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A Monster Rancher fanfic by Lord Jareth (email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Disclaimer: I do not own MR (wish I did) and I do not own the monster concept. However, this story is mine, as are all of the characters.
I am the guardian of this forest. It is my forest, and all those who dare trespass must face my wrath…
I am Antaeus, the Earth Keeper. Humans seldom leave this place at all—that is, those stupid enough to enter in the first place—and those who do leave are in too many pices to be of any use to anyone.
And now you’re going to die. At least, you will soon. I’m feeling lonely though… I could use someone to talk to… I’ll kill you tomorrow. But now you’ll listen to my story and see if your pitful human mind can fathom just what this forest means to me, and how your presence defiles it…
The first human came quite some time ago. He was a loud, pretty horrible young man who dragged a baby Naga around with him, forcing the poor boy to go on long after he was exhausted. He destroyed the rare, fragile healing herbs I had worked so hard to grow and protect, crushing them beneath his boots… until they were nothing but dust.
I loved those plants, I really did. They were my work, they were my pride and joy… I attacked the stupid human and took his baby monster into my care.
But I let the human live… that was my mistake. He came back with others, many others, and monsters too, so defiled by their service to humanity that they had lost their voices. I felt sadness well up inside me like nothing I had ever felt before.
I killed them all this time. Every last one, I killed the strong and the weak, the fast, the slow, the wise, the foolish… I took no prisoners. Their blood fed my plants. That blood, spilled in the blind hatred of all humanity made them even stronger than they could have ever been before… they will never again be destroyed by careless, brutal human hands and feet. So great is the power of the blood that they will uproot to stand and fight before they will die at the hands of the likes of you.
You see those flowers over there? Those blue ones? Steep the leaves in boiling water and the tea will work wonders for breathing and sinus trouble. If eaten, the petals help ulcers and stomach infection, but you stupid humans have tried to crush the knowledge I would have been willing to share at one time.
Ah, yes, and the baby monster I rescued from the human. He grew to be strong and quite vicious. He began to take after me, looking more and more like me even, until eventually nobody would guess that he’d been purebred originally. You have heard of the Punisher, am I right? That’s him… that’s my boy. I cared a great deal for him… still do. Anyone who knows him would.
But now I’m sounding proud to you… or I’m not. I have no knowledge of human emotions. I have no need to know of them. You understand, do you not? If not, then learn to understand. You don’t have much more time.
You say you’re different from the other humans… I say why should I believe that? You’re just another arrogant, maybe even naïve one of many…
And now I’m talking too much. I feel like such a fool. You’ll pay for that… I don’t like feeling like a fool. It embarrasses my home as it embarrasses me. Now get out of my sight.
But be warned… if you go beyond the wards you will die.
Two days later Antaeus killed his prisoner. Like before, blood fed the plants. Antaeus felt no remorse for what he had done… he was an Earth Keeper, and forgave no one who would destroy nature.
More humans came to the forest, trying to seek out Antaeus and kill him at all costs. Humans and monsters alike tore through the plants and animals that lived nowhere else in the world but the forest. They didn’t care any more. They had lost too many humans and monsters alike to Antaeus to care anymore.
They brought everyone with them who could even walk. Everyone who could fight, even a small boy of eight. The boy, named Lasen, was a painfully small, weak and generally overall pathetic creature with no redeeming feature save his intelligence and determination.
Nobody in his town knew just what Lasen wanted to do with himself, but they knew how hard he worked, so they drafted him to kill Antaeus with the rest. Lasen didn’t want to kill Antaeus like they did. He saw the pain and rage warring in the ancient Earth Keeper’s eyes as he fought them, bringing down soldier after soldier with his attacks and never seeming to tire.
After the fight, the human army of so many bloodthirsty men left Antaeus for dead. Lasen stayed behind.
“What plants stop blood flow?” he knelt by Antaeus, staring into his eyes, awaiting a response. “Which ones? You can’t die!”
“Those,” Antaeus rasped, pointing to a patch of prickly weed-like plants.
