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Hello, all. Well, I was previously posting this story here (like three years ago XP), but since then, I've done much editing and revising... and I ended up finishing the whole thing this summer. Also, I'd rather not revive a thread that old, since even the title has changed (It's practically a different fic now). So, I thought I'd post the nearly-finalized work. I hope you enjoy it! Please read and review if you get the chance. It always helps.
Rating: PG-13 for some mild swearing and violence
Chapter 1: The Clever Girl Who Made Mistakes
Chapter 2: Oleander The Brave & Varlo The Terrible
Chapter 3: Colors of Destiny
Chapter 4: Diversion by a Persian
Chapter 5: The Starlight Guardians
Chapter 6: The Tunnel of Fire
Chapter 7: The Mysterious Captive
Chapter 8: Battle in The Enemy's Lair
Chapter 9: The Decision
Chapter 10: Secrets of The Future
Chapter 11: The Eyes That See
Chapter 12: The Ridge of Obscurity
Chapter 13: Eight Arms, One Horn
Chapter 14: The Worth of The Risk
Chapter 15: The Path to The Great Dragon
Chapter 16: Beneath the Lava
Chapter 17: Stir of the Thunderstorm
Chapter 18: Eralynn The Warrior
Stir of The Thunderstorm
Once, long ago, before the Pokemon world was as it is today, there was an everlasting conflict between two forces. Back in that day, Pokemon was not about battling for fun, but battling for life. There was no Pokemon League, there were no gyms, and there were no Pokemon Centers, where Pokemon could immediately and easily be healed. The three known regions were but land of the vast world, and were not yet distinguished as Kanto, Johto, and Hoenn.
Pokemon of that age were considered to be warriors, but also friends, who helped fight alongside their human companions. They were trained as soldiers, not as pets that could be used to battle for fun. No, these battles were far from amusing. There were always casualties, and although the fights were not frequent, they always left destruction among all the people of Earth.
The conflict arose when an evil group came out from hiding. Team Devastation was made up of those who believed that Pokemon were only machines, meant solely for the purpose of gaining power. They would stop at nothing to obtain strong Pokemon, and they wouldn’t hesitate to attack the cities that were in peace. The people that wanted serenity, however, were forced to fight back in order to defend their land from being controlled by Team Devastation. Eventually, they were pushed to fight against their will too much, and they no longer desired peace. They grew to understand that the only way to survive was to destroy this force once and for all. However, as the people of the darkness gained more and more power from their Pokemon, they became more of a threat to the defending cities. Thus, those who aimed to defeat Team Devastation would have to endure much pain and suffering.
The great city of Derelon did just that. Many of this city fought well, and many died. However, some fought differently than those in battle, and did more good than any others could ever hope to do. This is their tale.
Chapter 1- The Clever Girl Who Made Mistakes
“Ouch! Not so rough!” was all Eralynn could think to say while being dragged through the double doors of the Great Hall.
Her father forced her into the giant room, currently uninhabited. He held tightly to the back of her dress, not saying a word until he heard the sound of the massive doors slamming shut behind him. Then, he abruptly set her down in a chair against the side of the Hall and grabbed onto her shoulders, making her turn around to face him.
“What on Earth were you thinking?!” he screamed at her, all the while his furious stare burning through her tough facade. “So many more could’ve been hurt!”
Eralynn trembled in front of her father and quickly looked to the ground for some sort of comfort. She clasped her hands together tightly in front of her to attempt to stop them from shaking. She felt angry, culpable, and worried at the same time.
“We are constantly supposed to watch for them, and you just had to play one of your little games, didn’t you? You are the daughter of the Advisor to the King and your behavior should be much more controlled and... proper,” he continued, trying to make her feel as guilty as possible. After a silent moment in which he shook his head, he said “Eralynn, your foolishness will no longer be tolerated in this city.” Then, after a brief pause, he spoke more softly, “You are to clean and polish every inch of this hall.” At this, he turned around and walked quickly out, letting the doors slam loudly again.
Her father, Orriso, had always been obsessed with what others thought of him. He was a very smart man, but always worried about looking his best before the people of Derelon. He was rigid and strict, especially with his only daughter, and always felt the need to punish her for her abnormal behavior. He didn’t let her get away with any mistake, which, in actuality, didn’t faze her too much. He wanted to make his daughter into the perfect, mature, and appropriately behaved little girl, which was the main reason for his stern attitude with her.
After a minute of surprise accompanied with silence, Eralynn turned around to look at the task that was ahead of her. The Great Hall was a huge room, with tall windows at the far end and shining tile floors. On both sides of the windows, there was a staircase, leading up to the homes of all the members of the Royal Court. The walls on the sides of her were of pure white and covered in paintings of great kings before her time, stretching nearly all the way to the current king’s throne, along with large, circular white pillars on either side of the green carpet. This great chair was made of pure silver, with a deep green seat and back-rest, both made of delicate, soft cloth. Below the elegant chair, bright white marble steps led down to the dark green carpet, which in turn led to the doors of the Great Hall.
Eralynn’s heart sank as she examined the room.
“Well, maybe I can get this done quicker than last time,” she murmured to herself while frowning miserably.
She walked over to the third painting from the doors on the left. Reaching up on tip-toe, she pulled at it slightly and yanked the polishing rag she’d hidden there out from the rear of the picture’s frame. She’d concealed it there just in case she’d be attending to this job again, as she was nearly sure that she would be. Keeping it in the hall merely saved her the extra time of running up to her room and getting it.
She decided that it would be best to start polishing the king’s throne, as that would be the most noticeable, and no one would pay much attention if she didn’t clean everything else as well as the magnificent chair.
She walked straight down the carpet quickly towards the throne. She bent down to begin cleaning the smoothest side underneath the arm rest, but she paused. The flat silver exterior shot her reflection back at her, almost as if in a mocking fashion. Instantly, she was reminded of the question that had plagued her throughout the duration of her life.
“Why am I so different from these people?” She wondered hopelessly, feeling for sure that there would never be a way to answer.
She continued to stare angrily into her very own face. Her unique, long, jet-black, wavy hair was parted off to the side and tied loosely into a braid. Her eyebrows were also pitch-black, making a definite contrast with her pale, fair skin-color. Dark, thick eyelashes bordered ice-blue eyes, which seemed to stand out above her smaller, less dramatic facial features. She had a very small frame and was very thin, appearing younger than her true age, which was seventeen. Most of the inhabitants of the city were much taller than her, and her eyes, piercing and almost mesmerizing, were different from any other’s.
However, her physical appearance was not the only aspect that attributed to her uniqueness among her people. She had a fiery temper, which often-times got her into trouble. Despite being emotional and caring, she always tried to convince her peers that she was fierce and inviolable. She also had quite a taste for tricks and practical jokes. She was very clever, but never used it for anything besides annoying the other residents of the city with her pranks. This, combined with her utter negligence, made for a rash and dangerous human being not quite like anyone the people of Derelon City had ever known before.
In fact, her temerarious behavior that very day was the reason for her present punishment. She peeled her eyes away from her reflection and began to think about what had happened earlier. She remembered the events quite clearly.
