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Changing Lifes
Description and Information
Fan Fiction Name: Changing Lifes
Author/s: HummelHunter
First Debut: June 9th, 2010
Number of Chapters: 10
Current Status: Finished, Sequel in separate page
Chapters
  1. Changing Times
  2. Changing Lifes
  3. Changing Worlds



Note: English is not the author's first language, so don't expect perfect grammar and spelling. Feel free to correct minor mistakes you find, though don't change major content

Harper, Riker, Kyro and Soran's story have been inspired by PurpleIsGood and his awesome Fanfiction:Fanfic:Tears for the Fallen

Pictures

Those are made by DarkStar Knight, thank you man :D You are plain awesome [1] Narga V gunner armor, made by DarkstarKnight [2] Light of the Sun, white Narga LS [3] Katana of Eternal Night, Hypnock LS [4] Aurex Infection, Aurex LS Add a photo to this galleryAnd this awesome piece of art comes from Countjoe1. You are epic :D



[5] Aurex, the roaring bane of the desertAdded by Countjoe1


Royal misunderstandings

Ciepha opened her eyes. She had a bad headache and dreamed somehow she was captured on the way towards the city. But, WAIT! She actually WAS captured. But she didn't sit in a stinking, small jail, but in a big and georgeos room. Everything was covered in Wywern Gold or decorated with rare Rathalos, Rathian, Daimyo and Garuga Jewels. And she wasn't wearing her dirty Gobul Armor, but a fine robe made from silk. She knew this room very good. It was her fathers residence in Loc Lac, the grand desert city. And she was angry of landing here again, after everything she tried to escape her family...

It was not actually that her family was cruel or evil or things like that, the only problem was that her family was the royal family of the southern plains. Her father was ruling a large territory, being the second most powerful lord in southern Minegarde. And as his oldest daughter and princess of that territory, she had to behave like one. But Ciepha didn't want to behave this way. She was a wild nature, loving the harsh world outside the castle and powering herself out somewhere there. As she was a young girl, her fahter had to leave for some months. In this time she lived at her uncle's castle in the desert. Her uncle was busy with ruling all the time, not giving any attention on her and allowing her to what she wanted. Then she met Aras, an old hunter who saw her potential from the first day on. He taught her everything she needed to know to be a successful hunter. The old man died in her arms while fighting against a Pink Rathian.

And one of the things she was hating most was all that etiquette on holding the glasses right, dancing those borign old dance and not being able to decide who she will marry. Especially the last fact was making her trouble. She was, against her will, engaged with a lord from the Swamps. Not only that he was 36, 17 years older than her, he was also a total jerk. His only interest was power, and that marriage was a great opportunity to enlarge his influence. He had no point in choosing her than the fact she was rich and had a mighty father. And to make things even worse, the marriage was only somedays ahead. To be honest, she was engaged since 5 years, and should be married since 4. All the time, she ran away from the various residences everytime she had the chance. Most of the time it failed, but two times, once earlier and this time, she managed to run away and live in freedom for three years. And now she was sitting in this luxus-prison AGAIN!!!

Suddenly someone knocked the door."Come in", Ciepha called. A maid and several servant Felynes entered the room, with the cats carrying some plates with vegetables, bread, kirin cheese, blessed tuna and a jar of goldenfish brew. "Ah i see you woke finally up, Mylady. Here is some breakfast for you. Also Lord Merat(this was the man Ciepha should marry) will arrive tonight for dinner. The marriage is set for tomorrow's noon." "First, stop calling me 'Mylady'. My name is Ciepha. And second, I'm not going to marry anyone. Or at least not tomorrow and not him. But thank you for the food. You and the Felynes can stay a while and eat with me if you want. What's your name?" The girl was looking first surprised, then insecure and started to stammer:"Iii.. Mm.mmy name iis..." she stopped talking and turned away. The princess stood up and came at her side. "Don' be shy, I'm not like those other royal snobs, believe me. I'll rather get eaten by a Deviljho than behaving like they do." The girl was still looking insecure, but at least she sat down at the table, along with the Felynes. Ciepha took place on the opposite side and tried it again:"So, again, my name is Ciepha, who are you?" The maid still didn't say a word, but at least the Felynes opened their mouths, naming themselves Rin, Bara and Lia. After that, they started with the tuna, swallowing it like it was the best they had ever got between their teeth(well, actually it was). "Come on, I'm not going to beat you. Take anything you like, its anyway too much for me alone." With those words, she took a piece of bread and cheese and laid it into the girl's hands." Its not poisoned, try a bit." She took a hesitant bite, but after she smiled. Slowly the ice was melting and they started to talk. The girl was named Lucie and 15 years old, she got the job here only some months ago, and the officials and clerics which always lived here didn't treat neither her nor the Felynes very good.

After they finished eating, Ciepha asked her something she actually didn't want to ask, but she had no choice if she wanted to get out of here."Can you get me some things?", she handed her a small list over, " and try to figure out at which times the guards will be changed. I would thank you alot if you could do this till dinner. But don't risk anything. I don't want you in trouble because of me. Understood?" Lucie nod short. "And I will get you some more tuna if you help me too, are you in?" The three Felynes meaowed loud and promised to do their best. Then the four got out of the room, leaving Ciepha alone again...



As soon as she was sure that nobody would listen or see, she closed the curtain. Then she moved the bed away. It was a heavy piece of furniture, but after all that hunting, Ciepha had more strength than most of the knights of her father. Then she scanned the ground for a certain place, removed the stone tile there and looked into a small gap in the floor. She left a full set of Rathalos Soul armor and an Obelion Great Sword hidden here, but the gap was empty. But the more important thing she needed was still there: a small piece of dirty paper, lookin out of the stone. Her father could have ordered to search the room, but this little bit was missed out. The key to her freedom. Ciepha took out the paper and closed the gap again, then moved the bed back on its former place. Like most old residences this one was filled with a whole bunch of secret doors and exits. They where built to allow a fast escape in case of an enemy attack, but because of the long time without human war they where unused and forgotten. And on the paper, there was a map of those secret passages. One of those rooms contained her best equipment, a Rathian Heart Z Armor and the Golden Eclipse. The armor was forged from the body of the Rathian that killed Aras, and one of the last things Ciepha wanted was her father getting hands on it. She had to plan her escape this night, and it had to be perfect. In that storge room, besides the equipment, there was also a small collection of basic hunting supplies like potions, paintballs or whetstones. After moving one of the cupboards away she pressed some of the bricks, opening the passage. She hurried to get through it, only checking if anything was on place. The armor and weapon where a bit dusty and covered in spiderwebs, but at least the didn't rust. After getting back to her room, the princess hided the paper under her clothes, in a place where nobody, really NOBODY, would dare to search at if that person would like to retain its head on its shoulders.

Again, the door knocked. Lucie entered again, holding an evening dress from the best clothings money could buy. "Lord Merat arrived, and he awaits you for dinner." Ciepha nod short, took the dress and started changing her clothes.

After dressing up the way she "had to be" she went down to the main hall. Anything was filled with people: knights that wanted to get a bit higher in the hierarchy, servants carrying large amounts of clothes and jewelry and other ones that where always there when someone important arrived. Her father was staying down there with wide open arms: "Ah, my daughter, finally you are here. Its a joy to see you after such a long time." Merat welcomed her: "My dear Princess, I am pleased to meet you. I couldn't stop thinking about you all the time!" 'Sure you did think about me, because you want the power that comes with me, but not because I am who I am. And I'm sure you had and have enough other women to keep on living without me.' With this thought, Ciepha didn't even look once more at him and went straight to the dinner hall. The evening passed without any big events. Everybody tryied to get her talking, but she stayed cold like a glacier. Until that one moment: Merat, sitting all the time to her left, tried to lay his hand on her leg. Even before his palm touched the princess, she grabbed the steak knife and smashed it right in the wooden seat the man was sitting on, directly besides his face. Some hair fell down on the ground. She wispered with a deadly tone in her voice: "The next time you dare doing this I will NOT miss. Believe me, I will aim straight in the gap between your legs before I crush your neck." The whole world was staring at her. As Merat recovered from the shock, he answered with an even colder voice: " And your little friend will pay for those words. Believe me, I will aim into the gap between his legs before chopping his head of." She rose up and left the hall, punching the guards out of her way. She started running towards her room.

It came down her back cold like the touch of Ukanlos. Soran got caught too, and he was somewhere in the prison. She forgot completely about him, and only cared to come out of here. Then the princess cursed herself for being so selfish. Merat would execute him fast, maybe in an hour if he had luck. The lord wanted to force her to marry him, even if he had to kill other ones to break her will. But it wouldn't come to this point, not as long as Ciepha was alive. Lucie waited in her room. Ciepha noticed that Lucie was about her size already when they met. Again he had to ask the girl for something she was not in right to ask, but this time it was not just her personal target, this time there was an uninvolved existence that could end.

"Lucie, you have to help me, to save a life. But you will loose anything here, maybe the lord will call you an outlaw and you may not go on the street without fearing to die. Will you still stay on my side?"

"I don't care for me as long as I can show those idiots of aristocrats that I don't need them. What am I supposed to do?"

Ciepha was surprised of such a brave answer, but she had no choice if she wanted to rescue Soran. Looking on the things Lucie had to get her, she came to an idea:

"We will kidnap myself, with you taking my role." Ciepha took the steak knife still in her hand and cut off most of her hair. The she took the sack and some of the gluehopper juice on the table, fixing the hair inside of the sack. Then she undressed and gave the robe to the Girl, telling her to change clothes. In the meantime she took the bed and cupboards and blocked the door. Then she opened the secret passage, activating the self-closing mechanism. "Go in, hurry" she told, taking a candle and setting the bed on fire, just as first knocking sounds came from the door. After Lucie was in, she followed and noticed how the stone closed after them. They came to Ciephas armor. It was mainly locked, to be attached in only a couple of minutes if needed. This would not guarantee perfect halt or protection, but this had to be enough. The steel and scales felt cold when worn on naked skin, she was wearing it this way the first time. After fixing bag and the sword and shield to her arms and belt, she told Lucie trying to jiggle around like she would try to free herself, as Ciepha would now grab her and bring her away. Then she took the haired sack and put it on Lucie's head, giving the illusion it was Ciephas hair on the body. Then the huntress started her way towards the prison.



The air was damp and wet, even if the building was somewhere in mid-desert. Water collected on the blank Metal of the armor, and soon the water kept flowing down on Ciepha's naked skin. Eventually she could reach the exit of the secret passage. As soon as the door was open, the woman took a look out of it, seeing two guards walking away from her, towards the cells. 'They are going to get Soran' went through her head. She sat down Lucie and told her not to move, to fake being knocked out. Somes steps later, Ciepha knocked down the first guard with a well placed bash of her shield. The other one turned around and managed to draw his weapon. He stirred to parry the first strike, but the glowing Golden Eclipse cut through the normal iron as if it was air. After another shield bash, both guards where unconscious. Now she picked up Lucie again and started running straight downwards the corridor, looking out for Soran's face. Somewher in the end of the prison she finally found him, hanging with his head down from two chains fixed to his legs. He was awake, but barely able to move. His skin was torn by whip strikes and he was bleding out of his mouth, additional to some vomited food on the ground. Some quick strikes of the hot blade and the iron grid was molten and the chains severed.

"Hey, Soran, look here. It's me , Ciepha."

"Hey, seems I owe you my life again.", he tried to say,but his voice was thin like paper.

"Can you walk alone?", asked Ciepha, well knowing the answer already. "Not, really, those damn chains eat you alive when you hang there for a while. I can barely feel my legs". " Good, seems I've to carry two people." Just as she too k his shoulder to walk out there, more guards appeared, being knocked out when they came around the corner. When you had fought countless monsters 10 times larger than you, a bad skilled prison guard was like eating cake.

They kept going until they reached the side exit of the residence.Out of the door, a wagon full of straw stood there, nobody was around. Ciepha could already hear the next guards coming closer, so she risked to jump in with the other two. Just as their chasers arrived, somebody told the Aptonoth to move, securing their escape...


Unknown Secrets

As Hummel awoke, they still hadn't reached Loc Lac. But crossing the whole desert with an overloaded research airship took its time. They where on their way now since like 5 hours and the sun was burning even more when being close to it. It has been an incredible night. Starting off with that simple Tigrex hunt and ending in a fight for Kokoto's existence, it was a strange chain of events. Well, at least he finally knew who that cloaked hunter was: His name was Jacob Akon like he introduced himself and he was an agent of Pokke's Elder Dragon Research center. That thing, that Tigrex that had transformed... They already knew about its existence for about seven months, and it was not a normal thing:

[6] Aurex, the roaring bane of MinegardeAdded by Countjoe1



They where calling it Aurex, Hummel didn't know why, but he heard things on their way back that troubled him. All seemed to have to do something to do with those black crystals. "We call it Fatalite ore, an unstable substance first discovered in Schrade's sourroundings.", Jacob was talking. "And I assume right that this name has to do something with Fatalis, right?" asked Hummel. "Yes, right. Actually Fatalite is named after those dragons. It is known since over ten years, but it is rare and doesn't have any economic importance. After long research we came to the result it is the natural source of every dragon element. When plants gather it, even in ridiculously low amounts, they start to grow dragonseeds and monsters like Teostra, Kushala Daora and especially the Fatali draw their power from it. It is also the material Ruststone weapons are made from, but the art of forging it got lost long ago, so we are reliant on those few rusted and polished ones we find. The high concentration in Schrade draws the Fatalis' attention towards that region. Their eggs can only hatch with a minimal amount of Fatalite gathered and after enough has been absorbed by the young black dragon, it will start evolving further, ending up as Crimson, or after a long enough life span, even as white Fatalis. Normal Fatalite looks like pitch black iron ore but here comes the problem: That crystal in the desert cave where made of Fatalite, but it has changed in a way making it more easy to be absorbed by organisms, even without any physical contact. This makes it more unstable when gathered by Elder Dragons and has another, very bad side effect."

