I'm SO sorry that this was so long coming. I wanted to finish it sooner, but college sure can keep you busy, right?
Thanks for the reviews on my previous chapter and your continued support. Like any true author, I appreciate feedback and positive comments. Please, keep the reviews coming!
Also, I've noticed that I don't make as many spaces in my paragraphs as many authors. Is that bad? Thoughts please…
The following chapter is nota one-shot; it is a continuation of the same story as the previous chapter. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own Monster Hunter. If I did, you'd be reading this in a hard-back book.
Far up the slopes of the High Mountain, the snow fell in torrents. Driven by a wind which seemed to be furious at the entire cliff face, each snowflake formed a tiny frozen needle. These bladed pinpoints tore through the frigid air, stinging everything they touched with a cold indifference.
The sky was dark with brooding clouds, and the sun was nowhere to be seen. It was as if the concept of warmth had abandoned this mountain completely, letting icy fingers clutch the peak in a never-ending death grip. This land was governed a natural, cruel, and chilling law: the law of the "Hiyashita Samui" or the "Icy Cold." Many simply chose to call it the Frozen Hell.
Yet through his frosty, forlorn land, three armor-clad figures made their way. They sprinted across the snow-laden ground toward their goal. Travelling at a swift pace, the trio moved as one unit. Without words or even hand gestures, they turned, slowed, and sped up together. No one led, and none followed.
Each one of the three was clad in custom-crafted gear. They were hunters; of that no one would doubt. There was no mistaking it from their presence on this mountain and from the swiftness with which they ran. These three were on a hunt; they moved as if their quarry was close at hand.
The first man slowed to a halt and the others did the same. He was a tall, fierce looking hunter with a firm set to his bearded jaw. Scanning the mountainside with a watchful eye, he began taking in every detail and processing it within an instant. He motioned and pointed to a massive claw print in the snow, some hundred feet away; to which his two companions nodded and signaled that they had seen it as well.
This same hunter was armed with a great sword as large as it was deadly. It resembled a massive, hardened femur which was filed down and sharpened at one end to a razors point. Even more than a sword, it appeared to be a huge duel edged axe, and its enormous bulk sat threateningly upon the hunter's back.
Many proud Diablos had been slain in order to create this weapon. Time and time again, this hunter had ventured far into the desert, often alone, to fight with as many of these beasts as he could find. One after another, the mighty horned king and his black-scaled mate had fallen into the scorching desert sands; their horns and spirits equally shattered.
His armor took neither less skill nor any less time to acquire. It was made with precise science; a credit not only to the wearer, but also to its master designer. It was forged in the most intriguing way. Half of its rugged exterior was made of polished, well-crafted steel. The other half was made of the deep red, impenetrable scales of the powerful Rathalos. A strong steel visor covered his eyes and protected his face to the same degree of which the rest of the armor defended his body.
But his body armor also had another outstanding feature. It had joints which were amazingly well designed. They allowed the hunter to place every ounce of strength into his attacks, through a series of tiny gears which followed every motion of the hunter's arms. These cogs used inertia to place more weight behind each physical motion, and this drastically raised the amount of damage which he could inflict with each strike.
Although this armor was extremely well made, nothing could remove the dangers of hunting. Every monster was deadly. It didn't matter how many beasts a warrior dragged down, the next one could always be the one that killed him. No one knew that truth better than this hunter did, for during the fifteen years since he began hunting at the age of ten, he had lost more than one friend to the same creatures which he had killed countless times.
He removed his helm and let the frozen wind whip at his fiery red hair. The companion standing to his right spoke to him in a hushed tone.
"You're point-man for this mission, Kelevra," the fighter said, "What is the next plan of action?"
Kelevra turned to his right and replied softly. "I'm not sure yet. We know that the Tigrex is in this general area," he pointed to the tracks, "But we don't know where. If we don't hurry, we could lose him entirely. I say that you and Dred take the pathway down the mountain. I'll take the path further up. If I see no signs I may search through the cave system."
His comrade nodded and headed off to relay the message to Dred. "Oh, and Koga," Kelevra called, "Be careful. If you encounter the Tigrex, you know the signal."
