|The Legacy of a Hunter
Author: vorde1 PM
Kio wants to become great like his father, the village hero. But after failing a Bulldrome quest multiple times, the village chief hires Cultise "the worst hunter ever" as a teacher. This is a translation of the most popular MH novel in Japan. MH 2nd GRated: Fiction K - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Chapters: 9 - Words: 20,228 - Reviews: 8 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 05-30-12 - Published: 02-02-12 - id: 7798378
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: Monster Hunter is copyright Capcom. "The Legacy of a Hunter" is copyright Keiichi Hikami.
Kio ran through the jungle.
Covered with leaf mold and muck, the ground was rugged and uneven, with tree roots, rotting trunks, small bushes and shrubs all over the place. He continually needed to pay attention to where ever he was stepping, but if he focused his attention below, he would get pummeled in the face by low hanging vines and branches. With all these natural snares, running would be normally impossible.
But Kio could still run. It wasn't that he had memorized every crook and hole in the land. He just seemed to know where to step. No matter how thick the mold was, he could now tell when something was concealed beneath. And as long as he avoided those places, he could run without hindrance.
All of which was possible only because of the mushroom picking. The weeks spent digging through dead leaves and picking mushrooms had taught Kio to run freely.
I bet this is what Cultise was aiming for. I hate to admit it, but he is right. Just being strong isn't enough to be a hunter.
It wasn't fun to realize that he was being controlled like a puppet by Cultise, but for now he was happy for his newfound freedom.
He was currently stalking a Kelbi through the jungle. Kelbis were small herbivores with horns, much smaller than Aptonoths, but they were also much nimbler, which made catching one pretty hard.
Kio neared the bounding Kelbi and struck with his Assassin's Dagger, but the stag changed pace suddenly and his blow missed. The balance of his new weapon was slightly different than before and he hadn't mastered it yet.
The Kelbi seemed to snort in amusement and it continued its unique canter. It seemed like a simple rhythm, but in fact it was quite complex, for the Kelbi would stop abruptly, only to dart off again in another direction.
Counting the rhythm, Kio closed the distance once more. He judged perfectly where the Kelbi would stop and felled the monster with his blade. Things he never knew, he was now starting to understand. Hunting had never been more fun for Kio.
That should be it.
The village chief had asked them to bring five Kelbi horns aside from the main mission. From what he remembered, a merchant had wanted it. Until Cultise finished preparing, it had been his job to take care of gathering the horns.
He quickly broke off the horns and shoved them into his bag. I hope Cultise is done by now.
He glanced at the sky above. The time limit was almost up. He was currently in the north-eastern part of the jungle, waiting for the prey to appear.
Today, they were hunting the Velodrome.
It seemed the recent explosion in the Velociprey population was caused by the appearance of multiple Velodromes in the jungle. Normally after taking out the pack leader the rest of the pack would calm down, but as soon as Kio and Cultise had come back from the last mission, another Velodrome was sighted in the jungle.
A weird call rang out over the clearing, one Kio knew only to well. It must have smelt the blood, for it came straight toward Kio.
Well, it's just about time too.
Kio didn't charge idiotically like before, but pulled out a flash bomb. "Eat this!"
He ripped out the short string hanging from the fist-sized bomb and threw it toward the monster. With a small 'poof' the bomb detonated and a flash brighter than the sun itself exploded throughout the clearing.
Kio had immediately covered his face, but the Velodrome took the full blast in its face. With its eyes burned, the Velodrome thrashed around blindly. After checking to make sure the effect took hold, Kio drew his sword and ran.
The Velodrome didn't notice Kio at all as he advanced. Gathering momentum, he slammed his weapon into the shoulder of the creature with all his strength.
Unfortunately, the angle of the blow must have been bad, for the sword only drew a little blood and glanced off the hard scales without causing much damage.
Well, I'll just try again––Oh, shit!
The Velodrome must have guessed where he was for it bit out randomly in his direction. Kio was caught off guard but he brought up his shield in time to deflect the blow while cursing himself for being careless.
Thinking rapidly he picked up a stone. I've got to create a diversion. Making sure the Velodrome still couldn't see, he tossed the rock in an arc behind the monster.