Hummel had to intervene, the words where burning on his tongue:" Just let me guess, it can turn normal Wywerns into Elder Dragons within short amounts of time..." " You got the point. We can think us lucky that Tigrex is the only known creature that experienced such a change, but only in those seven months the Aurex where discovered, that changed ore has been seen. It is a completely new situation, even if we could manage to kill like 3 Aurex roaming the lands, 4 when counting this one."

"Ok, that is about this day, but I've encountered somthing else: It was a Teostra in the swamp, somewhere around Maervan Town. After breaking the horns, the Aura didn't disapear, but enlargened to a degree where meele weaponry couldn't reach it without experiencing deadly burns. After repelling it, we found a green, glowing crystal cut out of its body. Can you say me something about this?" Jacop made a surprised look:" Hmm, sounds like the thing that happens when a Tigrex transforms, the Fatalite changes its color towards green, jea. But I've never heard of the crystal found with classic elder dragons, they where still prefering the basic ore... But the effects you told of aren't good signs. I can't say you that much, at least not without seeing that crystal. Elder Dragons with improved powers...the situation is worse than assumed, the last thing I want is a Fatalis or Alatreon with such abilities... Let us hope they don't know that Teostra." Now both didn't talk, there where allot of things to think about.

Suddenly, something disturbed the silence: "Hey guys, I'm back. Missed me?" FlaP entered the airship main deck, still wearing bandages everywhere, but it seemed he couldn't keep calm. "What the... How can you be back on your legs in such a short time? You got heavily injured and where still fighting to absolute exhaustion. Don't tell me a few hours of sleep where enough to recover." Hummel gasped. "Oh, come on, you know the medicine wonder called 'Max Potion'?", was FlaP's only answer. "And you know as good as me they only help you surpress the pain and keep conciuos some more time. Such serious injuries need time to heal, sipping medicine like crazy won't help too much. It has to be something important for you to stand up." "Yeah, I've heard what you two where talking about here. Sounds strange with all this transform stuff." Jacob replied:" Yeah, those Aurex are kept secret to prevent trouble or panicing people. If civile population hears something about elder dragons breeding like crazy they would go insane. This is the reason only the research center is allowed to hunt them, or people like you that get involved by accident." Again, they got disturbed: another worker of the research center called Jacob. There was something he should look at.

Now as he was alone with FlaP, Hummel had a burning question. "Now that you won't keep sleeping, I have to ask you one thing. Whatever you where doing with your longsword when killing that abomination, it wasn't normal. You where moving as if you would exactly know what that Aurex would do and how you had to counter it. You kept on hitting and dodging with such an intense power that even the ground was shaking. And as you impaled it's head with the tip of your blade, it broke apart like wood. I mean it's forged from Eltalite ore, and you smashed both an Aurex Skull and a a hardened Katana like nothing. How did you do that? And why didn't you do it earlier?" Suddenly FlaP's face took a serious look:"That... that's something dad teached me the day I nearly died after fighting my first Rathalos. It's an ancient secret of my family, called 'Life's Rage'. I never used it in its full form although, only single parts and moves he showed me. It's actually based on gathering strenght deep from something important in your heart. When you have a reason do defend something, be it your life or the one of someone else, your body can create immense power, but most humans can only use it when controled by instinct. Dad teached me how to use that power while still remaining in control over your mind. And that's actually what I was doing... Using all i had to help you, no matter the cost..." "Damn thank you." Hummel still didn't understand what exactly FlaP was talking about, but he understood it was special, and it couldn't be used anytime at will. "Damn, without you we wouldn't talk about this now... Really, that was more than anyone could do ever... Thanks man." "I already told you, I had a reason to to this. Whatever will happen in future, I swear I would never go hunting again without my best friend. Without you, I never could reach what I've achieved now, and even if you're less experienced than me when it comes to hunting, I've learned other, more important things from you. And that's the reason I have to thank you too." "Yeah, We learned from each other, but please try keeping alive a bit more next time."

The archer took a look at the horizon, a small green dot appeared in the wide fields of sands. "Seems we arrive soon. We all should get some more rest. They're waiting for us there and I don't think they want us to be asleep." "Hmmm. I think you're right.", answered his companion, now looking to the dot called Loc Lac too. Sun was rising, and a new day began...


Why can't the trouble just stop?

"Ok, this makes 1500000z then. Hope you like what we could make out of it.", the voice of the blacksmith was sounding. Hummel placed the Money on the counter and took the black box placed there. Out of the shop, FlaP was waiting, holding a similar box in hands. " Ok, then lets go to Jacob, he's wating already", he told. They followed the main street filled with the most different people like always, but after around a mile, a small side street appeared. They entered it and turned towards a small wooden door, knocking against it. "Password?", a voice answered from inside. Hummel answered: "Burst Impact". The door opened and the face of a researcher stood there. "Come in, everything is ready."

The house was completely dark, only lit by some torches. Jacob noticed them and stood up from his chair. "You have the weapons?" "Yep, fresh from the shop, made top secret" "Good then lets start the tests..." This was the reason they came again. For their help in defeating the Aurex they got awarded with some of its parts, getting the O.K. to create whatever they wanted, but under one condition: they had to keep the existence of those weapons top secret, and should only use them when needed. Also, they had to manage the weapon rating tests by themselves, a thing the blacksmith did usually. It was a series of test to check traits like power and sharpness, catching them in diagrams and numbers.
"Ok, the bow first, we'll start with a capacity check", told Jacob. This was the sign for Hummel to open his package. It contained a strange looking weapon, resembling the Tigrex Whisker, but also the Exterminator bow in some way. Like the second one, it had two pairs of strings crossing each other and the Fatalis head was replaced by an Aurex one. But instead of horns to hold the string, there where parts of the Aurex's tail and claws.

" The test is easy, just fire a series of rapid shots of each arrow- and charge-level against the aim there", Jacob explained while pointing towards a wooden plate in the room, " then repeat this for scatter and pierce. Depending on the traces left after removing the arrows, we can tell wich shots are most effective. I assume you have a barrage piercing with you so we can test the fourth level, right?" " Sure, no problem" Hummel replied, already holding the bow and drawing the string a few times without an arrow. Then he began to fire, first levle1 charges of any shot type, then level2 and so on. It was easy, just drawing and firing. Routine for an archer like him. Now he arrived at the last charge level, having already shot anything, and finding out that the bow could handle rapid level5 with ease. But he could feel the weapon wasn't at its limit now, there was still room for more. "I don't know, but I think this one can handle rapid6, maybe 7. Can I try it?" "Sure, but if the weapon breaks, It will be your fault." "Thats not the point" Hummel replied, and took six arrows, placing them on the string within a second. He drawed, and as he released, the sheer power smashed the test plate into two pieces. He felt that THIS was the true limit of this bow, and it was awesome.

The researchers where amazed. The only thing they where able to say, if anything, was: "Ooookkayyyy, then uuuuhm lets move on with the element test..." So they started setting up some new test plates, preparing for the next unexpected result. The element test consisted of firing on 5 similar plates, but now covered in different powders and tinctures, reacting on element impact. So after the most of them changed color on impact or where covered in circles, they moved on to raw power and affinity test. Those consisted of firing on a movable block that was fixed on a rail, and just firing plain and simple 100 shots at the test plates from the capacity check.

Now as all this was done, a researcher finished some last calculations and came to them with a sheet of paper, containing the data:

"It is awesome! We have ridiculous data gathered. Weapons of such power where never encountered before! Just look at it!", he told while reaching Hummel the paper. And the hunter was stuned by the numbers: 408 attack, 230 dragon element; scatter4, pierce 4, rapid 5, rapid 6 capacity row; and a slot, only slight suffering from -35% affinity.

"That weapon is Ridiculous!" shouted FlaP in amazement, but Jacob only smiled:" Ok, then lets see what your choice can do. Before we forget it, what shall be the name of your weapon, Hummel?" "Hmmm, no easy decision... How about Roaring Demon?", he told, writing it down on the top of the data sheet.

[7] Aurex Infection, Aurex LS, made by DarkstarKnightAdded by DarkStar Knight



"So now to you, FlaP. Do you think you can handle this again?", Hummel asked. "Come, on, its been like a week since that fight, even if I can't hunt a G*4 prey at the moment, I can still hold a blade! And in some more days I should be fit again for full action.", the one moaned insulted. Then he opened his box, drawing a long, slender sword out of it, only being covered by a sheath made of Aurex leather. The hilt's tip was decorated with a Big Elderdragon Jewel and the blade was made from a strong wing-bone covered in sharp claws, horns and fangs of the beast. It looked terrifying. Meanwhile other people reseted the testing instruments, renewing the element-indicating chemicals, moving the Raw-power testblock bakwards on the rail and setting up new plates for affinity checks. Only 8 barrels filled with some sort of gel where new; colored red, orange, yellow, green, blue, white, purple and black each respectively. "I assume those are to test the sharpness, right?" FlaP noted while slowly making a striking movement, like preparing to smash something. "Oh, a smart one! But yeah, the colors tell it all.", nodded Jacob, " Just stab down into them from above. The gels all have different texture and hardness, depending on how deep you can pierce it shows the sharpness amount of this color. But enough talk, lets start."

FlaP didn't waste any time, he rushed through the test like nothing, being eager to know the stats of his new Longsword. The moment he struck the rail block, it seemed to almost teleport to the end of the rail instantly, nearly crushing out of the end of the rail. The 100 strike for the affinity where absolved in like a minute and made with such a force, that the staff of the research center had to stop him from nearly tearing apart the plate. After anything else was done, he stood infront of the black sharpness barrel, taking a last breath and stabbing down. As he looked down, the weapon was nearly to third inside the black mass, now seeming to be hard as stone. As soon as he started pulling it out of the mass, it got soft again, allowing him to get the weapon out without need of power. Now, while the team still calculated, he cleaned the blade and put it back into the sheath, straping it on his back, drawing it and putting it back sometimes. "Damn that feels great, the point of mass is just at the perfect position and it's shaped in a way like made for cutting Eltalite like bread. Amazing what the blacksmiths are able to create nowdays."

And finally Jacob came in with the data sheet, handing it straight over to Flap, which momentarily smiled and wrote something down on the top. Then he gave it to Hummel:

"Aurex Infection? Nice, you've always had the talent to find fitting names for things.", he said while loooking at the stats: 1440 attack, the same -35% affinity as with the bow, powerful 370 dragon element and a sharpness bar from hell, having almost a quarter covered in natural black. This weapon could not only slice Elthalite like bread, but Wywerns too...

After some last words, both put their new stuff back into the black boxes and went back home.



Meanwhile at Greenpaw's:

Dad, Mum and Nico where harvesting honey, the day was going on without any special events and the new byued land still had to be planted. "Uh Dad? What excatly are you planing to plant on that new place,meow, we have most things already: honey, herbs and berries of any sort. What else could be the reason you bought such an amount of land?Meow.", Nico. The old cat raised its head from the work and sniled: "You can never be sure what comes next, meow, so yeah that one reason. And on the other hand I've noticed the guild's bowgunners are nearly empty on ammo,meow , so when we plant fireherbs and dragonseed and breed some more Flashbugs we can sell them for good money." "And who is going to work there? We have barely enough hands or paws,meow , to manage what we already must do." There Mum intervened:" Work is hard to find out there, I think there will be enough workers waiting for a job." Nico still shook his head:" There are not that much Felynes out there that don't have a job. And you know how the majority of humans is! Meow! Most would more likely die from Hunger than working for a Felyne. They just can't understand that there could be a society without making a diference between aristocrates, clerics, workers and,meow , Felynes. Sad thing, meow." "Now don't be such a gloomster,meow , things will work out", was Dad's only answer. So all three got back to work.

Suddenly a voice shouted: " Hey Chyme, come over here, the new straw got delivered,meow , and we've found something interesting." Dad and Nico moved over to the Pile, surprised by the scene that couldn't be more strange: A tall man, naked except his pants and covered in scars, and two women, one wearing a fine silk robe, the other a dirty armor, made from wywern scales. Down on the ground where a set of golden shield and sword. The three where sitting on the ground exhausted.

Chyme looked at them, asking:"Where are you from, who are you, and what are you doing on my farm? Meow." "We are fleeing, Could you maybe show us a place where we can hide?" the taller woman said. Nico caught interest: "Hide? Meow. Hiding from what, meow?" "The royals, have some personal troubel with them... long story." "Hmm, at least today we can keep you here. And if you help us on the farm, Maybe i'll think over it twice, meow. What do you say?" "As long as you tell nobody who we are, we will help you, whatever is needed. But one last thing: My friend here is weak, can you give him some place to rest and something to eat?" Dad's eyes moved over to the heavy breathing man. The old grey cat nodded and showed those "visitors" the way to the kitchen.

