Eira couldn’t stop running. Not with the image of teeth and claws still fresh in her mind. All she could think of was of those beasts mauling each other, tearing themselves limb from limb, when their eyes fell to her. She didn’t want to think about it. Getting home was enough of a burden on her mind.
As branches and brush slapped her in the face, Eira found it fruitless to defend herself with outstretched arms, and the thick vegetation simply wouldn’t let her go so easily. Thorny bristles grabbed at her cloak, almost pulling her back into their prickly grasp before she broke away. Gasping for air and simply trying to put together the events that transpired, the Green Folk could only feel helpless and alone while she ran. Christian, despite his absence to her, would have proved to be a great deal of comfort now.
Suddenly the thick forest gave way to another deep river. Gasping for air and holding her sides, Eira nearly panicked once more, fearing that the water might house another monster like Blade. Save for a single turtle emerging for air, the slow current brought nothing but a soft babble. It was something Eira was thankful for. She seized the moment to admire the beauty around her, looking upriver to gawk at the towering mountain from which the river was fed. So late into the season, its peak still held powdery white snow, where she could make out the numerous streams rolling down its sides and becoming rivers like the one before her.
Eira jumped as Rex’s roar filled the air. Almost instinctively she staggered backward, her eyes fixed on the dense brush when she tripped into the water. With a surprised whelp she nearly crashed into it, had it not been for someone watching her.
Water splashed about as the girl landed in surprisingly shallow tides. A hand reached down and touched leathery flesh. Eira’s heart skip a beat. What if Blade had caught up to her after all? She rolled to her side just as she felt the beast’s large head begin to rise up through the water. Her hand graced the creature’s bony crest just above its eye as water spilled from atop its elongated head, just in time for her to meet with its piercing golden eyes. With the beast’s help, Eira slid off its snout and to her feet, only to look up in awe as the being emerged from the watery depths.
Eira swallowed the lump in her throat as the aquatic monster only grew larger and larger. From its crocodile-like snout to the three wickedly-curved clawed hands which nearly graced the ground even as it stood tall. What’s more, its stubby webbed feet made it obvious of its aquatic lifestyle. Finally, a bony sail rose out from its back, reaching out to the heavens and making the beast appear even larger than than Rex or Crunch. The spinosaurus emerged on land and shook its head rapidly, expelling water droplets from its head with a heavy grunt. With the groan emanating from deep within its throat, it looked down at Eira, who was otherwise too frightened to run.
Shocked and in awe, the Green Folk didn’t budge as she feared the worst in the spinosaurus. If she ran, the massive beast would likely give chase, and undoubtedly catch her in seconds. However, the dinosaur never revealed his teeth to her. In fact, he did little but cock his head to one side when the girl fell back onto the ground. Hesitantly she crawled backward, when the beast lowered itself on all fours, its clawed hands pressing down onto the rocky bank.
“Well hello.” He spoke in a soft, calm tone. “Just what might you be? My...what a curious creature…” His voice did not seem to be engaging, but an observational one. It was likely judging the girl to be mute or unable to speak, as so many creatures tended to be. Eira blinked once and lowered her head, but her eyes never left his. Despite his long, toothy grin, she wasn’t very surprised by his ability to speak, as so many beasts she came across anymore did. Still, she was rather taken aback by his sincere demeanor, something she wasn’t so accustomed to as of late. With a nervous gulp she raised her head.
“H-hi. My name’s Eira.” Her hushed voice only worked to widen the spinosaur’s grin.
“You speak? How wonderful! Eira then? What a lovely name. Eira. My name is Finn. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” She smiled with his kind words, nodding once in response.
“It’s nice a meet you.”
“Tell me Eira, what brings you here? I can’t say I’ve ever met one like you before. So small, so fragile, and…with such loose skin.”
“I’ve heard that a lot lately.” Eira force a weak snicker as she got to her feet, with Finn’s gaze following her. She tugged at her robe and cloak, presenting them her before the spinosaurus. “Oh. These are my clothes. They go over my body, and keep me quite warm actually.”
