Once again, Cuttingmoon57 here; I don't why, but ideas for this story are pouring out of my brain like water, so I have to keep writing chapters. Though, I really should get started on chapters for my other story….
Anyway, hope you enjoy chapter four.
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy or anything related to it. If I did, FF12 would already be getting a direct PS2 or PS3 sequel. I also don't own any other anime or manga that I take elements from.
Suggestion: Head to Final Fantasy Wikia for information or images of the main cast if you'd like to see pictures of their appearance. They remain virtually unchanged in my story. (Other non-canon characters will be described.)
"Blah" thoughts, writing, or flashbacks
(Blah) scene change
"…With this sword, I will protect my family, no matter who opposes them…" He exclaimed, firmly taking the short sword from the man's fingers.
Ensei smirked as Kanin gave him a warm smile and a big hug.
"Then welcome to the family…for real, this time."
Slowly but surely, he takes one step forward.
Chapter Four: The Hunter and the Hunted
Muskmallow Field, the spot know as the pinnacle of peace and tranquility in the Targ Wood area. Everywhere one could turn to; there were open plains, even a chocobo or two grazing in the distance. It truly was the perfect spot to relax…
…Except for today…
"No, Luso, that's all wrong!" Ensei remarked angrily while crossing his arms in an exasperated manner as he looked down to the sweat covered boy. "Now you're not holding the sword correctly, and your stance doesn't fit with your weapon at all."
"Well, excuse me. I've never used a two edged weapon before. It's a lot heavier than the bamboo swords I used to have." He retorted agitatedly.
The bearded man let out a sigh as he sauntered to the boy's position.
"Try choking up on the sword a bit. You're holding it near the middle, but you want your hands as close to the blade as possible."
Luso did as he was told, placing both of his hands at the top of the grip, just beneath the hand guard. He attempted to swing the sword, finding it much easier to control.
"There, how does that feel?"
"Pretty good, to be honest," The brown haired adolescent responded, testing out his new found knowledge with a few more swings of his blade.
"Good, then let's try this again." Ensei unsheathed his katana once more, drawing the glimmering blade out gradually. "Are you ready?" Luso gave him a head nod, preparing himself for Ensei's attack.
The man rushed the boy with blazing speed, coming across his eyesight as a blur. Though in truth, he was already becoming accustomed to the swiftness of his instructor's movements. They didn't seem as fast as they did three days ago, though that wasn't he was becoming slower, but that Luso was becoming better.
"The only thing that separates the two of us, Luso, is battle experience. That's all." Ensei commented during his and Luso's first private lesson two days before.
"Are you kidding me?" The boy yelled. "Do you even know how fast you move? You're like some manga character or something."
The man stared at the blue eyed lad in utter confusion.
"I'm a what?"
Oh…right…not Japan anymore…
"Forget it. What I'm trying to say is, what you're able to do is nothing short of impossible where I come from. It's impossible for me to do magic like you guys do."
"Well then, I'll just work you like a dog until it's possible. If I can do it, then you can." He responded cockily. "And don't worry; I've got a few tricks to help give you a push in the right direction."
"Really, like what?" The boy asked sarcastically.
"Can't tell you right now; wouldn't want to spoil the surprise. You'll find out soon enough, though." He replied. "Now, back to training you go."
Ensei swung the edge down in a downward vertical swipe with enough force to create a minute gust of wind at the impact of his blade against Luso's, who had managed to block the attack in time by placing his sword above him horizontally.
"You managed to block it, but…" The black haired male's free left hand balled itself into a fist. "…you've left yourself wide open." The Parivir let loose a swift, but powerful blow to the gut, causing Luso to stumble backwards onto the grass beneath.
Before the boy even knew it, Ensei was already in front of him holding out his hand. He accepted his offer, standing to his feet in the process and bending down to grab his shortsword.
"I'm guessing that's why you always wield your sword one handed. Way to be cheap." The brunette commented, rubbing the place where he was punched tenderly.
"There's no such thing as cheap on a battlefield boy. Remember that." The samurai retorted, sheathing his katana back into its scabbard.
"Speaking of which, why are we using real weapons during training?"
"I'm preparing you for a real battle now, so you don't choke up on me during a fight later."
Luso was slowly managing to understand the reasoning in his methods. At first, most, if not all, were highly unconventional. But as time passed, they seemed to make more and more sense.
