Life for the family was still rather sour even after things "seemed" to improve in the year that followed after Petrie finally spoke. Things still seemed far from happy and many factors were still troubling.
Cerusa was still the sad, broken-hearted Flyer she had been since Rantyl was taken from the world so coldly. Pterano was starting to behave a little … oddly in recent Night Circle cycles whenever the children were not around. He seemed to have strange thoughts that his sister could not comprehend or simply thought were utterly ridiculous. Nevertheless, he remained a good father figure to the children.
The now three-year old children were having mixed lives between them. Donnie was beginning to pick on Petrie from time to time, and Terra joined in almost whenever she could, while Skybeak and Pearlwing just tried their best to live normal childhoods.
Petrie, however, was having the worst childhood …
After he had spoken his first word, he seldom spoke, sometimes not even once a day, but he was brave enough to speak to his mother and uncle whenever his brothers and sisters were not present, albeit only with a few words and not with complete sentences. He began to feel a little braver about riding on his mother and uncle's backs, but it was quite clear that he was still showing signs of being afraid of flying himself once the time would eventually come for his much-dreaded flying lessons. He was also wetting the nest very frequently; just about every night, much to the chagrin of his siblings. Cerusa and Pterano simply thought it was normal considering he was only three, but this theory fizzled out when it became clear that none of the other children EVER wet the nest. Thus, it seemed to be another sign of something that … wasn't right … about the poor little Flyer.
Worst of all, some bad blood had apparently been boiling between Petrie and all his siblings, and it was for all the wrong reasons, … for something Petrie seemed to have no control over …
It all started one morning while the whole family of seven were having breakfast in their nest, and it was during that very breakfast that marked the beginning of a period of nothing but misery, pain and suffering from bullying, humiliation, injustice and perhaps a horrible future, not just for Petrie, but for the entire family …
"I suppose you kids plan to spend the day with Orcrest's kids," said Cerusa to her four older children as they ate their breakfast.
"Yes," they answered.
"Well, I hope you all have fun today," their mother smiled, although her smile, as it always did, didn't seem to be the happiest.
"Aren't you going to come with us, Mommy?" asked Skybeak.
Cerusa sighed sadly as she eyed her middle son.
"I'm sorry, Skybeak, but I have to stay here and look after Petrie. Besides, your brother never seems to want to get out of the nest for even a little while."
"But why does Petrie never come out?" asked Pearlwing.
Cerusa sighed and turned to her youngest child, who appeared to be quivering a little from embarrassment after he had become the subject of a conversation he thought was turning dreadful.
"Kids, I think you should let Petrie be," she said sadly, "He's just very shy, and I don't think he wants to be bothered by a question he doesn't want to answer."
She exchanged a sympathetic look with Petrie, and he quivered slightly before he unexpectedly answered her while shaking his head …
"Me no know."
The sounds of the family nibbling on their tree stars immediately stopped. Everyone was completely silent and still, their eyes all locked on Petrie, their beaks open as if they were frightened by what there were looking at. Petrie noticed the looks on everyone's faces and blushed profusely, wondering why everyone was giving him these looks of horror as if he had just terrified them just by speaking a few words.
"W-w-what?" he stuttered nervously, his cheeks turning redder with each second that passed and the silence only making it feel tenser.
"What did he just say?" gasped Donnie.
"No one ever says it that way," said Terra.
"Isn't it supposed to be 'I don't know'?" asked Pearlwing.
"Uh, duh. That's how everyone else says it," answered Skybeak.
Cerusa just stared at Petrie, extremely perplexed by what she had just heard. He couldn't have just misspoken a sentence. This could not be happening.
Petrie looked up at his mother, clueless as to why everyone had reacted the way they did.
"W-what?" he complained, "M-me no can help it."
Cerusa looked at him, appearing more horrified by the second, and she glanced at her brother, who looked equally as shocked.
Donnie and Terra, however, had started laughing at Petrie's terrible speech pattern.
"What are you, some kind of baby?" sneered Donnie.
"I wonder if something's gotten into his head," snickered Terra, "First, he wets the nest every day and now he's talking like a baby. How ridiculous!"
"I can't wait to see how the others will react to this!" laughed Donnie.
Petrie felt his chest aching as he listened to those heartless remarks, and he felt his eyes welling up. It made no sense that he was being looked at as some kind of disgusting freak just because of his … "awful speech pattern." Somehow, he felt as if he couldn't help it, and here he was being laughed at AGAIN for something he AGAIN had no control over. Now he was really beginning to feel like a cursed Flyer.
"Ahem!" Cerusa suddenly shouted, and that instantly silenced the children, "Okay, kids. That's enough laughing at your brother. I want you to finish your breakfast and run along, and don't even think about mentioning this to anyone. Do I make myself clear?"
