He saw the beast careen through the jungle, smacking its armored hides against the trees. It closed the distance between them quickly and placed its massive foot over a paralyzed Scamper. Scamper struggled to stand. Scamper could feel each of his legs ready to snap in half. He could hear his exoskeleton strain against the pressure of standing up to this beast. Scamper could hear the strained cries of his brethren echo through the temple. He hoped he had done enough for them now. He hoped his health would revive theirs. He recalled trying to soothe them, but they could hear little through their illness. Scamper wanted to reach out. Scamper longed to be heard. As he strained, Scamper hoped that Trot might be the one to listen. Scamper chattered out something low and solemn as it readied to give in.
Trot grabbed Scamper by the leg, and snatched him out from underneath the hoof. Scamper crawled onto Trot’s chest and attached himself there. Trot saw the giant beast ready its charge, and quickly rolled under its belly. Trot started to move as fast he could on all fours. He emerged out from underneath the beast. He saw its tail. Realizing he was now behind it, he catapulted himself into a mad dash that set his already tired legs on fire. He ran faster than he had during the course of the journey, perhaps even the course of his life. He heard the breath of the beast as it turned and continued its endeavor to charge him down. He could hear whole trees snap as the massive creature knocked the greenery out of its mistakenly vengeful path. He felt the air around him grow hotter. He knew the beast had somehow closed the gap. His legs accessed strength so primal and intense that it felt inhuman. They flung him off the ground as he raced through the branches and the leaves. He did not know where he was headed, but he knew he needed to survive. He noticed that Scamper had moved to his back.
Suddenly he felt an intense heat at his back. He willed his legs to hasten, but they simply could not carry him any quicker. He heard a loud clang an impact flung Trot forward. Trot flew through the air, and landed on one foot. He stumbled briefly, but caught himself with his hands and continued his frantic pace. Trot saw two narrow trees. They led out to a dazzling light. If the beast could not enter in through the narrow trees, he could still save himself and his companion. With an epic exertion, he pushed himself to the very threshold. He felt his heart pound out of his chest. His lungs lit on fire and his feet launched him as he moved. He could feel his vision fading from the effort. Intense sparks of light formed in the corners of his eyes as his vision began to darken.
He felt the hot breath at his back again. He could feel that horn near the back of his leg. He stood just inches away from the trees. He dove in between the trees, emerging into a small sunlit plain. He rolled into the plain, exhausted. He rose to his knees and turned to face the two trees. He saw the hot breath pour out from the shadows of the trees. He could still see spots of sunshine illuminate the faded yellow shell of the beast. He took a number of steps back as quick as he could before collapsing against a tree on the opposite side of the small plain.
Suddenly Trot remembered the loud clang he heard earlier. “Sc-Scamper.” He said as he stifled a rough cough. “Are you st-still there…” he coughed openly now. “Buddy?” Trot’s body started to shake. He looked down to see the claw like legs still gripping him. He grabbed one, and it fell limp. He made his less wearied arms take Scamper off his back. Scamper’s antennae slowly shuffled in the air. It let loose a weak bleat. It sounded like those ailing bugs back at the shrine. He lightly caressed a massive dent in the iron shell. The massive beast’s horn must have met Scamper’s iron shell.
“No.” Trot’s voice shook, “No, not after all of this.”
Scamper’s legs twitched slightly. One leg swam slowly through the air, as though it might be drawing something.
“I’ll find a way,” Trot said, “I’ll find a way to get what you need.” His cough calmed a little, “I’ll get, I’ll get you something to fix this.” Trot’s muscles resigned, in spite of his words. He went limp against the tree. All he could do was gaze up at the sky.
He then heard a massive knocking.
He looked over to the two trees. Their bark looked splintered. The trees seemed to be shaking, splintering from some kind of pressure. His eyes narrowed as he honed his faded vision. He saw the horn of the angry beast no battering the trees in violent rhythm. He could feel the whole earth shake beneath him. He grabbed Scamper’s limp body in one hand, and pawed at a branch with the other. It was slightly out of reach. He forced himself to rise up to his feet. His legs wobbled underneath him. The two trees wobbled as the beast pushed with all its might. He grabbed the branch with one hand. He clinched his jaws together and shut his eyes. He forced himself upward with just one arm. He strained against his, and Scamper’s whole weight. He felt his stomach convulse, and suppressed the desire to vomit. He pushed until his stomach ran parallel to the branch. He managed to raise himself up to the branch, and sit against it. He pulled off his pack and placed Scamper’s cold body into it. He almost laughed when he realized he could have put Scamper in his pack when he scaled the first branch. He forced his legs to lift him up once again, as he reached for a higher branch. With as much effort as he could steal from his fatigue, he heaved himself and Scamper up and up that tree.
He heard nature let loose a massive groan. The two trees swayed a little, then snapped. He felt time slow as the large foliage plummeted into the plain. His tree shook once those twin trees smacked the ground. He felt himself wobble and stumble. He quickly stabilized himself. The massive beast pushed its way into the small grove. It grunted angrily and scanned the area. Trot tried to steady and silence his breath as he watched the beast through a veil of leaves. It sniffed the air. Then, its eyes started to examine the tree Trot sat in. Its large orange eyes meticulously scanned the tree. Those eyes focused on Trot. He met the beast’s stare. He heard the beast’s breath grow with fury. It let loose a rough, beleaguered cry and rammed the tree. Trot fell from his branch.
He felt himself fall into the air, then jolt to a stop. His feet were treading air. He looked up and realized that he grabbed a branch with both hands as he slipped. The beast rammed the tree once more. One of Trot’s arms flung loose from the branch. He felt his backpack slip from his shoulder. He grabbed it with his limp arm before it hit the ground. He held his backpack in one hand and held the branch in the other.
“No.” He said to himself, “Not now!” His arm burned as he lifted himself up with it. He thought the pressure might break him. He felt the drips of sweat embrace almost every inch of him. He could feel his vision fading. Somehow he clawed back onto the branch and wrapped his whole body around it. The beast stepped back to the very edge of the grove. It scraped the ground, readying to charge, when something shined in the sun. It looked as though the very sun were descending from the sky. Trot felt a familiar gust of wind dry the sweat dripping from his brow. He sat up against the tree, and peered through the leaves. He saw great golden wings grace the grove.