A Hunter's Life

by SummerGem

First published

An MLP/Monster Hunter crossover

Shortly after the founding of Equestria, it came under attack by different monsters. Princess Luna responded by gathering a dozen of the best warriors of the land to combat the threat. Now three hundred years later, the Hunters Guild as it's known protect the land. This is one of its member's story.

The Hunt Begins

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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.


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Sunrise came, and with it Wind's training. She yawned as we walked toward the edge of the village. A thin fog hung above the ground as we passed through the village. Wind's voice disturbed the silence. "Where are we headed?"

I gestured ahead of us. "To a clearing that borders, the woods." We arrived just as the sun peaked above the tree line. "All right time to start your training. Fly around the village once as fast as you can."


"No questions. Fly now!" Wind took off and started her lap around the village. One. Two. Three. Once my count reached one hundred and twenty she landed next to me panting. Her mane and tail were slightly disheveled. "Tired already kid? We're just getting started."

"No, I just need to catch my breath."

"Good, because now you need to do as many wing-ups as possible." Wind only was able to do twelve before collapsing. "Okay, now hover as long as you can." She slowly rose into the air, but was only able to hover about a minute before falling to the ground. The rest of her exercises had similar results. I had to resist the urge to face-hoof. Oh boy. She's in worst shape then I thought. I looked up to see the sun at its highest point in the sky.

"All right that's enough for now. Take a break for lunch then return to my house to continue your training."

Back in my kitchen I enjoyed my own lunch of a simple daisy sandwich. I reflected on what I had learned. Her physical skill wasn't as good as it could be. Perhaps her mind will be better. Once she arrived, I motioned for her to sit at the table. For the rest of the afternoon, I questioned her on what she knew like Equestrian history, mathematics and most importantly her knowledge of hunting. While her general knowledge was good, her hunting knowledge was sorely lacking.

Toward the end of the session, she interrupted me. "When will you give me a weapon? And what's the point of all these questions?"

"The answer to your first question," I replied my voice rising. "Is that you will get one when you're ready, not a moment sooner. For your second question it's so I can figure out what you need to learn. Thirdly, I'm your teacher. You should always address me as such or sir. Am I clear?"

Wind looked at the floor. "Yes sir."

"Good." My harsh tone softened. "Now I've decided on a curriculum for you. Meet me at the same clearing we did today, same time. Do you understand?"

"Yes sir."

"Dismissed." After Wind left, I thought about what I had learned. Her mind was as sharp as any blade. She also has the same curiosity when I was that age. I need to keep a close eye on her. That could get her hurt or worse, killed. My eyes went down to the scar on my chest.

The next morning found both of us back in the clearing. "All right yesterday I noticed you lacked both speed and endurance. We're going to change that. Start by hovering above the ground as long as you can." Wind rose off the ground a couple of feet. She started flagging about the same time it did yesterday.

"Giving up kid?"

"I can't do it any longer!"

I walked right up next to her. "Yes, you can. Don't quit. Keep going until you reach your limit, then push past that." She managed to stay in the air a little longer then a minute before she collapsed panting. "Not bad kid. Now do as many wing-ups as you can." She merely nodded. She got to fifteen this time.

"Can I take a short rest teacher?"

"Why? You out of steam already?"

"No teacher."

"Good. Now I need you to complete five laps around the village." She started to trot off. "No. Flying." As she started, I bellowed after her, "Faster! This Isn't a leisurely stroll through the woods."

After the fifth lap she collapsed back on the ground again. "Not bad kid. Take five." Once her five minutes were up, I gently nudged her with my hoof. "Get back up. I want you sitting for this." She gave no reply, but got up and sat down. "Now what is a hunter's most important tool?"

"His weapon."

"Wrong!" I pointed to Wind's head. "That is your most important tool. Without it everything else is useless. That's the purpose of this part of you training.

"Now there are four rules that every hunter needs to know. They are: know your target, always be prepared, be cautious, and master your weapon. Learn these rules and you will always succeed.

