Written on a lark with another hunter. I do not own Monster Hunter.
Seid had to take a moment to collect himself as the red glare subsided. It was as if someone had thrown a flash bomb, and forgot to shout for cover. As the spots faded from his eyes, Seid took notice of three figures standing in the center of the large room. Although he clearly recognized Ezakiel and his friends Zeshen and Reena from Eden, his attention was immediately diverted to the drawn blades in their hands.
The Royal heard Vindel's sharp intake of breath as he also took notice of the weapons. Something seemed a little off though. The somewhat familiar longsword and steel twin blades were far too bulky for them to be assassins. Moreover they looked just as confused, if not more so, at their sudden appearance than the rest of the Royals. Ezakiel especially shot a bewildered look at Administrator Erris for some reason, who mirrored his expression.
After a tense moment the two older hunters lowered their blades hesitantly. All of the seated Royals seemed to let out a breath they didn't know they were holding. These people weren't here for violence. But before Seid could begin to wonder why the Head Administrators only daughter was keeping her guard up, her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she dropped to the floor in a heap.
Temura was on his feet in an instant. "Reena!"
The Silver King was concerned for her as well, she seemed like a nice enough kid when he had met her. However the fact that the three of them had arrived out of thin air, with no logical explanation in sight, kept him rooted in his seat. A minor detail did nag at him though. In Ezakiel's group...weren't there four of them before? Seid cast the thought aside as Temura lifted his daughter's limp body and rested it in his chair.
"Mother, what are you doing here?" asked Ezakiel.
Erris cleared her throat. "I could ask you the same."
Administrator Erris and Ezakiel were related? The Silver King's eyebrows rose at the revelation. He had heard her briefly mention having a son when he visited Pokke on occasion, and they did have some similar features. But it still didn't explain him or his companions sudden appearance. Before the Royal could question the Administrator on this development, Temura turned on the two intruders with his full and imposing presence.
"What's going on here?" he growled menacingly.
Both hunters blinked and appeared to remember they had their weapons drawn. Hurriedly they sheathed their blades and knelt before Temura, crossing their right arms over their chests.
"M-my name is Ezakiel, and this is my companion Zeshen, sir. We were...on a hunt in the volcanic belt, together with your daughter..." The man paused for a moment and shook his head, as if in disbelief. He then gathered himself and finished. "We were chasing a wounded Basarios, when suddenly...suddenly Akantor appeared out of a lake of lava and devoured it."
The reaction was as silent as it was instant. Mouths all across the board opened and eyes widened at the bold claim. If this hunter was telling the truth, two of the most destructive monsters in all of Minegarde had resurfaced. Most of the other Royals couldn't help but wear the shock openly on their faces while others, namely Bagelza and Vindel, glared at the newcomers suspiciously. Temura managed to conceal his surprise better than most of the Royals, but before he could collect himself to reprimand the hunter, Ezakiel continued.
"We managed to escape into a cave, but discovered that it was actually some sort of passageway leading to the ruins of a giant city, hidden inside the mountain."
At this point, Seid was moving from shocked to skeptical. Akantor reappearing and finding a lost city in the volcanic belt? It seemed the other Royals mirrored his feelings, expressions of bewilderment changing into open suspicion. However fantastic their story may be though, it still did not explain how they had arrived so mysteriously. For that reason alone did they let him continue uninterrupted.
"We were assaulted by literally thousands of Remobras and had to hide inside the palace of that city. There we met a man who claimed to be the king of that realm." Ezakiel hesitated and slowly raised his head to meet Temura's eyes. "He said his name was Mordecai, sir."
Under any other circumstances anyone would've found the Head Administrators expression hilarious. His mouth opened and closed several times like a fish, as if the words couldn't find their way to his mouth. However comical the reaction, bringing up Temura's dead father was a grave blow. Seid could practically feel the Head Administrator's temper flaring from across the room.
"He told us that that realm was called Nofresc, an ancient kingdom that was engaged in a war with Shrade hundreds of years ago. Shrade had almost defeated them when a mysterious being he called "The Ancestor" descended and granted their king, Astot, godlike power and the ability to create warriors to fight back Shrade." He looked around once more, meeting eyes with everyone present. "All the monsters that exist today are descendants of those warriors. Nofresc is the very reason they exist."
