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Old December 23rd, 2007 (9:15 AM).
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Chapter 14- The Worth of The Risk

Aerance crept along the path steadily with Eralynn and Rhylan still on her back. As she walked, the day began to disappear, and soon, they were doused in darkness.

Eralynn put her hand up to her mouth as she let out a yawn. She was beginning to grow tired of this path, seeing as they had been walking on it for hours now. It was all the same type of terrain and the same musty, foggy sky. The only thing that had changed as they progressed along the path was the presence of the creatures’ nests, which Eralynn was very thankful for. They had gradually diminished in number as Aerance moved away from the spot at which Rhylan could’ve drowned. Now, there was no sign of them.

“Aerance,” Eralynn began, “Can you imagine trying to remain on this path and avoid those pools of water at this time?”

Aerance snorted, indicating she understood. Indeed, traveling that way when it was this dark would be near impossible. Aerance had her flames to allow some light as a guide, but the fog was beginning to thicken and become something else. It now moved and swirled much more than before as if being pushed by something.

“Is this fog or steam?” Eralynn asked her friend jokingly, thinking the latter description suited it better.

She looked around her, trying to see more than a few feet to the left and right, but the glow of Aerance’s flames only bounced off of the airborne water molecules. This created a kind of semitransparent layer around them as they walked, and Eralynn could never really see all that clearly beyond the thick fog.

She shivered as she imagined watching them from outside of her body. A lone girl and a Pokemon marched along a path that was barely visible as they carried their unconscious friend through the thick, eerie fog. It sounded like the beginning of a couple of scary stories she had read before.

Although Eralynn thought a lot about her current situation, she never really stopped dreading her visit to the Great Dragon. She kept imagining him in many different ways. Sometimes, he was a benevolent, rational creature. During these fantasies, he would greet Eralynn, Rhylan, and Aerance kindly, offering them food and tea. They would stay with him for an hour or so, and then he would simply bring the three of them home on his back safely.

She could also see the other extreme, though. She, Rhylan, and Aerance would walk into his lair. He would appear suddenly, bearing long, sharp fangs, and would be ready to eat. Being larger and faster than any other Pokemon, he would attack them and capture them with ease. Then, he would gobble them up carelessly, as if they were simply another snack to him.

Eralynn couldn’t quite decide on what she imagined the Great Dragon to be like, but she had reasons to be confused. The voice that spoke to her in her dreams had instructed her to go to the Great Dragon for advice, but the Noctowl she had encountered earlier had told her that she was in for quite a rough time. Why would the voice tell her to go see a Pokemon that would want to harm her? Perhaps Noctowl was lying to her, then. She wasn’t sure. She only knew that she truly trusted the mysterious voice in her dreams. It had allowed for her to rescue the fallen warriors-in-training of her city, after all. Then again, she had reason to listen to the Noctowl’s words, as it was right about the pools of water in the Ridge of Obscurity.

Eralynn also could not help but think about what that Mightyena had told her. Varlo's grandson was leading Team Devastation now, and he had told the wolf Pokemon that he planned on destroying all of Derelon City. How did he plan on doing this? Had Team Devastation truly become that strong? The Advisor's daughter did not know, and she still did not quite understand why Team Devastation wanted control of everything so much.

As they walked, Eralynn noticed something strange. She had been used to hearing the click-clack of Aerance’s hooves against the hard, rock ground. Now, though, she was able to hear a random thud coming between each click.

She pulled on Aerance’s reigns, letting her know that she wanted to stop. She jumped off of her friend and landed on the ground.

“Hey, Aerance. Could you bend your head down here a little bit so that I can get a better view of the terrain?” Eralynn asked.

The Rapidash lowered her head, allowing Eralynn to see. The flames of the unicorn Pokemon’s mane danced and flickered along the fog, but the change beneath them was clearly visible.

