1 The Black Woods: Part 1: The Golden Egg

"Shelly, Shelly wake up." Kelina said as she nudged her little sister awake.

"I'd hoped something in these godforsaken woods would just eat us before we reached our destination. So far, no luck." She continued.

"You can't think that way Kelina. Help will arrive I'm sure of it." Shelly replied as she wiped the sleep from her eyes.

Kelina sighed in frustration. Shelly's perpetual optimism and sweet nature were the very things she loved the most about her little sister under normal circumstances, but now she just found them frustrating.

"It still hasn't sunk in for Shelly yet." Kelina thought to herself.

The two women had been snatched from their city by the bandits just three days ago alongside seven other civilians.

The civilians however were not actually the bandits main targets. Rather it was the egg of a Tyrannosaurus Al, a hybrid species, created by magic from two of the most ferocious species of meat eating Dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus Rex and Allosaurus.

The Als were the prize of the kingdom of Dynamos, a city that bred Dinosaurs and sold them. The bandits had been hired to steal an Al's egg by the Witch king, Tyresian, who lived in the forest the Bandits were now trekking through known as the Black Woods.

No one really knew Tyresian's true origins or nature, but he hated Dynamos and any opportunity he could to stir up trouble with the city he would take. In this instance however Tyresian may have more just wanted a Tyrannosaurus Al as a pet than anything else. He did love Dinosaurs. At the very least they were the only creatures he didn't treat with cruelty.

"Honestly this Witch King bloke better be as powerful as you say dad." One of the two bandits pulling the egg who was named Silverica gasped.

"Am I the only one who thinks that thing looks delicious?" Another interjected.

"That egg is quite possibly the most important object we've ever stolen. It's the crown jewels of the largest civilisation in all of Lasios. Trust me when I say it's worth more than a useless son." The leader of the pack fumed back at Silverica. There were 20 members in total of the Laresian Bandit clan. All of them were male, except for one. Five of the clan were related, three brothers, a sister and a father named Haiko, who was their leader.

"I was only joking." The bandit said sheepishly.

"We've no time for your stupid little jokes." Haiko barked. "We're about to enter the Wereraptors territory. Remember these things aren't animals. They're as intelligent as you or me, well me. The egg is more intelligent than you, and funnier."

"Please, please you have to let us go." Kelina tried to whisper to the female bandit who had wandered near the cage for a smoke whilst her brothers had briefly stopped.

"You must know what they'll do to us. How can you condemn us to that?" Kelina pleaded.

"Oh please, even if I was to let you go you think you'd make your way through these woods alive? Your best bet is to stick with us. My brothers aren't like that. They've stolen you as a bonus for the Witch King. I should warn you he doesn't like people from Dynamos, but maybe the Al will put him in such a good mood he'll let some of you go? If that's the case we'll happily take you back." She said with a mocking grin.

"You belong in a place like this." Kelina replied before she spat at the bandit.

The female bandit turned around in anger, wiping the spit out of her hair, but she didn't rise to the bait.

"There I was going to make a case for you to the Witch King. Oh dear." The bandit said as she calmly walked away.

The bandits soon pushed after their petty squabble came to an end. The woods were not only completely dark, but looked withered. Thick, ugly vines wrapped themselves around almost every tree, except for those that were already broken and trampled. Many of the trees also looked as though they were covered in slime. Now and again the odd moss covered ruins of buildings or remains of a temple poked through the sprawling, ugly forest around the bandits. If they didn't know any better the Laresian clan would have assumed that no one had set foot in this godforsaken place for centuries. There was had honestly not been a sound to be heard through the dark, rotten, filthy trees the entire time they had been here. Still the bandits knew from the old legends that the black woods should never be underestimated.

The Laresians had come prepared with weapons that could harm most of the creatures here, but they'd still never dealt with anything like these woods before. It had only been the promise of the Witch Kings magics had enticed them so much. Still perhaps the legendary Laresian clan had gone in over their heads.

"I remember mother used to always tell us about the Wereraptors. It was an attempt to scare us away from joining up with you dad" The female bandit laughed. "Oh the irony."

"Just remember to keep them at a distance." Haiko said. It was obvious even to the prisoners that she was his favourite. She was arguably the only one of his children that Haiko even remotely cared about. In return her father seemed to be the only member of the group the female bandit didn't look on with contempt.

Suddenly the bandits were brought to a halt by a young woman who descended from the tree tops without making a sound. She was incredibly short, pale, and had piercing blue eyes and dark hair. Her clothes meanwhile were long, white and ragged.

"Don't come any closer." Haiko said whilst holding a crossbow with a silver tipped arrow in her direction. He tried to remain calm, but was clearly shaken by this strange, wild woman's presence.

