This is just a rough little snippet that I wrote set in the Monster Hunter universe that doesn’t actually fit into any of my current projects. Tanya was originally going to be a background character in Monster Hunter Alpha, but didn’t quite fit. So think of it as a deleted scene on a DVD. Maybe I will revisit Tanya’s story in a future MH novel. I know that it would be a lot of fun. Enjoy. -Larry
Once upon a time, in the state of Mississippi, there dwelt an elf princess. The princess lived in the Enchanted Forest with her mother, the queen of the elves, in a ninety-foot long aluminum double-wide trailer.
“I’m bored, Momma,” the princess of the elves whined. She was sitting on the couch and painting her toenails. The princess had been complaining a lot lately. “This is stupid. Stupid and boring.”
Queen Ilrondelia grunted and used the remote to turn up the volume on the TV so she wouldn’t have to listen to her youngest and only daughter. It was an infomercial about some blanket thing with sleeve holes for your hands so you could sit all warm on the couch and still work the remote. The queen decided she needed one of those and wondered if they made it in her size.
“Tanya! Write down that number,” the queen ordered. “I need one of them snuggly blankets for keeping warm.”
“You ain’t listening. How come you won’t let me do nothing?” Tanya said.
“You wanna do something? Get that skinny ass offa’ the couch and get a ink pen like I said!” the queen bellowed.
“Yes, your majesty,” Tanya answered sullenly, got up, and went to the kitchen.
“And fetch me some Ho-Hos while yous at it…” the queen said, then thought about it. “And some ranch dressin’ for dippin’ sauce.” She went back to the TV. Tanya returned, but as usual, took her sweet time, so the phone number was gone, and the queen would be forced to wait on getting her snuggly blanket with sleeves, but she did bring the box of Ho-Hos and the bottle of ranch dressing like she’d been told. The queen took the snack and glared disapproving at Tanya’s too-small shirt. “Your belly’s stickin’ out.”
“Its fashion,” Tanya said. “You’re just jealous.”
The queen snorted. Fashion. The girl had no sense. Tanya went back to the couch, but one of the cats had taken her spot. Tanya tossed it on the floor and went back to painting her toes.
The queen forgot about the TV for a minute and concentrated on her kid. She didn’t do that very often. “So… You wanna do something’?” the queen asked.
Tanya sighed. “Yeah, I do.”
“So the Enchanted Forest ain’t good ‘nuff no mo?”
“That ain’t what I meant,” Tanya said. “But elves used to do stuff. You know. Outside.”
The queen of the elves pondered on that while she unwrapped a Ho-Ho and squirted ranch dressing on it. Her people had a sweet deal. The government paid them good money to stay right here in the Enchanted Forest, but some of the younger elves were getting uppity, talking about adventure. They’d been watching too many movies with fancy movie elves in them. They didn’t realize how good they had it here in the Enchanted Forest.
The world had moved on. It wasn’t a magic world no more. It was a world of techno-thingies and computing boxes and inter-webs. It wasn’t a world fit for her kind.
The queen knew her youngest was going to be a problem child since she’d gotten that butterfly tramp-stamp tattooed on her back. Somehow she’d gotten it in her head that she wanted to ‘see the world’ and such nonsense. She even talked to those damn pixies. Hell, the girl probably didn’t have the smarts not to consort with a filthy orc if left on her own. But since Tanya was the prettiest girl in the trailer park she had all the boys wrapped around her finger. Her crazy talk could cause trouble. Trouble could make it so that the government checks quit coming.
The government didn’t want people knowing about monsters or magic or the things that lived on the outskirts. Other than shopping at the Walmart, the Elves kept to themselves. All it would take was one dumb youngster to go and pull something stupid in town, and their sweet gig would be up. And with Tanya flouncing around like a cheap pixie, talking to humans, and sneaking out, it was only a mater of time. The princess was a pain in her ass.
“Tanya, Tanya, Tanya,” the queen said around a mouth full of Ho-Ho, “what am I gonna do wit’ you?”
Tanya looked up from her toes. “Let me travel. You let other elves go out. You let Elmo and the trackers get work.”