Eralynn could see that only strips and chunks of obsidian rock remained, leaving space for something else. In between flat layers of rock was what appeared to be dirt. Eralynn bent down and picked some of it up in her hand. It crumbled away as she squeezed it.

“The Ridge of Obscurity is behind us now,” Eralynn stated.

She swallowed hard. This meant that she would have to face the potentially terrifying Dragon soon enough. She did not want to do this, but what else did she have? She couldn’t return home at this point. She also couldn’t stay out here with a Prince who would need to be back and running a kingdom eventually. He, at least, had responsibilities.

“Oh, Rhylan,” she whispered, getting up to look at him.

She tried to take a step closer to Aerance in order to see if he was still okay, but caught her foot on something. She tried to kick it out from under her, but it didn’t work. She fell to the ground, jerking her body to the side so as to avoid hitting her bruised knees again.

“Ouch,” she responded, this time rubbing the sides of her legs.

She sat up and looked down at what she had tripped over. Aerance, keeping her head low, moved closer to Eralynn’s feet, and they could now see it.

“Thank God!” Eralynn practically yelled out.

At first, it appeared to be a tiny branch, but looking closer, Eralynn could see that the part of it that was not above ground was buried beneath the soil. It was a small root, which meant that trees, and therefore, berries, were nearby.

Eralynn jumped up, grabbing hold of her friend’s reigns, and pulled herself back up. She forgot about her fears and doubts regarding the Great Dragon and focused on the fact that they could now find food nearby. There was hope!

Eralynn lifted Rhylan, who had been lying down along Aerance’s back with legs dangling off, and she propped his back and head against her chest so he would be in a sitting position. She reached around his body, taking hold of the reigns. Trying to make herself comfortable, she shifted in her seat, barely noticing that she had lightly nudged the Prince.

“Uggghhhhh,” a moan came from in front of her.

Looking down, Eralynn nearly fell out of her seat from the sight. She managed to stay on by clutching the reigns.

It was Rhylan. He was groggily reaching his arm up towards his head. When his hand reached his face, he rubbed it as if touching it for the first time. While bending over to be able to see in front of him, Eralynn could see his eyes opening very slowly. He looked straight ahead while blinking indolently. Then, he spoke.

“Where… What… I don’t…” he could only mumble nonsensically.

Aerance stopped walking out of surprise while Eralynn grabbed the Prince’s shoulder and shook him a little.

“Rhylan! Rhylan, are you okay?” She asked in his ear.

He groaned again and tried turning his head. He seemed far too exhausted to really make an effort, however, and was only able to see Eralynn out of the corner of his eye.

“Eralynn,” he began. “How on Earth did you save us?”

Eralynn frowned at having to discuss the horrible occurrence, but decided he had a right to know. She was scared that he’d be angry with her for letting go, and momentarily considered leaving that part out, but shook the thought away, realizing that he couldn’t do much, even if he was very angry. She cleared her throat awkwardly as Rhylan closed his eyes to listen.

“Well, when we were underwater, I let go of you so that I could use the Pokemon’s eggs as bait. I needed to get the giant Pokemon to go above the water somehow, so that Aerance and I could get you back. It… came out, and… Well, Aerance is the one that you should be thanking, really. She was so brave,” Eralynn explained before she began to bite her nails nervously.

Aerance snorted, letting them both know that she was quite proud of what she had done for them.

Rhylan hesitated before reacting, making Eralynn even more worried, but soon chimed in.

“But, Eralynn, how could you have known that getting the creature out of the water would get me out too?” He asked her with a slight slur to his speech.

Eralynn lowered her eyebrows and bit her lip. He had made a valid point, after all. The Pokemon could have simply surfaced to retrieve its egg without holding onto Rhylan at all. Still, she thought of something else.

“Well, it probably knew that I would only give the egg back if it gave you back to me,” Eralynn stated proudly. “Pokemon are pretty smart, you know,” she added matter-of-factly.

