Thermala 4

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.

Having been unable to discern what the crowd was milling about, Highsoar flew on and eventually came to a small lake. She recognized the Gallimimus below instantly and lowered herself toward the earth. As she neared the ground, she saw some sort of large creature emerge from the bushes. The sight frightened her a bit and she hovered in the air, knowing that if she landed and the creature attacked, she had no way of getting airborne easily again. After a few seconds, though, she could no longer keep herself aloft. The currents weren't moving the right direction and she couldn't pump her wings enough to keep airborne without exhausting herself. She plopped down on the ground and took a few steps back, trying to keep her distance from the creature.

Unaware of the Skybax, all of Quickstride's attention was on this strange new creature. "Klaw?" she repeated. The animal in front of her was saurian, but beyond that she could deduce nothing else of his classification; he didn't fit any group. He had the long neck, legs and tail of an Ornithomimid, yet the teeth and claws of a dromaeosaur. He was about her size, and splotched red and black. Klaw, she thought to herself this time. Suddenly she seemed to remember...

"You're C'xoila's friend, aren't you?" she asked.

Klaw's eyes lit up at the name. "C'xoila, C'xoila, C'xsann Clan home!" he exclaimed so rapidly the Gallimimus could barely follow.

"I remember hearing of you now!" Quickstride cried triumphantly. "We've never met in person, but your name is on the wall." She also remembered a few details about this individual. The seemingly impossible crossing of a Struthiomimus and an Utahraptor...

"You Quickstride feather-dino!" Klaw exclaimed, also recognizing his fellow clansaurian. "C'xoila say look for Quickstride in mountains. Klaw remember name Quickstride and remember feather-dino in C'xsann, but not realize until Klaw see you here you one and the same!"

Quickstride looked puzzled. "Why did C'xoila send you to me?"

Klaw suddenly became rather shy. "C'xoila say Klaw should get out some more. Not have any friends or talk to anyone besides C'xoila. Because Klaw doesn't talk very much or get talked to very much is why Klaw doesn't speak right." He hung his head. "No one want to look at Klaw much talk to Klaw."

Quickstride felt a pang of pity for the poor misfit saurian. He'd probably come through the Rainy Basin to the foot of the mountains, avoiding all civilization. And could you blame him? From how his history in the C'xsann archives described his life...

"Come on with me, I'll talk to ya," said Quickstride, grabbing her pack. "I'm headed for my tribal village in the mountains. They'll talk to you, too." The Blackfeather Village was more than used to its share of oddities, but the Gallimimus did not mention this so as to spare the other's feelings.

Klaw's eyes again lit up. "Really?" he asked, wanting to be sure.

"Of course. Now, let's get moving, I'm already late meeting a few friends in Thermala." She turned to start up the mountain- and walked right into Highsoar!

"Oops... sorry" the Skybax said after the run in with the Gallimimus. She kept her eye on the strange raptor. When she saw the creature was not dangerous, she tried to communicate. She wasn't sure though what dialect to use. Klaw seemed to understand Quickstride well enough, so maybe the Gallimimus dialect would work. If not, she didn't know. Her velociraptor dialects were ok, but utahraptor dialects were questionable. "Breathe deep, seek peace. I am Highsoar."

Klaw gave the skybax a saurian smile. "Me Klaaaawww," he said, trying to mimic the trilling skybax accent Highsoar had. He seemed to enjoy the feeling it created in his throat.

"Highsoar, it's great to see you again," said Quickstride.

"Hiiighsooarrr. Quiiicksttrriiide," said Klaw, trying other words with his newfound accent.

"What brings you here?" continued the Gallimimus.

"Nothing much," said Highsoar absently, staring at the apparent struthioraptor.

"Well, we're heading to Thermala to meet up with some of the others before going farther into the mountains. Would you like to come?"

"Sure," said the skybax, shaking her head, remembering that it was impolite to stare at people.

"Well, let's get going, then," said Quickstride, and with that she and Klaw set off on foot, with Highsoar in flight above them, to the city. They arrived without incident to meet their friends there.

Blue Eyes slowly limped foreword on his still wounded leg, the brace worn and falling off. The skin was bruised and swollen. He tried not to think about the trail he was leaving behind along this path. He slowly came to a halt, to tired and weak to continue. He rested on the ground, his sharp Troodon eyes glancing around nervously, his heart going THUD, THUD, THUD in his chest. He was far too weak to continue any further today.

He closed his eyes and rested his head on a pile of leaves. Within a few minutes he was asleep.

Blue Eyes got up again and moved, his leg hurting more as he walked up the cold path. He began to run, his legs moving as best they could under the conditions. The metal armor on his body felt icy cold against his skin. He was beginning to feel cold and weak. After about ten minutes of running, he could no longer move. He fell over, unconscious, the chilling armor against his skin not helping at all as he drifted off into a deep, deep sleep in a thin layer of snow.


