Men & Monsters

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Dead Weight

It was becoming a common occurrence. Always running from someone or something. In a matter of days she had become a nobody amongst the Green Folk to a highly sought-after person for both Tanner and Giant. Her cheeks red raw from the amount of brush striking her face, she was thankful for the lack of density in this place, and as she slowed her pace to better accompany Bernard, Thorn and Swipe kept to their side.

During their trek, a moss-laden log appeared before them. While Eira leapt over the downed trunk with ease, she heard behind her a heavy crunch of metal. Sure enough, when she turned around, Bernard was struggling to his feet. With a brisk whelp, the girl ran to his side to help him up. In a soft voice, she assisted the elderly man to his feet, petting his gauntlet like a loyal daughter while cooing to him. Thorn and Swipe stopped some ways away, with the former’s eageriness to move made evidence by his dancing foot.

“Ah, thank you, Lass. I can’t run in this armor like I used to.”

“It’s quite alright. We’ll have Thorn carry you like before.”

“We’d better hurry,” Thorn spoke in a harsh tone, paying little mind to Eira’s offer.

“Nay, Eira,” Bernard huffed as he struggled for air. “You go on ahead.” He patted her on the shoulder with a sigh, but when he looked up, he hardly expected to look through his visor into her stern stare. He smiled.

“I won’t pity you, Bernard. Come on,” Eira replied when she forced the man to his feet.

“Listen Lass, I’ll hold them off. My armor...” The old man beat on his chest plate, this time with a vitality more expected of a soldier, when he chuckled. “This will protect me.” Eira blinked once as she swallowed hard. Looking at the golden lion stitched into his black and gold tunic, she couldn’t help but admire the symbol that once encased Bernard’s vitality, acting as a protector of sorts through his youth. She forced a half-smile as her heart sank.

“I promise we’ll come back for you.”

“Not if I find you first, Milady.” With another snicker from the elderly man, Eira found herself unable to keep her smile from growing. Like the uncle she never had, she swiftly embraced him, patting him affectionately on his back before breaking away.

“Eira! We have to go!” Thorn snapped. Turning toward the dinosaurs, Eira risked one more glance to Bernard, just as he unsheathed his sword. A grand show of chivalry, the old knight waved her away, his joyful hum echoing from within his helmet as he did so. The old knight was ready.

“I won’t break my promise.” Eira assured him.

“And I won’t mine.” With that, the girl took off at a moment’s notice, taking a quick lead ahead of the dinosaurs as they ran away. Meanwhile Bernard turned, his only regret having lost his heavy but trusty shield. Taking deep, controlled breaths, Bernard Clayville awaited his fate, even while he could see Hopper and the others charge toward him.

Sword posed elegantly, Bernard felt his heart race in such a way he hadn’t known in many years. Beneath his cold, steel visor his grey mustache curled sharply upward.

It was time.

Images of past battles flashed in his head, some of them honorable against invading armies, others less so toward those helpless few. Still, they were his own, and as Hopper and his men advanced, he hoped he could die with the honor that had hovered over him throughout his life.

When the moment approached, and Hopper was the first amongst the beasts to hurdle over the moss-ridden log, Bernard cried out while he brought his sword up high over his head and charged. The allosaurus, however, rushed on past the knight, nearly knocking the old man off his feet when his knee bumped into his shoulder.

Bernard could only grunt in frustration when he clasped the hilt of his sword in both hands once more. With Hopper long gone, he focused his sights on the Carnotaur Brothers. As the two limber predators jumped over the log, Bernard cried out and slashed at Taurus’s legs. Though the knight’s swing hardly had the same strength that Rex’s jaws had, Taurus still cried out as the skin over his ankle was sliced wide open, with blood spilling over the tips of his sharp talons. Though hardly fatal, the dinosaur cursed out in pain and as a result his brother turned in a savage state of surprise and anger.

His eyes reflecting the madness in his heart, Carnage charged at the knight, his head held low. In a moment's notice, he rammed his bony skull hard into the man’s back with all the strength his legs could muster. Having long relied on his armor to protect him, Bernard cried out once he felt the wind forced from his chest once he was rushed to the ground. Only then, with the man motionless as he tried to regain his breath, did the two brothers look to each other.

“Are you alright?”

“Tis but a scratch,” Taurus replied with a smirk. "Stings though."

“Good. Then shall we?” Carnage asked, just as the gangly raptors sped on ahead of them.

“Very well, brother,” and with that, the two carnotaurs raced on together after their main goal. Then, with wide, toothy grins, they left the old knight to himself. Despite his angry cries for them to return and fight, the elderly man continued to lay on the ground, defeated by Carnage’s brutal hit. He called them every insulting name he could think of until his throat felt raw, even after he knew they were long gone.

So, weak and defeated, Bernard did the only thing he knew he could do. While the sword in his gauntlet slowly fell from his grip, a hand came up and fidgeted with the pouches along his belt. There were two hefty bottles that felt familiar to him, when the knight’s heart raced. He propped himself up against the very log he had tripped over before. Popping the tight cork from the container, the old man lifted his visor as he brought up a bottle of golden-brown liquor to examine. Sure enough, with a relieved sigh and racing heart, he took a generous drink.

“We meet again old friend.” He murmured. Wincing from the alcohol, it didn’t take but a few long swigs for Bernard’s cheeks to grow flush. He staggered back to his feet, taking another drink before grabbing his sword and sheathing it. Hopper and the others had literally broken the forest before them in the chase, with brush and vegetation matted down in their wake. As the knight’s visor fell with a metallic clank, Bernard had a very good idea on which way they were heading.

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