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Old August 8th, 2007 (6:32 PM).
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Chapter 7- The Mysterious Captive

For three days, Eralynn, Rhylan, and Aerance stayed under the little bridge in the valley. They had Pecha berries for every meal, since they were rather abundant around this land.

Rhylan seemed to quickly make progress. His arm no longer hurt badly, or so he said, and he was able to walk around with more ease than before. Of course, he constantly denied that his good health was the result of Eralynn’s help. He had too much pride for that.

Meanwhile, Eralynn and Aerance both had their share of rest, as well. They were both able to catch up on the sleep that they had missed during the first night out on this journey, and they felt fully refreshed.

“Okay, we’ll have to leave tomorrow morning,” Eralynn had said on their third night there. “I fear we’ve stayed for too long, and we should head home, or at least look to find the others.”

Aerance nodded in agreement, and Rhylan did, as well, for once not willing to argue at the moment. With that, they laid down by the fire, ready to fall asleep.

Eralynn closed her eyes, and was surprised to see a picture right away, just like she had on the night she had left with Aerance. The images grasped her attention, absorbing her so that this was the only thing she could sense. This time, though, she was not afraid of the enchanting voice that only she could hear. She succumbed to it, letting herself fully watch and listen.

“Look,” it said, echoing within the depths of her mind.

She stared as the picture seemed to play, once again, on the back of her eyelids. She felt as if she was there, with a man. This man was young, but Eralynn could not see his face. She did not recognize the dark clothing he wore, nor understand what was happening, as the vision seemed to zoom in on his chest. In the background, but not too far off, she could hear clanging and screaming. People were fighting, most likely with swords, and some of them were being injured or possibly dying. Playing agonizingly slow, the picture now showed an arrow heading for the only person that Eralynn could see. It arrived, as though struggling against both the wind and gravity, at the center of his chest, and began to pierce through his shirt.

From far away, Eralynn suddenly heard a howl. The vision of the man and the arrow seemed to instantly be sucked away as she opened her eyes and faced the real world. She squinted, trying to adjust her eyes to the combination of the dark and the firelight. Out of breath, she looked around her. She could see Rhylan suddenly sitting up, with a suspicious look in his eyes. Aerance was still lying down, but her head was no longer resting upon her legs, and, just as the other two were, she was looking around her anxiously.

Eralynn stood up, clutching her chest with worry. She could feel Rhylan’s eyes on her, and she turned to face him.“Do you know what that was?” She asked eagerly.

“No, I don’t,” he responded, eyes darting back and forth in fear and suspicion. He got up and walked to Eralynn’s side. They both peered into the darkness hopelessly, not exactly sure of what to do. They stood in silence for a moment, remaining close to one another, as if that would save them from creatures that prowled through the night. They both listened and looked as far as they could see ahead of them, between the trees, but they saw nothing.

Eralynn exchanged nervous glances with Rhylan, and they slowly retreated back to the fire. Without saying a word, they sat down and looked around at their surroundings uneasily.

Eralynn had heard that sound before, and she knew exactly what was now in the forest. She did not want to make Rhylan or Aerance panic, though, so she kept her worries to herself. The would probably have overreacted and decided to run away, but Eralynn was too content here, under the calm bridge that felt like a protective barrier to her, and she did not want to leave any time soon.

Her thoughts were abruptly interrupted as she saw something in the woods. It was the same exact thing she had seen before, except now, she could see exactly what it was more clearly- Two large, mysterious, glowing eyes. She stared at them, completely lost in her curiosity and wonder.

Snapping and growling sounds from behind her made her whirl around. She saw five Mightyena pulling and ripping at Rhylan’s cloak with their teeth. Their eyes and off-white, bared fangs glistened against the firelight, and they pulled the Prince backwards, knocking him to the earth. Now, they had him pinned down to the ground, and he could only lay there, helpless and in shock. He managed to scream, still, as they could not cover his mouth.

“Hey! What are you doing? Who do you think you are, anyway?!” Rhylan's furious yells echoed throughout the valley.

