The Unmei Desert - a familiar terrain and the foursome's first obstacle when they were hunting Yaketsukuyona, and encountered a Jhen Mohran here. They had escaped death at its "hands" by jumping off of their cart and onto its back - a free ride. The foursome had tried to forget the hardships of that adventure, but Gale smiled when their thoughts drifted to it. All those moments - falling in love with Mizu, getting Rakurai to open up, befriending Shinji and Jinsoku....her first kiss. All of those moments were etched into her heart.
Altair was abou two metres ahead of the rest, Skylar struggling to keep in line with him. He seemed unfazed by the heat, not even stopping for a Cool Drink. Gale nudged Mizu. "You gonna take your shirt off this time?" she purred sarcastically. Mizu grinned at her.
"Well, I could but -" he paused to point to the sky. "Sunburn." He smiled flatly. "Besides, when did you get so horny? That's my job!" he yelped. The group erupted into laughter, although Skylar only smiled meekly, not aware of the past the four hunters shared, and Altair managed a thin smile, ever serious.
"I got so 'horny' ever since the Tundra!" Gale retorted with the same sarcasm as Mizu, not giving the group a chance to catch their breath over the laughter. This time, Skylar was able to make the links and joined in, finally understanding (more or less).
"It's here!" Altair interrupted, his cold and serious voice acting like a blade through the cheery atmosphere. He gestured to a slim, jagged, vertical crack in a gargantuan mound of desert rock to their right. He was first to enter the cave, sending his raven into the cave before him, as it was unsafe to keep it on his arm, in the event that a monster should attack. Besides, judging by what the man had said earlier, the raven always found its own way back to him.
The cave wasn't as cold as they had expected, but it was still quite chilly, enough to warrant the use of hot drinks. As they moved through the cave, they made a fair bit of noise, their clunky armour echoing throughout the cave. As they reached the lake, Altair put out his left hand out. "Stop," he said quietly, pointing toward the lake with his other hand. The others turned their heads to see the tell-tale shape of a Plesioth swimming around in the water.
"I take it this was the Plesioth you were talking about?" Shinji whispered. Altair nodded soberly. He turned to the hunters behind him. "There is no way in the nine hells that we're going to get past a Plesioth on stealth alone. If anyone has flash bombs," he turned to Skylar next to him, "Or smoke bombs," Skylar pulled out a smoke bomb, giving a thumbs-up, "Then now is the time," He muttered. "But whatever you do, don't let it get out of the lake.
A short pause followed, before Skylar threw her smoke bomb, and Shinji threw her flash bomb, but waited until the smoke had been dispersed so as to only blind the Plesioth. From the mist, they heard the giveaway squeal of an alerted Plseioth. The heard the water swash, running across the cave floor still, the exit in sight. But, as they neared the light at the end, the smoke cleared, revealing the Plesioth, its neck sticking out of the water, ready to fire beams of water.
And it did.
As the water came speeding toward them, Mizu rolled out of the way, charging toward the Piscine Wyvern. "No! What are you doing!?" Altair shouted, worried.
"Trust me!" Mizu hollered back. As he neared the edge of the lake, he dropped his Long Sword, the Wailing Cleaver Shin, and put his hands into the water. As the Plesioth rushed forward to attack the eighteen-year-old, a huge wall of water began to erect itself in front of everyone's eyes. The Plesioth rushed forward in an attampt to bash it with his hip, but it was powerless, trapped in a thrall made of its own home. Taking his hands out of the water, he grabbed his Long Sowrd and raised it high. The moment the Plesioth tried again to break the wall of water, he struck the wall from the other side with all his might, sending thunderbolts rippling all around it, electrifying the monster badly. It squealed and writhed violently against the wall for a few moments, before it collapse in the water, along with the wall, the excess water washing over its corpse, which lay on its back, like a dead fish, still twitching slightly from the shock.
Mizu slowly stolled back to rejoin the group, who were rendered speechless as they left the cave. "Guess it pays to be a Descendant," he chirped smugly.
On the other side of the cave, the desert sands were nowhere to be seen. It was all just green, green grass and heavy forestland. "Janguru Forest," Skylar sighed happily, skipping ahead of the group and into the undergrowth. "Hey, wait!" Jinsoku yelled, hurrying to catch up with her. "You can't just run off all by yourself!"
Having walked for at least three hours now, night had fallen, the moon lighting the way ahead. The group grew tired. "Are we nearly there yet?" Jinsoku sighed, tired and impatient. Shinji rolled her eyes at turned back to look at him. "Jin, don't start this," she huffed, pausing and turning back to face the front. "I had to listen to that bullshit for forever when we went on holiday to Chikyuu," Shinji murmured. The others laughed mildly, except for Altair, but even he smiled.
Suddenly, a loud, stygian howl sliced through the darkness. Altair froze, causing the others to stop as well. Jinsoku opened his mouth to talk, but Altair shushed him quickly. "Be silent!" he hissed.