Temura shook his head and glanced at his daughter before addressing the hunter angrily.
"But what happened? How did you get here? And why are you in such a state?"
Seid noticed Ezakiel wince slightly and look down at himself. Zeshen also ran her fingers lightly over one of the nastier bruises dotting her person. Both of their armor had seen better days. It looked as if they had been on the losing side of a war.
"After he was done talking, he tried to kill us. We stood no chance against him. He had almost defeated us, but we barely managed to disable him long enough to make our escape. We found a room with a circle of runes on the floor. When we stood inside that circle, Reena did...something, we were engulfed in red light and… well, here we are, sir."
Temura closed his eyes and for a second Seid thought he was going to arrest Ezakiel for disrupting a meeting of national importance. Surprisingly, he lifted his daughter gently and turned to the Royals.
"I hereby delay this Conference. We will meet again tomorrow morning." he then looked sharply at the kneeling hunters, snapped. "You two, come with me." and briskly strode to the large doors, with Liam at his heels. Ezakiel and Zeshen looked at each other and, after what seemed to be a silent conversation, followed as well.
The slamming door echoed throughout the room as the Royals sat in a stunned silence. After a minute Garland cleared his throat and spoke with the barest hint of a tremor in his voice.
"I believe we should all retire to our quarters to...reflect on what has just occurred."
"Yes, I think it would be best if we did." agreed Celia shakily rising. "We all have...much to think about."
Slowly the Royals filed out of the room and collectively headed down the hall without so much as a glance at each other, all wrapped up in their own thoughts. As he exited into the long hallway, Seid noticed Dante leaning on the wall a bit farther down in the opposite direction. He detached from the other Royals and walked briskly. His second met his eyes and matched his pace as he passed.
"Something happened." It wasn't posed as a question.
"..Yeah. Something definitely happened Dante." The Royal turned to look him in his eyes. "You were right."
Sigurd wiped his brow with his good hand and looked back at Kazu.
"What should I be looking for again?"
Kazu snorted awake and blinked several times before adjusting his grip on the rudder. Sigurd rolled his eyes. He had been dozing again. For the eleventh time if the injured hunter counted correctly. With the perpetually exhausted scout steering the small vessel, Sigurd couldn't help but wonder if they were ever going to get home...
"You'll know it when you see it." mumbled Kazu. "Just be patient."
Although Dragon Maw Island was just off the coast of Minegarde, it would still take at least half a day to get back to the mainland and an entire day to get to Dondruma. Myra had ordered him not to move much, but still put him on watch.
"You might be seriously injured," she had said. "But you can still help out."
The hunter glanced at the tightly bound Garuga corpse and grinned before bringing his attention back to the sea. From the front of the flat boat he had a wide view of the horizon. Not to mention the nice breeze that offset the baking sun above them. It was a clear blue day and Sigurd was, very literally, glad to be alive.
The hunters eyes trailed over the cocoon of bandages covering his right arm. The fact that he was alive still amazed him. From the way Myra and Kazu had described the severity of his wounds, he shouldn't have made it through the night. But whatever Myra had given him, identified by her as 'an ancient family recipe', it had him expecting a full recovery in at least three days.
"We're almost there." Myra took a seat next to him and dipped her own feet in the rushing water. "Feeling any better?"
In response Sigurd turned to her so that she could see his slung arm and wiggled his exposed fingers. Half a day earlier he couldn't even feel his digits, much less move them.
"Perfect!" chirped Myra. "At this rate you'll be back on your feet in no time."
"I really can't thank you enough." he said sincerely. "When I first woke up I thought I was maimed for life. I don't know what I'd have done if I couldn't hunt anymore."
"Oh, you wouldn't have done anything."
"And why would that be?"
"Because you would've been dead." replied Myra, still smiling sweetly.
Sigurd blinked. "Uh...what?"
"That potion has about a..." She tilted her head and put a finger to her chin. "Fifty percent success rate? Forty? I can't remember. I do know that if it didn't, work your body would have been robbed of its ability to heal and you would've bled to death."
Sigurd stared at her blankly for a moment before sighing. It figures that they'd use such an unstable tincture to heal him. From what he knew about the Dragon Fang already it was hardly a surprise.
