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

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A Final Test

"All right kid," I said one day. "It's time to see how far you've progressed. Let's start with a lap around the village." Wind took off in a blur and was back when my count had reached thirty. "Not bad. Now do as many wing-ups as you can." She got to fifty before she had to quit. "Right, now hover as long as you can." She hovered so long that I could judge her progress by the sun's path through the sky.

"That's enough." Wind landed back on the field. "Okay, now you need to-" I swung my quarterstaff at her in attempt to catch her off guard. She avoided my strike effortlessly and gave me a faint smile which I returned. "One last thing kid. Name the four rules of hunting.

Wind drew herself up as she recited them. "Know your target, always be prepared, be cautious, and master your weapon."

"Excellent. You've passed this test with flying colors."

"Dose this mean I'm a full-fledged hunter now?" Wind inquired.

"Not yet," I replied. "But you're close. Dismissed."

The following day I summoned her to my house. "You've done well under me kid. Now there's one last test you need to pass." I pointed to a small scroll on my table."I've been summoned to the capitol, and you're to accompany me. That is if you want to come."

"Yes! Yes! Yes! I would love to go with you!" She jumped and pranced exactly. "I've always wanted to see Canterlot."
When are we leaving?"

"An airship will arrive to pick us up in a few days. Pack up your arms and armor and say goodbye to your family."

"Yes sir!" She rushed out still full of youthful enthusiasm.

"Still eager as ever," I muttered. "Well let's see how you fair with this final test."

The airship arrived with great fanfare as such an event was rare here in such a remote village. As we walked up the ramp cries of "Goodbye!" and "Good luck!" came from the locals.

The airship took off and headed for Canterlot. "What are those?" Wind asked pointing toward the weapons that lined the airship's decks.

"Those are cannons and ballista. They're there in case of monster attack."

"Will we be attacked?" Wind asked with a look of concern on her face.

"That's highly unlikely. The airships routes are well patrolled and carefully guarded. We may see some smaller monsters along the way, but nothing serious. The trip should only take a day and a night."

Once night fell, we retired to our room to sleep. It was not going to be peaceful one, however. After few hours of peaceful sleep were roused by a cry. "Kushala Dora! Kushala Dora off the starboard side!"

I quickly rose out of bed and roused Wind. "Kid get up now! We're needed topside. Bring all your gear." She merely nodded sleepily and roused herself.

Once we were armed and armored, we quickly scrambled up onto the deck. All around us ponies were scrabbling. Cannons and ballista were being loaded. A dragon with gleaming steel scales was rapidly approaching. The ship's captain ordered the ships course away from the Elder Dragon. I quickly spotted the captain and headed over toward him.

"Is there anything we can do to help?"

"Hunter. Glad to see you. We all of the help we can get. If the both of you can man the cannons, and fire when it gets close enough that would be a great help."

"Right. Wind, I'll be on this cannon right here. Bring me more cannonballs when I tell you."

"Why can't I fire a cannon as well?"

"Because you're not trained in their use."

"Steady it's almost upon us!" the captain cried. "Ready. Aim. Fire!" The air was filled with the sounds of cannons and ballista firing. Cannonballs and metal spears soared toward the dragon. Several found their mark, but the Elder Dragon continued undeterred below the ship. More cannons fired as it emerged from the other side.

"Reload! It looks like its heading back!"

"Wind more cannonballs, now!" She rushed toward a nearby ammo pile and handed one to me, which I promptly loaded.

"Captain, it's right in front of us!" came a cry from the crows nest. Sure enough it hovered several dozen yards in front of us. It flapped its wings quickly. A cyclone began forming. "It's whipping up a whirlwind! If we get caught in that we'll go down for sure!"

"How many pegasi do we have aboard?" asked the captain.

"A few, but it won't be enough," replied one of the crew mates.

"Yes it will," I replied. I pointed a hoof toward Wind. Cutting Wind is a strong flier. With her help you should be able to disperse it."

Wind looked nervous. "Are you sure? I don't think I can do it."

"You can. I didn't put you through all that training for nothing. Just fly against the wind with the other pegasi, and it will be enough. I believe in you." She nodded and took off joining the other pegasi.

They began flying against the whirlwind in an effort to disperse it. "Come on, come on, you've got this." For a moment it looked like they would fail, but they dispersed the whirlwind.

Cries of joy filled the deck. "It's not over!" yelled the captain as the pegasi landed on the deck exhausted. "It's whipping up another one, and I don't think we'll be able to do the same thing twice."

"What about an anti-dragon cannon?" I asked the captain. Airships this large normally have one."

"Good idea." He turned to the nearest crew member. "Go to cannon and fire it. Hurry! We don't have much time." He hurried to obey the command. Just as the whirlwind started forming the entire ship shook. A massive sphere of red and black energy shot out from the front of the ship, and struck the monster.

It let out a roar of pain and plummeted toward the ground. It straightened itself out and headed southwest. "Is it dead?" asked Wind.

"No. We merely drove it off. Elder Dragons are very hardy. Come on let's get some sleep."

"I thought you said we would be safe," Wind accused as we walked back to our room.

"I did."

"So where did it come from then?"

"I'm not quite sure. They normally stay far to the east and only rarely show up. Good thing to, because they normally cause calamities wherever they go. I'll have to report this when we reach Canterlot. We had reached our bunks. "Night kid."

When dawn broke, we reached Canterlot. The entire city was encircled in a twenty high foot wall of solid white stone. The top of the wall was wide enough for several ponies to walk abreast. Massive cannons and ballista lined the wall. "Quite a sight isn't it," I remarked.

"It is," Wind replied. "It takes my breath away."

