“Any what would that be?”
The pause was longer this time. Eventually she said, “Its not important. Even if I told you I don’t think I will be able to do it.”
Then Yaju stood up and said, “It looks like the crew members are waking up. We need to prepare to get going.” She then began to walk away. I’m sure she had some painful memories from being locked away for most of her life. There were things that she wanted that she had never been able to do because of that. I could empathize with that even if I never felt it to the extent that she had, many Hunters had unusual experiences and generally few of them were happy.
It also seemed that Yaju didn’t want to talk about it and there was nothing I could do about that. Even if I was Kirk I wouldn’t be able to read Yaju’s mind. If I wanted to learn what is was I was going to have to wait until she trusted me some more. Shaking my head I raised my hand up to in surprise. I was falling into Professor Stolas’ trap. He wanted us to all get alone and to make Yaju care about what happened to us. I guess he must have chosen a good third member. It made me feel a little bit annoyed but there was little I could do about it so I cleared my mind by getting back to my work.
The caravan finished getting ready and we head out for the second day of our journey. Like the previous day Yaju left into the jungle saying that she would return when night came. Kirk sleep for a few more hours before coming out of the truck. He walked with me some more however we didn’t have much to talk about. The day was quiet, more so then I expected. The second day of journeys like this was usually the most risky because sometimes beasts waited for caravan to get outside of the range of help before they attacked.
So the journey continued, each day passing quietly after the other. As each day passed I felt more and more uneasy. Not necessarily because of the lack of attacks but something else was gnawing at the back of my mind. However when we arrived at Istan finally my worries all rose to the front of my mind all at once.
Yaju - Hunters and Beasts
It was the last day of the journey and I was getting bored. The whole trip had been a lot less exciting then I had expected for my first real journey outside the wall and in the jungle. I had expected things to be a lot more dangerous, more exciting. However so far it had just been quiet. Sure I had fought a few beasts along the route that I had found in the jungle while scouting but otherwise there had been nothing.
It had finally reached the last day on the trip to Istan. However when Rika was waking up in the morning Kirk stopped me from leaving like I usually did to scout.
“Wait, there is something I need to say. Correct me if I am wrong but Rika, you are expecting us to reach Istan sometime this evening right? Around 5pm or so?”
She nodded, “That sounds about right.”
“While normally I wouldn’t have noticed at this distance but I was checking out the route that I expected that we would be taking and making sure there were no strong Beasts around the way. So I felt are far as I could during my watch I noticed something unusual. I felt some Hunters which I assume must be some of the Hunters that are protecting Istan. However that wasn’t all, I also felts some strong Beasts. It was difficult to tell at this range but that might be near Duke classification.”
Rika bit her lip before she said, “Do you think that are attacking the city?”
“It is possible however that is basically the limit of my range and it is hard for me to tell details from that far away.”
“Still that is worrisome. A small city like Istan could have trouble dealing with a Duke attack. While a city needs protection from attacks like that it would still be dangerous and there could be lots of casualties.”
“Should we help them?” Asked Kirk.
Rika looked at the caravan, “We can’t leave the caravan undefended. If we were to leave then certainly Beasts would detect that we had left and attack the crew.”
Finally I spoke up, “Then I will go. Rika, you need to stay and defend the caravan because Kirk won’t be able to do it by himself and won’t be able to keep up with me.”
Rika looked me in the eyes and she looked like she was trying to gauge me, finally she said, “Alright. Do that. Get to Istan as fast as you can. I’ll have the caravan go as fast as they can to catch up.”
I nodded and then started running. On the previous days I had been going slowly, staying in the Jungle and making sure to keep pace with the trucks. However now I could finally let loose and run as fast as I could. Well, almost as fast, the city was still far away and I needed to pace myself. Normally the trucks would take around ten hours to reach Istan but alone I could do it faster, much faster. I could probably get there is three or four hours. Still a long time for a city under attack by a Duke. However if I wanted to keep up my strength for combat with a beast that strong that was the fastest I could go.
