The Tundra- an inhospitable, lifeless slab of ice and cold, lying between Hikari and the Great Forest. Keiin, Zwei, Shien, Arashi and Rakurai trudged through the icy clearing slowly, tired of searching for today's elusive prey.
"Maybe it's nesting," Keiin suggested half-heartedly.
"In this weather? Statistically unlikely." Shien disagreed bluntly.
"Would it be 'statistically unlikely' for you to shut up? 'Cause your voice is giving me a headache," Keiin spat.
"Keiin, you've said more in the past twenty-five minutes than Shien has said all day," Zwei sighed, his voice slightly tinny from inside his helmet. Everyone chuckled until a yowl silenced them. The hunters raised their weapons as a huge, saber-toothed Wyvern, the Barioth, showed itself calmly, perched on a wall of ice about thirty metres in front of them.
"Lo and behold! T-" Kiien began.
"Ssshhhh! It's staring at us!" Shien hissed quietly. "Look, it's been blinded," he whispered, handing his binoculars to Keiin so that he could see the Barioth's cloudy-looking eyes. It truly was blind. This Barioth must have been the one that had escaped from the last hunt."What do we do now?" Arashi whispered to Rakurai, who's stern expression stared back at him.
"We do what we always do. Hunt it."
"Whoa, whoa, guys, hold on a second. There's five of us and one of it. It's just a freakin' Barioth!" Keiin sighed.
"Numbers don't determine the fate of a hunt," Shein huffed.
"Oh, for God's sake!" Keiin growled, running a few metres forward before throwing a stone at the Barioth, which growled briefly, turning to face in Keiin's direction, as if it could see."Oh, well done, Keiin!" Shien shouted sarcastically, the five hunters quickly moving out of the way as the Barioth's icy-white body came smashing down before them, yowling with triumph. Zwei quickly got to work, slicing at the creature's leg with his Legendary Fatalis Sickle. The Barioth snorted through its nostrils, whipping the headstrong warrior aside with its tail. That was the thing about Zwei - strong and instinctive (to a degree), but a little too hasty. Keiin took this chance to rush forward, letting his hammer loose (he had been charging it while the Barioth was busy with Zwei), swinging the turquoise weapon wildly, slamming into the Barioth's face, stunning it. Shien used the Barioth's temporary incapacitation to charge his Raviente Great Sword after taking a Mega Demondrug, while Arashi sliced at the creature's tail and Rakurai attacked the it's wings. Zwei decided not to partake in the rush, but instead to lay a Shock Trap nearby.
As the Barioth recovered, Shien's cumbersome Great Sword came smashing down upon its head, leving nasty scars and causing it to slide ferally across the ice and out of the way, Roaring when it came to a standstill by the wall. It jumped up to cling to the wall for a couple of seconds. As its claws left the ice, Rakurai threw a Sonic Bomb, disorienting it and sending it flailing into Zwei's Shock Trap. It yowled with shock as the electricity coursed through it, making in writhe in pain. All of the hunters rushed the Barioth now, each slicing at different body parts, as per usual: Shien at the head, Arashi at the tail, Rakurai on the wings, Keiin on the body, and Zwei on the legs. Rakurai managed to break the Barioth's left wing before the Shock Trap expired. As usual, Shien had been charging his Great Sword prior, and brought it smashing down on the Pseudowyvern's face, breaking it's orange left fang. It yowled and spun itself, sending all the hunters flying, skidding on the ice a little as it's leg had been wounded by Zwei's Legendary Fatalis Sickle. When it righted itself, it shot a ball of ice at Shien, having now identified him as the biggest threat. When it landed, it turned into an icy tornado, encasing Shien in ice and giving him Iceblight. He calmly pulled out a Thawing Agent and an Elemental Berry to cure himself of the ailments.
The Barioth made its move as Shien remedied himself, instantaneously launching its claws forward, knocking Shien to the floor and sending him skidding across the ice. Zwei charged at the marauding Barioth, dragging his Legendary Fatalis Sickle across the ice, lifting it upward, severing the Barioth's spiky tail with a swift and smooth uppercut. The Barioth reeled over, distraught. Keiin and Rakurai took this chance to deal the finishing blow- Keiin rushed forward and slammed his hammer down furiously on the barioth's arm, breaking its actual bone. He then lunged at its face, breaking it's jaw. Rakurai leapt forward and plunged his sword into the Barioth's skull. It growled and shuddered briefly befroe growing still. Shien, still a little winded, strode carefully over the slippery ice to join the others, who had laready begun to carve what they could from the beast. Sometimes they took meat from carnivores like the Barioth and Nargacuga, but usually this was for the one who needed it, generally the ones who are the thinnest - the inhabitants had divided Hikari into different sections for each of the eight compass points. Each of those sections had their own hunters, and that section's food intake depended on whether the hunters brought back food or not. Rakurai and the others were the hunters from the southeastern section of Hikari, and they had already distributed the high protein stuff amongst the others (with some left over for Rakurai and Helyna, who had been looking a little undernourished as of late). They would have preferred to get healthier by having a balanced diet through collecting edible herbs and such from the Great Forest, but it was a long trek that was often too risky.
When the group had finished carving the creature, they began to head off back to Hikari. While Zwei, SHien and Keiin argued over who was the best hunter, Arashi walked ahead with his brother.
"So, you looking forward to dinner later?" Arashi asked.
"Yeah. I'm starving, and a little too thin for my liking," Rakurai replied, almost warmly.
"Shouldn't you be looking forward to afterwards? Huh? Huh?" Arashi hinted, winking at his brother. Rakurai nudged him.
"Shut up. It's not like that. Even if we were desperate to do it, neither of us can affford to be responsible for maintaining a baby's health as well as our own."
"And what about you, little bro? I thought you were sweet on Tsubaki," Rakurai purred, cocking an eyebrow. Arashi withdrew into himself. Rakurai chuckled. "I knew it. You should talk to her before she leaves,"
"Leaves? Where?" Arashi blurted.
"See? I knew you cared. She's leaving for Kasai. She hopes to meet an 'aquaintance' there. She says it could have an impact on the climate of today." Rakurai said, half-serious on the outside, but regarding what Tsubaki had told him very seriously within.
"...What the hell, maybe I will." Arashi said with a smile, the sun reaching midpoint in the fresh, afternoon sky.
To Be Continued in: Fate and Freedom III: A Changed World