On the Hunt

"Hurry up!" Gladio yelled at the two younger members of their team straggling behind himself and Ignis. The Elder's Recess was a dangerous place filled with fierce monsters. Elder Dragons made this location their home. Better for the four armored Hunters to stay together rather than get separated, whatever the reason may be.

"Just taking a moment to admire the scenery, sorry!" Prompto apologized and began to jog towards the two ahead of him. He really had been admiring his surroundings, attempting to imprint some of what he saw into his mind. As soon as he was home, he planned on doing a little painting. It was a hobby of his. His room was full of his works of art.

"What's the rush? We got all week to find what we need," Noctis yawned, continuing at his lazy pace. The other three slowed down a little to accommodate him. Sometimes it was hard to believe Noctis was ranked the highest among the four of them. He was Commander Regis's son and had been trained from childhood to succeed him.

Noctis had even caught the eye of the mysterious Hunter known as Somnus. No one was sure of his last name and, as far as they were aware, no one had even seen what he looked like. He always wore a strange set of spiky armor that he never took off when he visited the village of Astera. The man was normally around every other month or so for a short time. He spent most of the time with the Commander before leaving again.

Somnus had rescued Noctis on a solo hunt once. Inexperienced as he was at the time, Noctis had not recognized the signs of a Deviljo. He'd been curious about the tracks but quickly realized when he caught up with the monster that he was severely outmatched. Somnus had arrived in the nick of time to drive the beast off.

The mysterious Hunter had even asked Noctis to accompany him on a hunt some time later. Noctis said Somnus was quiet, offering advice on occasion. There was little small talk and Noctis had been too intimidated to really speak much. It had been awkward, at least for Noctis, but he'd been glad he'd gone. He felt he learned quite a lot from Somnus. The Hunter was amazing in combat.

"Remember what's on the line here," Ignis reminded everyone, breaking them from whatever they'd been thinking of, "I for one would rather not spend next week cleaning out the Wingdrake stables."

"We won't," Noctis said, not at all worried. They were a great team. They'd get what they needed to win the bet and then they could go home. And Noctis would be going straight to his room to nap. They'd had to get up at an ungodly hour to make it to this place before the sun fully rose. The other three Hunters wanted to have as much daylight as possible for the expedition today.

"Why did you three believe making such a bet was a good idea?" Ignis said, not for the first time.

"It makes things more interesting," Gladio shrugged, needing not much reason than that. Both other men in the group had similar answers. There really was no need for bets. It was just a bit of fun among the Hunters.

Ignis sighed as Noctis finally caught up to them. The four continued on their way to sector 8, hoping it would not take too long to find a suitable monster. It had to be something difficult else they might lose the bet they, minus Ignis, had made.

"Hey, think Iris would like this?" Gladio said, picking up one of the many colourful crystal pieces laying on the ground. It was small and more reflective than the pieces around it. Above them, gigantic shards of crystal loomed, made of the bioenergy of countless Elder Dragons.

The four had been here several times but they'd always been in a rush. There had never been time for them to look around. Now that the more dangerous monsters had been dealt with, the Hunters found they could explore at their leisure.

"Probably?" Noctis said to his friend, a little unsure. Would Iris like something made of a bunch of dead monsters? Sure it was pretty, but wasn't it a little morbid?

"Luna probably would too. You should get a few pieces for her," Prompto insisted.

"If Luna wants some, she would have taken some. She's been here before," Noctis responded. Luna could fight like the best of them and her longtime partners Aranaea and Gentiana were just as good. Her brother, Ravus, made up the fourth in their team.

"That's not the point," Prompto rolled his eyes, "just grab a few good ones for her. I'm sure she'll like them."

"Cindy might like these too, you know," Gladio smirked as he said this, "I heard she was thinking of trying to make something with them."

"Really?" Prompto perked up, "well then, I shall find the loveliest pieces for the Goddess of the forge!"

