All he could hear was the buzz of insects as they darted about overhead, coupled with the rustling brush as he crept through the shadows. Slender, three-toed feet gently pressed down into the mud, accompanied by a wet squish. Rex could feel his parents' angry gazes pierce him. Stupid mud. It couldn't be helped now, he realized, as he continued forward, careful to stay on the grass and moss, but occasionally stepping back in the mud. The pitter pat of rain filled the young creature's ears as waterfalls tumbled from the forest canopy, splashing muck all over him as he passed by. Rex couldn't understand why his parents would be so harsh about him making a little noise; there was plenty of it happening all around.
The forest was rich with greens and browns, having soothed the young dinosaur's spirits for the whole duration of the hunt. It was like he was in an entirely different world. He had grown so accustomed to golden brown prairies and the dryness of it all, but this, he thought, was something he could get used to just as easily. From inside the cluster of emerald green leaves, Rex shivered as the cool, misty air refreshed him.
He smiled and closed his eyes, nearly falling to sleep only to have a pair of toothy jaws gently nibble his tail. The bush quickly consumed the juvenile tyrannosaur's tail, trading it for his small head as he poked his snout from the brush. It was his father, nonetheless, towering over him as his even larger mother appeared behind him. Despite their forever toothy grins, Rex knew they weren't pleased. His large eyes blinked once and he cocked his head.
"What is it Mother?"
"Shh!" She hissed. With massive feet carrying her, Rex's mother stood beside his father, lowering her head down to her child. "We're almost there. Now I want you to watch your father closely." Rex nodded.
"Yes Mother." Standing tall, the mother gave an expectant stare to her husband before trailing off into the mist, leaving the two together. Rex shuffled from the bushes, his feathery down thick with moisture before he looked up to his father. The tyrannosaurus, unlike his son, was devoid of down of any kind; his skin a dark green with his belly a pale cream color. Black stripes lined his snout, back, and tail, with each one of a various width to the very tip of his long, muscular tail. Scars were noticeable along his snout and body, with one particularly obvious wound lining over his left eye down to the tip of his jaw. Rex never asked him what they were from, but respected him all the more for them.
"Very well then, now Rex, do you smell that?" He asked. The gangly tyrannosaur sniffed the air several times, but was unable to discern anything special from it all aside from the moisture. "That musty smell, mixed with a bit of pine? That's what we're after. Your mother has had her eye on this herd for a few days now. Follow me and your first lesson will take place." Rex followed quickly at his father's side as the two made their way through the thickening mist. Giant trees standing erect reached out to the heavens, so high that the little dinosaur couldn't even see the tops of them in the dense fog.
Worn walking trails seemed common in the forest, as dinosaur herds often used the same route to and from particular feeding grounds. Thus was life, Rex's father had told him. Herds dented marks into the forest, and predators held the duty of keeping those numbers from exploding. The small tyrant thought of it like being security enforcers, with the up side of a meal.
That wasn't all of it, at least for them. For as long as he could remember, Rex always took note of the deep-rooted respect other beasts held for his parents. Names like "Your Highness", or "Your Majesty" were thrown around, and sometimes they even addressed him as "Young Prince", but his favorite one at the moment was "Master Rex."
Finally the two tyrannosaurs came to a halt at one particular path. Rex's father bent down closer to the worn track to smell it, making sure it was the one they wanted. A satisfactory grunt came from deep inside his throat as he nodded to one way down the path. The juvenile wagged his tail as he looked down it, squinting with hopes of seeing something. Alas, he saw nothing. His father chuckled as he walked ahead of him, looking over his shoulder to the child.
"It's times like these that you have your nose to guide you." Rex nodded as he started off after his dad. Compared with the tyrant king's massive steps, the juvenile had to run at a considerable pace just to keep up. That wasn't the only difference he could see in them. He was as lean as a teen tyrannosaur could get, whereas his parents were the strongest, most built creatures he had ever seen. Perhaps when he was older, he thought, he wouldn't have to follow his dad so much, and finally slap some muscle on his bones.
