|Allyshar was greatly worried. After she had dressed the injury as best she could by realigning the bones and making a crude brace. She told the wounded pterosaur that she was going to try and find the group of humans she had seen when she was up on the bluff, and that she was going to be back soon with help.
Carefully marking her trail with shallow claw slashes in the bark, she made her way in the direction she was positive was the way towards the humans and dinosaurs. Allyshar only hoped at least one of them knew how to treat broken bones.
Finally breaking free of the protected tree cover, marking her entry with a few stones in a circle, Allyshar was pleased to discover she had gone the right way. But something was wrong! Where were the people and dinosaurs! Running to the top of the hill she looked desperately for any signs to as where they might have gone. Finding none she called out in a high pitched distress signal, hoping that the hadrosaurid dinosaurs she saw would hear her cries for help.
After several unsuccessful repeated attempts, she lost hope. How in the world was she going to find help for FireEyes. She couldn't carry him, she was too little. And she wouldn't be able to pull him in a trevise, he far outweighed her. Being a measly thirty pounds, this was the very first time she's ever cursed her size.
Making one last call for help, Allyshar turned and went to fish in a freshwater stream that she had splashed through on her way out of the forest knowing that some food will help restore some vital energy in the grounded pterosaur. Not knowing that her distress signal did attract some attention, Allyshar continued back into the forest. But the one who heard her was not the one she had intended to attract.
GreySkin looked around; he could have sworn he had heard something. He stumbled into the clearing and found himself looking at a group of humans and dinosaurs, unfortunately for him, he was hungry. Before he knew what he was doing, he lunged.
Stormtracer had managed to explain most of the situation, and knew her friend Minstelae was close. She went over the last hill and saw a dramatic problem present it's self. Some humans and dinosaur were being attacked by a Carnotaur; only Minstelae and two other humans were warding off its attack. Stray carnosaur, she realized. Before the Carnotaurus had stroke the first blow, Stormtracer went into action, and drove the Carnotaurus back then she remembered the dance that her teacher had taught her and finally stopped the Carnosaur.
Gareth raced to the top of the hill, outpacing the plodding saurians. At the base of the rise the rest of the party stopped to rest, bandage various wounds and take a drink at one of the clear streams that ran abundantly in this part of the island, snowmelt from the forbidden mountains running swiftly down to the sea.
He climbed the last ridge and looked out onto the wide plain that surrounded Chandara, the city of marble and gold glittered in the middle, like a precious stone in the middle of a field of lapis lazuli, backed by a tossing field of deep, watery blue. He heard a shout from below.
“Gareth! Come back! The egg is hatching!”
He ran back down the grassy slopes and found the group dismounted below. All of the natives were crowded around Mathaira, the young woman was seated on the ground in the middle of the circle. The two dolphinbacks were standing on the edge of the circle, unsure. Gareth ducked through Ava’s legs and knelt down next to Mathaira.
“Chandara is just over the next ridge. Do you think the egg will be able to travel for another hour?” even as he said this Gareth realized that the egg would have to stay. Hairline cracks were stating to appear on the large, rounded side of the egg and the squeaking of the tiny dinosaur inside could be clearly heard.
“No, we need to stay here, it wouldn’t survive any sort of rough transport until it is fully hatched from now on. Tell the others to get some food and rest. No, hang on. Maybe Ava could take you and Dylan into Chandara to get some people out here. I might need some assistance from a senior hatchery worker to help this little creature out of his shell. D’you think you could manage it?”
”No problem, you just take care of the egg. I’ll be back in no time!” With that, he stood up and, calling Dylan over to him, rapidly explained what they were going to do before vaulting lightly into Ava’s saddle. The big dinosaur trod carefully until she was some distance from the egg and then broke into a full tilt run towards the city, massive strides shaking the earth
The Ovinutrix gazed at the sunset, Myops beside her.
"Stormtracer worry. Myops worry. Myops help?"
Stormtracer smiled. "Yes, something does worry me. You know that Dolphinback, Tony, the one that Lucy met? He seems troubled; do you think he'll be okay?"
Myops returned the smile. "Yes friend. He will." They stared at the sunset until the sun was no more than a line.
Gareth pounded along on Ava’s back, listening to the rapid thud-thud-thud of the hadrosaurs heartbeat. Dylan clung tightly on behind the young swordsman, wincing slightly every so often as the dinosaur jumped over a log or jarred a stride. They reached the top of the hill within minutes and came out onto the ridge, the sweeping plains that led down to Chandara stretching out into the distance before them. Gareth leant towards Ava’s ear and shouted over the wind and the crash of bushes being smashed aside by her trunk-like legs.
