Chapter 1: Hunter Exam Begins
/1/ Hunter X Exam X Begin!
I blinked my eyes slowly, trying to stay awake as I glanced around the tunnel at the other applicants. So far this ‘Hunter Exam’ had been pretty dull. It hadn’t been too hard to find the location of the Exam but after I had arrived it had turned into a waiting game. It had been around 3 hours since I had arrived and another 200+ applicants had appeared to take the Hunter Exam.
I sighed and leaned my back against the cool stone wall of the tunnel behind me, slowly sliding down ‘til I was sitting with one knee up to my chest as my other leg sprawled out lazily in front of me, finally getting sick of standing and waiting.
I glanced down to the round tag I had pinned to the left side of my black and white hoodie.
It was an alright number…though I couldn’t help but think I could have done better. I glanced up and looked at the other applicants again. There were all sorts of odd balls among the crowd; like a walking pin-cushion of a guy that shook as he walked and a clown guy who gave off a thirst for a fight, but I could tell they were at least strong contenders.
None of the other applicants noticed me staring, hell, most likely none of them noticed I was even there at all. I had chosen a particularly shady corner of the tunnel to camp in so I didn’t have to deal with any unwanted trouble, well, at least until the Exam started.
I raised my hand to my mouth as I yawned, my eyes watering at how tired I felt. Doing nothing was making me so bored I was ready to just kick back and sleep the remaining time away.
Just as I contemplated the thought of taking a nap I noticed someone making their way over to me. He was a rather plump looking man with an ugly box-shaped nose and a friendly, sweet and fake smile on his face.
As he came to stand next to me I didn’t bother to look up until he spoke.
“Yo!” He said smiling wider. “I haven’t seen you before, you must be a Rookie!”
I glanced up at him and raised a skeptical eyebrow, though I doubt he could see it from under my hood.
Box-nose spoke again. “I bet you must be wondering how I knew you were a rookie!”
I wasn’t, actually…
“To answer your question; my name is Tonpa and this is my 35th time taking the Hunter Exam, so you could call me a Veteran of sorts! I know every single regular by now!” Box-nose –I mean- Tonpa seemed proud of the fact he participated so many times but I thought it was just plain sad…
“Say, you look thirsty.” I snapped my full attention back to Tonpa as he said that, now that I thought about it I was kind of thirsty. Tonpa held out an orange can to me, “Here, something to commemorate our new friendship!”
I snorted quietly when I snatched the can from the plump man’s hand. ‘What friendship?’ I thought as I popped open the can and brought it to my lips. Before I took a sip, however, I caught a sniff of the contents of the can.
I glanced down at the can and discreetly look another whiff of the drink. It was completely odorless and from what I could tell it was some kind of juice. What in the hell kind of juice was odorless, eh?
I took another whiff as Tonpa began to look a little nervous at my hesitation, and my eyebrow twitched as I caught a faint scent.
Laxatives. Very strong laxatives at that.
I scrunched up my nose in disdain then placed the can down next to me and stood. “Thank you, but no thank you” I said to the, now sweating, box-nosed man as I began to walk away. “I would prefer not to drink poison.”
As I stalked away I could feel Tonpa’s glare on my back but I just sighed and raised my right hand, flipping him the middle finger and continued to stalk away.
Guess a nap was out of the question now that I knew people here really were desperate enough to try something.
I glanced down and watched my feet with a sigh. “Man~ this totally blows…This Exam better be damn well worth it.”
Just as I looked up, I crashed into something white and stumbled back, almost losing my balance. I glared at the person I walked into. It was a kid with a messy mop of white hair. He had skateboard tucked under one of his arms as he held an orange can in the other hand. He stared at me blankly for a moment before casually taking a sip of the drink, emptying the can.
I frowned, almost feeling sorry for the boy as he drunk the liquid laxative. Almost.
I narrowed my eyes at the kid, who didn’t seem much older than me, when I didn’t get an apology for running into me. “Watch where you’re go-” I stopped talking when the albino boy saw something over my shoulder and simply stepped around me, continuing on his way.
My eyebrow twitched in frustration but I let it go, I didn’t want to waste energy on a pointless fight over nothing.
I glanced over my shoulder at the sound of a young voice calling out to box-nosed pig. The kid who had run into me was waving to a startled looking Tonpa.
“Could I have more of that juice of yours? Must be my nerves. I’m really thirsty.” The kid scratched the back of his head, seemingly in embarrassment.