Koga nodded, motioned to Dred, and the two of them moved swiftly on the pathway that led them further down the mountain. Kelevra watched until they disappeared from sight. He had seen so many of his friends part ways with him in this fashion. It seemed that so few of them ever returned.
He thought back to the days when he was Dred and Koga's age. He let out a short chuckle and couldn't resist a wry smile. He had been just like them; he mused. Eager to fight, eager to prevail, live and let die… that was the way of the hunter. Or at least, so he felt back then. But time takes its toll on all things.
Sometimes he couldn't even remember why he hunted anymore. It wasn't for the money anymore, nor was it for the fame or glory. He had gained and lost all of those things innumerable times. Sometimes he still fought in order to help out the people of the local villages. Sometimes…
But mostly he did it because of his promise. The only promise he knew he'd die before he broke. One promise. Kelevra thought to himself. One good reason to continue this crazy way of life. And I'll never stop. Not till I close my eyes for good.
This self-motivation speech got him ready to hunt again. Still captive to his thoughts, Kelevra sprinted on the path up the mountain toward where his prey might be lurking.
He moved swiftly up narrow mountain path until he came to dead end. He slowed his footsteps to a creep and stepped nearer to the cliff's edge. All around him, the wind howled threateningly; it pushed at his body, as if trying to urge him off the overhang. Down below the cliff, he could see nothing but a frozen abyss.
Kelevra drew a pickaxe from his supplies and then drew his carving knife. He glanced over the edge once more. His view was quite obscured by the driving snow, but he knew what lay below, as if he could actually see it. It dropped straight down 500 feet or so, before it reached a portion of mountain which jutted out at a deadly angle.
He shook his head slowly. I can't believe I'm doing this again. He thought, Every time I do it, I almost die, and swear I'll never do it again. But here I am, once again. He glanced over the precipice once again, before leaping over the side!
He plummeted downward several yards and then drove his ice-pick into the side of the mountain. The pick caught a firm hold, snatching with enough force to make his arm ache.
Moments later, as the pick started to slip, Kelevra drove his carving knife into the mountainside as well; this action halted his decent, and he breathed a sigh of relief. Cheat death daily, he smiled. Without any regret.
He climbed down the cliff slowly, looking down to find solid places to bury the points of his climbing tools. Glancing downward, he could still see nothing but open expanse beneath him.
He breathed a sigh. He knew he was close to his goal, but he could still feel his arms tiring. The wind still whipped at his back and buffeted his face with ice. Lowering himself down another seventy feet or so, he saw the opening he had been searching for.
It was a large cave entrance that few hunters knew of, and even fewer had managed to enter through. It was this same cave mouth which Kelevra always used to gain access to this cave system, which was constantly inhabited by wyverns.
There was one other entrance that could be used, but it required chimneying up an icy tunnel that could better be used by wild animals than humans. It was best suited for an exit.
He assumed that beasts liked this particular cave because it was difficult to enter and even harder to leave. The term "mouth" was well deserved to describe the mountainside opening. Hundreds of stalagmites and stalactites lined the roof and floors of the cave, creating the illusion of a massive mouth which waited to devour all those who entered.
In fact, entering the cave could be as difficult as reaching the opening, and if a hunter didn't plummet to his death outside the cave, he would need to take care not to impale himself on the icy spikes which lined there floor.
The cave had a small ledge jutting out from the side of cliff. Kelevra let himself fall onto this protrusion and carefully stepped inside the cave. He made his way carefully around the jagged points of the cave's mouth and dropped onto the smooth, icy floor of the main cave.
He lowered himself to the ground to looked for any tracks. Although he had never studied tracking in depth, he still recognized the complete lack of Tigrex tracks. A variety of different prints were scattered across the floor, including a few Blango and Popo tracks. A multitude of Giaprey tracks littered the ground, but Tigrex tracks were not among them.
On the ground he saw a large pile of scat from a Popo. He was already in a foul mood, having not seen a single Tigrex track, and the stench from the animal mess wasn't helping. He covered his nose.
