Above All Hunters, by Naithahnael Kelliher

Naithahnael Kelliher

Mrs. Brandi Harrison

Word Literature

6 November 2015

Above All Hunters

This is a story about a man

For why he’s called a hero, you’ll understand

For his name will not be slain

From books or scrolls, his name is Tain

            Above on the grassy mountains, lay a village full of nice people, bad people, and hunters. The village was full of wooden houses, scattered like a glass falling. It was hard for one to define his own home unless they put distinct features on it, such as flowers, a name, or paint. North of the village, however, stood a large wooden building, which was the hunting hall. The hunters would go there get requests to hunt animals, monsters, and everything between. It had a pathway up north more, left of the hunting hall, down the mountain hill, which had three directions to go to: north, east and west. South was the village obviously. The whole mountain smelled like all the trees were surrounding you, even though the forest was below the mountain, along with flowers burying you in their gorgeous scent, with the scenery like none other, perfect view of all the forest around them, trees everywhere, with the grass being so itchy, but soft, one would have to wear shoes to go outside and play. In the village stood a particular man named Tain.

Tain was a slick man. He had blue eyes, as if the sky had a dark side other than the night, and dirt brown, long hair which curved inwards towards his head, and down to his neck. He usually wore a tan shirt, just lighter than his skin, with black markings on it no one understands besides him, which looked like a bunch of circles and lines bisecting each other violently. Over that, he wore an admirable red vest, lighter than blood, but darker than pink. He has two pockets on the front of his vest where his chest was, with a solid gold button, each closing one of the pockets on both sides. He also had regular, light blue, ripped jeans. People would get mad at him for doing that, because jeans like those were expensive, but he did like the fresh air going through his pants. He had a wife, and a kid, and a wooden house, along with all the other moderately rich villagers up there. Speaking of which, Tain was the richest guy in his village. So rich that he retired from his career of hunting.

One day, it was his son’s birthday, he wanted to go down the mountain to see what it’s like, and walk around the forest since he was raised on the mountain his entire life, so, Tain and his wife agreed. They brought nothing but food and water, since they weren’t going to go that far, but have a surprise picnic at the bottom of the mountain. So, they went to the path where the hunters go to get to their destination, which is the slope that reaches downwards up north. However, when they got back from their lovely picnic, something we all humans may have trouble with: The house was robbed of all their money except 300 gold in a hidden place, which wasn’t that much back in their time.

So, the story begins here. Tain decided to leave is family temporarily and go to the hunting hall to find the largest, most rewarding monster he could find. His wife insisted that she could work on a farm and their son insisted too, but Tain decided against it, because he didn’t want them to suffer. So, he took two-thirds of the money and headed north of the village, where the hunting hall was.

Inside the hunting hall, Tain was surprised to see that it hasn’t changed much. The whole place was warmer, with dark brown, wooden walls that felt like one could get splinters from it. The place was lit up by blazing torches, making it appear to have a warm feel, also overall darker. The flooring was finally polished since the last time Tain came in here, whereas dirt would still be there from months ago. There were people cheering, having a good time, drinking, departing on hunts, and so on. The whole place was filled with the stench of beer, with a bit of smoke from the torches and cigars. As Tain was absorbing all of these details, his mind was consigned to oblivion.

Now it was only about seven seconds when he came in everyone started saying “HEYYYYYYYY HAHA”, “Look, it’s him!”, “The lost soul has finally returned!”, and general optimism, with them pushing their beer-filled mugs up, spilling a good portion of it. Most of the old time hunters were there, while the newer ones looked dumbfounded. Most of the people there gave him a group hug wildly and saying “Welcome back brother!”, but in the midst of the room, he noticed one man kicking back on the chair, smoking a cigar. About five seconds later, Tain recognized the man and said “Cole!”

Cole was one of Tain’s old friends back then. In Tain’s eyes, Cole was not really the hunting type. He appeared as Tain’s style from the torso, but light blue, and under the vest he wore a plain, white shirt, and his jeans were just like Tain’s, except without the holes. Cole had long black hair, black as the night sky when there’s an eclipse, which flowed down to his neck. He usually wore, what he called, a manly ponytail, secured and held in place by a blue band, but in this encounter, he didn’t. He had these distinctive green eyes that no one resists noticing when they first meet him. He was a relatively buff and tall guy, like most of the other hunters at the hall, but not of those whose muscles take up all of the large sized chair, nor of those who were scrawny and only took up 3/4s of the regular sized chairs, Cole was in the middle, muscle-wise, and so was Tain. Also, Cole was relatively young, about 25 years of age, but Tain was too embarrassed to ask him his age at this moment, as he didn’t think about it. His body oder wasn’t too bad, despite him smoking cigars at least twice a day.

Now Tain pushed through the pool of people, while Cole was standing up, admiring the situation, and stretching his arms to Tain, and soon enough, Tain finally got to him and gave him a hug and said “It’s been awhile buddy.”

“Indeed it has, Tain.” Cole said, withdrawing from the hug, as he was brushing his hair with his right hand behind his neck and then proceeding to flip it upwards with that hand, almost showing off and then he said with a smirk “So, what brings you here. Couldn’t resist hunting after… what was is it? Two years?”

“I’m here to hunt the largest.” Tain said briefly

“Well…” Cole said, itching the back of his neck “I’ve gotten a lot better at hunting since the last time we’ve met, so maybe depending on the thing, may I come along? I won’t take up much of the reward, I promise!”

“I don’t want you to die,” said Tain “since I’m going for the largest, most rewarding yet, however, I know this is going to turn into an argument, so I won’t stop you. Come if you may, Cole.”

They proceeded to walk all the way to the other side of the hunting hall, where the guild lady was, shoving and bumping the violent, drunk, or regular hunters, while being shoved and bumped by them. There were a few instances where they would be splashed by the other hunters’ mug full of beer, drop by drop, but Tain and Cole were used to it.

Finally, they reached where the guild lady was. She is the one who gives all the quests. However, she seemed busy drawing something. Tain and Cole stopped 3 feet away to look at her, and while they had this time, they admired her. She had black hair, but not as black as Cole’s hair, she had relatively dark skin, but not too dark, and brown eyes. She wore a white dress with red spots on the bottom, and six on the top to align vertically with her stomach. She doesn’t really have any distinctive features. Tain and Cole finally approached her.

The guild lady was still drawing as Tain and Cole walked up to her, but she heard their footsteps coming towards her. She then proceeded to lazily say, without making eye contact “The hunting book is over there. If you find a creature to hunt then rip out the page and give it to me then if you complete it and yadiyadayada you get rewarded.”

Tain glanced quickly at the book, as he knew how to find the right quest in a matter of seconds because he was experienced with all of this long ago, but Tain was displeased with all of the choices, since none of them would reward Tain as much as he wanted, so then Tain proceeded to open his mouth to the lady.

“Look, I know you have more hunting quests than these. Give me one that has much more reward money.” Tain said a little frustrated, while placing his hands flat on the guild lady’s desk.

“Wait I know that voice from anywhere—“She said while looking up slowly, and gasped “WOAH WOAH WOAH!!! Yo—yo—you’re—“

“Yes I am” Tain said calmly “I am Tain, yes yes.”

“So uh, are you m—“She stopped and suddenly acted professionally “We do have a small book of quests for hunts here, they offer a big reward, but—“She was stopped as she was handing the book to Tain.

“I’ll take that” He said, and snatched it out of the lady’s hand like a child with candy, then proceeded to slowly scroll through the ever so few pages.

He was frustrated at the second last page, but then he turned to the final one—the one he needed. The reward was huge, it would make him richer than before. However, it was not very descriptive of the monster. There was no picture, and all it said was “black, purple, glows”. The monster was titled “Grina”.

“…Grina? Seems easy enough, I’ll take it!” exclaimed Tain.

It was after he said that when all the cheering, laughter, talking stopped from all the either drunken or regular hunters, some dropping their beer-filled mugs, making the floor dirty again, and everyone looked at Tain, in either fear, surprise, or that “don’t do it!” look. Even the guild lady and Cole was surprised and looked at him.

“Sir, um… Grina is… well…” The guild lady stuttered in fear.

“I thought you knew who I am,” Tain said, with a smirk. “You know, ‘Tain the great’, ‘Tain the one who cannot be slain’, and—“

“Are you really sure you want to do this, Mr. Tain,” She said with fear again “because not even the greatest hunter a year ago could defeat Grina.”

“I’m not as great as him” said Tain while bowing his head and closing his eyes. “I’m greater than him” he then proceeded to lift his head and smile.

“Well, I cannot stop you.” She said, while adding a stamp to the quest, and then handing the piece of paper containing the quest over to Tain. “Bring this to me in an hour, I’ll just take all the money you have and add the right adjustment to your travels, spreading it to a boat, food, water, etcetera.”