“Neque sa runata! Sine diligenter, vulner Dylan fera. Nos dois atient Chandara pair solcache, neque una ginrai.” (Not so fast! if you’re not careful you’ll hurt Dylan. We only need to get to Chandara by sunset, not in the next minute)
Ava honked an affirmative and slackened her pace slightly, bending with each step to allow the mighty tendons and muscles in her legs to absorb the shock and make riding much less painful on the spine.
Soon they were racing through the meter high grass of the plains, gold and green stalks rustling and tossing like an extension of the ocean that lay a few miles to their right. Chandara loomed up ahead, a great mass of brilliant white and gold, an island of stone among the plains of eastern Dinotopia.
Within an hour they had come across a wide clay road leading towards the city and they went quickly along the way, Ava blowing a merry tune through her crest to humor herself as she jogged along.
They came to the great gates of the old city several hours before sundown and passed through the ruined walls, reminders of the time when Chandara, Baz and Poseidos stood against each other and the now peaceful island was rocked by bloody conflict. All Dinotopians had vowed never to let such a time come again and the ancient wall stood as a reminder to keep that oath. They slowed as they entered the modern city. Traffic flowed in and out of the great city and the bazaars and markets were still in full color and volume. Gareth made passing remarks to acquaintances and shopkeepers as Ava walked slowly, avoiding the swarms of smaller dinosaurs and humans that crossed the boulevard. She made for the central square, as Gareth had asked her to.
”If we need to get help for the others then we may as well speak to Paki about it.” Paki’tar was the speaker for Chandara, a respected diplomat and one of Gareth’s friends. He was one of the youngest saurians ever to be elected as the voice of Chandara, being only 20 years old or so, hardly out of saurian adolescence.
They arrived in the main square, a canal flowing to one side, a magnificent building, as large or larger than many houses of parliament stood, flanked by two statues of Stegosaurs standing on their hind legs, one foreleg extended the other cradling a bunch of flowers, to the other. A grand fountain, featuring dolphins, plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs and other aquatic creatures, topped by a bare chested god, net and trident held aloft, standing on a chariot pulled by porpoises, stood in the middle of the square. It dominated the area, some form of lighting illuminating the intricate stonework from underneath, the flowing water cascading like liquid light into the bowl, tinkling in the light. It was a sight that overtook the grandest architecture of Rome and Florence. Ava came to a halt outside the broad sweeping stairs of the senate. Walking through into the great antechamber of Chandaran parliament, Gareth and Dylan went through a small door at the end of the room as Ava went to find a drink and something to eat at the local sauropod barn.
As they approached the door that led to Paki’s office, the familiar sound of a reading-treadmill filtered through into the corridor. Gareth knocked on the door and after hearing the reply opened it and followed Dylan inside. Paki jumped off his treadmill, the Deinonychus obviously startled at their windswept appearance.
“What on earth’s happened to you two? You look like you just spent that storm running around in the middle of nowhere being chased by rogue Tyrannosaurs.”
Gareth grinned “Quite.”
Dylan stretched his arms. “This might take quite some time to tell.”
Dylan and Gareth took turns narrating the events of the past several days, each adding how he had come to the finding of the newly arrived dolphinbacks. Paki listened attentively and waited until they were finished before asking questions.
“And you say you sent a message to Waterfall City?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Dylan replied. “My partner sent for a party of ambassadors from there. I assume they should soon be on their way if they have not parted already. However I do not know how long they might take.”
“Then we will see what we can do to aid them,” Paki concluded.
“Umm…” Dylan started. “If it’s not too much trouble, sir, do you think you could get me some pain killers? The ones my partner Tamith gave me before we parted have kinda worn out…”
Gareth sat down heavily as Rico wandered out, following Paki's directions to the infirmary.
"Brave kid," the deinonychus noted, "Hope he gets better quickly." The large raptor scratched his head as he settled into the couch and unrolled a large scroll.
"We need to get some help out to the folks who still need to come in. Did I hear you say that Mathaira has an egg near hatching?" Paki sighed. "Unfortunately we can't spare any sauropods yet; the city suffered some damage in that last storm and we'll need to have all hands to fix up the breakages. I should, however, be able to send out a skybax patrol to help out. I think you'll need to go and guide them. I suppose Ava is up to another jog, don't you think?"
"I suppose so. Who are the riders you can spare?"
