Chapter 10

Two days passed since the female hunter, Nomad and Thunderclap returned to the camp overlooking the volcano. Thunderclap spent those two days resting in his bed, quite content at being in familiar territory. Nomad spent every waking moment tending to Kid’s injuries. The felyne medics were successful at keeping him stable, and all but one left once Nomad took over. The female hunter tried to stay in camp to be available to Nomad in case he needed any items, but her hovering just ended up being a nuisance. 

She was the only person in camp who hadn’t fully rested since the start of the journey to Chava. She tried going on a few hunts, but her tired body and distracted mind made her a poor hunter and the monsters escaped. Being in camp made her uneasy, but away from it was unbearable. The female hunter knew she could do nothing for Kid and it was all up to Nomad, but even so, she needed to be within sight just for her own sanity’s sake. 

“You should get some sleep,” Nomad’s words jarred her mind back. It was obvious when she zoned out, especially when her eyes glazed over.

“I tried, but I just can’t get more than an hour or two. Is there any change?”

“I will tell you as soon as I know for sure. He is in bad shape, but me thinks he was in worse when you left him.”

She nodded to confirm, “It was the concoction you made for Adira…” she trailed off. 

“I figured as much. He would have died had you not administered it. It began the healing process and the feline medics kept him from getting worse. I’ve done all I can and now it’s a waiting game. It’s up to him.” She was beginning to fade again. “Is he your son?” 

“What?”

“Is he yours?”

“No!” She immediately stood to keep herself awake. “He’s just some…some…vagrant who…” She didn’t know how to finish. What was he to her? At first a nuisance, then a diversion, and now?

“Seems like you’ve gone through a lot of trouble for ‘some vagrant’. Are you mentoring him?”

“What can you do for his burns?” Nomad smiled at her redirection, “I have developed a very effective burn cream that will leave little trace of scarring. I’m working on one to heal old scars as well. You could be my new test subject on that one.” 

She half rolled her eyes.

“Why did you never come back?”

The female hunter put her hands over her face. “I can’t do this with you right now…my mind, I can barely function let alone think….”

“You left without saying goodbye and you never once let us know you were still alive.”

Still, she remained silent.

“We were a family.” 

A few tears ran down her face, though hidden by her hands.

“I was angry.” 

“That much was clear. But, you never came back for me.”

She removed her hands from her reddened face, “Look, the truth is by the time I stopped being angry I thought it best to leave my past, everything behind. You were in good hands.”

Nomad nodded, “Aye, good hands yes, but you are the only family I have left. Don’t you think it kills me that I couldn’t save Adira? You two took me in when I was just a kit and showed me what it meant to be a part of something special. We started as orphans, but we made a family together.”

Nomad glanced towards her, but looked away just as fast. She was a proud person and would not want him to stare at her while she was crying. 

“I…just couldn’t be around you. Either of you. I couldn’t bear it. I didn’t mean to leave leave…by the time I got to where I was going I made some decisions and was so bitter I never…I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

Nomad didn’t respond. In his heart, he had forgiven her long ago. She didn’t need to verbalize how Adira’s death took its toll on her; they were closer than sisters and did everything together. But unlike real sisters, they chose one another and in losing Adira she lost half of herself. According to her own admission, the better half, kinder, loving half. 

“I knew her just as much as you, so when I say this I know what I’m talking about. If Adira were here right now she would tell you to live your life.”

“I know what she would tell me.” She snapped. “I know. Don’t you think I’ve told myself over and over and over what she’d say to me? Don’t you think I know what she’d want for me? I am doing the best I can.”

“That is popo dung and you know it. You, YOU of all people. You can never fail at anything if you’ve put your mind to it.” 

“I have failed!” She sat down behind Nomad. “She died on MY watch. I was there and could do nothing. I was supposed to keep her safe, ME. I should have died and not her!”

Thunderclap’s ears went back as the female hunter’s voice got louder and louder. 