Eralynn expected an argument to grow from this condescending comment. When Rhylan made no attempt to retaliate, though, she felt almost… disappointed. Their lives had changed completely, and now, apparently, so had their entire relationship. Eralynn missed the days during which she and Rhylan would squabble over petty problems. She wanted once more to have the opportunity to play harmless pranks on the people that annoyed her. She wanted her father there to yell at her for being irresponsible. She craved to feel the much simpler pains of not being able to be a warrior for Derelon City. She wished very much that they still only had those trivial things to worry about.

“Why has everything changed?” She felt herself wonder aloud.

“What?” Rhylan asked after a moment, seemingly not hearing her clearly.

Eralynn looked right and left, realizing that she had let something slip that was only meant for her to think about. She considered discussing her anxiety with Rhylan for a moment, but thought it would be best to steer clear of that.

“Nothing,” she replied gravely instead.

Forcing herself to smile, she decided to change the subject. She told Rhylan about how they were no longer in the horrible Ridge of Obscurity, and then, how Aerance had evolved. She also talked about how they’d come across a root sticking out of the ground. She told him all of these things to lighten his mood, but none of it did anything to help her own.

“Turn back,” she kept telling herself silently. “Turn back while you still can…”

* * *
The fog had now indeed turned into more of a steam as the three travelers crept more and more towards the South and further from Derelon City. Eralynn learned that she must have discovered the tree roots in the very early morning, since the sun began to rise only a few hours later, shown in the distance as a faint, white, circular light, due to the steam.

Restless as could be, Eralynn could not catch a wink of sleep, and she stayed awake with Aerance, who was also unable to sleep as they moved. With the help of Aerance’s fiery mane, they were able to follow the direction of the thickening roots despite the darkness and the fog. Shortly after the sun had risen, they came upon a large tree bearing lots of things to eat. It took a while, but Eralynn and Aerance were very grateful for the discovery of food.

Rhylan, nearly dying from loss of oxygen the previous day, needed quite a bit more rest, and slept soundly until Eralynn shook him awake. She was far too excited about the berry tree, and didn’t feel like being considerate any longer.

“Rhylan, wake up! We have food now!” She exclaimed.

“Ugh, Eralynn,” Rhylan murmured, “I don’t really feel like eating for the next five years or so.”

“What? Why not?” She asked him angrily.

“Well, although it’s not normally all that nutritional, I think the amount of salt water I swallowed yesterday might keep my stomach filled for a while,” Rhylan answered while rolling his eyes.

“Suit yourself, jerk,” Eralynn spat back at him.

She started to walk away, and once again felt a bit frustrated that he did not try to give a comeback to this. She sighed and kept walking, nearly tripping over the huge roots that surrounded the tree. She stopped and looked up at it.

It really was a beautiful sight, now that the steam wasn’t completely blocking it from view, and Eralynn allowed herself to take a moment and admire its grace. Its trunk was massive, and she imagined that she would have to take at least twenty-five steps to get around it just once. The bark reached up from its base, extending far out into thick, sinewy branches, which in turn also divided into many smaller and smaller ones that ended in lovely, bright green leaves. Each leaf was perfectly round, giving the upper part of the tree an interesting appearance.

Despite its beauty, there was still an eerie feel to it. The steam surrounded its branches and leaves above, making it impossible to see the top. It seemed to slowly weave between the thin parts of the tree, and it seemed as if this was an attempt to spoil its beauty.

Eralynn shuddered as she turned her attention from the top of the tree to the roots below her. She jumped when she noticed that Aerance had been standing right beside her, though she did not know for how long.

The Unicorn Pokemon seemed equally enthralled with the tree, and was staring at it as if hypnotized by its massive size and strange aura.

The two friends snapped out of it when they heard the slow, lazy footsteps of Rhylan approaching them from behind. He walked closer so that he was now standing between them, and Eralynn could see his eyes growing wider as he took in the incredible sight. She smiled when she noticed that his strength seemed to be returning.

“What kind of tree is this?” He asked, completely astonished.

