The time had come. The migration of the elder dragons.
Nobody knew where to and nobody knew what for. At least until now.
The research committee put together an expedition. An expedition to follow wherever this migration was heading to. We gave this place a placeholder name which was subject to change once we knew more about it and could decide on a better one.
We called it: The New World
The day that the research committee put together this expedition, the distant skies we could see the elder dragons Teostra and Fatalis heading towards the horizon and the others couldn’t have been far behind.
Me and hundreds of onlookers gazed at the awe-inspiring site that only came along every 10 years waiting in the harbors of the Research committee headquarters.
Me? My name is Kalaydus and today marked the beginning of the trip that would forever change my life.
I just turned 21, meaning for the first time ever, I qualified to join the expeditions of the research committee. Like many hunters before me, I would make a name for myself and hone my ability to fight while growing stronger and stronger with each prey that I defeat.
On the day that the research committee posted these pamphlets:
Have you ever wanted to go on an expedition?
Have you ever thought about becoming a hunter unlike any other?
We need you!
The new world is waiting and nobody knows what to expect. Would the monsters there be the same as here or would there be creatures that nobody has ever laid eyes upon?
You could be one of the first to find out! Join the research committee. We will arm you free of charge and set you up alongside veteran hunters to help you learn the ins and outs of monster hunting.
Applications will be sorted at the harbor where you can board any of the five fleets and prepare yourself…
…for the NEW WORLD!
I balled my fists, clenching the application paper in my hand as I wait in line to board the Fourth Fleet. The airship loomed over me, the large blimp on the ready for departure. The line got shorter and shorter until it was finally my turn.
I was met with an old, gruff looking man, wearing the standard hunter armor that every rookie in the research committee wore. I doubted though that he was a rookie, he had scars running over his face and a face that spelled hardass. He probably wore it for the occasion to welcome the rookies to meet them as an equal.
With glinting eyes, he looked me up and down. “Welcome aboard the Fourth Fleet. What can I do for ya, kid?”
I handed him the paper, trying to not look too intimidated by his rough demeanor. “I came to sign up for the research committee. You know, the expedition?”
“Of course I know, what do you think I’m here for?”
“S…sorry, that was a stupid question, sir.”
“I ain’t that old, kid. Drop the ‘sir’. The stress of fightin’ monsters the size of mountains would turn any man’s hair gray early.”
“Really? How old are you, exactly?”
He grumbled annoyed, seemingly wanting to avoid the question. “You wanna be a hunter or researcher?”
“Hunter, s… uhh hunter. Just hunter.”
“Uhuh, now here’s the deal, kid. You’re obviously inexperienced. You’ve never fought a monster in your life before and you’re as scrawny as they come. You’re gonna have a lotta learnin’ to do so stick to your superiors, alright?”
“Understood, si… goddammit it’s really hard to not say that!”
The veteran rubbed his face. “Hoh boy… Listen, your application checks out. The barracks are under deck where you will find your armor. Equip yourself and once you’re done, I will come to you eventually to introduce you to your weaponry. You’re gonna have a lot of options so you better choose wisely what you want to specialize in. You can’t be a Jack of all trades out there and be ‘okay’ at something. You’re gonna have to bring you’re A-Game eventually and you better master your weapon.”
I nodded enthusiastically and could barely contain my excitement to get started. “What will we be hunting? Barroth? Diablos? Deviljo? Dalamadur?!” I clenched my fist. My eyes must have been sparkling at this point.
“Jesus Christ, kid! Dial it down a bit! You ain’t even fit to handle a Jaggi yet!” He blurted at me, making everyone on board stare at us. “*sigh* Nobody knows what expects us in the New World. That’s kind of the point of this whole expedition. If you wanna find out: Do what I say, grab your shit and wait til we’re departing. Until then, you still have the chance to chicken out. If ya don’t, welcome to the crew.” And then, he turned around and tended to a different applicant. Leaving me to enter the airship.
