“Are what age did you awaken to the instincts?” I asked.
“I became a Hunter at about the same age as you are now.” Elizabeth said.
“That is fairly old to become a Hunter from what I know.” I said, “However I’m not really one to talk.
“Hunters with weaker blood usually discover it in their late teens. At least that has been my experience.”
“That is what I have been told as well however I’m not certain that is exactly the case. I seen a fair few Hunters and so far I haven’t really thought of any of them as weaker than others. Certainly there is a large amount of different between first generation Hunters like Yaju and other Hunters but I’m not certain that makes us weaker.”
Elizabeth looked surprised, “What are you implying?”
“I’m not quite sure yet. I think I will need to look into it some more. I will have to speak with Professor Stolas when I return to Districts but I’ve noticed that third and later generation Hunters seem to develop more unusual powers then first and second generation.”
I continued, “You have your strange smithing and I have my senses. You might not know but Rika is a third generation Hunter although she is abnormally strong for one. That and her ability to command people are certain not expected.”
“Third generation? Rika? Really? I would have sworn that she was a second generation Hunter given what she is capable of doing.”
“Exactly my point. Plus there is the other thing that I have noticed. The Hunters in Istan consist almost entirely of weaker blood Hunters while in Districts we have enough Hunters that we have plenty of more pure blood Hunters however as far as I can tell the Hunters here in Istan are generally more powerful then those in District. And not just because of the weapon you have given them.”
“That’s impossible. Districts is know for having some of the most powerful Hunters is the world.”
I nodded, “That might certainly be true but we have a lot of Hunters to choose from. However my main point is different. You said that had you not been a blacksmith before you became a Hunter that you might not have thought about how to use your blood as a smithing reagent right?”
She nodded and I continued, “What is that is the case for a lot of third generation Hunters? There could be tons of Hunters out there who don’t even realize what they could be capable of doing.”
“Do you really think that is true.” She asked.
I shrugged, “I don’t know for certain. It is just an idea for now. Back in Districts there is a man called Professor Stolas who is a Hunter but is also in charge of a bunch of facilities. I was going to check with him when I got back there and see if I can figure these things out. If it is true it will definitely change how people think of Hunter generations.”
“That is true.” Elizabeth stood up off the anvil and brushed off her blacksmith apron. “The metal had heated up again so I need to finish this. If you want to wait around I’m almost done with the second version of the crossbow. You will be able to check it out if you decide to wait.”
“Alright.” I moved out of the doorway and found a stool to sit on while I watched her work. She methodically pulled out the piece of metal from the furnace and placed it on the anvil. I watched while she worked it into shape. Finally she doused the piece of metal.
She moved over toward the table in the back of the room. The partially completed crossbow was sitting on the table back there. She took the crossbow and moved to the workshop table near the forge. She fitted the piece of metal that she just made onto the crossbow. Then she took some screws and connected everything using those screws to make sure everything stayed in place.
A few minutes later she had finished making sure everything was tight then she walked over to me and handed the crossbow to me. I grabbed it and held it. “It seems heavier than the other one.”
“It is. The previous one had a little trouble with recoil so adding a little bit more heft to the crossbow will make it easier to control.”
I looked over the crossbow and noticed the pieces fit together strangely. “It looks completely different from the previous one. There are knobs and different other pieces that look like they can be adjusted.”
“Exactly. This one here lets you tighten or loosen the main draw string for either more or less force. The slider clasp on the side lets you adjust the angle of the release. Then there is the..” She continued explaining the crossbow to me.
After a minute I held up my hand to stop her explanation, “I think I understand. It continues the idea of having a different option for each shot. I’ll had to do some testing personally to find out how all the different things work. Trying to explain would likely not help me anymore because I have to understand how they all work.”
“Yes, I suppose that is true. I tried to make it as customizable as possible. After seeing you in action with the previous one I realized that you would be capable of so much more if the weapon was able to keep up with you. It would be better for you to not be able to use it to its full potential then for it to not be able to keep up with you.”
“And the bolts?” I asked.
“I have some of them already made.” She pointed over to the quiver near the table where the crossbow had been set. “However I’m not satisfied with the number yet. You can test with the ones that I have already made but that is only about a quarter of the ones I have planned. I should be done with them before your time to leave Istan. I know that it will be a while before Rika and Yaju are released from the hospital so I will be able to get them all done before that.”