I cringed. Well that kid had successfully sealed his failure. There was no way in hell he was going to pass the Exam now. I turned and continued to walk away. Away from the box-nosed cheat and the doomed albino.
Before I could find another place to sit an odd sounding bell rang out through the area and everyone went quiet as a one of the walls that previously made the tunnel a dead end began to rise.
I smirked. ‘Finally! Looks like the fun is about to begin.’
Standing behind the wall was a tall man with thin arms and legs and a purple do.
“Sorry for the wait.” He began, glancing around at all the applicants. “The entry period for the Hunter Exam has ended. The Hunter Exam will now begin!”
Almost every single applicant in the tunnel straightened up in excitement, me being one of them.
“However, a final caution.” The man stated, still staring blankly at the applicants. “If you are short on luck or ability, you can very well end up seriously injured or even dead. Those who accept the risks, please follow me. Otherwise, please exit via the elevator behind you.”
There was a tense silence for a moment but no one left. I was practically bouncing on my heels in excitement, itching to get a move one. ‘Like hell anyone is going to back out now!’
The man relaxed. “Very well. All 404 applicants will participate in Phase One.” At this, the man turned and began to walk at a brisk pace, everyone following behind.
I was near the front but began to drop back, knowing me I would probably start wasting energy just to stay up front. When I thought I had gone back enough I had ended up directly behind a boy in green, man in a suit and a….boy? With blonde hair.
Suddenly the people in front began to run, the rest following their example while I simply just fast walked, slightly falling back some more.
I smirked in annoyance. I somehow knew this was going to be an endurance test. I sighed and put my hands behind my head, guess there was no helping it I suppose.
“I neglected to introduce myself.” The man said coolly, “I am Statotz, the Phase One Examiner. I shall lead you to the Exam’s Second Phase.”
At this, people around me began to mumble. “Second Phase?” I heard someone call from the front. “What about Phase One?”
“It had already commenced.” Statotz replied and I whined.
‘I already guessed that but I secretly hoped I was wrong! I hate marathons!’
Statotz looked back at the buzzing applicants. “You must follow me to the Second Phase. This is the Exams First Phase.”
I glowered at how simply he made it sound, seriously doubting that was all there was to it.
“However, I cannot tell you where or when we will arrive.”
Sometimes, I really hated being right…
It had been around two hours since the beginning of the Exam and the crowd behind me had thinned out, quite a number of people having already dropped from exhaustion. I had begun to jog to keep up with the middle of the pack, not wanting to be left in the back and, though I hated to admit it, my legs had begun to ache slightly. I was more used to sprinting a short distance the consecutively traveling a long distance.
I pouted, there was no way in hell I was going to be one of the losers who dropped out in the First Phase!
Suddenly, I heard the sound or wheels approaching from behind and turned just in time to see the white haired kid from before come up beside me on his skateboard.
He glanced at me from the corner of his eye as I continued to stare at him with a frown.
“What?” He asked, turning his gaze to me fully, his voice holding nothing but boredom.
I raised an eyebrow. “How in the hell are you not shitting yourself right now?”
At first the boy looked slightly confused before smirking, realizing I was talking about the hidden laxative. “Oh.” He shrugged nonchalantly, “Poisons don’t effect me.”
I stumbled slightly as he said that. When I caught my balance again I looked back up at him with my mouth wide open. The albino had an amused look on his face, his bright blue eyes alight with silent laughter.
“Holy-! That’s awesome!” I yelled, attracting some attention from nearby applicants, though they turned away shortly after obviously not having enough energy to care.
The albino shrugged, going back to his bored expression. “Not really.”
I pouted at his suddenly blank attitude. He wasn’t very entertaining.
Suddenly, the albino pushed himself forward more on his skateboard, shooting ahead of me.
“Hey!” I yelled after him. “Where the hell do you think you’re going, huh!?”
He turned back to me, and smug smirk on his face again. “To the front, you’re welcome to join me if you want but I highly doubt you’ll be able to keep up.” And with that he turned back around and continued on.
I grit my teeth in agitation. ‘Why that arrogant little-.’ I suddenly leapt into the air and slammed the heels of my runners together. I heard the click at the bottom of my shoes opened and four wheels popped out of each shoe.
I landed back down on the ground with the sound of plastic hitting stone then a second later I was rocketing off to where the albino had gone, easily catching back up to him.
I smirked at his wide eyed expression as he realized I was effortlessly gliding along beside him. My smirk widened even more when he glanced down at my shoes, seeing the wheels now coming from the bottom.