It was early afternoon and the sun was high in the sky. Looking out through her bedroom window, Eralynn could see the plains that lay stretched out beyond the city, along with the distant forests surrounding them. She caught a glimpse of about 8 people practicing archery not far off, atop a small hill on the grass. Quickly grabbing her bow and arrows, she fled out of her home, down the street, and out into the vast plains.
Seeing the warriors-in-training always made her upset. Although there were very few girls that grew up to fight in battle, they still had that option. Eralynn, wanting to protect the city and her people more than anything else, wanted badly to become a warrior. She had dreamt about it her whole life, despite how difficult she heard training could be. However, her size and physical ability gave her father reason to say no when she had brought up the subject and asked him for his approval. This, happening nearly one month prior, was the cause of a turning point in Eralynn and her father’s relationship. She felt much more distant from him, as he had essentially crushed her dreams. Watching the young adults who had been allowed to train to become warriors did not help matters, rather, it made her quite jealous of them. Hence, she was constantly trying to prove herself to her peers and her father.
She now quickly ran across the grass, moving closer and closer to the small hill. Since she wore a pure white dress, she became worried that the sunlight reflecting off of her wouldn’t exactly be discreet to the archers. Therefore, she made sure to run behind the hill so she wouldn’t be seen. When she was directly behind it, she crept to the top slowly, careful not to make any noise. She’d climbed to just the right height where she couldn’t be seen by anyone on top of the hill, but she could peek up to see a bit of them.
She needed to look only once to catch a glimpse of the targets they were shooting at, and also to see if their instructor was looking. Inferring that the archery master wasn’t looking her way and most likely watching what her students were doing, she decided to steal a quick glance. She pushed down onto the soft grass with her hands to elevate herself and lifted her head. She only looked for about two seconds before dropping back to the ground, but that was all she needed.
Pictured in her mind were the circular targets, located about five feet from each other, along with the pupils lined up to face their respective targets. The teenagers stood approximately thirty feet from each of the carved pieces of wood that were sticking out of the ground. Since these were the archery training grounds, these targets remained there permanently. They were essentially a large circle, with alternating white and black rings, supported by a five foot stake attached to the underside, which in turn was wedged underground. Aside from the targets’ locations, Eralynn had to note the position of the instructor also. She was simply looking over one of the boy’s shoulders to watch his progress during the practice.
Grabbing her bow with her left hand, she sat with her legs folded underneath her. She reached back instinctively with her right hand to grab an arrow out of the arrow bag strapped across her chest and resting on her back. Barely thinking about it, she put the arrow to the bow and pulled the shining, silver string back, still supporting the arrow with her hand. She felt the string straining against her grip as she took aim at a target not even visible from her perspective. After a moment of making sure her measurements were correct, she let go of both the string and arrow, letting it soar over the hill, quickly out of her view. She listened for only a moment, until she heard the “tick” of the arrow as it dug into the wood, hitting its mark.
“Woah...” she heard the boy directly in front of her gasp in surprise.
She had no time to waste, however, and she continued on with her strange plan. Without getting up to give herself away, she dropped to the ground and rolled to the left five feet, holding her bow close to her. She resumed the previous position and shot another arrow. Indeed, this one hit the target directly too. She kept going with this, four more times, every arrow landing correctly, until she knew she’d reached her final target. This time, however, she aimed her arrow slightly differently, and let it go.
“Ah!” screamed a familiar voice as the arrow sailed past. She could hear him panting slightly. “That came way too close to my head... Who is shooting at us all?”
Finally, the small, mischevous girl stood up from her obvious hiding spot and began to sprint down the hill. All the while, laughing hysterically. She’d shown them all up, and that was all she’d really wanted.
“Eralynn!” The archery master, called Jalin, yelled after her once she’d finally spotted the culprit. “You get back here, young lady! I don’t have time for your games!”
Glancing back, she could see the angry instructor and Rhylan, the boy her arrow had nearly hit, watching her as she fled. But as Eralynn ran and ran, heading straight for the forest, Jalin’s screams faded away.
Still slightly amused, Eralynn’s sprint turned into a jog as she neared the edge of the forest. She ran into the woods between two familiar trees. This was the path she took almost daily. She walked along the dirt road that lay ahead of her while looking around and enjoying the splendor of the woods. It was summer; therefore, the trees and other plants were looking their finest. Although this atmosphere was much darker than that of the plains, the occasional ray of sunlight escaped down through the treetops, reflecting off of the forest floor.
As she traveled further along the path, she could hear the faint sound of running water. She began walking faster, since now, she was getting closer. Finally, she approached a river that flowed south, the direction heading away from Derelon City. There were six stones that protruded above the water and led directly across the river to the other side. Eralynn always used these as a sort of bridge that helped her easily hop across the water. She did this, and once on the other side, she saw a cave not a great distance ahead. Walking perpendicular to the water, she advanced toward the cavern, observing the rays of sunlight beaming down on the ground before it. At its mouth, she came to a halt.
“Aerance! Come on out!” She called, hearing her voice echo on the cave walls. She waited a moment for her friend to emerge, but there was no response. Sighing, she entered to have a look for herself.
She had only walked a few feet inside when she heard a loud thump outside behind her. Also, she could suddenly see her shadow on the left side of the cave, as some sort of light was being projected inside.
She whipped around only to see her harmless best friend, Aerance, standing outside, peering in at her. The sly flame horse backed away from the entrance as Eralynn emerged. In the sunlight, her faultless white coat shined elegantly. Her mane and tail were made of bright orange, red, and yellow flames, which made even the beautiful fresh-water stream appear dull. Her large, almond-shaped, black eyes caused her to seem innocent at first glance, while this was usually not the case.
“Ah, girl, you almost had me there,” Eralynn said, while laughing and greeting her friend with a hug.
Aerance snorted in disbelief at Eralynn’s remark.
“Okay, okay. I did jump a little,” Eralynn admitted, lowering her voice. “But hey, I just scared Rhylan and all the other warriors.” At this, she rolled her eyes, annoyed.
Listening, Aerance smiled with her eyes and whinnied softly. She nuzzled Eralynn kindly on the cheek.
“Ah, so I’m guessing you’d like to go riding now?” Eralynn asked the Ponyta with a smile.
Aerance nodded her head once in approval and knelt down beside Eralynn, making it easier for her to hop on. Eralynn grabbed onto Aerance’s back, swung her left leg over her, and pulled herself up. Once she was comfortable, she patted Aerance on the side of her neck affectionately.
“Anywhere you want to go is fine with me, just not too far, okay?” Eralynn requested.
Aerance whinnied and set off at a gallop across the woods. Eralynn held onto the reigns tied loosely around Aerance’s muzzle as she nimbly wove through the trees and rocks. Eralynn felt the wind rushing at her, while her Pokemon glided gracefully across the surface beneath her. The trees seemed to fly by on either side of them, and Eralynn smiled, reminded of how much she loved to be with Aerance. They rode this way for quite some time, until they both spotted something in the distance.
“Whoa, whoa, girl,” Eralynn said as she lightly tugged on Aerance’s reigns, so that she’d stop running.
She stretched forward on the Ponyta and squinted through the trees. She could vaguely make out two dark figures in the distance. Looking hard, she could see they were some kind of wild Pokemon, but she couldn’t tell which species they were from this range. She urged Aerance to get a little closer, so that she could see what they were.
