Fanfiction of the Month (July): Stir of the Thunderstorm
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July 23rd, 2007 (4:38 AM).
Chapter 2- Oleander the Brave & Varlo the Terrible
That morning, Eralynn awoke from slumber somewhat later than usual. Opening her eyes, she could see the sunlight entering through her window and gathering upon the floor. Turning, she stretched and rose from her sleeping position. She looked around at her own bedroom. It was small, plain, and white. She didn’t keep anything in it aside from her clothes, a few books, her bow and arrows, her bed, and a dresser with a candlestick on it. However, she never really complained about this, since she spent most of her time outside anyway.
While rubbing her eyes, she felt her stomach growl. She hoped she wasn’t too late for breakfast, and stepped out of her room into a hall. This corridor was somewhat dark and gloomy, with a theme of the colors maroon and black, always making it feel as if it was presently night-time. There were candelabras attached on either side of the walls, lighting the way. She walked past a few doors until she found the one labeled “Dining Hall.” She stepped inside, worried that she might see her father. To her relief, there were only two people inside. Only then did she realize just how late she really was. Normally, she would wake up only a short time after sunrise and find the dining hall filled with members of the Royal Court, all eager for conversation. Now, it just seemed so quiet.
As she entered, she shut the door behind her and turned around, instantly recognizing the two figures. One was the King of Derelon himself. He sat at the head of the long, shining, cherry wood table. He was middle-aged, now 52-years-old, and very wise-looking. His dark, straight hair was beginning to grey, and his soft, brown eyes held the appearance of a kind heart. With the help of time, wrinkles had begun to form around them, leaving one to guess that the king was older than he truly was. He wore a black shirt that was loose in the arms and had buttons down the center in the front. Also, he wore a black cape, which draped down to cover part of his chest, shoulders, and entire back. However, most astounding about his attire was the crown upon his head. Pure gold, it contained three large jewels, each of different color. One was of aqua-marine, the middle of deep, bright amber, and the third was a gleaming yellow.
“My King,” she said, bowing graciously and making her presence known to him.
He had been speaking with his son, but smiled at her when she had greeted him. Eralynn gave but a mere glance at the boy who was known as the Prince. Named Rhylan, he was somewhat tall and thin. Similar to his father, he had brown, straight hair and brown eyes. And somehow, he did not appear as benevolent as the king. He glared at Eralynn angrily, and she at him. He pushed his chair up, rose from it, and approached her.
“I can’t believe you nearly killed me yesterday,” he said, in a deep, quiet, serious voice while staring at her in wonder.
“I did not almost kill you. You’re fully aware of my skill with a bow, and I am no murderer,” she said, feeling her blood boiling with anger. How dare he accuse her of such a thing?
“So you use your skills to scare people, and interrupt important training sessions, then? Well, that’s extremely useful,” he replied sardonically.
Eralynn now glanced back and forth from Rhylan’s gaze to his father’s. “We will talk about this later,” she said firmly, now suddenly aware of the king’s presence. She hadn’t much realized it, but he was easily within earshot of their trivial argument, and she now felt herself blushing in embarrassment.
Rhylan stubbornly brushed against her shoulder as he walked out of the dining hall, slightly pushing her back and leaving Eralynn and the king by themselves. Eralynn had always considered him as a sort of rival. The two of them seemed immeasurably obsessed with trying to prove themselves to one another, but as they were nearly equal in intelligence, it was always pointless. They could argue for hours upon hours if allowed, and it never seemed to get old. However, it was clearly inappropriate to do so in front of the King.
Not knowing where to sit, Eralynn remained in the doorway. She’d only had a few conversations throughout her entire life with King Nevarro, so she didn’t want to sit too close, making herself too friendly, or too far, making it seem as if she didn’t want to be near him. Luckily, her decision was made for her when he spoke.
“Eralynn,” his raspy voice sounded from across the table, “come speak with me, we haven’t talked in ages.”
