Cera looked at Littlefoot and Spike and shook her head sadly.
"He was… my friend," sniffed Ducky. "Poor Petrie…"
Cera glanced at the little swimmer and back at the boys. It was best if the fourfooters left her alone for a while.
As she joined Littlefoot and Spike to take a few meters away from the cliff she had seen in her dream, they stopped. Then, she turned away, not allowing the others to look back and see the tears running down her eyes.
This wasn't supposed to happen. If she had arrived a few seconds earlier, if she had been fast enough, if she had stayed with the gang after the tar monster scare, none of this could have occurred. Petrie would still be alive.
Almost an hour into the afternoon, Cera kept following the trail of the bright circle. It may be a bit hard while climbing through all the rocky hills, but she had to keep going. From what she was seeing, the cliff she saw in her sleep story – or vision, as the case may be – wasn't that far off now.
Then, a distant roar sent a shiver down her spine. She knew too well who made it.
After hearing another roar, Cera now knew which direction the predator was heading. She had to act fast. Littlefoot's life was hanging in the balance.
As she made it to the top of the hill, she looked up at the bright circle. It was slowly moving to the middle of the sky… just as the black ghost had predicted.
Fortunately, she could see everything from her viewpoint. All the features were just as she had seen in her vision. Perhaps that weird adventure last night really did happen, after all.
But whatever wonder Cera had was replaced by fearful realization when she looked down. She spotted a boulder on the edge of a cliff, which was standing over a dark pond. It was a long way down there to make a splash. And that splash had either to be stopped… or postponed. Sharptooth's fate was inevitable.
She saw Littlefoot and Spike behind the boulder. It was obvious that they were up to something. Petrie was on a certain rock hole at the left side of the cliff. What would he be doing there? Cera wondered. He couldn't fly.
Suddenly, she heard Sharptooth. She looked to her right and found him exiting a nearby cave. He slipped onto the ground and slid down the slope, hitting the pond face first. Due to his little arms, he couldn't swim, but he was able to avoid the deeper part of the water.
"Ducky!" Cera heard Littlefoot shout.
"Ducky!" That came from Petrie.
Cera's fears grew all the more. Ducky was too small to be seen from her vantage point, but she knew Sharptooth was after the little swimmer.
As she ran down the hill toward her destination, she heard Petrie whistle as if he was signaling for something. Then, she saw what was happening: Littlefoot and Spike were pushing the boulder with their heads. It was too heavy, but they were trying their hardest to make sure it was going to hit Sharptooth's head.
"Push, Spike!" Littlefoot cried out. "Push with all your might!"
So that was what they were planning.
Cera touched down a shorter height of the ridge, connecting to the level of ground the boys were on. All she needed to do was run up to them and join in, thus sparing Littlefoot his fate. The trick was getting crossing over the many rocks in her path. They were slippery, but she had to try. It was a good thing she could still see what was happening.
As she crossed the first section, the foundation shook the cliff. She could feel the little tremors from beneath her. Another earthshake?
No, it was Sharptooth. He hit the cliff so hard that the force knocked Petrie out of his hole. Cera couldn't see where he landed, but she knew it couldn't be good. Then again, he was still alive during the vision.
Every rock she crossed was getting increasingly difficult. She could barely keep on her toes in place. At least, she was making fast progress.
Just then, another roar from Sharptooth was heard. Cera saw Petrie rising to the cliff, stopping right behind the boulder. But he wasn't exactly stopping. His wings were flapping. He was floating in midair. He was… flying?
"I'm flying! I'm FLYIIIIIIING!" he yelled hysterically.
Cera couldn't believe it. Perhaps Sharptooth's roar as well as his breath pumped Petrie's wings to full power or something. She would have to take back calling the little flyer an invalid when they all lived through this.
Sharptooth rammed onto the cliff again. That almost knocked Cera off her feet, as it nearly did to Littlefoot and Spike. But it wasn't stopping her from walking to another rock. She was almost out of the pile now.
Every step she made was making allowed her to see the action a whole lot closer.
Then, Petrie was seen diving toward Sharptooth, whose head Ducky was on after emerging from the water. He grabbed the lid of the monster's right eye, which was a bit sore after that thorn it had received two days ago. Sharptooth lurched back trying, to get the perceived parasite off its head.
Cera reached the last rock and then hopped off. She was finally out of that obstacle. As she moved off, she saw Sharptooth make a great jump up the cliff with his long wings and land onto the boulder…
Wings? Sharptooth didn't have wings before, that Cera was certain. But then, his neck grew longer, followed by his arms, his tail, and his snout. Two horns protruded from his forehead and another from the nose, followed by a frill in the back of the head. Spikes appeared on Sharptooth's back.
