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Lowstah July 3rd, 2013 9:50 AM

A Tale of Loyalty Vol. I [PG-13]
Pokémon: A Tale of Loyalty Vol. I

Before the story begins i'd just like to establish that the story is set an undisclosed amount of years after the events of Heart Gold and Soul Silver.

Also i wasn't sure about what to rate it, but seeing as i'm going to be covering some strong emotional stuff i'll just recommend if you get upset by emotional turmoil, to perhaps not read past this foreword.

Moreover, i'm aiming for a chapter a week, but this could be more regularly or less regularly depending on certain things.

Finally, if you have any thoughts or constructive criticism please do not hesitate, even if its as little as a grammatical oversight or a spelling error, i welcome any and all opinions. At the moment the title is just a working title, and if anyone has any ideas for a title please let me know :)

Thanks i hope you enjoy it :)

Chapter One
Billy stared off the stern as the bright beacon that was the iconic lighthouse of Olivine City slowly began to shrink down into a faint glow emanating in the distance. He exhaled deeply as he thought about his journey past. The friends he had met… the hardships endured… the path ahead.

The thunder rumbled on the enclosing horizon. Was it a sign… a warning to turn back?
“It’s just thunder,” he told himself. His best friend sat beside him, his orange and black coat vibrantly shimmering as the last remaining rays of light from the lighthouse bounced off him. Billy crouched down to look into his partner’s eyes. They had been a comfort over their journey together. His patient companion’s eyes met his own. His irises were a molten red with flecks of orange and gold, and even on the coldest nights Billy could gaze deep into them and feel warm.

*** ***

The two had shared a less than perfect first impression of each other, but arguably just as memorable. Billy had grown up in Blackthorn City, pathologically terrified of any and all Pokémon. When he was very little, he had seen a ferocious dragon Pokémon, which had scared him half to death. The power he had witnessed from a single being had scarred him for the rest of his childhood. Regardless Billy’s parents were keen for him to overcome his fear, and to make something of himself in the world of Pokémon. However, Billy never took to it. He struggled with the basics and was too fearful to try any practical battling.

Despite Billy’s desire to keep as far away from Pokémon as possible, when he was fifteen his Grandparents gave him a Growlithe that had been born of their two Arcanine. Billy was too scared to even be near him, which insulted the young Growlithe. The playful puppy only wanted a friend, but being a particularly proud Growlithe he saw Billy’s refusal to interact with him as an insult.

This continued for almost two years. Any complaints made by Billy were laughed off by his Parents, who felt it was healthy for Billy to spend time with a Pokémon. It was the lowest point in Billy’s teenage years, and he felt like it would never end. At one point he even contemplated running away, until he realised that would mean spending night after night alone and cold, surrounded by that which he feared the most.

*** ***

Billy affectionately stroked Growlithe under his chin, as their smiles grew and mirrored one another. They had been through so much since then. It would be petty to hold the growing pains of a young pup against his companion. Billy thought back to when he had first seen those beautiful eyes, and when the first foundations of a beautiful friendship were laid down.

*** ***

One night, shortly after Billy had turned seventeen, he was awakened by the smell of thick, black smoke. It slowly crept underneath his door and slithered across the floor. He jumped from his bed and ran to the door, as smoke poured into the room. He could feel the sheer, intense heat buffeting against the door. Billy daren’t open it in fear of letting the flames engulf him. He began to panic and frantically paced around his room.

It suddenly dawned on him… the window. Billy sharply turned towards the window and hurtled towards it. As he desperately fumbled around trying to open the window, more and more smoke billowed in from the hallway. Before long Billy struggled to see his hands in front of him. The thick smoke built up in Billy’s lungs as he coughed and wheezed climbing onto the ledge of the window. He looked down, and saw a long drop down to his front yard. The same fear that had been smothered by the desperation to escape quickly filled him. He froze, crouched on the ledge looking at a steep drop.

“I… I can’t do it.”

However, before he had the chance to turn around and think of a new plan, the door burst into a thousand pieces. Wood splinters flew in all directions as a small shape came charging into his room. The smoke was too thick, and before Billy could make out what it was, the shape leapt up at him, tackling him through the window and knocking the wind out of him. Billy tumbled through the air and landed flat on his back with an almighty crash.