That much was true. She wasn’t above farming out her people for odd jobs to supplement the checks. In fact, Harbinger from MHI had called, saying he needed a diviner, and he was willing to pay big bucks for only a few days labor. “So that’s what you’s all spun up on? ‘Cause I’m sendin’ Elmo with that boss Hunter? That’s ‘cause there’re some elves are smart enough to do some job, get paid, and get back! You’d just screw it up. You ain’t wise like them yet.”
“I can do magic too! And I’m educated!” Tanya shouted loud enough to make two cats retreat under the couch. “I got my GED.”
The queen frowned while she chewed, chins bouncing. She never should have let the girl take that correspondence course. It had made her even more uppity. It was time to put the royal foot down. “I forbids it. You’ll be queen someday, so you need to learn ‘bout how to be a proper type ruler, meanin’ you ain’t goin’ nowhere.”
Tanya screeched in frustration and stomped off. She slammed the door to her room hard enough to shake the whole trailer.
It had taken another hour for her momma to fall asleep on her recliner. Tanya waited until the snores were nice, even, and loud before sliding out the window. She’d snuck out many nights before. She knew every bar from here to Tupelo, and had danced on most of them.
But this time was different. Tanya wasn’t coming back. It was time to make it big. She was sick of the Enchanted Forest, sick of her Queenliness always bossing her around, and bored out of her mind. She was too big for the trailer park, and she was going to show them. She had a backpack full of clothes, spell fixings, a pocket full of money (mostly stolen), an Ipod with every single Eminem song on it, and her dreams.
She’d heard the legends. Elves used to be beautiful, immortal and magical. The elder Vartinian used to tell the youngsters the stories. Their people had been brave, and had fought mighty wars against the fearsome orcs and the evil fey. I was impossible to imagine her mighty ancestors living in the Enchanted Forest and being happy. She’d heard about other elves across the sea. They had to be cooler than her stupid relatives. She watched a lot of TV. She knew what was out there.
It had been on one of her weekend scouting trips that she’d finally come to the realization that her destiny lay outside the Enchanted Forest. After hitchhiking to Tupelo, because she’d heard about an awesome kegger, Tanya had come across a magical shrine where a mystical hero had been born. She still wore one of the great one’s holy symbols on a chain around her neck, a solemn reminder that a legend could come from humble beginnings, plus she thought her Elvis Presley medallion looked wicked cool in her cleavage when she wore one of her low-cut tops.
If a human could go on to become a god, what amazing things could an elf of the royal line accomplish? All sorts of badass stuff, that’s what. But first she needed a ticket out of the Enchanted Forest, and by royal decree, Elves were not allowed out without leave. Sure, the queen looked the other way for Tanya’s sneaking out, as she knew that youngsters needed blow off steam, but leaving for good would be different. Momma would be sure to send the trackers after her. So she needed to hatch a scheme that would let her go in a way that the queen wouldn’t dare drag her back.
The getaway plan had been in her head for quite some time. The idea had started a couple years back when she’d watched some Hunters come to bug momma for information. Tanya had always found humans interesting, especially the cute boys, but most elves hated their cousins because they were squishy, mean-tempered, and short-lived, but they respected the Hunters. The Monster Hunters put boot to ass on a regular basis, and even the snootiest elf in the Enchanted Forest had to admit that they were the real deal, so fearsome that they even owned a tribe of vicious orc barbarians, let free only to eat the babies of their enemies.
There had been a funny looking red-bearded one, a big ugly with a scar face, a black guy with badass dreadlocks, and a blonde girl with attitude, so pretty that she had left Tanya jealous enough to start bleaching her own hair. All of them except for the ugly one had come back the next year, and Tanya had eavesdropped again. These people had adventures and they made serious bank. They were feared and respected, riding to battle on a flying death-machine driven by their insane orc slaves, and living in a mysterious palace known only as the Compound. Now that was living large.
Summoning up all her courage, Tanya had confronted the Hunters as they were leaving and had asked what it took to become one of them. They didn’t laugh at her at all. The one with the red beard had seemed a little confused, but had started to give her a serious answer, until momma had hit her with a well-aimed bunny slipper and ordered her back into the trailer. The slipper had nearly put out her eye, but it was worth it. Just the fact that they hadn’t laughed at her told her that there was no reason an elf couldn’t join up.