Gladio chuckled at the enthusiasm the blonde had in searching the area. Noctis on the other hand, casually wandered around and pocketed a few pieces of the broken crystals. Ignis wandered over to the few plants that grew in the area and began to collect them. He was the one that made all of the potions and remedies in their group.

Gladio looked around for monster traces, seeing a broken rock similar to something a Dodogoma would leave behind. He recalled that Iris had been so taken by the one they'd captured last month. The monster was oddly cute, with it's fat lizard like body, big eyes and stupid expression. Noctis had demanded they capture it instead of kill it even despite the trouble it caused them. Prompto had agreed, also taken with the monster's appearance. Ignis and Gladio did not argue.

A roar froze the four Hunters in their tracks. Something soared above them on it's way to another sector. All four of them recognized the cry instantly.

"Kushala," Ignis remarked. Elder Dragon of wind. They'd faced one before, over a month back and had been successful in taking it down. This time they would have some experience in fighting such a creature and may even find it an easier battle because of that.

"Well, let's get hunting," Noctis grinned, eyes lighting up in excitement, "bringing home one of those bad boys is going to guarantee us the win and maybe even enough materials for some new armor from Cindy."

"Yeah!" Prompto cheered at the thought, "let's get this show on the road!"

The four Hunters sprinted towards the next area in excitement. Nothing like facing an Elder Dragon to get the blood pumping. They found the beast out in the open where an even more massive crystal structure, almost flower-like, loomed high in the background.

The Kushala turned to face the Hunters, sensing a threat. It narrowed its eyes and roared out a challenge.

The Kushala wasn't going down easy, but the Hunters hadn't expected it too. It was an Elder Dragon after all.

Noctis sprinted past a whirlwind the Elder Dragon had summoned and leapt towards the Kushala. His longsword sliced into the hard hide of the beast and it staggered back. Prompto then blasted the monster with shot after shot from his bowgun as Noctis advanced with a series of strikes.

Gladio came up from behind and hefted his greatsword to sever the tail of the Kushala in one stroke. The monster cried out and turned to attack him when Ignis jumped onto it's back. The man's twin daggers bit deeply into the monster's neck and gave Gladio the opportunity to get back to a safer distance.

All of it was too much for the Kushala and it caused a whirlwind to blast the Hunters away from itself. Noctis and his friends went flying back. The monster then limped a few steps as the Hunters picked themselves off the ground. It suddenly took to the air and immediately fled instead of trying to attack.

"Damn!" Gladio groaned, breathing hard. He was exhausted. He wasn't looking forward to the long trek to wherever it had fled.

"It's off to it's nest. It's probably in sector 11, if I recall," Ignis noted, equally exhausted. He cleaned his glasses swiftly as they began to fog up from his own body heat. "That's where the last one headed to as well."

"Let's just take a few minutes to get out breath back and do some quick maintenance," Noctis said as he sat down heavily, 'my blade's getting a bit dull."

"Yes, please. I'm tired," Prompto added as he sat down beside Noctis. He began to reload his bowgun and glance through his ammo pouch to take stock of what he had remaining.

After the Hunters took a quick breather they headed for the nest, feeling a little refreshed.

The Kushala was sleeping on a raised platform in the middle of the sector. Noctis almost felt bad for it, but shook it off. Elder Dragons were fierce and territorial. It would need to be dealt with if they wanted to investigate further anyway. They still didn't know why the Elder Dragons were traveling to the New World. They were close to finding out the truth though, at least the man felt like they were.

"Woah!" Noctis cried out when he was blasted away with a burst of air before he could reach the resting Kushala. It was unexpected as it was not the Kushala before him that fired the blast. Noctis's helmet was knocked off his head and rolled off the pillar.

"Damn! There's another one!" Gladio warned as another Kushala landed heavily on the ground from above. The wounded Kushala awoke from the noise and scrambled to its feet. It roared in anger and now two Kushala faced the four Hunters.

"I believe a retreat is in order," Ignis advised. At the look his companions gave him, he added. "I know we've worked hard today but this beast is not worth our lives. We can return another day. We are not prepared to fight two Elder Dragons."

