Daylight slowly broke over the Rainy Basin and one sleepy Velociraptor. "Ung..."
she muttered as the sun shone directly into her face. Sure, she got to sleep in
a cave, but every morning the sun shone right in her face. No matter where she
moved during the night, she always woke up in the same place with the sun in her
face. Pulling her cape over her eyes, the raptor leader tried going back to
"Azzy! Azzy!" one of the hatchlings came barreling up the hill and right into Az's cave. "Wake up! You're going to teach us to make lanterns today!"
Oh yah! I forgot! The red and gold raptor peeked out from under the folds of fabric and saw Loba, one of the younger hatchlings, prancing aorund happily. Smiling, Az got up. "Hey you, you're not supposed to come in here. What would your mother say?"
"Oh... I'm sorry..." THe hatchling turned to leave.
"No, it's ok this once. Besides, this is as much my first Lantern Festival as it is yours!"
"Nuh-uh! You're the leader! You've got to be at least fifty!"
Az smiled at the youngsters enthusiasm. "No, not that old. This is my first Lantern Festival as leader. Now, what do you say we go wake up everyone else and start making those lanterns?"
"Yah!" Loba ran out of the cave and down to the rest of the clan with a speed only excited hatchlings have.
Az made her way down the hill more sedately. Once she was there, all the other hatchlings were alreay waiting at the endge of the lake running through Sharpclaw grounds with their parents.
Clan warriors had already gathered plants for the candle wax and the elders had began the process of gathering the waxy substance form the leaves days ago. Now, the candles were nearly ready; all that needed to be done was make the lanterns.
I wish I could have gone with the warriors... Az thought. She had once trained as a warrior, but had left the Basin for a far more peaceful life in Treetown. Only extreme circumstances had brought her back to lead. While she was young, she still knew enough to be a good leader and had guidance from the clan elders on matters she needed council on.
For Az, the day was spent teaching the hatchlings how to craft the lanterns that owuld be sent down this small branch of stream and on into the Polongo. Many of the hatchlings simply used pretty leaves and berries to decorate their lanterns.
"Here, I'll watch them for a while," Strongbow said, coming over from the elders circle around the fire. "The candles are done and it's time for the hatchlings to take their nap."
"Thanks," Az replied, greatfully. She had no idea where these hatchlings got their energy from! Now, she could make her lantern.
Moving down to her favorite spot by the waterfalls, she pulled some reeds from the riverbank. While Az perched on a rock, she skillfully wove the reeds and some stronger branches together to form the base of her lantern. Then, the bottom was covered with sand to keep the candle from catching the entire lantern on fire. She wove a top for the lantern out of cat-tails and decorated each corner with a gigantic tropical flower. As a final touch, she wrote "Waterfall City" on the base of her lantern and put a piece of metal inside. For any Basin resident, metal was greatly prized. On a second thought, she painted the clan symbol, a red and black tripple blade, on one of the flower petals. She intended for this lantern to be found by one of her friends. By writing Waterfall City on it, the lantern would be delivered there, the clan symbol would mark the lantern as one from the Basin, and the piece of metal was a gift for C'xoila, the first friend she made when she left the Basin.
Smiling, she waited for dark when everyone would set their lanterns on the water. Then, hers would go down last. Each lantern carried something special in it; a wish from each hatchling and a hope from each clan member. For Az, it was the desire to see her friends again.