“Will it really take that long?” I asked.
“Probably not the whole time. However I need to test them all as well as the crossbow to make sure that everything is made correctly. You can help me if you want but it probably will be just a bunch of bring testing.”
“I don’t mind helping to test. The more that I understand about how it works the better it will be for me.” I said.
“Alright, but you will need to keep up. There is too much testing to do to be able to explain everything as I go. Do you think you will be able to just figure it out as I go alone.”
“I think I will be able to keep up.” I asked.
Rika - Departure
Time had finally come for us to leave Istan. They have forced me to stay in the hospital for far too long. I even tried to escape a few times but they had set out Hunter guards to make sure I didn’t do exactly like. So I had been forced to stay in the hospital until the doctors finally decided that it was time for me to go.
The caravan had long since returned to Districts upper the protection of some of the Istan Hunters who had been much less injured than us. So it was just the three of us who were leaving today. There weren’t many people to see us go.
It was Elizabeth and Alfred who were there to say goodbye.
“Nobody else?” I asked.
Alfred pointed up toward the wall. There was a couple of Hunters up there. They waved for a moment and then turned back toward the jungle and away from us.
“There are more.” Said Alfred, “However the government is keeping a close eye on all of them currently. They don’t have as much freedom as they would want, plus they are strained with the reduced membership.”
Yaju said, “Well, at least you are available to say goodbye.”
Kirk slapped her on the back of the head and said, “Idiot. They are here because they are fired and no longer work as hunters.”
Yaju looked a little embarrassed and said. “Sorry, I should not have said anything.”
Elizabeth laughed, “Don’t worry about it. While it is true that we have been fired that doesn’t mean too much. The government things they have a lot of control but it is just an illusion. They would like to prevent me from making weapons but nobody else can replace me in doing that so I still have that job at least.”
I looked over toward Alfred and asked, “And what about you? Are you alright with being fired?”
He shrugged, “I certainly have more free time then I did before, it is kind of relaxing. I will be able to catch up with my hobbies.”
“Having the secret exit to the jungle helps too?” I asked.
I smiled before saying, “While I certainly couldn’t comment about that, I will say that it can be difficult to adequately protect all the exits to this city with our remaining Hunters.”
“Well, that would certainly be true.” I said while I shared their smile. “Well it looks like everything will going well for you then. I hope you do well and get reinstated soon.”
They nodded and I turned away to the gate.
“Wait” Said Elizabeth. “I still have something to give you.” I turned back to her and she she was holding a leather strap with small sheaths on it. “I went through the trouble of forging them for you so you might as well take them.” She tossed it to me and I caught it.
“Two knives? I thought you were only going to make me one?” I asked.
“It felt right. Even if you don’t find a use for the second one you can keep it as a spare. My weapons are tough but they do eventually wear out. Just stop by every so often so that I can perform maintenance.” She looked over at Kirk, “You too.”
“I will.” Said Kirk as he hefted the crossbow that was slung over his back. “I’ll keep you informed about my findings as well.”
Elizabeth nodded, “Good. Well, we are glad that you came when you did, without you we don’t think we would have made it.”
Yaju looked embarrassed. I ignored her and said, “We are just glad that everything ended as well as it did. Take care and call us if anything wrong happens.”
“We will. Our satellite tower has been repaired since the attack so we will be able to keep in contact.”
We waved and then the three of us turned and left. We passed through the gate and out into the Jungle. The gate got shut behind us and the sounds of the jungle filled my eyes. After all that time in the hospital is was good to be back in the jungle.
“Finally!” Said Yaju who seemed to vocalize my thoughts. She ran off into the jungle.
After she had gone I said, “Sometimes she acts like a kid.”
Kirk said, “In many ways she still is a kid. She had most of her childhood stolen from her. She hasn’t had the same experiences to grow up like you or I did. She tries to act like an adult but sometimes her inexperience comes through.”
“Well, I guess she has the right to act like a child some of the time.” I looked back at the city of Istan before saying, “We had better get going. Do you think you can keep up?”
“I will do my best.”