“How curious.” Finn murmured as he studied them, only to finally meet eyes with her once more. “Then what brings you to my little domain then, Eira?” The girl only blinked at first, as quickly the thoughts of Rex and the others came to mind. She brought a hand up to her chin as she turned, but she could not hear the tyrannosaur nor the others howling or fighting as before. In fact, all she could hear was the sound of the river, and perhaps Finn’s breathing, when she looked back.
“I…I’m trying to get home.”
“Home?” Finn asked as he stood up tall. He towered over Eira, likely intimidating her had it not been for that sincere smile of his. “Where is home for you?” Water continued to roll from his hide as he circled around the girl, his head cocked at such an angle to best study her every angle. His actions, however, didn’t warrant much more than a swift heartbeat from Eira, who felt as if he was like a wolf, circling around its prey before striking. He never did snatch her up in those jaws, however, as he stood at her side, looking down at her with an inquisitive stare. She swallowed the lump in her throat and turned to him, making the best out of the smirk lining her lips.
“Well, right now, I wish I knew.” Her voice was soft and sheepish as she brushed a tuft of hair over her ear. This simple gesture only pulled at Finn’s heartstrings. He pulled his chin upward slightly, returning a smirk of his own to the girl when he lowered himself back down to her level.
“You’re more than welcome to stay here as long as you’d like. My home is yours. I’ll protect you. I don’t doubt you will return home within no time.”
“Oh thank you.” Eira breathed. “I…I promise I won’t stay long. I just need to find something familiar, and soon.” Finn grinned widely, happy to lend a hand to one in need, when he made his way back from whence he came. He waddled knee into the cool water until it came up to his knees. His hands, half-submerged in the river, curled upward like sharp mountains rising from the sea.
“Wonderful. Here, let me catch us dinner. You like fish yes?” Eira blinked.
“I can’t have enough.” The girl laughed. She swiftly felt as if her comment was a bit theatrical, but she was simply trying to be polite. Finn’s smile only grew.
“Very good. Wait here then. I’ll be right back.” And with that, the colossal dinosaur disappeared into the deep waters, making Eira look on in awe in how such a massive beast could hide in the rippling tides. It certainly made her want to be more cautious whilst ever grabbing a drink from the river again.
With the help of Blade, Crunch had managed to get back to his feet, but with his leg shattered, the carcharodontosaurus winced and groaned painfully with each step he took with it. Crash gave him her apologies a thousand times over, as she was the only one truly concerned for his condition. Meanwhile, Rampage and Blade were rather passive in the matter. The two simply looked down, embarrassed more than anything over their defeat. Four of them against one dinosaur, with but a little help from a deinonychus, the thought plagued their minds. How could they save their names from ridicule now?
Out of respect for their injured leader, the gang let him lead, even as Blade grew impatient with the speed with which they went. Together they walked along the river, with Crunch taking the occasional sip here and there. Oddly enough, the water always seemed to invigorate him, to empower him, if only temporarily, and he led on with more confidence than ever. Of all the rivers being fed from the snowy mountain towering before them, this one was odd in that it simply ended in a small pond. It was only one’s guess where the water went after that. Over rocks the river spilled but once it fed the rather small pond, there were no ripples or splashes, only tranquility.
The dinosaurs quickly grew interested in the serene pool when Crunch staggered off toward the base of a shady tree, where he laid down with a painful grunt. While Crash wandered over toward him to tend to him, Rampage remained beside Blade as he eyed the water curiously. It was so deep he couldn’t see the bottom, and yet with these crystal clear waters the pond only descended toward a dark blue abyss.
“Does this water strike you in any way Rampage?” He asked.
“Um…not a whole lot. Why?”
“It…simply strikes my fancy. That’s all.” The baryonyx nearly put his suspicions to rest when he met eyes with something in the water. It was that bloody catfish! With its slimy head poking out, the ominous fish smiled widely and winked before diving down deep into the abyss. Blade felt his heart race when he was overcome with the urge to catch it. With a snarl he crashed into the water, his jaws snapping wildly in a bid to clamp down on his fat prize. Bubbles poured from his snout with his thrashing movements, but still nothing. The baryonyx froze in place, however, when he heard a voice ringing in his ear.