Eralynn tried to run over to stop them, but she felt a sharp pain dig into her ankle. She looked down at her feet as a Mightyena pulled her to the ground with its jaws alone. She reached out for her arms despite the nagging pain in her ankle, trying to grab something to help her keep her balance somehow. Her efforts failed her, though, as there was nothing close to hold onto, and she fell. Her head hit a jagged rock hard, and she felt the sudden ache of the impact rush through her skull. She reached her hands up to grab her head, but she felt them being pulled by something else much more powerful.

She opened her eyes, only able to see the bright, twinkling stars. She stared for a moment as they began to spin, and everything seemed to be swirling out of focus. Her head throbbed with pain, and she felt herself becoming more and more confused as the seconds passed.

Soon, a violet-colored snake approached her, and it glared down at her with fierce, bright, red eyes as she gradually fell out of the realm of consciousness.

All could hear now was the angry, outraged screaming of Rhylan, and Aerance whinnying wildly, scared to death. She felt and heard the rumble of her hooves beating ferociously against the earth. The sounds seemed so far away, and they became softer and softer as she surrendered into her involuntary slumber.

* * * *

A young woman opened her eyes slowly, finally waking up. She peered through her thick eyelashes while her eyes were still half-closed, but could not see anything. Only darkness embedded her vision. She blinked a few times, and seemed to be waiting for something.

“Where... am I?” She heard an unfamiliar voice strain. It was her own.

Consciousness flowed back to her as she finally realized that she was laying on her back. Her arms and legs were sprawled out on all sides of her. She felt her stomach growl and rumble with hunger. Some of her hair partially covered her face, and exhaling weakly, she managed to blow it off. Her arms and legs felt heavy, and she could barely lift the appendages. Therefore, she just stayed in the position she had awoken in, and tried to concentrate.

“Where... am I?” the half-conscious girl asked herself, struggling to recall something, anything...

She stared straight out in front of her, hoping that her eyes would adjust to the lack of light in this area. She felt her vision clearing a bit, gradually letting her spot some sort of shape in the darkness. After a short while, she began to make out thin, parallel lines above her head.

“What are they?” She asked no one dreamily.

She slid her feet closer to her body, bending her knees. With a lot of effort, she groggily reached one of her arms out and pushed herself onto her side, then pushed again so that she was in a sitting position. Drowsiness still controlled her, and she struggled to keep herself propped up.

She eventually gathered her strength, however, and managed to stand. Still wobbly, she finally became aware of the steel floor beneath her feet. She slid them slightly, and bent down to feel its smooth, cold surface with her hands. Yawning, she tilted her head back so that she could look up. She still vaguely saw the parallel lines running above her head, and she reached up to touch them. She felt cold, rounded steel across her palms. She knew now. They were bars.

Trying her hardest to focus her eyes well enough to see, she looked back down and out in front of her. She spun around, looking at every angle, only to find more bars. They surrounded her. She was caged.

“I... Uh...” she gasped, not knowing where she was, or even who she was. “What is this place?”

She backed up, towards one of the edges of the cage, but nearly tripped over something. She turned around and bent down to see what it was. She reached out to grab it and at first, she only felt cloth, but then, her hands made their way to another human hand. It was another person. She felt him or her jerk their hand away from her clutch as he or she realized she was there.

“Oh, Eralynn, you’re finally awake,” came a deep, tired voice from the floor of the cage.

The uttering of her name was all that she needed to remember. It suddenly hit her. Her name was Eralynn, she must’ve been attacked by the wolf Pokemon, Mightyena. She barely remembered hitting her head on the stone by the river. She remembered hearing Rhylan yelling and something else... Something making a high-pitched sound...

“Aerance!” She yelled into the darkness. “Is she okay? I didn’t even see what happened to her,” she stuttered over her own words; she was speaking so fast.

“I don’t really know where she is,” she heard the boy named Rhylan getting up and groaning.

She went to scratch her head, but pain pulsed through her as soon as she touched it. Her ankle also throbbed, as she put her weight on it while speaking with Rhylan. She sat down, cross-legged, and made herself more comfortable.

“We’re prisoners,” Rhylan sighed sadly. “They finally caught us.”

