Chapter 6

Kid was refreshed from the journey to the cool pool. He was so hot and sticky he jumped right in with the barrel in hand. It was a welcome shock to his system. The water felt ice cold in relation to his core temperature. Even though he wanted to get back as soon as possible, his body was so heavy. He let himself rest in the waist deep waters as his eyes focused on movement below the water’s surface. It was faint, but he could see the outlines of fish swimming around. 

Kid waited in the pool until his body got goose bumps from being cold. His plan was to get as chilled as possible before he had to return to his scorching hot post; perhaps it would help him survive the rest of the day. As Kid traveled back up the trail he just had to smile to himself. The female hunter, for whatever reason, showed him the first sign of concern. 

The female hunter gave little notice to Kid’s return. She merely nodded at him to place the barrel in a certain spot. After Kid had finished, he sat back down for the remainder of the day. Fortunately, the small break was just what he needed and the rest of the day passed by quickly.

Kid was comforted by the fact that the female hunter no longer paid him any mind. At first she was actively trying to avoid him, then she moved on to annoyance, then slight indifference. But since fall came, she didn’t even notice him. Even Thunderclap seemed to no longer care. He took it as a sign that she had, in a strange way, accepted his presence. It was an improvement.

Since summer ended the female hunter spent most of her days hunting. Thunderclap often accompanied her on hunting excursions, but on some rarer occasions he’d linger in camp or go off into a direction and come back whenever he pleased. With the busyness that came with fall, the hunter had completely removed Kid from her thoughts. He was still clearly there, but she simply let him be. It was almost like he had become a part of the scenery and she had forgotten how long he had made camp there. It had to have been over three months, maybe four? 

“Aaah, powderstones!” She spat after realizing she had left a tool kit at a different camp. She held up her bloodied hands and looked back to her workstation. She wasn’t even halfway done and did not want to leave the gravios tail unattended. The female hunter growled under her breath as she tossed around an idea. She gritted her teeth and looked in Kid’s direction. He had heard her complaint, but was deep in thought.

“Hey, hey kid.” Kid perked up and sat up straight. Still not able to see her from the ground he stood up and walked toward her camp until their eyes met. Thunderclap, who had been resting, stood up and began to walk towards Kid. The hunter gave a few commands, but the zinogre was still cautious. There was a moment of silence before the female hunter sighed out loud.

“Do you know where the campsite is past the trail that leads southwest? Near the cliff overlooking the valley?” Kid nodded his head. “If you are facing the rock face there is a small alcove at the base of the dead tree. Inside there is a kit of tools. I will need it to finish cleaning up these carves.”

Kid’s eyes lit up, but he remained still. She sighed again; had she not been clear? 

“Bring them here.” Kid’s hands tensed as he cleared his throat.

“Does this mean you’ll be my master?” The hunter remained straight faced as her eyes pierced through Kid. 

“No.” She clearly punctuated. She was about to get up to clean off her hands, but Kid nodded his head before she could move.

“I’ll be back soon.” Kid retrieved his blades and hunter pouch and traveled down the slope.

The gravios tail was almost at the point where she needed the tool kit Kid had gone to retrieve. Looking to the sun she was a little disappointed he was taking so long. She just shook her head back and forth grumbling under her breath. 

“If you want something done right…” her words trailed off. Thunderclap lifted his head and lazily yawned as she rinsed her hands. As he was about to lay his head back down, his ears perked up. Immediately he jumped to his feet, alerting the hunter. They both remained still and sniffed the air. A familiar blood curdling roar was heard in the far distance. The hunter knew that roar well, and from the sound of it, ‘ol One Eye was in the vicinity Kid had traveled. 

The female hunter quickly went into the side room of her hut and pulled a tarp off the far wall. Numerous weapons were mounted, they looked completely unused. She removed a long sword and checked the blade.

“It’s time, One Eye.” The female hunter whistled for Thunderclap and climbed onto his back. She kicked her heel and hung on tightly as he dashed down the mountainside. As Thunderclap got closer the sounds of One Eye became more prominent, he was in a rage. 

One Eye and the female hunter had played a game of sorts for years. She’d hunt him, he’d hunt her, she’d take a piece of him, he’d try to eat her and fail. Seeing no immediate harm, and needing a bit of amusement, the female hunter always let him go with his life. But she knew that eventually she’d have to put him down, he was borderline savage. 

Kid was injured, but the adrenaline in his body obscured the pain. The deviljho came out of nowhere. He couldn’t believe something so large could take him by surprise. Kid was so preoccupied with the errand the hunter gave him that he wasn’t as focused on his surroundings as he should have been. Kid was almost out of breath from running away from him; it felt as though he’d run miles. As One Eye chased him down, he could only think of how effortlessly the female hunter subdued him. ‘If these are my last moments, I want to go out hunting.’ 

