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TOTGDK eP 3: Dawn of the Hunt (Part 3)

The forest seems to change with the start of the afternoon sky. Naxio's glances nervously from shadow to shadow. He swore that the shadows felt like they were moving.

"L-Li-Ren, I don't like this place.."

Aijah's voice was soft and scared, her hands gripping the back of Naxio's robes tight and her face digging a bit into his back. Li-Ren doesn't speak however her eyes were sharp and scanning around them as they walked. She knew as well something was different.

"...We need to get through here, this is the thickest point and then we will be before the steps which lead up to the compound."

The Mizune group continues. However, as they did, the forest which was once quiet began to rumble in noise. Noises that weren't human or normal by far. Li-Ren raised her hand out to stop them and waits.

And so they listen. The sounds were low but echoed around them. Then without warning, they stopped.

All remained deadly silent.


The scream rips through the forest and they all turn around but then another scream and then another and so on. Soon the forest is a melody of painfully angst screams.


Li-Ren's yell doesn't fall on deaf ears. They all burst in a run, Aijah's grip on Naxio's back now is almost bordering on painfully. She is scared and by the sounds around her, her fear is reasonable. The forest now was passing by in a blur, each burst brings them closer and closer to the compound. However, suddenly Li-Ren stops.

"Wh-why have we stopped? Li-Re-"


Her words are quick and hush, her eyes narrowed in front of them. Her body was coiled tight, clearly ready for a fight. Naxio and his cousin have also turned their attention forwards. The forest is suddenly silent once again. Nothing but the sounds of leaves falling around them. However, Li-Ren's posture never untightens.

For a few painstaking moments, nothing happens.

And then... they all hear it.

A hissing sound echoed through the forest, whatever it was, was close by and growing closer. Li-Ren's hand raises and in a quick flash of purple light, her Komabue (Flute) appears. The flute is elegant in form, dark-colored with red strings hanging from it. Su-Lin follows her example and summons her instrument as well, a Kokyū (Japanese Violin). Both were poised in anticipation for whatever was coming however nothing could have prepared them for what did come out.

It was a beast unlike any they have ever seen back home. A snake whose head could easily reach the top of the dense forest they were in. Its eyes were a lidless gleaming red, the body dark as the night. As it slid closer, fear to fester deep within the Mizune clan group, this was not a beast they could fight.

"...Naxio, get Su-Lin and Aijah out of here now."

Everyone turns to Li-Ren in shock.

"W-what are you saying Li-Ren!? We can't leave you!"

"Don't argue with me Su-Lin! This isn't something any of us can fight. Just move!"

With that Li-Ren attacks first. The sound of her flute lashes out in a deep purple wave, slashing against the beast causing it to let out a cry. Li-Ren then charges forward, fully ready to fight to her final breath.


Naxio quickly grabs Su-Lin before she goes running after Li-Ren.

"Let go of me!!"

"Su-Lin please, we need to move. We won't be of any help to Li-Ren, we all know she's the strongest of us!"

His words fell on deaf ears as Su-lin continued to struggle and lash out. Naxio struggles to pull her along, especially with Aijah still on his back.

The battle between the beast and Li-Ren was brutal. Every attack she threw had the precision of a knife. The beast as if knowing she was a formidable opponent lashes back with lethal intent. Back and forth they danced, her notes rang loud and violent. Naxio could only catch glances as he ran but for certain he knew why Li-Ren was nominated to become a Daemon Hunter. There was no doubt in Naxio's mind that she could easily achieve becoming a Night Hunter.

The beast and Li-Ren break briefly from their mounting battle. The beast didn't appear winded but there were long gashes from his scales. Its growl was a low rumble that echoed in her ears. Li-Ren suffered only small cuts and bruises but she was growing weaker. As she dodges another attack, she looks back to where she last saw her cousins and curses. They had yet to get far enough away.

She has to give them more time!

"Li-Ren look out!"

Her gaze snaps back forward but ultimately too late to dodge the large tail crashing down on her. It swatted her from the air like a fly and down she fell, slamming to the ground with a bounce. A spurt of blood leaves her lips in a dry heave.


Naxio knew then and there, it was either help or lose everything. He quickly puts Aijah down and forms Falan-shi. He quickly jumps in and strums an attack spell. It was quick and ultimately weak, his abilities were nothing close to the rest of his family. But it was enough.

