Finn was abnormally quiet while Eira nibbled on the meager feast he had collected for them. Unlike the night before, which was filled with more fish than the Folk felt herself able to eat, this evening easily reflected the spinosaur’s conflicted thoughts. He hardly took notice to Eira as she built another fire. Instead of the fascinated gaze he watched her with before, he sat ruminating on his catch once he had swallowed his portion whole. She cooked her meal and occasionally made an awkward cough, but all but once did it break him free from his thoughts, to which he looked at her with his polite grin. Finally, she was rewarded with a smile back.
“How is your meal Eira?”
“It isn’t quite ready yet.” She replied with a childish smirk before twirling the fish on the end of the thin branch she found. Waiting until its scales turned black and charred, the girl watched helplessly as the feeble wood she gathered snapped over the fire and her dinner gone with it. Her heart sank just as her stomach growled, when she looked to Finn. The spinosaurus, however, was too caught up in his thoughts to notice. Tossing his manners to the side, he laid his head down onto the rocky ground and stared off into nothingness. Nothing could interrupt his thoughts now, neither by Eira nor her desperate waves of attention. After several silent moments, interrupted only by the crackling fire, Finn closed his eyes and separated himself entirely from the Green Folk.
A loud grumbling noise emanated from her stomach when Eira hugged it. She watched her dinner hopelessly as it slowly disintegrated into black ash when she looked over her shoulder to the dark forest, in the direction of where Giant had passed on toward. Swallowing the lump in her throat, she slowly got to her feet and looked to Finn. With a part of her mind persuading her to visit Giant and another to remain with Finn, Eira summoned up the courage to cross the shallow part of the river and enter the dark abyss of endless trees and hills.
As her heart began to race, she found it only natural to look back to the glowing fire and Finn lying quietly beside it. Warm and protected, what more could she ask for? An unwavering sense to delve deeper into Finn and Giant’s past was what pushed her forward, however. If not out of personal curiosity, than perhaps she might catch the early fog of the late evening and find her way home.
Straying away from what remnants of light flickered behind her, Eira swallowed her fears and ventured off into the forest. She was guided only by the hope that she or Giant might find the other. With brush crunching beneath every step she took, she listened closely to the woods around her, only to be discouraged by every moment of silence around her. Even the insects failed to make any noise, as instead they fluttered away to hide. Once her eyes adjusted to the darkness, Eira still could make out little more than the nearest trees, as the forest was obscured in darkness.
Cursing under her breath, Eira quickly realized the mistake of her ways when she started back toward the way she came, only to find that the flicker of fire she built had vanished. Marching through the woods for some time, she couldn’t see any flame, nor could she smell the charred wood and fish when she looked from one direction to another. She started one way, then toward another, only to blind herself further from her surroundings. Her hands come up to her brow when she shook her head. How many times could she let herself fall into such vulnerable, foolish situations?
When she heard brush and twigs snap she turned one way, only to hear the same noise in another direction. She turned and looked around until it seemed as if she spun about on her heels, when she finally stopped in time to meet eyes with a shadowy figure. A massive being, it was little else but a dark mass even more ghastly than the endless forest, through which the full moon above fought valiantly to pierce through.
With a feral snort the Wildeboar, concealed behind the shadows, scratched at the tender soil with its cloven hooves. Unbeknownst to Eira, several of its companions began to circle around her, their jaws oozing with slime as they spotted their next meal. At such an hour, instinct dictated to them that another Green Folk was miles away, and they had just so happened across a helpless being. Without a knife or bow to defend herself with, Eira could hear the saliva drop from the daeodons’ snouts as they trapped her. She eyed the shadowy beings surrounding her, if just to calculate a plan to avoid them.
