After an Absol tries to warn a town of disaster, the lone survivor tries to take vengeance on the creature she saw watching from a distance. Will she succeed in her task, or get a glimpse at the mind of the Disaster Pokémon? A look at the story from Absol's point of view.
A Tragedy and Hurt/Comfort one-shot.
It came suddenly, as it always does. Perhaps there are some who can control its flow, or predict further than I, but I have found so few of my own to share with; such is our burden. If we did not have to hide, to stay solitary, more knowledge would be shared, and we could grow stronger. Live in packs. Instead, we roam the mountains and the wilds like pests, to hide from the hunters. I hold them no grudge, though others might, and I blame only the gift I'm given for the pain that visits in slumber or reverie.
First come the visions, that creep to the edges of my dreams. They're flashes of the suffering soon to come to the unknowing, who cannot see as we do, and they make my otherwise serene mind stir. Then, I hear the screams and the whimpers, of children to the elderly; some only last for seconds. They perish too quickly to suffer. The ones that draw me to consciousness are those of unmatched horror, as the flesh of legs is boiled away by falling magma or their lungs are filled with the cold invasion of water and muck. I hear the final sputtering of life, in the knowledge that all I can do is come to warn, or be swept away in the arms of misguided vengeance.
Then, as I stumble to consciousness and gaze about whichever hole I'd crawled into, the emotions come. In all their sorrow, as loved ones are stolen from the tip of a mother's reach. In all their rage, as they're left at the mercy of things beyond their ken, and remember my visage atop the trees from just a few days before. I struggle in through the crushing vehemence and anguish, searching for the tender hand of my savior from this all-encompassing cluster of final thoughts that seeks to swallow me; indifference. The indifference of the dead who've accepted their fate. It's most common in the old, who know they're soon to meet their resting place.
Perhaps that is why others call us monsters, for the apathy we seek in our foretelling of disaster. But no others must hear the screaming, besides the survivors who hear only an ounce of the fear that clutches the hearts of victims. The truth is that dispassion is a necessity. In my youth, I heard the tales of those who are taken by madness, as they become too enamored with whom we try to save. It horrified me more than the torturous events, and it's these old souls that save us from slow death in insanity's fickle grip.
In the end, I pull through the onslaught of disastrous prophecy with a new location branded in my mind, but weakened by my nightmare's fatigue. Not everything about it is so terrible, though. The people we communicate with, those who accept their movement to the unknown beyond, are wise in their old age. Though we cannot communicate clearly with them, just like with their youth, their experience fills us with knowledge. With ancient wisdom. Perhaps that is why the other creature call us wise, but they underestimate our arduous journeys even then; they believe our wisdom comes from malevolence, but it is not so.
The instance I recall was a village not too far from my prowling grounds. The mountain where I make my home, until I'm called to warn the inhabitants of wherever I can travel, before they're too far gone for hope. I'd been watching them for some time, in my short life, as they built homes from the sturdy wood of the forest and drunk freely from the life-giving water that would make their crops grow and sustain their settlement through many years to come. They were a proud bunch, but humble, and worked with the creatures of the forest in freedom. It was a beautiful sight to see, from one of many perches carved into the mountainside.
I dared not approach, for it was not my place, but it brought joy to see the residents of the forest village grow from healthy babes to erudite citizens only crippled by their age. To watch as people traveled the route through the village, where even those filled with bravado were welcomed with clean beds and fresh berries; the only trouble was from the wilds, but I did my part to keep them safe. Whenever their gaze was elsewhere. The animosity it earned me from those who saw these humans as intruders was worth it, to watch the children of the village smile at the fresh beams of sunlight through the trees, or the rain as it pattered against their windows.
As any could imagine, growing an empathic connection with the village was unwise, for my common adversaries were not wrong in that it was no place for those who built structures and families; the wilds are dangerous. The visions that struck me came as no surprise, although they were heartbreaking. I saw the tumbling of a great oak, wrapped between boulders and the crawling vines of nature's grasp, that would tumble down the mountain in a force so great to tear through the forest's sentinels as though they were naught but air. It would bring with it an avalanche of harsh stone, the destruction of dams, and the flood of water. The tree that served as a landmark would doom the town, and it was my duty to warn them.