Realizing Ignis was right, the other three backed away from the two monsters. Both Kushala made their way forward towards the humans. Neither monster attacked, wary of them. The wounded one knew they were trouble already and the new one was likely gauging them.

Ignis hoped their slow retreat would allow them to escape without alarming either Kushala into going onto the offensive. The monsters might not attack if they were careful enough and they could all make it to safety without trouble.

It might have worked, had another roar not erupted behind them. This cry was different but also very, very familiar. It was not what any of the Hunters needed right now.

"Fuck," Noctis swore as he glimpsed a Teostra making it's way into the sector. The great red, maned, beast sauntered its way behind the four humans. As far as they were aware, Teostras did not regularly make their way to this side of the Elder's recess.

Just to make things even worse than they already were, another shadow shot down from the sky. Negigante, the Elder Dragon that had hunted Zorah Magdaros, now made its arrival.

"We are so in trouble," Prompto whispered, panic evident in his tone.

"Perhaps not. The Negigante might allow us the distraction we need to escape," Ignis whispered. Nergigante feasted on other Elder Dragons and the wounded Kushala would be perfect prey for it. These monsters had taken kills from other Hunters so it was not too surprising that it appeared. "Get ready to flee once it goes for the Kushala."

"You got it," Gladio responded. Dodging the Teostra on their way out might not be fun but at least it would be the only monster they would worry about.

Their hopes of the Hunters were dashed however, when all four Elder Dragons began to surround them, barely even glancing at one another. The beasts should have been hostile to one another, they always had been before, but for some reason they were not today. Whatever the cause, the Hunters now faced not two but four Elder Dragons. And all of them didn't look happy to see the intruders in their home. They glared at the Hunters, looking ready to pounce.

The four men glanced at each other in panic, realizing they may not make it out of here. Even the Palicos would not be able to save them before they were torn to shreds. Maybe this was a bit of karma. Hunters normally attacked monsters in groups of four as they had done with the first Kushala. Now it was technically fair odds for either side, at least in numbers. In strength and ferocity however, the humans were outmatched.

The four monsters began to approach the Hunters from all sides and the men prepared themselves for a fight for their lives.

Suddenly, there was a whistle that startled both Hunters and monsters. All four Elder Dragons stopped their advance but continued to keep their eyes on the humans.

"Well, well. What do we have here?" A man said as he approached. His hair was a violet-red hue and he swaggered towards them like he owned the place. The man's gaze locked onto Noctis and he smiled.

"You might want to reconsider coming over here," Noctis said, attempting to warn the man. He didn't look like a Hunter. He had no weapons and was only dressed in some odd, mismatched clothing. Layers and scarves, was this man not hot in this place? None of what he wore looked remotely like it would protect him from the claws and teeth of a monster.

"Oh, no. I think this situation warrants my presence. The four of you would not survive otherwise," the man smirked at him. Noctis was confused, as was the rest of his friends. Just what could this unarmed man even do against these Elder Dragons?

They were of course shocked when the man did something, made a gesture and an odd light appeared around him for a moment, reminiscent of the glow the large crystal structure in the previous sector exuded. The Elder Dragons turned to face the stranger and, incredibly, began to back away from the Hunters. Almost as one, the four monsters walked towards the man.

"He's… Controlling the Elder Dragons?" Noctis was shocked at the sight. Ignis too could only stare in amazement as the beasts before them bowed to the man's will. The monsters stood behind him to then turn towards the Hunters once more. They looked calmer, even the one that the Hunters had wounded.

"How? That's not possible!" Prompto exclaimed in surprise. It shouldn't have been but it seemed to be the case.

The strange man made another gesture and the two Kushala immediately leapt into the air and fled the sector. The Teostra too jumped off the ledge to take his leave. Only the Negigante remained, which sat down beside the man.

"You there," the stranger said pointing to Noctis, "might you tell me your name?"

