Kie opened his eyes, stretching his tail. It was dawn, and time to get up. He could hear the sounds of the city as it woke. In a flash he was ready for breakfast. It was a lovely plate of leaves and twigs, something he thought his friend Leaf Muncher would very much have enjoyed.

That morning, Kie was visited by a friend, Peb. Peb was an Ouranosaur. Apparently the budding meteorologist had some important news.

"Rain, rain, rain. Weeks of rain. And localized right over Sauropolis, too." Peb was obviously upset. He had had bad experiences in rainstorms. Kie seemed jovial. "I like rain." Kie commented. Peb shook his head.

"Yes, well, you won't be saying that in two weeks when you are soggy to your crest. I think it is time for a vacation."

Kie knew what was coming. Peb was a timid sort, and probably wanted his Parasaurolophus pal to accompany him.

"Where are you going?" Kie asked, already thinking of what he might need to bring.

"Well, I have never been to the mountains... Does Thermala seem all right to you? There'll be no rain there."

Kie nodded, sighing inside. It looked like he and Peb would be off on another adventure...

“Tamith!!! What is up with you?! It’s ten thirty already!”

The bright sunlight poured through her bedroom window as she forced her eyes open. Nothing much ever happened in the quiet village of Bonabba, except for maybe a stray carnivore once in a while. Caravans were the order of the day as was working in the medicinal plant gardens and lab. Tamith was a habitat partner to the Forest and as such, it was her duty to try to maintain the well being of all forest resources. Working directly under Bracken and Fiddlehead, she and her ceratopsian partner Triforce were constantly kept on their toes. Especially since their last assignment had taken them almost three times as long to do. What time…?

“Yes, sleepy head. Guess you stayed up late at the lab again, didn’t you?”

A sudden block of the direct sunlight made her look up. Her friend, Dylan O’Connell smiled down at her from the top of his Corythosaur partner, Karua. They were habitat partners to the Fresh Water and had been assisting Triforce and her on their last task. “I’m sick of that microscope…” she mumbled turning away, “You take over the thing for once.”

Dylan laughed, “You’re on leave, silly. Remember we promised to join up with the others in Thermala as soon as we were done here.”

“Then why are you waking me so early!!” she exclaimed throwing a pillow at him.

Apparently he managed to duck it, but it still hit poor Karua on the head. He bellowed his complaint loudly shaking the entire pod house to the last stone.

“Argh! Fine, I’m up!” she said jumping out of bed and making her way out of her bedroom.

“You better hurry,” Dylan called after her, “It’s a long trip to catch the nearest Sky Galley!”

* * *

“So what’s the game plan?” Tamith asked her friend over a cup of tea a half an hour later.

“Well,” Dylan replied, “Neither Tri nor Karua are much fond of snow, so you know they both backed out of the trip. However, Karua said he’d give us a ride over to Cornucopia. We can catch a the galley from there.”

“Right, Tri still has a bit of finishing up to do here before she can head over the Romano Hatchery for her visit,” Tamith mused, “Too bad they wont join us…”

“Yeah, but they’ll have their fun.”

Tamith looked over to the backpacks she had readied the night before, “Are you packed?”

“Of course!” Dylan said pretending to be offended, “Since three days ago!”

Tamith smiled, “So we are waiting for…?”


After a quick good bye for Triforce (longer on Tamith’s part), the human and saurian trio hit the road to Cornucopia. In a short few days, they would be officially on their way to a winter paradise.

Lorcireino emerged from the thickets of the Rainy Basin none too soon. She had been walking merrily along, humming a tune to herself, when everything had suddenly gone deathly silent. Being a large carnivore herself, Lorcireino knew what the quietness had meant and had taken off at a fast run. She had luckily evaded the carnivore, whatever type it had been.

Lorcireino looked up at the clear blue sky. "Today is going to be a very hot unbearable day," she mumbled to herself. She didn't like it when it got hot; her hide was thick, meant for surviving in below-zero temperatures. When days became hot, she would practically roast.

