Men & Monsters

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Another Day in the Life of...

Eira made it back to the village in one piece, a bit shaken up but in one piece no less. She clutched the handle to her satchel as she walked up her relatively quiet home. Green Folk dotted the village in tight groups. Small fires were left unattended and animals caught by hunters had yet to be skinned or sliced up for food. Goats and chickens were tended to in their pens, and of the small patches of vegetables growing only a few tended to them. Together they all wore green hoods and attire like Eira, concealing their faces from her as she approached. As she got closer, she could make out some of them sobbing as they consulted one another.

“Eira! You’re safe!” From one of the groups a young woman turned and ran to her. With a joyful laugh she embraced Eira, spinning on her heels as she swung her friend around and about. “We all thought for sure the Coffin Spawn had you.” Eira now understood why everyone else was so scared. Cecile backed away with a smile. “I saw it go after you when we all got away. Oh thank goodness. Thank goodness you're safe.” Turning to the others, she announced Eira’s return and brought her forward.

Relieved sighs and sniveling gasps filled the air. Some of the men returned to their business while the other gatherers who had accompanied Eira that morning surrounded her. Among them was her own mother, who tearfully hugged her daughter and confessed her deepest fears coming true for her. Eira brushed the attention off with a nervous snicker. She was never one for such attention.

“I-I’m quite alright. Really.” Another collective sigh came from the Green Folk gathering party as many of them began to depart as well. “Was anyone else hurt?”

“No. Iseult and I were chased for some time, but once we saw you, it did too. I…we, thought it got you after we looked for you.” Cecile replied.

“How did you escape?” Iseult asked as she appeared beside Cecile.

“Well…um...” Eira thought for a moment. Looking around at her peers, she wasn’t sure if they would believe her story. Talking beasts? Like they would accept such a childish thing, she thought. “Something scared it off.”

“Really? What? What was it Eira?” Questions poured from the Green Folk. They’d never heard of anything scaring off something like a Coffin Spawn before.

“I…I couldn’t get a good look at it. It was in the fog.” A sense of disappointment lingered as the Green Folk wished to know what drove their antagonist off.

“That’s quite alright.” Her mother, Myrtle, breathed. “Let’s get you something to eat. Maybe a nap with a wet cloth on your forehead could help you relax. I don’t think you should go back out there today.”

As the sun began to rise higher into the morning sky, shadows clung to the green forest floor, waiting for night to return and free them. Everything was still, with the only thing to break the silence being the birds above as they sang to one another. But as time passed, a heavy presence made itself known.

Grass shuffled loudly as something big made its way through the woods. Towering over any deer or Wildeboar, its long, muscle-packed tail occasionally struck a thick tree trunk by accident. It walked on its two legs, with its head held high and the hint of a smirk across the tip of its snout. As its front limbs mindlessly played with one another, Giant paused. With a deep breath, he enjoyed the morning air with a heavy sigh.

Despite the carelessness of it all, and his belly full from the morning hunt, his mind continued to return to his encounter with Eira. What an odd creature, he thought as he started off again. No tail, no snout, or claws for that matter. So timid and defenseless, the only word Giant could think to label her was pathetic. And yet, she only intrigued him. She lived in these woods? After all of these years and not a hint of their existence. Fascinating, he thought. In all his years there was still much to learn. A humbling revelation, he realized.

As the giganotosaurus broke from the dense forest into a clearing, there were more dinosaurs waiting for them. Two in fact. Much like Giant, they stood on two legs and had long tails, but from there, the similarities were obscured. With blunt, rounded snouts, tiny arms, and jagged horns just above their brows, the Carnotaurus Brothers argued and bickered as if they were still children. But as soon as they spotted Giant, they stood firm and quiet, calling their respects to the much larger being.

“Ah, Carnage and Taurus, welcome back. How was your hunt?”