They were somewhat large and black in color. Their fur was unkempt and very messy and stuck out in all directions. It was much thicker and longer on their backs, tails, and feet. Their stomachs were a charcoal grey, and their eyes were a gleaming, intimidating red. They had pointy ears that were sticking up, and they possessed sharp fangs. They seemed oddly familiar to Eralynn, but the strangest part about them was how they wore a sort of collar around their necks. These were deep, dark red, and Eralynn assumed that this meant they both belonged to someone.
She listened intently as they fought over a piece of what appeared to be food. Hiding with Aerance behind a gigantic boulder, she peeked out to watch them bicker. It looked like they were playing tug-of-war with whatever they had. Occasionally one would let it go and nip the other’s shoulder in frustration. She stared hard at them.
“Where have I seen these creatures before?” She kept asking herself.
She searched the depths of her mind and memories until at last, she remembered. She had seen a picture of these animals, called Mightyena, when she was much younger. Her parents had been trying to teach her the ways of defense against the power-hungry Team Devastation in this war. The humans of the amoral side usually owned dark-type Pokemon, such as these Mightyena. They also commonly preferred to tame poison and ghost types, as well. However, they weren’t exactly picky. They’d all have loved to get their hands on any type of powerful Pokemon, no matter what the risk or consequences happened to be. They didn’t care, as long as they had a means of obtaining power at their fingertips.
“You know, they’re from Team Devastation, Aerance,” she whispered to her friend as she stopped looking at them over the boulder.
She knew that these Pokemon weren’t members of her city, so they had to be here on some sort of mission. She thought as quickly as she could. Anyone else would’ve simply tried to scare them away or run and tell the King or Advisor what they’d seen, but Eralynn wasn’t really like anyone else. She had a plan in mind, in which she would get rid of these pests by herself. She whispered the general idea in Aerance’s ear, as she would need her help, and they both began to emerge from their hiding spot, Eralynn still on Aerance’s back.
“Excuse me!” Eralynn shouted, causing the Mightyena to jump in fear.
They turned around to face her and instantly started snarling. She gulped, now slightly frightened, but continued on.
“I think I can help you two out...” she let her words trail off, hoping their anticipation would rise.
But before she could tell them the rest, one of the beasts charged at them, snapping viciously at Aerance’s feet. She whinnied loudly, kicked her front legs forward while leaning back and standing only on her hind legs, nearly throwing Eralynn off of her. Luckily, she held on tightly and the black wolf Pokemon resumed its position at a safe distance from the two. To comfort the nervous pokemon, Eralynn patted the nape of her neck. It seemed to calm her down after a few seconds. Then, she resumed her plan.
“As I was saying,” she continued in an arrogant, over-confident voice, “I think I can help you two out. I know why you’re here and I can tell you what you want to know about the people of Derelon City.”
The Mightyena that seemed a little less vicious sat down and curiously cocked its head to the side, but still looked suspicious. The other was still growling softly and baring its sharp teeth.
“You see,” she examined her nails carelessly while she spoke, “I’m out so deep into the forest because I was planning on running away from these wretched people. Their beliefs are simply ridiculous, in my opinion, and frankly, I’m rather sick of all of them. I think they should all be destroyed.”
The malicious, snarling Mightyena stopped its growling and seemed intrigued by what Eralynn was saying. This wasn’t what they’d expected from a girl of Derelon City. Eralynn could tell that the two were letting their guard down, so she continued with her proposition.
“So, I can lead you to a secret passageway into the city, if you’d like. I think it would be great if you could hit them with a surprise attack. They’d never have enough time to gather the warriors and weapons. It would be perfect.” She looked out at nothing in the distance, acting nonchalant.
The Mightyena that was sitting down got up rather quickly, and the angry Mightyena took a couple steps closer to her and Aerance, still glaring at them suspiciously.
“Come! But make haste, because we don’t have much time!” Eralynn commanded, nearly certain that they’d follow her after hearing her speech.
At this, Aerance wheeled around and started to gallop back towards the way they had come.
“Okay, now,” Eralynn said softly, in only Aerance’s range of hearing, “I want you to run, not quite your fastest, but with enough speed so that they won’t be able to stop abruptly when need be. It’s imperative that we lead them to the place I told you about...”
Aerance shook her fiery mane up and down while she ran, showing that she understood. She sped up slightly to a comfortable running speed and headed for the river.
Eralynn glanced behind her to see the Mightyena following them at a good distance behind. She turned back around and looked ahead. They were coming, now, to an area of forest that was thick with brush. If unfamiliar with these woods, one wouldn’t know what was on the other side of all the dense, abundant shrubs. However, Aerance and Eralynn knew what lay beyond, and they would use that to their advantage. Eralynn hoped that this plan would work, as she’d have no other chances to get rid of the misled creatures.
Turning around, she shouted at the two mysterious Pokemon following them, “Now, unless we’re swift, people will see us, so do not stop!”
Aerance accelerated, causing Eralynn to hold tightly to the reigns. They were getting closer... closer... She could hear the gentle sound of flowing water straight ahead. This was it. Aerance and Eralynn both lowered their heads and Aerance burst through the surprisingly thin layer of brush and with a magnificent leap, she landed on the other side of the rushing river. She had just barely made it to the other side. Her hind legs actually landed on the edge of the water, but using her forelegs, she managed to force herself up the steep bank. And now, all they had to do was wait a moment to see if their plan would work. Aerance turned around to face the brush on the other side of the water, and Eralynn watched too.
They heard the sound of quick footsteps approaching and suddenly, one of the Mightyena broke through the bushes, landing in the water. It had tried to stop before falling in, but the force it had used while breaking through the layer of shrubs had disabled it from halting. Almost immediately after, the other wolf Pokemon leapt through the plants, and noticed mid-air that it was hovering above water. Of course, now it was too late for it to save itself, and it plunged into the flowing river.
Eralynn waved condescendingly to the two dark Pokemon as they quickly flowed downstream while trying to keep their heads above water.
“Nice work, Aerance,” she complimented genuinely. “Now, let’s go home.”
Aerance turned and trotted casually in the opposite direction of the river flow, straight back into Derelon City. She eventually found the path that led out into the plains, and as she carried Eralynn home, they could both hear a faint howl in the distance.
Eralynn looked back at the forest, pleased with her work. She felt she’d actually done something to protect the city for once, and she smiled at the very thought. She wanted to tell her father everything that had happened. Maybe now, he’d realize how smart and brave she was. Maybe now, he would accept her...
Once they got close enough to the edge of the city, Aerance stopped and let Eralynn jump to the ground. The girl pet her friend on the nose, and she was off, back into her home in the forest. Eralynn watched her run away.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Aerance!” she called after her.
Then, she retreated home, into Derelon City, where she barely belonged. She ran for the palace, anxious to tell her father what had happened. Oddly enough, it seemed as if everyone was in their houses and the streets were mostly empty. Then, she saw three men carrying what appeared to be an unconscious Charizard across the stone road.
“What happened to it?” she asked them, but they were in a hurry, and did not answer her.
She stared after them a moment, utterly confused, then turned around and continued walking towards the palace. Eventually, she came to the huge building, and witnessed her father pacing in front of the steps that led up to the double doors of the Great Hall. Off to the side, she could see some warriors removing their armor.