Even Shelly in her cage looked a little more scared than normal, though when she saw Kelina notice her anguish, she tried to smile awkwardly.

"Don't worry we'll get out of this. The folks of Dynamos won't let one of their Al's just go missing." She said to Kelina who just rolled her eyes.

"You know us? You must know that this our domain." The wild woman said.

"Yes, we have no quarrel with you, but." The leader replied only to be cut off by the Wereraptor laughing.

"We have a quarrel with everyone. Also I suspect if I was just an ordinary young girl you'd have no problems picking a fight with me. It's your lucky day though. We have an offer for you." The Wereraptor said.

"Oh? Do tell." The leader of the bandits asked.

"The egg. I know what that is. The rarest most special kind of Dinosaur. It belongs with us." The Wereraptor replied.

"It is a gift for the Witch King. You Wereraptors must know how powerful he is." One of Haiko's sons at the back interrupted, much to his fathers annoyance.

"He has no power over us. We have lived here much longer. We know how to avoid his pathetic bag of tricks. You would be better served being on our side."

"What do you mean?" Haiko asked.

"The Witch King is content to rule this gloomy patch of wood for the rest of his immortal life. We are branching out. We have already taken several areas near here." The Wereraptor boasted.

"You're lying."

"She's not" One of the male bandits prisoners in the cage behind Shelly and Kelina said.

"My town was torn apart by those monsters. The bandits found me when I had reached the outskirts of Dynamos." He continued.

"They took down a few small insignificant villages, so what? That hardly puts them on a par with the Witch King." One of the bandits interrupted.

The woman's eyes started to turn red and her teeth begun to enlarge.

"It would be wise not to turn down this offer. We are the future. We combine the cunning of humanity, with the savagery of the Dinosaur, and the unnatural magics of the Demon we are."

Before she could finish, the female bandit shot the Wereraptor through the heart with silver tipped arrow.

The woman after being shot morphed into the form of a Raptor before collapsing on the ground.

"I'm sorry but she was boring me, and I don't want to spend any longer in this godforsaken place than I have too." The female bandit said in a very smug tone.

"That was an incredibly foolish thing to do. I could have bargained with them. Offered them up some of those prisoners as a meal or a recruit. Now that you've killed one of their own, they'll never listen." Her father shouted.

"Please you mean to tell me that those monsters care about each other?" The female bandit laughed.

"No they don't, but they are extremely prideful. Kill one of them, they take it personally even if they were sworn enemies." He said.

The bandits could hear several more Raptors screeching in the distance.

"Quick get round the egg. We have to protect it at all costs." Haiko ordered.

"What about us. You can't leave us in here." Kelina cried out.

"Sorry you were only ever a bonus" The female bandit said in a gloating tone. The other bandits meanwhile didn't even acknowledge her presence.

A few of the Raptors started to creep out of the dark woods. They were all roughly six feet tall, had grey, dull colored scaly skin and piercing red eyes. Like all meat eating Dinosaurs they stood erect like Kangeroos, with their long tails dragging behind. Though quite large and bulky, the Raptors could move at a lightening speed and were incredibly agile. No human, even the greatest warrior could last longer than a few seconds against one of these monsters in a one on one fight. The bandits just had to hope they had enough arrows to hold them off.

One of the Raptors jumped onto the nearest of three cages containing human prisoners. A bandit fired his silver arrow in response, but he missed.

"You idiot, don't waste the arrows on the prisoners." The leader shouted.

The Wereraptor effortlessly tore through the metal of the cage using its claws and pulled one of the humans out, a young man in his twenties. The other two prisoners tried to pull him back it was no use. In fact one of the prisoners, a young woman was pulled out of the cage with him!

The Raptor tore the man it pulled from the cage's throat out with one bite, whilst the woman fled in panic.

As she neared the bandits however, they raised their weapons forcing her to run back to the cage, which she hid behind. She didn't think that the Raptor couldn't see her, but she hoped that the monster would go after Shelly, Kelina and the others in the cage instead. She was ashamed of herself, but sadly her terror had overcome her conscience.

The Raptor did rip the steal door the cage off its hinges and cornered Shelly and Kelina, both of whom huddled together in terror along with the others. The monster slowly walked into the cage, hissing at its prey and baring its blood stained fangs.

The prisoner saw her chance and tried to run past the beast. It was a foolish move brought about solely by fear and the Raptor instantly turned its attention back to her.

The monster pounced on the woman from behind, only to then flip her over on her back and run its massive claw along her stomach, slicing it open. The Demonic Dinosaur then pulled her intestines out in front of her, and buried its jaws in her open stomach.

