|Delusions of the Heart
Author: RockyRoadSmith PM
Life is peaceful after the defeat of Moo until Holly's father reverts back to the darkness and abducts his daughter. Now Genki is summoned back to defeat evil once more, along with the other rebels, before Moo's powers are fully restored.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Drama - Holly & Genki - Chapters: 21 - Words: 162,700 - Reviews: 80 - Favs: 16 - Follows: 12 - Updated: 02-23-12 - Published: 03-17-10 - id: 5822458
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Another late chapter. A great way to start off the year. *Sighs* Sorry again! It's just I spend so much time on the computer at work that by the time I get back to my apartment, my eyes burn so I don't like it. Plus my internet is still being icky. I hate you, Charter! D: But, let's see… We haven't been with Genki and the gang since the Undine chapter, which puts us all the way back to May. Sheesh, I need to play catch up! This chapter is speeding things up, so a lot of the destinations are mentioned but not written out due to me wanting to get this show on the road. XD If I did a chapter for every one of the episodes, this story wouldn't get to the point until I'm in my eighties. XD
Disclaimer: I don't claim to own Monster Rancher or the characters. I'm just a huge fan. Tecmo owns everything. I just own the plot.
Delusions of the Heart
Chapter 21. End of the Road
"I see with my little eyes, something green, chi."
"Right again! Okay, I see something gray, chi."
"Bingo, chi! Okay, something brown."
"Yup! Okay, chi, what about-"
Mocchi physically cringed and slunk back a little as Suezo growled irritably at him with a look that could kill. The young monster had lost count at how long they had been travelling around in the dense forest for, but by the ache of his feet and the rumble from his stomach, it had been too long by his standards. Besides him, however, the rest of the group stayed silent as they trudged along while avoided any contact with each other.
After the group's departure from Undine's Lake, it had been a long and quiet journey filled with a solemn air about them. Undine's death had been a hard one on the entire group, though no one had taken it as hard as Golem had. It had taken hours to get the rock giant to stop embracing Undine's Lost Disk and it had taken even longer to get him to leave the lake altogether. Although still abnormally quiet, Golem had since then recovered a bit and continuously told himself that he would find away to revive her once Moo was defeated. It was the only thing keeping him going.
The trip since had been a slightly disheartening one. After passing through the Melcarba (Beaklon/Henger) factory, which still stood abandoned, the rebels had passed through the cold tundra where Gray Wolf's deserted domain resided. The horrific memories still linked there in Tiger's heart caused the group to move quickly past the area to avoid distressing the wolf monster any more than needed. Next came the forest of Color Pandora. At first the rebels had been happy to see the Color Pandora civilization still staying strong, but they had been surprised to hear the Color Pandora who had matched wits with Hare had left weeks earlier; causing the rebels to leave without adding another comrade to their ranks. Next came the search for Jim and Eared Mew at Yellow River. Just like their last friend, though, the Captain and his First Mate were no where to be found. The forest of the Apes and Rock Apes was no different; no trace of any of the monkey monsters was evident and, once again, the rebels were forced to keep moving. After a quick break at the abandoned amusement park, the anti-Moo rebels found themselves searching for Kato and the Tainted Cat Brothers at the wise monster's training grounds, but none of the Kato monsters were present. So, once again, the group continued their tiring quest to meet Durahan at Naga's old fortress.
"I can't believe all of our friends are gone… It can't be a coincidence that they all just happen to be gone, though. Do you think they went off to join the resistance?" Hare asked to no one in particular.
"Most likely. If Durahan did his research, then he probably tracked down everyone who aided us in the past knowing full well they'd help us again," Tiger spoke up. "That, or…"
"…Moo could have gotten to them first."
That thought had never crossed any of their minds, honestly. Now that it was out in the open, though, everyone felt a chill crawl up their spines and for a sudden spark of worry to ignite in their minds. Suddenly, fear etched its way into their sturdy hearts and caused their minds to conjure awful thoughts of the whereabouts or fates of their friends.
"…no, that couldn't happen. We just have to keep faith that they joined Durahan's army," Genki spoke with a determined look on his face. "If we start thinking like that, we won't make it far."
"Yeah, you're right. Let's just keep moving forward with a positive attitude."
"I'm hungry, chi," Mocchi murmured quietly.
"Don't worry, we'll stop for a break soon enough," Genki smiled sympathetically at his closest companion while receiving a smile in return from the young monster. Even with Golem's decent cooking, meals were never as good as the old days when everyone would be greeted by a delicious feast and a warm smile from Holly. Still, they had to eat even if it meant only munching on pieces of bread or scrounging up some berries.
"We better enjoy this walking while it lasts because according to the map, we're gonna be crossing the small desert where we fought Bajarl and Holly destroyed the abandoned town. It shouldn't be more than a three hour walk, but any time spent trudging in the boiling sun isn't really all that great," Hare frowned as his eyes scanned the map in his hands before he stuffed it back into his traveling pouch.
"We should eat now before we go through the desert then," Tiger spoke up sternly.
"I was just going to suggest that," the rabbit monster scowled.
"Yeah, right. You'd rather us go through the desert quicker if it means sparing a few minutes out in the heat. You're just saying that because I said it first," the canine monster glowered with a huff.
"Was not! You stole my idea!"
"No, it was my idea first!"
Genki smiled softly as he listened to the two arguing monsters and he couldn't help but feel a small hint of sadness as his mind drifted back to the old days while Golem handed out pieces of cold bread for the group to nibble on while continuing to travel. He had taken those times for granted when he was young and had been too energetic to stop for a moment to take a look around him to appreciate the world. He never really stopped to look around at the scenery or to absorb the thrill of being in the world of the monsters. He had never taken the time to do the simple things in life or to learn more about the world. Most of all, he had been too focused on fighting Baddies and finding the Phoenix to even learn more about his comrades. That was one of the things he regretted the most.
"Hey, Suezo?" Genki called out suddenly.
"Uh, yeah?" Suezo replied with an expected expression as he hopped over to the young man's side.