From my spying atop the crags and hills, I knew the softest of the townspeople, and those would be the first I approached; not out of worth assigned to them from a system of my own morality, but out of self-preservation. Were they to mistrust me, the chance of being hated and assaulted was far slimmer than if I'd approached one of the self-proclaimed rangers that served as guardians of the townspeople and acquaintances to some of the wild creatures that roam, who would know my supposedly wicked nature from their hearts, while the children and maternal would shoo me away or simply run. Their only knowledge was from warnings given in bedtime stories, and twisted just enough from the truth to give me freedom in my approach.
I chose first the children, whose imaginations could be blamed for sightings of the monsters whispered in tall tales, but keep the mature on the edge of wariness; it would not be enough, but it is always safer to ease a town into preparation than to tread through its borders with hackles raised and throw them into a panic that would only serve to breed harm and paranoia amongst the families and friendships. On the seventh day from the disaster, I stalked through the trees and appeared in the corners of the young's eyes; a crimson eye warning them from the shadows, or a flank white as snow glanced through the rich browns and greens of the forest.
The parents were incredulous, from what I can judge of human faces from a distance away from their view, but their own looks into the trees were not unnoticed. They would spread word of my presence perhaps in passing, until one of them noticed the pattern in their chat. On the sixth sun from the crashing oak, I appeared before those just out of childhood's grasp, but who'd chosen vocations other than training my loosely-labelled kin for sports or companionship, such as baking or tilling the fields of their soon-crippled crops. As always, with those yet to reach maturity, they spread talk of it amongst themselves; too young to disbelieve nightmares but just old enough to be confident in their ability to stop it.
These teenagers deemed it their duty to explore the forest in groups, to search for stray tracks of my barely-sighted form in search of impurities in the forest life, or cracks in the mountain; some even had the foresight to search for population explosions of those malevolently minded. Despite my knowledge that this process would do no good, for prevention of the disaster itself was impossible, I could not approach them for fear of being attacked. On the fifth morning from the disaster, I appeared to the loving mothers and fathers more fully, and allowed them full glimpses before I sped through the maze of flora their homes resided in.
This cemented knowledge of my presence in the collective, where they would chatter amongst themselves in social circles and word spread to the rangers that protected the town. This was overheard by the travelers, too, some of whom wanted to flee as quickly and in as large groups as possible; none of them stayed, and the rangers were all too quick to warn any new arrivals about the sightings, as they patrolled the grounds themselves. Their tamed friends also began to search, but I have known this range for far longer than they and avoided them with relative ease. Still, they were ignoring the oncoming disaster; no barricades or bags of dirt.
No escape routes planned, either, which would be the only things to save lives. They needed to evacuate as many villagers as possible, if lives were to be saved, and I knew only the wisest would realize this. They would not call shrilly to the guardians of the town, unless they were paranoid themselves, so I appeared to them in full view, and met their eyes as they sat in comfortable chairs for the last years of their life. They met my eyes with some fear, and were quick to judge the brash youngsters that protected and lived within the town's boundaries. Though their ramblings were taken lightly, escape routes were planned for the attack they were sure I would bring.
The rangers, despite their supposed knowledge, suspected me of intimidating them and the town. That I was planning my own path of carnage through the town, where I would slink through under cover of night or storm, and wreak through their ranks with rage-filled eyes. I could not tell their words, but the looks they shared around the campfire and the fidgeting as sleep failed to claim them told me of their fear. Fear is good; it pushes them to try their best, and I needed to let them know that I was not leaving; that they should not become lax, and that it was I did in the remaining days until the disaster. A few families were already leaving, just for a little while, because their money was not enough to move generations of history so quickly.
There were a few close calls with the guardians, as I professed my presence from across ravines or dips in the mountain's paths. They chased me through the forest, but I knew it too well, and they lost me with only frustration in their voices, as they became overtaxed by the fear I weaved; the fear of nature that would soon claim them. If their jobs were done properly, this would not be necessary. But it was. They begun to ask wandering trainers to aid them in their hunt, but the ones that weren't busy were children that the rangers didn't have the heart to let stick around in a place soon to be attacked by the ferocious creature they saw me as.