Eralynn just sat, peering through the darkness at the boy. She was so worried about Aerance, her best friend, and she just didn’t know what to think now. She was a prisoner? Of whom, exactly? Why would they want to capture her? She wasn't royalty. She wasn't anyone important in the world...

“Where exactly did they take us? Or... did they knock you out as well?” Eralynn inquired anxiously.

“No, they tied me up and carried me here, but they also blindfolded me,” he replied. “I think Aerance tried to save you, but I’m not sure. I couldn’t see what they did to her, or even if they knocked her out and took her with us. I don’t know if she escaped or what... I couldn't hear her making any noise after a while, and I couldn't hear the click of her hooves while we walked or anything... All I could do was listen to people while they talked.”

“There were people there too?” Eralynn asked, puzzled.

“Well, not at first. They carried us a long ways in silence. Actually, I didn’t even know if they had you, either, but I found you with me when we arrived here. Anyway, I overheard some men talking about ‘their mountain’ and that the wolves should take us there and things like that.”

“So... we’re just in some... mountain, then?” She wondered.

“Eh... I don’t even know, but that’s my only guess,” the Prince said with a sigh. “They didn’t remove my blindfold until we were in here, and it took forever for my eyes to adjust to the dark, but they have a little. I can only see outlines of things, but it’s better than nothing. And you... You must’ve been asleep for a couple of days. Well, unconscious, actually. I’m pretty sure that they used an Arbok to paralyze us with its glare attack, so that they could attack easier.”

“Well, what happened while I was out? I mean, did they tell you what they were planning on doing or anything?” She asked him.

“No, I haven’t gotten word of anything, yet. They haven’t even brought us food or anything, so I imagine...” his words trailed off, and he gulped in dread.

“What? Finish your sentence,” Eralynn spat angrily.

He rolled his eyes in the dark, but continued. “I’d imagine that they’re planning on killing us.”

Silence echoed around them, since Eralynn did not know how to reply to such a statement. She was sure that this was what Rhylan was going to say in response, but hearing it aloud made it seem real.

“Why would you say something like that?” She finally asked.

“They aren’t really making much of an effort to keep us alive, so... I don’t know. That’s my only guess,” Rhylan sighed hopelessly.

A large crash came suddenly from outside. Eralynn turned around, hoping to see something. She could hear men’s voices not too far off.

“Don’t drop it, you idiot! The boss’ll be pretty angry if we mess this up for him,” a rough, dominant voice shouted.

“Alright, alright. It just slipped is all,” a higher, nasal voice sounded.

“Well, come on. The tranquilizers will wear off pretty soon,” said the first voice.

After a moment, Eralynn could hear them entering the same room she and Rhylan were in. Clumsily, they dropped whatever they were carrying onto the floor, next to the cage she was trapped in, and it made a very loud, banging noise. The crash echoed throughout the room, making Eralynn jump.

She heard one of them slapping their hands together, trying to get the dust or dirt off. One of them started to speak to the other, but he shushed him.

“So, I see that the girl is awake now,” said the first man mockingly.

Eralynn felt his stare upon her. How could he see her, though? She could barely spot Rhylan in the darkness, even as she squinted. Perhaps these men were so used to the darkness that it was simply easier for them now... She nervously glanced about, not wanting to see them even if she could. She heard footsteps as one of them approached the cage in which she and Rhylan were trapped.

“What do you want with us?” She asked them, her voice shaky.

“Hah! Our boss has quite the plan,” the second, nasal man replied. “He wants the prince of Derelon so that-”

“Wait, just a minute,” said the more masculine man. “I don’t believe we should give them that information, Benji.”

“But, Lars, I want to scare them,” Benji pouted.

“I don’t really care, now, do I?” Lars responded harshly.

“I believe we at least have the right to know if our lives are at stake or not,” Eralynn stated boldly. She was now standing, trying to face them confidently.

“Heh, so, you think you’re brave enough, little girl?” Lars taunted. “Well, fine. Our boss has been researching explosives for years, now. He plans to implant the prince, here, with a bomb, then make him return to your precious city, and force his people to join us.”

“What... Implant him with a bomb? Put it… inside of him?” Eralynn asked, outraged.

