Sorry for the wait, had a lot of things to take care of. Hope I didn't make you all wait too long.

Chapter 7: The Long Road

Quaday, Novel 8, 646 ND; Journal of Jonathan Gull, age at time of entry: 14, Senior Scholar of Antrum City

Hunters, the pride and joy of our civilization. With sharpened blades and polished eyes, they hide in the shadow of the Aboveground, waiting endlessly for their prey. They must not make a single sound, they must control their own hearts, they must stay far away from the honed eyes of the Aboveground creatures, or else nothing but death will await them.

Admittedly, if it were not for them, our society would have starved to death a long time ago. Even more admittedly, their skills and abilities will be something that very well should be praised. Unfortunately, all of that does go to their heads. However, I suppose they are allowed some of that luxury.

…To be honest, I fear for my own spouse's life. The life expectancy of a Hunter is among the lowest. On top of the possibility of being trapped Aboveground during the day, they have to deal with an assortment of creatures. True, most of the fauna of the surface has veered towards a slower, cautious, and non-lethal variety, but there are always predators in the food chain.

So… well, to be blunt, I worry constantly about her safety.

12/33/648 ND, Journal of Hildegard Gull, age 16, wanderer

It's been a few days since I've came up. Not much to say thankfully. True, I haven't found more food, but I think I can make it to Orecla City before running out of food, even if I rest. I am just reli…rely…happy that I got that wheely chair thing for Darling. Makes it all so much easier.

I can actually relax now.

Ah, the sky is beautiful tonight. He would have loved to see it.

01/05/648 ND, Journal of Hildegard Gull, age 16, wanderer

Let's find, let's find, let's find that path in the stars.

We shall walk in the Dark and follow the bright leaves.

Oh where, oh where, oh where our prey doth hide.

Lurk and listen in the shadows tonight.

Let's find, let's find, let's find that path in the stars.

01/10/648 ND, Journal of Hildegard Gull, age 16, wanderer

…Our food was stolen. Don't know how, probably just after we slept or just before I woke up, but it was definitely stolen. Not all of it, but a good chunk. It would have been fine if they just stole the meat, but they also stole the veggies too. If I go back to the city, it would take far too long to get there and earn enough money to buy more.

No choice then, I must find them. Quickly.

01/11/648 ND, Journal of Hildegard Gull, age 16, wanderer

It's been a while since I really hunted something. I forgot that sen…sen…feeling, of diving into that life. Surrounding yourself in the dirt and leaves of the world.

I started with their tracks of course. They looked somewhat like the Beos back at Antrum, but not quite. They also seemed to be deeper, probably means that they're bigger too. No matter, from the looks of things there were only two that came and took the food. They tried to claw at us too, but I guess tying ourselves up in the trees for sleep was a good idea for me. From the looks of things, they used a nearby rock to get enough jump on the hanged supplies. Well, it doesn't matter how they did it, what does matter is that I had a trail.

I followed their steps quietly, sticking to the shadows made by the Moon. Their camp must not be far if they came right before I woke or after I slept. Sure enough, I found them. They were like the Beos, but just larger I guess. Snarling, pointed faces with larger manes covering them from the sides on down. Their bodies were lean, honed for power and speed. Attached to that were claws, twisted and pale in the moonlight.

However, what they looked like was ultimately irrelevant. What was important was the large stash of food in front of them. Seems like they were dividing up the share. Good time for me to work.

First, I made a line of fire powder all around their den, with only a single small path out. Then, I threw a few noisemakers across from me. A few seconds later, a big pow pow made its noise. The Big Beos all turned their heads towards it. They started to growl and bark, maybe as a way to talk, maybe just to scare whatever it is that made the noise. I threw some more noisemakers, making the same big sound. More growls, but this time a few left to go get whatever it was that made the noise. I threw some more noisemakers in the other direction. Even more left to go find what it was.

At that point, I thought I could take on the rest.

I made a light with that thing Darling gave me. That small flame came close to the ring of fire powder I made. In an instant, the den was circled by a line of flame, scaring the Big Beos. Lots of barking and growling was made, but I kept throwing some more noisemakers to drown them down. After that, I quickly slipped into a tree.

I waited for a minute for a Big Beo to stumble near me. Quick as I could I threw a rope around its neck. With a sharp pull, I lifted it all the way up to me and tied it down. I could hear it trying to bark and growl, but I kept the rope around its neck. It was dead in seconds.

I slipped away from the tree and moved to some bushes. There were about 3 Big Beos left. Keeping low, I threw the rope again, this time at one's foot. I dragged it to me as fast as I could, tied it up, and forced it near the flame. With a pained yelp, I could hear the thing's face burn. Desperately it tried to claw at me, but I just waited for a few minutes before I threw it back into the Den.

The other two were startled by the now burning and running wild Big Beo. Desperately, they tried to get out of its way as it continued to roll and run around in pain. Soon, it met its end with a sharp charge to a rather sturdy rock.

One of the Big Beos found that little exit hole I made. Wasting no time, it charged for it. As expected, it found my little trap. With a sharp yelp, it started to dance with the trap around its foot. I quickly stepped out of the shadows and had my arms around its neck, breaking it.

Finally, I was face to face with the boss.

He snarled at me, growled at me, and barked some more, no doubt in a try to scare me off. It might have worked, but unfortunately, he had something of mine and I wasn't about to let it go. With a shout I leapt towards the beast, mirroring it as he did the same. The thing was the better jumper sadly, and I found myself under it.

With a mighty shout, it came close to take my head into its jaws. What it did not expect was me headbutting it before his mouth ever opened up all the way. With a cute little squeak, it backed away, just in time for me to jump on top of it.

It bucked a bit under my weight, but I ignored his attempts. Instead, I aimed a strike at a small place on its back, right where the Beos in my town were weak against. It must have worked since the beast's legs bent a bit under the pain, but it was right back up and tried to throw me off again. I didn't like that, so I struck it again and again. Soon, it fell to its knees, pained cries echoing from its mouth.

"Sorry, but you shouldn't have stolen from me," I said.

Don't know why I said that, they can't understand me after all. Maybe it was an apology, I mean, I can understand why it needed to survive. However, it should know then, I wanted to survive too. I wanted my Darling to survive as well.

So, I stuck my knife in the back of its neck and pulled down through its back. With several twitches, it bleed out and died.

I took a big breath and dragged myself up. I wrapped up as much food as I could bring and left the den. When those other Big Beos come back, they would see their family dead. Maybe they would cry, if those things could cry. Maybe they might sing a sad song. In all honesty, I had some sympathy, but I really couldn't care too much about it. Either me and Darling would die for them, or they would die for us. Just how it is.

"…I need to get Darling back up again," I said.

Hm, a bit more actiony this time around, but that's not too bad, right? A little change of pace is nice every now and then.

Anyways, time for some bad news. With school starting up, I probably won't be able to do much writing. Apologies. But hey, maybe you can read some other stuff going around.

So then, have a good summer everyone. Maybe I'll see you in a few months.