Chapter II : The Oak Forest III

Chapter II : The Oak Forest

“ Death Match “

Hunter’s mind went blank. One moment, he was just following Thyme and Rina; and then, he heard a screech from somewhere behind the group and turned to see something big, bright and yellow leaping towards him. It did not seem to be an animal, or nothing that he’d ever seen before, at least. Rina’s horrified scream just went into one ear and out the other. Hunter waited for his life to flash before his eyes, since, according to some stories, that was what happened to people who faced death.

But there was no flash of memories, no painful fangs on his head and no tentacles around his torso. Barely a second after he heard the sunflower’s screech, the ground beneath Hunter’s feet moved. A mix of earth, human and animal bones, and sheer power burst forth from the ground. Xing’s son came back to reality when Steel pulled him back.

“ What are you standing there for? “ the farmer yelled at his face, “ Let’s go! “

The young man was not completely himself even as the group turned to run away from the chaos. But they stopped so suddenly when a small figure stepped in their way.

“ Don’t run, “ Errol calmly said.

“ Are you out of your mind?! Hunter almost got attacked and… “ Thyme yelled, full of rage; Rina had to hold him back so that he would not hit the small, black-haired boy.

“ Look around you, “ the little historian said.

Only then did the humans notice the plants that gathered on the branches of the oak trees. Animals peeked from their hiding places, though nothing could be seen but their glowing eyes. They formed a circle around the group of humans, and around the two creatures that circled each other in that small clearing.

“ The possibility of such an occurrence, “ Errol’s voice was hushed, “ … is barely one percent. “

Hunter looked up at the plants and animals that gathered around them. He knew that if they tried to leave at that point, they would be attacked. He then looked at the middle of the clearing and realized that this fight would decide their fate in the oak forest. There, he saw Puppy which dragged its eight large feet across the ground while it circled its target. On the other side, the sunflower hissed and spat at the tardigrade while it also circled the clearing.

Errol’s pet looked nothing like the meek, sleepy creature that it was back in town. It was focused on its target; its eyes on nothing but the yellow plant. Two antenna-like tentacles protruded from above the tardigrade’s eyes and the tips followed the sunflower’s movements. The flower, on the other hand, had much larger appendages. Puppy was larger than the plant, but the sunflower seemed to be better equipped for a fight, what with its sharp fangs and legs.

The humans could barely follow the next few moments. Both the sunflower and the tardigrade moved quickly and flawlessly, and it was unbelievable given Puppy’s size. The large, grey creature slid through the forest floor; it used all of its eight feet nimbly so that it could avoid the sunflower’s attacks. The plant, on the other hand, used direct stabs and slashes. It was not used to fighting something so big or determined. The sunflower usually had to deal with targets that cowered at its presence, but here was Puppy, a tardigrade, a foreigner to the oak forest and it feared nothing.

Surprisingly though, the yellow plant had a tactic. It backed the tardigrade up against a large oak tree and, with one powerful leap and a tentacle straightened to form a sharp point, the sunflower attacked Puppy’s seemingly unarmored head.

“ Tch… how silly, “ Errol laughed.

Puppy didn’t move from his spot. He straightened his own antennae, forming two thin, sharp spikes. He grunted a resounding HMF as the sunflower’s tentacle met his skull… and was squashed to icky, green slime. The force of the plant’s attack met the tardigrade’s impenetrable armor, and the result was a completely destroyed tentacle. But Puppy did not stop there. He quickly ran his own appendages through the sunflower’s head and, with a powerful bite to the enemy’s neck, he ripped off the petaled face from its insect-like body.

The tardigrade spat on the ground; he seemed to dislike the taste of the sunflower’s green blood. Other plants and animals, however, moved in towards the sunflower’s carcass. The tardigrade grunted, hid away his antennae and calmly walked over to his owner.

“ That’s a good Puppy, “ Errol patted the tardigrade’s head, then he turned to the awe-struck humans, “ NOW, let’s go! “

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