Disclaimer: I don't own Monster Rancher apart from the characters I create and I apologize for similarities between my story and anyone else's (but if there is, they are just coincidences)
"Good, maybe we can get a good night's sleep" Holly said.
The Searchers walked into the small town and headed for the tavern, walking in, they stared, all the noise and people suggested some sort of celebration,
"Glugga, Glugga, Glugga" the men all cheered as a particularly drunk-looking man downed a whole tankard of beer without stopping for breath.
Genki looked round, the inn was mainly full of humans, but at one table, a Spot Saurian sat opposite this female pixie who looked about Genki's age, it stared back at the boy and raised an eyebrow curiously.
Holly smiled and then turned to watch the middle of the tavern, where a barrel of wine was standing on one table and a furry brown body was sticking halfway from it, a female Hare emerged from the barrel, smiling as purple liquid streamed down her face.
"Disgusting display" Tiger muttered, as he glanced into a dark corner. Then he noticed the cloaked figure quietly sitting at a table positioned there, a Hare Hound at his feet.
The figure juust took a draught from his beer tankard and stared back at Tiger, unafraid, the wolf growled and turned away
"Did you hear, the Extremists somehow managed to blow up an entire garrison of Moo's troops" someone said
"That'll get them killed"
"The Extremists?" Holly muttered
"Let's get something to eat" Genki led the others up to the bar. Holly turned to start following them, but a man was suddenly standing in her way.
"What's someone as pretty as you doing in a place in this" he leered at Holly.
She stared, horrified, his breath reeked of beer, he grabbed her wrists and spun her round in a drunken dance
"Stop, please stop" she pleaded.
"Holly" Genki was standing up on his stool.
She could hear Tiger and Suezo attempting to break through the crowd cutting her off from all her friends and Golem was also starting to move forward
"The young lady wants you to stop, I suggest you do so" suddenly the cloaked figure stepped forward.
"What of it" the drunken man pushed Holly away.
And she stumbled into a plump, but tough-looking woman in a tight red dress with white lacey edgings, this beauty spot on her right cheek and her hair in a bun with a few bits hanging loose round her face, then the woman quickly wrapped a shawl around Holly's shoulders, the girl was trembling,obviously shaken by the experience
"You come with Peg, lass"
Holly was led to a table on the other side of the room, The drunk was circling the stranger, who turned to walk away, the man lunged forwards and punched the cloaked figure on the arm.
"Now he's done it" the Spot Saurian muttered.
The figure turned and looked at the drunk, then put his hands up to his throat
"Come on, come on, what ya made of" the man jeered.
Whipping his cloak off, the figure revealed himself to be a Blue Hare, as the drunk charged, the rabbit spun his cloak in the man's face, tangling him in it. The man stumbled forwards, the Hare, both fists together, brought his elbows down heavily on his back, the drunk man stumbled forward and collapsed Suezo, who was standing up on a stool to get a better look, paled "No way" the eyeball gasped as he saw the Hare, who was putting his cloak back on.
The Blue Hare turned and headed for the inn door with the Hare Hound, the young pixie, the Spot Saurian and the female Hare all following him, suddenly another drunk was blocking their way out
"No monster does that to Lewis" he said.
Protectively putting one arm round the pixie, the Blue Hare ducked as the female Hare leapt forward, punching the man as the Spot Saurian turned, picked up the barrel of wine and threw it at the angry mob, wine spilled all over the floor, then the monsters were gone
"That's it" Peg stood up, brandishing the frying pan that hung from her belt.
Genki had never seen an inn emptied so quickly
"Look at this mess" Peg sighed, looking at the wine-covered floor.
"Do you want some help, we can mop up for you" Holly said.
"Right, here you go" Peg handed mops to Genki, Holly, Golem and Hare.
"My dear lady, I would be honoured if you would" Hare started.
Peg clouted him round the head "I know your type, rabbit, get mopping"
From the corner, Tiger laughed quietly to himself as they all started mopping, Golem holding his mop gently between two fingers and lightly pushing it across the floor.
