Blackwood Flats Safari: Part 8


 Remnants of the storm still lingered in the form of gusty winds and chilled air damp with moisture, causing Mathaira and her traveling companions to draw nearer to one another for warmth. With the weather being atypical of this region, blasts of cool air swirled about the group, seemingly pushing them along as they hastened their steps toward Chandara. Mathaira pulled her grayish brown cloak tightly about her shoulders, grateful to the mammal from whose fur it was fashioned. As the mammoth cloak thwarted the relentless wind, Mathaira was silently appreciative of the skill of the Tentpole weavers who created garments that were not only beautiful but warm and functional.

Having formed a makeshift sling from a spare tunic, the hatchling StormRider slept securely under Mathaira's cloak. Knowing that he would be hungry when he woke, Mathaira popped a few berries in her mouth to soften them, carefully placing them in a small pouch after doing so where they would provide ready nourishment for the tiny Rhamphorynhcus. Not that the availability of nourishing food was a problem... Quite the opposite, Mathaira's traveling companions had willingly, even eagerly, shared their rations and whatever bounty they had gleaned from the Island with the always hungry hatchling. Mathaira smiled to herself, thinking that StormRider would be both spoiled and plump from the attention of all the doting "aunts and uncles" who cared for him.

A particularly frigid blast of air hit Mathaira full in the face, knocking the hood from her head and whipping her hair into her eyes. Attempting to tame her hair with one hand, she grasped the hood with her other and pulled it back onto her head. Sighing audibly, she asked anyone who might be listening, "Do you think we'll reach Chandara soon?" She sure hoped so! Tamith and Triforce had gone ahead and Mathaira hoped that her friend had secured them a room... A warm, dry one!

Ari looked up, sniffing uncertainly at the breeze. She had been tracking for the last half hour, and the trail was rather fresh. It was a strange smell, one that tickled her nose and intrigued her mind. She was Aurora Firefang, the daughter of the late Utahraptors Sunrise and Cloudtail Firefang, raised by foster parents, and native resident of Rainy Basin.

She was patrolling the southern forest, along the Polongo River, when she first smelled it. She had never met a human before, though she had been taught three of their languages: English, Spanish, and Mongolian. She was not hunting, for she was full on the large Shi'ako fish that were plentiful in this area, and quite tasty. She simply wanted to know what it was, being a curious one.

She sniffed around, and then headed down the river into a thicket. She was investigating a clump of trees, when a blood-curdling scream came from a nearby bush. She started towards it, but a small, two-legged thing ran from it like a little brown lizard. It was no match for Ari, though. She was a very fast runner, like the whole raptor population, and the thing wasn't going very fast.

Suddenly it stopped, turned around, and ran straight past Ari into the same thicket she was leaving. Whirling, she sped back, deep into the forest, after the brown thing. Then she came to a small clearing, ringed by trees grown thickly together, ending with a huge rock going straight up, called Pillar rock. And the thing, standing with its back to it, was staring her in the eye. Ari ambled over, for she now recognized it as a human from the diagrams she had studied.

"You there!" it called out in English, "Can you speak human?"

"Yes. Who are you?" Ari replied, cocking her head to one side and stepping closer.

“I am Sam Iverson, a trapper. I was shipwrecked here, and I was separated from the group I was with. And you are?"

"Ari. Nice to meet you, Sam"

“Are you going to eat me?" he asked bluntly, hope rising when he saw Ari's shocked expression.

"Eeewwww, no, Gross! I never even met a human before, much less eaten any, and I'm not starting now. I would like to talk some more, though."

Sam looked relieved, and agreed. Together, they walked off, a mismatched pair, with no idea what was in store for them.

Ari Firefang and Sam Iverson where walking through the forest, and Sam was asking Ari a lot of questions.

"OK, let me get this straight. Your foster father, a velociraptor/utahraptor hybrid, taught you human languages, the arts, and had you tutored by a Struthie-mimie?!" Sam exclaimed in disbelief. The day before he was so concerned about Ari eating him that he, in what he surmised was delirium, asked her if she could talk. When she said yes, he decided he was dreaming. Having woken up the next morning and finding nothing had changed, he began peppering her with questions. "And there are more dinosaurs that speak English too? How is that when you yourself never saw a human before me ? Why would you need to speak it?"

