My Big Fat Jurassic Wedding

Part 1

   Between the woods and the river lies the trail to the Great Valley. It is here amid the green hills and mountains leading from the deep canyons, vast deserts, and impenetrable swamps of the Mysterious Beyond, where one gets a spectacular view of the verdant Valley. So close but still quite a few days' walk. Even from this distance, the Valley's rich, fertile greenery, plentiful waters, and lush forests are so inviting.
   So thought Angus, a middle-aged longneck who surveyed this wonderful sight. How refreshing to be among friendly faces again, after so many days' travelling. Thank goodness that lady flyer pointed him and his mistress in the right direction. Luckier still that this trip's timing was so right, for Angus' mistress was anxious to arrive in the Great Valley in time...
   In time for what? Why, a wedding, or at least that was what the lady flyer said. A long-awaited union, too, with one of the Valley's newest citizens marrying one of the most eligible lady longnecks. That lady, who went by the name Didi for so long, was soon discovered to be Littlefoot's aunt, his mother's sister once thought perished in an earthshake. What joys, and not too soon. What we need, Angus thought, is a little levity, a celebration to stave off the daily trials of sheer survival. Not that the journey to the Great Valley was that perilous. Oh, there was a minor inconvenience of a bellydragger nibbling at Angus' toes while crossing the swamp, but no Sharptooth encounters, and thank goodness for that. Angus, still quite handy with a tail lash and quick foot stomp where predators were concerned, was not as spry as in youth. But he could hold his own when and if the situation arose. Ah, it will be good to see Bron again, and Mr. Thicknose...I wonder if the Old One remained for the nuptials. Perhaps not...

    "Angus! Angus!," came the sharp order. "What are you doing? Did you not hear me calling you?"
   Angus jolted himself to reality then composed himself as his mistress addressed him. She does fret over the least thing, but that was to be expected. Madame Moire is old and set in her ways; she is used to good service and does not relish slowness or inattentiveness. He bowed before his mistress, saying in his usual servile, respectful voice, "Yes, madam. What is your will?"

   Moire eyed her personal servant coolly; she was obviously perturbed that he didn't come when called. She just glowered then said, "I had to call you twice. Now, Angus, how long have you been in my employ?"
   Angus tried not to sound so exasperated or roll his eyes heavenward. He merely said, "I am sorry, madam. It will not happen again." Then, "If I am correct, madam, I have been with you nearly twenty years."
   "Twenty years!," she said haughtily, tossing her head, "I picked you from a herd of vagabond orphans, made you my servant, so you could live in comfort and not wander about the country. I would think by now you would learn to respond when I call you."
   "Again, madam, I am sorry. It will not happen again."
   "Good! Now, tell me when should we arrive in the Great Valley."

   Angus surveyed the view from the bluffs, gauging the distance from where they stood.
  "Madam, from here, and if we travel with a steady gait, we should arrive before the Great Circle leaves the sky." Moire sighed, knowing the task that awaited her would not be pleasant, but these things are necessary. She really didn't want to make this trip, but what that flyer said about Dvora reuniting with her family...

   Then there was news of an impending marriage between Dvora and an elderly gentleman longneck named Pat. Now where did Moire meet Pat, and how long ago was it? Oh yes, many years ago, when the sisters Dvora and Thora became of age, choosing their intended mates. Well, Thora did choose wisely although Moire had some reservations about Bron. But he was a fine catch and came from a good family. Dvora was another story, that is the girl put off any and all suitors who came her way, preferring to pine for an unknown male. Not a good thing, thought Moire, for Dvora had so much going for her: good looks, a sharp mind, well-brought up. Why she would not choose a mate and settle down was a mystery. Moire just bided her time, hoping Dvora would follow her sister's example, perhaps settling once she moved in with the in-laws. Alas, that was not to be.
   Moire recalled receiving word of the landslide and earthshake that, and of Dvora's fate. The girl was given up for dead, or so the news said. Moire grieved for her nieces, both dying violently, and she wanted so much to see Thora's new baby Littlefoot. Old age and the typical slowness that comes with it caught up with Moire, and making the long journey to the Great Valley was out of the question. At least she was able to keep up with news of her family via the many flyers and wandering herds.

   "Who was that flyer, Angus? The one who brought the sad news of the girls' fates?"
   Angus remembered that day, although he was a bit fuzzy on the flyer's identity. "I believe, madam, she was en route to the Great Valley. She had lost her youngling, madam, and had given up hope of ever finding him."
   Moire nodded sadly. "Ah, Angus, a sad day for so many. She came to us, told us what happened to Littlefoot's mother – my niece. But no word of Dvora or Bron. As you said, she was so preoccupied with finding her own child. What was his name, Angus?"
   "I believe she called him Petrie, madam."
   "Petrie...Odd name for a little flyer..."

   Jolting herself back to reality, and to her usual imperious self, Moire looked at her servant, saying, "Well, may we not proceed? I am rather tired from our journey and in need of rest. Also, I am anxious to see my family. It will be so good to see darling Dvora again. What miracles wrought! I just hope this Pat my niece has chosen is a suitable gentleman. For the life of me, I cannot recall meeting such a longneck. Oh well, I will get a good look at him once we arrive. I just hope..."


