Mysa

Bangladesh

I am a feather fluttering through the wind...jk I'm not that dramatic just messing with ya.
I am just an introverted girl surrounded by books and aesthetic things. And imaginary beings.

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The things I write sometimes make no sense, but give it a chance.

The Monster Hunt

November 19, 2019

At midnight, on the 100th day of every year, the black boats set off to a chorus of cheers. If you make it to the port before the last bell you can watch the Hunters take off. Many were already lined up at the shore despite the late hour. After all, it’s not everyday you hear of the appearance of a Hydra at the Beast Ring.

Roux was determined to succeed this time. If she could sneak onto one of the Hunters’ boats she would finally be able to see a Beast Hunt with her own eyes! And if she’s really lucky she’ll get to see the rumored Hydra that has appeared. What would it look like? she wondered excitedly.

Cami said she was crazy. Women didn’t participate in the Hunt unless they were really strong. And Roux was merely 16, as thin as a toothpick. Why did she want to see monsters so bad?

Roux shook her head. Cami was such a silly girl, only concerned about ribbons and pretty things. Who didn’t dream of taking part in the annual Hunt? It means being recognized as an elite among the Pacific Isles. Just taking part in one is enough to earn you great respect.

Of course, not anyone can go. You have to be approved by the Council. That’s why Roux was planning to sneak along. She would never be approved.

Among the cheers of the crowd, no one heard the silent footfalls of a swift cat making her way to one of the furthest boats from the shore.

Wait for me, dad. I’ll make you proud, she thought as she glided silently through the crowd.

Roux had almost reached the boat when a hand suddenly grabbed her shoulder. She whipped around and stopped in surprise.

Cami?” she whispered in surprise. “What on earth are you doing here?”

Cami was out of breath, her hair disheveled and her clothes windswept. When she calmed down she straightened up, the bell in her hair tinkling.

“I’m coming with you, idiot,” she replied.

Roux stared at her for a moment, then huffed. Cami may be a silly girl, but no one could shake her when she was determined.

“Let’s go then, idiot.” She took Cami’s hand and pulled her toward the boat.

The second bell had rung. The Hunters were boarding their boats. This was the chance Roux had been waiting for. In the darkness no one would notice two small figures stealing onto a vessel. And nobody in their right mind would board a boat without the Council’s approval anyway. If you die on the trip your family faces the consequences, and if you live you are banned from future Hunts.

Finally, the last bell rung. The boats set off, the roars of the crowd trailing in their wake. Huddled in a corner, the two girls silently observed the Hunters.

They were clad in thick leather coats to protect them from minor injuries. A lot of buckles and belts covered their bodies. Roux eyed the weapons they carried. Some had daggers strapped to their hips, some had revolvers. One lanky guy snapped his whip.

 Roux fingered the dagger at her belt. It was the only dagger she owned, passed down from her father. Would it be enough? She looked at Cami. For all her determination on the shore, the poor girl now appeared terrified. Roux put an arm around her.

“It’s okay, you silly girl. I’ll protect you.” she whispered.

Cami gave a weak smile. “Like I can trust an idiot like you.” she replied, but she huddled closer. The ocean was still and cold.

A few silent hours passed, then one of the Hunters yelled, “Over there!”

Through the mist Roux could vaguely make out a ring of dark, ragged rocks jutting into the night sky, like the open mouth of a giant sea monster. The Beast Ring.

On the 100th day of every year, a hundred monsters gather at the Beast Ring, for what purpose no one knows. It is rumored that they feed on a mysterious power at the center of the Ring. And once in a million years a bigger beast awakens and joins the throng of other monsters.

This year it was the Hydra, a many-headed water serpent with poisonous breath and virulent blood. This is also the reason there are thrice as many Hunters this year. Whoever manages to bring back just one head of the Hydra will receive immense fortune and the highest honors.

The bow of the boats entered the opening of the Ring. Everyone was silent and alert. There were sounds of weapons being drawn.

Roux was sitting straight up in excitement. This was it. This was the moment she had been waiting for.

Cami suddenly gripped her friend’s cloak tighter. “Rou-”

Just then their boat jerked violently. There were yells as several other boats toppled. Something screeched and growled beneath the waters.

Roux jumped up and pulled Cami along. They were almost to the rocky shore. Just a little more and they can get off…

There was a blood-curdling human scream, and when Roux looked towards its direction, in the faint light of the lamps she could see a scaly tail disappear underwater. The water was red.

“Oh my god…” Cami covered her mouth in horror. Her face paled.  

“Don’t look!” Roux yelled, and jumped down from the boat.

There was a shrill cry from above. When she looked up she saw a bat-like monster swooping down towards them. Roux whipped out her dagger and sliced at its wings. It screeched in pain and flew away.

Panting, they splashed their way to the shore. All around them were screams and cries for help from the Hunters mingling with the terrifying screeching of a hundred monsters pouncing upon them.

Hacking at every beast that came close, Roux and Cami made their way further into the Ring, and was able to temporarily take refuge behind a small rock wall.

