“It’s found us. That monster doesn’t give up.” King Myeskia mumbled as he saw the all too familiar shape of the Mosasaurus move through the gold waters towards their tiny raft. He tried to get up and paddle the raft to safety, but was far too weak. They all were, and the will had simply been sapped from most of the crew anyway.
Three days ago the monster had sunk the King’s ship, the finest in the entire Argassian fleet. Not that that was saying much. The Argassians were among the most primitive people in the 8th sea. They had only survived this long through irrelevance more than anything else. Their home island Argassia was small and surrounded by massive predators from Orcas to Sharks of most kinds, as well as Plesiosaurs and even Krakens. Worst of all it was severely lacking in natural resources, being nothing more than a barren rock. As a result most of the other islands and kingdoms hadn’t bothered with it, with many until recently even believing Argassia to be an uninhabited wasteland.
The fact that its own people had been able to scrape by, never mind build a reasonably thriving civilisation was a miracle. Unfortunately however their ingenuity and skills in dealing with the massive predators that patrolled their waters, had led to the Argassians believing their own hype and taking part in the battle against the Dyskellions. This war had ended as badly for them as it did for everyone else including the Dyskellions themselves. Even the creatures in the waters near the island of Dyskellion were far more ferocious than anything the Argassians had encountered before.
The King himself had commanded his own ship, the last one standing to flee on the grounds that he needed to make sure that after the fall of the Makos waters, no Dyskellion war ships had made their way back to Argassia. It was a valid concern, but in truth he was more motivated by sheer terror than anything else. Not that any of his crew disagreed with his orders.
There was a certain cruel irony to the fact after escaping a battle they were completely unprepared for, the Kings vessel had been sunk by the type of predator his people had faced and even managed to tame for centuries. A Mosasaur that was over 50 feet long and 30 tons in weight had only been able to successfully attack their ship due to how badly it had been weakened in the Dyskellion war.
Of the 300 men on board. The only survivors were the King and the six crew members who had managed to stumble onto the last surviving life boat, which following an attack by some Sharks who had trailed the Mosasaur (and who had picked off more than a few of the crew as well.) Had been damaged and left to float aimlessly through the waters for the past few days.
Now however, the Mosasaur had found them again which wasn’t too surprising given how tenacious these beasts were. There was a famous fable among the Argassians about a Mosasaurus waiting in the waters around Argassia for two years, avoiding their hunters, until the king who had lead the hunt that murdered its mate returned to the waters where it sank his boat and ate him. Myeskia was starting to wonder if there was some truth to the fable after all.
“Finally. What took it so long.” One of the Kings subordinates named Escelias said whilst coughing. She was in the worst state of anyone there, after receiving a Shark bite to the leg, which she had only got whilst trying to help another member of the crew who was being attacked. It was a noble, but ultimately foolish action on Escelias’ part, as her friend was mauled to death by the beasts anyway. Such a bite would have been enough to kill or at least cripple an ordinary human, but the Argassians were much stronger and more durable than ordinary people. It was still a devastating wound however and Escelias was not only left in constant pain, but she even started to hallucinate and at one point began to attack the other survivors. Most of the time however during her delusions, Escelias had just babbled to herself incoherently with the odd moment of lucidity. Some of her comrades had even thought about pushing her over the edge, fearing that the blood from her leg was drawing the Sharks who had continued to follow and knock the raft out of curiosity. The King however refused. It was an open secret among the rest of the crew that he and Escelias were having an affair and that he loved her far more than his Queen. Even in this situation however he denied it, which among other things earned him the utter contempt of the remaining survivors, some of whom at certain points wanted to throw him over to the Sharks as well.
Now however it seemed the issue was being taken out of their hands. The Mosasaurus pushed the raft from below with its snout until it was raised out of the water, after which the beast then pushed the raft through the water for over 50 feet, before finally tipping it over. The monster was clearly playing with its victims.
Once they were all in the water, the king reached for Escelias and tried to carry her to safety. Unfortunately several Sharks had begun to circle the nearby area. They kept their distance from the Mosasaur of course, hoping to pick off any who managed to escape the giant reptile.
