After finally reading all of PurpleIsGood's "Tears for the Fallen", i developed an eye for detail. I managed to add more details to my story (not that much of a difference, but it may help clear up questions and/or errors. Enjoy the full story. Remastered.
Spem Habe: A Story of Hope
Chapter 1: The very beginning
"Dad, hey Dad, do you think there's life out there in the big blue sky?" asked the little boy.
"Hmm, I don't know son, but it would be quite interesting to find out" replied the man. Yep, i remember that conversation. It was night in the Moga woods. The young boy, 8 years old, was energetic, and had a wide imagination. The man was strong willed, and although he was racking up the years, he could still pull off hard labor.
"Dad, when i grow up, I want to go out there, and discover everything!"
"Haha, ok son, if you say so... but first think about the people here who need your help. Never forget that!" said the man while poking his son's nose. Both of them contemplated the wilderness.
"Ok, son lets head back to the village. It’s late."
"Ok Dad. Race ya' there! Last one there's an ugly Khezu!" The father, reluctant to run, replied: "Haha.... yeah, you go on ahead, I’ll catch up... that boy can't sit still... just like i was."
The man slowly walked toward the village, which was still a long way, when he heard a screech from far away. The man gasped, and started running toward the village. The little boy, who had run into a kelbi, was unaware of the screech. Suddenly, a shadow flied over the boy. The boy looked up, and saw a pair of wings. The shadow slowly hurried down unto the earth. When the moonlight shone on the shadow, it was beyond recognizable: who else could it be than the infamous King of the Skies? The Rathalos eyed the boy, and the boy learned a new emotion that day: fear. Just as the Rath approached the boy, the man came out of nowhere and stood between the boy and the Rath.
"Don't come any closer!!!!" shouted the man. "You won't hurt MY son!!!" Then he slowly looked at the boy: "Run." The boy was reluctant, but the man shouted harder: "Run!!!” The boy ran as fast as he could. He tried to look back, but the man kept shouting: "Run!!!" Just as he arrived at the wooden bridge leading to Moga village, the last thing he heard was a loud scream. The boy was safe, but one villager was missing...
The little boy went to his house, in a small island some distance from the Moga village, crying. He learned another emotion that day: sadness. His mother, concerned, asked the boy:
"Come on, stop crying and tell me what happened".
The boy explained the best way he could. The mother's face quickly changed. Her eyes started to fill with tears. She couldn't hold that emotion for long; she wept greatly. But just as quickly, she went running toward the village. A tragic story, but even more tragic, the little boy....... was me. Shortly after arriving, mom quickly went into the village chief's house. She quickly cried out: "Rathalos in the woods!" The chief was awe stricken. Rathalos were uncommon in the island, and hearing the mother's story, he thought it was an omen. He warned the villagers to watch out for Flying Wyverns in the area.
"Be cautious, people. Be cautious" said the chief. He turned to her.
I'm sorry for what happened....."
"Don't be." she replied, wiping the last tear of her face. She WAS sad, but she saw the world from a different point of view; she thought that everything had a purpose in life. She went to the house, where the little boy (me) was still crying. She took me in her hands, and said: "Spem Habe". Later on, i would realize what that meant: "Spem Habe" is "have hope" in the language of our ancestors. I was confused. "Have hope"? How!? I had lost my father forever, and I was supposed to have hope? I never understood that, until I became a better man.
I grew up sad, but got over it quicker than I imagined. Let's talk more about myself. The name’s Orlando, just so you didn’t know. Well, life in the village was simple. Everyone gathered resources for the village, each helping the other survive. For some reason, we lived in an island some distance from the village. I didn't know why, but in the future, it would come in handy. More on that later. Actually, I don't remember much about my childhood days... after the incident. I remember that there was an aquatic monster wreaking havoc over the island. Something called... uh... La.. agi... ah! Lagiacrus, that's the one. The chief had called a hunter to aid in the village, and to take down that Lagiacrus. I was shy around him; he looked all tough and scary. But later on, he seemed to be kind with the villagers. I remember lending him some whetstones when he had arrived, and he kindly thanked me. That's when it hit me. Dad said "...but first, think about the people here who need your help." A cool way I could help people: hunting savage beasts that ran amok in the wilderness. I thought monsters where really cool. Once, when I was 11 years old, I had a pet Kut-Ku in the farm. You can imagine the havoc it caused, but actually, it was a “Phantom” sized wyvern. It was rather playful and friendly, but the chief was concerned over the safety of the village, so I had to release it in the jungle. Since then, monsters where my kind of thing. I prepared mentally to begin hunting as early as I could, practicing with swords that the old smithy lended to me. My hope was starting to come out into the open.
Chapter 2: The new hunter in town
Much time had passed since the incident. I learned to put the past behind me, but still missed Dad.Once I ‘mastered’ the ways of the sword, I headed towards the city of Loc Lac (I’ll have to thank the Hunting Fleet for taking me there). Upon arriving at the outskirts, I wes sent towards a harbor where there were many boats stuck in the sand. I spotted a man working on the ship.
“Um, what happened to those boats back then?” I asked.
“‘What happened’? ‘Back then’? What, it’s not like they’re broken or something. I’ve been using this skiff my whole life.”
“Then…how’d it get stuck here?”
“Stuck here?... Ah, you must be new around Loc Lac. Well sorry to bust your bubble, but these are Sand skiffs, not boats. They were born to sail the dunes.”
“…Sail...the dunes? Awesome!”
“I can say it gets exhilarating at times. Good thing Jhen season’s passed; I’d be in a heap of trouble.”
“What’s a Jhe…you know what? I’m gonna’ find out for myself.”
“Haha! I like your attitude, kid.”
We sailed in the dunes, which was pretty much the most epic thing man has ever invented, in my opinion. Once arriving at the city itself, which was more crowded than I could possibly imagine, I made my way towards the Hunter’s Guild Headquarters. I was sent towards this large building where they would inscribe me in the Guild. Upon entering, I could see and old man with pointy ears sitting in a tall chair. Definitely Wyverian. I crept closer to him (or it, whatever) and asked lightly, not to scare him off.
“Hey. Do you know where I can find the Guildmaster?” He started to laugh loudly.
“Haha! That’s me! You must be a new hunter, right?”
“Uh…… Yeah! That’s right.”
“Well then, let me start writing the application form. Name?”
“The Moga Archipelago.”
“Ah, groovy. Always wanted to go there. Well, just sign here, and you’re in! Just like that” I didn’t know much about inscription, so I tried my best on writing my name. I could see the Guldmaster smirking.
“Now that that’s settled, you should be able to start quests. Happy hunting! Oh, but first a haiku: The road to hunting success / starts at this moment / don’t forget your sword!”
I got out of there quick. That Guildmaster gave me the chills. Weird looking…thing. But at least that was taken care of. I thanked the gods that I was finally a hunter. I was wondering what kind of weapons I would use.
"Swords, well duh, that's a piece of cake to use." I said to myself. "Great swords... hmmm, too heavy. Hammers, also heavy. Long swords, good. Axe... you bet! Guns..... guns?? Awesome!" I stocked up on supplies, my favorite weapons, and decent armor. At first, the quests where easy, and i was quickly kickin' Jaggi, Peco and Kut-Ku butt. But once I got to 2* quests, I needed a good team. And I was lucky to find one; I’ll describe those guys for you:
Gil, the copy-cat, since he used the same weapon types as me, but he preferred Long swords. He had a strong heart and sense of justice, just like me. Second, was Hi. Yeah, really weird nickname, I know. He knew how to use every weapon, but preferred Lances. He was a little full of himself, and was a "smart-aleck". He's saved me a bunch of times, and vice-versa. The three of us where nigh inseparable. We were a good team among many hunters in Loc Lac, and slowly but steadily ranked up. Still, we needed one more member, and started to look for potential recruits, in vain. We realized that all we needed where ourselves, so moved along in a "trio" for a long time, until one day.
I was recalling all of the stories I’ve heard about famous hunters and the stuff the Guild held secret. I learned about the Elder Dragon Observation Center, since a friend of mine was working with them. She said that many things where kept top secret, but she still told me about many Dragon secrets; for example, the Fatalite crystals, which gave uncontrollable power to any monster who touches them, the fearsome Aurex, a Tigrex unlucky enough to touch these crystals, growing 2 extra wings in the process, among other things. I remember hearing about a guy named Hummel; they said that he and his friend where the first to obtain the 4* G-rank quests. I never imagined it to be possible, since I had only gotten to 5* High-rank quests (for the moment anyways). Learning about this new achievement, I decided to go look for him. But on the way to Hummel's village in the Furahiya mountains, I saw... her. A girl about the same age as me, only shorter, and cuter. She wore Rathalos armor except the helm, letting down her long, brown hair. She had a Long Sword made of Diablos materials strapped to her back. She had blue eyes and seemed to be strong willed, by the look of her face. Eager to know more about her, I walked up to her and saluted her. She had a sweet voice, and her eyes went to your very soul, and......and..... yeah, I’m talking a lot. Let's just focus on the more important stuff. I asked her where she was from, and was astonished to hear she was from Moga too.
"Funny.... I never saw you in the village....." I said.
"Well, my parents lived in a part of the island far from the village" she replied. "Wait, aren't you the kid who's dad..... Uh........."
"Yeah, I’m that kid. Thanks for reminding me"
"Oh, I’m sorry... I knew you're dad, he was funny, and my dad knew him too."
"Well, that's one thing we have in common. Say, you have any friends here?" I asked.
"Well, not any hunter friends. Why?”
I sighed in relief: "Well, I was hoping if you would join my team of hunters. We needed a new member, and..."
She quickly replied: "Really!? Then, I’ll be glad to join you!"
"Uh... well, great! Follow me; I’ll take you to "headquarters". Oh but first…”
“I know, I’ll tell my Dad. He and most of my family moved to Pokke a while back.”
She went to her house, and just as quick exited, following me happily, as if she wanted someone like me to come along. Yeah, now the team was complete.
Chapter 3: Proving our mettle
We arrived at headquarters, which was my house at Moga woods (remember when I said that "in the future, it would come in handy"?). Hi and Gil were sitting there, resting from the twin Daimyo quest. They had told me they were to split up, taking one Daimyo each. Knowing them, they might have bet something for however took down his Hermitaur first. As we entered the house, Hi quickly noticed us.
"Hey, looks like you've found some Los bait." he said.
I gave him the look; it meant that the matter was serious, and he always obeyed. Both Hi and Gil saluted the new member. They were a bit astonished to find that I recruited a girl, out of all things.
"So, you think you have what it takes to join us?" said Hi while laughing. "I thought a new member was bullfango shit, but a girl? Haha, no offense, dude... errr, dudette."
"I’m no ordinary girl" replied Kira (yeah, forgot to tell you her name). "I've mastered the Long Sword, and know how to wield it better than you, I imagine."
"Really? replied Hi. "Let's see what you got!"
We went outside to test our skill with the blade.
"I’m out." said Gil. "Really tired here. Have fun, you three".
Hi took out his Dragonwood Long sword, Kira took out her Devil Sword, while I used the Death Scythe (made from Ceanataur parts). A number of large tree stumps dotted the area, perfect for practice sessions. We all took our own stump and began attacking them. Kira seemed to use the sword better than all of us, circling the tree stump without losing balance, and Hi was frustated.
"There’s no way a girl be better than me! That's impossible!" I let down my sword and patted Hi’s shoulder.
"Dude, it’s ok. Don't go all Tigrex on her." I said. "And remember, you're still the best Lancer anywhere." Hi calmed down.
"Well, you're right there."
After some laughs, we sat down and ate. Gil was especially curious about Kira.
“So, where you from, Kira is it?” Gil asked.
“Oh, I come from Moga, just like Orlando here.”
“Reeeally?” Hi said, looking at me with a smug smirk on his face. “I suppose you haven’t kept your promise, did you?”
“Hey, I just met her a day ago. I never would have kept it secret if I had known.”
