Lysanne’s morning was chaotic. In addition to oversleeping by an hour, while taking a shower she ended up dozing off and running even later. She ran around the house packing for the trip. Briana was perched on the back of the couch watching with great amusement.

“I thought you’d be gone before I got up.”

“Well, I overslept! You could’ve woken me up…” Lysanne shoved some food into her bag and ran to the door.

“You always say I’m not allowed in your room, so I didn’t go. Hope your partner isn’t TOO angry!”

Lysanne ran as fast as she could to the guild where Leon was waiting. She honestly expected some sort of reaction to her lateness, but his expression was no different from last night.

“Here.” Leon handed a paper to her and started to walk away. Lysanne grumbled and followed him as she read the paper, which contained details about their mission.

“…It’s just a monster in a house? I thought it’d be more exciting! But twenty points…I guess it’s worth it.” She sighed and shoved the paper into her pocket. Leon stayed silent.

The two left the city to the south, into the same woods where Lysanne fought in her last mission. The path through the forest was windy and rough, with visible ruts in the ground from carts that frequently traveled the path. Swynhurst was a main hub for commerce in the country of Astrenia, second only to the capital.

Lysanne pushed some of her red hair out of her eyes. In her rush to leave she hadn’t pulled it up as perfectly as she usually did into her pigtails. Leon said and did nothing other than walk straight ahead of her. They turned more towards the east, following a path edged with stone. Lysanne recognized the road as the one leading to some of the mansions outside of the city. The higher class did enjoy their space and large houses.

It was sunset when Leon stopped and pointed at a mansion ahead of them.

“This one. Let’s go.” He continued walking.

“…That’s the first thing you’ve said to me since you left.” Lysanne whispered. “So dull.” She stood next to him as he knocked on the door a few times. It was about a minute before it opened, revealing a well-dressed young woman.

“Hunters…you’re here to get rid of that monster?” The girl spoke nervously. Leon wordlessly handed a paper to her, which she briefly scanned over before stepping outside. “Thank you so much…it’s been eating our food and won’t leave. My family left but…I’ve been staying in the basement.”

Lysanne put her hand on the girl’s shoulder. “We’ll take care of it for you, don’t worry. Stay out here, okay?” The girl smiled and nodded, and moved out of the doorway. Lysanne and Leon walked inside, both drawing their weapons as they approached the kitchen. They could hear the ravenous slurping of the monster eating. Leon held back, motioning for Lysanne to engage it first. She sighed lightly, and turned the corner, shooting with both of her guns twice.

The monster screeched and leaped at its attacker, taking out part of the doorway in the process. Lysanne barely dodged and shot back, just grazing the monster as it leaped at her again. When Lysanne dodged this time, she lost her balance and dropped both of her guns. Cursing under her breath, she drew her emergency weapon – a short sword.

“Leon! Do something!” Lysanne slashed at the monster, slicing its clawed hand open. The monster reeled back, and Leon finally unloaded his weapon on it, causing it to collapse. Lysanne grabbed her guns and took aim for the final blow, but paused. The monster started to shrink, eventually becoming nearly a quarter of its former size. She nudged it with her foot.

“Um…you got it?” The girl had come back inside and was peeking around the wall. “Oh…it’s all little again.”

Leon looked at her. “…The food.”

“Oh yes, well, we found it in the backyard injured and thought it was some sort of normal animal, so we took it in to treat it. But then it kept eating our food, and we noticed too late that it was really a monster.”

Lysanne reloaded one of her guns. “It should be killed, then.” The girl nodded and turned around, squeezing her eyes shut as Lysanne shot the monster one last time. Leon picked up the body and carried it outside, returning after a few minutes.

“Thank you again, you two. I know it’s late now…we have a spare room that you two can use so you can rest up and head back to Swynhurst in the morning.”

Leon nodded and headed upstairs. Lysanne sighed and sat in a nearby chair. “Sorry about him, I don’t know what his problem is. So…bland. Hm…I never got your name. I’m Lysanne.” She held out her hand, which the girl took and shook.

“I’m Ciara, it’s nice to meet you. If I ever need help again, I’ll see if I can get you on the job. Would you like anything to eat or drink? I’ve got some stuff in the basement.”

“Actually…do you mind if I stay down there with you tonight? I mean, sleeping in the same room with a strange guy…”

“Oh, of course! Anything to make you feel comfortable!” The two girls went down into the basement. Ciara poured out two glasses of water and handed one to Lysanne. “So…tell me what it’s like to be a hunter. This is the first time I’ve hired any…I’m really curious for some reason.”