"Struthiomimus. And yes, he did. And I suspect that there are more saurians who can speak human than there are those who can't. And just because I've never seen a human, doesn't mean that the rest of the population hasn't, either." As Sam continued to interrogate her, Ari couldn't help but think that if all humans asked such ignorant questions, then maybe it was better she hadn't met any before him. If she had, and they did, she may have started eating them for the aggravation they caused.

"What about the other, uh, saurian species. Do they eat people?"

"As I already told you, it doesn't normally have much to do with the species. It's the individual. Some Tyrannosaurs and/or Gigantosaurs are really pleasant, non-man eating fellows. Others are fierce, unintelligent predators who will eat anything. It's the personality." She spoke so much like your physics teacher because her uncle tutored her in the art of public speaking, should she ever leave the basin and ‘need to make her feelings known. ' She had been a good student.

"So, what is there to eat around here?"

Ari, relieved for the break in 'Dinotopia 101', immediately started towards the Polongo. They had been heading northwest all afternoon, towards the Great Canal, after sleeping most of the morning. The day before Sam had told Ari all about himself, about the other trappers not taking him seriously because he was only seventeen, how they were probably glad he was gone, and how he was orphaned when he was thirteen, when his parents had an automobile accident. And other stuff like that. Today it was her turn, and she could only hope that she had been a little less interrogative when she was asking him.

Ari walked down a hill, through a patch of conifer saplings, around a boulder, and there was the river. She waded in to her calves, ignoring the coldness of the water, then lowered her hands/claws down to about her elbows. She waited, telling Sam quietly to keep still, not to scare them away from the bank. A minute passed. Two minutes. Three. Five. Suddenly, a fish swam over, and in a second, WHOOSH! ,it was thrown towards Sam, hitting him full in the face!!

Ari had climbed up on the bank and was going to apologize, but looking at his face, she started laughing! Unable to contain herself, she laughed so hard she lost her balance and tumbled into the river!

It was dark, and it was cold. The first thing Sam Iverson noticed when he opened his eyes was the dark, damp cold that was all around him. As his eyes grew accustomed to the darkness, he noticed Ari looking at him, her eyes almost glowing.

"Morning, Sam. I thought you would sleep forever!"

"Morning? Morning!! It's pitch black! How can it be morning?!"

"We're in a cave. And it's not pitch black, or you wouldn't be able to see me!" Ari scolded good naturedly. "I smelled megaraptors, and thought we'd be safer in here. I covered my feet with ferns so I wouldn't leave tracks and rolled us both in mud to disguise our scent." She explained calmly.

"But I'm clean! There isn't any mud on me. Or you, either."

"There's a spring near the back and an alternate entrance we can use in case they find this one. I like to be prepared." She smiled toothily at Sam. "I don't want the first human I've ever met to get eaten because I wasn't prepared!"

"I feel so much better." Sam commented sarcastically. "By the way, I was thinking about the other trappers. Maybe we should find them. I mean, they could get hurt. I might be able to convince them not to shoot any more dinos then they already have."

"Sam, I don't know where they landed or which way they went. There's no way we could find them. I'm sorry, but we have to keep moving, not go on a wild goose chase in the wrong direction."

"Why not! You just don't want your little pet to find his friends so he can leave! I'm just a cute little toy that you don't want to share, that you like to play around with!"

Outraged, Ari yelled back at him, “Me? Me! That's funny, coming from you! All this time I've been swerving and taking different routes to avoid animals I would've ignored usually just to keep you alive! I could've been halfway across the Basin stuffing myself on Shi'ako right now if it weren't for you! I would be happy to hand you to your friends and leave!"

"Well, go ahead, I don't need you! I'll be better off without you!" Saying that, he turned and ran down the cave. Ari could've caught him easily, but she didn't want to see him ever again! "What an ungrateful little wretch!" she thought. "Good riddance to bad rubbish!"

But the more she thought about it, the more she worried. Sam wasn't used to Dinotopia. He didn't know how to stay out of trouble, and the only food a human could eat was fish and squid, but he could never catch a Shi'ako- there were almost as big as him! Ari heaved a deep sigh. To get him to listen, she would have to apologize, and maybe suck up a little bit. But it would be worth it, if it kept Sam alive. Ari sighed again, then got up and started after him.

