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Old December 7th, 2007, 05:28 AM
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silverfrost
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: NY
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Chapter 12- The Ridge of Obscurity

Eralynn came to realize why the owl Pokemon had warned them of this place. Incidentally, Noctowl had left them right before they were to enter a long, dark, and moist tunnel. The post it had perched on before it left was apparently a sort of marking signal, indicating for travelers that knew the area that the vast tunnel lay ahead.

Fortunately for the three, Aerance was a fire Pokemon, and her flames illuminated the walls of the cavern that they were forced to walk through. The interior was made of limestone, as Eralynn and Rhylan were able to guess. From its ceiling hung stalactites, which formed into a point and dripped with water. Aerance, of course, was not too thrilled about this, but Eralynn and Rhylan only put their hoods up, shielding them from the small droplets.

Throughout the cave was a hard, smooth, stone path, which wound and twisted for what could’ve been miles. Eralynn advised her friend that she should walk slowly, but Aerance did not listen, trotting at a brisk pace through the tunnel. The rhythmic clap of her heels against the rock echoed as they rode, and Eralynn already felt herself getting sleepy.

Oddly enough, Rhylan was silent for the duration of the ride, refusing to say anything more than a “yes,” “no,” or to utter a grunt if asked a simple question. Eralynn was starting to become worried about the Prince, which scared her. Her thoughts of Rhylan had indeed changed over the course of this journey, and she found herself actually caring about him at times. Her loathing had somehow morphed to concern as he held his tongue, but of course, she would never admit it.

For a while, it seemed that the three were safe from any harm. They rode quietly through the cavern, Eralynn being the only one willing and able to talk. She mainly directed conversation towards Aerance, as she seemed to be the only one actually giving a response, even if it was only a snort or whinny. It all seemed so boring, that is, until they met someone interesting.

The flickering light produced by Aerance’s mane and tail eventually showed a different kind of shadow than those they had seen of the stalactites. This one was more shapely and defined, and also, moving slightly. Eralynn could make out ragged fur shifting and unsteady breathing. She saw the figure on the ground, but it was simply too dark to see any details.

She tapped Aerance’s reigns lightly against the back of her neck and shoulders, urging her to turn to the left and head for whatever being lay within. The Ponyta walked towards the moving shadow and stopped right before it. Eralynn jumped off of her back and onto the stone floor, so as to observe the creature better.

The glow of the orange flames now allowed her to see it clearly. As she got closer, she almost instantly recognized the black, ruffled fur and the deep, red eyes. The Mightyena lay fallen on its side, breathing heavily and inconsistently. Its legs were stretched out and its claws were showing. Through its suffering, it somehow still managed to growl and bare its deadly fangs.

Eralynn jumped back at the sound of it snarling, and noticed blood draining from its body to her feet. She lifted one of her legs, trying to get away from the pool around her, but she could not. She couldn’t be close to it without getting near its blood, so she shrugged it off and walked closer. She knew that being near it was dangerous, but she could sense that it could not move very easily, so she could proceed.

“What happened to you?” She asked it, speaking carefully.

It growled again for a moment, but then, just gave up. It knew as well as she did that it could not attack her in this condition. It closed its eyes tightly, and put its fangs away.

“My leg… it’s broken,” it uttered in a sinister, strained voice.

Surprised that it could speak to her, she was taken aback. The other Mightyena she had encountered never tried conversing with her, and she had only assumed that the Pokemon could not talk at all.

“Don’t be so shocked that I can speak. You know, Mightyena can talk if you just believe that we are smart enough to do so. Only when you listen will you understand,” it explained to her.

“How did that happen?” She inquired, wondering about its injuries.

“I was escaping from my masters and-” it began.

“You were escaping from the men of Team Devastation?” Eralynn rudely interrupted.

“Yes, I suppose. I didn’t know that’s what you people called them,” it shrugged slightly. “I was running from them, and a pack of Arcanine attacked me.”

Eralynn looked to the side thoughtfully. She had seen the large dog Pokemon, Arcanine, before. She knew that they could tear any Mightyena apart for sure. They were huge, strong, and brave, and she now felt sorry that the wolf Pokemon had crossed paths with so many of them.

“I’m dying,” it said suddenly, breaking through the silence. “I will bleed to death here. It is almost done…”

Eralynn’s heart sank with its sad words. She did not understand why she was feeling pity for the evil creature. Perhaps it was the fact that it was only trying to run away and be free. She wondered why the dog Pokemon had attacked it, though.