Nomad placed his paw on her shoulder as they sat on the same bench, but in opposite directions. ‘I get it now,’ was all that was going through his mind. 

“You two always wanted the best for one another. If she had survived she would have probably felt the same way, that she should have died. Let’s say you had died instead of her, and she was in your place right now. What would you say to her from the great beyond?”

She slumped over with her knees supporting her elbows. Her eyes closed as she thought about what she’d do if she had died and saw Adira living the life she had lived. Her tears were still streaming but she laughed through them, “I’d punch her in the face so hard, so fast she’d fly back through time to get it right.” 

Nomad chuckled, “Sounds about right.”

Wiping her face with the backs of her hands, she teetered towards the bed, “I don’t think I’m functioning..too emotional.” As soon as her head hit the pillow she fell unconscious.  

She opened her eyes to happier times. Adira’s face hovered over hers. 

“Adira, I..was asleep?”

“You wore yourself out on the final test.” She had a huge smile on her face, “We did it!! We passed! Master said all we had to do was to fill out our names to put on our guild cards and he’d file the paperwork. We’re officially going to be hunters!!”

It was a memory of long ago; they were both so young. 

She felt herself spring upwards and crack her back. “It’s about time. Now we can get out of this pitfall trap and finally make our marks on the world. We’ll be rich and famous and buy a remote island for us and Nomad to live on.” She was beaming with hope and joy. “It’ll be our home, a real home.” 

Adira’s eyes also beamed with excitement, “Yeah, We’ll have two houses side by side and we’ll start families and raise children together and everything!”

“Woah, woah, kids?”

Adira’s head cocked, “Well, yeah. Don’t..don’t you want to get married one day and have kids of your own?

“…I…never really thought about it…” Her brow furrowed, “I guess? Maybe? When I’m too old to hunt?”

Adira laughed, “Too old to hunt? If you are too old to hunt there’s a good chance you’d be too old to have children. It’s ok though. We can still live happily ever after even if our dreams aren’t exactly the same. For now, let’s live your dream. We can live mine after.”

They both smiled. 

Adira handed over the guild card paperwork, “Have you thought of your hunter name?”

She smiled a toothy grin, “Yup, the perfect name.”

Adira sighed, “I will kind of miss Nadie, it’s the name you were given as a kid.”

She snorted, “Yeah, well I won’t. Nadie is a dumb name. It means ‘nobody’.” She took a deep breath and screamed to the sky, “I’m not nobody.” She sighed with relief, “You’re lucky, your name’s got a cool meaning. Are you going to use ‘Adira’?”

Adira nodded, “Of course.”

Nadie stood and stretched her arms to the heavens, “From this day forward, I will be known throughout the hunter world as…”

Her mind went blank for a second and memories from another time flooded into her dreams. 

“So what does that make it?” Adira excitedly pulled out her log book.

Nadie shrugged, “I lost count, but we’re far beyond everyone else, so what else matters?”

Adira looked cross as she waved the book in the air, “Everything matters! You’re a superstar! They love you, everyone! You can do no wrong; the crowd hangs onto your every move and the Hunter Association practically has you watched every step of the way, and everyone wants to be our fourth party member!”

“HAH, who needs a fourth? Just the three of us are all we need, I don’t really enjoy sharing the spotlight. And why shouldn’t they love me? I’m the best thing that ever happened to this generation of hunters.”

Adira shook her head, “You never change…reckless and…”

“Arrogant?” Nadie’s slight smile faded slowly. She was all that and more, but even in her self indulgent little world there was one truth that weighed on her heart. “You do know…that I can only be me out there because you have my back. It’s the only way I can be reckless, silly, and crazy…your hunting horn skills have saved me so many times, and I rely on them in order to push myself past all limits.” 

Nadie always knew that she would be nothing special without Adira by her side.

