Chapter twenty-six of my Xenoblade Novelisation! The party are running around the Bionis’ Leg, doing quests for the refugees.
Shulk, Reyn, Sharla and Dunban ate an early breakfast in preparation for the day ahead. Sharla had gone around to each of the residents of the Refugee Camp, asking if there was anything they needed. She had come back with a list of items that needed to be collected and beasts to be defeated, for food, for safety, and all kinds of other reasons.
Sharla placed two pieces of paper on the table. “Here are the lists we talked about. Reyn and I will check head to the upper region of the Bionis’ Leg to do a few errands up there.” She looked to Shulk. “And you and Dunban are going to be doing the same, but around the Gaur Plain area.”
Dunban picked up the list meant for he and Shulk.
“Wasn’t Dickson meant to be joining us?” Reyn asked Sharla.
“He’s staying behind to catch up with Otharon,” Sharla informed him.
“Oh, okay.” Reyn went back to his breakfast.
“So, Dickson’s staying behind, eh?” Dunban repeated.
“He is,” Sharla confirmed.
Dunban chuckled. “Lazy old man.”
“Anyway,” said Sharla, “I was thinking we could get these out of the way today. There are a couple we can only do at night, so we can do those later. And then there’s a big one we’ll need to do tomorrow.”
“Big one?” Reyn echoed.
Sharla nodded. “If we head north from here, we’ll hit Kamos’ Guidepost, which I think you knew. North-west from there is the Tirkin Headquarters. A number of the villagers have asked us for parts of tirkins, and one man asked us to fetch some clothes they stole, and are keeping at their headquarters.”
“What would a tirkin do with homs clothes?” Reyn asked incredulously.
“I have no idea,” said Sharla. “But he was adamant that they have them, and we need lots of things from them, so I figured we could do them all at once.”
“What do we need?” Dunban asked.
Sharla pulled out her master list and looked it over. “The clothes, some tail feathers, two crests, and we’ve also been asked to kill two of the brave tirkins.”
“And what will we be doing tonight?”
Sharla glanced at her list again. “Collecting some wisp fluid and taking down some vangs and volffs.”
“Sounds good.” Dunban laid down his cutlery and gave a satisfied sigh. “The food was delicious. My compliments to the chef.” He stood. “Are you ready, Shulk?”
Dunban nodded. “I’ll wait for you outside, then.” He left.
“Ready for some training, Shulk?” Reyn teased.
“It’ll be really good for him,” Sharla commented.
“I think it’ll be a valuable experience,” Shulk agreed. “Dunban must know all kinds of things about using the Monado. That’s probably why he suggested we travel together today.”
“Huh. I hadn’t considered that.” Reyn watched Shulk as he finished his food and rose. “See you later tonight, then.”
“Yeah. See you guys!” Shulk picked up his bag and exited the room, heading through the Refugee Camp and outside to meet Dunban. He greeted him as he approached, a bag slung over his shoulder.
Shulk nodded, and the two of them started heading out on to the Gaur Plain. “What were we doing out there today?” he asked.
Dunban consulted the paper Sharla had given him. “We’ll mostly be defeating a few beasts that are hassling the refugees. We’ve also been asked to collect a few items from them, which line up nicely with the ones we’ve been ordered to get rid of.” Looking up, he saw some creatures scuttling in the grass just outside the refugee camp. “Here’s some of them now,” he told Shulk.
Shulk looked around and spotted a trio of dark pink antols. They had four legs, two long pincers half the size of their bodies, and wicked-looking abdomens with large spikes protruding from their sides. “The antols?” Shulk asked.
“Yes,” said Dunban. “We only need two of them, but I don’t think the villagers will complain if we take down all three.” He glanced at Shulk. “These won’t be too difficult. Shulk, I want you to run in first. You should be able to do this one alone. If I see you fight, I can be a better teacher.”
“Okay.” Shulk drew the Monado and snuck up on the insects, managing to defeat the first one with a well-placed back slash before they even realised he was there. The other two rounded on him, clicking their pincers menacingly. One lunged at him; he thrust it back and took a swipe at the other, which stepped backwards. The other one scuttled forwards again; Shulk stabbed at it, and it lay still. He pulled the Monado out of its corpse as the other turned and fled.
Dunban strolled forward. “Excellent work, Shulk! Now let’s head out into the plain proper. Keep an eye out arduns, bunnits and ponios; a few have gone rogue and begun attacking the refugees.”