The beast turns its attention on Naxio.

"Su-Lin, get Li-Ren and Aijah out of here!!"

Su-Lin appears frozen in shock, fresh tears forming in her eyes. Whether it is due to fear or stress, he wasn't certain but he needed her to snap out of it.


The beast strikes again, Naxio barely dodges, however, he is still knocked back by the force. He tumbled onto the ground with a hard thud, grass and dirt smear his face and clothing. He quickly turns and spins, narrowly dodging the creature's mouth bearing down at him. He looks again at Su-lin.


She snapped out of her trance and grabs Aijah tight, she flinches in pain but says nothing. Su-Lin then goes to Li-Ren who was still conscious even after such a hard throw. However, it was clear she was in no condition to fight. But the determined look in her eyes said otherwise.

"Naxio Yi! What the hell do you think you are doing?!"

Li-Ren looks to join the battle, even if it is more than obvious the damage she already took.

"Go Li-Ren!"

Li-Ren's eyes were burning, blood drips from the many small wounds on her face.


The beast attacks once again, however, this time Naxio didn't fully get out of the way in time. The very tip of the tail flicks again his shoulder causing his dodge to spiral out of control. His back slams hard into a tree in the distance. The beast was now in between Naxio and his cousins, clearly judging who to go after. Naxio doesn't move for a few seconds which makes the beast turned its head to the three others who dare cross its path. Its eyes gleaming in delight at the prospects of a good meal.

A loud single strum suddenly blasts the beast from behind.

It turned with a loud screeching hiss. Naxio, though beaten and bloody, was standing. Falan-shi humming still from the recent attack.


Su-Lin, even against Li-Ren protests, grabs her and helps her stand. She then drags both, with mild difficulty away. As he watches Aijah's tear-stricken face gets smaller and smaller, a stray thought passes his mind.

Why am I doing this?

The thought was quick but haunted him. Naxio thought back to everything his cousin has done. Cold words and humiliation were almost a daily thing and yet here he was risking his life for them.

The beast again strikes. Its mouth opens wide in preparation to eat Naxio whole. He's tired and his body aches, he knows he won't be able to dodge this time.

..At least I can finally see mother...

His eyes start to close as he accepts his fate. But then suddenly, a high-pitched whistle goes through the air. Thin wires slice through the air at the beast, making a long cut down its side. Inky black blood paints the forest floor. The beast let out a loud screech, it is injured but certainly not dead.

Before Naxio, a familiar figure descends.


She looks back at him with a smile.

"Come on!"

She then grabs his arm and pulls. The pair run away while the beast recoils away in pain. They don't get far away but fortunately, there is a cave that they escape into. Regrettably, though, the beast follows soon after. After twists and turns in the cave, they soon enter an open area.

And what even greater luck the beast is suddenly stuck, only his head and a bit of his neck could move around freely. And try and try as it might, it could not free itself from the opening. Seeing that they were given at least a brief moment of relief, the pair slumps to the ground with deep heaving breaths. The pain which Naxio had been ignoring until now came rushing to the forefront. Red blinded his left eye as blood from a cut on his forehead dripped down.


"I need to heal you, lie down Naxio Yi."

Naxio tries to lie down but then jolts onto his side with a loud hiss.

"What?! What's wrong?!"


Moushira acts quickly, pulling Naxio's robes to reveal his back only to let out a string of curses. His back has long lashing-like wounds, most likely from when he hit into the tree before! His inner robes stuck to his back wet with his blood.

"Okay turn over then, I need to heal this first before it festers."


He turns and Moushira immediately starts to work. Though she may not come from the Kai-Shin Clan and inherent their healing prowess, she does her best. Forcing her Yang arcane to follow the wounds on Naxio's back, she manages to close the wounds. However, the bite of pain is nothing she can cure.

"Okay, you should be okay to turn now."

He turns over slowly, it hurts but not as much as before. Once again she pulls forth her Yang and begins once again healing. It takes a while but she soon slumps back exhausted but Naxio is at least healed enough to move without too much pain.

"Thank you.."

"It's no problem! Although now we need to address our earlier issue."

They both turn to the snake who has long since calmed down and is only growling lightly. It eyes watching the two like a hawk. However, it was blocking their only exit and there is no telling how much time they have left now.