"…what's your favorite kind of food?"
The eyeball monster blinked in surprise at the young man's sudden question and, judging by the rest of the group, they were just as surprised. Genki laughed hesitantly to himself as he waved the group off while rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly at the sudden wave of attention he was receiving from his fellow rebels, though their gazes never shifted.
"Um, what kind of a question is that?" Hare asked with puzzlement while he took a bite of bread and his ears drooped at the feeling of the temperature rising dramatically.
"I was just curious. I mean, we travelled together for so long and we never really talked much about ourselves," Genki replied with a shrug while sweat formed on his forehead from the heat, though he tried to ignore it by taking a quite nibble of the bread.
"Well, I guess I really like cooked fish," Suezo piped up with a wryly smile.
"Me too! I like carrots and bread, too," Hare grinned.
"I love any kind of meat," Tiger spoke up with content smile.
"I like… rocks and stones…" Golem stated softly.
"I like anything, chi!" Mocchi giggled giddily.
"Yeah, although right now I really don't like hot food," Suezo scowled as the group's view came across that of a long stretch of dry ground, but they quickly braced themselves and continued forward while doing their best to keep their minds off of it.
"What about you, Genki? What's your favorite kind of food?" Hare asked with a smile, though his expression faltered when his clawed foot stung from the hot ground, but he shook the warm feeling and did his best to ignore it.
"That's easy. I love-" Genki started without hesitation, but he felt himself stop talking as his answer lingered in his head and made his throat feel numb. It had been another thing he had taken for granted back in the old days of travelling, and he felt a strange feeling of bitterness rise into his chest, though he held it back as his answer finished processing in his mind. '-anything Holly cooks.'
"Uh, are you okay?" Suezo asked with a skeptical glance.
"Wha? Oh! Haha! Sorry! I was gonna say, uh, I love… uh… pasta! Yeah, that's it," Genki hastily replied with a small chuckle, though the others shrugged it off and continued trudging through the bitterly hot land.
"Pasta's good, too. The first time I ever had it was at Yellow River with Jim and Eared Mew," Tiger smiled smugly at remembering how he stole the meatballs off the meal before anyone could have any.
"I remember that day. You were such an ass for taking all the meatballs, Tiger," Hare scowled irritably.
"Maybe if you guys hadn't been acting like a bunch of savages, then you would have had some meatballs. I wasn't about to let you guys hog the meal, though," the wolf monster replied with a snort.
"Hey! Look at that!" Suezo shouted as he stuck his tongue out to the far distance, which was cause for the rest of the rebels to avert their attention. In the distance, a gigantic stone slab could be seen as its enormous form stretched on for over mile; its surface coated with hot sand from passing winds.
"We're not as far away from Naga's castle as I first thought since that's the giant rock Holly used to defeat Bajarl and destroy that abandoned town. Pixie and Big Blue met up with us right after that, so we must only be a couple hours' walk away. We're making excellent time!" Hare smiled as he wiped away some stray sweat from his forehead.
"Good because we don't want Durahan to leave without us otherwise we'll never get Holly back," Genki nodded with determination before hoisting his backpack up a little and continuing walking in the hot desert.
"Yeah, chi. We need Durahan's help, chi," Mocchi cooed while doing his best to keep in pace with Genki.
"I hope… our old comrades… are at the castle… as well…" Golem spoke up sternly while doing his best not to sink into the dense sand that acted like a feeble swamp.
"They have to be. If Weed was able to track us down, it would be even easier to track the rest of our friends down since they tended to stay in certain areas. If anyone is good at tracking people down, it's Durahan," the young man replied with a wryly smile.
"I wonder if he's still with that babe, Poison," Suezo grinned a little too eagerly.
"Even if he is, I doubt you'll be getting any action," Hare chuckled with a roll of his eyes.
"Shut up, Hare!"
"Make me, Suezo!"
Everyone fell silent as a loud roar bellowed throughout the desert and even with the intense heat from the sun, chills still shot down each of the rebels' spines. After a moment, another mighty roar followed until the air fell into a bout of eerie silence; one filled with uncertainty and worry.
"P-please tell me that w-was your s-stomach," Suezo gulped nervously.
"It wasn't mine, chi, but it may have been his," Mocchi squeaked as he pointed a shaky hand out to a huge figure looming over the rock slab the group had only minutes earlier been looking at. Stone Dragon (Dragon/Golem) let out another roar to strike fear into his opponents' hearts, causing the rebels to flinch from the sound before getting into defensive stances. The large winged beast stood patiently on top of the mounded rock while his long tail swayed and his tall neck craned down to look at the group of rebels. His skin was a rich gray color and pieces of rock lined his body and wings like armor while his yellow eyes leered expectantly at the group. Sharp claws adorned each of his feet and a grin on the monster's face revealed a set of deadly fangs, though it was the Baddies Crest on his chest that was really the rebels' main focus.
"First Death Dragon and now Stone Dragon. What is it with Dragons and deserts?" Suezo mumbled quietly under his breath, though no one seemed to hear him or if they did, they payed him no attention.
"Well now, it's been a long time, hasn't it?" Stone Dragon asked casually.
"It hasn't been long enough if you ask me," Hare growled while clenching his fists tightly.
"Such harsh words to say at a reunion. I thought we might chat and catch up for old times sake," the Dragon hybrid chuckled softly and playfully.
"Feh, not a chance. After all you did in the Color Pandoras' forest all those years ago, I wouldn't trust you for a second," the rabbit monster spat back irritably. "Are you here to fight or what?"
"Is that so? How will you best me in a battle today, though? Last time you and that Color Pandora had to resort to trickery and traps to defeat me. Out here in the desert, there are no trees and no quick sand for you to utilize. I trained for years making myself far more powerful than I once was. I'm powerful enough that if the Big Bad Four were around these days, I would qualify to join their ranks. So, do you still want to battle?" Stone Dragon taunted while watching the group of rebels carefully.
"Of course we still want to battle! We have to fight you since you're a Baddie!" Hare shouted while fire engulfed his closed fists.