Tiek (pronounced tea-ek) made his way up the path to Thermala. The journey to the lower lands of Dinotopia had been good, but stressful for the monk. He was used to the quietness of the Tentpole of the Sky, not the bustle of Pooktook. Still, he had done well for his fellow monks in trading their woven blankets in exchange for food and baskets.

Humming to himself, he slowly calmed his troubled spirit and again found his center.

The bright sunlight shone on the path, warming all it shone on. It also glinted off the armor of a fallen Toodon Knight.

Tiek knelt next to the troodon. Checking for a pulse, he was pleased to find the knight still alive. Silently, he picked up the saurian. The theropod could get help in Thermala where there were others more skilled in the art of healing than he.

Starting his humming again, he continued on his way.


Slowly, Blue Eyes stirred. He wondered what had happened to him. The bed was soft and the blankets warm. His wound didn't hurt so badly. He took a slow sniff of the wound area, Salves?

He began to get up, but he couldn't. The nurses wouldn't let him. He finally decided that he was still tired and should sleep.

After many hours of chatting and catching up, Az, MistReaver, Tamith, and Dylan decided to head down to the main room of the Inn for some lunch.

"So, are we going to head out to the Blackfeather village today or tomorrow?" Az asked.

"We could today if Dylan hadn't lost the map!" Tamith exclaimed.

"We go tomorrow, when rested," Mist said, glancing around the room at all the people.

"I just hope everyone shows up by then," Az muttered as she started eating the dried fish that had been prepared for her.

The little group was deep in conversation when someone burst into the Inn.

She strode into the inn slamming the door just a little too hard as she walked over to a few friends at a table. She was very much absorbed in thoughts and did not really notice the unusual concentration of saurians as she placed a scroll with sketches and a lot of text on the table. "Look!" she demanded.

Without having the intention to get the entire inn to look over her shoulder, people's eyes suddenly all moved to her table as she was pointing out details in the sketches and graphs.

"As you all know, the pressure on the mountain has risen; the mountain has gained two centimeters in height due to tectonic forces."

"Not a bird has sang on my travel back, nature itself is holding its breath," Moraine finished, looking at the keeper of the signal-tower and Dylan.

"Oooh man, just when I think I have vacation I get to help evacuate a volcano, greaaaaaat," the latter said.

"Not just the mountain Dylan, when the volcano explodes the whole area from here to the Tentpole will be in danger."

"If the spirits within disrupt, then they won't stop till released..." Mist received odd looks from those around her and dipped her head, forcing herself to break from the meditation she'd slipped into. She had more reasons to coming to the Forbidden's then simply to accompany Az.

"They are disturbed, tectonics have little to do with it, the core...nothing to stop, only to evacuate," the dark gray raptor rose to her feet, uneasy with staying still. "We evacuate? What 'bout the gold feathered one?" Mist's eyes lit up. "The earth consumes what needs be renewed. How old is her village...?"

Az stared at Mist oddly. "Quickstrides village is quite old... In fact, it goes all the way back to the deimsaur legends beginning..."

Tamith looked to the Habitat Partner of the Alpine and quietly asked, "How long do you think we have?"

Mist mumbled; her eyes glazed. The young warrior remembered the teachings of her shaman. While the Alpine habitat partner's were aware of the topography, Mist held the myths and knowledge of her clan. Being a strong warrior, she was beginning the path of a shaman, rare among raptors of the new age, more common among their ancestors, and rarer yet amongst females. She had much, much more to learn. What Xandu and Yukime taught her was only a beginning.

Standing, she nearly upset the table. "Quickly...something to be done. If not now, soon. For the restless earth grow more violent as time passes. To return the old to be rejuvenated," she emphasized her words as she slammed a taloned fist on the table of the Inn, noting the disturbing quiet that had settled around their table. "If you not help now, I need"

She needed to clear her mind. Her journey would continue. To help Azonthus best on this journey, through spirits, she had to be kept in top shape.

"Quick, decide."

The velociraptor nodded. "I'll stay here and help plan what to do. See you later!" she called out as her friend bolted from the inn for a second time. "Ok, we need to organize teams to go to all of the villages and houses in danger of getting a lava bath. I was a message runner once; I can run the warning if need be. Where are the pterosaurs kept?"

"They're aren't pterosaurs here. Most find it too cold and like staying in the lower lands," Moraine replied.

"Ok," Tamith said, "Then we'll have to see what we can do."