"Hey, do you have any rooms we can use for the night?" Genki asked. Peg spun round, a nervous look on her face "Uuhh, no, look, why don't you try the hotel opposite, in fact, I'll finish the mopping, so why don't you go now" she smiled as she snatched the mops from them Tiger narrowed his eyes, why did he get the feeling that she was hiding something
* * * * *
Lewis, the man who had tried to dance with Holly, stumbled up to this old door half-hidden in the shadows and he knocked unsteadily on it. "Come in, Lewis"
He pushed the door open, a figure sat in the room, concealed by the shadows "Well, anything to report"
"Yeah, Mr.V, the group you described were in the tavern earlier and I danced with the girl, she still has the stone"
"Good, that stone is essential to my master's plans to form an alliance with this Moo"
Lewis stared uncomfortably at the stranger, the idea of anyone wishing to ally themselves with Moo scared him, who would do that.
"You might go"
"Thank you, sir"
"Oh and, Lewis"
A bag of gold coins flew through the air and the drunk man caught it, smiling
"My pleasure, Mr V"
* * * * *
"Something's up" Tiger growled.
The Searchers had checked into the local hotel, Holly, Suezo and Tiger were in one room while Genki, Moochi and Hare were in the next room and Golem had been put in the dining room, the only room big enough for him to sleep in
"What?" Holly asked from the bathroom
"Why didn't that woman want paying customers to stay the night?"
"Don't worry so much" she replied.
Tiger just snorted and headed over to the window where he slipped under the curtains and sat watching the tavern.
Suddenly his eyes narrowed, five figures had walked up to the inn door, Tiger recognized the monsters who had been in the tavern earlier, one of them knocked on the door.
Peg opened the hatch in the door and spoke to them all for a moment, then opened the door, Tiger growled and turned away from the window. A figure stood in an alley next to the hotel, watching the tavern, Lewis stepped forward, holding a candle, shielding the flame with his free hand and smiled
* * * * *
Holly emerged from the bathroom and then saw a red glow coming from behind the curtains.
Walking over, she pulled them open and her eyes widened, the tavern opposite was going up in flames, quickly running to the door, she flung it open and ran downstairs.
"Is something wrong, ma'am" the man at the desk looked up.
"The tavern's on fire" Holly panted
Then he was gone, yelling for a bucket chain as people emerged from their bedrooms
"Holly?" Genki stood on the stairs, the others behind him.
"The tavern's on fire"
"Looks like they're doomed" Tiger muttered
"What did you say?" Genki spun round
"I saw some monsters enter the place"
"The ones from the tavern" the boy asked.
* * * * *
Outside, the locals were passing buckets of water to each other, then the Spot Saurian smashed through a window, carrying something. Then he gently lay his cargo down on the ground, it was Peg, her face was covered in grey smudges and her hair hung in rat-tails. Inside the Blue Hare coughed as he crawled through the smoke, he saw the female Hare just lying on the floor in front of him, quickly pulling her close, he stared round
"Blue" a pair of amber-colored eyes looked down at him.
The Hare Hound moved over to them, the young pixie clinging to his fur and they huddled together.
