Chapter 3: Weathering Weathered Gorge
Flip, flap, and fly.
Those were the only things that a perturbed Petrie found himself doing ad infinitum as he rode an updraft of warm air, the walls of the valley already far behind him as he soared across the Mysterious Beyond.
Up here, it was only him and the skies. No one could interrupt Petrie as he continued to stew over his brother's words.
"You should never have been hatched, Petrie! Because you're nothing but a failure, exactly like Dad was!"
Petrie had to repeatedly blink his eyelids to halt the onset of tears that were brimming at the corner of his eye and threatening to fall, the flyer restlessly keeping his gaze firmly on the desert below him.
No, he couldn't cry now… he was better than that.
Besides, if he lost control of his emotions while he was flying in the sky, the blurry tears trickling down his cheeks would surely impede his vision and force Petrie to roost down in the dangerous Mysterious Beyond below so that he can clear his eyes, as trying to fly without optimal eyesight was practically suicide for a flyer.
It went without saying that after surviving countless harrowing chases where he had nearly ended up as a sharptooth meal, Petrie had learnt that he was far safer in the air than on the ground, and thus he preferred to avoid being forced into that predicament in the first place by simply using his wings.
Sniffing to clear his nose in an attempt to try and better control his emotions, Petrie brought his mind back in check by dwelling on his harrowing escape from his siblings.
Panting heavily, Petrie stopped behind a bush to catch his breath, only to hear an exchange of words from nearby that made him shiver with fright.
"How are things from the ground?"
"He went to your right!"
Petrie swallowed, his throat going dry.
This was so not good.
Gryphon was a decent tracker, and his brother was almost right on top of him. With his eldest two siblings assisting by staying in an arc-like formation above, it was apparent to Petrie that his pursuers were—rather cleverly—trying to encircle him from both land and sky to ensure that he couldn't get away.
No, he couldn't let himself get caught like this. Petrie gritted his teeth, fervently tightening his grip on his snuggling stick.
Wait… his snuggling stick!
His eyes brightened as he realized that this was exactly the breakthrough he needed. With a calculated aim, he fondly looked at it for just a moment before flicking the object as far away horizontally from him as he could, holding his breath when he heard it clack against the trunk of a tree. The sound made by the impact was relatively soft, but deep within the maze-like vegetation with trees and shrubs that surrounded him everywhere, it felt almost as loud and disruptive as the roar of a vicious sharptooth.
This had to work. It was his only shot.
'Go on, Gryphon!' he anxiously prodded in his heart, 'Chase after me snuggling stick, no chase after Petrie!'
The sigh of relief that Petrie exhaled when he heard Gryphon's next words was an audible one, despite his best attempts to suppress it so that he wouldn't give himself away.
"Yaw, Pitch! Petrie changed directions! He's headed to your left!"
When he heard Gryphon's footsteps heading away, Petrie slowly and carefully began flapping his wings when he was certain that the coast was clear.
'Me sorry Gryphon,' he thought, feeling a sting in his heart at tricking the sibling who he was the closest to, 'but Petrie need get away from all brothers and sisters! Me mad at everyone now!'
Getting airborne to avoid making any footprints was merely the first step. Petrie couldn't just directly fly out of the canopy in case Yaw and Pitch remained above and spotted him emerging from the treetops, so he had to chance a low-level flight that had multiple obstacles in his path. While he would normally take such a flight slowly and steadily, in this instance he had to be quick as they probably wouldn't be fooled by his trick for long. Furthermore, he also needed to take special care in keeping his flight silent so as to not alert his three siblings as he wafted through the thick vegetation.
To put it bluntly, it was not an easy flight for him to make.
By using the fresh footprints he'd made on the ground as a guide, Petrie eventually managed to forage his way through the cluster of trees by heading in the opposite direction of the path that he had used while venturing in. It was, after all, the last direction Gryphon and the others would expect him to go.