After a few moments of lying flat on his face wincing from the pain, he sat up gingerly and took in deep breaths of clean, smokeless air. He looked around for his savior. Beside him was laid Growlithe, panting heavily from the fall. The same Growlithe Billy thought had despised him had saved his life. He felt a strange mix of emotions; confusion that the bully he had grown up with had risked his life to rescue him; thankful that he had done so... and panic as he realised he was sat alone in his front yard. Where were his parents?

Dizzied by the smoke and the less-than-acrobatic landing, he looked up at his home, burning intensely like the fiery wings of Moltres or the blazing mane of Rapidash. Billy rose to his feet and made for the front door, but his pajama bottoms were snagged against something. His rescuer had him clamped in his jaws.

“I have to save them,” Billy pleaded with Growlithe.

Growlithe snapped at him sternly, before racing ahead into the inferno. Billy didn't understand what was happening. Seconds turned into minutes and the fire grew hotter and wilder. He soon realised Growlithe had gone back for his parents. Each minute that passed, the hope in Billy’s heart faded. By the time Growlithe limped out, scorched from the flames, completely alone, he knew that it was too late. He fell to his knees and wept.

As he sat there crying in front of his blazing home, whilst some fire-fighters tried to put the flames out and others tried to wrestle an inconsolable Billy away from the danger, he looked up through his tears and saw something beautiful amidst the chaos and tragedy. Growlithe was sat inches away from his face, and Billy saw the result of the fire and the bravery of the young pup. The eyes of someone to whom he owed his life; molten red, with flecks of orange and gold.

*** ***
Billy leant off the stern and felt the cold sea breeze stroke his face as a gentle rain began to fall from the dark sky. He looked up at the clouds and was reminded of the dark smoke that had started his journey. He turned back to Growlithe.

“You’re the only family I've got, old friend.”

The two shared a familiar hug as the storm thundered on the enclosing horizon, the waves began to swell and bellow violently and the rain began to fall by the bucket load… they were unmoved and unafraid.

Lowstah July 8th, 2013 1:31 PM

Chapter Two

The doctor pressed his spectacled face up against the nose of Growlithe, staring deeply into his eyes with a strange optical device. Billy sheepishly stood in the doorway of the examination room. It had been a long tiresome week since the fire, and Billy still had doubts he could live up to what his Grandfather had said to him.

“Make them proud, kiddo.”

Billy’s parents had wanted nothing more than for him to overcome his childhood fear of Pokémon and make a name for himself in the world. He knew his grandfather was right; he knew he had to honor his parent’s wishes. However, Billy had no idea where to begin; he had never caught a Pokémon in his life – he had always been too terrified to try. What’s more, he had no Pokémon to call his own. Despite the heroics of Growlithe, the two were still far from being comfortable companions. Billy’s fear of Pokémon was a deep rooted weed that couldn’t simply be stamped out and Growlithe’s lack of respect for Billy was still very much prominent.

After a lengthy discussion, Billy and his grandfather decided that Billy should head down the mountain path on route 45 to New Bark Town. The Pokémon near the little town were renowned for being simple to catch and it was known as the first stop for almost all aspiring trainers. Billy’s grandfather had gifted him a Poké-Ball and suggested he claim Growlithe as his own, so that Billy wouldn’t face the dangers of the mountain pass alone. Almost every fibre of Billy’s being wanted to refuse, but he knew he had to do this for his parents. They passed during a time when Billy was a fearful nobody; He couldn’t let be his legacy. He wouldn’t.

However, Growlithe’s pride surfaced once more. The young pup, who had spent his whole life free of the confines of a Poké-Ball, was outraged by the idea, and refused to travel with Billy. It wasn’t until a confrontation between Growlithe and his father, Arcanine, caused the pup to reluctantly agreed to accompany Billy; on foot… not in a Poké-Ball.