The Blue Hare looked at the pixie, she was coughing, a scared look in her eyes
"I'm sorry, Minette" he whispered, reaching over and stroking her face Suddenly a torrent of water poured down on the fire
"Come on" a brown-haired boy stood in the gap between the flames, a Golem holding this a upside down wine barrel standing behind him The Blue Hare grabbed the female Hare and quickly placed her on the Hare Hound's back and putting his arm around the pixie, he led them all out, once outside he fell to his knees
"No, it can't be"
Blue looked up
"Holly" he gasped
The girl just fell to her knees, tears in her eyes "It can't be, you meant to be lost discs" she sobbed
The two of them and the brown wolf just stared at each other
* * * * *
Later, Blue and all his friends sat in the hotel lobby, blankets wrapped round them
"My livelihood, gone" Peg rocked back and forth, shocked. Blue looked at her, pity in his eyes, then stood up and turned to look at his friends, they got up to follow him, then Blue turned to the hotel owner
"Take good care of her" he said, glancing at Peg
Then they started to leave the hotel
"Wait" Holly ran after them
"Are you coming with us?" Blue asked
"Yes and so are my friends" Holly got this stubborn look on her face, which was unlike her
"Come on" Blue sighed
They all left the hotel and headed to the ruins of the tavern, Blue and his friends shifted through the rubble
"Aahh, here" the Spot Saurian lifted a blackened beam, revealing this trapdoor Blue opened it and jumped down
"Are you coming" he called
Holly looked at her friends, then jumped down, followed by the others. Blue led the way to this dark patch on the cellar wall and disappeared. Carefully approaching the dark area, Holly saw this hole and stepped through it, she found herself in a cave with three passages leading off from it
"Blue" she called
"Here" he emerged from the middle one
Holly smiled and headed towards him
"Stop" he suddenly said, holding up his hand
"We should hold hands so none of us get lost, it's dark in there" Walking in the dark passage, Holly squeezed Blue's hand, they emerged into a spacious, well-lit cavern, a dragon lay on a ledge and four simple wooden beds were spread round the cave
"I thought, I thought, that, that you were lost discs, what happened to you?" Holly turned to Blue as the Hare Hound came and stood behind the Blue Hare"We, I meant me and Browny were cornered in a fireplace of a burnt house by some of Moo's soldiers when it collapsed in on us, trapping us and killing Moo's soldiers, when we had dug ourselves free, an old man was standing by the house, he said that he had heard us scrabbling about, the man, William the Bard took us in and it was him who taught me my love for music, then when he died, me and Browny started travelling, we formed the Extremists, revenge for our village is all which keeps me going now" he replied
Meanwhile the Hare Hound was staring at Tiger
"What are you looking at?"
Browny walked over to a pile of leaves and put his paw on it
"Here, you can have my bed, Tiger of the Wind" he offered
Tiger was taken aback, this was one of the rare acts of kindness that had been offered to him
"Tiger of the Wind, TIGER OF THE WIND" the dragon suddenly stood up and swooped down in front of the blue wolf, a snarl on his face
"You see this, wolf" the dragon roared, pointing at a scar running across his left eye "Your stinkin' brother did this to me"
Tiger crouched in a battle stance, snarling
"Back off, Rialto" Blue suddenly stepped between them
The dragon snarled, but took a step back, but spread his wings, then flew back to the ledge. Hare sighed and shook his head, then noticed the female Hare staring at him
"Yes" he said.
"Hiya, ya big cutie"
Hare rolled his eyes "Oh please"
Blue shook his head, smiling "Leave him alone, Nancy" he said to her Suddenly the Spot Saurian who'd been staring at Tiger, ran over and kicked the blue wolf
"Why, you" Tiger dropped into a crouch
"Yes, fight me" he crowed as he danced to and fro, a strange, pleased look in his eyes.
Tiger snorted and walked away, the Spot Saurian was wanting to make a name for himself and the wolf wasn't about to help him Meanwhile a shadowy figure stared around the inn's cellar and smiled as he spotted the hole in the wall.
* * * * *
Tiger sniffed the air and growled
"What's wrong?" Genki asked
"Right" the boy said, looking round
Holly moved over Golem, followed by Suezo
"Go with her, Minette" Blue gave the young pixie a gentle shove
"Well, well, what do we have here" this giant black centipede in armor stepped in the cave
"Vurm" Tiger snarled
Swooping up Holly, Suezo and Minette, Golem quickly moved towards a cave off the main cavern and put them down, then he stood in front of them in order to defend them.
A few minutes later, the sounds of battle made Holly take a look round Golem.
Moochi lay on top of Genki, neither were moving, Hare and Nancy lay on top of each other, forming this x shape, Rialto's tail stuck out of a crater in the floor, Browny was struggling on the floor, his legs bound with something which looked like spider thread, the Spot Saurian lay in a crumpled heap.
Tiger was the only one still standing, then he leapt at the centipede, who stuck his lower lip out and pulled the upper one back, then spat black stuff at Tiger.
It hit him in the area round his eyes and the blue wolf dropped back to the ground in mid-leap, pawing at his face, Vurm took a step back and vanished into the shadows behind him
"Tiger" Holly ran to his side.