"I...I figure I'll just be glad that I actually made it, but one thing still bugs me." the hunter looked at his injured arm and his tone turned bitter. "Why would Seid even send me to that island? What was the point?"
He could feel Myra shift beside him, clearly uncomfortable with the subject. Why would she be? What did she know that he didn't? Sigurd thought he was going to have to pry it out of her before the voice behind him spoke, devoid of its characteristic weariness.
"Usually Seid would tell you this after we get back, but I think it's best if you know beforehand." the Scout looked at Myra, who nodded at him. "You see, he wasn't born in the city or any of the typical settlements. Our leader was born and raised in a tribal village far to the northeast of Minegarde. At the time it was outside the jurisdiction of the Guild and maintained its own kind of primitive community. For the most part there were clear roles in the village; the males would go out to hunt and the females would remain at the village to tend to them when they returned."
"But their hunters weren't like our hunters." interjected Myra. "While we hunt to keep the monsters from killing us off, they hunted specifically for food."
"And they only hunted small game like Mosswines and Bullfango's." continued Kazu. "Maybe the occasional Velociprey, but never anything bigger than that. You see, they lived in the territory of a particularly rare and powerful monster that they worshiped like a God."
"A God!" exclaimed the injured hunter. " How could they possibly survive worshiping a monster?"
"They believed that their God, depicted as a silver winged angel, demanded a tribute." a grave look passed over Myra's face. "A blood tribute. Once every year someone was sacrificed to the God to ensure its continued protection and usher forth another year of peace. Seid was young, probably about your age, when he learned the truth."
The woman looked away from him, her long hair screening her face. The medic's voice cracked as she continued. "He told us that...that his...wife was chosen one year."
Every thought racing through Sigurd's head ground to a screeching halt. Unable to form a complete sentence he simply uttered "Wife?"
"The custom in the tribe," continued Kazu. "Was that the sacrifice be escorted by four hunters to the base of an enormous and ancient tower where the God was said to reside. Seid asked and was granted a chance to be one of the escorts. When they reached the tower, he said that he remembers feeling a sense of pride that his beloved would bring their people good fortune for another year. He told us that he took a moment to look at her, to catch her nervous smile."
Kazu sighed. "Not one second later the 'God' came roaring from the mists above, snatched her in its talons, and disappeared just as suddenly as it came. He told us that something inside him snapped when he heard his wife's terrified scream. So defying years of rigid tradition and tribal law, Seid ran into the forbidden tower."
Kazu and Myra shared a pained look before returning their attention to Sigurd. "He never told us what happened when he reached the summit of the tower. Nevertheless when he did manage to return to the village he was a changed man. Gone was his impression that the creature who had ripped his wife from him was a God. His people were outraged when they learned that he had entered their sacred tower. To make matters worse he tried to tell them that they were worshiping a false idol, that their God was actually a beast, a monster! Needless to say he was immediately exiled, to a mountain that they called Karat Gor...Translated from their native tongue it means 'Dragons Maw'."
The connections were starting to form in his mind and Sigurd didn't like where they were going.
"The way he describes it, Karat Gor was apparently a Rathalos and Rathian nesting and breeding ground. He was stuck there for six months with no weapons and no food, alone and completely surrounded by hostile wyverns. Coincidentally a party of Guild Hunters discovered him; half-feral and shouting in a language they didn't understand. Staying true to their oaths as Hunters they took him to the nearest village where he learned our language and our way of hunting. You can pretty much guess what happened from there."
"Then how does he manage to be so cheerful?" asked Sigurd remembering others who had vendettas against monsters. "Why isn't he bloodthirsty like Vindel or detached like Dante?"
"For a time he was savage and bloodthirsty as they come, rivaled only by how Vindel is now. But after several bloody years he began to realize that no matter how many monsters he slaughtered, it wouldn't change the past. Seid now chooses not to be angry over things that he cannot change. What has happened is already past and he chooses to focus on what he can do in the present. Besides, I believe that he has already come to terms with the 'God'."
Myra smiled gently but Sigurd could see a flinty coldness in her eyes "Before he became a Royal when the group was just Namel, Dante, Kanta and I, he accepted a contract for a hunt that he insisted to do alone. He wouldn't even tell us what his prey was." Her smile widened. "He returned several weeks later with the lacerated corpse of a rare Silver Rathalos."