It landed with a dull thud and the Velodrome spun around at the sound, showing its unprotected back. Kio lashed out and was rewarded by a surprised squawk, as he released a flurry of blows. None proved fatal, but he was sure that he was causing some damage.
The Velodrome turned once again and bit out, but Kio had already moved from his previous position and cut deep into its extended neck. The Velodrome recoiled and reared back in pain.
It should be recovering now. Thought Kio as he quickly opened the distance.
The Velodrome glared at Kio, eyes glittering. Rage radiated from the creature. Both the flash bomb and the ambush had drained all patience away.
Just as the Velodrome prepared to attack, Kio did the least expected thing ever. He sheathed his sword and turned tail and ran, leaving the dumbfounded monster. The Velodrome immediately regained its senses and gave chase.
Man, he's fast! Kio was sure that he could run pretty fast, but still the Velodrome was faster, each step bringing it closer.
Kio found himself at the edge of the clearing, where a path led down to the northern shore. That was the rendezvous point where Cultise was supposed to be waiting.
"Come and get me if you can, ugly!" Kio was sure the Velodrome didn't understand, but the taunt seemed to work, for he heard an enraged screech behind him as he ran down the slope.
The Velodrome was blind with rage as it recklessly charged after Kio. Using his nimbleness to full effect, Kio ducked and weaved as he ran to keep from providing a clear target.
He started to see the end of the path, where a dense net of trees and undergrowth blocked the way to the beach. He guessed it would be a great ambush point and would provide good cover for a gunner, except that it would be hard to fire with all the leaves and branches in the way. Just as he expected, a shock trap was placed right before the trees.
When the Velodrome got caught in the trap, it must have realized its mistake, for it tried to wriggle and escape, but the paralysis venom prevented all efforts to move even a muscle.
"Great work, Kio!" Cultise already had his heavy bowgun cocked and ready as he jumped out of his hiding place. Immediately Kio moved away from the firing line and watched Cultise pull the trigger.
An explosion erupted in the Velodrome's face and its body staggered back from the force. Cultise continued firing the second and third rounds with pinpoint precision, each shot detonating in the same place. It was impressive concentration and skill.
So this is a professional gunner.
That's the end of the mission thought Kio. He felt satisfied that he had done his part without messing up. Though of course he knew it was too early to relax.
Suddenly Cultise stopped firing and folded his weapon. When Kio turned to see what was wrong, Cultise smirked and signaled toward the Velodrome, as if saying he would give the credit of the kill to Kio.
Cultise's attitude was annoying, but it was his first large monster and of course he'd be happy. Kio drew his weapon and ran forward.
"The head! Aim for the wound!" Shouted Cultise.
"I know already!" Rebellious to the very end, Kio slammed his sword down with all his strength. He felt something give under his weapon and the Velodrome crumbled to the ground.
The blue-scaled reptilian lay on the ground with only a whisper of life left in it. He had been dreaming everyday for this moment. And yet when it was actually came, he realized he didn't feel as happy as he had expected.
The greatest feeling in him was that of relief. He felt the stress and tension drain from his limbs as he watched the dying monster. It wasn't that he had hated the Velodrome to begin with, and he was surprised that he even felt pity for the monster.
"Congratulations, Kio. Now, finish it off. It would be more merciful to end its agony now, then to let it suffer while you just stare at it."
"Huh? Oh, yeah." Kio slowly raised his sword again and with a completely different weight than the earlier blow, brought it down. It was the first time he had felt that way of monsters.
"You did good. If you can do that much, you've passed. How does it feel, your first large monster?"
"Uh, well, I don't have much to say. Of course I'm happy, but I feel a little sad too."
When Kio said that, for some reason Cultise punched him in the shoulder.
"Hey! What was that for! I didn't do anything wrong!"
He saw that Cultise wasn't angry but simply grinning. "It's okay to rejoice. This is the reward of our jobs. Our lives are based on the sacrifices of others. That's why we hunt. To provide food, clothing, materials, support, and protection for others. A hunter who doesn't care for others is garbage. But we can't survive if we start feeling sorry for monsters."
"I know." Muttered Kio.
"No, you don't. I bet you're feeling sorry inside, as if you did something wrong. You've just got to realize that the bones, scales and hide of this Velodrome will keep someone alive in the future. If you really feel bad, then make sure not to waste anything. It's okay to feel happy. Be thankful for its life and rejoice!"
