They ran through the tree-laden landscape as fast as their legs would carry them, not stopping to even look back. Gale wondered how Rakurai was doing against the two Nargacugas, or if he was still alive. The thought of his death was quickly deleted from her thoughts, however, when she remembered that he wielded immense supernatural power, and that someone who seemed so world-weary could never be felled so easily.
She looked to her left. Shinji and Jinsoku were running alongside her. Shinji noticed Gale looking at her and gave her the thumbs-up. Gale turned to her right. Mizu was there, slightly ahead of her. The other hunters were a little slower than Gale and her friends, their armor clearly more heavy and not really designed for super-speedy escapes.
The entire group stopped at the sound of a feral growl, followed by several violent zapping sounds; Rakurai was clearly fine. Gale stopped worrying, and signaled to the group to start running again.
* * *
Rakurai fell to his knees. While he was immensely powerful, fighting two extremely fast and strong Pseudowyverns alone takes its toll, no matter how strong the hunter. He felt the wind move as the second Nargacuga, which had been dealt a grievous wound to the webbing of its left wing, pounced on him. With his remaining strength, he had just enough time to fling his Espinas Great Sword halfheartedly in front of him as a shield before the blacker-than-black wyvern tackled him aggressively. He was sent tumbling over the dark green forest floor, slumping on the precipice of a moderately steep drop into an expansive lake below.
Rakurai gathered his strength for a second before managing to scramble to his feet, looking at the large lake below as he did so. He could see a large, fish-like shape in the water; a Plesioth. He thought of how he could use this to his advantage. As Pseudowyverns, Nargacugas might be smart in comparison to other monsters, but could be just as easily manipulated in a state of rage.
He produced a small, circular disc from his backpack; a shock trap. Holding it firmly in his free hand, he charged the two Nargacugas, his sword dragging along the forest floor as he had only one free hand to hold it in. His speed matched that of the two beasts, a side effect of his power over lightning. The pitch-black pair lunged from either side at Rakurai, growling ferociously as they did so. Rakurai quickly flung the shock trap from his hand. It landed on the floor and activated as the first Nargacuga (the one with the wounded right leg) set its claws on it.
It squealed as the paralyzing shock was emitted from the disc, ensnaring it. Seeing that the beast was stuck, Rakurai made a swift U-turn back toward the cliff above the lake, the second wyvern giving chase. Rakurai quickly sped up, almost a blur until he reached the edge of the cliff. With the Narga mere meters away, he quickly produced a Flash Bomb from his belt, and threw it into the air, covering his eyes with his left arm as he did so. A bright flash followed.
With no time to shield itself from the light, the Nargacuga was blinded and disoriented by the flash. As it skidded blindly to a halt, Rakurai swung his Great Sword horizontally through the creature's legs, tripping it up. With no grip left to halt its blind charge, the Nargacuga went flying off the cliff with a feral yowl and into the lake below, its cry getting slowly quieter as it got further away. It landed in the water with a huge splash, sending ripples of water through the lake and huge drops of water up into the air, and back down again.
After a short pause, the Narga resurfaced. But it merely flailed about helplessly, as it couldn't swim. Rakurai watched as the Plesioth pounced on the Nargacuga from under the water, locking its sharp teeth onto the wyvern's tail. It screeched with fear and struggled weakly for a few seconds, before it was dragged under the water, never to resurface.
"One Narga down, one more to go." He muttered to himself with confidence. He turned, bringing his sword to bear to finish off the trapped Nargacuga - but it was gone.The only traces of its presence were the damaged tree trunk and a scorched mark where the shock trap had expired. Then, looking to the thick trees where the hunters had fled into, he noticed a dark, winged shape galloping off into the distance. "The others!" he blurted out frantically. He sheathed his sword and ran quickly after it, fearing that he might be too late.
* * *
Gale, hearing the approaching noisy, footsteps of the Nargacuga, ran even faster than she already had been. The others, realizing what she had heard, followed suit. It was getting closer and closer. "Come on, come on! It's gonna catch us!" Jinsoku yelled.
