Tartu stood triumphantly in front of the cavern's entrance, a malicious grin spreading across his face. The roar sounded again, this time a little louder. More roars emanated from the cave - it sounded like there was an army of monsters converging on Canyon Village!
"There's nothing you nor I can do about it," Tartu crowed, slowly drawing his sword. "Renalimas is coming, and the misfortune it brings is already here!" Mylie took out her Agnablaster, a similarly evil smile distorting her features. That she had joined Tartu and betrayed her friends still shook Taka to his core.
"It's pointless to try and fight," she cackled. "You're all cursed with the Misfortune Raven's bad luck! How can you fight off a horde of monsters without making a mistake?" She dissolved into maniacal giggles that made Taka and his friends realize how far she had slipped into darkness.With a primal roar of fury, a full-grown Tigrex leapt from the cave mouth and into the moonlight. Just before it landed on top of Tartu, he dashed for the elevated platform that served as Canyon Village's farm. Mylie followed hastily, covering their escape with a hail of shots from her Bowgun. Everyone was forced to duck as the projectiles whistled past their heads.
The Tigrex snarled as it sized up the six hunters in front of it. Saliva dripped from its jaws and its eyes glowed a menacing red - it was clearly enraged. Behind it pounced a Green Nargacuga, yowling in rage and hunger. Taka's heart sank as a third monster stomped out from the Desert Ravine - it was clearly a Brute Wyvern, with its stocky legs and small arms, but he couldn't tell what kind. He gasped at the sight of its massive jaws, which looked like it could bite a boulder in two with no effort at all.
"Magnarok!" screamed Tenris in fear, drawing her Qurupeco Chopper. The Magnarok raised its great, horned head and howled, the sound vibrating up and down their spines. Relcia clutched Taka's hand in fear as she saw its huge, thick teeth. It was clearly a predator - a hungry one.
Two seconds went by as the trio of monsters and the contingent of hunters stared each other down. Illeera suddenly shouted, "They're the only three monsters here! Tartu was bluffing!" Indeed, no other monsters appeared from the tunnel leading into the Desert Ravine.
We can do this! It's six on three, thought Taka furiously, trying to keep his spirits up. "Taahnn and Illeera, you take the Nargacuga," he muttered to them. "Your weapons will work well against it. Elric and Relcia, you go for the Tigrex. And Tenris and I will take on the Brute Wyvern." There were nods from each of the group.
"Vulcan," continued Taka. "Could you face Tartu and Mylie, and make sure that they don't get away?" Vulcan shook himself, preparing himself for the coming battle. I'll do my best, friend, he said, stretching out his wings. The traitor deserves to be punished.
Taka gave a single nod, then yelled, "For Canyon Village!" Each hunter responded with his or her own battle cry, to which the monsters gave out their own roars. The two groups charged toward each other, prepared to do battle.
The Tigrex suddenly pounced, leaping at the duo that opposed it. Elric blocked the blow with his Khezu Shock Sword, and Relcia took advantage of the beast's distraction to slice at it with her Raven Tessen. Cringing with pain, the Tigrex lashed out with a powerful claw, but to no avail.
Anger growing, the Pseudowyvern unleashed a powerful roar that knocked Relcia off her feet and Elric on his rear. A snap of its deadly jaws missed his leg by inches, and it was driven back by a swing of Elric's Great Sword. Relcia struck at an exposed flank - the sudden, unexpected attack caused the Tigrex to stumble and fall in shock.
The pair simultaneously attacked the downed Tigrex, but its flailing claws and tail made them exercise caution. However, Elric became over-eager, and was swatted aside by the monster's spiked tail. He gasped as the air was driven from his lungs and his arm was cut open.
Instantly, the Tigrex smelled the blood and knew that it had successfully wounded one of its oppressors. Growling, it leapt back onto its feet and spun towards Elric, clutching his arm and moaning. There was no way he could defend himself, and the Tigrex knew that. It moved in, ready to make the kill.
Relcia flashed into action, driving the sharp edge of one of her Dual Swords into the Pseudowyvern's arm. Blood sprayed into the air as a vein was cut open. Screaming in pain, the Tigrex faced its new adversary, Elric totally forgotten.
Mouth set in a grim line, Relcia prepared to do battle once more.