"Y-yes, Mommy," Pearlwing answered hesitantly.
"Good," said Cerusa, and she turned to her brother, "Meet me back here later before the Bright Circle is down, Pterano."
"I will," Pterano promptly nodded, and the kids soon finished their breakfast.
"Run along now, kids. I'm going to talk to Petrie alone, and remember, absolutely no mention of this whatsoever, or you will be punished," said Cerusa as the kids climbed onto Pterano's back.
The kids said nothing as their uncle jumped and swooped his way down and into the forest, and Cerusa sat down and pulled Petrie onto her lap. The little Flyer flinched at this. He was sure she had something rather severe to say about what he had just done.
"Petrie?" he heard her say in a rather … calm, gentle voice.
Petrie looked up to find, to his surprise, a genuinely concerned expression on his mother's face.
"Why are you talking like that?" she asked him, "That's not the way the rest of us talk."
Petrie shook his head, having no clue how to answer.
"What is the problem, my little one?" asked Cerusa.
"Me no know, Momma," said Petrie.
"Petrie?" said Cerusa with a small gasp, shocked that he was still speaking very awkwardly.
"Me so sorry!" he cried as tears began to fall from his eyes, "Me no can help it! Why everyone think it wrong?"
"Because it is wrong, Petrie," replied Cerusa.
Petrie stared at her; his heart crushed after hearing that reply, the tears suddenly falling in torrents. Cerusa knew immediately that she had hurt his feelings. It seemed he was being completely honest; it was something he couldn't help for some reason.
"Oh, Petrie. I'm sorry," Cerusa apologized, hugging her son, "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings like that."
"Why it wrong, Mama? Why me brothers and sisters think me such a baby?"
"Aww, Petrie," sniffled Cerusa sympathetically, "I know this can be a problem for some children, but I'm sure that soon you'll start speaking correctly."
"How?" moaned a completely downcast Petrie.
"I'll help you," Cerusa answered.
"But what if me no can get it right?" lamented Petrie.
"We'll keep practicing together until you do," said Cerusa, winking at him and kissing him on the head, "I promise … I'll do everything I can to help you become a better Flyer."
Petrie was still completely doubtful, but he said nothing more. He didn't want to upset his mother even if he thought nothing could be done to help him.
"Why don't you and I practice right now?" offered Cerusa.
Petrie gulped with dread but shyly nodded, "Um, … okay."
Cerusa gently smiled at her little boy, hopeful that her lessons could improve his speech at the very least …
The lessons were a complete disaster …
Despite Cerusa's best efforts, Petrie repeatedly got all their sentences wrong and kept mixing up words so badly that it sounded like he was making no sense …
Sometimes, he would seem to start off well by starting sentences with "I" or "My," only to then forget the correct word and accidentally replace it with "Me" after trying to repeat them as a memory test, something that crushed his mother's heart. He continuously kept forgetting certain words in just about all his sentences, resulting in terribly scrambled speech.
He continuously got frustrated with himself, and at one point tried to harm himself with a small stick from the nest but was stopped by his mother. After numerous attempts with no success whatsoever, he buried himself with big tree stars and broke down in tears.
Cerusa's heart sank as she watched her youngest son fall into hopeless despair. She felt a chill run up her spine as memories came back to her …
… bad ones …
She couldn't help but cringe at the thought of her little boy suffering from … this. It seemed unbearable. Just how could this have befallen Petrie? To her, it made no sense …
Setting her thoughts aside, Cerusa slowly picked up the tree stars and set them aside so she could lift Petrie onto her lap. The little Flyer tried in vain to squirm his way out as she trapped him in a hug against his will.
"Petrie never get it right, Mama!" he cried, "Me stuck this way forever!"
"Ssh," whispered Cerusa, "Settle down, Petrie. This just needs a little more time."
"I no can do it, Mama!" sobbed Petrie, "Time not enough for me!"
"It will if you practice a little more," assured Cerusa.
"No!" lamented Petrie, "Me can't!"
Cerusa sighed and rubbed his head, but it did little to calm him down in the slightest.
"I'll tell you what. Why don't you and I go for a little walk to refresh your thoughts, okay?" she offered.
Petrie frantically shook his head. He didn't want anyone to see him … speaking like this. He knew it would embarrass him and that no one would ever let him hear the end of it.
Cerusa immediately deduced the reason for her son's refusal, but rather than giving in, she was determined to get him out of the nest one way or the other.
"No one has to see you the way you are, Petrie," she assured him, "If you don't want to speak to anyone, that's okay with me."
"B-b-bu-but!?" Petrie began to protest, but his mother placed him on her back before he could finish, and she climbed her way down the tree.
