Chapter 7

“My name is a privilege that must be earned. ” Kid mulled over the hunter’s words as he lay in bed. The female hunter had not revealed her name, and gave no indication that he’d ever hear it. 

“We are strangers passing in a crowd, that is all. Quiet down and eat your soup. I want you off my bed as soon as possible.”

“If I were grown up would you tell me?”

“If you were grown up you’d never be here.”

“But…if we were friends?”

“Eat.”

Kid hadn’t given up on the subject, but he realized he would get no further at the time. Instead he smiled and before taking his first spoonful, said, “I don’t have a name either, so I tell people to call me Kid.” The spoonful went in his mouth and his face distorted and winced. The female hunter snickered, “I told you.”

Kid was on his feet after another week had passed. His body was still recovering, but at least he was up and moving around. Kid did not dare remain bedridden more that he needed, as he wanted to prove his usefulness to the female hunter. With no name to use, Kid tried calling her by different monikers, ‘Lady’, ‘Miss’, Ma’am’,‘Huntress’, and more; none of which she acknowledged. Of all the names he tested, Kid really wanted ‘Huntress’ to stick, but every time he tried using it she either refused to respond or gave him a shuddering glare. So he settled on using general words and phrases, such as ‘excuse me’ or ‘Um’. Though he kept calling her ‘Huntress’ in his head. 

He knew the days he’d spent sitting outside her camp would pay off eventually. Kid was already familiar with the female hunter’s routine and could anticipate her needs. He made himself as useful as he could be as he did not want to waste the opportunity. In the mornings he’d carefully make his way down the slope to fetch cool water. He’d clean up her workstation after she finished her tasks there. Sometimes he’d even fix or sharpen her tools and arrange them how she liked. Around noon he’d sometimes make meals, do laundry or help the hunter move materials off her cart. When Thunderclap wasn’t around, Kid would tend to his stable and make sure it was clean and he had enough water. When evenings fell he’d start a fire for dinner and help out as much as she’d let him. Afterwards he’d wash the dishes and set them out to dry overnight. 

The female hunter said nothing to all Kid’s efforts. At first it irked her that he took liberties and touched her things, but after inspecting his work she realized that he was quite proficient. He took great care in whatever he did, and a part of her began to look favorably towards him. Clearly he was grateful for the rescue, but she knew what his ultimate goal was. 

Kid was healing quickly and soon he’d be fully recovered. His days were numbered and if he didn’t do something to change her mind, Kid would be back to sitting outside her camp, or worse. Not sure of exactly what to do, he took on any other tasks he could find. He cured meats, tanned hides, and sewed together a variety of things. The female hunter’s camp looked more like a factory with Kid’s burst of energies. She needed to distract him with something, anything, before he used up all her trading materials.

“Hey, kid.” Kid stopped what he was doing and looked towards her. “Do you know where the bullfango roam?”  Kid nodded. “There is a bulldrome that leads every pack, go find one and play a little game with it.” Kid’s brow furrowed in confusion; what kind of game? “Dodge all of its attacks until it gets tired. You should always carry your weapons with you, but don’t use them on the bulldrome. Just taunt and dodge.” He contemplated for a bit until the female hunter’s words rang out. “Now scat!” 

Kid hurried to his camp to gather his supplies. He’d seen traces of a bulldrome before, but never came across one, so took a few extra supplies just in case. The bullfango were about a day’s travel, and no telling when he’d find the bulldrome. After he was packed he briefly looked back to the female hunter, she was writing something down and as usual, paid him no mind. Kid cleared his throat to say, ‘I’m off’, but decided not to and began his journey down the slope. 

After Kid left the female hunter threw down her papers and stretched out her arms. “Finally!” She sighed out loud. Thunderclap’s ears perked, but he was still. “That should keep him busy for days, bulldrome can be elusive if you don’t know where to look.” She smirked to herself. “Plus they have an incredible amount of stamina.” 

She looked at her disorderly camp and sighed, it was a price to pay when taking on drifters. Just as her frustrations grew, she inspected a workstation Kid had been using to find that he was making replacement tools for the ones that had broken beyond repair. “Cheeky little giggi indeed,” she tittered as she placed it back down. For weeks all she had wanted was peace and quiet, and just as she got it she didn’t know what to do with herself. Laughing at the irony she took up a switch axe and whistled for Thunderclap and started in a direction opposite the bulldrome’s playground.

The female hunter returned with Thunderclap a day and a half later bearing rathalos and chameleos carves. The rathalos she had meant to hunt, but in tracking him down she unexpectedly stumbled upon a chameleos who wasn’t keen on letting her pass through its territory. The female hunter was almost sad to kill it, as she rarely came across chameleos in these parts, but remembered a weapon that needed carves for an upgrade. Rathalos and rathians were extremely common in the area, however, and they needed to be taken care of before they did any real damage. She was just happy that there was meat other than deviljho to eat.

Kid had already spent two days tracking the bulldrome, but still hadn’t found it. He found many bullfango, and he wondered how something so large could be so hard to find. It felt like the bulldrome knew he was looking for it and was keeping out of sight. Ironically on the third day Kid finally crossed paths with the bulldrome while he was fishing for his meal. Instinctively he went for his blades as the bulldrome prepared to charge, but stopped himself and instead readied himself in a dodging position. 