Even the bandits looked away in horror as the monster ate the poor woman alive.

Another Raptor descended from the dark tree tops right in the middle of all the bandits, who all cowered away from the Demonic Reptile.

"Just shoot you cowards." The female bandit shouted.

None of them however, even the father wanted to be the first to fire at the monster. From the distance Kelina (who along with Shelly had still been too scared to leave her cage) almost felt like laughing at the bandits plight.

"Lets see how tough they are now." She smirked to herself.

The female bandit eventually gave in and fired at the Raptor. The Dinosaur however jumped up, causing her arrow to shoot one of the bandits instead. He was hit straight in the chest and killed instantly.

The Raptor then landed on top of the female bandit who tried to struggle free. Haiko fired one of his silver arrows at the Dinosaur, hoping to catch it from behind, but the reptile was still too fast and caught the arrow with the claws on it's hands. Several more Raptors began to descend, catching the attention of the other Bandits. Except for Haiko, who even when one of his sons was being viciously attacked, still focused his attention on trying to save his daughter above all else. He tried to fire another arrow, but the Raptor this time not only caught it but threw it back at Haiko, impaling him in the stomach. Haiko then hurled himself at the Dinosaur and managed to knock it off its feet. He then pulled the arrow that had become embedded in his stomach out and tried to stab it into the Dinosaurs face, but unfortunately he wasn't fast enough and the monster caught his hand with its claws. It then pinned Haiko to the ground and clamped its jaws around the bandit leaders skull, crushing it instantly.. A further four Bandits, including two of the brothers were taken down and disembowled by the Demonic Dinosaurs, whilst one of their number managed to land a lucky strike with an arrow on just one of the Raptors, killing it instantly.

The female bandit meanwhile ambushed her fathers killer from behind with a silver arrow which she stabbed into the monsters back. She would then use the dead Dinosaur as a shield against other Raptors attacks.

During the bloodbath two of the bandits gave up and tried to flee, but they were followed by two Dinosaurs. The fleeing bandits managed to make it near Kelina's cage before the Raptors caught up with and pounced on them from behind. Seizing her chance Kelina grabbed one of the bandits swords it had dropped in the struggle and ran towards the Tyrannosaurus Al's egg.

"Stop" Kelina shouted as she held the sword up to the Al's egg.

"Nobody move or I'll ram this sword right through the egg you're all slaughtering each other for."

"Do you have any idea what the Witch King will do to you if you hurt that Al." One of the bandits shouted.

"Well I'm not exactly in a great position now am I? I mean it. Drop your swords to the ground and you freaks." She said to the Wereraptors. "Turn back into human form."

The Wereraptors instantly obliged, whilst the bandits were a little more hesitant at first.

"You'll never make it through these woods alive." The female bandit said angrily.

"Maybe not, but if I stay here I'm definitely dead. Shelly, let the other prisoners out."

Two of the surviving male prisoners started to drag the Tyrannosaurus Al's egg away, whilst Kelina held her sword to it.

"I mean it any of you try and follow us, the Al dies."

"We will not let our Reptillian brother fall into your hands either." The leader of the Wereraptors said coldly before it retreated back into the dark woods with the rest of its pack.

The bandits meanwhile stayed around for a little longer until they were sure the Wereraptors were gone. Fortunately for the Laresians the Raptors were focused entirely on saving the Al now. Despite what they said about having a quarrel with everything. They cared deeply for their reptillian brothers, though this was more cultural than anything instinctive and some Raptors were just as hostile to other Dinosaurs.

Silverica started to cry over his fathers corpse. The female bandit meanwhile picked up her bow and arrow, not even looking at her father or her two brothers bodies.

"You did this! If you hadn't just blundered in there like you always do." Silverica said through tears.

"They knew the risks." She shouted, before continuing more quietly."We need to get the Egg back from those fools."

"After all that and all you care about is getting paid by that stupid Witch." Silverica replied.

"They would all do the same thing if it was one of us lying on the forest floor. Besides we need the Witch more than ever now that we're several men down. Come on" She said as she walked away without even looking back.

The rest of the bandits followed her except for Silverica who refused to leave his fathers corpse.

"I can't believe that even you would be so callous." He said whimpering.

"Accept it or I'll leave you behind."

After a few minutes hesitation he realised she wasn't bluffing. "Alright" her brother said.

"I'm coming with you only to watch you get torn apart by those things when they find us, because you've made another stupid mistake."

The female bandit didn't let her brothers words bother her. She'd never cared about anything he had to say or think before, why start now? Nevertheless she warned her brother that any sign of treachery and she would kill him.