"Hmm, maybe we should just wait to be rescued? Surely someone will come?"

Naxio asks then looks to Moushira who is frowning. Sure they would fail but at least they would be alive. She doesn't respond, however.

"Yea-yeah I'm sure my cousins will get someone to come to find us!"

"...I don't think so."

Naxio's eyebrows draw up in confusion. While it was true his cousins torment him, he still highly doubts they would leave him for dead!

"B-but Moushira!"

"I'm sorry Naxio, I can't wait."


Moushira didn't wait, she quickly summons her weapon once again. Catgut wires that curl around the open air as if alive, her Yang coursing through them. She then charges at the beast.

The beast was waiting for one of them to get close, he snaps out in an instant. Moushira quickly dodges and continues her assault. The beast proves that even with his limited movement, he is still a lethal opponent. The battle rages on.

Naxio tries his best to follow along but was soon lost. Moushira is almost at a level close to Li-Ren, that much he can say for certain! Her skill and speed were truly something to marvel given her younger age. However as the battle went on, it was clear, this beast was still too much.

Without warning, the beast lashes out, and he loosens himself ever so slightly. The extra range is just enough to catch Moushira off guard and she is slammed into the back cavern wall. The beast continues to struggle to wiggle himself through again, however no avail. But he does cause the cavern to shake with his force.


Naxio races over to her fallen form. She isn't unconscious however is it clear that blow shook her.

"Damn beast is stronger than I expected."

"I told you already that we should just wait to be rescued!"

The look she through him is cutting and he is taken back.

"...I cannot wait, Naxio Yi. I told you this."

"You can't wait to be rescued? Bu-"

"No, to become a Daemon Hunter!"

With that admission, Naxio is confused as he looks to her. Sure she would lose out on this time, but there is always next year?

"What do you mean?"

She looks at him for a beat as if weighing her options before telling a great secret. She then lets out a sigh and speaks.

"I am low-blood born, Naxio Yi. My mother is not from the clan, she is merely a servant there."

Her words are spat out in a bitter tone, her eyes averted. Naxio's eyes widen at her statement. Low-blood born children, children born outside of wedlock with a member of a clan, aren't unheard of. What is unusual is that most Low-blood born aren't able to manipulate Yang arcane and certainly aren't given the opportunity to bare clan colors. Naxio understands all at once how important this is to her.

"..T-this is my only chance!"

Tears fall from her eyes only for a moment before being wipes away. Moushira's face hardens once again in determination.

"I can't give up!"

Naxio looks to his friend once again in awe at her. She is afraid, that is plain to see but she is determined.


Moushira looks back at Naxio, and her eyes widen a bit in shock. Once again Naxio has surprised her.

"I'll help you!"

"Naxio are you sure?"

"Yes! Though my arcane and binding skill is weak, I can still be of some use!"

Surely Naxio has no choice in the matter to help, but still the fact that he is willing to help brings her great relief. Her signature smile returns and she nods to him.

"Okay...but how will we beat that thing?"

The pair turns back to the waiting beast. The snake is glaring at them from it's stuck position, eyes trained on the pair for it. Its skin has numerous wounds both from when Li-Ren fought it and also Moushira but they are shallow given its tough scaled exterior.

"I don't know, blunt force doesn't seem to be the way. Its skin is extremely tough."

"Hmm, I'm still surprised a Daemon would venture so close to the compound?"

That was a good observation. To be fair however the mountain and the surrounding forest have been known to have a Daemon or two but usually they were weaker creatures. Nothing like the beast in front of them that could easily take on at least 10 to 15 Daemon Hunters on its own. So why has this beast come so close?

"M-maybe it was passing through?"

"Hmm maybe? But the risk seems too high?"

The beast seemed to realize they were talking about it and let a hiss, its long tongue lashing out.

"Well, either way, we need to think of something.."

Moushira then summons her weapon again and Naxio follows her with Falan-shi. The pair try all that they can to kill the beast. However, it is clear even with their combined power, this beast is beyond them. It doesn't take long for their battle to fizzle down.