“Why did they strike you?” She asked softly.

The Mightyena hesitated for a moment before responding, apparently gathering its breath to speak. “They believed that I was a spy from Team Devastation because of my species. However, the whole reason I was out in their territory was because I was trying to get away from those horrible people. I guess the Arcanine were just trying to protect their young from me…”

Eralynn sighed hopelessly. “Why were you running?”

“They were pressuring me to do horrible things, and I… I’m not like the other Mightyena, who let those men control their emotions and actions. I just wanted to be free, but now, I’ve come here to die,” he nearly choked on the words. “Varlo’s grandson was my master-”

“Varlo’s grandson?!” Eralynn asked, shocked.

It gasped for air, and then continued. “Yes, he is still out there. He’s planning on attacking and killing everyone in Derelon City. He tells everyone he thinks his grandfather didn’t do a good enough job just scaring them.”

“Oh…” Eralynn barely knew what to say.

As she watched the suffering pokemon, she became sure that she had to do something to help. There was no way that she could warn her people, however, because her and Rhylan were simply too far from home to get there in time to make any difference. Perhaps if she found the leader of Team Devastation…

Her planning was interrupted by the ill Mightyena’s violent cough. Eralynn reached out to touch it. She set her hand upon its forehead compassionately, causing it to flinch at first. After a moment, though, it got used to her touch, and gave in, letting her stroke it gently. It closed its eyes as she pushed its fur back, trying to comfort it.

“They wanted me to kill… And I couldn’t, so I just ran… I somehow ended up in this cavern,” it continued.

“It’s okay,” she whispered so that only it could hear her. “Everything will be just fine.”

And there she stayed, until the rebellious Mightyena passed away in her arms. She watched its breathing become slower and slower as the blood slowly drained from its body. It did not say another word during that time, seemingly preparing itself for death. Then, finally, its suffering was over.

She got up, holding back her tears for the fallen Pokemon, and turned back to her friends. They were both watching her every move. Rhylan held a look of worry and sadness, and Aerance seemed tired and anxious. Eralynn found it difficult to look at the two of them, and hopped back on Aerance’s back without so much as a glance into their eyes.

“Let’s get out of here, Aerance,” she said quietly.

Aerance turned and started to walk away from the dead Mightyena. None of them wanted to look back, especially not Eralynn, so they only kept going forward. The girl pushed the thoughts of the wolf Pokemon out of her mind and only thought of her desire to get out of the cave. It was, after all, quite dark and cold inside, and she’d rather be out, fanning away the mist from before than remain in the damp tunnel.

Still, she couldn’t help but wonder about what the wolf Pokemon had told her. Varlo’s grandson was alive, so, she wondered, was he their current leader? And, if his Mightyena was around this area, could he have been also? Or had it really run a great distance in order to escape? She could not know for sure, but decided that the trio should be very careful while traveling these parts.

All the while, Aerance trotted along the path that seemed never-ending. Eventually, it turned into a steep incline, which the Ponyta had to make an effort to climb. At the top, they could see a light, and they knew that they would be out of this place soon enough. They followed it, and surely enough, it led right out of the tunnel.

Once they were free of the caverns, they could see what looked like very flat land. The fog still shrouded the air, making it difficult to see, but Eralynn could spot dark, round circles spread out on the ground. Looking closer, she realized that they were pools of liquid, scattered about the dusty, sandy floor of the ridge.

“What is that?” She wondered aloud.

“I… don’t know,” Rhylan responded in a tired yet intrigued voice.

Aerance walked much slower, now, letting her passengers take in the landscape. It truly was something to marvel at. The fog stretched on and on for miles, leaving the pools as the only things in sight.

Eralynn glanced at them every now and again, but did not find herself to be all that interested. Rhylan, on the other hand, seemed absolutely amazed with their surroundings, gawking at just about everything he could.

Instead of fascination, Eralynn was only able to feel doubt in her heart and mind. Curiosity crept up behind it every once in a while, but her thoughts were mostly consumed by the possible peril they would be enduring on this walk. The fact that none of them could even see that far ahead was also a reason for her constant worry, and she had barely noticed when Rhylan hopped off of Aerance’s back…

The Ponyta merely kept walking, only carrying Eralynn, now. The girl upon her back seemed completely dazed by her own imagination, trying to picture how the Great Dragon might appear. She shifted from thoughts of a giant reptile which stood on only its hind legs to a small, innocent-looking, flying dragon. She was obviously hoping for the latter, as it would be much easier to encounter something harmless. However, a part of her truly suspected that the creature she searched for would not exactly be kind and generous.