"Interesting story, you don't hear something like this every day.", Chyme nodded as soon as Ciepha finished speaking, "Anyway, I'll keep you here when you help us on the farm, at least as long as we don't have enough other workers. Your injured friend can recover, but after he wont get any special threatening. Rest a little, I'll await you outside when you are ready." Meanwhile Sorans wound got cleaned and bandaged by Rea. Suddenly the door knocked. "Hey Dad, Its me. Can I come in? And FlaP's here too, he had nothing to do so he decided to make a little visit." "Yeah, sure Hummel, here is something you should look at anyway." The hunters entered the kitchen and as soon as they noticed who was sitting next to the cats, their face made a very surprised look. "What the heck? What are you doing here Soran? Didn't see you in over a week." Hummel asked. Ciepha sighed "Not again...", but Rea intervened: " A long story, brother, we'll explain it while they rest. Could you take a look at that one, here?" the Felyne pointed towards an evil looking injury at Soran's chest, "I've tried everything, but nothing shows any effect. With all that monster wounds you've experienced and healed, you might know what could help." Both newcomers looked a second and answered nearly synchronously:"Lagia!" "And that means what?", Rea said a bit aimless. "It means that are electrical burns caused by Lagiacrus. The circular form is caused by its Thunderballs, altough as bad as this look it might be even a red one.", FlaP babbled. "But it got worse by something... Like nobody wanted it to heal." Hummel added. Soran had a bitter smile on his face:" Yes, countless whip strikes..." "Whip stikes? What whip?" "I'll explain it later. Don't you have anything to heal that?", Rea urged. After a short nod, Hummel left and re-entered the room again, holding a wet, green bandage covered with some yellow sprinkles. "Stormsender seeds. Helpful against any electricity. Some herb extract on top and it should manage it." After applying it, Soran started to repeat the Story...

After explaining everything to the other two, Soran finally got some sleep and the others went outside, planting the new land. Ciepha was working like a hurricane, planting like this was all she was made for. "Hey calm down a bit, or don't you want to leave a little bit to us?", Hummel asked. Ciepha got a mad look on her face:"You don't need to touch me with kid gloves, I am fine." "Ohoookayyy...sorry that I asked..." Lucie smiled and whispered to him:"She's a bit sensitive on this thing, better keep such toughts for yourself." So Hummel decided to change the topic:"If I understood everything right you are a huntress. What have you achieved in your career?" "Nothing to special, just got HR 10 some days before all this trouble started. My yellow Gobul equipment got lost in all that and the stuff you jsut saw is only mediocre." Now FlaP got a mad face: "MEDIOCRE? That's a Golden Eclipse there, classified with 336 raw power and 520 fire element. That is anything but mediocre. And I'm sure the armor wasn't easy to get too." "Are you always like that?" "Sometimes he is a living database," Hummel replied in FlaP's place, "and you would collapse if trying to read all his notes. But equipment doesn't define a fighter, I will only say something about you after actually seeing you in action." "Might be you are right.", Ciepha nodded while digging some more holes. Now FlaP came back to words: "If we already talk about action, I received a letter from Skull, telling me the Shovelheads are sprouting like flowers recently. It has been a while since I was hunting around Pokke and the fresh mountain air could be pretty healthy for Soran. What do you think, ready for vacation in the mountains?" Everybody agreed, except Lucie:"And what shall I do there?" Suddenly Ciepha raised her head, a spiritful shine in her eyes. She asked the girl a question that could change her life even more than any other before.

"Wanna learn how to hunt?"


Moga's Saviors

Bacon was hiding behind a rock. The Deviljho hadn't noticed him yet and continued feeding on the Aptonoth. Slowly he grabbed his Plasmacrus lance( made from Red Lagia, 490 attack, 800 Thunder, 10% affinity, Purple sharpness(with +1)). The sweat was running down inside his Lagiacrus V set(Skills: Element attack up, Sharpness+1, Reflect[Blocking drains more stamina but send ranged attacks back], Capture Guru ). He still had a problem with Deviljho, even if he fought like 10 of them, and this was a huge one...

Now as he was holding the pike, he signaled his teammates to attack by holding above the rock he was hiding behind. Azion, Jacob and Leoniras jumped out of their hidingplaces and while they moved on to Jho, Bacon concentrated one last time and charged with his weapon infront of him.

The brute howled as Azion's Rising Soul struck its leg from behind while Jacob's Rathbuster gunlance(670 attack, white sharpness, rapidfire long LvL4) stabbed its belly. Bacon struck the tail and finished his assault to seek cover from Jho's maw snaping after him. The enormous jaw pushed him several meters back. The others used those few seconds to unleash a barrage of strikes on Jho's legs, letting it trip under the strom of strikes. Now Bacon got back into combat, wailing his lance in the Demons face. That second Leoniras songs kicked in, and after finishing the power-ups he grabbed his Pitch Black Horn( Alatreon HH, not full level, 884 attack, 320 dragon, special songs: Element attack up, Awakening, (purple, yellow, black notes), blue sharpness) and joined Bacon's side. Jacobs, now awakened, gunlace unleashed its 260 dragon element on Jho's tail, dealing heavy damage. The beast got up again, a red color spreading the body and the muscles increasing size. The surge of adrenaline made the wywern mad while it unleashed all its rage in a bloodcurdling scream. While the ones infront it got to cover their ears, Jacob blocked and responded with a shelling series at least as loud as Jho. Azion's Insect V armor(Skills: Dragon resistance+20, Sharpsword, HGE, fire resistance-20) made him resistant to sound at all, so he used those seconds and got a spirit slash in. Deviljho didn't mind in all his fury and took a deep breath. A wave of wet, black energy streamed from its mouth. Bacon reacted mind present and got into blocking stance. The stream nearly stopped as it reached his body, but suddenly it changed direction and flowed back towards its producer. The brute wywern got surpirised by its own weapon and fliched just in time so Leo could evade lucky. A bit startled about this knockback, Jho attacked less furious, or better to say more aimed, what wasn't a good thing too. It left ground and crashed down like thunder. Leoniras got buried by the huge foot, Jho biting downwards and leaving deep hole's in the bards Monoblos X armor. Jacob threw a stinking dung bomb at the monster and the remaining two strikied Jho with united force. It was hard to tell if the smell or the pain where the worst thing for Jho, but the point was a free companion. Empowered by the adrenaline boosting armor a superpound of the horn knocked the hulking giant out. 'This is going better than expected' thought Bacon as he pierced Jho's belly.

The belly and head where bleeding and the tail got scared as the monster raised again. Even if had its last meal some minutes ago, the fight burned up its stamina within a glimpse. It began running, leaving the area next to the base camp and entering the deeper woods of Moga. The party healed up and sharpened. While following the Deviljho's footprints, Bacon walked up to Leoniras: "You, just a question. I've heard about your name, and what I've heard doesn't really meet with what I've seen this moment." "So what was it what you heard? Was it about me beeing an idiot and stupid leecher?" Bacon nodded shortly. "It is all true. But it has been a while... Did you hear about the two named Hummel and FlaP?" "Not really, who are those guys?" "They showed me what hunting means. It is not just something you do, not just a way to reach glory and treasure. It is a way of life. After finnally understanding what they meant I trained hard, changed my attitude, just to prove it to myself. To prove if this is the reason why they could achieve such impressive things. But it is strange you never heard of them. They are pretty known out there in Loc Lac, even in Dondruma and Minegarde city." "Well, I never came away from Moga. The most things I've seen are here in the forest. Sometimes Sandy Plains and the Tundra as well as the Volcanic islands. That's all I know about in the world." Leoniras eyes showed a surprising look: "So then... I would recomend you to leave your village for a while. There await much greater things and monsters you didn't even dare to dream of them. This Deviljho is just the beginning." The hunter's stopped. The Devil stood a bit further ahead besides a cave entry. The Saliva dropped down on the Rathalos' corpse, burning holes in the red shell. Azion noted the Aptonoth's left the area a while ago, so Jho had to take what he could. "The additional combat weakened it. We have to strike fast before it gains back power.", admitted Jacob.

Everybody readied, and they moved on. The beast just wanted to take a first bite out of Rathalos as it got blinded. Azion's flash bomb made the job, Bacon slided between Jho's legs and placed a pitfall with two Barrel Bombs. While he got out of the fray as the monster crashed down, a stone ignited the gunpowder. Now a calm feeling flowed through his head. Two tranq bombs later and Jho was sleeping.

On their way back to the village Bacon murmured something "This was going to fluid. I never had encountered such an easy Jho... all the others nearly teared apart the partys I've been with" Azion and Leoniras smiled simultaneously: "That was just good teamwork. You maybe should give up your way as loner." "Right, go out there and discover this world. But when not believing on your mates, stop hunting at all. It might be enough to hunt solo around a small village, but not enough to have succes in a team. Sad how Grano, an old friend of mine, couldn't understand it...", came from Leo. Then they came across the village, or at least at the burning boats...

Jacob's eyes widened. He couldn't believe what he saw. This was NOT possible. People where running over the bridge towards land or swimming for their lives. Mother tried to protect their children, some fishers tried to defend themselves and their family with spears, but they couldn't do anything but dying.

Then he grabbed his weapon, coming back to mind. This was possible, and he knew why. He knew what would await him. He shouted to Azion and Bacon:" Get some Dragon elemented weapons. It's Elder Dragon time! And refill a stock of cool drinks."

So while those two ran towards the hunter-house, still unharmed by the attacking monster. Leoniras immediately restarted his songs and the hunters reformed.

The dragon turned towards them, the people where away or dead. Water was an enemy of the beast, but something left it ignoring the surroundings. Something dark...

Bacon stared over to it. It was something totally new for him. Just like Jacob told him, he grabbed his Skyscraper. The monster was huge and red. From a black, fanged face grew a flaming red mane and two things that looked like broken horns. "Seems you just got your first bit outer world. Have fun with it and try to survive.", said Azion, holding a Wywern Blade Holly G in Hands, "This, my friend, this is Teostra. The Kaiser of fire."

Jacob intervened: " I don't like to interupt your little talk guys, but watch out. I've heard about this one. The flame aura will not disappear by itself, even if the horns are broken. We NEED maximum concentration for this one." "Understood!", it sounded from the remaining three mouths at the same moment.

Like if somebody ceased an armistice monster and humans collided. A Barrage of strikes smacked into the dragon's maw while the hunters got blown away from the pulsating fire around its body. The most ones got away only slightly harmed. Only Jacob ran around, covered in flames. Suddenly the fire extingiushed. The cloak Jacob used to wear over his armor was gone, revealing his Aurex V armor(Skills: Emboldened, Speed Eating+3[allows to consume food and potions while moving], HGE, Reckless abandon -2). After recovering he ran up to Teo, taking a potion on his way and slamming his awakened gunlance into its face. In a second the gunlancer turned around, cocked his weapon and released a firework into Teostra's mouth. The red beast landed on its side and while it tried to get up, Bacon, Leo and Azion unleashed hell. Azion's venomous blade struck the left wing and the wound showed a purple tone. After getting up, the mindless dragon roared and got in a real frenzy. Jacob and Azion got distance again but lancer and bard couldn't evade. The Kaiser lifted of and flew over the bridge, releasing flammable powder on the way. As it landed on dry land, it sended hell back to the hunters. The teeth cracked and the powder ignited. Thousands of bangs appeared, ripping the wooden village into pieces and opening the holes toward the ocean beneath. Leo and Azion got send flying, leaving surface and crashing down into water together with the village. Bacon could dodge, but lead by instinct he followed in the water. "He won't get us down here. Teostra will never freely touch water.", went through Leoniras' head. Wrong assumption. The Elder Dragon sprinted and leaped into the ocean. As it was about to touch the liquid, a cloud of steam formed around it. As it dived deeper a bubble of air surrounded by boiling water prevented it from getting wet.

It struck Jacob suddenly: "That is the reason why it attacked even Moga. The Fatalite makes it Hyper-aggressive and this damn flames protect it from water." He followed underwater and joined combat again. Azion was badly hurt. His armor was not resistant to any heat, leaving him vulnerable against Teostra, who barraged the longsword wielder with claw swipes and a fire breath, or better said a breath of boiling ocean in this environment. The monster moved like flying here and didn't loose any mobility. They just couldn't reach it without getting burned, not even cool drinks or immunizers could work against that immense heat. Azion ignored his armor-handicap and rushed in. A cloud of purplish red liquids streamed out from the dragons snout. Finnally enough poison entered its system. The flames and water bubble collapsed, engulfing the heat dragon in Moga's flood. Like a stone the dragon sank down, wriggling in pain as the liquid entered its lungs and at its skin started to show blisters. Nothing could burn Teostra's skin. Nothing except the most unflamable thing in the universe. Not even Dragon elemented weapons showed such wounds, their power streamed deeper into the victims body, damaging the brain. Water. Simple water brought such mayhem to a living thing. The hunters got out of the sea, sitting down on the coast.

"Jacob. Please don't tell me this was an ordinary Teostra.", came from Bacon. Something like this wasn't normal. If all monsters outside Moga region where like this, he wouldn't go anywhere.

"No. That beast surpassed the normal abilities of most elder dragons by far. I will explain it later. But we should search for any survivors." Leo agreed:"Yeah, they might need help." The party raised, sipped some left potions and started moving. Just as out of nothing... "NO. NO this is NOT..." Teostra rushed out of the water. It was running towarrds them, having restored the fire aura again. Although burned everywhere and not really resembling a Teostra anymore, it kept on fighting. Bacon reacted, countering the attack and letting the heat beast trip. The other joined back into combat and chopped the tail off. The dragon was torn apart by rage on one hand, his mind on the other. Somethig wanted to force it back into the fray, but another part of it wanted to run for its life. Eventually the second one won and Teostra lifted off and glided away, trying to escape over the ocean. Leoniras drew a throwing knife and Azion grabbed a random stone. On impact, it lost balance and soared down into the sea, loosing its aura due to low concentration. It was the last error the dragon ever made.