"Well, I think we have second flight, third wing in at the moment. They’re just re-supplying after a trip out to the outer island last week. You should know Raymond Wilks? Yes? And there's also Niya, she's a hatchery worker turned skybax rider. She should be a great help."
"I hope we can get moving soon. In the meantime, I could use a drink and something to eat, I haven't had a morsel for two days." Gareth felt his stomach juices turn cartwheels at the thought of having something to melt down into a syrupy mess again. Paki smiled toothily, the polished, curved teeth glinting in the dying light of evening.
"As a matter of fact I'm a bit hungry myself. We could head down to the waterfront and grab something to eat. Then I should be able to find the Third Wing at the Barn and you can head out again by midnight. I'll go and fetch Dylan and see if he wants to come."
Dylan naturally accepted the offer of some food that didn't taste like bricks and the three were soon strolling along the quay watching several large brachiosaurus aid a group of workers to replace tiles on the roofs of the houses that overlooked the sea. Dylan and Gareth then headed back to the barn while Paki loped off in the other direction, heading for the guest quarters where the wing of skybax riders were lodging. Soon both Gareth and Dylan were regretting their decision as Ava thudded out of the barn, seemingly jarring every step on purpose.
"Oh come on Ava, it's only a few kilometers. And if you're lucky you'll get to see a hatching."
Ava snorted in response, almost deafening Gareth, but slightly softened her stride. A chorus of calls overhead heralded the arrival of third wing, the great Quetzalcoatlus soaring overhead as the group ran and flew swiftly to the south.
Though Mathaira had gained considerable experience in the field of hatchery work she knew that she still had much to observe and learn in her chosen field of service as could be attested to by the fact that she had traveled a great distance to attend the recent Conference in Chandara. She knew that the Rhamphorynchus egg now in her care was what hatchery workers deemed high risk. If the hatchling were to emerge before the proper incubation time, it would be considered a pre-emerged hatchling and need special care. Unsure as to whether Gareth, Dylan, and Ava would return from Chandara with assistance before the hatchling emerged from its eggshell, Mathaira concentrated on recalling what the learned Ovinutrix, Rojo, had expounded upon in his lecture at the Conference.
In the event that assistance failed to arrive before the egg hatched, Mathaira began the necessary preparations. Knowing that the egg would need to be kept warm, Mathaira sought assistance from the dolphinbacks in preparing a shallow egg basin at the base of the rise where it would be protected from the elements. "Lt. Tates, would you mind digging a small hole for the egg?" Mathaira accompanied her query with hand gestures to be sure the dolphinback understood, making the motion for digging and forming her hands in a position to indicate a small circle.
The muscular officer apparently understood and readily agreed, "Of course," and willingly set to the task of digging a shallow hole using a trowel which was in the supplies carried on one of the larger saurians.
Mathaira approached his companion, "Senior Rico, could you please collect some grasses?" She knelt down to collect a handful of loose grasses in the field to show him an example of what she wanted.
"Si," he understood immediately and roamed the field in search of the dried grasses.
Mathaira began her own preparations, reaching deep into her pack for her traveling cloak, fashioned by the Tentpole weavers out of the shed fur of mammals, lightweight but warm. She spread this on the field near where the egg basin would be when completed. She then rummaged through her pack again, pulling forth a kerchief, a square of dark blue cloth which she carried and often used to wipe her brow in the more humid regions of the Island. This was laid atop the cloak and alongside her water pouch.
Knowing that the hatchling would demand food shortly after its emerging, Mathaira drew forth her own food rations, picking out the smallest bits of dried berries and fruits and softest pieces of hard bread. Tamith noticed her doing so and drew out her own rations, likewise picking out tiny pieces of fruits and berries, extending her hand and offering them to Mathaira, "Here, you might need these for the hatchling."
Mathaira smiled gratefully as she took them from Tamith, "Thank you." All these morsels were placed in a smaller pouch and laid on the cloak.
The dolphinbacks soon completed their tasks and approached Mathaira, seemingly pleased that they were playing a small part in caring for the egg.
Lt. Tates grinned boyishly and proudly pointed to the shallow hole which he had dug, "Is that ok?"
"Yes, perfect," Mathaira nodded her head and grinned back.
Rico held forth the results of his completed task, an armful of dried grasses, "Enough?" he queried.
Mathaira smiled with pleasure. "Enough!" Mathaira confirmed, gratefully taking the grasses from his arms. She then used some of them to carefully line the egg basin which Lt. Tates had dug. Gently she laid the egg into the egg basin and covered it with more of the grasses.