“…Now that that’s settled, let us resume eating.” Gil said while we filled ourselves with Kut-Ku meat. Not for long anyway, for a messenger hawk came to the house, screeching tirelessly. I took the message in its foot, and read it aloud:
"Greetings from the Guild. We have heard of your talents, and are asking for help... no, a favor. We have received word of a Lao Shan Lung approaching the Fortress. To prove your mettle among hunters, you have been requested to repel or slay the beast. Please arrive at the Elder Dragon Observation Center as soon as possible for further information. Tardiness will not be accepted."
Sincerely, the Guild master.
We were given the chance to hunt a Lao Shan, and were very, VERY excited. But I was a bit uneasy, too; Laos aren't push-overs, and we were going to find out the hard way.
We arrived at the Elder Dragon Observation Center, where they would explain the quest requirements, dangers, yadda, yadda, yadda.
"The Lao Shan's are giant dragons that have no real habitat; they just keep moving." said Isabel, the friend of mine that had joined the dragon center. "They're not that aggressive, but they will squish you if you stand close to their feet."
"Here that, Hi? Don't wanna' get splattered by another dragon, eh?" Gil said, snickering.
"Oh come on, that Kushala ganged up on me, and you didn't do diddly-squat!!" Hi replied, angrily.
I stepped in: "Ok, guys, enough. Less fighting, more listening!"
"Oh, here comes lover boy to talk about world peace". I swear, if Hi wasn't my best buddy, I would have cut his head in half; but I resisted the temptation, and replied back.
'Hey, we're "buds", right? Let's just calm down, ok?" Fortunately, they did calm down.
"Ok, moving on..." said Isabel, awkwardly. “You guys have to bring plenty of supplies, maybe some Max potions, Lifepowder..."
"Wait, WHY!?" replied Hi. "It's just a Lao Shan! I bet I could kill it with my eyes closed"
"But have YOU even seen a Lao Shan?"
"...Good point. Sorry."
"You'll need weapons with good sharpness, too" said Isabel.
"I'll use my bowgun" I said. "Hi, you can borrow my long sword, and Gil, well, bring your Rusty Claymore"
"It's Gaelic Flame, I just upgraded it!"
"Ok, team, look for some Lifecrystals and Nutrients, we'll need 'em." Before I could leave the building, Isabel called me.
“Huh? What’s the haps?”
“Uh… I just wanted to wish you good luck.”
“Well, thank you, Madame.” She grinned and hugged me. I patted her head lightly. We knew each other since I started hunting. She was beginning to inscribe herself in the E.D.O. when we first met. I kinda’ liked her, until I met Kira……… Erhem……moving on. We went about and agreed to meet at the quest counter when we were ready. I went to Kira to talk.
"Seems you’re a little quiet."
"Yeah, I’m a little shy around your friends..."
'Don't worry, they won't bite... I hope, for their sake." We laughed for a moment, and parted ways to look for supplies.
I took my Shakalaka Prized Bow, which fired Dragon S, useful against Lao Shan, and put on my Death Stench armor, which gave me the Auto-reload skill. Gil used his Rathalos Soul armor, while Hi used his Agnaktor set. Kira used her full Rathalos armor set. We finally met at the quest counter. Gil was the first to speak.
"Well, gents, it’s been nice knowing you all".
Kira responded: "Yeah, because you'll be the first one to be knocked out".
Everyone "oooohed" at Kira and "congratulated" her for "talking tuff". We began to mount the Guild balloon, but before I could set foot on it a cloaked man stopped me.
"Here. You just might need it" he said.
He gave me a strange container. I thanked him, but quickly mounted the balloon. I saw him dart off quickly.
"Who was that?" asked Hi.
“That was your mama’.”
We laughed while the balloon took us to the Fort. We saw most of the land surrounding the Fort, which was pretty impressive. Arriving at the massive building, we went inside and prepared ourselves for the fight ahead. We checked for our materials, combined a few; put them in their respective places, etc. While we did this, we felt a large thud. The whole fort moved.
"Hm... I do believe Lao Shan's here".
We quickly went outside; the Lao Shan was already near the fort's gate.
"My Gods, that thing is HUGE!"
We readied our weapons, and the Lao Shan let out a terrifying roar.
"Watch out, everybody!" I said.
Hi and Gil went down and attacked the feet, while Kira and I fired at it from above, me, with my trusty bowgun, and her, with the Ballista. The Lao Shan took notice of the guys attacking it, and swiped them off with its tail. They landed way off the dragon's way. I laughed at their faces.
"Come on guys, he's just a Lao Shan!" They both replied: "Easy for you, you're way up there!”
They got on their feet and continued attacking its legs. Once or twice it fell on the ground, leaving its belly defenseless and allowing Hi and Gil to attack its weak point. The battle was a bit boring, aside from except the tail swipes and the ramming. After a while, I was almost all out of bullets. And surprisingly, the Lao Shan didn't seem to be weakened. I took my last Dragon S, and fired at the beast's damaged back. As it penetrated the shell, the giant dragon let out a LOUD roar of pain. He flailed its head from side to side. I could safely say that it was really having a bad day. And just like that, the Lao Shan was toppled over. We actually defeated the Lao Shan! We were screaming our heads off.
"WOOOO, we did it!"
"I told you I.... I mean, we could kill it".
The guys where quickly carving the beast's body, and Kira and I were descending the ladder when I noticed something. The Lao Shan was................................ Moving. He quickly got on its feet, leaving my friends dumbfounded. I noticed a strange rock on the Lao Shan's back. It had a green tinge to it. That's when it hit me; Isabel had told me that Hummel, the first 4* G-rank hunter, had seen a peculiar crystal from a fight with a Teostra who had gone wild. It ALSO had a green tinge. One thing came to mind: Fatalite. The Lao Shan was drawing power from the Fatalite! I screamed to my friends to take cover, in vain. The Lao Shan sprayed the guys with a weird Dragon element breath attack, and they were tossed aside like little rocks. The dragon, now with ten-fold strength to spare, targeted Kira. He rammed her with its head, and swept her far away. When she landed, the Lao Shan was already preparing its dragon breath. Just in the nick of time, I fired a shot at its horn. The horn broke, and the giant dragon roared in agony. I felt a little dominance over the beast, but it quickly recovered and targeted the Fort. He moved surprisingly quick.
"Oh Gods, with that new strength, he could destroy the whole building! Think, think, think..."
At that moment, I remembered the cloaked man. I took the container he had given me; it had a special-looking shot inside. As I touched it, it filled me with indescribable sensation.
"Well, he did say 'You might need this', so..."
I took the bullet, cocked the gun, and fired at the Lao Shan's snout. In a split-second, there was a big flash. I heard a powerful screech; I had to cover my ears. I opened my eyes, and the Lao Shan was falling on the ground yet again. This time, however, the deed was done for good. I felt a strange feeling inside. We had killed a Lao Shan, and not just any Lao Shan: a Fatalite-infused Lao Shan! But first things first; I went to my friends to help them. They were all unconscious. I dragged them together and used a lifepowder. As they breathed it, they regained consciousness.
"Whoa, I’m gonna’ feel that in the morning'" said Gil, with pain.
“Whoa, did you... did you kill the Lao!? AWESOME! You're going to be famous!"
"Well, you did a pretty good job too. My shots weren't that powerful against it".
We finally carved the body of the defeated dragon. I quickly and secretly took the peculiar crystal and hid it in my bag. After carving what we could, we took everything to the balloon, and lifted off. Everyone was inside, healing, except me and Kira. We watched the Sun set over the Fort. Very big building, by the way.
"Thanks for saving me" she said.
"Well, I couldn't just let you get done by that thing. And technically I......"
Before I could end, she gave me a kiss. Man, those lips of her were so good.
"Uh, never mind... Oh, one more thing: remind never to heed the Guildmaster's requests for as long as I live." We laughed, and watched the horizon. I felt a new feeling that day: love.
'Chapter 4: Chillin' out', flaming in
"Oh, man, my stomach. I shouldn't have eaten that last Kut-Ku wing.... oomph, well, might as well wake up......." I was just getting off of bed from a "party" celebrating the defeat of our first Lao Shan, no problems.................... Wait, is that a Rathalos!!?? Woah!! Its gonna' eat me!!! Gotta move fast, gotta move fast...... OW my stomach.
I fell over, and the Rath jumped on top of me.
"No, NOOOOOO!!" It opened its ugly mouth!
"Orlando!!! Wake up!!"
The Rath disappeared, and Kira magically stood where it once was.
"Gee, it seems you had quite a nightmare.... Good thing I woke you up."
'Well, thanks! Man I was gonna' get eaten by a Los!! Whew, glad that's over.....
"Well, since you overslept, Gil headed towards Loc Lac to inscribe us on the dual Tigrex quest. He asked if I could wake you up once a certain time passed… so here we are. Don’t know about Hi, though.”
“Well then, let’s waste no time.”
I got prepped up and quickly went to Loc Lac to fulfill yet another quest with the guys. But before that, I went to the E.D.O. outpost in Loc Lac, where Isabel worked. Not the Observation Center, just so you get confused. Both very different buildings. The outpost was this large, dome shaped building with a part of the roof open, where this large machine poked out. I was told that was a ‘telescope’, something used to gaze at the stars. I knocked at the big door, and Isabel answered with a faint voice.
“Who comes knocking at the door?”
“Uh… I forgot the pass code, Isabel. Listen, I’m carrying a piece of Fatalite in my hands, so let me in!”
“Fine.” She said as she opened the door. I could hear a faint giggle. I went inside this large room with a lot of instruments for studying… well, stuff. A lot of workers used the instruments and handled weird looking liquids. Isabel greeted me, and I gave her the piece of Fatalite.
“Whoa, this will help our research greatly. Thanks again…uh… Orlendo, right?”
“Oh sorry!” she said, laughing. Before I could leave, she hugged me tight. I hugged back, admiring her beauty. She had striking, short black hair and brown eyes. She was a bit younger than me, and she still acted like little girl, no offense expressed. Actually, she acted like little sister to me. I gently nudged her off and went on my way towards the quest counter, preparing myself mentally for the task at hand. This time, it was a dual Tiggy hunt. I’ve only hunted a small number of Tigrex, since they’re almost always enraged and spam their rams all day. We arrived at the quest counter, and Gil was there waiting.
“Oversleeping, are we?” Gil said.
“You will not believe what I just dreamt last night…”
“Bah, save it for later. We’ve gotta’ find someone to help us hunt these things.”
“Wait… where’s Hi?”
“He told me he was pretty sick, so he left towards Kokoto, his village.”
“Oh… well then, let’s find us a good hunter.”
What seemed like hours had passed, and still no one good or willing to help. We were (a little) desperate to find someone to help us…… until HE came. A young man with dark spiky hair. He wore the Akantor armor, a monster we didn’t know much about. He used a hammer that looked like a creepy monster’s face.
"Hehe, you need help with that?” The young man said.
“Yeah, would you kindly join us?” Kira asked with an innocent voice.
“I'll help, if you promise to help me afterwards" he said, snickering while eyeing Kira. “The name’s Axel. Who might you be?”
“Uh, I’m Kira. These are Orlando and Gil.”
“Nice to meet you, Kira.” He said, ignoring us completely. We were about to head towards the Guild balloon when quite suddenly he pulled a fast one.
"Whoa, are you seriously going to hunt two Tigrex with THAT armor!? Pffft, what a waste."
I replied angrily: "Well, what armor did YOU have when you fought them?" He stood frozen in place, snickering.
"I don't have to tell you noobs diddly squat".
"What did you say!?" said Gil, even angrier than me.
"Do I have to repeat myself? I said NOOBS".
"Well, you can forget about us helping you, jerk!!!" cried Kira.
“Whoa, you don’t have to be that harsh, missy.” Axel left us, snickering.
"Sigh…Good thing Hi wasn't here, he'd have skewered the guy with his lance" said Gil. "Haha, looks like Kira is showing her inner Bulldrome, 'eh Orlando?"
We found a much nicer hunter to help. I’m not gonna’ explain the details… some parts of the battle were a bit… gory to say the least. After a grueling battle with the two Tigrex (which was rather hard, especially when both were in the same stretch of mountain) and standing victorious, we went to HQ only to find Hi sitting in the floor.
"Well, ain't you a fast healer?" said Gil, amazed that Hi recovered so fast.