Cami turned to Roux, tears in her eyes. “Roux, why did you come here?! What compelled you do something so insane? We have no chance against these ferocious monsters!”

Roux paused for a moment, weighing her words. Then she said, “I wanted to take at least one kill home. That way dad won’t have to live in shame anymore.” She looked towards the ground.”Dad is always so miserable. He thinks it’s all his fault we’re suffering like this. I don’t want him to be like that anymore.”

Cami got quiet. Roux’s father is a disgraced former Hunter who sneaked onto a vessel to a Beast Hunt before he was approved, and didn’t manage a single kill. He had been a wild spirit like Roux, and desperate at that time, like many young men. Cami thought it was his fault, but Roux loved her father fiercely and was determined to prove everyone wrong.

Cami sighed. What am I going to do with this girl? she thought fondly.

“Alright then. We’ve come this far, might as well finish this.” she stood up and held a hand out to Roux.
Roux looked up at her in surprise. Then she grinned. “I never would have thought I’d live to hear you say that.” She took her hand.

Just then, the mutilated body of a Hunter was flung in their direction. A scaly monster with the head of a serpent turned towards them. Blood dripped from its jaws. With a roar it leaped forward.

Roux pulled Cami behind her, and with a roar of her own dived towards the beast with her dagger in hand. Cami threw rocks at it from a cliff, diverting its attention. Roux stabbed out its eyes, then with a powerful thrust buried the dagger into its throat. The creature crashed to the ground and laid still.  

Roux whooped in victory and turned towards Cami.

In that instant, like in slow-motion, she saw Cami raise her hand to cheer, saw her beginning to smile, the bell in her hair tinkling, and then her body jerked forward as a rhino-like creature stabbed her through the gut with its horn.

Roux screamed and lunged forward with her dagger, frantically hacking at the beast. It was jerking around with Cami impaled upon its horn. Roux gripped the hilt of her dagger with both hands and with a desperate scream, plunged it down into the creature’s neck.

As the creature fell, Roux hurried to Cami, and with terror looked at the bloody horn protruding from her stomach.

“Cami…” she sobbed.

Cami weakly grasped her hand. “Go…take…the head…for…dad…” she whispered feebly.

Roux shook her head, her vision blurry. “I’m not leaving you!”

Cami gasped in pain.”Leave…me…family…disgraced….”

“No…Cami, please….” Roux gripped her friend’s hand tighter. “Don’t leave…”

Cami gave her one last hard look.”Go,” she said, then the life in her eyes disappeared.

Sobbing uncontrollably, Roux picked up her dagger and chopped the head of the monster she killed together with Cami. There were lots of Hunters still fighting. Some had heads piled up in a heap. Most of the monsters were busy attacking the hunters, so it was a good chance to slip away.

As she surveyed the battleground below her she began to wonder, why do we do this? Why did they kill the monsters every year? As far as she knew they never plagued the humans as long as they weren't provoked. Was it all worth the glory and fame so vehemently spoken of? Roux's heart squeezed with grief. She shook her heard and took a step forward.

The ground beneath her rumbled. There was a deep, reverberating roar from the depths of the water. With a mighty howl the beast among beasts emerged from the middle of the Beast Ring – the Hydra.

 It was a frightening creature to behold. Midnight-black scales covered six enormous serpentine heads with yellow venom dripping from their mouths full of sharp teeth. The sharp poisonous spikes on their backs sliced stone like it was butter. They made a terrifying hissing noise every time they took a breath. Each of their roars echoed deep within the souls of all beings present. Many of the Hunters already regretted coming.

The other monsters scattered. The Hydra suddenly swooped down and swallowed up a mouthful of beasts and men. There were renewed screams of terror and death.

Roux scrambled away from the Hydra’s path. She sped towards the boats, most of which were being taken away by fleeing men. She managed to snag one and tugged it towards the waters.

The Hydra suddenly turned. Its tail came flying through the air and caused a giant wave, toppling over and shattering a lot of boats. Roux managed to tie the monster head to her body with a rope, and with a grunt fixed her boat upright. Keeping herself submerged, she tugged it further with difficulty through the churning waters.

When she had gone far enough she boarded, and with a final goodbye to Cami, began to row.  

She followed the others who managed to escape, and behind her she heard the Beast Ring collapse as the Hydra thrashed around. Most of the Hunters were dead by now. All that mattered was surviving at this point.

After what felt like hours of rowing, the familiar shores of her home came into view. The sight of them brought tears to Roux’s eyes, and thoughts she had been forcing down came bursting into her mind.  

She found herself wondering, was it all worth it? Was it all worth losing my precious friend?

She looked at the prize she had brought back: the monster head. It looked nothing more than carcass now. No, she thought. If I could, I would give it all up if it means getting her back.

As her boat came closer to shore, the cheering of the crowd became louder, but it was all deaf to Roux’s ears.

You cheer, but do you know the price?

She covered her face and cried.

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  • November 19, 2019 - 9:50am (Now Viewing)

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