Monster Hunter: Through Blood and Tears
All was quiet in the city of Loc Lac. Which was a first, because normally the bustling city would be thriving with energy.
Merchants of all kinds began closing shop for the night, while the more stubborn kept theirs open, determined to get the last customer in the final hours of the day, trying to get them to buy exotic wares and the like.
Hunters returning from their latest triumph, and for some…their defeat, slowly slumped towards either their homes or towards the tavern for a quick drink. Half the time those quick drinks would end up having them passed out, sprawled across the floor.
Yet the life of a hunter remains the same. Go out, risk your life, and get out alive.
For some it was all for the zenny, or currency in the city of Loc Lac.
For others, it was about the glory: the glory of becoming the most successful and the most powerful group of hunters around.
It was dream rarely reached, and a dream many never get to see.
However, on this particular night, one group of hunters, unaware of it at the moment, have an opportunity for such a goal. It will put all of them to the very best of their ability.
Whether they make it or not…remains to be seen…
Ton hated waiting. Normally he didn't mind it so much. Originally it gave him a chance to gather his thoughts, such as what rewards his group might receive, or what dangers they may encounter on their next quest.
However, he found himself lying back on a bench next to a dinner table in the Tavern, listening to the boastful chants of overconfident rookies who had just probably slain their first Great Jaggi by the skins of their teeth.
He couldn't blame them, though. It seemed like it was just last month that he and his party of hunters had slain a Barroth. At the time, it was Ton's first opportunity to engage an ordinary creature of the Sandy Plains with a full group of hunters. The rookie at the time was Matthew, who proved himself to be quite the admirable Gunner. Never before had Ton seen so many "Pierce" shots get lodged straight in a Barroth's tough, mud-coated forehead without getting rammed. Yet Matthew did it, and since then, Ton has appreciated and respected the younger one.
He sat up, sighing over both the memories and of the migraine the rookie hunter group were starting to give him.
Stepping away towards the bench, he headed down towards the Market section of Loc Lac. Although, he had no intention of buying anything. He was only trying to clear his head and enjoy the crisp, dry desert air.
One could wonder how so many could even stand Loc Lac at all. You would think a city full of hunters would turn most rich folk towards madness and set up a living elsewhere, but it turns out the rich folk were the ones keeping the Guild in business. The more money the hunters made, the more the Guild gets rewarded. And the more the Guild pays for supplies and provisions for the hunters, the more zenny was given to the rich. In the end, it created a cycle to keep everybody happy.
Ton had grown accustomed to this life cycle, and personally enjoyed every minute of it. Stretching, he gave a yawn. A pretty loud yawn, mostly due to his fatigue and aching bones. His tiredness evaporated when he was lightly shaken on his shoulder.
Turning, Ton realized it was Matthew, his helmet off and his rifle strapped across his back.
"Better not let Kross see you do that. You know he'll pester you about being tired," he said with a sizable hint of bantery.
Ton snorted, rather displeased with the hunter's name being mentioned. "I don't care what Kross tells me. I'm still as good a hunter as he is, and he needs to learn to respect that."
Matthew shrugged, sitting down on a barrel and began cleaning his rifle's barrel with a cloth.
Ton wasn't really in the mood for discussing about Kross, the veteran hunter that had existed in their group for a little over two years now. Wiping his brow from the humid air, he glanced back at the Tavern. "You seen Jason anywhere?"
Matthew shrugged. "You know the boss. Always preparing for whenever and whatever," he said, glancing down the rifle's sight.
"He's been like that for as long as I've known him, I'll admit. Never seems to rest-"
"-and you're any different?" Matthew chuckled.
Ton looked away, a little flustered from his teammate's statement. Wanting to completely avoid the topic, he commented on Matthew's rifle, a really rare gun known as the "Aquatimatic Longshot".
"The barrel is getting a little rusty."
"Yeah, who'd have thought?" Matthew replied, adding a little to Ton's relief he wouldn't bring up the original topic again. "I seriously need to take this down to the Forge before our next quest; otherwise this entire gun will be useless."
Ton scoffed, a little bewildered at this. "You're joking."
"You've slain over twenty Rathalos with that thing. Your armor is proof of that," Ton responded.
"Yeah? What are you getting at?"
"What I'm saying is: If you can withstand almost being roasted alive twenty times, then chances are your gun can withstand just as long without being useless by…rust," Ton stated.
