27 The River
Using the sun as a guide would be a fifty-fifty shot... Finn thought as he walked through the woods, searching for a stream or river.
His first idea was to use the sun to point the way, but then Finn realized that he never actually confirmed its rising and falling in accordance with the cardinal directions.
It could actually be different in this world!
For all he knew, the sun could rise in the north and set in the south... Finn recognized the problem with not knowing for certain.
Really though... how often does one consider the direction of the sun's rising and setting to be an important detail? Finn chastised himself from forgetting to confirm such basic information.
On Earth it was obvious common knowledge that the sun rose in the east and set in the west. It was something that you knew and never questioned because it just was.
This was yet another poignant reminder that he needed to stop using common sense from his former life.
Then again, the fact that he was born as a lizard from an egg and could shoot light from his mouth should have already destroyed any of "that" common sense long ago.
Although, Finn had a general idea of what he needed to do.
From the world map he saw, Finn knew that since he was in the Border Forest, he would have to simply travel east to find home again.
Just head east... simple!
However, that was easier said then done...
Unfortunately, Finn's lizard body did not come with a built in compass. He could only choose to guess.
First things first though, I need to find some water!
Step by step, Finn relished in his newfound freedom, breathing in the fresh air of the woods as he searched for water, evaluating the past few days.
This week has been too stimulating for me... Finn felt that he wasn't accustomed to experiencing such traumatic events.
Back on Earth, my life was relatively normal. I got into fights and a few close calls sure, but I was never nearly eaten alive by anything... Finn couldn't help but notice the dramatic difference his new life had in terms of excitement.
He was already beginning to miss the peaceful days lazing about around the farm. Where he could just sunbath all day and entertain Lily and Bryn with simple games.
A peaceful and relaxing life! For a moment, the fond memories provided a means of escape.
Finn felt his breathing turn ragged. His thirst was becoming almost painful, wrenching him from his memories back to harsh reality. Peace and relaxation would have to wait.
I dont think I could last another day like this... Finn felt the urgency from his body. He needed to find water, fast!
I'm in a forest... there must be streams or rivers nearby right? Finn felt this was a correct analysis. He just need to keep looking...
After walking aimlessly for what felt like hours, Finn finally found what he was looking for.
Upon walking over the crest of a small hill, Finn spotted a stream flowing freely, its beautiful blue ripples reflecting the sunlight.
The stream was big, closer to the size of a smaller river. Not quite the size of the Mississippi, but there would be no way to cross without fully submerging one's body.
Thank god! Finally! Finn felt his body cry out in joy and relief. Wasting no time, Finn ran right up to the water.
Only after drinking several deep gulps did Finn remember that he still had to breath. His body immediately thanked him as the cooling liquid filled his stomach.
No longer at risk of dying from dehydration, Finn took a moment to stare at his reflection in the surface of the water.
What am I really... Finn had been referring to himself as a lizard this whole time, simply because there wasn't any animal he felt he was more similar too.
But right now he wasn't sure anymore. He had scales, yes, but he wasn't cold blooded. Although he enjoyed sunbathing, his body definitely produced it's own heat.
He had a tail and claws, sure, but his frame was more upright. In his memory, lizards were built closer to the ground, with their limbs more on the sides than the bottom.
However, his limbs were like a wolf's, protruding out of the bottom of his form so that he stood taller instead of wider.
And then there was his head...
Golden irises greeted Finn as he continued to stare into the water. He wasn't sure what to make of his own face. Sharp teeth, slit eyes, and small horn like bumps growing off the sides of his sleek head...
Seriously, what the hell am I? Even Bryn wasn't sure even after going through the entire bestiary. Not knowing what he was gave Finn a bizarre feeling of uncertainty.
Although, it's not what on the outside, but the inside that counts... Finn remembered the famous saying.
Having lived an entire lifetime already and having met countless people, there was never a quote that held more truth that this.
Just as he was consoling himself with age old wisdom, Finn suddenly noticed a dark shadow approaching from the depths.
The shadow was heading to the shore, where he was sitting, and it was getting bigger, fast!
