Disclaimer: The following story is a fan made work of fiction. Dinotopia is owned, written and illustrated by James Gurney. The characters used herein were created by the author Scott Ciencin in the same storytelling universe. Please support their official releases.
A/N: This was a simple fluff piece written for two characters from an absolutely wonderful young adult series written back in the late 90's and early 2000's. I highly recommend checking out the original author's work as the novels written by Scott Ciencin are absolutely amazing.
Of Waterfalls and Revelations
"Teacher, teacher!" chirped an eager Protoceratops, "Let us go; we must be off!"
"Yes!" cried a small brown haired boy to the dinosaur's left, "I want to ride the flumes. They've finally lined one of the chutes with padding and are letting us go down. Oh please teacher, please! If you don't let us go now then we won't be able to make it until tomorrow."
From her vantage point in front of the class Lian shook her head. The young woman of Chinese descent had been caught daydreaming, staring out of the stone-cut window in the center of her classroom. She had only just now been snapped out of it by her student's cries of attention. It was most unlike her.
Maintaining an orderly classroom was her preference. At the moment, though, it seemed that her students were anything but orderly. Normally conscientious and polite, each of them was virtually bouncing off of the walls.
In the case of a young troodon hatchling the expression was true both figuratively and literally. It was time for her to retake control.
"Tell me, little ones, what makes you feel that your personal entertainment is more important than your studies?" She chided gently, "Give more, take less."
"Awww, teacher, not the Code!" whined a dark skinned girl. Her hair was braided in intricate rows, interwoven with a garland of beautiful flowers. "Come on! Please let us go."
Lian sighed softly as she pushed away from her desk and stood. Quoting the code served as both lesson and reminder but with young children you often had to do more than just quote. After speaking the words you had to instill their meaning. Misdirection often served best in this regard.
She clasped her hands in front of her chest as she spoke."Okay children. You have done well all day and learned a great deal. Class will be dismissed shortly."
Cheers broke out amongst the youngsters. She let them enjoy the moment as her eyes glittered in unspoken amusement. "But before you leave," she said gently, "I have one final lesson: What is the meaning of the line that I quoted to you?"
The cheers were quickly replaced by groans.
"Awww, not another lesson," the young Protoceratops muttered. "And we were so close too!"
Lian smiled softly as she chided him. "Life is an endless series of lessons, young hatchling. Just when you think that you have achieved your goal, a final obstacle will rise to block your path. Now, class, answer the question."
Silence settled onto the room for a moment. Then the young, brown-haired boy next to the Protoceratops jumped up. Lian nodded in his direction.
"I know I know!" He yelled excitedly. "It means that we should help others more than we are helped by them."
Lian shook her head. "That is close but not quite correct, Derek. If we were all to help everyone more than we were helped then there would be no balance." Lian looked around the class. "Can someone help him finish it?"
A young Deinocheirus raised a claw and Lian nodded in the Dinosaur's direction. "My mother told me that the saying is a truism, not a universality, and is not meant to be taken literally. She said what it means is that we should be helpful and kind, or generous and loving, rather than being stingy or greedy"
Lian gave a soft snort of amusement at Moonclaw's answer. It was almost as though the young girl's mother was in the room. Leave it to a Deinocheirus scholar to teach their child to speak like an academic. If she's this successful with her own child, I should get her to come in as a guest speaker in the future.
"Wordy... but well said, Moonclaw." Lian responded. Thoughts of guest speakers could wait until later. "Everyone, please remember her answer. In Dinotopia, the virtues of kindness and generosity will take you far in life. It is one of the founding principles of the world in which we live."
She paused a moment and then clapped her hands together. "Be certain to thank Moonclaw for your early release. You are dismissed!"
The children screamed in delight. Then they disappeared in a mad dash for the door, grabbing their items as they yelled excitedly to one another.
Lian smiled as she watched them move. Being a teacher was a true joy.
But why did her life still feel incomplete?
Thwack! Hours after the students had left, Lian smashed a fist into her desk. For the first time in over two years the young woman from China could feel her warrior spirit calling. Teaching the students was an incredible honor, and one which brought her much peace and pleasure. Yet her life was missing something.
Memories of similar times in her life rose unbidden in her thoughts. Faces of men and women, humans and saurian alike, rose in her mind. True companions of the heart and soul. If they could see her current unrest, what would they say?
Unbidden, her mind turned to a memory of Lord Botolf speaking to a group of the Unrivaled's youngest squires. 'When a knight does not know what path to choose, the knight must let the path choose them.' The old Troodon knight had spoken those words with great solemnity, impressing upon the young squires the need to wait before acting.
Unfortunately, patience in such matters had never been Lian's strong suit. She needed action.
