Eira found herself fascinated with Bernard’s steed. He was like a great big pet, she thought. Christian nibbled at blades of grass after following her like a lost puppy for the longest time, but he was swift to look up at her with even the slightest twitch. Becoming confident that he wouldn't leave her, Eira had taken a seat on the rocky ground some ways away, splitting her attention between the horse and the river before them. So far there were no familiar trails, trees, or any markings at all for the Green Folk to indicate where she was or if she was even close to getting home. Still, thoughts of both men and monsters coming to get her were the last things on her mind, as she was quite fluent in the woods. Never had she been so confident in her abilities of escape and melting into the brush, the supposed trademark trait of the Green Folk. With a smile she looked to Christian. It was his company that made her feel a little more safe.
Eira occasionally spoke to the horse, taking his silent stares to be little more than attentive listening. It was nice to be with another during her trek home, she thought. It made things a little less hopeless, and helped to put a certain spring in the girl’s step as she hopped over toward the river. There, she continued to talk to Christian as he made his way to the river’s edge and they enjoyed a drink together. Eira then began to wash her face and hands, humming to herself softly while something eyed her from beneath the river’s rolling tide.
Blade had become obsessed with that single catfish. He wolfed down one fish after another, but none of them gave him that quick wink or exhumed a sense of being. They simply gobbled up bubbles and panicked with the dinosaur’s jaws snapped shut on them. This was Blade’s domain, he thought as he swam through the icy water with a certain elegance difficult to attribute to such a creature’s size. Maybe Crunch had him outmatched on land, but here, Blade was king, and that was something his gang couldn’t take away from him. He smiled as a smirking turtle swam by, believing itself safe from his long snout. Willing to prove the small reptile wrong, Blade did what he only thought was a service by snatching it up in his jaws, reminding anything left in the water who was at the top of the food chain.
As the shell fragments crunched and cracked loudly, something caught Blade’s eye. There was a disturbance on the surface of the water, as gentle ripples quickly faded with the river’s tide. The baryonyx floated in the surprisingly deep water for some time, trying to make the creatures out from beneath the waves. He narrowed his eyes and grinned. It was little more than another tasty morsel.
Rushing up with the force of a coming tsunami, the baryonyx crashed onto land like a tidal wave. Concealed within a veil of water and an explosion of mud, he clamped his jaws around the neck of Bernard’s horse. With but a with a quick jerk of his head, Blade brought Christian crashing down with little more than a wail from the doomed creature.
Eira, shocked by the surprise attack, staggered and tripped over herself while trying to get away. Surprisingly disappointed in the taste of horse, Blade quickly turned his attention from the lifeless creature and met eyes with Eira. His body grew tense and his heart skipped a beat. It was her! He just knew it, she had to be, the dinosaur thought as he took a step toward her. With water dripping from his massive form, he began toward her when she darted off into the forest with the onset of panic.
There was no time for chasing her, Blade thought as he turned and plunged back into the river. Crunch and the others were across the way, and he ran to them with what the carcharodontosaurus felt was sincere respect and admiration. Despite his deep hatred of his leader, Blade knew Crunch to possess more tact than he did, which always proved useful in situations like these. He explained to him what he found, but conveniently left out the horse in his tale. Without so much as a grunt the baryonyx returned to the water in a bid to lead the others in tracking the girl down. Almost touched by Blade’s honesty, Crunch rallied the others and together they raced to find a more shallow part of the river to cross.
The Green Folk ignored her sides as they cried out as her to stop. In fact, she hugged her form in an attempt to cease the pain. As her heart raced, the only thought running through her head was of Christian falling prey to Blade. Naturally her legs found it impossible to stop. She strayed from the main trail, so that thick brush and pine leaves slapped her in the face as she ran and ran. After so long, she even cupped her hands over her mouth and cried out for someone to help her. Her father, Awel, and even Zaines were among the names she called out for, only for her to listen to her own footsteps and panting breath. Her mind continued to be plagued with images of the dinosaur’s long snout and his wickedly-pointed teeth.
