22 Chapter 23 - Triassic VII

(POV Stygian) 

It's been a month since my introduction with the A.R.G.U.S. exploration team and I've gotta say most of them are quite tolerable. Other than Juniper still being scared shitless of me, and Johnny wanting to cut me open the rest of the agents seemed to have warmed up around me. I'd taken them out on multiple hunts to get them used to the environment here and explain the best ways to take down any dinosaur they may encounter. The Skartarians I'd enlisted for help had also assisted in teaching them how to better track and avoid certain dinosaurs' territories. 

I was currently in the center of the field sprawled out on my back enjoying the sun and the wind wisping by. An unknown amount of time later my peace was disturbed by the sound of footsteps. Ignoring them I hoped they'd go around or something, but they stopped directly in front of me. Clicking my tongue, I pretended not to notice their arrival. 

"Ahem, your Majesty sorry to bother you but the camp is almost completely out of water. We had a large supply prepared for normal conditions, however, as you know things have been anything but normal." June's figure loomed over me as she crouched down to speak. 

With a sigh, my eyes snapped open and with a disinterested gaze said, 

"Are you trying to ask me a question June?" 

Scowling at me in mock anger, she sniffled. 

"No! I was just letting you know. Humans die after a few days with no water so, yknow. Guess I'll be dying now." 

"Okay, okay, I'll lead you to the nearest source of water. Make sure to bring me whatever it is you store the water in. Also, try to remember the route there." Rolling my eyes at her, I stood up before helping June to her feet. 

"You're so gracious your Majesty, I knew you wouldn't let me die." She shouted mockingly as she darted back toward the camp. 

A few minutes later I could be seen leading her through the forest with a barrel capable of holding 500 gallons of water. How the fuck they just had this in their aircraft was beyond me, much less how they planned to get it into the field or refilled if they hadn't met me was just as big a mystery. Pretty soon we'd arrived at easily one of the most beautiful places I'd laid my eyes on. A waterfall like none other flowed into a dark blue lake, with utterly still waters. The gentle flow of water seemed to tickle you in all the right places, as you lost yourself in the white noise. 

In a lapse of judgment, June happily skipped toward the edge of the water, kneeled down, and placed her hand within feeling its cool touch. As I casually approached the shoreline to place the barrel down beside her, she turned to me. 

"This place is beautiful; you should've told me about it soo-" 

Before she could finish, time seemed to slow down as I saw the once-calm waters erupt from multiple angles. Eyes wide, I dropped the barrel closing the distance between us in mere moments and tossing her back toward the tree line. Blood sprayed a second later as one of the creatures clasped its jaws down directly on my shoulder and chest. Irritated at the influx of pain I savagely clawed, punched, and grabbed at the creature hooked to me. After another large spray of blood, it detached its maw from my torso. No sooner had I been freed of its vice-like grip, did I take notice of another two lunging at me from the side. 

Springing back toward the tree line to get my bearings I found a trio of scaled and hissing overgrown water lizards. Jaws opened to their full extent in a threatening display, they seemed to hesitate leaving the comfort of their domain. June had almost died. I had almost let her die. How long had it been since I sincerely cared about another's well-being, much less put their life above mine? The realization hit me like a truck, I had begun to care for someone...and almost let them die. 

Mentally instructing my scaled accessories, they released a black cloud in the direction of the Sarcosuchus trio. The instant the creatures came in contact with the cloud, their jaws closed, and they appeared disoriented. Not wasting the opportunity, I charged forward grabbing the left-most one's tail and hurling it up the shoreline away from the water. 

The Sarco hit the ground with a hard thud, landing on its back, and before it could flip itself over, I'd pounced onto its belly, easily puncturing the vulnerable area and letting its innards flow freely. Snapping my attention back to the remaining two, I saw them inching their way toward June as she scrambled backward. Placing myself in front of her I darted forward, ignoring the creatures' hisses and grabbing the underside of their jaws bulldozing them back toward the water. Unsurprisingly, the moment they hit the water the Sarcos were in their natural element. Lucky for me, the water near the shoreline was only about waist height, though gradually we crept into deeper waters. 