“Where to start…” Lysanne tapped her fingers on her leg briefly. “You can join the guild when you turn eighteen, but you can work as an apprentice to a hunter at sixteen…I didn’t get to do that, my parents made me stay in school. I’d be a higher rank if I did that…oh right, hunters are ranked by skill and how many missions they’ve done.”

“I bet you’re at a high rank…I think you’re quite strong.”

“Actually…I’m rank 29. And you start at 30.” Lysanne laughed a bit. “I’ve only been a hunter for six months, so I’ve got a long way to go before I can even think of getting into the top ten. Those guys are the best in the guild, you can only get there if one of them retires, you pass a skills test, and the guild master likes you. It’s tough.”

“I believe in you, Lysanne. You’ll get far.”

“If my parents don’t make me quit first…oh well.” Lysanne took her boots off and lay down on the bed. “I guess I’ll try to sleep now…” She drifted off as Ciara got next to her. “Um…”

“Oh, I could sleep on the floor…” Ciara began to get up.

“No! It’s fine, I was just…surprised. It was stupid of me not to notice. I’m the one intruding here anyway.” Lysanne turned onto her side. “Good night.”

Ciara lightly placed her hand on Lysanne’s back and closed her eyes. “Yes, good night…”

Early the next morning, after eating a light breakfast and cleaning up a bit, Lysanne, Ciara, and Leon stood outside of the mansion. Ciara shook both of the hunter’s hands.

“Again, thank you so much. My family is going to be very happy when they hear the good news!”

“Where are they staying? Do you want one of us to escort you?” Lysanne asked.

“They’re at a neighbor’s house, just down the road.” Ciara pointed down the stone-cobbled road that continued to the west. “I can get there myself, but thank you for the offer. Besides, you need to get back to the city.”

Leon nodded, and began to walk away. Lysanne shook her head and followed him, knowing she would have an uneventful trip back to Swynhurst.

The two hunters went straight to the guild upon their arrival to the city. Leon approached the guild master, who looked up at him.

“Mission complete.” Leon’s tone of voice was the same as always. Lysanne almost wanted to grab and shake him just to see if she got some sort of reaction from the man. She was thinking so much about it that at first she didn’t pick up on the guild master talking to Leon.

“…enough points to rank up. Good job.”

Lysanne snapped back to reality as she waited to hear how many points she got for the mission.

“And you, fifteen points again.” The guild master turned to file the completed mission papers and books away.

She pursed her lips, and tapped her fingers lightly on her leg, trying to keep a level head. Lysanne remembered she still had the mission details paper in her pocket, and pulled it out, placing it on the desk.

“Sir, it said here that the mission was twenty points. And you only gave me fifteen…” She trailed off, almost adding an “again” but decided against it.

“So? The guild bases points given on the effort used in the mission. I questioned your partner for details, he said you didn’t give much.”

“I was the one that killed the thing! Leon, what the hell did you–” Lysanne turned next to her only to see no one standing there.

The guild master sighed and leaned back. “Maybe if you had been paying attention during questioning, you could’ve avoided this. Too bad.”

Lysanne seethed. “How many points do I need to rank up?”


She swore it had been less, but didn’t want to continue arguing. “Then give me a mission that lets me rank up. I’ll do anything.”

“Anything, eh? Well then…there’s a request for an escort mission, bit of a strange one. Usually I’d send a higher leveled member on something this important, but since you’re so eager…”

“I’ll take it.”

The guild master leaned over the desk. “Do note you’ll be working with someone, that Preston girl. If our client complains about any poor behavior from either of you, you won’t be getting any points for this. Might even lose some. Got it?”

“Yeah, I got it. You won’t be disappointed.” Lysanne said, nearly gritting her teeth. A high-stakes mission, and she had to work with Daniella. She thought she probably sounded desperate to the guild master for points, but she wanted to show that she could do a mission right.

“You leave the day after tomorrow. Now get out of the way, there’s others waiting.”

Lysanne said nothing, and walked out of the guild to head home, taking a longer path to clear her head. The last thing she wanted was to walk into the house angry, and get yelled at by her parents, or even worse, chided by her sister. Her thoughts went to her next mission partner – Daniella. She was about a year older than Lysanne, and higher ranked. They had known each other since they were in school, and Daniella was the type to always try to one-up Lysanne at anything, and brag about it. They had never worked on a mission together before, and Lysanne had been dreading the day that it would happen.