Tony had been foraging for any edible plants in the area when he heard some strange cry. He hurried back to his odd captive to see if it was awake.

It was awake, but still laying on its side when he got there. The odd creatures feathered crest was tight against its neck, and the blue bump on its nose was a little brighter.

"Hey..." he said soothingly. "I won't hurt you." Slowly, he picked up some left over fish and put it in front of the animal. "Go on, it's good."

Allyshar looked up and saw that the human dolphinback was handing her some tasty looking fish. And she was ravenously hungry.

"Hey, I won't hurt you" He said soothingly. "Go on, it's good" Course she didn't understand what he was saying but the feeling of the message was clear enough. Taking the fish from the spot that he laid it down she tore it apart easily with her jaws and gulped the little bit of fish down so fast that she barely got a taste of it. She then consiencous of the hunger still in her belly looked him in the eye and asked him with hers with a little chirp if he had any more.

The man smiled. Yes; if Lucas could tame a tiger, he could tame an overgrown lizard. The chirp was cute enough, and it watched him. It seemed tame enough; but, then again, many animals that had never seen humans were pretty tame.

He tossed another fish at the creature.

"Well... What am I going to call you?" He started thinking of names as he moved around the small camp, trying to make a shelter from any more rain.

It was odd, She thought to herself., That this human, obviously a dolphinback was not taken too much aback by what she was. Then again, taking another look back at him, she realized that he was looking at her funny, as if she were a puzzle that he was trying to figure out. Did he think of her as food? That thought was quickly banished from possibility. No. If he did, he would have taken her after she had been nearly killed by that terrifying squid. A few other ideas flowed through her head and none of them seemed to be logical, not one seemingly possible. Thinking about it just made her head hurt and got her nowhere Allyshar decided that whatever the reason, it wasn't at all in malicious intent. So she decided to sleep on it, it would be easier on her when she woke up again.

Resting her head back down and still too weak to sleep in her normal position, on her belly with her legs folded along side her and her crested head up, closely resembling the Red Lion statues she had heard about from her friend Azonthus, another Basin native that met up with every now and then, she fell into a restful sleep. Of which, she would have been less likely to have if she had know the real intent of the human stranger. But not knowing anything of humans controlling animals or training them for their own purposes it was unlikely Allyshar would have been able to figure it out even if she had been feeling in peak condition much less one as she was now. All that concerned her was for the moment getting better and hoping that with the human helping her would find and help FireEyes as well.

Tony kept talking to his new pet once it woke up. He spoke in Italian; it didn’t matter what he said, he just wanted it to get used to his voice. Still, he told it about his family and the smelly factory where he had worked before signing up with the trappers.

“You know, I’ve got to call you something.” He carefully studied the creature, unsure if it was male or female. Still, he needed a name. “I’ll call you Umberto.” He smiled a little to himself. “Yes, Umberto is a good name for you. I hated my boss in that chicken factory. He always yelled at us and cut our wages. He made us starve. Do you know what it’s like working so hard around food and not being able to eat? Oh, what would he think of finding that I named a monster after him? Hah.

“Umberto, want some more fish?” He waved a piece in the air, watching to see if the creature would react. It’d soon learn its name.

Atlas groaned.

FireEyes smiled sympathetically. Poor Atlas had been sick for hours!

His smile instantly vanished when he thought of Allyshar.

He cawed for the fourteenth time.

"Oh stop that! I’ve had quite enough of that already!” hollered Atlas, even though he knew he wasn't understood.

FireEyes sighed. It was going to be a long evening.

It was dawn and the groggy velociraptor was ready to go. She already had a small bag of provisions packed, and her bow was in the quiver of arrows strapped on her back.

Yawning, she looked around to see if any sauropods would be accompanying them so she could hitch a ride for a few hours. Unfortunately, it looked like she'd have to walk and put that nap off until they stopped for a break later in the day.

Tamith and Triforce arrived at Chandara a good two hours after the skybax wing. The pair wasted no time looking around the marvelous waterfront city and went directly from inn to inn looking for the place Raymond had lodged rooms for them. It didn’t take them very long to spot the handful of Skybaxes waiting for their riders outside a cozy looking establishment. Tamith jumped off Triforce and ran inside. It didn’t take very long to single out Raymond in the crowed.