Right as he exited the vegetation after having countless near misses with multiple different branches and trees, Petrie came face-to-face with a cackling Gyro and Roll. Meeting his siblings' eyes as the two flyers appeared surprised at his abrupt appearance, he wordlessly took to the gray skies above before they could even say or do anything.
And that was how he had ended up here, flying away from his safe haven in the valley and risking himself to chase after ghosts from a time long past. Gyro calling him a failure and drawing comparisons to his father was simply the tipping point.
The worst part of his brother's callous remark was the fact that while Gyro would often torment his younger brother with unwarranted and unsubstantiated critiques, this specific one was candid and held some truth in it, thus hitting his personal insecurities and self-worth right on the mark. Because of that, he couldn't just shake it away as simply another random and unsubstantiated belittling insult when it held a nugget of truth to it.
"It's because you take after our father, Petrie! Our useless father who was never there for us, all because he was such a failure!"
Because he was such a failure…
There was a reason that those words had such a profound effect on him. Gyro had made the comparison out of a sense of personal spite this time, the pure malice discernible in his voice as he drew the similarities between the brother he disliked, and the missing father who he yearned for yet despised. There wasn't a single one of his brothers or sisters who could deny that their father was never there for them, and not even Petrie was able to defend this.
It was a fact, and even as a hatchling, Petrie could recall that his mother had always looked downcast whenever the topic was brought up.
"Where's daddy, momma?"
"He's… uh, um… let's drop this, okay, Petrie?"
Even before he learnt what had actually happened, there were enough contextual clues lying around for him to slowly cobble things together. Despite his young age, Petrie was able to tell from his mom's stiff posture and somber tone that something terrible must have happened to his father.
…but in a sense, now that Gyro had noted just how similar they both were in an uncanny sense, Petrie couldn't help but to resent his father.
Where was he when Petrie needed him? If they were both so alike, why did he have to die and leave his youngest son alone, without any guidance and support when he so desperately needed it when his older siblings were picking on him?
Life just wasn't fair sometimes…
Petrie hardened his eyes, focusing back on his flight when he saw a brownish speck appearing on the horizon.
Dull brown, just like his snuggling stick.
His coping mechanism… or well, was his coping mechanism.
Ditching it was a necessary sacrifice for him so that he could undertake the journey of a lifetime, although unlike one might expect, throwing his siblings off his trail wasn't the only factor that had led to Petrie deciding to cast aside his snuggling stick.
Petrie could distinctly recall the sense of empowerment that he felt swelling within him when he relinquished his snuggling stick. From just that one gesture alone, it felt like he was casting away his old cowardly, wimpy self — the flyer who had always been dependent and a general burden on others. And by making the choice of throwing away something that was a part of him for so long and choosing to venture out of his comfort zone, the act was very much a symbolic one — testament to an improved and grown-up Petrie being reborn from the ashes.
From as young as Petrie was able to recall, he had always been singled out and ostracized, first for his fear and inability to fly despite his species, and after he had gotten over that, a fear of things in general. Leaving his snuggling stick behind denoted the exact moment where the flyer decided that he would no longer be the childish Petrie that everyone had pushed around.
And when Petrie said everyone, he literally meant everyone. He could casually list out an entire group of dinosaurs which may or may not be larger than the entire population of the valley.
Gyro and Roll.
Yaw and Pitch whenever they were agitated.
Gryphon before he had reformed and repented after seeing Petrie's performance during the Day of the Flyers.
Hyp and his two cronies whenever they relapsed back into their old ways.
The grown-ups whenever they were being stubborn, especially Cera's father.
And speaking of Cera, even his friends weren't immune from this. As a prideful threehorn, a mad Cera was a prime example of someone who dissed him from time to time, but even sweet Ducky had gotten agitated with him before and made attempts in the past to persuasively coerce him into things that he would normally abstain from through the use of her cute little aqua-blue eyes… curse those adorable eyes, they were far too potent when it came to breaking down his defenses.