“Cool.” He drawled, back to his usual bored tone. I pouted at this.
I sighed and dug around in my hoodie pocket. I needed a hit. My hand brushed against a wrapper and I pulled it out. I opened up the wrapper and plucked the red ball from its wrapping, popping it in my mouth while I threw the wrapper behind me carelessly. I snickered when I heard someone complain about being hit in the face by trash.
I chewed on the sweet red ball in my mouth until it turned into the sweet and gooey substance I loved.
I wrapped the gum around my tongue before puckering my lips and blowing a pink gum bubble. I popped it with a small crack then began to chew again. It wasn’t until I blew the second bubble did I realize albino boy was staring at me.
I raised a brow at him and his eyes flickered to the still inflated gum bubble.
He wanted gum.
I popped the bubble with a grin and searched around for another gumball in my pocket, finding one last one. I held it out to the blank faced albino but when he reached for it I snapped my hand back and out of his reach.
I snickered at his disgruntled face and wagged my finger at him.
“Uh, uh, uh. If you want this.” I brandished the gumball at him. “You gotta tell me your name.”
The boy blinked at me before opening his mouth. “Killua.”
I grinned and threw the candy at him, Killua easily catching it.
“Killua, eh?” I said, testing the name out. It had a nice ring to it. “I’m Kuragi.”
After that we continued on in silence, passing leisurely by people as we chewed our gum, me occasionally blowing bubbles before popping them with a crack.
It wasn’t until we passed a group a while later did the silence get broken.
“Oi! Wait up you kids!”
“Hmm?” Killua hummed, turning around just as I did.
Behind us was the guy in the suit I had seen during the beginning of the First Phase. He had an angry look on his face as he stared at us.
“What?” I asked flatly as I stuck a pinkie in my ear, displeased with how loud he had been.
“You should show the Hunter Exam some respect!” He yelled at us again, making me scrunch up my face.
‘The hell is he on about?’
Killua suddenly asked my unasked question. “What do you mean?”
“Why the hell are you using a skateboard and roller-skates!? That’s cheating!”” The guy in the suit exclaimed, pointing an accusing finger at us.
“It’s not polite to point~” I drawled, but he hadn’t seemed to have heard me.
“Why?” Killua asked, clearly not getting the point. That only seemed to piss off the old man in the suit even more.
“Why..? This an endurance test!”
I rolled my eyes. I had thought that to, at first, but after mauling it over I had realized it really wasn’t.
“No, it isn’t.” A voice piped up from behind the old man. Killua and I glanced back even more and I was surprised to see yet another kid taking the Hunter Exam. Though, I couldn’t stop myself from giggling quietly at his outfit, he wore all green with a fishing rod strapped to his backpack and his black hair was spiked to a gravity defying angle.
This kid was wired.
The guy in the suit suddenly glared and started shouting at the boy. “Gon, what are you saying!?”
‘Gon, huh? Odd name, kinda like it though.”
The kid in green, Gon, shot a reply back to the guy in the suit. “The Examiner only told us to follow him.”
He had a point, though the guy in the suit didn’t think so.
“Whose side are you on, eh!?” He yelled again. I glared, his yelling was starting to get on my nerves.
Killua suddenly slowed his skateboard down, matching pace with Gon. I followed suit, not wanting to be left up front alone with the loud old man.
“Hey, how old of you?” Killua asked Gon all of a sudden.
“I’m Twelve years old!” Gon answered with a smile before turning to me. “Ne, how about you? How old are you?”
I was taken aback, not expecting for him to talk to me. Killua looked at me as well, curious.
“Eh? I’m Eleven, though I’ll be twelve in a few months.” I replied honestly, a little bummed he was older than me. I glanced at Killua, wondering how old he was.
Killua suddenly looked back at Gon with a hum before he kicked his skateboard into the air, catching it before his feet touched the ground but when they did Killua didn’t even pause for a second before he was running again.
“Guess I’ll run too.” Killua drawled, unfazed by his own trick.
My eyes widened in amazement. I had to learn how to do that!
“Wow!” Gon exclaimed, “That was so cool!”
Suddenly Killua looked at me as I still rode along on my skates. He raised I brow at me, giving me a pointed look.
I sighed. “Fine~” I whined.
I jumped into the air and hit my heels together again, making the wheels retract back into my shoes. When I landed, I stumbled slightly and I winced as pain shot up my legs. Thankfully, no one had noticed.
