Chapter 1: Jungle biome: Outside the wall
“I love you.” He whispered in her ear. Terra smiled and pressed a light kiss to his cheek. “I have to get back home. I’m already late.” It was twilight in the jungle clearing that they lay in. She was supposed to be home hours ago but got caught up in the conversation and warmth that she and Daniel shared. “ Come back tomorrow and see me ?” He asked eagerly searching her face as he held her hand and played with her fingers idly. His bright blue eyes twinkled in the remaining light of the day as he smiled at her. The light reflected off of his blonde hair that had some grass mixed into it from rolling around with her. He was pure muscle so it wasn’t alway easy to win the wrestling matches they frequently had. She smiled at the thought and reached up and softly stroked his tanned skin.He was beautiful. “I will try. You know I’m supposed to be going to the city and learning how to fight monsters soon.”
“I know. Okay.” He sighed. “ I’ll be here waiting for you tomorrow.” Terra smiled and pressed another kiss to his cheek before she got up off of the ground. She knew he didn’t understand her desire to learn how to fight the monsters that constantly attacked anyone not living within the walled cities. As she walked through the jungle back towards her home darkness set and the humid night had an eerie feel to it. Anxiety started to settle in and she hurried home eager to see her family. They lived near a walled city but not within it as some families chose to do. They felt that the people living within the walls were weak for choosing to actively ignore the environment around them. They told her that some people inside the walls never left them and chose to be oblivious to the problems of the outside world. Her parents made a living by hunting down the beasts that attacked the city and the surrounding settlements. Ironically they didn’t want Terra or her brother to follow in their footsteps and denied her countless times when she’d asked about going to the city to properly learn how to fight. Her parents were usually open minded and easy going but on this they were strict and unmovable. She knew there was more to the story but they didn’t share it. They just said no. She assumed it was because it was a dangerous job to be the person who continuously threw themselves into danger on behalf of others. Terra did not care about that. The schooling to become a hunter took several years but it would be worth it in the end. All she wanted was to be able to stand next to her parents as an equal.
As her house came into view she realized something was wrong. Her family lived in a two story log cabin. They had access to metal and more modern building material but felt that the wood blended in better. It sat next to a cove created by a waterfall. It was beautiful during twilight when the fireflies came out and lit up the night. They used turbines to provide electricity to their home. Usually her mother was very careful about not using too much power at one time however when Terra walked into the clearing all of the lights were on and the door was busted in. She sprinted towards the door already calling out for her family. “ Mom? Dad? Tyler!” She fell to her knees when she took in the scene before her. Her parents were laying in pools of their own blood. Red claw marks were carved across their bodies. They each had permanent expressions of horror and pain stamped on their faces. Terra noticed that the beast that did this had 4 claw marks instead of 5 so that narrowed down the potential monsters that could have done this. Her father’s sword lay a few feet away from him propped against the wall in easy reach in case a monster attacked their home. It appeared undisturbed and Terra knew that he never got the chance to reach it. . The room was completely destroyed furniture was tossed everywhere and slashed through. She noticed splashes of acid burned holes through all of the furniture and floor. Terra didn’t know the identity of most beasts in this biome but she stored the information away for the day that she did. Terra couldn’t breathe, all she could do is stare in horror and gasp as she tried to inhale. Her parents were some of the best hunters out there and for them to have been ambushed like this was truly horrific. It was unbelievable. They were apart of the Lee clan and they had the rare ability to survive in any biome. Poisons and other environmental hazards could do no harm to them and as a result they took on the hardest jobs . This quickly made them infamous. Terra jumped to her feet and ran throughout the house realizing that her brother was not in the living room. “Tyler! Tyler!” She screamed as she searched. But he wasn’t there. She grabbed her father’s sword out of his office and ran for the door determined to find her brother and save him. Even if she didn’t know what she was doing.