Matthew looked baffled, unsure of what to make of Ton's attitude. Finally, a smitten and teasing smile crossed his face. "You're either worried about Jason's next decision, or that he's quitting, aren't you?"
"Q-quitting? P-preposterous!" Ton spat, completely aghast at his friend's babble. "Where in the name of-?"
"Yeesh, keep your pants on…" Matthew muttered. "I'm only pulling your leg. No need to be so tense."
Ton sighed. "I suppose I may have been a little on edge lately-"
"Hmph, may have? I knew you were full of it, Ton, but really, what an understatement."
Ton winced hearing the gruff sounding voice of his last teammate.
Kross, casually inspecting his helmet while leaning against a pole right in the shadows, chuckled at the glint it gave. "You know, if you were gonna have a group conversation, the least you could have done is invite me," Kross said in a mocking tone.
Ton regained his composure, his slight anger slowly reforming into malice. "Hiding in the shadows tonight, are we, Kross? I must say, such low standards, even for you."
"You want me to come out? Fine," Kross chuckled, which sounded like metal grinding against one another.
Kross indeed did step out, revealing the sinister looking Alatreon armor he wore, which glistened in the moonlight like a black, sparkling sun.
Ton paid his due respects to that armor which Kross wore. Fighting an Alatreon and making armor out of one was no easy task, but to do it alone? Only Kross was that crazy and experienced.
And then there was the eye-patch.
Ton hated the eye-patch.
It was said that long ago, during Kross's rookie years as a hunter, he was ambushed by a simple dozen Jaggi. Many of them inflicted minor bite wounds, but one managed to get him in the eye. Kross, who at the time was a young brown coyote, had to abandon the quest he was doing and returned to one of Loc Lac's doctors. It was a lost cause, and despite resilience, the doctor had to amputate Kross's eye.
Since that day, Kross always wore that eye-patch, as a sign of his older days and as an accessory of fear.
Kross squinted his one green eye down on Ton, looking him over. "You ever gonna decide to equip some real armor?"
Kross was referring to Ton's armor, made entirely out of Alloy.
Ton scoffed, quite proud of the armor that he wore. "You ever gonna stop being such a dick?"
Kross spat onto the ground, quite disgusted by his teammate's posture. He stepped forward, glaring down at him, muttering, "I've killed people who've said that."
Luckily, Matthew casually separated the two from any dispute, which to Matthew was every other day. "C'mon, guys. Last thing we need is a fist fight. We're all exhausted, and we need all the rest we can get."
The two hunters glared at each other, but it was Ton who backed off first, clearly understanding the situation. "Matthew has a point. I'd rather not miss our next quest because of getting into a fight with some reckless barbarian."
"Hey," Kross said, grinning a little too maliciously. "I'm right here whenever you decide to grow the balls to strike first. I've got a hunger for blood tonight, and unless you want to end up first-"
"Can it," Matthew said impatiently. "Both of you."
Both hunters backed off.
Matthew grinned. "There we go. Laissez-faire."
Ton nodded. He had to admit, Matthew sure knew how to say the right words to get everyone to relax. Even though Ton didn't know a single word of French.
"I see you two still haven't gotten along."
Everyone turned to see none other than Jason, wearing his prized set of Lagiacrus armor. His stare was enough to send shivers down your spine, mostly because an annoyed Jason to the group...was simply bad.
He glanced at all of them, but mostly focusing on Ton and Kross. "Well? What's it about this time? And don't tell me you're fighting over drinks again."
Both hunters didn't say a word.
Jason sighed, wiping the sweat from his forehead. "Whenever you're both done, get to the tent. ASAP."
And with that, Jason walked away.
Matthew blinked, scratching the back of his head. "Usually the boss is rather chatty…"
Ton also noticed this slight change in their leader's attitude. "Something's up. I'm sure of it."
Kross merely scoffed and walked towards the direction Jason moved to just a few seconds earlier. "No shit."
Matthew and Ton watched their tank of an ally steadily move his way down the path. Matthew peered to Ton. "Remember I said you were worried about him quitting?"
"Yes. It was merely a joke, if I recall."
Matthew shrugged. "Who am I to tell?"
And with that, Matthew adjusted the strap containing his gun and followed.
Ton was left standing there in the humid air, thinking about his comrade's words.
God, I sure hope I'm not right… Ton thought, and swiftly proceeded into the night.