"Well, I'd say morning practice is over for today. We should probably head down to the pub. I need some booze to get me through the rest of the day." He said, heading back into the direction of town.
The brown haired soldier only scoffed while placing his sword back into its holster as he trailed behind.
"Why did I get the alcoholic for a teacher?"
(Targ Region, Wood Village, Pub)
"Hey, Luso, we're over here!" Kanin called out to the pair as they entered the pub wistfully, walking past a menagerie of different races and people on their way to their table.
Like with any normal bar in Jylland, the pub was filled with the deep chuckles of Bangaa and Seeq, the normal whispers of gossip in-between clan members, and even a 'kupo' or two from a few scattered Moogles. A jolly and lighthearted aura radiated from the room, as everyone seemed to be in good spirits.
The two finally managed to reach their table, pulling out one of the chairs and taking a seat with Ensei propping his feet upon the table in a smug fashion.
"Hey, you two!" The bearded Parivir ordered lazily. "Go fetch us something to drink."
With a heavy sigh, Luso and Kanin stood from their seats and headed in the direction of the pub master. Once he was sure they were out of earshot, Ensei began a conversation with Cid.
"So how is Kanin's training going?" He questioned.
"Pretty good, actually." The Revgaji answered back. "She's quite adept at using that staff of hers and she's becoming more proficient at dodging. We're working on her cure spell to, though I'm only doing what I can there. I'm not exactly white mage of the year…or at all."
"Any little bit helps. You know how we like to go wild on missions from time to time. We're bound to end up needing a white mage soon enough." The samurai sent him a mischievous grin, which was returned full force.
"Here you go." Kanin announced, setting down a glass of ivory fluid in front of Ensei and a glass of clear liquid in front of Cid.
"…..What is this?" Ensei asked in an irritated tone, directing his gaze towards Luso.
"Well they wouldn't sell alcohol to teenagers, so quit whining and drink it." The brown haired boy retorted back. "Besides, I hear it helps build strong bones."
"There's no way I'm drinking this…."
Ensei was interrupted from his tirade as a large glass bottle full of an unknown liquid was properly set onto their table directly in front of the parivir. The perpetrator was a late teenage male dressed in the standard hunter uniform.
"Long time, no see…Clan Gully." The hunter smirked, while motioning towards the bottle and sending Ensei a wink. "Oh, and for you…a peace offering."
Without hesitation…or decency for that matter…Ensei wildly uncorked the bottle and poured the contents down his throat in reckless abandon. Once the entire bottle was drained, he let out a sigh of satisfaction.
"I haven't had sake in a long time, Cheney. I owe you one." The alcoholic parivir said, giving the hunter a thumbs up of approval. Luso only sighed comically in defeat as he took the milk and began to sip it.
"So….to what do we owe this honor?" Cid remarked happily, taking another sip of his glass.
"Well…I was in the neighborhood and had some business I needed done, so I thought I'd look up my favorite clan." He replied with a smirk.
"Now you're talking." Cid exclaimed. "We needed a good job right about now. So what are we talking here; escort, monster hunting? Give us the details."
"Alright, well I'm sure you've heard of the recent monster disappearances. Entire flocks and groups of monsters have been disappearing without a trace." The hunter started with a serious air as the entire clan tuned in. "My sources and I think that poachers may be behind it."
"So you want us to catch these guys?" Luso asked for confirmation.
"If it is indeed poaching, then yes; and I think I know who's behind it." The huntsman pulled a document out of his bag and unrolled it across the table. "As you're well aware, all clans are to report their earnings as part of the new income tax system put in effect last year. This is a list of recent earnings of clans in this area. Notice anything odd?"
Kanin stared at the sheet quizzically, before finding the answer.
"This clan is making a lot more than everyone else is."
"Precisely." Cheney commented. "Over triple of what the other clans are bringing in. Not only that, but many of the monsters in this area fetch a hefty price on the black market. See the connection yet?"
Ensei stood to his feet and began to work the kinks out of his fists, a confident smirk evident on his face.
"Well, well…It's about time we got some action around here. You've got yourself a deal."
"Then it's settled, I suppose. Meet me tonight in Targ Wood, I'll tell you what to do from there." Cheney stood to his feet while turning around, before heading towards the exit. "Until then, prepare. Something tells me this won't be a walk in the park."