“Alright. We’ll pick up our weapons later” Tain said, gesturing Cole to come along with him outside the hunting hall for fresh air, and to get mentally ready for the travel, and the hunt.

Now as there were outside the hunting hall, they walked a bit further and then Tain sat down on a random spot, with the holes in his pants getting a nice feel of the soft but yet itchy grass feel on his legs. Cole sat down where Tain had, and then gazed at the scenery in front of him.

“So,” Tain said, trying to break up the silence, “you want to put your hair in a ponytail right about now?”

“Right,” Cole said, while taking a blue band out of his pocket and then wrapped it around his ever so dark hair into a ponytail gracefully, and then a bit later, he said “Do you know who Grima is?”

“No, but I’ve faced many unknown creatures before,” Tain replied with a smirk, and while transforming from his sitting position to laying on the grass, like a bed of itchy cotton. “Why else do you think people call me a legend?”

“Well,” Cole said, doing the same thing Tain did by laying on the grass “When you left, the creatures just knew you were retiring… somehow. So they gotten stronger. Remember when Lakkai was only a bit bigger than you?”

“Of course.”

“Well, now it’s much bigger… like…” Cole was trying to think of something to compare it to, “A bit smaller than the hunting hall, some being larger!”

“Ah, so what” Tain bluffed, while putting his hands behind his head in a relaxed state, “So what if it magically gotten humongous, maybe those creatures were so easy to hunt, the reward went down and so did the people hunting them.”

Now, they were silent again, for a good five minutes or so. During that time, Cole was in the position Tain was in: laying on the bed of soft and thorny grass while putting his arms behind his head in a relaxed state. They both closed their eyes during that time too, like they were in a relaxed coma, with a slight smirk on their faces. But suddenly, they sensed a shadow over them, and that only means a person is standing over them right in front of the bright sunlight.

“So you’re back,” said a woman with a tough voice, but not as a soldier’s, but not as a wife’s voice either.

Tain and Cole opened their eyes slowly, blinking at a tiny bit faster than a snail’s pace, trying to regain their vision from the blurriness of waking up.

As Tain regained his vision, he was a bit surprised. His heart jumped like a man doing parkour around a city, but he didn’t express it in his eyes, they were only half opened, but far from squinting, like the relaxed state he was before that woman came up to him. He didn’t even express it by a gasp of air, nor a shake from his arms or legs. The only way to see how surprised he was by opening his chest and seeing his heart.

“Ah, it’s you,” Tain calmly said, with the relaxed state he was in. “What brings you here? Surprised you haven’t died in a hunt yet.” A little scoff came from him after.

“That’s a warm welcome after two years,” scoffed the woman back, still in her neutral stone voice “But I’ve heard you were going to hunt the ever-so-legendary Grina, everyone’s talking about it. Cutting to the chase, I want in, even if it means death.”

“What makes you think I’ll let you in?” Tain replied, still with those relaxed eyes and smirk on his face.

“Considering I’ve already paid for most of the cost for the hunt,” the woman mockingly said, “that 200 gold won’t give you anything, Tain. After all, if you do not include me, the money will be returned to me, and you will be rendered hopeless in the field, because that money won’t even buy you a raft made of sticks.”

“Whatever,” Tain said while closing his eyes and putting his mouth at neutral. “Your funeral not mine, but I’m not splitting much with you.”

“Now hold it for a moment,” Cole interrupted “Who are you?”

“I am Kat” said the woman “I was a partner of your friend over here awhile back. We used to hunt a lot of things and split the reward evenly, but you know, before he left”

Now is a good time to explain what Kat’s appearance was. She was beautiful to some, but looked like a man to other. She had brown hair like a cardboard that’s been soaked in water, with a ponytail, but not like Cole’s. It was a womanly ponytail, Cole would say. She wore a foresty green hat, with her ponytail sticking through the hole of it on the back. The hat was not covering the whole back of the head, but instead, it was covering about one-third of the back of the head. She wore a tight black tank-top, as, she says, “gives her more mobility” and foresty green pants just like her hat, although the legs were bigger in diameter that her legs, as she could move freely while not leaving the comfort of those pants. She had brown eyes, and a small scar on her left cheek, crossing over to the side of her jaw, hardly noticeable. She didn’t wear any perfume at all, even though most women at this time would kill to wear some.

“Well, uh, nice to meet you Kat.” Said Cole nervously and awkwardly. “But we all should probably get our weapons, because our departure time is almost here.”

They all nodded to agree, so they went to their houses, or wherever they lived to pick them up.

Luckily for Tain, no one stole his weapons when he got robbed, as it was well hidden. They’re under the floorboards, and under that was stone. One of the stones was actually a door, so he pushed open at just the right spot and he found his weapons. He equipped his revolver, which was silver all the way around the gun, except the handle, which was covered with black leather. He had a pouch for it too, he equipped it on the left side of his jeans. Next was his knife. Noting really special about this object, but it was similar to a kitchen knife, with blades on both sides of it, instead of one. He also had a cover for this, so he equipped it on the right side of his jeans. Finally, the sword. The sword looked like any other, but what makes this one so special is because he earned it on his last hunt, meaning he hasn’t used it. It was said it was possessed by multiple souls of monsters a great hunter killed with. So said it could take down any creature in one blow. He also had a plain black sheath for it with a strap, so, he put the sword in there and equipped it on his back.

Now on to Cole, his weapon was in plain sight in his house. It was just a regular katana. The sharp and shiny blade was curved, almost like the first phase of the moon, with the sharpness being about two pieces of paper stuck together. This was a birthday present back when he was only 13 years old. Of course, he couldn’t use it until he was strong and tall enough to wield it. But, just like Tain, the weapon had a dark sheath with a strap. He continued to equip it on his back.

Now to Kat. She had a revolver which appeared to be like Tain’s, but she never really brought it, because she never needed it. She instead brought a shotgun. One well aimed blow could kill anything, and she was known in the village for being a champion with this devastating weapon. The handle of it was made of polished wood, and the barrel was some type of black meal. She also brought a plethora of bullets via a bullet belt, which appeared like how any other shotgun bullets would. She also carried a knife just like Tain, but instead, she puts the cover on and then puts it in her shoe. She proceeded to carry the shotgun on her back via strap.

After everyone was done equipping their weapons, they all met inside the hunting hall, with Tain taking his sweet little time as usual, so he was late. They proceeded to talk to the guild lady hand give her the already stamped quest request.

“Since you guys are actually doing this, and this is not a joke,” the guild lady said sincerely, “Take these necklaces. They’re protection necklaces, which decreases the pain you guys will get and speeds up healing a tiny bit.”

All of them proceeded to take the necklaces, one by one, admiring the elegant design of the chains falling like a man finally getting released from jail, and the huge red gem stood at the bottom of the necklace, glittering through the torches like water in the sunlight. After admiring it, they equipped them on their necks.

“This will cost how much?” Kat said, thinking there’s a catch to this.

“Oh, no no!” The guild lady said in fear “Please, don’t make me take your money! Hardly anyone have seen this thing in person! I want you people to stay alive, especially you Tain!”

“Alright” Tain, Cole, and Kat said altogether. Then, they proceeded out of the hunting hall once more, and to the huge downwards slope up north, with a few glances back from the village as children were laughing, people working, hunters going in the hunting hall. It put a sincere face on them, even Tain. But now, the quest really begins.

Once they got to the bottom of the slope leading down from the mountains, they were faced with forests all around them, except for the east and west pathways, which there were still forests, but not covering them. From just only the outside facing the forest, there were tall trees. So tall that you could probably take five of these things and climb back up the mountain, which was an understatement. The bark was brown as the dirt they lay on with black streaks going vertically like any other wooden tree would. The leaves of the trees way above them were like a dark green. It’ll probably turn invisible at night, they thought. And the branches actually holding up those leaves were like veins when a chicken’s head is chopped off.

For the whole way down the slope, Tain, Cole, and Kat were silent. A few hunters passed by here and there, going the opposite way the party was going,  returning from their hunts, but overall silent for this party. But to break it up, Tain asked a question.

“Does anyone even know where to go? No one aske—“

“Mostly up north,” interrupted Kat, standing besides Tain, while she was trying to look up to the top of the tree. “North through this forest. From there, we should find a boat for us, which I paid for mind you. Then we will climb a mountain to get to a small forest, and that forest fuses into the desert. From there, there should be a tower in which Grina likes to dwell near.”

“And you know this, how?” Tain asked curiously and suspiciously

“While I was paying for all the supplies,” Kat let out a small cough, meaning that they should acknowledge what she did “I asked the guild lady for instructions to where Grina supposedly is.”

“Supposedly?” Cole interrupted

“You know, Grina is considered a legend, as no one knows where he may be, but certain people just have a feeling for this thing. Besides, what do we have to lose anyway?” After Kat made the statement, there was a bit of silence.