"Holly?" the wolf sounded uncertain, his eyes were closed "What's wrong?"
"I, I can't see, that blasted worm's blinded me"
Holly wondered where the centipede would appear next, as the others emerged, Vurm burst from the shadows, aiming straight for
"Minette, look out" Blue ran over and shoved her out of the way, Vurm crashed in him and they disappeared into the shadows opposite
"No" Holly cried, her hand outstretched to where they had vanished. In the darkness, Blue hung from the centipede's hand, a defiant look on his face, Vurm just smiled at Blue
"Time to take your medicine, rabbit" he pulled out a vial of black liquid streaked with red and flipped the lid off with one talon
"What's going on?" Tiger asked
"Here" Vurm's voice called from the darkness.
Then something with blue and white fur was hurled from the shadows, Blue lay on the floor, trembling furiously, his arms wrapped round his body like he was cold, not seeing the others, then Vurm re-emerged from the shadows.
"Your friend drank my master's Feverblood, he will die in twenty-two hours and only I possess the antidote, if you wish to save the rabbit, meet me in the ruins of the tavern, I'll exchange it for the girl's magic stone" the centipede smiled, before stepping back and disappearing in the shadows
Holly gripped her pendant, her emotions in turmoil
"What now?" Tiger asked
* * * * *
"He's getting worse" Nancy said, grimly as she bathed Blue's forehead.
"This is all your fault, why don't you troublemakers just give this guy the stone" Rialto snarled at Holly.
"Why should we" Tiger growled, his eyesight had returned a hour ago The dragon and the wolf glared at each other, snarls on both their faces
"Stop it, just stop it" Holly yelled.
Everyone looked at her, shocked.
"Maybe some sleep would do us all some good" Browny suggested. "Good idea" the Spot Saurian got up from the rock where he had been sitting, a dejected look on his face.
As everyone settled down, Holly looked over at Blue, she couldn't tell the others, but she'd made her decision.
* * * * *
"Genki, wake up"
The boy rubbed sleep from his eyes and stared into the worried faces of Suezo and Tiger.
"What's up?" he said.
"Holly's gone" the wolf replied.
Then a sudden thought hit Genki "She wouldn't"
"Believe me, she would" the eyeball said.
Holly looked round the burnt ruins of the tavern.
"Hello, is anyone here?" she called.
"So you came" Vurm appeared from behind a blackened beam, a small vial of white liquid streaked with silver hanging round his neck. Holly stared for a moment, then removed the pendant from round her neck.
Vurm smiled as he grabbed the stone "Yes" he hissed, then he removed the vial from around his neck and pressed it into Holly's outstretched hand Then the giant centipede turned and walked off, leaving Holly standing there as this gentle rain started falling, matching her emotions
"Holly" Genki's voice snapped her out of her depressed mood. The realization of what she'd just done suddenly hit Holly and she sunk to her knees in the rain
"What's up" the boy asked
"I failed my grandfather"
The Searchers stood there, shocked as the rain got heavier and Holly's words sunk in
A few miles down the road, Vurm laughed to himself, why were humans so damned gullible, just like that girl, he tried to imagine what her face would look like when the 'antidote' wore off. True, that the rabbit wouldn't die, but would recede to the fever within twenty-four hours
* * * * *
"Hold his head up" Holly said, as she pulled the top off the antidote Back in the cave, Nancy gently tilted Blue's head, then Holly tipped the white and silver liquid down his throat
"What, what happened" he muttered, his eyes slowly opening
"The, the creature demanded my stone for "Our village died for that stone, we have to get it back" Blue tried to get up.
It took Holly, Suezo, Browny and Nancy to hold the blue rabbit down
"You're in no condition to move"
"But we've got to get Holly's stone back" Genki cried.
"We can, if Golem carries Holly's friend" Hare pointed out
* * * * *
Blue sighed, they had been walking along the road for a day, relying on Tiger and Browny to track Vurm, he was started to feel a bit stronger
"Put me down, I want to walk"
"But" Golem started to say.
