Chapter VI : Journey Home V

Chapter VI : Journey Home

“ Run “

It was almost time for the sun to set when the travelers reached a clearing. Completely devoid of plant and animal life except for what seemed to be a green leaf in the middle, it could easily be the site of a house for a human family. However, not even a lone acorn rolled through that clearing, and imminent danger was confirmed when Errol stepped away from it, slowly. She put a finger to her lips and gestured for her comrades to remain quiet.

But the universe did not seem to agree with this tactic, for an acorn fell suddenly in front of the black-haired one. It rolled towards the clearing and rested upon its bare ground. The green leaf twitched and turned its whole body. Then, it stood up. The plant was just around a human’s height, much like the sunflower, and its features were like that other carnivorous plant except for its leaves. The leaf was actually comprised of two halves that had fang-like protrusions. Known simply as a ‘drooler’ because of its leaking liquids, the rare plant was even more dangerous than the sunflower but its myth was yet to spread across towns.

As it opened its leaves, the scent of human flesh wafted through the air. Most plants loved eating humans, and the drooler was not an exception. Despite its hilarious name, even the Overlord herself would rather stay away from it. Once the plant realized that its prey was close by, it walked towards them and, with a sudden dash, it was able to close in on the humans in an instant. Errol put up a barrier of vines just in time, but the drooler’s acid spit broke through it. However, by then, the humans disappeared behind the oak trees.

“  What the heck was that thing?! “ Thyme tried to keep his voice low as they ran.

“ I forgot what it’s called, and I’ve never seen it before, “ Steel ran alongside Rina who could barely keep up, “ But I heard that there’s a plant that can melt wood and leather. “

With a strong heave, he picked the blonde girl up and flung her over his shoulders.

“ You’ll have to excuse me, Miss, “ the farmer apologized, and then he ran at full speed.

Normally, the guard would complain if any man touched his fiancée, but he made an exception. The look of urgency on Errol’s face, how she quickly put up a barrier, turned around and told them to run instead of fighting the plant head on- that was enough to make Thyme run away without stopping to catch his breath. They didn’t hear anything behind them, so the guard was surprised when the drooler jumped overhead.

“ Duck! “ he dashed forward and grabbed Hunter.

Both young men narrowly avoided their incredibly aggressive pursuer. Errol quickly put up another barrier between their group and the plant, but the acid spit made short work of it. Just as the creature broke through, Puppy emerged from the group and made the drooler jump back.

“ It’s the thingy! “ even Errol forgot the plant’s name, “ With the melting drool! “

Puppy’s antennae straightened up and twitched. He let out an unsure grunt, but held his ground as the plant cautiously advanced. Steel, who’d just put Rina down, stepped over to Thyme and took the boy’s porcupig quill spear. The farmer walked over to Puppy’s back and nodded at Errol. The Overlord nodded back; she then whistled and the tardigrade let out a cry that sounded as if a hundred rocks fell from a great height. The drooler leaned back, surprised.

“ Cover me! “ Steel yelled as he jumped up on Puppy’s back, ran quickly on it and leapt towards their enemy.

The farmer threw the spear just as the drooler opened its leaves and spat a large amount of acid at him. Errol put up a barrier in front of Steel but the spit easily went through it. Much to the group’s astonishment, another barrier suddenly erupted between the farmer and the acid. Steel looked behind him after he landed safely at just a short distance in front of the creature.

“ Was that cover good enough? “ Hunter exhaled deeply. He was not used to making plants grow out of seemingly nothing, but he did what he could and he succeeded.

Errol put up more barriers just for good measure and when no acid attacks hit them, she cautiously lowered the vines. On the ground, there lay the acid-spitting plant. The spear hit a spot right between the two halves of its leaves, and the force of the attack buried the quill deep into the ground which resulted to a pinned-down plant.

“ Wow. Farmers have really strong arms huh? “  Thyme quipped as he walked close to the flailing creature, “ But now my spear’s ruined. “

The guard grumbled even as Rina embraced him tightly. Covered by acid spit, the spear’s handle disintegrated quickly. The porcupig quill fared better though; despite direct contact with the plant’s leaves, it was still completely whole.

“ Well… let’s get this over with, “ Errol sighed as she stepped forward to end the drooler’s life.

The group rested for a while and by the time that they got back on their journey home, the sun was already below the horizon. Thyme still lamented his spear’s ruin; he couldn’t even take the quill with him since it was covered in acid spit. It was the first weapon that he ever made and though he was happy that they were alive, the guard still grumbled about his loss every now and then. Rina apologized to Steel for her fiance’s behavior, but the farmer told her not to worry about it. It was then that the historian noticed something in the sky.

“ Red? “ she pointed at the distance, “ And orange? “

The aurora occasionally had some orange in it, but not that much. They then realized what was on that direction: Town #27. With the aid of whatever strength they had left, the humans and Errol sprinted towards the edge of town. They expected the worst, but instead, a curious sight met their gaze. The whole town was surrounded by dead or dying plants which were kept at bay by a towering wall of red and orange fire.

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