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Chapter 1 - Understanding Loss

Cecil was tucked into bed, a candle flickering on the stool beside him. Snuggled in tight with him was a plush Rathian, with button eyes and stones sewed in for spikes along the end of its tail. Across the room, Cecil’s twin, Alucard was snoring quietly. The matching Rathalos doll was near the end of the bed, upside down with its feet in the air, like a chicken playing dead. Both twins were asleep, and their father knew this. He snuck into the room to sneak the kids a good night before he went to his work.

His armor was padded, but not at all silent; plates scratched against each other with each step, his boots met the wood floor with a clop and a creak. The boys laid still, their minds far gone in dreams and fantasy. One after the other, the father pecked each child on the forehead, and then clopped his way out of the room. Just outside the door, his tools for tonight’s work laid against the wall, a hammer wrought of malachite-covered Gravios shell. He shivered, as he did every time he took up that weapon, as fate sent him on David vs. Goliath story of his own, where the outcome was not as sure as the story is told.

It wasn’t the usual birdsong and sunlight that woke Cecil from his slumber, but the sound of hurried feet and panicked townsfolk that brought him to his feet this morning. Alucard, as usual, slept through it all. A Kut Ku could be rampaging through the house, Cecil thought to himself, and Alu would never know. He chucked to himself at the mental image, and then put on his shoes to make his way outside. He took note of the weapon rack beside the door to the porch, and the missing mace of the set. Cecil knew what got the village in a rukus, but was unfazed. Dad always came home okay. He was never the one hurt. This left him unprepared for the sight as he opened the door, to see his father in a stretcher, still in his charred armor.

Cecil cried out as he ran to his father’s side. “Dad! Dad!” he repeated over and over as he sprinted.

Another hunter snagged him mid-run, and lifted him off the ground. “Go back inside!”

Cecil huffed and kicked at the man holding him, forcing him off balance and losing his grip. He hit the ground in the full sprint that was interrupted earlier, the tears welling in his eyes blurring his vision. Tripping on a rock breaks the sprint into a dive right onto the stretcher, right onto his father. He screamed for him again and again, trying to peel the burnt shell to get to the father inside.

The hunter, now sporting a shiner in his left eye from the resulting fall to Cecil’s resistance, took his arm and picked him up once more. Cecil didn’t struggle or fight back, just cried.

“Cee listen to me. Go inside, now. Go wait with your brother.” The hunter told Cecil, in a soft but demanding tone. The hunter pointed Cecil in the direction back to the house, and gave him a light push to get him moving.

Cecil knew what happened. Cecil understood what happened. But he couldn’t believe it. After standing in the spot for a moment, and hearing the voice behind him beckoning him back to the house, he started to walk. His head down and his hands in his lap, he made his way back to the house and into his room. Cecil vigorously shook Alucard awake, who groaned and cursed under his breath. Alucard was about ready to complain and chastise Cecil for the rude awakening when he saw the look in his brother’s eyes, and instantly knew why. He, too, began to cry.

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