The bulldrome shot forward mowing down logs in it’s path and Kid moved out of the way and turned quickly. The bulldrome came to a stop, turned and charged again. Kid’s brow furrowed as he thought of the point of this exercise. The bulldrome was fast once he got his speed up, but slowing down, changing direction and working up to a charge seemed pretty slow paced. And after studying its movements for a time, they appeared pretty basic; all he had to do was watch for what the bulldrome was about to do from a distance, dodge out of the way, and watch some more. 

Hours later Kid regretted thinking this ‘game’ he was playing would be so simple, he was still dodging the bulldrome. They had been at this almost non-stop and the bulldrome did not appear all that tired. Kid, on the other hand was feeling the exhaustion. In the beginning the bulldrome was easy to evade, but as the hours passed by it seemed like it was getting faster and faster. By the fourth day Kid’s side cramped from the constant rolling and his legs ached from the side stepping. Whenever the bulldrome lost interest, Kid taunted it or threw rocks to get it angry, and it worked. He wished he could just kill it and get it over with, but Huntress said to keep at it until the bulldrome tired itself out. 

On the fifth day, the bulldrome was clumsily charging and by nightfall it had expended all of its energy. Finally tired the bulldrome left and, winded, Kid collapsed to the ground. As he lay there his eyes slowly slid shut and his mind drifted. Just as he was about to fall asleep he heard footsteps walking towards him and felt something jab at his foot. Kid sprang upwards to see the female hunter towering above him. 

“What are you doing?” She flatly asked. Kid forced his eyes wide open and he steadied his upper body by placing his hands on the ground. 

“I’m…I uh, really tired…”

“You can’t rest now, you have work to do.”

“Huh?” Kid’s brow furrowed as he looked up towards her.

“It’s time to kill the bulldrome. I expect you back at camp by sunrise with some bulldrome meat.” 

As though paralyzed, Kid was still in the same spot when she began to walk away, “…I don’t think I have the strength…” he spoke quietly to himself. 

Her footsteps stopped, he didn’t think she could hear him, “Hunters don’t always have the luxury of waiting for when they are prepared. Hunting when you have nothing left tests your limits and when you reach that point, you break down or break through.” With that she disappeared into the woods. 

His eyes lowered to the ground where she had been standing as he tried to jump start his mind. He had been up for days and his thoughts were scattered and his mind was slow. Two choices. His eyes closed while his body slumped forward, “ok”, he barely muttered. Forcing himself to his feet Kid picked up his blades and followed the path the bulldrome had left only moments before.

The sun peaked over the horizon and the female hunter turned in bed to find Kid dead to the world close beside her. She snorted and shook her head; he was all dirty and still had blood on his hands. She rolled him over to the other edge of the bed, but damage was already done. She’d have him clean the sheets once he was up. After all it was his mess. Stretching, scratching and yawning all together she climbed out of bed and walked over to his lump of messy carves. It was clear he had been half asleep when cutting up the bulldrome. She hadn’t seen such butchered meat in fifteen years. “I guess I could make bacon,” she figured she could salvage the meat that way.

Noon approached and while Kid was still exhausted, the smell of cooking meat jarred him awake. Enticed by the delicious fumes he wobbled out of bed and made his way to the pit. The female hunter’s eyebrow twitched, but Kid was too out of it to notice. “You,” she pointed the fork at him, “wash now.”

Kid, still half asleep looked down to see his clothes all dirty and his hands crusted with blood. His eyes nearly jumped out of his head and he was fully awake now. He guiltily met the female hunter’s sharp stare and quickly realized that he had forgotten to wash up upon returning to camp. Before she could stare a hole right through him Kid rushed to the washing station and scrubbed his hands clean. He then removed his clothes to let them soak in the basin and scrubbed the top layer of dirt from his exposed skin. Afterwards Kid hustled back to his camp to grab some clean garments, and after he was fully dressed he ran to the bed. His shoulders sank, the sheets were stained with blood. ‘This is it’, he thought, ‘I blew it.’ 

“Come and eat. You can take care of that later.” Perplexed, Kid turned to her. She didn’t seem all that mad, no angrier than she normally was at him being there. He cleared his throat as he tried to find the words to say. “I’m sorry,” was the best he could do. 

“Eat.” She responded as she put a steaming plate of bulldrome bacon and rath eggs on a stone. He was so hungry that he forgot his guilt and quickly sat down to gobble up the food. He was almost in tears with how delicious the meat was. Kid couldn’t tell if it was because he was so hungry, or because he had been eating deviljho meat for days straight, but the bulldrome meat was the best thing he had ever tasted. 

Amused at the huge smile on Kid’s face, the female hunter couldn’t help but laugh. It was obvious what he was thinking about. Kid’s grin fell when he heard her and was brought out of his thoughts. Mouth still full he tried to apologize again, “Ah am fo forry, ah.” She put her hand out to shush him, in his eagerness he was making more of a mess.

“A hunter’s bed is made with blood and sweat and it’s been a while since that bunk has seen either. Still, you will clean it after you eat.” Kid’s head was nodding up and down in compliance before she finished speaking. 

“Bulldrome meat is sweet, isn’t it?” Kid’s head was still nodding up and down. He smiled and continued eating.

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