"Just be the quiet kid you were before you spoke your first word," chuckled Cerusa, earning a nervous gulp from her son.
"W-why me have to l-leave nest?" stammered Petrie.
"Well, because you need to see the outside world!" giggled Cerusa humorously, "You can't stay in the nest forever, ya silly goof!"
"Mom!" complained Petrie, giving her a glare.
"Besides, in a few cold times, we'll all have a journey to make, and you'll need to be ready for that," said Cerusa.
Petrie gulped in shock, "W-where?"
"Wait and see, little one," replied Cerusa with a wink.
A journey … in a few cold times?
To Petrie, this was news he hadn't expected. For all he knew, he was sure their nest would be their forever home, but the idea of some adventure to some faraway place was quite exciting yet dreadful at the same time. He still didn't feel comfortable about the skies and he certainly didn't want to be around strangers who would probably laugh at him for his speech problems.
Just a short distance down the path west of their nest, Cerusa spotted a gorgeous red flower and sat down next to it. She lifted Petrie off her back and onto her lap so he could see the flower for himself. He was instantly stunned by its beauty. The dim sunlight that shone right down on it seemed to make its appearance more sparkly. It was the most beautiful thing Petrie had seen for as long as he could remember.
"Wow," he gasped softly, "It … beautiful."
"Sometimes, I like to relax here and look at this flower," sighed Cerusa, "It helps take my mind off things. Helps me think of what's ahead rather than the past."
"You come here every day, Mama?" asked Petrie curiously.
Cerusa sighed heavily and caressed her son gently and lovingly.
"Nearly every day since your father left to go on his journey, little Petrie."
This brought a frown to Petrie's beak, just as his mother predicted it would.
"W-where … D-Daddy … want to go?" he asked nervously, hoping the question wouldn't provoke her.
To his surprise, he received a warm hug and kiss from her.
"I'll tell you one day when I'm ready to share with you," she said, her voice nearly broken as she tried to keep her emotions in.
Petrie sunk his head in defeat and slumped against her chest. Every day he had wanted to learn about his father, but his mother would never share anything with him regardless of how many times he asked her.
"Let me tell you something," he heard another voice that sounded rather far away, and he flinched and looked around to see if any strangers were lurking about.
"Don't be scared, Petrie," assured Cerusa, "It's probably just a few neighbors."
"One day soon we'll all be on our way to the Great Valley, and things will be much better for everyone," that same voice spoke.
"For everyone? Even those flat-headed Longnecks who think they know everything?" said another.
Cerusa immediately placed her hands on the sides of Petrie's head so he didn't have to hear any more of their words.
"Those foul-mouthed beaks," hissed Cerusa, and she waited until she could no longer hear them before she took her hands off her son's head, "I sure hope we don't have to listen to them once we find our new home."
"New home?" said a confused Petrie, "W-what wrong with home we have now?"
"Well, Petrie," sighed Cerusa, "This forest we live in … is not the safest place in the world."
"It … i-it n-not!?" gasped Petrie in horror.
"I suppose you're wondering why I told you we're going on our own journey soon," said Cerusa, "It's because some parts of this forest are crawling with terrible dangers, such as tar pits and other things, but most importantly, … Sharpteeth."
"S-Sh-Shar-Sharpteeth?" shivered Petrie.
"You have very good reason to believe they're frightening, Petrie. They're such vicious monsters who have been hunting us Flyers and many other kinds of dinosaurs for a very long time," said Cerusa. She made sure not to make any mention of Sharpbeaks and Sharptooth Flyers, knowing that would only worsen Petrie's fear of the sky.
Petrie felt his beak shaking with fear as a chill ran down his spine. He was happy to have never seen such a monster for himself, and he hoped he never had to.
"So now I suppose you're wondering just where we're going in a few cold times, Petrie," his mother continued, "Seeing as those other Flyers just mentioned it, have you ever heard of the stories of a place called the Great Valley?"
Petrie cluelessly shook his head.
"Well, legend has it that the Great Valley is one of the last and most peaceful places left in the world where there is food and water for everyone and with no Sharpteeth. Just imagine, Petrie. The safest home anyone could dream of, no shortage of food or water, and in such a beautiful valley. I know it must sound like a sleep story come true."
Petrie had his beak open in amazement. He could never have dreamed that such a place existed. It sounded like a living Great Beyond for him. It sounded like a fantasy that was so fascinating he wished everyone knew where it was so they could travel there … when he felt brave enough …
"Food … for … everyone?" he murmured.
Cerusa smiled warmly, "Everyone."
"Even, … others?" said Petrie nervously.
"Of course, little one," answered Cerusa.
"Why other Flyers think others … bad?" asked Petrie, curiosity getting the best of him after overhearing that strange conversation.