She sighed and cocked her head to the left side; despite it being hot, the sky was always a beautiful sight, especially in the mornings with the gray, blue, yellow, and orange streaks. She noticed a lone cloud with bright-orange outlines. She almost gasped at the beauty and wondered, not for the first time, why her species preferred to stay in the darkest parts of the Rainy Basin.

"Lorci! How're you doing? Where've you been? I've been searching everywhere for you!" A red-haired, adult, female, human ran up to her. Lorcireino lowered her neck so Tasha could give her a hug. Lorcireino returned the hug by making a purring sound and patting her friend on the back carefully. Her large claws could do damage if not used in a careful manner.

"Hey, I have an idea, Lorci! Why don't we go to Thermala for the weekend? You have your thick hide to protect you from the cold, and you won't become so hot down here. How about it? We can hurry back to Sauropolis and gather my belongings and leave by noon."

Lorcireino, startled by her friends’ suggestion, cocked her head to the right and looked at her with a mixed expression upon her saurian face.

"Oh, you'll have fun. I assure you. You can see all sorts of different creatures like Woolly Mammoths," Tasha tried to persuade the large saurian into going. She knew that Lorcireino would have a grand time if they went together.

Lorcireino paused, trying to make up her mind. It would be a nice vacation. She had never been to Thermala before, but she'd heard wonderful stories about the place. "I bet the Woolly Mammoths won't like seeing me there." Lorcireino finally replied, her way of saying she would go along.

"Yes! It's going to be great! I promise you, Lorci, our trip to Thermala will be unforgettable!"

"No rain? You did not mention snow," Kie sourly noted to his friend Peb. The Ouranosaur meteorologist shrugged.

"I cannot be blamed if you failed to learn your geography. Thermala is a snowbound area."

Kie sighed. His crest felt like there was an icicle growing on it. Peb, with his temperature-controlling fin seemed quite happy in the brisk atmosphere.

They were just entering Thermala. Kie did not think it looked like much. He would much rather have been in the cozy Botanical Museum in Sauropolis. Still, the outdoorsy feel of the place was invigorating. Then, Kie saw just what he needed. It was in the small window of a shop. There was a sleeve-like hat designed for a Parasaurolophus' crest. It was filled with shed Wooly Mammoth hair, and so would be quite toasty. The shop sold appropriate headgear for all sorts of dinosaur.

In a moment Kie came out with a new hat. He had traded the sheet music for the piece his band teacher had told him to practice on his trip.

"Oh, lovely hat," Peb sarcastically intoned. Kie decided to change the subject.

"Hey, what's going on over there?" 'Over there' was a large collection of Humans, Saurians, and Large Mammals. It seemed like quite a crowd was gathering. Kie and Peb decided to join in...

Lorcireino took a deep breath of cold fresh air and let it out slowly. The cool air felt good sliding down her nostrils and through her throat to her lungs. She heaved a contented sigh.

"A couple more hours and we'll be in Thermala," Tasha said. She squirmed around on Lorcireino's back. The saddle she rode in wasn't very comfortable and she was always sore afterwards.

"Careful, don't squirm so much. Remember what happened with those four kids I carried?" Lorcireino asked; that was not a very fond memory for her, but it entertained Tasha to no end.

"That's what you get for being long-necked and long-armed," Tasha replied a hint of humor in her voice. She remembered that day very clearly. She had seen it with her own eyes. Lorci had happily been giving four children a ride when one of them got rambunctious and started climbing up Lorci's neck. Lorci, having a long neck and head, a long body and arms, had fallen forward. She wasn't actually font-heavy. Her long tail balanced her well, but added weight to the front of her without an equal amount in back had caused her to fall forward onto all four limbs.

Suddenly, both saurian and human heard the snap of a twig. They had been so busy talking that they hadn't noticed how quiet it had gotten. Lorcireino stopped in her tracks. The sound had come from ahead.

"Lorci! Behind us!" She heard Tasha shout. Lorci looked over her shoulder, which turned out to be a big mistake. Lorci saw the adult female Tyrannosaurus Rex behind them, but just as the female showed herself, a male Tyrannosaur charged from the front. Lorcireino wondered, only for a brief moment, why she had decided to walk near the Rainy Basin to reach Thermala. She now knew it hadn't been a very wise choice. She turned to head away but was stopped by the sight of a juvenile; when she tried to head the other way, another juvenile Rex stopped her. Lorcireino turned in each direction, but there was nowhere for her to run.