Up ahead the King could see the Mosasaur attack from below and swallow one of the survivors in a single bite. As he tried to swim in the opposite direction, he suddenly noticed the Sharks fins scattering away from the area. There was something larger in the waters below them. Possibly the Mosasaurs mate? Or an Orca. They don’t feed on Argassians or any of the humanoid creatures in the 8th sea, but sometimes they did target Sharks.
The king soon got his answer when a massive fin over 10 feet tall emerged from the water beside him. Based on its colour and shape it clearly belonged to a Shark, but it was far larger than any whale, never mind a Shark.
The monster soon emerged from the water, revealing itself to be a gigantic almost hybrid of a human and Shark. It had the head, fin, and skin of a Great White Shark, however instead of fins on either side of its body, it had long, muscular arms though they both had fins over its elbow joints. Rather than a tail meanwhile, it had two, strong, powerful legs. It also stood upright in the water like a human too.
“It can’t be! She’s, she’s real.” Myeskia said to himself.
The Shark like creature waded quickly through the water to where the Mosasaur was. The giant reptile was too distracted, playing with and picking off its humanoid prey to notice the mightier beast approaching it until it was too late. With one arm the Shark grabbed the Mosasaur by the neck, whilst with the other it grabbed it near the back of its tail. Overall the Shark must have been over 100 feet tall. The beast then picked Mosasaur up out of the water and sunk its massive teeth into the Mosasaurs back. With just a single bite, the Shark beast tore the reptile in two and tossed either part of the creature into the golden waters that surrounded them, which now ran red with the reptiles blood.
The Shark beast then turned its attention to the Argassian survivors, but rather than hurt them, instead it first turned over their boat and then used it to scoop all of the survivors up, after which it then started to carry them safely through the waters.
In less than an hour the Shark reached their home land where a crowd soon gathered, both in fear and awe of this magnificent beast. Like all the other civilisations of the 8th sea, the Argassians had heard stories of the legendary Shark goddess, Charcaria. According to some myths and legends she was the most benevolent of all the sea gods, whilst in others she was a monster that even the most fearsome killers of the deep lived in terror of. No one in living memory on Argassia had ever seen the monster. (Which was no mean feat as the Argassians could live for over 200 years.) Still there were a few myths about the Goddess, some of which painted her as a hero saving the Argassians, others as their enemy.
Whatever the case even though she held their king, none of them dared to try and challenge the Queen of the sea and they allowed her to place the raft safely on the beach, before the Shark goddess then retreated back into the ocean. It would be a day that would live on in the Argassians history for many centuries to come.
120 years later in a far away land.
“Do I have to? It’s not like I’ll learn anything now. The poor thing is already dying.” Kaia said.
“The fact that you’ve called it a poor thing shows you have to.” Her mother Mansia replied. After a few minutes hesitation, Kaia tried to plunge her spear into the dying Aleroc’s throat only to wince again, forcing her mother to finish the dying giant off.
“Honestly. You love eating these animals, but you’re not prepared to kill one yourself?” Her mother complained.
“I’m sorry I’m just…. I don’t see anything brave in hurting a stupid, harmless creature like this.” Kaia replied.
“It’s not about being brave! It’s about survival. One of these things can feed us for weeks at a time. I don’t enjoy it either, but we have to face facts. Also remember that if anything were to ever happen to us, you’d have to hunt these things yourself.” Mansia protested.
“Yes I know mother, and if I had to I would, but I can’t help but feel.”
“That this isn’t about practicality. Look how few of these creatures are left? I can remember when I was a little girl these giants covered the entire forest. Now? They’re all gone where we live. We had to come out here to this weird place of supposed monsters and even then it’s taken us three days to find just one. Who knows maybe I just missed my chance to hunt one for good?”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” Mansia snapped. “This island is a large place. They’ve just moved to the south of the island to escape us. It took those stupid birds long enough to realise we were a danger to them, but still., if we keep moving we’ll find more” She continued.
“No mother I don’t think they have. I think we became too complacent. They were an easy source of food that we exploited and now.”
