When I opened my eyes again it was daylight, and Cradix and Skull were gone, my first thought was that Skull was already acting on his promise, then I saw the two of them down the beach stocking one of the stupid birds that populated the Ark, a dodo, good, we needed meat, and the hide the animal would provide. I turned to look at Kabr he was still asleep, he was shivering, I glanced over at the two men down the beach, and crawled to sit in front of Kabr, he might die from this, he would kill Skull if he did, of course knowing Kabr’s quick temper he might kill him if he survived. I went to the river and got some fresh water in a clam shell and took it to him, I coaxed him to drink a small amount of water, he coughed and choked but got some down, before looking up at me from the sand. His eyes were glazed, he was in a lot of pain.
“You need to stay awake,” I said, he nodded, I began working on a new poultice and peeled back the dressing from the night before the flesh was inflamed, clear fluid leaked from the wound, the good thing was that it did not smell. I boiled some watered and cleaned the wound as best I could with my limited resources, by the time I was redressing it, Cradix and Skull were trotting back two dead birds between them. We skinned them and prepped the meat, while Kabr shivered next to the fire. The first cook portion went to him, his color went from grey back to tan, I smiled to myself. I looked happily over at Cradix, he was not paying attention his eyes were on the trees, he had heard something, he knew this place better the the other three of us combined, he knew when something was off. He shifted to a crouched, I crawled over to Kabr and put his good arm around my shoulders and helped him to his feet, we headed slowly towards the water, it was the safest place if something bad was coming. Skull was not paying attention to the rest of us he was tearing apart a piece of meat, he eyes on his food. He glanced up at me and Kabr only a few steps from the water then at Cradix.
“What is it?” He asked, loud enough that someone in the Ice Fangs would have heard him, I growled at him, he probably could not hear me over the sound of the waves on the sand. Cradix waved us into the water, Skull slunk towards us, we all slipped silently into the waves until nothing but our heads remained above water, Cradix still crouched near the fire, what was he waiting for. It was then that I saw the eyes, the green reflection of light on the back of the things eyes, it stepped slowly from the shadows, it was massive, its large head full of teeth its scales gleaming red.
The Rex was hungry again. Cradix slid backward along the sand as the Rex stepped closer. I willed him to run, to get to the water, we could make for deeper water and not have to worry about the Rex following. The Rex roared, it hurt my ears it was so loud, I heard a whimper to my left and looked over at Skull, he was crying, Kabr was smiling. The Rex charged, we all moved at once, the crash of horn on flesh was so abrupt that no one quite knew what was happening until it was over. The Trike stood there on the sand horns dripping in blood, the Rex lay dead on the ground and the man on the Trike’s back looked very pleased with himself, dark hair, short, and broad shouldered, I did not think to see Ruin here of all places. It was Cradix’s brother, we had not seen him since the previous Ark when he had left our tribe to join the caravans called the Dino Knights. The man had a huge smile on his face.
“Looks like you all could use a little help.” My chest actually felt lighter, I had not realized I had been holding my breath.
“Ruin?” Cradix cried out, standing up and running over to the Trike, he slapped the Trike on the shoulder and looked up at his brother.
I help Kabr from the water, and watched Skull as he trotted over to the body of the Rex and kicked it in the head, from the look on his face he had hurt himself more than the deceased dino. His face screwed up, and he limped away from the body. I lowered Kabr to the ground next to the fire and went to Cradix and Ruin. I rubbed the Trike on the muzzle as the brothers spoke, Ruin slid from the makeshift saddle on the Trike’s back, he was a squat man with broad shoulders, he was shorter than Cradix by a few inches making him the shortest of us.
“What are you doing here?” Cradix exclaimed, embracing his older brother, “How did you even find us?” He asked before Ruin could respond. I had not noticed before with the commotion from the Trike and Rex, but Ruin was wearing a full set of fur armor. He looked well rested and fed, unlike our little group.
“Mejo sent me,” Ruin stated, Cradix took a step back, he and Mejo were often at odds with each other as leaders of the neutral factions, the Dino Knights wanted domination over everyone and everything, killed anything that got in their way, Cradix viewed things differently, he only killed when necessary, and never for sport.
“That egotistical maniac, I want nothing to do with him,” Cradix snapped, I looked away, and pretended to be very interesting in a blue spot on the Trike’s beak.
“Without him you would be re-spawning God knows where right now. ” Ruin retorted, “How do you think I got here, Lord Mejo already has five quetz and whole herds of powerful herbivores at his disposal.” Cradix turned his steel grey eyes to me, I dropped my gaze, the look on his face was pure shock.
“Lord Mejo is it now?” Cradix turned on his brother. “What does Lord Mejo want with my humble Nomads,” Cradix exaggerated the word Lord waving his hands in the air. Cradix bowed to his brother mocking him and the man he represented, Ruin’s eyes narrowed, he looked over his brother’s shoulder at me, he and I had been friends before he left for the Dino Knights, he was looking for back up against his brother, maybe back then I would have when he was Cradix’s number two, but I was Cradix’s number two now and I would not disrespect him in front of the rest of the tribe, my reprimand would come in private, whenever we had privacy.
“He wants to help,” Ruin said looking back at his brother.
“At what price?” Cradix growled, crossing his arms over his bare chest, we looked foolish naked on the beach next to someone as equipped as Ruin.
Skull had come to stand beside me, a little to close to me, Kabr was leaning against his log watching us closely, I am not sure how well he could hear over the sound of the waves. Ruin looked his brother square in the eyes, and stated, “Half,” I flinched, and Skull growled, I saw Cradix’s shoulders fall, every fiber of him wanted to punch his brother in the face, half, it was unreasonable.
“We don’t even have a whole right now,” Skull snapped, stepping forward to stand next to Cradix, Cradix turned on him, even though he was a head shorter than the thin man, Skull flinched away from Cradix’s gaze and stepped back next to me. He had just disrespected Cradix in front of an outsider, Skull knew he was in trouble, he shivered next to me, I glared at him out of the side of my eyes, the man was an idiot, I do not remember any more why we keep him around.
Ruin was grinning he had seen weakness, he knew how to proceed from there, “We will arm you, clothe you and share our food with you, in return you will give us half in the future.”
Cradix looked back over his shoulder at me, I dropped my gaze to the sand, now was not the time to share my opinion on this matter. I was not Skull, I would not defy my elder in front of strangers, Ruin might not be a stranger to us but he was not a Nomad.
“We need some time to talk about this as a tribe,” Cradix stated, Ruin narrowed his eyes at his brother.
“I thought you were in charge?”
“I am the tribe elder and lead the tribe but we do everything as a tribe, I do nothing without consulting at least with my second,” Cradix growled back at his brother.
Ruin looked over his brother’s shoulder to me, I kept my face blank, Cradix made plenty of decisions on his own but it was not my place to tell Ruin that, besides Ruin had been a Nomad in the past and knew how his brother could be, while most of the time he would discuss his plans with his second and take the tribes opinions into account if he wanted to do something he would do it because it was his tribe, those that did not agree with him left, as Ruin did.
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