Saying so Cultise shouted, "We did it!" towards the water.
Kio nodded, and then shouted as well .
When they arrived at the docks, Kio noticed something was wrong.
No one was to be seen anywhere. Not even the village chief, who would come and take care of the mission's cargo and paperwork, was there. Normally there would be sailors, merchants, fishers, pilgrims and villagers. He wondered where everybody was.
"Don't just stand there. Take the materials and cargo to the bar."
"The bar? What about the chief? Don't we have to wait for him?"
"Not today, we don't."
He's plotting something funny again, thought Kio. At first he had been wary of Cultise's surprises, but now he had actually come to like them. He couldn't help smiling in anticipation.
"What's so funny?" asked Cultise.
Kio just shrugged as the two of them made their way over to the bar. "By the way, why didn't we bring any Velociprey skins or scales back this time? We brought back so many last time."
"There's a limit to what we can bring back. And we already have enough anyway."
"Enough? Was there a request?"
Kio tried to remember but couldn't as they neared the bar. "Huh?"
He'd thought no one was at the docks, and it turned out that most of the village was at the bar. He noticed the village chief, Miranda and many other villagers and even a few hunters.
"Hey, there you two are." The village chief hobbled over. "Well?"
Cultise sighed, then smiled and nodded, and all of a sudden everyone started cheering.
The village chief came and booted them into the middle of the bar. People kept cheering and congratulating him, but he didn't have the faintest idea why. It was only their second time to fight against the Velodrome.
"What'd I do?"
"You passed the test, that's what." Before he could ask what test passed, Cultise cut in, "Everyone! Don't praise him to much. The last thing I need is for him to get cocky again."
A random hunter shouted over the din. "Oh, shove it Cultise! It's not everyday that we can celebrate the birth of a new hunter. So congratulations Kio for your first large monster."
"Thanks!" Kio answered. He didn't knot the man very well, but he was happy none the less. He just stood and took everything in.
The barroom was filled with partying people.
Miranda was busy running around carrying food and filling and refilling mugs. Kio and Cultise were given the seats of honor in the middle of the room and different people came to congratulate them.
Kio really started to feel bad as he greeted each person. He'd been living in Cocotte ever since he was six, and yet he didn't know half the people he met. There was the head carpenter, the lady at the general store, the innkeeper, the captain of the guard and the ironsmith to name just a few.
He hadn't been the social kind when he was young, spending all his time with only a few friends, and now he regretted his decisions. Becoming a hunter had made the situation worse, for the village became only a place to sleep in between missions. And after failing the Bulldrome mission multiple times, it made it even harder to face his fellow hunters and villagers. He wished he had made more of an effort to get to know people.
"It seems I'm late for the party." Ms. Maki, or Gran-gran as she was better known, arrived carrying a package.
"Hi Gran-gran. Don't worry, there's still plenty of food left." Said Cultise.
"Why thank you."
"Is it ready?"
"It sure is." Answered Gran-gran and she winked.
"Ok, Kio. Take the pack from Gran-gran and open it."
Gran-gran held it up for Kio to take. The package was big and heavy, and he heard the sound of metal clinking inside. Suddenly the rest of the villagers quieted down and focused their attentions on Kio.
Feeling a bit nervous, Kio got up and placed the pack on his seat and carefully began untying the wrappings.
When he saw what was inside, he gaped in shock. A brand-new, full set of armor was neatly folded inside.
"Velociprey armor! Is this why we've been gathering so many scales and ores?"
"Uh-huh. I thought it was getting a bit tough in that Chain armor of yours. A hunter should wear some real armor."
"I don't know what to say." Kio looked at Cultise who was grinning. Tears started to well in his eyes and he turned away pretending to cough to keep Cultise from seeing.
"Well you could say 'Thank you'." Chuckled the village chief.
To be honest, Kio had hated living in a small village. He had always wanted to go to the city and compete among the best. But now he understood why his father had loved to work in small villages. There weren't nearly as many hunters, but to be cared for and relied upon by so many people was a real blessing.
After giving up on trying not to be seen, he wiped his tears, looked at Cultise and whispered, "Thanks." so only he could hear. Cultise scratched his head and, looking embarrassed, answered "You're welcome."
"I hope you have a fun time in that armor." said the chief.