“I’m not really sure,” Eralynn answered. “Whatever it is, we should be happy that we found it.”

Then, looking at her fiery friend, said, “Aerance, I’m going to need your help. You’re going to have to move very close to the tree for me, okay?”

With that, Aerance strolled towards the wide trunk and waited for Eralynn to instruct her more. Without saying anything else, though, Eralynn grabbed hold of Aerance and pulled herself up. She looked up at the lowest branch and reached her arm straight up, attempting to pick a few of the berries. Unfortunately, they were only a couple of feet out of her reach.

“Damn,” she muttered. “I guess I’ll need to stand on you, then,” she explained to Aerance.

Eralynn folded her legs up, setting her feet on the Rapidash’s back for a moment. Adjusting where she balanced, she pushed herself into a kneeling position, putting all of her weight on her feet, which were now in the center of Aerance’s back. She stopped holding on with her arms, and slowly, she allowed herself to push more and more upright, until finally, she was in a standing position.

“Oh no,” Eralynn said with a shaky voice as she wobbled on Aerance’s back.

“Jeez…” Rhylan murmured, annoyed by the clumsy girl.

Concentrating, Eralynn managed to regain her balance and pick a few berries. She crossed her arms to be able to hold more than one and tried to face the other way so that she could jump down. The moment she lifted her foot, however, she realized that she had made a mistake. She couldn’t stay on! Screaming, she fell off of Aerance, who, in return, could only stand there so as to not make the situation any worse.

Eralynn closed her eyes tightly, imagining that this fall could leave a serious bruise or – even worse - a broken bone. She expected to feel pain when she hit the bumpy, hard roots below her, but surprisingly, felt something different.

She was on her back and was being comfortably cradled by something holding the back of her knees and lower back. She opened her eyes to see Rhylan’s face right next to hers. He had caught her in his arms and was now holding onto her for dear life.

Eralynn blinked as she looked into his eyes. He looked weary and, for some reason, a bit older, but there was something else in his expression that she noticed. His eyes were soft and kind, and he seemed to refuse to break his gaze away from her. He seemed to be deep in thought as he looked right into her eyes.

She had seen him look at her this way before, but this time, she felt that she couldn’t look away from him either. She stared back, forgetting how strange this would’ve normally been. She felt her face becoming warm, and she swallowed hard.

“Rhylan, I…” She began, feeling her body move to the rhythm of his breathing.

“Well, I hope I’m not interrupting anything,” a voice said loudly in Eralynn’s head, instantly breaking the spell.

Shocked and scared out of her mind, Eralynn let out a loud shriek. Instinctively, she put her hands in front of her face, dropping the few berries that had remained in her arms after the fall.

Rhylan, completely unaware of and unable to hear whatever was speaking to Eralynn, was frightened instead by her loud scream. Without thinking, he let go of her, and she fell on the hard ground. He gasped as she hit the ground with a loud thud, and put both hands up to his face, covering his mouth.

Eralynn felt the fall, of course, but was distracted by what was talking to her. She looked around rapidly, trying to find the source of the voice.

“Hey, I’m up here,” it said, now sounding more familiar to her.

She arched her head back and looked at the branches above her. Squinting through the mist between the leaves, she could see a small, brown figure perched on a thick branch that was relatively low on the tree. It shook its body, puffing out what appeared to be feathers, then cocked its head down to look at her. Seeing its huge eyes was all Eralynn needed to recognize it.

“Noctowl!” She yelled towards the sky. “Why are you here? I thought you couldn’t cross the Ridge of Obscurity… or, at least, that you didn’t want to.”

“Eralynn, this is my home,” the owl Pokemon stated simply.

Eralynn exchanged a glance with Aerance, who looked just as confused. Rhylan just stood there, only able to hear Eralynn talking to herself. Noctowl sensed their questions, and continued on.