When she’d overheard momma saying that she was going to assign that idiot Elmo to do a little job for the king of the Hunters, she knew that she’d have to move quick. She was a much better diviner than Elmo was, probably twice as good when he was liquored up, which was most of the time.
So after sneaking out the window Tanya had hunkered down behind the back of the trailer and waited. Most elves slept in pretty late, so if the Hunters were coming in the morning, then she’d have a good chance of reaching them first. Momma wouldn’t dare send the trackers after her if she was working for the Hunters. Tanya congratulated herself on the brilliance of her plan.
It was getting cold, early winter, but she’d worn a nice coat. It was a letterman’s jacket from the Boonville Blue Devils, lifted off a stupid human. Human boys were even dumber than their elven counterparts, but she did appreciate the muscles on the ones that played football. Luckily it didn’t take too long for her ride to show up. Even with her earpieces in, she still heard the truck arrive. It was a huge, black pickup truck with a winch on the front and a shell over the back. It had to be the Hunters. This was perfect. Everyone else was asleep. She turned off the 8 Mile soundtrack, grabbed her backpack, and ran over to rap her knuckles against the window.
It took a second but the window rolled down and the human behind the wheel gave her a funny look. If she were hitchhiking this was normally when she would have leaned forward so the driver could see down her shirt, but that didn’t’ seem like the professional thing to do. She had an act to keep up. “Heya,” Tanya said, standing perfectly straight. “You the Hunter?”
“I am,” he said politely, tipping the brim of his ball cap. It had a green happy face on it. If he was an elf he’d have been in his mid-hundreds, but Tanya figured that made him about forty in human years. Wearing a really old leather jacket, he seemed bulky by elf standards, but probably lean compared to most of the humans she knew. He wasn’t handsome at all, kind of plain with a hard face, like someone who spent a lot of time outdoors, and eyes that seemed to look right through her. Elves had blue eyes too, but his were the color of ice and just as cold. This was the kind of man who made his living face-punching monsters to death. “I’m here to see the queen.”
“She’s probably gonna sleep until about noon,” Tanya answered, thinking quickly. “She went on a real bender last night. I’m talking like a gallon of Thunderbird! She didn’t want to be disturbed. So she sent me to meet you. I’m your diviner.”
The Hunter seemed a little surprised. “You’re Elmovarian? The master tracker?”
“Of course,” she answered proudly, the human hadn’t been expecting a babe. Tanya prided herself on being the hottest of all the elves in the trailer park. “That’s my full elf name. Whenever I work with humans I let them call me Tanya.”
“I’m Earl Harbinger,” the Hunter said. “Ain’t you a little young?”
“I’m an elf. I’m older than I look.” Which was true, Tanya had been able to successfully buy beer when she was only fourteen with her fake ID. Momma had always said she was an early bloomer. She was twenty-two now, which was positively ancient by human female standards. “Besides, I’m the best tracker in the Enchanted Forest.” Tanya didn’t hesitate. She went for the gold. This was her ticket out of this dump. “All righty then, we better get going, I’m guessing you’ve got lots of things to murder.” Not wanting to give him time to think about it, she immediately walked around the front of the truck to the passenger side. She held her breath until he unlocked the door. She threw her pack in the back seat and climbed in the front. “Okay, let’s go.”
The Hunter shrugged and started the engine. “Seatbelt,” he suggested. She complied. Tanya was terribly nervous, but momma didn’t come lumbering out of the trailer. Nobody raised the alarm. The trackers didn’t come out with their sawed off shotguns and compound bows to massacre the Hunter for kidnapping the royal heir. They crossed the threshold of the Enchanted Forest and then they were free.
“Where’re we headed?” Tanya asked, eager for adventure.
“Indiana,” Harbinger answered.
The princess of the elves was intrigued. “Ooohh. That sounds exciting.”
The Monster Hunter just watched the road. “Uh hu.”
TO BE CONTINUED…