Thorn and Rex began to rely entirely on Swipe to lead them as they followed the shallow stream for what seemed like hours. There was little conversation, as the ceratosaurus felt that the catfish was profound for their journey. Rex did little else but roll his eyes at the elder beast. His attention span had better things to think about. For the first time, however, Thorn was generally interested in what Swipe had to say, as the raptor skipped alongside the water’s edge, all the way until the stream was no more.
“Ya know, this kinda reminds me of this time I had with me mates, I mean before I got kicked out of the pack and…”
“I could begin to care less, just keep going. You sure you haven’t seen that fish eh lad?” Thorn retorted as he and the others stopped before the rocky rapids, where they looked down and saw that the stream hadn’t vanished, but grown. In fact, it grew so large that Thorn felt his heart sink. In such waters that catfish was lost forever. Together they oversaw the water as it rolled endlessly, when a white horse caught their attention. Dead, with its throat torn apart, the rolling currents were beginning to grab at Christian as if reeling him into the watery abyss. It was a sort of irony almost, Thorn thought. The three dinosaurs felt as if they were to solve a mystery as they studied the brutal kill, first from afar, then up close and raised the question as to why its killer didn’t eat it, or better yet, what it was.
They conversed over it for some time, when Swipe perked up. He turned toward the thick brush some ways away, and declared to the others that he heard a voice.
“I swear it said something like ‘Mrrmhhmrr, help me, meh mrr’.” The raptor turned, again with a wide grin, as if he had done something great. Thorn and Rex, unable to give any sort of proper response to that, simply shrugged in response to one another. Deep down, however, the ceratosaurus was quite interested, wanting to solve the mystery around them more than anything else, and if the voice Swipe supposedly heard could help in that search, the better. He hadn't felt so eager since he was a pup.
“Lead the way lad.”
Eira ran and ran, hoping that she could stumble across a familiar face or feature in the forest. She never did, unfortunately, as the woods had her stumbling blindly from one shadowy bunch of trees to the next. With her instincts in gear, all the girl could do was escape Blade and his mouth full of teeth, which she was certain had been successful seared into her mind permanently.
She panted and gasped for air while she fought through the brush and vegetation of the forest, until she finally came into a clearing. There, she gave a soft sigh, knowing that predators like Wildeboar preferred dense forest. Attributing Blade to the same behavior as the hairy pigs made sense in the moment, as she couldn’t imagine such a large beast hunting her down in open land.
With a quick spring from her heels Eira jumped up into a tree and swiftly made her way up toward the highest limb. She wet her lips while she stood there silently, a hand just barely gracing another branch beside her. Over the sound of her own beating heart, she couldn’t hear much of anything. No bird calls, no insects chirping. Nothing. Not again, she thought with a heavy gulp. Though it could have been anything, for some reason Eira could only attribute that silence to Tanner. In one sense, she wouldn’t have minded to see the general torn to bits by that monstrosity, but there always remained the dinosaur to deal with. Worse yet came the idea of that monster under Tanner’s control. She wouldn’t put it past him, from seeing his savage eagle’s temperament toward her.
Eira managed to catch her breath as she began to breathe through her nose again. For some reason, she wasn’t as frightened as she would have imagined. Maybe she wasn’t used to two-legged crocodiles just yet, or maybe the image of that Coffin Spawn or a circling pack of wolves were simply too ingrained in her head, unwilling to give up their seats of power in favor of this newcomer. Or perhaps, she wondered for a moment, her little ordeal at the Piermont Castle did more than serve as a scary cold place devoid of humanity. She didn’t ponder the idea for very long when she heard something big move through the forest.
Not much higher than his eye level, Eira blinked once as she looked into Crunch’s eyes. At first she thought it to be Giant, but as her racing heart sunk slightly, she noticed his dull grey skin, quite contrasting when compared to the former’s magnificent green. Crunch scanned all around, led by his sight first before his nose, despite what his gut instructed him to. All he knew was that something was close.