“You see, I could only lead you so far because in the middle of the Ridge of Obscurity, there are dangerous-”

“Yes, yes. We know already,” Eralynn stopped him rudely, rolling her eyes.

“Hm,” Noctowl replied, seemingly unsure of whether or not to ask about their experience in the last day or so. He looked into the steam in front of him. “Anyway, I lost my brother to one of them. We were young, and we decided to be adventurous and journey through the dangerous place. Long story short, my brother was too enchanted by the water to look away, and was killed.”

Eralynn sighed. She suddenly felt even more thankful that she and Rhylan had made it out of that disastrous situation alive. She pushed the thought of not saving him out of her mind and looked back up at Noctowl.

“So,” Noctowl continued, as if unfazed by the painful memories, “that is why I always choose to fly high above it.”

“Is it much clearer up there too?” Eralynn asked.

“It is significantly less foggy, yes. Still, there is some. It isn’t nearly as bad as when one walks or flies along the path below, though,” the owl Pokemon explained calmly.

Eralynn badly wanted for this mist to clear up. She wanted to be able to see the sun and the moon and stars again. More importantly, she wanted to be able to see more than six feet in front of her. After all, the three travelers were exploring unknown regions, and didn’t know who or what might’ve been lurking close to the path that they followed.

“Noctowl,” Eralynn said, getting its attention, “is it hard to see like this all the way to the Great Dragon?”

The Noctowl cocked its head to the side, considering its answer.

“Well, the very place you are seeking, the lair of the Great Dragon, is the source for all the steam here and the fog in the Ridge of Obscurity,” Noctowl informed her. “Here, the water simply evaporates faster, making the air seem more steamy than foggy, but in the Ridge of Obscurity, it evaporates much more slowly, what with all those pools of water already around. That’s why the fog is quite a bit thicker there.”

Eralynn raised her eyebrows. It was as if she had her very own Encyclopedia with her- one that knew a lot about the world they all lived in.

“How could the lair of the Great Dragon be the source of the steam? Does he live near hot springs or something?” Eralynn asked, bewildered.

“No, he doesn’t,” Noctowl replied, shaking his head. “You see, the Great Dragon lives inside of a small volcano. For reasons unknown, this volcano is constantly erupting, allowing its lava to spill from its peak and pour down towards its base.”

Eralynn, Rhylan, and Aerance watched and listened silently, Eralynn lightly holding her chin in her hand as she paid close attention.

“What’s most interesting about his liar, really,” said Noctowl, “is the fact that there is a large river that cuts through one of the main paths that the lava takes when the volcano erupts. To the Southeast of the volcano, there is another mountain, upon which is the source of this river. There is a sharp drop in this elevated land, however, and there is a waterfall flowing off of it. It pushes the water of this river so that it goes extremely fast. When the water crosses the lava flow, or rather, vice-versa, the hot lava cools, creating more and more land as time goes on.”

With this pause, Eralynn decided to jump in. “Well, wouldn’t that create more land and eventually block the river’s path? I mean, if it’s flowing right through it…”

“That will probably happen in time, Eralynn,” Noctowl stated, “but for now, the river itself keeps growing too. Although it isn't quite as fast as the volcano can erupt and create new land, the river is getting larger. Both the rain created by the evaporation of steam and the river’s erosion of the earth is allowing the river to get bigger. Surely, the land will grow faster than the water, but we will have to wait for that to happen.”

Eralynn imagined the scene as the owl Pokemon spoke, and she shuddered to think that besides the possibility of facing a vicious dragon, they would also have to potentially deal with a volcanic eruption. It seemed as if everything was against her, including Mother Nature.

She felt terrified and overwhelmed by everything that was happening to her, but her fear of the future was only increasing as they kept going. She had been in more danger in this short time than during her entire life, and she felt like she just couldn’t stand it any longer.

“We can’t go on,” she abruptly decided for everyone. “It’s just too risky.”