Sigurd cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Well...as tragic as that was...it still doesn't explain-"
"You felt it didn't you?" asked Kazu softly. "That primal strength born from fear and anger. Seid experienced it every day in Karat Gor. Constantly facing death gave him the ability to use that strength whenever he wants. The trial is an attempt to recreate that situation. To make a hunter who can utilize the natural predator that resides in all humans by forcing them to look death in the face and deny it. It'll take time and practice to master but you have that ability now."
The injured hunter nodded to himself slowly, the pieces falling into place. It was true that even now he could feel it in his chest, the strength the kept him going even when the Garuga had him in its jaws. A familiar strength that he already had but didn't quite realize. He would have to work to control the blood lust that came with it, but he had trustworthy new friends to back him up. Sigurd smiled and clenched his good fist.
"I guess that means I'll get to punch him harder than I'd originally planned."
After a long second all three of the hunters burst into laughter. Sigurd's bruised ribs forced him to cut his mirth short and he glanced at the horizon after wiping the tears from his eyes. A long brown line extended as far as his eyes could see. He turned to Kazu and jerked his thumb at the growing line.
By the time Seid had entered the conference room everyone was present except for Temura. When the door opened every head turned to look, and sighed in a rather disappointed manor as they realized who it was. Seid was too wrapped up in his own thoughts of the previous night to be offended. The usually optimistic Royal had large bags under his eyes, and seemed to carry a weight on his shoulders.
It had taken every inch of his friendship with Dante to keep the hunter from forcing Ezakiel to tell him the location of Nofresc. It had taken an even bigger effort to stop him from going off wandering the volcanic belt in search of it regardless. Seid's head still throbbed, hours after the exchange.
"You cant stop me this time Seid! I know its alive now and I know where it was last seen!"
Dante paced as he spoke, twitching with agitation. His sword and a pack of provisions laid against a nearby wall. Seid leaned against the door of their home with his arms crossed, blocking the exit with his body. The message was clear enough.
"Dante listen to me, please! From the way Temura handled that entire situation he will take action. I know it!"
"You cant be sure though! Temura's will to fight left years ago! What if he chooses to ignore that wild tale? What if he does nothing?"
"Then I will turn the Dragon Fang over to Sigurd and we'll stop this together."
Dante stopped in his tracks and slowly locked eyes with the Royal.
"Look, something about what Ezakiel said...it felt like the pieces finally coming together. It felt right. If Temura chooses to take no action then we will go and stop this ourselves."
"But...you cant possibly...you don't even know if that boy survived."
Seid shrugged. "I have faith in him. Just like I have faith in Temura and the Guild. He wont ignore this threat. I'd bet my honor as a hunter on it."
The normally blank hunter grasped the back of a chair closest to him like he was going to shatter it with his bare hands. The wood groaned under his grip as he continued to apply pressure. Then slowly, he released the seat, straightened up and looked directly at his longtime companion.
"I've been patient Seid. I've been so very patient. This has been killing me inside for the longest time, you know that. For the sake of our friendship I've stopped myself again and again from going and searching for Akantor on my own. Now that it's in my sight, now that its just within my grasp, you ask me to wait once again." The hunter got directly in his face, rage forcing his voice into a tight whisper. "If you're wrong this time, if Temura does nothing, I wont need you to help me stop this. We'll be through, understand?"
Dante jerked away as if disgusted and snatched up his provisions before ascending to his quarters. After a minute the Royal slowly unfolded his arms and took a seat at the table. In the silence of the house, Seid held his head and sighed.
The Silver King sat in his chair heavily and looked around. Plain seats had been set out at the crescent for Ezakiel and his companions, who looked a bit nervous, if not self-conscious. Ezakiel caught his eye for a moment and Seid managed a small smile and nod for his benefit. From the way he was shifting in his seat, the hunter was quite uncomfortable at being stared at rather unceremoniously by the other Royals.
Suddenly the door burst open and a loud, clear voice rang throughout the room.
"The esteemed Head Administrator and Champion of the Guild, Ashvelt "Windaxe" Temura!"