"Heh heh heh… I was hoping you'd say that," the large winged monster grinned before flapping his winged rapidly, causing a mixture of wind and sand to fly roughly at the rebel group. The mixture was like a smokescreen, one in which the rebels found themselves completely unable to see in.
"Grrr…! Lightning Attack!" Tiger shouted as electricity shot out blindly from his horns toward the direction Stone Dragon had been, but the continuation of the sand and wind being thrown their way was an indication his attack had missed.
"Damn, I can't see a thing with this sand!" Suezo gritted his teeth while trying to peak his eye open to get a look at his surroundings, but the wind was too harsh.
"We can't fight him like this! We need to stop this wind before we can get to him!" Genki yelled over the loud winds while he held onto Mocchi's hand so they wouldn't get separated.
"Leave this… to me… I'll stop… his wind attack…Just be prepared… to attack him…" Golem stated with determination. "Everyone… stay back… so you do not… get caught… in the cross fire…"
"Are you sure, Golem, chi?" Mocchi asked quietly while gripping tightly onto Genki's hand, though a nod from the rock giant was as good an answer as any.
"Tornado Attack!" Golem shouted as his body disassembled into a large rock tornado that spun at even faster speeds than the oncoming wind attack. With a grunt, Golem moved his powerful cyclonic body skillfully around the perimeter of where his friends were currently stuck until the wind around his body shifted slightly, allowing Golem to sense a general idea of where the Dragon hybrid was attacking from. As Golem ended his Tornado Attack, he quickly aimed his hand forward before clenching it into a tight fist all the while doing his best to ignore the brutal wind and sand.
Golem's hand shot off his arm like a rocket until it disappeared into the mass of wind and sand, but a loud bang followed by a bellow of pain was enough for the group to know his target had been hit before the rock giant's hand flew back into place. With that, the wind slowly died down as well as the brutal sand, leaving the rebels free to see Stone Dragon growling angrily in the distance with a rather noticeable black eye.
"Nice shot, Golem!" Genki praised while Golem blushed bashfully at the compliment.
"You think a little trick like that will have me beat so easily? Think again! Inferno!" Stone Dragon shouted while a stream of flames shot out from his mouth toward the anti-Moo rebels, causing the group to yell in surprise and make a break for it with the Baddie literally in hot pursuit.
"As if the desert wasn't hot enough already, this guy's making it ten times worse!" Suezo wined while hopping as fast as his leg would take him.
"Now's not a good time for complaining, Suezo!" Hare called out to the eyeball monster.
"Any ideas, rabbit?" Tiger asked while running for dear life.
"I'm trying to think of something! Just give me a minute!" Hare huffed out while he gripped his traveling bag tightly in his hands so he wouldn't accidently drop it.
"We might not have a minute, bunny!"
"Don't pressure me, mutt!"
"Guys! You guys can fight later! For now, start thinking of a plan!" Suezo shouted, though he let out a yelp as a small flame from the incoming attack brushed up against his leg.
"None of us have any water-based attacks, so we're at a disadvantage here. With Stone Dragon's flight, Golem's attacks won't work anymore and I don't have any long distance attacks. Tiger's Blizzard won't work against fire-based attacks and since he's part Golem, lightning-based attacks won't be that effective either… I guess we still have Suezo's Spit Attack. Although to put out a flame as large as the one Stone Dragon is shooting out, we'd need an army of Suezos for the Spit Attack to work…" Hare analyzed while the other rebels looked at their team planner with looks of desperation.
"So what are we suppose to do then?" Genki asked while taking a quick look behind him to see Stone Dragon begin spewing more of his scorching Inferno attack out, and the young man couldn't help but gulp slightly. "He's gaining on us!"
"What about Mocchi? His attacks are pretty elementally neutral," the rabbit monster suggested while physically wincing at his now sore feet, but that didn't cause him to stop running for his life.
"What do we have to lose? It's worth a shot!" Tiger agreed while glancing back at the Dragon hybrid blanketing the desert ground behind them with a layer of scorching fire, causing the sand to melt into a sheet of black glass.
"You up for it, Mocchi?"Genki asked the young monster while still running and holding his friend's hand.
"Okay, chi! I'll try it! Mocchi Cannon!" Mocchi shouted as the small monster whipped his entire body around before firing off a massive pink beam of energy at Stone Dragon with such force it sent the little monster flying backwards until Golem caught him. The huge specialty attack slammed into the beast's side with incredible force, forcing the Dragon hybrid to cease his attack momentarily. Before the rebels could celebrate, however, Stone Dragon sneered at the group with a twisted smile before laughing loudly and opening his mouth.
"RUN FOR IT!"
"I can't believe he was fine after that! That hit him dead on, too! We need a new strategy and quick!" Suezo yelled while narrowly missing getting the back of his head sheered off by the fire attack.
"What about an all for one attack, chi?" Mocchi piped up.
"Nothing else worked so far, so it's worth a shot," Genki said with a nod of his head while making sure to not fall behind. "Suezo, shoot your Spit Attack at Stone Dragon. It should be enough to distract him long enough for him stop his Inferno Attack so all of us can attack him at once."
"You got it! Spit Attack!" Suezo shouted as he whipped around and launched several globs of spit at his foe. The gross substance splattered against the Dragon hybrid's arms and face, causing him to stop his attack and reel back in disgust.
"It worked! Now's our chance!" Genki announced like a war general with determination and courage gleaming in his clear eyes just like when he was a young boy.
The mass of attacks shot forward and slammed head on into the distracted Dragon hybrid, causing Stone Dragon to brace his body before an explosion followed. Dust and sand flew out from where the attack had hit and all of the rebels had to shield their eyes otherwise they would have been blinded. With weary expressions and heavy breathing, the group felt their hearts clench as the giant Dragon hybrid emerged from the smoke with only a few minor cuts and scrapes. Sheer exhaustion coursed through the group's morale and the heat of the desert was of no comfort either, though nothing was as disheartening as the image of Stone Dragon gleaming eerily at them with a twisted grin.
