This is a story I decided to write a few months ago, in response to events that then conspired in my life. The story is meant to be depressing and sad, something that I’ve never before attempted. The only reason I wrote this is to get my feelings out into the world before they begin to rot inside of me.
What would happen if Taka had never met Vulcan, became a hunter, and most importantly, hadn’t forgiven Relcia for breaking his heart? In an alternate universe, this is what would have happened.
A little ways across the Barren Desert, a Monoblos fed on a bed of cacti. Suddenly, something caught its eye and it looked up. A lone human was running across the sand, wearing some kind of feathered clothing. The dinosaur-like wyvern briefly considered giving chase, but decided against it as he continued off into the distance.
The human in question was, of course, Taka. He took no notice of the fearsome creature as he continued to run. He had no idea where he was running off to. Heartbroken, he only knew that he was going away, away from the Arena Terra, away from his friends, away from Relcia. Finally, his pace slowed.
He stopped to catch his breath near a verdant oasis. On the shore of the water, a massive Plesioth rested in the sun, sunbathing. Its milky eyes watched him closely, until he continued to move away from the Military Bastion. Walking this time, Taka, as before, had no idea where he was headed to.
Continuing to walk deeper into the desert, he passed a great bog, where two Barroths where squaring off, fighting over who would get to cool off in the mud first. Taka sullenly walked past them, not even hearing their bellows.
His mind wandered. When it rested on his friends, he grimaced and started to run again at the memory of Relcia. He didn't notice the terrain become less sandy and more rocky. When he finally stopped and looked up, he realized with a thrill of fear where he was.
The first thing he saw was a great volcano, not too far off. He murmured to himself, "Magma Mountain..." Indeed, that terrible place of intense heat and scarce vegetation was where he was. Taka had heard stories of the terrible monsters that roamed the volcano - Stygian Zinogres, Volvidons, Agnaktors, and more. Desperately, he whirled behind him and saw nothing but rocky terrain and the occasional bush. He couldn't see the Barren Desert at all - he was lost in a very harsh place with nothing but ferocious monsters to keep him company.
Cautiously, Taka continued up the slopes, climbing up onto an elevated plain filled with small shrubs and weeds. Not too far away, he saw the plain become barren as the elevation rose to form the sides of the volcano itself. Turning left, he followed the grassy expanse around Magma Mountain. He hoped he wouldn't reach the lake he knew to exist here - then he would have Smoky Gobuls to worry about, and the very thought of those fish-like monsters made his knees weak.
Suddenly, from higher up Magma Mountain, he heard a desperate screech. Taka jumped, prepared to run for his life. When the screech sounded again, he actually did run. The volcano was far behind him when he finally stopped.
Lost as he was, he knew that he couldn’t find his way back on foot. Instead, he became a Qurupeco, and then took a running start into the air. He flew as high as he could go, before the dropping oxygen levels forced him to stop his vertical ascent. But now, he could see the Military Bastion in the distance, far off across the Barren Desert. With a single squawk, he flew for it.
On his journey back to the Bastion, Taka thought more about Relcia’s denial. For some odd reason, he didn’t feel sad anymore. Indeed, his feelings had just… evaporated. Right then and there, he decided that he was going to make his opinion clear to Relcia – that he no longer had any interest in her, that he only wanted to be her friend from here on out.
Something told him that it would work out. He knew that Relcia would certainly understand.
Months passed. Taka and his friends all graduated from the Military Bastion as fully-fledged hunters. Indeed, Taka had soon begun to get over his sorrow whenever he killed a monster in the Arena Terra. After innumerable victories over the monsters, his confidence grew. He knew that he was becoming much more skilled in battle, and now he looked forward to his next hunt.
Returning from a Quest in the Wet Rainforest (that involved hunting Vespoids), Taka reflected on how his relationship with Relcia had changed. She seemed very relieved when he told her that he was through his depression, and just wanted to be ordinary friends with her. Yes, now they were the closest of friends to each other, almost inseparable. But Illeera was still Taka’s absolute best friend on Earth.
Illeera… Lately, Taka began to suspect that something had changed. Whenever he looked at, or even thought about, his best friend, he felt a flutter deep in his heart and a ferocious longing take hold of him. Am I… falling in love with her? Taka thought one day after he had felt this for the umpteenth time during their lunch break. The idea seems very weird but… I think I actually am in love with her. Should I tell her, let her know how I feel? …No. Not today. When I’m finally ready, when I can work up the courage, I can tell her.