Shulk and Dunban headed together into the Gaur Plain. As they walked, Dunban gave Shulk feedback on his swordplay and stances. Some leg ardun trundled by in search of food; not the ones they were looking for, presumably, as the ones they wanted had attacked with no provocation. The boys followed the cliff face north, away from the Refugee Camp. It slowly curved away to the west, and finally they could see the Gaur Plain ahead of them.
A group of nearly half a dozen ponios galloped around the corner ahead. Shulk and Dunban leapt back, startled, as the four-legged the creatures reared up and snorted. They were light brown in colour, with white stripes along the sides of their body and their back. Running along their spine was what looked like a dark brown frill, topped off with a horn on the end of their snout. The ponios lowered their heads in challenge, pawing the ground with their hooves.
“These must be the ones Sharla heard about,” exclaimed Dunban, drawing his katana. “Be careful, Shulk, they’re dangerous. We need to defeat these beasts and gather some of their neck meat for the refugees.”
Dunban stopped talking, and he and Shulk leapt aside as the horde charged at them, slashing at the legs of one each. The ponios staggered and fell, and were quickly silenced by the boys.
The three remaining ponios snorted in fury and attacked again, but were no match for Shulk and Dunban. They all fell to the mens’ blades, after which Dunban deftly cut meat from their necks and placed them inside the bag he was carrying. Dunban sealed it tightly, and then held out his hands for Shulk to douse in water. Once he was clean, he hoisted the bag over his shoulder and consulted their list.
“We still need to track down a group of four leg ardun and three maker bunnits,” said Dunban.
“Where can we find them?” Shulk asked.
Dunban pointed; Shulk could see something tall off in the distance, in the middle of the Gaur Plain. “That’s the Jabos Rock Rest Area,” Dunban told him. “The rogue ardun are near there, and the bunnits are off to the north.” Then he added, “We’ll also need to find a bunnit sapling while we’re there.”
“And is that everything?”
Dunban nodded. “We’ve making good time,” he commented. “If we finish early, we might explore the leg a little bit more. There’s another request here asking about a torn piece of paper that was blown by the wind which we could look for.”
“Sounds good.” Shulk and Dunban continued towards Jabos Rock, again discussing Shulk’s fighting skills. Their conversation broke off as they neared it. Four arduns stood between them and the rock, two closer to the boys than the others.
Dunban knelt down and felt in the grass for a moment before straightening up with a rock in his hand. Shulk, realising what was about to happen, dropped his bag and drew the Monado. Dunban threw back his own bag and hurled the rock at the closer of the two beasts, so it landed near their feet.
The arduns turned and, spotting the boys, promptly lowered their heads and charged.
Shulk and Dunban leapt in different directions, before spinning and swiping at the arduns’ legs, as they had with the ponios. Dunban’s prey fell, but Shulk underestimated the toughness of his foe’s legs, and wasn’t able to cut as deeply.
Dunban’s ardun cried out; he quickly killed it, but not before the other two had heard. They turned to face the boys, letting out a thunderous roar when they saw the lifeless corpse at Dunban’s feet.
Shulk swiftly caught up with his ardun as it turned around for another charge, this time inflicting a long, deep wound on two of its legs. The beast bellowed, and Shulk plunged the Monado into its side. It fell, and grew still.
He looked up to see Dunban had already landed a blow on one of the two remaining beasts; it was dripping blood from its side where he’d scratched it. They were clearly distracted; Dunban was deftly dodging their attacks in what looked almost like a dance. Shulk crept up behind the injured ardun and slammed the Monado into its back, leaving a deep incision.
The creature collapsed to the ground, unmoving, leaving the final one enraged. It reared up in fury – and was promptly run through by Dunban, who swiftly wrenched his blade out of its body and jumped aside as it, too, fell.
Dunban looked up at the sky as Shulk sheathed the Monado. “It looks to be around lunchtime,” he observed. He looked back to Shulk. “What say you we have something to eat and head over to the bunnits afterwards? We’re making good time.”
Shulk nodded. “Sounds like a plan, Dunban.”
Dunban chuckled. “Was that intentional, Shulk?”
“Was what intentional?”
“The rhym- oh, never mind. Of course it wasn’t.” Dunban sighed.
Shulk was confused. “Sorry?”
Dunban waved a hand about. “Don’t worry about it. Come, let’s eat.” He picked up his bag and sat with Shulk by the rock for a rest.