Kid screeched to a halt and threw down the hunter’s tool kit to draw his blades. The deviljho continued to come at him at full speed. ‘This is it’, he thought as he prepared to fight. Just as he was about to dodge left a voice shouted, “Run to his right leg and roll as it hits the ground!” 

He recognized the female hunter’s voice, and without hesitating he ran at full speed towards the deviljho’s right leg. He rolled right through his wide stance. The deviljho stomped his leg into the ground and angrily swept his tail towards Kid. “Three hops back!” She yelled out. Kid quickly jumped back three times, so narrowly escaping the sweep that he thought he felt the tail brush his face. “Sidestep towards his left leg.” Command after command Kid clumsily danced in between the deviljho’s legs. His fear became excitement as he dodged each step, sweep and stomp.

The deviljho frustratedly tilted his head to the sky. “Dodge left and roll once then swing your blades upward and keep slashing.” In perfect sync Kid rolled just as the deviljho let out a deathly roar. The impact of the terrible noise was diminished by his movement, and on his roll, the deviljho stomped the ground shaking it violently. Unaffected by the tremors, Kid drew his blades as One Eye’s tail stub lowered enough for him to reach. Kid took the opportunity to furiously unleash a flurry of swipes. 

“Blades drawn sidestep left three times!” Kid obeyed and the deviljho’s leg landed right in front of him. He again unleashed a whirlwind of slashes. One Eye was enraged; parts of his body turned red and his movements became more violent. “Sheath your blades and roll to the right four times!”  Kid did as followed, but the exact number of rolls was muffled by the noise One Eye was making. Thinking she had said three, Kid turned toward the monster in time to see a strange black cloud with red lightning sweeping towards him. 

Kid’s body flew through the air as the wind got knocked out of him. His body was so numb he couldn’t feel the impact of the ground. But it was clear to Kid that his luck had run out. Barely able to breath he tried to get up, but could only manage to shuffle himself so far. The deviljho was not about to let his prey escape. 

The deviljho came at him full force. Kid watched the monster bound towards him and just as he was about to accept his fate and close his eyes, he saw a glimmer of metal shoot out from behind him. The female hunter threw her long sword with deadly accuracy; it spun through the air and sliced the deviljho’s leg. The deviljho stumbled enough to trip over himself giving the hunter enough time to grab Kid’s dual blades.

“I’m going to borrow these. Do you mind?” Kid just smirked, like he really had a say in the matter. The female hunter stood in front of him, blocking the deviljho’s path. “It’s me you really want anyway.” She lifted both blades above her head, crossing them, and violently jerked them downward. Kid’s vision was getting blurry, but he could have sworn the blades started to glow. The wind picked up and passed over her, blowing her hair wildly. She looked like a character out of myth; strong, fearless and majestic. Kid passed out as the female hunter strode towards the towering deviljho.

Kid’s body felt heavy, but even though it wouldn’t respond he felt like he was floating. Managing to open his eyes he saw the ground was slowly moving under him. He could hear grunts and sighs as his body jerked about. Moving his head slightly he realized he was hoisted on the hunter’s shoulders and she was carrying him back up the mountainside. He wanted to thank her, but his body was in too much pain. Unable to maintain consciousness, he passed out once again.

Kid’s eyes opened to wooden panels. He was laying flat on his back on a soft surface. Kid looked to the side to find he was resting on the far right of the hunter’s bed. He sat up as best he could, but only then noticed his arm was in a cast and his chest was heavily bandaged.

“Don’t move, you have a few broken ribs.” Kid stopped shifting and looked toward the hunter.

“You saved me.” She said nothing and continued sharpening some weapons. “You carried me up the mountain…I remember that.” 

“You’ve been asleep for a long time, I wasn’t sure you’d ever wake.”

“How long? Aah..” Kid grasped his side and lay back down.

“Tch, I told you not to move about.” She scolded him as she put her tools down. “For the record, you should have rolled four times, not three.”

Kid attempted to laugh, but it sounded more like a snort. “Four…huh. I couldn’t hear the exact number…so much noise.” 

Kid’s stomach started to growl loudly. It was starving, but Kid hadn’t processed just how hungry he was. The female hunter walked towards a cauldron boiling over the fire at the heart of the camp. She came back with a steaming bowl and placed it onto the bed.

“This is soup made from deviljho mostly. It’s pretty bad, but the meat needs to be used regardless. Thanks to you I’m subjected to this as well, so I’d better not hear a single complaint.”

Kid carefully propped himself up and took the bowl into his hands. It didn’t look too bad, but the smell was a bit strange.

“And don’t start getting any ideas. I’m not your master, so don’t think things are going to change just because you’re sleeping under my roof.”

He heard what she was saying to him, and though his eyes were fixed on his soup, his thoughts were only of one thing.

“What’s your name? I should know the name of the person who saved me.”

The female hunter was slightly taken aback by his question. 

“Cheeky little giggi aren’t you?” She put her hands on her hips. “My name? My name is…”

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