Well, no more of that. He wasn't going to be a helpless punching bag who was oh-so-easily pushed around any longer.
He simply refused.
That cowardly flyer he once was would no longer be bound to the ghosts of the past. He was a new flyer now, one who would stand firm and forge his own path.
And what better way to uphold himself to a new standard of bravery than by tackling a journey that would surely earn him the respect he rightfully deserved?
Well, this time around the credit would indisputably be his. There was no one else to take credit for his successful endeavor, as when it came to the gang, the successful end of a risky adventure could usually be accredited to Littlefoot… maybe Ruby at times.
Other than that, he was just there. A spectator for all the adventuring, and when Petrie said that he was a spectator he quite literally meant spectating… to be more precise, spectating from the air. The whole thing could be encapsulated with a single remark which Ducky had first mentioned many Cold Times ago, before it wound up being repeated by his friends whenever they needed his aerial aid.
"Use your wings, Petrie!"
That was all he was ever useful for — purely minor stuff. It mainly entailed him keeping a lookout while staying out of danger by using his wings to stay airborne whenever they were in unfamiliar territory, and in less strenuous situations, occasionally earning his team the game point in a game of Pointy Seed… or really, any game where being a flyer allowed him an advantage due to his stellar eyesight and aerial maneuverability.
Although his heart knew it wasn't true, Gyro's cruel proclamation in stating that he was indeed nothing but a failure truly stung. All those failed memories and botchups were a vicious cycle, perpetuating a negative confirmation bias in his head by constantly reaffirming it.
Even one of the few accomplishments that Petrie could truly say has affected numerous others positively—the joy of showing everyone that flying with their own personal style on the Day of the Flyers was alright—ended up smirched by the fact that it wasn't all that important in the long run. The Day of the Flyers was not a common occurrence, after all.
This, however, would be a completely different story. Attaining success here would have a lasting impact.
He whistled tunelessly when the landmark in the distance slowly got larger, now no longer the size of a grain of sand in his vision.
"But at least now I would never forget where that accursed mountain range is located… near where the Land of Mists is in present day, towards the direction where the Bright Circle rises from the ground."
Petrie had been part of an adventure to the Land of Mists long ago at Ali's behest. This was when Littlefoot's grandfather had fallen ill and their headstrong leader had decided to make it off without them because he felt like he had to undertake the journey alone, almost a mirror of what Petrie was doing to them right now.
The resulting adventure to find the healing Night Flowers was one of the most memorable ones for him. Although it had been many Cold Times after he and his friends had made the journey, Petrie could still vividly remember the route that he took to get to the swampy marsh that was the Land of Mists.
As a result, he could easily locate the place his mother had talked about from the directions that she'd unknowingly given him.
Sure enough, there it was in the distance, passively surrounded by dark sky puffies.
The rocky canyon that had claimed his father's life stood tall in all its majesty, swathed in a dull brown that downplayed the gorge's fearsome reputation.
Petrie wordlessly looked at the large looming structure as he drew closer. The flyer had made up his mind from the moment he snapped at his siblings back at the valley. This adventure would finally settle that nagging doubt in his mind once and for all.
Would he falter as his dad did almost ten Cold Times ago, or will he finally outdo his father and prove all those doubters and naysayers wrong… including his treacherous heart?
It was pertinent that he found out the answer, no matter what it may be.
And there was only one way to do it.
By succeeding where his father had failed.
If Petrie could replicate his Dad's final journey at Weathered Gorge and triumph over it, he would finally be able to settle things, once and for all. Once he conquered and vanquished Weathered Gorge, even his self-critical mind would see the light.
This wasn't pure hastiness speaking — Petrie knew that he could do it. He and the gang had successfully made it through multiple adventures together, exploring all sorts of wildly dangerous places throughout the Mysterious Beyond. Really, what was one more forbidden place being added to the tally?
Me friends always go dangerous and scary places, he thought with a tired smile. Even if me no go this place now, Littlefoot probably drag me here someday!