“C’mon, let’s go” Tain said while walking into the forest. “We don’t have all eternity.”

Now Kat and Cole nodded to each other and followed Tain behind him, admiring the trees all around them, the leaves falling, and especially the smell as they entered the forest. The smell inside was mixed with dirt, fresh oxygen in the trees, and just overall like nature, even though they experienced this many times, it still fascinated them.

And about two hours of walking and walking, Cole finally said “Can we please take a break? I feel like crocodiles are eating my feet.”

“Crocodiles are easy to hunt down, are they not?” Tain said while looking behind him and to Cole with a smirk, then turned away his head and closed his eyes with the same smirk “besides, you never know when an assassin might come. We would be sitting du—“

As Tain said it, he opened his eyes and saw a huge circle of treeless land surrounded by trees ahead of him. He could still see the sun shining down on each blade of grass, despite being about twenty feet away from the entrance of the shining circle. The whole thing seemed majestic, as there are trees all on the sides, acting like a wall protecting a house, and only two openings on both ends, the one where Tain and the others are on, and the one on the other side, where it continues to more of the forest.

Now Tain and the others were suspicious about this, but Kat wasn’t in to it as much. She probably thought the others were a bunch of kids on Christmas day. They walked slowly and approaching the circle of treeless land. As they entered there, Tain heard a twig being stepped on the other side, echoing. And soon enough, a body emerged and a voice came from it.

“Did I get you spooked?” said the man, in like a voice of a divine trickster. He has flowing hair like Cole’s without the ponytail, and instead, the color of his hair was white. He has two braided pieces of hair on both sides of his hair. He had these light brown eyes that seemed friendly, but murderous at the same time. He had a smirk more intimidating than Tain’s smirk, and the sunshine on his skin looked like a glowing angel. He wore a white long-sleeved shirt with a light blue coat that reached down his feet and roomy, light blue pants, kind of like Kat’s. He had these swords, stabbed vertically into the back of his shoulders, one for each shoulder, like a sheath to a sword. He has a dagger jabbed into the left side of his stomach, and it looked like hidden blades on the bottom of his shoes he could take off, or use it as a “shoe knife” To others, he may look like a divine angel back from war, but to this party, he looked like a demon.

“Who are you!?” shouted Tain, as the distance between him and the man was great.

“Well, since you asked,” said the man, sliding his thumb across his nails, like a woman filing her nails “I am Kain, servant of lord Grina. I thought it’d be hard to find you, but then I heard your footsteps coming this way. I was hoping it would be a different outcome than this conversation, as in quicker.” And then he walked towards Tain like a tiger casually stalking his prey.

“Lor—“Tain said, while walking towards him, frowning slightly, and slanting his head downwards slightly, while maintaining a neutral face. He let out a scoff. “Why would a creature have power over a human, or maybe even a demon in your case?”

“Oh, you know so little,” replied Kain in his little imitating but divine voice, letting out a scoff, and continuing to walk to Tain who was walking to him “Anyway, I cannot let you pass through here to kill my lord, for my job is to have your soul in my hands. You’ll have to kill me if you really want to proceed.” and when he finished this sentence, both him and Tain were already relatively close for a duel.

“Fine by me,” Tain said, while stopping, as he pulled out his sword from the sheath behind his back, which sounded like metal ringing through the air. “Let’s dance.”

As Tain finished, Kain himself stopped and pulled out his two swords from his shoulders, feeling no pain at all, which sounded like a person yawning with saliva still being attached to the roof of their mouth to their tongue. The sword was completely drawn out of his body, the sunlight showed that each of the blades were covered with blood like a fry over dipping into watery dark ketchup, dripping, and overall looked like Tain’s sword, where the blood wasn’t.

“I see you don’t feel any pain.” Tain said with a smirk

“I don’t, but you will!” Kain shouted while rushing towards Tain, while Tain doing the same thing.

The multiple clashings of the sword looked like a saw cutting through metal with sparks flying everywhere equivalent to a swarm of mindless flies. The sound of the clashing would equal if all of your silverware dropped on the floor, making a loud noise that a deaf man’s ear could probably ring.

This gone on for maybe six minutes, no one was hitting anyone. It was an intense duel, they looked like they had inhuman reactions, like a robot. The “chinging” of the swords never got old for these two, in fact, it probably felt like music to them. None of them would of let their guard drop.

Cole was watching in fear, and Kat was just being entertained. Cole thought something was suspicious about that girl, but he ignored it and shouted “I’m coming to help, Tain!” as he was drawing his katana out while rushing towards where the fight was taking place.

And while he’s rushing, Tain and Kain had clashed with their swords, one sword over the other in a defensive position, making an X, although the second sword Kain had made it an X with one line on the side, and the two on the other. However, while in this intense position, Tain said, “You know, this could be a fair fight if you didn’t had that other blade with you.”

“Fair? I’ll show you fair!” Shouted Kain, as he withdrew his swords from the chance, and so did Tain.

Now, at this moment, they didn’t even think, but they had to catch each other off guard and they trusted their swords into their opponent’s stomach, with Kain only using one to do so. However, Tain angled his sword properly to hit his stomach, to his heart, all the way just below his neck, while Kain, however, just stabbed straight through Tain’s stomach with no angle whatsoever, and Tain let out a scream of pain.

“Hm, I resist pain, I have no idea why’d you try it,” Kain said, letting out a scoff. “But no matters, because I can sever your head off right now, but I like watching people die choking on their own blood.” He let out a slight demonic laugh.

“You can resist pain,” Tain barely puffing out words through the blood he was pouring out of his mouth. “But you cannot resist death.” Tain then proceeded to take the revolver out of his left pouch with his spare left hand, quickly aimed it at his head and, without even thinking, pulled the trigger.

After he pulled the trigger, such a gruesome sight appeared. Tain’s face was sprinkled with blood not of his own, while looking at that emotionless, but yet shocked face of Kain, as he was falling down with that hole in his head. It seemed like time was slowed down in Tain’s perspective. Once Kain’s head touched the ground, he just looked like a demonic man who didn’t blink, making a pool of red water we call blood under his head.

Cole noticed the sword of bloody veins that ran down it like a strong guy who worked out at the gym, piercing through Tain’s stomach like a shish-ka-bob piercing through multiple layers of meat. He also noticed Tain’s ever so tired, painful face, something Cole had never seen in his life. He could hardly keep the revolver in his hand, it was just hanging there on his finger like a string dangling in your face. The saddest part, is that he was still standing. Tain then found the strength to put the revolver back in the pouch, then fell backwards to the ground.

Cole and Kat, who was secretly following Cole, even when he was rushing down to try to help him, immediately rushed to the sight of Tain in the pool of blood, in pain. When they got there, Cole immediately gone for the sword which was in Tain’s body, and tried to pull it out, even against Tain’s will. Eventually, it was out, with a few screams from Tain. Then, they carried Tain, one arm on Cole’s side, and one arm on Kat’s side, with her picking up Tain’s sword with the spare hand she had.

“Are there any villages nearby?” asked Cole quickly and in a panic.

“Yes, one is two miles north, then we will need to head eat for half a mile.” Kat replied with sweat on her face.

“Let’s go then.” Replied Cole, still in a panic, and covering Tain’s wound with the spare hand he does have.

Then, they ran as fast as they could out of the majestic, tree-less piece of land and into the forest yet again. They did not acknowledge the scenery, or cared what they’re feeling, whether it’s hungry, thirsty, have to go to the bathroom—their main priority was to get Tain to that village and hopefully he can rest for a few days so he can heal. They would even wait weeks for Tain to get healed, whatever keeps him alive.

And now, they have arrived at the rather small village. The village was overall grassy, at least, for being in the forest, but the houses were made from that same exact dark brown wood, in which increases the chances of getting splinters. They were mainly made of the logs of the trees, but some were cut down in order to have the proper roof. Flowers didn’t bloom in this village, it was overall a gray one with no lively scenery, aside from grass.

“Any doctors around?!” Cole shouted, in order to get attention to all the villagers in there.

A few seconds after, villagers came scrambling, and calling out other villagers, to help Tain. Two other men from the village took Tain off of Cole and Kat’s shoulders and led them into an Inn, which seemed two or three stories high, nothing Cole has seen before. From there, the two men quickly ran into the Inn and put Tain on the first available room which was on the second floor.

In the room, there wasn’t anything special. There was a bed all the way on the right side of the room, which felt like a slab of stone, and it looked like it too. The blanket was a sheet, if you could even consider that. There was a wooden chest on the other side where the bed was placed, which seemed like it wasn’t reliable for putting anything in, and then, in this particular room, there was a view of the bar right in front of the windows, and various other places if you look left or right.

