The Unmei Desert - a blanket of dead sand, grey cracked rocks and huge monster skeletons, with the rays of a cruel sun in the sky. With no oasis in sight, and even quicksand patches, nobody would dare traverse such a treacherous landscape without suitable company and plenty of supplies. Thankfully, Gale was in luck. Sensei Arashi, Mizu, and, strangely, even Rakurai the Lightning Bolt gave her much comfort.
However, no amount of company could stop the searing heat from getting to them. Many of the hunters wanted to remove the heavy metal armour, as it was just making them hotter, and so far there had been no monster sightings, but the two Hikarian guides had told them to keep it on just to be safe. Mizu, however, knew the area well - he had once gotten lost here for several weeks, and during the hardship had not encountered a single living thing - so he paid no heed to the guides. He had put his heavy Barioth armour on the cart being carried by a Popo, and taken his shirt off, tying it around his head as a bandanna.
Gale was staring at him again. She was frustrated by the fact that wherever she tried to look, she always found herself gazing at Mizu. She had never thought about being more than friends, but, for the first time, she thought to herself, Am I...falling in love?
Thankfully, she didn't have to think for long, as she heard noisy footsteps coming up behind her - it was Rakurai. He had handed down his Remobra gear to his younger brother, who was going to start Hunter Training next month. He now wore the Espinas armour to match with his Great Sword. He now matched her walking speed, walking parallel to her. She felt some kind of condescending remark coming on and did her best to ignore the rough-edged young man.
"You always stare at him... you love him, don't you?" Rakurai grunted.
"... Well, yeah, I think I do," Gale answered honestly. She turned her gaze back to Mizu, still trudging forward half-dressed with the search party, Eager Cleaver in his right hand, a flask of water in his left.
"See?" Rakurai said, snapping his fingers in Gale's face to get her attention. "Always staring at him. Is it his eyes? His physique? What? What about him makes you so transfixed?" he asked semi-impatiently.
"Are... are you trying to say you like me?" Gale asked, amused at his hurry and also surprised that he was being so... nice.
With her question he went slightly cold again. "No," he said flatly. "I'm just... just trying to work you out." He said,and walked briskly away.
As Gale was wondering about the peek she had just gotten of the Lightning Bolt's soft side, a great blanket of gold-white clouds covered the sky. They swirled slowly in the middle, a warm breeze blowing across the hunters. Then, much to their amazement, a great golden-green beast descended from the epicentre of the swirling mass of clouds. It was so huge and incredibly long, with a pair of three-clawed arms that were still huge, but tiny in comparison to the rest of its mammoth and also wingless body. It covered the entire stretch of ground the hunter's stood on with its shadow. It's gargantuan head faced them, it's huge golden eyes transfixing them with a valiant gaze of steel. Suddenly, Gale heard a voice inside her head.
"Gale Kaze, heed my words. I am Gurētosutōmu, Dragon of the Roaring winds. And you are all in grave danger."
"You... you're the wyrm above us?" Gale asked in her head, in case it only understood thoughts.
"What kind of danger?"
"Grave. A great sand wyrm is nearby. A Jhen Mohran approaches."
"What should we do?"
"Run! As fast as you can! It is almost upon you! Make haste!"
On that worrying note, the Dragon of the Roaring Winds ascended back into the sky. Thankfully the cloudy sky had not cleared,so the heat-weary hunters were shielded from the blazing heat of the sun - in fact, it was a little cold, enough for Mizu to put his tunic back over his bare chest.
"Gale, it talked to you didn't it?" Sensei Arashi probed.
"Yes. It said we are in grave danger. A Jhen Mohran is on our tail," Gale announced solemnly.
This revelation sent the search party into chaos, frantic chattering, and clamouring galore.
"ENOUGH!" Rakurai roared, tired of the irritating orgy of noise. "There's no time to start having shit-fits! We have to MOVE. NOW," he pressed.
"Rakurai is right. We have to go." Arashi echoed. "Unless you all like to stand idly by and become Jhen fodder?"
On that note, the hunters stood to attention. Suddenly and idea sprang into Mizu's mind.
"Sensei, why don't we all pile onto the cart? The Dragonwood is firm, and this Popo is more than strong enough to support all our weight," he explained. An approving murmur among the party followed.
"I agree. We will ride the cart," Turo, one of the Hikarian guides, agreed.
"C'mon, there's no time to waste!" Gale yelled, seeing the ever so vague arrow of sandy wind making a beeline for them.
And with that, each member of the party quickly piled onto the back of the cart in an orderly fashion. Mizu leaned over and slapped the Popo on the back. It made a hoarse groaning noise, startled by the mild hit, and raced off straight ahead as fast as it could.
Gale looked behind her. The sandy trail of the Jhen Mohran was creeping ever closer.
For the first time since leaving the village, she worried if they would make it to Hikari alive.
To Be Continued in: The White Star Chronicles VII: Attack of the Mountain Dragon