“Look I don’t have time for this.” Mansia turned to the other tribesmen who had actually found the beast and had already attached ropes to its carcass.
“Come on we need to get out of here, pronto.”
“Why are you scared the fish men will get you?” One of them teased only to be met with a scournful look from Mansia.
“I don’t need to worry about make believe monsters. This part of the island is chalk full of predators, many of whom will already be alerted by the smell of that carcass and be here any minute.” Mansia said as she picked up her rope.
These Alerocs had once been the dominant creatures on this island. They were large strange creatures who almost appeared to be hybrids between birds and mammals. On the one hand they had four large legs like many species of mammal, with hoofed feet, as well as long and thick necks like Giraffes. On the other hand they were covered in feathers, had beaks as well as bird like scaly feet, no tails and laid large eggs. Overall the creature could stand over ten feet tall and weighed close to one ton. It took both Mania and Kaia and the other six hunters there just to drag the creature across the forest floor.
Despite her dismissal of her daughters pleas, Mansia was still haunted by them to some extent. Whilst they weren’t their only food supply of course, the giant bird/mammal like beasts where vital to her people, and not just for food. They had many uses for their feathers, bones, even their massive eggs once hollowed out, served as quite good makeshift water bottles.
Still at the very least her people could enjoy one more feast as she and the other hunters made their long trek back through the woods ahead, though after a few miles they had to rest.
“At the rate we’re going this Aleroc will be nothing but bones by the time we get back to camp.” One of the huntsmen moaned.
“Only if you can’t wait to scoff it all down before we get there because you’re so greedy.” Mansia panted as she sat on the forest floor.
Whilst he may have teased Mansia about it earlier, ironically the hunstman and all of the others there were worried to some extent about the rumours of monsters in these parts of the woods. Whilst none of them really believed in the stories of fish men, at the very least several of their hunters had gone missing whilst exploring this part of the island. Their people a small tribe, had as far as their recorded history told them originally come from the beaches on the south of the island before they moved to the far reaches of the forest. The last four or so generations had lived there and been content, but now with their prey either fleeing or dying off they had been forced to venture back to where their people had originally come from.
There had always been stories that something in the water had driven the hunters away which was undoubtedly where all the tall tales of fish men had come from.
“Honestly I can carry you if you like.” One of the hunters said to Mansia.
“How dare you I’ve slain far more fearsome creatures than those stupid fish men you are clearly scared of.”
“You’re certainly the oldest hunter of the tribe.” Kaia said under her breath, though Mansia still heard her.
“Yes and what’s that supposed to mean?” Mansia said loudly, not caring about any nearby animals.
“Oh eh nothing, its just that, well the rest of us had no problem dragging that animals body.” Kaia continued only for her mother to angrily interrupt.
“Again what are you trying to get at? That it’s time I retired from the life of hunting? That I’m a burden? Except that I was the one who tracked it down, and the one who killed it. What should I do, sit at home and let these idiots stumble around not finding anything and the when they do, you let it go because it’s too cute? The day you become a hunter worthy of our name, is the day I can retire Kaia.” Mansia said, with the other hunters backing down somewhat.
Kaia didn’t say a word to her mother afterwards. To be fair nothing had been said to either that hadn’t been said before, but still after these types of arguments, they both knew it was best not to push it any further.
Trouble soon came in the form of a small, cat like predator. It was only five or so feet long, but still had quite a powerful bite up close. The hunters waved their sticks at the creature and made warning calls, which eventually convinced the beast to back down without any trouble. They were lucky this time however. Normally these creatures hunt in packs and had their been more than one, the hunters may not have been able to defend themselves, never mind their kill.
“We have to move now, more of those creatures will be back.” One of the hunters said, with Mansia reluctantly getting back up after having barely had a rest.
Little did the hunters know however they were being watched by a far more dangerous predator on the island. The Grifous Eagle. With a wingspan of over 30 feet and a body of over 6 feet, the Grifous Eagle had been the apex predator on this strange land known only as Yaskaria, long before mankind’s arrival. It preyed primarily on the Aleroc, but when mankind began to hunt its favorite prey, the beast soon turned its attention to the tribe.
