Men & Monsters

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Turning Tides

Everyone was in disbelief as they met eyes with the Eagle General, whose horse seemed uneasy in the company of the two dinosaurs. Archers soon appeared from behind the knights and readied their bows, with arrows posed at each of them. Bernard dropped his visor and fought the urge to reach for his own sword when he spotted a pair of archers aiming directly for his helmet. Tanner couldn’t help but laugh.

“Well done, Sir Bernard. You actually did it. Perhaps you didn’t mean to, but you’ve actually found the Green Folk before we did. Good work.” The elder knight softly asked for Eira’s forgiveness when she looked at him. “Go on, drop your weapon girl, and return to your village. Men, we’ll have to make good use of the nets we brought.” Some of the knights rode off in separate directions, so as to flank the village on the general’s command. Eira swallowed the lump in her throat as she did as she was told, dropping the dagger before she and the others walked back to the village. Their walk was long and silent, with the overwhelming fear that should a single muscle twitch that shouldn’t have, a storm of arrows might fall onto them.

“Oh, Awel, thank goodness! I thought you and Eira were…” Adelae ran up to her husband before screaming at the sight of the two dinosaurs. The wicked shriek was enough to call off the festivities going on as others looked to investigate. Sure enough, similar calls in panic filled the air at the sight of such monstrous beings, with many of them looking on with amazement. Her stories were true! They would have applauded the girl if they weren’t so shocked by the sight of the dinosaurs. Had it not been for their circumstances, Swipe would have loved the attention, but even he looked solemn as he walked on.

Eira and Awel, meanwhile, felt their hearts sink with the knowledge of what was to come. Tanner followed them into the village atop his steed, prompting more cries from the Folk. This time however, their calls were far more fearful, as they realized what was happening. Many of the Green Folk, who had left their weapons at home, began to run either to their huts or simply away from the knight when Tanner’s soldiers stormed the village. Unable to take the sight and horror of everything as it unfolded, Eira closed her eyes while utter pandemonium broke out around her.

Knights riding on horseback threw heavy nets to catch escaping Green Folk, and some of the more reckless ones rode through the village with sword in hand and hacked at those unfortunate enough to get in their way. It was their version of a deterrent when archers fired their arrows, mostly at peoples’ legs so as to keep them from running, but in the chaos, there were certainly Folk who were killed. Tears began to roll down Eira’s cheeks as she listened to the madness, when she covered her face in a bid to further escape from it. Tanner smiled warmly behind his helmet as he watched on.

The attack came to a halt, if for but a second, when a single knight flew out from the dark forest overhead. Hollering wildly through the air, he crashed into the bonfire. Embers and smoke erupted with his landing, and the village was cast into a bright flash before dimming slightly. The soldiers stopped their attack to see what had become of their comrade and archers lowered their bows.

Tanner blinked as he looked for what had happened, when even more figures appeared in the village. A bowman fired blindly at the feathery blurs darting about them, just before a flurry of sharp claws and teeth brought many of his comrades and himself down in a flash of movement. Unsure of what was happening, terror struck into many of the soldiers with this swift new threat, but against the fear of what might become of them if they abandoned the assault, they fought on.

Suddenly a giant dinosaur broke free from the darkness and snatched a knight riding past in his jaws just as he rode by. Helpless in his toothy maw, the knight fought and kicked against Hopper’s hold when he shook him violently before dropping the armored man. Battered and dizzy, he began to crawl away, laughing with his freedom and knowing his armor had protected him. The knight was promptly silenced, however, when the allosaurus stomped on him and gave a wicked grin with his demise.

Eira finally opened her eyes as the sound of panicked horses filled the air. Many of them kicked their riders off as they fought to run away, but were swiftly taken out by packs of vicious raptors. Thorn and Swipe stood in as much shock as the Green Folk, who saw no attacks against them by the dinosaurs. Then, from the shadows behind a hut did their leader appear. Grinning widely, if maliciously, Giant locked eyes with Tanner as he entered the village, his head held high with the success of his men.

“Well, well. It would appear as if the tides have shifted in my favor.”

“Giant!” Eira cried out as she ran to him. With a tearful gulp she took to his side and gently placed a hand on his leg for comfort. With a relieved sigh, she glared down the knight who had called on the attack on her people.

“I should have known the Green Folk would have such protectors…” Tanner grumbled.