But it was too late. Gale could already clearly make out the streamlined black body and glowing red eyes of the monster. "Too late!" Shinji huffed, stopping and pulling out her bow. The Nargacuga saw Shinji stop and leaped through the trees at her. Shinji rapidly fired her bow at the beast, but it was going so fast that the arrows just deflected off of its body. She closed her eyes for the end.
But just as it was upon her, she heard a high-pitched hum followed by a zapping noise, then a series of loud crashes followed by a bestial roar of utter pain. She opened her eyes to see the severed tail of a Nargacuga if front of her, still bleeding. She turned to see the rest of the wyvern, moaning softly and struggling to its feet. Turning back, she looked up to see Mizu offering her his hand, his Eager Cleaver drenched in deep red blood- he had just saved her life. "Take it. I don't bite," he joked absentmindedly. She took his hand and rose to her feet, bow at the ready.
"You might not," Gale said seriously, "But he sure does!" she snapped worriedly, pointing at the Nargacuga, its demonic red eyes glowering at them hatefully and it's body quivering with rage. It scraped its forelimbs against the ground, waggled what was left of its tail, snapped its jaws... and lunged straight toward the search party.
As the hunters took offensive and defensive stances to finally slay the beast, a great white blur crashed in through the trees behind it stumbling angrily on its hind legs, snatching the Nargacuga out of the air with its huge claw. It was huge, so huge that it towered above the hunters, and made the Nargacuga look about the size of an adult Bullfango. It clamped it's huge jaws down over the poor wyvern's neck, tearing its head off.
Bored, it tore the jet-black carcass in two, throwing the remains aggressively to the forest floor. It had a line of sparkling white fur running down it's neck, forearms, tail and wings. It's eyes where snow white. It was surrounded in an icy-blue aura, and had a cracked, blood-red ruby upon its breast.
"Yaketsukuyōna!" Mizu gasped. The great white beast gazed at the tiny souls below them. Then, much to the surprise of the group, it spoke to them in their minds.
"We meet at last, Gale Kaze," it said.
"You attacked Hyoku, possessed Sensei Ryu and hurt my boyfriend! Why!?"
"It is written. A group of brave hunters will come forth from the village of wind, and hunt the White Star. They will travel far and wide to the City of Light, and ascend the Frozen Tower to slay it before the time of the Divine Maelstrom. If it is not slain, the Maelstrom will cleanse the land of all life, including mine. However... I have no intention of dying. I will collect souls of humans, empowering the ruby on my breast, allowing me to escape the destruction. With humans gone, we Wyrms can once again call this world ours, as we once did before the dawn of time itself."
"You once called this world yours?"
"Yes. Before humanity, this world was ours. But the very first Hunters drove us to extinction. I and Gurētosutōmu are the only Wyrms left in this world. Gurētosutōmu wishes to preserve this world, a traitor to his own kind. I will not betray my race. I will kill Gurētosutōmu and escape the Divine Maelstrom, returning the Wyrms to where they belong."
"We won't let this happen!"
"...Try and stop me, girl."
The White Star vanished with a sky-blue flash. Immediately after, Gale collapsed, and began hyperventilating. Mizu caught her in his arms as she fell. She carried on hyperventilating for a few seconds before falling unconscious.
Shortly after, Rakurai emerged from the thick growth. "Gale!" He snapped, running over the group. "What happened here?" He asked with concern. "I don't know," Mizu said. "The White Star was here - it killed the Nargacuga, and told us something about a prophecy. I'll explain later, there's no time. Sensei! Sensei!" Mizu spat hurriedly. Sensei Arashi came over as fast as his walking stick could carry him. He leaned over and felt Gale's forehead. "By the Great Winds, she has been cursed! Fire runs through her veins. Hikari, ironically, has the cure. If we don't get her there in time... she'll die," he stated soberly. "Then there is no time to waste. We must hurry!" Jinsoku cried. Mizu picked her up off of the floor gently, carrying her in his arms.
The remaining hunters set off once more through the thick trees. Zoru assured them that they were nearly out of the forest, and that after that only the Hikari Bridge stood between them and the City of Light - and the Frozen Tower, where the White Star awaited the Divine Maelstrom.
Mizu walked in complete silence, fearing incessantly for the life of the girl he loved.
To Be Continued in: The White Star Chronicles X : Gurētosutōmu's Confession