“That’s it, I’m finished!” Calix announced as he entered the abandoned warehouse. Black blood dripped from his clothes onto the concrete floor. “I swear it, Allard. No more prophecies or monsters or fate. I’m done with it all!”
Allard came rushing as fast as his ragged leg would allow. An injury he had sustained years ago from a similar beast Calix had bested tonight. A beast that had punctured his new armor within moments and ruined his celebration.
Allard quickly stopped as he took in the picture of his friend, wincing at the sight. “What the hell did you fight tonight?”
“A loxhorn.” Calix groaned as he removed his weapons, his armor, and his soiled shirt. Underneath it all was the wound Calix had felt throbbing for hours.
“Calix, I just mopped the floors.”
The stare Allard received could’ve burned through walls. “I’m quitting.”
“Monster hunters don’t get to quit.”
“Then call it a retirement instead. I’m done.” Calix left his equipment on the floor as he shuffled his way further into the warehouse, searching tables and shelves. He sighed with relief when, finally, his hands wrapped around the half-full bottle of whiskey.
“Well, you look like utter shit.”
Calix froze. He knew that voice- that sweet, innocent, beckoning voice.
“Oh, no.” Calix turned. “No, Allard. What is that witch doing here?”
“I am not a witch.”
“I could’ve called you something that rhymes, instead, sweetheart.”
Briar was across the room, leaning against the wall with her arms crossed. She looked the same as the last time Calix had seen her. Just as deadly.
“Not happy to see me?” Briar taunted, a wicked smile across her face.
“Happy to see you? The last time we were together you let me get dragged into the sewers by a Dragrer that tried to devour me whole. I reeked like piss for weeks and I still can’t smell right!”
“Calix, please don’t be presumptive. She comes here with news.”
Calix flicked the whiskey bottle open and took a long sip. “No.”
“What do you mean ‘no’?” Briar pushed from the wall.
“Exactly what it sounds like- no. If you hadn’t heard, I’m retired now. No more monsters for me. Tonight, I’m getting drunk and regretting my past year of decisions just like every other normal human on new year’s.”
“That’s ridiculous, Calix. Stop acting like a child.”
Calix flared, “How many times have I risked my life? Been wounded? Nearly lost myself to fighting creatures I never asked to fight? Take whatever world-saving quest you have and shove it.”
Briar and Allard followed Calix as he stormed across the warehouse, this time looking for the damned first-aid kit he had laid around here somewhere.
“So, you wouldn’t be interested in hearing that a Fenrer has been spotted just outside the city.”
Calix paused, “…Fenrer have been extinct for over a century.”
Allard confirmed, “Not anymore.”
“A team spotted one moving West three days ago. They’ve been keeping tabs on the monster while a team is assembled to kill it. I came to recruit you. Your reputation for hunts speaks for itself- we want you to help us kill it.”
“Did she already rope you into this?” Calix asked Allard, taking another drag from the whiskey bottle.
“You know me,” Allard shrugged, “I was promised the body for research purposes if I helped. I couldn’t pass the opportunity.”
Calix scoffed, “So predictable…”
“Calix, wait!” Briar stepped in front of him as he tried to leave. They were close enough he could smell the mint gum on her breath. “This isn’t the first rare sighting we’ve had over the past year. First it was a Inferorid, then a Hoxfond, now a Fenrer. All thought extinct and all, somehow, miraculously returning.”
“That’s impossible- I slayed the last Hoxfond myself.”
“Brighton died fighting it. The strangest part is that it had a scar on its chest from where a sword had run through its heart before.” Briar paused, letting the information sink in. “The monsters are coming back to life.”
Calix took another drink, squeezing his eyes shut as though he could tune out the world.
“We don’t know how it’s possible, but she’s right. The scholars have been following the situation for a few months now.”
“You didn’t think to inform me before tonight?” Calix snapped at the old man.
Allard looked him up and down, “You didn’t seem in the right headspace lately to drop this sort of news.”
Calix wanted to argue, but one look at himself and he shut his mouth. It was impossible- monsters didn’t come back. The amount of power - of magic - it would take for something like that to happen… hunters everywhere would be desperately underprepared.
“What’s hunting the creature going to do if it’ll just return? What are you hoping to gain from this?”
Briar leaned back against the table, again crossing her arms. “We’re hoping to use the trace magic left in the creature to track where it came from. We have an actual witch already with us, ready to do the spell. All she needs is the monster’s body.”
“Say you find whoever is responsible for bringing the creatures back, then what? You hunt them, too? How do you plan to kill someone that powerful?”
“I’d say my sword to their throat would do the trick.”
Calix sighed, “… When’s the hunt?”
“Oh, it’s already begun. You’re the last hunter we’ve reached out to join us.”
“Well, don’t I feel honored and special.”
Briar chuckled, “Listen, I know you want out of this career. I understand it completely and, hell, maybe after this I’ll do the same thing. But right now, you and I both know that whatever is happening needs to stop before it becomes too powerful, even for us.” She approached him surprisingly gently, placing a hand on his bare shoulder. “I know you want to quit but let’s finish this first. Consider it your new year resolution– no stopping until whatever monster necromancer is dead.”
Calix took one last drink. “Fine.” He grumbled, “But I’ll need a new set of armor before we run off to die.”