So many questions flashed through her mind. What were the warriors doing in their battle armor? Why did her father look so upset? What had happened to that Charizard?
Puzzling her further was her father’s strange murmuring. “It’s coming... the prediction was true... doomed... we must find it...” she caught only snippets of his strange words as he bit his nails and mumbled.
Slowly and curiously, she walked over to her father. She worried that her very presence might make him even more anxious and aggravated than he seemed now, but she wanted answers to her questions.
“Er... Father?” she asked quietly.
He jumped as if she’d suddenly come up behind him and screamed in his ear. “What?! What is it, now?” He asked irritably.
“What on Earth happened here...?” She didn’t know where to start, but she decided that a general question would be best.
He paced still, tugging at his own hair with one of his hands and shaking his head. “A sneak attack... Somehow, no one saw them get in... How could this have happened?”
These words did not provide comfort to Eralynn, but only worry. “Father, who got in?” She asked.
“A small pack of Mightyena. They were somehow unnoticed...” his words trailed off in sadness.
“But... how could this be? I chased them off earlier!” But the moment she said this, she knew from her father’s expression that she had made a mistake.
He immediately stopped pacing as soon as the words escaped from her mouth. He faced her, wide-eyed in disbelief.
“You... what?!” He spat.
All the hope she’d had previously was viciously drained from her body. She could only stand there and stare at him in awe. She was speechless.
“Eralynn!” He shouted now, “You know what you’re supposed to do if you ever see anyone suspicious! You must always tell me!”
His anger scared her more than ever. She tried to justify her cause. “M-my intentions were good, though! I chased two of them away not too long ago... I thought that was all of them...”
“I don’t care what your intentions were! That was an irresponsible thing to do, and... you- you will be severely punished!” Without thinking, he grabbed her by the back of her dress and pulled her into the Great Hall.
And now, here she was, polishing everything in this giant room. Somehow, she knew that this wouldn’t be the last time either. She knew that thinking about her father’s anger with her wasn’t the best idea, so she tried desperately to think of anything else, but to no avail. She felt her temper rising now, not with her father’s actions, but with her own. She’d never loathed herself more than she did now, and she just wanted to escape. She wanted a way to rid herself of her abysmal shame, but she did not know how. Without much of a choice, she swallowed her tears and continued working. The last thing she wanted was for someone to come in and see her acting like a wreck.
She continued with her punishment, now scrubbing the tall, glass windows behind the throne. It was now dusk, edging towards night. She would have to go up to her room soon. She dreaded the idea of trying to sleep, however, as her thoughts continued to turn back to her sire. Suddenly, she was interrupted when she heard the huge doors opening behind her. She turned around slowly, as if expecting something horrible, but saw her father. He marched down the long, green carpet, apparently trying to contain his animosity. Without so much as a glance at his daughter, he hopped up the stairs to the side of the throne, heading for his living quarters.
Eralynn frowned with sadness and confusion. What was she to do? Her own father hated her and she didn’t have anyone to look to for comfort, since Aerance was not allowed in the palace. And, perhaps it was justified. After all, how could she have been so sure that only two Mightyena were near Derelon? They obviously just got lost from the rest of the group and were stuck in the forest. Orriso was right. The right thing to do would’ve been to warn them. Maybe she could have saved her city if they were notified in time…
Clearly defeated, she decided it would be best to retreat to her room for the night. She climbed the stairs lethargically, barely feeling the strength to move. She entered her room and instantly fell upon her soft bed. She lay there for hours with her eyes closed, trying her best to sleep. To her dismay, her thoughts continued racing nearly too quickly for her to comprehend. She thought about everything: her lack of happiness, her awkward relationship with her father, her only friend, Aerance, what prediction her father could’ve been speaking of... All of these kept her awake until her mind eventually began to relax, allowing her to gently drift into a deep sleep.
She did not know it, but this would be the last time she’d sleep through the night upon her comfortable, familiar bed.
Chapter 2- Oleander the Brave & Varlo the Terrible
That morning, Eralynn awoke from slumber somewhat later than usual. Opening her eyes, she could see the sunlight entering through her window and gathering upon the floor. Turning, she stretched and rose from her sleeping position. She looked around at her own bedroom. It was small, plain, and white. She didn’t keep anything in it aside from her clothes, a few books, her bow and arrows, her bed, and a dresser with a candlestick on it. However, she never really complained about this, since she spent most of her time outside anyway.
While rubbing her eyes, she felt her stomach growl. She hoped she wasn’t too late for breakfast, and stepped out of her room into a hall. This corridor was somewhat dark and gloomy, with a theme of the colors maroon and black, always making it feel as if it was presently night-time. There were candelabras attached on either side of the walls, lighting the way. She walked past a few doors until she found the one labeled “Dining Hall.” She stepped inside, worried that she might see her father. To her relief, there were only two people inside. Only then did she realize just how late she really was. Normally, she would wake up only a short time after sunrise and find the dining hall filled with members of the Royal Court, all eager for conversation. Now, it just seemed so quiet.
As she entered, she shut the door behind her and turned around, instantly recognizing the two figures. One was the King of Derelon himself. He sat at the head of the long, shining, cherry wood table. He was middle-aged, now 52-years-old, and very wise-looking. His dark, straight hair was beginning to grey, and his soft, brown eyes held the appearance of a kind heart. With the help of time, wrinkles had begun to form around them, leaving one to guess that the king was older than he truly was. He wore a black shirt that was loose in the arms and had buttons down the center in the front. Also, he wore a black cape, which draped down to cover part of his chest, shoulders, and entire back. However, most astounding about his attire was the crown upon his head. Pure gold, it contained three large jewels, each of different color. One was of aqua-marine, the middle of deep, bright amber, and the third was a gleaming yellow.
“My King,” she said, bowing graciously and making her presence known to him.
He had been speaking with his son, but smiled at her when she had greeted him. Eralynn gave but a mere glance at the boy who was known as the Prince. Named Rhylan, he was somewhat tall and thin. Similar to his father, he had brown, straight hair and brown eyes. And somehow, he did not appear as benevolent as the king. He glared at Eralynn angrily, and she at him. He pushed his chair up, rose from it, and approached her.
“I can’t believe you nearly killed me yesterday,” he said, in a deep, quiet, serious voice while staring at her in wonder.
“I did not almost kill you. You’re fully aware of my skill with a bow, and I am no murderer,” she said, feeling her blood boiling with anger. How dare he accuse her of such a thing?
“So you use your skills to scare people, and interrupt important training sessions, then? Well, that’s extremely useful,” he replied sardonically.
Eralynn now glanced back and forth from Rhylan’s gaze to his father’s. “We will talk about this later,” she said firmly, now suddenly aware of the king’s presence. She hadn’t much realized it, but he was easily within earshot of their trivial argument, and she now felt herself blushing in embarrassment.
Rhylan stubbornly brushed against her shoulder as he walked out of the dining hall, slightly pushing her back and leaving Eralynn and the king by themselves. Eralynn had always considered him as a sort of rival. The two of them seemed immeasurably obsessed with trying to prove themselves to one another, but as they were nearly equal in intelligence, it was always pointless. They could argue for hours upon hours if allowed, and it never seemed to get old. However, it was clearly inappropriate to do so in front of the King.
