Eira felt blinded by the light at first, as her eyes took several moments to adjust themselves to the daylight. Clouds dotted the sky, and a gentle breeze brushed against her face. For a brief moment everything seem peaceful, like she had stepped foot in a part of the heavens. That was until Eira’s nose was filled the stench of fire and death. She winced and nearly ran back into the servant’s quarters, but as she walked away from the castle, with Bernard closely behind, she turned and could see the three titanic beasts as they charged one another.
“You think they’ll be alright? Rex and Rust?” Bernard asked as he felt his hand grace the handle of his sword.
“They’re our only chance aren’t they?” Eira spoke softly, almost deadpan, as she watched Giant flap his massive wings in defiance of his opposition. The powerful gusts forced the two dinosaurs to squint, but thanks to their weight and size, it wasn’t enough to push them back. With a forceful step Rex was the first to advance against Giant’s whirlwind, followed by another. Rust was a little more hesitant, as he felt old with Rex at his side. Of the things he had lived through, he thought, today might prove to the most important of them. With a defiant snarl, the acrocanthosaurus pushed forward as well.
When his gusts didn’t seem to pack the wallop he had been hoping for, Giant stopped this siege and commenced to battle tooth and claw. He snapped his jaws at Rex, the closest of the two, but upon seeing the tyrannosaur’s powerful maw, he opted for a quick-handed swipe from his wing.
Rex stumbled aside from the strike, when Rust charged ahead. Shielding himself with his wing, Giant growled as Rust tore his teeth and claws into the thin, leathery skin. He backhanded the elder beast, and not another moment passed before he felt the wind forced his his chest.
Head held low, Rex had stomped toward the dragon, crashing his thick skull into his chest with devastating force. Giant coughed and stumbled back to collect himself, while Rex shook his head free of any dizziness before standing poised once more.
“Good show my boy, good show. But enough of this.” When Giant worked to expand his chest, he could feel his bruised ribs ache. Then, with steam pouring from his nostrils, he looked the young tyrant in the eye one last time before he would exhale a cloud of fire to consume him. That fireball, however, would be sent heavenward when Giant threw his head back and cried out in pain. Sure enough, Rust had his jaws clamped down on the dragon’s tail, savagely tearing his head from side to side. That was, until Giant sent a clawed foot backward and into the dinosaur’s lower jaw, dislodging him.
“I thought you’d be playing fair,” Rust scoffed at the dragon. Giant turned and snarled, the air around his jaws sizzling. Then he gave his signature smile and snickered.
“Me?" His snicker broke into a thundering guffaw. "With this power of mine, fair is no longer a luxury you lot have.” Rex bit down on his leg next, which forced Giant to spit a small plume of fire back at him, forcing the youngster into a swift retreat. This struggle continued for quite some time, with Rust and Rex taking turns attacking while the other distracted Giant.
It didn’t take long for the dragon to grow tired from this charade. With a ferocious growl the dragon took the skies, but not before dropping back down and clasping his talons around Rust’s tail. The elderly dinosaur howled and fought, but, unable to turn himself around successfully to snap at his attacker, he was helpless when Giant flapped his wings more forcefully, the air collected sending the two titans up into the air.
Giant hadn’t lifted Rust very far from the ground, but it proved to be more than enough when he dropped the acrocanthosaurus some fifteen feet, fatal for a creature his size. Sure enough, Rust cried out when he felt his body break and bones snap under the weight of his form. Giant took to the skies, soaring above once more as Rex looked on with wide eyes. He rushed to the elderly dinosaur’s side and lowered himself down, just as Rust managed to gather the strength to look up at him.
“Rex…” He spoke weakly and softly.
“Rust, don’t. Save your strength.” The anxious tyrannosaurus snapped. “We’ll get you better. I-I’m certain these people can help you. Let me find Eira.”
“Don’t lad...don’t.” Rust took a deep, painful breath. “I”m not for this world much longer. Haven’t been for awhile now I suppose. So know this.” Rex looked at his old friend with his mouth ajar, his eyes glistening. “The reason this was our matter is...your mother...your father...killed by Giant’s father in his madness...I wanted to wait to tell you...let you to grow strong. They loved you Rex. Like nothing I’d ever seen...don’t disa...don’t disappoint them here...go home lad…live your life...”
