The Last of Her Kind

Chapter 4


Sarama continues her story of Baylene's family. Ah, the grand lady is descended from a noble lineage. Read on...

The parasaurolophus they called Sarama took a deep breath after she recounted a long lineage that stretched back far before she was born. Of course, it was Adah, Sarama's grandmother who kept Baylene's family history alive, as a promise to Baylene's sister Ember.á

It was after the Great Sickness, right before we left for the Nesting Grounds....Hadron and I were newly mated; we were expecting our first hatchlings...á
And that trip would be Grandmother's last...She never lived to see her great-grandchildren.

Holding onto her emotions and rationale with sheer force of will, Sarama glanced once more towards the cave, winced a bit, then continued her story.á
"Baylene's mother was a sauropod of the old order, back when many of their kind reigned supreme. Madame Sybille was a lady in every sense of the word. Baylene's father, Wymon, was equally as formidable...."á

~~~~~~~~

OK, let's rewind four decades as Mother Adah tells her very curious family the same story....

"...There were four children: Baylene the eldest; the twins Amber and Ember; and a brother named Kenric..."á

It was near dusk, and the old parasaurolophus, Mother Adah, answered little Sarama's questions concerning Baylene. Of course, Adah wanted very much for Ola to hear this; after all, her mother recounted the same so many years ago. Adah's family had always held the brachiosaurs in high esteem, and one such family in particular.á
Ever since she was a young hatchling, Adah remembered Baylene's parents with such fondness. Glancing every now and then at the brachiosaurs settling in for the night, Adah continued her reminisces of a grand family. But for all the grandeur and splendor of that long ago era, there was much pain. There was illness that plagued the sauropods; then there was a son spoiled and pampered by both mother and sister. Yet, the eldest daughter still holds onto her hope, but I can tell that deep inside she is seething...á

Yes, Baylene, your trials are just beginning.á

~~~~~~~~á

Baylene was the eldest child of Wymon and Madame Sybille, a formidable couple all the dinosaurs held in high regard. The pair, both boasting a strong noble heritage, stressed those never-ending time-honored values of family, honor, loyalty, and sense of duty. Both Wymon and Sybille passed on those traits to their four children, yet one child never quite imbibed the parents' strong influence.á
That insistence that tradition must be carried on regardless of the "changing times", that began to occur even before the parents' deaths, was played out everyday by the daughters. The son, however, never quite saw it that way.á
Which was why, when Ola inquired of Kenric's whereabouts, the very mention set Baylene's eyes ablaze. However, Baylene remained oddly silent and calm; only the eyes gave away the depth of her burning rage. Never, not ever, did Baylene allow herself to display outright rage; she never allowed herself to do so.

As it was always the case....á

~~~~~~~~á

Of the three daughters, the greatest burden fell upon Baylene. Her parents expected her to take over as family matriarch; she became her aging parents' chief caretaker, despite the twins requests to lend a hand. No, thought the elder sister, it is my responsibility.á
So Baylene, in addition to attending her own mate and anticipating her own hatchlings, watched over her aging parents until their deaths. In a way, Quivier wondered if all this self-sacrifice on Baylene's part played a role in their children's fate.á
How inexplicably cruel that all of Baylene's children were struck down with sickness; several never survived past hatching. Only Gemma survived her ordeal, but the sickness left its mark upon the child. As it happened with many other brachiosaur youngsters that year, Gemma the infant was rendered sterile. She would never be able to conceive, and that fact weighed heavily upon Baylene who so desperately wanted Gemma to carry on the family legacy. It pained Quivier as he watched his better half's depression deepen -- a depression from which she never quite recovered.áá
However, much to Quivier's utter amazement, Baylene never whimpered or outright voiced her grief. "Can't go about blubbering and complaining how unfair life is," she said to him many times.á It was that "never let them see you fall apart" proverb Baylene internalized from childhood on into adulthood.á
The unflappable, indomitable Madame Sybille, who suffered many of life's storms herself, instilled the same in all her children, especially Baylene. Sybille herself died without ever shedding one tear or voicing absolute frustration, even when her only son drove her and Wymon to distraction.á

Kenric...á

That, too -- the unending counseling of the wayward brother -- fell upon Baylene's shoulders. It was all she could do to coax the young aimless sauropod: "Kenric, you really should find a mate"; "Kenric, why must you be so self-centered? Everything you do must be for the herd's benefit"; and, "My dear brother, you really must do something positive with your life".á

Of course, all of Baylene's good advice fell upon deaf ears. Kenric, the spoiled baby brother of the family, was a constant source of frustration and contention. Whereas the girls were responsible, even-tempered, and had all the marks of refinement, Kenric carried all the trappings of a over-indulged childhood.á
Toward the end of her life Madame Sybille blamed herself for spoiling Kenric ever since he was a young hatchling.á Both Wymon and Sybille, then a trio of adoring sisters, catered to the boy's every whim.á

Well, Kenric was the family's only son...

As a result he grew into a lazy, spoiled, self-absorbed brachiosaur with absolutely no ambition or purpose. To him, life was one long giddy romp of pleasure. He never found a proper mate; not one female worth her salt would have Kenric anyway. He stumbled and bumbled on, further maddening his sisters and brother-in-law. Gemma, although she loved her Uncle Kenric for his warped sense of humor, formed negative opinions at an early age. Even the rest of the brachiosaur community couldn't take much more of Kenric's total lack of selflessness.á
So, a few days before the Herd returned from the Nesting Grounds, Kenric, without explanation, struck out on his own. No one knew his destination; even Kenric wouldn't say. "I just need to get away from here," was all he could offer. Naturally, Baylene stoically and silently bottled her rage; not even the departure of the wayward brother would ruffle that tight self-imposed reserve. Yet Quivier could tell his mate literally seethed at Kenric's abrupt departure. Baylene simply told him, "My dear, life goes on. If Kenric wants to wander the earth alone, so be it. If he wants to waste his entire life then who am I to stop him?"á
Quivier said nothing as he witnessed Baylene's spirits sag under the weight of personal tragedy. First the loss of her children, now her brother inexplicably departs.á What other unforeseen catastrophe would his beloved have yet to endure?

Surely not....!á