"Well, …" Cerusa began with a long sigh, "… there are many kinds of dinosaurs in the world, … but everyone always keeps to their own kind. The Longnecks, the Threehorns, the Swimmers, the Spiketails. We never do anything together."
Petrie was stunned. Just how could it be that no two kinds ever did anything together? From what he had seen in his short life, there appeared to be so many different kinds of plant-eating land-dwellers, … and yet no two kinds … ever interacted?
"Why?" he gasped.
"Well, … simply put, because we're different," Cerusa sighed sadly.
"What wrong with being different?" asked a clueless Petrie, "Why everyone hate each other for being different?"
"That's something I find very hard to answer, dear," replied Cerusa, "Everyone thinks they're superior and want to prove the other kinds wrong. It's the one thing wrong about this world we can't seem to fix. We can't put our differences aside and join together. No one would let that happen."
She paused as she noticed her son's beak quivering. Something about this conversation had obviously made him uncomfortable.
"What is it, Petrie?"
"If … m-me different because me no can speak right, … then … w-will everyone hate me?" he stuttered.
Cerusa wrapped her wings around Petrie and kissed him lovingly.
"The other Flyers won't hate you, Petrie," she assured him, "Once you've grown up to be a good Flyer, you'll have some good friends around."
"But what if everyone laugh at me and me want to be friends with someone different instead?" asked Petrie, "Maybe that no be wrong?"
"No one would take kindly to that, my dear," said Cerusa remorsefully, "I'm sorry."
"Then … no one be friends with Petrie?" sniffled a heartbroken Petrie.
"Petrie, … there are many children out there waiting to learn how to fly just like you, … and who knows? Maybe one of them could be just like you," suggested Cerusa in an attempt to bring a glimmer of hope to him.
Petrie didn't feel better after hearing that. As much as he wished his mother's words were true, he honestly doubted he'd be able to make any friends, especially if his … horrible secret … ever came to light, even if there was a chance there was another Flyer just like him who had the same problems. Surely, all the other kids would laugh and berate him, and he'd rather give up on trying to find a friend. Who would want to be friends with a frightened Flyer who couldn't speak correctly?
Seeing how this conversation wasn't making Petrie feel any better, Cerusa thought of only one thing that would take Petrie's mind off his pessimistic anguish. She picked him up and placed him on her back. Immediately, he sensed what she was about to do.
"Mm-mm-do we have t-to?" he stammered with fright.
"Well, we are Flyers, Petrie, and you'll have to get warmed up to the sky sooner or later," said Cerusa, and she gently lifted herself off the ground as Petrie frantically wrapped his arms around her neck to keep from falling off.
Once Cerusa was almost as high as the canopy, Petrie gulped with dread and wanted to close his eyes, but she had told him to keep his eyes open to get used to flight so that he'd be ready in the future to try for himself.
"Now, now, Petrie," said Cerusa, noticing her son's shivering, "A nice, gentle ride shouldn't be so bad."
Petrie gulped and simply stayed silent as he endured what always seemed to be like a fright to him. No matter how many rides he took, he just never seemed to get warmed up to being off the ground. It was just as bad as never warming up to strangers or anyone who wasn't within his own family. Inside, he wondered if that would ever change or if he would forever be a shy, cowardly Flyer who would always be afraid of everything.
He shakily looked around from time to time and didn't really take the time to admire the view of the forest from high above.
"I wish I knew why you're afraid of the sky, Petrie. There's nothing to be upset about," said Cerusa as she made a gentle turn to the right and began a smooth straight line towards their nest.
"M-me just … no like … be-being so high," stuttered Petrie.
"That will have to change soon, you know," said Cerusa, "We're not called 'Flyers' for nothing."
"Why me have to fly soon?" whimpered Petrie.
"Well, I did tell you our herd will be on their way once you're all old enough to fly. You'll need to warm up to it soon, dear," Cerusa reminded him.
Petrie gulped with dread. He didn't want to think about that right now since it was still a few cold times away, but the fact that it would inevitably happen lingered in his mind, and he just didn't feel ready for such a thing to happen.
"Have you heard?" they heard what sounded like a child down below, and the two looked down to find two young Flyers, both boys, having a conversation.
"About some boy who can't speak correctly?"
"Oh, I heard about that," the second child sneered, "What kind of stupid kid talks like that?"
"Babies as much as I know!" laughed the first child.
Petrie whimpered as he realized immediately that the conversation was about him. Cerusa groaned and glared at the two kids down below, who took no notice of her. She knew exactly what had happened …
One or more of her kids had disobeyed her. Someone had obviously spilled the secret of Petrie's bad speech and now some or maybe even everyone in their herd must have found out about it.
