly only to realize the sudden movement caused him pain and leaning back again. Karua laughed in a saurian manner. “Great, now my entire family is going to know the troubles I get in to.”
Now it was Tamith’s turn to laugh. “Serves you right. By the way, what is it that they are speaking? The dolphinbacks I mean.”
“I haven’t really been paying much attention, seeing that my head feels like it’s going to blow but…” he took a few moments to concentrate on what the group of men around them that were setting up the camp were saying. “Ha! It’s Irish… kinda. Sounds a bit different from the way granda spoke it, but I’m pretty sure that’s it.”
“Well, you figure out what’s different about it,” Tamith said getting up, “I’ll go thank that man over there for making sure you didn’t drown and see what I can do for this place.”
With that she walked away from her friend, but not before Triforce and Karua made a wall around Dylan to keep him from the high winds and the rain. Tamith walked up to the dune where the dolphinback, Mathaira, and the person that had helped Dylan were. “Breath Deep, Seek Peace,” she told the man. “My name is Tamith Kai, Forest Habitat guardian. In my name as well as my partners’, I wanted to thank you for helping my friend and offer my help in any way that I could.” She then turned to Mathaira and smiled. “Nice to see a familiar face in this mess. Is it just luck that always gets us in these places?”
Her attention then drifted to what the group had been spying before her arrival and her face fell. “The ocean is coming into land…” she muttered. “This can’t be good.”
FireEyes groggily looked up and stumbled toward the humans, then cawed loudly to get their attention. His gaze turned toward his wing, which was lying at an odd angle, then he passed out.