"Now, that wasn't very nice, was it?" Stone Dragon smiled madly while keeping a close eye out on the rebel group. "I trained a good long time to make sure I was resistant to your attacks and it looks like it was all worth it. I watched closely as monsters of your same species trained so I could be prepared for any of your attacks and I know how to counter each one of them."
"You're obsessed!" Suezo shouted.
"Am I? I knew one day if Master Moo ever rose up again that your little group would try to defeat him again. So, in turn, I was preparing myself for our rematch while you were living a pathetically peaceful life. I'm glad Master Moo finally came back so we can end this plague," Stone Dragon sneered. "Humans and monsters can never live together and thanks to Master Moo, the ideal world will soon become reality; one in which monsters rule the world and humans are our slaves. Why would you fight for the humans? With your strength, I know Master Moo would love for you to join his cause."
"You're wrong! It's true humans made some mistakes in the past, but so have monsters! There's no reason why monster and humans can't live together in peace!" Hare yelled out with a determined expression. "We get along just great with the two humans we travelled with and I can't imagine life without them!"
"You've been blinded by the humans for too long now. No matter; I'd rather kill you than fight along side you, anyways," the Dragon hybrid chuckled while a flash of malice crept up into his yellow eyes.
"So be it. We won't give in to you," Tiger snarled while electricity collected on the tips of his horns. "You'd make a better Lost Disk than a comrade anyways."
"Dragon Claw!" Stone Dragon growled as his arm shot forward toward the rebels, and they had barley enough time to stumble out of the way before the giant claw grasped at the sand they had just been standing on.
"Lightning Attack!" Tiger shouted as electricity crackled and shot forward at the giant beast, but Stone Dragon merely flapped his wings to deflect the powerful attack in one swift motion. "Damn, it's just like before! We can't keep this up!"
"Dragon Tail!" The Dragon hybrid snarled while whipping his hard tail as fast as he could swing it. The attack smashed into Mocchi's side, sending the small monster flying several feet away with a loud squeak and a brutal thud as he skidded to a halt.
"MOCCHI!" Genki exclaimed in horror before the young man bolted to his friend's side with worry written on his face while not even caring about the risks; the sounds of battle in the background being completely blocked out from his concern. "Mocchi? Mocchi, are you okay? Can you hear me?" Genki whispered hoarsely while shaking the pink monster gently.
"Hmm… After this… can we get… some food…?" Mocchi asked weakly and with a groggy expression.
"Y-yeah, of course!" The young man replied with a sigh of relief at seeing his friend was alright.
"Where you're heading, you won't be needing food."
A chill ran up Genki's spine as he slowly turned around to see Stone Dragon towering over him like a hawk with a cornered mouse. The young man felt the color drain from his face as he caught sight of his other comrades, who were trying desperately to attack the Dragon hybrid from behind to turn his attention away from Genki, but to no avail. Mocchi's eyes widened in horror before he forced himself to stand up and stand between Stone Dragon and Genki even though he knew he was no match in his current condition.
"I haven't eaten a human in quite some time. They say it's good for the soul to treat yourself every so often, though, and I think I've waited long enough. That, and it looks like I get a little dessert, as well. What a lucky day, indeed," Stone Dragon chuckled while licking his teeth before he slowly began to lean forward to finish his prey off.
Four large purple orbs of energy smashed into Stone Dragon's face with a sickening crunch; sending the large beast tumbling to the ground with a loud screech and an enormous crash. With a surprised blink, Genki quickly took the tired Mocchi into his arms before running to reunite with the rest of the rebels, who were looking with expressions that crossed between extreme relief to see their friends were alright and confusion at what had just happened.
"Genki! Mocchi! You guys are alright!" Suezo grinned merrily as he hopped over to his two companions.
"Yeah, just barely though!" Genki replied with a wryly grin.
"What happened, though?" Hare asked with a raised eye brow. Before the rabbit monster could get an answer, though, a growl from Stone Dragon caused the group to get back into defensive positions while the giant beast staggered to his feet with an extremely furious expression on his face.
"How…? None of you species of monsters can use that kind of attack," Stone Dragon hissed angrily while clenching his claws tightly together, his head pounding like a sledgehammer from the blow he received to the head.
"Maybe they can't ussse attacksss like that, but I can."
Stone Dragon felt anger flood into his veins as he whipped his head around to view his new opponent, but almost immediately he felt a blanket of fear wrap itself around him. Standing several yards away was a tall purple serpent monster with yellow eyes and a long spiked tail. Spikes adorned his back and arms that were each connected with an almost webbing-like structure, each a paler shade of purple than his scaled body. The sides of his head were also adorned with these similar webbed spikes while the scales on his chest formed almost like chest armor. Large claws adorned his hands and sharp fangs could be seen in his elongated mouth.
"That… that's impossible! You're supposed to be dead!" Stone Dragon exclaimed in horror at the new arrival while gripping his pounding head from the blow he had received.
"Am I? Well, it seemsss you are missstaken, for I am clearly alive and well. In a minute, though, I don't know if I'll be able to sssay the sssame thing about you," the serpent monster replied while his yellow eyes narrowed and his claws tightened in anticipation.
"…Naga?" Genki whispered in surprise at the arrival of the ex final Big Bad Four member.
"Sheesh, your timing is always last minute!" Suezo shouted irritably.
"My apologiesss. I had sssome thingsss I had to work out, but I'm here now, am I not?" Naga replied with a toothy grin, something the rebels had been almost sure was impossible coming from the ex Baddie.
"Well, stop talking and get to fighting Stone Dragon with us!" Suezo huffed in aggravation.
"Patience, Sssuezo. I must insissst you and your comradesss ssstay out of thisss battle, though," the purple serpent monster spoke in a serious tone while keeping a close eye on Stone Dragon, who was currently gripping the side of his face from where Naga's attack had hit.
"What? No way! We can't let you fight him alone! He's way too tough!" Genki announced quickly.