Terra ran outside and scanned the surrounding jungle for any signs of movement. Seeing none she took off towards the hiding spot that they’d been using for years whenever they were hiding from their parents growing up. It wasn’t truly hidden, it was just off the beaten trail they’d used for years. They dubbed it their spot because they carved their names in the trunk. She quickly spotted him in the branches of a tree peering down at her with tears in his eyes. “ Terra?” His small voice wavered filled with sorrow. It broke her heart to hear her energetic brother sound so sad. “ It’s me. Come down. It’s okay.” He scampered down the trunk of the tree quickly and embraced her and he cried. Terra tried to hold back her own tears but failed. She’d been overwhelmed by shock when she first saw her parents and now holding her brother and knowing he was alive and well she finally let it out. They stood there and sobbed for a few minutes before she realized they were still in potential danger. “ We have to go to the city.” She said softly. “Okay.” He agreed. He’d always followed her anywhere without question. This situation was no different. They turned and started walking in the general direction of the city. It shouldn’t take more than a day to reach it by foot if they hurried. Terra felt her heart lighten a bit at the thought that they would be okay.
Suddenly a roar ripped through the air. The monster was still in the area. Terra tightened her grip on the sword she didn’t truly know how to use but would try in order to save her brother. They’d already lost enough that night. The roar sounded again closer this time. Terra realized it must be tracking their scent and although she hated to do it she knew what she had to do. Stopping and directing her brother to hide in a tree until she got back she turned and smiled up at him before she took off back in the direction of the beast. She wanted to to confuse the scent. Doubling back was the only way to make sure the beast followed her and not him.
She crashed through the undergrowth intentionally making a huge ruckus to draw it’s attention . From the roar that ripped through the air she knew she had been heard. She ran faster jumping over branches and streams trying to put distance between the beast and her brother. Suddenly she slammed into someone and they both fell to the ground from the force of the impact. Terra immediately jumped up and raised her sword ready to defend herself against this new threat. Moonlight flitted through the tree tops and it was hard to see. “ Terra?” A familiar voice asked confused. “ Daniel?” Terra exclaimed. “ I need to go save Tyler. He’s still back there and the beast is still around. I was trying to lead him away from him so he would be safe..” Terra stopped trying to explain as she felt tears well up behind her eyes.
Daniel moved to embrace her but she pushed him away. This wasn’t the time to have a pity party; she had things she needed to do. She couldn’t stand the worried expression on his face. She turned and ran back towards the part of the jungle that her brother hid in. “ Terra! Wait!” Daniel yelled behind her. The worry in his voice evident. “ No I have to do this!” She screamed as she continued to run. She felt strong arms around her midsection pulling her back. “Don’t make me force you to come with me. You know I will.” She knew that Daniel was just trying to save her but he really couldn’t continue with his blind attempts to control her in the name of her ‘safety’. “Let go of me!“ She threw an elbow back and hit him in the nose. He gasped but didn’t let go of her so she threw back her foot and kicked him in his groin. He let go of her this time and fell to his knees gasping. She turned around and started yelling at him. “What is wrong with you? Why would you do that? Why don’t you trust me to take care of me?”
“ You are important to me. I cannot lose you. I can’t! And I will do whatever is necessary if it means that you are safe. Even if it means you won’t forgive me.” He gasped as he slowly rose to his feet. Terra backed away sensing he was about to rush at her . She tripped over a spare branch and fell on her butt ;she quickly turned and scrambled away but she knew it was too late. She heard him right behind her. “Terra I’m sorry.” He said softly just before she felt something hit her in the back of the head and darkness fell.
Terra came to suddenly blinking against the bright lights over her head. It was a wooden ceiling It all came back to her suddenly. She jumped out of bed and immediately noticed Daniel sitting in a chair near the bed watching her. “What did you do?” She exclaimed angrily grabbing her sword from where it leaned against the wooden wall. Daniel watched her with a guarded expression. “You wouldn’t listen to me and I can’t lose you. I would rather have you mad at me with a bump on your head then killed by a monster that you don’t even know how to fight. I know you don’t understand why you’re so important to me and I know you don’t feel the same...” He trailed off as he took in the worried expression on her face. “My brother is more important than your goddamn feelings. He is all I have!” She spun and headed for the door flinging it open as she rushed through the living room and out the front door, determined to find her brother.