“Amazing!” Gon exclaimed as he stared at me.
I grinned nervously and scratched the back of my head through my hood. “It was nothing, really!”
“I’m Killua.” Killua suddenly pipped up, drawing the attention away from me for a moment. I silently thanked the white haired boy.
“I’m Gon!” The green clad boy chirped in response before looking at me with a grin.
Not feeling as awkward this time, I grinned back. “I’m Kuragi!” I sent Gon a thumbs up as I said it.
After that we all lapsed into a comfortable silence as we ran but I couldn’t help noticing that the guy in the suit had begun to fall behind, sweating profusely. I frowned.
As I had suspected, it didn’t take to long for Gon, Killua and I to hear a clatter behind up.
Gon and I turned at the same time, spotting the guy in the suit leaning against his knees as he panted heavily, his suitcase laying not too far behind him. Gon stopped and turned to the guy fully, I followed his example which made Killua stop as well and glance back at us.
The guy in the suit looked up, still panting as he looked directly into my and Gon’s stares.
“Hey, forget him. Let’s get going.”
I sent Killua a glare for his comment, making him huff and turn away, stuffing a hand into his pocket. I followed the movement and rose an eyebrow. Normally, the action of shoving your hand in your pocket meant you felt nervous and wanted to hide. I shook my head at the thought, sure I had only known Killua for a short while but I already knew that he was arrogant and self-centered, he wouldn’t be like that…probably.
I was broken out of my thoughts when a sudden blur rushed passed me, blowing my clothes and almost knocking my hood off but I caught it.
“I’M GONNA BECOME A HUNTER! GODDAMMIT!”
I grinned and sent a thumbs up towards the retreating figure.
‘Good on ya, Old man!’
I turned just in time to see Gon take out his Fishing rod and reel in the suit guy’s forgotten suitcase.
“Cool~!” Killua and I exclaimed as we stared at Gon.
We began to run back towards the crowd of applicants so we wouldn’t be left behind. Killua talking as we did so.
“Let me try that later.”
Gon grinned. “Only if you let me try your skateboard, okay?”
I butted in. “Can I try to!”
“Sure” Gon replied, equally as enthusiastic as he was before. “But I gotta try your Roller-skates in return!”
I looked at Killua and he grinned at me. “Deal!” with both said at the same time.
I stared up in horror at the fast approaching obstacle. “You have got to be kidding me…” I whimpered.
Ahead of us was thousand off stairs. The mere sight of them making me gulp.
I had already started sweating by the time we reached the stairs and my legs were screaming loudly at me to just stop. It hurt so bad my arms were trembling in my effort to hide my pain. I clenched my fists and stuffed them in my hoodie pocket, trying to stop the shaking. I was glad the two boys hadn’t noticed, especially since I had fallen behind them by a step or two.
On the way up we passed by the guy in the suit, no longer wearing his suit and a blonde boy who didn’t seem to notice me. I also got the shock of my life when I had learned that suit guy was actually a teen. I was still going to call him old though, just for fun.
“Hey, Gon, Kuragi.” Killua suddenly said, a mischievous smile on his face. “Wanna race to the top and see who finishes first?”
“Sure!” Gon replied instantly, “The loser has to buy dinner for the other two!” I intended to decline but….I guess my feminine pride got the better of me. That and…I was completely broke.
“Hell yeah!” I cried, fist bumping the air as I forced myself to keep pace with the boys.
“Alright! You’re on!” Killua cried.
“Ready…go!” They both took off even faster and I just barely kept pace as my legs started to feel numb and lose feeling….although I could still feel the pain.
We were about ¾ up the stairs by now and I was starting to fall behind the two boys.
“I’m impressed you can keep up with me.” Killua suddenly said. I kept my mouth shut, not wanting to correct him. “Or maybe it’s just that everyone else is slow.”
I rolled my eyes at that comment but went back to focusing on running after I almost lost my footing and tripped.
“Man…The Hunter Exam it way easier than I thought, this is gonna be a breeze.”
‘Speak for yourself, Killua’ I groaned in my head.
“Hey, why do you want to become a Hunter?” Gon suddenly asked and my head shot up.
“Me?” Killua asked before continuing. “I’m not really interested in becoming a hunter. I heard the Exam was supposed to be really hard, so I thought it’d be fun but this is disappointing”
Anger coursed through me and I narrowed my eyes at the back off Killua’s head.
“What about you?” Killua asked Gon, which quelled my anger slightly.