"I said, put me down"
Golem gently placed Blue down on the road and then walked on, Blue frowned, as one by one the others all passed him, the antidote should be working by now, plus it was raining, so why did he feel so hot. The Blue Hare wanted to sit down and cool off, then suddenly he fell and was still, just lying sideways in the mud. Something made Browny look back, his eyes widened
"Holly" the Hare Hound called as he ran back down the path.
She spun round, gasped at the sight and ran after him.
"Blue, Blue" Holly knelt down in the mud and quickly shook him by the shoulders, but there was no response.
"Looks like the antidote was a total sham, oww" the Spot Saurian piped up, the last word being the results of Nancy kicking him on the shin.
"Shut up, Kaz" she cried, glancing at Holly and Blue, a concerned look in her eyes.
"Well, it's getting dark, we should get some rest" Browny suggested.
* * * * *
Genki suddenly woke up, they had moved into a clearing for the night, he saw Holly lying asleep, her head on Blue's chest, the wet cloth she had been using to mop his brow still in her hand, Nancy gently touched the girl's shoulder
"Huh?" Holly opened her eyes.
"Come on, get some sleep, I'll take over" the female Hare led Holly to where Suezo was sleeping.
The girl crawled under the blanket and fell asleep, Nancy headed back over to Blue, then picked up the cloth and patted his forehead. "Hiya, Blue, I don't know if you can hear me, do you remember the time that we...., oh god, wake up" she sobbed, raising her hand and hitting Blue in the face.
She raised her hand again, suddenly
"What are you doing?" a hand grabbed her wrist
Nancy spun round, it was Genki, then the boy saw tears were flowing down the female Hare's face, making rivulets in her fur
"I'm sorry, it's just that Blue's our leader and oh god, what if he doesn't wake up"
Genki just knelt there, comforting her
* * * * *
It was morning, Vurm looked around, time to go home, where he would rest for a while, then take the stone to his master, going over to this ancient star symbol, he stood in it and held his arms up to the sky The rebels had been awake for some time, Tiger and Browny walked along, sniffing the road with the others behind them
"He's gone up the mountain" the blue wolf snarled.
Rialto and Minette both spread their wings, taking to the air, while the dragon flew towards the top, Minette hovered, waiting for the others to start walking up the mountain path.
Golem picked up Moochi, guessing the climb would be too much for the little monster and he snuggled down next to Blue and then Tiger and Browny started up the trail followed by the others.
Suezo glanced at Golem "How come Moochi gets a lift?" he muttered as he hopped along.
Getting to the top of the mountain, the rebels saw this tear hanging in the air in front of them, it was slowly closing, but Vurm could be seen walking through a black door
"Go, go, go" Genki ran forward and gestured to everyone to go through. The last to step through, Holly looked round, they were in front of this black stone tower.
"Let's go" Genki smiled as he opened the black wooden door Everyone entered the tower cautiously, noticing the flight of stairs in front of them, unaware that the centipede was watching them in this magic holographic image, Vurm smirked, here, in his home, his powers were more than a match for them, he placed his hand between the humans and the monsters
They spun round at hearing Tiger and Suezo, a black shadowy wall had cut the monsters off from them, then it bent and moved towards them, dragging them away from the humans, Genki started chasing it, but it moved away too fast
"I guess we're on our own" Holly whispered.
* * * * *
Vurm looked around from the throne of black marble, having trapped Moochi and Suezo in this large bubble, he looked at the others. Golem stood, surrounded by a white glow which held him in place, Kaz just lay in a heap, snoring, Browny beside him.
Nancy had sunk up to her waist in the floor, Minette was pinned to the wall by energy bands round her wrists and ankles, Vurm turned to face the remaining monsters
"Heart of stone, body of stone" the centipede whispered, waving two fingers in the air
Rialto roared as he started turning to stone from his feet upwards, then he was a statue, his wings outstretched and a snarl locked on his face, Tiger leapt to attack, but this white light flashed around the blue wolf and he fell to the floor beside Hare and looked up "Hare, why are you so big?"
