• Published 24th Feb 2021
  • 294 Views, 12 Comments

Scorching Blade - Silent Slender



Something has left the dark forests outside of Hollow Shades in splinters, the stumps left smoldering. Topaz of the Royal Guard goes to investigate with a little added help along the way in facing what has left a trail of brimstone in its wake.

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Simmer and Slice

This is was just the worst. "Search the grove again, try to clear the road too." I sighed, shaking my head at the detailed map of the forest kept hidden under the tarp hung over the branches of the dark wood forest. Many scrolls and notes were piled around me on the desk, red circles jotting the many sites I had investigated prior to my conundrum. "...what happened...?"

I was stationed here by Princess Celestia to investigate a string of attacks near the town of Hollow Shades, they were mostly Bat-Ponies and liked to keep to themselves, or until something started cutting down their woods. Said clearing my troops were stationed in was left barren, the sunlight actually touching the floor of the forest. Stumps were all that remained, charred from the point a blade clearly tore through the grove, some fires were present but thankfully put out by the residence.

The buildings of Hollow Shades not far down the hillside were gothic in design, looming among the trees and against the cobblestone walls that protected the town. Their grey-brick walls stretched taller than your average house, black-tiled roofs with a tint of dark purple to them. Lanterns swung on black chains and between the trees. Some trunks sprouting vibrant, bioluminescent plants for an added variety of color. I couldn't even see the sunlight at all through thick trees, almost as if eternal night shrouded the town. Or before somepony started deforesting the region.

"Ma'am," One of my guards saluted me, holding something in his magic, "We found this not far from the outskirts of the grove, somepony was hunting nearby."

He sat the item on my desk, to my surprise, it was a thick net, or what remained of one, a strange, yellow secretion across the now charred ends of the split bindings. "Thank you for bringing this to my attention, I'll look into it further," He nodded, then I added. "And if you find anything similar to this net, report it immediately."

"Understood," With that, I could drop my formal speech, slumping at the sight of the Hunter's net.

How did I know, because of a certain bipedal, telepathy-speaking wolf I knew. "Is Zen here?" I muttered, rubbing my chin, then I slammed my head into the desk. "Ugh this is going nowhere at record speed," Looking up at the binding, clearly somepony knew of the beast that caused all this chaos, otherwise, what sane pony would set foot in this forest?

"You recognize my work, thank you," I almost screamed in fright had an appendage not jammed my muzzle shut. "Shh, I'm not going to hurt you, I just need information." A silence overtook my tent and whoever it was, a female, sighed. "Promise not to scream?"

"Hmph," I snorted, earning another grunt from the woman before I was free to breathe. "You know, ugh, could've just come up and asked like a... normal pony?" Oh boy, I was not paid enough for this.

The person smirked, crossing their arms over their chest as Zen would. "Oh sure, I'd fit right in, wouldn't I?" It was a bipedal creature like Zen, only less fur say for a mane of snow-white fur under a black cap

This one wore some strange, black equipment, her stomach was lined with only a fish-net weave. Her legs were the most equipped with wide greaves with a red hem, the inner thighs exposed, revealing only a pair of black short-shorts. Her breastplate only protected her breasts leaving her sides and armpits exposed. Her gauntlets did the same down to the forearms where bracers were wrapped around with a pink fabric like her waist's bow. Last, her snow-white hair with two ponytails was covered by the raven fur of the helmet, but her soft expression was revealed alongside a pair of piercing crimson eyes.

"What... are you?" Keeping my posture even I made sure to keep my sword insight of my magic, just encase. Between monsters from other worlds and now this, I think I've had it up to a certain degree with visitors from other realms. "Better yet, why did you try to choke me out?"

The girl smiled awkwardly, rubbing her right forearm. "Um, yeah... sorry, you ponies are a little tricky to sorta take by surprise, what with wings and horns that can move things without touching them, kinda weird." I tried not to look too bemused by this, she seemed to notice my ire, waving her hands. "Hey, I didn't ask to be thrown into this world, thank you very much! I just... got too excited during a hunt and now..." Her red orbs became downcast, observing the stumps left burnt. "...now I really messed up."

Raising a brow, I quickly pushed her inside behind the large tree to keep anypony from discovering her just yet, I needed answers and not with a headache. Rubbing my forehead I continued. "Okay, okay... what do you mean? You did all this?" I doubt it but I needed answers.

