• Published 27th Dec 2018
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A Hunter's Life - SummerGem

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The Hunt Begins

The sun shone down on me as I tended to my vegetable garden. It's a peaceful day here in the village, just the way I like it. My hoe, wrapped in a field of white magic moved back and forth preparing the fertile soil for planting. I pause briefly, enjoying the feel of the wind blowing gently through my mane. This is the life. The morning peace is shattered by the sound of several cries.

"Sharp Blade! Sharp Blade!" I look up to see several earth pony woodcutters running toward me with frantic looks and disheveled manes. "We need your help! There's a monster in the woods and we need-"

"Whoa, slow down. Now, you saw a monster." They nodded. "Slow down and tell me everything. Start from the beginning."

"Well, it began when we went into the forest to gather some firewood. We had to journey a bit deeper than normal, but once we did, we started to gather the firewood. We were ok for little while, but the monster appeared without warning. It charged directly toward us. We barely managed to escape back here."

"All right. I need a description. How big was it? What color was it? The more details you can give me the better."

"Well, it was massive for starters. The head alone was bigger then most ponies. It seamed to walk on four limbs except that the front ones looked like wings. It's coloring is a vivid red except for its claws, which looked to be bright blue."

"I see. Anything else?"

"Anything else? That thing looked like it was ready to eat us! We weren't exactly going sticking around for a closer look."

"Relax, I just wanted to make sure you didn't forget anything. It looks like you encountered a wyvern. Did you contact the Hunter's guild for help?

He shook his head. "We came to you because we need the wood. We only have three, maybe four days worth's left, and it will take at least a week for the team to get here. Please, we need your help."

"Ok, I'll need some time to get my gear in order. Meet me by the entrance of the Whitetail Woods in an hour."

I headed toward the village blacksmith to fetch my armor and weapons. I suppose I should have seen this coming. It makes sense they would come to me for help. My tan coat and short black mane may not make me stand out much, but my scars and tall lean muscular build mark me for what I am.

I'm this village's only professional hunter. The only pony they can come to for this type of crisis. It doesn't help that the woods until now have an extensive variety of monsters still prowling about.

I reached a large brick building on the outskirts of town. Over the door hung a sign:

Hammer's Blacksmith Shop

The heat from a forge hit me in the face as I entered. Through a doorway behind a counter came a soft orange glow, and the sound of a hammer striking metal. I rang a bell sitting on the counter and waited. Hammer's voice called out, "I'll be out in a minuet." After a few minutes Hammer walked out from a back room. "Hey there Sharp Blade good to see you again. What brings you here?"

"Good morning Hammer. Some woodcutters had a close encounter with a monster in the woods today and asked for my help. I need my special armor set, and the Insect Glaive that you made for me recently."

"Of course. I'll bring it right out." After a quick trip to the back room, he reemerged carrying a large sack. "Here it is. This kit is guaranteed to put even the toughest monsters asleep."

I gradually removed the armor from the bags and examined them. The armor shone in the light of the forge. The breastplate was black with golden pauldrons. My cutie mark was emblazoned on the center, a long white knife. The leggings have a black and red pattern designed to look like scales. Lastly, came a pair of boots and a half helm designed to fit around my horn, both the color of gold. I donned them and walked for a few minutes testing the fit. "Seems to fit fine."

"Of course they do." He handed me another bag. "Don't forget your weapons as well."

"Of course." I strapped my large hunting knife to my front leg. On the other went my Kinsect: a massive jeweled stag beetle. Lastly came my glaive. The gold and black shone like my armor. On one end there was large curved blade, while the other had two spring loaded prongs designed to launch me into the air.

"Impressive work as always." I made few last adjustments to the straps, and give the glaive a few test swings. "The armor feels sturdy, and the glaive is properly balanced. Here are the bits I owe you."

"Thanks," Hammer replied accepting the bits. "But I can't take all the credit. I wouldn't have been able to make it in the first place if you hadn't brought back that excellent material.