Snowed Village, old memories, new goals

The snowy mountains of Pokke. A harsh and unforgiving hunting ground. But also a place of memories.

It was especially for FlaP. Here was the place he learned his art. The place of his early childhood. And maybe the place where a new huntress would rise.

This was what Ciepha thought as she looked down to Lucie, sitting on another Popo infront of her. It was like a week ago since they met first, bu they got friends in that time. They all, Soran, Lucie, FlaP, Hummel, got friends in their week travelling towards the mountains. The snow wasn't very high, winter was just beginning, but the wind already was icy. They used the time to tell Lucie about what would her await, and while FlaP couldn't stop with his theories, formulas and data about mosnters and hunting basics, Hummel and the other covered the other, more atmosperic parts, at least most of the time. He sometimes seemed a bit formal, but FlaP had a heart too. Legends, tales, but also personal experiences. And even if it seemed like enough information for a whole library, Lucie learned it like a sponge.

"She is kinda exited about all this. Ciepha is like a paragon for her.", admitted Hummel to Soran, who was sitting next to him.

The man smiled:" Thats not hard to see. Ciepha has a strange aura. Like if she would spark a fire in your soul. A fire that fills you out and lets you fight like there is nothing else. That's at least what I felt in the flooded forest. Seems like Lucie has been sparked too."

Not long and the party arrived at Pokke. FlaP couldn't wait. He attached his White Fatalis Z armor and grabbed the Luna's Sun gunlance he took with him. "I've got to get some training with those. I use them rarely but you know I want to master them anyway. Something like a Khezu or Blangonga shouldn't be too bad." With those words he vanished towards the gathering hall. While Hummel and Lucie cared about a rented house, Soran and Ciepha visited the blacksmith. They could manage to get their rewards from the forest hunt, which where still at guild storage before getting transported to the respective boxes. It wasn't much, but still enough for a Shockbird, a hammer forged from yellow Gobul spikes and covered in red feathers of a newly discovered Qurupeco species. According to the tests it had 1404 units of attack power, 340 paralysis status and pretty good white sharpness. Soran also carried an old Rathalos Soul U set, upgraded to G-level defense with the help of Pokke's special forging methods. Ciepha couldn't get anything with her whole box lost to her dad. But that armor set should offer O.K. protection and a Golden Eclipse was more than good enough to survive in the mountains.

Walking to the house, the two entered and noticed Hummel. He gave a pretty unknown look. There was no bow on his back and his body was covered in Pitch Black scaled tinted with a devilish crimson. "Don't tell me you own a Fatalis Z blademaster armor. I've always thought you prefer gunning.", wondered Soran.

"Indeed I do, but I am pretty O.K. at close range. I own a good amount of blademaster stuff, altough I either meele only for a month and then change back ans so on. It depends on my mood.", Hummel replied. Then suddenly Lucie entered. Or was it really her? White pelt and horn fragments covered her, letting her look like a real huntress. "I know it is against the rules but I think Kirin S isn't to bad to start and I didn't want to spend an eternity on armor farming with her so I've lend her some stuff.", the black-armored hunter told while searching his portable box. Finally he took out two packs filled with items and reached one over to Lucie. "I think you have lost something.", he grinned. After looking around a few seconds, the girl blushed and went back to the other room. Seconds later she entered with a Volganit Blaze strapped to her back. The switch axe made from Lavasioth looked powerful, and it was. 960 atp, 420 fire element with element boosting coating and 25% affinity at white sharpness could fry most monsters up there.

"Are you ready?" asked Hummel while taking his Rage Thunder( G-lagia SA, 1200 atk, 450 thunder, power coating and purple sharpness with +1) "In case we meet Tigrex, just to make sure. Anyone wants to join?" Ciepha nodded:"I've got to move or I'll get rusty. And somebody needs to teach her the real stuff. I'm not sure if YOU newbie can handle it alone" "Haha, funny. I am going up there with a weapon I'm only mediocre at, just to show her how to do it right. And I ensure you I'm going to destoy some stuff with it." "What really?"

"Oh, come on. Can't we just go?", the young girl intervened, " I thought you where like 20, not 2"

Ciepha and Hummel stared over to her, but both sighed simultaneously: "Uhh, yeah. You're right."

So the trio went out to the gathering hall, Soran staying in the village to finish recovering.

Mountain's tears

Lucie felt strange. Her first hunt was more awesome than anything else she ever experienced. At the mountains base, near a lake, Hummel showed her the basics in wielding switch axes. The weapon was versatile, that's why she tried it first. The other's where interesting too, but nothing could really convince her except that one.

"Don't play around to much with sword mode. Your damage is high enough with the Axe. Especially as beginner you should only use it in secure moments to bash out all you can.", Hummel adviced.

It was strange. He seemed calm and friendly all the time. But the moment he entered battle he seemed concentrated and fierce. And his armor wasn't helping to prevent that. The black scales looked like a second skin, like if it was adding muscles to the hunter.

They moved through caves and snowy plateaus, only encountering some wild Popo and Anteka. Next to the top of the mountain they climbed, a pack of white lizards screeching around a dead Popo.

"Giaprey. Raptors and the main small predators here. Nothing too bad, they shouldn't be much of a problem. Go in and attack, we will help you when needed.", admitted Ciepha.

And Lucie had no problems at all. While she slashed Gaiprey legs and body's, she again seemed like a real huntress. Although she got hit here and there, it was nothing the armor couldn't stop. Evading a bite there, nailing a hit there. Then, after two of the monsters defeated, she pulled the trigger. A second blade added to the first one, changing the well balanced axe into a powerful but heavy sword. The girl stepped to the side and uppercutted a Giaprey in midair. The best got halved and a scorched corpse dropped down. The other preys suddenly ran away. They had fear.

Hummel grinned:"You are talented. A little clumsy yet but there is potential in you. They even feared you."

"Really? Didn't think it would work out so well...". She blushed again. "Hey, that was good for a noob, even if you have slightly overpowered gear.", came from Ciepha's side.

Out of nowhere an earbreaking scream bursted through the air, maybe half a mile away. Hummel's blood froze:"Ok, little adjustion. They feared IT" The ground was shaking as the party formed a triangle, each one with the other two covering each other's back.

Then, a blue Horn and a pair of white wings bursted out of the snow:

Saphire Monoblos

Saphire Blosis a blue Monoblos that isn't actually that blue. It is a Monoblos that migrated to the cold areas of Tundra and Snowy Mountains, maybe following the same route Blangonga used to reach desert. While their body still remains colored like the original monster, sometimes white or sometimes brown, the head and especially horn harden in contact with the compact snow and take a blue color, allowing it to bury through solid ice, while the rest of the body covers in thick layers of ice, creating a blue shimmer. Like Barroth, the weakness of the body part depends on the grade the ice has been cracked or removed. Fire burns through the second shell like nothing while the Monoblos shell remains its weakness to thunder. Very special is the tail, which deformed to a club with icy spikes everywhere. The monster attacks mainly like the other Blos, but has learned tricks like sliding around on the slippy surface, throwing chunks of snow with the mace-like tail and digging, resurfacing on a higher area to gather speed while sliding down.



The herbivore wywern growled on sight. Like any Monoblos it would charge anything entering its territory. Ciepha drew her blade and Hummel entered Sword mode, holding the blade within one hand.

"Run. You can't stand against it. Me and Hummel will take care off it.", sounded from the Pink helmet.

Hummel reached after his helm, setting the dragonic face on his brown haired head. "There should be a farcaster in the pouch, look after a green orb. Draw the string out of it and throw it to the ground. Stay in basecamp for an hour, if we won't appear, head to the village."

"But I want to help. Isn't there anything I could do?", the girl speaked. Both veterans shook their heads. The Pink Rathian answered: "It is a noble mind, but you are a bloody newbie. This thing is G-ranked, let us do the job and don't prevent yourself from hunting tomorow."

"But really, there must be something.". Monoblos stopped looming. It stepped back smacking the tail against the ground. Hummel started shouting:"Now RUN finally! We handle this dude." The Wywern charged. The black body took its axe, throwing Lucie out of the way, switching again an unloading the phial. Just as Mono would reach the Hunter, a burst of thunder stopped it. The Crimson one stepped to the side and thrusted the axe at the leg, bouncing off but leaving a crack in the ice. Meanwhile Ciepha started cutting the other leg, slicing through the blue frost. A green cloud shivered beside her field of vision. The beast turned around in order to get rid of the annoyance. Hummel used the seconds. Grabbing a new phial from his belt and placing it in the weapon, he charged and slammed his blade at the horn. The blade was still heavy enough not to get reflected, but it could merely leave a crack in the face of the wywern. Meanwhile Ciepha's shield was dented and a broken ice spike looked out. A quick cut and the shield was freed from the additional wheight.

She took a red seed out of the pouch and gulped it. Then suddenly something happened. The armor seemed to connect to her body, taking the power of the item, sending it out in an invisible burst. Invisible but powerful. Hummel could feel that boost in strength. He knew it very well. A while ago, he was using Qurupeco+ armor himself, sending out that wave of strength often enough. Such armors where rare and most where hard to create, but they could be deciding in battle.

The red dragon continued his assault. While the bursts of electricity couldn't do anything, the blade slowly came through the frozen shell. Ciepha joined the same leg. The heated edge went through the brocken frost, riping it apart completely and leaving the leg without extra defense. Some more strikes of the electical weapon let the beast trip, throwing it down. This was enough time for Ciepha to cut of the frozen tails spiky tip. Screaming in pain, the monster got angry. Red marks shined all on its body, especially on the head. Monoblos headbutted against the ground, creating a massive quake. While Hummel and Ciepha tried to recover, it digged. Moving like an arrow underground, it bursted out on another hill, taking up speed and rushing toward the duo. Ciepha ran out of the way, shouting: "Get out there, this is suicide."

"Belive me, it isn't", shouted Hummel back. He waited for Blos to get closer. A sudden step later, it was stuck in the wall, Hummel under it. The armor allowed nearly impossible movements, permitting to evade even such assaults within a second. With the monster being defenseless, he busted the frozen shell on the second leg, the unloading a blast of thundering phial. As the monster got out of the stone, Ciepha tried to hit the horn, but suddenly she found herself flying. She got hipckecked and landed on the ledge. While sliding back, she drew the blade in the ground in order to stop the movement. But the plan wouldn't work. The hot blade cut through ice and snow without problems, not stopping her in any way.

"Ciepha, Nooo.", it sounded as the pink armored woman crashed down. Hummel could see her flying for a second, then the body vanished in the clouds. "Damn, you'll pay. Nobody wanted to harm you, but you didn't want it otherwise." Setting up the blade infront of him, he grunted. The Blue wywern seemed to understand, standing still too. It was like time freezing.

And a second later it melted again, letting things happen in such a high speed that even the actors lost track of it. The fight continued even more embittered, charges, ice projectiles, blades and stomps everywhere. The skin of the wywern was bleeding and scorched by thunder. But Hummel wasn't in better condition. Some scales of the armor got ripped off, revealing bloody wounds under it. He could feel those broken ribs and his left arm seemed to be dislocated. The potions he drank didn't help too much. They could stop the bleeding and numb the pain, but no way they could heal a broken bone. He had merely the strength to raise his axe, but Monoblos seemed exhausted too. Again, they circled each other, waiting for a mistake from the other side. Monoblos charged. Hummel readied to side step, but he tripped from exhaustion. The monster got closer. Too close.

All he felt was that pain. He stared up in the sky. Even snow seemed grey, nothing had color anymore. And as the hunter lowered his sight, he noticed a Monoblos that tried to get out of a rock wall. But it wasn't the only thing he got stuck to. Hummel got impaled by the shining blue horn. Blood was dripping from his belly, a disturbing look. The normally black scales where glowing all over his armor. Glowing in a devilish, unnatural crimson.

This was the most notable power of this armor. It imitated the will to survive of a red Fatalis. Something unnatural kept him alive. And the armor contained rage. Enough rage to lift the weapon and break off the wywerns horn. While Blos stumbled back, Hummel released himself from the wall. Pure despair and will for destruction where dripping out of his eyes, even through the visor. It seemed the helmet only empowered those feelings. The human roared. Ignoring his wound, he steeped towards his enemy. The Monoblos first showed fear, but suddenly it shook head.

A voice pierced the raging dragon's mind: "You have too much to learn my young friend. The journey is long and this is the wrong way of going it." It left off an earsplitting scream and digged away. Far away.

Like something clearing up, the sound recolored Hummel's view. The gray and black world changed back to normal, the hunter collapsed. The dragonic skin was still keeping him alive, but he had to pay a high price...

It was hot. A unbelievable heat was all around me. As I looked around my heart stopped. Burning houses, burning people, everything was set ablaze. Then it got me. As I took a look at myself I saw nothing but a burned corpse. Then came the pain, eating me alive. Seconds, hours, days passed with it. I couldn't move.

All out of nothing the fire cleared up. Another sight showed. I was standing on that cliff above Moga. The cliff I was standing so many times already, short before jumping in the ocean. But I wasn't standing. I was sitting on something. And I moved towards that cliff. Just as I 'would fall over my vision faded.