She shook her head, "No, but I might as well have," Her voice was timid, "I... was hunting what's called a Glavenus, it's... it did all this, and I failed to capture it before it escaped," The woman looked around at the chaos being swept up. "I didn't mean for this, you all don't seem like bad... well ponies, I guess is the right word?" Nodding, she smiled slightly, holding out her hand like Zen would greet with. "S-sorry, I'm Ren."

Slowly, I did the same with my hoof, her hand was very smooth. "Topaz, Second-in-Command of the Royal Guard," Hearing this, Ren's head titled.

"What's a 'Royal Guard'?" Now it was my turn to look perplexed.

"It's a person that is given the job to protect the monarchy of the land, there are two divisions, the Royal Guard is primarily meant to protect Princess Celestia and the Night/Lunar Guard, meant to protect her younger sister, Princess Luna," I stated proudly at the fact, the gears became rusting but eventually moved in her eyes.

"Ooooh, I see, sorta like the Hunter's Guild just with more rules," Nothing could hide my deadpan glare while Ren ignored it, tapping the map on my desk beside me. "So! If we're going to fix my mistake, we have to track Glavenus down - which should be easy since he'#s already weakened."

"How do you know that?" Moving past her cluelessness I decided to just focus on the task at hoof. Ren then pointed to the previous locations we found forest fires.

"Duh, I hunted it, now it wants to try and rest until its wounds heal, the whole 'cutting the forest down' is just because it's angry and wants to keep its blade sharp," Now it was my turn to look pleasantly worried. Now that I think about it. Looking down at my gauntlets, I still wore the same emerald;-blue scales Zen crafted in vambraces for me. They were really good for kicks and even could produce a metal-eating acid which was really beneficial in a fight. "Wait, you don't know what a Glavenus is? But you're wearing its armor?"

"Really? Never guessed," I remarked dryly, shaking my head. "No, it just makes sense what you said. A friend of mine, Zen, fought what he called Acidiic Glavenus, so the one you're hunting must be another one or something close to the one my gauntlets are made of."

Ren considered it a second, then slowly nodded, lips pursed. "Hrm, the subspecies from the New World, that's a tricky one cause it can throw acid that eats armor -" She smiled, patting my shoulder. "Not to worry, the one I'm after's the fire-type, just... don't get too close, nasty burns, ouch."

While this was more than I was expecting to learn, one thing kept me rooted on the spot, primarily concerning the 'Hunter' before me. "What's your game here?" That smile fell a little at my stern glare. "You've clearly got both the skills and knowledge that surpasses my own on the subject of monsters, so why bother risking getting captured by my overly jumpy troops, why talk to me at all?" Ever since Zen showed up, I've been warier of other visitors from this 'Monster Hunter' world he rambled about to the Princesses, it just sounded like a horrible place to live.

Ren was silent for a moment, clearly still lost on the map. "...I'm scared of fire..." She whispered under her breath, looking down to hide her face under her helmet's mane.

"What?" I swore I heard her say...

Her face shot toward me, blushing slightly. "I'm afraid of fire, alright!" Then she pouted, looking down. "...I took the job to get over it, 'cause, you know, most use fire so... yeah, I took it, froze half the time, drew the quest out too long and fell through a vortex with it..." Her muttering made it hard to make out so I just put words in where I felt they made the most sense.

"And? You think I like fighting big monsters?" Her orbs met mine skeptically. I chuffed. "I got these as a gift, Zen's the real monster-hunting expert, I just... swing a sword, command from afar, I've never really fought anything so powerful." Sure, I helped against that giant monster with one of the Princesses but I barely could hold my own without hiding behind magic, what's so heroic about that?

"Really?" Ren blinked at my slow nod, motioning to the ponies on patrol.

"I'm a leader, I can fight my battles but stuff like monsters that can breathe fire, that's just where the line's drawn," Sighing, it was just how life was. I'm a unicorn but my magic is around average, maybe above that margin if I used a few spells to enhance myself but what else was there? Compared to the likes of Twilight Sparkle, my magic is sub-par. "So, why ask me for help? Bet many of these idiots would take you up on your offer."

