Long Time No See
With her hood still sopping wet over her face, Eira dangled helplessly when an overwhelming reptilian scent came over her. Coughing up mouthfuls of water and wheezing, she hardly took notice to being suspended in midair by a pair of powerful jaws. Her chest ached as she fought to breathe, with gasps devoid of chilling cold water. The dinosaur set her down, when she could just barely see its feet back away as it gave her room to recover. Taking deep, thankful breaths of fresh air, she slowly brought a hand up and pulled her hood back when she looked up.
“Eira?” Giant seemed both relieved and ecstatic to see her, as his face lit up in such a way that few around them had ever seen. The girl stood up, winded at first but equally as excited to see him, not to mention be out of the freezing water. To her surprise, she found herself unable to speak. Where would she begin? So much had happened since they last saw each other, and this time, they even had an audience. Giant’s subjects she presumed. “Eira it is so great to see you. How in the world did you happen upon this place? So far from where we first met, and…”
“That bloody fish got away again.” Blade interrupted as he approached the rest of the gang. Upon looking at the baryonyx Eira immediately yelped and began to run, only to have her actions thwarted by Giant’s laughter.
“It is only Blade, my dear. He’s only about as harmless as he is useless.”
“H-hardly...” Eira stammered.
“Hmm? How’s that?” It wasn’t until now that the Green Folk really felt the intensity of the dinosaurs’ collective stares, or just how many were there. As she looked around, she spotted Rampage and Crash near the back of the gang. Rampage didn’t seem to be paying much attention as he nibbled on a patch of grass, but the dome-headed dinosaur had her sights locked on Eira.
If not for her, Crash thought, Crunch might still be alive, when her heart raced. She would have acted her revenge right then and there had it not been for the overwhelming amount of carnivores around. Not to mention Crunch’s voice lingering in the back of her mind, as if reminding her that such an act would not please him. A lone tear rolled down her bony cheek, much to her dismay. Also, there was Rogue, who crept in and around different dinosaur groups to better look at Eira, when she recognized him from the trail. Finally she swallowed, and looked back to Giant.
“There was a fight. H-he was there. I’m sure of it.”
“A fight you say? Interesting. Say Blade,” Giant turned toward the baryonyx, who began to feel his knees go weak. “Didn’t you say something about a scuffle when you returned last?”
“A-ah, ahem, aye sir.”
“And you failed to report that you found Eira?” This prompted the girl look back up at Giant.
“Y-you never asked, sir.” Blade replied with a stupid yet cheerful grin. The leader narrowed his eyes harshly to the baryonyx, forcing the latter to feel his heart leap up to his throat.
“You’ve been looking for me?” Eira asked. Giant turned back to her, his calming, suave attitude having returned.
“Of course I have. As you know Eira, you’ve opened up quite a little world to me, one I thought I’d never see in this lifetime. I had asked my friend Crunch and some of his men to search for you, to find where you might reside, so that I might visit you in the future.” His smile widened. “I’m curious as to how you happened along here, so far from the home you pointed me toward.”
“Well, it’s…kind of a long story.”
“And I’ll love every minute of it, I’m sure. But first, might I introduce to you some of my most trusted associates I was telling you about. Taurus, Hopper, Carnage, if you will.” Sure enough, the allosaurus and the carnotaur brothers stepped forward from the pack. Taurus was the only one who seemed genuinely intrigued by Eira as he approached her. Though he had a habit of being a loud breather, his flared nostrils seemed to be sniffing her in Eira’s mind. As such, when he circled around her, she couldn’t help but retreat inward by crossing her arms and ducking her head. The timid gesture made Giant chuckle, to which Eira gave her greetings, first to Taurus just over her shoulder, then to Hopper and Carnage.
“It is very nice to meet all of you.” She added with a polite curtsey. Many dinosaurs cocked their head in response to the odd gesture, with several trying to mimic it on their own. Louis the velociraptor, in particular, had difficulty in it, as he tripped over himself and landed on Hopper’s foot.
“You’re right, sir; she really is a sight to behold.” Taurus remarked as he took his place back beside his brother. Eira and Giant only smirked at one another.
“That said, I’m not sure if I understand what the fuss was over. No offense, miss.” Hopper added.
“What better expansion is there than of the mind, eh Hopper? It’s not every day you see a creature you never have before.”
“I suppose not.” The allosaurus replied under his breath.