"Hey, hey Hummel, can you hear my voice?" it sounded from somewhere. A familiar face appeared infront of Hummel's view. A short hunter in Lagiacrus+ armor, except that Escadora helmet, was sitting besides him and trying to stop the bleeding. A Mirage Finsword+ was strapped to his back. "Hey Skull. Long time, you made some nice progress since I've seen you last time. What brings you back here." "Random Blangongas, just needed to train a bit. And then I saw you here in that bloody mess.", the one replied. The pain was immense, Hummel was spitting blood from his mouth although the Fatalis armor seemed to stop the life saving effect.

Skull was pretty calm:"I've already sent up the flare, I got no farcasters and your pouch got lost somewhere. Guild baloon noticed us. Maybe an hour and we will have some help to get you down in the village. I've checked the area, no Tigrex or other serious threats are around." Hummel wanted to answer, but all he got was a fountain of blood again. Skull reached into his pouch and pulled a yellow bottle and a yellow jar out. "Max potion against the pain and an immunizer to speed up natural healing. You could need it." Hummel nodded, drinking both liquids in one gulp each. Blood mixed with them and gave them a strange taste. Now as the numbing power of the medicine began to work, Hummel could take a clear thought.

Skull, FlaP's little brother. He was always a bit rushing and had a boiling temper. On one hand he was a feral enemy in combat, but on the other he got always into some sort of "Oh shit"-situation. He seemed to be the total opposite of his older brother. FlaP usually didn't get emotional in battle, thinking 10 steps ahead his foe. And even when freaking out, he still acted tactical and like a perfect clock. Brain over brawn. Skull was a demolisher. Seek, attack, destroy. Who needs precision when one huge attack hits anyway. This carried over in life as well. It was easy to anger Skull, but you could count on him if needed. And for 14 years, he was good at his job. Nobody could expect you being high ranked at that age. But Skull had the same insane talent as his brother. He had done most of his quests alone, and although he had still allot to learn and his brother was always superior, he didn't give up. A spirit burned in those bluish-grey eyes and passed through him till the last tip of his brown hair. The boy lifted his visor revealing his long, soft and still kinda harsh face. A horn blew somewhere near. "Seems we get saved, huh?" he smiled.

Five shapes appeared in the snow. Three of them where wearing Tigrex X and different Tigrex weapons, the uniform armor used by pokke's emergency teams. A bit behind them two other persons got visible. One was hard to see from this distance, the white armor melted to the surroundings. Only the blue gunlance made a difference. The other body was covered in silver metal with pink scales, a red shield hanging on the right wrist. "Ciepha, FlaP!", Hummel stammered while trying to get up. He got hold down by pain and Skull although. He got placed on a pannier and escorted down towards the base camp. While on the way, they explained what happened in the meantime. FlaP was hunting a Khezu down on the grass as Ciepha came sled out of a hole in the stone. She somehow managed to direct herself into an ice cave and sled down there till the end of the tunnel. The impact was ungentle but not too hard. A few bruises, nothing important. After getting the Khezu down, they noticed the flare signal and got there, meeting the Tigrex armored group again. The blue horn could be removed from the wall it was stuck, so FlaP carried it down with him.

As they arrived in the base camp, Lucie was still there. On one hand the girl was extremelyexcited about the other being back alive, on the other hand she had to show something.

"Uhmm, I went some steps outside the camp and got jumped by a huge Giaprey. Altough I managed to kill it...Didn't know how to carve it right so I brought it here.", she admitted, blushing again, and pointed towards a corpse lying besides the blue box. Skull examined it quick and began to laugh. "Girl, that thing is a Giadrome, High-ranked at this size. You don't seem to know much about them, right? Anyway, good job."

Even Hummel couldn't hide a smile:"Well, you still have the overpowered equip, but a Giadrome solo is not bad for a newbie. I can't wait to see your further progress, I am sure you are going to get big in business, Lucie. Believe me, you got something for this." She blushed again. "She is really shy, wonder what life made such a silent person out of her", whispered FlaP. "I don't know, but she must have reasons. I assume she hadn't much real contact to other people. Ciepha told she lived all the time beeing treated less than a Popo. It seems to be new for her getting reputation. But we will see.", replied Hummel. It has been a hard day. That Monoblos made allot of trouble. And the words still sounded: "You have too much to learn my young friend. The journey is long and this is the wrong way of going it. "

Whatever those words meant, Hummel wanted to get behind them, and behind the reason why he could hear them.

Into the Unknown

A strange feeling went through Bacons legs. Today was the day where he would see Moga the last time for a long while. His position as Village hunter didn't stay empty although. A young dude named Vaan took it over. He had a good heart and his greatsword would keep the village safe, and even if he just fought his first Great Jaggi, he would prove he was worth the post. Just some more experience and the stuff would work out.

Otherwise he was eager to see the world outside his Village. He didn't even reach G-rank, his red Lagiacrus armor was forged of wild monsters out in the woods, not from quest hunts. His box was locked and loaded onto the Argosy, which readied to sail towards Dondruma, from where Bacon wanted to travel some miles to the near Pokke Village. No need for city quests with unknown monsters. He didn't like bustle, a small village would give him more time to focus on the new challenges.

"Time to go. It is a pitty to loose you, but we thank you because of that Lagiacrus and Ceadeus. They made some huge trouble here. And we woulnd't stay here after this teostra attack If you and your party didn't came. You saved this village more than once, so I thought we need to thank you with something special, just look in your box , It is already there.", the old village chief smiled.

"No, I have to thank you for supporting me so much. You actually saved yourself. I can't..." "Just shut up and take it. You deserve it after all." This was the chief Bacon knew. Always direct and still friendly.

Just as the hunter wanted to enter the ship, Junior stopped him. While handing him over a small pendant made of wood he said:"A little present from ChaCha, the proof of him sending his servant into freedom". "Tell him I thanked him deep from my heart.", replied Bacon while looking at the small Shakalaka playing with the kids. He was brave, but his place was here in Moga, where he could find back to his tribe one day.

As he got on the ship,.the ropes got released and the bulking ship slowly drifted away from the village. Memories passed by as he thought of his start as a hunter. Great Jaggi's, Barroths, Uragaan and Fire Wywerns, that struggle against Ceadeus he barely survived, they all left a mark in his soul. But there was still allot room for more. And he couldn't wait.

The ship got paddled out of the harbor until it reached deeper water. Now the huge sails took over the work. "We have good wind, seems your journey stays under a good star." As the black haired lancer turned around, Leoiras stood there, this time without armor, just wearing a white shirt

He was tall and thin, his chin was sharp and the face stretched. On top of that long body a bundle of reddish hair sprouted. "When did that happen?", Bacon pointed towards a long slash scar along Leo's right arm, changing into bladdered, red skin at the shoulder. "The burns are caused by that Teostra, but the slash is the fault of the very first White Nargacuga discovered. I was a foolish leecher at this point of my career, but I hope I've overcome that time finally." They stood on the deck for an hour or two, talking about their experiences and discussing some rather philosophic stuff.

All out of the sudden a small shadow appeared on the horizon, coming closer at massive speed. As the shilouette came closer it got covered in mist and medium waves got build up infront of it. The wedge of water missed the ship by a few hundred meters as something bursted out, gaining height and even more speed. A brown winged body blasted out, with the belly covered in white feathers. The huge bird vanished in the sky. Moments later one of those feathers sailed down infront on Bacon. He kneeled down and raised it.

"Strange. This starts realy good. Was this one of those monsters around in other Minegarde?"

Leo was still staring into the sky:"Uhm no, I saw this the very first time too. Might be worth to be reported to the guild."

While moving down to his cabin, thought raced through Bacons mind. He couldn't wait for all this new, and this feather seamed like a key to a new world for him. But this was a bit to much philosophy for this day. Back In his room, He opened his box to place the feather in. Somewhere aside a blue stone cought his sight. While looking on it, it seemed to have no core, to be the gate into an eternal abyss. Beside it was a small note: "What you see here is a Deep Dragongem, said to be the true heart of Ceadeus. It shall protect you and help you to survive in the outer lands of this world.- In eternal gratitude, Moga Village"

So he had now three lucky charms on his way. This gem, a white Feather of an unknown monster and that little wooden pendant from ChaCha. There was nothing that could stop him with such support...

Nightmares and Prayers

Hummel startled out of his bed. The nighmares where getting worse. It started all the same way, first this unbearable heat and the fire all around, longer and more detailed with each dream. In those flame faces appeared, on one hand those of his friends and family, but on the other hand most of them where unknown. Voices pierced his mind, sentences that gave no sense, most words didn't even exist in any language he ever heard of. Then like the very first time the fire cleared, he was riding something slowly towards that cliff. He couldn't look down, all his sight was concentrated on the edge. The first time he awakened before he could fall down, now he nearly crashed into the ocean. His head ached and any movement seemed to be exhausting like a marathon. The sickness caught Hummel again, he toppled over out of his bed and started vomiting own the wooden floor. Snowflakes slowly hovered down outside.

FlaP braced for impact as the Blangonga sprinted in his direction. His body was covered in a layer of snow and the monkey came closer while he searched for the thawing agent. Something else knocked him over from behind and crushed the icy cage. The Pelagus leaped over his head and turned around in surprise. A heavy blade sailed down in its face and cut one of the canines while leaving a trace of scorched pelt. It recoiled in pain as Lucie attacked a second time. Blangonga hopped back and roared to call more members of the pack, but without the sonic boost of the missing fang the roar showed no effect at all. Moment later a red Lotus Flower got smashed against its chin, rendering it numb. While the monkey tried to get up again, FlaP's Birch Wings left bloody traces all over the right arm and one final stab into its chest brought out the last breath of the huge beast. The snow colered itself red. The hunters gathered infront of the corpse as FlaP dipatched his right legs's Garuga shell. He wrapped both hand around the leg, sitting there for a while and laying his face against his kee. While cleaning his blades and reattaching the armor, Lucie got finally words out of her gaping mouth: "What was that?"

"Long story, but in short I swore to myself to share at least some of the pain I deal to them. It might be a part of nature of us killing each other to secure our own survival, but I want to remember each life I took. They have to be respected in some way after all. I leave a prayer here anytime I have the chance to to so." came from the young man.

"Wise words for such an age, didn't expect it from you", said Soran in surprise.

Meanwhile FlaP turned to face Lucie: "We all have to find our own way of dealing with this, and this is mine. I am doing this for most of my life, and after a while you start thinking about life and death. Some shatter at it, others do cruel things if they don't find a way to live with this. Like already said, this is mine."

"O.K. I understood", she told while nodding. Her green eyes showed that she at least knew what he wanted to say, but deeper she still didn't get the true meaning. She was still to inexperienced, to new in the business of killing. At least she had talent to make the job. The hard work before those days gave her a pretty powerful body. If it was true what she told about her past, the work at the royal houses was one of the better places she could get. She once had to work in mines and fields to get at least something to eat. Hunger was her most frequent companion, and even when working for the nobles you coulnd't earn much more. The only difference was the lack of hard physical work. "We should get back to the village, I'll tell the Felynes at the bascamp to take care of the corpse.", Soran disturbed the silence. "Yeah, I think you are right, we shall keep going." With those words the party started moving down again.

"Danm you! What goes on with you?", Ciepha shouted down at Hummel, "I can't leave you alone for an hour or you start puking up all the house again. What's going on with you?" "Ever got impaled? After that your stomach is a mess. You can't hold a single piece of bread, everything comes back up. Everything hurts, you know?"

"Sorry, but it isn't that funny cleaning after you every day.", the princess shook her head. "I am the one sorry, but I'll try my best to keep it with me the next time.", he replied. He felt like an idiot, this was maybe the most serious injury he ever had. He couln't eat nor stand without help. He didn't want to get babied but otherwise he couldn't do much more. Finally he got back intothe bed again. Sitting there, he opened the bandage. "I can do at least this alone, my strength will come back earlier or later by itself.", he explained while cleaning the wound. In the two weeks since fight, the hole grew slowly back, now only measuring as much as two fingers. Well not without help of the wonders of modern medicine. The amount of immunizers to speed up healing that fast couldn't be afforded by most people. Life as hunter had its benefits after all. And he had luck. The horn missed any vitals and even his guts where missed. The hole was at the very down left of his belly, maybe an inch above his pelvic bone. But the injury weakened him to a degree he could barely survive anyway.

The door knocked right as Ciepha finished cleaning up. The other three entered and looked at Hummel fixing the last few strips of bandage. "How are you dude, still down huh?", sounded from Soran. "You have eyes, don't you?", Hummel hissed, but suddenly shook head again, "Sorry, I am a little pissed, had a bad night." Soran nodded:"I know how you feel, the days after sitting in jail wheren't better." "Yeah sorry, I know I am not the only one here. Just leave me alone a while, I'm fine." The others understood and left, except Lucie.

She was still wearing her armor as she sat down besides him. Hummel didn't say a word. It was strange how their relation changed in those weeks. First he looked down at her, she was just a girl in the beginning, then he started to teach her hunting. Even if she had only one lesson with him, as he got defeated by the Monoblos, she still came to him and talked with him every day. And she grew inside, just as her importance for him grew. After a few days she developed the habit to interweave her long brown hair with the white mane hanging down from the Kirin helmet before going out, and now as she didn't mind to take it off, she looked back at him. They sat there for a while, nobody saying a word. She broke the silence and stared on the floor: "How did it feel?" "What?" "Beeing impaled. How did it feel beeing so close to death?" "I don't know how to explain it. I didn't think about it myself yet. For sure there was that unbearable pain, but it was more than it. I really don't know what to say, but why do you want to know it anyway?"