"No, you mussst sssave your ssstrength if you're to ressscue Missss Holly. If any of you get seriousssly injured, there will be no hope of defeating Moo. Now, I mussst requessst that you ssstay back. Trussst me," Naga hissed to the rebels while flashing them a small smile. "I know I can defeat him by myssself, for he only ssstudied your group'sss speciesss. Thisss fight will be over quickly, but you mussst promissse me you'll ssstay back."
"Just listen to him. He'll be fine," Suezo spoke up before any of the other rebels could protest. "Trust me when I say he's been keeping in shape for the past few years."
"…alright. We're here if you need us, though!" Genki called out to their once enemy.
"Sssounds fair enough," Naga chuckled.
"You dare make me out to be some petty minion? I'm one of Moo's best warriors! I trained for years to relearn my specialty attacks and to become more powerful. You'll pay for your ignorance!" Stone Dragon glowered furiously while almost foaming at the mouth from his intense rage at being written off.
"…well? Are you finissshed flaunting yourssself yet?"
"You insolent beast! Dragon Claw!" The Dragon hybrid shouted while charging forward with his powerful claw extended; ready to grasp his opponent and crush the life out of him. A devilish grin crossed over Naga's lips as he swiftly ducked under the massive claw before his own claws began to glow a faint purple color.
"Evil Shotsss!" Naga growled as four orbs of energy flew into Stone Dragon's exposed stomach; causing the large monster to let out a pain laced yelp and for a large scorch mark to scar his abdomen.
"Y-you bastard…" Stone Dragon coughed hoarsely. "Dragon Tail!"
The Dragon hybrid whipped around quickly and although Naga was able to dodge the brunt of the blow, he winced slightly as the tip of Stone Dragon's tail sliced into his side. This, however, only made Naga more angry, and the serpent monster let out a loud roar before slithering swiftly to the weakened Stone Dragon and lunging claws first at his vulnerable stomach. With a hiss, Naga quickly grabbed one of Stone Dragon's large scales before twisting it around and tearing it off the monster's body with a sickening crunch; leaving him to throw the scale onto the sandy ground and for blood to began seeping out from the open wound.
"GRAAWWRR!" Stone Dragon roared in agony as he tried clutching his bleeding belly, but Naga only smacked the beast's claws away while preparing himself for his next move.
"What's he up to?" Hare asked nervously while averting his gaze every so often due to the gory nature of the scene.
"I think I have an idea…" Tiger mumbled before turning to the sole human of the group. "Genki, it would be best if Mocchi doesn't see this."
"Because things are going to get even worse."
Genki felt his body tense up, but he quickly picked up the tired Mocchi and heeded Tiger's advice by walking away from the scene while making sure Mocchi couldn't look back at the battle. As Mocchi gazed up at his best friend with curious eyes, he felt a sad smile cross his lips and he gently patted the young monster on the head. "You tired?"
"Yeah, chi… All that running made me sleepy, chi," Mocchi admitted with a weary smile "But… why are we going away from the others, chi? Shouldn't we stay there just in case they need help, chi?"
"Well… uh… I just don't really want to see another Baddie get beaten, ya know? And I wanted some company, so I took you with me," Genki lied with a smile, though it seemed to work as he received a smile in reply. In the near distance, though, they could still hear the shouting from the ongoing battle, and a little sense of dread filled his mind.
"Dragon Claw!" Stone Dragon shouted while trying to get Naga away from him, but to no avail. With a swift dodge under the massive claw, Naga lunged forward with his claw forward as fast as he could. The serpent monster's claws dug into the tender flesh of Stone Dragon's abdomen; a squirt of warm blood splattering onto Naga's chest, though the ex Big Bad Four member didn't seem to notice.
"GRRAAAWWRR! NO!" The giant beast moaned in agony, but Naga ignored the monster's wailing. Instead, the serpent monster began to rake both his claws against the exposed flesh, causing more blood to ooze out from the wound. With a sense of victory, Naga reared his claw back before shooting it forward with immense force. The attack ripped through Stone Dragon's stomach like scissors cutting paper, and Naga slithered backwards while the large beast fell to his knees; blood soaking the sand below. With a raspy cough that produced more blood, Stone Dragon moaned in pain as he tried clutching his torn abdomen, but to no avail.
"…holy Phoenix…" Hare gulped at the gruesome sight while trying hard not to lose his lunch.
"…no… no…" Stone Dragon whimpered weakly while trying to keep his innards from pooling out of his body. With a low moan, the large monster collapsed to the ground with a loud thud; his intestines flopping out from the gaping wound, although the Dragon hybrid still subconsciously tried fighting fate by pushing them back in. After a moment of silence, Naga slowly slithered up to the large beast before closing his eyes and sighing softly.
"I hope in your next life, you will utilize your life in a way that the Phoenix intended. Until that day, sssleep in the most peaceful of slumbersss," Naga spoke softly before quickly jabbing his claw into Stone Dragon's neck; leaving the beast to glow brightly until shriveling into a Lost Disk.
"He did it… He did it! Genki! You can come back now! Naga beat Stone Dragon!" Suezo shouted out and, within moments, Genki came trudging up the sandy embankment with Mocchi on his back.
"How did it go?" Genki asked to no one in particular, but he winced at the sight of all the bloodied sand.
"Let's just say Naga isn't the kind of monster I'd want to fight," Hare grumbled as the group hurried to Naga's side. "Hey, thanks for the help!"
"Ah, it wasss not a problem. I'm sssorry it took ssso long. I mussst be getting russsty," Naga chuckled while looking down at his blood covered body.
"Man, you need to get cleaned up," Suezo huffed.
"You sssound like Missss Holly," the serpent monster grinned while Suezo blushed sheepishly.
"I have an idea. Let's camp out behind the giant stone slab so we're out of the sun. We're way too tired to travel anymore today," Hare suggested. "Then, Tiger can do his Blizzard attack to make a huge block of ice and I can use my Dragon Punch attack to turn it into water so we not only have drinking water, but then Naga can get cleaned up."