She nodded, unsure of herself, but regardless, walked to the seat closest to him. She sat down, puzzled by his sudden interest in conversing with her.
He set down a white, wrinkled piece of parchment that he was reading and looked up at her. “My dear, I heard about what happened yesterday,” he spoke calmly, raising his eyebrows.
She closed her eyes tightly. Her father must’ve told him all about how irresponsible she had been. The sudden gush of shame she felt seemed like too much. “Your Highness, I...” she couldn’t think of how to respond.
“Eralynn, your father is clearly too hard on you,” he said, nodding.
“Wha...? King Nevarro... do you really think so?” she asked, quite amazed. She had only expected him to lecture her just as her father always did.
“You are a wise girl, and you may just be Advisor to my son when he is King. I simply don’t want you to think that you were being senseless because you weren’t. You just did not know,” he spoke quietly and reassuringly.
She stared at him with wide eyes, unsure of what to make of this. The king had always been a very understanding, kind, and knowledgeable man, but he had never spoken on such a personal level with Eralynn. She’d always respected and honored her king, and now, she had the sudden feeling that he actually respected her as well. “Uh... Th-thank you, Your Majesty! I am so pleased to hear you say that...” she responded nervously.
“Your father mentioned that you actually frightened a couple of Mightyena away from the city, and I want to thank you for that,” he said with a polite smile.
“I felt it was only my duty to protect the city, My Lord,” she said, looking down.
“And your friend Aerance helped you, I should assume?” He asked with a grin.
“She did, actually,” Eralynn answered, but realized something did not quite fit. “Wait… You know about Aerance?”
“Yes,” he replied with the same smile.
Eralynn glanced to the side and pressed her lips together, making a face. She decided to let it go, however, figuring that her father must have simply told the King all about the Ponyta, as well as her misadventures.
He seemed to lose track of what they were saying, and seemed to be thinking about something while looking straight ahead of him. Eralynn watched him, waiting anxiously for him to say something further.
Then, suddenly, “Eralynn! Why did your father not allow you to become a warrior for our people?”
“He, um, said something about me not being able to reach the requirements for strength in battle. I assume he was referring to... my size and also, my inability to use a sword well,” this being a sensitive subject, she looked away.
“But, you are my Advisor’s daughter. You are quick witted, which is, at times, quite a bit more useful in battle than your own strength. And aside from that fact, you are a prodigy with a bow and arrow,” spoke King Nevarro.
“No... I... I don’t think so,” Eralynn whispered modestly.
“Do not lie, now. I believe I saw you hit the center of each of those targets yesterday,” he said.
At this, Eralynn put her hand to her forehead, covering part of her face as it turned bright red. The king had seen her acting immature and out of line, yesterday, and she once again felt the rush of compunction flow into her mind. Not knowing how to respond, she remained silent.
“Eralynn, dear, you weren’t even looking... You clearly have some talent in the field of archery, and I’m making quite the understatement,” he chuckled.
She smiled nervously, still unsure of what to say. “I... apologize for the trouble I caused. I guess I’ve only been angry that I wasn’t chosen to be trained,” she explained sadly.
“It’s understandable,” the king said, “I know that brave people, such as yourself, desire to be made into warriors, so the devastation that your father caused in refusing your request must’ve left you heartbroken. But... Think about it for a moment. Perhaps you weren’t meant to fight for Derelon with a sword or bow and arrow. You may be destined to achieve something greater than you’ve ever imagined.”
She stared at King Nevarro with a quizzical expression. He certainly knew what to say to make her feel better. Of course she’d always wanted to become something great and important, as most people did, but hearing it from the king himself was entirely different than when she’d imagined it on her own. She began to feel her pride, previously washed away, returning with the king’s spoken thoughts. He truly felt that she was intelligent, brave, and talented with a bow and arrow. Her own father could not recognize this, and yet King Nevarro, who always seemed busy or occupied, had seen it from afar. She did not know what to think, except she knew that this conversation had filled her with hope, something which she usually did not possess. Smiling, Eralynn looked up at King Nevarro. “Sire, I would be honored to be the next Advisor, after my father,” she said.