“Now then, take a break everyone; I’d care to share a moment to catch up with my friend here.” Giant announced to the others, but not before eyeing Blade again suspiciously as he passed by. They waited for the mob to disappear into the brush before Eira walked up toward him.
“You lead all of them?”
“For the most part, yes. A few are obligated to servitude for the time being, others might be stragglers, however. But the majority follow me out of their own free will. Now, about that story you promised me.”
“Where to begin…” She sighed.
“Hmm…don’t stress about it too much, my dear. We have all the time in the world, but, I can’t help but inquire about your experience with Blade.”
“Oh. Of course. Well, um…I-I was simply drinking for a river, and I...uhm...I swear he was the one to snap at me. He killed Christian.”
“Oh. Bernard’s horse. He was the animal I rode back to the forest on. He helped me escape from…some wicked men.”
“Well, I’m very sorry to hear that, and of your loss. Though I’m glad you’re back here, safe and sound.”
“So I ran, and I hid, and he was with three other beings with him.” Giant knew of course she was referring to Crunch, Crash, and Rampage as he listened closely. “And before I knew it, there were even more, and they were fighting.”
“I see. Rex is his name, I believe. One should be wary to steer clear of him. But please, don’t let me interrupt anymore.” The girl looked up to Giant, a bit confused. Rex? It seemed to her as if he were protecting her from Blade and his gang, but it seemed to go so fast, she wasn’t too sure. The thought passed.
“That’s it. I ran as soon as I could. And I met Finn just after.”
“You as well? I just had a colleague of mine utter his name not too long ago. I must be the only one around here to not to have seen him.”
“He said the same thing of you.” Eira giggled.
“How is my old friend? More importantly, where is he anyway?”
“I’m not sure where he went. I um, ran off when I thought I saw another Green Folk in the woods.”
“I’m certain he’s around here somewhere.” Giant began as he looked around. “Wait, you say you saw another of your kind here?”
“I wish I had.” She replied solemnly. “I don’t know how to describe it. A Rusalka, she called herself. A witch perhaps? She lives in the water.”
“Interesting…" Giant hummed, before letting out a slight chuckle. "Well you certainly don’t disappoint me with your stories, Eira. I’ll have to have a word with Blade when I see him next.” Their conversation didn’t last much longer after that, when another massive dinosaur emerged from the water's depths and scrambled over toward them.
“Eira! There you are. I was deathly afraid that you might have…Giant?” Finn’s eyes widened when they met with the giganotosaur’s. The spinosaurus suddenly stopped short in his advance, with the water still at his ankles. He was met with a warm grin.
“Ah, speaking of which! Finn, at last we see each other. Eira was just telling me of her little adventure. Come on over.” Sure enough, the spinosaurus ripped through the river’s strong current like nothing when he approached. “How are you, my old friend?”
“The forests have been kind to me over the years. And you?”
“The same. Call it fate that such a small creature brought us together after so long.”
“Oh, she’s anything but.” Finn replied as he smiled down at the girl. “Are you alright? You frightened me.”
“I’m sorry Finn. I didn’t mean to…”
“It’s alright. I’m simply glad you’re safe.” Eira was beginning to grow red in the face from all of this attention. She was hardly used to any of it. Still, it was a sight to behold to see the two titans speak to one another like civilized beings, what with their impressive teeth and claws. As they turned their attention to one another, they offered but the very minimal of details in their daily lives, almost like they had come to distrust one another after such a long absence.
“What say you to dinner tonight? Just the three of us?” Giant said. “We can catch up further there. I give you my word that I will find the hardiest and finest feast for us.”
“Oh, well forgive me, old friend, but I can’t allow that here. I eat strictly fish anymore, and it’s one thing to catch food for Eira and myself, but I’d fear draining the waters here of food should we all have a feast.”
“Ah, so the rumors are true.” Giant chuckled. “I hear herbivores continue to find these lands to be quite the haven from fellows like myself.”
“You’ve heard correctly. I believe the rivers flowing from the mountaintops should be enjoyed by all without having to worry every moment for those like you.”
“Like myself..." Giant lowered his snout and shook his head slightly, looking back up with a snicker. "Oh Finn, always the progressive type. Well, if that be the case, I’ll have to alert the others.”
“You have more with you?”
“Yes, plenty in fact. But if we’re not welcome here, then I’ll simply have to arrange another get-together some other time. Come along, Eira.”
“Oh, but Giant…?”
“I was planning on staying with Finn for just a while longer. I mean, if that’s alright with you? At least until tomorrow morning.”
