Neera drew closer as Baylene, the brachiosaur, stood silently, her head bowed as if in deep contemplation. She had to say something but somehow didn't want to disturb this reflective time. But, that cave...
Did Neera sense danger? Of course not, but the very place sent waves of awe and wonderment through her very being, for the cave served as Bruton's final resting place, as well as the turning point for the Herd.
Yes, it is here that Aladar and his companions discovered that alternative route to the Nesting Grounds...and Bruton bravely met his end...Fended off the carnotaurs, and died a hero's death...He saved their lives...Aladar told me that...Then Baylene, determined to live and not lose faith, broke through to the other side...
"Baylene? Have you been here all night?," began Neera in a soft soothing voice. No immediate response from the brachiosaur, so Neera, saying nothing more, calmly strolled to Baylene's side. Sensing a presence, the elderly dinosaur craned down her long neck as if to speak. She lowered her head to meet Neera at eye level, then began, "My dear Neera, you did not have to make such an emergency of this, for as you can see, I am fine. I just needed to get away from the madding crowd, so to speak. Much has been on my mind these days."
She took a deep ragged breath and continued, "My time here is drawing to a close, so is Eema's; I can sense this. I know I'm not to share Sarama's visions, but the most disturbing things she saw..."
Neera was puzzled. Misinterpreting Baylene's words, she ventured, "What visions?"
The very thought of predators finding the Nesting Grounds and tearing that peaceful co-existence to shreds filled Neera with dread, but Baylene could sense Neera's fears and said reassuredly, "Oh no, Neera, it isn't that!" She continued, "Sarama is prophetically gifted. Her grandmother, Adah, was endowed with the same talents..."
Neera acknowledged this, for she too knew of the parasaurolophus' unusual gift. Wasn't that Sarama who, during the days before Aladar's arrival, intimated to Neera that there would be trouble ahead? She asserted that the Herd's very survival would be jeopardized if, "We choose not to follow the stranger amongst us..."
At the time, Neera, who imbibed her brother's "survival of the fittest" rhetoric, scoffed at Sarama's prophetic warnings as sheer nonsense. Now, in the years following the Fireball, Neera understood that Sarama was right. But what exactly did Sarama foresee that left Baylene a bit unsettled? With a sigh, Baylene turned back towards the entrance; Neera listened intently along the way.
"It is rather peaceful in here," she said, craning her long neck downward to avoid overhanging stalactites. "That's why I came here last night, to reflect upon my life, and my purpose..."
She paused just short of the exit, then continued, "Oh how I wished my sisters were here....and my mate. Oh Neera , you never knew Quivier..."
As the two dinosaurs emerged from the cave, they could see a large gathering near the lake. On a slightly elevated space, in the center of the crowd, stood a stately form. Neera and Baylene recognized her at once; the former was the first to speak. "Baylene, what is Sarama...?"
The elderly lady only responded, "She is doing this, Neera, as a promise to her grandmother. Just before Adah made her final journey to the Nesting Grounds, she vowed to my sister Ember that our family history be told. Adah foresaw the Great Sickness that took my Quivier..."
Neera listened intently as Baylene nudged her forward. In a slightly halting voice, Baylene said, "No, dear, leave me here....Go down and listen to Sarama...I shall be fine...It's just that...Well, some memories are too painful to relive..."
Just my grandmother foretold it....A stranger amongst us who will be the key to our survival...And the lemurs -- links to a future world that will come to pass long after we are gone...
She waited for Neera to join the gathering; to be sure, there were questions concerning Baylene's whereabouts.
"Why didn't she come with you?,: asked Aladar as Neera settled beside her mate. "She said she wanted to be alone, Aladar," Neera replied; then she turned to Sarama. "She said that you know her family history, and that your grandmother promised to keep those stories alive."
Sarama looked at Neera then cast her eyes towards the cave. No...she can't be dying, for it is not her time...Although she may receive a visitation from....Oh my!
The parasaurolophus' attention then returned to those gathered before her; she addressed them. "My beloved family. I know we are very much relieved that our Baylene is alive and well. Her 'disappearance' gave us all a shock; many of us feared the worst."
She continued, "Many of you are old enough to remember my grandmother, Adah. Eema remembers her..."
The elderly styracosaur only replied, "Baby, your grandmother was one of the wisest of the Herd. I never knew she and Baylene's family were close...Oh my, that means Baylene never told me all while we were slugging our way here..."