"Well, it doesn't hurt when your armor does the healing for you. Good thing I held on to the Jhen set; recovery is improved then. The people in the village helped out with some potions and antidotes, too."
"Hey, where's this village everyone's talking about?" asked Kira. "I'd love to see it!" Hi stood frozen on the floor, not moving a muscle.
"Hi doesn't like to talk much about his past life, Kira." I replied.
"It's important that my past life stays secret, even to you guys...."
“No problem, missy. Orlando was as curious as you when we first met.”
“Haha, yeah. I kept asking and asking, until he just threw a fit.” I said whilst laughing.
Hi calmed down a bit, chuckling with us. We dared not to talk about Axel with him, fearing he would go all Tigrex on him. Although, now that I think of it that was a pretty good idea...
Chapter 5: Present time, weird happenings
Since that day, we have improved greatly, both in materials (weapons, armors) and in intellect. But, as we all know, so did Axel. He know uses a new armor set. I don't really know what materials are used, and I do NOT want to ask him. Hi and Gil where out on a quest, yet again. I decided to stay to rest (I didn't feel exhausted, anyways...) when suddenly a black hawk came flying across the "front-yard" of HQ. It had a message strapped to its leg. I took it and read it:
"Sincere greetings from the Guild. We ask for another request from your team. A Hypnocatrice has appeared in the Great Forest. I know, you're level of quests far exceeds the limitations of this quest, but believe me, this is one heck of a Hypnock".
Sincerely, the Guildmaster
Yet another quest to fulfill. As I readied myself for the hunt, Kira entered the house.
"Nothing, i'm going out on a quest. Some Hypnock that appeared in the Forest. I'm sure I can take it down on my own".
"Well, I’d love to join you, but I have a request too. Not a quest, but a family reunion. My dad wants to see me after the long time I’ve been hunting with you guys. Are you sure you can pull this quest off on your own?"
"Of course! Hypnocks are easy pickings!"
We parted ways, and I said good-bye to Kira as she made her way to Pokee Village, the place where I first met her and where most of the family was waiting for her. Taking my trusty Devil Scythe, I mounted the balloon solo, the first time in......... Almost forever. Ok, let's cut to the chase. I arrived at the Forest, grabbed my blade and looked for the Hypnocatrice. The Great Forest is huge, so I spent what seemed like hours searching. I saw many creatures in a state of panic, especially Kelbis. Even Bullfangoes were wary.
"Hmm, Hypnocatrice aren’t likely to cause so much ruckus..." I thought.
After walking some more, I made it to the nest; I found a single egg in the center.
"Ahh, maybe its mating season, or something. Naturally, they'd be aggressive."
And I was right; a giant Hypnock stumbled down from the trees on top of me. Its claws almost gored me! Thinking fast, I took my blade and attacked the Bird Wyvern. It was in an abnormal state of rage (well, I’d be too, if someone tried to take my kids away from me). Managing to land a few hits on its beak, I eventually broke its ‘fangs’. The Hypnock kicked me hard, sending me flying several meters away. It then spat a blob of sleep-inducing saliva in my direction. I quickly darted away, just inches away from the blast radius.
"WOAH that was a close one. If I had stood there for a few more seconds, I’d be dreaming!" My blade cut through feathers and hide, spilling blood on the soil. The Hypnock, having had enough, started to stretch its wings, ready to fly. I threw a paintball at it just before it flew off. I followed the trail left by the paste-like paint to a less forested area. There it stood; ready to kick the daylights out of me. It suddenly started to run at me, its feet at the ready. I managed to dodge and landed some extra hits on its tail, wounding it greatly. It swiped me with its tail, screeching a bit due to the damage dealt to it. After some more hits to its back, it fell on the floor, almost dead. As I took my sword to finish the job, it looked me in the eyes, as if pleading for mercy. I can't explain what I felt. I took its place in my mind: about to die, without hope. And there I remembered what my Mother told me, way back when. I couldn't kill that Hypnock, i just couldn't. I learned yet another emotion: mercy. I sheathed my blade, and tried my best to heal the dying Hypnock. After I did what I could, it somehow flew away, as if it KNEW it was lucky to survive. I went back to the nest. It was deserted....... except for that egg......
"What to do, what to do..." I thought.
Suddenly, the egg moved. It kept moving wildly, until a beak popped up from inside. A Hypnock had hatched! I was dumb-founded.
"Hmm, the guild won't want a LIVE Hypnock...... what if... I took it to HQ?"
So, I carried the egg back to base camp, with the baby bird still inside trying to get out. I popped a flare into the air and waited till the Balloon came. Apparently it was very near the area, as no more than half an hour passed when it landed. As I set foot on the balloon, one of the men working on the balloon saw me and the egg.
“Uh... What you gonna’ do with that? Make scrambled eggs or something?”
“Who knows?” I said. The man began to laugh as the balloon gained height and headed towards Moga. Yeah, that was freaky...
Chapter 6: IT'S A BOY!............ or something.........
I arrived at HQ, and the baby Hypnock was already out of the egg. It kept chirping and chirping. I knew it was hungry, but what was I supposed to feed it?
"Well, let's see.... birds normally feed on insects, or fruit......."
But as I thought, the Hypnock started walking toward an Aptonoth nearby. It pecked the herbivore, trying to "kill" it.
"Wow, monsters aren't as stupid as I thought. This thing's already up and at 'em!”
It is there that I knew that Hypnos eat meat, so I took some from my meat "stash" and gave it to the Hypno. It ate happily while i took off my armor and got more comfortable.
"Ok, the guys don't know about this, and I’m sure they won't be happy when they discover I have a monster in the house... I'll have to keep it secret, but how?"
Just as I said this the Hypnock started to fly away.
"Wait!!! Don't go! Man, he'll be Rathalos fodder for sure."
I went through all of Moga woods, searching for the baby. I looked through the caves, the cliffs (and almost fell once!), and the beach, everywhere! I felt like a mother when she loses her child in a crowded space, except this place is beyond solitary. There was one place I didn't check, however: The Rath nest. I slowly and cautiously crept unto the nest, and the baby Hypnock was eating some insects right where the Rath eggs where. As I snuck over to the baby and grabbed him, an unusually big and rather familiar shadow appeared.
"Oh, great, Ian's here".
I ran with the baby in my arms as the Rathian let out a loud roar and pursued me.
"Shoot! This baby's heavier than it looks!"
I kept running and hiding through all of Moga. The Rathian was persistent, even trying to get us whilst in the crevices near the Jaggi nest. I kept running and running till I made it to HQ, without the Rathian following me. As I hid the baby and myself, the Rath's shadow passed over the ground. It didn't seem to see us, due to HQ being below a cliff. It slowly returned to its nest, while I painfully thought of the Hypnock's fate.
"Hmm, I have to train this thing, otherwise its lunch".
The baby looked at me, as if it understoodwhat I said. Over a few weeks, I trained the baby to stay here. Since I gave it its food, it slowly learned that without me, it would probably starve in this unforgiving island. I called the 'newborn' "Hypno"; fitting name, I know. After a while things started to come together, until one day, when they arrived…
"Orlando! We're ho- WHAT IS THAT!!??" cried Gil, astonished.
"It's a Hypnocatrice, stupid". Hi replied.
"I know that..... But what's it doing here!?"
"I carefully trained it to not attack humans, so don't be scared" I said.
"It’s a long story, I’ll tell it to you later. I think having a monster as a "pet" would let us study it, so.......
""Wait... study it? Since when did YOU become a scholar!? That's it; from now on, I’m not leaving on a quest without you in it".
"What a touching moment" cried an unknown voice.
"Who said that?" asked Gil.
"You mean you don't remember? It's me.....................Axel"
"AXEL!?" both me and Gil cried.
"Who is this guy anywa.....?”
"Sorry to disturb you noobs, but i couldn't help but wonder what my dear old Orlando was doing. Wow, so you raised a Hypnock by yourself? I'm sure the Guildmaster would be pleased with those news................... hehehe. See ya', noobs!" Axel quickly darted away.
".......Noobs......" whispered Hi to himself. “Guys..... Can you..... explain what happened....... while I was sick?"
We explained everything to Hi.
"............................I'M GONNA' KILL HIM!!!!" Hi darted as quickly as Axel with Lance in hand. He hated elitists more than he hated getting sick.
"Oh boy...... forget about Hi's intentions, we have to catch up to Axel! If he sprays the news that I’m raising a Hypnock......... well, it’s been nice knowing ya'."
"Then let's move!"
Axel's had left on boat to Loc Lac city, so we asked the Hunting Fleet to escort us over there. We did this in vain, however. We arrived at the quest counter, where the Guildmaster was sitting on the table due to his not-so-tall demeanor. Axel already talked to him, and so he gave us a scary look.
"SOOO, you've been raising a Hypno, eh!?" he cried
"Uhhhh......... yes, sir........." I replied.
"Hmmph, first time anyone's done this................”
I was waiting for the punishment of a lifetime, when suddenly the Guildmaster started to laugh.
"HAHAHA, wow, that's "awesome", as you young kids say it. How did you pull it off!?" Axel's smirk turned into astonishment.
"Well, nothing really, I just........"
"Aw forget it; I want to see it with my own two eyes!"
"Uh................. Ok sir."
We hurried over to the docks, while Axel stood with his mouth wide open.
"Ha, we showed him!" Gil exclaimed. I had to agree with him. We laughed all the way on the trip back to Moga. Arriving at HQ, the Guildmaster examined Hypno, half-expecting it to pounce on him.
"Wow, I’ll have to send my best scholars to study this magnificent specimen. Good job, Orlando!" A lot of people came and went to HQ, studying Hypno’s behavior, plucking a few feathers now and then, which he did not like. After that, all the times we saw Axel, we yelled: "Hey Axel! Thanks again!" He didn’t mess with us in a LONG time. More on that later…
Chapter 6: Desert Battle
"Dude, stop shoving!"
"I'm not shoving, you are!!"
"Guys, shhh! It's gonna’ spot us!"
"Right! Scootch over, Gil."
We were sent on a quest (or a request, like the Guildmaster always says) to look for an unknown Elder Dragon spotted in the Desert. We were eager to go, mostly because we would be honored with finding a new species. We got our best weapons, and headed out. Right now, we're on a cliff, searching for the Dragon.
"Hmm... it's taking too long. C'mon, let's head out there!" said Gil.
"No, our best strategy is to lie and wait. No one has ever seen this thing's behavior, so we could be running into certain death."
"Since when did you become lead............. never mind. Oh wait! I see something! See it, over those dunes?"
"Dude, there are thousands of dunes in this desert. Please specify which exactly..... sheesh" replied Hi.
"Ok, you see that big rock?"
"Yeah...... oh! There it is! I mean, it must be it..... Uh..."
"Hmm, ok guys, don't freak out if that thing comes running at you".
"Oh great, here comes Miss Know it all, or whatever".
"Oh please, as if YOU know it all...." "I do too, just not all at once".
"Don't make me take out my sword..." "Ha! You can't touch this!"
"What's he.... OH MY GODS!!!"
This thing comes out of nowhere and attacks us as quick as a Nargacuga. This must be that new Elder Dragon we were told of!
"Woah!! Battle stations!" I cried. "Watch its behavior and attacks first, then stri... OOMPH!" I was blown away by the thing's tail. My chest felt like a Diablos just rammed it. As Hi, Gil and Kira continued attacking, and while I got up, the Dragon attacked swiftly and ruthlessly. It seemed extra careful while attacking. Looks like it already knows about human hunters. As the battle raged, me and my allies were getting owned, and the Dragon, not showing any weakness, kept on the assault. Hi was especially troubled; while he did have a shield, the Lance’s weight didn’t allow him to turn quickly, so the Dragon swooped to his back and rammed him a bunch of times. Kira and Gil managed to land a few hits, but most bounced off, hinting at the Dragon’s sturdy hide. My Soulbreaker managed to hit without bouncing, but didn’t do much work. We were forced to draw back, and went to a nearby cave to hide ourselves.
"It's too fast! When I try to hit it with my Lance, it goes behind me and attacks!" cried Hi.
"Everytime I’m about to do the Spirit Roundslash, it evades it!"
"Ackk! That thing's scary as hell!" cried Kira.
