For One Last Embrace
As Chaz takes the last few steps to reach his house, he can't help but smile a little. He pulls open the door and sees a pink-haired woman in a sundress finishing with washing some dishes.
Hey, Rika! The hunter calls out to his wife, and she turns to see him. He notices how round her belly has gotten over the previous few months.
How much longer, do you think?
I think we'll be parents sooner than we thought, Rika winks. While numans grow at a much faster rate than Parmanians, even the best doctors in Aiedo aren't able to predict with much certainty exactly how long the gestation will be with the mixed blood of Parmanian and Numan.
Rika notices the hunter's smile and thinks for a minute.
You seem unusually happy today, Chaz.
I just got a job lead at the Hunter's Guild, and it promises enough money that I'll be able to take the rest of the year off to be with you, Chaz takes his wife in an embrace. When monster attacks dropped off, causing most hunters to quit their career, Chaz held on anyway, taking every opportunity he could.
A year after the defeat of the Profound Darkness, however, as the creatures that once preyed on travelers disappeared, the burgeoning economy led to the rise of bandits, which combined with the lack of law enforcement outside of the settlements, led to a situation quite similar to before the destruction of the Bio Plant, in terms of hazards to merchants.
Rika realizes the implications of such a handsome reward,
How dangerous is this one?
It's just some bandit by the name of 'Nusumu,' who's attacked nearly a hundred caravans north of Krup. I'm to find and capture him.
For some reason, his wife feels her heart drop...
Chaz, is there any way you can give the job back? I have a bad feeling about this.
I have to do this. I promise, after I'm done, I'll come back, and we'll have an entire year to ourselves. Just me, you, and our child.
Rika sees there is no way to talk the stubborn man out of his decision, so she tries the next best thing,
Let me come with you, then. I want to make sure you stay safe.
Chaz brushes Rika's hair back.
I thought you didn't want to be a hunter when you returned the membership application blank? The two lovers break their embrace as Chaz walks to a window.
Besides, you're too close to delivering our child to the world. My mind would be heavy with the worry of protecting both of you from harm; I remember how Alys shouted out to me right before she was.... Chaz chokes on his own words.
Rika gives his shoulders a gentle squeeze.
I promise, I will leave tomorrow morning, I will find Nusumu, and I will return in time to meet our baby for the first time. Chaz gently kisses Rika's cheek, and proceeds to help her prepare dinner.
Chaz finishes lacing up a boot in the relatively dark pre-dawn sky, and as he packs away some non-perishable food for the trip down to Krup, he steals one last glance into his room, where a nude Numan lay, still asleep in his bed. He looks on as her chest gently rises and falls, a serene sound as at peace as the entire house. He steps into the room as silently as his combat boots would allow, and stares at the sole receiver of his unadulterated affection. He gently leans over Rika's figure, unsure of what to make of her feelings towards the job he's taking.
He eventually leans over to whisper in her long ear,
I love you. The hunter brushes his lips across hers, and makes his way into the cool desert air.