"Alright then," hissed Cerusa as she hovered above her nest and gently touched down, "Whoever spoke of it, I'll see do it that he or she be punished."
Petrie slid off his mother's back and grabbed a nearby tree star as he felt more tears ready to come down. His worst fear had already come true. All the other kids had already found out about his terrible secret and were laughing at him behind his back. He knew now that any chance of finding a friend was probably zero.
"Ssh. Don't cry, Petrie," he heard his mother's soothing voice whisper to him, and her wings enveloped him in another embrace, "I'll make sure the others stop laughing at you."
"What if it no work?" cried Petrie.
"I'll make sure it works," replied Cerusa, "I would never give up on any of my children … because I love you, dear."
Petrie didn't reply. He had run out of words to say, and all he could do was cry his heart out until they heard the arrival of their other family members … much earlier than usual.
Pterano and the other kids were immediately met with the sight of a crying Petrie and a furious glare on Cerusa's face, aimed directly at her children.
"Alright, kids! You have a lot of explaining to do!"
Judging from the severe tone of her voice, everyone immediately knew how this conversation was going to turn out …
It was to the surprise of no one that Cerusa deduced Donnie to be the culprit and Terra as his accomplice. Skybeak and Pearlwing had not spoken a single word about it, but their mother still held them responsible for not doing anything to stop their older siblings from spreading the word when they easily could have done so. In her eyes, all four kids were equally guilty of turning their youngest brother into the laughing matter amongst all the children of the Flyer herd.
It was also no surprise that all four kids were punished; for the next Night Circle cycle, Donnie and Terra were banned from leaving the nest, while Skybeak and Pearlwing were not allowed to play with the neighbors.
In the hours that followed, rather than take their anger out on their mother, Donnie and Terra instead decided to blame Petrie for their punishment just out of pure hatred for their youngest brother. Skybeak and Pearlwing simply refused to speak to Petrie despite receiving lighter punishments.
Unfortunately for Petrie, Donnie and Terra lashed out at him all through the evening until dinnertime, and even though Cerusa threatened to extend their punishment if they didn't shut their beaks, there was worse to come that very night at dinner …
Cerusa had gone to fetch some tree stars, and Pterano was continuously having to argue with Donnie and Terra in an effort to get them to quiet down about Petrie, such as reminding them of their mother's threat to extend their punishment. It did little to quiet down the two oldest children.
Skybeak and Pearlwing simply remained silent, not wanting any part of this dreadful conversation.
Petrie was staring off into space, watching the Bright Circle setting, trying to ignore Donnie and Terra's harsh words about him. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't drown them out but didn't have the courage to tell them to shut up, fearing they'd yell at him in return.
A sudden screech suddenly silenced everything as Cerusa returned with five tree stars, one for each of her children.
"That's enough, everyone!" she shouted sternly, "Let's all have dinner, and then everyone's going to sleep early! No arguments!"
Petrie, Skybeak and Pearlwing approached cautiously as their mother set the tree stars down, and as the youngest took his, he nervously watched Cerusa sigh and look away to calm herself down.
Suddenly, an instant later …
He felt something, or rather two things, grab each of his arms, and he was violently turned upside down as he dropped his tree star.
"HEY!" he screamed in horror, and he watched as two young Flyer arms grabbed his tree star from either end and ripped it in half.
He frantically looked around and made out Donnie and Terra as the ones holding him upside down … and stealing his dinner! Just what kind of kids could do such a heartless thing!? Why would someone want to turn him upside down, rob him of his dinner and force him to starve!?
They released their hold on his arms and suddenly grabbed his legs, and he could only watch in disbelief as they began eating his meal. Tears of desperation streamed from his eyes as he wailed loudly.
Even while upside down, he noticed his mother turning back to face him, and she gasped loudly.
"PUT PETRIE DOWN THIS INSTANT!" Pterano screamed on top of his lungs.
"Okay!" sneered Donnie, and he and Terra simply released their hold on their little brother.
Petrie landed headfirst against the pile of sticks, and pain shot through his head. His upside-down body turned and slammed frontside against the nest with a painful "THUD!"
"OW!" he screamed as he writhed in anguish and found it near impossible to get back up, … and felt a bad sensation in his chest and heard hissing …
Before long, he looked down and saw that he was uncontrollably wetting the spot he was lying on. He heard the sounds of Donnie and Terra laughing heartlessly at him, and he turned his head back and saw that even Skybeak and Pearlwing were trying not to laugh.
"Well, well, he's more of a baby than I ever thought he was!" mocked Terra.
"Are you kidding me!?" yelled Cerusa before screaming with rage, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?"
"We expected much better behavior than this!" seethed Pterano, "Are you completely mad!?"
"See if I care!" said Donnie rudely, "Babies are certainly not deserving of these tree stars anyway!"