Not knowing where to sit, Eralynn remained in the doorway. She’d only had a few conversations throughout her entire life with King Nevarro, so she didn’t want to sit too close, making herself too friendly, or too far, making it seem as if she didn’t want to be near him. Luckily, her decision was made for her when he spoke.
“Eralynn,” his raspy voice sounded from across the table, “come speak with me, we haven’t talked in ages.”
She nodded, unsure of herself, but regardless, walked to the seat closest to him. She sat down, puzzled by his sudden interest in conversing with her.
He set down a white, wrinkled piece of parchment that he was reading and looked up at her. “My dear, I heard about what happened yesterday,” he spoke calmly, raising his eyebrows.
She closed her eyes tightly. Her father must’ve told him all about how irresponsible she had been. The sudden gush of shame she felt seemed like too much. “Your Highness, I...” she couldn’t think of how to respond.
“Eralynn, your father is clearly too hard on you,” he said, nodding.
“Wha...? King Nevarro... do you really think so?” she asked, quite amazed. She had only expected him to lecture her just as her father always did.
“You are a wise girl, and you may just be Advisor to my son when he is King. I simply don’t want you to think that you were being senseless because you weren’t. You just did not know,” he spoke quietly and reassuringly.
She stared at him with wide eyes, unsure of what to make of this. The king had always been a very understanding, kind, and knowledgeable man, but he had never spoken on such a personal level with Eralynn. She’d always respected and honored her king, and now, she had the sudden feeling that he actually respected her as well. “Uh... Th-thank you, Your Majesty! I am so pleased to hear you say that...” she responded nervously.
“Your father mentioned that you actually frightened a couple of Mightyena away from the city, and I want to thank you for that,” he said with a polite smile.
“I felt it was only my duty to protect the city, My Lord,” she said, looking down.
“And your friend Aerance helped you, I should assume?” He asked with a grin.
“She did, actually,” Eralynn answered, but realized something did not quite fit. “Wait… You know about Aerance?”
“Yes,” he replied with the same smile.
Eralynn glanced to the side and pressed her lips together, making a face. She decided to let it go, however, figuring that her father must have simply told the King all about the Ponyta, as well as her misadventures.
He seemed to lose track of what they were saying, and seemed to be thinking about something while looking straight ahead of him. Eralynn watched him, waiting anxiously for him to say something further.
Then, suddenly, “Eralynn! Why did your father not allow you to become a warrior for our people?”
“He, um, said something about me not being able to reach the requirements for strength in battle. I assume he was referring to... my size and also, my inability to use a sword well,” this being a sensitive subject, she looked away.
“But, you are my Advisor’s daughter. You are quick witted, which is, at times, quite a bit more useful in battle than your own strength. And aside from that fact, you are a prodigy with a bow and arrow,” spoke King Nevarro.
“No... I... I don’t think so,” Eralynn whispered modestly.
“Do not lie, now. I believe I saw you hit the center of each of those targets yesterday,” he said.
At this, Eralynn put her hand to her forehead, covering part of her face as it turned bright red. The king had seen her acting immature and out of line, yesterday, and she once again felt the rush of compunction flow into her mind. Not knowing how to respond, she remained silent.
“Eralynn, dear, you weren’t even looking... You clearly have some talent in the field of archery, and I’m making quite the understatement,” he chuckled.
She smiled nervously, still unsure of what to say. “I... apologize for the trouble I caused. I guess I’ve only been angry that I wasn’t chosen to be trained,” she explained sadly.
“It’s understandable,” the king said, “I know that brave people, such as yourself, desire to be made into warriors, so the devastation that your father caused in refusing your request must’ve left you heartbroken. But... Think about it for a moment. Perhaps you weren’t meant to fight for Derelon with a sword or bow and arrow. You may be destined to achieve something greater than you’ve ever imagined.”
She stared at King Nevarro with a quizzical expression. He certainly knew what to say to make her feel better. Of course she’d always wanted to become something great and important, as most people did, but hearing it from the king himself was entirely different than when she’d imagined it on her own. She began to feel her pride, previously washed away, returning with the king’s spoken thoughts. He truly felt that she was intelligent, brave, and talented with a bow and arrow. Her own father could not recognize this, and yet King Nevarro, who always seemed busy or occupied, had seen it from afar. She did not know what to think, except she knew that this conversation had filled her with hope, something which she usually did not possess. Smiling, Eralynn looked up at King Nevarro. “Sire, I would be honored to be the next Advisor, after my father,” she said.
The job did not seem as boring and worthless as it had before, now that she knew she was liked by at least one person in the city. With this career, she would have a purpose to her people, in which she used her intelligence, rather than strength, to help bring them through the war.
The King smiled, bowing his head to her kindly. “That would be wonderful for you, I’m sure.” He glanced back down at the table thoughtfully, then after a moment, looked back up at the young woman eagerly.
“My goodness, I’ve been talking all this time, really. Is there anything you’d like to discuss with me?” He courteously inquired.
“Actually, it’s interesting that you should ask that of me... I’ve had something on my mind since yesterday. It’s about something that I accidentally overheard my father say...” she paused for a moment.
“Yes? What is it?” the wise King asked.
“I recall my father talking about a prediction before he punished me, and it’s been bothering me ever since. What... is it that he spoke of?” Eralynn asked.
The King brought his lips together and glanced to the side, hesitating to answer her question. “Well, many of our people do not believe the prediction, and neither did your father until lately. It’s something of a legend, actually, not yet proven to be true,” he said quietly.
“I don’t really understand, though. What exactly was prophesied?” She asked, confused as ever.
“Eralynn, I don’t believe I should tell you. I do not want everyone of the city aware of it, because I don’t want panic to arise,” he replied doubtfully.
“Okay...” she said with disappointment. “But, if I may ask, who knows about this apparent legend?”
“Your father does and my son does, since the line of kings simply should know of this, and a few elders within the Royal Court as well,” he answered.
“Well, your majesty, if I am to be the next Advisor, shouldn’t I know also?” She asked with an impish smile.
Laughing lightly, the King pulled back his head. “Oh, you never cease to amuse me, my dear. But, I suppose you are correct in your logic. I assume I can tell you without much of a problem occurring in the future. And besides, I still have some time to myself.”
She nodded anxiously, as she would finally be relieved of her curiosity.
The King began. “Long ago, perhaps about one hundred and fifty-years or so, the conflict between those with opposing beliefs wasn’t nearly as bad as it is today. People argued often, but that really was the extent of it. There weren’t plans of invasion, attempts to take over land, or anything of the sort. Everyone’s main concern seemed to be whether they were alive and well or not. And this was fine, because no one was being harmed or endangered.
“However, one man changed all of this. He destroyed the peace that men in this city once had possessed. He went by the name of Varlo Scantlar. Varlo was a very evil man, obsessed with making his viewpoints known to the world. He believed, as some do today, that Pokemon only had one use: obtaining power. The way that many people of Derelon considered Pokemon to be their friends and companions sickened him. He tried reasoning with the people who maintained a good heart, but it would never work. They held their ground by sticking to their beliefs, and this angered Varlo. Out of frustration, he began to plan a sneak attack on his very own city. I was told that he stayed within the walls of his home for a long time, occasionally inviting his followers to come and spread the word to others of his... sort,” he frowned sadly at this.