The Eagle was more than capable of killing a human. It could move at lightening fast speed, whist its claws were easily able exert enough force to crush bones and even tear off limbs.
The humans however had ultimately managed to drive these beasts to near extinction, not only by hunting their favourite prey to a far greater extent, but targeting the beasts themselves. The humans greater numbers, more skilled hunting tactics and weapons ultimately overcame the Eagle’s superior strength. Still a few of these winged predators had survived, though sadly within the next few decades, much like the Aleroc’s they would most likely be gone entirely.
This large female meanwhile had been surviving on a small nest of Alerocs for the last few years, but with the last of this nest having now been hunted by the humans. The Eagle naturally turned to the only other large animals in the area that could satisfy its hunger. Knowing how much more dangerous the humans could be however, the Eagle had slowly waited for the right moment, and now when the humans were all gathered round, bickering and tired it felt ready to strike. Despite its size, the Eagle had managed to stay hidden in the trees above. It was an expert ambush predator. These hunters all being young also had no experience with this bird, unlike the original huntsman and women who constantly had to hide in fear from the monsters. Even Mansia hadn’t had that much experience with them, with her last Eagle hunt being just before Kaia’s birth.
The Eagle emerged from the trees at a tremendous speed despite its size. Before any of the hunters could respond, the raptor grabbed the hunter closest to the tree it had been hiding on by the shoulders.
The sheer force at which it hit the hunter was enough to break both of his shoulders and send him crashing face first to the earth. The Eagle then used its right foot to snap the hunters spine in two effortlessly.
The rest of the hunters, including Mansia, all didn’t back down and instead started to wave their spears at the giant Bird. In response the Eagle opened both of its wings and started to flap them at the hunters, which managed to knock them all off of their feet.
The winged terror then grabbed the nearest hunter by the leg with its beak and dragged him towards it, where it then disembowled him using its left foot.
Before the others could get up, the monster then flew into the sky and circled the terrified hunters, forcing them to huddle together, before it then swooped down and grabbed another hunter by the shoulders. He struggled vainly, but with its incredible strength, the deadly Raptor broke both of his arms and carried him into the trees above.
His screams, followed by the sound of bones breaking and flesh being ripped off lingered for a few seconds before there was a silence and the Eagle then emerged from the trees again.
This time Mansia, Kaia and the three remaining huntsmen wisely decided to flee and ran back the way past their kill and into the woods.
There Kaia got a brief glimpse of the remains of the poor soul the Eagle had dragged into the woods. Like the first victim his guts had been torn out, though the eagle had also ripped his left arm clean out of its socket. His corpse had simply been left on the forest floor with the Eagle not even bothering to consume any of it. The avian terror wasn’t just killing for food. It knew that the humans were rivals, with its mate and nest having been killed off by a human tribe many years ago when they burned the forest it and many others of its kind lived. The creature, who had been forced to survive on its own since was obviously not targeting these humans out of revenge. It was ironically out of sheer terror as well as hunger as the humans had been the only creatures on the island ever to make it flee before.
The Eagle tried to strike again, but it was difficult in the more dense forest. Still nevertheless the creature managed to grab onto one of the hunters by the arm. Surprisingly Kaia was the only one to try and fight the monster bird off, though it was more out of fear at seeing what was left of its previous victim. She hurled her spear into the beasts wing, whilst the others all fled. It wasn’t enough to do any real harm the beast, but her spear did manage to lodge itself in the creatures wing for a few seconds which caused it to flap about in pain, releasing its victim.
Unfortunately however the hunters arm was completely broken. In fact it was only hanging on by a flew flaps of skin and flesh. Kaia called to the other hunters and the two men ran back and started to drag their comrade through the woods behind them. Mansia meanwhile tried to pull her daughter away, but Kaia having got a little too confident after her lucky strike, launched herself at the bird, whilst it was still flapping about in pain.
She managed to stab the beast in its chest with her hunters knife. Unfortunately however she couldn’t push the relatively small knife in deep enough to pierce its heart, and the Eagle after managing to dislodge her earlier spear, instantly took to the air. Kaia held onto her knife as she desperately tried to push it in further and was even dragged a few feet further into the woods before she let go.