"I wouldn't care if he starved to death!" added Terra.
It was only then that Cerusa and Pterano looked around their nest and saw that Petrie's dinner had vanished, and that Donnie and Terra's tree stars were only partially eaten. They glared at the two culprits with bloodshot eyes and blood red faces, their shaking beaks showing their teeth, their hands closed into fists.
Before any of the kids could register another thought, Cerusa punched Donnie in the face so hard that it knocked him down and bruised his beak, and Pterano did the same to Terra, leaving her with a bruise of her own. Pearlwing let out a scream of fright and Skybeak had to calm her down.
Petrie was especially terrified to watch this happen. He never thought his mother and uncle would actually get physical with his siblings even if they got this angry. To witness something like this felt like a living nightmare, even though they were defending him. The fright was so bad that he wet himself again and buried himself in a large tree star, not wanting to be visible to his raging family. He kept his face buried in his wings, not even bearing to watch what would happen next.
"You make your brother wet himself and you eat his dinner!?" growled Pterano.
"And you have no decency to even say you're sorry to him!?" added Cerusa in an equally furious tone.
Donnie and Terra had no response to give. Their rightfully-earned beatings had stunned them into silence, and they fearfully backed away into the corner, not wanting to get punched again or even knocked out.
"I'll deal with you two later!" yelled Cerusa, "I can't even look at you right now!"
She turned away and eyed Skybeak and Pearlwing, making them both flinch and cower with fear.
"Everyone is going to bed immediately!" she spoke with a stern glare, "I have absolutely no patience right now!"
"Y-y-ye-yes, Mommy!" Pearlwing stammered tearfully, nodding her head in fear.
Cerusa finally couldn't hold her emotions in, and she took some steps away and let out a scream of fury before she collapsed to her knees … and suddenly burst into tears. It was only now she had realized what she had done and that she and her brother had likely terrified all the children into forceful submission. This was not the kind of mother she wanted to be. This was never the way she wanted to treat any of her kids, even if several of them were discriminating another just for something he had no control over. Rantyl would never have allowed this to happen, … if he were still alive …
It was only after hearing the sound of sobbing that Petrie finally uncovered his eyes, lifted his tree star ever so slightly and saw that his mother was crying and his uncle Pterano was embracing her.
"Now, now, Cerusa," he soothed his sister, "We'll put them in their place soon enough."
"I can't believe they had the audacity to do that! I can't believe what I just did!" wailed Cerusa, "What kind of mother am I!? Rantyl would never have wanted this!"
Before Pterano could respond, his eyes locked onto Petrie's. The little Flyer promptly flinched at this.
"Cerusa, … I think we've frightened poor Petrie," said Pterano.
Cerusa tensely got up and slowly lifted the tree star that had been shielding the little Flyer from the chaos that had just ensued …
He was shaking as if he was freezing cold, tears had stained his cheeks, and urine was all over the spot he had been lying on.
"Oh, Petrie," gasped Cerusa in shock.
"Mm-mm-mmm-y-y-you s-s-sca-scare m-me!" cried Petrie.
"Aw, you little one," Pterano spoke calmly, "We're so sorry, Petrie. We didn't mean to frighten you."
"We're very sorry you had to see that, dear," whispered Cerusa, "We were, … well, … we were angry."
Petrie just stayed put where he was, shaking and crying as he struggled to compose himself.
This sight broke Cerusa's heart. It reminded her of the day the children hatched and Petrie acted just like this when he first saw the world outside his egg. It pained her to imagine that he would be scared of her all over again just because of something his siblings had done.
"Please come here, Petrie," she said softly, trying not to break down, "It's okay. We're not going to hurt you."
"It's all over, Petrie," assured Pterano, "We mean no harm to you."
After a few more moments of hesitation, Petrie slowly crawled his way to his mother's feet and climbed his way up until he was enveloped in her wings.
"Ssh," Cerusa whispered soothingly, "It's okay, Petrie. Mommy's here. I'm so sorry."
Petrie brushed his tears away and saw a sincere smile on his mother's beak, and only now did he find the courage to smile back, seeing how remorseful she was.
"M-me love you, Mama," he spoke weakly.
"I love you, too, Petrie," replied a relieved Cerusa, and she gently kissed him on the beak.
"Should I head down and grab another tree star for him?" asked Pterano.
Cerusa nodded, and her brother immediately left the nest and swooped his way down, returning a moment later with a single tree star in his beak.
Petrie felt his heart leaping with joy as his uncle pulled the tree star out of his beak and gently handed it to him.
"Thank you, Uncle!" he cried happily at the prospect of finally eating his dinner.
"You're welcome, nephew," replied Pterano with a smile of his own, "I love you, little one."