“Anything?” Blade growled as he appeared beside Crunch. Eira quickly wrapped her hands around her own mouth, so as to not utter a peep, when she watched on.
“It’s close. Go back to the water’s edge, in case it wanders back there. Rampage, search the denser brush. Crash, you’ll stay with me.” The dome-headed dinosaur, who quickly appeared at his side, chirped happily as she skipped. Together the four dinosaurs nodded to each other and went about to fulfill their orders.
As the others slipped away into the forest, Eira was left to watch Rampage. While he indeed had his orders, they could always wait another moment, he thought. Looking around carefully, he gave a relieved sigh and seized the opportunity to clip some tall grass from the clearing. One mouthful led to another, until the triceratops was simply grazing, having forgotten his one assignment.
The Green Folk, having watched the dinosaur for what seemed like hours, slowly made her way back down the tree. At this state, he seemed harmless, and allowed for her to quickly slip away. There, she couldn’t help but smile, not caring to wonder how easy it was for her to escape. Instead, she took off blindly in one direction. The lack of noise behind her only helped to assure Eira that she wasn’t followed, when she nearly tripped into a cleared path. Stupid robe, she thought as she stood up from her knee and brushed herself off.
As she did so, however, the girl couldn’t help but notice a looming shadow over her. Odd, she thought for a split-second. The trees couldn’t be so thick over a dirt path such as this one. She simply turned and realized it was no tree. That’s when a reptilian odor overwhelmed her senses, and Eira fell onto her back when looking up so high that she finally met eyes with yet another monster. Long, exposed teeth which were too large to conceal from its upper lip caught her attention first, when its snout tilted and also met eyes with the girl. At one moment, Rex and Eira blinked together, but the tyrannosaur’s intimidating size and presence made her panic almost immediately.
Eira was so dumbstruck by Rex’s size and striking teeth that she failed to notice Thorn and Swipe as they appeared from behind him. The raptor quickly cocked his head and looked to the ceratosaur.
“Oy Thorn! Whaddya make ’a this?” Thorn could only narrow his eyes as he approached the girl slowly. Eira, fearing the threesome to be part of Crunch’s gang, quickly jumped to her feet and reached for the dagger at her belt, only to realize it was no longer there. Curse those knights for taking it, she thought with a helpless pant. Hopeless and overwhelmingly outmatched, the girl took a moment to judge the dinosaurs before her, her wide eyes unable to conceal the fear she held for them. Maybe she wasn’t so fearless after all.
Before any of them could speak to her directly, Eira took off, back in the direction she came. There was no thought-process behind it, only instinct. Swipe, more curious than ever, was the one to give chase, while Rex and Thorn simply looked at one another. Sure, the two of them had never seen such a creature before, but they both figured it was none of their business. The raptor’s chase, however, changed that. With a sigh and roll of his eyes, Thorn started off before the tyrannosaurus.
“Come on, maybe this’ll lead us to him.”
Before she even knew it, Eira was back in that same clearing, where Rampage was nibbling at the thick brush around a lone old tree, nearly all but its trunk still intact. She staggered while looking back when she set her sights forward, to which she gasped. The triceratops, with a shake of his thick frill, turned to the girl with a childish twinkle in his eye.
"Oh, hello there." He said as some grass clippings spilled from his mouth. "Oh, I'm sorry." He added as he sheepishly backed away and eyed the remnants of his meal. "Boss must be right. I do have bad eating manners." The Green Folk felt his eyes narrow as he head tilted. What an adorably polite brute, she thought, making a string of words she never thought possible.
Rampage blinked again at Eira, and just before she could respond, his demeanor changed drastically. With Swipe leaping into the clearing after the girl, the newcomer's scent spurred the triceratops in a mad, defensive rage. Even more grass spilled from his mouth when he cried out and stamped on the ground. A predator! His senses warned him. As blood and adrenaline coursed through his veins, Rampage’s frill turned a bright red hue, a warning sign to any carnivore or rival foolish enough to challenge him.