Out of the corner of his eye Rex spotted something run through the mist. He looked back, nearly turning his whole body with it, as he caught the shape of a most peculiar silhouette running past a grouping of ferns into the fog. The teenager cocked his head as his tiny arms rubbed against one another. He could not distinguish the shadowy creature a bit. What was it? His father paused.
"Come along Rex, our dinner won't stay around for long in this fog." The juvenile cocked his head to the other side for a moment. What an odd looking creature, he thought. Loose skin that seemed like the oddest kind of hair Rex had ever seen, with long arms spread outward awkwardly as it ran, and it didn't even have a tail! Not wishing to frustrate his father, the little tyrant quickly darted back to his elder, and the two continued down the path. Still, Rex thought, what kind of creature could that ever be?
The tyrant king growled as they could hear the sound of duckbills in the air. He sniffed the air audibly, taking in as many smells and odors as his nostrils could handle. Sure enough, Rex could see the duckbilled dinosaurs through the fog, as least their outlines. With a joyful chirp, he started forward.
"Now Dad, do we attack the fattest one? Or will we take down the…" Suddenly his father's massive foot stepped in front of him, impeding his progress. Mud splashed all over, covering Rex with a layer of watery soil as his parent bared his fearsome teeth at seemingly nothing.
"No." He snarled. The tyrannosaur turned his attention to the duckbills, who seemed oblivious to their presence. "There's something else here. Another predator." No later had he said that had a massive carnivore ripped through the mist shrouding the forest toward them. Nearly as big as his father, the attacker was silent in his charge, hopeful of a surprise attack. Its skull was quite long, low, and narrow; nothing quite like the short, blunt, muscle-packed skulls tyrannosaurs had been given the gift to possess.
That wasn't to say, however, that an acrocantosaurus was a pushover. Its spines extended taller than expected, with a relatively thin layer of skin over them going down from the back of its head to its tail, making the predator even larger in appearance. Bony spikes protruded from its back, once again adding to its fearsome appearance.
Its surprise attack would prove futile, however, when yet another beast crashed through the forest, ramming its massive skull into the attacker. Vicious howls filled the air as the acrocanthosaurus went down, crashing into a pool of rain water in the process. Rex had never heard such a piercing howl in his life, as he jumped back in fear. Responding quickly to the battle, the herbivores took off as fast as they could, some crying out to loved ones while doing so. Soon enough the forest had erupted with the sound of thundering footsteps, coupled with the deafening wails of duckbills, mixed to create a deafening noise.
The acrocanthosaurus laid in the cold pool of water for some time, shivering as he took in deep, forced breaths. A clawed foot took to the air, holding a defensive pose to protect the carnivore's exposed belly. Now that he wasn't moving so quickly, the tyrannosaur juvenile could get a better look at their attacker. Its skin was brown, nearly golden brown, which reminded the dinosaur chick of the prairie once again. He cocked his head at the sight of two peculiar red markings just behind its nostrils.
Then he looked up at their defender. Over the stampeding herbivores and chaos going on around them, Rex could easily feel the hatred burn through his mother's hide as she hovered over the other carnivore. Her spike-like teeth revealed themselves as her upper lip twitched. With a apprehensive gulp Rex was certain that she was about to tear this threat limb from limb.
Following his father's instructions to stay behind him, the young tyrannosaur watched as his parents stood over their attacker, wishing to interrogate him before delivering a final blow. The pain in his back was unbearable, the acro thought, but it wasn't the first time he'd been hit there. The pain would pass.
"Why did you attack my family?" Her Highness demanded. The creature's leg slowly lowered as it tried to answer, but could hardly get a word past his toothy maw. The mother roared as she her teeth revealed themselves once more, ready to be used if he wasn't to comply.
"My-my apologies…" The dinosaur stammered. Despite his situation and the pain plaguing him, the beast's voice was still strong, even before the two rulers of the land. It was something the three tyrannosaurs respected, to be honest. "I-I thought you…you were one of them."
"One of what?" The father questioned.
