After the brief battle with the Dire Miralis, Phisto and his two friends were forced back to Loc Lac city. The journey took the rest of the day, and night had fallen by the time they set foot on solid ground again.
The Guildmaster stood on a stepladder in front of them in order to reach eye level with them. Although dimunitive in size, the Guildmaster was nothing to laugh at. He was the leader of the entire Hunter's Guild, and could potentially strip them of their hunter status and thus leave them with nothing. Not to mention that he was allied with the Tundra King, at least for now, who could and certainly would inflict horrible punishments upon any that opposed him - making them fight in the Arena, for instance. Phisto shuddered at the very thought of such a treatment.
"The three of you have broken several rules today," the Guildmaster rasped, catching their attention. "You have not only stolen an airship and gone off on what was almost certain to be a suicide mission, but you also disregarded your Hunter Ranks and - although not exactly officially accepted a quest - attempted to slay a beast far beyond your skill levels."
He cleared his throat and drew himself up a little bit taller. "I still allow you to partake in quests and remain members of the Hunter's Guild." Catry sighed in relief. But Morgana and Phisto indeed sensed that the Guildmaster wasn't done.
"But if you still wish to carry out your duties," he indeed went on, "then you must find some other base of operations. I hereby banish you from Loc Lac City."
Six Months Later
The memory of their banishment still rang fresh in Phisto's mind as he made his way back to the temporary shelter. He dragged a dead Kelbi across the ground behind him, as it was much too heavy for him to carry. Morgana and Catry were waiting for him underneath the massive tree that stood stiltlike out of the ground, the space under its roots big enough for the three friends to fit comfortably inside.
"What, six months of roughing it and you still don't have enough muscle to carry a little Kelbi?" Catry taunted good-naturedly. Phisto smiled and dumped the Kelbi on the fire they had made, allowing it to start cooking slowly.
They had been traveling for six whole months around the Moga region, wondering where to go and what to do. Although they were still officially hunters, it had been clear that the Guildmaster in Loc Lac City wanted nothing more with them. So the three friends contented themselves with wandering randomly around Moga, never staying in one place for more than two weeks.
But just recently, they did come across some kind of a goal. Morgana suggested they go to Yukumo Village - it was far from Loc Lac, and located on the almost-completely-secluded Moga Island. No one cared enough where they ended up to argue, and thus they were currently headed for Yukumo, deep within the Misty Peaks. Phisto's idea for a backup plan was to go to Port Tanzia on the southern coast, and if that didn't work, then he had an incredibly risky Plan C - go all the way to the Nameless itself.
But now, they had just made it over the extensive land bridge and onto Moga Island. They were now camped on the edge of the area called Moga Woods, and if they got through the maze of rivers and cliffs, they would end up at the Misty Peaks at last.
Catry, with only a little effort, turned the Kelbi over and allowed the other side to roast. Morgana was busy sharpening Luinox off to the side of the fire. She looked up momentarily and asked, "Any trouble?" Phisto winced and showed her a long cut on his arm. "I had to wrestle this one from a Rathian. She was just out of the nest from the look of her, but with enough effort I managed to drive her off."
Morgana put her Lance aside and took off Phisto's Jaggi vambrace, exposing his arm and the gash that ran along its length. She soaked a bandage in the liquid from a Potion and wrapped it around his arm. He sighed as the juices began their miraculous work. "Thanks," he said, to which she smiled. "Think nothing of it," she replied.
"If it makes any difference," Catry put in, removing the Kelbi from the fire and holding up a large bee's nest. "I have good news and bad news. The good news is, we can use this Honey to season the Kelbi meat with." Phisto licked his lips delightedly. "That's excellent! Where'd you find that?"
Catry looked hesitant. "Well... that's the bad news," he muttered sheepishly.
Almost immediately, a distant roar sounded from the trees behind them, and they all turned around, already reaching for their weapons.
Phisto glanced at each of them as he held Bloodwing and Deathbolt at the ready. Morgana had a firm grip on her Lance, and Catry was holding his Great Sword with a determined look on his face, ready to rush out and kill whatever was coming.
The bushes rustled. Phisto gripped his swords until his knuckles turned white. I can handle this, I can handle this... he kept repeating to himself. All of a sudden, the bushes stopped rustling. Everyone held their breaths. And with a sudden explosion of foliage -
A small bunny hopped out from the bush and blinked at them innocently.
Phisto relaxed and grinned. Catry snorted in disappointment and threw his Lacerator Blade to the side. "Careful," Morgana said snidely. "It probably smells fear."
But suddenly, a huge, slimy appendage shot out from the leaves and wrapped itself around the rabbit. With a startled squeak, it was pulled effortlessly into the ferns.
A huge figure rose from the bush, until its head was high above Phisto's level. Catry retrieved his Great Sword without even looking away from the monster. Its emerald eyes gleamed with malice as it regarded them, and it came forward into the light, revealing glowing frills and shining white scales.