The trumpeting howl quickly caught the attention of his teammates, beckoning for them to return. Likewise, Rex and Thorn appeared as well, though less stoic and stern, when they looked to Swipe.
“Ah, there he is.” The ceratosaurus snickered. Swipe could only wave at them when more dinosaurs appeared abruptly. Hearts quickly raced as the two factions met, with Eira in the middle no less. That’s when Blade narrowed his eyes.
“I bloody knew it!” He cried. “I’ve heard of this one. It’s the kid from the grassland. Rex! I knew he was in on all of this. He must be a spy! An attacker!”
“A what?” Rex thought out loud. Crunch seemed to share the same sentiment, but before anything civil could occur, passion and emotion flew into high gear.
“Blade, no! We don’t have any idea about…” It was too late, however, to stop the baryonyx on his attack when he charged for Swipe. With his claws poised and ready to strike, Blade was just upon the deinonychus when an even greater force slammed into the attacker. Eira quickly dove out of the way and covered her head as the massive dinosaur rolled past her, coughing up plumes of dust before he struggled back to his feet.
Feeling a rush of adrenaline he hadn’t known in some time, Rex was sure he would restrict himself to that simple act in protection of his friend, who gave his thanks with that awful accent of his. He turned to Crunch, as the most stoic beast there was likely the leader. Parting his jaws to speak, he was never given the chance when Rampage cried out again.
His foot scratching at the soil, the triceratops lost all control he had as instincts set in. His one and only goal: kill Rex. Likewise, the tyrannosaurus felt his heart skip a beat. His entire life, he knew a dinosaur like Rampage was one to be respected, as even his parents had trouble taking one down together. The goal wasn’t in killing him, Rex thought, but simply deterring him. He swallowed his fears and planted his feet firmly down into the grassy ground when Rampage was already upon him.
The massive beast’s charge was enough to put even the greatest of carnivores out of service, but Rampage’s rage blinded him as the tyrannosaur stepped out the way of his devastating attack. Like a vice grip Rex’s jaws clamped down on one of the horns on his attacker’s brow, hopeful that it would slow the beast down. As Eira came to find out, however, Rampage lived up to his name as he dragged Rex around and around, hoping to discourage and shake loose the massive carnivore. What's worse, their struggle nearly ended in the trampling of the girl several times. At one point, Rex nearly crushed her under his foot while trying to control the triceratops and she was rolling out of the way of the latter.
Meanwhile, the other dinosaurs could only watch on in awe as the two titans struggled for dominance, when the tides changed. Perhaps it was Rex planning accordingly, or more likely, it simply Rampage’s blind fury, but the struggle between them ended when the triceratops crashed into the very tree from which he nibbled around.
Together the two dinosaurs felt something give way, when a splitting pain jolted through Rampage. It appeared that their combined strength would be enough to shatter the old trunk into a cloud of splinters, but as the others found out, the howl emanated for a much more personal reason. He cried out as Rex stumbled backward in a fit of surprise, with his rival’s horn still secured in his maw.
His eyes went wide, dumbfounded that he had dislodged much of the horn from his brow. Judging from its imposing weight in his mouth, Rex sighed in the fact that it hadn't been lodged into his neck or chest, before tossing the sharp weapon aside. Rampage groaned and moaned for some time, looking up just in time to watch his horn roll off into the brush with a desperate longing to have it back. Crunch snarled as he moved into action, despite his own neutral feelings toward the tyrannosaurus.
“I thought you weren’t against us, that you might just be a wanderer, a dumb kid, but now I see you are indeed a threat. Not just to me, but to my allies and friends here.” His growl rumbled with an intensive hatred before charging. Blade, still dizzy and struggling to get to his feet, was the only one who could smirk as the carcharodontosaurus rushed the tyrannosaur. Though comparable in size, the two titans did not clash for long before Crunch had his jaws around Rex’s neck. Crash, Rampage, and Blade quickly cheered for their leader as the two struggled for dominance.