“Yes,” he went on, “And he’d have no way of taking it out without killing himself. It would be placed within his heart, so it’d be impossible for him to just save himself. Of course, if that doesn’t work, and he doesn’t return with the citizens of Derelon City within a set time, we’ll still have you as a hostage.” Lars let out a chuckle, and Eralynn could hear a light tapping noise, leaving her to assume that he had given Benji a proud pat on the back. Benji began laughing right after, making Eralynn shudder in disgust and terror.

Eralynn could only wonder why they were speaking about her. Why would it matter if she was a prisoner here? Rhylan hated her, so it wouldn’t make a difference.

“Well, you’ve got the wrong person to keep as a hostage,” she said unwaveringly. “Like he’d actually care about my wellbeing?” She asked rhetorically, then chuckled, hoping to agitate the two.

“Oh, it’ll work,” Benji retorted angrily.

“Come on, now they have somethin’ to be scared about,” Lars guffawed evilly as they apparently turned and left.

Eralynn turned around to face Rhylan. He was wrong in presuming that they meant to kill them. It was worse. Whoever these people were, they planned on using them as pawns in their game of war. They would make Rhylan betray his people, or else he would die. And Eralynn was being forced into this sick plan, as well. She would be used to obtain the ransom of the all people of Derelon. What would the King do in response to these threats? Would he let the Prince and the Advisor's daughter die? “No, of course not,” Eralynn accidentally said aloud, answering her own absurd question.

She began walking towards the back of the cage, but her weak vision caused her to trip over something, and she fell into Rhylan. Her head landed against his shoulder, and she fumbled, trying to push herself off.

“Gah, I’m sorry, I just tripped,” she whispered, feeling incredibly stupid.

But to her surprise, he didn’t say anything, nor did he push her away. He silently leaned his head down against hers.

Her eyes widened and her heart raced. She pretended to ignore the way he leaned, and she backed away from him.

“Wha-what are you doing?” She asked meekly.

“Oh, sorry... I... I’m still so weak,” he stuttered. “Just... Get away from me!” His tone suddenly changed to that of anger, and she knew that they couldn’t have a conversation without arguing, so she just left it alone.

“Whatever,” she rolled her eyes, and sat up against the bars of the cage at the opposite side of Rhylan.

Suddenly, without warning, something stirred quietly behind her, and she turned to look at it. She glared ahead of her, until another cage came into focus. It was right next to hers, and it contained something rather large. She could only see its silhouette with the absence of light, but it appeared to be moving. No- it was swaying rhythmically. She kept looking, and discovered that its fur or hair, or whatever it could possibly have been, was actually rippling, as if being blown steadily by the wind. However, there was no air flow in the chamber, so Eralynn could only wonder.

Weak from hunger, she rested against the bars of the cage. She thought of The Protector, Starlight Guardians, her father’s reaction to her being a traitor in their eyes... Her mind wandered back to her current situation. These people planned on using her and Rhylan. She wasn’t sure how, but she knew that they absolutely had to escape from this place. She refused to deal the people of Derelon City any harm. After all, she was already a traitor, according to tradition...

The sounds from the mysterious rousing creature grew louder and more frequent, disturbing Eralynn while she rested. She forced herself up so that she could look again at the source of the noise. She waited and watched, trying her best to build up courage to speak to it.

“Who... Who are you?” She finally managed to utter, although rather timidly.

Rather than an answer to her question, all Eralynn could hear was a low groan. She sighed, disappointed, and sat back down, sliding her back against the metal bars that imprisoned her. They dug into her back uncomfortably, but she didn't care. She just wanted her body to relax, even if her mind couldn't.

“Can’t you shut up? I’m trying to get some sleep,” Rhylan pestered from his spot on the other side of their prison.

Eralynn felt herself glaring at him, and then, remembering that they were in near complete darkness, stopped. She shut her eyes, trying her best to ignore the stale scent of the area. She was falling asleep...

“I... I can’t see,” a masculine voice boomed behind her, causing her to rise in alarm.

“Wha-?!” Eralynn said with a jolt. Then, she began to calm down, realizing it was the other caged creature in the room. Oh, you,” she panted, still scared to death.

“You... You took me here, didn’t you?!” The powerful, intimidating voice screamed furiously.

