The warty, rough-skinned Triceratops desultorily chewed and swallowed another mouthful of the tender horsetails lining the marshy shore of the local watering hole. Between chews, it would occasionally turn to warily check the conifer forest behind, ever on the lookout for predatory carnivores like Tyrannosaurus Rex. No threat apparent, the three-horned creature returned to its meal. 

Unseen eyes, though, followed the unsuspecting diner’s every move. Hidden in the shade behind a screen of fan palms, magnolia and fig trees, Snarler, as the bull T. Rex was known, waited patiently. A slender Compsognathus skittered across one foot and clambered up his leg. Snarler quickly brushed it aside to send it scurrying off into the foliage. Triceratops, still contentedly munching away, took no notice. 

Ka-SPLOSH! An overripe fig dropped from an overloaded branch to join hundreds of others fermenting in the stagnant water. The herbivore froze, searching for danger while the unseen eyes stared on. When Triceratops at last resumed his meal, Snarler sprung from behind, careful to avoid the creature’s frontal weaponry. Just in time, Triceratops swung his spiked proboscis about, to gouge Snarler full in the leg and knock him over. 

He quickly regained his footing and charged after the runaway meal– only to trip on an exposed tree root to SHPLATT! fall face-first in the muddy marsh. Triceratops turned to observe the fallen King of the Tyrant Lizards all mired in the muck, and with a guffawing grunt, unconcernedly trotted off into the forest.

Loudly making good on his moniker, Snarler struggled to stand erect. With the anticipated catch of the day beyond reach, he concentrated on regaining his footing while shaking all over to rid himself of the gooey, smelly mud. The unbearable stench sorely offended his acute sense of smell, and he splashed his way beyond the shallows to wash away the vile-smelling overcoat. 

Turning back to shore, he too surveyed the forest. For even Snarler T. Rex was vulnerable to an attack by a larger carnivore like Spinosaurus or a pack of marauding Velociraptors. Frustrated and thirsty after battling over the escaped meal, he gulped down gallons of the fruit-fermenting pond water, and when he’d drunk his fill, belched and ambled up the well-trod pathway home. The tainted water had its effect soon enough. Increasingly lightheaded, the mighty T. Rex fought to maintain his footing, eyes rolling upward to see the spinning treetops and midday sky blur into darkness before collapsing in a drunken stupor. Hours passed. The sun set and rose again, and Snarler was still out cold. Even the thunderous crash of the object spiraling down from the sky next morning failed to rouse him.

When at last Snarler did awake the following day, an intense dry-mouth thirst drove him back to the tainted watering hole. Scarcely recognizable, its surrounding trees had been reduced to charred remains scattered randomly about. Beyond the torn-up shoreline covered with chalky-gray particulate, the water still steamed around fragments of the fallen object. While the significance of all this was lost on Snarler, he was quick enough to appreciate the form of the fallen T. Rex that lay a hundred yards or so down the shore. He considered making a meal of the dead animal, but changed his mind as he drew nearer, realizing it was alive and a female at that.

He plucked away the strands of fibrous material ensnaring her, nuzzled her gently at the neck and then licked her cheek. Her golden eyes flickered open, dully gazing into his. Albeit dazed, the distressed creature was happy to recognize a male, apparently of her own kind reaching out to help her to her feet. “NNnggRRnnng,” rumbled Snarler, gently nudging her towards the path to his den in the rocky cliffs beyond.


    Episode 2  Aroara


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