In almost no time the caravan was out of sight and I was miles down the road. One of the main reasons that the truck journey was so slow was because of the overgrown road which limited how fast the trucks go safely travel. Still I was moving faster than any car could move. I was able to easily run along the road and with my instincts I was able to a easily plan my path so that I never stumbled or tripped over anything on the road.
Trees zipped by me and I ran and I did my best to also watch out toward the Jungle. If the city was under attack then it would be possible for beasts to be watching the path especially if it actually a Noble Beast like a Duke that was attacking. I could feel the excitement rising up in my blood. The burning feeling that I had initially felt all those years ago when the Golden Terror initially made me a Hunter. That boiling excitement that I would get to fight a Duke, to see how close I was to the Golden Terror.
The distance felt so long, the time to get there and see what was really happening. However, eventually it was over and I could see the walls towering in the distance. I could then begin to sense the Beasts, several strong ones however I wasn’t able to identify them as well as Kirk had been able to. Then I could also begin to sense some of the Hunters.
I wasn’t able to get anything clearer however because my rapid approach had been noticed by the Beasts, not surprising considering that I hadn’t been anything close to stealthy. Several large wolves leapt out of the trees at me. I had been so intent on sensing the more powerful Beasts that I hadn’t noticed them until now. However I wasn’t worried about them. They had attempted to attack me between jumps expecting me to have more trouble dodging.
They were fools. I was able to spin in the air and grab one of them by the neck and then continuing my spin I slammed that wolf into the other one. There was a howl of pain from one of them. I doubted I had killed them however I was more intent on something else, a large bird that was swooping down at me. It was very large, probably capable of snatching me in one hand and carrying me away. I never gave it that chance. The blood boiled within my and I used it to change. My my hand cracked and popped as they changed into claws. I had used this technique long ago against Professor Stolas but since then I had the chance to improve on the technique.
In one blood screeching moment I ripped one of the wings off the bird that was getting close to me. It began spiraling away but before it got too far I was able to jump off it and move faster toward the city wall. I had previously been pacing myself but the Beasts wouldn’t give me that luxury at this point. Now I just had to hurry as fast as I could to Istan.
Several other Beasts tried to attack me but at my new higher speed I was able to avoid them. Then I broke through the tree line and saw the wall and the Beasts in front of it. Then I saw the beast who could only be the Duke. It was strange, after I had seen the Golden Terror I assumed that all Noble Beasts were something like that, a magnificent specimen of a small type of beast but this one was different, it almost looked human. Sure it has thick looking black skin with a horn protruding from where near where the nose normal would be but it was bipedal which was something I had never seen in a Beast before. It was also reasonably small, for a Beast, maybe only seven feet tall. It was also wearing clothes, some sort of toga what was red… stained red.
It turned and looked at me and we locked eyes. I felt a tingle in my spine and my instincts screamed in fear. This creature was strong, very strong. And around him were other Beasts, they looked more beastial but they still had a small appearance of humans. Were they other Noble Beasts. I could tell that I couldn’t fight all of them at the same time so I looked toward the wall instead. I could see several people at the top but I could tell were Hunters.
I rushed to the wall, acting before the Duke could do anything. I jumped up clearing a large amount of distance before grabbing onto the wall. I used the leverage to jump again, making my way up the wall. One of the large bird Beasts closed in but fell out of the sky when a large arrow pierced it. I quickly made my way to the top of the wall where I came face to face with the other Hunters.
One of them had a blade of a strange color pointed at me. The woman next to him had a bow which she must have used to take down the bird beast. The man said, “Who are you? Are you one of those noble beasts like them?”
That surprised me for a moment then I realized what I looked like. I had changed my body for speed and climbing unintentionally. I calmed my blood and as I did my body began to revert. “No, I’m with Districts Hunters.”
The man examined me for a moment before sliding his sword back into the sheath. “What are you doing here then? The first thing these Beast did was destroy our radio tower so we haven’t been able to ask for help.”
“I’m part of a caravan who is delivering trading supplies. One of our members sensed something strange happening here and I was sent to investigate and help if I can.” I looked back toward the Beasts that were amassed outside the wall. “It looked a lot worse then I expected it to be.”