There was task that needed doing before their adventure could begin; the estranged partnership was called in to the Pokémon Center by the doctor who had examined them after the fire, due to the doctor’s desire to examine the Growlithe once more in order to document the strange, fantastic pattern of the Growlithe’s eyes, and to discern a reason for the phenomenon.

*** ***

Billy stood uncomfortably in the doorway watching the doctor excitedly dart around Growlithe from head to tail, frantically jotting notes onto a small pad.

“I’ve never heard of a Growlithe enduring such high temperatures! I’ve heard of brave Pokémon but this guy is something else! And these eyes! Such beautiful, vibrant jewels! What a sensational sight!”
The elation of the doctor puzzled Billy. He knew his hero’s eyes were marvellous, but surely the doctor had gone overboard?

“Why are they so special?”

“Why are they so special?! Have you not looked into the eyes of this Growlithe, kid?! Growlithe usually have a plain black iris… never such an intricate pattern or exciting colour scheme like this one!”

The doctor eagerly scampered to the phone in the corner of the room and rapidly dialled a number in.
“I need to inform the Professor!”

“The Professor?” Billy questioned, “Who’s ‘The Professor’?”
“Have you never heard of Professor Elm? He’s only the top Pokémon researcher in Johto. He also happens to be the leading expert on Pokémon breeding in the whole world! He will surely want to see this!”
The name meant nothing to Billy. But he knew the Doctor was expecting a response to his rhetorical, verbose question.

“Oh… yes of course… Professor Elm…”

The doctor judgmentally shook his head and turned back to the screen of the phone. There sat a balding man dressed in a dusty lab coat with a scruffy, creased shirt. His thick bifocals reflected the telephone screen back at the doctor and Billy. The man seemed oblivious to the telephone call, focusing on a mass of papers strewn across his desk, muttering to himself.

“Hello Professor! I’m calling from the Center in Blackthorn… I have an interesting specimen for you to examine.”

The man on the screen continued looking down intensely at the papers strewn across his desk.
“Erm… Professor… Professor Elm!”

“Oh, hello there, doctor! Sorry about that I’m reading over reports I filed years ago of the Pokémon in Mt. Silver! It still fascinates me! Did you know there are at least 20 different kinds who share the mountain as a home! Phenomenal! I really must try and see them it in the flesh… I knew someone who got through it once a long time ago, you know.”

The doctor politely nodded, desperately trying not to burst. As he was about to interject with his news, the Professor continued.

“What was his name again? Or was it a she? Ah I can’t recall. But I know Professor Oak would have known if he was still here. Never forgot a name did Sam. He took quite a shine to that trainer; some said he preferred him to his own Grandson! Did I ever tell you the story about when I disproved all the theories about how Pokémon breed? Ha! That’s a great story…”

“Professor! I’m sorry but I really do need you to see this. I have discovered a rather unique Growlithe! It survived temperatures of over one thousand degrees! Here take a look!”

A sigh of relief came from the exasperated doctor. He started typing on the computer and before long close up photos of Growlithe appeared all over the screen.

“They’re coming to you now, Professor.”

At a press of a button the photos vanished from the screen, and Professor Elm was staring straight ahead, studying the images he had received.

“Fascinating...! Those eyes… Do you know, they remind me of the research I did in the Burnt Tower when I was a young researcher. Tragic as it was there were many interesting Pokémon calling that place home long after it burnt to the ground. I saw Magby, Koffing… I’m sure I saw Suicune once! Suicune! Could you imagine doctor… now there’s another beautiful sight. Have you ever looked at sketches of Suicune … I remember when I was a boy…”

“Ahem! Excuse me, Professor?” The doctor interrupted.

“Oh! Sorry! I’m rambling again. Would it be possible for you to send the Growlithe here so I can further examine him?”

“Of course, i'm sending it at once, Professor!”

The telephone made a loud click as the screen went black. The doctor’s eyes snapped on to Billy, his face a mess of excitement and nerves.

“It appears I have a favor to ask you, kid. I need you to courier that Pokémon to the Professors lab.”

Billy chuckled first at the thought of a large van full of boxed up Pokémon but it slowly dawned on him… was that not the function of a Poké-Ball?