Reacting on instinct alone, Finn jumped straight up like a surprised cat just as a prehistoric looking monstrosity breached the surface near the shore. Its mouth swung wide open in an attempt to grab him, displaying rows of wicked sharp teeth as long as knives.
Oh my god! In the quick instant he was airborne, Finn recognized the beast trying to eat him looked similar to a dinosaur era sea predator back on Earth. He couldn't remember the name though...
Regardless, it was huge and terrifying! Finn immediately wanted to escape. Unfortunately, jumping straight up might not have been the best of decisions in hindsight.
Having aimed for the smaller lizard creature, the massive river predator ended up slightly beached on the bank of the small river, right under where Finn was going to land.
What goes up must come down after all...
Finn landed right onto the flat, slippery head of the river monster!
There was a faint moment of calm where Finn turned its head and gazed into the pitch black eyes of the river monster. If there was any shred of intelligence or mercy in them, Finn couldn't see it.
Angry at its failed surprise attack, the monster immediately flipped its body to try and reenter the water. This action launched Finn like a catapult.
End over end, Finn flew until he splashed into the middle of the river.
Unable to take a deep breath before entering the water, Finn struggled back to the surface and sucked in air.
Out of the corner of his eyes, Finn saw the gaze of the large river monster promising death as it sank below the surface.
This wouldn't have been so terrifying on it's own, but Finn was currently swimming in the middle of the river...
I need to get out of the water! Finn knew he was as helpless as long as he remained in the deep. A dark shadow was approaching unbelievably fast, creating ripples on the surface of the water as it grew closer
Horror filled Finn's thoughts. Right now, he felt like a human being pursued by a shark in the ocean.
Natually, it was only when his life was in mortal danger did Finn realize he was not built for swimming. Resorting to a very rapid doggy paddle, he tried his best to maneuver his body towards the shallow bank on the other side where he could set his feet on the bottom.
Unfortunately, Finn was far to slow to escape. He felt a great force pull on his hind leg. With a small cry, he was forced under the water.
As he was pulled ever further, Finn was disheartened to discover that the river was deceptively deep, as there was no obvious sign of a bottom.
Suddenly, he felt himself being violently flung around by the grip on his leg.
It's trying to drown me! Knowing he had limited air, Finn tried his best to strike at the head of the beast grabbing his leg in a bid to force it to release him.
Due to the thrashing, though, he was unable to properly orient himself. As the thrashing continued, he felt the rising need to breath.
Damn it! Let go! As he was thrown about underwater, he felt his conciousness slipping. He held on only due to the pain coming from his limb. It was getting harder and harder to resist the reciprocation of being tossed back and forth.
Is this how I die? Drowning? His eyes and lungs were starting to burn. The pain grew more and more intense.
Amidst his despair, Finn's eyes widened in realization. An idea borne of desperation popped into his head.
Finn suddenly relaxed, ceasing his resistance to being flung around. Instead of resisting the flow, he attempted to ride with it to seek an opportunity!
The river monster either didn't notice or didn't care as Finn went limp, continuing to fling him to and fro. It likely wasn't going to stop anytime soon in order to make sure he was dead.
Time was running out. Like a whip, Finn went with the motion of the thrashing, getting a feel for the timing.
Having grasped the pattern, Finn used his momentum to flip himself under the neck of the river beast the moment before it changed direction, latching onto it with his claws.
Believing its prey to be all but dead, the river beast was not expecting this sudden assault.
Claws digging deep into the slippery flesh of the beasts neck, Finn pulled his head close.
LET GO! Finn opened his mouth and bit as hard as he good onto its neck flesh. Energy gathered into his throat...
From the surface, it looked like a sun bloomed underwater, light spreading in all directions.
A shrill scream nearly burst Finn's eardrums as he felt the grip on his leg suddenly release. Without any thought, Finn rushed towards the light of the sun.
Breaching the surface of the water like a missile, Finn felt his lungs rejoice as he breathed in fresh air. However, this wasn't the time to celebrate.
With all his might, Finn swam to the shore on the other side. Just as he made it onto the sand, he felt a familair grip pulling his other leg.