It didn't dawn on Eema that at the time of the post-Fireball migration, Baylene, perhaps out of resignation or lost faith, never ventured much about her family -- Why she became the last of her kind. Eema knew about the Great Sickness that swept the Herd so long ago and especially dealt the brachiosaurs a deathblow from which they never recovered. Perhaps Baylene joined the Herd out of lost hope. None of her kind ever migrated before; the brachiosaurs seldom moved about so frequently. Being the last brachiosaur meant no more to carry on; it was obvious that Baylene was well beyond her breeding prime. Perhaps Baylene clearly accepted her fate and resigned herself to die along the way; if she was not meant to survive then she didn't voice it outright. Rather, she put on the brave face and "stiff-upper lip" as she had always done, even in the face of catastrophe. Eema thought, with a melancholy sigh, of all Baylene suffered before the Fireball...
And she lived through it all, never complained or whined...Always a trouper, a true lady...
She looked up at Sarama with loving eyes. Adah would be so proud of her granddaughter!, Eema said to Yar. "Why, she has the same glow about her, all wise and knowing. Every time I look at Sarama, I see Adah shining through."
The old lemur patriarch glanced around the gathering crowd as Sarama began to speak. O how warm and soothing is her voice, Yar thought as he let her words waft over him. Hers was a voice dark and deep, a rich, lush alto that immediately put the listener at ease. The parasaurolophus they called Sarama glanced the gathering once more; her eyes rested the longest on Ola, her youngest and named after Sarama's mother.
Oh, darling child, this is your story as well; for you see, you have my mother's name....and my father's joie de vivre.
She closed her eyes momentarily as she conjured images more than forty years old, when she, as a mere child, played in the lush lands and waters of the South.
"It was an idyllic time; I had just passed my fifth year of life... "
But it isn't just MY story, dear, for it is yours as well...
Suddenly, Baylene felt a presence from behind, turned away from the scene, then gasped in astonishment at the sight before her. Could her eyes be deceiving her? No, it can't be...!
"My grandmother, long before her life ended so violently, made a solemn promise to Baylene's sister..."
Suri, the sprightly daughter of Plio, gaped in amazement. She turned to her mother, exclaiming, "I didn't know Baylene had a sister!"
Well, not too many in that gathering knew that Baylene had two sisters, a brother, and a loving mate named Quivier. Sarama's gaze rested on the petite young lemur as she replied, "Yes, Suri, our Baylene was blessed with a close, loving family; however, so many tragic occurrences altered so many futures. You see, Baylene was the family rock; all of her family depended upon her, yet when calamity struck, Baylene chose to keep her grief private."
She smiled then continued, "But Baylene's life wasn't all tragic; she and my grandmother were very close, and she shared her many tribulations with her. But after Grandmother's death, there was no one with whom Baylene could confide. She simply withdrew into herself, especially after the Fireball..."
She stopped herself as painful memories engulfed her. O how awful that night! Both Baylene and Sarama suffered great losses, yet the march to the Nesting Grounds that fateful year helped to numb each other's sorrow. Only Hadron kept Sarama going; only Eema, at least until Aladar's timely arrival, kept Baylene going. But why, thought Sarama, was Baylene spared? After the series of cataclysms that devastated the brachisaur population, only Baylene who survived. There had to be a purpose for that, but Sarama couldn't explain it. If only Grandmother were here...Oh my, she is here, for I can feel her presence so strongly.
Regathering her thoughts, Sarama once again began her recount of an unforgettable encounter. "It started as any day. My grandmother and I were feeding near that stream...Do you remember that place, Eema?" The old styracosaur nodded.
"Anyway, we just arrived from the north country. As a child, I was restless; the long trek southward was rather tiresome for my grandmother. The moment we arrived the first thing I wanted to do was play. That was when I met Baylene and her family. It was also the time that I began to have those visions, just like Grandmother. The dreams I had were so distressing that I never shared them with my mother; I only told Grandmother..."
"But after my initial meeting with Baylene, I began having these prophetic dreams that something awful was going to happen. My grandmother also had her visions of something far more devastating...Everything she said happened, and everyone suffered, but it especially took its toll on Baylene..."
TO CHAPTER 3!
Copyrightę2000 by "Sarama"