A brutal battle ensued as a cyclone of water and blood flew from within and outside the water. While the two Sarcos had a home-turf advantage, their sizes worked against them as I rather easily dodged their rabid lunges and snapping jaws. Sadly, my right arm and shoulder were basically out of commission, any movement caused extreme pain and overexertion. I figured I had enough strength to use it once, but I'd have to make it count. My chance soon presented itself as one of the creatures that made the mistake of getting underneath me. Clasping my legs around its form it reeled from the surface of the water its jaws open, hoping to catch me off, guard. Against its expectations, it was the one caught. 

Placing a hand on either end of the lowest point of its jaws, to the point that more of my arm was in its mouth than outside, I pushed and pushed. With a silent roar, I resisted its attempts to close its jaws on me and continued forcing its mouth open to an unnatural degree. Not standing idly by its compatriot latched onto my left side, pulling me and its friend deeper into the lake. Eyes a crimson red I glanced into the eyes of the Sarco still within my grasp, with a bloody smile I squeezed a final time resulting in a resounding snap and the sound of tearing flesh. From its jaw to its torso the Sarco had been split in half. 

Releasing my hold of it, the corpse drifted aimlessly through the depths, and I turned my attention to the creature who mistakenly thought it could drown me. Instead, it would be the one to drown. Impaling a hand into its eye, I caused it to release its grasp of me as it hissed in anger, only to latch onto its jaws with my legs, while my upper body hung upside down. With its jaws forcibly held shut the Sarco swam, spun, and crashed itself into anything and everything it could. With my right arm officially out of commission, I focused on ensuring its jaws could no longer be relied on while using my left to relentlessly try and puncture its underside. 

An endurance game followed as the panicking creature began to lose both blood and airflow gradually. 

(POV June Moon) 

I'd thought I was a goner and if not for the Basilisk, I would have been. I shouldn't have been so careless. Was he alright? He was bleeding a lot because of me. He would be fine...he had to be. Gazing into the once violently active waters, they were now completely and utterly still. The blood that once filled them had been washed away, seemingly leaving no trace of the intense battle I'd just witnessed. It had been a bloody and horrific sight, though quite unlike when he'd fought the Quetzal. There was no trace of him enjoying this fight, instead, there was worry, followed by rage and cruelty etched onto his face. 

Other than the sound of my pounding heartbeat, silence filled the surroundings as I watched the dark blue waters unblinkingly. Please be alright. That single thought filled my mind as time ticked by and as though answering my prayers, I saw a familiar dark figure emerge from the lake. With ragged breaths, he stumbled his way onto shore before falling onto his back on the shoreline. Rushing up to his bleeding form, I held back tears when seeing his ruined state. 

"Did I throw you too hard? Are you alright?" With labored breathing, he looked up at me. 

Sniffling, I couldn't help but laugh scornfully at his words. 

"You've got to be kidding me, no you didn't, and yes, I'm fine. But I should be the one asking you that! It's because of me you're like this in the first place. I'm so sorry. You didn't have to save me; I shouldn't have zoned out like that." 

"Did you force me to save you?" He asked with a calm gaze, not at all reflecting the dire straits he appeared to be in. 

"No, but-" Before I could plead my case, he released a chuckle. 

"Exactly, now stop looking so depressed, I'm not gonna die or anything. Look you can see me healing. I'll just be resting here for a while. Gosh, you literally crashed on a prehistoric island and weren't as mopey as you are now." Hearing his teasing words, I couldn't help but crack a smile. 

Poking him in the side and ignoring his wince of pain I scoffed. 

"Shut up, you just scared me that's all. You're the one who came out here limping and falling to the floor knowing you could regenerate. You did that on purpose!" 

With a blood-filled smile that had every right to look terrifying and yet failed to do so, he sighed. 

"I don't know what you're talking about. Hey, I've asked you three questions, it's time for yours." 

His words brought pause to me as I gazed into his serpentine eyes. We'd been playing this game for quite a while now and after our first conversation in the forest, he'd not given away any more questions very easily. I'd had to work hard in any attempts to gather more information about him or this place and yet here he was just giving it away for free. There were a multitude of things I was desperate to know or find out about and yet I couldn't bring myself to care about any of them at the moment. 