"Well, you heard the man, little ones." Cid remarked, turning his gaze towards Luso and Kanin. "Tonight's going your first taste of real action, so go ahead and get anything you need now."
"Yes, sir!" Kanin answered back perkily, giving him her rendition of a military salute before leading Luso out of the pub by the hand.
"Do you think they're ready?" Cid asked. Ensei pondered for a moment.
"Most likely not, but that's what we're here for." He replied with a heavy sigh as he and his Revgaji accomplice walked towards the exit as well. "Oh, and I might be a tad late tonight. If I'm not there, go on and start without me. I'm sure you can handle it anyway."
"Of course." The blonde sub-human replied, following him out.
Meanwhile, over at a table adjacent to the one the clan was sitting at, a man chuckled deeply as he took a small sip of his alcohol. Around his table was a small assortment of different races, drinking alcohol and laughing together over their day's events.
"Well, well…Ensei Rou... looks like things will be getting interesting."
The fellow lifted up from his chair and, in the same fashion as Clan Gully, began to make his way towards the counter of the pub master.
"Hey, Worgen, where ya' going?" A dark blue colored Seeq Berserker asked presumptuously as he watched his clan mate leave the table.
"I've got some business to take care of. I'll be back in a couple of hours." The hunter replied briefly and mysteriously.
"What about the job tonight?" A Nu Mou beastmaster questioned.
"It's still on, don't worry; I just need to take care of some things. Go ahead and start without me." Worgen made his way through the array of tables towards the bar's counter.
"Well if it isn't my best customer. What else will ya have?" The turban sporting man asked, currently making a motion towards one of the wine coolers in the back.
"Make it something I can take on the go, bartender. I've got some errands to run." The mysterious hunter proclaimed.
"It seems you're always busy with something nowadays." The turban wearing geezer pointed out in a disappointed manner, handing him his ordered drink. "Tell the rest of Clan Fletching I said the next round of drinks is free."
The hunter smirked.
"You've got it."
(Targ Region, Wood Village, Shop)
"Good to see you, Luso. How did training go?" The familiar voice of the shopkeeper asked in a cheerful but calm tone, polishing a sword from behind her counter as the boy and his white mage friend entered the shop.
"It was pretty good. I managed to block him this time." He answered back with a half-hearted grin.
"Eh, don't worry too much about it." She encouraged, hanging the sword back onto the wall, making sure it was straight. "You'll get the hang of it eventually."
"I suppose you're right." He agreed.
"So what did you come here for?"
"Well, I was kind of hoping that I could buy another sword. Ensei said that I need to start learning some of the other soldier abilities now that I have a grasp on regular fighting." Luso answered back.
"Oh, and nothing too heavy." Kanin tacked on with a giggle. "Luso's kind of on the flimsy side."
"Very funny…" He responded with a light sarcastic tone.
The shopkeeper eyed him conspicuously as she walked out from behind her counter towards the brunette, carrying a piece of measuring tape with her. She used said tape in order to measure the boy, wrapping it around his arms and his torso as well. Upon finishing, she performed a brisk strut to the back of the shop and brought out an object similar to a sword wrapped in cloth.
Luso stared wide eyed at the sword as the shopkeeper removed the cloth and his gaze fell upon it. In all, it was a fairly large sword with the entire width of the blade and the handle a purplish tint.
"It's called the Dagriohm. Try it out." She egged him on, handing over the blade in one hand with extreme ease. Once the blade passed from her hands to the boy's, he instantly grabbed the handle with both hands to keep it from falling to the floor below.
"It's….It's kind of heavy." The boy commented, using all his might just to keep the sword off of the ground.
"That's because you're holding it wrong." The red haired girl retorted, forcefully removing one of his hands from the handle of the blade. "There, now try that."
For some odd reason, the brunette found the sword easier to hold in one hand then in both. He took a few test swings with the blade, and while still heavy, it was much easier to grasp and control.
"This sword is designed to teach the arms the ability to hold a two handed sword in one hand." She commented smugly, answering his unspoken question. Though the boy attempted to figure out how the physics of such an ability could be possible, he soon remembered where he was.
"Well if it'll help me out, I suppose I should take it. How much?"