"I…I cannot be certain. I was attacked…by something like us…and yet it was different…" The two tyrants watched the injured dinosaur as he struggled to his feet. They even backed away slightly to give more room for the giant predator. "I'd never dare hurt the royalty." He had that right, the little Rex thought.
"How so?" His father asked. The acrocanthosaurus looked at each of the two tyrannosaurs, pondering to himself how to exactly describe his sighting. His three-fingered hands fiddled around with one another as he shifted his weight from one leg to the other, his throat grumbling as his thoughts seemingly haunted him. The attacker sighed and continued with a solemn tone.
"This fog…I've only seen queer things in it. I've seen pale creatures running around in green attire, I've seen…hairy beasts, like oversized rodents. Structures made of wood in the trees, all of which are much too small for any of us to fit into, and too awkward for raptors to build and reside in. And then I've seen…what I can only call a winged beast."
"A pterodactyl?" Rex's mother replied with a chuckle.
"Nay your Majesty," The juvenile watched as the carnivore's eyes darkened as he thought of his encounter. He cleared his throat with a heavy cough. "It was like us, but stood on four legs along with its wings, and smoke for breath. I tried to reason with it, but it never complied, never responded. It…did this to me." The predator turned his body to the side, revealing to the family that most of his right side had been burned severely. It was enough to make Rex's mother cringe. "
If it was one of us, it might have had a bad disease, t-that's what I've been trying to tell myself. But please, my king, my queen, believe me when I say, this was not one of us."
"Be on high alert then." The king replied. A sense of suspicion and anxiety filled the ruler's mind, causing him to begin scanning their surroundings constantly. He and his queen flared their nostrils as well with audible sniffs. "And tell every creature you come across that as well." The acro bowed his head.
"Now before you go," Rex's mother said forcefully as she approached the dinosaur. The spined beast dared not to budge as she came close to him, her mighty jaws coming within inches of his exposed neck. She sniffed him, loudly as to alert her family of her actions. "I don't believe I smell any one ruler's scent on you." Her voice was low as she backed away.
"Well I…" The acro played with his claws once again. "I have not found a place that suits me quite yet."
"A beast like you belongs in the grassland." The king said. "I remember that there are plenty of beasts like you out in our western tract." The acro chuckled, again bowing his head before speaking.
"Aye, I was raised there as a matter of fact, saw your parents rule the land before you. But me, I've been traveling the lands, seeing what I feel needs to be seen before committing myself to any one particular land."
"A unique path." The queen hummed. "And a dangerous one at that."
"Aye your Majesty." The dinosaur glanced down and spotted Rex, his down caked with mud while his head cocked. Not a second passed by before he looked back to the two tyrannosaur rulers. "But if you wish, I will commit myself to your lands, and make up any debt that I owe you. My name is Rust, and I will serve you if you so wish."
Rex fought the urge to yawn. He had yet to grow an interest in politics, even if they weren't all that complicated. Instead he looked upward, watching as dew drops fell from the forest canopy down on them. It was mesmerizing to watch really. Suddenly something in the brush rustled, catching the child's wandering attention almost immediately. He wondered what if could have been. Was it one of those…things the acro spoke of? His heart raced with excitement.
It didn't really matter, Rex thought, as he stayed low, with his eyes narrowed, and crept toward the bushes. He looked over his shoulder to see his parents still speaking to the high-spined dinosaur. Good, he thought, now he could hunt this thing alone. More importantly, he wouldn't have to listen to their boring political conversations. Slinking forward, the juvenile could make out the distinct popping sound of flesh being torn from the bone, and jaws hungrily munching and chewing on the meat.
Great, Rex thought as he smiled to himself, if he didn't get this small little scavenger, he could maybe scare it off and claim its prize. As the brush came close enough to rattle over his snout, the juvenile tyrannosaur knew that it was now or never. Unfortunately he hadn't reached puberty yet, and as he leaped into the brush, he tried his best to roar. Despite his efforts, the best thing that came out was a long, high-pitched snarl.
Vegetation rustled as the dinosaur plunged into the bush. The first thing that caught his attention was the vast amount of red splattered over emerald green in the forest. While seemingly serene from the other side, the sight of excessive gore seemed too gruesome for even the tyrannosaur child.