“Would’ve been better without ‘em here…” Carnage growled. “He gave us away three bloody times. Three!” Taurus, the horns over his eyes considerably longer and ending in wicked points, snarled back at his brother. They stood firm against one another, deep growls rumbling from in their chests, when tensions slowly subsided. That’s when Taurus turned back to Giant, fully composed and with a polite, toothy grin. That said, he had a condition concerning his nostrils. As such, he spoke with a nasally tone, and often breathed loudly from his mouth.

“It was very good, Giant. We feel rejuvenated.”

“Excellent. Now, where might Hopper be? You know I sent the others off after him.”

“Always late.” The eldest brother replied with a smug grin. Moments later brush shook wildly as a pack of velociraptors burst from the forest. They ran in a tight formation at blinding speed, but upon seeing Giant, they stopped. The air was filled with a variety of funny accents as they all turned and called to the forest. They waited for a moment or two, when a much larger dinosaur appeared behind them. Head held low and eyes locked on the raptors, the allosaurus seemed too lazy to actually glare at them.

Possessing a form not unlike Giant, Hopper was far more thin and agile, not able to compete with his leader’s larger and bulkier form. His most remarkable physical traits had to be the bright red crests over his eyes, which ended in pointed tips. His gait was relaxed, with no intent of impressing Giant with an entrance. Even his arms sagged when a yawn escaped his maw and a hand tried to scratch at his belly. Once he passed the velociraptors, the feathered dinosaurs flocked around and walked with him.

“Ah Hopper. We were getting worried.” Giant chuckled. The allosaurus gave a forced laugh back.

“No need to worry about me sir.”

“Well, I trust your hunt was just was just as successful? And I take it a nap was in order?” Hopper simply nodded. “In which case, let us resume our endeavors with renewed vigor.” The raptors shared a collective, albeit puzzled, gaze with one another, with some scratching their chins. “Renewed interest, lads.” The more common word choice made all of the raptors give a long, collective “Ohh” as they swiftly nodded their heads. “Now, I’ve requested special assistance while you were all away and…oh!” Giant looked up upwards, the corners of his mouth curling upward into wicked points. “Speaking of which.”

The numerous dinosaurs cocked their heads back when their eyes cast themselves upon the heavens. As the sun was peeking up over the forest canopy line, their sights were blinded at first, but then something appeared. With the sun at its back, and a wide, leathery wingspan to carry it, a pterosaur chirped and cried wildly as it began to take shape from a indiscernible black spot. With a fearful howl, the small creature fell toward the earth, flapping its wings just enough to keep it from landing as a pancake might.

With a cloud of dust kicking up in its landing, the pint-sized rhamphorynchus trembled and shook as its toothy beak chattered. Once it regained its footing, the little fellow’s leathery hide shook even more when looking up at the grinning carnivores above him. His claws dug deep into the soil as the tip of his beak darted from one direction to another.

“You must be the messenger. Excellent timing as expected I might add. Well then, let’s hear it my boy.” Giant kept his smile as he lowered himself to the pterosaur’s level. The puny creature cried out as he believed his personal space bubble to have popped. With a pathetic gulp, he nodded.

“Y-y-yeah! I am Sa! D-dey call me da Messenger after all.” He gave a weak laugh before clearing his throat again. “S-Sa Crunch and his group w-would like have a word widya. B-by tomorrow if possible.”

“Ah excellent. Crunch is always one for timely meetings. Where at?”

“W-where da forest meets da plains…Sa. B-but not on da plains.”

“Naturally.” Giant stood back up to his full height. He gave a slow, cool glance to each of his companions, save for the raptors. “That’s not our domain after all. Well, Messenger, we thank you and your stutter dearly. Fly fast and fly high little one.”

“Th-thank you Sa!” With a nervous nod, the rhamporychus darted on all fours into the forest, taking with him the stares of greedy velociraptors. For this, he cursed his need to leap from heights to be airborne.