"What is that?" Morgana asked fearfully. "I don't know," said Catry, Lacerator Blade at the ready, "but I'm gonna slice it up." Phisto threw out his arm, holding one of his Dual Blades in front of Catry. "That might not be such a good idea. That's an Agsolestea, and it's tougher than you think."Just then, there was the sudden sound of splintering branches behind them. All of them, the serpentine monster included, turned to see an Arzuros standing there. The bear-like monster snarled as it kept its gaze on Catry, whose foot was nudging the bee's nest and keeping it from rolling away.
With a sudden burst of speed, the Agsolestea lunged at them, hissing at top volume. The three hunters scattered as it crashed into their camp. It swiftly turned around, frills vibrating and the inside of its mouth glowing. Morgana jumped between her friends and the Agsolestea, holding up her shield as it shot a burst of light at them.
Meanwhile, the Arzuros had taken advantage of the distraction and lumbered over, seizing the bee's nest in its paws and already reaching for the honey inside. "No you don't!" yelled Catry. "That's my dinner!" He charged forward with a loud battle cry, swiftly dragging the heavy Great Sword behind him as he prepared to engage the Arzuros.
Phisto gulped in fear as he charged after the Agsolestea, now making a mess of the camp as it slithered about. He'd never faced a Wyrm before - he had thought that those creatures only inhabited the Central World. And anyway, any monster bigger than a Lagombi scared the living daylights out of him.
The Agsolestea spat another bolt of light, this one narrowly missing and plowing into a nearby tree. With the two hunters rattled by the flash and explosion, the Wyrm quickly snatched the roasted Kelbi up in its jaws and sped away, back into the bushes.
Well, this makes things a little easier, Phisto thought with relief as he and Morgana went to help Catry against the Arzuros. The Ursus meladdictus looked intimidating at over ten feet tall, but even for rookie hunters, it was a pushover if you were careful enough. All you had to do was avoid the arms, which were armored and possessed claws that could rip through metal with enough effort. Phisto shuddered and tried not to think about it as he charged forward with the Bloodbolts at the ready.
Meanwhile, Catry hardly needed any help. Already, the Arzuros had been struck a glancing blow with the Lacerator Blade and was now bleeding profusely from its leg. It growled in pain and anger as it struck out with a claw, catching Catry on the head and flinging him away. Luckily, his Duramboros helm stopped the claws from going through his skull. But anyway, he hit a tree and became very dazed. It would be a few seconds before he got his thoughts unscrambled.
Morgana swung her shield up to catch a blow from its claws, only to have the Arzuros grab onto the shield and pick her up by it. Before she could react, it had gotten a secure grip on her and started shaking her like a rag doll. Phisto knew he needed to do something before Morgana's lunch made an early reappearance.
Striking out with Bloodwing, he widened the cut made by Catry's Great Sword, effectively poisoning the Arzuros. Then he quickly struck with Deathbolt, sending a burst of electricity through its body. He struck again and again at the Arzuros' legs, causing it to tumble to the ground and drop Morgana. She dropped her Lance and shield, dizzy and clutching her stomach pitifully.
Phisto was about to strike the final blow when Catry came roaring up out of nowhere. He raised his Lacerator Blade and swung the heavy sword downwards. The Great Sword's multiple prongs pierced the Arzuros' flesh, and then sliced through its spine. The Fanged Beast roared in agony, and then went limp.
Catry put down his weapon and took off his helmet, wiping the sweat from his brow. "Whew, Arzuroses usually don't take that much out of me," he panted. "Looks like you need to excersise more," Morgana smirked, which then became a grimace as she tried to pull her innards together.
"Ugh, looks like we have extra cleaning up to do," Phisto complained, looking around at the mess made by the two monsters. "The Agsolestea took our Kelbi, too." Catry shrugged and picked up his weapon again. "I'll just go hunting. I, at least, have a better time carrying back the spoils." He looked knowingly at Phisto, who just shook his head.
Just then, something else burst from the bushes. Everyone tensed, but then realized that it was just a person. The man wore silky blue shorts and a pink shirt, and wore his hair in a knot at the back of his head. "That was some impressive stuff!" he said cheerfully. "The three of you just might be the hunters that Moga Village needs."
Phisto raised an eyebrow. "Moga Village? Who are you?" he asked skeptically. The man bowed and greeted them. "Apologies, kids - I mean, hunters. The name's Junior - ahem. I'm the Chief's son. The Chief of Moga Village, that is." Morgana put her hands on her hips. "Never heard of it," she said cautiously.
"Yeah, not many have," Junior chuckled. "We're pretty far from anywhere you might call 'civilization'. Anyway, we need hunters desperately, so would you three be willing to help us in exchange for food and shelter? It's kind of obvious you're off on your own here."
Everyone shared a glance. Their plan was to get to Yukumo Village, but in the meantime, they'd have miles of forest to pass through. Staying at an albeit previously unknown village didn't sound so bad compared to that - they'd have free food, and maybe beds, at least.
Phisto smiled at Junior and shook his hand. "Deal," Phisto said gleefully. "Lead the way, please."
To be Continued...