“Over here,” he said waving her to the table he was sitting on. “I’ve separated the last four rooms available for your group. Hopefully it will be enough.”

“That’s perfect,” Tamith said smiling. “I can always share my room with Mathaira and help her with the baby.”

“It was lucky we could get all those room is one place, with the storm and all, but hopefully people taking refuge here will be clearing out soon,” Raymond said. “This place also has an excellent barn, I’m sure your saurian companions will be very comfortable there as well.”

“Great!” Tamith said happily. “I’ll drop my things in my room and get Tri settled in, then I’ll going to go pick up some things around the city for the baby and the new comers. I’m going to go down to the cooks and see if they need anything seeing as we’ll have a large and hungry group tonight.”

Raymond smiled. “I’ll leave those commodities to you. I’ll be heading out to provide the caravan an escort in, you can never be too careful.”

Tamith nodded. “Seek Peace!” she said.

“Fly high,” the rider told her and walked out of the Inn towards his bax.

Tamith grinned barely able to contain her excitement. Not only were they welcoming dolphinbacks, but a new life as well. She walked outside and led Triforce to the barn Raymond had told her about. After grooming and making sure her partner had all the food, water, and anything else she wanted she dashed back inside to talk to the innkeeper. The innkeeper was a nice elderly lady named Myrna. She was gracious enough to show Tamith the rooms her friends would be lodging in and to her great satisfaction, two of the four had a view of the bay. She quickly told their host to reserve these specifically for the dolphinbacks choosing one of the ones across from them for herself and Mathaira.

Dylan would like one with water view as well, , she thought with a smile.

Upon learning she’d be hosting dolphinbacks, Myrna went on frenzy with preparations. She seemed to want everything perfect for when her guest arrived. Taking a grocery basket, Tamith offered to go into town and pick up some of the comestibles they’d be enjoying that night while her host got every single hand in the inn to cleaning, shinning, and polishing every last piece of silver wear, corner and inch of the place.

“This is going to be great!” Tamith thought out load making her way down the colorful streets of Chandara.

Rico was amazed by all that had gone on since the shipwreck. First, finding the large animals, then discovering they were living dinosaurs… And then the humans had shown up to help them. On top of all that, he had been able to help with the hatching of a baby dinosaur! Language was something of a problem at times, but they managed.

The dinosaur Namir had hunted seemed to be healing up pretty well. He had been told her name was Ava. The trumpeting noises she made fascinated the young Mexican and he stayed close to her most of the time.

But, suck surprises couldn’t keep his playful nature down for long. Already, his mind was on his next prank.


Ava liked the company of the dolphinback. Despite the fact that her vacation had gone far from what she had planned, she was excited to have found dolphinbacks. Well, more like they had found her.

She rumbled lowly in her frustration with her slight limp. The hum reverberated through her crest, sounding almost like a groaning ship on storm tossed seas. Mathaira had done a good job bandaging her injuries, but constant movement made the wounds ache worse.

The Parasaurolophus did not miss the small smile and chuckle from Rico. He was up to something for sure.

Tamith stood next to the party who were by now making merry quite rowdily. The weather had taken a turn for the worse and rain swept through the darkening sky, a reminder of the storm. Inside the tavern however, the atmosphere was as jovial as always. A traveling player had dropped in and was recounting the legend of Ogthar to an appreciative audience of awed youths and the innkeeper was talking heartily to a Russian man of immense stature who seemed to be a cargo hauler from Warmwater Bay. Tamith gazed outside as she gripped her mug of foaming mulled wine (I hope you do indulge in a bit of a drink. if you don't scold me please. hope I don't offend) and looked contentedly out of the window. She pitied the poor people in the convoy still out there. Along the street a man turned the corner followed by a small deinonychus. Through the sleeting rain, Tamith recognized Gareth as the wiry youth strode into the circle of light cast by the lamps of the tavern. But the raptor was new to her.

Gareth swung himself down the stairs and shook his hair vigorously in the vestibule, shedding cape and cloak like a dog sheds water. A raptor simply stood for a moment before coming in through the door.

Dressed in a vest and Asian style trousers, Gareth looked a lot less formidable than with sword and cloak. He grinned as he walked up to Tamith.