The men then proceeded to put Tain on the cold hard stone slab they called a bed, and then left him there. From there, another villager came in with supplies he’ll need to heal. He brought a bandage to wrap around the wound, some spray which supposedly speeds up the healing process, and then water for hydration.

The villager then took Tain’s shirt off, along with his equipment, and then slowly but steadily, sprayed the stuff on Tain’s wounds, and then wrapped him in the bandages. Tain let out a tired scream, and then he finally half-woken up.

“What is that stuff?” Groaned Tain as he hardly waking up, but the villager made no reply, but only a stare into Tain’s eyes for quite a moment, and then left through the door, shutting it behind him.

A few minutes passed by and it was nearly night time. Tain found the strength to sit up and face the ground with his eyes staring into a black abyss with no return, emotionless, having flashbacks of what he did. “What did I do?” Tain thought to himself. He has killed monsters, but not something that had a form of a human. He didn’t even know if it was a human or a demon. He could have thought it was a dream.

As Tain was thinking about all of this, a cold shiver was blown in front of him. He did not know what it was, so he put his head up slowly like something horrible was going to happen, but then he was shocked with fear, even expressing it. He saw a floating mage robe, which was black, no patterns or anything.

“You’ve been through a great lot today.” Said a voice, which sounded like a person dying peacefully, making her last wish to go to the afterlife.

Tain completely ignored the voice, he thought the floating robe was an illusion, and so was the voice.

“It’s rude to ignore someone who’s standing right in front of you, trying to get your attention, Tain.” The voice said, again, peacefully.

“Villagers are probably trying to trick me. I don’t fall for those that easily.” Tain said, struggling to smirk, but failed.

Suddenly, a person was emerged inside the floating robe. Tain couldn’t believe his eyes. A woman, in a mage robe, with brown hair flowing out of the hood of it. Her eyes were undefinable, as the hood shaded them like darkness wrapping its victim in the night. Her skin was glowing like Kain’s in the sunlight, Tain thought, but her skin was too majestic to even be mentioned by that demon-lord Kain’s name. As she talked, her beautiful red lips caught Tain’s attention, as they were like red roses, so beautiful.

“Who are you?!” Tain questioned with fear

“You no need to worry about me, dear.” Said the lady in the robe. “I’ve came here to tell you something, but that something is not my name, for I am only a dead person roaming around the streets of this filthy forbidden village.”

“Cut to the chase.”

“Tain, that sword of yours, is no ordinary o—“

“Yes yes I know.” Groaned Tain. “Legend has it its filled with all of the monsters soul can finish anything in one blow and yadiyada.”

“Can you let a dead woman finish her statement?” The ghost said, changing her peaceful voice a bit. “Yes, that sword possessed great power, but it has not been activated. And how you activate it, well, it depends on the individual. Some will be triggered by sadness, anger, or even chants.”

The ghost then, to Tain’s amazement, withdrew the sword from the sheath. She chanted in a tongue the English language could not even interpret if it had a million years. However, the chant seemed like a song, with that beautiful, peaceful voice of her, Tain was amazed, as he never really listened to any music, let alone one starring with a beautiful voice.

After the chant was over, the blade of the sword had a yellow, glowing aura around it, resembling pure goodness, as the ghost says. The light was like staring into the sun, if your eye sockets didn’t completely evaporate from existence. The feel of the room felt more magical, in a good way. Like if all the good was sucked out and was pushed into the room.

The ghost withdrew the light from it, the good, and then vanished into thin air like the ghost always does. Tain tried to reach her, but she was already gone when Tain reached his arm out, and, to his amazement, he felt a lot better, like if his wounds were healed, but they weren’t. Afterwards, he didn’t remember anything.

Now there was a loud knock from his door, while Tain was laying on his right side, facing away from the door, opening his eyes. He remembered he was sitting up and he remembered he felt better, which was still there. He processed these thoughts, but remembered the knocked on the door. He said “Come in” while turning around to the other side, facing the door, and when the doors opened, stood Cole and Kat.

Cole had the most priceless look on his face, Tain thought. He was so happy that his friend didn’t die, and then ran to him, gave him a hug, and then said “Welcome back.”, and Tain also hugged back, feeling a bit awkward.

As the hugging ended, Kat, who was still leaning against the door, said “Have you had a good nap?” while stealing the smirk Tain uses.

“How long have I been out anyway?” asked Tain.

“Only for well 6 hours or so,” answered Kat. “This guy just cannot get enough to you, he looks like he hasn’t seen you since he was a child. Anyway, we all need rest. If you’re feeling better, Tain, we could head off again first thing in the morning.”

“I could go now.” Said Tain, with his usual smirk.

“Ha, right.” Joked Kat. “C’mon, Cole the tears of children, you need rest too. You’ve been rocking like a baby in the hallway for hours.”

“Right,” answered Cole, blushing, as he went through the door with Kat, and Kat closing the door behind them.

It was now that Tain’s thoughts on Kain, the ghost, the sword—everything traveled through his head like busy subways going back and forth. About Kain, he thought he could justify him killing him by saying he’s a demon, but he didn’t have proof. Wouldn’t demons dissolve like ghosts? And that led to his next thought: Was that an illusion, trickery, sorcery? And what about that sword too? All of these questions kept boggling in Tain’s mind, meaning he hardly got any sleep.

It was sunrise now, and Tain woke up, greeted by the knocking of the door again. Tain didn’t even say “Come in,” but Kat and Cole came in, with Kat saying “Wake up sleepy head, its morning.”

“Morning is 6 AM to you?” Tain groaned, as a man waking up from a slumber.

“7 AM, actually.”

“Give me 10 minutes.”

“Alright.” And then Kat and Cole walked out, with Kat closing the door behind her.

Now a minute later, Tain sat up from his bed and got up on his feet, still shirtless and that bandage still there. He noticed his neatly folded, clean from blood, shirt and vest on the chest, so he continued to put the shirt on, then the vest. He found his sword, gun, and knife next to that chest in the corner of the room, in their cases and sheaths still, and them he equipped them on accordingly. He also quickly finished the water given to him the other night, and then departed from his room, looking back as walking away, trying to see if the ghost was real or not, then shut the door.

Cole and Kat were waiting in the lobby downstairs. Tain came downstairs, and Cole and Kat stood up, with Cole saying “Are you ready?”

“Are you asking that question because of a scratch that you think will kill me?” Tain said jokingly, holding up his usual smirk. “Of course I am.”

“Glad to see you back in spirit.” Cole said, saluting to him, and then leading the way out of the Inn and to their original path.

Once they walked along the foresty path, not a word was said, it was as silent as the outside world at midnight, not a bird chirped, and the only thing they used their ears for was listening to the slow wind as they walked along, hardly noticeable along with their footsteps. Cole was thinking about how Tain got hurt and still a bit traumatized from that, but he never expressed it. Kat, on the other hand, had a mind that was calm. She thought of nothing. Her mind was just not there. Tain’s mind, of course, was thinking about Kain, the ghost and the sword. He sometimes grasped the sword behind him just to know it’s there. He didn’t want to lose it, even though he never cared if it got stolen back then, not even after he got robbed.

It was hours of all this, until they finally reached the coast where their boat was. Secured by a man with no words, he just knew that they were the owners of the boat and walked away from it.

The boat was not what Tain expected. It was a small, wooden, empty boat. It appeared as twice as small as the average pirate ship, but it had the same interior. A white sail sticking out on the top, with wooden rails along the ship which could give a person splinters. A wheel was located at the very front, and then there’s the below deck, which was relatively tight and empty, due to the size of the boat, but wherever Tain could lay down and relax, then he will be fine.

They got into the boat through a dock, and with no words, set sail with the wind in their favor. Once they set sail, Tain immediately gone to the under deck, Kat steering the ship, and Cole just watching over the ocean blues, thinking that there would be a sea monster somewhere.

Tain was asleep by now, time was passing by, and Tain could hear echoes of his name, “Tain, Tain” like someone finding another person in a cave, echoing endlessly through time. The voice got louder and louder, until finally, he realized it was Cole’s voice crying for help. Before he could wake up, Kat kicked his shin and said “Now is not the time to be sleeping,” and ran up to the docks.

Tain, not knowing how long he’s been out, did the same, and there it was, a Lakkai. The Lakkai had blue scales, like the oceans early in the morning. However, he had spikes across his back. Each individual spike looked like a gradient of a flame, with the darker end on the bottom, and the lighter end on the ever sharp tip. He had horns that looked exactly like his spikes, piercing out of his head, and right next to above eyes. Speaking of which, his eyes were fiery red, like the midpoint of his horns or spikes. His mouth had multiple layers of teeth, which appeared like a shark’s. His whole underside was a light tan, kind of like Tain’s skin. And his form was like a serpent, if it had a spine to put its head up stably, and his back flat, with devastating sharp claws which were going nowhere but near his body, as his arms were short.