“Rust...I-I can’t let you…” But before he could finish, Rex watched on in horror and disbelief as Rust took one painful breath, then slowly, very slowly, faded away with a faint sigh. No. No this wasn’t possible, Rex thought. He had witnessed plenty of death lately but he couldn’t believe this one. He wouldn’t tolerate it. “Rust? Rust! Rust, wake up, damn it! Look! I’m wandering off on my own! Oh look! I’ll drink from the river without someone to watch me. Rust! R-Rust…?” For the first time in years, Rex felt small. As small as he was the day he met elder beast. Suddenly the world was very frightening once again. His arms came close to his body, and his head shrunk back a bit, a habit he had in his youth as a defensive ball. He stood there for some time, looking at his broken friend and unaware of anything else.
“Well, now that that’s settled...” Giant remarked as he looked back at the two, then landed before Eira and Bernard. Having had their focus on Rex this whole time, they had not noticed the dragon as he descended toward them, until he was standing over them. “How would you like a position as second-in-command, my dear Eira? Surely I’ll need one of your kind to counsel my new subjects. And I cannot think of anyone better!”
“Stand back, lass!” Bernard exclaimed as he unsheathed his sword and charged toward Giant. With his thumb claw Giant pushed Eira back before exhaling hot fire on the knight, consuming him. Eira sat up and watched on in horror. Not Bernard too! She thought as she stood tall and waved her arms.
“Stop this! Stop it!” She cried. Giant halted his assault and looked up from the smoldering pit to the girl.
“What? He was attacking me.” He replied with a smug grin. However something caught their eyes from the smoldering pit as Bernard stood tall once more. His cloak and emblem had been burned off entirely, but the knight still stood, sword in hand, as he and his weapon glowed an eerie orange hue. He looked up at the dragon, who stared at him with wide eyes.
“Just as you said, you weren’t the only one with the new gifts, Giant.” He said with a surprising tone of confidence. Then, with one swing, his glowing sword sliced through the flesh in Giant’s chest with relative ease. Giant wailed as he stumbled back, both in surprise and pain.
The gash in his chest was quickly coated in black crust as the air worked to cool the piping hot slash. Just the same, Bernard’s plates slowly lost their glow, albeit this time the armor was much darker from the fiery storm it had endured. Filled with bewilderment, Giant wasn’t sure how he was to respond, when a colossal force crashed into his side.
Stumbling back to his feet, Giant turned to face his opposition, certain that it had been a carriage that had rammed into him. It was not. Instead, it was Rex, his expression fierce as he lunged forward.
“I’ll kill you, Giant!” He snarled harshly when he slammed the top of his head upward against Giant’s lower jaw. The strike sent the dragon’s head reeling toward the heavens, and when it lowered just slightly, Rex continued to use his own head as a devastating club, as he pummeled Giant to the left, then the right. With a deep breath, he charged forward with all of his weight. Dizzy and battered, Giant cried out as he stumbled over his feet from the tackle and crashed to the ground. Then, with adrenaline coursing through his veins, Rex hovered over Giant with deep, heavy sighs. He brought his jaws downward and closed them around the dragon’s neck.
It didn’t take long for Giant to feel the tyrant’s toothy vice grip tighten around his throat. In a frenzied panic, he snarled and gargled loudly as his wings flapped violently. His body wriggled and writhed as he fought to free himself, and it wasn’t until he stood and battered Rex’s snout with his wing over and over that he was able to dislodge himself from the tyrannosaur’s bone-crushing jaws.
Breathing heavily and his idea of invincibility tarnished, Giant worked to keep distance with the very angry tyrant dinosaur. He scurried away on all fours, with one eye locked on the dinosaur while trying to collect himself. Then, with a single deep gasp, and some of Rex’s rail spike-like teeth still lodged in his neck, Giant sighed and looked up.
“Not today, my boy. Not today.” Rex roared in defiance as he tried to charge toward the dragon again, but before he could snap his jaws down on his opponent’s neck, Giant had taken to the sky one more time. He flew around the castle once as he glared down at those who defied him below, before lowering himself down and flew just over the castle gates. He soared above the city, and could see Thorn and the others still blocking his men from entering the castle walls. “Retreat! We regroup in the forest!” He bellowed to his men as he continued to fly.