Dylan grinned at Tamith and promptly jumped onto the table. "Attention everyone!" he shouted, "We have a dangerous mission that must be undertaken. Will any of you help? We need to get everyone off of this mountain as soon as possible. Who will help us?"

Mist inhaled the cold air deeply; it was no surprise she was out running again. This time she was going past civilization's boundaries. Her long strides across rooftops again took her to the edge of Thermala and she froze as a sudden blast of wind knocked her off balance. Looking ahead of her, she saw nothing but white. The snow swirled in front of her and the icy wind brought her back to her senses. The true meaning of Yukime's name, snow blindness, struck her. If she wandered past view of the lights of the village, which wouldn't be far, she could be lost forever in the icy tundra.

"It calls you, come shaman. Follow it..."

Her dark form disappeared from the view of anyone watching as she bound into the frozen wasteland, armed only with her talons, the woven cape around her shoulders and back and her staff. A stirring within the earth called to her, and she almost thought she saw a figure parting the snow ahead of her. Not questioning anything, she blindly followed.

Mathaira and Ajzik had taken a room at the Inn when they had initially arrived and were unable to locate the friends whom they sought. The two friends had settled their gear into an upper story room and had been enjoying a soothing blend of herbal tea when they heard some type of commotion coming from the Inn's lower level. They had just entered the common room where they saw a dark colored raptor speaking to a small group gathered about her and then quickly exiting the Inn.

Mathaira and Ajzik approached the remaining group; the other raptor who had been speaking to the dark one seeming somehow familiar to Mathaira. Before she had a chance to get a closer look at the remaining raptor, another from the group jumped up on one of the tables and spoke loudly to gain the attention of everyone within the Inn.

Upon hearing that volunteers were needed to undertake a dangerous mission, the two friends stepped up to offer their services.

"I am Mathaira, from the village of Bonabba. I will help!" the hatchery worker offered.

Likewise, the Sabertooth, who had grown up on these Mountains, also offered her help, "I'll help anyway I can."

Lorcireino, who had been listening to the conversation for a bit (she was blessed, as all saurians, with acute hearing), immediately nodded her head. "I, too, will help get the people off this mountain!" Lorcireino offered. She felt someone brush upside her and looked down at her partner, Tasha.

"And I offer mine. I will help you all in any way that I can." Lorcireino nodded her head again. She silently waited while others offered their help and then awaited her partner's and her orders.

Blue Eyes slowly limped downstairs despite the constant requests that he rest. He glanced around and listened. After a moment he spoke up. "Could we build a lava channel? To divert the lava flow into some less hazardous area?"

He shivered a little, the icy winds and cold air so different from his home in the city. His armor stuck to his skin a little as he put it back on.

A few of the heads turned and nodded, others shook heads and said no, it wouldn't work.

Azonthus watched the Troodon warrior limp around, sharing his ideas. She knew it was useless to try to get him upstairs until he had completed whatever task it was he had set for himself. It was that way with every warrior.

"Here, why don't you come sit down with us? We've got some food..." she encouraged.

"Gladly." Blue Eyes limped over to the table and joined the three humans and one velociraptor. "So, what do you think about the lava channels? Will they work?"

"I'm not a geologist, but I think they sound good..."

"It may work," Tamith interjected.

"By the way," Az said, "I am Azonthus, a Basin warrior, and these are Tamith and Dylan, Habitat Partners of the Forest and Freshwater, and that is Moraine, Alpine Habitat Partner."

The theropod nodded to each person who was introduced. "I am Blue Eyes. I'd be more than glad to help you in anyway possible. I'll run all the way to the Tentpole of the Sky to warn the monks there if need be!"

Az smiled. So, he was just out of training and wanted to save the world. She could still remember the feeling. "You've got a sharp mind. We need you here more than up at the Tentpole! Why don't you stay here and help us think of more ideas? We have plenty of people who are used to this climate and better able to running messages."

Dylan looked around at the crowd of gathered volunteers and smiled, "OK, this is great. I'm glad all of you want to help. With everyone's help, we'll have everyone out of harms way in no time! What we need to do now is decided where and what we have to do." He turned to Moraine, "The surrounding villages have to be warned on foot; am I correct? What about the channel idea? Can the area were the lava will flow affect any village? Is it even predictable or random?"

"I'm a pretty good geologist," Tamith added, "If you wish, I can assist you in any way I can.”

Blue Eyes looked up at the Habitat partner, weakly limping a little on his wounded leg. "The channel could be controlled if dug at the proper depth and proper direction. It must flow downhill, and be at least ten meters wide so it can help the lava flow. We'd best try to direct it toward the desert to avoid a fire." He felt tired again, the injury was wearing him down and he began to limp back to bed.

Discussions continued late into the night and many plans were discussed before everyone had to turn in.