But whenever Taka found himself alone with Illeera, he couldn’t get the words out. Whenever they danced on the tip of his tongue, they seemed to slip right back down his throat when he tried to say them. It was emotional agony.
Finally, during one autumn morning, Taka firmly decided that today would be the day. He would ask Illeera for a private talk and then reveal his feelings, letting the leaves fall where they may, as the expression went.
But no matter where Taka looked, he couldn’t find Illeera. He checked all of her favorite hangouts around Mediatas Village, but to no avail. He finally caught sight of Mylie heading out for a hunt, Ludroth armor glistening slightly in the dawn sunlight.
“Have you seen Illeera?” he asked the moment he caught up to her. Mylie shook her head sadly. “She’s off with Kread somewhere,” she said. “Didn’t you hear? He and Ryka broke up.” Taka grew still; this was certainly sad news. He had thought that Ryka and Kread would always be together, that they were a match made in heaven. That they had broken up was kind of sad.
“Thanks, Mylie,” Taka said, turning to leave. “If you see Ryka or Kread anywhere, tell them that I’m sorry.” Mylie gave him a smile and wave, then went off.
Hours later, stalking around behind the Elder’s house, Taka found Illeera and Kread quietly talking to each other. He stopped and crouched in the shadows; for some reason, Taka didn’t want to be seen just yet.
Then he witnessed Kread, with some hesitation, whisper something in Illeera’s ear. All was silent for a moment, and then Illeera laughed joyfully and flung her arms around him. To Taka’s eternal horror, she kissed him.
Taka froze. Indeed, he felt as if his heart had been left to rot deep in the Frozen Wastes, with thick ice slowly covering it until it had completely frozen over. A second later, his heart shattered into infinitesimal pieces. He knew that he would never repair it.
Despite the heartbreak he had just experienced, Taka felt several emotions flood him at once – jealousy most of all, then depression, then loneliness. Then came the rage.
Eyes blazing and nostrils flaring, Taka suddenly wanted nothing more than to see Kread die horribly at the claws of some giant wyvern. Thought became deed, and he unconsciously shapeshifted into a great Rathalos. With a mighty screech of pure fury, he ran full force at the new couple, now looking at him with terrified eyes, too scared to move.
Leaping into the air at the last minute, Taka grabbed Illeera in his talon and began to fly off over the village. He heard Kread’s shout of mixed anger and fear, and realized that Kread was actually still attached to Illeera, dangling from her hand. “Put me down!” he yelled up at Taka.
Snarling, Taka kicked out with his free talon, ripping Kread’s hand away from Illeera’s. The hunter plummeted to the ground, crashing right through the roof of his house. “You wanted down!” roared Taka. “So you got down!” He soared off into the sky without another word, to the astonishment of the entire village, which was now watching.
Taka didn’t stop flying until he reached the Idyllic Ocean. Making a banking turn, he unceremoniously dropped Illeera onto the sandy beach. Then he himself landed, turning back into himself in the process. Stumbling a little bit, he whirled on Illeera, angry beyond belief.
“Explain yourself!” he thundered. When Illeera hesitated in fear, he raised his voice to a shriek. “NOW!!”
Illeera began to sob, unsure of what she had done to provoke the shapeshifter’s rage. “Kread broke up with Ryka,” she screamed in anguish, “so I offered to comfort them. Ryka left early, because she was so mad with Kread. After she was gone, Kread and I talked some more. He finally asked me out, and I was so overjoyed that he did so after a week of dating”-
“WHAT?!” Taka screeched, making Illeera stop blubbering instantly, her terror was so great. “You and Kread have been dating for a whole week, AND YOU DIDN’T EVEN BOTHER TO TELL ME?! I’M YOUR BEST FRIEND, FOR GODS’ SAKE!”
Taka continued after a few moments of heavy breathing, this time in a whisper so deadly that Illeera became even more frightened. “No wonder Ryka broke up with him. If he’s been two-timing her”-
This time, Illeera interrupted. “It’s not like that,” she said timidly. “Ryka broke up with him nearly a month ago”-
Again, Taka interrupted in the same soft, frightening voice. “You didn’t tell me that either? What else haven’t you told me? That you’ve secretly been a shapeshifter all your life as well?”
Illeera had a pleading look in her eye. “Please, Taka,” she murmured hoarsely. “I’ve loved him for a long time now. I thought you of all people would understand…”
Taka’s rage ebbed away. Tears welled up in his own eyes, and the words he’d been longing to tell Illeera once again formed on his tongue. And this time, they jumped out of his mouth. “But I love you, Illeera,” he whispered.