Eralynn did not know how to react to its words. She could tell that it was talking to her, since its screams echoed within her mind.

“I didn’t take you here. I don’t even know who you are,” she said defensively.

“We’ll see about that,” the creature sneered with hatred in its voice.

“Um, who are you talking to?” Rhylan asked from behind her.

Eralynn ignored the Prince and stood there, waiting for something to happen. She focused on two glowing eyes in front of her, but had to squint, not being used to any form of light making its way into her vision. The eyes gazed upon her for a moment, then, their glowing aura disappeared, and she was once again left in complete darkness.

“I suppose that I was wrong about you. You weren’t one of those who captured me,” the strong voice said in apology.

There was a long silence shortly after, during which Eralynn pondered what creature could possess such glowing eyes as these. And, why had they captured it? Would it be used for some sort of ransom as well?

“Please, tell me, what have these people done to you?” Eralynn pleaded, breaking the soundlessness.

The creature, still a mystery to her, did not answer at once, but Eralynn could hear a thud, as if it had fallen. It breathed heavily, slowly. Its feet slid across the bottom of its cage.

“I was running, patrolling the land, and I didn’t know they were there,” it began. “I stopped for a moment to drink out of a waterhole, and I heard something flying at me. But, I’m normally so fast. I don’t know how they...” it grew quiet in its disappointment.

“How they what?” Eralynn urged it on.

“They shot an arrow at me. It hit my ankle, so it wasn’t a serious wound... But I do not know why I didn’t hear it coming sooner. My wits are quick, as are my reflexes, but somehow, I did not know,” it murmured.

“But, if it wasn’t a serious wound, how did they manage to capture you?” Eralynn inquired.

“I believe that they used some sort of tranquilizing herb on the arrowhead. I have felt the effects of this strange plant before, but never so suddenly,” it explained.

“What does it do to you?” The overly curious girl continued to ask.

“It makes one go unconscious for quite some time. I’m still feeling its effects now, as I stagger,” it said, stumbling across the cage, apparently trying to stand.

Eralynn thought for a moment. These people had used poison on this poor creature. They hadn’t given it much of a chance, just as they hadn’t with her, Rhylan, and Aerance. She wasn’t so sure about Aerance, but sadly, she didn’t have much hope for her.

“It is my duty to protect the many waters of this earth, and now, I’m trapped here,” the creature whispered somberly. “But, I must find a way out!”

“We must escape, as well. These people plan to use this boy and I as pieces of a twisted plan in their war,” she told it. “We worry, though, that there isn’t a way out of this mess.”

She sat down again, tossing the hair out of her eyes, even in the dark. She felt her stomach rumble uncomfortably, reminding her that she had been asleep for too long.

“Perhaps there is a way,” the creature said thoughtfully.

“What?” Eralynn jumped up eagerly, dying to escape as soon as possible.

“I am not yet at my full strength. This poison has taken a great toll upon my body and mind, and it is still weakening my powers. All I would require to break from this prison would be the time to allow the poison to properly wear down,” it explained hopefully.

“But, I don’t quite understand. Then what?” Eralynn asked.

“Then I will be restored. This toxin will no longer run through my veins, wearing me down. I will be strong once more,” it told her with great certainty.

“I mean, how strong could your powers possibly be, though?” She inquired, not intending to be rude. As soon as she uttered the words, however, she realized how thoughtless a question this was.

The creature chuckled. “We will just have to wait and see, won’t we?”

“Will you quit talking to yourself over there?” She heard Rhylan mutter again.

This plan seemed so faulty and disorganized to Eralynn. She was to simply wait for it to become strong again, and then all would just be fine? She didn’t comprehend the creature’s intentions, but she dared not ask more questions. According to the creature, it had power beyond imagination, and Eralynn did not want to get on its bad side.

Still, she wanted to at least plan something, rather than just wait around. She had only been caged for a couple of days, two of which she was unconscious for, and already, she felt a great desire to break free, before it was too late.

However, soon, she would learn that patience holds its rewards, and that some have more power than anyone could really realize...
FanFic: Stir of The Thunderstorm (Please R&R.)
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