“Now, now, my boys, that would hardly be fair. The poor thing has to getting a running start just to fly again.” With a smile Giant turned to Hopper and the brothers. “Well, looks like we have a meeting to attend.”

“Crunch?” Hopper asked. “Who’s Crunch?”

“An old friend of mine. Fine associate really. Helped me out of a scuffle many a time, but I’ll let you be the judge of his character.” With a nod the pack started off in one collective group, when Giant strayed to the back. His pace slowed until he came to a complete stop. Something at the back of his mind grabbed at his curiosity, and had been all day. Images flashed in his mind, causing him to smirk once again. Taurus was the first to stop and turn to him.

“Sir? Will you not lead us?”

“No, I…do believe I have something to look into. At least for the evening. Why don’t I catch up with you in the morning? Start the meeting without me if you must. Taurus I believe you might remember Crunch’s scent should you get lost.”

“And should we fall into the plains?” Taurus asked.

“Oh I would think little of it, but I must ask you to avoid doing so.”

“Why’s that?” Carnage said with a cock of his head.

“An old associate of mine lives down there. Rust is his name. And I would think he’d find it curious to find you lot traveling together. I…simply advise against paying him a visit. He never cared much for my father or myself.” And with that, the giganotosaurus turned and started toward the forest. Not a single word of rebuttal came from his underlings. Hopper merely cocked his head as the raptors shrugged to one another.

Taurus nodded his respects when they too turned. As he did so, he glared viciously at Hopper, if for but a moment, when the allosaurus returned the gesture with a wry snicker.

Eira had never felt so pampered before. Given too much bread for her to eat in one sitting and enough alcohol to knock her off her feet, she graciously accepted but a fraction of her mother’s gifts. Like a little girl, Myrtle had her daughter sit down while she ran through her hair with a remarkably-carved bone comb. After a while she began to braid it as well, her callused hands working delicately through her daughter’s hair. Eira nibbled on a small piece of bread as her mother worked, the two of them talking endlessly when her father entered their home. With slabs of chopped wood under his arms, he grunted as he waddled toward an established tower of fire wood.

Their home was large, at least by Green Folk standards. It was built partially underground, but retained a few windows near the entrance to let light in. Otherwise dank and dim, it was built from the earth itself. Outside, it appeared to be a simple mound with a small tower of smoke billowing from one side of it. With Eira owning her own room and her parents theirs, it was quite cozy nonetheless.

Eira’s father finished stacking a tall pile of fire wood opposite of the fireplace and strolled over to the table. A man who had seen his fair share of work and adventures, Gunter’s age was beginning to show itself, all the way down to his long, graying beard. Sitting in his favorite chair in the corner of the room, he leaned back and gave a satisfied sigh. He pulled back his hood, as was custom in a Folk home, and reached for the smoking pipe on a small table beside him. With an annoyed huff, he stood back up and walked to the fire again. Atop of the stone fireplace, small twigs were laid out neatly. He took one and put the tip of it into the fire, so as to catch flame. Then he brought it up to his pipe, taking short, swift puffs so as to catch the tobacco aflame. He was glad that it was one of the few crops the first Green Folk had brought with them, and now farmed on a very small scale alongside the others. It was one of his little pleasures, and certainly one he looked forward, as supply only allowed him to do so but a few times a year. This day called for such an occasion.

“Oh Gunter,” Myrtle breathed. She wrapped her arms around their daughter, prompting a soft giggle from Eira. “Would you believe our little girl got away and came back to us?”

“Oh but of course! Please tell me about what happened, my love. I’m sure you haven’t gotten tired of telling it yet, or am I mistaken?” Gunter smiled as a plume of smoke rose from his pipe and he sat at the table rather than his chair. Myrtle had returned to braiding Eira’s hair when she looked over to her father.

“No. Not yet.” She snickered weakly.

“Tell away.”