The job did not seem as boring and worthless as it had before, now that she knew she was liked by at least one person in the city. With this career, she would have a purpose to her people, in which she used her intelligence, rather than strength, to help bring them through the war.
The King smiled, bowing his head to her kindly. “That would be wonderful for you, I’m sure.” He glanced back down at the table thoughtfully, then after a moment, looked back up at the young woman eagerly.
“My goodness, I’ve been talking all this time, really. Is there anything you’d like to discuss with me?” He courteously inquired.
“Actually, it’s interesting that you should ask that of me... I’ve had something on my mind since yesterday. It’s about something that I accidentally overheard my father say...” she paused for a moment.
“Yes? What is it?” the wise King asked.
“I recall my father talking about a prediction before he punished me, and it’s been bothering me ever since. What... is it that he spoke of?” Eralynn asked.
The King brought his lips together and glanced to the side, hesitating to answer her question. “Well, many of our people do not believe the prediction, and neither did your father until lately. It’s something of a legend, actually, not yet proven to be true,” he said quietly.
“I don’t really understand, though. What exactly was prophesied?” She asked, confused as ever.
“Eralynn, I don’t believe I should tell you. I do not want everyone of the city aware of it, because I don’t want panic to arise,” he replied doubtfully.
“Okay...” she said with disappointment. “But, if I may ask, who knows about this apparent legend?”
“Your father does and my son does, since the line of kings simply should know of this, and a few elders within the Royal Court as well,” he answered.
“Well, your majesty, if I am to be the next Advisor, shouldn’t I know also?” She asked with an impish smile.
Laughing lightly, the King pulled back his head. “Oh, you never cease to amuse me, my dear. But, I suppose you are correct in your logic. I assume I can tell you without much of a problem occurring in the future. And besides, I still have some time to myself.”
She nodded anxiously, as she would finally be relieved of her curiosity.
The King began. “Long ago, perhaps about one hundred and fifty-years or so, the conflict between those with opposing beliefs wasn’t nearly as bad as it is today. People argued often, but that really was the extent of it. There weren’t plans of invasion, attempts to take over land, or anything of the sort. Everyone’s main concern seemed to be whether they were alive and well or not. And this was fine, because no one was being harmed or endangered.
“However, one man changed all of this. He destroyed the peace that men in this city once had possessed. He went by the name of Varlo Scantlar. Varlo was a very evil man, obsessed with making his viewpoints known to the world. He believed, as some do today, that Pokemon only had one use: obtaining power. The way that many people of Derelon considered Pokemon to be their friends and companions sickened him. He tried reasoning with the people who maintained a good heart, but it would never work. They held their ground by sticking to their beliefs, and this angered Varlo. Out of frustration, he began to plan a sneak attack on his very own city. I was told that he stayed within the walls of his home for a long time, occasionally inviting his followers to come and spread the word to others of his... sort,” he frowned sadly at this.
Eralynn had barely realized it, but even at this point, she was on the edge of her seat, unable to wait to find out what happened next in this odd story. She had heard of Varlo Scantlar before, but she had never been told it was he who had actually started the war.
“These people organized an attack on Derelon with Varlo, who they now considered their leader. They had betrayed my grandfather, the current King of that age, and they wanted nothing to do with the goodness of Derelon any longer. So, they sought to take it over by force, since Varlo’s attempt at reasoning had failed.
“Without warning, they attacked in the middle of the evening. It was so unexpected, that no one was prepared for a battle. And aside from that fact, neither innocent Pokemon nor humans were trained well for combat, seeing as it was unnecessary back then.