“You said you’re on your way to New Bark Town Right?”

“Well… yeah, but…”

“Perfect! Elm’s laboratory is there, you’ll just need to drop in and show him this Growlithe!”
Billy found it hard to argue with the big, beaming smile paired with a thick, desperate flop-sweat on the face of the excitable, edgy doctor.

“Fine,” Billy sighed.

*** ***

Billy sat solemnly at the site where his house had once stood – the home he had grown into turned mausoleum that his parents would rest in. Planted in the scorched earth were two wooden markers… the only thing between Billy and the ethereal remains of his parents. Growlithe wandered slowly around the plot, gazing up at the sharp night sky, paying little attention to Billy. It had been his home too.

“I will make something of myself... I will overcome my fear and become the son you deserved… I will give you reason to be proud of me.”

Billy wiped a lonely tear from his face. The thought of what he was about to undertake petrified him more than any Pokémon had previously. He had various supplies but his bag felt bare, as though nothing in there would help protect him during this arduous journey. Then there was his companion; a guardian whom despised Billy’s cowardice and frightful nature. Billy felt hopeless… alone.
“Goodbye… I love you.”

He rose, and took the first steps on a path that would change his very life…

Lowstah July 14th, 2013 1:27 PM

Chapter Three

The moon lit up the mountain pass, shining like a beacon cutting through the black night sky. Night was a curious time in the Mountain Range; Pokemon that slept during the day, frolic and hunt beneath the starlight. While filled with new, exciting beauties, the range also hosts a new breed of dangers during the night. The temperature had dropped in the absence of the sun, and a harsh breeze blew a fine sleet across the mountain range.

Billy had faced enough danger during the day, and was thankful for the shelter the mountain had provided for him; a small cavern etched into the face of the mountain. That night, temperatures had dropped in the absence of the sun, and a harsh breeze gusted through the range, chilling those who were unprepared to the bone.

The cave was small and cramped; he barely had room to stretch his legs out. Staring at the back wall of their shelter lay Growlithe. With each laboured breath, his shadow danced across the wall in the light of the fire as the blood that seeped from the deep gash on Growlithe’s side glittered. Billy stared into the flames; he felt a boiling sensation of guilt deep within his stomach; which raged much hotter than their little camp-fire ever could.

“It was my fault”

*** ***

Their journey had begun easily enough. The pair had departed in silence from Mahogany Town heading south towards the Mountain pass on Route 45. The walk had not been a particularly long one in terms of distance, but each step taken in silence, felt like ten to Billy. Any attempt he made to engage with his companion, simply caused the young pup to march further in front of him, fortifying the dislike he had of this “trainer”. Each step Billy took was another step further away from home. At least that’s what it felt like to him. Deep down he knew his home was forever destroyed… now he had to find his own way in life.

Eventually the travelers made it to the start of the dusty, winding path that twisted through the mountains towards New Bark Town. The mountains climbed endlessly up into the sky, punching through the clouds. Billy saw the daunting, colossal rock faces; the cracks in the mountains shaped the blank rocks into twisted faces which sneered and mocked Billy, terrifying him. He daren’t show any signs of fear to his companion, however, lest his childhood bully lose even more respect for him.

The duo managed to trek quite high into the mountain range before the dusk sun began to fill the sky with a golden, amber glow. The pass had been deserted, and their footholds had been far from insecure… nothing like the arduous trip promised to him by the Doctor or his Grandfather.

As they passed the halfway mark, the sun moved closer and closer to the horizon, and the two shared a look which could only mean one thing; rest. Luckily, standing graciously before them was a small alcove carved into one of the twisted, misshaped faced that scarred the sides of the titanic mountains. However, before Billy had a chance to unpack and begin making a shelter, Growlithe’s nose sharply rose to the air and sniffed wildly. He slunk low as his voice began to rumble more and more violently.

“Wha… What’s wrong?” Billy began to frantically look around before meeting the stern stare of warning from Growlithe.
Suddenly from the corner of Billy’s eye, a silver blur whooshed across the two at incredible speed. Growlithe howled in pain as the blur pounded him into the mountain face. Growlithe leapt up to his feet ready to defend himself.