“Why yes. A recent development really. Call it a growing enterprise of mine.” Eira blinked once at his words when she glanced at Thorn, who in turn narrowed his eyes back at her. She looked up at Giant, who still hadn’t yet formally recognized her. Tanner couldn’t help but laugh as he held his sword high.

“I was waiting for something like this...” When he brought his sword downward, more archers and knights stormed the village from the forest, this time attacking the dinosaurs straight on. Both velociraptors and deinonychus worked together to fight whoever they could, but as they were frail, the storm of oncoming arrows took many of them down when there came the realization of just how few members they had. Even Hopper and Giant weren’t free from the onslaught, but thanks to their thick hides, they were able to brush off the arrows with ease. In the midst of their panic, Adelae grabbed Awel and together they ran back to their hut before locking their door and pushing everything they could in front of it.

Humored, Giant separated himself from Eira when he charged for Tanner. By this time, Thorn and Swipe had also joined in on the fray alongside Hopper and the others, first working to take down as many archers as they could before moving onto the knights, or better yet, their more exposed horses. Bernard finally unsheathed his sword and impaled a soldier as he ran past, before running to Eira.

“Come on, lass.” He beckoned as they took off to a safer spot behind one of the larger cottages. She however, seemed more interested in Tanner’s eventual demise by Giant’s hand. The Eagle General posed his sword and prepared for the worst as his horse jumped to its hind legs in defense.

Giant crashed effortlessly into the steed, pushing past its strong kicks and clamping his jaws down on its neck before tossing them to the ground. His horse dead, a battered and dizzied Tanner stumbled to his feet only to find himself snatched by those same jaws. In one mighty motion, the dinosaur swung his form around and launched the golden knight through the sky until he crashed through the wall to Awel’s hut. Giant then gave a deep and booming laugh in victory as he moved against the rest of the general’s men.

Adelae screamed when the general pushed the debris off of himself and got back to his feet. Awel would have grabbed his bow had it not broken beneath Tanner once he crashed through his wall, so instead he and his wife backed away into a corner to await the man’s next move. Those particular Green Folk were of his least concern as he saw the dinosaurs gaining the upper hand once more.

Charging out of the cottage, Tanner called for a swift retreat once a rogue horse trotted past. In one clean motion he hoisted himself up by its reins and onto its saddle. What remained of his brigade swiftly took off into the forest, many of them running as fast as they possibly could to escape. Against their better judgment the beasts did not give chase, as they instead watched their leader finish off one more knight by stomping on him.

Silence would have fallen over the village had it not been for the cries of Green Folk in pain and mourning, as the raptors and Hopper rallied behind Giant. Those who were unharmed in the assault freed the others who had been trapped under nets and tended to the injured, when Eira and Bernard appeared from their hiding spot. Shocked by the broken village before her, she felt her knees fit to buckle under her when she looked to the dinosaurs, who otherwise looked on passively. She stumbled further into the heart of the village when Giant turned to her.

“My goodness, Eira, are you alright my dear?” He turned and lowered himself to her level. Her eyes red from crying, she finally fell to her knees and hung her head when Thorn appeared at her side. He nudged her with his snout but was given no visible response, as her hood had completely concealed her face in shadow. Looking around at what remained of their community, Eira’s heart soon felt heavy, far heavier than she had ever known. She eyed others crying over loved ones that had been shot, stabbed, or trampled. Even the raptors began to visit and mourn over their dead, albeit silently. She could only find herself to be responsible for it.

“Why…?” She asked softly. Giant gave a heavy sigh.

“I’m...sorry to have met your people in this way Eira. Truly I am.”

“If I had only stayed in that castle. Given myself over to them. None of this would have happened.”

“Don’t speak like that.” Giant said solemnly. “Not one bit of this is your fault.”

"No...no...no...it is...it must be..."

“He’s right, lass.” Bernard added as he rested his glove on her shoulder. “Tanner did this, not you. And he would have done worse had it not been for them.” The thought didn’t make her feel any better, as Awel and Adelae soon emerged from what remained of their home. She cupped her hands over her mouth in sight of the destruction before wrapping her arms around one of Awel’s, who seemed in a similar state of disbelief. Their home. Destroyed. All Awel knew was that nothing would be the same after this. Slowly Giant stood tall again, turning to Hopper as he did so. Uncharacteristic of the allosaurus, he appeared diligently at his leader's side, awaiting what he hoped would be another order for bloodshed.