“OK, Mr. I-know-where-we-are-going,” Tamith said looking around the crowded streets of Thermala, “Which way to the Blackfeather Village?”

Dylan didn’t meet her eyes but smiled mischievously, “You’re the one that knew Quickstride from before. Shouldn’t you know where she lives?”

Tamith sighed, “Do you have the map Bracken gave us?” The older youth looked away again.

“Great… Typical guy. You always leave the map.”

Dylan laughed, “This makes it all the more fun. I mean, we’re already a few days late, what’s a few more hours?”

Tamith smiled. Leave it to him to find the bright side of anything. “As long as we don’t end up in Sky City…”

“We won’t,” he replied looking around, “Lessee… Ah yes, there’s a distinguished cousin of Karua. I’m sure that Parasaurolophus over there could direct us to the exit nearest to the Blackfeather Village.”

Tamith shrugged, “You’re the expert in hadrosaur dialects. Give it a try.”

“I think I will,” Dylan said giving her that charming smile he always had when he won an argument. “Follow me, me lady!”

Tamith rolled her eyes, “No need to rub it in, ya know.”

Dylan grinned and led the way to the huge hadrosaur, “Excuse me, could I ask you for some directions?”

Highsoar winged her way over Thermala, cruising on the warm updrafts from the volcanic vents. Normally, flight was difficult in these reaches with the cold winds and rocky slopes, but she rather enjoyed the warm currents and the feel of the distant but warm sun on her back. She saw a large gathering of assorted creatures below and slowly descended to see what was going on. She circled as low as possible over the crowd and tried to make out what was happening.

Lorcireino turned her head in all directions, searching for an escape. There is always a way out of everything. Lorcireino thought to herself.

The four Tyrannosaurs stepped closer. Lorcireino felt Tasha squirm on her back, probably as afraid as she was.

Suddenly, all four charged at them. Lorcireino screeched and, just as the four Tyrannosaurs lowered their heads to snap at them, Lorcireino shot out of an opening. She looked over her back, just in time to see the two adults try and halt, but wound up banging their heads. The younger Tyrannosaurs missed each other by only a tiny bit.

Lorcireino didn't look back after that. She ran, even after the angry roars were no longer in hearing range.

"Lorci, you can slow down now," Tasha said, though she sounded a bit shook up. "I can see Thermala just ahead."

"Yeah, and I'm not slowing down until I am inside the city," Lorcireino remarked. She took in deep breaths, trying to remain calm; the Tyrannosaurs had almost had them for dinner! She shivered, trying not to think about it.

As soon as they arrived, a strange man with a mammoth partner walked over to them.

"Are you okay?" he asked. "When you came in the city at the speed you did, we were sure something was wrong."

Tasha nodded her head. "We were attacked by Tyrannosaurs, four of them, two adults and two sub-adults."

"This close to Thermala?"

"Well, Lorcireino ran quite a ways sir. It was terrifying, we almost didn't make it out." Tasha paused for some breath. Even though she had only sat on Lorcireino's back in shock, she was extremely exhausted from what had happened.

"Is this Lorcireino?" The man asked, pointing at the Coronaraptor.

"Of course I am Lorcireino," Lorcireino replied in her Coronaraptorian language. She thought it was a rather obvious question to answer since Tasha was not referring to herself.

"What did he say?" The man asked.

Lorcireino snorted.

"She said that she is Lorcireino indeed." Tasha gave Lorcireino an affectionate slap on the neck, though it was meant to warn her. Lorcireino could speak the Dinotopian language well.

"I am sorry. I have never seen this species before," he replied apologetically. "Well, I must be going. Perhaps we will meet again sometime."

Tasha smiled politely and waved goodbye.

"Well, Lorci, we are here."

"Yes, that we are."