Ileera shot arrow after arrow at the Green Nargacuga, and it squealed in pain as the electrified projectiles impacted against it, one after the other. Its tail whipped out of nowhere and slammed into her side, throwing her against the ground with a grunt.
Taahnn swung his Volcanic Rock and fluidly moved it to his lips, ready to play a note or two on the Hunting Horn. Before he could, the Nargacuga's bladed wing slashed out at him, forcing him to beat a hasty retreat.
Hissing ferociously, the cat-like wyvern shook its tail, then snapped it over its head, sending its tail spikes flying in front of it. Taahnn narrowly avoided them, but Illeera was less successful, as one buried itself in her shoulder. She cried out in pain and dropped her Bow instinctively.
The Green Nargacuga reacted immediately, crawling forward on its stomach toward Illeera. Taahnn hurriedly intercepted, bashing the monster on the head with his Hunting Horn. The Nargacuga stopped, dazed, as Taahnn helped Illeera up.
The wound was deep, but small. Illeera cautiously picked up her Sonic Bow IV, wincing as her injured arm gave a sharp sting of pain. She fitted an arrow into her Bow with her good arm, stumbled a little on her wooden leg, and then fired her waiting arrow.
However, the arrow had been fired too hastily. The Green Nargacuga, who had been advancing on Taahnn, spotted it out of the corner of its eye and leapt out of the way. The speeding arrow continued on its course, creating a gash in Taahnn's side as it sped past. Although he wore Bone armor, the arrow had found a bare spot where the armor didn't protect. Taahnn gasped in pain as the electrical surge caused him to spasm, then fell unconscious as the pain became too much.
A tail spike to the arm, thought Illeera grimly, as the Nargacuga faced her once more. Then an electric arrow to the side, which hit a weak spot. How long can we keep fighting before Renalimas's misfortune costs us our lives?
Tartu swiftly crawled up the rocky canyon wall, using the pre-dug handholds to his advantage. Behind him was Mylie, who was struggling a little as she pulled herself up as well.
He stopped for a moment to view the battle unfolding underneath. From his high viewpoint, he watched the three monsters mercilessly attacking the hunters, who were fighting for their very lives. Tartu grinned and thought to himself, How unlucky they must be. To have the village attacked by three monsters, all absolutely ravenous and ready to kill to get a meal... The Renalimas is truly powerful. And it hasn't even arrived!
Suddenly, a fireball slammed into the wall beside him, exploding violently and sending sparks showering down on him. He shook them off of his Nargacuga armor and looked up. The Rathalos that had apparently allied itself with the humans was diving down toward him and Mylie. Holding onto the wall with one hand, Tartu drew his Thondriun sword and swung it at the wyvern, carving a slight wound in its flank. It screeched as the electricity sent a painful jolt up its body.
Gritting his teeth, Tartu knew that the wyvern wasn't out yet. He continued climbing, Mylie close behind him.
The Magnarok slammed its powerful jaws together with a sharp crack. Taka barely got out of the way and managed to wound the beast with a slice from his Longsword, Guan. Retreating back a few steps, the Magnarok suddenly leaped forward and crashed its jaws together with as much force as it could muster. It missed both Tenris and Taka, but a wooden house was crushed to splinters between its teeth.
Taka found himself right beside the monster. He swung Guan upwards, right into the Magnarok's flank. However, he was unable to pierce its hide, which he now saw was covered in a white, soot-like substance that functioned as armor.
However, the Magnarok noticed the attack and swiftly turned, gnashing its fangs. Taka avoided each bite, then took another powerful swing. Guan's bladed edge and Dragon element sliced clean through the Brute Wyvern's bottom-most horn. It roared in pain, drawing back and whimpering. Taka's heart went out to the Magnarok, in obvious pain, but he knew that there was no way to calm it down. He had to fight, and there was no other choice in the matter.
In a surprise maneuver, the Magnarok dug its jaw into the paved ground and flung a massive boulder at them. Tenris managed to dodge, but Taka was struck a glancing blow, driving the wind from him.
The Magnarok was on him in two mighty steps. It opened its mouth, preparing to bite Taka in two. However, it wasn't expecting Tenris to slash open a wound in its underbelly with her Qurupeco Chopper. The Magnarok howled and, instead of having its jaws slice through Taka's body, caught his Longsword in its mouth and tore it away from him.