Her expression went from frightened to thunderstruck. “You… you love me?” she asked, as if she couldn’t believe it to be true. “Oh… oh Taka, please forgive me. I’ve loved you like a brother for my entire life. We’ll always be best friends…”
As her voice trailed off and the tears began to well in her eyes as well, Taka almost whined, “But I don’t want to be friends any more. I want for us to be more than that.”
Suddenly, Taka decided that he needed to rid himself of all of his conflicting feelings. There was only one thing to do. “Illeera, you said that you loved me like a brother,” he stated flatly, his voice becoming dead, as if all of his hope had drained from him. “I can’t live with that. Goodbye, Illeera.”
Taka triggered his shapeshifting ability, becoming a Tigrex. Illeera squeaked and covered her eyes, afraid that he would kill her. You’ve got it wrong, Illeera, thought Taka sadly. It isn’t you I mean to kill.
With a huge gust of air, he leapt up into the sky, wheeling up and over the ocean that Illeera now stood alone next to. When he was well over the sea, Taka began to climb, higher and higher, until the ocean was far, far below him, and he could see Mediatas Village peeking out from behind the Great Oceanic Cliff.
Then, he folded his wings, went limp, and free-fell towards the unforgiving, briny deep far below.
On the beach, Illeera finally began to realize what it was Taka meant to do. “No… no… no…” she muttered, horrified eyes locked on the plunging wyvern. “Taka, no… don’t do it…”
It was as if Taka heard her voice in his head, many meters above the ocean, and closing in fast. Sorry, he replied in his mind, willing the thought to be transmitted into Illeera’s brain.
The impact with the water was so great, Taka felt numb as his body began to sting. The shock reversed his transformation, turning him back into a human again. He opened his eyes – he was at least ten feet below the surface of the waves.
Strangely, he felt calm and collected. Taka simply floated there as if in limbo, waiting for the inevitable.
It wasn’t long in coming. A dark shape suddenly appeared from beyond the rapidly-fading rush of bubbles that had resulted from Taka’s impact. Taka allowed a sad smile to spread across his face as the unknown figure cruised towards him. I love you, Illeera, he thought, then blanked out his mind and lowered his eyelids.
The Plesioth lunged forward, immense jaws open wide. Taka’s eyes closed entirely, and he felt the Piscene Wyvern’s teeth puncture his broken heart. Death, when it came, was a mercy.
Illeera saw the fin appear in the distance, and immediately knew what was happening. “TAKA, NO!” she screeched, voice breaking with emotion. Rushing into the water, she drew her Bow, prepared to do whatever it took to save Taka.
As she quickly and urgently waded into the salty water, she saw the fin disappear. There was a huge commotion, with the water churning and bubbling. Then it was calm, and Illeera saw with ever-growing horror the stain of blood spreading out across the surface.
Her heart snapped. Her best friend in all the world was gone, just like that.
Unexpectedly, so much so that she jumped, Illeera heard Kread’s voice ring out into the morning air. “That son of a gun dropped me right on a building,” he fumed. “Where is he, so I can give him a piece of my…”
Kread finally noticed that Illeera wasn’t listening. He waded into the water beside her and looked intently at her horror-struck face. He then turned his gaze to the water, trying to see what she was staring at. He gripped her shoulder so hard that his knuckles turned white as he finally saw the rapidly-growing bloodstain on the water.
“He’s dead,” Illeera whispered. “Taka’s gone.”
That’s when the tears started. Illeera wrapped her arms around Kread and buried her face in his chest, sobbing incessantly. In the distance, the mournful call of a Yian Kut-Ku pierced the sky. Maybe the Bird Wyvern had lost a mate, or a hatchling, and that was why it was making that melancholy song.
It fit the situation perfectly.
There you go, readers. I fell in love with Arielle, Illeera’s real-life counterpart, some years back. Stupidly, I had never realized it until a few months ago, when it was too late. I found out that she was (again) dating Drake, Kread’s real-life counterpart.
I tried telling myself that I was happy for both of them. I tried reassuring myself that eventually, someone would come along whom I’d be happy with as well. But over the weeks, my envy, anger, and depression accumulated, and I felt lonelier than I’ve ever been in my life. Writing this has helped me somewhat.
The saddest part? Just for a second, when my self-assurances first began to dry up, I wished that I could throw myself to a Plesioth too.