"I remember," she murmured to herself, striding towards her classroom's largest window. "As I watched the longnecks struggle against the raging waters of the flood. I remember speaking with the little boys who had been lost, and bringing them back safely. That was when I found my calling, and never have I been more satisfied with my place in life than I am now. But it is still not enough."
In a short, sharp motion, Lian lifted herself up and through the windowsill. Soft spray pattered against her face as she stood bared to the beating heart of Waterfall City. Her soft linen clothes dampened as beads of water wet her short black hair. Moving under such conditions would be a challenge.
"It was an adventure for the ages." She continued, walking along the window's ledge. "A quest of the Unrivaled, Dinotopia's Troodon Knights, made possible through bonds of friendship. A quest that, though we failed, brought us closer together and saved the lives of others."
It was in the harmony of speech and movement that thoughts unclear became crystallized. The more she talked and the more she moved, the better she felt.
Closing her eyes, Lian breathed deep and leaped off of the ledge.
Swinging her right arm out and behind, Lian grabbed with both hands onto the wooden beneath and in front of the window and swung her body forward, once again entering into the exhilarating feeling of weightlessness. "With Andrew, and Ned, and Blundertail the Bold I crossed the length of Dinotopia, learning new things doing heroic deeds. Our adventures were the stuff of song, passing into stories told to young and old alike."
Lian's body flew threw the misty air in an acrobatic dance, gorgeous in its danger. She had never done anything like this within Waterfall City, knowing that the danger of slipping and falling was great. The spray drenched rock had proven to be a difficult foe for others to conquer in the past, leading some to their deaths. But there was no foe that could not be conquered through hard work and effort, and none on Dinotopia surpassed her in either area.
"Andrew's brother Ned has found his calling as an inventor. Together with Blundertail and Botolf in the Lost City, Ned has created a workshop to rival that of the great Arthur Denison. He is brilliant yet unassuming, a humble man who dreams of the future while living in the present."
The next series of jumps took her close to the Waterfall's shimmering curtain. Leaping and bounding, she threw herself into the exercise until her lungs and arms began to burn. Her hands and knees were scraped from where the rock had bit into the skin. Her skins shimmered from sweat and spray.
It still was not enough.
She paused for a moment, standing on the true edge of the city. Lian could see wooden poles dotting the exteriors of the buildings, forming a treacherous path closer to the water's edge.
With a crack of her shoulders, she plunged downwards, continuing to speak as she grabbed the first slick pole. "Blundertail became the First Knight of the Scrolls," she gasped, swinging her body from pole to pole. "And carried a priceless trove of ancient knowledge to this very city. He achieved his dream of becoming a knight while remaining true to his love of the past. He achieved balance between past and future, turning it into the present."
Lian reached the final pole, only to almost lose her grip. This final pole had begun to rot, coating the wood with a slippery garnish which caused one of her hands to come loose. For a moment the world seemed to move on its own as momentum spun her around. The force of the movement wrenched her arm in its socket. Pain flared, causing her grip to weaken.
The fight to regain her grip energized Lian. Thoughts and feelings crystallized within her, bringing her to her final point.
"Andrew has become the storyteller he was born to be," she gasped, lungs trembling with the effort of holding onto the pole with one arm. Lian was a slim and athletic woman, but every body had its limits. "He travels the land far and wide, telling his stories and seeing fantastic places. He has fulfilled his promise and makes past, present, and future into one for all who hear his stories."
With a scream of exertion, Lian brought her second arm up and latched onto the rotten pole with both hands. She pulled herself onto the poll with a shuddering gasp, seeing red from the effort.
Succeeding, Lian placed her back against the stone wall and breathed in deeply. Her mind was whirling and twisting as though caught in a vortex. "I dealt with my past when I put down my sword. I have found my calling as a teacher of young ones, delighting in the present. But why, when I think of the future, does my heart ache and drive me to distraction?"
Lian sat on the pole as the shadow of day turned to night. Her thoughts moved like the water below, ever churning without rest.
Everything she had fought for and sought was within her grasp. Every single thing that had hurt or confused her had been put to rest. She was happy to be in Waterfall City, happy with her life. So why do I feel like something is still missing
With a sudden crack, the rotten pole gave way. Lian tried to find purchase on the stone wall as she fell. Her scratched and torn palms scrabbled against the slick stone, tearing nails and bruising flesh. All to no avail.
She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply as she fell into the raging torrent of water that was the heart of Waterfall City.
The water slammed into her body with the full weight of a charging triceratops, mercilessly battering her body. Lian tried to struggle, fighting the wet torrent in an effort to reach the air above. It was not enough.
