The Hunter Chronicles - Honor Bound

by Talon God Child

Chapter Three - Training Begins



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Daniel awoke the next day and gingerly rose from bed, his shoulder aching badly. He dressed for school as usual though, and forged a note from his father that he'd hurt himself and was going to be out of PE for some time.

"Where do you think you're going?" He heard Samael's sarcastic tone and turned with a sigh to see the hunter leaning against the railing of the stairs, a bag slung over his shoulder as well as his usual weapon.

"To school, like a normal person." Daniel turned to leave when he heard Samael's characteristic cruel chuckle.

"Not anymore," the hunter informed him. "Because as of today, your training begins." Daniel opened his mouth to protest, but the smug look in the hunter's dark eyes was enough to quiet him. "I'm sick of waiting for my pay, when I know I'm going to win." Samael's words were boastful for once. "Besides, if you're going to pull anything stupid like last night, you'd best at least know how to use a weapon properly."

"Hey, I can use a sword!" Daniel protested.

"You hold a short sword with one hand, not two." The caustic voice called back as Samael strode towards the backdoor, towards the large yard. "Dress in something loose that you can move in, then get your tail out here."

"Hey, since I'm staying home, breakfast!" Daniel grinned.

"Oh, not until you show me what you can do, kid."

Daniel slunk up the stairs to his room.


Samael's eyes lost their expressions of humor when he got outside and set down the bag, then set to searching through it. He withdrew several beaten up old notebooks and flipped through the pages carefully; the pages of his old notes from when he was an apprentice.

Okay, that's how we do it, he thought, nodding as he skimmed them. It's been so long since then.

"Samael, umm..." Daniel's presence at the door barely gained a glance from the hunter.

"Have a seat and clear your mind of being hungry, sore, or impatient." Samael motioned the boy without looking up. "Before you ask, you'll eat when I say so, and not a moment sooner. If you bug me about it, I'll make it longer."

"...Fine." Daniel's tone was challenging as he sat down in a huff.

"Clear you mind," Samael said coldly. "If your thoughts are on the world instead of on the hunt or training, you'll be dead before you can even feel the blow."

"..." Samael smiled at the silence he gained and glanced over slightly at the youth to see him concentrating, and it wasn't too much longer before the hunter joined him. Quite some time was spent, with the youth kneeling on the grass in concentration and the hunter sitting cross-legged in a relaxed manner.

"That's enough," Samael said presently, opening his eyes and leaping to his feet in one smooth movement. "Now, let's see what you can do." The hunter watched the boy slowly rise, and grimaced beneath his mask.

"I'd say this entire yard... there are gardens and orchards connecting to it as well... is about three miles." Samael smiled with his eyes. "I want you to go thrice around it. Nice steady pace, no stopping."

"Wha!" Daniel's tone was furious. "There's no way I - "

"Oh, I guess you don't want breakfast or lunch..." Samael's tone held no humor, and the youth broke into a run. Samael watched coolly as the youth ran, noting the effort it took him to keep going about halfway through it. When the boy finally came around a second time and was thoroughly winded, Samael already had a remedy.

Daniel slowed his pace more and panted heavily; ready to give up, when he felt a stinging lash across his rear. He glanced back to see the hunter behind him, a switch broken from a tree in hand.

"Move it, lazy!" Samael growled, aiming another at the youth, who yelped as he was hit and sped up. "I'm going to make sure you don't slow up!"

The switch was more than enough encouragement to keep the boy going, and when he finally finished and collapsed onto the grass, he saw Samael wasn't even breaking a sweat. Daniel himself had been exhausted before even finishing the first one, and it had only been fear of the hunter's wrath that had kept him going. He wasn't exactly in top shape...

"Humph," Samael remarked mildly. "I guess you can take a break for a half-hour, eat something and be back out here." He turned to walk away.

"Hey!" Daniel managed to protest. "Lunch at school is longer!" Samael halted and turned back to the youth, his body language suddenly superior and mocking.

"Do I look like a school teacher?" Samael mocked. "Do I HONESTLY look like a school teacher?"

Daniel made no reply, only forced himself to run in the house.


No sooner did Darius arrive home that evening to see the exhausted state of his son, when he stormed out into the backyard to confront Samael.

He found the hunter practicing a complex-looking series of attacks with the sword, and slammed the door to get the man's attention.

"What happened today," Darius raged, the calm way that Samael glanced at him only serving as more of an annoyance. "What did you do!"

"It's high time his training begins," Samael responded coldly. "I've simply used my claim of Hunter's Rights to my pay."

"By wearing Daniel into the ground! Keeping him from school!"

"Humph. There'll be no time for that when he's with me." Samael sheathed his sword and dusted off his cloak. "If he were in better physical shape, he'd not be so tuckered out. Does he even play any form of a sport?"

"No! He doesn't like them!"

"Well, I can tell." Samael's tone was mockingly cold as ever. "He's lazy, out of shape, and has bad endurance. I say I'm cutting you a pretty good deal, accepting him and not money along with him for my payment."

"You - " Darius couldn't make the words come out, simply turned away and slammed back inside the house. Samael shook his head and snickered before breaking into low chuckling.

So, we'll have to find a kind of sport little Daniel will enjoy. Samael smiled beneath his mask as he launched himself into a series of complex forms and movements with empty hands. There's never any problem in learning new things.


Daniel sighed heavily as he sank into his chair at dinner that night, wincing noticeably as he mistakenly bumped his shoulder against his chair.

He'd changed out of the training clothes Samael had insisted he wore during the day, and was dressed as he would for school, though he was very tired. He'd managed a shower, though his shoulder had burned with pain and even bled a little.