"..... Yeah.... for once I agree with Kira" said Gil. The Dragon rammed the entrance to the cave, hoping to fell some rocks and crush us. But suddenly, it stopped moving.
"Wait a second...... look at it."
"Oh, don't go all Mr. Scholar on me, Orlando. Were in a bit of a pickle as it is" said Hi.
"No, I’m serious! Look at it!" The Dragon stopped trying to attack us, and just stood there, showing its right flank, and staring at us. It looked...... courteous.
"It looks like he's... letting us off the hook?" said Gil, confused.
"No, if I’ve learned anything from monsters, it's that they never let you off the hook" replied Hi.
"It must have a reason.... wait... Gil, what are you sitting on?"
"This? Uh... I dunno’.... a rock?"
"That's no rock......... it's an egg! We're standing on the Dragon's nest!" I cried.
"Hmm, why didn't I think of it before?" said Hi.
"That's why it's not attacking.... it fears we'll attack its eggs!"
"Gil, put your sword down" Hi said quickly.
"Wait, what? Oh......... right.................... darn".
"Well, I’d say I speak for all of you when i say that we're not prepared to fight this thing. Who wants to use the Far caster this time?"
"Ooooh, me!" said Kira. We were always confounded by the Farcaster, asking ourselves how it does what it those. I opened the bag, and......"Damn! It isn't here!"
"Orlando, please tell me you're joking...or don't say anything at all" said Hi, extremely dumbfounded.
"Guys, I think we're in a lot of trouble" said Gil, watching the Dragon slowly disappearing into the dunes. "We can't run out there, it'll gore us to death!"
"Wehell, what do we do know, Mr. Scholar?"
"Ok, Kira, whatever you do, stay on your guard. Look out for any threats in that part of the cave. And please watch before you strike. I'd hate to see a guy with his forehead cleaned off...."
Even though we were safe now, we still needed to find a way out of the desert. The back cave had an opening, but it was too high. Just when all hope seemed lost...
"EEEEK! I see something over there!" cried Kira.
"Kira, don't! Damn it!"
We heard some footsteps, and the sound of something blunt hitting what seemed like a hollow object. We heard Kira shriek, but also heard another from someone I didn't know. It wasn't Gil or Hi (please, they're guys, guys don't shriek.....do they?). We rushed to were Kira was standing and found an unconscious guy, wearing Monodevil V Gunner armor and with a cool-looking bow I couldn’t recognize, and a young girl, wearing an armor similar to Kushala's, but with some coloration differences, and a Khezu Switch Axe (didn't know it existed...).
"Hell, Kira! I told you to look out for threats and not to strike down everything you see. Dang it..." shouted Hi.
"I..I.I.. I didn't want to.”
"Hi, that's enough. Calm down Kira, its ok. Gil, put that guy somewhere else" I said, stretching my arm to help up the guy.
"Sorry for this, she can be a bit clumsy once in a while. I'm Orlando, pleased to meet you. May I know who you guys are?" We set him down on a plain expanse of the cave. He was still a bit unconscious (man, Kira has a good arm there).
"Uhh, what's going on here? Where am I?” he replied.
"You got knocked down by Orlan's "little dear" here. She was thinking you were some sort of monster entering our hiding place." said Gil.
"Hiding place? Hiding from what?"
"Almost everything. Everything that could endanger us. We are in a pretty dumb situation."
"Bah explain me that later, I need to get a clear head again."
"Sorry... I didn't want to hit ya’, I just overreacted a bit" Kira said again and again.
"It's ok, totally ok. Everybody can freak out. Anyway, I'm Hummel", he said while rubbing his forehead. "Hummel Greenpaw, Hunter Rank 10. I'm around here to search for a few stranded hunters. And I see you're already introduced yourself to Lucie, HR 4 but worth an 11."
"Stop it ok?” the girl blushed.
"Why should I, You are worth an 11 for sure."
"Oh my gods! It's him! Hummel, the G-rank hunter!" I thought. Relieving myself from my first real encounter with my "hero", I replied calmly.
"Well, you've found them. I'm glad the guild didn't forget about us. These are Hi, Gil, and Kira. As i said before, I'm Orlando. We've been after an Elder Dragon but that thing owned us into the dust like vespoids. We had no chance, but silly as we are, nobody had a Farcaster handy. So we ended up in these caves in order to hide from anything big that could be dangerous. Nobody knows of our position and location. If it wasn't my motto, I would have lost all hope."
"Your motto?" the girl named Lucie asked.
"Yeah, 'Spem Habe'. It means 'Have hope' in some ancient language. My mother told it to me the day my father got killed by a Rathalos. And since then I've been always thinking about those words when I was in misery."
"Your mother knows a lot about life. Those were the right words to teach you."
Now Hi opened his big mouth.
"Heyheyhey. Hummel Greenpaw, eh? Gil, ain't that the guy Isabel told us about? The Aurex hunter dude?"
Gil looked up confused, but then he seemed to remember: "Yeaaah. That guy." He turned to face Hummel: "If you're the one I think you are, Orlando here is a huge fan of you. He even went out to meet you in person, but meanwhile something else caught up his business."
"Gil shut up. I'm no fan of nobody. Sorry, they talk a lot of trash sometimes, but hey, they're my "bestest" buddies. You can count on them" I said.
"It's ok. You can't imagine the bustle around me the morning I became G*4. It's no fun if everybody wants to touch your hand in order to never wash it again, just to tell everyone he touched the greatest hunter ever. Who, I must admit, isn't so great at all."
Kira began to talk in an unimaginable speed.
"Now you're the one talking trash. You killed an Aurex, a White Narga, heck, even a Fatalite infused Teostra! You're wearing an armor made from monsters I don't even know exist and you nail a vespoid's eye from a mile away. You are plain awesome. I can't believe I'm seeing you right now."
"Woah, Kira does know a lot about him. Even more than me!" I thought.
"Now that does sound like a real fan. But no, I wasn't alone. FlaP's the one doing most of the work. He's the true hunting ace in my party."
"And who's that?" Hi intervened.
"Don't tell me you know me, but haven't heard his name! HE is what I call the greatest hunter ever."
"Say's nothing to me. Isabel didn't mention a FlaP at all. Strange name too."
"'Hi' ain't that usual too, or is it?"
"Uh……Whatever. Glad we have someone who can bring us out of here."
"By the way, how do you know about the Fatalite incidents? You don't look like E.D.O agents. They wouldn't be stuck somewhere in mid desert."
Gil continued the story: "We made some painful contact with it. First of all, we have a good friend working for the E.D.O. named Isabel, she's in the research facility. She told us about the whole Fatalite thing and about you. You are some sort of hero in their ranks."
"Now that's something new for me. But where's the painful part?"
I raised my voice: "Lao Shan. Lao Shan and Fatalite. No good mixture. Not good at all."
"And you killed one of that sort, then? Must have been a hard job, huh?” asked Lucie.
"Bah. We had luck. That thing would have totally owned us if this cloaked guy didn't give me this special shot."
"Cloaked guy? One question, was there a Gunlance on his back?"
"Might be, I don't remember. Why?"
"That guy is the real hero in the ranks of the Observatory. He's the absolute top agent. He was the one saving me from a mad Aurex, and he was the one killing the Teostra. I just repelled it. But hey, I think that's enough storytelling for now, we should think up a plan to get out of here."
And so we gathered around, discussing what where we gonna' do about a certain Dragon out there.
"That thing is still out there, and we don't have a farcaster working for 6 people. That means we have to make our way to base camp by foot. And that dragon... what was it called?"
"Rangachitora" Kira said silently. Everybody turned around and looked at Kira, her face making that 'I'm not here' expression.
"What? I didn't hear you." said Lucie.
Kira looked like she was going to die of nervousness. "Rangachi..." she took a deep breath. "Rangachitora. It's called Rangachitora." She made a quick sigh of relief.
"Right. Ranga is still around here somewhere and Elder Dragons are pretty unforgiving. We should avoid being spotted as we have only three people with proper defense and a fight is the last thing we want." Gil looked curious.
"Three? I only see you and Lucie with the awesome stuff. Where's the third G-rank armor?"
"Orlando. See the black patches and green sprinkles all over the shell?" Hummel pointed on a few spots on my armor (which by the way, I did not mention. Sorry about that). "That's Fatalite influence. Believe me, that thing is worth being called a G*4 armor."
"Uh, yeah, I was told this was no ordinary Lao Shan armor. The old smithy in Moga called it Auroros Tamashi. I didn't expect it to be so powerful. Where did you learn that from?"
"Intuition. I learned a bit about Fatalite in time."
Hi laughed: "Ya see dumbo? That's someone with knowledge!"
Both Hummel and I answered almost simultaneously: "Hi, shut up. You know far less." Hummel grinned while Hi was clearly pissed off. Hummel continued: "If I recall correctly, we should need to walk about two hours in south-west direction to reach the camp. If nothing disturbs us, of course. The dumb head at the quest counter sent you to fight a G*4 species by accident, so no wonder you are not prepared much. If we can't avoid contact stay back and only attack when it's safe, like when it's toppled over or stunned. We will take care of it, won't we sweetheart?"
After a little while, she answered: "Of course we will, that thing has no chance against a team like us. But hey, I'm hungry. Who thinks eating is best now?"
The others agreed, so for a moment we calmed down a bit and sat back, Lucie joining Kira on the campfire, igniting it again. Hummel went over to the campfire to help with the girls, but Gil looked at him with astonishmen.
"What the... cooking is a girl's job, but you're gonna' help them with it? Uh, yeah, I've got the food in my bag, so at least that should be done, right?"
"Uh, Sure... Whatever."
Gil took a bunch of different meats and herbs out of his bag. Lucie ignited the flames again, but Hummel kissed her in the cheek. "Girls, get a bit rest. I'm going to make us the right meal for tomorrow."
Kira was a bit indecisive on what to answer. Before she could react, Lucie talked to her: "Come on, you need the rest. You must be tired sitting around in the dark with those three all the time, come on. And don't mind the food; he's a pretty good cook." Then she grabbed her by the arm and brought her to the other side of the cave. I do believe they went to discuss things about girls......... or was it?
After a while Hummel interrupted them. "Hey people, food is ready. Nothing compared to the work of five Felyne Chefs, sure, but I hope it's enough to make the walk a bit better."
"Come on, let's grab a bite."
Back in the circle, the guys (including me) swallowed their food in a hurry. Kira shouted: "MAN, can't you eat anything other than a Mosswine? That's disgusting."
Again, Hummel and I shared the same thought: "But I'm hungry!"
Lucie shook her head: "That's not what I've been expecting from you. I should be saving my kisses until you learn manners."
"Hey, we're huntin', not sittin' in a restaurant or something."
"That's no reason to go all Bullfango on your meal." I liked that girl’s attitude.
Patting his stomach, Gil laughed. "Dude, where did you learn to cook that good? I feel like I’ve had a fresh Felyne meal."
"I've learned it from Felynes. Might not be that great, but it should show some effects."
"You want to tell me how you can cook like one of those Felyne chef?"
"My mum's one."
"Not my real mum. The mum that raised me."
"Yeah.....whatever, I'm ready. Let's go, I need to get outta here!" Both he and Hi jumped up and grabbed their weapons (for those who don't know, Hi's using a Nargacuga Lance, and Gil's using the Gaelic Flame). "Time to get moving", said Hi. After a few minutes, everybody was ready. Holding our belongings tight, the group marched out into the afternoon sun.
"I'm tired of this stupid desert heat..."
"Heat? There's nothing worse than the desert cold" I replied.
It was hot and the wind kept constantly blowing sand through the air. After some moaning, though, we quieted down. It was only a two and a half hour walk, nothing big by itself. Only the heat...
"Damn, why do we have to walk right through the sun? Couldn't we wait until it gets a bit cooler?” Hi muttered while wiping away the sweat on his forehead.
"You’d think the same if you were a Tigrex or Diablos. The large predators as well as the prey keep resting until the temperature settles to a lower degree. Moving in this heat is exhausting of course, and that's why it is the safest time of day out here. Come on; see that rock formation up there?"
"Uhhh, that's the one where the plateaus start, right?"
"What does that mean?"