We all moved out of the way of an applicant’s body on the stairs before Gon answered.
“Well my Dad’s a hunter so I want to become a hunter like my Dad!” Gon replied happily.
Killua hummed before asking another question. “What type of hunter is he?”
I was interested by this as well but what Gon said next made me stumble in surprise.
“I don’t know.”
Killua cracked up laughing at this which made me crack a smile. It was kind of funny.
“That’s kinda weird.” I agreed whole-heartedly with Killua on that. “You want to be like your Dad but you don’t know anything about him?”
“Hm. I was raised by Mito-san, so I’ve only seen my Dad in pictures.” Gon said randomly.
“Mito-san?” Killua clearly had no idea who that was and neither did I.
“Aunt Mito.” Gon said, clearing things up for us. “When my Dad was Twelve he took the Hunter Exam. He passed and became a Hunter. Then he left the Island.” Gon laughed slightly. “I want to find out why he chose to be a Hunter over being with me.”
I couldn’t stop smiling when he said that in a happy way. This boy was nothing but positive.
Suddenly Gon’s head shot up as he realized something. “AH! What about you Kuragi!?’
I blinked in shock for a moment before my eyes narrowed and hardened as I looked down at my feet. “I want to become stronger…”
“THE EXIT!” Someone suddenly yelled and I looked up with wide eyes as relief coursed through my tired bones. I was never so happy to see the light of day.
Suddenly, Gon and Killua took off sprinting and I just barely stayed a few paces behind them, I swear I was going to collapse any second. I saw Statotz pause to look behind him but before he got the chance Killua and Gon shot right past him, both of them yelling in victory. I made it there a few seconds after but as soon as I stopped my legs gave out and I fell to the floor, panting and sweating, trembling with the effort to keep my body upright. I couldn’t even feel my legs anymore. As I took in big gulps of air I accidentally swallowed my gum making me choke briefly.
I could hear Gon and Killua arguing over who won but I really didn’t care, my vision was going a little dark around the edges and that’s when I knew I had pushed myself too far.
“Hey, Statotz-san! Which one of us made it first?” I heard Gon suddenly ask the Examiner which stood in front of me, probably unintentionally blocking me from view.
“I believe you both crossed the finish line simultaneously…” Statotz answered.
“Oh…” Gon sighed, sounding a little glum.
“However.” Statotz butted in, “I believe there is a more pressing matter. It appears your friend is at her limit.” With that, Statotz stepped to the side, revealing me to Gon and Killua.
I looked up and saw the blurred faces of Gon and Killua. Gon’s was full of concern, worry and a little guilt while Killua’s eyes had widened a fraction and he was frowning, looking a little guilty as well. They both rushed up to me and Gon knelled down in front of me, looking frantic.
“What’s wrong, Kuragi!?” Gon asked frantically.
“Can’t…Move…Legs…Went…Too…Far…” I panted out, still just barely keeping myself upright with my shaking arms. I looked down at the ground and closed my eyes, trying to stop the world from spinning.
“Gon, hold this.” I suddenly heard Killua say then I heard the scrap of dirt in front of me.
“Oh! Good idea, Killua” Gon chirped, sounding happy.
I ignored Killua, trying to regain my sense of feeling in my legs but they still didn’t move.
“Kuragi.” Killua’s tone was slightly more forceful this time. I opened my eyes slowly and looked up at the blurry Killua in front of me. He was crouched on the ground in front of me, his back to me and his arms held behind his back as he looked at me over his shoulder.
“Get on.” His voice still sounded bored but I slight edge to it gave me no room to argue, I didn’t have the energy to anyway.
I crawled forward using my arms then slowly tried to position myself onto Killua’s back. When I had gotten my upper body positioned and my arms around his neck, he stood, wrapping my legs around his waist for me.
“Thank you…” I mumbled quietly as I looked down, disappointed in myself, at having to get help.
Killua didn’t reply, he only walked to stand next to Gon, who sent me a cheery smile which I returned weakly, only then noticing that Gon had Killua’s skateboard strapped to his backpack as well as his fishing rod. A number of other applicants were already up here as well, panting and wheezing.
I glanced around our surroundings but couldn’t make out anything past the thick fog. Suddenly I heard a familiar sound of panting and turned to look and the guy in the suit stumbled to the top of the stair then collapsed in a panting mess. I smiled, glad he had made it.
I saw a blonde boy come up right after, not as bad as him but still panting. I recognized him as the boy who had been with them when I had first seen them during the beginning of the phase, except he was missing his blue poncho.