Scarlet blood splattered the leaves and dripped into collective dark pools on the forest floor, tuffs of earth had been pulled from the ground, leading Rex to believe that there had been quite a struggle. As a matter of fact, the scene seemed completely different from the rest of the forest. His nose, picking up the scent of a fresh kill, led him through the brush on toward spiraling paths.
A path of blood dotted the trail, making the juvenile unsure of what he was truly getting himself into. Unlike most tyrannosaurs his age, Rex wasn't exactly the bravest, as the gangly child couldn't possibly put up a fight against bigger predators, or even a pack of nasty raptors should they target him. He wagged his tail from side to side before continuing.
He scurried out from the brush and found trees with the thickest trunks he had ever seen throughout the landscape. Paths worn to the dirt lined the area, as he heard a distinct noise of metal clapping together in the distance. The fog, however, made it impossible to see what it could have been. He had better be quick, Rex thought, should there be another predator stalking around being paranoid about monsters. Returning his attention to the bloody trail, all the juvenile had to do was look up to the trunk of one of the trees before him. His heart skipped a beat.
There, before his eyes, he saw a pale, scrawny, ugly creature, bent down on all fours, feeding on a familiar figure. Its bloodstained cloak easily made it stand out from the landscape, only aiding its killer, who continued to feed as audibly as possible. Creeping forward, Rex tried to get a better look of the creature, or creatures.
"Arve? Arve!" A voice accompanying the metal noise cried out in the distance. Still, Rex inched forward, determined to discover the identity of this beast and its prey. He could make out a pale paw, or…hand to be precise, lying limp away from the killed creature, stretched out from its owner with a shimmering shard of metal just out of its reach. Rust had been correct, the juvenile thought, in that the being wore odd clothing over its relatively soft and exposed flesh. Suddenly Rex stepped on a twig, which cracked loudly.
The air fell silent as the bony predator slithered its serpentine neck over its shoulder, revealing its menacing face. Sinister fangs and crooked teeth dripped with blood, as its red stained mouth and chin stood out from its milky white skin. Its hands ended with fearsome claws, each resting on a long, skeletal finger, which scratched against the innards of its prey. Its eyes were blacker than any night Rex had seen, and just as soulless as the most crazed beast. With a sickening growl from its throat, blood and saliva oozed from its mouth, as the creature turned its attention to the juvenile tyrannosaur.
Knowing much better, Rex couldn't help but glance back to its prey, finally catching a glimpse of its pale, almost innocent face. Now peaceful in appearance, Rex could only imagine the horror in the being's eyes before succumbing to the fangs of this hideous creature.
He took a step back, wanting to escape with every muscle fiber in his legs, and yet, he remained. The creature reared up on its hind legs, bringing its bony hands forward as its elongated nails clawed at thin air. Rex barked at it, snapping his jaws as he took another step back. Judging from how quickly it had dragged the carcass through the brush to its current location, the juvenile had the very good feeling that this creature was very swift and quick, and not something one his size would have good luck running from.
With another chirp and snap, Rex felt his knees tremble, as he watched the beast continue to approach, intent on making a meal of him as well. He didn't know how to fight, not like his father, and he hadn't the size of his mother to back him up either. The juvenile instinctively gave out a nervous whelp, hopeful that it would be a sign of backing down to the creature, who only inched closer.
He played out several scenarios in his head. What if he attacked it? He could imagine himself diving for the monster's leg, sinking his still-growing teeth into the bone. He could feel its claws rake into his back, peeling back flesh in a painfully gruesome manner as it brought it to its mouth.
Rex could feel the excruciating pain already, and he believed that it wouldn't even taste all that well either. As he began to think of running, he saw himself taken down and killed in just as savage a sight. Neither of the thoughts helped Rex as he cowered into himself, his small hands anxiously playing with one another as he whimpered for his parents.
This was it, Rex thought, as the menace began to close in on him. With one last snivel, the small tyrannosaur managed to summon the entirety of his courage. Planting his feet firmly into the soft soil, he blinked, and the beast watched the child grow from cowardly to a more confidence creature. The only thing Rex could do was bark one more time. He watched the creature drop on all fours and dash at him.