"Uhh, Noctis," the dark-haired man responded, still a little stunned at the display. He shook himself out of his stupor and added, "thank you for saving us."

The three Hunters behind Noctis also said their thanks. They watched the man carefully as he turned briefly to stroke the neck of the Nergigante.

"A good name," the man hummed, "are you by chance one of Somnus's progeny? You share such a striking resemblance that I almost mistook you for him, though I do admit it has been quite some time since I'd seen him last. He does still live, does he not? Do you by chance know of his whereabouts?"

"Somnus? He's not my dad. Yeah he's alive and no, I don't know where he is," Noctis denied, a tad puzzled. This stranger knew of Somnus? "I know you saved us but don't go around implying another man is my father."

"Is that so? I feel the resemblance is too striking for anything but. Did my brother abandon his child? I suppose I should not be surprised. He was never one for children."

Noctis felt a surge of anger at the implication that he was abandoned but before he could speak, Ignis did.

"Might you permit me to ask just how you were able to order the Elder Dragons to leave us? That is quite an incredible feat," Ignis interrupted. Maybe he thought it best not to anger the man after such a show.

"Isn't it? I've had plenty of time to hone such an ability. I fear I would rather keep this secret to myself however. I'm sure you understand. It would be such a shame if the knowledge were to fall into the wrong hands," the way the man said this, the way he smiled, set all four Hunters on edge. "Why just think of the carnage one could cause with an army of Elder Dragons on their side. Not even a village of Hunters could survive such an attack."

"I see," Ignis murmured, taken aback. Was that a threat? There had been a village that once fell to such a fate more than twenty years ago. The Commander's father, Noctis's grandfather, had fallen in the attack and no one could figure out why such a thing occurred. Even then, reports said that Elder Dragons who should have been hostile to one another worked together to slaughter the Hunters.

"And I believe it is about time I take my leave," the man then said before Ignis or the others could ask anything else. He swiftly jumped onto the back of the Negigante. The monster didn't seem to mind.

"Wait!" Noctis cried out. He took several steps towards the man, as did his friends but it was too late. The Negigante was already in the air.

"I must apologize but I cannot," the man yelled out to them from above, "please make sure to give Somnus my regards. Tell him his brother wishes to see him. He will know of the place I will await… And he will of course know the consequences should he fail to arrive."

And with that, the man was gone.

The four Hunters were left alone to wonder what the hell happened.

Somnus wasn't at the Outpost when they returned and neither was Noctis's father. The Commander had gone on a hunt and would be back the next afternoon. Noctis and his friends were deeply troubled and decided to keep this news to themselves until they could talk to the Commander.

Luckily, Somnus arrived that night. Noctis only knew because he hadn't been able to sleep. He kept thinking of what the man said. His father would have told him if he'd been adopted, right? And just who was that stranger? Was he a threat, like Noctis believed he was? He did save them, but it seemed he had his own reasons for it. What he said felt awfully close to a threat, for the village and for Somnus.

As Noctis stood on his balcony to get some air, he saw a familiar figure walking in the distance. He didn't even think about what he did next, he just jumped leapt over the railing, not even bothering to go back into the house. He landed hard on the ground and sprinted towards the man he saw.

He found Somnus at the top of Astera, inside the small wooden outpost that overlooked the village. A single lantern in the middle illuminated the inside. Noctis noticed the man's Wingdrake settled on top of the small structure.

"Yes?" Somnus said, turning to face his pursuer. He did not seem surprised to see Noctis.

"We need to talk," Noctis gasped, out of breath.

Somnus remained quiet throughout the tale. Noctis didn't mention what the stranger implied about his own parentage or resemblance however.

"So… He's finally turned up…" Somnus murmured, almost to himself. He seemed lost in thought.

"He's really your brother?" Noctis asked, wanting to know if it was true.

"Yes, though I have not seen Ardyn in over twenty years," Somnus confirmed.

Ardyn? Noctis thought to himself. So that was the man's name?

