Due to an intense rivalry between Ty and a group of other young men in the Defender School, Ty does the unthinkable...
In the Academy's Partner Arena, there lurks a monster. Folks call it the Red Demon, though no one knows what it really is. It's a horrible beast of spikes and teeth that lurks in the dense, hilly land enclosed within the arena. Two students and one teacher have already died from this creature's attacks, and no one has even come close to capturing it. But no one bothers to remove the beast, either; it's become a game. A deadly game. After five years in the arena, the Red Demon has become a sort of Holy Grail; anyone who caught it would go down in the school's history forever as a celebrity.
The beast is fast. Fast and silent. No one ever hears it approach. It likes to ambush its prey, and once it sets it's mind on something, it charges in, deals it the deadly blow, and vanishes off into the dense foliage with it. The kill is over in seconds. The Demon never stays in the same place very long. If it's glimpsed in one part of the enclosure (either from one of the many tall lookout towers outside, or by pterosaurs-back) it's gone before anyone can do anything. It's a popular initiation process for older students to bring newbies from the Defender School (and even students from other schools in the Academy) to the edge of the arena. If enough noise is made, the Red Demon will sometimes appear. If it does, it will suddenly leap out of the foliage and butt into the fence, roaring like a creature possessed.
In fact, this is what happened to Ty.
He was very disturbed, but moreover, he was deeply humiliated. Ever since then, the same boys have jabbed at him and goaded him into fights. Lots of the time, Ty wins, which just makes the other boys madder. they're always trying to come up with new ways to demoralize him, and even to get him expelled from the Academy. They always tell him he's going to die trying to get a Partner - that if something smaller doesn't get him first, the Red Demon surely will, because it's set its mind on him - and the beast is known never to forget a face. But Ty, though terrified (he believes it's true), decides to take control of the situation...
The whole month the Academy gives the students to go off and and study their eventual Partner's species, Ty holes up in the library. He studies day and night. Finally, he finds what he is sure the Red Demon is: a Carnotaurus. The image of the huge scarlet beast is burned into his memory - its massive, spike-covered head, it's long, sharp horns, and it's blazing, hate-filled orange eyes as it crashed into that thin iron-mesh fence, its gaze locked on him. Once he knows what it is, Ty spends every waking minute studying it. He reads every single book, big and small, that he can find on Carnotaurs. He's not exactly surprised to find that there isn't a lot on them; they're difficult to observe.
After only a week and a half, once the books become redundant and unhelpful, Ty realizes that there's only one way to really understand the beast. And that is to actually watch it. The mere thought of what he's about to do makes Ty sick with fear, but he puts on a brave face and sneaks out across the nearly empty campus and into the wild territory, where the arena is. He searches and searches, walking many miles around the perimeter, hoping to get a glimpse - though at the same time, hoping it doesn't show. It proves a fruitless endeavor for two whole weeks, though Ty tries everything.
Then, on the last week, Ty gets desperate. If he doesn't turn in an extremely knowledgeable paper, he'll fail. His teacher was very clear on that note.
He realizes that he's rather die than face the shame of his family - Partnering School is very expensive, especially to be a Defender. All his family's hard-earned money would be wasted, not to mention two very tough years of his life.
Ty decides to break in to the arena.
Once inside, Ty instantly begins to regret his decision. He knows that by the end of the day, he could be the fourth victim claimed by the Red Demon. And, if he isn't, he knows he could be expelled. Entering the Arena before the appointed day at the end of your Academy experience is strictly forbidden. But then, as he imagines the huge waste of time and money it would be if his paper didn't pass, and his family's disappointment, and the other boys' smug "I told you you'd fail" that would surely come, he resolves to see this through.
Ty makes sure to hide behind sturdy trees and only weave through the most densely forested areas, hoping it will protect him. He creeps along slowly, trying to be as quiet as possible. But, after an hour and a half of this, he begins to wonder why he's worrying in the first place. He's still wary, but he's not really afraid anymore. The beast obviously isn't anywhere around. After a while, Ty sets his backpack down and slumps onto the ground underneath a large, leafy tree. He knows he wont have the guts to go back into the arena tomorrow, and wonders if breaking in today was all for naught. He's worried and unsure. He's having a hard time resting, so he gets up and moves on. He searches with more and more fervor. Hours later, Ty gives up. He doesn't know why, but the Red Demon is nowhere to be seen. He finds the fence and follows it to a gate, which he climbs to get back over.
At the top, as he turns to climb back down the other side, he looks down into the trees and sees a flash of red about a hundred yards away. His heart misses a beat and he straightens for a better look. About a half minute later he sees a flash of scarlet not fifty feet from him. He waits, and seconds later, he sees it right below him. Only its fierce orange eyes can be seen down in the dense, dark foliage - and it's looking straight up at him.