Aerance and Rhylan stared at her without speaking. Their shocked expressions weren’t anything to wonder about. After all, Eralynn was the one who had been so intent on going through with this long, arduous journey in the first place. Always being stubborn, she had never wavered in her decision to push on. That is, until now.

“Eralynn, why are you trying to stop now? Not that I’m against giving up this crazy mission of yours, but I don’t understand it,” Rhylan said after a bit of silence.

“It’s just too perilous,” Eralynn answered, beginning to sound hysterical. “We could get killed by the lava flow alone! We just don’t know!”

Noctowl and Aerance exchanged concerned looks with one another, not really knowing what to do to help.

“Eralynn, I cannot believe you’ve made us come all the way out here to just turn around! What was it- just for your sick fun?!” The Prince yelled at her.

“No! How could you say that?!” Eralynn shot back, nearly in tears from her own confusion, indecision, guilt, and fear.

All the while, the both of them moved closer and closer towards one another, trying to look intimidating.

“I almost died, Eralynn! Does that sound like a good prank to you? I almost died,” Rhylan shouted angrily.

Eralynn looked towards the ground sadly. Was he right? Was this all in her head? No, no… That was impossible. She had heard that voice, she had seen visions, and she had actually done some good when acting on her feelings.

“I…” she started, not sure of what she could say to make things better.

Her search for words did not last long, however, as she was suddenly forced to stop. It all happened at once. She tried her hardest to adjust her eyes as everything before her began to blur. She felt herself stumble backwards, losing her balance. It felt like someone had been forcing the air right out of her while pulling down on her eyelids.

“Eralynn!” She could hear Rhylan calling to her faintly in the distance. His voice echoed in her mind, bouncing off of nothing.

She stared at his indistinct form in front of her as she completely lost her ability to stand, keeling over. She hit the ground but did not feel a thing. She could only hear the sound of her body hitting the roots of the massive tree. She couldn’t struggle any longer. Her eyes were forced shut as she lost control of her body, which erased any of the little vision that she had left.

She heard someone shout her name once more in the distance, and this was all she sensed before she slipped away from consciousness.

* * *

The next thing Eralynn knew, she was standing and facing some buildings. She concentrated as she looked at them and then turned around to absorb the rest of the atmosphere. Right away, it was familiar.

She stood right in the center of her very own Derelon City, right on the Main Road where most of the traffic usually moved. She looked around, seeing the Town Hall, the bank, and a few apartment complexes. Although it was the what she knew very well for the most part, there was still something slightly different about it.

“Wow, what is-” Eralynn began to ask.

Before she could finish, something flew by, right in front of her face. She immediately jumped back, noticing how big it was, and had to restrain herself from screaming. The mass collided with the front of the bank she had just been admiring one second earlier. Its rocky exterior crumbled as it was hit.

Eralynn’s jaw dropped when she realized what it was that had hit it. A huge, blue dragon Pokemon known as Salamence got up, clearly dizzy. It was covered in slashes that leaked of crimson blood, and it could barely stand. It had been thrown by something so that its back had collided with the bank building.

Looking closer, Eralynn could see something else. A small arm stuck out from behind the Salamence. It was… a person’s! Eralynn charged towards them, praying she could do something to help. Was this person was on the dragon Pokemon when it had collided? It couldn’t be.

When she reached them both, she instantly recognized the man that had been riding the Salamence. He was a citizen of Derelon she had seen in the market many times before. He was middle aged and was a bit chubby. He currently gasped for air as blood ran down from a cut on top of his balding head. But… he wasn’t a warrior. Had he really been fighting?

“Sir! Are you okay?” Eralynn asked, reaching out.

Expecting her weight to be supported by her hand on his shoulder, she leaned forward. Before she could realize what was happening, though, she fell forward and… through the injured man! She got up, looking around anxiously.

“Can you hear me?” She asked the man in front of her, who was now coughing up blood.

When no answer came, Eralynn felt the legs of panic run through her. There was no way she could help the man without him hearing her, and the crushing blow that he must’ve experienced while riding Salamence would be enough to crush any human being’s ribs.