Tain was surprised, despite him seeing many Lakkai in his life, but never on water, nor this big. Its neck alone was much more gigantic than the ship. He noticed Cole beating on the monster’s head, while of course dodging his bites and his neck slams on the ship. After Tain processed all of this, he then pulled out the revolver, which had a little blood from Kain on the barrel, he noticed, and then tried to shoot the monster’s eye, but missed.

“Go help Tain with the close quarters, I’ll handle this,” Kat commanded, pulling her shotgun from her back.

Tain heeded Kat’s order, and then ran up to the monster, pulling the sword out from his sheath, making a “shing” sound. Once he got close enough, he sliced the monster’s jaw, which was the closest thing he could touch with his sword, and the monster became furious.

“Move!” Shouted Kat, knowing what is about to happen.

As she said that, the monster lifted its neck, preparing for a neck slam on the boat. As Tain and Cole realized this, they both dived to their sides: Tain dived to the left, and Cole to the right. By then, the monster slammed his whole neck on the boat, leaving his head open for an attack. Kat fired the shotgun at the monster’s face, and it screamed, blood splatted out, but it wasn’t giving up trying to sink the ship with his neck.

“Now!” Shouted Kat quickly.

Somehow, Tain and Cole knew what to do, so they stabbed Lakkai’s eyes with each of their blades at the same time, and pulled them out quickly enough. When the monster’s brain realize it’s been stabbed, his neck lifted up quickly in pain, letting out a scream, then that scream faded away like wind blowing on sand, and then fell down to the bottomless pit of the endless ocean.

All of them relieved, they all kicked back where they were standing, breathless, as they could have died if the Lakkai had enough time to drown the ship, but luckily it didn’t. Soon, they got in their original positions, Kat on the wheel, Cole looking at the blue waters, but staring into the red puddle of blood the Lakkai left in the ocean, and Tain, as usual, going below the deck, acting like nothing ever happened.

Sooner or later, Kat could see land. She shouted “Land Ho!” alerting everyone that there’s land. Tain, below the deck, even heard it, but it was also a disturbing awaken, as he was dreaming of being back home, with his wife and kid, and the only way he could stop thinking about Kain, the ghost, and the sword. Ignoring all of that, he proceeded to equip his weapons in preparation for the journey, and went to the deck.

Finally, they have reached land. The boat was stopped with tying a rope around a nearby palm tree, and Cole jumped down from the boat, kissing the ground as if he had a wife and came home from a long voyage. Tain, on the other hand, was slightly displeased by the looks of his half-opened eyes, as he couldn’t nap, but had to walk. And so, he took a ladder down in front of the boat, and in the land, with Kat jumping off the boat like Cole, but not kissing the ground.

Now, the party was faced with multiple mountains. It seemed grassy, like their mountain where they lived, but not like the color, as it was dark green at the bottom, but they managed to look high enough to see the white snow. Climbing this mountain would be a pain, but luckily, these guys live on the mountains, they can find a way to walk along a nearby slope as it was relatively steep, and they did.

“I feel like I’m walking on walls!” Cole exclaimed, trying to get a conversation going, as it was quite as usual.

“You’ll get used to it.” Tain said, closing his eyes calmly. “I remember when I was fascinated by this, but in reality, one slip up can lead to death, unless you have your sword to stab into the slope to stop your falling speed because of the friction of the dirt.”

“Uh, that’s nice to know,” said Cole, not really paying attention. “Hey, we should talk about how we beat that Lakkai in his own territory!”

“What is there to talk about exactly?” Tain said coldly. “We did it, so what? It wasn’t hard or anything.”

“I know, but I could feel the intensity! It was like we were a wolf pack, you know? Communicating with each other to hunt the prey.”

“Your interpretation is dumb.” Tain said jokingly. “It’s more like when humans communicate, isn’t that right? It is not like wolves are better than communicating than us. Otherwise, we would have been dead.”

“But still—I thought it was amazing!”

“I guess you’ve never hunted a giant monster like that before?”

“No—have you?”

Tain took a while to think about his past, why he retired, his last hunts before that. His conscious was slowly walking through his mind, speedy as a turtle with the help of a snail. Then he replied, with a bit of a depressing voice “Yes I have.”

Afterwards, it was silent again. Cole knew that talking would make time go by faster, but he did not have a subject to talk about without making it awkward. He opened his mouth to try to talk about Kain, but he knew that Tain wouldn’t want to talk about him. Speaking of which, the three thoughts came into Tain’s head again: Kain, the ghost and the sword. He couldn’t stop thinking about those things in this silence. And as for Kat—well, she was just her usual calm minded state, thinking about nothing and looking straight ahead endlessly.

Eventually, they made it at the top of the mountain. As their eyes previously saw from the bottom of the mountain, it was snowy. The snow was pure white, appeared to be whiter than a piece of printer paper. One could see some sparkles on the snow from the melted water drops, although very few. There was a few stray trees here and there, but the bark of the trees could not be defined as brown, as so much snow had covered it. The leaves, however, were not. Somehow, they survived the cold snow, and the leaves pointed upwards from half way from the bark, narrowing down to the top, appearing like perfect Christmas tree. There were so many clouds above them as if a storm was coming. The whole place seemed gray overall.

“Santa can’t wait forever to give his presents.” Tain said jokingly, still moving on with Kat while Cole was admiring the few trees he could see. “Hope you’ve been trained to be in the cold weather.”

“Coming!” Cole said, clumsily rushing where Tain and Kat were and walked at their pace. “Hey, why do the trees still have leaves attached to them?”

“Because this place was considered to be magical.” Kat said. “The only thing keeping them alive are the ghosts in the tree’s roots.” Striking Cole in fear

“No,” Tain said seriously, looking straight ahead. “You got half of it right. You have never seen what a ghost can do.”

“And you do?” Mocked Kat

Tain made no reply, only thinking about the ghost that came in his room in the Inn. Once again, it was silent among this party, with Tain buried in his thoughts.

“So, uh, Kat.” Cole said, awkwardly trying to break the silence. “What types of creatures did you hunt?”

“I choose not to brag.” Kat said, briefly and bluntly.

And again, another few hours passed until they finally reached a significant point on the mountain, as they stopped with amazement.

There was a long, narrow pathway, about 30 feet wide and who knows how long. All the other space was covered by trees. In that narrow path however, were stone towers, which was shaped like a light house, and looked overall like a lighthouse without the light. They were all scattered aside from the path. Alongside this, were square buildings, which appeared to be a watch tower, with a door at the front and multiple windows on every floor, only with shattered glass. These buildings were up to two to seven stories tall and were scattered across the narrow path except the middle.

“Let’s go.” Said Tain with a commanding voice, not shouting.

“Wait!” Cole again, ran up to where Tain and Kat were walking, and walked at the same pace. “Don’t you think this is a little, suspicious?”

“They’re abandoned buildings.” Tain replied. “If we be quite, then maybe the skeletons would spare us.”

Cole obviously knew it was a joke, so he just kept quite anyway and made no reply, with the suspicion still on his mind.

About fifteen minutes in, the party were still walking at the same pace, but Tain suddenly heard a bow being drawn back behind him, to his right side, where an abandoned building was. He turned around, draw his sword and then saw the arrow. He immediately cut it in half by moving his sword to the left, stopping the momentum of the arrow and overall breaking it. After that happened, Kat and Cole looked behind them.

“Run!” shouted Tain.

As soon as that command was processed into their brains, they ran, with Cole drawing his katana out if his sheath, and Kat drawing her knife out of her boot by jumping to get momentum, and then using her hand to grab the knife out of her raised leg, and ran. Tain of course ran with them from behind.

As they were running, they heard tons of arrows, passing through their ears and faces. Most of them were a close call. As they were running, through the rain of arrows, they sliced down the arrows that were about to hit them with their sword, katana, knife, and what have they and even saving each other by cutting the arrows that were about to hit another member of this party.

“Where did they come from!?” Shouted Cole

“Who do I look like, a fortune teller? I have no idea!” Shouted Tain back to Cole, making a joke.

“Focus!” Exclaimed Kat. “We just need to get to the other side. I have no idea who they are, but all I know is that these arrows are deadly.”

As she said that, both Tain and Cole noticed that some arrows were melting the snow, others were regular, and others had this lightning effect throughout the arrow.

“What I’m worried about, is that they’re trying to get us focused on the arrows so we can land in a trap or something, so be on the look out!” shouted Tain.

Only a few moments later, this kid, about sixteen years of age with very dark skin, was riding on this strange creature. Tain thought it might have been a wolf and a bear mixed together, but he wasn’t worried. Soon, it was catching up to Tain, and the kid was wielding a sword, so he tried to slice Tain’s head off, but Tain ducked, knocked the kid off with the back of his sword, and sliced the head off of the strange animal, stopping it from following him.