"Aahh, uumm, well, you've kinda shrunk"
"He turned you into a puppy"
"WHAT!" Tiger exploded
"Look on the bright side, at least you get a second childhood"
"SECOND CHILDHOOD, I'll give that damn worm a second childhood"
A collar and chain appeared from the floor and fastened itself around Tiger's neck
"What to do with you" Vurm pondered, as he looked at Hare "Well, I could use someone with your intelligence"
A bubble like the one Suezo and Moochi were trapped in formed round Hare and it moved to a corner of the room.
Vurm stood up and walked towards Blue, bending down, the centipede picked Blue up, cradling the feverish rabbit in his arms.
"Leave him alone" Tiger snarled.
The centipede kicked him, then headed to his throne and then he sat down again, Vurm absent-mindedly stroked the rabbit's fur, wondering why those humans cared so much for the monsters.
He knew that the blue and white rabbit would make a fairly good shield in case the two humans tried anything, guessing the girl wouldn't want anything bad happening to her friend
"Come on" Genki pounded up the stairs, Holly followin g him more slowly, on the landing, another black door stood there, but it was closed
"Come in" Vurm's voice came from behind the door
Genki sat down, kicked his shoes off and pulled his roller blades on and when he was ready, Holly pushed the door open and they both walked in
"Aahh, I've been expecting you two"
Holly just gasped at the sight of Blue cradled in the centipede's arms and Genki guessed why
"Stop hiding behind him and fight" the boy challenged
Vurm snarled, then dropped Blue and kicked him away from the throne, Holly ran over to him and hauled the rabbit to his feet and placed his arm round her body, supporting him
"YAHHH!" the boy leapt at Vurm, feet first, but the centipede swung his head, sending Genki flying into the wall, where he slumped to the floor
Vurm towered over Holly, then lunged down, mandibles open, unaware that Blue's eyes had flicked open.
Holly stood there, eyes closed, waiting for the final blow, but it never came, instead, she felt a wall of fur pressed against her, opening her eyes, she found herself looking into Blue's face, a trickle of blood ran out of his mouth.
Vurm's mandibles had dug into his sides, as the rabbit collapsed on his knees, Holly saw Minette straining against her bonds and then with a crackle of energy, they disintegrated and the young pixie spread her wings and swooped towards the giant centipede.
Vurm just screamed as Minette's attack raged around him, his shrieks slowly diminished and stopped as this black helmet fell on top of a pile of black armor, miraculously the Magic Stone had survived. Walking over to the ashes, Holly picked it up and put it back round her neck as Tiger grew larger and the chain round his neck snapped. Nancy pulled herself free of the floor and Rialto shook stone fragments from his body as Vurm's spells were broken. Holly looked over at Minette, the young pixie had a sad shocked look in her eyes as she looked at the centipede's ashes, but it disappeared as she knelt by Blue.
Vurm's mandibles had ripped right down the rabbit's side and Minette's hands started glowing with a white light. Holly stared at her, the girl grabbed them and forced the pixie's hands to Blue's wounds, the glow grew and grew, engulfing them, suddenly as quickly as it had appeared, the white light had gone
"Holly" Blue slowly opened his eyes, all traces of the fever gone. Smiling, the girl threw her arms round his neck, tears streaming down her cheeks
"Uhh, Holly, you're choking me"
"I can heal" Minette whispered, looking at her hands, an awestruck look on her face.
Suddenly a silver glow filled the room, Holly found herself staring at the face of this beautiful, but ghostly woman, then she and the others were standing back on the mountain. Aware of this strange feeling they were being watched, Holly shivered, something told her that they hadn't seen the last of Vurm "Let's go" Genki yelled, marching off, Moochi by his side Holly turned to Blue and his friends, smiling
"Mind if we join you? We came this far with you, we might as well go all the way together" the Blue Hare suddenly asked
"Of course not" she smiled, then she sighed as she saw Rialto and Tiger snarling at each other
* * * * *
Back in Vurm's tower, a figure in a black cloak stood over the ashes of the centipede, it waved its hand over the remains.
The ashes stirred and a sudden wind blew them into a swirling vortex, when it stopped, Vurm stood there, fully restored and his eyes slowly opening, then he glanced sideways and smiled