Until one trainer came through the town, with a confidence in her stride befitting only the most noble I'd seen of my own kind, or those rare individuals that were revered as masters of battling among humans. She was not old, though; a teenager approaching maturity, which explained the passion in her eyes which burned brightly enough to see from far above the canopy of leaves. She was talented, determined, but her hubris would lead this young woman to actions that she'd come to regret. With age comes humility, and I feared that somebody with much potential would come to die with the rest of the town. She stubbornly refused to leave and sought to defend the townspeople. Valorous, but foolish, or so I thought.
I avoided encounters with this trainer in particular, but showed myself to the remaining rangers so the fear would not die down; this young woman was trying to erase the fear of the townspeople in earnest. Little did she know that, in doing so, she was only hurting them more; dooming any who believed in her inspirational speeches to death. My eyes were trained on her in particular, while I watched under the cover of night, for the morale that ran through the town; the lifeblood that needed to be manipulated for their survival. Although doors were barricaded, and fires ablaze to give light to the shroud in sunlight's absence, the people seemed comfortable. I hadn't visited them after the sunset.
On that night, while I spied on the trainer, I would make one final visit to the town proper, in hope that I could scare the final few away; attacking their fresh bastion of hope would be the most effective way, but I feared for her skill. The way she interacted with her traveling companions proved that she knew exactly how to control those under her command. They responded to her friendship with the vigor, and followed each command precisely as they sparred with the air. All of them were treated as equals, both to her and each other, so no jealousy grew within their hearts. No strife to taint their conviction for one another. I wondered, as I stalked through the trees, whether this was genuine concern on the trainer's part, or merely learned manipulation.
As I resolved my plan, for frightening the soul before me, I realized that it didn't matter; she was going to be dead soon, with the rest of them. If I didn't make sure that she knew the risks. Likewise, I needed to know them; I couldn't attack while all six of her companions were close and alert, lest I be overwhelmed by their force. I waited in the shadows, until the trainer slumped against the stump of a tree with but one companion guarding her. It was a familiar sight, although rare; she was graceful and tall, yet possessed a mental might I could not hope to oppose directly. Yet, her form was frail and susceptible to wicked claws, if I could avoid her foresight.
It would require a leap. The flower-woman's focus was on the surrounding area, with violet eyes a beacon that told me of where she saw, and it was in the trees. I retreated to the mountains again, found my path, and leaped through the air from behind both this elegant creature and her trainer. It's a feeling unlike any other, to be able to soar through the air when one's form is meant for land, and I couldn't help but be overwhelmed with joy, despite my grim task. It ended all too soon, however, as I collided with her spine and drew one set of claws across her torso, and fled before a burst of energy could fling me across the field.
My assault was not severe, because that would hinder this trainer too much in whatever efforts she could make on the coming day, but it was enough. As I sprinted through the wooden sentinels of the forest, I heard the trainer's anguished cry of fear and unease, along with the flashes of retaliation as the creature tried to strike out against me. But I was gone, and retreated to the cave, only to come out on the first beam of dawn and see the trainer walking alongside her psychic companion with the slightest fear in her body, as their gaze flickered to along the edge of the forest in anticipation of another ambush. It was coming. Unfortunately, it would not come in the form they expected.
While watching the annihilation of lives is not something to take pleasure in, I took my place in a safe perch in the mountains, to watch as the town fell to disaster. I'd been taught that it brought closure to the visions that forewarned me and my kin, to watch the destruction itself. Otherwise, we would be left with remnants of memories and feelings that would haunt us through our remaining days; this way, I could know that I did all I could to save them, and watch the results without fear of my own judgement. It would be a lie to claim that there was no curiosity of what that fiery-eyed trainer would do with her time, but even I couldn't have expected the morbid occurrences that followed.
Its first sign was the snapping and cracking of roots, which echoed across the narrow valleys of the mountain, but not far enough to reach the town, who failed to have a concept of what was soon to happen. Then, came a great lumbering the likes of which I'd only heard from the guts of gargantuan creatures, but this oak was groaning in death instead of life. Then came a whistle, as it fell through the air, and collided with the rubble that surrounded its place of standing, and began to tumble through the forest. By now, the vigilant of the townspeople had taken notice of their falling landmark. Some watched in awe, while others began to flee.
As the great tree left torn ground in its wake, it brought with it brothers and sisters of the forest, who joined its fall of only greater motion in an avalanche of broken or upturned nature, along with the cries of unaware creatures or the bursting of river-dams. The water came crashing alongside the falling trees, promising to crush within its waves all those who could avoid the wicked wooden blows of tragedy. In these few seconds, the rangers took notice of the oncoming force that would destroy their town with little to remain, and screamed for the families to flee, as they should have done so long ago, while they pleaded with their own acquaintances to try stopping nature's onslaught.