Eralynn had barely realized it, but even at this point, she was on the edge of her seat, unable to wait to find out what happened next in this odd story. She had heard of Varlo Scantlar before, but she had never been told it was he who had actually started the war.
“These people organized an attack on Derelon with Varlo, who they now considered their leader. They had betrayed my grandfather, the current King of that age, and they wanted nothing to do with the goodness of Derelon any longer. So, they sought to take it over by force, since Varlo’s attempt at reasoning had failed.
“Without warning, they attacked in the middle of the evening. It was so unexpected, that no one was prepared for a battle. And aside from that fact, neither innocent Pokemon nor humans were trained well for combat, seeing as it was unnecessary back then.
“On the contrary, Varlo had secretly been training Pokemon he and his followers once held as mere pets to become fearless warriors. He transformed the minds of typically happy, innocent creatures into those of raging beasts. He felt that this was the way things should be, though we all may believe differently. He taught them that it did not matter how a task was obtained, so long as it was done. He even convinced those that were vulnerable to his mind games that killing and destruction were not what most consider to be horrible things. As you can see, he was a terrible man, uncaring and irrational. But also, along with their mentality, he built up their physical strength. No matter how exhausted they were from training, he kept them going day-in and day-out. He obviously wasn’t concerned with their wellbeing, but only with the fact that they would bring him exactly what he wanted: power.
“Of course, as most have, I’ve wondered many a time about the purpose of a Pokemon’s capabilities. Why do they posses the powers of fire, water, lightning, ice, and even... darkness? And my main concern: where did they get these fierce and potentially terrible powers? They must serve some purpose to our world, anyway... But, I digress.
“After some two or three years of training underground and in secret, he unleashed his horrendous attack on our beloved city in the midst of night. It began as a raid, his men running through the streets with their tamed Pokemon, destroying nearly everything they could. Many houses and shops were burned down, leaving families without shelter and important supplies for a long while. Varlo had apparently ordered his men to attack smaller, weaker Pokemon and humans in order to prove his point. How this would get his argument through to people, I do not know, but the plans were carried out nonetheless.
“At this juncture, the Royal Court did not know how they should react. There were few who actually knew much about battle, but the rest, they did not have any hope for. As quickly as possible, they sent messages out to men and women of the city, pleading for their help. Many responded to the call of duty, willing to defend their city the best they could. However, once they had drawn their old swords and shields, many of Varlo’s followers were already fleeing the city. (Later, everyone discovered that their only purpose in the sudden attack on Derelon was to devastate and terrorize, then leave to settle in another part of the world. They didn’t have any intention of taking over Derelon.) Still, some remained there, trying to steal Pokemon and get away with it. The citizens of Derelon fought back the best they could.
“One in particular, by the name of Oleander, had an interesting affair during battle. This woman was the Queen of that time, and therefore of my blood. She was, by nature, bold and daring, and not in the least afraid of death. She seemed willing to take on any opponent, and during this monumental fight, she fought against anyone and everyone that she could. She did a good job too, knocking out many of Varlo’s followers so that they could be taken to jail. However, as brave as she was, there was one who she could not match in strength. This was indeed Varlo himself. He had been ordering his men to flee for their planned location, when he saw Oleander ruining his scheme. He felt that it was necessary to remove this woman, as she was one of the only real threats to him and his men. He stopped what he was doing and drew his sword in rage. Of course, she fought him just like she did any other, with all her courage and loyalty to her people. He stabbed her viciously in the stomach during their duel. Clutching to her abdomen, she continued on, bleeding profusely. She held her sword in one hand and her stomach in the other. Varlo clearly showed her no mercy now, and took advantage of the pain he had already dealt her. Stabbing her once more in the leg, he had made it so that she could no longer stand. She collapsed before him, panting and clenching her teeth from pain. In two swift moments, a sword had sliced through her body, and she now knew there was nothing she could do. She would die at the hands of Varlo.”
Then, there was a long silence, in which neither King Nevarro nor Eralynn spoke. After pondering a bit, the King continued on.
“Unfortunately, Varlo got away, and... Oleander did die. Obviously, she suffered from the stab wounds that Varlo had given her. She bled to death that day, and the city of Derelon saw a hero and a great Queen perish before its very eyes. However, as she was leaving for the afterlife, she said something that struck everyone’s heart. Now, normally, people wouldn’t take such strange words so seriously, but this was a well respected woman of the city. Many looked up to her, as she was a helpful, kind, and intelligent human being. She offered good advice to many, and aided those that were poor and needy. It seemed that she never let her people down, and so they always took her words seriously, no matter what. It was the moments before her death in which she stated the prediction your father must’ve been speaking of...”
Eralynn looked around nervously. She’d previously been excited to hear the story of how this whole conflict had started, but now, she wasn’t sure she wanted to actually hear the end. All she could really feel was sympathy for Oleander. She had died fighting and Eralynn admired her for that. She shook her head, and despite her melancholy, decided to ask. “So, what was it that she said exactly?”
“Well, Eralynn,” spoke the king, “it’s difficult to understand... With the last of her strength, she raised her head, and whispered into the king’s ear that there would be a time during which the Protector of Derelon would need to be awakened. This Protector would create a great storm, and come shortly after the passing of wolves. The chosen one, who would possess great strength and be willing to sacrifice much, would have to realize a set destiny, or else all of pure heart would die.” He sighed after reciting it, as though he regretted telling her, now.
Thoughts flashed through Eralynn’s mind. Yesterday’s invasion of Mightyena was the third only this week, and there had been eleven throughout the month. Eralynn was, of course, not allowed to leave her room during these attacks, and had only heard about them. Her first encounter with any Mightyena was when she chased two of them off the previous day.
“So, that’s why my father is worried,” Eralynn thought to herself. “We’ve never had such a problem with the wolf Pokemon before...”
“Yes,” said the king, “and many people believe that Oleander’s words are now coming true. I’m not so sure what I believe, but it is an interesting coincidence, to say the least.”
Then, a thought came to Eralynn. “Well, what if one of Varlo’s followers overheard what she had said, and they’re sending the Mightyena just to catch everyone off guard and intimidate them?”
“Yes, Eralynn. We also thought of this. However, we are positive that no one in the High Court would give these words away to anyone, even the other citizens of this city. It would be too risky to tell anyone, for they may infer what they wish and get the wrong idea. We wanted to figure it out for ourselves before striking panic into everyone.” He scratched his head and looked down.
Eralynn could not think of how to respond. Somehow, she believed this prophecy of Oleander’s. Something told her that they would soon be in danger if this so-called “chosen one” didn’t step forward and reveal himself. She certainly could not imagine who it could possibly be, all the same, she ran through all the possible candidates in her head. “Do you... know who it is, King Nevarro?” she asked the King cautiously.
“No, no one does. My son and I were actually discussing who it could be, before you arrived this morning,” he said, shrugging helplessly.
“Your son...” she murmured under her breath.
What if it was Rhylan? Could it be? He was about to become a very strong warrior, and he was, after all, the Prince. He had mastered nearly all the skills of combat. Plus, he was very brave. Although she was constantly annoyed by his presence, she had to admit that he was quite skilled and courageous most of the time.