All the while the hairline cracks on the egg were gradually widening and the faint piping of the hatchling inside became a more audible squeaking, heard even as the egg lay cradled within the grassy nest.
As the group settled down for the night into their makeshift camp, Mathaira lay down herself on the cloak next to the egg basin, knowing that she would get little if any sleep that night.
***The pale yellow sun had barely climbed into the brightening sky as an insistent faint squeaking pervaded the camp and awoke those who dozed, Mathaira among them. Carefully sliding the grassy covering aside and peering cautiously into the nest, Mathaira saw that the hairline cracks were no more. Indeed the largest crack had now become an opening through which a pale grayish beak poked, opening and closely feebly as it squeaked in distress. Sensing the urgency of the situation, Mathaira reached into the nest and assisted the distressed hatchling, breaking off tiny pieces of the shell which held the hatchling inside. By this time the rest of those within the camp had awakened and gathered around the shallow hole, the loose circle which they formed unwittingly providing a windbreak and retaining necessary heat in the nest area.
Mathaira broke momentarily from her task to reach across the spread out cloak and grab a tunic out of her pack. She held this out to Lt. Tates who stood nearby and asked, "Could you please set this near the fire for awhile?" She held the tunic briefly in the direction of the camp fire before handing it to him.
Instinctively understanding what she wanted, perhaps from encountering similar situations during his service in the war where it was imperative to keep an individual warm, he grasped the tunic. He no longer wore the boyish expression of the previous day but rather one of a military professional, "Right away!" He immediately headed toward the fire where he laid the tunic nearby to warm it.
Before returning to her task, Mathaira took both the kerchief and the water pouch from atop her cloak, holding both out to Rico who had been standing next to Lt. Tates. "Rico, would you mind wetting this cloth for me?"
Eager to be of assistance, Rico practically grabbed the kerchief and water pouch from Mathaira, "Si!" He poured a small amount of water from the pouch onto the cloth, enough to moisten it but not soak it. Somehow knowing that he should, he held it in his hands, waiting until the moment Mathaira needed it.
As the tunic warmed, Mathaira continued to break away fragments of egg shell, the hatchling inside doing the same with its small beak. Just as Lt. Tates returned with the warmed tunic, the hatchling broke completely free of its egg shell, emerging into the soft grassy nest. His coloring was a pale gray, unnatural for one of his species, and he was still squeaking feebly. Mathaira quickly took the moistened cloth from Rico and cleaned the shell fragments from the hatchling's small body, which was also pale gray. Mathaira saw faint streaks of blue and a darker gray and knew that this was the color which the hatchling was supposed to display rather than the pale gray which covered the majority of his spindly body. Taking the warmed tunic from Lt. Tates, Mathaira held the tiny Rhamphorynhcus close while rubbing him with the warm cloth.
The hatchling's color soon improved with the gentle but vigorous rubbing Mathaira gave him with the warm tunic. Knowing that he must be kept warm, Mathaira fashioned a type of sling out of her cloak which she wore around her shoulder, placing the hatchling next to herself, her own body heat keeping him warm.
Settled comfortably into the sling the hatchling felt warm and secure, his small beak began opening and closing in demand for food. "So you're hungry now? That's good." Mathaira sat upon the ground next to the egg basin and opened the pouch of food which she and Tamith had contributed from their rations. The hatchery worker removed a few morsels of food consisting of tiny dried berries and fruits along with pieces of bread. She placed them into her own mouth, chewing them up and removing them, using her fingers to place the bits of food into the mouth of the Rhamphorynchus hatchling. As his belly became full, he cooed contentedly as he gazed at Mathaira from the confines of the sling. Knowing that she lacked a puppet so that the newly emerged hatchling would imprint the correct parent model, Mathaira resigned herself to the fact that more than likely the Rhamphorynchus would consider her to be his mother. She realized that she didn't mind and murmured softly to him, "Storm Rider," giving him his name from the storm which he had ridden out prior to being found by the traveling hatchery worker.
Allyshar continued her swift trot until she came upon the small river. Searching for the ideal place to fish, she spotted an outcropping underneath the fallen tree she had used to cross in the first place. Jogging through the shallows, Allyshar didn't hear the tell-tail sounds of a something stalking her. Reaching the underneath of the forest giant and glad to have found a fishing spot so quickly, she soon set to catching them.