"Because you listened to me," That drew a pause from me, Ren smiled while hiding behind a fold of the cloth as two ponies passed by. "I tried before but... well, I'm not exactly the most approachable looking person so that was a bust, but you actually seem okay with that."

A chuckle escaped me. "When you've got a friend who's a talking wolf who dates a Bat-Pony, trust me, there's not alot to surprise you - unless that person tries to choke you out," I added with a mirthful smirk, seeing Ren deflate.

"It was an accident!" She huffed and I merely hummed. "Believe me!"

"Uh-huh."

"Stop saying that!"


"I hate you," If this doesn't get me fired then nothing will. At Ren's insistence, I lied through my teeth and managed to squeeze out of my post, putting somepony in charge as I handled my own private investigation into this 'Glavenus'. Did I mention I left out the part where a human from the same world was helping me? Probably did. "If I get fired you're buying me several drinks."

"You'll be fine... probably," Ren shrugged, smiling off to the side. "I really do appreciate this."

Nodding along dumbly, I was glad to help but the risks were high. These vambraces were great but against a creature that can spit and use fire? And with a teammate that has Pyrophobia? Odds are death was next on my to-do-list. We trudged through the dark woods in an attempt to track the injured beast, following faint, hold tracks that I couldn't even see, but somehow, Ren had no issues.

"How do you know it's this way?" Inquiring after a long break in the conversation. Ren held up her hand, then motioned for me to approach a small hill with a fallen, mossy log. "Anyone can track, you just have to know how to look and think like a monster," She brushed the fallen leaves and branches aside, revealing a set of long, rugged gashes in the bark, a faint trace of ash lining the wood as I gawked. Ren smirked. "It's injured so it's likely to head for the elevated land to find a cave to rest by."

"..." My stare remained unbroken with hers before I sighed, hopping over the tree. Pointing with my hoof toward my right slightly I looked back. "Closest highlands is that way, maybe a few hours walking."

"Perfect!" Ren beamed, sliding down on her boots to my side. "That means I get the chance to see more ecology the likes none of those smart scholars could dream of seeing - I mean, you're a talking pony with magic, how cool is that?" Her optimism reminded me of alot of ponies, but... this felt genuine, enough to make even me smile.

"Sure, whatever you say,"


"So your monarchy raises the sun and moon with magic?" Ren murmured, looking between the cracks in the forest, the trees beginning to grow taller and break up as we searched further from the central forest. "That's... wow."

"And you have Elder Dragons capable of boiling the sea red with the blood of all the animals it killed, now that's impressive," And admittedly terrifying, how and why anyone would fight such a creature is beyond me. The very idea of such raw power existing somewhere in the ocean in this world of hers would scare me away from ever going on a boat. Ren then flicked my mane, wagging her finger.

"Nope, that's the Black Dragon Dire Miralis - besides, he's a myth, no one even knows if he exists or not," Ren looked a little distant, shivering slightly. "I don't think anyone wants to know if those legends are true. Sometimes prodding the world for answers isn't always a smart thing to do." For once, that I could agree with.

*Thud*

My ears flicked, stopping the second we reached another grassy edge overlooking a natural pathway through the forest. "Wait, I think I hear something," Ren nodded in silence, kneeling down as I listened to the ambient chirp of birds cease, even the rest of the forest grew distant from an additional footstep.

*Thud*

"It's big, the footsteps are heavy and... metallic?" It sounded faintly like metal scraping. There was then the very audible sound of a blade against stone, swishing back and forth with strength and care. "I think it's cleaning its tail." A sword for a tail would be a nice touch to mine...

"You'd make a good hunter," Ren whispered as I waved off her words, listening closely to a powerful roar, something spooked it, or challenged it maybe?

Something ahead of us created enough force to shake the earth, even a faint wave of heat ruffled my mane and many treetops groaned and snapped, falling to the thicket not far from our spot. Whatever it was stung my nose, the stomping growing distant once more. The sheer thought of what happened left my heart racing, Ren running close to my hip, chasing my tracks until I spotted the fallen trees, and the flames that stripped at the wood.

Ren slowed herself, making sure to steer clear of the flames out of reflex, though it wasn't enough to ward her away, my own expression hung open. Timberwolf bark was strewn across the gap, the trees shaved away by a rocky out-cove where dying embers laid. "Sweet Celestia..." The remains of the Timberwolves left much to be desired, the very trees beside us were cut down, leaving smoldering stumps.