Mansia ran to help her daughter, but the Eagle soon began to circle both of them, with the knife still sticking out of its stomach.
“What on earth do you think you’re doing? You can’t even kill a stupid Aleroc and you think you can take on one of those things.” She said as she struggled to keep her breath. ” Mansia said as she struggled to keep her breath.
Unfortunately Mansia’s fears soon proved founded as the Eagle made another strike and managed to scratch Kaia with its talons. They proceeded to rip right the way down her chest and stomach and knocked her out cold.
Before the monster could finish her off however, Mansia kicked it knife still sticking out of its stomach.
The beast retreated whilst screaming in pain and soon headed off in the direction of the other hunters who were preparing to advance on the beast. Sadly the monster managed to catch another one of them, despite his attempts to defend himself and snapped his neck with its talons. The other meanwhile it chased back to his wounded friend who he tried to rouse, but the Eagle landed on the wounded hunter first and disembowled him with its claws. The final hunter the Eagle then pursued to a nearby cave where he was forced to take shelter, whilst the terror bird circled above. Any time the hunter tried to leave the Bird would swoop down however, leaving him trapped for now.
Mansia meanwhile had fled as soon as the Eagle had turned its attention to the other hunters. She didn’t want to leave these young men, but not surprisingly, she put her daughters safety above there’s and lifted her daughter over her shoulder, despite the strain and took off in the woods as far as she could.
She had absolutely no idea where she was going, but she plowed on until she eventually reached a dead end. It was a river which led to a waterfall on the other side. Again she had no idea where it led to, but the shriek of the Eagle in the very distance was enough to make her jump over the edge of the waterfall with her daughter in tow. They fell over twenty feet before landing in the lake below after which, Mansia then paddled to the shore.
All of this time they were out in the open, but fortunately for them the Eagle’s attention was still diverted to the remaining hunter in the cave.
After a few minutes, the hunter couldn’t take it anymore and he foolishly tried to run. He didn’t even really get a chance, as once he was a few feet from the cave, the Eagle pounced on him.
The hunter however was able to turn around just as the Eagle caught him, and he managed to grab hold of the knife, still sticking out of the birds chest in the process. Ironically the force of the Birds own impact helped the hunter push it in much deeper, just as its claws cut into the hunters stomach and disembowled him.
With his last ounce of strength, the hunter pulled the knife down, literally slicing the birds entire stomach open and fatally wounding the beast. The Bird attempted to fly back to the trees, but after a few pitiful flaps it collapsed onto the forest floor and let out a final screech, which ironically sent all the nearby animals fleeing in panic.
In its attempt to protect its territory the Eagle had paid dearly. Not that it could have survived for much longer anyway as the humans would soon be moving into this area.
From both the hunters and the Eagles perspective the others were monsters that they needed to slay, but ultimately they were both just trying to survive. Sadly in this instance, both had failed.
Mansia meanwhile had managed to drag her daughter to the forest below the waterfall. As far as she was aware, the winged beast was still looking for them, and it was only after ten or so minutes that she finally stopped to catch her breath and do her best to patch up her daughters wounds.
She had never been so exhausted, but she couldn’t give up now. Her daughter needed help, but she was completely lost and too weak to go on.
“Kaia, Kaia! Please, please!” She pleaded as she tried to rouse her daughter.
Fortunately Kaia soon responded, though it took her a few minutes to overcome her delirium.
“What, what happened, that monster! Where did it.” She asked faintly.
“It’s okay I think we lost that thing. For now at least.” Mania said as she tried to help her daughter up.
“Where are we? Where are the others.”
“I don’t know Kaia, we got separated. They could still be alive, but I need to get you some help.”
“We can’t just leave them.” Kaia said as she was forced to lean against a nearby tree, whilst covering her wounds.
“They can take care of themselves. You can barely stand. This isn’t open for debate. Even if you wanted you couldn’t walk. Come on.” Mansia said as she helped her daughter through the woods ahead.