"Well..." Daniel's mother, Cheryl Xavier, toyed with her napkin a moment, looking down at her plate. "Darius, how was your day?"

"Fine, dear." Darius nodded, eyes moving to the door almost apprehensively.

"Oh Darius, he's not going to - "

"Yes, unfortunately." Darius nodded, and Daniel noticed the expression on his father's face bore anger and disdain. "I'm not about to have him eat alone, separately. That would be rude." Daniel knew his mother had not yet met the hunter, and honestly wondered what would happen when she did.

"I... I hope he has manners." Cheryl shook her head, and Daniel suppressed a sigh. His mother was head of most of the ladies' clubs in the city, which kept her busy during the day, and sometimes, he felt she put too much thought into manners and pretty things. "I've heard from Moiré that, when she lived in Renfield, that a hunter came through there, and he was the most disgusting man you'd ever laid eyes on. That he had no manners and was the most vulgar person she's ever known."

"Oh, come now!"

"They're pagans, Darius! Heathens!" Cheryl moaned, and Daniel felt a mild sense of distaste for his mother. "They're not like us; they don't even believe in the same religion! Pagans who believe in three gods, Darius! Three!"

"Samael's a demon hunter too," Daniel interjected, wondering just why he was defending the hunter. "He wears a crucifix, so he's faithful to something like us!"

"But I've always heard they were rude!" Cheryl seemed frantic, and Daniel honestly wondered if the simple idea of a hunter was unacceptable to her life of flowers and teas with the other ladies.

"I doubt that highly." Darius shook his head. "He claims he's a Knight, and I'm sure they must have some semblance of manners."


They turned and rose at the sound of Samael's voice. The hunter stood in the doorway, and Daniel shook his head at the sight of the man.

The hunter had showered, Daniel could tell that much from the slightly dampened look of the ends of his hair, which had been left long and loose. Daniel's eyes widened when he noticed Samael's hair hung to the backs of his shins; it certainly hadn't SEEMED that long! The hunter had changed his uniform as well; this one was fresh and looked cleanly pressed, the folds perfect and immaculate, and the cloak was different now, lined with royal blue instead of being plain black. Additionally, Daniel noticed for the first time that Samael's left ear was pierced, and that he wore an elegant, dangling earring with a few small crystals and an ornate silver cross. Obviously, Samael wanted to make a good first impression on Daniel's mother, who watched and said nothing.

"Good evening to you, Mayor Xavier, Madame Xavier." Samael nodded to them politely, each in turn, and acknowledged Daniel last of all. "I pray you are well today?"

"Well, as a matter of fa - " Cheryl began despairingly, but Darius' glare hushed her.

"Sir Dominais, we are honored by your presence." The mayor nodded seriously. "Please, come and have a seat." Darius motioned a position set at the table next to him, to his right. So, the hunter was an honored guest...

"I thank you." Samael nodded politely and made his way over. Before he sat down, the hunter gave a low bow to Cheryl, a gesture of respect for the lady of the house, and then took his seat.

"Well..." Cheryl whispered, nodding in approval at the hunter's knowledge of etiquette. "You certainly know how to flatter a lady!"

"Standard Knight's training, madam." Samael nodded, and Daniel noticed the hunter bore no weapons... No visible ones at least. "I am required by my duties to sometimes accompany the Lord Master to events such as formal dinners or parties and the like."

"Oh, really?" Cheryl was indeed hooked by the hunter's mention of high-classed events. "Do you attend these quite often?"

"Why yes," Samael nodded, and Daniel nearly laughed at the casual tone of the hunter's voice. "About four months, I attended an ambassadorial summit in Cidnai, and after that, another in Illumina, my city of heraldry." As Samael gestured and continued on speaking, Daniel noticed that Samael's nails were long, tapered to a point, and were black as his eyes... Daniel had a feeling, because Samael didn't seem like that kind of man, that they were natural...

"Oh!" Darius relaxed slightly. The hunter was a good judge of character; he knew what Cheryl wanted to hear from him, and what was expected.

The hunter maintained a good conversation throughout their meal, and Darius had to admit, the hunter was well versed in the gentle arts. Samael knew of every etiquette, and when questioned where he had learned of all this, he had replied casually "in Illumina," as if it was nothing to be trained THERE!

Illumina was the capitol of the bordering continent, Shuurai, and was the center of two of the world's three religions. Daniel had been born in Toroah, whose capitol was the militaristic Citadel. The two continents had been enemies beyond memory; the Citadel officials, the Order of Humanity, had wanted to abolish the hunter ranks long ago due to the fact that they believed hunters deviated from an ideal society. However, instead of being a militaristic city, Illumina was renowned as the world's focal point for culture, art, and religion. Daniel yearned to one-day see Illumina; it was the first of the twelve wonders of the world.

"Do tell us about Illumina, Samael," Daniel's mother urged eagerly. "Is it as cultured as they say?"

"Yes, and perhaps even more so." Samael nodded, lowering his fork for a moment. "As a knight, I attend many an ambassadorial summit and grand ball, and in my off time I often take in a concert or two from an orchestra, or sometimes an opera. Amazing city, you should try to visit it some time."

However, during their meal, Samael stiffened, glancing to one side, where there were large French windows made of stained glass. The others, sensing the sudden change in the hunter's manner, fell silent, worried.

"...It's nothing." Samael said a few moments later, though there was no change in his manner. Something was wrong, Daniel could tell that much. But what was it?

When a short interlude between dinner and dessert came, Samael excused himself and made his way out the door. Daniel waited a few minutes and followed, curious as to the hunter's actions and intentions.


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