"That sounds like a good idea. Let's make camp!" Genki announced with a smile as the group quietly trudged back to the giant stone slab. After setting up a fire, Tiger and Hare got to work on making water for the group even if more arguing got done than actual work. Once done, the sky was already dark, making the shadows from the travelers shine upon the giant rock sheltering them.
"Here is… some water… so you… can get… clean," Golem spoke softly to Naga while cupping his giant hands together to hold a good amount of water.
"Thank you. I appreciate your kindnessss," Naga smiled while taking some of the water and splashing it on his soiled body. After several minutes, the serpent monster was completely cleaned from his earlier brawl and he sat tiredly near the roaring fire with keen eyes while the other rebels sat across from him. His side, although still throbbing from the wound inflicted by Stone Dragon, had been nicely patched up by Hare even if he protested the entire time.
"I'm so sick of deserts," Hare yawned meekly.
"For once I agree with you," Tiger mumbled softly.
"We're out of food, too," Genki sighed while poking the fire with a stick.
"You require food?" Naga asked with a curious expression.
"Well, duh! We can't fight if we're tired and hungry! Not all of us are built like robots like you are," Suezo snorted sarcastically while Naga nodded his head and rose from his place.
"I will obtain you some food then," the serpent monster spoke while disappearing in the darkness before waiting for a reply; leaving the rebels to blink in surprise before turning to Suezo.
"Sheesh, since when are you so casual and what not with Naga?" Hare asked in surprise.
"What, him? He hangs around my house all the time with Holly, so I got use to him over the years," the eyeball monster replied with a small shrug. "The first few times he showed up, I wasn't pleased. After four years of him tagging along, though, it's hard not to get use to it. Besides, he helps with chores when he shows up so I don't complain and a lot of the time he brings us gifts from his travels."
Before the other rebels could ask anymore questions, their attention was averted as they watched a bird flying overhead shriek as it got blasted with one of Naga's Evil Shots before it plummeted to the ground followed by a low thump; causing the other rebels to sweat slightly.
"…when he said he was getting us food, I thought he meant finding us plants or something," Hare chuckled with hesitation.
"Me too, but I'm not complaining about getting some meat instead," Tiger grinned eagerly, though his hunger rose as he caught sight of Naga returning to the camp with a successful expression.
"I have found your group ssssome nourissshment," Naga spoke up as he slithered back to the campsite with several dead hawks in both claws. The group was quick to accept the meal before each of them plucked away the feathers and sat them over the fire to cook a little more properly than Naga's attack had done.
"Mmm… they smell so good, chi," Mocchi giggled while his stomach growled in protest.
"Why isss it you cook the meat? It losesss sssome of the flavor when you cook it," Naga frowned.
"Sorry, but remember what Holly told you? Most of us like our meals cooked and she's the only one who will leave your meals raw how you like it," Suezo retorted while watching the cooking birds carefully. "Any restaurant you go to will cook the meat, too. Raw meat isn't all that appealing."
"I know, but it buildsss ssstrength to eat meat raw. You won't alwaysss be able to make a fire, ssso you ssshould learn to eat thingsss raw for sssurvival. One time, back when I firssst joined Moo, I had to eat a whole cow raw," Naga spoke sternly.
"So what?" Suezo grumbled.
"…it was still alive asss I tore it open and devoured it'sss innardssss."
The rebels all sweated nervously as they each scooted a little away from the purple serpent monster, though he didn't seem to notice or care. After waiting for the meal to cook, the rebels were eager to each grab some of the food and, although it was hot, they shoveled it into their mouths without hesitation. The meat was one of the best tasting things they had on their current journey and each of the group members savored each wonderful bite.
"So, Naga, Suezo says you hang around with Holly a lot. What's that about?" Hare asked with curiosity while taking another bite of the roasted bird. "I thought you were a traveler."
"I am a traveler, but I visssit Missss Holly at leassst once a month," Naga replied with a casual shrug.
"Becaussse I love her."
The response caught the group off guard as each of them, except Suezo, all stopped eating while their pupils widened in shock. Genki, however, gagged and spit out his food in surprise before taking a double take at the serpent monster with a look that varied from extreme jealousy and absolute horror. The color drained from the young man's face as fast as the Tainted Cat Brothers' attacks and he felt a horrible wave a nausea sweep over his entire body, though he did his best to suppress the feeling. At seeing Genki in such a dreaded state, Suezo couldn't help but chuckle before giving the young man a slap on the back.
"Relax, Genki. The first time he told me that, I literally attacked him. It's not what you think, though," Suezo chuckled softly while taking a drink of water. "Do you think I'd let him hang around my house if I thought he was up to something like that?"
"Ah, do not worry, young man. I have no intentionsss of ssstealing your mate," Naga spoke with a smile while Genki felt his face flush several shades of red at the implication. "Missss Holly isss my angel."
"That'sss correct. Ssshe isss the firssst perssson to ssshow me kindnessss, though ssshe ssshould have been the lassst perssson in the world who would treat me well. You sssee, when I wasss firssst unlocked many yearsss ago, I wasss immediately sssold to an arena where I would battle other monsssters," the serpent monster spoke sternly while keeping a sharp gaze at the flickering fire.
"An arena? You mean like the Legend Cup and other tournaments like that?" Genki asked quickly.
"No. The battlesss I fought were againssst my will and were until the death. I wasss a gladiator for mossst of my life, and it'sss there I learned to despisssse humansss for forcing that fate upon me. My life changed forever, though, when Moo awakened and began forming an army. When he sssaw me and the other gladiatorsss, he immediately killed the humansss and took usss in. I owed him my freedom, and ssso I trained hard under him in order to become one of hisss best warriorsss."
"So that's how you were recruited into Moo's army… It explains a lot," Tiger spoke softly.