“Come on Boss! Crunch on through ’em! Live up to ya name!” Blade hollered with a sinister cackle. However, Crunch soon realized that his jaws weren’t up to par as far as breaking the T. Rex’s neck in one clean bite. In fact, he could hardly bite through the fat and muscle protecting the dinosaur’s most vital veins in his neck. That wasn’t to say, however, that Rex felt any relief from that. So long as Crunch had him in his jaws, he was his, with his teeth sheering through his skin with each violent jerk to in a bid to free himself.
“Oy! Get off him mate!” Swipe cried out before springing into action. He darted on past Eira, who remained frozen in place, when he leapt onto the old tree trunk. Pushing off its crusty bark, the raptor landed effortlessly onto Crunch’s back when he ran his wickedly-sharp talons into his sides. It was enough to have the carcharodontosaurus release his grip on Rex in a bid to snatch the pest in his jaws.
Rex gave a surprised and relieved gasp as he staggered away. That’s when Eira finally got to her feet and began to run away when Thorn ran toward his friends, the girl ending up in his path. She felt trapped, despite the dinosaurs paying little to no mind to her.
“Are you alright Rex? Talk to me lad.”
“It hurts…” The tyrannosaurus sighed. “But I’ll live. Swipe though…”
“I’ll take care of him, sir.” Thorn replied before taking off in bounding strides toward the sparring beasts, nearly sending Eira back to the ground as he brushed past her.
Taking deep breaths, Rex was obviously thankful for his life when he looked back down to the ground. The young adult had never experienced such a confrontation with another carnivore before, and to be frank, the experience nearly had him running back to the grasslands, when he blinked.
The Green Folk from before was looking back at him with those same wide blue eyes. The odd, pale creature, Rex hoped, must have been some sort of good omen. Crunch, being older and more experienced, would have defeated him with ease normally. This he knew. As they met eyes this time, Eira found the strength not to run. Instead, curiosity kept her bound as she stood, almost oblivious to the fight before them. Those same teeth she feared worked to keep her around, as now she saw the tyrannosaur to be a sort of protector, at least from that gang. Rex could only bow his head in thanks to her just as Thorn closed his jaws around Crunch’s leg, moments before the larger carnivore could clamp his jaws around Swipe’s tail and end their struggle.
Now with two beasts to deal with, Crunch cried out for help, calling his men cowards. Crash swiftly felt her heart sting in offense. At once she darted past the others and started for Thorn. The angry herbivore’s scent quickly entered the ceratosaur’s nostrils, just in time for him to break away from his assault and defend himself with his teeth from her devastating head butt.
The two circled off in an intense standoff, while Swipe leapt from Crunch’s side and took off, taking the interests the carcharodontosaur’s gang as they chased him back into the thicker woods. This left Crunch to wince at his wounds, when he looked to Rex, as he himself was studying Eira. A thought spiked into the back of the leader’s head. What if, he thought, Rex had come to take the Green Folk from Giant? After all, his old friend had spoken of Eira in a matter of high importance. It only worked to solidify his stance against the tyrannosaur. Not only was he hurting his men, but now he was threatening his assignment, and that was simply unacceptable.
“You thief!” He cried out with his charge. Rex, unsure of what he meant by that, turned and prepared himself for another assault as Eira ran from the struggle. When he turned with adrenaline coursing through his veins, the tyrannosaurus found the upper hand as instead of trying to fight his teeth with his, his jaws snapped shut around Crunch’s arm. The dinosaur panicked and kicked about as he feared he would lose his arm. Rex, however, was forgiving, as he simply held on so tight as to keep the other in his grip, while he dragged him around this time. The plan, just as it was with Rampage, was to deter him.
Although Eira ran to hide in a thick bunch of brush, she didn’t remain there long before something crashed into her, hard. Together, she and Swipe rolled together back into the clearing, shortly before Blade and Rampage appeared once more. Their heads spinning, the human and deinonychus took a moment to regain their senses and balance before meeting eyes.
“Well ‘allo darlin’! Me name’s Swipe it is.”