“Wonder what’s so high-stakes about this mission anyway…must be a VIP we’re escorting.” Lysanne twirled some of her red hair around her finger as she walked, trying to imagine what kind of person they would be traveling with. “Some rich guy…maybe someone from the company. But where are we even going? I hate that we don’t get mission details until we actually start it.” It wasn’t much longer until Lysanne arrived to her house.

“Hello? Is anyone home? I’m back!”

Lysanne was greeted by silence. She mumbled a bit before walking into the kitchen and opening the icebox, looking for something to snack on.

“I’m here!”

Lysanne jumped up, nearly hitting her head on the top of the compartment, and instinctively put her hand on her gun before turning around. “Oh, it’s just you.” Briana smiled.

“I’m glad you love me so much that you’d kill me.” Briana hugged her sister tightly. “Glad to see you made it back alive again. How was it?”

The older girl sighed and sat down. “My partner was completely boring, I had to share a bed with a near stranger, and I got cheated out of points again.” Lysanne put her head on the table, her red hair sprawling out. Briana started playing with a few of the loose strands.

“Sorry about the points. But what kind of person did you sleep with?”

“It was the client, a girl…it felt a little weird, she kept her hand on me all night. Guess she was still nervous after having a monster in a house for who knows how long.”

“Or maybe she liked you.”

Lysanne groaned. “I hope not. I’m not really interested in dating anyone right now.”

“You just admitted you’d date a girl.”

Lysanne’s head snapped up. “Briana! I didn’t admit anything! Idiot.”

“I think you’re being vague for a reason.” Briana sang in a singsong. “My sister wants to date a girl!”

“Briana, don’t be mean.” Katri walked up to her daughters. “You shouldn’t make fun of Lysanne’s…life choices.”

“Mom, she’s lying! I’m not interested in those kind of things!” Lysanne stood up. “So what if Ciara and I shared a bed? Briana and I did that when we last went on vacation!”

“But I’m your sister, why would you even use that as a comparison?”

Katri sighed. “Stop, both of you. Briana, have you done your homework for tomorrow?”

“It’s been done, didn’t I tell you yesterday?” Briana shrugged. “I guess I’ll go read or something until dinner.” She smiled and headed upstairs. Katri shook her head and started to make preparations for cooking.

“Oh, yeah…” Lysanne said while watching her mother. “I’m leaving on another mission in two days. An escort…have to work with Daniella.”

“…I see. I really wish you would stay home for longer between missions. I suppose it can’t be helped, though. Don’t be too mean to Daniella.”

Lysanne was silent. She could tell from her mother’s tone of voice that she wasn’t happy. “Hey, I could help you with dinner…”

“No, I’m fine. You should clean up before we eat, though.”

“…Right.” Lysanne left the kitchen for the bathroom, hoping that a hot shower would make her feel better.

An hour later, Lysanne was back sitting at the kitchen table, watching her mother finish up dinner. The smell of the roast meat was enticing, and Lysanne was happy she was able to have a home-cooked meal. It was times like this she was happy she hadn’t chosen to move to her own place when she became a hunter, even if she had to deal with other issues. The front door opened, causing her to pick up her head from the table. “Oh, Dad, welcome home!” Lysanne called out.

Orien hung up his jacket and put his briefcase down, walking into the kitchen and hugging Katri. “Dinner smells good.”

“Yeah, it does!” Briana said as she came downstairs. “Almost done, right? Did Lysanne help any or did she just sit there?”

“Don’t fight.” Katri spoke before Lysanne could reply. “And she kept me company while I fixed dinner. Wash your hands and come sit.” The family gathered at the table as Katri served them, before she sat down as well.

“So Lysanne, this is the first time you’ve eaten dinner with us in a week. How does it feel?” Briana grinned.

“I’ve been working.”

“Right, right. Hey Dad, how was your work today? I’m sure Lysanne’s really interested in hearing about it.”

Katri looked at Briana. “Stop, please. We’ve been over this before.”

“Briana, you should be thinking of what you’d like to do after you finish school.” Orien added to the conversation.

“Oh, I’ve thought! Maybe teaching, or working at a library. Something like those, I’ve got the grades to do it.”

“Those are good choices.” Orien said. Katri also nodded. Lysanne sunk into her chair and finished eating.