“But... no. He’s a jerk and he’s terribly rude...” she thought. Her mind seemed to be arguing with itself, trying to decide on this possibility.
“It would be helpful if we actually knew who this person was and also, what he’s actually supposed to do to save us,” said the king worriedly, ignoring the fact that Eralynn had just insulted his son.
Eralynn only nodded pensively and gazed at the table, still thinking about the chosen one and his task.
After a moment, she asked, “So, you do believe what Queen Oleander said?”
“Yes... I suppose I actually do,” the king laughed nervously. “She was a great Queen, and she was very wise. I think that her last words really have to mean something, especially now. The Mightyena are passing through...” he trailed off. Then, he rose out of his chair. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, there is a short ceremony I must be attending. I think you should be there too, being the Advisor’s daughter and all.”
“Which ceremony is it?” Eralynn asked, struggling to keep her mind off of the Protector and trying to stay on topic.
“Oh, today is the day that the warriors, who are training, set out on the Last Journey. Then, their roles will be official,” answered the king, while pushing in his chair.
“Okay, I’ll be down soon then, Your Highness,” Eralynn said and began to eat. All she could think about was the prophecy. What could it possibly mean? Surely one person could not hold the fate of all that reside in Derelon, could he? She was not sure, but she somehow had the feeling that she and her people were in danger.
A/N: Sorry that I'm posting chapters so quickly- I'm just excited, I guess. =P Hope everyone that's lurking around this thread is enjoying what they've read.
Chapter 3- Colors of Destiny
Eralynn had completely forgotten about the warriors leaving for the Last Journey that day, but she had to go and see them off with the rest of the members of the Royal Court and their families.
The Last Journey was the final step in training for the warriors. After they would return, they’d be official warriors of Derelon, and would be able to defend the city and its people. This occurred annually, admitting new warriors into the line of combat each summer. They were to leave mid-afternoon and set out on a two day-long mission in which they would gather jewels from the trees of Norsillon. They would travel to the dreaded forest in a group, without anyone to protect them. Rumor had it that Norsillon was inhabited by ferocious creatures, however, only the warriors knew what dwelled there, and they were forbidden to tell anyone. They were to each take one of the special grey jewels and bring them back to the city to show all of Derelon.
When held in one’s hand, these gems transform into a different color, each representing a different destiny. Normally, one who would become a great warrior would hold a deep blue jewel. This was the color which most people received, and even hoped for. It meant a long, healthy life, in which one would live honorably until death. And although it was common, it was comforting at the same time.
There were different colors; of course, some of their meanings were still unknown. Eralynn remembered watching a young man return with his group, holding a pale orange gem. Four years later, he betrayed his people and ran to stay with Varlo’s other followers. This color apparently predicted that the one who held it would become a traitor.
Also important about the gems’ colors was that the line of princes and princesses would all hold the same color forever. Before Rhylan even returned, everyone knew his gem would turn but one color: crimson. His father, and his father before that had recieved the same color. (Of course, before two generations prior to this time, the Last Journey was merely used to admit young citizens into adulthood, not as warriors.) No one knew why this was, but there were theories. Perhaps it represented the strong line of blood within Kings and Queens. Or maybe it was as simple as stating the fact that this warrior was next to be King or Queen. It was still a mystery to all of them.
Eralynn often wondered which color her gem would transform to when she grasped it. She frequently imagined it not turning any color at all, but staying a dull grey, showing her that she had no set destiny. This was the only fear she held about becoming a warrior. She did not want to be nothing to her people, and she always feared that the precious stone would tell her this, had she the opportunity to train. She almost felt relieved at not having to take the Last Journey on this day.
After she finished eating, she got up and left the dining hall. She figured that her father would be upset if his daughter did not look her best for the ceremony, so she retreated to her room and grabbed a change of clothes. She bathed and made sure she looked decent before going out into public. Now wearing a silvery-colored dress and sandals, she tied her hair back in a bun, and set out to find her family.
She descended down the stairs near her room towards the Great Hall, where the warriors would be leaving for their journey in front of the Royal Court. When she entered the giant room she had polished yesterday, she saw only two people. She stopped walking, so as to not disrupt them, and looked to see who it was.
She could see Rhylan talking seriously with a short boy next to him. Looking closer, she could tell that it was the boy named Landon. They were both standing very close to the double doors, deeply engaged in conversation. Eralynn was all the way at the other end of the room, near the throne, so they did not even see her.
Curious to know what they were talking about, she crept closer from behind them, using the large white pillars that were on either side of the green carpet as a shield from their eyes. She stopped advancing when she was in earshot of their words.
“...Yeah, well, I’ve heard there are some really crazy things living out there,” Rhylan said.
“I guess so, but the previous warriors have never even said anything, so how bad could it possibly be?” The boy called Landon responded in his high-pitched voice. “Don’t you think that if anyone had ever gotten hurt or anything, we’d know about it?”
“I suppose you’re right, but...” he dropped his voice to a whisper now, almost as if he knew someone was listening. “That doesn’t really stop me from being sc-”
“Scared!?” Eralynn jumped out from behind the large pillar and both Rhylan and Landon jumped in surprise. They must’ve had no idea she was there the whole time.
Rhylan held onto his chest for a moment, and sighed in frustration. “How long have you been listening to us?” He asked without looking at her.
“Oh, you know, long enough to know how frightened you are,” she taunted.
“Hey, at least I’m actually going on this journey. At least I get to become a warrior,” he retorted angrily.
Eralynn narrowed her eyes angrily at him. “That doesn’t make you any better than me.”
“Oh, it doesn’t? Well, how do you explain your parents not letting you go, and mine so willingly allowing me?” He asked.
“I didn’t train well enough in swordsmanship to make it, according to my father,” she said with her arms folded across her chest.
“You think that’s really why?” Rhylan looked at Landon, and they both laughed hysterically at her.
“What is that supposed to mean? Like you’d actually know my father’s reason for refusing to allow me to train...” she rolled her eyes impatiently.
“Actually, I think everyone can see why without even having to ask him,” he responded, after he had stopped his condescending guffawing. “Eralynn, you act like such an idiot. You can’t seem to just be normal, like everyone else, so your father is probably worried that you’ll just become a traitor or something.”
“What?!” She screamed, outraged. She could feel her forehead becoming hot with her sudden anger. “How could you ever think of saying something like that?”
“Easily, it’s the truth,” Rhylan said coolly.
“Listen-” Eralynn began.
“No, you listen,” Rhylan interrupted. “All you do is bother everyone. You never seem to do anything productive for this city, like the rest of us. You just play jokes on everyone and ride your stupid Ponyta all day, without a care for anything.”
“She’s not stu-” Eralynn began to defend her friend. but was interrupted once more.
“And you actually expected your father to respect you and say you would make a good warrior?! I hardly think so. Everyone in this city knows how irresponsible and stupid you can be, Eralynn, and no one wants a warrior like that. No one,” he spat harshly.
She had no words prepared to counter such a statement, and was left silent. She looked up, finally, at Landon, who was staring at Rhylan with an expression of astonishment. He also seemed at a loss of words, not wanted to get further involved in the argument.
“Now, why don’t you just get out of here? Landon and I don’t have time to be dealing with the likes of you,” he said patronizingly.