“E-Eira…” It was all she could muster up to say during all of this, just as Rex let go of Crunch and allowed him to escape back to his pack. Crash, having grown tired of her standoff with Thorn, joined up alongside the gang as they nearly surrounded the three dinosaurs. Spacing themselves equal distances from one another, Swipe sprang to his feet and ran to join Thorn and Rex, realizing long after they had that their opponent's formation was complete. Eira simply sat up, her eyes locked on one member of the antagonizing group then another.
With their circle complete, Crunch’s gang seemingly put their minds together to form a single entity. First Crunch looked to Crash and nodded his head upwards, to which the dome-headed dinosaurs sharply turned to Rampage, piercing his soul with her fiery gaze. It prompted the triceratops to give an equally powerful snarl and stomp over toward Blade, whose smirk widened into a mad grin as his claws furled wickedly. With a cackle the baryonyx took off.
Rampage, serving as Rex’s distraction, charged for Eira while Blade went for the dinosaur. The tyrannosaurus, however, had his sights set on the Green Folk, namely, in protecting her. Having realized that she was what they were after, the tyrant king brought his massive head around close the ground, so as to strike, and catapulted the girl away from danger in one clean hit. As such, his sweeping head narrowly dodged Rampage’s devastating charge as Eira’s frightened shriek filled the air. A moment later the triceratops instead crashed into Blade, just moments before the baryonyx’s teeth could bite the tyrannosaur’s neck. Thankfully for Blade, the triceratops had lost the horn that otherwise would have gouged his side, but his shield-like skull and unstoppable charge quickly put the two out of service as they continued down a ways and landed on one another.
With rage finally boiling through his blood, Rex didn’t take but a moment to check on Eira as Crunch charged toward him next. Unbeknownst to him, Crash, with her bone-breaking head butt, was lining herself up to make a devastating strike against their rival. Swipe and Thorn could only run out of the way as the two titans clashed, again with Rex’s jaws biting down onto Crunch’s arm. This time, however, he was less forgiving.
Crunch gave out an ear-splitting cry as the tyrannosaurus closed his jaws down with all his might, crushing his arm like a small twig as he pulled him around and around like a helpless ragdoll. Perhaps the carcharodontosaurus had more experience, but in terms of brute strength, even he realized how helpless he was against Rex. By this time Crash had lowered her head and charged, confident that her bony skull would land a decisive hit against the enemy.
Another heart-pounding sound of bones cracking filled the air as the pachycephalosaurus landed her hit. Unfortunately, she realized as she looked up, it was on the wrong dinosaur. Crunch felt his femur snap with his apprentice’s attack when he gave another wicked howl. Unable to withstand such pain, Crunch conceded defeat by buckling down to a knee, and thus rendering him useless for the fight. Only then did Rex let go of him and trot away, eyeing the remnants on the opposing gang. Crash, with her eyes glossy with tears at her fatal mistake, could not be expected to fight in such a mental condition. Meanwhile, Blade and Rampage clumsily rolled off one another and stumbled to their feet, dazed and confused. To his and his companion's utmost surprise, Rex had found himself to be the victor.
With a decisive bellow, the tyrannosaur shook all of Crunch’s gang to the core, when embarrassment rocked them. Meanwhile Thorn and Swipe appeared back at his side, more confident than ever. They seized the moment to soak in the sight of their rivals' struggling to put their pieces back together.
“Say, where’d Eira go?” Swipe asked.
“Who?” Thorn looked to the raptor.
“Ya know. The thing in tha green stuff. I coulda sworn it was here just a second ago.”
“Let it go then.” Rex replied solemnly, knowing his good omen was gone. “Come on. We’re going home.” Thorn and Swipe simply looked at one another as the giant carnivore turned and started off toward the denser brush.
Rather than wait for Blade, Rampage, and Crash to ready themselves once more, the two dinosaurs found little choice but to follow the tyrannosaurus, effectively putting an end to their little adventure. Sure, it was a little shorter than Thorn had ever imagined, or hoped for, but as he looked back to the gang, it could have been worse. A lot worse.