"Hey, pleased to see you got here safely. Dylan didn't want to come; he's resting at the senate while the healers tend to that gash on his head. By the way," he gestured to the raptor who had now come up behind him, "Paki, this is Tamith Kai; Tamith, this is Paki'tar, the speaker for Chandara." The raptor gave a knee bending bow as Myrna sidled up with a couple of steaming mugs.

Tamith smiled and nodded at Gareth. Dylan resting… now there’s an idea, she thought with a smile and made a mental note to check on him as soon as she got the chance knowing her friend’s dislike and distrust of healers outside his family’s nucleus. And Dylan being as unpredictable as he was, you could never be too sure about anything. She then turned back to the new comers.

“Pleasure to meet you acquaintance,” she told Gareth and Paki’tar. “People in this city have been nothing but helpful since we arrived. Have you met the dolphinbacks?” she asked the Speaker.

The small group carefully combed the beaches, looking for other survivors. Surely, if they had survived, others could have made it to the shore of this fantastical island.

Jebar shifted the weight of the food and cooking utensils on his back. He was strong, but not used to carrying two days wroth of food for three people. And the heat and humidity didn’t help much either. Still, he was thankful for his dark skin; Captain McGreggor and Lucas were looking fairly pink from the sun. By days end, they’d be quite red.

Suddenly, Namir ran ahead of the group and to the waters edge. The large tiger chased something bobbing in the surf for a moment before finally catching it in his massive paws. Almost delicately, he held the collar of a child’s shirt in his teeth, and dragged him farther up shore.

The captain and Lucas quickly ran to the man while Jebar tried his best to keep up. When he caught a glimpse of what Namir had found, he dropped the pack and ran after them.

“Good boy, Namir,” Lucas praised his pet. He rubbed the cat on its head. Namir purred, then began licking the face of the boy he had rescued.

When Jebar arrived, his heart leapt into his throat. It was his son...

"Kairo. Kairo, wake up." Almost angrily, he shoved Namir away and cradled his son in his arms.

"Here, let me see the boy," the Captain demanded. He practically had to pry Jebar’s arms away from him. But, he wasn’t happy with what he saw. At least the boy was alive.

A quick look proved that the only thing that had kept the young boy afloat for so long was a spar, through his stomach. It was a miracle that he was still alive.

Lucas put his hand on the darker mans shoulder. “Jebar, I’m so sorry.”

“No, it’s Ok. He’ll live.” Jebar continued to hug his son. “I’ve seen worse.”

Kairo coughed up a little blood and looked up at his dad. A small groan escaped his lips.

“Shh-hh-hh… It’ll be OK,” Jebar comforted.

Captain McGreggor shook his head, and began digging through the pack that Jebar had dropped. Quickly, he found what he had been looking for. He kept the knife hidden.

“Jebar, it’ll be better if we just end it for him. The boy’s not going to make it.”

“No, he’ll be fine! We just need to find him a doctor.” He hugged the boy closer, not minding the blood that seeped onto his own cloths. It had taken so much to find his son, then to find enough money to buy Kairo from the slave owner. He couldn’t die now; not like this. Tears began stinging his eyes. Why had he lived, and his son about to die? Namir had gone back out into the surf, letting the ocean drench his coat and cool him off. He watched the humans going about some strange business with mild interest. Still, the scent of blood made him hungry.

“Jebar, say goodbye. We can’t leave him like this. It’s cruel to let him die this slowly.”

“No…” He hugged him tighter.

It took both Lucas and Captain McGreggor to pull Jebar away from his son. Lucas held him back while the Captain covered the boys face with the handkerchief from his neck, and plunged the old cooking knife into the boys’ heart. It was only moments before Kairo stopped gasping for air, and was at peace.

Lucas felt part of himself shatter as the boy stopped breathing. He had dedicated most of his life to the hunt of exotic and potentially dangerous animals and in the process such a life had cost him more than one friend. He could only begin to imagine the pain his shipmate was going through because he had never reproduced. Fatherly love was totally alien to him, but he had lost brothers. He took his eyes away from the boy and looked back towards trees. They had to bury him, it was the least they could do since they had failed so miserably at saving his life.

"Captain," he said softly laying a hand on the older man's shoulder. "Please assist me in digging a grave. Let Jebar keep the body until it is time." McGreggor nodded, silently rising to his feet and following Lucas deeper inland.