She turned around and looked to see what could have possibly caused the damage. She did not see anyone in particular; rather, she saw lots of movement in the distance. She watched as men jumped at each other with weapons and Pokemon used their abilities for what looked like a battle She listened only to hear screams of pain and mournful groans. Occasionally, she caught a glimpse of what looked like a flamethrower or the mysterious purple light of a Psybeam. She was too far to see or hear the details.

She headed down the road for where the main fights were apparently taking place. She watched through the crowd of people she recognized so well, all of them had swords in hand and were fighting for their lives. Their Pokemon were all nearby as well, and were doing everything they could to protect their friends.

The opposing side was, of course, Team Devastation. Also using swords against the people of Derelon, they wore long, hooded, black cloaks, and Eralynn was not able to see any of their faces clearly. Fighting alongside them were mostly Mightyena, but Eralynn recognized a Haunter, a Sneasel, a Shuppet, and a Misdreavus in the crowd too.

Some, though, could no longer fight. She looked at the ground around her, and saw too many dead bodies to count. She recognized some of them right away. The butcher, two members of the Royal Court, a fruit stand owner, and five of the recently initiated warriors were only some of those that had fallen because of Team Devastation.

Eralynn felt tears spring to her eyes as she clenched her chest. She could not believe it. What was happening?

She squinted to look through the crowd of warriors and Pokemon, and managed to spot King Nevarro fighting a frightening looking man with long, black hair and thick eyebrows. The King's Aggron, a tall, black and silver, horned beast resembling a bipedal dinosaur, fought alongside him, taking on the long-haired man's Golbat, who kept trying to swoop down on the heavily armored Pokemon. Aggron roared and clawed at the air, scaring the blue, flying, bat-like Pokemon away before it could get in a decent attack. Eralynn heard the clanging of the King's sword when it made contact with that of the Team Devastation warrior. King Nevarro was fighting hard, which was something Eralynn had never seen him do. He was a wise, kind soul, but she wouldn't have taken him for such a skilled battler.

Even stranger than that was seeing a very familiar Rapidash at the edge of the battle, attempting to break through the crowd by lowering her horn. Eralynn focused her eyes, and could see herself riding the unicorn Pokemon, bow and arrow in hand. She watched herself as she shot the arrows at those that fought lower to the ground. She couldn't see herself all that clearly, however, as she was probably the farthest away from herself.

She also spotted a Meganium nearby, and sure enough, found Landon at its side. Close to them and swooping down on the offenders was Rhylan, who was riding his Pidgeot. Eralynn was captivated by him and his Pokemon. They exhibited such grace, even when fighting in a bloody battle.

Eralynn was practically in a trance as Rhylan ordered his Pidgeot to fly up into the air and swoop down again on the members of Team Devastation. The bird Pokemon flew down at blinding speed, extending its wings to perform a wing attack, while Rhylan stuck out the arm that held his sword. It was such a heroic sight.

When they were at the same level as the warriors on the ground, the Pidgeot slammed her wings into many of them, causing them to fall over.

“Pull up, Pidgeot!” Rhylan ordered triumphantly, but it was too late.

One of the men from Team Devastation had timed it perfectly. Just as Pidgeot had passed over him in the air, he had stuck his sword up. The blade sliced through the bird Pokemon’s stomach, instantly spilling blood on the warriors below. Pidgeot plummeted to the ground soon after, and Rhylan was also sent flying forward.

“NO!” Eralynn shouted, even though she knew that no one would hear her.

Due to Pidgeot’s initial speed, the Prince flew out of the crowd when the bird Pokemon had fallen. His body slammed violently to the ground, and once there, he could barely move. He turned onto his side so that he could face those in battle. He clutched his arm, and Eralynn cringed as she saw that it could bend awkwardly. It was broken by the fall.