Both of the creature's eyes opened. They had turned from red to emerald.
Cera stood frozen, fear taking over. It wasn't Sharptooth anymore. It was that dragon from her vision. The very dragon that represented everything that was evil about her was back.
Were her eyes tricking her? How was this possible? That creature was destroyed by the masked specter. Or was it?
Ducky joined Littlefoot and Spike in their efforts to push the boulder, but the dragon's weight made things even harder. Petrie was pulling the dragon's left eyelid.
Whatever she might think, Cera knew that she had to face the dragon alone. Her host would not be here to protect her, this time. It was time to put an end to this once and for all.
She ran down the slope, giving out a load shriek, and calling out "I'M COMIIIIIING!"
The dragon heard Cera and was completely speechless for a few seconds. That pause would be very costly.
The little threehorn gave it slammed her head into the boulder, giving the gang the momentum they needed.
"Cera!" exclaimed Littlefoot. "You're back!"
Of course, she was back. Didn't he realize that she was saving his live?
The dragon tried to get its jaws on Cera, the blue lightening emanating and crackling from inside its mouth, but the surge caused it to jolt. Having Petrie poking its eye wasn't helping it at all, either.
Just then, the end of the cliff gave way. It couldn't take the dragon and boulder's combined weight. As the dragon tried to gain its right foot on the cliff, it slipped, shredding the ground from underneath the kids.
Cera fell, but managed to grab onto the end of the crumbling rock about two meters below just in time; otherwise, she would have been a goner. She jumped and pulled herself up to the top.
Suddenly, she heard a yell coming from below. She, Littlefoot, Spike, and Ducky looked down in horror as the dragon clashed its lightning-blazed teeth on Petrie's right wing, taking him with it into the pond. The monster hit the water on its back and a second later, the boulder crashed into its stomach.
For what sounded like a big splash to Cera looked like an enormous wave of azure energy. It surrounded the gorge in the form of clouds that reached surrounded the gang before sinking back into the pond. It was incredible.
Cera looked at the others to find that they weren't having raised concerns. It was like they didn't notice Sharptooth changing into that dragon or the explosion.
So it was only in her head. She took an internal breath of relief before looking down to find Petrie.
Seconds passed and all everyone could see emerging from the water were bubbles.
It was painfully ironic to Cera. She saw what was going to happen in the future, but she didn't see that the consequences of changing it would not bring satisfactory answers.
No, Cera thought as she whimpered silently. No, this isn't right. I saved Littlefoot… just to let Petrie die instead?! Why couldn't that stupid flyer just get out of the way?!
She didn't want to think how Petrie's mother, two brothers, and one sister would take it when they heard about what happened to him. He mentioned them at least once during the trip, though she didn't pay much attention.
Maybe she could echo a few of the dark phantom's words on what he said about Littlefoot's would-have-been fate, but in a lighter way. He didn't suffer, she practiced, mentally. He just learned how to fly and… he died a hero. I'm sorry I wasn't able to…
Cera snapped out of her thoughts instantly. Her eyes widened. That voice… Could it be?
"You go without… Petrie?"
Littlefoot and Spike turned their heads around, almost a second after Cera. There stood a young, brown, and extremely wet flyer at the edge of the cliff, one meter away from Ducky. He dropped on his back, exhausted.
Ducky was so happy, she rushed over to grab her resurfaced friend. "Petrie!" she cried, squeezing him a little too tightly. "You're safe!" Cera could notice Ducky's tears of joy as she ran toward her and the others, ranting "Yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep!"
As everyone crowded over Petrie, unable to stop laughing like crazy, Cera felt the immediate guilt inside her rush away. Even if she couldn't stop Petrie from falling into the pond, he was somehow able to get his wing out of Sharptooth's dead mouth all by himself. It was best to ask him later.
Then, Cera remembered another thing she couldn't escape from: her chains. Mako Loanshark said he got his own set by greed he held onto in life. She now saw that pride was her sin, mirroring that of her father.
And that crime alone got Littlefoot's mother killed. Changing the future may have made Cera's chains lighter, but they weren't likely to break and disappear forever. The links were still pretty strong.
She couldn't talk to Littlefoot… She didn't have the courage for that. If her mother was still alive, she would talk to her first, as she always did whenever she had big problems.
Moving quietly away from the others, Cera headed toward a large section of rock. For a moment, she thought she see her shadow taking the form of the tall, black spirit, his cape billowing in the wind; his masked face looking to torment her even further.