The lead Wildeboar, with a glaring sense of arrogance in its form, charged for the girl when she hopped up into a tree behind her. Scrambling upward, Eira grasped one branch after another when the beast rammed its thick skull into the tree’s trunk. Rattled to the point to which her teeth chattered, Eira lost her grip and crashed back onto the ground with a helpless gasp. The Wildeboar were quick as they closed in with their toothy maws. When her hand fell on a stick, Eira never thought twice when she grasped it tightly and forced into the closest beast above her. Such an act was something she would never imagine herself doing before, as the thought of the helpless girl of before came to mind. The image waned, however, when her ears were filled with ear-piercing screams, the stick now lodged deep into the Wildeboar’s neck.
Almost shocked by the retaliation, the massive pigs backed away in surprise as they inspected their comrade. One of them tugged at the small branch with its jaws, but was met with a destructive crash when the daeodon screamed again and bit at its comrade. The branch now firmly stuck, the others collectively turned their wicked gaze back to Eira. Their distraction had proved useful as she took off at a blinding speed. With a series of heavy snorts and grunts, the pack gave chase, nearly toppling the forest in their destructive wake.
Unable to fend them all off, Eira tried her best to assess her surroundings. Anything at all would help. Searching for another stick to stab one with would take too long, she realized, as her only hope seemingly rested on getting back to Finn or to hide high up in the trees. The pack of barreling beasts closed in far too quickly for her to improvise anything but these ideas. Still, she couldn’t help but feel a rush of energy from stabbing that Wildeboar, as if she had never felt so alive. How the others back home would be proud. The thought seemed to catch up with her however when she tripped over a feathery creature and landed with a mouthful of leaves.
“Oy! Who be the wanker who did that?” A low-pitched velociraptor snapped as he leapt to his feet. “I needs me beauty sleep!” Soon enough, with her vision permitting, Eira discovered that she had landed in the middle of a large pack of the critters, curled up like lizard-like chickens. They all got to their feet slowly, some groggy as they yawned, when the rolling tide of hairy giant boars crashed past them. Taken by surprise, their shock quickly turned to anger as their territory was breached, and soon Eira would be the least of the Wildeboars’ worries. Glancing at the girl with a hint of remembrance, the lead raptor hopped up with an energetic boast.
“Ve have been hit! Fight back!” Louis cried out. "Monsieur! Come quickly!" It took but a moment for the small raptors to mobilize and retaliate. Eira blinked once as she spotted the velociraptor and watched as he drove his sharp talons into the beast’s back. Crying out, the daeodon howled and bucked the raptor off before Hopper crashed through the darkness. Once his jaws snapped shut around the Wildeboar’s thick neck, his claws came up and tore at its snout and eyes.
Looking around, similar scenes soon played out as the Wildeboar pack was suddenly ambushed by more raptors and larger carnivores alike. Carnage and Taurus worked together to bring a hulking brute down, just as Rogue tackled one to its side with the help of Hopper’s raptors. As such, the air was filled with blood-curdling cries and utter pandemonium as the Wildeboar saw their numbers extinguished.
With its wickedly curved tusks, the lead Wildeboar denied Hopper of his victory as it broke free of his grip and charged at Eira, if just for its own satisfaction. The girl, meanwhile, felt her eyes grow wide as she realized each passing second kept her from jumping out of the way. With so many tusks, fangs, and claws running about, she was hard-pressed to jump into anything but an attack. As the massive beast was just upon her, the largest dinosaur among them appeared, and clamped his jaws down on the Wildeboar. Though not the most devastating bite among them, Giant shook his head back and forth violently until he nearly ripped the daeodon in two.
Now a hairy, bloody mess, Giant dropped the lifeless Wildeboar down on the ground just before Eira. Unable to recognize any of the dinosaurs as her protectors, the Green Folk nearly ran until she felt trapped by the wall of trees and raptors all around her. Slowly she returned her sights on the dead Wildeboar and its killer. Recognizing his distinct grin in what little light was available, Eira sighed.