   So who was Moire? Several years older than Grandma Longneck, but not as aged as the Old One, Moire was a female longneck who harkened back to a bygone era. Despite her advanced years, she was still the picture of gracious beauty. Moire was similar in height and build as Grandma Longneck but of a more delicate shade of gray. Her big brown eyes could cloak themselves in smiles to greet a friend or darken in righteous frowns to repel anyone she did not like. The voice was strong, sharp, able to bark commands that demanded immediate attention. Genteel, always a lady, and born with a streak of imperiousness, Moire was held in – Well, let us say she was held in guarded high esteem by other longnecks. That is, she was both loved and feared. Her grand manner and dogged adherence to everything traditional made her famous far and wide. She had outlived most of her family, including her own children. An elderly aunt to Dvora and Thora's mother, Moire doted on her great-nieces, always hoping each girl would choose a worthy mate and produce strong healthy children.
   Thora did that by pairing with Bron. Moire, at first, regarded Bron as not quite good enough for her niece, but she accepted the brave gentleman longneck as part of the family. She was overjoyed upon hearing the couple was expecting their first baby, but she never got around to visit her niece. When word came to her that Bron had taken Thora to live with his parents, Moire was more than a little perturbed. Now while she understood Bron's reasoning, she never did quite approve of the move. What's more, when she heard what happened to Dvora en route to their new home, Moire grieved for the one niece of whom she had so many high expectations. Alas, Dvora, at that time, had yet to choose a suitable mate, resigning herself to pine for an unknown male who Moire assumed was surely and totally unworthy of her niece.
   She mourned the death of Thora and fretted over the fate of Littlefoot who she had yet to meet. She could not quite understand why Bron would leave his family at the worse possible time. Said he was finding a new, more safe, home for all of them. But when he returned the great earthshakes had changed everything. His mate, parents, and son was no where to be found. Moire assumed Bron heard of Thora's passing from someone else but never found out about his parents or son. She knew the herds were traveling to the Great Valley yet she never made the trip herself. Preferring to remain in her home near the deep forest where the earthshakes had not touched, Moire relied on messages relayed by many a wanderer. She learned of Littlefoot's survival and his arrival in the Valley. How remarkable this mere child, accompanied by the oddest assortment of young dinosaurs, managed to survive earthshakes, a persistent Sharptooth, and other dangers unimaginable. The boy obviously inherited both mother and father's courageous streak, and a strong determination.


   Moire never heard what happened to Dvora and assumed, like most, the girl had died in that landslide. Odd still that Moire never quite made it to the crater those many months ago. Oh, she had those sleep stories about the Great Circle but was forced to stay home due to an arthritic flare-up in her knee. If she had traveled the great distance to the crater, she would have seen Littlefoot, Bron, the elderly Longnecks, and Dvora. She would have also met Pat, the gentleman Dvora had chosen as life mate.
   Moire did not relish the idea of her surviving niece wandering about, going under an assumed name, not letting her family know she was alive and well. It also disturbed her that Dvora, despite being in the presence of loved ones during the Great Longneck Migration, never bothered to make herself known. Not until she "bumped into" Bron and the Old One during one of her wandering did Dvora finally reveal herself. Well, as reported to Moire, the girl simply had no choice; she had to come clean or be at the mercy of that dreadful Daddy Threehorn and his threats of exposure.
   Still no knowledge of this Pat, the gentleman longneck with whom Dvora fell hopelessly in love. Any other time, Moire would have simply stayed home in the comfort of the deep forest and not make the long journey to the Great Valley. However, inquiries had to be made, and Moire felt her niece may be making a big mistake. What manner of gentleman is Pat? Is he their sort? Would he treasure Dvora, accept and appreciate the girl? Or would he be one of those old longnecks too set in his ways, never able to allow himself to understand a lady longneck of Dvora's caliber? Oh, Moire was aware Pat was several decades older than Dvora, and such things – older males taking on much younger females as mates – are not unheard of. However, such relationships are rare, and Moire took it upon herself to see just what her niece was getting into. She also wanted a few words with Bron who, by all accounts, had given his blessing to the union. How typical of him, despite his good sense, to get too caught up in the anticipation of a lavish wedding not to examine more closely a potentially heartbreak.

   "Angus!," she barked, "How much farther?" She was tired, in need of rest and refreshment.
   "Only a few more steps, madam," he replied as the pair reached the bluffs. "The Great Valley," he said, indicating the green expanse below, "is within easy reach."

   Moire surveyed the Great Valley, even made out several familiar forms even from this distance. She could see Bron, the Old One, Dvora, the elderly Longnecks, and one gentleman she assumed was Pat. She could also see many little ones scampering about, including one longneck she was sure had to be Littlefoot. Hmm...Obviously a happy gathering. At least the children appear to be well-adjusted...

   "Well, Angus, let us not waste precious time. I want to see my niece – and her intended – before it's too late."

[TO BE CONTINUED...Go to Part Two]

Copyright©2006 by PRP.

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