“Power. You wish for power above all else? It is yours. You shall strike with the strike of a sword…” Blade shook his head violently one more time when he looked down and froze. The catfish, with yet another wink, disappeared into the darkness below, leaving the dinosaur to watch it in shame. He pulled his head back up and returned to Rampage, his embarrassment hidden behind a veil of anger. As water poured from his form, the triceratops only blinked in response.
“What are you looking at?” He hissed.
“You. Your teeth.”
“What about ’em?” Blade growled as he ran his tongue along the backs of his pointed teeth. He immediately took note of how quickly it ran across them now, like ice almost. Turning immediately back to the water, he looked at his reflection as the water swiftly returned to serenity. His eyes widened as he noticed the shimmering sparkle in his teeth and claws. He snapped his jaws shut like a vice, when they heard a metallic clap. Turning back to Rampage, the baryonyx was dumbstruck.
“What happened to ya?”
“I…I don’t…wait..." He narrowed his eyes. "That lousy fish. It spoke to me.” Rampage cocked his head as Blade looked back to the water, when he began to smirk deviously. “It gave me this power. Yes. Power...” He quickly snapped his head forward. With his eyes locked onto Crunch, he marched toward his leader with his head held high.
Crunch was hardly conscious by this time, his eyes open just a crack as Crash nestled herself up against his side. There, she lay motionless, her eyes staring forward vacantly as she replayed the fight in her head over and over again, and what she could have done differently. Both of them didn’t care to watch Blade and Rampage in their dealings as they approached.
“Get outta the way squirt. Crunch! I challenge you for leadership of the gang.” Crash jumped to her feet with a fiery rage.
“You’d fight Crunch when he’s hurt? You stupid coward!”
“No. He’s fine.” Crunch uttered weakly. Crash and Rampage looked at their leader in surprise and shock as he slowly and painfully staggered back to his feet. He popped his neck several times over before limping over toward the proud baryonyx. The pain wracking his body was hardly noticeable as the noble carcharodontosaurus raised his head before his successor. Taking a deep, meaningful breath, he exhaled slowly as he narrowed his eyes at Blade. “Your claws…your teeth…”
“Thanks for noticing.” Blade cackled. “It is a gift given to me by the very heavens above. Pure power.” Crunch smirked, if just for Blade’s sake.
“For years you’ve sought to take my place Blade, and today you will receive it. I do not know what you plan to do, but please, for the sake of honor; do not mistreat Rampage or Crash, and don’t be so rash in your plans.”
“Of course. They are as much family to me as they are to you." Ew, he thought. Saying those words left a taste in his mouth that he didn't care for "So you are stepping down then?”
“No. Only death will separate me from my position. Of course, you already know this.” Crunch’s smirk widened as his snout dipped downward. This was the only way, he thought.
“So be it.” Blade growled with a widening grin, when he lunged forward. With adrenaline pumping through his veins, Crunch could hardly notice the pain wracking his body as he clashed with Blade, almost immediately putting the baryonyx out of service and staggering back until his tattered body begged for rest.
Only then did Blade gain the upper hand and clamp his steel jaws down on his leader’s neck. The struggle didn’t last long, as Crunch himself had already given up by that time. Reveling in his victory, Blade slowly let go of his former leader, watching him land on the ground limp and cold.
Tears rolled down to the tip of Crash’s beak as she inched toward Crunch, nudging him with her bony helmet as she whimpered softly. She was only to be denied any interaction at all. Unwilling to give Blade the satisfaction of a motherly scold, she begged for his pity as she rolled up beside their leader and sobbed endlessly. Rampage, with a heavy gulp, fought back his own emotions with a simple, yet heartfelt, nod toward his former leader and old friend. He looked back to Blade, who oddly enough seemed unfulfilled with his victory. As his metallic claws furled toward his palms, he looked to the others.
“Yes. You have seen it. The succession of your new leader. Crunch…is no more. Oh, and as your new leader, there will be some changes around here.” Blade gave his most sinister grin as he turned to face Rampage, his second-in-command from now on. “Firstly, we report back to Giant with Crunch’s death at the claws of Rex. It’s time to make things more interesting.”