“On the contrary, Varlo had secretly been training Pokemon he and his followers once held as mere pets to become fearless warriors. He transformed the minds of typically happy, innocent creatures into those of raging beasts. He felt that this was the way things should be, though we all may believe differently. He taught them that it did not matter how a task was obtained, so long as it was done. He even convinced those that were vulnerable to his mind games that killing and destruction were not what most consider to be horrible things. As you can see, he was a terrible man, uncaring and irrational. But also, along with their mentality, he built up their physical strength. No matter how exhausted they were from training, he kept them going day-in and day-out. He obviously wasn’t concerned with their wellbeing, but only with the fact that they would bring him exactly what he wanted: power.
“Of course, as most have, I’ve wondered many a time about the purpose of a Pokemon’s capabilities. Why do they posses the powers of fire, water, lightning, ice, and even... darkness? And my main concern: where did they get these fierce and potentially terrible powers? They must serve some purpose to our world, anyway... But, I digress.
“After some two or three years of training underground and in secret, he unleashed his horrendous attack on our beloved city in the midst of night. It began as a raid, his men running through the streets with their tamed Pokemon, destroying nearly everything they could. Many houses and shops were burned down, leaving families without shelter and important supplies for a long while. Varlo had apparently ordered his men to attack smaller, weaker Pokemon and humans in order to prove his point. How this would get his argument through to people, I do not know, but the plans were carried out nonetheless.
“At this juncture, the Royal Court did not know how they should react. There were few who actually knew much about battle, but the rest, they did not have any hope for. As quickly as possible, they sent messages out to men and women of the city, pleading for their help. Many responded to the call of duty, willing to defend their city the best they could. However, once they had drawn their old swords and shields, many of Varlo’s followers were already fleeing the city. (Later, everyone discovered that their only purpose in the sudden attack on Derelon was to devastate and terrorize, then leave to settle in another part of the world. They didn’t have any intention of taking over Derelon.) Still, some remained there, trying to steal Pokemon and get away with it. The citizens of Derelon fought back the best they could.
“One in particular, by the name of Oleander, had an interesting affair during battle. This woman was the Queen of that time, and therefore of my blood. She was, by nature, bold and daring, and not in the least afraid of death. She seemed willing to take on any opponent, and during this monumental fight, she fought against anyone and everyone that she could. She did a good job too, knocking out many of Varlo’s followers so that they could be taken to jail. However, as brave as she was, there was one who she could not match in strength. This was indeed Varlo himself. He had been ordering his men to flee for their planned location, when he saw Oleander ruining his scheme. He felt that it was necessary to remove this woman, as she was one of the only real threats to him and his men. He stopped what he was doing and drew his sword in rage. Of course, she fought him just like she did any other, with all her courage and loyalty to her people. He stabbed her viciously in the stomach during their duel. Clutching to her abdomen, she continued on, bleeding profusely. She held her sword in one hand and her stomach in the other. Varlo clearly showed her no mercy now, and took advantage of the pain he had already dealt her. Stabbing her once more in the leg, he had made it so that she could no longer stand. She collapsed before him, panting and clenching her teeth from pain. In two swift moments, a sword had sliced through her body, and she now knew there was nothing she could do. She would die at the hands of Varlo.”
Then, there was a long silence, in which neither King Nevarro nor Eralynn spoke. After pondering a bit, the King continued on.
“Unfortunately, Varlo got away, and... Oleander did die. Obviously, she suffered from the stab wounds that Varlo had given her. She bled to death that day, and the city of Derelon saw a hero and a great Queen perish before its very eyes. However, as she was leaving for the afterlife, she said something that struck everyone’s heart. Now, normally, people wouldn’t take such strange words so seriously, but this was a well respected woman of the city. Many looked up to her, as she was a helpful, kind, and intelligent human being. She offered good advice to many, and aided those that were poor and needy. It seemed that she never let her people down, and so they always took her words seriously, no matter what. It was the moments before her death in which she stated the prediction your father must’ve been speaking of...”