"Yesss. My firssst real tasssk to prove I wasss up to being part of Moo'sss elite warriors, the Big Bad Four, wasss to dessstroy the sssmall town of Toriyama. I did it without question, of courssse. I lived asss an evil creature for ssso long and when I finally came face to face with your group, I wasss sssure I would kill all of you. When I wasss blasssted off the edge of my cassstle, I had plansss to ussse my tail to ssswing back up to the ledge to resssume our battle, but when Missss Holly extended her hand out to me, everything changed. Ssshe sssould have ssstomped on my claw or sssomething to make me fall, but ssshe tried to sssave me instead. I let myself die that day and when I wasss resssurrected after Moo'sss defeat, I didn't know what to do with my life. My whole journey to get ssstronger, though, all I could think about was her. Missss Holly had become my reassson for living and when I fought in that tournament for you, I won't lie; I wasss really doing it for Miss Holly," Naga smiled softly as he watched the rebels listening intently to his story.
"That explains a lot. You didn't seem to talk with her at all that time, though," Hare commented.
"I wasss ssstill too assshamed to ssspeak to her. It wasssn't until yearsss later, I wasss travelling sssouth to visssit Gali, when I wasss attacked by angry humansss who remembered when I wasss a Baddie. They ssstabbed and ssslashed at me, but I did nothing to ssstop them. I didn't want to hurt anyone anymore, for I left thossse daysss behind me."
"What happened then?"
"I wasss hurt, but before they could do me more harm, a beautiful woman ssstopped the villagersss' attack on me. I passssed out, but when I awoke, I was greeted with the sssight of Missss Holly sssitting at my bedssside waiting for me to wake up. Ssshe had ssstayed up all night watching over me while tending to my woundsss."
"You forgot to mention the fact I helped drag your sorry carcass all the way to that inn," Suezo mumbled with a scowl.
"I do owe you my gratitude," Naga smiled.
"Were you alright after that, chi?" Mocchi asked with curiosity.
"Missss Holly took care of me for a week until I wasss well enough to travel again. It wasssn't until much later I learned ssshe had received a cut on her arm from the angry villagersss. Ssshe didn't care about the risssk of sssaving my life again, and I realized her heart was completely pure. Ssshe still hasss the ssscar on her arm and it'sss a reminder to me of her kindnessss. I joined her and we travelled all the way back to her hometown of Toriyama. I had a hard time going back into the very town I had dessstroyed yearsss earlier, but Missss Holly welcomed me with open armsss and before I knew it, I had a hard time travelling again. I loved her company and ssshe allowed me to ssstay at her home, although it wasss awkward being around the man who wasss once my massster," Naga admitted while looking up at the stars. "After that, I could only travel ssshort distancesss before I would travel back to Toriyama. It became tradition and every time I visssited Missss Holly, ssshe would make usss tea or we would go on a picnic. Ssshe ssshowed me what life had to offer."
"It sounds like you two got close. I never would have expected that years ago," Hare mused quietly.
"I underssstand what you mean. I even dubbed myssself as her guardian after I sssaw sssome villagersss try to attack her for being related to the man who wasss once Moo. Many people hate her for being related to that man, and it sickensss me to think they would try to hurt her. And ssso, jussst as Sssuezo isss her monster, I am now, asss well. I cannot alwaysss be with her, though, which isss why I consssider myssself her guardian and not her companion," the serpent monster spoke, but his eyes narrowed dangerously before his fangs more slightly. "While I wasss traveling, I got word from Granity that Moo had returned and had attacked Toriyama. I russshed back in hopes it wasss all a sssick joke, but she was right and I wasss met with Missss Holly'sss home in ruinsss and for my angel to be gone. It'sss why I joined Durahan; my only goal isss getting her back."
"We appreciate your help with this. We'll definitely get her back with friends like you helping," Genki smiled softly. "And you met up with Granity? I haven't seen her in so long…"
"Yesss, mossst of your friendsss are already at my cassstle. Granity isss alssso part of Durahan'sss army, though ssshe mossstly doesss whatever ssshe feelsss like. The final battle with be an epic one, that'sss for sssure," the serpent monster chuckled softly, but his expression hardened suddenly. "Still… Missss Holly knew sssomething wasssn't right, but ssshe didn't want to alarm the public jussst incassse her intuition wasss wrong. If only I hadn't sssought out answerssss, then maybe I could have protected her from being abducted."
"What do you… mean?" Golem asked gently.
"About three weeks before Moo'sss attack, I wasss visssiting Missss Holly…"
Birds chirped merrily while waiting for lone insects to fly their way, but they scattered quickly as a large purple tail almost hit them from their perch. The outskirts of Toriyama had a combination of woodlands and grassy fields, making it a wonderful place to relax and enjoy a peaceful afternoon. The newcomers to the area, though, weren't quite as relaxed as the rest of the area while one of the visitors was literally being dragged by the other.
"You're going to rip my arm out of the sssocket!" Naga joked happily while smiling at his companion.
"Oh? Well, I wouldn't have to drag you if you would just walk next to me then! I don't like it when you trail behind me like some servant!" Holly exclaimed, her eyes dancing in amusement.
"I am not worthy enough to walk at the sssame pace asss you, though," the serpent monster replied.
"You've been saying that for years now and I always tell you the same thing; that's not true and I don't want to have to scold you again for thinking like that," the brunette spoke sternly, yet her eyes shone with a content feeling. "Now… walk side-by-side with me, please?"
"I… I supossse I could for now, but thisss doesssn't change thingsss," Naga mumbled while cautiously slithering to Holly's side as if she had become a time bomb.
"We go through this every time you visit me. You need to relax a bit," the wielder of the Magic Stone spoke while casually hooking arms with her guardian and flashing him a bright smile. "So, let's pick a spot and set up the picnic!"
With peace had come the need for heroes to diminish, and Naga knew it had been hard for Holly to cope with that fact. True, she didn't miss the battles and deaths, but learning to intergrade into normal society had been nearly impossible for anyone involved in the war, whether it be the heroes or the villains. Due to Naga's past history, no one would hire him and he would often get dirty looks from townsfolk. Being with Holly, however, eased his mind and made him feel appreciated and even loved.
"How's the food?" Holly asked with a smile as she took a small bite from her sandwich.