Another howl. A cacophony of screams followed. Skylar, groaned with fear and worry, running ahead of the others, drawing her hidden ones. "No! Skylar!" Altair beckoned her, but she ignored the man, running the rescue of the faceless screams yonder. Altair had no choice to follow her, gesturing to the foursome to follow suit.
A few minutes later, the trees parted to reveal a village being torn apart by a huge, almost pitch-black wolven creature, about as big and tall as a large Rajang, with neon-green, cat-like eyes and razor sharp claws. It stood on its back legs and knuckles like a Pelagus, but Gale and the others could tell that this was the Elder Dragon they were supposed to be hunting - the Yamiokami, otherwise known as the Black Beast.
With no hunters to protect Sukai, it rampaged through it, tearing apart houses and people alike. The fivesome stopped at the edge of the forest. Altair's eyes widened at the pandaemonium, frantically scanning the calamity with his green eyes. Amidst the disorder, his gaze found Skylar, unconscious against a collapsed house, weapons by her side. He charged toward the beast, seething with anger, yet, calm and collected. The wolven monster spotted him and howled triumphantly, attacking the hunter with malicious intent. Altair sent his raven away, drawing his pistol from its holster.
Now that she finally had a proper view of it, she noticed it was a very strange firearm indeed, with four barrels, and made of masterfully crafted iron. It looked so heavy, yet Altair wielded it as if it were as light as a feather. When it fired, it made a sharp and piercing sound, not nearly as loud as one might expect, but loud enough to be heard clearly. It had almost no recoil whatsoever, and never seemed to run out of ammunition, as Altair hadn't once stopped to reload.
The Yamiokami was growing increasingly angry, panting heavily, and growling, frustrated by the evasive hunter before it, not able to land a single hit. It kept trying and trying, swipe after swipe, even lunging forward to snap it's poisonous jaws, but Altair swiftly dodged each hit with smooth and ingenious verve, firing at the beast continousously. But the Yamiokami decided to bluff this time. As it feigned another swipe of its claw, Altair somersaulted out of the way. His eyes widened as it's other claw cut through the air directly toward him. As he braced for the hit, the Black Beast barked with surprise and rage as Altair's jet-black raven swooped in an stabbed its beak right into the Elder Dragon's left eye. It's vision now off, it's sucker punch lost some speed, and Altair had time to grab onto its claw, vaulting himself over it, speeding past it's shoulder, firing at its mouth as he did. One of the bullets embedden itself in the Yamiokami's long and venomous left front fang, splitting it is in half. The Raven flew back to perch on Altair's arm, as the Yamiokami turned to face him, howling and drooling with outrage, it's pupils vanishing and eyes turning and neon-blue, the very fibre of its mane glowing the same electric blue, but dimmer. It growled at him, then began panting angrily as it galloped past him and back into Janguru forest.
The screams of the villagers died down to despair-filled moaning and wailing. The four hunters finally rushed forward from the trees to get to Skylar. Altair, placed his four-barreled pistol back in its holster after reloading it (at long last), and picked up the unconscious Skylar in his arms. "I will take her to the Elder. You four should get some rest. You can find lodgings at the inn over there," Altair said, directing the hunters' attention to a wooden establishment slightly bigger than the houses in the village. As Altair began to walk away, Gale shouted back to him. "What about payment?" she asked. "We didn't bring any Z."
"When they see your equipment, they'll let you in for free," replied Altair still walking on. "God knows, they can't afford to turn away hunters right now," he added solemnly. Mizu hesitated, unable to rip her eyes away from the bloody, chaotic scene and the cries of the dead and the dying. Gale held his hand and gently pulled him away.
Gale and Mizu lay in bed, her arms locked around his waist as he lay on top of her. After the innkepper saw their foursome's gear, he had let they stay for free, just like Altair said. Gale worried for Skylar, but put her thoughts to rest when she remembered that she was in the hands of the Village Elder and someone as trusty as Altair. She smiled, kissing him as she moved her hand up to unbutton his shirt. She got about halfway when Mizu put his hand over hers. His eyes looked sad and tired, but still warm. "No. Not tonight." he muttered, shaking his head, climbing off of Gale, lying next to her.
"What's wrong? You look troubled." she said, reaching out and stroking his soft, brown hair.
"Oh, it's nothing it's just that...I...never knew my mother. Or my father." He said, almost tonelessly, as if he was trying not to cry. Gale move closer, wrapping her arm around his chest as he stared at the ceiling. She found it difficult to empathize to something as scarring as being an orphan, as she still had both her parents. She touched his face. He turned his head to look at her. "I know. But it's okay. You're not alone. You have good friends in your life, and you can always talk to me. I love you," she said softly, kissing him again. He smiled.
Gale reached over to the small table on her right and blew out the candle. She turned over again, wrapped her arms around her boyfriend and went to sleep.
To Be Continued in: Legacy of the Descendants IV: The Hunt for Yamiokami