The blonde spotted us and walked over, casting a glance at me before turning to Gon.
“Hey, Kurapika!” Gon said, smiling.
The blonde, Kurapika?, smiled and waved. “Is this our destination?” Kurapika asked.
“Nope.” Gon replied.
“I see.” Kurapika huffed before turning to look at me. “And who is this.”
“Oh!” Gon jumped up, “This is our friend,-“
“Kuragi.” I croaked giving him a polite smile.
“Kurapika.” The blonde, confirming his name and returning my smile. “Are you alright?”
“I’m fine…tired…” With that said I tiredly laid my chin on Killua’s shoulder. I felt him stiffen and immediately pulled back, quietly apologizing.
Killua shook his head. “No, it’s okay.”
“You know our friend, Leorio, is a Doctor so he can take a look at you just in case.” Kurapika said, politely butting in.
I flinched at the word Doctor and held on tighter to Killua. “No….Thank you. I’m fine.”
‘Well, now I know the old man’s name at least.’
Kurapika’s eyes suddenly widened as he looked around. “The fog is fading.”
I glanced up and realized he was right. As the fog cleared I realized we were in a swamp.
Suddenly, Statotz started talking again. “The Numere Wetlands, also known as Swindlers’ Swamp…” I shuddered at the name, not liking this place already.
“We must cross these Wetlands to reach Phase Two of the Exam. This place is home to many bizarre animals, many of them being cunning and insatiable creatures who deceive humans and prey upon them.”
I shuddered and tightened my hold on Killua more, my eyes darting around for any sign on none human life.
Statotz continued. “Be very careful.” Statotz turned to look at all of us. “If you let them fool you…you’re dead.”
I tensed and let out a ragged breath as everyone around me began to sweat and second guess themselves.
Killua looked at me over his shoulder and raised a brow. “I seriously doubt anything would be dumb enough to try and attack you while you’re with me and Gon.”
I smiled at Killua’s attempt at making me calm down. “Thanks, you’re probably right.” As I relaxed Killua turned back around.
I whipped my head around when I heard the sound of screeching metal and saw that the entrance to the tunnel was closing, leaving some poor sap that just made it to the top behind. I gulped, no turning back now…
“These Wetland creatures will use every trick in the book to fool their prey.” Statotz again began to explain the Wetlands to us, I was eternally grateful for it. “An ecosystem in which creatures obtain food through deceit…Hence the name Swindlers Swamp.” Statotz turned his back to us. “Stay very close to me so you won’t be deceived.”
Everyone tensed, getting ready.
“What a joke.” Leorio scoffed. “How can they fool us when we’re expecting it?”
“DON’T LET HIM FOOL YOU!”
I jumped at the sudden shout and clung to Killua.
I looked where everyone else was and spotted someone peering at us from beside the entrance to the tunnel. His face was all beaten and bloody. My eyes widened, was this a trick or…
“D-Don’t fall for it…” The man had come further out of the shadows of the entrance, being clearly seen by everyone now. “He’s lying to you!” The man pointed to Statotz as he said this and I froze.
“He’s an impostor!” The unknown man continued. “He isn’t an examiner…I’m the real examiner.”
I tensed, my eyes darting back and forth between the man and Statotz as I tried to figure out who was the real one but then I realized something. Gon and Killua weren’t freaking out. That meant Statotz was the real examiner, right?
“Look at this!” The unknown man begun to drag something into our view, I soon as I saw it my eyes widened and I felt sick. Laying on the ground was something that scarily resembled Statotz.
I suddenly felt a slight pressure on my thighs and looked down. Killua was squeezing them lightly, almost reassuringly. I relaxed, understanding Killua’s silent message. ‘This man was the fake, not Statotz. I should calm down.’
I began to grin as I realized I was getting the feeling back in my legs. That means I might not have to burden Killua all the way through the Wetlands.
I snapped out of my thoughts as something whizzed by my cheek, just missing me by and inch, and slammed into the unknown man. They were cards…three regular playing cards.
I looked on, wide eyed and shocked. ‘What the hell just happened?’
I looked behind me at the sound of someone shuffling a deck. I spotted the creepy clown I had been keeping a firm distance away from since I had arrived in the tunnel. I didn’t like him. He had this killing intent surrounding him 24/7.
The clown chuckled as he continued to shuffle his deck of cards. “I see, I see…” He hummed, unaffected by the amount of attention on him. “That settles it…” He looked right at Statotz. “You’re the real one.”