~~~~~~~~á

Papa Japeth shook his head as Adah closed her recollection for the night. "It is a shame that the boy left all the sudden, with no reason."
á"Oh, my love," countered Adah, "he had his reasons, but we'll never know....Oh my dears!"á

She fell silent and stared out into the heavens. Narrowing her eyes, she focused on one star that shimmered far brighter than the others.á
"Mother," asked her daughter Ola, "what is it?"á

Mother Adah, the prophetic parasaurolophus, uttered these words: "My beloved family, there are trying times ahead...Our Sarama will find her mate, and will bring forth lovely children, but...Oh!"á

She stifled a sob but continued, "A dreadful pestilence will ravage the Herd...Many will die...Baylene and her kind will suffer the full impact...I see something else..."

"Years of peace and happiness will follow...The stranger who will be the key to our future survival, is born, but is snatched from his mother's nest...But he will survive..."

"Then comes the fiery rain...A firestorm destroying everything...Our way of life challenged in a most cruel fashion. We will face many a trial...A death march across an endless wastelands. Then the stranger will return to us...He is one of us, but his ways are so unlike ours. He possesses great courage, compassion, and strength. Sarama will come to know him...."

á"But it is Baylene...Her very future lies far ahead...This stranger will be the key to her survival...After all the tragedies she'll suffer, Baylene will finally come into her own..."á

~~~~~~~~

Fast forward to the present.á In the cave...
Baylene blinked again, and surely enough, the apparition vanished. Gemma, or at least a vision that looked very much like Baylene's only surviving child, appeared to her mother. She appeared so lifelike, just as beautiful as that day the family met little Sarama.á

Oh Gemma, it was so long ago. You finally met your mate, a fine gentleman named Orin. But the babies never came. Everyone around us enjoyed their new families.á For us, however, there would be no more. It had to be the illness you suffered as a hatchling that caused it -- That sickness robbed us of future generations. But that later epidemic finally sealed the fate for our kind. It dealt many of our friends heavy blows as well, Sarama's family for one, but for us it was a death knell.á

Suddenly, the elderly brachiosaur caught glimpse of another apparition. Another brach this time, a youngish male with that unmistakable look of mischief in his eyes. He was dashingly handsome; his colorful greenish-blue patterned skin glistened in the dim light. Other brachiosaurs accompanied him, two identical females who Baylene recognized right away. The twins -- Amber and Ember -- approached their sister; the former spoke first.

"Darling sister, our brother has something to say to you..."á

As it was those days following Kenric's unexpected departure, Baylene's eyes blazed. Secretly, she allowed herself to revile this rebellious creature standing before her, but before she could voice her objections outright, her brother spoke to her in hushed tones.á
Kenric was almost apologetic as he said, "Baylene, I've come back to you...Well, at least in spirit...I had every intention of finding you, what with hearing about that epidemic...But, my dear sister, I never reached you, for you see..."á
"Save your pathetic stories!," Baylene lashed out, saying nothing more as she silently wept.á

It was good sister Ember who finally and tenderly said, "Dearest Baylene, this is a time for reflecting upon our lives, not for tearing each other down. Kenric had his reasons for leaving us, and he had every intention of returning. I know that for a fact, but I never had the chance to tell you the news that night for...Oh Baylene! The Fireball changed everything for us!"á


COMING UP:

To Chapter 5!

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