“The Art of Monster Hunting”
~ a short story
~ below is an excerpt from ”The Official Monster Hunting Manual” by Frederich Wilhelm-Justicarius Maxwellian Maxwell IV, aka “Maxwell.” 5-time MVH. Slayer of Grokk. Discoverer of Oura, The Grand Devourer. On and off-again companion to Xena, Warrior Princess. Found the lost land of Elysia and exorcised the infamous Manicchus House. Has been damned, cursed and damn-near killed by all five members of the Godhand too many times to keep count. Many, many more accolades and legendary hunts lay at Maxwell’s feet, too many to spare a completionist’s scribe here. Previous works include “Seduce A Troll, Outwit A Vamp, and Take A Dragon In Two Shots: Maxwell’s Manifesto of Killer Tips”, “Pura Muerte: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Hunt”, and his masterwork: “The Art of Ghost Hunting.”
…In the end, every great monster hunter knows — and thus carries with them into every respective hunt — 3 main things.
(Yeah, yeah in this profession, you better know a hell of a lot more than three! But three BIG ones. You know to mirror the three BIG mons out there — trolls, vampires, and dragons.)
One of them may surprise you:
- Knowledge ➜ (Tools)
- Passion ➜ (Skills)
- Intention ➜ (Understanding)
Knowledge is all about answering questions.
Who to hunt? (Gizmo or Dracula? Who do I know? Who am I prepared for?),
What to look for? (tracks, loose hair, residue, radioactivity, a trail of gore, etc.),
When/Where to lead the hunt? (In the bubblepools of the Everswamp, during full dark with no stars? At the peak of the Undercroft, where the Hollow Earth rises to greet an indestructible sundial set to have its pre-set time and day realized at some uncertain point yet-to-be…),
How to kill? (Sword or gun? Words or wiles? Sun or silver?)
and finally, most importantly,
Why do the hunt? (For the children? For you? For your God? For the future?)
(Everyone knows what monster hunting is really for … don’t make me say it, slayers. We know. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) )
Without knowledge in his head — and in his hands! — the hunter is truly naked. Knowledge of your tools, your weapons and armor, is just as paramount to this dangerous endeavor we badasses submit ourselves to. Don’t forget to bless your blade before you go. Reload every chamber at a moment’s break in the action. Coat and re-coat your arrows with basilisk blood. Mirroring the previous questions siring their answers from out of your heart and mind, your tools are answers. More visceral, and more fun.
(“Does that make monsters … questions?” Shut up. Yes. And keep reading.)
Passion comes next. But really, it comes first, doesn’t it? If you are in this on a lark, you are already dead. Mark that as a Maxwell Guarantee™. Every rookie I ever saw that didn’t have the fire in his eyes wound up in more than one place in less than fortnight. But that ain’t you. That definitely ain’t me! I wake up in the morning and I piss monster hunting. It’s part of everything I do. I LOVE it. I mean it’s a true-true love. I love it more than I could ever love any woman (not for lack of trying though!)
Passion is birthed when you engage your life’s purpose.
Passion can shape you into a stronger being than any immortal freak from the darkness.
Passion be the only thing that makes beautiful art possible.
Without it, like I said: You. Are. Dead.
And you know what else passion does? It makes you work. It forces you into waking up early, setting your days for growth, and developing the necessary skills to keep your art alive. My interactive fitness series “Jump, Cut, Run: The Hunter Program for Getting Shredded Before You Get Shredded” covers this pretty spectacularly, if I might say so myself… Every hunter has to not just be ‘in shape’ — we gotta be at the peak of human physical perfection! You know how much f*ckin’ work that is gonna take? If you don’t have the passion for this, then go ahead and get out now. Leave it to us professionals. WE got this.
Alright boys and girls, the half-assers are long gone. Get pumped. Get your blood going. And I mean everywhere. If we are to stand a chance against those superfreaks out there with superstrength and supersenses and super big teeth, we gotta be able to give maximum effort at every moment of battle. Got it? That means not getting tired. That means giving every punch, slash, and shot your absolute best. I am talking Mamba Mentality! First one in the arena, last one out. This also means pushing through when you get sealed in ice, or buried in blood and mud, or your back gets slashed and you can feel your spine coming out and your life force spilling onto the dusty floor of the keep. True monster hunting means means LOVING that awful sh*t, too!
Every monster hunter is an athlete, a weaponmaster, a scientist, a friend, a lover, and a poet. Yes! You heard that right. If you aren’t writing battle hymns after every hunt, then get the hell away from me! (You can read my battle hymns here: MaxwellHymns.com).
No matter how you cut it, every hunter has to have passion or he’s dead. Every hunter must love the hunt, else he is doomed to a violent and horrifying death. End of story.
But not for you, chief… your story is just beginning.
At last, we come to intention. Now, listen up close, kings and queens. This is more important than anything else I have said so far.
What did old papa nihilo say about our particular profession way on in the yonder days of yore?
“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Well, folks, the only way to prevent such abyssal monsterification is to do what?
To know what a monster is.
And not just know to know how to kill ’em. But know to know.
What is a monster?
Go on. Answer me.
Without being able to answer this no hunt can proceed. Every good hunter worth his salt can answer correctly. Those that can’t… Well, we already know what happens to them. Let’s just say their first hunt and their last hunt might be the same one.
What? You want me to give you the answer? Pfft. Jesus Christ. Pathetic.
Get the f*ck outta here!!
Ok, I will help you out. Let’s review what have you learned: A monster hunter must carry knowledge and passion, wielding top tools and transcendent skills. But above all, they must cultivate this intention: To learn about the very things they hunt. To effectively hunt monsters you must know them inside and out.
We are human beings and we are destined to learn. Even about mons. Anyone can do it. It doesn’t take a genius to research, discover and ultimately answer the question of the monster.
Anyone is capable as long as you are willing. You only need one thing. (You already have it. Yeah, even you.)
A true monster hunter must cultivate empathy for that which they are fated to slay. Only with such empathic, effortful enlightenments in hand (you like that alliteration, eh?) will you succeed. Beside your magnum and your bastard sword and your blood-soaked holy relic, you must carry the ability to understand your enemy as well as you understand yourself.
Here are some monster facts to help you along your journey of thorough monster education to the ends of answering that all-important question:
- Every monster eats to live, like us.
- Every monster is birthed out of a crucible of hellish tragedy, like so many of us.
- Every monster is scary because it is sad. (Every single one. Are you, slayer?)
- Every great shadowy, slinking, slimy monster is, or was, an indelible part of our world.
Last hinting word on this before you go and start your hunts for such knowledge, passion, and intention,
Always remember: When we kill a monster, we cull a part of ourselves as well.
We may have to kill ’em, but we don’t have to forget about what they really are while we do it.
Take this intention and go, slayer. Go, true and good, and answer for yourself what a monster is.
Then, let your hunt begin.
Maxwell out. ~