Chapter 2 - Six Foot Turkeys

“I want to get moving as soon as possible,” Viselys said, chomping at the bit. It was very clear that he was concerned about Lavinia.

“‘As soon as possible’ is at first light,” Avner said, setting his pack down and taking a seat on a boulder.

Everyone was a bit shocked when Skald agreed, “He’s right. We don’t know this jungle and our first foray into it should be after dark.”

“What’s to be afraid of?” Saris said, subtly mocking Avner.

“Another one like that,” Avner replied, indicating the now butchered T-Rex corpse.

“Or worse!” Urol added as he continued roasting the reptile meat.

Avner got up and walked over to the Gnome, “What do you mean ‘worse’? You said THAT was the worst there was!”

Urol nodded, “And individually, it is. But then there’s the Velociraptor.”

Ornrik saw the direction this conversation was taking and decided to make himself comfortable. “When you say ‘raptor,’ are you taking about a bird?” he said as he lowered himself to the ground, propping his pack behind him for support.

Urol stopped what he was doing – he was mostly done cooking anyway – and became animated by the topic, "Yes, sort of. It’s flightless and may or may not have feathers. About six feet tall and stands on two legs.”

Avner guffawed, “ That's not very scary. More like a six-foot turkey.” He returned to his spot near his two servants.

Urol wiped off his hands and turned his attention to Avner, “Try to imagine you get your first look at this ‘six foot turkey’ as you enter a clearing. He moves like a bird, lightly, bobbing his head. And you keep still because you think that maybe his visual acuity is based on movement, he'll lose you if you don't move. But no, not Velociraptor. You stare at him, and he just stares right back. And that's when the attack comes. Not from the front, but from the side, from the other two 'raptors you didn't even know were there. Because Velociraptor’s a pack hunter, you see, he uses coordinated attack patterns. And he slashes at you with a six-inch retractable claw, like a razor, on the middle toe. He doesn't bother to bite your jugular like a lion, say… no no. He slashes at you across the belly, spilling your intestines. The point is… you are alive when they start to eat you. So you know… try to show a little respect.”

Avner gulped and turned stark white. Everyone else became silent. Then Urol burst into laughter, “Or, at least, that’s the theory. I’ve only ever seen descriptions and sketches, and those by people who had only seen bones or corpses, so we can only make educated guesses at their behavior.”

“Caution is one indication of Wisdom,” Skald stated.

“Yeah, I think we stay out of the jungle tonight,” Saris added quickly.

Viselys was convinced, though his concern for Lavinia had increased greatly.

And it would be that concern that would have potentially dire consequences for the expedition team. Viselys was unable to sleep as Saris took the first watch. After about three hours, Saris nudged Viselys, who still had not slept. It was during Viselys’ watch that they attacked.


He hadn’t heard the soft chirping hoot – it had sounded just like birds calling to one another. Plus, he was distracted by his worries. Suddenly they were just – there! Three Velociraptors had burst out of the jungle and taken strategic position at the end of the camp farthest from Viselys.

Urol awoke to searing pain lifted aloft in the jaws of one of the creatures. Two others flanked their companion, running interference. Diamondback was bitten, but not bad, and she tumbled away and around behind her attacker with the speed and skill of an expert dancer. Skald was less skilled, but sometimes being lucky is better than being good, as his attacker failed to find flesh with its teeth.

“Let go you … turkey!” Urol screamed as he exerted all his might to push against the vice-like jaws. Perhaps his scream had surprised his would be kidnapper, but he managed to wretch himself free, though it did cause the teeth to tear his flesh even more.

This gave Viselys the time he needed to cross to the reptile and lash out with his vicious magical blade. Diamondback and Skald were able to draw first blood on the other two and Ornrik prepared to “Enlarge” Viselys. Saris moved to assist Skald as his adversary was nearest.

Banaby and Quenge cowered near Thunderstrike, though they did prove useful in helping to keep the horse from bolting.

And Avner … he drew his sword. That’s it – he just drew his sword, and none too quickly, either.

Urol attempted to crawl away, but he was soon back in the jaws of one of the predators. He didn't know if it was the same one, but it hardly mattered. He could not break free this time, and the beast was off and running. The Velociraptor was every bit as fast as Urol had expected, and he knew that his companions could never keep up. ‘I’m going to die,’ Urol thought. ‘The other two are going to distract the others so this one can get away with me to where they can feast on me at their leisure.’

That might have been the Velociraptors’ plan, but that’s not how it would work out. Saris took off after the one who had Urol. At a full run he was able to catch up, but not fast enough to get a swing in. Meanwhile, Skald got off two arrows that wizzed over Saris’ head to strike the dino in the back. If the arrows themselves were not enough to kill the beast, their flames were and it fell to the ground at Saris’ feet. Urol rolled a few feat farther on, unconscious from blood loss.

Meanwhile, Ornrik healed Viselys so that the guard could continue the fight as he and Diamondback finished off the other two reptiles.

Seeing that all was safe, Avner charged in the direction of Saris and Urol brandishing his sword. He slid to a stop near Saris and said, “Oh, you’ve gotten this one already. Well, good. Otherwise I would have gotten him.”

“Right,” Saris replied as he scooped up the bleeding Gnome. It was not entirely clear if Saris was conceding the point to Avner or mocking him.

Ornrik healed Urol who awoke very grim. “Well, the theories would seem to be proven,” Urol commented, though with none of the giddy glee he usually exhibited.

The rest of the night passed uneventfully, though nobody slept. They broke camp at first light and headed into the jungle.

Continue to Chapter 3...

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