Men & Monsters

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Beginning of Another

Giant had plenty of time to think to himself on his return to the camp in which they had established his base of operations. It was the very place in which Rosy had transformed Tanner’s soldier into a Coffin Spawn. For Giant, it seemed appropriate that a place that symbolized change should serve as the first pinnacle of his upcoming domain. He believed Rosy to be of good luck as well, which never hurt a conqueror.

A trail of crimson had followed him for quite some time before the blood on his body had dried into a crusty brown, his cuts already showing signs of healing. That said, pain wracked his body and the walk was long. He couldn’t shake the image of Finn from his mind, or perhaps more hauntingly, what Eira had said to him. It baffled him that such a small creature, so full of surprises herself, could speak in such a way that had rattled him. For a brief moment he questioned what he was really doing in his mission, but shook the thoughts away as the freshwater spring came into view. A bath sounded lovely.

What else he found waiting for him was the entirety of his men, or at least, what remained of them. Some licked their wounds, other slept, and others spoke in hushed, embarrassed tones. When someone caught sight of their leader’s return, whispers ran amok and they all looked up at Giant as one.

“Our leader had returned! Giant, you have proved successful?” Taurus asked, trying his best to mask the apprehension inside his chest.

“Finn is dead. Yes.” There were cheers as the dinosaurs rejoiced, if for this one victory. “Where is Hopper? Rampage? Where…? There are many missing here.” Taurus swallowed the lump in his throat, and looked down shamefully.

“We lost more than we anticipated.”

“To whom? Rex?”

“No, sir. Rex didn’t kill anyone. Not to my knowledge. Hopper never returned. Others were killed by traitors defected from our side. My brother being among the dead.”

“What happened?” Giant snarled. Taurus looked up, taken aback by his leader’s lack of sympathy, but nodded, swallowing his sadness one last time.

“Guerrilla tactics, mostly. But Hopper, he might be still alive.”

“I doubt it. Give me a moment. I need rest.”

“Of course, sir. Your victory is a prized one for us today.” Taurus said as he walked beside the staggering giganotosaur. Boulder and his herbivores eyed Giant with further suspicion. How could he maintain an army in this weakened state? As the massive carnivore hobbled along, it wasn’t until he stepped foot in the cool water that one emerged from the crowd. A fearsome growl grew from this individual as he stood tall.

“Today was a pathetic sight!” Blade exclaimed. “Two commanders lost, countless soldiers dead or weakened. And where was our leader? Dancing with his childhood buddy.”

“Blade, watch your tongue,” Giant said, his voice surprisingly weak.

“No. I will not! I expected a great battle today. I expected to storm through these forests with not a single death on our end. I’m embarrassed! You made the fools feel invincible, now where are they? How are we supposed to claim this new land you promise when our troops keep dying and others defecting?” Blade’s metallic claws shimmered as he approached the larger dinosaur.

“Enough!” Giant boomed. “I would enjoy to see the leadership expertise our fine mercenaries have to offer. After all, who is left? Oh yes, just you.”

“I could lead this troupe with just this one claw! See? Won't you see?!” As he stood before Giant, Blade swung his massive sickle-like claw through the air. With the metal fused into his bone, he certainly lived up to his name as the over-sized talon sliced through Giant’s jugular vein with relative ease. Everyone stood in absolute shock as the dinosaur struck his much larger leader. Blood spewed from Giant’s wound, and as he had already been weakened, he staggered off, both in pain and surprise.

His eyes were wide as he found himself wading deeper and deeper into the large pool of water. He turned back toward his followers, trying to utter anything. It proved fruitless, and he lost his strength. With one last glance at Blade, Giant’s eyes filled with shock, and perhaps a hint of fear of what death would bring. After a moment of silence, the giganotosaurus fell into the surprisingly deep water, a great splash being the last any of the dinosaurs saw of their once formidable leader.

“Don’t you see? Those bestowed with gifts unexplainable to us were obviously meant for roles of power! Not the offspring of mad leaders,” Blade exclaimed in a fit of laughter. Everyone else stood in silence, eyes wide, choices questioned, and others disenchanted. Giant had promised them so much, and without him, what had they invested in? As if to answer their mental questions, Blade stepped forward. “He had filled your heads with promises he couldn’t keep. Because he hadn’t received gifts from beyond!” He presented his claws and teeth like trophies. “Nothing can break me, you see, as my entire body is filled with this metal. Stronger than stone and much lighter, I give you, your new leader!” While the others stood in shock, one particular armored dinosaur seemed unmoved.

“What will you do that’s much better than Giant? Why not me?” Boulder asked with a suspicious grunt. Blade eyed the ankylosaurus with a sly smirk.

“Excellent question. I believe in unquestionable strength and power. We will power through our opponents, not just by splitting them up, but as one single, undeniable force!” Some of the dinosaurs shook their heads amongst themselves, others nodding enthusiastically. “And to show my gratitude and trust in our herbivorous brothers in our stake in the new world, I name you, Boulder, as my second-in-command.” Sure enough, Boulder smiled widely as he struck his clubbed tail against the ground.

“To Blade, everyone!” With his ceratopsians and duckbills trumpeting for their respective leader’s decision, raptors and Rogue cackled and cheered for his new position. It was here that Taurus stood alone, staring blankly into the water where his beloved leader had succumbed. Slowly he looked to Blade, and with every bit of energy he could muster, he reluctantly joined his comrades in commending Blade in his show of leadership. But something couldn’t tear itself from the carnotaur’s mind.

How badly had Blade doomed them?

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