“Establish a perimeter. I don’t want anything more happening here.”

“I’m not sure if we have the numbers to take on another attack like that. We’d need to bring in another squad.”

“Make it happen.” Hopper, despite his rather cold demeanor, understood the weight of Giant's tone, and slowly nodded. He gave Thorn a menacing glance before he rallied the remaining raptors together and gave them their assignments. Likewise, Thorn felt a burning hatred for the allosaurus, but for what reason other than their previous encounter he could not quite understand. It was as if he was a familiar sight.

Bernard then slowly helped Eira back to her feet, gently patting her on the back but was met with little response. When her dead eyes met with Awel and Adelae, she staggered toward them and embraced Adelae tightly before she began sobbing over her shoulder. Swallowing hard, Awel nodded when he turned to help the others recover anything and everything they could.

Taurus soon appeared in the village, though the further he ventured into the community, the slower he went. Every direction he turned his head toward he found only misery. With a heavy heart himself, he was slow to venture past Eira, and while he wanted to say something, he couldn’t muster up the strength to do so. Instead, he looked to his leader.

“Taurus. What news do you bring? Where’s Carnage?” Giant said solemnly.

“He remained with the others. We figured one runner would suffice. Your fish has been found, and is cornered in a small pond at the end of a stream not far from here.” The giganotosaurus simply nodded when he redirected his attention to the others. Hopper and what remained of the raptors were gone. Many Folk were just as Eira was, shocked by the events that transpired so swiftly. The sobbing was the most overwhelming, when Giant eyed a woman holding a fallen man in her arms with whispered pleas to stay with her, and close by was a small child, staring vacantly around him, crying out sheepishly for his parents. The dinosaur felt his claws curl wickedly into tight fists as rage coursed through his veins.

“Eira.” He called out, but with a dark hint in his tone. “You never told me your people were capable of such deeds.” The girl opened her glossy eyes in his direction and let go of Adalae, who stood beside her as they approached him.

Those were not my people.” Her demeanor changed when she wiped her cheeks free of any tears. “They were sent here to take us away. Back to their kingdom.”

“And they’re capable of a lot more.” Bernard added as he stepped forward. “If I know James and Tanner as I do, they’ll be back for sure.”

“We should go to the other villages and tell them about this.” Adelae said. “If they haven’t been attacked already…”

“And then what?” Eira snapped. It was so uncharacteristic of her that it made Adelae wince when she barked at her. “We can’t possibly do much against them. Now that they know where we are.” Giant blinked once with her words, when a satisfying grin lined his snout and his the tips of his sharp talons clicked together.

“Well, I still think we should go to them.” Eira’s tension lessened, her shoulders slumped, when she nodded. She could only think of her mother and father.

“You’re right, Adelae. I'm so sorry I snapped at you. They can help those who have been hurt, too.” The two Green Folk smiled at one another when they went to tell Awel. Giant remained at Taurus’s side, when he leaned in close.

“I do believe we can make full use of this situation.” He hummed.

“Sir?”

“Think of it as another layer to the original plan. Not to worry, we’ll only grow from this little dilemma. Come, we’ll gather the others. I do believe I smell war on the horizon.” He started off, but not before catching Eira’s attention.

“Giant? Where are you going?”

“We must go and inform the others. I believe that our full numbers will only prove more useful now.”

“But…you can’t. We need you to protect us.”

“Why you have those two fine beasts there, and the other Folk just as your friend said. Hold out until our return.” He gave Eira a warm smile before he and Taurus started off into the forest, where Hopper and the others promptly joined them. As quickly as he had come to save the day, Giant had left them once more, leaving with only a sinking feeling in their hearts. She was beginning to dislike this habit of his, when she turned for Awel. Adelae rushed ahead to her husband, but Eira was intercepted by an irritated Thorn.

“You can’t tell me you trust him.” He growled.

“I have little choice.” She retorted.

“I can think of another.”

“Not now. We have to get out of here.”

“Agreed.” The dinosaur was ominous in his tone when he glanced at Swipe, who was oblivious to his thoughts or intentions. Eira walked past them just as Adelae finished telling Awel their idea,when he nodded. He looked to Eira and took a deep breath.

“It’s worth the risk to get to the others. Many of these people need to have their wounds tended to. I’ll round up the able-bodied.”

“We’re leaving tonight?” Adelae asked.

“We’ll have to. The sooner the better.”

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