"Now we'll start with the first rule. Knowing your target means memorizing its strengths, weakness, and attack patterns. By learning this you'll know how to best prepare for a hunt." I launched into my lecture about the various monsters. This included their names, classifications, and mostly importantly how to fight them. I would occasionally stop and ask her a question. I continued until the sun had reached its highest point in the sky. "Right that's enough. Go have lunch and rest for a while. Come back here when you're done."

She returned from lunch to find me gripping a wooden quarterstaff. "Now I'm going to teach you an important lesson." I tied her wings so she couldn't fly.

"Wait, what are you-"

"DODGE!" My quarterstaff nailed Wind in the side.

"Ow, that really hurt!" She rubbed her side. "What was that for? And why did you tie my wings?"

"You think that hurt? Imagine if that was a monster's claw or bite. You'd be in worst off. You have to learn how avoid attacks without using your wings. "Again. Now dodge!" Wind evaded it this time, but her eyes were closed. "No! Keep your eyes open! Roll. Dive. Do whatever it takes to avoid my strikes. Again."

We continued until the sun set. "Right that's enough for today. We'll continue tomorrow, same time same place." I watched her go. She demonstrates great potential as a hunter, but she has a long way to go.

Her training continued swiftly. Days turned to weeks then months. I watched as her speed, agility and endurance increased. Her knowledge of monsters and hunting tactics grew. She learned how to properly dodge. She's ready for the next step.

"What's that sir?" Wind asked one morning, pointing to the vest on the ground.

"This is a weight vest. Put it on."

"All right." Her legs buckled slightly under the weight. "Ugh feels heavy."

"It's as heavy as all the gear you would be typically carrying during a hunt. Get used to it, because you're going to be wearing it during you're training from now on. Same exercises as before." Wind's training continued as before. While the increased weight slowed her down at first, but she adjusted to it after a few months. "Okay," I told her one day. "You're ready."

"Ready for what sir?"

"For your own weapon." Wind's eyes lit up and she started prancing.

"You really mean it? I'm finally getting my own weapon?" She quickly composed herself. "Thank you so much sir. Which one do I get?"

"Follow me back to my house and we'll see." Back at my house I pointed at several weapons lined up against the wall. "Based on what I've seen during your training, these are the best choices for you. Pick one."

Wind grabbed a simple sword and shield. She gave the sword a few test swings. "No, it feels wrong. Plus the reach is too short." A longbow was her next choice. She gave the string a test pull. "No, too awkward. What's that?" She pointed at a large contraption that was meant to be worn like a saddle.

"That's a light bowgun battle saddle. Here, let me help you with that." Wind gave a grunt as soon as I put it on.

"Too cumbersome and heavy. No way I can move fast enough in this." She gestured at the last one. In front of her sat a pair of wooden curved blades. "What about that?"

"Those are called duel blades. They're meant to attach to your wings. Give then a shot." Wind strapped them on and gave her wings a few test flaps. "How do they feel?"

"They don't seem to impede my wings in any way. But how do I fight with these?"

"That's what this is for." I gestured to a large log stuck in the nearby ground. "This is what you'll be practicing on. Strike it." Wind struck the log clumsily with her left wing. "Too slow. You need to strike quickly and fiercely. You're also getting too close. Your wings have a longer reach then that. Use it." She struck again. "Much better. Now I want you to strike the log a hundred times with each blade."

"A hundred times?" Her face was filled with disbelief.

"You want me to make it a thousand?"

"No sir."

"Good. After you finish that, strike with both of your blades at once a hundred times. You can go home once that's finished. Understand?"

"Yes sir."

"Good. Now get to it." After Wind had finished and walked home, I called after her, "You had better get used to this. You're going to be doing every day for a while."


One month later

I carefully watched Wind as she struck the target. Her face bore an intense look of concentration. Each of her strikes flowed seamlessly into the next. She's ready for the next step. "Right that's enough." She stopped and turned to face me. I pulled out my wooden quarterstaff. "Strike me."