"Don't worry about that. It's on the house…for now. But once you get famous, I'll be expecting some compensation." She replied with a devilish smirk and a wink. Both Luso and Kanin mirrored her action.
"Thanks a lot, miss. We'll see you later…" He said, beginning to head for the shop's old wooden door, before being cut off by said shop's keeper.
"Oh, I almost forgot..." She called out to them, searching around her countertop hastily. Upon encountering the subject of her search, she stepped lightly over to the boy and his white mage companion and handed them a small slip of tan paper.
"What's this?" The brown haired soldier asked.
She smirked triumphantly.
"It's a list of materials for your new katana." The red haired female paused to watch as Luso's face seemed to light up instantly. "I worked all last night on a design. I'm sure you'll like it."
"I can't wait to see it. Come on, Kanin; I want to get some practice in with this thing before tonight." The boy replied, heading out the door and whispering a small thanks to her complimented with a wave, which she returned. Kanin performed the same action, following after him.
(Targ Region, Targ Wood)
"I suppose I shouldn't have come here this early." Cheney thought to himself as he quietly sat on a large stone, awaiting the arrival of the members of Clan Gully.
The calm of the evening surrounded him on all sides. The dark orange flame of the setting sun grew ever dimmer with each passing minute, signaling the onset of night. The lowering of said light source also brought about a darker atmosphere of the forest around him. Fireflies buzzed around aimlessly, their ends glowing like Christmas tree lights. In the background, the sound of the ever present cricket resounded through the woods.
Were it not for the job he had to do, coupled with the ever imposing threat of being swallowed or attacked by a stray monster, he could fall asleep easily.
"Sorry we're late." A certain Revgaji proclaimed, coming into view of the hunter from amongst the menagerie of trees that encompassed them. Walking directly behind him were Luso and Kanin, who looked refreshed and ready for anything. "I had to go find these little troublemakers."
"To be honest, you're actually right on time." The hunter replied, waving it off while scanning over the group. Quickly, he noticed the absence of one of the key members of the party. "Where's Ensei?"
"He said he'd meet up with us later. He had to retrieve his weapon from the shop." Cid answered nonchalantly. "Don't worry though, I can handle it."
"So what exactly are we doing anyway?" Luso questioned, sticking his sword into the ground to give his muscles a much needed rest.
"I'm glad you asked that." Cheney began. "I borrowed a few of these from Sasasha's Corral over in Muskmallow Field before I came here. Whatever's getting these monsters at night is sure to come after a fine catch like these, so they're going to be our bait."
True to his word, in the small clearing just behind the rock the huntsman perched on, three yellow chocobo grazed blissfully on the forest grasses.
"I see. So all we have to do is wait for them to strike?" Kanin asked.
"Precisely, and then we capture them." The hunter finished, gradually standing up and lifting up his greatbow with him. "Alright, this is where we'll split up. Circle around the area and make sure to stay hidden. The signal is a whistle and I'll give when we strike. Now, hop to it!"
"Got it!" The three Gully members voiced simultaneously. Cid heading to the left while Luso and Kanin dashed to the right.
(Targ Region, Wood Village, Streets)
"Wow, it sure has been a long time, hasn't it Saishuu Kirihana?" Ensei asked inwardly, walking along the dark empty street and staring up at the katana he had just picked up from the shop. The man held the sword in a peculiar way, his hand clenched around the end of the sheath with the rest of the sword resting over his shoulder, similar to the way a baseball player would hold their bat while resting.
In terms of appearance, said katana was actually nothing special. Other than the hand guard, which was in the shape of a blossoming flower, the only other distinctive feature was bandages that were wrapped around the sheath, giving it a worn out appearance.
"Now, where did Cid say to go again?" The bearded man wondered, ceasing his walk, unaware of the danger that was about to befall him.
Just then, a single arrow whizzed straight for Ensei's head from the dark alleyway beside him, creating a buzzing noise as it sailed. As soon as it entered his range, the parivir sidestepped it effortlessly, almost as if he were aware the entire time. The result caused the arrow to pierce and embed itself into the wall of a nearby house.
"Well, well…what do we have here?" Ensei asked in an almost ecstatic, but deep tone. "I was wondering when you were going to attack me."
From that same shadowed alleyway, a man dressed in a hunter's outfit stepped out slowly from the cover of darkness.