Damn! He muttered , under his breath as he stared at the frozen floor. All that risk and the Tigrex hasn't even been here in months! When I find that beast I'm gonna kill him for wasting my time. Kelevra let out a dry laugh at the irony of his statement. He'd planned on killing the monster anyway.
Still inside the cave, Kelevra heard the wind pick up speed. It whipped across the opening or the cave and wailed through the cave. Suddenly the wail picked up to a grating screech that echoed from all sides of the cave. Kelevra jerked his head up and looked around him.
He found that he was surrounded by Giaprey from every side. The slender, raptor-like creatures watched him carefully with unbroken stares. Their white bodies were streaked with lines of soft blue across their backs, and many of them had battle scars as well.
They screamed at him in irritating, high-pitched barks. Closing in slowly, the Giaprey hissed and snapped threateningly.
From beneath his helmet, Kelevra's face broke into a malevolent smile. "Oh, this is good," he laughed. "I'm pissed off to the core 'cause I can't find the Tigrex, and you little fools wanna end your lives? Splendid."
He drew his massive sword and held it before him. He was surrounded by six Giaprey and he could feel his adrenalin began pumping. There was not a carnivorous monster in the known world that was never a threat. But Giaprey were the closer to an annoyance than a real threat to a seasoned hunter.
They had small, thin frames but the fearlessness of Rathaloses. With short, swift jumps the monsters moved closer and closer. Forming a circle of fangs, the Giaprey closed in for their attack.
Kelevra tightened his grip on his great sword. The Giaprey were slowly moving closer, but so far none of them had come within range of his blade. He raised the massive blade threateningly, but the beasts did not seem to comprehend its lethality.
He spoke to them through a clenched smile. "So, which one of you wants to die before the others? I didn't start this fight, but you can believe that I'll end it. None of you will be leaving here alive, but which one of you wants to taste my blade first?"
As if to answer his question, one of the Giaprey leapt at him, aiming its razor sharp talons at his face. It desired to drive its claws deep within Kelevra's flesh, but its body met with nothing but the cold, hard edge of his sword.
With one mighty heave, Kelevra brought the blade up and over his left shoulder. It sliced deep into the Giaprey's chest, severing its ribs with one bloody stroke. Its lifeless form flew backward from the force of the blow, and landed some yards away in the frozen soil. It let out a soft moan as its life left it forever.
The sight of blood only enraged the other Giaprey, who leapt at him with courage that betrayed their size. Springing at Kelevra with impressive speed, they all flew away with equal speed, their bodies severed and bloody.
Wielding his blade with the strength of a wild beast, Kelevra cut down the Giaprey continually. The creatures screeched and lunged at the hunter. But their efforts were all in vain. He chopped the pack into ribbons until only one remained. The small monster cowered from Kelevra who approached it with his sword clutched tightly in hands.
He moved toward the small beast with self assurance. It's last moments were at hand. He knew it, and so did the Giaprey. The only way that this beast could make it out alive, the only thing that could save it from an early death, would be an absolute miracle…
A might roar echoed through the cave. Both hunter and prey spun about toward the source of the monstrous sound. All about the cave, the ground shook like thunder; small frozen particles rained down from the ceiling in a frozen mist.
A monster, as powerful and dangerous as ever lived, had entered the cave. It stood on a flat open precipice near the roof of the cave,
Kelevra's blood froze in his veins. He became oblivious to everything around him. This one sight alone demanded his attention. His life was on the line, and at this point, nothing else mattered.
There was not an ounce of fear in his body. Rather, there was a cold, mathematical certainty that he was ill prepared to face this monster. His mind raced, and he realized that he was armed with the wrong weapon, and had all the wrong equipment in his pack.
Kelevra had slain this monster before, and had always figured that he would face it again. But not like this… Kelevra thought silently, Not alone, and not with this weapon.
The creature's name flashed in his mind… Rajang.
So, I wasn't planning for this to be another cliff hanger, but it seemed to pan out well and I was making this chapter too much longer than its predecessor.
Anyway, I PROMISE that the next chapter will start answering some of your questions.
So enjoy the story, and please give me some feedback.