A look of concern crossed her face, but she swung one of the blades at me. The sound of wood hitting wood echoed through the village. "Is that the best you can do? More ferocity! Don't worry about hurting me." She resumed her attacks, but with an increase in speed and ferocity. Sweat began to pour down my brow as I fought to hold her off. Her final attack consisted of a strike with both blades that I barely parried. "Enough!"

"Are you okay teacher?" Wind wore a look of concern. "I didn't realize what happened."

"I'm fine kid, it takes more then that to hurt me. You acted on instinct. That was precisely what made your attack so effective. Well done. You're ready for your first hunt." I tossed her some leather armor along with duel blades made of real steel. "Put these on then we'll head for the forest."

Wind's face lit up eagerly. "What are we hunting? Zinogre? Rathian? Ooh, maybe an Elder Dragon?"

"No nothing like that. We're starting you out with something simple. The villagers have reported an increased number of small monsters roaming the forest. We're going to cull them."

"Oh." She hid her disappointment and said, "Lead on teacher." Once we entered the forest, it wasn't long before we spotted the first pack.

A crouched low and motioned for her to do the same. "Let's she how well you recall your lessons." I gestured toward the pack. "What are those called?"

"Jaggi. I recognize them by the mostly orange color on their hide. They tend to hang in small groups of no more then four."

"Good. Now kill them. Remember, be cautious not reckless."

She rolled her eyes. "I know." She swiftly moved with striking range. Once she was there, she took all four out with a series of rapid strikes.

"Not bad kid. Now let's take care of the rest." We moved out and in short order took out a few more packs. "Right, that looks like the last of them. Let's head back." We walked back toward the village.

"Teacher?" Wind's voice disturbed the silence.


"I was wondering. Am I a full-fledged hunter yet? My training has been going on for a while now."

"Not yet. You've come far since we started out, but I still have much to teach you. Your training will continue until that's no longer the case. Then and only then will you be a true hunter. Understand?"

She sighed. "Yes."

"I understand your impatience. I was the same at your age. Here, let me tell you a story. I stopped and carefully removed my chest piece, showing her my large scar. Do you know how I got this?"

"No you never told me and I didn't want to pry."

"It was years ago during one of my first hunts. I was with my master at the time. We had received reports of a Rathalos near one of the villages. We went out to deal with him. We quickly found him and went to work. During the hunt he took to the air in an effort to avoid us. I was too eager and launched myself into the air to bring him back down. My master shouted a warning, but it was too late.

"He somersaulted in the air, and his tail stuck me in the chest like a club. I was the one that ended up on the ground. My master barely saved me from being incinerated by its fire. There were no healing potions back then. I was fortunate that a village was nearby else I would have died."

Wind's eyes were wide. "What happened next?"

"I had to be carted back to the neighboring village to recover, and master slew the Rathalos himself. When he got back, he gave me a very long and stern lecture about my foolishness. He then told me to never do anything like that again, or else I would no longer be his student. I took his threat very seriously, and eventually I became the hunter you see today.

"Remember this story the next time you get the urge to rush into something." She merely nodded. I looked up and saw the sun was setting. "It's getting late. We should get home." Once we got back to the village, I turned to her and said, "Meet me back here tomorrow with your gear."

We met at dawn. Both of us were clad in armor and carried our weapons. "So are we doing some more hunting today teacher?"

"No, I have something else in mind. The weapons are just a precaution. What's the first rule of hunting?"

"Always be prepared."

"Right. Now this includes carrying your own gear. Sometimes your hunts will be in remote areas where you'll be unable to purchase the supplies you need. When that happens, you need to be able to make your own. To do so requires knowledge of which fauna is useful."

I pointed out a nearby plant that resembled a fern. "This is a healing herb. If you take it by itself, it will heal minor injuries. However, if you mix it with other ingredients, its medicinal properties will increase tenfold. I added the herb to a flask with water and gave it a quick swirl. The flask filled up with a green liquid. "Now this is a simple healing potion. I added some honey from a nearby hive. This increases the healing power even more. Use this when an ordinary potion isn't enough."

I devoted the rest of the day instructing her how to make the rest of the items she would need. Once that was done, we returned to the village for the night.

A Final Test

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"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.