Lasen followed every order Antaeus threw at him quickly and well. Soon the bleeding was stopped and Antaeus slept. He was fitful and restless, even in sleep there was no peace for him, plagued incessantly by dreams and fever. Lasen never left his side.
Time passed slowly for the both of them. Lasen struggled but managed to nurse Antaeus back to health. It was a long, hard, slow process. He never slept. There was just no time for sleep.
As he was alone, Lasen failed to notice how he was changing during his life with Antaeus, even without the consciousness of the old wise monster to guide him. He was growing stronger and able to go withough sleep for days on end before he would tire and need to sleep.
As Antaeus opened his eyes for the first time in several weeks, Lasen stood over him. “You’re alive!”
Antaeus eyed Lasen with confusion. “Who are you, boy?”
“You’ve saved my life, you know.”
“I suspected as much. How are you feeling.”
“Not as bad as I’d have expected. Did I tell you how to use the plants?”
“Yes… I think you were delirious at the time but you told me and I used that knowledge to heal you.”
“Were you ever human, Lasen?”
“Yes. I still am.”
“You aren’t human, Lasen. Look at yourself.” Antaeus pushed himself up so he was standing. “Just look at yourself. You’ve become more than anyone else could ever become.”
Lasen looked into the river. He saw what must have been his reflection but looked nothing like what he remembered himself to be. His face was no longer human… it was longer and wider, his jaw was heavier and his eyes were larger, brighter and held a kind of wisdom and madness that he’d only ever seen in monsters. He was also taller and stronger than any human he’d ever known. His skin was taking the texture of stone and growing brightly colored.
“What’s happening to me?” he whispered to Antaeus in awe. “What’s happening? I don’t understand…”
“You are the Ecologuardia, Lasen,” Antaeus told him softly. “You are beyond what any human could ever be.”
“You mean I’m a… monster?”
“Then who am I now?”
“You are still Lasen… but that is not the name of the greatest guardian of all time.” Antaeus smiled warmly at Lasen. “You will keep your name for now. But you, my brother, greate Ecologuardia… you will bear the name of Antaeus after my life has passed.”
“You won’t die!” Lasen declared hotly. “I won’t let you!”
“I am old, Lasen,” Antaeus said tiredly. “We all die eventually. You are but a youngster. You will outlive me easily.”
Lasen sighed softly. “I guess you’re right. I suppose I’ll understand in time. I just don’t want to lose you, Antaeus. You’ve taught me everything that I know that’s worth knowing… I’ll miss you. And I’ll never forget you.”
“That’s my boy.” Antaeus smiled. “Don’t be a murderer like I was… teach the fools my secrets. Well, the ones with the capacity for wisdom. Try to tear down the walls between us. That was the way of Antaeus, once…”
“How many of you have there been?” Lasen blinked, a bit confused.
“My dear boy… Antaeus cougued suddenly. “There has been Antaeus since there have been humans and monsters and conflict between those who do not follow Nature and those who do.”
“In other words, just about forever.”
“That sounds about right.” Antaeus smiled, and coughed again. “Forget this. Your metamorphosis is up and I’m going to die. You are…”
“NO! Don’t say it! Don’t die! You can’t!”
“I can, and I will. Farewell……….. Antaeus.” The Earth Keeper closed his eyes. His breathing stopped and his muscles relaxed as the blood and energy left them.
“NOOOOOOOOOOO!” Lasen—Antaeus—screamed as he saw his mentor’s body go limp. “NO! NO! YOU CAN’T BE DEAD!!” he broke down, crying. “I can’t let you… I can’t be—”
“You have to,” said a voice in his head. “You don’t have a choice. Not an honorable one.”
Antaeus stood. “I’ll find them. I’ll show them all… they killed my brother.”
A large group of children flocked toward Antaeus as he walked into the small town. They were shocked to see the face of Lasen, the lost outcast boy, in the place of a typical Golem’s. “Are ya actually Lasen?” one of them asked him. “’Cause ya look just like him. So? Are ya?”
“I was,” Antaeus told them.
“If you were, what are you now?” the kid asked.
“I am Antaeus.”