She told him about the events with FlaP up in the mountains. Then she asked if he did something like this too. "I don't know, I think about it from time to time, but I think I have not found such a way of dealing with it yet. I respect FlaP's way of doing it, but this isn't my way. I am still searching for it. But don't worry too much about it. Neither you nor me are at the point of loosing control. Think about it when time comes, not when you think you need to do it", he explained. "Thank you.", the girl mumbled back. She hugged him and left the room.


The injured fell back into his bed. What was this for a day? Why did so much questions stand there? He was tired, but he was afraid of sleeping, afraid of finally crashing down in the ocean. He still didn't tell anybody about it, and he honestly didn't want to. But this wasn't normal after all. Two weeks, every night the same dream. Something was behind it, he just couldn't tell what. Too tired to think anymore, he drifted into sleep against his will.

"Get that meat finally over here, It won't get cooked by itself."

"Yeah but it won't get deboned by iself too. Don't be so impatient!"

FlaP and Ciepha where disputing again. Regardless if food, hunt or what not, their opinions drifted apart ever. They where so loud that Lucie could hear them even if she was two rooms away. She already redressed, only wearing a long shirt and some fluffy pants made from anteka pelt. The only piece of armor was that helmet still weaved with her hair. It took some time to set it up, and doing this every day was time consuming, but it gave a much better feeling. It was irritating to feel so much different hair in the neck, this way it was allot more comfortable. Finally the last string got unweaved. Putting the Switch Axe back into the box, she heard something knocking against the window.

"Meow, can you tell those fighting cocks there that Nekoth's here? They don't seem to hear me, Meow!" a snow white felyne in a brown, beautiful cloak said there. So the girl entered the kitchen and intervened the two "friends" there.

"Hey, FlaP. A felyne just told me to tell you some guy named Nekoth wants to speak you. He is waiting outside but nobody hears him." she told.

"Uhm, jea one moment." The hunter raised and went towards the door. That small Felyne was staing there and entered. "Seems we have more women in house than usuall, meow, beeing in love here?" "I see you are the same stoic old cat as always. Good to see you, It's been a while, right Neky?" "Meow!!! Don't call me Neky, I'm like 20 years older than you! MEOW!" "Yeah but still 20 heads shorter than me", the blackhaired guy answered.

"Wait? You are Nekoth? A Felyne?", Lucie stammered.

"Oh yeah sorry I didn't introduce. Lucie, this is Nekoth, the Felyne Elder of Pokke. Neky, this is Lucie, our new beginner in town."

Nekoths eyes send back a look that could kill, but FlaP didn't mind. They seemed to know each other pretty good. "Meow, you are still the old bigmouth, young and loud. But who cares, meow, you do at least your job." Suddenly the cat sniffed:"Mhmmeeeoow, this smells *sniff*sniff* ... smells like Hummel's famous curry. Where is that old coward of a gunner?"

Nekoth received a skew look by most of them, then FlaP took word again:"Did you hear about that Monoblos incident some weeks ago?" "Sure I did, such things happen, what has this to do with.... Oh, well sorry. My mouth was faster than my mind again."

"No problem, he is back in his room, most likely sleeping again. He had a damn luck nothing important got hit. His chances for the next hunt stand pretty good. But to answer your question, yes this is his curry recipe. Sit down and eat with us, we have time." "Meow, sure, but I had some other reason to come here. The E.D.O. has an issue for you. Some Jacob Akon, meow, sent an urgent message for you."

"O.K. How about doing business after lunch, it's almost ready." "Meow! Sounds like a great meowdea."

Some minutes later the food was served. "It isn't the same if someone else cooks it. Good, but there is still something missing." came from Nekoth. "Yeah, but not everybody learned cooking that good here. Humm's mom is awesome at cooking and teaching it as well." They spent the time at table talking about usual things, telling stories about the time they didn't see each other and so on.

"Might you follow me outside, the next words are exclusively for you, FlaP", said Nekoth while getting up. "Sure. Excuse me lady's and gentlemen, but I've got my work to do.", the hunter told to his comrades, which replied short.

Outside FlaP and Nekoth walked a bit around, to an open field of grass. The Felyne sat down on a rock, starting to explain the situation:"So we have two things to report. First was the message from Jacob. He was out on a random Deviljho hunt down in Moga, but as he returned to the village, it was under attack by a Teostra. Not just a Teostra, but the one Soran, you and Hummel fended of Maerwan. It was protected against water as long as the aura was active, everything jsut turned to steam before it could reach the dragon. The only way to get rid of it seems to be poison, leaving it vulnerable for around two minutes without having to get harmed yourself. And after further investigation, we came to the result that unstable Fatalite caused this increase in power as well as a state of hyper agression."

"Understand. So I assume poison wouldn't be a bad idea for the next Fatalite monster, right?"

"Might be, but this seems to be more related to the basic mechanics of the aura. While the Fatalite improves power and grants unlimited duration even with cur horns, the poison's effect is extremely increases too. It doesn't impact the duration that much, but the damage to inner organs is greatly increased. On the other hand, Aurex are very resistant to poison, so we assume Fatalite improves both old strenght and weakness of the monster, the fact it doesn't cause mutation at elder dragons could be explained by the fact they have it in their metabolism already, onle the unstable form makes trouble. As Tigrex is not used to it, the effects are way more drastic."

FlaP nodded, sinking in thoughts. After a while he answered:"So this means we have luck with the elder dragons, the can only gain improved versions of old abilitys, no new traits... Just a question Nekoth, how long do you stay in contact with the observation center already?"

"Over 25 years now. As Felyne Elder and head Village quests leader, you have alot to do with them. Although they have an eye on you so you can't cry around about their secret operations. But for the second issue, they want you alone for an investigation quests. Any unnecessary combat should be avoided and information gathering has highest priority. The only thing I can tell you now is the fact they want you to investigate a new wywern species so they can set up aimed hunting missions against it. You are allowed to kill it if needed, but a captured exemplar would be of more use. And we can't get you there by airship, as it has to stay secret. Prepare for a long way to go. More details at the morning of quest start. Are you still in?"

As Nekoth finished talking, FlaP knew what to answer. His last solo quests was a while ago, and this one sounded challenging. "Tell me when. I will be ready."


Separated, but not alone

Lonely prowl

"Shhh, calm down Honey. Stay here and don't move." FlaP ordered his Popo to wait, equipped the arms he brought and wen't deeper into the forest. The burden of two additional weapons was heavy, but it allowed him to be prepared for everything. He got special authorisation by the guild to use them all at once, as nobody could tell him what awaited and there was no danger of abuse. After all, he made a pretty good choice in his eyes.

Aurex Infection in case anything with Fatalite would show up, Birch wings for the general use and his newest friend: The Frozen Chaos. The blacksmiths used Saphire Monoblos Horns and shell in addition to a ridiculous amount of Diablos Horns to further improve the Chaotic Order. 1612 points of attack power, something like 50 ice element for the style, an awesome defense bonus of 46 and the potential to reach black sharpness made it possible to surpass even the Magnitude by far. Whenever Impact Power would be needed, this hammer would provide more than enough of it.

His armor was interesting too. He had still some Aurex stuff left after creating the weapon, enough for a Helmet. As both this one and the Fatalis Z armor provided the powers of Guts and Adrenaline+2, they where interesting to combine. With some intelligent gemming, it was possible to create a set with Sharpness+1, Evade+1 and Emboldened and Speed Eating+1. And due to the increased number of weapons, there where still enough slots left to achieve Speed Eating+2. Together with a Perception+10 charm granted by the guild, there shouldn't be any problems to capture whatever it was.

Something cracked. Then he saw a huge shiloutte moving behind the bushes. FlaP came closer, carefully. Just a pair of Fire Wywerns patrolling around their territory. They seemed calm, there wasn't anything big in this part of the Forest. They would be allot more upset if there was another large predator around here. He took out his map and crossed the last quadrant. His prey was definitely nowhere around all Forest and Hills region. Next target areas would be Dondruma Jungle and a Deserted Island near Moga. Time to get back into the city, writing the report for the E.D.O and going to the next spot to investigate there.

While mouting on Honey again, FlaP talked to her:"Seems we still have to go on. Our journey has not ended here. Onwards to Dondruma." The Popo grunted and he sighed too. He was around here for three days, searching the whole area in a radius of 40 Kilometers. Nothing special here. Same applied to most big deserts, the whole vulcanic belt, swamps and the old jungle. Nothing anormal, nothing exiting. He could luckily avoid most fights, only a Diablos and a few Iodromes. As thrilling as it was in the beginning, it got boring if he wasn't allowed to go out on something else in the meantime for weeks. On the other hand it was important. This thing seemed to cause huge trouble if they wanted to get it that urgent, but why did they only send one person to find it? Maybe he wasn't the only one, but it was usuall to send out multiple hunters patrolling around their village or city, not a single one searching it all.

Then there was that screech. Honey was about to reach a more open place without many trees. "Hooo, stay. Get back bheind the trees in cover. Things are going to get interesting. Dismounting, sheathing weapons, grabbing traps and stuff, and finally placing a bait in the middle of the glade. Nothing happened. A Kelbi hopped by, the sky got painted black. A small black spot in the sky, becoming bigger, forming an outline. With overwhelming speed, a massive black bird wywern grabbed the herbivore. It kept on ground only for a moment, the four giant wings began speeding up until they seemingly disapeared. While hoving in this stance, the monster devoured the Kelbi. Now this was his moment to strike. This was definately his target. Some roots besides him where in a good position and formed some sort of bucket. Hammer and Longsword got placed in there, then he gulped a Mega Juice and sprinted out of cover. The bird dropped the carcass, screeching again. FlaP was still out of range, coming closer and bursting through the winds created by those vibrating wings.

The deadly dance began, blades and fast feet against claws and a powerful beak. This was somehow to easy. Sure the wind was cold, but the rush of energy didn't stop. Concentrating to maintain his demonic focus, the first claw lost its struggle against the storm of slashes. But now the easy part was over. Moving backwards, a stream of water cought FlaP's legs. His whole body was drenched, but it couldn't stop the Hunter's relentless assault. He got back on his feet, charging again. The monster shifted position, water rained down from everywhere. Mind-present, FlaP dodged the drops, uppercutting the lowered beak. The blades recoiled, not even leaving a scratch on the black jaw. The fight continued embittered. Dual Blades could help against the wind, but no way one could reach higher points. And it was constantly hovering, even more than Raths. But when thinking "hovering" and "Rath" the twin bladed hunter changed tactics. A last cut hitting the hardly visible wings, FlaP threw the weapons away and grabbed a yellow orb from his pocket.

Moments later a huge flash filled the air, something big hit the floor. A few steps and FlaP was holding the Frozen Chaos. If it didn't want to land, one had to force it. And the Horns where powerful enough to crack the beak. Just after getting up again, another uppecut dazed the wywern. But instead of falling over, it jumped back and entered flight again. The wet feathers stood up, the eyes had now the sameblueish-black color as the beak and claws. The next Flashbomb didn't work, and before FlaP could react, he was in the grasp of his aversary. Slowly hovering up, it pecked down, trying to bite a chunk out of the fighter. He had that Dungbomb in hand, but one moment to late. Everything he noticed then where an impact and this flood. He nearly drowned beneath the stream, but something knocked the beast over. Raising up, glowing in a crimson red, the power streamed in giant amounts. Down on the ground the bird now got hit by the raging hunter, empowered by a rush of adrenaline. It jumped back again, screaming. The sound's pressure caused FlaP to cover his ears. In the meantime he got struck by something. It didn't hurt, but... it felt good. Several such hits followed, then a bullet rushed forward left from the blademaster. An explosion followed, the tired monster landed. This was the right moment, the calm feeling streamed through his chest, radiating from the charm. Flap made a fast sprint, placing himself under the confused beast and deploying the trap device. He wanted to pull out the tranquilizer, but two further shots numbed the bird struggling against the electrical waves.

The body collapsed, a slight snoring filled the air. A gunner with an unusuall bowgun wearing Uragaan came closer. "Thank you dude. Close timing although..." the investigator wheezed," My name is FlaP, from Pokke village. What's your name?"

"Wait a second? YOU are THE FlaP? The one with the white Nargacuga?", voiced beneath the Uragaan visor.

'Oh, please no fanatic fans again' went through FlaP's head:"Yeah, I am that one? Why?"

"Just heard about you a bit. My name is Bacon, from Moga village.", the young man smiled while taking off the helmet. Short black hair and a circular face appeared, pimples everywhere and two brown, devoted eyes. "Nice hunt here, what is this for a monster?"

"If I would only know. It was my mission to capture one, so we could reasearch it."

"We?"

"Looong story", mumbled the blademaster while calling Honey. The Popo came out of the bush. He searched the blue "Quest cleared"-Flare to order a transport and ignited it. After 5 weeks, his search had an end.


Power, greed and the tools of the trade

Merat was sitting in his chair, drinking some wine. That marriage was troubling him, and he didn't know how to solve the problem. The Southern Plains where the only country he couldn't conquer with brute military force, he had to find another way. But it was the key point in his plan to create a new Empire in Minegarde. His Empire.