The two trekked for several more hours, until they came upon more of the cat like creatures feasting on the remains of a large, flightless bird named a Strekor. It was an incredible sight for them as the Strekors hadn’t been seen since Mansia was a little girl. She used to own one as a pet before the tribe were forced to eat it during a lean winter.
Mansia made sure not stare at the gruesome sight for too long however, mindful of Kaia’s blood attracting predators.
“Well mother I guess I’m not cut out for this life after all eh? It’s safe to say this first hunt hasn’t gone as well as you would have hoped.” Kaia said, which briefly made her mother stop.
“Please Kaia, several of those men died back there. Don’t make light of this situation.”
“I wasn’t. I was just pointing out the truth that if we do survive this then maybe it’s time you listened to what I actually want for a change.”
“All I’ve ever done is try to help you Kaia. You think this is just me wanting you to be a hunter because I was one? Of course not. This is teaching you how to survive on this island. In case you haven’t noticed it’s not a nice place to live. Aside from the giant killer birds, apes, and packs of ravenous dogs, the diseases, the thunderstorms, the natural disasters and earth quakes. You have to be a skilled hunter to make it to my age.”
“Yes well. No offense mother, but I don’t think your hunting lessons have done a good job keeping me safe.” Kaia said as she coughed up more blood.
For once Mansia didn’t let her daughters words get to her and instead just ploughed on through the woods.
Suddenly however the two women were brought to a halt by a large shrieking noise. It was definitely a bird of some kind, but not one of the Eagles. Instead it was a large, toothed flightless, wingless bird known as a Vascarry. These creatures had always lived on this side of the island and thankfully the tribe hadn’t had much contact with them. Still Mansia knew enough to know that these creatures were not to be underestimated. This Vascarry stood up to 10 feet tall and though weighing in at almost 1 ton, it could run fast and pack a powerful bite.
The bird chirped and snapped its jaws at the two women who tried to stand their ground, but as soon as Kaia’s legs began to give way, the Bird charged at them. Knowing she’d never be able to outrun it, even in her youth, Mansia climbed up the nearest tree with her daughter in tow, who held onto her mother.
The two ladies reached the top in a short time, but unfortunately the bird did not give up that easily. Kaia’s blood dripped down the side of tree and made the creature even more excited. It actually started to chip away at the tree bark with its jaws. The creatures jaws were very strong and it would get through the bark in no time.
Placing her weakened daughter on a strong branch, Mansia told her to wait here no matter what while she jumped down. Sadly Kaia was too weak to even attempt to offer any resistance.
The bird instantly turned its attention to Mansia once she jumped down. Unfortunately from here she didn’t quite know what she was going to do.
She instantly ran to another tree but the Bird caught up with her and latched its jaws around her arm. Fortunately for Mansia it wasn’t able to get a good hold on her, though in order to pull her arm free she still suffered a nasty flesh wound.
She didn’t let it deter her however and climbed the tree, but unfortunately the bark of this tree was thinner and more fragile than the other and the bird was able to chew through it much quicker.
Mansia then jumped from near the top of this tree, landing a good ten feet ahead of the bird. This time she knew were she was going however and ran back the way to where the large cat like creatures where feasting on the corpse of the bird.
Even with a ten foot head start she still struggled to keep ahead of the relentless avian predator, but finally she reached the group of felines who instantly turned their attention to Mansia and her pursuer.
They cats bared their fangs and all gathered round as a group, whilst the bird soon started to snap at its rivals.
Mansia meanwhile slowly crept out of sight, her plan having worked.
“No matter how big it gets, you can always count on a cat to keep a bird in check.” Mansia joked to herself, only for that assertion to be debunked when the large bird kicked one of the cats, the alpha male that tried to charge at it. The kick was powerful to kill and disembowel the cat with one strike, after which the others fled.
The cats didn’t remain gone for long however and as the toothed bird began to inspect the carcass, the alpha female jumped out and grabbed onto the birds neck whilst it was sniffing the carcass with its jaws and paws. The cat managed to hold on even as the bird raised its head, which served as a signal to the other cats to swarm the large bird and start clawing at its legs and torso as they brought the great beast to its knees.