That’s when the blur stopped dead, staring back at Growlithe, filled with aggression. The bird stood at the same height as Billy, as the setting sun bounced off the shiny metallic coat. The points on the edge of its wings glinted in the remaining sunlight, sharp as razor blades and strong enough to cleave through the mountain itself. Billy hadn’t seen this Pokemon before; in fact he wasn't even convinced it was one. It looked like an escaped robot, as its metal casing glinted in the amber sunlight.

It shrieked loudly and the high-pitched, resonating cry caused Billy to fall to his knees and desperately cover his ears. It scraped its foot into the ground as if to warn of an impending charge. Growlithe, however, remained sturdy and stared down his assailant. Billy began to panic… his childhood fear gushed through his veins like a torrential flood. How could he command Growlithe, when he hadn't a clue what to do?

It seemed Growlithe needed no commander, as he charged towards the metallic monster and snapped ferociously at its neck. The bird flitted effortlessly away at an impossible pace. Before Growlithe could turn back to protect himself, his combatant swooped low and fast, leaving a deep slash in the side of Growlithe. He cried out as the gash began to ooze a deep, dark red liquid. Injured, the Growlithe began to breathe heavily, wobbling as he tried to remain standing and defend himself from the enraged beast.

Billy could have sworn he saw the horrific machine give a cruel smile at what it had caused. Billy’s fear began to swell and mutate into a hot rage… but it wasn't enough for him to move a muscle, as he sat cowering away from the battle. The rage was soon overcome with the same fear that had engulfed all over emotions in Billy’s head.

Growlithe steadied himself and roared savagely, staggering his opponent, and scared Billy to his very bones. Now it was Growlithe’s turn to get the jump on his opponent as he hurled himself through the air, knocking the bird flying. The sound of metal clanking and bending echoed out across the mountain range. Billy was thankful that it covered his cries of fear and cowardice.

Before the bird could regroup, Growlithe inhaled what Billy felt must have been a hundred gallons of air, before firing a blazing inferno from his mouth. It cut through the air and smothered the brute, roasting it at an astronomical temperature. Billy shielded himself from the heat, as his chest began to tighten,each breath becoming harder and harder to take. His mind raced back to memories he would sooner forget...

The beast gave one last ear-drum shredding squawk and flew as fast as it could from the battle, leaving a trail of flames in its wake. Growlithe stood panting, confirming it was gone and the battle done, before hobbling into the shelter he had fought for. Billy uncurled himself from his “protective” ball and took deep, breaths. He let the air wash away his fear and his panic, before crawling after his guardian.

*** ***

Billy stared into the fire and reflected on the battle; he should have helped Growlithe, but instead he had lay there like a coward, letting his fear consume him. Billy felt guilt not only for his companion… but for his parents. He had promised to overcome his fear and so far he was doing a terrible job.

He looked over to his injured defender, who lay flat at the back wall of the cave, quivering in pain and shivering from the cold, refusing to meet Billy’s gaze. Billy once more allowed his emotions to overcome him, as his eyes began to well with tears. He knew Growlithe wanted nothing more than to leave him, and if it weren’t for the pup’s determination to keep a promise, Billy reckoned he would have abandoned him long before they made it this far.

“No,” Billy whispered into the fire, wiping his apologetic tears from his eyes, “If he can do this for me… there must be something I can do for him… I owe it to him!”

He rose to his knees, the roof of their cramped, improvised shelter stopping him from rising any further, and crawled over to the injured puppy. He began to dig through his rucksack and found a small bottle of liquid. Billy still wasn’t entirely sure exactly what these “potions” did… but it was all he had. He opened it and spread it across the tender tear that was causing Growlithe so much agony.

At first Billy thought he had made it worse, as Growlithe writhed and fought in agony, as the chemical substance seeped into the open wound. But before long, Growlithe calmed and slowly became drowsy. He dropped his head and fell into a deep sleep.