After a brief stop at my house to pick up the rest of gear, I set off for the entrance to the forest where they were waiting for me. "Alright now listen up, I need one of you to show me where you encountered this monster. After that you can leave, and I'll take care of it from there."

A brown earth pony steps forward, "I can show you." Nodding my head, I gesture for him to lead the way. The brief trip though the forest is silent, with only the occasional bird chirp, or snapped twig to break it. Despite it only being around noon, only little sunlight reaches us, bathing the woods in a twilight glow.

We stop in a small clearing. "We're here."

"Thank you for the help. You can head back home now." I head deeper into the forest my way guided by the light of my horn. I look around for any signs that the monster left behind. A brief search shows a fresh set of tracks leading deeper into the forest. I extinguish the light and follow them failing to notice another pony trailing me.

The tracks are massive, making them easy to follow. The deeper I go the more signs I begin to find. Trees with shattered limbs and deep gouges in their trunks. Undergrowth that's been trampled. And most disturbing of all, the smell of burnt wood. A loud roar disturbs the silence. I gallop toward where the sound came from. In a large clearing ahead the monster lurks.

I quickly dive beneath a bush, staying low and silent, so it won't notice me. Yeah, that's the monster all right. The description they gave me, however, didn't do it justice. It's even larger then I thought. The rear legs end in feet with claws that look sharp enough to rend a pony in two with a single swipe. The wings serve as the front legs have smaller, but equally sharp looking claws. Its massive head has a jaw lined with jagged teeth. It stalks about the clearing with the confidence of an apex predator.

That's a Molten Tigrex. But what's it doing here? They normally stay well away from civilization. A question for later. Right now I need to take care of it.

I wait until it turned its back and turned to slowly stalk toward it. Once I'm close enough, I whipped the glaive out with my magic and lashed out toward its rear leg. The blade pierced the hide and drew blood.

The Molten Tigrex whipped its head around in surprise and let out an earsplitting roar that nearly deafened me. Immediately it snaps at me in retaliation. I jumped backward just in time to prevent the razor-sharp teeth from sinking into me. I took a few steps back.

Now is the time. I sent a mental command to my Kinsect. Head. It sprang to life and flew directly toward the head it's jaws piecing the hide and drawing out red essence. Another mental command sends it back to my leg back infusing me with the essence. Power coursed through me, but I wasn't done. Chest. Wing. Each attack from the Kinsect struck its mark and brought back orange then white essence.

Once the final essence absorbed into me, I felt it. The combined power flowed through me with each magnifying the other. I wrapped my front legs around the glaive and launched myself over the monster. I spun my glaive and sent multiple attacks across the back. I landed a few feet from the monster which had fallen from the force of my attacks.

I quickly took advantage of this opening and jumped on the monster's back. Once I had a firm grip, I gripped my hunting knife with my magic and repeatedly stabbed the monster in the back.

It quickly recognized what was happening and started bucking and rolling in an attempt to shake me off. "Oh no, you don't," I snarled. I gritted my teeth and hung on for dear life. The Molten Tigrex eventually stopped, and I was able to resume my attacks. It eventually collapsed to the ground from its injuries.

I leapt clear from it as it fell. It's down but not out. I spun my glaive again and launched a flurry of attacks each one flowing seamlessly into the next. As soon as I felt the power from the essence leave me, I ceased my onslaught and backed off. It rose from the ground and let out roar so loud I was blasted backwards into a tree. When I arose, I found it surrounded by red clouds that let out a crackling sound. Bright red veins of energy ran across its legs and face. Red eyes stared at me with look a pure rage.

Blast powder? How in the world does this thing have blast powder? There was no time to figure it out as the next round began.

Without warning it bull rushed me. Caught off guard by the sudden ferocity, I barley dodged it. It wasn't done, however and charged me a second time then a third. They barely missed. Molten Tigrex resumed its attacks with increased speed and ferocity. It was all I could do to avoid them. Molten Tigrex rapidly spun in a circle and stuck me with a tail. I was caught off guard by the unexpected move and received the full force of it straight to the face and collapsed.