I relaxed completely when the clown said those words. ‘Thank god,’
Statotz casually threw the cards he had in his hand to the ground as he stared at the clown.
“Examiners are Hunters…” The clown said calmly. “Selected by the Committee to do this duty without pay. Any Hunter, bearing the title we seek, would have been able to block that attack.”
“I shall take that as a compliment.” Statotz said before evenly staring at him. “However, should you attack me again, for any reason, I will report you for attacking an Examiner and you will be immediately disqualified. Are we clear?”
The air was thick with tension as everyone waited for the clown to reply. When he finally answered it was a simple. “Sure.”
Suddenly, there was a loud piercing shriek of a Vulture and in the blink of an eye four of said creatures had begun to attack the corpse of the impostor ‘examiner.’ I looked away and dimly hear someone say that nature was brutal. I numbly nodded in agreement.
Awhile after we had started the second half of the First Phase; Gon, Killua and I found ourselves alone in the fog after we had agreed to move up when Killua had mention Hisoka, who I learned was the clown, was emitting a dangerous aura.
Suddenly, Gon spoke up. “I hear people screaming all around us…”
I nodded slightly in agreement, I had been hearing the faint screams myself.
Killua continued to look ahead as he replied. “Just keep your guards up.”
“I wonder if Leorio and Kurapika are okay.”
At the mention on the two other friends I frowned, hoping they were alright.
Suddenly, both boys came to a sudden halt. I looked around in confusion before looking at them.
“Wha-?” Suddenly the ground underneath their feet gave way and we fell into a slimy and squishy abyss. I shrieked as I fell, trying to hold onto Killua but the slime that had coated me was making it hard. Were we in something’s stomach!?
I suddenly felt an arm wrap around my waist then there was an odd hissing sound before the sound of something being poured out. “What-?”
“Hold on tight.” Killua suddenly said, cutting me off. I immediately tightened my hold on his neck and waited for something to happen. Suddenly, everything began to rumble and I heard a sound akin to a churning stomach. My stomach dropped and I gaped.
‘Oh, don’t tell me…’
A sudden rush of warm and lumpy liquid engulfed me and Killua, forcing us up and out of whatever monster we had been inside of. I shut my eyes and clamped my mouth shut, praying to god I didn’t get any in my mouth.
I heard Gon grunt as we all landed in a puddle of monster puke. I shuddered in disgust as I opened my eyes. I gagged at the putrid smell of the puddle we sat in. I looked at Killua, whose lap I sat in and smiled sheepishly.
Killua smirked at me in response. I took that as a yes.
“Guess he didn’t like the taste of us.” Gon suddenly chirped as he sat up in the gross puddle. I rolled my eyes and cracked a smile at the naïve boy.
“Nope.” I said, popping the ‘p’.
“It was this.” Killua clarified, holding up an empty orange can. I scrunched up my nose at the can, even though it was empty I wanted to keep it as far away from me as I could.
“Oh!” Gon exclaimed in realization. “That’s from Tonpa-san. Guess he saved us”
I cringed at the mention of the pig-faced asshole’s name. I felt like pouring a can of his own juice down his throat and see how he liked it, even though it was said juice that saved us from the slimy pit of a monster’s stomach as Gon had said.
“Well, I could have escaped.” Killua said haughtily, tossing the can behind him. As he stood, he pulled me up with him, making me realize he still had an arm wrapped around my waist. I blushed slightly in embarrassment but stopped what I realized Killua was waiting for me to climb onto his back again. I sighed and climbed back onto his back, wrapping me arms around his neck as he again hoisted up my legs.
“I’m still worried about Leorio and Kurapika.” Gon suddenly said, as he, too stood.
“Forget about them.” Killua said as he turned and began to walk off. “Let’s get a move on. We can still catch up to the examiner.”
I glanced at the fog around us with a frown, hoping he was right about that.
Killua broke into a light jog as Gon began to follow behind. I tightened my grip around Killua as I began to slip slightly.
It wasn’t too long until we saw a large group of runners in front of us through the fog, making me sigh in relief. We made it.
“We caught up to the main group, Gon.” Killua said, turning to look back at the green boy as did I. However, both of our eyes widened when we did see heads nor tails of him. He had disappeared.
I groaned. “That idiot better not get himself killed.”
Killua sighed as he turned back around and began to follow the group, most likely agreeing with me.
Killua and I had arrived at what I assumed was the sight of the Second Phase not too long ago. Killua had put me down in front of a tree before sitting down beside me, both of us waiting for Gon to make it here, we had faith.