"Deliciousss, asss alwaysss. You know how much I love raw meat," Naga smiled warmly, though his smile grew as Holly poured him another cup of tea. It had become tradition for the duo to go out for a picnic with each of his visits, though the only way for Suezo to agree to this was for Naga to slip him a few dirty magazines. Still, it was worth it to the serpent monster to see his angel's smile.
"…are you happy with the way things are now?" Holly asked suddenly, her eyes boring down at her teacup.
"Hm? Of courssse I am. Thessse four yearsss of peace have been wonderful. Why do you asssk?" Naga asked in confusion, but worry laced itself into his mind as he watched Holly's expression darken. "Missss Holly? Are you alright? Are you not felling well?"
"I… I had a dream last week that left me shaken, is all. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to worry you," the brunette smiled weakly to her friend. "Just forget about it."
"Missss Holly, pleassse tell me what thisss dream wasss about. Your subconciousss may be trying to tell you sssomething important and your intuition is very accurate," Naga spoke up while scooting closer to the young woman.
"I… I dreamt that evil returned to the world and that my father was the cause of it. The Phoenix was… dead. There was so much blood and… Genki appeared. He was behind prison bars and looked worried as he gave me something that I've never seen before, but he disappeared before I could talk to him. I had my dagger with me, but I couldn't cut through the darkness that kept trying to pull me in. I just… panicked," Holly breathed out while avoiding any eye contact. "My father has been more distant lately, but he goes into these moods every so often so it's nothing new. My dream, though, has made me paranoid that something is going to happen."
"You ssshould tell your old companionsss about your dream. It could be a sssign sssomething is about to happen. Peace cannot lassst forever without warsss breaking out every ssso often," the serpent monster spoke softly while placing a comforting claw on her shoulder, making it so he could feel her frame shivering.
"If my dream is nothing but that, then I'd be scaring everyone for nothing. That would be such a horrible thing to have happen."
"Then… I'll find the anssswer."
"How will you do that?" Holly asked with curiosity.
"Your visssion ssshowed the Phoenix wasss dead, right? If your friendsss, who are bonded to the Phoenix, had been killed, then you would have been told that. If that'sss the cassse, then maybe your dream meansss the body of the Phoenix and not the onesss who hold pieces of it'sss sssoul. I really don't know, but maybe if I go to Mount Kairosss, I'll sssee if the two bodiesss of Moo and the Phoenix are ssstill intact," Naga stated with determination. "If they're ssstill incasssed in ice like they have been, then maybe it wasss jussst a dream. Maybe, though, Moo really isss returning."
"You'd really travel all that way for me?"
"Thank you so much, Naga. That means so much to me," Holly smiled brightly at the serpent monster, and Naga felt his heart melt by her gaze.
"Anything for you, Missss Holly. Your dream was probably jussst a dream, but it'sss better to be sssafe. I'll be back before you know it and we'll be having another picnic together."
"…but I wasss wrong and Missss Holly's dream had sssome merit, becaussse Moo did return. My trip to Mount Kairosss was fassst due to having help from old alliesss. When I got to the mountain, there wasss a sssingle monssster there looking at the two frozen formsss of Moo and the Phoenix. When it sssaw me, it attacked, but jussst as I wasss about to defend myssself, another being attacked my enemy. Granity had gone to visssit Toriyama when ssshe sssaw the Baddiesss and Missss Holly'sss ruined home. Ssshe had the sssame idea asss I did and ssshe travelled to Mount Kairosss to sssee if maybe Moo'sss body had been disssturbed, but it hadn't. Ssstill, the monssster who attacked me had been a Baddie, so I'm sssure Moo will want to merge with hisss ancient body again."
"I'm surprised Moo didn't try merging with his ancient body right away," Tiger stated while gnawing on one of the hawk bones.
"I wondered that myself at first, but then I thought it over. Last time Moo got his ancient body, Moo's actual soul took over the part that was Yosho's soul. Now, Yosho probably still fears being taken over again, so he's most likely avoiding using that body again," Hare explained.
"It makesss senssse. Either way, I intend to defeat Moo to get Missss Holly back. If I have to take him on in hisss ancient body, than ssso be it. For now, though, we all need ressst ssso we're prepared for tomorrow," Naga yawned weakly before laying down and turning on his side. "All of you will have a long day tomorrow, but think about it; you made it in time to join Durahan'sss army. That takesss real ssskill and dedication."
"True. Let's hit the hay, guys," Hare mumbled before following Naga's lead and resting down for the night. Tomorrow would be the start of hopefully the end, so the group would need all their strength. As the rest of the rebels quieted down to sleep, however, Genki stayed awake while looking up at the night sky with a worn expression on his face.
'…if Holly's dream was right about Moo returning, what did the rest of her dream mean?' Genki thought to himself, but he shook off the feeling before closing his weary eyes. 'I'll think about that some other day. For now, I need to get ready to join the army… Holly, I will get you back, I swear.'
I haven't read this over, so sorry for the grammar/spelling errors! Yeah, I'm glad I warned everyone last chapter that this one would be more dull. Just lots of talking and stuff. XD Yes, I had to write Naga's accent being it's like Captain Horn's; they're just not the same without it. So words with 's' in them become 'sss', so two extra letters are added. Words that have multiple 's', like 'singers', would be 'singerssss'. The added letters tend to go to the 's' closest to the end of the word he's speaking. And I know 'as' in Naga's tongue is 'asss', which makes it look like ass. Ah, good times. XD And yes, in my series Holly and Naga are very close. Not romantically, but Naga basically worships Holly while Holly doesn't want him treating her like royalty. :3 And Suezo, after years of being pissed at Naga, eventually got use to him, which is why he's more casual and sarcastic with him. Thanks so much for reading, guys! I hope the next chapter isn't so late!
Chapter Preview (Chapter 22): Genki and the group, with Naga as their guide, finally make it to Naga's Fortress, where many familiar faces and a certain general awaits them. Not everyone is happy at the new arrivals, however. Stay tuned!
RockyRoadSmith: Signing off! :3