"I'll save you!" I groggily looked up to see a pegasus filly with a black coat and tan mane dive toward the monster with a knife in her mouth.

"No wait! You can't fight it!" I cried out. She dove toward it only to receive a swipe of its claws.

"No!" I quickly scooped her up with my magic and ran away as fast as I could. Fortunately, the monster decided not to follow us. I gently set her down and examined her. Red powder coated her and several gashes ran down her side. I quickly beat the powder off with my hooves before it could explode, and forced one of my healing potions down her throat. The gashes began closing, and her eyes floated open.

"Are you ok?"

"I think so."

"Can your tell me your name?"

"Cutting Wind."

"Well Cutting Wind, you're lucky to be alive. What were you thinking!? That monster could have devoured you in one bite."

"I just wanted to help you," Wind replied sheepishly. "When I heard you were fighting a monster all by yourself I took a knife and went after you."

"That was foolish. Brave, but foolish. This isn't my first rodeo kid. I can handle myself. Can you get back to the village? It's not too far."

"I think so." She flew back toward the village. I watched until she was well out of sight before heading back. I galloped full speed toward the clearing where the monster waited for me.

I arrived to find it still enraged. It whipped its head toward me and charged. Not this time. I'm ready for you now. I effortlessly rolled and dived away from its attacks. Not reacting, just acting. My focus was on nothing but the fight.

The monster suddenly ceased its attacks. It's head drooped and started drooling. It's exhausted. Now's my chance! I renewed my attacks making sure to hit every inch of the monster I could reach. After what seemed like an eternity the sleep element took effect. Molten Tigrex collapsed to the ground asleep. Now is the time to strike the final blow. I take my glaive and plunge the blade deep into the skull.

It gave a final defiant roar and collapsed back onto the ground. Dead. Good riddance. I took out my hunting knife and plunged it into the skull for good measure. Once that was done, I began to methodically began to carve Molten Tigrex up making sure to get as much of it as I could. I placed the remains into my saddlebags that I had stashed nearby.

The journey back to the village was long, but uneventful. The sun was setting by the time I returned. The woodcutters were still waiting at the clearing. "It's dead. You can go to the woods safely."

"Thank you so much," one of the woodcutters replied. How can we ever repay you?"

"I was merely doing my job. As for payment, the materials I gathered were enough. By the way, did a pegasus filly come by here?"

"Yeah a little while ago."

"All right, I'm turning in for the night." I headed back toward my house and collapsed in my bed every part of my body aching. Knock, knock. Great who could that be? Knock, knock. "I'm coming." I opened the door and saw the filly from earlier. "What is it kid?"

"I just wanted to say I'm sorry for what happened earlier. I just wanted to help you."

"Apology accepted. Good night." I moved to close the door.

"Wait! I have something else to say." I paused." I want to learn be a hunter, and I want you to teach me."

I stared at her dumbfounded. "You saw what happened today. If you become a hunter that will be your life. You'll face the risk of death almost every day. Do you really desire that?" She nodded defiantly. "What about your parents? What do they have to say about this?"

"I talked it over with them and they agreed that I could as long as I apologized and was trained by you."

"If I agree to this, you must realize I won't be easy on you. Your training will be very harsh. You up for that?" She nodded again. I considered it for a moment. Should I do this? Why would she even desire this? I looked down at her. "I'll agree to this if you answer one question, and answer it honestly. Why do you want to be a hunter?"

"There are many dangerous monsters out there. Not everypony is capable of fighting them. I want to protect them."

"That's the answer I was looking for. Training begins at sunrise. Don't be late." I closed the door and headed back to bed. As I lay there my thoughts turned to her. Her heart was in the right place, but she's reckless. Still, I see a bit of my younger self in her. I drifted off to sleep, wondering just what I had gotten myself into.