Men & Monsters

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And Eye for an Eye

Thorn was ready. His heart reminded him of this as it leapt to his throat. Here he was, confronting the beast who had plagued his mind for so long, and delivered to him his greatest loss. With a heavy foot Thorn stamped his foot on the ground so as to kick up a great plume of dust, when he narrowed his eyes. Hopper still eyed him with a conceited grin, simply fascinated by the smaller carnivore’s tenacity.

“You’re quiet. What are you, stupid?” Hopper’s words forced Thorn’s anger to a boiling point, and with a mighty howl the ceratosaur took off at an impressive speed. He did not feel like the lonely, lumbering oaf he was when he first met Swipe. The blood coating his teeth and the rush of battle made him into the force to be reckoned he had always believed he was in his youth. It was purpose that drove him here.

Eira looked on as Thorn charged at Hopper, cursing him under his breath for being so headstrong. Hopper, she feared, would tear him apart now that the element of surprise was gone. Her heart raced at the thought. Come on, Thorn. She was surprised to see him snap at the allosaur’s leg instead of his neck, but as the latter staggered away anxiously from Thorn’s bite, she suddenly felt the same rush Thorn had. At once getting to her feet, she ran around the circle the two dinosaurs had made in their stand-off, taking aim at their opponent.

“Who are you?” Hopper asked. “And what do you have against us? What has Rex ever gotten for you that we can’t?”

“I don’t work for Rex,” Thorn snapped.

“Ah! It speaks,” Hopper hissed with a cool grin. Thorn made no note of the remark.

“I’m here for myself now. In place of one who was quite dear to me. Perhaps you remember?”

“Not likely,” the allosaurus sneered. Thorn narrowed his eyes and growled harshly before taking a step forward.

“You took her from me. We were hunting, and you took her for yourself. Your own selfish pleasure. You jumped from the trees and chased us with your men. No reasoning, no introduction, nothing.” Eira slowly came to a halt as she listened to Thorn’s story, in her first real understanding of him. “Your men slashed at her sides while you bit her neck, laughing all the while. Her...her last look was at me before you took her forever. You stole the one thing in my life that made me happy. You’ve robbed her of her future and of me mine.”

With Thorn’s words Hopper slowly but surely called back to certain images in his mind of the moment. The chase, the hunt, and the kill. Suddenly he remembered everything. His eyes shot wide open, when a very sinister and jagged grin lined his snout. Finally he hacked out loud, unable to contain himself.

“You’re the one who got away!” He laughed again. “Not once, but twice! And now my arm? I have to commend you. You really are something.” Thorn suddenly hesitated. Though outwardly cynical and seemingly cowardly, Hopper soon revealed that he was in fact nothing short of an insane monster. “Oh, she was a doll wasn’t she? Hardly went down after much of a chase. Pointless practice, really.”

Thorn bellowed before lunging forward. His attack was deflected when Hopper brought his head down like a club, sending Thorn off stumbling. This happened several times, until it was certain Thorn had worn himself down, much to Hopper’s delight. Panting for breath, the bruised and dizzy ceratosaur stumbled back and forth for several moments, convinced that his opponent was just as tired as he was. Quite the contrary, as the rush had blinded Hopper of all pain and weariness. He was ready to kill, and would not cease until he was satisfied.

As his vision sharpened, Thorn spotted Eira as she crept toward their opponent. Perfect, he thought. However, his line of sight allowed Hopper to follow it, much to Thorn and Eira’s dismay. Angered by the sneak attack, the allosaurus snarled and tried to kick the girl as hard as he could, but not before Thorn charged forward. The girl’s bravery had filled the ceratosaur with a fresh burst of energy.

Eira gasped at the vicious kick as it was narrowly out of Hopper’s reach. That was nothing, however, to the wrenching cry Hopper exuded once Thorn’s long teeth clamped down on his throat. Blood oozed from his wounds, but the allosaurus refused to go down, as his free hand clawed and tore at Thorn’s skull. He slashed and tore at his head, until one strike caught hold in Thorn’s eye, blinding it immediately. Locked in a duel of pain, Eira realized her chance was apparent and raced forth.

With a heavy pant, the Green Folk grasped the dagger in both hands and pulled as hard as she could. Tearing through tendon and muscle, Hopper finally fell to a knee. He cried in pain and defiance, damning his assailants until Thorn forced the allosaur to the ground, where his jaws tightened around his windpipe. Eira watched on in horror and fascination as life slowly but surely escaped the wicked beast, and with one last, angry gurgle, Hopper the Allosaurus fell limp.

Thorn stood tall over his hated enemy, breathing heavily as adrenaline made the pain in his eye nonexistent. He looked up at Eira, who wiped the blood on her dagger on her sleeve before sheathing it on her belt. She was short of breath as well when she looked back up to the ceratosaurus. Blinking once, she nodded her sympathies and spoke softly.

“I’m...sorry about your loss.”

“It’s over. After all these years, after so many sleepless nights burying those memories away, it’s over.” The dinosaur felt fit to sob as his knees nearly gave out beneath him. Without looking up, he nodded. “Thank you, my friend.” There was a certain weight his words carried by referring to her as his friend. It was certainly a welcome one for Eira.

“Thorn, you’ve been hurt.” She said breathlessly and pointed to his eye.

“A modest sacrifice for his death. I was willing to put down my own life if it meant he followed.” Thorn and Eira shared a moment of reverence as they stood in silence. It wasn’t for another minute or so that the Green Folk turned and ran back to Bernard. Thorn finally snapped his attention back to her and quickly followed. She helped the wounded man to sit up, and flipped his visor up. She could smell the alcohol trapped in his mustache and plaguing his breath.

“Well done, lass. Please. Forgive me.” He sounded weak and defeated. Though she could have slapped him for his drunken attack on Hopper earlier, she stood back up and retrieved his sword for him. He sheathed it, and as she helped him back to his feet, she didn’t speak a word to him. She looked up to Thorn, who seemed to wincing at the pain wracking his body now. Still, he tried his best to conceal it once he realized Eira had paid him with her attention.

“We should find Swipe.”

“He’ll find us first, I’m sure," Thorn grunted. "What’s better, you two should get to safety. Come along, we need to move.”

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