"Uh…I don't know?"
Kira, being silent most of the walk as opposed to the rest of the team, finally said something: "Hi, you aren't hunting around here the first time, are you? Those are the newbie grounds near the base camp! That's the place everyone should know. We’re almost there!"
"GET DOWN!" I screamed. Instinctively the group got down on the ground. A huge boulder missed them and crashed into the sand behind them.
"What was that!? Where did that come from?" asked Hummel while scanning the area.
"That's the problem; it came from the newbie grounds” I replied. “Something huge is going on there."
We moved closer and closer to where the rock came flying. A Brown Barioth (I had heard of it, but had never seen one) and another creature circled each other, the fresh carcass of an Aptonoth nearby. The second beast, which I knew right from the start that it was the Dragon from earlier, moved in and smashed its tail against a near rock, flinging it around with impressive force. The Barioth dodged, took a deep breath and spat out a ball of sand, creating a vortex of sand near the Dragon. The Pseudowyvern didn't lose time; it glided up in the wind, only to suddenly crash down again. The Dragon barely flapped its two slim, brown wings, and yet it interrupted the attack. Now it unfolded them once again, rising them higher until they reached their peak. Roaring in anger, the Barioth prepared its next strike. Just as it turned, the wings of the Dragon sailed down violently, and a cloud of sand completely cloaked the Barioth. Without a sign, the Dragon rapidly attacked the confused Pseudowyvern. Just as it struggled free, the wounded Barioth moved away as fast as possible.
Hummel quietly asked: "That's it, right? The Rangachitora?” Gil nodded his face, pale as a Khezu.
"Just don't move. Wait for it to finish the meal; it will most likely retreat to its nest then. No more sounds, nobody." Nobody moved, nobody even tried to move. The dragon took its time to eat, slowly chewing the flesh of the bones, then the bones themselves.
"Uh guys... we have a problem." Kira didn't even dare to point at the brown nostrils coming out of the mud pit. A Barroth emerged and moved further towards the rock pillar we were hiding at. Rangachitora and the brute took a look at each other, but they had no interest in each other as the Barroth had no interest in a dead Aptonoth. Shaking mud down from the body, it took a few steps backwards and lowered its head.
We barely evaded the pillar crashing down on us as the Barroth charged it down and began feeding on the Altaroth beneath. Distressed by the sound of falling stone, Rangachitora turned around and noticed us, now scattered around the Brute and without any cover. It stopped eating altogether. Barroth roared with might, but the loud bellow was drowned in an even deeper and louder roar, courtesy of the Elder Dragon. It seemed to notice how the Barroth became aggressive, and was now sure how to judge those little, strange shapes in the desert sun: The major threat......Humans.
Hummel and Gil separated from the girls while Hi and me were already far away, having had to sprint in order not to be crushed by the pillar. Hi turned around and managed to stop a tail swipe, not unlike the one used by Nargacuga, with his shield. Even though his Agnaktor+ armor was perfectly designed to reduce blocking recoil, the heavy mace-like spikek at the end of the tail still drove him a meter or two away. Seeing an opening, I unsheathed my trusty Soulbreaker on the Dragon’s back, black energy spreading out from the axe’s tip. The swing was quite worthless; the Elder Dragon flicked the wings again and catapulted itself backwards into the air before landing again. Annoyed, it spread its seemingly small wings. Vanishing in a cloud of sand the dragon prepared to strike. Nobody could tell when and in which direction it would charge. I ran pretty fast, but Ranga jumped out of the sandy curtain in front of me. Hi's lance quickly striked its legs, forcing it to the ground.
"Wanna’ play the hard game, huh? Come and get it."
Meanwhile, the others got rid of the Barroth with a barrage of dung bombs and a few cuts and arrows.
The Dragon unfolded its wings again, now rising into the air. The giant wingspan created another wall of sand, blocking our sight. In a split-second, I heard a shriek. As the sand drew away from us, I saw Hi in a pretty bad situation. Though he had pierced the Dragon's right flank, one of its claws pierced through the shield and unto Hi. Ranga pulled itself away from the lance, and Hi fell down. We used the opening and started striking at the Ranga’s feet and tail, though the swords bounced from the body, and Hummel’s arrows didn't pierce very deep. The dragon turned around, the dorsal fins on its back flailing out. A loud roar stunned the group while the true sandstorm was about to begin. Quickly raising yet another cloud of sand, the Dragon hid itself. I rested Hi in a rocky area, secluded from the Dragon’s sight.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be right back.” I assured a delirious Hi. I took my Axe in hand, and prepared to slash at the beast’s wings, hoping to prevent it from using the sand to its advantage. However, the Dragon had other plans; it targeted Gil and prepared to swing its tail. I thrust my blade in front of me, trying to hit the tail to prevent yet another fatality. I saw black sparks flying from the tip of the blade. Fortunately, my plan worked…sort of. I damaged the tail, loosening some of its spines. The Dragon hissed at me and pushed me away with its claws. Its limbs are very powerful, as I was swept with tremendous force. As I got up, it loomed over me, preparing to crush my head with its claws. However, it was stopped in its tracks. I could see electricity coursing through its body.
“Paralysis coating, works wonders.” Hummel said.
I took the time to attack its wings directly. I slashed with all my might and cut through the delicate webbing, spilling blood unto the sand. The Dragon let out a loud roar, its wings now heavily damaged. It whisked me off with another claw swipe, although this time it was a bit less energetic. Ranga was losing his strength. Hummel picked me up, and motioned me to get Hi safe.
“We’ll take it from here, Ranga’s getting tired, I know it. Get your friend somewhere safer.”
I wasted no time; I threw my weapon into the sand and tried to carry Hi away from the field of battle while the others stood on their guard. Hi was pretty bruised: His chest was bleeding a lot, I figured his ribs might have been broken. He was still conscious, but a bit woozy.
“Oh man, don’t tell me I’m out…” he said faintly.
“I’m afraid so, buddy. Come on, don’t give me that look, you’re in a pretty bad shape. Let’s get you to base camp…”
I looked back, and saw the battle progressing. Kira, Gil and Lucie continued attacking the beast head on, while Hummel fired arrows from different angles. From a distance, I could notice Kira’s eyes; they were focused, glowing bright… and beautiful. The guys were landing more and more hits, but the Dragon was apparently getting more enraged. Although it was tuckered out, it could still exhibit powerful attacks. I feared for her….for Kira; she is the other half in my life. If anything happened to her, I would be decimated. I quickly carried Hi towards the direction of the camp, relieved from the stress of battle. Not for long, anyway….
“Orlando!! Look out!”
I stood frozen in place. A large shadow passed over me. Obviously that was the Dragon. Its wings were practically destroyed, but it could still leap a great distance. Seeing Hi in a bad state and eager to sink teeth into flesh, it sprinted towards us, its head lowered showing its small but stout horn. I was helpless: the Dragon approaching quickly, and me and Hi defenseless. The group tried to get as close to us a possible, but they wouldn’t get here in time. One of us had to take the blow, and I did not want Hi to get even more beat up. What I did was purely out of heart. I threw Hi away from the Dragon’s path, in which I stood to take the blow almost instantly. I knew I couldn’t dodge it, and I didn’t have my weapon. I could hear someone screaming my name, but I payed no heed. I took the blow head-on. My chest… it felt like it was going to explode. I assumed the Dragon’s horn penetrated my armor and body. I looked into its eyes. It was staring into me, filled with anger. I was thrown a long way back. And then…well… at the moment I was blank. Lost between my conscious and subconscious mind. I could still see what was going on, but it was blurry. I saw Kira and Gil attacking the Dragon, now even more tired. Kira, which I saw was filled with anger, sunk her sword into the beast’s tail, slicing it off. The Dragon roared in pain. Its back fins were drooping. Out of nowhere, a long arrow pierced the Dragon’s skull. Hummel’s work, of course. With a few more hits, the dragon slowly and steadily fell to the ground. It gave out one last muffled roar, and stood still. I, too, stood still, losing consciousness, probably forever. But I could hear a faint voice…
“Orlando! Please! Hang on! Hang on…… Han… on…...”
Then and there, the world just disappeared from view…
“Don’t worry; it’s not your time yet.” A voice told me. I might have been hallucinating. Still, it sounded so powerful. I tried to respond.
“Wh….who... are you?” To this, the voice repeated: “Don’t worry; it’s not your time yet”. My vision was clearing up, and I noticed I was in these calm plains. It reminded me of Moga; large mountains, deep seas, and blue skies. Having my vision again, I searched for the voice. I heard someone behind me, and turned to face. I stood there, frozen in place once more. I thought I was dreaming. It was Dad. He was standing there, smiling at me. Tears hurried through my face. My knees were trembling. I was awestricken. So much time without seeing my father… I cried so much. I was about to embrace him when suddenly the earth shook. The mountains were crumbling, the grassy plains dried up, and the sea followed suit. The blue skies turned red. Everything was disappearing. I yelled at my father, harder than I’ve ever yelled before.
“Please!!! Please, don’t go!! Don’t leave me!!” I cried.
“Don’t worry; it’s not your time yet.”
“NO!! Please, no!!”
“Orlando!! Please, wake up!!” cried another voice.
I gasped for air. I was back in the desert, sand all over me. That voice…it was Kira. She was holding me in her arms. A balloon was behind her, and everyone, including Hi, was mounted in it.
“Don’t worry, you’re gonna’ be OK. You hear me? I'm here.”
I stared at her eyes. Those blue, glowing eyes stared back. Tears started to appear. The sand around me became wet with my tears. I embraced Kira firmly. I didn’t want to let go. I embraced her as if it was the last time I would do so. She held me in her arms, emotion filling her face. She then kissed me, a feeling I cannot explain. She carried me towards the balloon, taking off as I set foot on it. I reclined at the balloon’s edge, watching as a group of people mounting Aptonoths carried the defeated Dragon’s body. I fell on the floor, tired. And then, I slept.
Months after that incident, I found myself stuck at H.Q. with Kira and Hypno while the others went to find materials to help me cure faster. Medics described me being alive a miracle. My ribcage was completely broken, but the Ranga’s horn luckily didn’t pass through my heart. My wounds were severe, but I was to recover completely in approximately two more months. Right there, the word ‘retirement’ was popping into my head.
“Hm…. I don’t know if I should retire or not….”
“Dude, it’s ok. Those wounds can heal in…”
“The wounds aren’t everything I’m worried about...…”
“If you keep talking about this, I’m gonna’ hit you.”
“Pffft you wouldn’t….. Would you?”
“I know, Hypno, you’re hungry right? Here you go, fresh Aptonoth meat” To this, Hypno started to screech even more as it ate the meat quickly. He had grown a lot in the past months; I think a fully armored hunter could mount it and head out on a quest.
“I can see you’re really fond of that bird.”
“C’mon, I raised since it was a baby!”
“Yeah you did…… listen. Whatever you decide, I’m ok with it. Ok?”
“Yeah…. I gotcha.” To this, she gave me a kiss in the forehead.
“Ok, I’m gonna’ go out for a while. Do you mind?”
“Not at all, sweetheart.”
As Kira left the house, I started to think more and more. I mean, this wounds could heal easily sure, but it’s not the physical state that’s the problem, it’s the mental state. I was literally, mentally scarred. That huge dragon left a dent on me.
“Hm, I like hunting and all, but I’m not that into it like Gil and Hi are. Maybe…. Maybe I can join the EDO!... Nah, that’s not my field. Forget about it. ” As I thought more and more, I went outside and looked at Hypno. I remember the time it hatched from its shell, and when I took it here for the first time. I protected it from major threats. If it had come out of that egg before or after I got there, it would have died for sure. Hypnocks are known to leave their nests if their attacked, so the parent wouldn’t be there to protect it.
“Hmm, protection… I want to protect those that I love… I have to. That’s it.”
So I decided: I would only hunt monsters if they were to attack human society. Only that. Monsters are part of this world, too. You don’t need to kill them if they don’t pose any harm towards society, right? People need to learn that. I remember hearing about a request from a princess of a far away kingdom about hunting two Blos just to cure her boredom. What a spoiled princess. Spoiled indeed. I would never do that. I think I would let myself be killed before doing that.
