The icy air of the northeastern Kalos tundras shears through my skin with the cruelty of beastly claws. I make a mental note of this pain, name it, wrap it up in a little ball, and put it away. I've been sitting still in this spot for five days. I could stand fifty more, if need be—I'm no stranger to cold weather, and I've learned long ago that, when there's something you must do, you must pull through. I keep my gaze up and unfocused and aware of everything, of the azure sky already starting to darken, of the frozen, ominous mountains far away, of the low grass withering noiselessly. The thin shrubbery that gives my shelter a semblance of camouflage smells good, earthy with a trace of mint, but I eye it suspiciously as if it could at any moment grow living vines and strangle me senseless. It's not like me, being this paranoid… I shiver and, as if to mock my resolve, an unexpected, persistent blast of the infamous cavewinds pierces through every part of my skin not sheltered in my Ninetales furcoat. I reach for the warm canteen and take a sip of the "Hot Drink"—a permanently bubbling ooze extracted from the embergall glands of unevolved Magbys, currently being (carefully) farmed for this purpose—and decide that I must increase my fur coverage later. It took more than ten months to gather all this gear—and more than ten years to learn how to use all this gear—but there's always something to improve… It's too late to worry now. Resolving to save psychic energy, I relax deliberately, and let the inner warmth of the queer intoxicating liquid burn through my veins. I snap my attention to focus and stay still, ten seconds, thirty, one minute, five, ten, sixty, each moment passing without hurry, without past or future, with only the wide clear sky for company.
Then all sounds suddenly go quiet and an undefinable shimmer spreads over the air like thin iridescent dust, and I know it's here.
It's magnificent. Each of the eight branches of its antlers glitters in luminous colours, red and cyan and violet, and it moves with the grace and poise of the unicorns of myth, as if all Stantlers were just clumsy imitations made by some jealous, incompetent god. I've seen a few legendary beasts in my time, but looking at Xerneas right now, I realize it's the most beautiful of all magic monsters—the most beautiful living thing left in this world.
I don't take my eyes of it for a moment. Quietly, quietly, I draw my strop (a strip of rough Sharpedo hide, decorated with geometric patterns), lift an arrow from the floor, and give the tip a last-minute polish. I know I'll only get one chance, so the point must be absolutely sharp; it's crafted from the cold-steel fangs of a Mawile I myself murdered (that thing bit right through heavy Steelix armour; I ended up strangling it with my own hands before it could chew me like so many berries; when I close my eyes I can still picture the expression on his face—) and coated in the most toxic of Garbodor sludges. I raise the bow: sturdy mega-Ampharos hairstring, flexible Kangaskhan composite bone-and-sinew traced with unholy unown runes, and a couple curse charms carved from the fearstones of Mismagii and the hollow eyes of Shedinjas. Always come prepared. Taking care to avoid the fletching (I found Staraptor works best), I nock the arrow on the string and pull it back all the way, charging a direct shot. Just as I raise the tip, the monster, with supernatural intuition, looks right at me with its big clear eyes. There's an undefinable, timeless moment in the cold as we acknowledge each other, and—I release the shot. The arrow flies with dreadful speed and pierces right through the X of its pupils, as if they were a target in some game. The beast's shrill cry of pain and fear hurts my eardrums before I'm attacked with a terrible magic blast—but the camp was prepared for that too, and I withstand the impact safely behind the cold metal of a large Shieldon plate. I'm nonetheless thrown to the ground as the beast gallops away.
That too was part of the plan. It predictably heads northward for the safest crevice in the barren mountainscape, and I cover my ears: a few moments later the ground trembles under the blast of the gunpowder and poison bombs I had planted on its probable path. I run towards it noisily, making sure to be seen, shooting a rain of the steelfanged arrows. The Xerneas stops and looks back unsurely and a cold shiver grips my spine and knots my stomach, but then it finally grows too startled and scared to attack, and runs away limping. I've at last managed to bring it from fight to flight.
I head back, stash the bow, and take the greatsword.
This thing doesn't deserve to be called a sword. It's more of a huge slab of raw metal.
I wouldn't even be able to move it from the ground if it wasn't made of uncanny living steel.
Its once-proud square spikes and blue gemshards still adorn and protect it even in this decayed shape.
I strap the abomination to my back. I can't run carrying it, but I can walk.
Suppressing a long sigh, I set out into the night.
When a Xerneas moves, it touches the ground so lightly that it won't leave hoofprints, not even on snow. It will, however, leave a blood trail—if you put an iron arrow through its skull and blow half a dozen barrels of gunpowder under its legs. Tracking my game is trivial. I spot the monster as a lonesome bundle of colourful rods topping some dark mass on the ground, glowing a soft blue aura wherever touched by the moonlight. It has failed to find proper shelter, though as I approach it I notice that small flowers are already sprouting from the unnaturally red blood, and what was once a random stretch of lifeless ground is already starting to feel like a holy grove.
The beast is asleep in its exhaustion. I circle it cautiously so that I'm able to look it in the face; I owe it as much. It has an expression of perfect peace, like a sleeping saint. I draw the greatsword, slide my left hand to the steel pommel, grip the ivory handle lightly with the right just below the guard and raise the blade over my head, holding it up there full of promises. I see all the stars there is to see and notice there are no clouds and, for a tenth of a second, wonder how come my cheeks seem to be wet—and I bring the blade down in a wide cutting motion, slashing cleanly through Xerneas' neck, splashing the snow broadly with a blood that shines red even in the dark of the night.
I thrust the greatsword in the ground and lean on it and breathe and stay there listening to the silence of the starry skies.
Then I draw a huntersknife and start hacking the horns loose.
My name is Red, and I am a Pokémon Hunter.