"I mean it, I am not dying in this godforsaken wood. I am not losing our reward from the Witch King. He's promised us magics. If you ruin it for me because you're upset about daddy who couldn't stand you anyway. Then I'll make sure the last thing I do is kill you. Understand."

It hadn't taken long for the prisoners to become lost in the dark meanwhile just as the bandits had predicted. Kelina thought she could retrace the path the bandits had brought them from, but after just a few minutes in she had to admit that she had idea where they were going.

"Why are we even listening to you anyway? Who made you leader" One of the former prisoners, a young woman named Sisia said.

"Well it was my quick thinking that got us out of that mess." Kelina said proudly.

"Yes but it doesn't count if you get us killed two minutes later." Sisia replied.

"Fine I didn't actually put myself in charge, you just blindly followed me because you couldn't think for yourself." Kelina said before she went off in a huff.

"You weren't really going to kill that Dinosaur, were you?" Shelly asked her sister.

"Are you serious!" Sisia said in disbelief. "It's a fucking Dinosaur. An abomination actually. Two animals fused together against their will."

"Actually it's the offspring or descendant of two animals fused together." Shelly corrected.

"Only the very original Tyrannosaurus Als were created by the long lost spell of fusing a Tyrannosaurus and Allosaurus together into one being. Dynamos bred a whole race from the earliest Als. We personally meanwhile spent weeks nurturing the egg in the Dinosaur farms. All Dinosaur farmers must take about our Dinosaur brothers, which is why I hope Kelina wasn't serious in her threat." Shelly continued.

"Oh for God's sake Shelly this is hardly the time or place to be bothered about that crap." Kelina said sharply.

"Those oaths are meaningless unless you stick by them during trying times." Shelly insisted.

"They're meaningless anyway. The only reason we swear loyalty to the likes of the Tyrannosaurus Al is because it's valuable. Notice how no one gives a shit about the dumb plant eaters we breed to kill and eat." Kelina said.

"I do, I've been campaigning against the slaughter of any Dinosaurs for years and you know it." Shelly protested.

Suddenly there was a rustling in the trees above.

"It's the Wereraptors. They're back" Kelina said as she and everybody else got near the Tyrannosaurus Al's egg.

After a few more minutes however, there was no sign of the monsters.

"They're just waiting for us to let our guard down and get away from the egg." One of the prisoners said.

Kelina however wasn't so sure. Up ahead in the very distance she could see what looked like a blue flashing light.

After a few more minutes screams were heard, but they sounded more like Dinosaur screams and a few minutes later, a Wereraptor came running through the trees in it's human form.

"Please get the egg out of here, that thing is coming." The Raptor said.

"What's coming?" Kelina asked.

"A terror from beyond these woods." He said before changing back into a Raptor and fleeing as fast as it could.

"We need to get out of here now." Sisia said.

"We can't leave the egg." Shelly protested.

"You heard the Raptor. This thing doesn't care about the egg." Sisia responded.

"Yes" Kelina interrupted "but other horrors here do, and we might need it again as a bargaining chip. Come on" She said as she tried to pull the egg behind a nearby massive tree with some of the others help.

The blue lights got closer and closer, until the prisoners could see a strange figure emerge from them. It was a half human, half snake like creature. Its skin was a dark green, except for on its stomach where it was bright yellow. The creature's bottom half was long and snake like, whilst the upper half was a human shape. The creature was a female, and her features were very striking. She had a massive nose, sharp cheek bones and huge, green eyes. She was actually in some ways extremely beautiful. A massive beehive haircut, filled with huge Diamonds sat atop her head.

The creature looked around for a few seconds before retreating back into the blue lights. The prisoners waited for a few more minutes behind the tree after which the blue lights quickly vanished. The former prisoners then waited a few more minutes before retreating into the woods.

The bandits meanwhile had become just as lost in the cursed forest. The female bandit as much as she liked to bully her brothers and companions was not the leader her father was.

She was too stubborn to admit she had no idea where they were going. She had gone in the direction of the prisoners, but had been forced to flee from the sight of the Wereraptors running from the strange blue lights.

"Well, no egg, no reward, no idea where we're going? What now sis." Silverico sneered.

"Okay we're lost." She admitted.

"We had no choice, you saw how those things decimated us. They killed our father." She said with more emotion before pulling herself back.

"I'll climb one of the nearby trees and see if we can get any barings." The female bandit continued as she scaled a nearby tree.

Up ahead she could see what looked like a small fortress with a courtyard full of statues of strange creatures, though she couldn't really make them out.