I waited ‘till all the guys arrived at H.Q. to announce my decision.
“Well, guys, I have come to the conclusion that…”
“You’re shaving your ‘stache.” Hi said humorously.
“What!? No! I’ll never do that. No, I was thinking about my hunting career.”
“Oh, don’t tell me you’re gonna’ retire now, dude! We’re in our prime!” said Gil.
“Thankfully, the first sentence is false. I am not retiring, just loosening up the hunt.”
“Hmm… never thought you’d get bored of hunting. I knew it. I knew you were a scholar by the time you brought that big feather duster here.”
“Ok, first I am NOT bored of hunting and I am NOT a scholar… full time anyway… I’m just gonna’ be out of some quests for a while. I’ll probably be hunting with other people too…”
“Oh… you were scaring me there. I guess you’d need time to recover from… said incident….Well, whatever you decide, we’ll always be here. H.Q. will never get old” Gil affirmed.
“Thanks guys, I’ll never forget each and every one of you.”
“Heh, I HOPE you don’t.” Hi grunted.
The night was slowly taking over the land. The guys slept in their rooms, but I went outside and traveled….traveled to that one hill… that one hill were my life was changed forever…
“…Dad, I miss you… so much…”
Almost magically, a shadow darker than the night itself came and landed nearby. As it moved toward the moonlight, it made its appearance known. Good old Los was here. I eyed the Wyvern as it slowly noted my presence. It stared at me for a long while. I stared back, showing no fear.
“If you take one step closer, you can say good-bye to this world.” The wyvern stood there, staring at me intently. And just like that, as if it understood what I had said, the Rath began to stretch its wings, and with a powerful movement, it flew away towards the night sky. That’s where I realized that monsters did share things with us. I believe that they somehow possess emotions, lesser than ours, but emotions all the same. They care for their young (most) and they’re packs or flocks. They survive… they survive, just like we do. I prayed my respects and slowly went towards H.Q. I had scarcely entered the house when Kira appeared. She gave me that “where were you” look.
“Hey, I was out and about. You know, personal stuff.”
She gave me a kiss and went away towards her room. I hunted less and less after that night. Far less than Gil and Hi. But there were some things that were meant to be done, and I soon learned that. The hunt would never be the same again.
Chapter 7: The new group
Needless to say, after that incident, I learned much about the world. I learned to respect animals and monsters alike. I knew the group and I couldn’t be together all the time, so I started hunting with other people. Many didn’t have the character or behavior that I would expect, although I did find a group that reminded me of my friends. I first met them in the Canteen in Loc Lac. They seemed pretty new to being hunters, but their weapons weren’t that shabby, either. They sat in a corner, away from the pro hunters. I sat down where they were eating and greeted them.
“So, you guys need help on the hunt?” I asked.
A young man in the group sighed.
“Well, for your information, we don’t need any…” Just then the girl in the group quickly intervened: “Of course! We could use all the help we can get!” She eyed the latter, telling him to accept. Apparently he liked hunting alone.
“Meh… OK. You better not be one of those elitist noobs I’ve been hearing about.”
“Trust me; I’m not a noob or an elitist.”
They introduced themselves as a pretty much new group of hunters. The over-confident young man, Jagrus, wore Barioth armor and used a Medium Bowgun. The other young man, Nathan, wore Gigginox armor and had a Long Sword strapped to his back. The girl, ‘Kay’ as they called her, used Kirin armor and had a Switch Axe. How she could carry that thing is beyond me.
“Isn’t that weapon a tad bit… heavy for you?” I asked.
“Hey, I may be a girl, but I can take care of myself”.
“Jeez, why do extremely hot girls always use the Kirin armor?...” I thought. “Whoa, careful there buddy, you’ve got a girl back home……. I know that….”
“Oh, no worries then.” I finally said. “What do you need help with?”
Nathan explained: “A Diablos just appeared in the Sandy Plains area. Apparently wreaking havoc near the village. We weren’t sure if we could do it on our own, so…”
“Wait wait wait, back up…. The Sandy Plains?”
“Yeah that’s right.”
My spine tingled. I quickly recalled my last experience in the desert. I stood there, staring at my feet, while the group looked troubled.
“Something wrong? “ Nathan replied.
“……..No it’s nothing. I’m fine.” I said.
Jagrus intervened: “Pfft, why do we need this guy? I could take that Blos down by myself.”
“Oh please, you couldn’t take care of that last Barioth on your own.” Kay responded. Jay was apparently pissed off. I just stood calm and didn’t make eye contact with him.
“C’mon, no fighting amongst yourselves. Save the energy for the real battle.” I said.
“Right!” the group responded. The guys (excluding Jagrus) took a shine to me… especially the girl. She wouldn’t stop staring at me. I felt pretty good about myself, having made friends with another group of hunters.
We made it into the balloon heading to the Desert. All the while, the group started checking their supplies. On closer inspection, I noticed their weapons: Jagrus’s Barroth Bowgun, Nathan’s Bone Katana Dragon, and Kay’s Tough Break. Not the very best, but they were good for those standards. I, with my Fatal Lao Shan armor (I like to call it that) and my new Rangachitora Gunlance, designed specifically for my not-so-strong demeanor, glanced at the Sun, shining brightly. A new day, a new group, a new hunt.
The balloon left us near the cliffs in the Sandy Plains. It was very quiet. We packed our supplies and rushed towards the desert. Knowing Diablos, the wyvern could be anywhere, burrowing into the sand. We spread out into the desert, hoping to find the Diablos.
“Any idea where it could be?” Nathan asked curiously.
“Well, knowing Diablos, they could be anywhere where there’s sand… although our best bet is one particular spot where a lot of cacti grow.”
“Well then, let’s head on over there.”
“Jeez, this frickin heat…” grunted Jagrus.
“Trust me; the desert cold is a lot worse.”
We arrived at our destination, an area in the desert were cacti flourished. Blos love cacti, so there’s no mistaking it would come here often.
“OK, it should be around here. Stay on your guard.”
Everyone started to take out their weapons, searching for the wyvern. I observed the area, giving it a clean sweep. All of a sudden, I felt the sand below me rumble. I noticed the guys felt it too. It was no Cephadrome. We had found our wyvern. Or…it had found us. The Diablos sprang from the sand, eager to investigate its surroundings. Those long horns caught my attention. They looked so awesome. I shook my head and eyed the Blos. It started, ready to ram any one of us if we took a step further. This thing was obviously causing damage to society, so, charging my Gunlance, I pressed forward. And true to its nature, the Blos lowered its head and attacked quickly. I was able to dodge its ram and fired a shell just as it passed beside me. Its shell was strong, but not as strong as Gravios or Uragaan shell. The wyvern paid no heed and attacked the group. Jagrus was firing clust shots at its head, hoping to break its dangerous horns. Nathan attacked its feet so it could fall over, giving an opening; and Kay attacked its tail. These people were not the very best hunters, but they show the complex hunting strategies of pros. I picked the perfect group to hunt, aside from my friends. The Blos swung its tail across the sand, and Kay and Nathan dodged, continuing the assault. Jagrus fired a clust shot near the abdomen, and some of the explosions caught the blade masters. Jagrus smirked under his helm.
“Hey, watch it!” Kay cried.
“Sorry, my bad!” Jagrus returned.
I got close to the wyvern and slammed the Lance unto its tail, firing all of my shells in one fell explosion. Blos fell, writhing in agony. I continued lancing at the belly, not too proud over spraying blood on the sand yet again. Suddenly the wyvern slid forward, screeching out of pain. The tail was cut, thanks to the work of Nathan and Kay. Blos had taken enough damage, and was now breathing black smoke. Rage began to consume it. It trashed wildly, throwing us well away from it. It now targeted Nathan, and started to ram at him. Nathan dodged, but the wyvern quickly made a U-Turn and approached him, head lowered. He was apparently scared, as he did not move. I quickly moved in front of him and guarded the attack. Seeing as how my shield was very sturdy, I was pushed back several feet by the force of both its horns hitting simultaneously. I took the opportunity and fired a shell at its head, breaking one of its horns.
“Hey, that was my job!” grunted Jagrus.
“Yes, it was, but that doesn’t mean another hunter can’t finish it for you.” I replied. “Think of it as a ‘gift’”.
I was expecting Jagrus to grunt even more, but he actually giggled a little. We continued the assault on the wounded Diablos. Now somewhat desperate, it thrashed yet again and threw us away. Now it targeted Kay. Kay stood frozen in place, having no way to dodge an enraged devil. I ran over to her, pushed her aside, and the word “Dejavu” came to mind. Once again I was pushed back by a horn, this time by a very long horn. The wyvern slammed me to a wall, and I screamed.
I expected to be blank again, but I was actually quite conscious.
“Wait a sec…. this IS a low rank Diablos. Its horns must be still developing.”
My armor was slightly gored, but my chest was flawless. I took the time to grab my Gunlance and fire at the wyvern’s eye, blinding it completely. Another well aimed “Wyvern’s Flare” at the abdomen, and the wyvern fell in the sand, defeated at last. I glanced at the group, apparently awe-stricken at my survival and victory. Jagrus was especially impressed.
“Go ahead, carve the thing. I won’t need any Blos materials, except maybe a Spine.”
The group happily carved the body of the dead Diablos. I felt proud of myself, helping out yet another group of people. I sent a flare up into the air, and in a few hours, carts led by Aptonoths came rushing. We pushed the body of the dead wyvern into one of the carts, while we mounted another. I observed the Sun, about to set. And there I saw it; a Dragon with a long tail ending in spikes, drawn out of hiding over the smell of blood.
“Good grief, if we had stayed a bit longer we’d be dead.” I thought.
I looked back, not wanting to remember my past experience.
Chapter 8: Secluded Secrets
“Look at them all….. Frolicking and thriving… in MY Kingdom” I said to myself firmly.
“All of them… must be eliminated. They must all banish from the face of the world.”
Just as I said this, one of the guards entered my chamber. He stood there, standing firmly and straight.
“What is it, Commander Kao?” I said.
“Your Highness, the report has just come in. Your experiment is coming in nicely. Approximately 1 month before it’s completely functional and ready to go. General Makus is overlooking the process.”
“Thank you, Commander. You are dismissed.”
“Your highness.” he said, while bowing and later leaving my presence.
I must say this kingdom of mine is frolicking. Who ever thought that I, Maximilianus the Third, would rise in power and take the kingdom in my hands? The people adore me, almost like a God. I must return the favor and allow this kingdom to grow. But that dreaded forest… for years it has plagued us with a number of monsters. No matter; once that machine is functional they won’t have to worry. I will end them…… permanently. I stared out the window, where the Great Forest loomed into view. Such a sickening view. In months, it shall be reborn as a part of my Kingdom, a part of my people. But there is one thing that drives me mad.
“Where are you………Hierarchus?”
“Hi!! Wake up!”
“Huh….whaaa...…What’s going on?”
“It’s your birthday!”
I woke up, and Gil, Kira and Orlando were standing next to me. I was very surprised, just like every year. The guys always celebrated my Birthday, even when I was sick. I stretched my arms, and thanked everyone for remembering yet again.
“So…you got me something? You know… a present?” I asked anxiously.
“Yeah we did!” Gil replied. He pointed at a large wooden box in the corner. Eager to know what was inside, I got up and opened the box without hesitation. And there it was: A Lance made from the finest Rangachitora parts, made just for me. I was really pleased with the gift.
“Thanks guys. This thing looks awesome.” I said. “I could slash open a Gravios’s belly with just a swing.”
“Gah… please don’t talk about that stuff. Makes me queasy” Orlando said nervously.
“Oh really? Last time I checked, you almost barfed ‘cause I told you how I almost decapitated a Rathian.”
“Don’t bring that up again!”
Everyone except Orlando started to laugh. He stood there, staring at me, very pissed off.
“Well, I’ll take that Lance if you keep this up.”
“Ha, you can’t touch this!”
“Don’t start that again.” He chuckled.
“Wait, you haven’ told us about your little hunt with that group.”
“Ah, it was fine. They reminded me of you guys… especially you, Hi.”
“Were they adequate?”
“They didn’t have the best weapons and armor, but they fought with tenacity and skill.”