Gash marks dug through the earth, and the large footsteps lifted the mud, leaving a solid landmark on the Glavenus' location, he was heading for the mountains. "This is bad, it's heading for the mountains." Grimacing, Ren took her hunting knife away from the scored trees, popping something to a canister.

"Why's that?" She hummed, then she saw my pale face.

"If it gets too deep we can't track it, not even explorers can traverse the mountains as we are now, it's... impossible," Shaking my head, this was already shaped up to be a disaster, now I knew it was really out of our hooves. "I'll be honest, really wish I had something to help us but... I'm just a Guard pony."

"And?" Ren shrugged, moving toward the treeline Glavenus broke through, kicking aside a few charred Timberwolf sticks. "I'm a Hunter with a fear of fire, primarily large fires, and here I am, hunting a monster that spits and slashes with the stuff, what's to say I shouldn't just quit now?" I went to reply but she cut me off with a stern glare. "I have a job to do, I'm scared, heck, I'm terrified but I have to try because that's the essence of a hunter, the thrill of danger is to be embraced not fearful of."

With that lofty amount of words, Ren took point, leaving me both silent and ashamed in the clearing, Looking back, it was evident the monster wasn't going to just sit and die, it was a fighter, just like Ren. Both had their fears and fought regardless, and here I am trying to just sit back and do nothing because the going got tough. "I'm really not cut out to be a Royal Guard." I hated the idea of failing, but I had to try.

"Ren?" She stopped for a moment, rubbing her fingers together, a bluish-red scale in her hand. "Divide and pincer,"

"Huh?" Her odd look told she never thought of this so I nodded determinedly.

"Think about it, this monster is a step ahead of us, we know it's heading for the highlands," I smirked. "Well, there's only one way toward the mountains and that's passed a cliffside that leads into the forest up on that ridge," Lifting my hoof I had it line the faint corner of a cliff not far from our viewpoint. "If we can corner it on that cliff it'll have to fight us regardless."

Her lips pursed while crouching down to my level. "You sure? No offense but Glavenus aren't known to be very kind to objects in their way, particularly the fleshy kind," She worded delicately. I poked her chin with my hoof, glaring back at those scarlet orbs.

"If what you've said about this monster is true then it's smart, it knows a Hunter is tailing it, my guess is it might actually wait at this cliff for you, after all, how can it sleep if there's a person out for its head?" This was a mile-long shot in the dark but all the facts made sense. If it cared to attack ponies without reason Hollow Shades would be worse off, instead, it scared them by starting small fires to keep them busy and disorganized, now it knows Ren is here and she'll be tracking it down. "Trust me on this, if there's one thing I know I'm good at it's forward-thinking."

Again silence was drawn between them, Ren knelt with a level of concentration Topaz was certain could set fire just by the sight of the crimson orbs. Gradually, a tiny smile split the girl's lips. "You keep degrading yourself, but you'd be a great Hunter," With that compliment and the flabbergasted mare. Ren stood up, marching to the left-hand side of the forest. "I'll take this route, be safe, Guardian." With a playful wink, Ren vanished without a trace.

For a moment, Topaz was still somewhat flustered by the praise and possibly the sweet smile on the woman's face. Then she sighed, exasperated by her reaction, "I'm hopeless..." Looking around, she found the best route to take on her right, opting to bottle up and shove those words down into the dark. "Let's just get this over with..."


[???]

Somewhere among the trees that grew taller than ever before, the large form of a beast swayed through the forestation. Its scales were marred with scars and fresh wounds from another fight with the locate predators. A fang was chipped and cracks webbed its dulled blade. The right spike atop its back was broken off at the tip, leaving the stump white and faded. Its breathing was heavy, expelling hot flames out of anger.

A rage scorched its eyes, a warrior's spirit festering in its pupils. With each sway of its form, the tail swept back and forth, shaving grass with one, gentle stroke.

To Be Continued...

Author's Note:

This is gonna be good~! And a new, strange huntress has entered the fray to battle alongside Topaz. How will they fare against the swordsmonster? I hope you enjoyed, appreciate the support as always, seeya in the next chapter Hunters!

Next Chapter: The Scorching Blade
Topaz's battle to save the forest from the burning edge of the Cutting Wyvern, Glavenus.