A large man in a steely silver set of armor marched in. It took a second for Seid to make the connection, and even then he didn't believe it. While he was too young to have seen the Head Administrator in his glory days, the Royal could see why he was held in such high esteem. Power practically radiated off the old lion as he made his way to his desk. In the back of his mind, Seid dimly realized that his mouth was hanging open.
"I'm glad to see that you have assembled on such short notice. Surely the events of yesterday must have surprised and confused you. I myself was just as startled at our guests sudden...appearance. Let me assure you now, without a doubt: Every word that they have spoken is honest and true. My father has somehow survived and now he controls all the monsters in an attempt to rid this world of mankind."
Someone cleared their throat and Seid internally groaned. Only only one person would have the gall.
"You cant possibly be serious." scoffed Iilo, crossing his arms. "Every word is honest? Then how about that magic stuff? How in all the world could that be true?"
In response Temura raised an arm. Instantly it burst into crimson flickering flames that didn't' seem to harm the man at all.
"Yet it is true." he said as the fire faded. "I inherited the same power, due to him being my father. He gained this power from the mad king Astot while he was still unborn."
If that wasn't magic then Seid was a pink Gypceros. Looking around, the Royal could see his comrades belief and intimidation.
"My fellow Royals, Administrator Erris, Reena and your friends…By the powers vested in me by the statutes of the Guild, I hereby declare war on Nofresc! I cannot and will not let our world be set ablaze by a madman and his army of beasts!" He glanced around the room for support. "Who is with me?"
The Royals looked at one another, trying to decide what to do. Declaring war was a deadly serious and grave action. Not since the founding days of the Guild had there been war, and now to ask for support after unveiling a practically scandalous ability? It was a lot to swallow in so short a time. Before anyone else had come to a solid decision, Vindel calmly lifted himself from his seat.
Not one eyebrow went unraised in the room. Temura even gawked for a moment before recovering himself.
"Despite your previous words?" he asked. "While I thank you for your support I cant help but ask; what caused this change of heart?"
"There are three things that I detest, your Lordship. I hate boastful fools," Sandstorm said casting a distasteful glance at Iilo. "I loathe idiots," He glared at Rulk and Aroza. "and I despise hunters who waste their talents. At first you were in this category, sir, but your willingness to fight has bought you my support. And as unbelievable as your story may sound, does not obscure the fact that we are facing a very real threat. Thus I will fight."
Seid bolted to his feet and stifled a relieved sigh. "But not alone! Somebody's gotta thin those monster ranks, ya know? Count the Dragon Fang in!"
"I am at your service as well, sir." stated Garland, rising to salute. "As are the Guild Guards."
One by one the other royals stood and offered their support. Temura's stern composure cracked a bit and he allowed himself a small smile.
"Then its settled. We'll form groups to spread over Minegarde."
After a moment of thought, he continued. "Celia and Bagelza, both of you go to Kokoto. We have one or two veterans overseeing the newer hunters, so ground attacks shouldn't be a problem. However, the surrounding area is inhabited by fierce flying monsters. They should be an easy target for the two Royals most practiced in ranged attacks." Both of the female Royals nodded in approval.
"Iilo, I want you to go to Pokke." Indignantly, the young Royal snorted and turned his head. But the small smile on his face belied his true feelings. "Administrator Erris, I take it you'll return there too?"
"Yes." she confirmed. "My village needs me. Now more than ever."
"Good. You two will go together. Rulk, Aroza, go to Jumbo and provide assistance. I trust you both will cooperate and do what you can for them." The rivals regarded each other for a second, nodded then saluted to Temura. "Garland, Vindel and Seid, you will accompany me on my way to Nofresc."
"If I may request, Your Lordship," cut in Vindel. "I would prefer to go back to Eden. My people will need the guidance of their Elder. If I may be allowed, I will send Merquel in my stead."
"Fine by me. Garland, Seid, please use the time we need to prepare both your groups and any volunteers. I will speak to the king to ask for assistance." Temura locked eyes with everyone, and for a moment Seid could see the pride that made him such a great leader.
"Let us do as we must, so that we may all see a brighter tomorrow. For Minegarde! For ourselves! For the Guild! We go to war!"
The plot thickens. Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed it.