Her thoughts still clouded, she could hear a faint sound behind her. It was a rhythmic, tapping sound, echoing all around her. As she pulled herself away from her own mind, the sound became much louder. At first, she didn’t think anything of it, but then, she realized what it was. Someone was running.

She instantly reached back behind her to grab Rhylan and alert him of the sound, if he hadn’t noticed it already. She nearly lost her balance on Aerance when her hand only swiped through the air. She turned to look at where she had thought Rhylan to be, but only saw the fog shifting away from when she had waved behind her.

Panic entered her heart, and she felt an odd feeling of terror surround her. Rhylan wasn’t there. Where could he have gone, and more importantly, why? She shook her head, realizing that the person she had heard running only moments ago must’ve been him. Who else would’ve risked coming all the way out to the Ridge of Obscurity, knowing its dangers?

“Aerance, did you hear him running away?” Eralynn asked suddenly.

The flame horse snorted, sending vapor swirling out around her face. Could it be that even Aerance did not hear him jump off? How could they have both missed something so obvious?

Eralynn did not know what to do. The only thing she could think of right now was to follow the footsteps she had heard before. She instructed for Aerance to turn around, and she galloped back so that they could look for the Prince.

The uneasy trotting of the Ponyta made it somewhat difficult for Eralynn to see any evidence that Rhylan had been in that area, but she kept looking. She shot her eyes around frantically, desperate to find him. She was worried that he had somehow gotten lost, or worse, hurt. Really, she had no idea what could’ve happened to him, and she was scared.

She knew, deep down, that she could’ve stopped Rhylan from doing whatever it was that had stolen him away from her and Aerance, and she wondered why she hadn’t heard him get away in the first place. Had something taken him right out from under her nose? She cringed at the thought of her poor ability to pay attention, and kept scanning the sides of the path for anything useful.

Her gaze was captured by a figure against a particular pool of water. All of the others were perfectly round or oval, but getting in a double-take, Eralynn could see something extra at the edge of this one.

She tapped Aerance with the reigns, signaling her to turn the other way. She began galloping towards the figure by the pool, and Eralynn felt her breathing begin to intensify.

Then, as she squinted, trying to make out the figure despite the fog and the distance, she heard a terrifying scream. Beneath her galloped Aerance and around her flew the wind, but with the sound, she suddenly could not feel them there.

“Do not look into the water,” the Noctowl’s warning echoed in her mind in the surreal moment, and she realized that something terrible could be happening to Rhylan.

She saw, as the particular pool of water grew closer, something very long and powerful suddenly emerging from the liquid. It was quick, but it lashed out at the Prince, wrapping around his body. In an instant, he was yanked towards the center of the small pool of liquid that he had just been staring into.

“Rhylan! No!” Eralynn shouted in horror. “Come on, Aerance! We have to get to him!”

As she urged her friend on, she could see the being, whatever it was, pulling Rhylan toward the water. What was around his stomach was a tentacle of some sort; Eralynn was now sure of this. She saw Rhylan clawing the rocky ground, trying desperately to keep himself above the dark water. He used his legs, as well, trying to use his feet to stop him from moving towards the creature.

Eralynn and Aerance sped towards him, finally reaching the hole of water. Eralynn jumped off of Aerance before she could even stop, and ran straight for the arm or leg of whatever held Rhylan.

Up close, she was able to observe a long, thick, reddish tentacle grasping him. The suction cups on its underside made it that much harder for Rhylan to slip out.

Eralynn had to do something, but what? She raced towards them, and instinctively grabbed Rhylan’s hands. She pulled as hard as she could, but she was no match for the strength of the creature that held the Prince. It dragged her closer and closer to the water along with Rhylan, although they tried their hardest to stay on the land. Eralynn felt her heels scraping against the ground as she pulled and pulled.

Rhylan looked up at her and said, “Eralynn, just leave me! Don’t let it drown you too!”

“No, Rhylan! Don’t be so stupid!” She shouted back above the loud splashing.

The monster gave a much harder tug at the two of them, and dragged Rhylan beneath the water, bringing Eralynn with him. She felt the cool water surround her, and she forgot that she was holding Rhylan’s hands. She just automatically held onto him as the beast dragged them deeper and deeper into its lair.

She closed her eyes, feeling not only warmth, but hope fading away from her. Panic replaced them, as she knew that she would have to fight to stay alive.
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FanFic: Stir of The Thunderstorm (Please R&R.)
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