The point was, a hardy Petrie was confident that he could best the 'supposedly dangerous' place that had claimed his father's life.
He was not a failure… he was not his father!
Who was he to be labelled and called names simply for being his father's son? It didn't seem right that someone who Petrie didn't even know had been indirectly responsible for all the pain and suffering that he was forced to endure throughout his entire childhood.
In a way, his father was the very reason as to why he was a coward… he had shaped Petrie's very personality.
The similarities tore at him. Why did he have to be the treestar who fell so close to the withered tree while everyone else weren't like their father at all? Why couldn't he be more like his brothers and sisters? They were outgoing, calm, and adept when it came to their flying abilities and attitudes, and they clearly hadn't inherited those traits from their father!
Well, no more of that! He had had enough.
This was his chance to prove his bravado!
No one would be by his side giving him grief this time. He would be without his family, without his friends, without any support.
It was just him and his trusty wings.
And that, Petrie decided, was really all he needed.
Weathered Gorge was his for the taking, and with a successful pass through it he could finally quash all the insecurity and comparisons between him and his father.
As he got closer, he could see that the rock face went sprawling skywards. He took special care to be pedantic, scrutinizing and analyzing every last detail of the landmark.
This was it. No time for him to be scared. That time had long passed.
Now, it was time for Petrie to prove himself to everyone who doubted him.
"Hear me voice, Weathered Gorge!" he orated, his determined voice reverberating loudly. "You got me Dad, but you no can get Petrie today! Me gonna beat you, me swear it!"
Only as he descended did Petrie appreciate just how massive Weathered Gorge truly was. The twin plateaus towered over him on both sides as he entered the deep ravine. He shivered as he flew, his eyes darting between the red cliff face surrounding him from his left and right. Taking in a deep breath, he suppressed the edge to hyperventilate as he angled his wings slightly down to reduce drag and began diving down so that he could pick up speed.
No let rock wall stop Petrie! It no like they going close in on Petrie! Me no can be scared… me need do this! Petrie need get through Weathered Gorge!
Sucking in a deep breath, he pitched forward and gained speed, diving further down into the middle of the canyon that snaked across the two plateaus on both sides. Though he found it claustrophobic to find himself being surrounded by solid rock that he would smash into if he went off course by veering left or right, Petrie fought down the urge to take off into the open sky above him.
His father had apparently taken this route right down the middle, and so would Petrie! The young flyer was going to follow his parent's footsteps, right to the very end!
…minus the demise part, of course. Petrie had no interest of ending up as a corpse by embarking on a suicide mission. This was merely just a prove-them-wrong grudge challenge.
Once he slowly calmed down, things actually appeared fairly normal for a while. Petrie found that he was just flying along the ravine, occasionally changing direction as the valley walls snaked.
In fact, he found himself being disappointed. The entire locale seemed deserted, with nothing out of the ordinary at all. A suspicious Petrie even craned his eyes, only to find that there were no obvious signs of any hidden predators either.
The sound of his flapping wings and the soft wind in his face was the only dissonance that broke the eerie silence. Otherwise, nothing.
Seriously, was this it?
Petrie didn't get it at all. He just couldn't believe what he was seeing. From the way his mom had hyped it up, he had expected himself to be flying towards some semblance of danger at the very least. Instead, he found himself greeted by the sight of a mountainous ravine that was completely deserted.
The flyer had to suppress a chortle. Some of the crazy shenanigans and sharptooth chases that took place when he had gotten caught up in an adventure with the gang were more hazardous and deadly than this place. This was the place where his father had perished? From a few of his mother's tearful wracks and sobs, Petrie knew that his Dad had wound up being impaled on the sharp rocks, but he didn't have any details.
How had that even happened? An aerial display went wrong? Spiraling out of control? Not pay attention to where he was flying and smashing his face into the cliff at full speed?