“I’ve never said anything, but I know that…I just want you to know that I know…even though they are all looking at me, and I’m playing the part…I’m looking at you.”

Adira’s eyes watered, “Even though you’ve never said anything till now, I’ve always known…I guess. Admittedly I have been slightly jealous of your fame, but my happiness for you outweighs that. Just promise me that after all this is over we can buy that island and live relatively quiet lives.”

Nadie smiled, “And start families? I know who you want to start one with.”

Adira blushed and rushed to shush her friend, “SHHHH!! You shouldn’t say things like that when he might hear!”

The female hunter stirred and her eyes opened ever so slightly. She moaned a bit as she turned over to her other side. As her eyes focused she noticed Kid staring back at her. She sat up and shook the daze away. Nomad slept purring in the middle of the bed. 

“How long have you been awake?”

Kid cleared his throat, but his voice was still rough, “About half a day.”

“Why didn’t anyone wake me up?”

Kid tried to shift positions, but was unable to do so, “Nomad said not to disturb you and that you’ve been out for a day.” 

She shook her head in disbelief. 

Kid looked to Nomad, “He just went to sleep not too long ago, but before he curled up there he told me about how you traveled to Chava to fetch him…”

She turned her back to Kid to get out of bed hoping Nomad hadn’t said too much. 

“You saved me…again. I don’t know how to repay you…”

“You can repay me by getting better quickly. Nomad is the best healer, so I have no doubt you’ll make a perfect recovery.”

Kid’s eyes lowered, he wanted to believe her, but he couldn’t. Nomad had told him what state his body had been found in. He also told him he might need a cane after he healed fully. 

“Look at me.” Her words shattered his thoughts. “Don’t look so sullen. You will be back on your feet and you will have victory over the Teostra that did this to you.” Once again Kid’s eyes averted. “Have you lost your will to fight?” She walked to him and sat beside the bed. “Do you think you are the only hunter ever to have his body broken? Burned? You can come back from this. You will.” 

He didn’t have to say anything, his face clearly exhibited his broken spirit. He felt so pathetic lying there, even with the little experience he had, he couldn’t even protect himself against the Teostra. Kid wanted to believe if he hadn’t been caught off guard, he’d have had a better chance, but he knew better. He just wasn’t good enough and that is why he almost died. Maybe it would have been better if he had. 

“I’m sorry…for causing you so much trouble. I’m sorry for being a bother…I guess I, I’m not good enough.” He was trying hard not to cry. Everything he had wanted to be seemed impossible. He was a failure.

The sound of the female hunter’s boisterous laugh startled him. Even Nomad’s ears twitched.

She doubled over, confusing Kid and making him a little uneasy. She laughed so hard tears began to fall from her eyes. As she wiped them away her laugh quieted. “After all this time….after everything you went through to get here, after everything you put me through…you are going to quit now?”

She stared into his widened eyes and blank face, but he didn’t say anything. 

She closed her eyes, “Wow, truly? I suppose you can heal up here and I’ll take you to Trésor after you’re better.” She looked at him for some sort of response, but all he responded with was a slight nod of compliance. The female hunter stood and turned her back towards him, still amused but disappointed, “And after I finally decided to make you my pupil.” She just shook her head back and forth at the irony of it all, laughing a bit under her sigh, she hadn’t noticed Kid’s dumbfounded expression. His eyes were so large they seemed like they’d pop out of his head. 

“What did you say?” She turned back towards him to see him trying to sit up.

“Don’t move, you’re in no shape.”

“What did you say?!” 

She smirked, “It doesn’t really matter now, does it?”

“Are you seriously going to be my master?”

She shifted her weight onto one leg and placed her hand on her hip, “Are you going to get better?”

Kid nodded earnestly.

“Are you a hunter or aren’t you?”

He nodded again.

“I’m not a very patient person. And don’t expect me to mother you. I will be a harsh master and I expect you to obey me in all things.”