"Namir," Lucas called to his great cat. The tiger returned from his position on the shore and sat before his master. Through sign language and gestures, Lucas communicated to his cat what he was to do: comb the surroundings for aromatic flowers. They would perform the ceremony right.

McGreggor had already picked a decent spot well away from the reach of waves in the near by foliage and setting down his pack, began to dig. Taking one last look and Jebar, and at a total loss for words, Lucas squeezed his shoulder.

"I'm sorry," he said. The darker man did not respond, nor did he expect him to as he turned and went to aid his older shipmate.

It was raining in Chandara, the storm had passed on away from the island and damage evaluations were being reported and sent on to other cities.

Damage to the brains of overworked volunteers who were trying to help out in Chandra, was not being reported. LiquidFire couldn't remember why on earth she had decided to go visit Chandara right now, but was almost regretting it. With the storm-damage, she had offered a helping hand at one of the hospitals but some of these mammals....

She had expected to go see some funny buildings people had told her she really should go see but instead she had ran into a disaster area, lots of airborne pieces of wood and stone and after that, lost of injured citizens. Now she had been called to some inn to see to an injured human. A pterosaur who had been so kind as to fly ahead so she wouldn't get TOO lost.

The human didn't appear to be too happy, entering his inn-room, she got to duck a low flying bowl of water. She picked it up from the floor after it had collided with the wall and toppled over the floor.

"Why good evening to you too," she said, walking in with the bowl.

The human was bleeding badly from a nasty wound on his head and had many smaller cuts on his arms and hands where he had tried to fend off the attack. You'd think he'd be happy to see a healer?

“Oh!” Dylan blinked a few times, “I know you!” He then seemed to think better of the situation. “And I’m fine, I don’t need your kind to come in and try to patch me up, I can do a pretty good job myself, thank you very much.”

LiquidFire smiled at the human upon recognizing him. "Well the last time I saw you, you were walking into Utahraptor territory uninvited and that was when you did NOT have an injury on your head." She walked up, "Now let me have a look at that, this won't hurt."

Dylan’s eyes widened and he took a step back. “ Nuh uh! None of that. I told you I can do this fine myself; all I need is clean towels and water....” He tripped on a chair he had failed to see and fell backwards. The small accident was all the Utahraptor needed to get a hold on him and inspect his wounds, much to the human’s great displeasure.

"I'm sure you can take care of yourself but you can't look at the top of your head now can you?" She let go of him and suggested he go sit on the bed. The human didn't seem to be dizzy and was wide-awake, apparently it was just some wound and not a concussion. Still it'd have to stop bleeding.

Dylan narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “And what are you going to do when I do? Use your little tools of torment to try to make it all better? I’d rather stand, thanks.” And with that he leaned against the wall and ignored her presence all together.

She couldn’t help but chuckle. "Tools of torment? Come on, I'm not THAT bad now am I?" she pushed him onto a chair. "Now don't make me go find your good friend K'veer to keep you still..."

Like I’m intimidated by the likes of him, Dylan thought glaring daggers at LiquidFire, I can stand my ground just fine if my conscious just allowed me to.

LiquidFire ignored the young human’s glare. "You know what? I'll ask for some towels and water then you can see what you can do but first I quickly want to help this head wound." She tried to clean it up with some clean cloth and boiled water the innkeeper had provided.

“GAH!” Dylan screamed moving sideways and falling out of the chair. “What are you doing?! It’s tender! THAT’S HOT!”

The healer caught him, surprised at this slightly ridiculous reaction, the water was near cold by now... "Just hold still for a moment."

She put him back on the chair and grabbed the back of his neck to keep his head still. He could feel her claws against his skin now, he should keep skill or he might accidentally get a scratch. He couldn’t move, but that didn’t stop him from talking.

She finished cleaning the head wound quickly then got some herbs and roll of thin bandage-cloth. "Now be a big boy for a moment..."

“Ow...ow...OW! Barbarians! The lot of you! OWWWWW! You make a career out of tormetin-OW! Watch that!” He accidentally on purpose knocked down the water. “Whoops,” he sneered. “Now you need to get more.”

"I guess I should," she said, after quickly tying a bandage around his head she left downstairs to get more water.

Dylan grinned mischievously. Now to take this into his own hands...