Not all of the families were willing to leave their homes; most of them through fear of facing the disaster directly, for nothing could scare their town's guardians but the most terrifying of creatures or concepts. Any such thing was not what their loved ones deserved to contact, despite the warnings that were rung through their walls. Those wooden walls served so well to protect them before, and they doubted it could come crashing through, despite what their common sense would tell them. Fear can do terrible things to people, especially those unwise of the wider world, or with more love in their hearts than sense. I could only feel pity for their situation, as all of those families would be taken soon.
While the trainer was rallying what townspeople she could, the sight of the great oak carving towards the town in a storm of devastation brought bestial dread to the forefront of her mind. There were none I knew who would be able to face the sight of their own mortality with dignity, but the trainer persevered regardless, as she and her companions tried to guide what townspeople with working legs to a nearby hill in the few minutes before their inevitable deaths. The first screams came soon, as she stood atop a platform of stone for a similar vantage point to my own and called all who would hear to her position.
The scream was unlike many I'd heard from people's deaths before, as there was no trace of pain in it; as I could see from the corner of my eyes, it wasn't the victim who'd suffered, but one who watched them be taken instantly by the disaster. Perhaps a sibling or friend, but definitely a loved one, and filled with the despair that would soon be left in the ruins of the town as a lingering memory for all who would visit. It stretched on infinitely, despite the few seconds it was present, and made those around scream too. The trainer flinched at the blood-curdling screech, but continued her calling with frantic eyes. It was enough to get a glimpse as more were claimed by the fallen tree whose girth shot across the ground as though it were a meat-grinder.
It was merely a harbinger of things to come, as the bulk of the landscape's horde came to bear. Homes that could withstand thousands of hammers were destroyed in mere seconds, with their occupants still begging for their lives, while the strong guardians were swept away in a sea of branches, water, and the bodies of those they'd came to know. Those who saw it coming perhaps didn't realize the value of the warning given, as this disaster struck within a mere minute, and lives were stolen too quickly for them too suffer too much. There would be no slow embrace between death's bedsheets for this town, for nature's fury had come to claim them.
Again, my gaze trailed to the trainer, who stood atop her perch with the purest of fears in her eyes. She was silent while others squealed for the deaths of those who were not on the hill, with her companions beside her on the perch for fear of losing their own loved one. Then, the edges of the avalanche twisted wildly in her direction, and there was only time for her to duck before its fist came upon the supposed safe haven of the hill. She was saved only by a barrier of energy flung open by her flower-woman. Its strength was potent enough to hold back even the force of stray flinging rocks and the crash of murky water, but only big enough to cover her stone perch.
The trainer was forced to watch, through the violet tint of her own safety, as those she'd sought to aid were swept away with only whimpers of extinction, and the view of the entropic force that brought destruction on the village, as it finally began to pass. As the last bodies were swept away by water, her fear-filled eyes flung upwards. In that moment, across the distance, I could feel her gaze upon me as I sat safe above the village. I met it with my own vermillion. In those orbs, I saw the first spark of hatred. They twisted from shock to malignancy. In those few moments, the deaths of those she could not save were hung around my neck, and I felt her undiluted detestation burning through my very being.
Despite myself, I fled from the gaze met across miles. I'd been hunted before, by other survivors or those who feared my presence, but this fury was incomparable to such trivial acts. It was not directed as a prejudice against my brethren, or violence drawn from the fear for the safety of loved ones, but a loathing that sprung forth from the trainer's soul and directed only at me. These thoughts struck me with a fear similar to those who'd just died, in the strewn wood, muddy soil, and flung corpses of the town. So I fled into my mountains and hid deep within, for the gaze still branded me despite its distance. That trainer was going to hunt for me.
Deep within the mountains bowels, past the tunnels that lead everywhere or nowhere, I tried to sleep; I knew that it was unlikely for the trainer to find me, but I pondered whether she would truly have the skill to. Grudges are vile things, though they can be justified, and there is little more dangerous than somebody skilled having one. I found comfort, as I tried to rest, in the knowledge that the flower-woman was weakened both from my attack and the effort she put into that barrier, which saved the lives of her master and her friends, even though the village suffered. That simply left five more to hunt me down, with very slim odds for my own survival.