He nodded a third time.

She half growled into the air, “Then…yes, I will…teach you.”

Kid’s lower jaw began to quiver; he bit his lip to try to stop it, but it just made it worse. His eyes quickly watered up and he began to cry. Why now? What changed? WHY NOW?! He failed miserably against the Teostra, so why would she even bother teaching him now…why not before? Questions were swarming in his head. He really wanted to know the answers, but in the end the only thing that mattered was that she was finally his master.

Things moved quickly in the next two weeks to prepare for Kid’s training; just because he couldn’t move didn’t mean he could not learn. He still slept most of his daylight away, but that  gave the female hunter plenty of time to do the things she needed to without his knowledge.

Her priority was to pull Nomad aside and speak to him about keeping her past in the past. After much pressure, he agreed that he wouldn’t talk about her or Adira. Once the female hunter was satisfied with their agreement, she turned her sights onto the lone melynx who stayed behind to give a helping paw.

“You, what’s your name?”

The melynx pointed to himself, “Nya? Mugen, ma’am…”

“Mugen, how would you like a job?”

Mugen scratched his nose as his ear twitched, “What kind of job?”

“The kid will begin his hunter training and he will need a friend to keep him company.”

His head cocked to the side, “That kid?” He pointed his claw in Kid’s direction. “He’s going to train? In his condition?”

The female hunter crouched down to Mugen’s level, “He will, once he is able to. Will you be his comrade?”

He butted his paws together, “I’m not much of a fighter, or anything really…”

She smiled, “You will have to train too. Nomad might not seem it, but in his youth he was one ‘jho of a companion. He can give you the pointers you will need, the rest you will have to learn with the kid. Nomad will also teach you everything and more than you ever wanted to know about healing.”

Mugen was still butting his paws together.

“Thunderclap won’t bother you for now, and once he gets used to your smell, and knows you are a friend, he’ll leave you alone for good. Unless you provoke him..” She said under her breath. “You would have food and shelter here and will learn a valuable trade. If you later decide to leave you’d be able to hire yourself out to other hunters.”

Mugen was nervous about the idea of fighting monsters, but he liked that he’d have a skill. He nodded his head in agreement.

“Good. While the kid is stuck in bed, you will start your lessons with Nomad.” Mugen nodded and began shadowing Nomad for the rest of the day.

The female hunter took some time to survey her camp for possible hut locations. Nomad and Mugen would need a place to call their own, and Kid would need a storage for his things. Before leaving for a hunt she asked that Nomad think about what he wanted in a modest shack. He was already brainstorming before she could leave, but he did manage to give her a list of herbs and materials to find for Kid in between his barrage of home furnishing ideas.

She needed to clear her head and hunting always helped. She looked for Thunderclap, but he was off on his own, so she left by herself. Her relationship with Thunderclap had been strained since she struck his head; when seen he moped around camp, but things were a little too loud and active for him and had been keeping to the wild more than usual. He still obeyed her if she called, but there was uneasiness in his eyes. It was obvious to her and she was sad to think that their relationship might never be the same again. Trust is easily lost and hard to earn. 

She spent most of her day foraging for herbs, catching bugs and fishing. Though some materials were in completely opposite directions, at least they were gatherable. Only after she finally caught a glutton tuna did the female hunter turn to find some small monsters. Bullfango meat would be a tasty treat for a healing patient. 

Glutton tuna was Nomad’s favorite food, even before tasting it. As a kit he had heard stories of it’s deliciousness and knew he loved it just by it’s descriptions. When he finally was able to sink his teeth into the savory fish, he melted with joy. Even after so many years it was still ingrained in her to collect the things he was fond of. She stopped for a second to check her spare pouch, ‘Good, I did remember the felvine.’