"Yeah! Just you wait. I'll make this village famous again in no time!"
"Ha, ha, ha! We'll see about that. But at least you successfully switched weapons from dual swords to a sword and shield."
But the village chief and Cultise continued talking.
"Though I should say, he could polish up his swordsmanship a bit."
"Compared to you, chief, I don't know of anyone who doesn't need some 'polishing'."
"Wait! Wait just a second! What do you mean by 'changing weapons'?"
Cultise looked unusually uncomfortable as he opened his mouth.
"It's about time I told you, Kio. This may be hard for you, but listen. You will never be a dual swords user."
What the heck does that mean! Kio would have got upset normally, but he couldn't say anything under Cultise's serious gaze. Or maybe it was the fact that Cultise had been right in almost everything in the past that kept him silent.
"Do you remember when I first agreed to coach you, I spent the first week or so just talking to different people? I was asking people about you, but your hunting style in particular. The thing that stuck out the most was that even after failing a quest and getting injured, you still went back and made the same mistakes over and over again."
"Well, yeah, but–"
Cultise cut Kio off. "What happened is you fell into the first and biggest pitfall every dual sword user faces."
"Recently you told me you've been able to 'see' better, didn't you? And though it was your first time hunting a large monster, you had fought against the smaller monsters, hadn't you? Yet when you faced the first Velodrome, you acted like a complete beginner, as if you had never met a Velociprey before."
"I guess so. But you see–"
"You were Demonizing as soon as you met a monster, right? Demonization is a dual swords user's greatest technique, and as a trade off for stamina you momentarily gain the speed and strength of a 'Demon'. It's a state of complete concentration, where you notice every detail and every weakness. Unless you can master Demonization, there is no benefit in using dual swords. On the other hand, when you're in complete concentration or Demonization, you're sort of in a 'high' state, as if doped with drugs. It gets extremely hard to make sound judgments. Unless you're a master, you lose complete control over yourself."
Cultise sighed and continued. "That's what happened to you. In your 'high' state you lost all sense of fear. Without fear, you charged right into danger. And when you lost, since you had no fear, there was no effort for improvement. As a result you blame the loss on something else and charge right back in and make the same mistake."
"Well, if I be careful from now on–"
Cultise interrupted again. "But that isn't the biggest problem. The biggest problem is your hunting style. You must be trying to copy your father. But I personally knew your father, and he was special. It wouldn't be an understatement to call him one of the greatest hunters who ever lived, he was that skilled. He saved this village and others from certain destruction more than once. If you were half as good as he was, you'd be teaching me, not the other way around. Heck, I think he could even teach a few moves to our beloved chief over here."
Kio saw the village chief sputter, than start to choke as if something was caught in his throat. He started to speak, "Hey! Wait just a minute!" Cultise completely ignored him.
"But anyway, a normal hunter cannot even come close to him. The only way we can hold our ground against monsters if we use our wits and knowledge to the fullest, like using traps and tools."
"Y-yeah. Dad was strong."
"And there's nothing wrong with that. Admit it. Be proud about it. You can even boast about him. But you've got to realize, you're not you're father. You'll never be able to copy his style."
"Nothing ever goes exactly as planned. So now you've got a decision to make. Will you continue hunting like the way you have, or will you choose to a sure path that leads to becoming a real hunter? It's your choice. But I tell you, if you continue, I'll stop teaching you. It would be useless."
Kio didn't know what to answer. The chief spoke up after jokingly throwing Cultise a nasty glance. "In that sense, a sword and shield would be safer. It might take a while to get used to it, but I'll be willing to help you. I'm the village legend, remember? Of course it would be for a price though…"
Kio laughed but quickly sobered and looked down at the Velociprey armor Cultise had given him. He realized the chief could have given up on him a long time ago, and yet he hadn't.
And the village needed good hunters. No matter what the chief said, ever since his parents' generation, the number of hunters had been steadily declining. Without enough hunters, the village wouldn't survive. He'd heard of villages being overrun by nature or destroyed by monsters.
He finally looked around the room at the partying villagers. Anyone of them could be killed by monsters someday. With the lives of so many people at stake, he couldn't just say no like before.
"Ok. I'll try my best."
He decided that he would continue using the sword and shield for a little while longer.
Thank you for reading! + Please review!