"Is he what you've been looking for all this time?" Noctis asked, hoping Somnus would not be angered at his prying. It always felt like the older Hunter was searching for something. People had been spreading rumours for years on what that might be. Some believed it was the monster that disfigured him and that was why he never showed his face. Others believed it was a friend that had gone missing. Others still said it must be a long lost beloved. It seemed it may have been that Somnus had been looking for his brother the entire time.

"I shall be on my way then. Thank you for your report," Somnus nodded to Noctis before he swiftly turned around.

"Wait! You're going to go, just like that? Alone?" Noctis exclaimed in surprise. Sure, Somnus was a skilled Hunter but even he wouldn't be able to take down a group of Elder Dragons at once. Shouldn't he be bringing backup in case things went south? And Noctis felt they surely would. Ardyn did not seem like he planned anything good for his brother.

"Yes. Ardyn would prefer it that way. It will be dangerous for anyone else."

"And it won't be for you?" Noctis argued, "if you can't wait for anyone else, then let me come with you at least."

"That is unwise," Somnus refused and began to walk out of the structure, past Noctis.

"Ardyn said some things," Noctis called out to his back, desperate for him to stop. He didn't really want to know the answer to this but maybe it would get Somnus to stay for a while longer. Maybe even wait until the Commander returned. "He said I look almost exactly like you. Is that true? He said you're probably my father."

Somnus stilled and then turned to look back at Noctis.

"Regis is your father," the armored man stated firmly, almost harshly, "he raised you from birth, do you dare question that?"

"Yes. Because he also told me the truth," Noctis lied automatically. He both hoped he was and wasn't wrong in this. Somnus was likely aware that Regis was gone, but maybe not when he had gone. Noctis could possibly just pretend they'd run into one another right before he left on his quest if the man questioned his response.

Somnus went quiet, as if thinking. After some time, he sighed and Noctis felt like he would finally get an explanation.

"Regardless of who your sire is, know that anyone would be proud of the man you've become. The man that raised you is your father, no one else will ever hold that title."

It was not an admission, but it was close enough. Noctis felt a wave of sorrow to learn the truth in such a way. But he shook it from his mind. He would talk to his father about this later. For now, he had to try and convince Somnus to not head off alone. He wanted him to explain things. What happened between him and Ardyn? How was his brother able to control Elder Dragons? … Why did he not want to raise his own child?

"Take care Noctis," Somnus offered and whistled. Somnus's Wingdrake, one that allowed no other than he to fly with, jumped into action. Somnus's grappling hook latched onto the mount and both were off before Noctis could reach them.

Noctis immediately dashed towards the stables for his own Wingdrake but by the time he made it, Somnus was long out of sight. There was no way to tell where he had gone and not even the scout flies could help in this. It was not like Noctis was prepared anyway. He couldn't follow him in just his pajamas. He'd have to return home and equip himself.

Frustrated, Noctis slowly made his way home. His thoughts lingered on Somnus's last words. They way he said them felt almost like a goodbye. As if he knew he would not return.

With determination, Noctis decided he would not allow that. There was too much he now wished to ask, to know. Tomorrow, he would speak to his father. And hopefully, he might be able to learn just where Ardyn and Somnus might be. He'd find them, with his father and friends at his side.

Noctis just prayed they wouldn't be too late.

I recently started playing Monster Hunter so this random idea popped into my head. Wasn't too sure where to take it so this is as much as I will write for it. (Side note, titling fics is hard. There is a reason I use random one word titles for most of my stories.)

I probably should be working on all my other WIPs but I am stuck on them, as I tend to often be. ^.^' I'm attempting to work on the next part of Switch and Revenge so hopefully I can get something out by the end of the month. I also have a new fic that is close to being done, which surprise, will not have a happy ending.

Thanks for reading, apologies for anything I got wrong regarding the MH stuff. I didn't pay much attention to the lore and then went and added some of my own ideas to it. In the game, I just like jumping into SOS quests and not much else.