However, many more of these people started appearing behind them. In the rain of arrows and the stress these animals catching up to them, they needed to get out immediately, and soon enough, they found a broken fence. It looked like it at the end of the mountain.

“Run faster!” shouted Tain, while picking his pace up “Run more than you can handle. When I say jump, you jump, got it?”

“Got it!” Both Kat and Cole said, picking up their pace, and it was almost equal to Tain’s. However, the animals were also picking up their pace, and the arrows they had to run through and slice seemed like a lot more.

In a matter of minutes, when the strange animals were just about to get on the party’s tails, the fence was more in sight, and the number of towers were close to zero, so less arrows came raining down.

“You guys ready!?” Shouted Tain.

“Yes!” they both replied.

“Three… two… one…” Tain counted down, but waited for the right time to say jump, and in a matter of seconds, he finally shouted “JUMP!”

And they all jumped over the slightly broken fence, and was greeted with a free fall, feeling like one were sticking their head out of a car, but only it’s the full body and faster. At this height and speed, not even a super hero could survive.

“Are you crazy?!” shouted Cole. “We’re going to DIE for sure now.”

“Don’t worry.” Tain shouted, but trying to in a calm way because of the wind that’s rushing their ears. “Remember what I said about stopping the fall speed with your sword? That will come into play now. Once I say ‘GO!’ you stick your sword into the mountain, alright?”

Cole replied with “alright” in his head, but was afraid to move his mouth because with the speed they’re falling at, he was scared of choking of too much air.

They fell about more than halfway down the mountain, it was about time that Tain gave the signal, judging by the speed they were falling at.

“GO!” shouted Tain with as much sound as possible, and then Tain proceeded stick his sword into the mountain at the same time Kat stuck her knife in the mountain, at the same time Cole stuck his Katana into the mountain.

The party was still falling fast, but Cole had faith in Tain, so he kept it there and held the handle of that blade.

They were almost at the bottom of the mountain, and they began to slow down, now Cole’s faith in Tain almost died, but ten feet before they hit the ground, they stopped momentum enough for Tain to say “Jump!”, afterwards, Tain jumped from the wall, bringing his sword with him, and so did Kat, but Cole had a little delay before doing what they did.

When they all touched the ground, they both hurt their legs. They couldn’t walk for some time, but it wasn’t permanent. Soon, their legs healed mostly and then they began to walk up north again, through the forest, which pretty much looked like the first one they’ve been in.

“How did you know we were going to survive?” Cole asked with amazement and curiosity.

“Because, friction helped in this factor, but it wasn’t entirely the case. If it was, we’d be dead.” Tain replied. “You know that necklace you’re wearing? The one the guild lady gave you? That helped in this factor, but a fall like that will wear the effect of the necklace a bit.”

“I see… and how did you know this?”

“Because, I escaped that way from a monster. Only I didn’t have the necklace, I had a brace that gave me protection, but once I fell, the brace saved me, and then it broke. So you see, these necklaces won’t last forever. They will wear down and break. So, for me, my necklace is on its last strings, as I was stabbed and survived this fall.”

Cole made no reply, but was too amazed in his mind, thinking how someone could make a scheme like this. It would have taken years for Cole to figure that out, but now he knows to use everything he has for survival.

“There’s a village we will cross up north.” Kat said. We’ll dwell here, the village was inspired by the last village we saw, so it’ll look close to exactly the same.”

“Sounds good to me, I’m famished.” Cole said tiredly.

They went up north and saw the village and Kat wasn’t kidding. Everything was nearly exact as the other village. The Inn windows facing the bar, most of the things made of wooden logs. Of course, not everything was exact. Like certain placements of the trees and not every stone was there, but overall looked like it.

“Why did they make it almost exactly like the other village?” Cole asked Kat

“Because there’s no other villages after that one, so if one came from there to here, they would feel right at home.” Answered Kat, while looking left and right.

And now, the party entered the bar, which was across from the Inn. Inside the bar, was just like the hunting hall back in their village. People drinking, people laughing, talking, etcetera, so they were not really afraid, including Cole too. They all found a table all the way one the opposite side where the door was. So, they sat there, ignoring all the loudness of drunken men.

Soon enough, a waiter came at their table, saying in his rough voice, like a strong husky man, “Hello and welcome, yer not around you are ye?”

“Just give us water.” Tain said, not making eye contact with the waiter, but just staring into nothing.

“Ye folks need more dan that! ‘Ere, I’ll give ya somethin’ that will make all yer worries go away!” and then he walked away, fading into the crowd, getting the party some drinks.

“You drink?” Cole asked both Tain and Kat.

“Hardly, you could call it never.” Both Tain and Kat replied, like a synchronized orchestra.

“Oh,” Cole said, in a voice that was confused.

“Here yer drinks.” The waiter put three huge mugs of what seems to be like some type of beer on the table. “Anything yer guys and gal needa eat?”

“Steak, rare.” Both Tain and Kat replied together synchronized, again.

“I’ll have a steak too, well-done.” Cole said to the waiter, making eye contact unlike Kat and Tain.

“Alrighty, chef’s gonna start it in a jippie!” The waiter said, again, walking into the crowd, fading away.

Again, there was complete silence among this party, nothing to talk about, while Tain took a few sips of his beer-filled mug, Kat only drinking one or two sips, Cole hasn’t touched it yet, but he then opened his mouth to ask, “What made you retire from hunting?”

Such an innocent small question crushed Tain’s brain and heart. He really didn’t want to talk about it, so he made a lie and sooner or later and replied “Because I didn’t need to, I had everything I wanted, because I was so rich. But that everything wasn’t money either, it was my wife and my kid.”

Cole, thinking he said the truth, was silent yet again, processing that in his mind, and took a sip out of the beer-filled mug of his, hoping that the waiter would come to break the silence.

Then a few minutes passed, and the waiter came with their food, and said, while passing it, “Hope ye all like it. This place is da best to get any steaks out ‘dere.”

“Thanks.” Tain said, still staring into nothing with no enthusiasm.

The waiter, yet again, faded away from to the crowd, and now the chow down begins for this hungry party. Tain cut through his seemingly rare steak like a lion eating his prey, Kat and Cole were just eating normally, and slightly watching Tain eat at their amazement.

After they all have finished eating and paying the bill, they exited the bar and went straight into the Inn. From there, they each got their own room on the second floor. Once at the second floor, still nothing said, Cole said “Goodnight” and went into his room. Tain and Kat making no response, went into their own rooms and headed for those stone slabbed beds, with of course taking off their equipment.

In brief, Cole slept like a baby, Kat slept like a normal person, and Tain, well, like last time, was haunted with his own mind about the three things. Kain, the ghost and the sword. Now a new thought came to him: Who were those people shooting arrows at us, and those people who were riding those strange animals. Were they Kain’s demons, making Kain a devil? Or were they working for their own will? Sooner or later, all these thoughts made Tain tired and then he fell asleep.

When the sun rose, again, Tain was woken up by a knock he didn’t want to hear, and the door opened, with Kat saying “Cock-a-doodle-do Sleeping Beauty.” With Kat looking like she had middle of the day energy, with all of her stuff equipped, with Cole standing behind her as well, with his equipment and as much energy.

“7 AM already?” Groaned Tain.

“No, I took advice from you and wake up at 6 AM.” Kat said mockingly. “You’re welcome. Just get ready, we’ll be waiting at the lobby.” And then she closed the door. Soon after that, Tain equipped what he had to, and then headed out of the door and into the lobby.

“That was awfully quick.” Kat said. “Worried that I may do something?”

“Let’s just go.” Tain said, not having that waking up groan in his voice anymore.

As they exited the Inn, they headed north yet again, to get to their destination. Kat then said “About three miles north, we should reach the desert”, with Tain and Cole nodding in agreement. However, she had Tain take the lead, she stayed behind him.

About a mile up north, they saw this open area in the forest. Not as open as where they encountered Kain, but it was about ten feet in diameter, with chopped down trees bisecting the empty space of the grassy but treeless area. Now Tain grew suspicious of this, but he did not know what. He suddenly heard a tree shaking in front of him, and then Kat pulled the shotgun from her back, aimed it and shoved it at Tain’s head, and then said “Freeze.”

Cole, who was following behind Kat, realized what was happening and then reached for his katana. Soon after he did that, he saw a sniper aiming at him in the branches where the tree shook, who looked exactly like Kat! Cole, being surprise by this, froze in place, thinking that sniper wanted him not to move.

“What is this?!” Tain said, angrily.

“I’m surprised you didn’t know what was going on right at the beginning, with a clever mind like that.” Said Kat with a tricky voice mixed with the already toughness of her voice. “No one survives lord Grina because of me, not he who kills them.”