Ty's heart almost stops as he and the huge predator lock eyes. This is the moment. He notices it's looking at him staight-on, meaning it has binocular vision, unlike most theropods. He knows that would be extremely advantageous to have... His scientific observations are cut short as the monster forsakes the cover of the forest and charges straight at the fence. It rams the gate with so much force that Ty loses his grip and tumbles headfirst back over the gate and into the arena. He barely catches himself not fifteen feet from the beast, who he can see is indeed a Carnotaurus. And, by it's bright markings, is a male. But the thing Ty notices the most is it's gaping mouth, which is wide open, it's sixty-two long, slender teeth gleaming horribly in the dusk light. Ty scrambles back up the fence as the huge animal leaps up, chomping and snarling. When it realizes it can't reach him, it begins to butt the fence again, hard. Ty has to stop several times and wrap his arms around the iron pylons to keep from being dislodged. But he finally makes it to the top.
The problem is descending. The Red Demon is still butting the fence. Also, Ty doesn't want his arms to get bitten off or crushed between the beast's spiky skull and the fence when he climbs down the other side. So he decides to wait. Ty had to practice his patience a lot back at home, with eight siblings and a farm full of stubborn Protoceratops, so he's pretty good at it.
After what seems like an eternity, the Carnotaurus stops. Ty watches as it backs up and tilts back its head to glare up at him balefully. Ty is captivated by the creature's eyes. They show a frightening intelligence and a sort of hatred that can only come with a long memory. The look seems to say, "I can wait too. I remember you, and you won't get away." Ty stays on top of the fence past nightfall. He get's very tired and occasionally slackens his grip. Immediately following, the Carnotaurus butts the fence, sending Ty falling more than once. Luckily, each time he catches himself. Ty watches the Carnotaurus as he waits, committing each detail to memory for his paper later.
Around midnight, both boy and animal hear something else coming through the trees. The Carnotaurus turns and in a split-second vanishes into the dense forest. Ty doesn't hesitate, but takes this time to scramble down the fence, keeping his eyes glued to the trees. A minute later, he hears a shill scream, accompanied by a sharp thrashing of the underbrush. The scream is cut off suddenly, and the plants go still. Ty is now falling more than climbing down, throwing all caution into the wind. Suddenly, the Red Demon sprints form the trees and races toward Ty, its muzzle covered in glistening dark blood. It lets out an angry, earth-shattering roar and snaps at Ty. Ty lets go at the last second and drops the rest of the way to the ground. He rolls before scrambling swiftly to his feet. The Red Demon roars and butts and thrashes, but to no avail. Ty watches for a second in incredulous relief before turning and running off into the night.
The rest of that last week, Ty visits the arena all day every day. He doesn't go back in, though. Every day, without fail, the Red Demon shows up when Ty least expects it, butting the fence and roaring, nearly giving Ty a heart-attack. Then, as if it was as determined as Ty, the Carnotaurus stays by him almost all the days long, sometimes vanishing into the underbrush for food or when anyone else comes by, but usually staying within sight. The beast often comes out and shakes its head, thrashing its tail against the ground in a threatening manner, as if it wants Ty to come in and fight it. It even has the ability to flash different hues and patterns of red id a very confusing, though strangely beautiful way. Ty makes careful notes and sketches, and even brings picnics to eat while in the field.
By the end of the week, Ty has watched the Carnotaurus eat, attack, vanish, and a number of other activities. His paper is complete and he turns it in, hoping for the best. He feels a little guilty for sneaking into the Arena, but dismisses it as worth it when the other boys from the Defender School begin to make much more trouble than usual for him.
Finally, the day comes when they get their scores. The Defender Student with the highest score will get to go in first. All Defender Students are required to enter the Arena, unless they're Brach-riders or Scouts. All are required to capture their Partner or they will fail (unless they're eaten). Ty is astonished when he gets his paper back.
At the top, in bright, blood-red ink, is his score: "100%".
-----Notes: The Red Demon is blood-red, not the brown shown here. Also, the Red Demon is a juvenile, and big for his kind. He's a bit of an oddity, as he grew up in the foothills of the Meteor Mountains in a highly forested area of mostly conifers, with no humans interaction. I'll post more on him later.
This would be like the notes Ty took while researching in the library.
I might write this out in a more story-like form later (as well as the last Challenge). I think for the next Challenge, I'll write it from the Red Demon's perspective. Maybe with a little bit from Ty's as well...
Learn all about Carnotaurus here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnotau… It's a fascinating read, and I learned a lot I didn't know before while I was researching. Pangearas