Yet it was not fear of death that kept me from beautiful slumber, nor the chill that blew through the tunnels, nor even the images of death that flickered at the corners of my eyes like adamant little insects. It was the fear that this person hated me for what was necessary, on the assumption that it was I who brought down the great oak to destroy them all, and that I took pleasure in watching them die. None of these things were true, but that she could think me capable of such monstrosity made my thoughts haggard and weary. It was no use trying to throw blame around, however, and I would need my rest after fleeing from the mountain with my head held low.
My sleep was blissfully empty of nightmares or dreams, though I doubt either would have been pleasant. The latter would have made guilt tug at my chest, while the former would leave me paranoid or mentally drained for fear of the trainer's steps that tapped along the damp cave floor, along with those of her companions. Yet, as I pondered these possibilities and pulled myself to a proper stature, the footsteps continued and they trod ever closer through the narrow passage to my den. Immediately, I searched for an escape, despite my knowledge that there were none; I'd chosen this spot specifically because of how few paths would lead to it.
The padding of shoes proved me wrong, as my crimson gaze spotted the trainer's steps around the corner, with her jacket left behind and the flower-woman at her side, whose graceful steps were lethargic, and whose eyes glowed softly violet. The fact that she could use the psychic to find me was something I'd not expected, perhaps in arrogance, and she withdrew the flower-woman into her ball as soon as her hate-filled eyes laid upon my ivory coat. There were no words yet, but a snarl on the trainer's lips as she tossed her hat to the ground and released a fresh creature, from one of the other containers strapped to her belt.
It appeared in a dull glow of red and sparkling whites, though its visage was for more horrifying than the light show made me anticipate; I'd seen a few of its kind before, but not so close. Not within the dark confines of my own haven. Deceptively small, the creature's form was humanoid, with pale yellow frills hanging down from its waist, covering small onyx feet that tiptoed across the ground. Its skinny, stubby arms were no different as they led up to a petite face normally reserved for the dolls of human children, but was, too, deceptively sweet. For from its head hung a gaping maw of obsidian flesh, twice as large as the creature herself and drooling drops of slavering saliva from rows of teeth each as large as my own claws.
My wishes to avoid combat were swept away in the moment the trainer drew a hollow ball of red and white from a stuffed satchel, clutching it tightly in her hand as she ordered her companion to attack me, while her eyes narrowed on me. She was estimating her aim, with the plan to capture me within her grasp. Whether as some form of trophy for her victory over me or simple humiliation, I did not know, but there was no choice for peace in this matter; I would have to defeat at least this creature before me, even as its smirked devilishly and its jaws snapped at the air between us. After that, I swore to myself, I would push past the trainer and flee.
One advantage of being so reviled across the lands is that my kin and I had learned how to defend ourselves properly from such attacks, even from creatures tamed by trainers, and it was a simple judgement for how to effectively defeat my eldritch opponent. Her tiny steps shifted suddenly to a leap, as she tumbled through the air above me and those wicked fangs attempted to gnaw at my torso, yet I dodged swiftly to the side to take advantage of her singular trajectory. While she landed and recovered from the imbalance of her additional mouth, I crouched low to the ground and felt tension run throughout my body, as I prepared to strike as she turned.
My menacing horn glowed in a blue hue beside by head in my waiting, while my concentration remained solely on my opponent, and spoke of me to potent power; she would surely be defeated by this attack. The creature turned on stubby legs, and I struck, with my horn slicing across her vulnerable torso and threw her against the wall of the cave. Before she could be recalled in her injury, which I made certain was not too deep, I used my momentum to tumble along the ground and leap past the trainer, whose eyes stood wide at the sudden defeat of her companion, and whose mouth lets out a squeal as I shot past her in the opening of the tunnel.
After the assault in my den, my guilt tugged once again, for I'd left the trainer even more weakened than before, but I comforted myself with the knowledge that I, too, needed to survive, and she had four of her friends left in good health. It would be her choice to simply walk away. And I needed to keep moving across the mountains, if I was to avoid encountering her and her psychic aid, though how long this would last, I didn't know. If she were to find me while I was weak, perhaps after another premonition, I would be more easily ensnared in her trap, and I knew not just who she would be able to call; trainers often traveled together, and my grounds would be overrun with them if she were to call.