Back on the ground, both Naxio and Moushira are exhausted. Naxio's finger shakes with pain, his hands sore from playing. He could barely even hold a small tether of Yang given how much he has already strained for. Moushira is in a similar state, her Catgut wires have lost their lethal edge, sitting limply on the ground before her. She could barely move a finger to push the scraps of Yang left in her body. Fortunately, however, the beast also looks like he has finally slowed down even just a bit.

Its head was slightly slumped down as it was taking in larger than normal breaths.

".. Huff... I think... we may.. have a chan...ce."

Moushira gasps that out, her body shaking like a leaf as she tries to stand but ultimately falls back.

"Naxio Yi... we have to more.. time!"

Getting no response from the boy next to her gives her pause before she turns to him. A gasp escapes her lips before she can stop it.

The full back of Naxio was soaked with blood, it would appear the wound on his back was reopened.

Moushira starts to inch over as she watches the boy start to tilt, almost about to fall to the ground in a heap.

"Naxio Yi! Naxio Yi!"

Her desperate calls are only answered with gurgles and a weak mumble. He clearly is in the process of losing consciousness fast and she has no means or way of healing him. She manages to reach him before he completely slumps over, and what little Yang she has is forced into him. Even at the burning sensation of the drain, she pushes past that.

"Naxio Yi, please you can't go to sleep! Wake up please!"

Her voice cracks at the end of her plea, fresh tears fall from her eyes to Naxio's face. He weakly opens his eyes but only for a second. His mouth is moving but no words are coming out.


The beast who had been quiet suddenly perks up and begins to struggle once more. The cave shakes around them, dislodging loose stones and dust. Moushira tries her best to protect Naxio but the dust does make her let out a dry cough.

It's still stuck! We just need to recover our Yang and we should be able to win!

The thought was clear in Moushira's mind, hope though small was strong. So long as the beast was stuck, they still had a chance!

The beast continued to struggle, however, this time determined for freedom. Lashing its body against the opening over and over again until finally, the stones beneath it gave free. It falls to the floor of the cavern area with a boom, denting the floor with the force of its body.

The snake was now free, and it raises its head to the pair which has been battling with it for so long.

We're going to die...

The thought passes through Mourshira's mind so quickly as she stares up at the beast. It was quick and in a whisper and after first, she was in shock. And then in a whirlwind that stray thought became a mantra, screaming in her head.

We're going to die. We're going to die. We're going to die. We're going to die

Over and over again as she watched the beat loom closer and closer. That single thought echoed through her mind, the cold hand of fear gripping her heart tight. As she watches the beast's mouth open and grows closer, that thought screams once again.


A single note echoes through the cave and the world crawls to a stop. Nothing moves in this space, not the air or even the falling rocks.

Moushira can only watch in awe as a figure seemingly out of nowhere descends before her. A few more strings are pulled, more notes spring to life. The melody that plays is solemn yet powerful, it echoes so loudly that Moushira's ears are ringing. A flash of purple waves out at the beast who is still frozen in time. Its eyes bulge out wildly and its body twitches like a leaf in a rainstorm.

The time which felt like it had been frozen for minutes, hours even but in truth was only for a few moments resumes at once. The body of the beast falls limp to the side with a thud, its eyes rolled back so just the white is showing. Black blood pools from its mouth, staining the floor before it.

The beast was dead.

Moushira's eyes drag up from the beast to the person who killed it. The person turns to them and in an instant, Moushira recognizes them.

The mask of Lilac Fox, Yulen Li shines with a soft purple glow. Her legendary Yamatogoto, Kojoku floats before her, strumming gently like a loyal soldier ready to defend its master.

"...Are you both alright?"

Her voice is barely above a whisper but crystal clear all the same. In a way, her voice and tone are similar to her playing, somber yet strong.

"Y-yes, Night Hunter Yulen Li!"

Moushira's response is shaky, still shell-shocked in awe from the display of power.

"Good, it's time to return."

And as if on cue, the sounds of drums echo out. As they finally exited the cave, a wave of sadness and disappointment hits Moushira. The moon was high in the sky, it would seem they missed the deadline.

"I'll bring you both back."

Moushira adjusts Naxio on her back and nods meekly. The drums continued to sound as they walked. When they finally reached back to the compound, Naxio's cousins were waiting eagerly to take him. Gone were the cruel looks and sneer comments as they all crowded him even as some of the Medical Hunters tried to push them out of the way.

The Dawn of the Hunt is over, and they have both failed.

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