It could be the Witch King's fortress, but it didn't seem likely. Regardless it was the only sign of civilisation other than the odd ruin nearby.

"There's a castle or something up ahead. It might be our only way out of here." She said as she climbed back down.

"Or maybe there's some heinous Demon living there that wants to tear our hearts out and keep them as trophies." Her brother replied.

"Well then at least it will all be over" Another one of the bandits at the back, who was still clearly traumatised by the Raptor attack said to himself.

With no other options, the bandits headed for the castle through the black forest. Along the way the only creatures they encountered were small goblin like beasts.

They seemed relatively harmless, though absolutely hideous to look at. However when one of the bandits got to close out of curiosity it scratched him in the face before scurrying back up a tree.

"Little freak I swear I'll" he screamed, before being held back by his fellow bandits.

"We don't have time for this nonsense. If you see an ugly, disgusting, little goblin don't get so close that it can tear your face off, though I would have thought that was obvious." She sneered.

"I don't know why you'd leave your front doors open in a wood like this?" The female bandit observed as they approached the open gate. It didn't look as though it had been broken into, which was perhaps more worrying.

The statues on the inside of the courtyard meanwhile were both spectacular and hideous. They all stood at least over ten feet tall.

"Imagine wasting so much time making statues that no one is going to want to look at because they're so ugly" One of the bandits said as he looked away in disgust.

"Even if they were made of platinum I wouldn't want those things near me." Another agreed.

Right at the very end of the courtyard, standing in front of the two doors to the castle was the statue of a large, six armed, bipedal Wolf, with each arm carrying a sword.

Once the bandits came within a few feet of the statue, the Wolf's arms started to move. Its skin also started to turn from metal to flesh, though its fur was bright green.

The Wolf then jumped off of its pedastel, and walked towards the bandits. It grinned at the shocked and scared humans for a few more seconds before engaging them in a sword fight.

The Wolf was able to fight off all of the remaining bandits at once, wounding two by slicing them across the arm and killing another by slicing his throat open.

"We need to move now" the female bandit shouted, but as the bandits ran to the gates the Wolf jumped over their heads and landed in front of them.

All of the bandits except for the female bandit tried to attack the Wolf, only for the monster to easily hold them off with it's many arms again.

The Wolf seemed to target the female bandit above all the others. It could sense that she was the leader, or perhaps there was something else. Whatever the reason, the Wolf after easily overpowering the rest of the bandits, started to chase after the female bandit who fled to the end of the courtyard.

She didn't even look behind her she was so scared. Though she managed to reach the castle where the Wolf had originally been, she sadly found that both of them were locked. When she tried to strike at the two seemingly wooden doors with her sword, the blade broke.

The bandit turned around expecting to face the Wolf, only to see that it was now fighting two strange figures who had appeared seemingly out of nowhere (with all of her bandits lying on the floor either dead, or cowering.)

One looked like a half snake, half human woman with a large towering head of hair, whilst the other looked like an ordinary man, albeit dressed in strange purple clothes.

The man seemed to be firing strange green energy blasts from his fingers which annoyed the Wolf more than anything else, who kept batting the magic beams away with it's swords.

The snake woman meanwhile slithered behind the Wolf whilst it was desperately hacking away at the green energy blasts the Wizard was bombarding it with.

The Snake jumped onto the Wolf's back and bit into its spine causing it to drop its swords and sink to its knees.

The Wolf let out a deafening howl before trying to get up again, only for the man to blast it in the face, knocking the beast to the ground.

The Snake then slithered towards the female bandit, who backed into the two castle doors in fear.

The bandit pulled out a small knife only for the snake woman to bat it out of the bandit's hand with her tail.

The Snake lady then hissed menacingly at the bandit, but the purple clad Wizard soon intervened.

"Jade, honestly I think this woman has been through enough." The Wizard said.

"Who are you" the female bandit said in fear.

"Allow me to introduce myself my dear I am Mr Diassa."

"Mr Diassa? I've heard about you, I, I always thought you were just a legend."

"Ah thank you" Diassa said smugly.

"I'm afraid not all of your friends made it back there. I was able to heal some of them, but the others that thing I'm afraid." Diassa continued.

"How many made it?" The bandit asked.

"Six."

The bandit wasn't sure what to make of this strange Wizard. Was he really who he claimed to be? He seemed friendly enough but that meant nothing. There was definitely something off about him. He was an absolutely towering figure. He must have stood almost 7 feet tall, whilst his his features were strong. His eyes meanwhile were both completely blue, with no pupil. His voice was somewhat high pitched meanwhile and very posh sounding.

"Tell me" Diassa asked. "Where is the Al's egg?"

To Be Continued

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