“So you’re one of them too?!”

“Them? Oh, if only I knew what you were talking about. We all should praise lord Grina, so if you mean people like Kain, then we all are like him.”

Then Tain was silent, and then suddenly, he turned around while crouching, putting his palm on the bottom tip of the shotgun barrel in a quick motion, pushing it upwards quickly to avoid getting shot at. At this point, the sniper noticed Tain doing that and aimed for him, but he managed to think of this and in one big roll, was in cover of the chopped down trees. As the sniper was distracted, it was Cole’s time to shine. He quickly drew out his katana, since he already his hand on the handle, and then stabbed her at an angle where it stabbed through her back and through her heart and then Kat pulls out a dagger—the dagger that Kain was stabbed by in the side, and stabbed Cole in the side, then did a standing summersault roll around his body, and put him in a chokehold.

By this time, the sniper had a clear visual of Cole’s head, but Tain acted quickly and pulled out his revolver and shot Kat in the foot, losing her grip and making her fall down. Then, when Cole was released, and while he was crouched, he proceeded to turn around and then karate chop Kat’s neck, stunning her, and then rolled to the cut down tree log where Tain was to avoid getting shot at by the sniper. Since Kat was stunned, no need to worry about her.

“So what do we do now?” Cole asked in a hurry with his heart pounding and out of breath.

“Take this.” Tain said as handing over a knife he had in his pouch to Cole. “Hope you know how to throw well. We’ll split up and she has to only aim for one of us. If one of us are aimed at, we use pure instinct to dodge a bullet. But the one who isn’t getting targeted will either shoot, or throw the knife in your case, the sniper.”

“And if this fails?”

“What other option do we have?”

When Tain gave a hand signal they both run towards the sniper. Of course, the sniper was aiming for Tain. This was Cole’s chance, hit it or lose it. He carefully took aim for the head while running closer and closer, and then threw it. The knife hit below her neck, oozing out with blood, but the impact made the sniper completely miss Tain. In pain of this wound, she licked her left thumb and an electrical current flowed through her as a thunderstorm, and then she vanished.

“What was that?” Cole asked in confusion.

“I don’t know, I don’t know.” Repeated Tain while shaking his head, trying to comprehend what happened. “Are you okay?”

Cole then proceeded take the dagger of Kain out of his side and then said “I believe so.”, taking out the dagger out of his side, then the gem of his necklace shattered, and then nothing else was said, just a stare at each other.

Before heading north again, he took his Katana from the stunned body of Kat, who was going to bleed out anyway, and took her knife also, and then giving it to Tain, even if he felt uncomfortable having a dead woman’s knife in his pouch.

This party—or should it be even consider it a party—headed north, trying to get to their destination, and end Grina once and for all. Tain thought Grina was somehow brainwashing all of these people and giving them more and more power for every soul that was given to him—or maybe he was overthinking and overcomplicating it. Maybe he was also brainwashed too!

All the madness in Tain’s head was soon interrupted by Cole looking at him with sincere and asking “Are you okay?”

“Yes, I’m fine.” Tain said, sounding like someone who came from zoning out.

“You don’t look—nor sound fine. Is it because of your life back in the village when you retired—family—Kain?

Tain, shocked by all the things Cole mentioned, finally opened his mouth and replied, truthfully, “I haven’t told you the real reason while I retired. The reason at the bar was a fake one, so I will tell you the real reason. I was out hunting. I had to hunt this human sized monster, I’d say like seven feet. It looked like a really huge, bulky man who had white fur all over him, but was standing like a human, but had dog’s feet and a wolf’s head—I cannot remember every detail. Anyway, when I encountered that, I pulled out my revolver and shot it—with all of my bullets—right in the head and it did not die. The more pain it got, the stronger it became. Anyway, I was then running for my life to the village, which was pretty far where I encountered that beast. He suddenly appeared in front of me, with electrical currents running through the outside of his body. He tackled me, rendering me helpless. He was clawing my face and my body—how I survived that is up to a wiser man beyond that world. I was knocked out unconscious, but when I became conscious, all my wounds were healed, no scars or anything. I said to myself, ‘It was just a dream’, but I looked at my clothes and still found my blood on them, along with white hairs. I returned to the village, not reporting back to the guild lady. She probably thought I was dead or something. I was afraid to show my face into that hunting hall, I didn’t want to be that guy who got beat up by a close-range monster against a long ranged revolver user—me.”

“Oh.” Cole replied, simply, he did not want to ask any further questions to avoid breaking Tain’s heart even more.

Thirty minutes after that long and dreadful story, they finally got to the desert. Nothing special to describe about it. It was just tan sand and sandy hills, both small as a human and large as a three story house. As usual, Cole was fascinated by the sight of this, as with all the other scenery they’ve passed through, but especially this since a forest actually merged into the desert.

“Fascinated by sand?” Tain mockingly asked. “If we move further we can see more sand if you like.”

“Coming!” Cole said while running towards him, and then walking at his pace when he got to him.

Again, there was nothing more than just walking. It was even more silent now that Kat was gone, due to the lack of footsteps. But after about fifteen minutes of this, they saw a furry, human-like figure walk out from behind a small desert hill about twenty feet away. The figure was covered with black fur, darker than Cole’s hair, with a wolf’s head with red eyes, teeth sharper than a Lakkai’s, and his legs were like that of a dog’s. His ears were as sharp as a tip of a silver spear, which imitated all foes. He had sharp black claws that shined off of the sun, and looked like a body builder with those muscles and abs. He had a tail of a wolf’s when it’s calm, and it had no clothes except for the dark purple cloth which was wrapped around his waist, all the way down to the half-thigh. His form being, of course, human-like.

“It’s him!” Shouted Tain with as much anger as a voice can shout.

“I’ve heard a lot about you, Tain.” Mocked the creature. His voice was so menacing and demonic, but yet had a touch of trickery to it. “I’ve heard the tale from my brother two years ago, oh, if only he could see your face right now.”

“Who are you?!” Shouted Tain, still in his angry voice.

“My name is none of your business.” The creature said seriously, still maintaining that voice. “You cannot pass this point, as from three miles, lord Grina is there. I highly suggest to turn back where you came from, unless you want to commit suicide by fighting me.”

Tain then ran up and drew his sword, shouting as if it was a battle cry.

“Perfect.” The creature said, happy in his heart, as he pulls out a katana out of thin air, with a bright glow of the shape of a katana in his hand before finally appearing. It seemed like it was longer and much sharper than Cole’s katana, with the blade being made out of some dark silver metal, with a blood red handle from all the foes he defeated. Now, the creature waited for Tain to approach with an attack, and so he did.

The creature blocked the attack, and then Tain was just furiously slicing his sword mindlessly, making those ching sounds and the sparks we all know and love, but Tain wasn’t going to give up soon. The creature instead dodged a downwards slice from Tain, and then put his blade near Tain’s neck and then gave a demonic smirk with that wolf face of his.

But then Tain slid his sword to where the creature’s blade was, to get it away from his neck, and then continue to mindlessly throw out attacks from his sword, with the creature blocking each and every one.

“I’m coming!” Cole shouted, about to rush and draw his katana

“No, this is my fight!” Tain shouted back, still in his angry voice, so Cole did nothing and watched.

Tain was still throwing out mindless attacks with his sword, but no luck. The creature finally got bored and, once he blocked a downwards slice, disarmed Tain by spinning his sword in a circle, while spinning Tain’s sword too, disarming Tain, and then proceeded to gently put the tip of the katana below Tain’s chin.

“Do you ever give up?” The creature said to Tain mockingly.

Tain, imitated by this, quickly pulled out his revolver and quickly tried to shoot the creature’s head, but never aimed, and he missed, with the revolver still in that position, without even moving.

“May I slay you now?” The creature said, still mocking Tain.

Tain slowly backed away from the katana at a safe distance. He held his right hand out, signaling to Cole to give him his katana, and so he threw it a great distance, and it landed straight upwards in the sand, with the handle sticking out. Tain then withdrew it from the sheath and then said briefly “It wasn’t a fair fight.”

“You’re right,” said the creature, putting his katana away from sticking out to a neutral two-handed position. “Let’s try this again, this time, no mercy.” Then, the creature’s eyes glowed red.

Now, it was the creature throwing out the attacks, and Tain blocking them. But instead of mindlessly throwing out attacks, he strategically threw out attacks, but Tain could see through his plans. Once the creature done a powerful overhead slice, Tain dodged it and then stabbed him in the stomach and withdrawing it as soon as possible. However, it did not affect the creature a bit. He still continued to be as aggressive as possible, without showing any patterns. And once he did a horizontal slash, Tain quickly ducked under it and then ran for his sword, dropping the katana.

“Can’t handle the mastery of the weapon I see.” Mocked the creature yet again. “Well, I’ll make your death short.”