The man that had attacked Pidgeot was now pushing the warriors still engaged in battle aside so that he could reach Rhylan. Peeling the people and Pokemon apart, he stepped through until he, too, was out of the cloud of battle.

“So, this is the brave Prince, eh?” The man said as he looked at Rhylan.

The man pulled down the hood of his cloak. He was tall, thin, and had dark, neat hair. His eyes were a dark brown, and his face was very young. Eralynn got a feeling of familiarity from him somehow. She knew she must have seen him before, but where?

The man drew his sword as Rhylan rose to a sitting position. Eralynn noticed that the Prince’s face was spotted with blood and bruises, and she felt she had to do something to help him. He only looked up at the man with exhaustion in his eyes. All hope had drained from them, and he just looked sad.

The man took out his sword and reeled back, ready to strike.

“We’ll see how great a Prince you are now!” He shouted loud enough to be heard above the roars and screams behind him.

Eralynn held her breath as the man’s sword was thrown forward and thrust into Rhylan’s chest. The Prince grabbed the handle of the sword tightly as his blood began to trickle out of the wound. He opened his mouth gasped for air a couple of times. His face seemed to be frozen, as if he was paying such close attention to something that could not bring himself to break away from it. After a painful moment that felt like hours to Eralynn, Rhylan gave up and fell to the ground. He was dead.

“NO!” Eralynn screamed so loudly that her voice cracked, sending out a terrible, high pitched sound.

She fell to her knees and put her arms around her stomach. Devastated, she forgot where she was and succumbed to her grief. She sobbed hard, hyperventilating as she pictured what had just happened over and over again. She felt helpless and defeated watching this terrible occurrence, and she desperately wanted for it to be over.

After moments of inexplicable pain, she suddenly heard a voice in her mind.

“Eralynn, I’m sorry you had to be knocked out, but this was the only way you could be shown what would happen,” the soft, familiar voice told her.

Eralynn stopped crying for a moment and looked up at the sky. She saw the dark clouds up above spreading and disappearing off to the side. The rest of the scene in front of her began to fade. The buildings looked as if they were being torn away from her site, and the trees, battling humans, and Pokemon soon followed them. She was then surrounded by a sort of emptiness she could never have imagined before. It lacked a floor, a ceiling, any kind of border, people, Pokemon, buildings, trees... It was merely nothingness.

She breathed in and out quickly, feeling herself unable to control the anger she experienced from this torment. She was sick of this voice she kept hearing, and she was tired of being in both mental and physical pain.

“Shown what would happen?!” She shouted angrily through tears. “Why would you do this to me? Why would you do any of it?”

“Eralynn, please. This is not real,” the voice spoke peacefully.

“Wha… Not real?” Eralynn asked. “So, Rhylan’s not dead? None of these people are dead? This battle isn’t happening?”

“No, none of this has happened… yet,” the voice said.

Eralynn stood up and wiped her tears away. She still felt sick, but the relief of hearing that the warriors were not dead was enough to make her forget about it. She was especially glad that Rhylan was okay…

“Why would you show me such a horrible scene?” Eralynn asked, still angry with whomever was speaking.

“My dear,” began the voice gently, “I know you think you should give up now, but if you return to Derelon City at this point, this… will be what will become of them.”

No one was there, but Eralynn felt as if a hand was showcasing the scene once again, as Derelon City peeled back into her sight. She saw the dead and severely injured warriors and Pokemon. She saw those fighting for Team Devastation killing off the last of the Derelon citizens. They were victorious. They had won. Now, they had finally taken Derelon City and killed everyone that once lived there peacefully. They had killed Rhylan, the King, and most likely her father...

“You see, Eralynn, they will all die,” the voice explained to her calmly.

“But, why was that happening?” Eralynn tried to ask.

No answer came, however, and the world in front of the mischievous girl began to swirl and pull away from her as she was ripped back into the world of consciousness.
FanFic: Stir of The Thunderstorm (Please R&R.)
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