There was still the issue of the cold, blustery draught which, despite the fire, Billy could feel right through to the back of the cave. He knew Growlithe would struggle to survive the night, laid this far from the fire. Billy needed to move him; a thought which filled him with dread and terror. The incident today had truly surfaced his fear…

After taking a moment to gather as much composure and strength as he could, Billy gingerly wrapped Growlithe in his raincoat, the only spare clothing he had, and after panicking at least ten times through fear of waking the injured pup, scooped him up and gently placed him by the fire, the pup in too deep a sleep to be awoken by Billy.

Billy curled up next to him in a sleeping bag, in an attempt to share each other’s body heat, so that they might make it through the night and reach Professor Elm and New Bark Town…

Lowstah March 23rd, 2014 5:10 PM

Author's Note
[FONT="Calibri"][SIZE="3"] Hey guys, this is the first update i have done for a long time - about 8 months. I'm afraid I've been busy with University work and haven't really had time to work on this - to be brutally honest i still don't but i felt like writing something so thought i'd pick this up again so if i'm rusty at all that might be why. Hope you enjoy :)

Chapter Four
The morning mist crept across the mountain pass, covering the path in an eerie, ethereal veil. The noises that echoed out across the range changed from squeaking and shrieking to chirping and chattering, as the mountain’s changing of the guard took place. The Pokémon who live for the night, returned to the dark to rest, as the sun’s first light awoke the dawn risers.

Needless to say, the night had been a sleepless one for Billy. When it wasn’t the biting cold wrapping its icy fingers around every inch of him, keeping him from sleep, it was the howling of a beast closer than Billy felt comfortable with. On top of this, the shivers and shudders of his slumbering companion that caused Billy to near jump out of skin each time.

But worst of all had been the thoughts in his head. He thought about the incident the night before, and the fear it drummed up inside him. He thought of his terribly loneliness, unaided by his partners alienating attitude towards him. Billy thought about his mother, bringing him breakfast on a cold winter’s morning. He thought about helping his father bring in the harvest from their allotment. He thought about his long lost life.

All of a sudden, Growlithe jumped from the sleeping bag, startling Billy, causing his train of thought to crash. The pup landed on his feet with a wince as the force flowed up to his gashed side and he let out a small whimper, before collapsing onto his belly. The potion had definitely helped the wound, as it no longer glistened in the light, but it was still deep and clearly causing Growlithe a lot of pain, as the pup lay there panting, struggling to his feet. Billy moved to help his partner, but was met with a snap and a growl. Growlithe clambered up to his feet and gingerly moved to the entrance of the cave. The pup shot an impatient glare at Billy, before limping out of their makeshift shelter.

Billy sighed and hung his head… time to go.

*** ***
Despite the thick mist in the early morning, the mountain pass felt a lot tamer during the morning sun. Considering the lack of sleep,
The same could not be said for the traveller’s relationship. Billy noticed that Growlithe was desperately trying to keep in front of Billy, almost as though the two were racing down the track. Occasionally Billy felt the hot, loathsome stare of his partner, but despite mustering all the courage he had, Billy couldn’t bring himself to meet it. He couldn’t understand why things were worse between them, after all they had already depended on one another and their voyage had barely begun. The question puzzled Billy as they ploughed on, silent as ever.

At the bottom of the pass the colours changed from browns and beiges to all shades of green. Thick ferns and trees sprouted up from amongst a sea of wild grass, creating a leafy corridor towards a small, decrepit cabin. Billy looked down to his protector, staring long and hard at the deep wound on the puppy’s side. There might be medicine in the hut, or someone who could help.

“Pokémon live in tall grass…” Billy whispered to himself, feeling a fresh wave of that crippling fear that had afflicted him his entire life.

No matter how scared Billy was, he knew he couldn’t let the creature that saved his life, on more than one occasion, suffer for any longer. His terror was great, but he had to do something to prove himself to his companion,

Before he had a chance to let his sense catch up with him, he scooped up the wounded pup, who gave a yelp of surprise followed by a growl of disapproval, and ran as fast as he could through the tall grass.