“Well, I only remember hearing someone yell ‘Coffin Spawn’ when I ran off. Looking back, I…know I was dumb for running by myself. It caught up to me, and…it…it was terrifying. So very terrifying. It looked like a skeleton, just like you said Papa. From when you said you saw one?” Gunter only nodded as his daughter went on. “But…before it got me, something scared it off. I couldn’t see it because of the fog though….” A moment of silence went by, as several smoke clouds poured from Gunter’s mouth and pipe. He blinked once.

“Is that it?” He asked. Eira simply nodded. “There has to be more to it than that. Surely you saw something? Come on Eira,” He smirked. “I know when you’re hiding little parts of the story like this.” Damn it, Eira thought to herself as she felt her face grow red. Her father could always read her like that. Was it her face? Her voice? Surely she had an obvious tell. She felt the corner of her mouth curl up slightly. She had little choice at this point.

“Well…I did see…things.”

“Oh? There was more than one beast that scared it?” Myrtle’s intrigue grew even more. “Well, hurry up, tell us!”

“Okay. Well…um…I…I have never seen such creatures before. I don’t even know how to describe them.”

“Do your best.” Her mother pushed on.

“Well, first there were these great, big beasts. Bigger than our home Mama and Papa. I swear! They…they were big. I mean, big. There were so many of them too. I think some of them ran on two feet, and had a mouth like…like a bird almost! That was it. A duck’s bill! And…and one of them stopped. This one in had this great big horn on its snout, which was also like a bird’s. Its head also looked like a shield, l-like a knight’s, but it was skin, protecting its neck. It walked on four feet, and…it just ran off with the others.”

“My goodness.” Myrtle breathed. “Gunter, have you ever seen something like that?”

“Never. Nothing like that. How odd. And they…just left you?”

“Mmm-hmm. But, when they left, more creatures came. Even weirder than the others. I think they were hunting the others. They were like large birds. They couldn’t fly, at least I don’t think so, but they had feathers, and teeth. I…I remember the teeth. I thought they wanted to hurt me too, but then this…giant…appeared.”

“A giant?”

“No. Not like in those stories you used to tell me Papa. No, it…I…can’t describe it very well. It had…try to think of a lizard’s snout, with a long tail, a-and it walked on two feet too. It didn’t have feathers like the others. And it was really big too. Very big.”

“Eira? Why…why did you keep this from us?” Myrtle asked.

“Well…because the beast, the giant, he…spoke to me. Like you speak to me now.” Myrtle blinked once as Gunter cocked his head. “Mmm-hmm. Only…he…spoke with a very…kind voice. H-he called himself Giant actually, and he said he lives in these forests. H-he was very kind to me Mama.” Her parents looked at one another in a puzzled manner. “I just didn’t think you would believe me.” Gunter’s eyes slowly drifted to the table while his attention turned to his pipe. Eira felt her heart drop. “You…don’t believe me, do you?”

“It’s not that we don’t believe you Eira.” Myrtle replied as she stepped in front of her. “It’s simply…we can’t imagine what you’ve seen. It’s difficult for us to put it together dear.” But Eira’s gaze was on her father. He had that dispiriting look of disappointment apparent in his eyes. Her hands took one another tightly on her lap as she too felt her sights fall to the floor. As her mother embraced her once again, she spoke softly to her. “We see things that amaze us every day dear. Don’t let your father discourage you.” She winked. “He lacks imagination.”

As she backed away, Myrtle held her daughter’s cheeks with a warm smile. With a gentle kiss to the brow, she expressed her relief over her safety and returned to her daily chores. She left Eira with her father in a bit of a hurry. The girl smiled gently, hopeful he would look back at her. But he never did. Instead, his eyes remained to the table, going over his daughter’s childish tale in his head as smoke continued to billow from his pipe.

“Shouldn’t you see your friends? Tell them this fantastic tale?” He asked in a cold tone. With an almost silent sigh, Eira got up, smoothing out her cloak over her legs and pulling her hood back over her head before leaving.

Perhaps she’d find better company in her friends.
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