“Uh huh… was there a girl in the mix?” Kira stopped talking with Gil and looked at us. I knew she would.
“Umm... Yeah, there was a girl. She fought well.”
I crept towards him. “……Was she cute?”
“Kirin armor. She was hot, man.” He said while laughing.
“Introduce me to her, will ya’?”
“Ha, you better. Or else I’ll stab you!”
“Haha yeah. So… I guess you’ll be leaving soon, huh?"
“Yep. Off to home.”
I knew what to expect this day. I knew they would search for me. I always leave H.Q. to a secluded part of Kokoto that I once called home. That is……after that day...... I said Goodbye to my friends and that giant feather duster in the back, and went on my way.
“Take care, man.” Orlando said.
“Take care!” Kira returned.
Back to my village……my third home. I recalled everything that had happened to me on this very day. I remember the castle… a giant stone castle. In my honor, a large party was taking place there, where many people were invited, even a king from another Kingdom. I was misplaced among the rich and charismatic people around me. I felt almost disgraced to have been born in such a world. I couldn’t take it. Not anymore. I climbed the spiral stairs and went to my father’s chamber, were he was talking to an old friend that wore the fanciest clothing in the world. He motioned him to leave, and greeted me.
“What is wrong, my son?”
“Father, I’ve been thinking about something for a long time… and…”
“Ha! Don’t worry, anything you ask I shall give to you! Take my word for it.”
“No, it’s not anything material…”
“Oh, then what is it son?”
I gulped and stood lost in thought, but I finally uttered the words, words that I had been hiding for years.
“I…… I want to become a hunter.”
Father’s face turned from a happy expression to a frown. He did not like my idea.
“Son… why would you want that? You want to lose this... all of this, just to live in poverty hunting mindless beasts?”
“Pretty much” I said without fear or hesitation.
“… No…No! I won’t allow it! Your place is here! In the throne!”
“Father, I’m sick of this life!” As I said this, he stood awe-stricken. “I’m tired of having everything! I’m tired of having random, fancy people coming to us just because we’re richer than they are! I don’t care if I lose all of this, I hate it here!”
He stood there, watching me intently. Many thoughts polluted his mind, and I did not like that.
“I’m sorry father, but I’m leaving. I’m leaving you.”
“……Have you gone mad!? Your allegiance is to the Kingdom! To me!”
“Not anymore.” I said while taking off my fancy clothing and throwing the door hard. I would have given anything to see the look on Father’s face. Oh well. I went to my room, opened a secret trapdoor and went through it. I took with me a Lance from the Royal Guard and some modest looking armor made of Iron. Down I went through the catacombs that were once used to imprison slaves, which was kinda’ illegal now. It was pretty dark here, and it smelled…bad. I glimpsed a ray of light coming from a rock wall. My escape route. I bashed the wall with my Lance, and it crumbled to the floor, leaving me free. I was free to roam wherever I wanted, whenever. And so I departed to find a boat or balloon on a trip to Kokoto Village were, I had been told, was secluded from my Father’s Kingdom. And there I went, to get away from my past life and to train as a hunter. I went under the wing of many expert hunters, teaching me how to survive and kill. At one point, they sent me to Moga Village where they would teach me about underwater combat, and so I left. It is there that I met my best friend, Orlando, which was pretty new to hunting too. The villagers took me in as one of their own, and at a slow and steady pace, I became a good hunter alongside Orlando and his two friends Gil and Kira, something that my Father could never hope to give me.
“Your highness, report’s just come in. No trace of your son anywhere.”
“Thank you, Commander Kao, you are dismissed.”
I waited until Kao left my presence, then let out all my rage into the table.
“GRRRRAAAHHHH! Where In blue blazes is that boy!?” I said while tossing aside everything at my table. “The only one I consider worthy of having the crown once I part, and he’s invisible to us! This is madness!”
I sat in my chair, calming down, and lost in deep thought. I heard someone approaching.
“Something wrong, Maxy?” said a voice.
“No one calls me that. NO ONE!”
“Woah, cool it Highness, just adding a little humor to the situation”.
“Sigh…… I’m growing desperate. If I don’t find Hierarchus soon, my plans would be ruined. All this… for nothing…”
“Heh, don’t worry. Ya’ got me.”
Chapter 9: The Last Frontier
“Ahh….why’d we have to go to the Tundra? I can’t stand the cold.” I said while shivering.
“Heh, I’m doing just fine.” Jagrus replied.
“Yeah, probably cause your wearing Barioth armor!”
“Guys, did you drink your hot drinks?” Nathan asked.
“I already drank one bottle and eaten hot meat. I’m still cold.”
I was requested by the group to hunt a newly discovered Wyvern in the Tundra. Reports came in that it tirelessly pursued the last group sent to investigate. They weren’t heard from since. Either they were rookies, or the Wyvern was hell tough.
“You still cold?” Kay asked.
“Let’s huddle up. That way we can conserve heat.” she said while cuddling near me.
She enjoyed being close to me. I could see it in her eyes. But I had my girl, so after a while I stood up and looked around.
“We’ve gotta’ keep moving. We need to find that wyvern AND the group, if they’re still alive.” Kay shuddered while I said this.
“Well then, lead the way.” Nathan pronounced.
Through the icy forests of the lower terrain, we came across the caverns. I hurried inside, but the guys were hesitating.
“Come on. Don’t tell me you’re afraid of a Gigginox suddenly appearing?”
“Why don’t you ask Kay about that?” I looked at her, and she was frozen in place, as still as the ice surrounding us.
“Don’t worry, if something like that appears, we’ll be ready.” I assured her.
We went inside the frigid caves. I was holding the only torch sent to us. It was pretty creepy in here. I heard some faint growls when suddenly this slimy thing fell from the ceiling. Gigginox larvae.
“Eeek! What’s that!?” Kay screamed.
“Don’t worry, Gigginox are harmless in this stage of life. Let it be. Watch your back though, it may jump on you.”
Kay stood close to me while Jagrus and Nathan walked behind. We encountered more Giggi, to Kay’s dismay. I saw them as cute blobs of mass, the way they slide through the floor to attach to some unwary animal and suck blood. Really weird creatures. We continued walking when a Giggi jumped and bumped my torch from my hands. The flame died out, and all was black.
“Can’t see shit now…”
“Calm down, we’ll be fine. Let me just take the torch and…”
“Oh wait, I see a light over there!” Nathan exclaimed. “Maybe that’s the missing group!”
I was relieved at the thought that we found the group without needing to fight something off. But I felt something strange inside me. I stared at the light. It was white as ice. That wasn’t a torch…
“Guys… stay away from that light.”
“Why?” Jagrus almost yelled. The light moved wildly. Two yellow dots appeared near it. Our prey had found us.
“Watch out!” I said while a loud roar echoed through the caves. It sounded like a Great Baggi mixed with a Tigrex. I heard limbs moving and turning. It was about to attack us.
“The group scattered while the Wyvern came into view. A Pseudowyvern stance was the only thing I could make out. I tried to take the torch from the ground, but I was pushed back strongly. The wyvern’s wings were fully developed, I thought. Standing up, I took my Dancing Hellfire and prepared to attack. But I couldn’t see anything! All I saw was the white light from earlier.
“That light has got to be connected to the tail.” I thought.
The light began to move wildly and suddenly a bright flash lit the cave. I covered my eyes, stunned witless.
“Orlando, look out!”
When I finally opened my eyes, the Wyvern was on top of me, ready to slash me with its claws. I braced for impact when I heard a shot being fired. A small explosion took the wyvern by surprise. Jagrus’s work; how he could see in this dim lighting was beyond me.
“Lucky shot, I guess.” He said. I took the time to attack the Wyvern’s head, to which it howled from pain. An aversion to fire, no doubt. I grabbed the torch, lit it and flung it towards another one standing in a corner of the cave. Thanks to the light coming from the monster’s tail, I flung with precise accuracy and lit the standing torch, slightly illuminating the cave. I got a good glimpse at the Wyvern. A large, long head with fangs drooping out of the maw, weird looking hide as black as the dark cave and powerful wings. A long tail ended on a bright ball of light. It reminded me of Gypceros’s head crest. Weirdest looking Wyvern ever, after Gigginox and Khezu. It moved like Leviathan, using the ice to slide towards us.
“It’s a Bryyukekus…” I thought, while swinging the sword and attacking the monster’s wings. Nathan, with his Red Bludgeon, attacked its head while Kay slashed at its tail. Jagrus fired Crag shots at its body. It was holding up pretty fine. I managed to wound its wings, to which it countered with a strong tail swipe. I was sent flying and landed sturdily.
“OHH…. I’m gonna’ feel that in the morning…”
The Wyvern was growing hungry, tired of the fight. It spotted the Giggi around the cavern and ate a few of them. With just little over ten Giggi, it regained its strength.
“This thing’s armor would make a perfect Gourmand skill.” I thought.
We continued the assault when saliva started pouring from the monster’s mouth. Its eyes turned red, and it let out a loud roar. Rage took its course through the monster’s body, and it now had ten-fold strength. That is, so I’ve been told of this monster. I didn’t want to prove that myself. It now ran towards us at blinding speed. We had very little room to survive these assaults.
“Come on! We’ve gotta’ get out of here!” I yelled. We hurried outside the caverns, Bryykekus following close behind. Now that the Sun lit our way, we could fight more fairly. I landed hits on the beast’s head, followed by Nathan’s super pound. The beast was stunned, and so we took the time to attack its tail. But try as we cold, it didn’t even show signs of extrication. The tail stood firm. Bryyukekus regained consciousness and swept us off with a flick of its tail. As it did so, it growled out of pain, signaling that it had been damaged by our attacks. It seemed to be worried. Kay landed a good hit on its face, and the Wyvern flinched in pain. The beast was somewhat tired again. It managed to bite me as I came closer to it. Its saliva stuck to my arm. It smelled like a tranquilizer. I was losing strength quickly.
“Ah, the Bryyukekus’s saliva. Able to subdue foes and prey by sapping away stamina if inhaled.” I remembered from the article I read about the little information recovered from the monster. I had no strength left to fight, so I took a Shock trap that I took with me to try and capture the beast.
“Do you have Tranq shots?” I asked Jagrus.
“Never leave home without them.” He replied while grinning.
I set the trap as the Wyvern prepared to jump on top of me. I tried to jump away, but Bryyukekus landed right on top of me. Luckily and unluckily, the trap was set off by the landing and out came sparks of electricity. My body was tingling wildly as if an earthquake was shaking it. The shock hurt, though I’d say a Khezu’s shock field is more powerful. J
“Ahh…. Not bad…gah … I feel like I’m being massaged.” I said, laughing faintly. Jagrus fired 2 Tranq shots at the Wyvern’s face, and it fell into a deep sleep… right on top of me.
“Um….ahhh…guys… a little… ahh… help?”
“Haha, you look just fine. Let that thing enjoy its cuddly pillow while it lasts.” Jagrus smirked. As Kay and Nathan helped me up and away from the sleeping wyvern, Jagrus fired one of the flares, hoping to catch a Guild balloon’s attention. However we still hadn’t found the missing group, so I took my sword and started towards the caverns yet again.
“Hey! What are you doing? The wyvern’s over here…” Jagrus was confused.
“I’m gonna’ look for the missing group. Stay here and guard the body. Make sure it doesn’t wake up.” Kay was nervous once I said this. I knew she would be. I searched the Tundra’s caves. Along the way, I spotted a Gigginox feeding on a frozen Popo carcass. Very disturbing scene. I high tailed it out of there and rested on a wall when suddenly it gave way. I fell a few feet down and felt my limbs numb. It was extremely cold in this space, apparently all ice. I drank my last hot drink continued the search. I could feel a burst of heat coming in front. I noticed a fire within the ice, and found 4 bodies lying in the ice. They were all immobile. I feared that they were dead. I was too late. To reassure myself, I yelled loudly at them, hoping to stir them. Only one managed to wake up; a man wearing Rathalos armor. He was pretty bruised up.
“Unh… wha… who are you?”
“I’m your escape, buddy. Now tell me, what of the others?”
“I’m afraid… they didn’t make it. The cold… the cold took them.”