Not again! God dammit! Finn again felt himself being dragged back into the water, towards the depths. Clearly, the river monster wasn't giving up.
This time however, he had the advantage of being in the shallows.
Digging into the mixture of dirt, sand, and rocks with his claws, Finn resisted the pulling. Turning his head, he locked eyes once again with the horrid river monster.
Being in the shallows, its entire body was visible to his eyes. It wasn't as large as he had thought, only its head was disproportionally huge.
Finn gritted his teeth, an unfamiliar feeling bubbling in his chest that he couldn't quite explain. It was like his pride had been hurt, which didn't make sense considering the circumstances.
However the feeling seemed to be coming from deeper in his consciousness, like it stemmed from his soul.
Finn didn't have time to consider this strange emotion, but it did influence him somewhat.
Gritting his teeth in hatred and wrath. Finn turned and fired a powerful sunbeam into the face of the beast gripping his leg. As it collided with its slippery skin, a dark bluish-purple glow eminated from its body, mitigating the damage.
Even so, Finn's power was not to be scoffed at. Despite the beast's magical defences, his attack left it with scorched skin in a line along its face.
Screeching in pain, the river beast finally decided to abandon its hunt. The smaller lizard proved too dangerous outside of the deep.
Releasing his leg for the last time, the river predator started turning its body to return to deeper waters.
In normal circumstances, Finn would have let it go, thankful for simply being alive. However that strange emotion from before was flooding his head.
He would not, no... could not let it escape!
Before the river beast could make it back, Finn grabbed its rear tail that was more akin to a flipper.
What am I doing? Finn was asking himself before he felt his conciousness dulled by an unfamiliar and primitive rage.
With all his strength, Finn began pulling the river beast towards the shore. As it was in the shallows, the beast could not use its flipper-like limbs as effectively as before.
Here in the shallows, Finn had the advantage. Not expecting the tables to be turned so suddenly, the river beast let out a cry as it splashed in the water, trying to gain traction.
Finn's head felt fuzzy. All he knew right then was that he could not let the beast that attacked him get away. In fact, in this strange state he was in, Finn was quite enjoying its struggles!
Without even realizing, his power was thrumming through him at full capacity. All his wounds and fatigue melted away, and he was constantly gathering energy from the sunlight shining above.
His body was even emitting a faint golden glow off his white scales. Finn felt absolutely empowered!
It was a tug of war between the river beast and Finn, and tug of wars were always battles of attrition.
And in battles of attrition, Finn was a king!
His abilities allowed him to heal from fatigue and injury rapidly as long as he had energy. Just one of the many benefits his affinity granted him.
Finn began winning. The struggles from the beast were initially fierce, creating many waves that slashed the shoreline.
However, it soon began to tire, as resisting was much more difficult in the shallow water.
Finn, however, did not tire!
Dragging the river monster ashore, Finn pulled it further inland. This was no longer the river monster's territory, it was his!
Trying desperately to crawl back to the river, the beast floundered like a seal as it attempted to "flop" away.
Finn watched, amused, before he fired a sunbeam at the poor beast.
A horrible ear shredding scream bellowed from the beast's throat. Finn continued cooking the pitiful beast as its cries echoed throughout the forest.
Initially, Finn felt immense gratification and satisfaction from its screams, but as the screams turned into whimpers, the strange emotion that turned his head fuzzy faded away.
Finally, Finn stopped.
Standing there rooted to his spot, Finn was in horror of what he had just done.
I just... tortured it, and I enjoyed it? Finn felt like vomiting. Something was wrong with him. He wasn't acting like himself.
Unable to quickly resolve his problem, Finn watched as the horribly burned beast drew its last breath.
Standing there still soaking wet, Finn was finally safe once again. Only, he didnt feel safe at all. He was lost, and had been attacked many times by various powerful creatures.
Finn subconsciously started scanning his surroundings as if afraid something else was going to pop out and attempt to eat him.
Finn had inevitably come to a single conclusion regarding this forest after everything that had happened so far...
This was a forest of death!