“I AM GRUDGEBORN BATTLEHOOF, MASTER OF THE WAY OF BLOODY, PAINFUL DEATH!” The Minotaur raised his battleaxe into the air, showing off his bronze armor and curved helmet that had pieces cut out so that it could fit in spite of the Minotaur horns and snout. “UNTOLD THOUSANDS HAVE CRUSHED BENEATH MY MIGHTY HOOF! ARMIES FLEE FROM MY VERY VISAGE! EVEN GODS TREMBLE AT MY NAME!” he then bent down, and sneered at the puny human that stood before him. “IN ALL MY CENTURIES, ONLY ONE MAN HAS EVER BESTED ME IN COMBAT: FORREST HARUNA, THE ONE-HUNDRED-AND-SEVENTH HEIR TO THE HARUNA CLAN OF MONSTER HUNTERS, WHO STOLE MY EYE THE LAST TIME I TRIED TO CONQUER THIS GOD-FORSAKEN COUNTRY YOU CALL NIPPON.” Grudgeborn flipped his eyepatch open, revealing a bright red ruby in place of the missing eye. “BUT NOW THAT I POSSESS THE GEM OF ACHILLES, I FINALLY POSSESS THE POWER TO WIPE HIS CLAN OFF THE MAP, AND IN DOING SO I WILL BECOME THE KING OF THE MONSTERS!” He then snorted, blasting a stream of foul-smelling air into the humans’ face. “SO I SAY, HUMAN; TELL ME WHERE THE HAURNA CLAN’S FORTRESS IS HIDDEN, BEFORE I BURY YOU LIKE THE WORM YOU ARE!”
The postman looked at the minotaur with his mouth agape. He had never met a Minotuar before, never mind in a suburban town like this. “Ah…” he said “I… don’t know about any fortress, but here’s a Haruna family living at 23-7...
The minotaur knocked the postman down onto the nearby lawn, and then placed one of his hooves on the man’s chest. “IF YOU KNOW WHAT’S BEST, HUMAN, YOU SHOULD LEAVE NOW.” he said. “LEAVE AND NEVER RETURN, AND SPREAD WORD THAT THIS CITY WAS LAID WASTE TO BY GRUDGEBORN BATTLEHOOF!”
The Minotaur then got off the postman and started to lumber away, laughing to itself about how awesome he was. “Well, that was weird.” thought thought as he brushed the dirt off his uniform. “I should probably call the police.”he thought. “And an ambulance. It doesn’t take a genius to see that someone is going to need one...”
Grudgeborn Battlehoof gazed upon the Haruna Clan’s domain. He was grateful that the human deliveryman was ready to betray his own kind in exchange for his life, else Grudgeborn would have never been able to find it, as it was cleverly disguised as an ordinary suburban house, with no distinguishing features aside from a tree that the second-story window overlooked.
Using one of the ancient arts that he learned from his time in the Underworld, Grudgeborn Battlehoof tuned his ears to listen for the heartbeats of all those inside. He detected two living souls; a child and an adult. “FORREST’S WIFE, NO DOUBT.”he thought. “AND THE CHILD MUST BE HIS OFFSPRING. NO DOUBT A YOUNG MAN ON THE CUSP OF ADOLECENCE, WHO I SHALL TRAGICALLY STRIKE DOWN TO END THE HARUNA DYNASTY ONCE AND FOR ALL.”
Not caring for any traps that could be set, the Minotaur smashed the front door to splinters, and charged up the stair before arriving at the room where the child was located.
Grudgeborn then burst through the door and waved his axe in the air, screaming “SCION OF THE HARUNA CLAN, LET IT BE KNOWN THAT I, GRDUGEBORN BATTLEHOOF, WAS THE ONE WHO ENDED YOUR PATHETIC LITTLE LIFE!”
...but rather than the spartan, weapon-filled dojo that Grudgeborn expected to find, he instead found himself in an ordinary bedroom, filled with ordinary girl things. On the far wall was a bed, with posters of various idols and teenager heartthrobs overhead. There was also a wooden desk with papers and pencils on it, as well as a hamster cage inside which a little orange-and-white hamster sat. Seated at the desk was a brown-haired ten-year-old girl, who was busy trying to master long division.
She looked up from her desk, seemingly unfazed by the tremendous tower of beef that stood before her. “Oh!” she said. “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that. Who are you again?”
The Minotaur growled. He had been practicing that opening line all week, and the girl didn’t even notice it? Well he’ll show her. He closed his eyes and recited it from memory. “SCION OF THE HARUNA CLAN, LET IT BE KNOWN THAT I, GRUDGEBORN BATTLEHOOF, WAS THE ONE WHO ENDED YOUR PATHETIC LITTLE LIFE!”
“Grudgehorn Battlehoof. Got it.” The girl finished winding up the crossbow she had pulled out from her desk, and then shot it at Grudgeborn, leaving a sharp metal bolt stuck in his shoulder. “My name’s Laura, by the way.”
“GAAH!” he shouted. “IT’S GRUDGE-BORN, NOT GRUDGE-HORN! AND WAIT, WHERE’S YOUR BOND ANIMAL?”
“My what?” said the girl.
“YOU KNOW, THE ANIMAL COMPANION THAT EVERY MEMBER OF THE HARUNA CLAN BRINGS INTO BATTLE, USING THEIR DEEP, EMOTIONAL CONNECTION TO SYNERGIZE FOR MAXIMUM COMBAT POTENTIAL! JUST AS YOUR FATHER POSSESSED BRANDY, THE DEMON HOUND OF THE SEVEN WASTES, AND YOUR MOTHER’S CLAIM TO VALEFOR THE CELESTIAL HAWK PROVED HER WORTHY OF ENTERING THE CLAN, SO TOO MUST YOU HAVE YOUR OWN BOND ANIMAL!”