As soon he had the support of the plains, he could start his attack against the other lands. He already had the swamps and parts of the Jungle under control, but the desert people and the forests would be no easy target without an ally. Especially the Islands and Mountains wheren't easy to attack. His fleet wasn't large or experienced enough to face the ocean tribes, who where born on water. And the sturdy inhabitants of Mountains and Tundra where experts in fighting at uneven ground. His only chance was one large war to get it all, but he needed this bond with Lord Themo, otherwise he would stay restricted to his puny swamps.

After all he was a great Lord, but he deserved more. He knew for sure he was born to rule the continent, no matter the cost. A new, united Minegarde shall arise, to further make it possible to reach even more lands.

"Screw you girl, I will get you." This Ciepha... First she ran away, the she got kidnapped. Somebody wanted to prevent the bond. Who was that person one in the Rathian armor? An agent of another country maybe? Most likely not. They wouldn't wear monster armor. That was the equipment of a guild hunter, those who lived to preserve peace between the Lords and peace between nature and Civilisation. "Balance" they called it. Fools that couldn't understand the true meaning of ruling a world. Since the hunter's guild was founded 400 years ago, no more war between humans came up. By controlling trade and having a monopoly on fighting monsters to protect cities and villages, they could create a pressure on the lords. Most of those hunters devoted their lives to the so-called "3 supreme principles":

"Power is not a right, but a duty"

"Think about the world around you"

"Kill to live, don't live to kill"

By acting after those lines, they prevented most conflicts in Minegarde. This was a pitty. So much more could be done if the whole land was united under one Supreme Ruler, a ruler like him which was far more "surpreme" than those stupid words of the guild. And most likely they wanted to prevent his marriage. As soon as he could, he would dispatch this network of fools. They would be an unnecessary thing in his Empire.

The door knocked and busted him out of his thoughts. "What is it?" the lord grunted. "The men you ordered, milord"

"Send them in."

The door opened and three tall men and a woman entered his room. Armors made from Black and brown Diablos, Saphire Monoblos and a worn, scared Tigrex covered their bodys.

"Might I introduce my team? This are Kyro, Riker and Dera. Experts in tracking and capturing."

"Not bad, you still know what was the quests I had for you?"

"Oh, yeah, that special one. Well, we are not really Monster Hunters. So we don't really care about ethical principles." The face of the man gad a huge scar on his cheek, somehow fitting to the scared Tigrex shell. And it showed a despotic smile.

"Sounds good, but what sort of hunter are you then? Why do you stay under guild's government?"

"We never said we care about the guild. Consider us more a sort of Bounty Hunters." The man iside the Tigrex X armor replied.

Merat smiled. If Themo wasn't able to control or find his daughter, those would be. They just seemed like the right ones for the job. No ethical thoughts, not caring the principles, this sort of human would do anything. Especially if paid. "You know what to find, and bring it alive, and whoever is involved too. 200.000z now and another 200.000z for finishing the job. Oh, how about additional 20.000z for each involved head I can chop myself."

"Sounds great. How you wish, Milord" The group retreated. Merat sat back into his chair, picking up the wine again. After all, somebody had to finally do it. Five years and two months where more enough time to wait for an Empire.

Friends

"198, 199, 200..." Hummel finished his situps. He was at least close to his old shape again, and he did all he could do for it. Getting up again, he grabbed his coat and looked around. The valley was still green, winter was late this year. Popos and Antekas moved around grazing and the kids ran around, playing and laughing. He kept on walking away from the village, towards a small rock wall with a rift large enough for a human to go through. Not that many people knew about this place, a calm area, some trees and bushes surrounded by grey stone. It was "their" training ground. FlaP and his little brother showed him this place when he started hunting. And he couldn't imagine a better place. Nobody could disturb you there and it felt like you had all of world's time. The whole area was maybe a bit smaller than a football court, a small stream of water crossing it in the first third and ending in a pretty big pool of fresh mountain water, large enough for a few Popos to fit in. Besides the entrance laid down wooden swords or lances, training weapons of all sorts, and a few simple wooden bows.

Grabbing one and a bunch of arrows, Hummel started firing them at a dead tree with a target paint. He really got out of training, three weeks without firing a single one made you unprecise. Two shots of six of center. There where times where it worked out better.

A huge bang disturbed the peace. A burst of lightning broke out and set some bushes farther down on fire. The archer ran towards the source of the explosion, arrow ready to be shot. As he saw the situation, he could calm down again. Skull was standing there, swearing down on a blazing Iron Katana on the ground. He was in full armor, Lagiacrus+ with Escadora Helmet again. Then he noticed he got watched: "Oh, hey... How are you?"

"I am fine again. A bit out of shape but otherwise I'm back. Awakening training right?"

"Yeah, I have a huge problem with it. I can't find the right technique for it. Either I can't unleash anything or I absolutely overdo it and loose control. I have the armor for it, why isn't it working? I wasn't even try to awaken and it exploded."

"Don't search the problem always at the armor, the set is fine. Listen: not every skill is invoked by armor alone. Element or status attack up for example use your body only as conductor to improve the power of your weapon. Tell me, what other sorts of experiences did you make with armor skills?"

"Uuuhm, I don't know. Attack up or Reckless abandon felt sometimes strange, like only working when I was raging. Wide area doesn't work at all too. Sharpness+1 and Sharpsword altough make no troubles. That might be the most important, other stuff works pretty fine."

"That is the reason why it doesn't work. You have to merge with the armor in total, don't see it as a tool, but a part of yourself. Most simple skill are either caused by physical appereance or special traits of the material. Sharpness+1 and Sharpsword, like again almost any skill, need you just as a sort of conductor to the weapons. Reckless abandon or attack up are medium to control, as they can improve muscular power. But only when you tense you body, in moments of rage for example. They and other skills like Runner and Evade+ are triggered by your body conditon, so they activate themselves under given conditions. Another good example for this might be Hunger Negated or Cold Increased. They work directly and affect your body as soon as any trigger condition is given. Awakening and very few others, like Wide Area and ESP are a matter of head. The people in Loc Lac found a way more fitting name for it: Mind's Eye."

"Yeah I know that some skills are harder to control than others, but it can't be that hard, can it be?"

"It is hard for you if you attempt it like this all day. We just saw the best example. You was angry because it didn't work, the armor reacted on your mind and suddenly unleashed far too much energy. It doesn't awake because you can't focus enough on it, but when you want it, be it out of rage or another wrong attempt, it overreacts."

"Yeah, blabla. You are sometimes like my brother, Mr. Greenpaw, teacher sir.", the boy answered in a sarcastic tone. "Words but what does it help, nothing."

"Wou want to see something? Throw that weapon over here." Skull looked sceptic but gave him the Katana, which was already cooled down again. "Touch the blade." "What?" "Just touch it." With another sceptic expression, Skull touched the blade. Nothing happened.

"And now look." Hummel concentrated. Like with everything, he got out of training with Awakening too. But it was enough. Slowly he felt the power streaming into the blade. "Now touch it again." "Oh,ooookaayy?", the small one stammered while attempting to grab the blade again. Short before his hand reached it, a spark jumped over. Skull shrugged, changing his astonished eyes from blade to Hummel and back again.

"How did you do that? You don't even wear armor and what the..."

"Not the armor is the point. You are. If you want to, if you focus your energy in the weapon, it will work. I can't make more than such a little spark, or a bit more heat maybe for fire awakening. Nothing really useful in battle. And I am sure you noticed moments where you could cut even if you should have bounced. Did you?"

"Yes, sometimes. I thought it was luck."

"Well maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. It isn't said that You need to have the skill activated per armor. It all lies deep within you. The armor is only the Amplifier for such skills. When it doesn't work alone, it works when you want it too. To get back to our examples: Awakening improves the amount of elemental power stored in the weapons to an amount where it actually gets visible. But only if you concentrate the flow of natural power within the weapon. When you do so, the true elemental energy is set free. ESP work similiar. Against any rules of physics, you can unleash enourmous power in the swing. ESP allows you to do so on will, but only on will. Just having the skill won't do it. Wide Area might allow you to share effects of your items, but only if you want to give others your strenght. Such skills are the crown of hunting, and they show that you have mastered control over your mind. Now show me what you got", he ended the lesson and handed the weapon back.

Skull breathed slowly, closing his eyes and holding the balde tight. As he let it touch ground, visible lightning scorched some grass. Then it stopped. "What, why? I had it already!"

"Yeah, for a moment. This is no fire-and-forget thing. When ever you sheate ot loose contact to the weapon, or like just now concentration, the Awakening stops. You have to redo and keep it whenever you draw again." After a look to the sky, the older continued:"It's already noon, I should better go. The others might miss me. And don't forget what I told ya. Concentrate on the flow, first try to keep it for a while, then try to keep it while actually moving or attacking. It won't help in battle when awakening only while standing still."

Skull nodded, right starting the next try. Eager little boy. If he would be less stubborn he could have already reached G-rank.

Back in town, Nekoth walked up to him: "I see you are back in business again. We are short on hunters and I would like to ask you if you could go out on a pair of Nargas. They are just High-ranked so no problem for you I assume. Meow."

"Sorry, I don't feel in shape at the moment. Maybe tomorow. Soran and Ciepha are away too? You could ask them."

"Meow, no. The are already occupied with Grey Garuga. FlaP is still on his big mission. You are the only hunter in Town."

"Sorry, but I have to refuse. I'm not in the right mood for hunting right now."

"Strange. I don't know you like this.", the old cat paused. Then he continued, grinning: "Is it that girl? MEOW! You have an eye on her, right?!?"

"What the f..? Her? Nonono. She is just a good friend.", his face turned an interesting color, "Nothing more. I just don't feel ready for anything at the moment... Two from six of center, you know?"

"You sound like FlaP, really. I didn't think you could be such a pefectionist. Meow." The cat shook head but still couldn't stop grinning.

"Well, it seems we all sometimes are... I am sure someone else can take those Nargas. Skull should be back soon to, just met him in the fields." Hummel replied.

"Yeah, he would do the job. Meow. I'll look after him.", the Felyne admitted jokingly and went further down the road.

Lucie. That name... But no, there was nothing. He didn't want anything from her. A good friend, nothing more. And what would a girl like her want from him anyway. He was just a random dude. Not very impressive and whatever. But suddenly he found himself concerned with her opinion about him, he was thinking about her like she would be something special. No. Nonononono, she wasn't. She wasn't the right one for him. It was weird like a few words of someone else could bring up such thoughts. The best would be to stop thinking about it.

A few moments later, the blacksmith of the village called his name: "Hummel, come here. The armor is finished." What armor?

As he came in, a huge blue horn on the left shoulder catched his sight. "That is Monodevil V, gunner right? But I never ordered it..."

"Yeah I know. It is a gift from FlaP and some others I don't know that good. They spent money, armor spheres and most material but the horn on the shoulder. They said you deserve it after what happened to you."

"I don't deserve anthing... But well, as it is already finished I'll take it. How many did it cost? I will pay myself, give them their money back."

A smile crossed the crafters face. "They already warned me that you'll do this. Just take it, I'm fine with the money and they are too."

I still wasn't right. He did never want to have this set. He kinda wanted to avoid any Monoblos he could. Just for the sake of his friends he took the armor and looked unwilling on the Data sheet. 407 total defense. Great against water, ice and dragon but weak to fire and thunder. Skills: Focus, Adrenaline+3, Reckless Abandon+2, Demonic protection and Defense down(medium). A powerful offensive set, indeed. Adrenaline+3... Increasing affinity by 30% in addition to the other boni of Adrenaline+2. When used with Nargacuga weapons and gemmed to reach Reckless Abandon+3, one could reach insane 100% affinity. Surely awesome in dangerous situations. But he wanted to avoid those too. Sitting on the edge of death once was already enough for a whole life.

"You know my preferences in gemming, don't you?"

"Hmm, let me think a second. Reckless abandon+3, away with Demonic Protection. Would leave 5 slots open. Poison coating add, or Capture Guru for those, right?"

"Go with Guru. I'll bring the jewels for it in an hour."

It was still not right. This was not his armor after all. But who cared. That had to wait till later. He came home, nobody was in. From behind a door, he could hear the slight scratch of a feather on paper. Coming closer, he knocked. "Who is there" sounded Lucie's voice. "It's me, may I come in?" "Oh, sure. One moment." Hummel could hear something falling down, then boxes opening and closing again. A minute later, the door opened with Lucie standing there. Like most of the time she was just wearing white shirt and fluffy pants. A small fire was burning in the chimney. Her hair was wet, besides the desk was lieing a towel. Hummel entered and sat down on the bed. While watching her, he scratched through his light brown hair. She walked towards he desk, closing the book and placing the feather and ink in the drawer. Then she sat down besides him.

"So, how was your training?" Her green, big eyes catched his own blue ones. Danm that look... "Nothing special. I get slowly in shape again. Altough still two of six arrows of center."

"You didn't have any special events too, huh? Boring day like always?"

"Yeah, most of the time.", he replied. Something catched the young man's nose. A fine odor, similar to hazelnuts, with a bit of pepper. "What is up with your hair, and the book there?"

"Oh, I just took a shower. And yeah you know, I lived on the streets, so...", she blushed again, like so often when telling things about her old life.

"You don't have to embarrassed because you can't read and write. It is good that you at least try to learn it. How is it going?"

"Uhm, yeah it is ok. It just takes some time reading something and I have still troubles to find the right letters..."

"Shall I help you? I mean sure, I can understand why you didn't want us to know about it. But I have no problem with it. Just let me ask. It was a Felyne showing you how its done, huh?"