“Excuse me.” Lysanne got up and put her dishes in the sink, then went upstairs into her room. She didn’t feel any better from earlier, especially with the added light jabs Briana kept making at her. She also felt like her parents had nearly stopped caring about her choices.

Meanwhile, the rest of her family was still sitting together in the kitchen. Katri spoke first.

“Maybe we are being too harsh on her…”

“Neither one of us wanted her to become a hunter, but she has shown her strength.” Orien answered. “Besides, she is an adult. We couldn’t stop her.”

Briana quietly stood up. “Lysanne and I will do the shopping tomorrow, okay? I’ll apologize to her then…I think I was the one who went a bit too far.”

The next day, Briana dragged Lysanne out to the market earlier than she would’ve liked. The sun was high in the near cloudless sky, but the morning chill still lingered.

“Briana, it’s a weekday, why are you out with me?”

“Day off of school…it’s planting time so a lot of people aren’t showing up. We’re only going every other day for a while.” Briana looked up at her sister. “Are you starting to lose your memory? You haven’t even been out of school for a year.” Lysanne responded by lightly smacking Briana on the head. The two sisters went around the market, picking up the various goods that Katri had listed for them. The market was nearly empty, only a few other people were out doing their own shopping.

“I’m gonna go into this store for bit. Wait out here…or go pick up the next thing, doesn’t matter.” Lysanne waved and dashed into a clothing store. Briana giggled and kept walking. She was interrupted when a man stepped in front of her a short way down the road.

“Is…there something you want, sir?” Briana asked, cautiously. She had already partially turned away from the man, ready to run. She wasn’t entirely sure how fast she could run carrying the things she had bought, but she thought that dropping a few goods wouldn’t matter in the long run, and maybe even trip up the guy if he chased her.

The man smirked. “You’re a polite little girl, aren’t you? Well, why don’t you just politely give me that purse you’ve got around you and I’ll leave you alone.”

“Trying to rob someone in broad daylight? You’ve got guts…” Briana started walking backwards, keeping her eye on the man.

“Not as sweet as I thought. Too bad.” The man lunged at her, causing Briana to jump back and let out a short yell. She turned to run, but her foot caught a loose stone and she tripped to the ground. Briana held still, hoping the man would just take whatever and run, but the grab she was expecting never came. The brown-haired girl looked up behind her. The man’s arms were twisted behind his back in a hold by a taller person wrapped in a hooded cloak.

“Too bad for you, rather. It is gutsy to try to rob a girl so early in the morning.” The cloaked person said in a low voice. Another man walked up to the pair, and the cloaked man handed the mugger off to him. “Young miss, are you all right? Let me help you up.”

Briana took his hand gratefully. “Thank you, sir. I should’ve just handed it over instead of talking back like that. I…I should get back to my sister.”

“No need to, it seems. Is that her there?” The man pointed behind her, and Briana turned to see Lysanne watching curiously. He then walked up to her. “Don’t worry, she’s safe…an idiot just tried to get some fast money from her.”

Lysanne was silent, staring at the cloaked man. She couldn’t see his facial features well at all, other than a few strands of blond hair poking out from under the hood. He smiled at her and she jumped a bit. “Sorry, I…yeah. Thanks for…helping, sir.”

“Not a problem. I must be going now. Be sure to protect your sister…family is a precious thing.” Lysanne watched as he walked off down the main road, eventually disappearing down a side street.

“Good job on being rude, Lysanne. I’m sure he appreciated you staring like that.”

“Briana.” Lysanne didn’t turn around. “That…that was the top ranked hunter. That was Landis.”

“Top ranked, huh? So…”

“He’s really strong…mysterious…I’ve heard he never takes off that cloak, not even for the guild master. And he rose to the top rank in only five years!” Lysanne blinked. “Oh gods, and I just stared at him!” She buried her face in her hands, groaning.

Briana put her hand on her sister’s back and rubbed lightly. “You’re just realizing that now? You should go apologize to him, once you’re back from your mission, I guess.”

“I think I will…I hope he doesn’t tell the guild master that I’m some rude bitch or something.”

“You’ll be fine!” Briana smacked Lysanne’s back, causing her to stumble. She laughed. “Let’s go home, I’m hungry. We can make something to keep for dinner later too, be nice to Mom and Dad.”

“Ugh, all right.” The two left the market and headed home.

NaNoWriMo 2010 – Chapter 2

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