Using her forearms and claws like an organic fishing pole, Allyshar didn't have to wait long before she had her first catch. Pleasantly surprised to have found a River Catfish so close to the ocean, Allyshar quickly skewered it with her claws after making sure she had a firm foothold on the rocky bank. Hoping to find another catfish, Allyshar reached back down into the water, but this time a small squid, a relative to the Belemnite wrapped itself around her lower arm and claws.
Never having seen a squid before as there were no squid of any sort in the headwaters of the Polongo River and being naive on the behavior of squid and not knowing what they were capable of, Allyshar was thoroughly frightened. Jumping and lashing about like an animal gone mad, Allyshar only succeeded in making things worse.
Disturbed by the wild motions of the stricken Ornitholestes the eight pound squid wrapped its tentacles even more tightly around her arm and shoulder. Finding that the heavy invertebrate would not come off in her vain attempts, Allyshar in trying to pry it off with her free hand, but this resulted in getting that caught up by the very stubborn and very armored prey.
Finding both arms immobilized Allyshar forced herself to calm down. Walking up the embankment she strove to come up with a way to get rid of this pest. Coming up with no rational ideas she resolved in trying to bite it off.
If she had any knowledge about squid, Allyshar would have known just to submerge it in the river again and she would have known that she was extremely lucky up till now. Working a few of the rubbery tentacles into her narrow mouth Allyshar started to chew the tough gray flesh. The squid now pushed to its limits sank it's beak into her shoulder again and again injecting it venom. Screaming in agony as lancing hot pain shot up into her body, Allyshar felt as if she was on fire.
Unable keep herself upright she fell down in pain, the damaged shoulder buckling under her weight when she tried to stop her thirty-pound body from falling. On her side and her body succumbing to the poison, Allyshar knew that her life was going to end. Losing consciousness fast, Allyshar thought of her home back in the Rainy Basin and how she was going to miss it. Just before darkness fully took her and her vision cloudy Allyshar saw a dark murky shadow loom over her. Then nothing.
The squid no longer sensing a threat let go of the still, minute form of the Ornitholestes, pulling itself back into the cold current of the river.
A very wet and soggy Tony woke to an amazingly cheerful and bright morning. Strange birds were singing and the ocean was calmly gliding over the beaches sand. He vaguely remembered a girl and some strange creature, but convinced himself it was an illusion. No creature as strange as the one with the girl could possibly exist.
Kicking the sand, the lone human walked back to the flat savannah in hopes of finding fresh water and shade. Maybe, if he was lucky, he could find some fruit or small animal he could kill.
Luck was with him and he soon found a stream. A first taste proved the water to still be salty. Hopefully, further up, the water would be fresher.
The shipwrecked sailor carefully studied the water as he slogged along the banks. He could see fish and a number of bizarre creatures he couldn't identify swimming in the clear water.
Deciding it best to at least eat something before continuing the search for freshwater, he carefully waded thigh deep in the strong current, grasping a large stick in his hands, and waited. He had used the same trick as a young boy back in Italy. The water was warm and he could remain motionless in its flow for many hours if need be.
Soon, a fish came close to him and nibbled the stick. Moving swiftly, he grabbed the fish with one hand and threw it onto the bank. A few quick blows with the stick killed the fish. Too hungry to wait, Tony bit into the raw flesh and devoured his meal.
Hunger somewhat satiated, he continued following the river.
He had been walking for several hours when trees started sprouting up along the banks, giving him some respite from the shade.
Something on the bank caused him to stop and walk slower. The gray and blue lump remained motionless. Studying it closer, Tony saw that the creatures breathing was erratic.
Taking the chance, he walked right up to it. The small thing couldn't have weighed more than a dog. It was compact and lizard-like, with a feathered crest and muscular neck. The three fingered hands were tipped with claws, as were the feet. Apparently, this was a hunter of some sort.
Tony easily recognized the lines of bruises across the arms and several puncture marks on the chest as wounds form a squid. When he had been little, one of his best friends had tangled with a squid and had won similar wounds. The poison had given his friend some problems for a while, but he'd pulled through.
A little thought came creeping into his mind. Lucas had a tiger for a pet. Why couldn't he tame this creature? It'd be very helpful as far as finding food went, and it may even offer some sort of protection.
He rolled it over and began sucking what little poison he could from the wounds and spitting it out. There was some seaweed in the water that was well known in his hometown for absorbing venoms, and he plastered it on the animals chest. Braiding some vines into a tight rope, he tied the unconscious animal to a tree and went about getting a fire ready. The water here was fresh enough to drink safely if he filtered it through the sandy banks and he could fish. This was an ideal camping spot until he had taught the animal to obey him and could again enjoy the taste of something larger than a fish.