Taurus watched his leader fly on in pure bewilderment. As his jaw dropped, he was certain that they were winning until he saw Giant’s form vanish after soaring past the city walls and the thick clouds of smoke enveloping them. The carnotaurus took one look back to Thorn, who returned his gaze with a smug grin just as he rallied the others to his side. Swallowing his pride, he narrowed his eyes to the small gang before him while speaking to his underlings.
“Do as he commands. To the forest!” With that, the dinosaurs who remained in the city ceased their attack and fled from the city, leaving their wounded and dead alongside the human bodies. Among those left behind was Rogue, who after regaining himself, stood looking around. The dilophosaurus was lost in thought at the city’s vacancy. Wandering around, it didn’t take long for the lone dinosaur to meet eyes with the small group still guarding the castle gate. Crash snorted as she ran toward him.
“Don’t you run, or I’ll crack your head open with mine.” She growled.
“Where is everyone?” Rogue asked.
“They’ve gone. They left you.”
“No. Giant has flown away.”
“So we’ve...lost? Hmm.” The dilophosaurus thought for a moment. “Then I’m free!” He cackled as he turned and walked toward the city gate.
“Wait, you come back here!” Crash cried.
“I only side with the winning team, and as we’ve lost, I don’t see any reason for my involvement anymore.” With that, the dinosaur walked casually away.
“He really is a snake.” Crash grumbled as she prepared to run him down. Thorn appeared at her side.
“Let ’em go lass. He won’t bother us anymore.”
“Whaddya think happened?” Swipe asked. Thorn felt a smile creep along his snout, when he nodded to the others.
“I think we’ve won.”
“We did? Ah I have to check this out!” Crash said when she turned and darted toward the castle wall. With a tap of her head on the door, the guards let the dinosaurs inside, despite their better judgement. They sighed in relief as the small group passed by without so much as a show of gratitude. Well, at least from everyone but Swipe. Together they looked up at Rex, standing over Rust’s body once more, his head held low. Eira and Bernard stood close by, and leading the others, Thorn was the first to the scene.
“Good work, lad.” He looked to Rust as he lay on the ground. He took a deep gulp and glanced up at the tyrannosaurus. Rex didn’t respond to any of the others as they appeared on the scene. “I’m sorry for your loss. He was a good one.”
“The best.” Rex replied solemnly.
“How bad did ya rough Giant up, huh? To make ’em fly off like that?” Swipe asked. Rex didn’t answer. Eira sighed as she looked up at the tyrannosaurus. It seemed amazing to her as to how such a powerful creature could feel with such intensity, she thought. Her thoughts wandered back to Finn, then to Messenger. They didn’t deserve to die in the manners they had. None of these creatures deserved to die, she thought. So many lives lost over Giant’s selfishness. She looked around, to Thorn, to Bernard, to Crash and Rampage, even Swipe. They had all lost ones they knew and cared for in this madness, and all could sympathize with the tyrannosaur, who up until now had not. Swallowing her sadness, Eira walked up to Rex’s side and gently placed a hand on his leg. The soft touch startled him, when he looked down to the Green Folk. She offered him a comforting smile, and while not a word was spoken between them, Rex knew that she understood. He smiled softly back, and after another moment, he took a deep breath and exhaled slowly.
“We should follow them. Finish this while Giant’s still collecting himself.”
“Right lad. Before he can strike back.” Thorn said with a decisive nod. Bernard sheathed his sword and turned to Eira.
“Where would you have me go Milady?”
“Milady?” Eira asked, half scoffing.
“I don’t have a lord or king to report to any longer. Haven’t for some time I suppose. I...would be honored to be your knight Lady Eira.” The Green Folk blinked once, both humbled and confused by Bernard’s words. She smiled and stood slightly taller. Turning to the knight, who dropped to a knee before her, she lowered her hood and dropped down to his level, a hand on his gauntlet.
“If I had my say, I’d like for you to personally escort my people back to the forests. Back to their homes.”
“I...won’t be accompanying you, Miss Eira?”
“No.” Eira replied as she stood tall and looked to Rex. She pulled her hood back over her head, so that her eyes were nearly concealed by its shadow. “I would like to be there when Giant meets his end.”
“Of course. Is there anything I might be able to provide?”
“Give everyone a warm meal and some rest. I...would also like a personal favor.”
“Anything lass.” Bernard came back to his feet, eager to help the Green Folk in any way he could.
"A bow and some arrows would be nice."