The creature proceeded to run up and then attempt to stab Tain, but he managed to avoid it by the thickness of a piece of paper, even ripping his shirt a bit, but after Tain realized this, he proceeded to stab into the creature’s wound by the katana, and then the sword was glowing yellow, causing pain to the creature, even dropping his weapon.

After quite a moment, Tain withdrew the glowing sword from the creature’s wound, and then the creature gave up and said: “Perhaps I underestimated you.” Then he walked away, picked up his katana, then, facing Tain, he spun his katana around in front of him, making a type of smoke from the sand, and then he vanished.

Tain then put his now bloody sword away and said “Pick up your katana and let’s go.”

Cole, without any words, ran to his sheath and his katana and then equipped it on his back. And then ran up to catch up to Tain. Once he was near him, he walked at his pace and said “What did you do?”

“I extracted some of the monster’s soul” replied Tain briefly. “I noticed while he was blocking my attacks with his sword, it was chipping some of it away, as he was blocking for one specific spot due to how sharp the blade was. So I switched to your katana, and he attacked me, and I focused on blocking with all the sword and not one to prevent much damage. I needed to stab the creature in the wound with the katana because he opened up his soul willingly. I switched to my sword and stabbed him in that very spot to extract some of his soul. If you stab the sword into a creature without getting into any wounds, then the soul opens up unwillingly, so the soul does not extract.”

Cole’s head was hurting with that explanation, but he simply said “Oh.”

Now, they finally reached their destination, the stone tower where Grina supposedly is. It had stone tiles which stretched out to sixty feet, with the tower on the other side, so it was easier to walk on than the sand. However, waiting at the end of the stone tiles, was the sniper and the creature. The sniper tried to pull out her rifle and shoot Tain, but the creature touched the barrel and lowered it.

About five minutes have passed, until a large, high pitch scream was heard. Soon after that, a dragon came flying in over them. It was covered in black scales on the top half and purple glowing scales on the bottom of him. He had purple, crystal spikes running down all the way down his back and those same crystals on his head for horns. His eyes were purple, with an eye of a snake. He had about five layers of sharp teeth, and his overall body size was massive, about fifty feet long and thirty feet wide. He had s large scar on his chest, probably from the last hunter who tried to slay this thing. Its form was like a serpent, only it had legs as a dog’s when sitting down and arms small as a dinosaur’s, so it could stand on two feet if it wanted to.

“Who dares disturb me?” Said the dragon in a very demonic, deep voice.

After the dragon said that, Cole dropped dead. His heart stopped, his pulse was nowhere to be found. It was like a light switch with no delay. He died in the nothingness. He didn’t bleed out, no signs of dark magic. It was all so sudden—there was nothing you could do to save him. He was dead.

Now Tain caught his dead body in his arms, so he wouldn’t hit the floor. As Tain looked into his eyes, they were just staring into nothing, emotionless. Tain closed his eyes, and then let out a tear and shouted “What happened to him!?”

“The dagger.” The sniper said, with no emotion, still on the other side of the tiles. “When your friend stabbed him with the dagger from Kain, he was poisoned. But not like the poison you probably know, but it was the poison if he listens to Grina’s voice, he dies. There is no hope of saving him now.”

Tain then gently placed his body where it should have fallen and shouted at the top of his lungs, with tears pouring down on his face like rain “Grina, the spawn from all of hell, you shall die on this very day, on this very hour. You will die with no one to love, as no one does love you. They only want power.”

After Grina heard all of this and then he landed on his two feet, causing a massive earthquake, and letting out a high screech battle cry. Tain imitated by this, was determined to fight, so he withdrew his sword and charged at him with a furious battle cry of his own.

However, to Grina, he seemed like an ant. He charged up a ball of purple-pinkish lightning like a stormy night on sea, but shining as bright as the sun, rushing through the devastating spikes across his back and finally firing it between his horns, like a slingshot without the string, impacting Tain.

After Tain got hit, he got pushed back a great distance due to the impact. The necklace that gave him protection shattered, but somehow he managed to stay alive, hanging by only a thread. He didn’t care about how much he was in pain. But in the process of getting hit, he developed the wound in his stomach again, from last time Kain stabbed him, as it didn’t fully heal, only in bandages.

“What is this power?” Tain said to himself, while getting up from the ground.

“This is the power of the great Grina!” replied Grina, somehow hearing Tain. If you value your life, your wife, son, or what remaining scraps your pathetic self has, I will give you a chance to let you flee like a coward.”

Tain, surprised about how much Grina knew, said in a fury, “I can’t let you do that, you hellspawn! This is not going to be for money, fame, nor even family. This will be to avenge a death!”

After Tain said that, he stabbed his sword through his wound, only absorbing his own soul. He was remembering what the ghost said, and that gave him the courage to do this. But now, instead of the sword glowing yellow, it was glowing dark red. He didn’t care about the color, but the others who were spectating were fascinated by it.

“You’re finished now!” Shouted Tain, as the aura and the glow grew larger and larger, and eventually, Tain himself had the souls of the monsters in him. He was powerful of all the monsters slayed by the sword from the great hunter. And so, he rushed to Grina again, hoping for a better outcome.

“You fool! No creature, even combined cannot kill a ruler as me!” Grina said in a fury. Again, he charged up a lightning ball, lightning running through the spikes on his back, and then firing it through his horns. However, it did not stop Tain at all. He managed to block it with that puny sword of his. He still rushed towards Grina, and then, right when he was about to do it again, Tain licked his left thumb and he was engulfed in lightning, then appeared behind this monster.

Now Tain ran up the steep, scaly hill of his back, blocking the lightning generated from the spikes, Tain picked up the pace as more lightning bolts were beating generated and deflected, as Grina could do nothing else to get him off his back. And sooner or later, he reached the top head. From there, he jumped off, the head, avoiding the ever-so-devastating horns, after, he changed his momentum towards his chest where the huge scar was, and then stabbed it with his sword. From there, purple blood furiously squirted out, Grina cried his last, and then he fell down, dead.

When Grina’s body reached the ground, Tain was about ground level, still hanging on the sword, and withdrew it. The power of the monsters’ soul was eventually taken away from Tain, then the sword shattered to oblivion, unrecoverable. After this, he became weak, and so he rested. Rested for the rest of the day besides the dead hellspawn dragon.

Finally, Tain woke up, thinking it was a dream, but to his unfortunate surprise, it was not. He proceeded carve the scale and horn from the monster, and carried the dead body of Cole.

As Tain was about to head off, he looked behind him and saw the sniper and the strange furry black creature where they originally were when spectating the whole fight. When the sniper realized that Tain was looking at them, she turned away and walked into the midst of the desert. However, the creature, about fifteen second later, shouted, due to their distance “I’m sorry for your loss.” And then he also walked off in the midst of the desert.

While carrying Grina’s horn, scale, and especially Cole’s body, he departed from this cruel forbidden area and then back tracked to his village, alone, not even Cole to talk to, even though he brought awkward subjects. Tain wanted to hear his voice again.

He reached the village eventually and headed for the hunting hall immediately, with him still carrying everything. Then he walked up to the guild lady and said briefly, “It is done.” While dropping the monster parts on her desk, not caring what she was drawing this time. “And the first thing I will buy with the reward, the most expensive funeral for my dead friend right here.

The guild lady, speechless with her mouth wide open in awe, looking at the things Tain retrieved, nodded and giving a hand signal that this guy hunted Grina. Soon, half the hunters there rushed out of the hunting hall in attempt to find Grina’s body to carve it. However, Tain knew most of them weren’t going to make it back alive.

A few days later, Cole’s funeral had begun. It was located right in the middle of the village. Cole’s body was buried in lovely bright pink flower that could reflect the sun, though with less strength, with his eyes closed peacefully. Instead of hunters laughing and drinking in violent attires, they were mourning and sober, with formal attire.

In the middle of all of this, the black furry creature also came, also in formal attire, which was very surprising considering his muscles, and he stood by Tain. The hunters that weren’t attending the funeral were about ready to pull out their swords or guns, but Tain gave a hand motion signaling don’t kill him.

As the creature was standing next to Tain, in sympathy, but not shedding a tear, looked down to the ground, closed his eyes with a calm and sympathetic wolf face said quietly, not trying to interrupted “It’s Edgma, you can call me that for my name.”

Tain, doing the same thing the creature, or “Edgma” was doing, nodded his head, and continued to mourn for his lost friend, accidentally shedding a tear, knew that he would be in a better place than this accursed world. Heaven or hell, though Tain didn’t believe in a heaven. All he knew is that he made a sacrifice to kill one of the most powerful demons fom hell.

And so, the story ends

With our friend sleeping soundly in his bed.

Of all creatures and monsters,

He was above all hunters.

 

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