I stared at my legs and frowned my brows, trying to get them to move. I had regained the feeling in them, which came with some pain, and they would twitch each time I tried to move them but I still doubted I would be able to walk.
Killua suddenly tensed next to me and my head automatically looked up, looking around in search for Gon. However, all I saw was a smirking Hisoka looming over me and Killua, an unconscious and beaten Leorio slung over his shoulder. Killua shot up, glaring at Hisoka as he moved in front of me. I was relieved at that because there was no way in hell I could take this clown on, moving legs or otherwise.
Hisoka’s smirk widened before he simply dropped Leorio down next to me, the unconscious man slumping against the tree trunk. With that done, Hisoka casually strolled away. I narrowed my eyes at the back of his head, wondering if he had done something to Gon.
I turned my head and looked at Leorio in worry. Was he dead?
“Don’t worry. He’s not dead.” I looked up at Killua, whom had spoken, as he casually had his hands behind his head.
I nodded, looking back down at my feet. “Hey, Killua….” I mumbled awkwardly, starting to fidget with my fingers.
“Hmm?” Killua hummed in acknowledgment, watching the forest for any signs of Gon.
“Uh…” I blushed out of embarrassment and looked to the side, scratching my cheek to distract myself. “Th-Thanks….you know, for carrying me here?”
I glanced up and saw Killua looking down at me, a bit wide eyed before he smirked and shoved his hands into his pockets. “You’re welcome~ though, you owe me now! You’re heavy you know.”
I pouted and glared a Killua. So much for him being nice.
“Screw you.” I huffed, crossing my arms as I turned away from him in annoyance.
“Aren’t you a little too young, or am I just that irresistible?” I could hear the smirk in his voice as he said this.
My face flamed and I tumbled over my own words. “I- huh- wha- you- I didn’t- You perverted jackass!”
I turned to glare heatedly at Killua only to find that he was gone, probably to go wait for Gon. I turned my glare back to my feet, my face still flaming, and huffed.
“Stupid albino asshole…” I muttered bitterly.
Suddenly I heard the sound of shuffling and a groan next to me. I turned and blinked owlishly at Leorio, who seemed to have regained consciousness.
Leorio looked around in a daze before spotting me and blinking. “Oh…Kuragi…”
I opened my mouth to ask him what happened when a familiar voice sounded to my right.
I sighed in relief when I saw Gon and Kurapika jogging over, both in a good condition.
Gon placed down Leorio’s briefcase as Kurapika nodded politely to me. I smiled and waved at the blonde before turning to Gon and knocking him upside the head.
Gon fell back and held his head. “Ow!”
I glared at the boy, my fist still raised threateningly. “What the hell did you think you were doing, Idiot!? Why the hell did you run off alone!?”
I punched his arm once. “Stupid!” Then hit him again. “Fool!”
Gon winced and looked at me with sad eyes. “S-Sorry, Kuragi! I had to go, Leorio and Kurapika were in trouble!”
I softened at the sad look he gave me and lowered my fist, shaking my head. “It’s alright. I overreacted, you had me worried is all.”
I sent Gon a grin, which he returned. I narrowed my gaze and warned threateningly. “However, if you do that again I will personally hunt you down and kill you myself, got it!?”
Gon nodded hurriedly. I smiled.
“Man, that stings…” Leorio suddenly groaned, holding his swollen cheek tenderly. “Why am I all beat up? My memory’s all hazy”
I saw Kurapika lean down and whisper something into Gon’s ear, who in turn nodded in agreement to whatever he had said.
My eyes narrowed and I glared at the approaching albino, my cheeks flaming all over again as what he said repeated in my mind.
“Killua!” Gon exclaimed, happy to see the aggravating boy.
“I can’t believe you actually made it here…I thought you were done for.” At the end of his sentence he came to stand before Gon, briefly sending me a mocking glance and a smirk.
“I just tracked Leorio’s cologne.”
I blanched at Gon’s words, staring at the boy like he was insane. Killua seemed taken aback as well.
“Cologne? That was how? You definitely are weird.”
Before Gon had the chance to reply, Statotz spoke up. “Excellent work, everyone. Phase Two of the Exam will occur here, at the Biska Forest Park. So I shall take my leave. Best of luck to all of you.”
I didn’t even watch Statotz go, I was still staring at Gon, wondering if he was secretly a dog. I grinned at my own ridiculous thought.