“Eira. My dear. I hope you are alright.” The giganotosaurus breathed heavily as he stepped over his kill, just as numerous other carnivores appeared in a bid to get their share of the meat. Altogether they turned and watched the remaining Wildeboar either fall to Giant’s hand or dart back off into the forest. As for the Daeodon leader, however, with a deep, powerful squeal, it slowly faded away into a tattered, beaten corpse, the sight of which made Louis and his raptor underlings drool with excitement. Giant held himself in a manner that seemed uncharacteristic to Eira, as he breathed heavily and his grin faded.
“You’re on time as usual.” She laughed. Her lightness of the situation only worked to pull Giant’s heartstrings, when he too found himself chuckling. Still a bit short of breath he lowered himself to her level.
“How many times will you keep wandering the woods at night? It doesn’t seem like it ever works to your benefit.”
“Yes, you’re absolutely right. I’m sorry.”
“No need to apologize my dear. If anything, we should thank you.” The dinosaur’s smile returned to his snout as Eira cocked her head. “Why, you’ve brought a fine meal to us all.” His underlings all cried out in cheer as some too eager to wait began to rip into choice cuts of meat. Still breathing heavily herself, Eira looked back up to Giant.
“It’s funny. I actually came out looking for something to eat.”
“Then it will be a feast! And with you as our fine guest.”
Eira enjoyed the attention when she again built a fire. Taurus was especially intrigued, as he laid down beside her and watched every twirl she gave the stick against the brush in her small setup. It took some time, and once the girl’s arms were sore and tired, small embers turned up. They watched in awe as she tended to them and slowly built them up into an impressive flame. Several raptors ran out of fear of a forest fire, while Giant watched her with such fascination it made her blush. To them, what they witnessed was magic. Eira was sure to kick away any brush that risked catching the flame’s greedy licks, and soon enough, she had a nice, controlled fire.
“So that’s what your odd claws are for.” Taurus observed as his eyes never strayed far from the fire. Getting over his excessive breathing habit, Eira smiled. Never did she imagine of receiving compliments on her dirty, skinny hands. As her thanks, she gave a gentle pat to the carnotaur’s cheek. Taurus couldn't help but give a warm smile in response, finding comfort in the girl's gentle touch.
Looking around, Eira was finally beginning to understand how Giant cared for his men, as the raptors either ate or darted about like anxious children. Intimidating though they were, they seemed friendlier under more casual circumstances. She always did find introductions awkward.
With his insistence, Giant pulled away a gracious chunk of meat away from the lead Wildeboar for her to cook, while many eager raptors brought her sticks to cook her meal with. She thanked every one of them, before finding that she now cradled an a healthy bundle of sticks under one arm. Giant and Taurus watched on as she took pieces of meat and pierced them on the skews before setting them at an angle into the ground, so the meat hung over the fire. Their interest was just as genuine as Finn’s, which reminded her.
“I need to find Finn. I lost him when I was searching for food.”
“Were you separated?” Giant asked.
“Well…yes, but he was sleeping.” The dinosaur smiled in response.
“We will find him here shortly, my dear. But first, eat. One must never forget to do that. You never know when you will next.” Eira did as she was told, nibbling on bits of meat to make sure they were finished, when she offered some to Giant and Taurus, who themselves had forgotten to eat somehow.
Though morsels in their jaws, Taurus cried out in surprise at the hot slab of meat, much to the snickers of the others. Once he swallowed it, he concluded it might have been the best thing he had ever tasted. Learning from him, Eira took a moment to blow softly on the next morsel before handing it to Giant. Despite his massive maw, he was surprisingly dexterous and gentle with them, as he closed them just short of the stick, and let her slide it back out. He cocked his head back and let it slide down his throat, followed by a warm hum. Soon enough, almost every velociraptor lined up wanting a taste, when Giant beckoned them to back away so that his friend might eat in peace. With their own hunger setting in, he and Taurus stood and began to feast before the others picked every carcass clean.
Eira couldn’t help but feel a sense of community here, among carnivores no less. With each one tending to their own business, and yet aware of the other, she rather liked it. She looked back up at Giant. Sensing her attention on him, he returned the the gesture, and once they met eyes, they exchanged a soft, genuine smile and a deep, respectful nod.