Petrie quivered and smiled at him, "Me love you, too, Uncle Pterano."
Cerusa and Pterano embraced each other and smiled as Petrie at last got to enjoy a delicious tree star. A sudden burst of excitement put a big smile on his face with each bite he took, earning laughs from his mother and uncle.
"That's my little one," chuckled Cerusa, tickling her son.
"Heehee! Hehehe! Mohommeeheeheeheeheehee!" laughed Petrie.
"Are you okay now, Petrie?" asked Pterano.
Petrie nodded his head once the tickling stopped and finished eating his tree star.
"Okay, little one. It's time to go to sleep," said Cerusa.
Petrie frowned upon hearing that. He looked off to the western horizon and saw that the Bright Circle was still clearly in the sky. Surely, this seemed way too early even for a 3-year-old to go to sleep.
"But, Mama, … Bright Circle still up," he complained.
"You need some rest, dear. You've had quite a troubling day. You should get some sleep and put today behind," his mother suggested.
Petrie sighed in defeat, his head crest sinking in resignation.
"Besides, your uncle and I need to have a word alone," added Cerusa, "It's … a private matter."
"Okay," groaned Petrie.
Pterano gently picked his nephew up and set him down in a soft pile of tree stars and sticks before covering him with a few more tree stars to keep him warm.
"Try to have some sweet sleep stories, okay?"
Petrie rested his head against some sticks and let out a tired yawn, "Okay, uncle."
"Goodnight, Petrie," smiled Cerusa, kissing her son one more time.
"Goodnight, Mama," replied Petrie weakly before slowly closing his eyes as he saw the smiles of his mother and uncle, the sight making him think as if he was smiling at his mother and … father …
With no energy left, the little Flyer fell into a deep sleep under the watchful eyes of his mother and uncle, and once they were sure he was fast asleep, the two exchanged worried looks.
Without a sound, Cerusa led her brother away from Petrie, and the two sat down on a corner of their nest, glancing at all the children, and saw that all five had fallen asleep.
The moment she locked eyes with her brother, … those … memories instantly came back to her …
… memories of their own past …
… even before Rantyl had come into the picture …
… long, long ago.
Like his sister, Pterano seemed to mentally flash back to those … terrible memories …
It was obvious … something about Petrie had brought back those memories.
"Do you … think what I'm thinking?" Cerusa hesitantly asked her brother.
Pterano slapped his own face with his hand in a clear show of despair.
"I was afraid this was what the problem might be," he groaned as it became clear that a terrible truth had been realized …
"This can't be true," panted Cerusa, "He has … th-that … condition."
This was just what they had feared when Petrie's bad speech came out of the blue. This also explained his shy behavior, his unwillingness to try anything, the likelihood that he might not be ready to fly when the time came, and why he spoke his first word much later than his siblings. This was something they had unfortunately experienced before …
"This is exactly what happened to our sister … and our cousins," said Pterano, "Oh, how I hoped I'd never have to deal with something like this again."
"I know how Liran annoyed you to no end, but at least she eventually got over all those problems," said Cerusa with a half-glare.
"Only after … like … ten cold times or something," Pterano pointed out.
"Pterano, don't force me into thinking it will take this long for Petrie to overcome this," warned Cerusa, "Our flight to the Great Valley is only two cold times away and Petrie needs to be able to fly by then."
Pterano paused and sat frozen for what seemed like ages before he dropped his pessimistic view on … this unfortunate condition that had obviously befallen his nephew. His sister was right. Everyone else in the family who suffered this condition had to wait many cold times before being able to fly, and even then, a few of their cousins never got to fly because they were affected far worse. However, this was an even more serious case; the herd would be on the move in a few cold times, and the stakes were high. For Petrie to have been born with this condition at a time like this would very likely be disastrous. Now there was a very serious risk of Petrie becoming an outcast … or worse …
Pterano didn't dare want to imagine how his sister's mate would have thought if he had lived to discover the terrible truth of his youngest child. Rantyl could surely have been very disappointed and wanted nothing to do with him, or he might have been as supportive as Cerusa was willing to be.
Even then, something else about this situation perplexed him …
"I don't understand, though," he said, "Our cousins from our father's family had it, our sister had it, neither of us had it, and only one of your children has it while the others don't. How does it skip you and the others like that?"
"I guess it must have been unfortunate coincidence," sighed Cerusa, "Random chance."
"What are we going to do?" asked Pterano cluelessly.
Cerusa cast a determined look at her brother and held him by the shoulders, giving him a brief jolt of shock.