"So you knew I was following you all along, huh?" The huntsman stated with a small chuckle. "It seems at least one of the rumors about you are true, Ensei Rou."
The samurai-esque swordsman stared him down rather darkly.
"So you know who I am, huh?"
"I've heard a lot of rumors…" The hunter replied, tossing his greatbow to the ground. "Although one piqued my interest quite a bit…"
Ensei continued to stare him down, not moving an inch.
"And which one might that be?"
"That you took down a total of twenty mages without taking a single ounce of damage." He replied, reaching into a side pocket and pulling out a large knife. "Just between you and me though…is that rumor really true? Don't worry, I won't tell anyone."
Ensei paused for a moment, before answering in a blank tone.
"No, that is incorrect. I did not defeat twenty mages…"
A devilish smirk plastered itself onto the hunter's face once more as he made a made dash at Ensei with his lethal knife in hand.
(Targ Region, Targ Wood)
"Are they coming?" Cheney wondered as he scanned the clearing vigilantly from behind the large rock. The group had been patiently waiting in their places for the past hour without a single result and the hunter was beginning to question if his plan would work or not.
The huntsman was preparing to come out of hiding and gather the others to hopefully conjure up a more effective plan, when he heard a low, menacing growling noise emanating from the bushes on the far side of the clearing.
"Wait, what's that in the bushes over there?"
Stalking out slowly from behind the shrubbery, not one but two wolves slowly ambled into the clearing, their eyes and snarls full of bloodlust.
"Crap! Of all the times for some wolves to get hungry. I have to stop them before they get to Sasasha's chocobo." Cheney plucked an arrow from the quiver on his back and settled it in front of his bowstring, drawing said string back with relative ease and taking aim at one of the wolves.
The wolves began to stalk around the chocobo in a predator-like fashion, the ostrich type birds huddling together in fear.
"That's strange…"Cheney thought as he took note of the monster's strange behavior. "It's like the wolves are trying to contain them instead of…."
He smirked as realization hit him.
"So it was poachers after all…and it looks like we found them. Now…who or what is controlling these wolves…"
"Ah, way to sniff out some good ones, you two. Looks like you found us quite a catch." A Seeq Berserker proclaimed, sauntering victoriously out into view with a Nu Mou Beastmaster right behind him.
"Come on, T-bone. Let's just round these three up and collect our money." The beastmaster said to his Seeq partner, snapping his fingers as signal for the wolves to close in.
"HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!" The familiar voice of a certain chocolate haired soldier announced as the boy jumped from his hiding spot behind the bushes, surprising the two poachers. "You can forget about touching those ostriches!"
"What is that idiot doing? I didn't give the...wait… this might actually work out better…" Cheney thought as he watched the scene develop.
"What's that boy talking about? What's an ostrich?" The Seeq stated rather rudely.
"I believe he's referring to those dangerous chocobo over there." The Nu Mou answered sarcastically with a hidden smirk. "Stand back, kid. We don't want you getting hurt by these things…"
"Oh cut the crap!" Luso retorted angrily, taking a battle stance, his Dagriohm firmly settled in his right hand. "I already know you guys are poachers."
"Really?" The berserker asked, raising an eyebrow and smirking as he walked towards Luso. "Then I guess you're gonna be coming with us, brat."
"Not if I have anything to say about it." Cid proclaimed coming out of his own hiding spot to the right of the group and cracking his knuckles all the while, his pig like enemy ceasing his advance on Luso.
"Or me…" Kanin also stated confidently, revealing herself as well and readying her ivory colored staff.
The beastmaster and the Seeq looked around, noticing that they and their dogs were surrounded. However, despite that, both the Seeq and beastmaster let out a small, but sinister chuckle and grin respectively.
"It's about time things got interesting around this place…"
Clan Gully versus the poachers, Clan Fletching! Who'll come out on top?
(End Chapter Four)
Alright, sorry for the delay. I was on vacation and had no time (or a computer) to write. But during my vacation I was working on future events for the story and what not and noticed a little plot hole…
In chapter three at the beginning, I called the crushatrice Klesta. My mistake, as Klesta actually comes later in the story so I'm changing it to "Mamatrice" after I post this chapter. Again, my bad.
Other than that, school starts soon so I won't have as much time to write. But I'm hoping to finish this story someday. Anyway, see you next chapter.