“Gods… well, let’s get you out of here.” I prayed my respects and helped the man out of the caverns.
Upon exiting, I spotted Kay calling me. The balloon had already arrived. Jagrus and Nathan dismounted and helped me carry the missing man unto the balloon. We lay him in the floor so he could recover energy.
“Here, drink this.” I handed him a bottle full of yellow fluid. “It’ll help you recover.”
“Unh… thank you.” He said. The world was pretty much unforgiving. If you’re not prepared, nature will not hesitate in ending your life. I thought about this as the balloon headed towards Loc Lac.
Chapter 10: Reunion
Once we arrived, I was requested by the group to reunite with them later on. I took the time to buy a few materials while I was there; a few potions here, a few whetstones there, the usual. I went past the armory, full of hunters of all ranks. A lot of weapons came to and from the armory, blasting smoke in the back. Many felynes worked nonstop. One of the hunters standing there noticed me, and gasped in awe.
“Whoa, it’s Orlando! The Ranga killer!” he said.
“Oh my! It is him!” a girl said.
“Wha…?” I muttered.
Everyone suddenly stood in a circle around me. Apparently that fight went local, and who knows if it spread even more. I didn’t like my situation: I was in the middle of that crowd, almost suffocated. I was getting claustrophobic. Everyone kept shoving and touching my armor.
“Ha! I touched his armor!” someone cried.
“Oh man, you’re so lucky!”
“People! Step aside!” I yelled.
“He looks so handsome!” hopefully a girl said.
“Hey! Leave him be!” a loud voice said. Everyone stood frozen in place. A buff man stood there, staring at the crowd firmly.
“He needs some space, people! Off to your routines and the like!”
And just like that, the crowd dispersed; the hunters to the armory carrying weapons, the girls to their houses. I sighed in relief.
“Thanks. I would have died of overexposure if you hadn’t come along.”
“Haha, don’t worry. I couldn’t just let you get trampled by those hooligans.” The man, though showing signs of being slightly aged on his face, had a youthful aura around him.
“The name’s Dracon, Guild Chief here in Loc Lac. I take it your Orlando?”
“Yeah… wait, you say you’re a chief?”
“Yep. I lead hunters to their respectful areas and hunts.”
“What about the Guild Master, what does he do?”
“The Guild Master, I would say, is like an administrator or somethin’. While we, the Chiefs, lead and train hunting groups in our respectful areas, the Guild Master takes care of the paperwork and the recruiting of new hunters. The Guild Master won’t tell you how to hunt effectively, so it is our duty to show new hunters the path to victory. We’re kinda’ like those instructors I’ve heard about, but on a whole new plane.”
“Wow, never knew about that.” He seemed to look like the people in Moga. The same pointy ears and strong face.
“Do you by any chance know the Moga Village Chief?” I asked.
“You mean Junior’s daddy? Ha, he and I go way back. He was once the Moga Guild Chief, but he gave it up to lead the village. He was a talented hunter, I admit. We hunted a number of beasties together.”
“Heh, such a small world, huh?”
“You bet. Well, I guess you’re off to do… whatever it is you were gonna’ do.”
“Yeah. Thanks again, Dracon.”
“Call me Draky! I’ll be seein’ ya’!” He left towards a group of hunters, awaiting orders. I left towards the populated area of Loc Lac, were a lot of houses for different social classes came to view. I came to a medium-sized home, Kay’s house, where I was told to stop by and wait for Jagrus and Nathan. I knocked on the door, but no one responded. Being a curious guy, I peeked over the door.
“Hello? Anyone home?” Silence.
“Oh you’re here!” I heard faintly.
Out of the hallway in the house came Kay, her long hair wrapped in bunches. I quickly noticed she only wore her undergarments, her white skin showing. My face turned as red as a Rathalos.
“Uhh…. You sure you’re wearing proper clothing?” Apparently she hadn’t noticed and quickly covered her legs.
“Oh my…. Sorry about that…” Her face was as red as mine.
“Uhh… no problem.”
“Please sit down here.”
I waited for a moment, looking at the house. It had many paintings hanging on the walls.
“Huh…You like art, don’t you?”
“Uh, sort of. My Dad was a painting freak.”
“Oh…… you’re Dad, huh?”
“Yep.” She said as she entered the room, now wearing proper garments. She sat down beside me.
“So, we’re having that reunion here, right?” I finally said.
“Yeah, but the guys are a little slow when it comes to bathing and dressing up. They’ll take a while.”
“Oh, no worries.”
We stayed there for a while. She was staring more than half the time. I knew she had a crush on me, but I couldn’t be with her like that. Kira would smack me in the face. Still, she was cute…
“I wanted to thank you for saving me from that Blos... and helping out with Bryyu” she said while blushing.
“Oh, don’t worry about it. Anyone would have done that.”
She slowly crept forward, inch by inch, coming near me. I could see it in her eyes; that one, innocent expression. I had to talk my way out of this before it got out of hand.
“Sorry…… I’m taken…”
Even though I said this, she kept creeping over to me. Her blonde hair touched my skin. Her lips were now inches away from mine. She kissed me…she kissed me! I felt an array of emotions in my head. I didn’t know what to do. My body felt numb. All I knew was that I had to stop, and so I did.
“No! I’m sorry, I can’t.”
She looked at me, her big brown eyes shining brightly. Just then, tears began to appear on her eyes, followed by a weak whimper and a sad emotion.
“I’m sorry….. I couldn’t control myself…” she said, her eyes seeming like a waterfall. Now I felt pain and grief. I tried to comfort her the best way that I could.
“Hey, it’s not your fault……we all experience this one way or another.”
“Sniff…… I’m too late…”
“Huh? Too late?”
“Sniff……. I’ve been looking for someone like you……the perfect one………… but I’m too late. I’m always too late!”
I didn’t know how to comfort her now. She wouldn’t stop crying. I felt helpless, a feeling I did not like. I scraped my conscious for anything that would help. Just then I took one of my philosophical ideas and sprayed it out.
“I once shared your fate.” She lessened her tears now and stared intently. “I could never find the right one for me. Never. Nope. Until I met her. Fate threw us together.” Kay sat there, her eyes focused on mine.
“Now I tell you this: There’s always someone out there for each of us, you just gotta’ keep looking.”
“Sniff….but when will I know when he’s the…”
“You’ll know. Trust me.”
I hugged her tightly. I knew that would cheer her up. She stopped crying, and I sighed in relief. She hugged back, her tears coming unto my clothes. That didn’t matter. Just then, I heard some footsteps. I saw through the windows and noticed two young men outside the house. Those were Jagrus and Nathan.
“Took your time, didn’t you?” I said, patting Kay lightly.
“We’re almost always fashionably late. Excuse us…” Nathan said.
“Hey, I was only waiting for Nathan here, so I’m not guilty!” Jagrus said while chuckling.
Everyone sat down after Kay greeted the guys. I was eager to know what I was called for.
“So, what’s up?” I asked.
Nathan spoke up. “Well, we saw your performance in the desert and the Tundra, so we thought……”
“Bah, that was nothing. If it were a High rank Diablos or Bryyukekus, THEN I would accept your flattery.”
“No, you were pretty good. We were very impressed. I was very impressed.” said Jagrus.
“Uh, what do you mean by that?”
“We’ve been hiding something from you. Something important.” Nathan said.
“We’re not really what we look like.” Jagrus continued.
“You mean…… nooby?” Jagrus smirked.
“Exactly. Just a past time. We’re actually a highly renowned group of members from the E.D.O. We act as ‘noobs’ to monitor hunter behavior. Fortunately we came across you.”
“Uh huh……. Go on…”
“We know you from our liaison, Isabel.”
“Isabel? Whoa, haven’t heard from her since after that Fatal Lao…uh…”
“Don’t worry, we also know of your encounters with the Fatalite. We already begun studies on the fragment you delivered to Isabel months ago. Looks promising.”
“That’s right.” Kay said behind me, now as happy as ever. “Isabel is actually my twin sister.”
“Huh… no wonder. I can see a resemblance in your eyes.” Kay promptly blushed.
“We heard of your experience with the Elder Dragon Rangachitora. I must say, well done on your part.” Jagrus continued.
“Well, the real hero is Hummel GreenPaw. I was knocked out in the final stretch of the battle, and he landed the finishing blow with an arrow on the Dragon’s skull.”
“Ah, yes. Greenpaw. We shall take his name in consideration. But now is not the time for that. We have urgent news, and we thought that a hunter of your caliber should know.” Nathan said. I moved closer, hoping to catch every bit of information with my two ears.
“What is it?” I asked.
“We have heard of a plot to destroy the Great Forest.” My mouth drooped. I was awe-stricken. The word “destroy” echoed in my mind.
“Wha… what? Please tell me you’re joking.”
“Unfortunately, I’m not. This is the truth, recovered by a special agent of the E.D.O. The Razaman Kingdom has shown signs of undocumented and undisclosed work. We have tried to communicate with their King, Maximilianus, but he hasn’t responded. We fear this could get out of hand.”
“Who would even think of doing such a thing…?” I thought.
Jagrus continued. “That is why we have called you. We ask you and your team to head to the Razaman Kingdom and find out exactly what they’re up to. You should also try to find Maximilianus.”
“All of this sound likes secret agent stuff. Haven’t you sent anyone over there?”
“Alas, almost all of the agents we have sent have not returned. We do not know what is happening out there, but we believe they were assaulted heavily. Our agents are not equipped to fend off such attacks, so we searched for hunters to take the job, but none rise up. So now we come to you for help, once more.”
“Ah… well, I’m gonna’ have to talk with the guys to see if they agree. Thank you for sharing this information with me, I’ll contact you if we are ready.”
“Remember, this is top secret. No one must know about this but you and your friends.”
I said goodbye to Jagrus and Nathan, who acted as rookies as they left. More than meets the eye, I guess. I noticed that Kay hadn’t left me.
“Well, I’m off. I’ll be seein’ ya’.”
“Yeah…… hey… thanks for earlier……”
“No problem. Just helpin’ people in need.”
She grinned, gave me a hug, and went away towards her room. She reminded me a lot of Isabel, and no wonder! They were twins! I left the house and headed towards the harbor, hoping to get a ride home. I was decimated by the fact that someone was going to destroy the Great Forest. It was a natural paradise filled with life. All of these thoughts came to my head, while I mounted a boat leading to Moga. The seas were relatively calm. The boat did not swish back and forth as I feared. The voyage was well. Just then, something caught my eye. Several spines rose up from the water. I immediately thought of Plesioth, but these spines were different and much smaller. A large, scaly body came into view, resembling that of Leviathans. The head of the creature rose above the waves, showering water upwards from two small holes at the top of its head. It wasn’t a Lagiacrus, it was too big.
“That must be its snout…” I thought. A seafarer saw me looking at the waves, and decided to see for himself what was happening. His tired eyes sprang open.
“Argh……that’s one of ‘em Megascopus. Best to let ‘im be, unless you want to swim all the way to Moga.”
I gazed at the creature. It slightly moved its head towards the boat. It jaws were enormous. I think it could have easily bit down on half of the boat. I could see its eyes: menacing and petrifying. It then submerged itself, deep into the abyss. I could faintly see its body moving away from the boat. But something else caught my eye: a small Rath was flying overhead. I couldn’t decipher if it was male or female, so it must have been still immature. It flew off in the direction the Megascopus was swimming. And then, this shocking scene came into view: The Leviathan suddenly and spectacularly jumped out of the water and bit down on the Rath’s wings. I stood still, gasping in awe. The Rath howled in agony. Gravity took its course as the Leviathan fell into the sea, dragging its prey along with it. I was shocked witless. I’ve never seen such a scene take place. My stomach started to rumble. I heard the man beside me laughing.
“Hehe, you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it all, I’ll say. Now, you best get below deck ‘afore you heave. Yer’ face be greener than a forest.”
I followed his advice and went below deck, waiting until we arrived at the village. It was actually a short trip, as what seemed like a half hour later, a man began shouting.
I climbed above deck and saw the islands surrounding Moga. I was relieved that we finally got there. But something was amiss: I could make out smoke coming from the direction the village was. Something was wrong.
The story will continue on this blog. Stay tuned!