As his maw opened, and his vocal chords shook violently in his throat, he even surprised himself when a devastating roar filled the air, shaking the creature in its tracks. Not sure of how to respond, the creature bellowed a snarl right back, but it was quite apparent that it was startled. Rex smiled, and felt so confident that he bucked his head back and shot forward once again, releasing nothing but a playful chirp, nothing like he had anticipated. That roar wasn't him, he thought. But that meant…
The brush exploded as Rex's mother crashed into the scene, his father close behind as the two charged the much smaller creature. Wailing, the creature had been caught within the queen's mighty jaws before it could respond. With her muscular neck, her Highness catapulted the menace into the thick trunk of a nearby tree.
Rattled and broken, the creature, the embodiment of terror, was now hopeless as Rex's father bit down on its bony leg, and dragged it across the forest floor. Hands clawed out at the earth wildly as the creature fought to free itself from the inevitable. The king tossed the beast like a rag doll back to the ground, where its limbs flailed wildly in an attempt to protect itself. It proved futile, however, as the queen quickly towered over the now pathetic being, and grabbed it once more in her toothy maw.
Rex shuffled his feet closer to catch a better glimpse of the creature's final moments. Clawing wildly at its attacker, it was no use as the juvenile's mother chomped down. Bones snapped loudly like twigs and gore poured from any possible crevice with a wet squish, ultimately ending the creature's sinister air.
Not even worthy of consumption, the beast was tossed to the ground, where its mangled and broken body landed just before Rex. He knew exactly what his mother meant in that gesture. As both a warning to other creatures like it to stay away and to remind her child of his careless mistake.
"Rex." His mother growled as she walked toward him. Unbeknownst to the juvenile, Rust had followed the two tyrannosaurs, having watched the ordeal in a quiet fascination. Rex lowered his head pitifully as his parents hovered over him. "Look at me." It was enough for the chick to comply, but not without glancing at the creature's body before him first. "How stupid, for my son, to venture out on his own in this fog. Foolish, my child, foolish." Little Rex couldn't help but quake at the scolding, but what child wouldn't, he thought.
"You could have been killed," His father added. "You're far too young to go anywhere alone. This world teems with beasts who wouldn't think twice about harming you. Including…whatever that thing is."
"I'm sorry Mother. I'm sorry Father." Rex whimpered as he lowered his head once more. He didn't like to think about it, but he had a brother once, who did the same fatal mistake he did. Perhaps it was his continued existence that he felt his mother snout gentle nestle him, purring softly as his father remained on watch. Rust walked closer, taking the family moment in for what it was worth.
"If you don't mind my intrusion Your Majesty," He started. "But I smell something approaching."
"As do I." The king replied.
"Then might I suggest we make haste to leave? We needn't conjure up more beasts like that."
"Agreed. Not for my son." His Majesty turned to his wife and son, just as the larger tyrannosaur looked at him. "Rust and I will catch dinner. Take Rex home, and keep a close eye on him." Rex felt his mother nudge him forcefully toward the broken vegetation where they had crashed through.
As the two returned to the clearing, the juvenile was certain that he was to walk as close to his mother as possible. The little tyrant walked with a different gait now, one that wasn't so lively. It was withdrawn, with his head held low as his tail pointed downward. The king and Rust watched them go back through the fog, holding their position until they felt secure enough to leave. His Majesty first walked through the brush, followed by the acrocanthosaurus.
As they walked through the vegetation, Rust heard a distinct sound, a sound he had never heard before. Looking over his shoulder, he saw a band of the peculiar creatures run to the partially consumed body, all of whom wore similar green capes and hoods. Metallic spikes were strapped on to the belts resting on their hips, but none reached for their weapon as they stood over the body in silence.
Odd, Rust thought, but it was nothing to study now, at least since he had a duty with His Majesty. Turning his attention back to the king, he followed the tyrannosaur as the two slowly walked down the duckbill trail, guided only by their acute sense of smell.