Taka couldn't look away as, with a single bite, Guan was shattered into splinters. The pieces fell from the Magnarok's maw, and the magnificent, blue blade clattered to the ground at Taka's feet. His heart broke into just as many pieces as Guan was in.
Taka! came the voice of Vulcan from above. Reluctantly, Taka averted his gaze from his broken weapon and saw his wyvern friend land. I need your help against Tartu and Mylie. Can you come with me?
Taka's eyes grew dark with anger as he silently picked up Guan's blade. There was still a little of the handle attached to it, and he held it as if it were just a Sword and Shield... just minus the shield. You will pay, Tartu, he seethed inside. For every sliver of Guan that litters this ground, you will pay.
Vulcan landed with an awesome screech on the natural platform that was Canyon Village's farm. Looking down on the battle raging below from his considerable vantage point was Tartu, Mylie at his side. As one, they turned to see Taka leap from Vulcan's back, his miniature Longsword clenched in his fist.
"Took you long enough, Thunder," Tartu snickered. "Now you'll face ME in battle!" He drew his thin blade and held it aloft so it caught the moonlight and gleamed.
"But," said Mylie, eyes gleaming just as bright, but much more maliciously, "as I said before, how can you win when you're cursed with such bad luck?" Taka smiled at his old friend, but it wasn't a kind smile - it was a challenging one.
"I'll find a way," he said, Guan at the ready.
The battle had begun. Tartu certainly was skillful with his Sword and Shield, darting at Taka with quick, precise strikes that were all barely dodged. Taka realized that he was at a disadvantage - Tartu had more experience with his weapon, not to mention that Taka didn't have a shield.
Tartu struck again, this time at Taka's neck. He would have killed Taka instantly if it weren't for his lightning-fast reaction. He ducked, with Tartu's blade missing by a hair, and then struck with Guan, whom he was holding like a dagger. Tartu screamed as the weapon slashed at the wound in his arm, and he dropped to his knees.
As he clutched at his wound in agony, Mylie had had enough. She fired a Clust Shot at Taka, which would lodge in his side and detonate violently if it connected. Vulcan, helpfully, swatted Taka out of the projectile's path with his tail, and it hit the canyon wall instead. A huge explosion ensued a second later, pebbles showering down among the fighting group.
Mylie frantically reloaded as Taka advanced on her, Guan clenched in his hand. "You were my friend," Taka said simply, voice devoid of emotion. "I trusted you, and loved you like a sister. And this is how you repay me and my other friends - with treachery."
For the first time since he had seen her allied with Tartu, Taka saw real regret in her eyes. "Taka, you don't understand!" she cried. Vulcan snarled at her - even she could tell that he didn't believe a word. Taka continued to advance on her, reaching out with his free hand to grab the front of her Ludroth-hide coat.
"I understand that you are a traitor," he murmured softly. "And there can only be one fate for traitors..." He held his blade high, ready to strike.
"Taka..." The sadness in Mylie's voice made him falter and look closely at her. A tear slipped down her face as she whispered, "You don't understand... I-I love him, Taka." At this, Taka stopped dead and lowered Guan. He could feel her emotional pain.
"I'll let you go," he said, avoiding looking her in the eye. "But next time we meet... I won't hesitate to kill you." Before Mylie could say something, Tartu suddenly got up, wincing as his open wound poured blood onto the ground, spilling over the crops crushed under his feet.
"This isn't over," he hissed. Beckoning to Mylie, he jumped off of the platform and landed on his feet far below. With everyone still fighting the monsters below, no one could stop him from escaping. Mylie glanced at Taka and Vulcan once, then followed him.
A cold breeze swept through the area. Vulcan suddenly shivered and moaned. I sense it... he whispered, squeezing his eyes shut as if afraid. Below them, the Tigrex, Magnarok, and Green Nargacuga seemed to freeze. Then another chilly wind went by, and they all unfroze, roaring and shrieking in a panic as they fled the village and into the Desert Ravine.
All was still. Elric, Taahnn, Ileera, Tenris, and Relcia all appeared on the fertile ledge and instantly took note of Vulcan's frightened state. "What's wrong?" Relcia asked Taka worriedly, putting a fearful hand on his shoulder. He brushed his hand against hers and looked at her with sad eyes. "I don't know," he murmured.
Then Vulcan spoke up, saying something that made the couple draw closer together in fear - I sense it... The Misfortune Raven, the Renalimas... is coming.
To be Continued...