"Let me tell you what we're going to do, Pterano," she began, never taking her eyes off him for even a second, "We're going to defy the odds of Petrie's condition and get him into the sky before we get our journey underway. I don't care what it takes to mentally prepare him, but we are going to do it. Yes, this will put a lot of pressure on him, but we don't have time to wait until his condition goes away once his Time of Great Growing begins. For the Bright Circle's sake, who knows if we even have less time than that if Sharpteeth decide to bring their jaws in and attack our herd before we're ready!?"
"Ssh! Not so loud," Pterano panted frantically.
"Not so-," Cerusa began to argue before her brother clamped her beak shut.
"You'll wake the children!" Pterano whispered in her ear, and he swung her head around to force her to look at the sleeping children.
Only then did she realize her near-mistake and took a deep breath to calm herself down, prompting Pterano to let go of her beak.
She then spent what felt like an eternity gazing down at her youngest son, nearly quivering as the terrible reality sank in. Now she knew why he was such a frightened little Flyer who was still friendless and appeared to have a grim future ahead of him. The thought of it so nearly made her tear up as she wondered how this would affect her ability to carry out Rantyl's dying wish, but she barely managed to keep it in.
Pterano's whisper jolted his sister out of her thoughts, and she panted and looked at him.
"How many times must you do that?" she hissed.
"My apologies," responded Pterano.
"I just … can't believe this has happened to my son," said Cerusa after recomposing herself.
"Like you said, Cerusa, … we'll do what we can to get Petrie ready in time, … by any means necessary," said Pterano.
"Whatever you do, don't go spreading your ridiculous fantasies to my children," said Cerusa with a warning glare, "That's the last thing Petrie needs to hear."
Pterano froze in place for a while before he replied with obvious reluctance, "I shall remain silent as the grave."
"You'd better," his sister sneered with a mischievous expression that was not lost on him. He knew she made it plainly obvious that she didn't exactly have complete trust in him.
"So, … uh, … when do … we start, … you know, … training them?" he asked hesitantly, desperate to change the subject.
"After their next hatch day," answered Cerusa, "Most Flyers start flying around the age of four, and even then, some kids take a little longer than that. We'll begin our journey immediately after all the children have mastered the basics."
"Right," nodded Pterano.
"Until then, we'll do everything we can to help Petrie and keep the rest of the kids in line," added Cerusa, "I will not let sibling feuds plague my family."
"So, … we see to it that the children are disciplined if necessary?" proposed Pterano.
"Obviously," sighed Cerusa in annoyance.
"I … I'm sorry. I, uh, probably sound like a …"
"I think I've heard enough for one night. I'm going to take a chill flight and regather myself," Cerusa spoke abruptly and stood up, grabbing the urine-soaked leaves, "Goodnight, Pterano."
Pterano could only watch as his sister took off into the orange sky and disappeared. He turned to look at his nephew and could only think of the terrible reality that had plagued him and the fact that poor Petrie had no idea what was wrong with him. He wished he could tell him what was making his life so miserable, but there were two problems …
Firstly, Petrie was only three cold times old, so he would obviously be too young to understand. Secondly, Cerusa would likely not allow her son to know the truth this soon, if ever. If Petrie knew now, it probably would destroy his mentality and crush his already-fragile heart. That would surely mean he'd give up on everything and not bother wanting to learn how to fly. It would completely destroy his life forever. Now was the worst time to tell him the truth.
"Maybe when he's ready," Pterano whispered to himself, "Perhaps after we've completed our flight to the valley."
He knew that the only thing to do for now … was try to at least make Petrie's life happier … before it was too late …
And chapter 3 is finally in! I do apologize for the long delay in between chapters. Procrastination got the best of me for weeks and I had no motivation to write, but I hope to avoid that in future chapters.
Like I said after the previous chapter, I was not going to guarantee any happy moments, and chances are that from this point on, there won't be anymore of those. From here on out, two more years of misery await our favorite Flyer for all the wrong reasons. Slowly but surely, we will see an unfortunate transformation into the Petrie that inhibited that cringe-worthy behavior that all the reviewers of the first movie absolutely loathed. We may not have seen too much progress yet, but don't fret. More OCs will come into the picture soon enough, and we'll gain a clearer picture of Flyer herd life.
I know that the chaotic scene may come as a shock to you, and I somehow feel it might have been the slightest bit out of place for me to include this, but with such unacceptable behavior, family tensions are high, and will only get higher as the time for flight training approaches.
And I had to delve into the all-so-familiar territory the first 20 minutes of the first movie gave us. It pretty much sets the tone as a pre-Earth Shake story.
I would like to give a shout out to Keijo6 for the input he gave me as I struggled my way through this chapter. I couldn't have gotten this done without you, so special thanks to you!
And yes, Harry Potter fans can hate me for all I care because I decided to poke fun at that questionable piece of media by choosing that chapter title! XD
Until the next chapter, see you all later. Take care of yourself, wash your hands and stay safe! :)