Eralynn looked around nervously. She’d previously been excited to hear the story of how this whole conflict had started, but now, she wasn’t sure she wanted to actually hear the end. All she could really feel was sympathy for Oleander. She had died fighting and Eralynn admired her for that. She shook her head, and despite her melancholy, decided to ask. “So, what was it that she said exactly?”
“Well, Eralynn,” spoke the king, “it’s difficult to understand... With the last of her strength, she raised her head, and whispered into the king’s ear that there would be a time during which the Protector of Derelon would need to be awakened. This Protector would create a great storm, and come shortly after the passing of wolves. The chosen one, who would possess great strength and be willing to sacrifice much, would have to realize a set destiny, or else all of pure heart would die.” He sighed after reciting it, as though he regretted telling her, now.
Thoughts flashed through Eralynn’s mind. Yesterday’s invasion of Mightyena was the third only this week, and there had been eleven throughout the month. Eralynn was, of course, not allowed to leave her room during these attacks, and had only heard about them. Her first encounter with any Mightyena was when she chased two of them off the previous day.
“So, that’s why my father is worried,” Eralynn thought to herself. “We’ve never had such a problem with the wolf Pokemon before...”
“Yes,” said the king, “and many people believe that Oleander’s words are now coming true. I’m not so sure what I believe, but it is an interesting coincidence, to say the least.”
Then, a thought came to Eralynn. “Well, what if one of Varlo’s followers overheard what she had said, and they’re sending the Mightyena just to catch everyone off guard and intimidate them?”
“Yes, Eralynn. We also thought of this. However, we are positive that no one in the High Court would give these words away to anyone, even the other citizens of this city. It would be too risky to tell anyone, for they may infer what they wish and get the wrong idea. We wanted to figure it out for ourselves before striking panic into everyone.” He scratched his head and looked down.
Eralynn could not think of how to respond. Somehow, she believed this prophecy of Oleander’s. Something told her that they would soon be in danger if this so-called “chosen one” didn’t step forward and reveal himself. She certainly could not imagine who it could possibly be, all the same, she ran through all the possible candidates in her head. “Do you... know who it is, King Nevarro?” she asked the King cautiously.
“No, no one does. My son and I were actually discussing who it could be, before you arrived this morning,” he said, shrugging helplessly.
“Your son...” she murmured under her breath.
What if it was Rhylan? Could it be? He was about to become a very strong warrior, and he was, after all, the Prince. He had mastered nearly all the skills of combat. Plus, he was very brave. Although she was constantly annoyed by his presence, she had to admit that he was quite skilled and courageous most of the time.
“But... no. He’s a jerk and he’s terribly rude...” she thought. Her mind seemed to be arguing with itself, trying to decide on this possibility.
“It would be helpful if we actually knew who this person was and also, what he’s actually supposed to do to save us,” said the king worriedly, ignoring the fact that Eralynn had just insulted his son.
Eralynn only nodded pensively and gazed at the table, still thinking about the chosen one and his task.
After a moment, she asked, “So, you do believe what Queen Oleander said?”
“Yes... I suppose I actually do,” the king laughed nervously. “She was a great Queen, and she was very wise. I think that her last words really have to mean something, especially now. The Mightyena are passing through...” he trailed off. Then, he rose out of his chair. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, there is a short ceremony I must be attending. I think you should be there too, being the Advisor’s daughter and all.”
“Which ceremony is it?” Eralynn asked, struggling to keep her mind off of the Protector and trying to stay on topic.
“Oh, today is the day that the warriors, who are training, set out on the Last Journey. Then, their roles will be official,” answered the king, while pushing in his chair.
“Okay, I’ll be down soon then, Your Highness,” Eralynn said and began to eat. All she could think about was the prophecy. What could it possibly mean? Surely one person could not hold the fate of all that reside in Derelon, could he? She was not sure, but she somehow had the feeling that she and her people were in danger.
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