“Of course it is.”
“And might I ask, why the morning? Aren’t you afraid of those beasts in the early hours?” Giant asked.
“Oh, well, you remember the Rusalka I told you about?”
“Well...she said something about the early fog that’s been around lately. She said it might be my way home.”
“Interesting.” Giant cocked his head inquisitively, thinking for a moment when he turned to the spinosaurus. “Well, Finn, it’s been a pleasure, it truly has been. Now that I know where you’ve been hiding all these years I’ll be sure to visit again soon. And Eira, I hope to see very soon as well, and safe journeys.”
“Sooner rather than later.” Eira replied, echoing the dinosaur’s goodbye the first time they met.
“Good to hear, old friend.” And with that, Giant smiled and nodded his respects before venturing off into the woods, leaving the spinosaurus and human alone. Finn’s expression, however, shifted as his eyes followed Giant until he disappeared from sight.
“Hmm?” He hummed once he finally broke free of his trance.
“Is something wrong?” Eira asked.
“No. Nothing at all. Come, you’ll have to tell me what you saw, that…Rusalka, you put it?”
“Very good. Let’s walk back to the embankment then, shall we?”
When Giant returned to his dinosaur armada, he was met with undivided attention from all of them. Such followers as Hopper and Boulder, however, couldn’t help but roll their eyes, their small window for relaxation now disturbed. For the ankylosaurus, he frankly didn’t care to be serving under the giganotosaurus, after so many years of being his own boss. As for the allosaurus, well, he always had his own disdain in the role of lieutenant.
“What’s the word sir?” Taurus asked as he ran up to Giant’s side.
“One moment, Taurus. Blade?” In their own corner of the group, Blade, Rampage, and Crash had been tending to themselves, but the baryonyx quickly felt his heart sink once he heard his name uttered.
“Come here, won't you?” Sure enough, Blade did as he was told, inching toward Giant like a tense child awaiting a scolding. Instead of a fierce tongue, the larger dinosaur rammed his skull into the other. With such strength, coupled with his guard down, the baryonyx fell from his feet onto the ground with a heavy pant.
“Wh-what’s wrong, sir? What have I done?” He cried out just as Giant planted his foot firmly onto his underling’s torso.
“When I tell you report something, I expect a full report.” Giant snarled. “You thought someone like Eira would go unnoticed? She tells me you snapped at her from the water. I certainly hope you didn’t plan on eating her…”
“Well…she went…unheard of for a while, sir. I-I didn’t know what I was seeing from the under the water, but I do regret it!” Blade cried out as the giganotosaurus pushed more of his weight onto his ribs, to the point that they risked splintering.
“From now on, I don’t expect you to hide things from me Blade. I will find out.” The other dinosaurs watched with solemn silence as one of their own was made an example of. “And that goes to the rest of you. Whether I ask you or not, I want to know the entirety of your assignments. And you, if I were to know any better, I would hold you responsible for Crunch’s death, but I grant you this one, I emphasize, one, sliver of hope in that the rest of your story isn’t false as well.” After that, Giant backed away and let Blade stagger back to his feet, this time with a fearful, defeated look about him.
“Yes, of course Giant. Forgive me sir. Let me lead you to where I gained my power from.”
“Your power is the least of my concern now.” Giant’s demeanor changed back to his confident, cool self. “Leave it to Eira to drop a hint of something better. She spoke of the mist that’s enveloped our forest as of late. Its particular thickness is not a coincidence. No, it has a purpose, and should my dear friend be telling the truth, it might just be the break we have all been waiting for. Another land, if you will, free of any borders divided by our hands. Untapped, free land full of food and resources. Ours for the taking.” Giant’s words were followed with a collective cry of excitement by his carnivore minions, namely the raptors, who chirped and barked out in applause.
“And how might this be?” Hopper asked with a hint of suspicion.
“Well, I failed to get the details, but from what I gather, the morning mist has about it a mystical quality. I’d care to look into it further. She said it was what will let her get home, as if to say that her home isn’t here already.”
“You’re saying she isn’t of our world?” Taurus cocked his head.
“Perhaps. But there is but one way to find out. I want all of you on high alert once the fog settles. Anything abnormal, anything bizarre or out of the ordinary, I want you to report to me first unless provoked to attack.” A collective ‘yes sir’ filled the air as his more devout followers nodded, while Boulder and his men, as well as Hopper and Blade, found themselves forcefully abiding by his command.