201/366 – Theories and Conversation

Day 59 of 100 Word Prompts: Gum

Judah’s heartbeat felt like a hummingbirds wings as he darted from tree to tree towing Casia behind him. The Roc was too close for comfort, thrashing and tearing full-grown trees from the soil as though they were twigs. The creature’s deafening cries of frustration pierced him to his core.

“Where are the others?” Casia whispered as they paused in their travels.

“I don’t know,” Judah admitted, “The other two will be fine. Neither of them are dumb enough to engage that thing.”

As Judah looked around a tree, he saw the massive form of the Roc twisting and biting at something beneath it. With each snap of its beak, he expected to hear a scream from either Riew or Erro.

“What’s going on?” Erro asked, stepping out from behind a tree as though he were taking a stroll in the forest. “Why are you two still hanging about?”

“Where’s Riew?” Casia asked.

“I’m right here,” Riew replied, stepping out from the other side of the tree.

Judah looked from his friends, back to the Roc still fighting some unseen enemy.

“How did you get away?” Judah asked.

“Get away? We never got near that thing,” Erro said looking in the direction of the creature. His expression changed from amusement to confusion as he saw the giant bird’s movements. “Only someone extremely foolish would get close to something that scary.”

“I thought it had found one of you, or worse, one of you had decided to fight it,” Judah replied.

“Would you look at that thing go?” Riew said, letting out a low whistle. “That is crazy. I wonder who could be over there.”

“No idea,” Erro replied.

“I have no intention of finding out,” Judah replied. “We should keep moving and hope that whoever it is gets away safely.”

“I agree,” Casia said.

With near constant looks over their shoulders, the group continued on their trek across Dostra, listening and watching for anymore unexpected visits from the Roc. They traveled in silence as they processed what they had just witnessed. Judah felt a massive question building inside him as they reached an hour from the base of the moutain.

“I feel as though I may burst if I don’t ask this, but, do you think it was someone from the monastery?” Judah asked.

“Hard to tell,” Erro replied with a shrug, “I’m less concerned with who was fighting that thing and more curious as to why it attacked in the first place.”

“I agree with Erro,” Casia said with a firm nod. “Rocs usually aren’t near Dostra this time of year. It seems wierd that it just attacks out of the blue like that.”

“The Chief hasn’t had any reports of Roc sightings?” Erro asked, looking at Judah.

“Not one,” Judah said. “If he had, he definitely wouldn’t have let me go. It was hard enough to get his blessing for us to go to the edge. He would have grounded every aarakocra in the village had he thought for a second that a Roc was about.”

“You’re not wrong there,” Riew agreed. “You think that the Roc just got here?”

“There are mountains to the south,” Erro said, “It’s possible it flew up to check out the island when we got into view, though they aren’t very keen to leave their nests.”

“How would you know?” Riew asked. “How many Rocs have you had the luxury of chatting with?”

“Don’t fight,” Casia demanded, stepping between them. “I know the plan was to head for the edge, but I think that we have bigger responsibilities now. Someone needs to warn the villages around here that there’s been a sighting. I think we should move quickly-”

“Did you see that thing?” Riew interrupted. “That was easily the largest thing I’ve ever seen. It was tearing trees from the ground and snapping them in its beak like they were twigs. Nothing we do or say will make any difference, and besides it was fighting someone already.”

“I doubt that anyone could fight something like that,” Judah said, shaking his head. “I just hope they escaped.”

“The fact that it kept striking would suggest that whatever it was fighting was fast enough to evade its attacks,” Erro said.

“I don’t know, Erro,” Judah said, “I think I might be with Riew on this one.”

“So, the son of a village chief, won’t tell the villages about the Roc?” Casia scolded. “Unbelievable!”

“I didn’t say that,” Judah replied, “I just mean that I don’t think anything will help if that thing decided to attakc a village. The four of us barely avoided it, and I think that was mostly due to the person fighting it.”

“There is another possibility,” Erro said, scratching under his beak. “Though I’m not sure how likely it is.”

“What’s that?” Casia asked.

“What if it bit into a gum tree?” Erro asked.

“Those are super rare on the island,” Riew rebutted. “What would be the chances of seeing a Roc and it biting into a gum tree in the same day?”

“I don’t know, about the same as four of us encountering one and none of us being killed,” Erro said with a shrug. “It’s just a guess.”

“Gum trees are very sticky if you get the sap on you,” Casia said. “I remember the last one I saw a few years ago, and I’ll never get close to one again. I couldn’t fly for a month after the sap got into my wing feathers.”

“Exactly my point,” Erro said, “If the Roc bit into a gum tree, it would have gotten the sticky sap all over its beak and feet. There’s no way that wouldn’t infuriate it further. That would also provide ample opportunity for us to leave unnoticed. It would have taken to the air once it failed to find us from the ground.”

“I don’t know that a gum tree could account for slowing down a Roc,” Casia said. “Though it was a nice try.”

“I”m just saying it’s possible,” Erro pressed. “At least concede me that one point. There could have been a gum tree.”

“Or an incredibly talented monk from the top of Ameshead. They could have seen the Roc from above and come down to help,” Riew posed.

“No matter what, we should be happy to have survived, and tell the next town. They will inform the others for us,” Casia replied.

“We’re still going to the edge?” Judah asked.

“You really want to turn back and risk running into that thing, especially while it’s irritatd? No thank you,” Riew said. “I think the edge is a much safer option at the moment.”

“I agree,” Riew said.

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