Mist plowed forward, long ago having lost sight of the lights of the city, the snow blinding her, not even sure if she was heading in a straight line, in circles, or toward a chasm to her doom. She pushed onward, her staff sinking into the drifts of snow as emerald eyes scanned the white wasteland before her. Snow was swirling around, making it impossible to see through. Suddenly she caught sight of the figure she'd been following, a fleeting movement, caught in the after-image on her retina as she closed her eyes to the white tundra.

"You call...but where leading?" She continued onward, the figure sometimes looming off in the distance, sometimes disappearing completely.

Coming to a stop, the snow cleared long enough for her to see she rested on a cliff ledge, the mountains surrounded her and she felt something colder then the freezing winds brush against her side.

From the cold appeared an empty space, a void, that the snow bounced off of. Only visible when pelted with the flakes, it formed a huge mammal like form- but with bizarre elements of a saurian mixed it. Then the form dissolved into nothing, but Mist felt it beside her, surrounding her, within her. It surrounded her and gave her warmth, and wrapped around her. And whispered to her, with the tinkling of ice upon a frozen river, of the unsettled earth, it spoke of the lava pools deep within, ready to consume what had been on the Island for their Turn...

Mist slowly rose to her feet, the shimmering spirit beside her and headed back in the direction she instinctively knew to be toward Thermala. The Gaia kept her mind warm, though she knew, in some vague way that her body was near exhaustion. The Gaia kept her mind distracted, though somewhere in the back of her mind, she knew as she ran on through the snow she was slowly dying of cold. But she had to warn them. The spirit Gaia told her to...

Reaching the edge of the village after she knew not how long, the frozen raptor, who's skin was more blue then gray, with blood trickling from her mouth, but oblivious somehow to the pain, collapsed in front of a stained-glass making workshop, out cold.

Blue Eyes slowly walked back up the stairs and when he reached the second story, walked into his room, glanced out the window for a moment, then turned his attention back to the bed. Suddenly his head jerked back to the window... A raptor? In the snow? Now I've seen everything...Unless…

"Nurse go check on that raptor, I don't think it should be out in the snow like that." Then, he slowly curled up in the bed relaxing.

Heavy footsteps thumping on the stairs leading to Az's and Mist's shared room barely made their way into Azonthus' consciousness as she slept. Suddenly, the door to the room was flung open and someone started getting the banked fire going strongly again.

Az moaned and pushed her head out of the mound of blankets to look around. What she saw through blurry eyes quickly woke her up.

Three strong humans were laying MistReaver down next to the fire in some blankets while some women were dragging a tub into the room. They filled it with warm water and gently laid Mist in it in a desperate attempt to get the raptors body temperature up.

"Mist!" Az bolted from her nest bed and ran to her friends' side. The Utahraptors skin held a sad bluish tint to it and Mists mouth was bleeding slightly. The dark raptors skin had turned from near black to a sickly cold gray, tinges of an icy blue showing near her gums. She groaned, her lids fluttering, barely coherent noises coming from her mouth.

The warmth washed over Mist and her lids opened, closed, and immediately her pupils dilated. Mumbling in a tongue incoherent to everyone around her, she began to scrabble against the sides of the tub, her eyes searching the room.

"Mist! Please... calm down. You're safe..." Az soothed. "What happened?"

Blue Eyes, limping, followed the group and hurried to help. He sat down next to Mist and tried to help, still a bit oblivious to Az's presence. "How may I help? Please tell me," he was deeply worried for the raptors safety.

Gasping, the raptor felt hands, talons and leathery hands on her. She calmed down, realizing she wasn't speaking in any Dinotopian language and switched to broken dromaeosaur tongue, obviously shaken, a small bead of blood trickling out of her mouth.

" ththethe snow. Sssssooo cold. Vents beneatthhhhhh ssssnows. Lava," Her eyes flushes a deep green and were wide. "I found the Gaia..."

"Gaia? An earth spirit? Can she help us?" Az was worried for her friend, but there was also the danger of the entire mountain vanishing beneath a river of lava.

MistReaver leaned back in the warm water. "Rest... cold..." she murmured.

Az nodded. "Just try to warm up. I'll stay here with you."

"Rest...yes," calmed, Mist nodded. "Gaia earth spirit...within, outside..." She looked around, her eyes glazing, "Told me...of where. And when and why. Can't stop it, but maybe...divert, evacuate. The spirits...know more. Yes...please stay. And you, Troodon," She looked at Blue Eyes. "Stay too. Later...I'll speak...with the Gaia..." She drifted into a fitful sleep.

Blue Eyes nodded and poured some water into the tub. "Ok when you are ready we shall listen." He smiled and rested, tired from the energy he had already exerted.

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