The bird however managed to grab the alpha female in its jaws and literally snap her in half, which again caused the rest of the carnivores to flee. The bird however was still grievously wounded by the felines attacks, baring several, ugly scratch marks along its throat, side and legs. This time when the cats returned to circle it, the bird looked more scared, though the cats were also hesitant to strike.
Unfortunately for Mansia she couldn’t stick around and see who would win. She had to get back to Kaia.
When she made her way through the jungle however, Mansia saw that her daughter was gone, a trail of blood led a few feet from the tree, but soon stopped. She wouldn’t have left. Even if she wanted too, she wasn’t strong enough. The Eagle couldn’t have found her meanwhile as the blood wouldn’t have left a trail on the floor. None of the other predators of the forest meanwhile could climb that high. Mansia searched frantically for the next few hours. Evading more large Avian and feline predators as she went. Eventually she got so desperate she started to scream out into the woods hopelessly for her daughter, despite knowing that was a serious danger of attracting predators.
Sure enough after a few minutes, a large creature started to emerge from the woods up ahead. It was one of the many predatory canids of the island. These creatures were the most dangerous killers on the island after the giant Eagles. In some ways however they were more successful, having managed to remain on all parts of the island despite the presence of the humans. They had bright red fur, tiny ears, teeth so large they overlapped from their top jaw, and darker eyes more like a Shark and were far bigger than any other canids. They could grow up to six feet long. Despite this however these creatures still hunted in packs. Fortunately however unlike the Avian killers of the island, these creatures were very slow moving, which they overcompensated for by hunting in packs. Mansia ran through the forest with the dog pursuing her for a short while before simply howling at the sky no doubt to lure other members of its pack here. Mansia knew not to bother trying to climb any nearby trees as the Dogs could easily rip through the bark. Their jaws were ferociously strong.
Eventually near the end of the forest, Mansia saw a small mountain, with a cave at the top. These creatures definitely wouldn’t be able to climb the steep mountain with their bulky bodies. Mansia herself would have trouble but she still headed there, hoping that Kaia had done the same thing earlier.
Once she climbed the mountain and entered the cave however, she saw the awful truth. The cave contained skeletons of people and other animals that had been ripped apart, near what looked like a small nest, though there were no eggs in it. Clearly this cave was the nest of a Grifos Eagle, no doubt the same one that had murdered her comrades that as far as she was aware could return at any moment.
As she tried to make her way back down however she saw that the Dog was not only still waiting patiently, but that several other members of the pack had gathered round, all salivating with hunger.
There was nothing she could do except to hope that the Eagle would return and that it and the Wolves would fight each other, just like the other bird and the cats had.
She would be forced to wait for several more hours however until nightfall. She tried to throw rocks to scatter the dogs, but it just made them more vicious.
At certain points she thought it would be better just to let them eat her and have it be over with. Whatever had happened to Kaia, she surely could not be alive. Those wounds were severe and even if she had managed to muster up the strength to climb down from the tree, there is no way she could either outrun, or outfight any predator she encountered. Still she would then think that if there was even a chance that Kaia was still alive. No matter how remote, she had to be sure.
Later that night just as Mansia was on the cusp of falling asleep from her ordeal she was awoken by the sounds of several people screaming. They all sounded like young men. Could it possibly be her fellow huntsman who had survived the Eagle’s attack. (She had no idea they were all dead.) Whatever the case she shouted out to them, though her screams soon caused the dogs to act up again.
The screams soon went silent and a few more minutes passed before a man came running out, covered in scratches and bite marks. He was so consumed with terror that he almost ran into the pack of dogs, who surrounded the terrified former huntsman.
The man couldn’t have been older than his mid 20s, though that was actually quite old by the life expectancy of the island. Mansia was one of the longest lived people in the entire history of the island, even though she was only in her late 40s!
Mansia couldn’t leave the young man there. Even though she would always put Kaia above everyone else she still just couldn’t sit back and watch these monsters tare this young man apart.
