Rating/Warnings: PG-13 for blood and injury
Summary: Smart kids sometimes have dumb ideas.
NOTE: This is a very rough draft with no editing at all (per National Novel Wiriting Month rules) and is presented for amusement value only. Think of it as a periscope into my writing process rather than a coherent story!
There will most likely be spelling and grammatical errors afoot as well as flat out bad writing, info dumps, plot holes, contradictions/retcons, uneven characterization and pacing. These snippits are also posted out of order, so please refer to the Outline to figure out where it’s supposed to fit.
And Damn The Consequences
“Gray, Gray send help.” Tan is bellowing howls across the camp as he comes running in and Gray can hear him long before she should be able to, but is too startled to do anything other drop her work and run towards him, grabbing reinforcements as she goes.
“What happened?” she asks as soon as she is in range, but Tan’s coat is covered in blood that’s obviously not his as the hound does a flip turn and takes off back into the forest.
“Fighting landsharks,” howls Tan and for some reason she thinks of the smart kid gored by one of the massive herbivores that roams the sea of grass. But they are heading into the woods, not the sea, and there are no landsharks here. “Hurry, hurry.”
He leads them a few moments down the main path out of town, then springs off the trail and into the woods, leaving them to follow, cursing as they claw their way through the overgrown forest.
“Hurry, hurry,” he bells, sounding desperate.
Tan skids into a clearing that is obviously built to be hidden from outside, using his shoulders to crash through a brushy wall and into a wide man-made clearing.
In the middle of the clearing the smart kid is pale white and hanging gored by the wooden horns of a makeshift landshark made of stone and wood. The blood had soaked down the horn and is pooling at the base of one of the massive legs.
For a second she freezes, her brain trying to convince her the landshark is real, before the shoulders through the hole he made in the wall and starts trying to figure how to get smart kid off the horn.
“What were you doing?” she snaps as her helpers work with her to lift him up and off, his shoulder blade caught on the horn, but not broken. He should have been dead, if it had hit lower and punctured a lung, or if it had hit his other side and ruptured his heart. “What the hell were you doing?”
“I can kill it,” the smart kid was babbling, drifting in and out of consciousness and through the pain. But he sounded proud and victorious and there was a good chance he was going to die and Gray was furious.
“What was he doing out here?” she demanded to Tan.
“He thought he had a way to kill the landsharks and he wanted to show me,” said Tan, frantic to try and help even though he lacked thumbs. “But the wood was wet and he slipped, and–”
“And he’s nearly dead,” snapped Gray. “And all we have is some backwater medicine to try and keep him alive.”
“We could take him in the tree!” offered Tan and there was a gasp from the other locals. “Or not,” he said, hanging his tail between his legs.
The locals made sure they had a good grip on the body either way.
“Come on, we have to get this blood stopped.” said Gray and she helped them pack the wound with cotton soaked in antibiotics and pain killer and bind it with fresh dressings. “We have to get him back to camp.”
They got the bleeding stopped and got him ready for camp and Gray paused a moment to catch her breath and to glare at the giant wooden landshark.
There were scars across it where the smart kid’s metal saber had sliced open the back of its neck. Lighter gashes of wood across the darker outside that was fermenting in the open air. She ran her hand down one of the scars and started at the head bobbed down and then up against the pressure.
“He was jumping over it, like the old bull dancers,” said Tan, morosely. “Showing me how to use the head flip they do to gore as a way to get up on the back for the paralyzing blow.”
“But he slipped.” said Gray, angrily.
“Yeah,” said Tan, “but it worked, you can see.”
“For what?” said Gray.
“So they can cross the sea of grass,” said Tan, confused. “What else?”
“They don’t need to!” objected Gray as the others lifted the smart kid onto the macgyvered travois. “They have everything they need here.”
“But there’s so much more out there,” said Tan. “And they could expand–”
“They don’t need to.” dismissed Gray. “They are just fine here, this was stupid and pointless and why didn’t you stop him? You could have come got me or his mother or anyone to take this apart and keep him from building another one.”
“But it worked.” Objected Tan.
“No it didn’t,” said Gray, “or he wouldn’t be dying.”