Quickstride dipped her head gracefully into the water of the small lake, taking in a mouthful of water and straining it for small delicacies through her goose-like beak. She was at the base of the Forbidden Mountains, and while she knew she should start off again- she was already a few days behind schedule due to weather and her friends were undoubtedly waiting for her in Thermala by now- she just couldn't tear herself away from the serene beauty of the lake and the temperate forests and grasslands around it. A few Presbyornis gathered around the lake, feeding in similar fashion to the Gallimimus, and every now and then one of the mammals would come to drink- a majestic male Irish Elk, still bearing his enormous antlers upon his brows, a small herd of Diadiaphorus, horse-like creatures native to South America, a great Moropus, a comical Macrauchenia, and a couple of Uintatherium. Even a lone Pachyaena had ventured out to drink and to greet the strange traveler. Quickstride thought mesonychids such as he were some of the neatest creatures around: hoofed carnivores! They had spoken for a short time, and he had been very polite, as had all the mammals, even if at times they had trouble understanding one another's language, though coming through the mountains often had given Quickstride some knowledge of many dialects. As the temperate zone gave way to the mountainous regions, which was just in the process of changing from its annual warm period back to its more characteristically cold, these Tertiary mammals would become scarce. But she did have friends waiting. With a sigh, Quickstride waded back to the bank to retrieve the traveling pack she had left there. A rustle in the trees made her freeze.

"Who's there?" she asked, trying to sound tough. Whatever it was undoubtedly knew she was there, for it had started to make noise right when she had made it back to the bank. She didn't know what it was- hopefully just some curious mammalian. There were dangers in this area- big cats and terror birds, mainly- and Quickstride would have to be careful.

I should have been more careful! she thought.

No reply came from the bushes, though movement from them told her that whoever it was was still there.

"Show yourself!" Quickstride demanded, trying not to sound fearful. Slowly, the creature complied, and Quickstride gasped when it emerged. It wasn't a big cat or a terror bird. It was- it was- what was it?

The creature bowed its head, uncertain of what to do. "My name Klaw," it said.

Az shivered slightly as she looked around at all the people gathered around her. The air here was much cooler than she was used to, particularly after being back in the Basin for so long!

"Ummm... Hi?" she said in the common Dinotopian language.

A rather large Woolly Mammoth stared at her, his massive tusks gleaming in the sunlight. He stared pointedly at the bow on her back and arrows at her side.

Az had tried to keep the bow under her cape, but the bow kept allowing cold drafts down her back and the raptor needed all the body heat she could keep in this cooler climate!

Alongside the new clan leader a much larger raptor stepped foreword, her dark coloring making her painfully obvious in the icy reaches of Thermala. Tilting her head back, the charcoal gray utahraptor bowed her head slightly to the Mammoth, her own bowstaff plainly visible, having no way to conceal it. Reaching out a talon she grumbled roughly in her best mammalian tongue, which ended up coming out like, "Inhale good, Find rest."

Despite being a message runner for many years, Azonthus had not picked up any of the mammalian languages and had no idea what to say to the creatures gathered around.

She turned to the nearest human, a teenage girl. "Excuse me, but my friend and I are looking for a warm place to stay while waiting for some of our other friends. Do you know of any inns we can stay at?"

The teenage girl looked a bit shocked at seeing the pair, and resting an arm against the thick leg of the mammoth she spoke to him.

"Calm down, Bronyeath, they don't mean you harm." The large mammoth snorted and lowered his tusks from the defensive position they had been in.

Still watching him intently, Mist nodded to the girl, crouching down to seem smaller in stature and less threatening. Sheathing her claws as best she could she watched the girl.

"If you all turn the corner down at the glassblowers, there's an inn, and next door a barn for the larger mammals. I assume you can find lodging there." She smiled, trying to hide her faint fear.

Az nodded. "Thank you for your help." She again slipped the bow under her cape so as not to frighten anyone else.

Turning to Mist, she spoke in raptor, "Well... this is going to be an interesting place! Everyone's terrified that we're going to attack them!"

Mist chuckled quietly, her deeper voice resonating and she shivered under her black cape. "Let's go," She replied quietly, "Before we're assumed to do anyone any harm," ducking her head she started trotting down the lane to the inn.

"Hehe! I'm ready for some warmth! I wonder if they have any fish..." Az called out as she followed her friend.