Step after step, Billy fought against both the thick tufts, and the writhing, seething Pokémon in his arms, but never took his eyes off of the cabin. As horrid as the cabin looked, to Billy it was an oasis in a desert of peril, and he couldn’t give up now, for both of their sakes.
He ploughed through the thick grass, squeaks, chirrups and cries sounding out all around him, each one sending a new pulse of terror through his body. Billy closed his eyes and ran on, swallowing his fear as best he could, whilst wrestling with the wounded Growlithe.
After what felt like hours of running, Billy made it to the cabin and placed his companion on the step leading up to the front door. The cabin was shoddily made, looking as though a stiff breeze could cause it to collapse. The logs were dark and rotten, covered in thick pale green moss. Ivy slithered its way up the sides of the house, blocking the window and eventually entangling itself with the loose, scruffy thatch that covered the roof.

Billy stooped over as he fought for breath from his Olympic sprint, when, in a flash of orange and black, his feisty young partner swiped across his face, knocking him onto his back with a crash.

“W...W…Why did you that?” Billy panted, bemused at the sudden violence.

As Billy laid there, pain emanating from the scratch across his cheek, he began to feel tears build up in his eyes, like a violent storm emerging from the pit of fear that he had swallowed deep in his stomach. Growlithe leered back at his human counterpart with a look of disdain and hatred, before limping off towards the door of the cabin, into the thick shrubbery surrounding the cabin. Why were things worse than ever between them? Billy racked his brain, desperately searching for an answer he knew he would not be able to find.
“What is going on out here?!” the cabin door burst open revealing a colossal figure stood hunched in the doorway. As he strode into the midday light it became clearer that he was a man of the mountain.

Billy scrambled to his feet, shocked by the sudden entrance of the huge man. He wiped his tear-strewn eyes on his dirty sleeve. His face flushed with embarrassment as he thought of what to tell the man, after all what kind of person gets attacked by their own travelling companion.

“I… erm… fell over, sorry”, Billy craned his neck to look upon the man’s face, and judge whether he was a friend or foe.

The figure stood taller than Billy by a foot and about twenty times as wide. He was adorned in climbing gear, with a large safari hat resting on his round head. His face was flabby and covered with a thick, bushy beard.

“Hyuk! Hyuk! Ah shoot! Don’t worry yourself - them’s the breaks out here, Kiddo” the man chuckled; a huge toothy beam emerged from his black beard, which helped settle Billy’s pounding heart.

“Gee, kiddo… what are you doing out on the mountain range all alone?” the man puffed out his gargantuan chest as he looked out across the plain, “It’s no place for kids”.

“I’m… erm… not alone…”

Growlithe skulked out from beneath the shrubs, much to the hiker's surprise.

“Hyuk! Hyuk! You near gave me a heart attack there, little fella!”

The mountaineer looked down towards the Growlithe and his expression crumbled from a friendly, warming smile to a tight cornered, thin-lipped look of concern.

“What happened to this critter?” the giant turned towards Billy.

“We… were… erm… attacked by some kind of…. Erm… Bird” Billy sheepishly replied.

“Skarmory” the hiker stared off into the mountain range, “they’re nothing but pests out in the pass. Caused me a lot of rump ache in the past, kiddo. Is your pal alright?”

“We’re…. he’s not…. I…. I don’t know” Billy hung his head in shame. He felt completely useless, unable to answer a simple question. One thing he did know for certain, however, was that Growlithe was no pal of his.

The hiker stroked his bushy beard and grimaced as he thought to himself.

“You two had better come inside, I’ve got something that I think can help.”

Billy stood and stared at the man for a moment. As nice as the man had been to him, he wasn’t convinced if he could trust him. After all, he didn’t even know the man’s name. His gaze fell to the wounded pup that had just attacked him, like a feral dog. He knew he should be angry, but he pitied the poor creature, as with each heartbeat the pain in his side sent a jolt through his system.

“Hyuk! Hyuk! I nearly forgot, I’m Bailey, the local mountaineer – I help folk when they get in trouble up in the pass. What a fool I am, asking a kid and his dog to enter this hole, without even telling them my name! I promise, Kiddo, I know it feels wrong but you can trust me”

He had no choice. Billy sighed, and walked towards the cabin…

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