Petrie scoffed, a grin lighting up his face as more and more incredibly outlandish scenarios of his father's demise played out in his mind. It appeared that all counts of Weathered Gorge's so-called fearsome reputation were greatly exaggerated, as everything his mind pointed to suggested that his father had likely impaled himself due to his own carelessness.
Well, he for one wasn't going to complain if the difficulty of the journey turned out to be nothing but hyperbole, as the difficulty of the flight being barely more than a breeze was to his secret advantage. Let everyone think what they wanted to think, as it was the reputation that would prop up his achievement in the end. If his mom had unintentionally made Weathered Gorge out to be this terrifying place, no one was going to doubt it or challenge the existing notion that had been painted into their minds even if it turned out to be false in hindsight.
In fact, that misconception made things all the easier. Petrie could feel his tense muscles relaxing as he continued to venture deeper and deeper within. He could already picture the look of shock that would be on everyone's faces when he returned to the valley after completing a pass through the "fearsome" gorge successfully. He could not wait to see his most hated brother have to swallow his pride and eat crow… it would certainly serve that smug Gyro right!
…of course, that being said, he was also able to picture the punishment his Mom would dole out to him for pulling such a stunt. Knowing that he would come back to his Mom chewing him out made things a little bit sour, but the satisfying sweet bubbles of his labor would far outweigh any potential penalty he received, so in this case Petrie didn't really care about scoring yet another infraction for disobeying his mother once again.
And to be fair, in this case he had already earned such an infraction when he dragged his whole family in to unintentionally listening into his mother. He was already going to end up in trouble either way—especially since he had a feeling that Gyro would squeal on him for eavesdropping—so he really had nothing to lose at this point by venturing out into the Mysterious Beyond without permission and locating Weathered Gorge for himself.
It was basically just like him defying instructions to be with the gang, except with none of his friends here for this specific adventure.
Petrie continued flying straight until he saw a sharp left bend ahead. As he turned, he glanced back and saw the wide entrance he had flown in disappear out of sight.
Things were then status quo for quite a while, an incredulous Petrie quickly becoming bored with his vision being surrounded by brown wherever he looked.
But then, after he had flown for quite a distance, he suddenly began to hear an incessant ringing in his ears that came from out of nowhere.
Only then did things started to get disconcerting.
Realizing that the howling noise that plagued his hearing was the distinct sound of strong winds which often signaled the start of a windy storm, Petrie looked up and found his beak dropping when he saw that the sky had darkened immensely.
It was only when the first drops of sky water began falling on his beak that it hit him — such strong gales always preceded a storm.
Ack! Why storm start right now? This no good, me no have shelter here!
Flattening his wings as the sky water began to turn into a downpour, the first doubts began to creep into Petrie's mind. However, he had grossly underestimated just how turbulent things would get.
Just as he was bemoaning his misfortune of having the Bright Circle abandon him at a time like this, the very sky itself appeared to open, summarily unleashing a deluge of sky water that was on a level and magnitude which Petrie hadn't seen ever since the Days of Rising Waters.
By this point, he was so far into Weathered Gorge that making a U-turn to escape via the way he had come in wasn't worth the effort since making a one-eighty might actually require more time to escape. It was a classic case of sunk cost fallacy — the typical "we've come so far, let's just carry on" he often heard Cera grumbling to herself whenever they were in a pickle.
Unfortunately, his wings were tied. He couldn't go back, and the dreadful weather continued to pound on him from above with a volley of falling precipitation which made it impossible for him to ascend over the cliffs. The tall bluffs at the sides of the ravine trapped him horizontally so that he couldn't veer sideways, and thus the only path that was left to Petrie for him to trudge straight ahead.
To make matters worse, the sheer vertical cliffs that encompassed and entrapped Petrie on his left and right happened to be flush vertically from the inside, providing no outcroppings or alcoves that the flyer could use for taking cover from the freak storm. Since he had nowhere to hide, his best option was simply to continue flying. Attempting to brave things out by staying stationary in one spot was something that he couldn't afford to do.
The loud rumble of sky fire caused Petrie to flinch mid-flight, a startled yelp leaving his beak.
Now he definitely couldn't remain stationary, especially with the horrible sky fire that would keep on flashing sporadically.
His wings were getting drenched, the torrential sky water making them wet and soggy. Petrie found that his aerodynamics were slowly being affected as he ventured deeper into the ravine, the sky water beginning to accumulate and weigh down his wings, gradually making the very act of flapping them just so he could continue to maintain level flight an increasingly growing challenge.
A drenched Petrie gnashed his upper and lower beak together in frustration as the heavy gale blew against his eyes. Buffeted by the relentless winds, he couldn't help but feel exposed.
This was supposed to be an easy flight! Why did this have to start going awry? Why was the world so keen to prove him wrong?!
Right is he was cursing his luck, Petrie let out a pained cry when he felt a glancing blow strike him across the side of his face. He swung his head around to see if he had accidentally scraped against the rocky cliffs, only to realize that even with the reduced visibility from the sky water, the bluffs were still nowhere near him.
So what had smited him, then? It wasn't sky water, that was for sure.
Well, on this occasion Petrie should have nipped his curiosity in the bud. Unfortunately, he quickly got his answer when he was bombarded by a barrage of hard objects.
It couldn't be…
And yet, there was no mistaking it this time.
Hard water falling from sky!? What going on now?!
Of course it got worse. Why did he expect anything less?
He squinted his eyes to avoid being pelted, his mind now fully distressed. Hard water falling out of the sky was impossible… it was the Warm Time, not the Cold Time! What was this madness?!
Now with both solid and liquid water raining down onto him, Petrie was quick to take back his earlier disappointment with regards to the level of challenge he was supposed to face. He would much rather take back the mundane conditions that he had previously enjoyed and taken for granted when he first flew into the ravine compared to this onslaught of hail that was now battering his wings incessantly.
Be careful of what you wish for, indeed.
Me no gonna give up! Petrie yelled in his mind, weaving in and out of the falling hail as best as he could.
Almost as if it was amused at Petrie's valiant attempts to adamantly push forward despite the overwhelming odds against him, it was then that Weathered Gorge played a cruel trick on the flyer, crushing whatever little hope he still had left of trying to continue his flight.
Without any preamble, the weather conditions changed. All of the falling sky water dissipated in an instant. That would have been a relief for Petrie… if it hadn't given way to a harsh blizzard which blew frozen skywater synonymous with the Cold Time right into his face instead.
Not a good trade-off, not in the slightest.
Petrie faltered for a moment, losing control of his altitude and direction as he found himself assaulted by the mass precipitation of white fluff that was now pelting him relentlessly. With his visibility impaired, Petrie found himself quickly becoming disoriented, unable to even see the jagged brown cliffs surrounding him from both sides of the ravine.
That changed everything. With his vision showing nothing but white, he was basically flying blind. He now had no choice but to land on the ground—which he also couldn't see because of the sudden snowstorm—as he didn't dare run the risk of flying right into the cliffside. Without any visual contact he lacked the reflexes to swerve away in time.
Since Petrie didn't fancy the idea of breaking his neck by crashing his body directly into solid rock at full speed, he slowly dropped his altitude and reduced his flying speed. The latter was easier said than done as the winds were blowing against him, so Petrie had to maintain a delicate balance to avoid being blown back as he slowed down.
Eventually, he felt himself landing on something slushy. He looked down to see that had landed on the ground, which was covered in white ground sparkles, and heaved a sigh of relief as he dragged his feet.
That relief was only momentary, however. His heart was fluttering around like a panicked flailing of a flyer who couldn't fly, and beating so hard and fast that Petrie was able to discern the palpitations in his chest. Now that he was unable to fly, Petrie felt completely vulnerable. A grounded flyer was one who was out of their innate element, very much akin to a swimmer who found themselves stranded on land.
Although Petrie spent the first five Cold Times of his life unable to fly, he had greatly developed his flying abilities since then. He was far more agile and adept in flight, and thus it tended to be more of a challenge for Petrie to walk on foot, especially today with the harsh draughts that were blowing against him.
He was certain of one thing, however. This wasn't just an ordinary storm.
It was a full-blown weather phenomenon.
And with that revelation, it had also quickly turned into a fight for his very survival.
Things were spiraling out of his control, and this, in a sense, was also an acute representation of the chaos and anarchy that embodied his life.
From the moment Petrie heard his mother's crushed laments, he had used Weathered Gorge as a scapegoat for how he had been robbed of a father and for all of his intricacies in living up to his siblings' standards.
Unfortunately, he himself did not appreciate the true nature of the gorge and had chosen to dive into the rocky bluff overconfident, confident that his tenure of past experiences with the gang and their adventures would suffice.
But this? This was a whole new level. It felt like nature itself was against him.
Only now was it clear that Gyro's entire reasoning had been wrong, and not in the way that any of them had expected. The entire basis that Gyro had used to draw up his conclusion was invalid as it was now abundantly clear that even if his father hadn't been a coward or a weakling like his older brother had inferred, the chances of Dad making it out of a storm of such magnitude was measly nevertheless.
Correlation did not necessarily equal causation. Who would have thought?
None of them had factored the possibility that it wasn't necessarily the fault of their father that led to him tragically meeting his demise, but rather the deadliness of the gorge itself was what had taken him.
As if to prove that hypothesis right, the weather then proceeded to switch itself up yet again, refusing to stay static for an extended length of time.
"Eep…" Petrie groaned, struggling to maintain his footing as the winds picked up speed. "What… happening… now…?" he sputtered, straining with effort to get each word out.
Before Petrie could say anything else, the flyer squawked when he found his body being carried up into the air like a helpless treestar.
Previously, it had been sky water, then frozen hard water, and after that it was white ground sparkles.
Now, it was the wind. The sheer force of the sudden gale plunged Petrie into a steep and uncontrollable spiral up to the sky as he wildly gyrated his wings about in blind panic.
Straining to pry his eyes open as everything became a blur, Petrie let out a shriek when he realized that the trajectory of the windstorm would cause his suspended body to be hurled right towards the rocky cliffs.
Well, well, well. Weathered Gorge turned out to be a pun. Who would have thought? :p
The tone of this chapter is my not-so-subtle jab to Rhombus to please continue with The Pursuit of Endless Day. It's been so long. :P But besides that, this is a Petrie-centric chapter and really delves into the flyer's self-esteem and psyche after his brother's verbal attack, as well as his reasons and feelings about running away and taking on a challenge where his father had fallen so that he can prove himself.
But is Petrie right or wrong? And will he pay the same price as his father? Only time will tell. Next chapter would be the conclusion of this tale, and I hope to get it out by month's end.
Anagnos: Descriptive emotion is one of my most favorite things to write, and in part why the "adventure" part only starts in earnest this chapter. I'm glad you were fully immersed in the sibling squabble, as it was something which really bloated the word count. If this fic turned out to be the one-shot it was originally supposed to be, that section would have been cut significantly.
Keijo6: Well, this chapter reveals—kind of obviously—that the feeling of unworthiness and wish to escape the cycle of bullying was exactly what had led to Petrie venturing out, so you are spot-on! I did briefly entertain the possibility of the entire flyer family working together as a cohesive group to discover the truth hidden in Weathered Gorge at one point… but that would be way too much work for a one-shot. The conversation and arguments between all six siblings already lasted a modest 5K words in the final version… if I had them join, things would've gotten outrageously wild!
Rhombus: Good observation. In a way, everyone is speaking out of hurt from the revelation. In this case, the offending siblings took things out on an acceptable target and further exacerbated things by drawing comparisons between them. Despite all the rationalization in this chapter, Petrie's getaway comes before his present brooding and is indeed an impulsive one… and yes, impulse often leads to calamity.