The mighty waters of the Polongo river swept her away. Water rushed in to her lungs, choking her as Darkness wrapped her in its velvety embrace.
Lian awoke with a gasp. She reached toward the air, desperately trying to save herself from the rushing water that surrounded her.
Only to fall out of the bed and onto the hard stone floor. Dazed and confused, she tried to look around herself to see where she was when a strong human hand placed itself on her left shoulder. A second hand placed itself on her other shoulder, steadying her.
"Careful Lian. You haven't really recovered yet from your little dunking in the river." The warm, familiar voice in her ear sent a shock down her spine. "C'mon. Let me help you up and get you back to bed."
The hands disappeared from her shoulders and were replaced by a pair of strong arms. They lifted her up onto shaky legs and guided her to the bed she had just vacated. Once she was able to grasp the edge with her own two hands, Lian turned her head to look at the man who had just saved her months of internal embarrassment.
"Next time I go for another so called dunk, Andrew, I will be sure to take you with me. It was not nearly so pleasant as you might imagine."
Andrew's brilliant smile flashed in the day's light. "I wouldn't know. Despite the opinion of a certain childhood friend I've never been quite so foolish as to try to sail the Polongo river on my own, let alone without a boat in which to do it."
"Then you are clearly wiser than your friend once thought. I shall have to meet them someday and tell them as much."
"It's okay, Lian. I'm fairly certain that she already understands. I just wish that I could tell her to take care of herself. She has a tendency to push away help even when it is needed."
Lian groaned as she lowered her body into the bed. Her body ached all over, and having Andrew of all people chide her for being the foolish one did sting her pride. Yet as her uncle would have said, barbed words earned were barbs that must be received. To ignore the actions which had led to their utterance would be a dishonor to herself and to the one who had uttered them.
She rubbed her head with one hand as she contemplated his words and fished for one of his hands with the other. He grabbed hold of it quickly. "Yes, yes Andrew," she said wearily. "Enough of this banter. You have become far too good at it since you finished your storyteller apprenticeship, and your points full of painful truths. I was a fool for what I did and I shall not do it again."
"Good," he responded cordially. "Because I would be well and truly mad at you if you were to go missing for another two days and be found floating in another river.
Then he waggled his eyebrows in a manner he no doubt thought to be fetching before offering one of his terrible jokes. "In fact, I'd be madder than a carnosaur locked in my brother's pantry and sadder than Blundertail in a burning library."
Lian blinked at the mental images his words conjured within her mind. Each was so impossibly implausible and the joke so terribly delivered that she couldn't help a slow the twitch of humor which curled the edges of her mouth.
"If that is what I have to look forward to in the afterlife, then such a fate would be worse then death, my dear."
"You betcha! And whoa, hold on a moment. My dear? Is that what I am to you?"
Lian shot him a fierce glare at those words. She was never one to spill her feelings, least of all those which could make her blush."Must I spell it out for you?"
Andrew smiled winningly to himself and crossed both arms over his chest. "Yes, Lian, I think that you do."
The Chinese girl continued to glare at him. Andrew just kept smiling, though, and eventually she could no longer resist. Damn the man's infernal optimism!
"Yes, Andrew, that is what we are," she bit out sharply. More sharply than she had intended, but he was pushing her. She had never liked being pushed, and she did not like it now. "If you want to, that is."
"Oh, I want it," Andrew replied softly. The young man reached out and took her hands in his own. "I've wanted it for years. But you held me off for years, so why now Lian? Was it because of your experience just now? Or did my charm finally win you over?"
Lian snorted in amusement. Was the man seriously equating exposure to his charm with a near-death experience? Her lips curled up as she smiled.
"Neither? Both? I don't know why," Lian replied. She gripped Andrew's hands tightly as she spoke, digging the tips of her fingers into his palms."All I know is that my heart is telling me that now is the time, that I am ready for a new phase to begin."
She looked up and stared into his face. Though weathered by travel and showing signs of leaving boyhood behind as he went into manhood, Andrew's eyes still sparkled with the same mischievous light she had seen in them since they were children. It burned constant and bright, like a lighthouse for her restless soul.
Lian shifted her grip, clasping one of Andrew's hands between both of her own. She then brought the hand up to her mouth and placed a single, soft kiss on it. Andrew repeated the gesture as well, exchanging the feelings of his heart with her in the gentle manner which made her love him all the more deeply.
She did not know where this new adventure would lead her, but she felt a familiar thrill course through her body as Andrew stared into her eyes.
A wonderful journey of exploration lay before her, one where the stakes were high and the rewards great. It was the adventure of a lifetime.
An adventure where she would never be alone.
Breathe deep. Seek Peace.