As she returned to camp overloaded with her day’s haul, she just shook her head at the slight absurdity of the drastic change in her life’s direction. Alone for so many years and within a month’s time she was reunited with an oldest friend, had a pupil and took in a stray melynx. She smirked to herself, ‘I suppose it could be worse…’ As she neared camp she overheard laughter from both Kid and Nomad. Nomad was regaling Kid with stories of the most famous hunter of the times. In light of the stories’ mood, Kid paid no mind to the female hunter’s scowls.

“Have you ever heard of a hunter named Vojin?!? He’s the best hunter in the Hunter’s Association! Did you know?”

She glared at them both and Kid quieted down a bit, but continued asking Nomad question after question.

“I don’t mean to boast, but right before I came to tend to your wounds I lived with him for a time. He took pity on me I suppose. Not as young as I used to be. And I acted as his personal healer.”

“Why did he need a healer?”

“Well,” Nomad began, “The best hunters don’t know the meaning of restraint, so naturally they need the best healers to keep them together. And, I’ve been told I’m the best.”

Kid was visibly impressed. Nomad didn’t want the female hunter to get angry, so he decided to change the subject.

“So what’s the story behind the name? I feel silly calling you ‘Kid’…”

Kid looked at him then glanced towards the female hunter, who seemed disinterested in their conversation as she prepared their meals.

“Um, well…that’s.” He took a deep breath and started over, “I’ve never told anyone before, but my parents left me in the woods when I was really small. I didn’t really understand much, but I had a felyne friend who stayed with me and took me in. I ended up living with a tribe of them for a bit, but their houses became too small for even me.” Kid paused to make eye contact with Nomad, who was listening intently, and then glanced again at the female hunter who was scaling the fish. “When I did understand that they left me, I was so mad that I decided I didn’t want anything to do with them, so I abandoned my name. The felynes called me ‘kid’ so often I thought of it as my name…I guess I’m Kid now.”

Nomad put his paw to Kid’s fingers, “Don’t worry kid, when you register for your hunter’s license you can choose a new name.”

Kid perked up, “Really?”

Nomad brushed at his whiskers, “Yep. Though, traditionally it was up to the masters to name their students.” He said a bit louder to emphasized his meaning. The female hunter could already hear their conversation, but decided not to engage in the conversation. Nomad laughed to himself.

“Why do masters choose names for their students?”

Nomad stopped grooming himself to think, but couldn’t come up with a meaningful answer, “It’s an old tradition, hunters these days don’t follow the old ways anymore.”

The female hunter interjected, “All names have meaning, even if you don’t know what that meaning is. A name can tell you all you need to know about a hunter even before you join them for a hunt.” She looked up to see if Kid was even paying attention and Kid hung on to her every word. “Traditionally there are two kinds of names, names that describe a hunter’s strongest attributes or names that are meant to humble.” 

Kid furrowed his brow, but before he could ask a question, the female hunter went on.

“For example, if there is a student who thinks he is the best hunter in the world, a master might give him a name to remind him that he is not.”

Kid nodded his head, “I get it. So, what does Vojin mean?” He asked turning to Nomad, but Nomad sighed and looked to the female hunter. 

“Depends on where you are from, but generally it means soldier, peacemakerpeace maker…or protector.”

Kid met the female hunter’s gaze, “what is your name?” There was a long pause. He remembered her words to him before, but he had hoped that since she agreed to be his master that she’d finally divulge her name. He gulped as she stared through him, but he continued to look directly at her. 

“I am Nobody.” She finally said, but in her head she replaced ‘Nobody’ with ‘Nadie’. Kid averted his eyes, of course she wouldn’t tell him her name yet…why would she. Nomad smirked to himself, only he understood her hidden message.

“What do I call you then?” He asked plainly as she began gutting the fish.

“You will call me master, since that is what I am to you.” Kid smiled again, even though it wasn’t her name, he had dreamed of calling her that since the first day he met her. 

“Ok, master!” She sighed, it would take her a long while to get used to the sound of that title.

0 0 votes
Chapter Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments