At long last, after two years, I am finally starting work on my first non-prompt LBT story (despite the fact that this opening chapter would be the perfect candidate for February's prompt). I know I've already written several depressing Petrie stories in the past, but after bad dreams finally triggered me, I intend to go all the way with it. Just what led our favorite prehistoric Flyer to become the not-so-courageous, timid, stuttering, grammar-challenged Flyer we've come to know him to be? What turned him into the flightless coward we saw in the original movie?
The story you are about to read is an extraordinarily depressing tale of a young boy who ended up having to grow up an outcast through no fault of his own. A series of unfortunate events would await from the very beginning as he struggled through his unhappy childhood. Misfit and completely friendless, and having the love of only two individuals.
I don't necessarily mean to do justice for the cold reception he received from audiences who watched the first movie, but merely to shed new light on why and how he came to be this way.
I wish to give special thanks in advance to OwlsCantRead and Keijo6, who gave me the courage and persuasion into writing this story, and I hope you find this one very interesting as it further develops.
THE TRAGIC CYCLE
THE DAY IT ALL BEGAN
It was a day they knew were coming. It was a day they were waiting for, but also one they were dreading. Ever since that fateful day some Night Circle cycles ago when Cerusa laid those eggs, she had to embrace the fact that it was a night that would change her life forever, for the good or the bad.
The much-feared Sharptooth had been stalking land-dwelling herds of twofooters and fourfooters alike, and Sharpteeth Flyers terrorized the open skies. Choosing the nest location had thus been critical once it came time to start a family to keep the family bloodline alive for at least another generation.
For Cerusa and her beloved mate, Rantyl, this large tree seemed to be the only safe place for miles for a nest. There was plenty of room for seclusion from intruders, the top branches provided a perfect cover from any who dared to try attacking from directly above, and some of the branches had green carpeting them like grass. It was the best tree they had seen after many days of flying once Cerusa realized she was going to have eggs.
A third Flyer stood beside them, his eyes firmly on the eggs. For a few, it may have been odd to have a third Flyer witnessing what could be that special moment, but Cerusa had asked her brother Pterano to help look after the eggs when either she or Rantyl had to fetch more sticks or twigs for their nest, and would surely have to do so again once they hatched in order to find food for their new children. A feeling of responsibility and dread hung over all three of them as they sensed just how hard it would be to look after not one, or two, … but five children …
Five eggs. That was how much Cerusa had laid that night, and now it appeared today would be the day she and Rantyl would become new parents to five children.
In the last few days, two of the eggs had began to make small jittery movements, but today all five of them seemed to be shaking and jittering. Judging from these movements, the adults felt sure that today was the day.
"I don't believe it," whispered Cerusa to her mate, breathing uneasily, "I … can't believe we're about to be parents."
"I know it's not going to be easy, … but I'm sure this will be a proud moment for us," replied Rantyl.
Cerusa turned to look at her mate and held his hand tightly.
"Are you sure we won't have to live here for long?" she asked him, "I know this isn't the best place for a nest, but are you certain you know of a better place?"
Rantyl sighed and did everything he could to give her a sense of reassurance. Ever since he had overheard a Longneck speak of "a better place that would be the perfect home," he yearned for nothing more than to seek out this … special place, even if others had begun to seek out the legendary so-called Great Valley. The one burden that had stopped him, though, was the fact that he was about to become a father, and that meant having to be around for his kids and to help them get to know the world around him; … the kind of world he felt wasn't the safest or even a good one for Flyer children.
"My dear, I know the Great Valley is being sought after by many herds around these parts, but I'm sure somewhere out there on the horizon is a perfect place where we will live in peace," he said with an assuring grin, "Just wait and see, Cerusa. Our children will love it."
"You do realize, though, that our children will need to learn how to fly," Cerusa pointed out, "With three of us and five hatchlings, that could slow us down unless we waited."
"I intend to stay until I get to see our new children, and on the break of dawn tomorrow I hope to begin my journey and return to you as soon as possible with news of a safer home. I promise," said Rantyl, gently holding his mate by the shoulders.
"Don't ever leave me alone in this world," pleaded Cerusa.
"I never could," smiled Rantyl, and the two kissed passionately before a faint sound from their nest managed to get their attention.
One of the eggs had started rolling around the nest, a clear sign that it was going to hatch any moment now.
"It's happening," whispered Pterano.
"It's really happening," gasped Cerusa, her chest pounding with hope as she eyed the one egg rolling around.
Suddenly, the shell cracked, and a tiny beak poked its way out. Smiles grew on the adults' beaks as they watched tensely. The egg seemed to bounce up and down a couple of times before the shell finally gave way, and out emerged a blackish-dark gray Flyer with a dark yellow beak. The lack of eyelashes confirmed it to be a male.
"Oh, look," gasped Rantyl, "It's a boy."
"Aww, look at him," quivered Cerusa as joyful tears threatened to come down, realizing she was now a mother, a defining achievement in her life.
Rantyl picked up the newborn and gently rubbed him.
"Now, what should we name you, little guy?" he said playfully.
"Might wanna be quick," said Pterano, "Another one is cracking."
"Indeed," chuckled Cerusa, "It'd be bad luck to not name them before we lose track of who's who."
The others giggled at the statement as the baby tried climbing his way up his father's arm.
"I think Donnie has a very nice tone to it," said Rantyl thoughtfully.
Cerusa smiled in approval just as they heard the shell of the second egg break apart. The baby within appeared to be bluish in appearance. In fact, it appeared to be the same shade of blue as the mother. Furthermore, eyelashes gave her away as a female.
"Oh, my goodness," gasped Rantyl, "This one's the spitting image of your younger self."
"You don't say," replied Cerusa sarcastically, "I think I know just the name for this one … Terra, I think."
"Perfect name for her. She'll probably grow up to look and be just like you, and they won't even be able to tell you apart anymore," chuckled Rantyl.
Pterano managed to hold back a laugh as his sister playfully pressed her hand against Rantyl's cheek and pushed him away some.
"You really are such an ass, aren't ya?" she snickered.
"I don't deny it," said Rantyl, smiling mischievously.
"One of our kids is bound to inherit something from you," joked Cerusa.
Rantyl shrugged it off and saw the third eye breaking apart.
"Ah, here comes the third one," he said, bringing the others' attention back to their nest.
The third hatchling was a male and had a shade of blue that seemed just as blue as the sky.
"He'll be quite a stealthy one once he gets to fly," commented Pterano.
"Hmm, … Skybeak?" pondered Cerusa, "Certainly seems right."
"I couldn't agree more," responded Rantyl.
Terra and Skybeak both toddled towards their mother and wrapped their arms around her ankles. Cerusa smiled at the adorable sight.
"Aww, you kids," she said sweetly, and she gently caressed them, "Just wait 'til the day you take to the skies."
Donnie slid down his father's arm and curiously approached the remaining two eggs, one of which was beginning to shake even more than the other. For the parents, it was a sign that particular one was set to come out any moment.
"Three down, two to go," commented Rantyl.
"And here comes the fourth one, … I think," said Cerusa hopefully.
Within a moment, with all eyes on it, the fourth egg's shell began to crack. Out poked a pair of legs, followed by a pair of wings stretching all the way out, and soon the top of the shell snapped off to reveal the head … of another female, … purplish in appearance.
"Another girl," smiled Cerusa.
"Oh, my. Look at her beautiful colors," gasped Rantyl, "Such a gorgeous color, I can only consider one name for this little girl."
"What would that be?" his mate asked.
"Pearlwing," he answered proudly as the rest of the shell disintegrated and the newborn girl began to wander curiously around the nest, fascinated by what she was seeing around her.
"She's such a curious one," said Pterano.
Before long, everyone's eyes, including the newborns, had turned to the last remaining egg, sitting almost completely still in the center of the nest. It seemed to be shaking as if it was freezing cold. It was a sight that nearly broke their hearts, as they knew that it was a sign that there was very little chance that baby would ever hatch from its egg.
"Hmm, … I think this one will need a bit more … time, perhaps?" said Rantyl with uneasy breaths.
"Oh, I hope nothing happened to this one," gulped Cerusa as she began to fear the worst.
"I suppose Rantyl is right," said Pterano, "We never know. It could hatch any minute for all we know."
"You can't be too sure," sighed Cerusa.
Pearlwing made a cautious approach to the shivering egg, and she gave it a playful poke. What happened next surprised everyone, including the children …
The egg seemed to … react to the poke. It jumped as if it had been frightened, and once the bottom of the shell touched back down, it shattered to pieces. They were able to make out two grayish-brown legs that almost immediately slithered back inside the egg. The family seemed amused by what had just happened.
"Oh, my," said Rantyl, and he gently tapped his daughter's back, "Pearlwing, you might wanna be careful. You've frightened the poor thing."
The broken egg began rolling towards the edge of the nest, but Pterano stopped it in its tracks and gently rolled it towards his sister.
"Now, now. You don't want to stray too far," he whispered.
As Cerusa approached the egg, she heard whimpering within the shell. It seemed to her that this last child was not going to come out that easily. It definitely seemed terrified of the unfamiliar world outside its tiny prison of a home and wasn't ready to leave its comfort zone.
"Hello, … little one?" she said gently to the last baby.
As she peeked inside, she noticed the lack of eyelashes and realized it was a boy. Its head and back were reddish-brown in color, while its front was grayish-brown.
As the boy noticed the eyes of its mother peeking inside, he screamed and turned his head back, shielding it with his wings. It broke Cerusa's heart to see her new son like this. It was going to take a lot of gentle persuasion to bring this little one out of its cocoon and lure him out into the open.
"Aww, there, there. It's okay," she whispered as gently as she could, "I'm not going to hurt you. Come on out, little one."
Even if her voice was as gentle and sweetening as she could make it, the hatchling still seemed to react with hesitation, shivering as if he was chilled to the bone.
"Is it alright?" asked Rantyl.
"Oh, the poor little one's scared to death," quivered Cerusa.
Seeing that this situation wasn't getting any better, Rantyl wrapped an arm around his mate's back and looked inside to see the boy for himself, and he was quite stunned to see just how terrified their youngest child was.
"Aww, don't be frightened, little one," he said gently, "Come on out and meet your mommy and daddy."
The baby unshielded his eyes to get a glimpse at his mother and suddenly noticed another pair of eyes looking down at him. He brought himself into the fetal position within his eggshell and began shuddering in fear.
Seeing only one other option to persuade the frightened child into poking its way out, Cerusa sat down and held the egg on her lap. The baby seemed to moan and whimper in response to the way his egg moved around, and she kept her eyes fixed on him.
"There, dear. It's safe to come out," she said, one hand slowly approaching the opening where the shell had broken, "Come on out. It's okay."
The hatchling cowered as he noticed his mother's hand, but after a few tense moments with her remaining completely still, he hesitantly began to creep his way out. Cerusa did her best to remain still until the newborn reached out to take her hand. He looked up to see that she was smiling warmly at him, but it did little to convince him that she wasn't a menace. Cerusa sighed sadly, knowing that it was going to take quite a lot to get her youngest son to accept her and that being forceful was not going to get her anywhere.
Before long, the hatchling finally emerged and crawled into his mother's hand. Cerusa cautiously set the egg remains back in the nest and began to caress her new son, making sure to be as gentle as possible …
Suddenly, the four other children let out happy squeals, apparently excited to see their little brother. The boy was so startled by this that he almost fell out of his mother's hands, but Cerusa managed to keep him in her hold and hugged him tightly, just about crushing him against her chest.
"Ssh!" hissed Rantyl, "Not so loud."
It was then that the boy looked around and finally realized just how many others were gathered around him and his mother, and once he saw that he was no longer in his egg, he whimpered loudly and shielded his face with his wings again.
"Oh, dear," sighed Cerusa, "The poor child."
"Ssh. It's alright," said Rantyl soothingly, "None of us are going to hurt you."
The two parents looked down thoughtfully at their youngest child as he slowly unhid his face and looked up at them, noticing their gentle smiles. It finally seemed enough for him to calm down and put on what looked like a quivering smile. They knew he was still frightened, but it seemed he was beginning to accept them as his loving parents.
"What do you suppose we should name him, dear?" asked Cerusa.
Rantyl stared at the hatchling and gently stroked his crest just to see if it would invoke any sort of reaction. The boy whimpered a little at first but relaxed once he saw that the gesture meant no harm.
"Cerusa, my dear, … I think … we should name this one … Petrie."
"Petrie?" said Cerusa curiously.
"I'm sure one day he'll grow up to be very brave," said Rantyl, smiling proudly at his youngest child, "It may take time, but I think he has potential."
"Are you sure?" asked Cerusa, doubtful about how long it would take for this little one to muster any form of bravery.
"I'm sure," assured Rantyl, "It takes time for everyone. Our little Petrie will be no exception."
Cerusa had her doubts, but she didn't press it further. Right now, it was time to celebrate this milestone achievement. Here they were: parents of five beautiful children, undoubtedly the proudest moment of their lives yet.
Pterano cautiously approached his sister and patted her on the back as a congratulatory gesture. Donnie, Terra, Skybeak and Pearlwing all gathered around their parents and uncle and looked curiously at Petrie, who still looked rather shaky but was at least calming himself down. At the end of it all, a new chapter was set to begin in the lives of this Flyer family. The three adults knew it was going to be a long journey ahead, and that they would not have much time to cherish this important day.
With a new family now came great responsibility. With a new family came great hopes for the future …
With a new family … could come great burdens …