Placing a hand on his chest, and surprising him as much as myself I asked, 

"What's your name? Not your title, or legend, but your name." 

Closing his eyes in thought for a moment, they slowly reopened. 

"I suppose the 'your Majesty' bit has run its course huh...Stygian. My name's Stygian." 

(POV Stygian) 

Against June's wishes, I carried a fully filled barrel of water back to camp, despite my apparent grievous injuries. Upon our arrival, I dropped the barrel off, and she led me to her tent, bringing a bucket filled with water. After lifting the tent flap June instructed me to take a seat on her cot, while she grabbed a washcloth and other first aid materials. Moments later she joined me at the edge of the bed, thoroughly cleaning the wounds that marred my chest, back, arms, and head. Much to her delight, my crown of serpents curiously coiled around her hands or flicked their tongues at her as she wrapped me with bandages. 

Before long, I resembled a full-fledged mummy, hardly able to move with how tight she'd enveloped me. Frowning and rolling my shoulders in discomfort I turned to her. 

"This might be a bit much, no? I already told you I'd heal just fine. Why've you got me looking like a swaddled baby?" 

Clicking her tongue, she jabbed me in the side again, causing me to grimace. 

"If you're not a baby then stop acting like one. Besides, I'd rather be safe than sorry. Deal with it at least for the night. Tomorrow you can re-open your wounds for all I care!" 

"Some doctor you are," I muttered beneath my breath, as she squinted her eyes at me daring me to say anything else. 

"S-Stygian, you're not really from here, are you? You don't have to answer but I was thinking, you are too intelligent...too human to have just lived here for a hundred years." The atmosphere suddenly took a sharp turn, becoming increasingly heavy. 

Eyes constricting, I felt my body tense a bit. 

"Let's say your words are true, what then? Do we have a problem?" 

Hurriedly shaking her head in refute, June inched closer to me. 

"No, not at all. I don't care about your past. I was just wondering why pretend, why lie, and how much of what you've told me has been true?" 

"I have my reasons...and I haven't lied to you once. Withhold some information, sure, but I haven't lied to you." I said, closing my eyes tightly. 

"But you lie to yourself. You play the part of a beast well, making empty threats, flashing those eyes and fangs of yours, and yet I've seen the way you act around the other agents. The small niceties you show them. The very fact you put up with me is proof enough of your mask slipping. Hell, today I saw you fight with fervor and cruelty I'd never before seen, all the while worry was etched onto your face. Though beastlike in appearance, your actions say differently." Her soft voice boomed like thunder in my ears as I clenched and unclenched my jaw. 

Placing a hand on my cheek, June's eyes seemed to read me like a book. 

"You once said the eyes are windows to one's soul. You know what I see in yours? I see someone afraid of losing control, control of everything. I see someone constantly struggling to form their own narrative. I've told you once, and I'll tell you as many times as you need to hear it, live in the moment...take things as they come." 

 My eyes and heart seemed to shake, the dam threatening to break, but I held it in. Leaning forward I placed my forehead against hers, sighing. 

"If what you say is true, I should kill you. All of you." 

"But you won't because you're not a beast." She said with a small smile, as she closed her eyes. 

"It's easier said than done...living in the moment. I don't even know how to start. I can't j-" My incoherent mumbling was interrupted by her confident voice. 

"Then, I'll start. From now on I don't care, nor will I try and find out anything about you, this island, or anything to do with your past. As far as I'm concerned, nothing else matters other than this moment right now. See, that wasn't so hard now, was it?" Wrapping her arms around me, June buried her face in my chest, pushing me onto my back. 

Closing my eyes, I didn't even register the pain I should be feeling as I wrapped my arms around June's form. Her warmth, her breath, her everything seemed to envelop me as I lost myself in the embrace of darkness. 

NOTE: Hooray for character growth. Hopefully, after this, worries about his identity, name, and the future will end. We'll just be able to have things advance gradually. Let me know if anything in this chapter came off as too corny or didn't flow correctly. 

Next chapter