"I felt the same way when I first came here."

"When was that?"

"When I came hear to register as an official hunter."

"When you-" Wind paused as it dawned on her. "Dose that mean I'm an official hunter now?"

"Not yet. You need to pass the certification test first." We disembarked. "Let's head for the Gathering Hall. You need to get registered for the your test and I need to report to the guild."

As we entered the hall, the conversation of a dozen ponies seated at tables washed over us. A small shop was in the corner. Next to that was the registration counter at which sat a female unicorn. "Good morning, I would like to register my apprentice for the Hunter's Certification Examination. Also, I received a summons."

"All right. Names."

"My name is Sharp Blade, and her name is Cutting Wind."

"I see. Just one moment." She scribbled the names on a piece of parchment and handed me another. "I'll need a response to that. The sooner the better."

I carefully read the parchment. My eyes widened as I realized what it said. "Okay. Tell the Hunter's Guild that I accept their request. Come on Wind; we need to head to the area."

"What was that about?" Wind asked me. "What did you accept? Can you at least tell me what this examination "

"That letter isn't important right now. Right now you need to focus on your test." We had arrived at the arena. "Right, you're on your own now. Just remember what I taught you. Meet me back at the gathering hall when your done."

We parted ways. I took a seat in the stands while Wind went to the staging area. "This seat taken?" I asked a male earth pony.

"No go right ahead."

"So how have the applicants looked this year?"

"Not too bad. Most have passed, but a few had to be rescued. No stand outs yet."

"Cutting Wind, please enter the arena!" called out the announcer. I glanced down into the arena. The floor consisted of sand and was mostly level. Fifteen foot high stone walls enclosed it. Wind walked out fully armed and armored.

"No stand outs huh?" I grinned. "Well that's about to change." Okay Cutting Wind show me what you've learned.

The gate rose, and out walked a Great Jaggi. It howled right at Wind and bared it's sharp fangs. The Great Jaggi slowly stalked toward her on two legs. When it was only a few feet away it lashed out with a vicious bite. Wind quickly sidestepped the bite. The pattern repeated.

"What's she doing?" the earth pony asked me. "Why isn't she attacking?"

"Simple," I responded. "She's being cautious, and studying her prey. Just like I taught her." We shifted our attention back toward the fight in time to see that Wind was hovering a few feet above the ground. She used her height advantage to keep out the Great Jaggi's range and started attacking. Her blades found their mark. The Great Jaggi howled in anger, and spread out its lavender and orange frill in anger. With a leap it caught Wind in her side with a kick, knocking her to the ground.

You let your guard down. Very sloppy kid. Wind quickly rose off the ground. The Great Jaggi aimed anther kick at her, but this time she dodged the attack. You learned from your mistake, good. The fight was over a few minutes later when the Great Jaggi fell over dead. "Pass," the announcer called out. Wind saw me in the stands and gave me a wave before leaving.

"So what did you think of her?" I asked the earth pony. "She stand out enough?"

"Quit a bit. None of the other applications preformed as well. You seem to know her pretty well. You her father or something?"

"No, she's my apprentice. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some other business to attend to." I headed back to the Gathering Hall and took a seat. Wind returned shortly, looking a little tired, but proud of herself. "Not bad kid. It was able to get a hit on you, though."

"You're never going let up are you?" She flashed me a grin that I returned.

"It helped you get to where you are today." I signaled a passing waitress to bring us some drinks. She returned with two ciders one of which I passed to Wind. "Congratulations on passing the examination. Cheers!" We both took a small sip of cider. "Now I have something to give you. Consider it a graduation present." I slide a broad, curved knife in a scabbard toward her.

"Is that-?"

"Yes. It's your very own hunting knife. I had Hammer forge it just for you. You're now an official hunter." Wind strapped it to her left foreleg. Tears began to well up in her eyes.

"Thank you so much. I'll use it every time we go hunting together."

"Unfortunately, that's not going to be happening. The Kushala Dora that attacked our ship wasn't an isolated incident. Elder Dragons have been spotted all over the country. They're crossing en mass toward a continent across the ocean to the west. Hunter's from across Equestria have been summoned to form an expedition to deal with them. I'm intending to join it.

"I thought that we would be hunting partners." She sounded hurt. "What am I supposed to do without you?"

"You'll do fine thanks to your training. There's one last piece of advice that I can give you. Join a team. You'll do much better in a group then by yourself."

"Can't I go with you?"

I shook my head. "No, they require hunters who can operate alone. Even if they asked for pairs, you don't have the experience. I was hoping we could do a least a few hunts together, but it seems like fate had other plans."

"Why? You don't have to go. Why are you doing this?" Tears flowed from her eyes.

"This is something I need to do. You'll understand some day. All you need to do is to remember your training. Goodbye Cutting Wind." I got up and headed toward the ship. Tears welled up in my eyes. Why dose this have to be so hard?

"You okay there?" I looked up to see a pegasus in front of the ship.

I wiped the tears from my eyes. "Yeah. So this is one of the ships headed for the new world?" He nodded in response. "When's it leaving?"

"Tomorrow morning. We still have some supplies to load, and there are still some hunters that need to check in."

"Okay. Is it all right if I board it now? I already have everything."

He raised an eyebrow, but replied, "Okay. If you want to."

I boarded the ship and found an empty cabin. Well, this is it. We're going our separate ways. Wind, I really hope that you can pass this final test.

Author's Note:

Thanks for reading. If you see any mistakes make sure to PM me, and I'll make sure to fix them.

Comments ( 2 )

There going to be a sequel?

9461790
I do have plans for a sequel, but there's a couple of other stories I want to finish first.

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