Chapter VII : Eastbound IV

Chapter VII : Eastbound

“ Helpers “

“ I hope they’re alright, “ Steel sighed as he wiped the sweat from his brow.

“ Mister, mister, “ a little girl with ash-brown hair tugged at his shirt, “ Would you like some wodur? “

“ Wodur? “ the farmer asked as he hacked at a tree root that wiggled out of the ground.

“ Water! She meant water, “ a little boy with ash-brown hair explained as he handed a cup of the thirst-quenching liquid to the old guy.

Steel nodded and thanked them, and then the children ran off to give water to the other farmers. Ash and Ashley were part of a gardener family who chose to stay behind at 27. Their parents worked hard to grow plants for a smaller fire wall that they created, and they also aged some of the attacking plants. But as time passed by, the humans became weary and some plants managed to get through the wall. Their group already lost four members who were dragged away by some occasional root or vine. It was just a little past midday but the siege seemed to be taking forever. Unlike humans, the plants seemed to need no rest; they just kept coming.

“ What’s that?! “ another farmer, Quartz, yelled as the ground began to shake.

Massive tree roots which were adorned by skeletons and carcasses burst forth from the ground. They then began to search for moving targets and the ill-prepared farmers could not chop away at the large, woody attackers. The roots began to advance towards the human and one of them spotted Ashley who had been separated from her brother. Confused and scared, the girl just sobbed as the root crept towards her but as it lunged at its target, something funny-looking and orange got in the way. It caught the root in what a human would describe as its “toothy mouth”, and the pumpkin began to chew on the helpless root.

One of the tame plants that humans found helpful, pumpkins grew in patches; and they were highly territorial. They only fed on animal carcasses and did not have a taste for human flesh, and they didn’t necessarily eat other plants, but if disturbed, pumpkins would definitely attack by the dozens. Normally, they were asleep during the day, but it seemed as if they’d lost their temper. Some of the small pumpkins attacked the roots and the bigger pumpkins rolled past the wall of fire to engage other incoming plants. Town #27 was one of the few towns which had enough space for a pumpkin patch, and theirs was the largest patch in the World.

“ Whoops! “ Steel lifted Ashley up and put the girl on his shoulder, “ A wise man knows never to get in the way of an angry pumpkin! “

The orange plants helped the humans somewhat. They were such fierce creatures and the humans could not believe that they were the same docile pumpkins which shied away from the townsfolk. But Seven’s plant army continued to advance and soon, even the pumpkins had to fall back into their patch just as the wall of fire died out. The farmers and gardeners hoped that they could at least delay the pursuers for a whole day, but their effort was not enough. As roots and vines grew around them and threatened to suffocate each and every human who was left in 27, Steel thought that he saw a flying tree.

What?

The flying tree landed on a house and crushed it completely. It shook its thorny branches as if it was disoriented, and then it bent down to swat some roots away. The telltale signs of dried Black Blood immediately identified the tree as Errol’s acacia. It was quickly followed by another flying tree, but Steel noticed that the latter was an uprooted leather oak. Part of the forest was completely upturned and some houses in 27 were demolished. After the dust settled down, a pair of wise, purple eyes appeared in front of the humans.

“ Linnorm! “ exclaimed Steel; it was so sudden and his voice was so loud that some of the gardeners almost fainted.

The old snake towered high above the houses and it seemed to be ready to take on the invaders by itself, but Linnorm was not alone. Four smaller snakes, each still taller than the humans’ homes, slithered into town and they lowered their heads once they reached the place where the humans were gathered. The acacia continued to swat at the attacking plants while the snakes lowered themselves onto the ground.

“ It’s a losing battle. We have to go, “ Steel nodded.

“ Go? Where? W-wait… “ Quartz stammered, “ … you’re not saying… what? No way! “

“ We’re going on a trip, “ the aged farmed said as he hopped onto Linnorm’s head, “ On armored desert snakes. “

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