After a little hassle with the innkeeper, Az and Mist had procured a room for the night.

"Can you believe that?" Az asked. "He wanted me to leave my bow outside!"

Mist smothered a smile and looked down at her smaller friend. "It's okay, I don’t think they wanted to ask me," she flexed her sickle claws and grinned. "I hope the nestbeds have hay fillings, it's going to be a cold night." The two raptors walked up spiral stairs to their room.

"Me too! I HATE cold! Why on earth did I allow my clan to talk me into this 'journey of the spirit'?"

"Because you need it," Mist simply stated without turning around. She trotted into their room and gently lay down her bowstaff, looking out the ice-frosted window and drawing small designs in the window with her talons. "It'll be okay, it's only for a while, anyway. Don't you want to test your spirit?"

Az joined her friend in doodling on the frost covered windows. "Well, I guess you're right. And the clan should be safe enough with the elders leading... After all, my father is an elder now and he used to be the leader! I just wish I didn't have to leave and not know what's going on..."

She stared out the window at the light snow covering, contemplating how her clan was doing. Somehow, thoughts of walking through ice and snow seemed a lot worse than her clan having to do without her for a few weeks. After all, this was a clan tradition that went all the way back to the founding of the clan. After a month’s leadership, the leader was supposed to leave the clan and go on a journey. The elders had chosen Thermala for Azonthus; they knew of her detest for cold and spending two weeks there would surely test her spirit!

Mist stopped doodling shortly and watched Azonthus, lost in thought. Growling quietly, she knew thoughts of clans and clan leadership were going through the velociraptor's mind. Hissing quietly to Az, Mist tapped her arm.

"Time for sleep, when the dreams of the watched flow, it's the dreamtime, Az. Spirits release themselves,," the silver and dark gray raptor turned glinting emerald eyes on the velo. "Trust me, I know," she quietly walked back to her nestbed without further word on the subject.

Az nodded. "Yah, it is late. Besides, we have to find Quickstride tomorrow!" The velociraptor climbed into her nestbed and soon fell into the world where reality and fantasy were one.

"Do you suppose there will be any other dinosaurs here at all?" Lorcireino wondered aloud to her friend. They were lost in the city of Thermala, running into mostly Mammoths and Brontotherium. She shook her head, letting slide the snow that had fallen on her head.

"Sure. There's a dinosaur," Tasha said, pointing towards a large woolly mammoth. She regretted the action and pulled her coat around her tighter and stuck her hands in the hand warmer. She shook her legs as she walked. The snow was trying its best to work its way into her boots.

"That is not a dinosaur!" Lorcireino berated her friend. "That is a mammal. Does it look like me? No. It looks more like you."

"I don't have big tusks, dear friend," Tasha laughed.

"No. But you have a very woolly coat on right now. If you had tusks, you would look like one."

Tasha rolled her eyes and sighed, then shivered. "Listen, we have got to find a place to stay. I'm freezing cold."

"I told you to ask for directions, Tasha. But would you? Noooooooooooooo," Lorcireino said and folded her arms. Suddenly, she hit a large snowdrift and fell completely under the snow, and she ate some. She worked her way back out into the more shallow snow and caught Tasha laughing.

"I'm glad I was not on your back then! I have nothing to protect my skin from severe cold."

Lorcireino shook herself to get the snow off her body. She was about to tell Tasha to keep it between the two of them only, and not tell anyone else about what happened, when she heard a snorting behind her, that also sounded like laughing.

Strolling up the street Kaz took an interest in everything. The mammals here fascinated her as they, more than anything else, brought back memories of life before the ship-wreck...

Nodding to a passing group her breath created a light mist as she smiled and said hello. Shifting her pack more comfortably across her shoulders she began to hum a tuneless little song.

I wonder if the others are here yet?

She felt bad about having to leave the last mission they were on together, but things had happened that she hadn't been in charge of. It was impossible for her to have stayed and even if she could have, it wouldn't have been fair.

Now though, she couldn't wait to catch up on all the news and know for sure no one was upset with her.

Arriving at an Inn and opening the door she stood in the brightly lit doorway and stomped the snow off her boots before entering...

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