“Oh, you mean my pet.” She opened the cage, and pulled out the furry little rodent. “This is Hamtaro; he’s a hamster. Say hi, Hamtaro!”
Hamtaro put down the sunflower seed he was eating, and waved at the minotaur.
“GWA-HA-HA!” Grudgeborn bellowed. “DO YOU TAKE ME FOR A FOOL, CHILD? NO SANE PERSON WOULD EVER CHOOSE A PATHETIC RODENT LIKE THAT AS THEIR PARTNER! UNLESS OF COURSE YOUR PLANNED TO SIT AROUND ALL DAY AND EAT SUNFLOWER-”
Laura tossed her hamster into Grudgehoof’s face. “Catch!” she said.
Immediately, the hamster scurried along the Minotaur's snout until it came to his left eyelids, which he pried open before beginning to gnaw on the Minotaur's eye.
“BY APOLLO, THE UNHOLY PAIN!” The minotaur screamed. He dropped his axe on the ground and began to swat at the hamster. This proved to be fruitless as the hamster simply scurried out of the way each time.
“Laura?” called a voice from downstairs. “Kana’s on the phone. She wants you to come over for dinner.”
“Give me a second, mom.” Laura called back. “Tell her I have to get rid of this minotaur first. Where do we keep the poison?”
“In the medicine cabinet, top row.” Laura’s mother replied. “But don’t use the wolfsbane. Your father needs it for the werewolf gang he’s going after next week.”
“Okay!” Laura began to leave the room, crossbow in hand. Grudgeborn tried to swipe at her as she passed, but she bent over to dodge his blows with effortless grace, and resumed her path to the bathroom.
As for Hamtaro, he used the distraction as an opportunity to flip open the Minotaur's eyepatch in search of more sensitive areas to bite and found the ruby embedded in his eye socket, which Hamtaro began to pry out with his stubby little arms.
“NOOO! NOT THE GEM OF ACHILLES!” Grudgeborn moaned. “I HAVEN’T EVEN GOTTEN A CHANCE TO USE IT PROPERLY YET!” He tried to pull Hamtaro off of the gem off his face, but only managed to hasten the process by pulling the gem off with him. “AAAAAAAAAAAGH!” he screamed.
“Okay, Hamtaro, that’s enough.” Laura said, pointer her crossbow at the minotaur. “The bottle said that this poison is strong enough to kill an elephant. Probably more than enough for a hamster…”
“DON’T THINK THIS IS OVER, CHILD!” the Minotuar shouted. “KILL ME, AND THE REST OF MY TRIBE WILL AVENGE ME! WHILE I ONLY SOUGHT PERSONAL VENGEANCE, THEY SHALL ERADICATE YOUR BLOODLINE DOWN TO THE LAST MAN! I HEREBY SWEAR THIS UPON POSEIDON, WHOSE UNWAVERING-”
Just then, another girl ran into the room. “Oh, hey Laura!” she said.
“Hey, Kana!” Luara replied. “I thought you were on the phone.”
“Yeah, well, when I heard you were fighting a Minotaur I just knew I had to see it.” Kana looked at the injured Minotaur in a curious fashion. “How’s it going?”
“Pretty well so far.” Laura said. “He’s pretty talkative, but it’s mostly just hot air. Oh, and Hamtaro used that idea you told me about.”
“Oh yeah, the ‘go for the eyes’ thing.” Kana chuckled. “Yeah, well, the Iwata clan has always had a knack for fighting dirty...”
“WAIT, YOU’RE FROM THE IWATA CLAN?” the Minotuar began to shake as his hand slowly rose to point at Kana. “THE VERY SAME IWATA CLAN WHO’S FEMALES ARE ALL GIFTED WITH ABSURD STRENGTH EVER SINCE ONE OF THEM BEAT SUSANOO IN AN ARM-WRESTLING CONTEST A THOUSAND YEARS AGO?”
“Um… yeah, that sounds about right.” said Kana, lifting Laura’s desk with one hand to demonstrate.
The Minotaur emitted a high-pitched scream as he lept out the nearby window, and started dashing down the street.
Laura and Kana looked at each other.
“Sooo… what was that all about?” said Kana.
“I dunno. I think he knows my dad.” said Laura.
“You should ask we he gets home.” Kana carefully put Laura’s desk back down. “Now, as I was saying on the phone… wanna come over for dinner?”
“Absolutely!” said Laura “I just need to finish my math homework and change Hamtaro’s water…”
Later that night, in the Ham-Ham Hidehout, Boss sat and admired the eye-shaped ruby that Hamtaro had brought to decorate the hideout. “So where did you say you found this again?”
“Oh, a Minotaur tried to kill Laura this afternoon. I found this under his eyepatch!”
Boss laughed. “Oh Hamtaro, you and Oxnard tell the craziest stories.”
“It’s not a story! It really happened!” said Hamtaro.
Boss continued to laugh. “Yeah right! And I’m the mystical flying hamster! I suppose next you’re gonna tell me that Batman is Bruce Wayne or something.”
Hamtaro itched the back of his neck. “Boss…”
Today was a great day! I finished my math homework on time for once, had some kind of pasta with clam sauce at Kana’s house, and I even fought a minotaur!
I’m so nervous about the Justice Society tryouts tomorrow. But because today was such a good day, I bet tomorrow will be even better!