These worries plagued me as I trod across the paths not often traveled, and I saw no sign of the trainer until the second night after the disaster, as I sat on one of my perches and pondered the moon, while the destroyed grounds of the town rested beneath me; it would not be far to travel there, but I feared the trainer would be watching. The sight of what was once a prosperous town brought a tear to my eye, as I saw the wood that once served as a home for loving families, whose love was cut short so soon. And the fields of crops or the signs that led to the town, as a sign of their success, were scattered all through the forest for scavengers of food or material.
Before my tear could fall to my perch, however, I heard a familiar squeal reach across the canopy of trees and the village ruins; the trainer was frightened of something, but it was certainly not me. I turned my head curiously to the borders of the town again, and saw as she stumbled out of the forest with five of her companions in tow, as they fled to the muddy clearing with panic clear in all their eyes. Each of them looked a disgrace, covered in dirt, twigs, and almost collapsing from exhaustion from their retreat. The trainer was very competent, and knew her battles well, yet something had frightened her so thoroughly. I considered what could intimidate her so. My naivete was short-lived.
From the trees came another horde, unlike the trees that came toppling down before. It was a swarm of whirling black masses, that moved over and under one another in a gesticulating display of their numbers, as they followed the trainer from the shadows that seemed to make their very being and crawled across the air to surround her in the center of the ruins, with each of her companions by her side and watching in dread at the overwhelming number of creatures that surrounded them, and revealed their nature with an unholy screech. Pairs of glowing eyes grew from each few inches of mass around the trainer and her frightful companions.
Each ghost sung its baleful song, that seemed to wriggle into the minds of their gathered prey and force them to attack, forcing them to exhaust themselves as their trainer simply screeched back in turn, but not in the taunting manner of her aggressors. In the sheer pain, as the crescendo of profane shrieks clawed and scratched at her ears like rabid animals; this was what they were. I recognized these creatures from minor interactions before, but they'd held no interest in me. They were drawn to feelings of hatred, of vengeance, of which I possessed none, and it seemed this trainer was a beacon for them. She was their feast, because of the hatred that blazed within her. Because of the disaster.
Because of me. There was nothing more I could have done to save the town, I knew this, but I would not let this trainer be tortured along with her friends because of poor luck. The poor luck to spot me, the poor luck that brought disaster to this town, and the poor luck to be in this place at this time. This would be my chance to soothe her hatred of me, if my aid could perhaps prove good intentions, and I took the chance without a second thought. I was soon tumbling down the mountainside on paws that sped across rough stone as if it were wind, until I was weaving through the forest in a path of determination to make things right for the suffering trainer, who had been weakened before by my touch.
I came from around the swarm of creatures, and leaped over their gathered gibbering mass to defend the trainer herself, as I saw the last of her companions fall in exhaustion against the assaulting creatures. They came to stop their screeching upon sight of my form, as my gaze passed silently across each and every one of their gestalt form in warning; I dared them to attack, even as I felt the return of the trainer's gaze on my hide. They did, and I was swift to react. I cannot recall the exact events, but I'd torn through half of them in wicked slashes at their sloppy tactics, each of them failing to anticipate my strikes and suffering for it, until their ranks were thinned and passed out amongst them.
The melee as tiring, by that point, yet each ghost seemed to have less vigor after every one I tore through. I was confused, at first, but I caught glimpses of the trainer as I fought to defend her crippled form. She began with rage still, but it got softer with every ghost I defeated to protect her, until it softened to acceptance, and encouragement as she saw me stumble backwards from yet another attack from the gathered ghosts. My legs carried me backwards with exhausted muscles, until I fell beside the kneeling trainer and she turned her eyes upon mine once again.
Though I've heard many stories about a trainer's love, I cannot say I've ever felt it before that moment, as she placed a hand, wet with tears, upon my head and stroked it through my fur with a tenderness I'd not felt since my mother's own touch. Though she seemed to have accepted her fate, the ghosts began to dissipate, as the last of her urges for vengeance slipped away with each tender caress. I wondered whether she still wanted to capture me, as the danger was lost and she had time to recover. It didn't matter, as she leaned down and placed a maternal kiss upon my forehead. Then smiled.