"Uhm, yes. Nekoth helped me a little bit while nobody was around. He is old and stubborn but otherwise a nice cat. But, wait, how did you know it was a Felyne?"

"Hmm, yeah old Nekoth", wrong words. It reminded him of their little talk. And that moment, it struck him again. That smell, it was the odor of her hair. But that was just ridiculous. There was nothing like this between them.

He tried to get back to topic:" You know, when you are used to nail a Vespoids left eye from several hundred meters away, you see alot of details. The 'M' and 'W' as well as the 'A' written that way are typical for Felyne. Or people learning it from Felyne, like me and somehow you too. I've noticed it just as I came in. How about I'll help you a bit, I've nothing to do anyway."

"Sure, I you want to...", she blushed even more, lowering her voice, but giving him an honest smile. They went to the desk and started.

Love

Lucie stood infront of the window, staring out there in the fields. The night was clear, no snow was falling, although the ground was still covered. At least outside. He mind was racing, and her skin felt like slowly getting covered under a thick layer of snowflakes. Did it really happen? Her wish really came that close. And now it broke apart.

It happened this day. Hummel helped her with the book Nekoth gave her. They where laughing, having fun. And suddenly she couldn't resist. As he turned his big, round face with those greyish-blue eyes towards her, she came closer to him, he came closer to her. Like having the same thoughts the both closed their eyes. Holy shit... That touch, that simple touch of his lips. After the first surprise, it seemed like he was responding. At least for a moment. While she felt the best second of her whole life, he struggled away from her, not being able to look at her. He stood up and left the room. All she could hear was that silent whisper: "I can't. I just can't". Those words sounded over and over through her mind for hours.

He couldn't even look at her. Was it her mistake? Didn't he have those feelings too? She fell down crying. It only took moments for Ciepha to come in. The woman came back fromt he hunt the early evening, only minutes before that kiss. Lucie didn't tell her. She didn't have the will to go outside of the room.

"Lucie? What happened, whats going on? Do you hear me?"

It was hard to respond when drowning in tears.

"It's ok. Let it be. Everything will be alright. Easy now, ok?"

"NOTHING WILL BE ALRIGHT!" busted through the air. "Nothing is good. Am I that ugly?"

"Girl. Stop talking that way, ok? You are not ugly. How do you get such an idea?" Ciepha first didn't understand right.

"He....", the tears ran down even more, "He couldn't even look at me..." The princess got it.

And the second that happened, somebody ran outside in the darkness, leaving a track behind in the snow.

Lucie kept on crying for a while. Suddenly she stopped, standing up from alone. Ciepha raised too, looking at the girl with an understanding look. Her green eye's had changed. Resolution shined there.

"Right. Go after him. Talk about it. But let me tell you one thing. If he lets you go, then he must be the most stupid man alive."

Grabing her coat, she ran after the footsteps. Across the large fields, between Popo herds and straight towards a large cliff. The the trace got lost. Only some steps ahead an opening in the rock caught her look. Large enough for a grown human to fit in. She didn't think further and slipped through. A large area opened up infront of her. Something disturbed the silence. The subtile sound of arrows rushing through the air.

He stood infront of a dead tree with a target painting and countless arrows within, firing without aiming, a few single tears running across his cheeks. He kept on till the quiver was empty, he ran up to the tree and started beating it, the bow broke. In his rage, he eventually fell down on his knees, eyes closed and trembling

"That's even worse than two of six of center. You need to practise more." While sitting down besides him, laying her hand on his shoulder. It was hard for her to keep tears back too. What if he still didn't want to see her?

A sad, frustrated face appeared as Hummel turned around: "What... is it..."

"I don't know what it was today. I was in love with you since a while, but I couldn't tell it to you. This moment, it just seemed perfect. I was hoping you..."

The blue eyes cleared up again, although his voice was still shaking. "What... what did you hope?"

"You would feel the same for me. But it seems yu don't. I followed you here to talk about it."

He turned away again and buried his face in his hands. "I can't love you. I want to but I can't!"

"What do you mean?"

"I didn't notice it all the time, only today. Nekoth... just joked around that I would find you hot, you know..? Then, like out of nothing, I couldn't stop thinking about you. I came to your room, I couldn't leave my eyes from you. But something in me told me that it isn't right."

"What isn't right?"

"I don't know... First it came so fast, I didn't even imagine. And something wanted to say me I would ruin your life. That I am not the right one for you.", Clenching his fist, he continued, "I was sitting around and couldn't stop thinking about it. I just wanted to get away from there, to do something... So I got here and you still can't leave me alone."

"Don't hear on it. Whatever it is that makes you think so, it is the most stupid thing I ever heard. You won't ruin my life, you make it wort living..." She hugged him, looking deep in his eyes.

"I still don't know", the voice got lower and lower until he was only mumbling," I don't deserve it. I mean I... What am I? I am nothi..." He couldn't finish the sentence. Those lips...

"Shut up. Or I'll really leave you alone."

"Please don't"

This time he came, his cold hand on her cheek. This time he kissed her, and this time it felt even better. Compared to the cold air around them, they seemed to explode. And all she wished was this moment conserved for eternity.

After a while of saying nothing, Hummel began to talk:

"So now what shall I say to Nekoth? I told him we are only good friends, so this has changed a bit fast"

"Why do you ask me. I am thankfull he made you at least thinking about it.", Lucie smiled back.

"Bah. That sucks. The old cat always end up beeing right. It gets annoying with time.", After a few silent moments, Hummel continued," How did you find this place anyway? I is kinda only known to Skull, FlaP and me."

"It's funny how you don't get anything sometimes. I thought you where a smart one."

"What does that mean again?"

"Nothing.", all she did was laughing. It was a miracle how the mood of a person could change to the opposite in a few moments. "You left so deep traces in the snow, even a blind could follow you."

"Really everything went wrong today..."

"Everything? And what about..."

"And because everything went wrong, this is the best day of my life."

"You're cute", she replied while hugging him tighter.

"Not as cute as you", the young man grined while ruffling through her hair.

"Oh, screw it." She tried to kiss him, but a laugh disturbed them.

"Oh, yeah, you are both cute like two newborn kittens" Somebody, not that tall and in full armor, stood behind them and died nearly in his laughing.

"Skull you little..", Hummel stood up and grabbed him, "How long have you little idiot been watching us?"

"Heyhey, calm down. Long enough for the "cute" part. I just arrived and couldn't hold it anymore."

"WHAT are you doing in the middle of the night here?"

"Training? Felt like it, it's our training ground after all."

"Ahh, damn. You always manage to appear in the best moments..."

"Yeah, like those you are lying half dead on the ground"

Lucie watched them with wide eyes: "Uhm dudes, how about getting back to town and settling this there?"

Both watched her with even bigger eyes. "What do you search in our concerns?",the fighting cocks answered.

"Just an idea..." A few moments later, they understood how ridiculous it was, again ending up in laughing.

"Now we should really get, back. Ciepha might be worrying."

Hummel agreed while Skull got to do the thing he came again. Unsheathing his Mirage Finsword+ and closing his eyes for a moment, some green drops of acid showed up on the surface of the blade. He got better...

Just a they entered the house, Ciepha stood up from the kitchens table, her face changing from a worried to an angry expression, and slapped Hummel's face.

"That's for making her cry." And just as he recovered, another slap followed.

"And that was for what?"

"Beeing a jerk."

He smiled, sighing:"After all I deserve it, I assume." While watching over to his surprised girlfriend, he continued: "Sorry. I was blind and idiotic. Wanna slap me too?"

"No, two from Ciepha are enough. Take the second one as if it came from me."

"Ok you two, so everything is settled?"

"More than settled.", replied Hummel while still holding his cheek" I don't know, but could you leave us alone for a while?"

Ciepha's face expression changed again. This time she was a bit surprised. "So you two didn't just talk why it wouldn't work?!?..."

"No, it was more like why it would work nevertheless."

"Oh, ok. So then I'll leave you for sure.", the woman said, blinking over to Lucie. I was that sort of "well done" blink. A second later, she left upstairs to her room.

The remaining two sat down on the bench. Again, there was nothing to say. But it was a good silence, finally bringing that day to an end.

Back to Business

A night like no other, and the morning didn't stay eventless too.

"Hey, good morning sleepyhead."

"Uuuh, what?"

Lucie was lying besides Hummel in his bed, wearing her long shirt reaching over her knees. They fell into sleep there together. A short kiss later, he was finally awake enough.

"What are you doing so early? I had like 3 hours of sleep."

"Still no reason to stay in bed. The day is young, there is alot to do."

"Bah, can't that wait?" "No it can't"

While getting up, he noticed a curved scar on her leg, starting at the ankle and reaching up to her knee.

"Where is that one from? I didn't notice you where wounded at all."

"That... thats an old scar from the streets. I got in a brawl in a bar. Some years ago. But there is another wound you didn't notice, but yeah you where still suffering from the impaling that day." She lifted the shirt a bit higher, until three scratches on her upper leg and countless small scars in a half circular layout on her hip showed up. Only one sort of fangs left such injuries.

"Tigrex?!? You didn't tell me that you had the rank 3 Urgent already. How sick have I been that day?"

"Yeah, one of the worst ones. First everything got better, but that day you where either sleeping or vomiting, not to mention the fever."

"I really can't remember it. Strange... It's almost healed, how many weeks ago?"

"About two, I had luck. I got only slightly hit and Soran smashed Tiggy's head away before it could really bite."

A strange feeling came up in Hummel's chest. What if something would happen if he was out there with her? What if he wasn't strong or fast enough to protect her? Unbearable thoughts... but this was not the right moment for it.

"So it seems we are nearly ready for high rank, huh? You know, you are maybe the most perfect woman I could ever meet. Beatiful, funny and a talented huntress at the same time."

"Ooh, stop it, ok? I am just a little girl from the streets that found her luck."

And after all she was more than it. She grew so much in that short month. And nothing would take her away from his life anymore. He would do everything for her if he had to. But it seemed Lucie was self-aware enough to look after herself. The thought of loosing her... A world would collide.

He shook it away. It wasn't the thing happening right now. Right now, everything was fine.

She started dressing up, so did he. As they entered the kitchen, FlaP was back, together with another black haired guy, somewhere around 19 years old. He raised from the table, a wide grin in his face.

"Good to see your faces again. Did I miss something out or why do you come from the same room?"

"Good to see you too old buddy. But that", answering while pointing towards the girl, "Is a looong story. I'll tell it later maybe. How was your hunt?"

"Bah. Except the actual fight it was boring as frozen hell. You seem to be O.K. again, right?"

"Yeah, everything back to normal, just one more scar for the collection. But hey, that are brownies on the table, eh? Im hungry like a Jhozilla, gimme some."

"And leave some for me here, I am still here.", Lucie intervened, sitting down and grabbing one.

"And before I forget it, might I introduce: Bacon from Moga village. Met him on the way back here."

The newcomer broke his silence:"Without me, he wouldn't have got back on the way at all. But later. Nice to meet you."

"Nice to meet you too."

With that and a brownie in hand, they started eating and telling each other about their separated time.

Words came across the Bird Wywern, finally named "Aqvitore" after a long dispute, and how Bacon got involved. The two told also about a random Nargacuga hunt they did while moving back to Pokke. Six weeks had passed since the day of the Saphire Monoblos.

FlaP was surprised about Lucie's fast progress, but on the other hand, she had had G-rank backup what explained everything. And he was even more surprised as he heard her next words:

"Yeah, and besides that, I have a boyfriend."

"What? Who is it? Somebody from the village or what? I hope you made sure that he ain't just a womanizer trying to get you in bed. Did you?"

"Well, you might know him better than I do I assume. So maybe you could tell me if he is."

"Wait? I know him better than you do? Come on, I might be born here but I live in Loc Lac since two years. I don't know how the people changed in that time. Anyway, who is the lucky guy?"

Hummel's face showed a smile, then he rose his hand a bit and started waving it slightly.

FlaP's eyes widened, but then he began to laugh hard: "What you? Never! I mean you're everything but a womanizer. How did that happen?"

"Like I just told you. Long and complicated story. But it was her getting me I would say so."

"And I had my reasons for it. You see, in five weeks, you miss alot.", came from the girl.

They talked a bit further about it, FlaP still shaking his head about it. Then Bacon opened mouth again:

"So I am a bit sorry about disturbing your talk here, but I hoped you could come with me on my High-rank urgent today. I was at the gathering hall already and they told me I meet the requirements for it."

Lucie's head rose. In those moments when speak came across hunting, she started to resemble Ciepha more and more. The first day she came to the village she was shy at everything, but for when it came to wielding a blade, she was aware of her skill. "Well, I meet the requirement too. So I am in for doing it together. And Hummel too, right?"

"I see who got who with you two", grinned FlaP.

Hummel's look got a bit sharp, but then he grinned back: "Just shut up. I am not idiot enough to let such a dreamwoman go."

"Yeah whatever. What is the target? I heard there are no Gaorens around, so what do they use as urgent quest this time?"

"Kusholo Dara or what it is called. Some sort of Elder Dragon. One of them got sighted in the mountains."

FlaP corrected immediately: "It's Kushala Daora. But I think you have at least one more blade at your side."

So this was set. They would move out on the quests after lunch. FlaP moved upstairs to tell the other two, but came back saying both where still asleep. Everybody retreated to his room, Bacon coming with FlaP. Some where already thinking about the upcoming battle, but some just enjoyed the time they had together.

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