She slowly climbed down the mountain and started to throw more rocks and even pebbles at the Dogs to try and distract them. Some of the creatures briefly turned to face her, but as soon as the young man tried to run, they instant turned their attention back to him. Mansia would have to strike the alpha of the group first as the others naturally followed his lead. Unfortunately however it was hard to pick out the alpha, as they all looked the same size from here. Mansia would throw one of her rocks at the first Dog that attacked the young man, which she assumed was the alpha. She managed to distract and anger it with a well placed hit on its head. The creature soon started to howl and bark and following the alphas lead, ran towards the bottom of the small mountain. The young man wasting no time meanwhile ran back through the woods ahead.
The dogs however didn’t follow as their attention remained on Mansia who eventually fell asleep in the cave, despite the animals constant barking and howling. She’d had very little sleep for the past few days, even before her ordeal with the Eagle.
That night she dreamed she and Kaia and the other huntsman who she didn’t know were killed were all back in the village. Things for once between them where quite easy, with the two of them enjoying a wonderful Aleroc feast and being celebrated for killing a Grifos Eagle. It was quite the horrible shock for Mansia when she woke up in the dark, horrible little cave. Still at least she was relieved that the mother Eagle hadn’t returned in the middle of the night.
As she looked out below she could see that the Wolves were now sleeping. She climbed down slowly, careful not to make a sound and then tip toed through the sleeping predators and into the jungle ahead.
She hadn’t recognized the young man from earlier, though that didn’t mean anything. He could easily be from the village, she didn’t really pay that much attention to the next generation of hunters apart from her daughter. She didn’t even know the name of many of those in her team that had been killed by the Eagle.
Still she hoped his presence meant that they were close to the village. Perhaps a team of hunters had found Kaia. It now seemed like the most likely explanation for what had happened to her.
Suddenly however, Mansia was soon distracted from her thoughts by the sound of the Dogs screaming.
“The Eagle.” She thought to herself as continued her long trek. After a few minutes however, she was forced to take cover, when one of the dogs came running past her. Despite their relentless the previous night, the dog hadn’t even noticed Mansia. She soon saw why. The dog was being chased by a strange creature, one that Mansia had never seen on the island before, and which she could not believe even existed.
It was human in shape, but its skin was completely green and somewhat slimy looking. It also had no hair and large black eyes. Despite its slight frame the beast managed to easily overpower the dog which it caught up to in no time.
Mansia slowly backed away, but as she did she heard the trees behind her rustling. She turned round only to see another one of these hideous creatures staring right at her.
Mansia kept her eye on the beast, and tried to gesture that she meant it no harm for all the good it would do, but whilst she was distracted, another one of the creatures dropped from the tree above without making a sound and pinned Mansia to the ground.
Mansia struggled as hard as she could, but the strange creature flipped her over on her back, and then knocked Mansia out with a quick strike to the face. When the huntswoman came to an uncertain amount of time later, she found herself locked in a cage. All around her were cages full of of other hunters, including the young man she had saved from the dogs. There were also cages containing animals including the dogs, several toothed birds, and even an Eagle!
The room itself was cold and metal meanwhile, though there were small circle shaped windows, with Mansia’s cage being placed right beside one. Outside it Mansia could see that they were just above the sea level.
One of the strange, reptile men who had captured them wandered past all of the cages, striking at the humans who got too close, with a stick that appeared to shock them.
Mansia couldn’t see Kaia in any of the cages. She felt like reaching and grabbing the reptile monster in her fury, but she knew it wouldn’t get her anywhere. She’d have to restrain herself for now in order to help her daughter, who she was sure must be among the prisoners. Whatever these monsters were, they were intelligent. Surely they wouldn’t just kill her for no reason?
Another twenty or so minutes passed, during which time three more hunters would be dragged into the cages. After they were locked up, Mansia could see that the ship or whatever it was they were imprisoned in began to descend into the water. After another twenty or so minutes, a blinding white light began to appear outside of all the windows through the water. It lasted for up to a minute or so before it faded, after which the waters now appeared to turn completely gold.
Mansia and indeed none of the hunters could comprehend it yet, but the truth was they were no longer in the same world anymore. They were in the 8th Sea.