I wasn’t the only excited hunter going on this new adventure. Several hopefuls were already being taught how the research committee will conduct their mission in the New World and some others around my age tried their fighting moves on the training dummies.
I saw all kinds of weapons being used: Switchblades, Chargeblades, Gunlances, Bows and Bowguns. All of the weapons that I’ve seen other hunters use before. The hunters that I’ve looked up to ever since childhood. Hunters like my father.
He was the one that raised me on his own after resigning from hunting. I never got to meet my mother. He told me that she was still out there, but that she couldn’t come visit me because it was somehow dangerous. She sent me gifts from time to time and dad would always assure me that she loved me very much.
My dad always said that I am a very special child, that I was a very miraculous birth. I never understood that but I never really questioned it either. I suppose every parent says that about their child. That they’re special and unique.
And I can hardly complain, I saw my father as a role model. In his hay day he was one of the most famous hunters out there and I strived to carry his legacy. But… when I told him that, he got really, really mad.
At first, he always told me off when I spoke of my plans to join the research committee but the more it became clear to him that I wouldn’t cave in, he became somber.
He visited me in my room as I packed my stuff and sat me down for a serious talk. I could still hear his words ring in my head:
Son, when I said you were special, I meant it. You have no idea and I don’t expect you to understand. I know you will do what you want to and I can’t stop you. You’re the son of your old man after all, hehe. I just want to ask this one thing of you. Take my amulet with you. I want you to always carry it with you as close as you can. I promise once you figure out how it works, there will be a lot of things that’ll become clear to you. I know you’ll make me proud, son.
I arrived at my bunk, rowed up with several dozens of similar looking ones.
I found a trunk tucked right underneath my hammock. I pulled it out from underneath, opening it up and finding my Hunter Armor set inside. Heavy brown leather with a green cape thrown over the right-side shoulder. It came with a few extras like the famous slinger that the research committee was known for. A crossbow that you could strap to your arm, simply genius. There were also a set of protective goggles which will come in useful and lastly, a sort of cage that looked like a lantern strapped to my belt.
I had no idea what that last thing was for. Maybe to make light when it was dark out? I didn’t think much of it.
In fact, my mind was consumed with much more important things. Things like the hunts I will go on. The monsters I will face. And the New World itself.
I threw myself into the hammock, swinging lazily in it as I stare at the ceiling, fantasizing.
With the heavy armor on me it was a little harder to get comfortable but I managed to get into a somewhat relaxed position. It was at that moment, that I felt this rush of emotion well up within me. A mix of curiosity, excitement but also some anxiety and sadness. It would be the first time leaving my home and I wouldn’t return for a very long time. Dad wouldn’t be there for me to teach me what to do and I had to become a lot stronger if I ever wanted to become like him.
I pulled out the amulet he gave me from underneath my armor and twirled around the pendant that was hanging from it.
It was made of green scales that formed the rim of it while the center was encased in a sort of glass dome. Within that little dome was some kind of thick liquid that was swirling around. It was red with dark shades, looking almost like blood but more… strange. It didn’t look like human blood at least that much was certain. Maybe it was the blood of a monster that my father killed, who knows.
There was something mysterious about it though. I couldn’t tell exactly what it was but the aura of this pendant felt like there was more to it than just being an accessory.
“What were you doing with this thing, dad? What didn’t you tell me about this?” I mumbled to myself as I cleaned the glass surface with my thumb.
“Hooks off! Everybody stay away from the railing! We’re leaving!”
My thoughts were interrupted when I heard the captain announce the departure of the fleet. There was no going back now.
The whole vessel creaked and shook as we left the pier. It felt weird thinking about how I’m flying in a boat, hundreds of feet above the ground. Just one more reason for my stomach to start turning.
There was so much ahead of me. Maybe once I get to this New World, I will understand my father better… maybe even my mother. I tucked my amulet into my armor again, a cocky smile crossing my lips as I throw my arms behind my head and swing along with the ship’s movements.
I hear screeching outside. The incomparable shrieks of Kushala Daora. And I get chills from the thought of one day… facing these monsters as an equal.