She shook her head and gave Rhylan a look full of hatred. “You’re a horrible, arrogant jerk,” she exclaimed, then marched quickly off.
She started up the staircase to go to the upper level. She no longer wanted to be a part of this ceremony, but only to stay alone in her room for the day. She had already felt bad enough about not becoming a defender for her people and she did not need to hear Rhylan give her the reason for her failure. Apparently, everyone hated her. Everyone thought she didn’t care, and that she could become a traitor. According to Rhylan, her father had actually lied to her about why she could not train. Now, she’d wished that was her father initially said was true. She would’ve rather had no physical strength than have no admired personality traits. Normally, Rhylan’s brutal words would not have affected her as so, but he had a point, for once. Even the King had wondered why she wasn’t training when she was so good at archery.
“Why did I not think of this before?” she asked herself as she slowly climbed the stairs to the upper level. “It’s the way I act... not my strength...” she thought despairingly.
However, her thoughts were interrupted when she heard her father’s voice. He was coming down the curved staircase with someone else, and Eralynn put on a fake smile as he approached. As he came into sight, Eralynn could see that he had been walking down the stairs with the King, and they were both wearing black, formal-looking robes for this ceremony.
“Eralynn, where are you going? Come on, it’s going to start any moment,” he said, then continued his conversation with the King.
Eralynn did not dare disobey her father, especially after hearing what Rhylan had just told her. So, she unwillingly followed him, trying her best not to mope in her sadness as she trailed behind the King and her father. Eventually, they got to the bottom of the stairs, and Eralynn could now see there were four trainees awaiting the start of the ceremony, rather than just Rhylan and Landon as before. She looked at the other two, but did not recognize them. She was disappointed, as she’d hoped there would be someone else she knew there, aside from her rival and his friend. Unwilling to talk to them, she was forced to stand next to her father while he discussed ideas with the King. Besides Rhylan, her father was the last person she wanted to be with now. After all, what Rhylan had told her could certainly be the truth.
Soon, more people began filing into the Great Hall for the ritual before the Last Journey. Eralynn noted that there were a total of eighteen warriors that planned to complete their training that day. They all stood clumped together near the double doors of the huge room. Many were fidgeting nervously, and others just couldn’t stand still at all. A couple, including Rhylan, were pacing and looking very anxious. Apparently, most of them weren’t quite ready to take the Last Journey that would initiate them into both adulthood and the ability to fight.
Eralynn stared at them, wondering what exactly they could be afraid of if they knew not what was in Norsillon, in the first place. Perhaps it was only anxiety and agitation that was causing them to act so nervous for this very short trip.
The King rose from his position in a chair next to Orriso, and let another older member of the Royal Court take the seat. Then, he walked over to his throne and stood facing the new warriors. He raised both his arms to signal for the chattering teenagers to quiet down, and then he spoke.
“Children of Derelon, after this day and night, you will actually no longer be children. You will come back from Norsillon as fierce warriors, ready to take on the world. Nothing will stand in your way after this point, as you leave adolescence behind and embrace adulthood. You will be able to make your own choices now, and will be able to input your defenses toward the citizens of Derelon.
“The short journey may be rough, but it is well worth it, as you will see. The jewels of Norsillon behold your future within them, and although we are still decoding some of the unique colors they possess when held, it will be a wonderful experience for most of you to discover your destinies. The precious stones have never lied before, and we have trusted them to show a glimpse of our futures for ages. So, please, trust them well, and trust in yourself. I am confident that you will all have a safe and successful journey, and you will all return as our bravest warriors.” The King then gave a bow, and slowly sat down in his throne.
All the soon-to-be warriors bowed in return. They then formed a line, in which they would individually approach all the members of the Royal Court and give them their thanks and temporary goodbyes. Eralynn did not recognize the first one of them in the line. He walked up to the King first and shook his hand, while the King congratulated him. He did the same to the other members of the Royal Court. When he came to Eralynn, she bowed then shook his hand politely while congratulating him. All of those that were in line did the same.
Then, Rhylan approached. He gave his father a hug, then proceeded on, shaking everyone’s hand with a nervous smile on his face. All Eralynn could really think about was how much of an egotistical fool he was. He came to her, after shaking hands with her father. He grabbed her hand, since she refused to put it out, and shook it carelessly.
“Idiot,” she snapped at him.
“Moron,” he replied, without looking at her.
Immediately after Rhylan, Landon followed. Eralynn just shook her head as he walked by. After all, he had laughed at her earlier, so she wanted nothing to do with him, also.
However, out of the corner of her eye, she saw her father shoot her a dirty look. Only then did she realize that she was letting her emotions get the very best of her. She refused to look at him, though, so she pretended she didn’t see his angry gaze.
She watched as the new warriors began to walk toward the double doors. The King got out of his throne and began to follow. Everyone of the Royal Court took to his lead and did the same. Eralynn walked cautiously next to her father, hoping he wouldn’t begin lecturing her in the middle of this ceremony. They all walked out through the double doors and into the radiant sunshine. Eralynn and everyone else seemed to squint from the brightness surrounding them.
Allowing her eyes to adjust, she could see many different large Pokemon standing in an arc around the small crowd. Counting, she could see eighteen of them, one for each of the new warriors. As a person trained to become a warrior, they were also supposed to pick a Pokemon to train as their partner. In a true battle, the pair would fight their enemies side-by-side, never leaving each other. It was a good way for humans to bond and become closer with Pokemon that resided in the same city. The result was that many of these people did not think of the Pokemon as their partners in battle, but their companions.
Eralynn thought of Aerance, and how many times she’d dreamed of becoming her partner in battle. They already had a strong bond, and would’ve made excellent partners in combat, but of course, she couldn’t train. Her father did not even let Aerance stay with Eralynn, because he sometimes blamed the Ponyta for Eralynn’s odd behavior. He felt that she influenced her to play tricks and never act serious. This is why Aerance still lived in the forest just outside of Derelon. Fortunately, Eralynn was able to visit her nearly every day, so that she wouldn’t be lonely, but she still wished that her father would allow her to live closer, within the city.
She now watched as all the new warriors walked up to their Pokemon, and bowed respectfully to them. The well trained Pokemon bowed to them in return, and the warriors walked closer, petting them affectionately.
She stared in amazement as she saw Rhylan stroking a Pidgeot that was nearly as tall as he was. It gently rubbed its large beak against his cheek. She had never seen him act kind to anyone or anything but his own father. It was just strange for her to witness the bond that he and his Pokemon had, especially after he had made fun of how she “rode her stupid Ponyta all day,” implying that it was stupid and pointless to spend a lot of time with a Pokemon.
She then directed her attention towards Landon, who seemed to be giving his Meganium something of a pep-talk. It was nodding and saying it’s name over and over again happily. The Pokemon seemed ready for this mission, at least. All around her, she saw trainees doing similar things with their Pokemon. A mixture of encouraging words and the sounds Pokemon were making were heard from every direction. After a few moments of this, each new warrior climbed onto the back of his or her Pokemon, getting ready to start the Last Journey.
At this, everyone in the Royal Court put their hand to their forehead in salute. The soon-to-be warriors did the same, and after waving goodbye, they signaled to their Pokemon to be off. Eralynn could all of the different Pokemon running together, as if in a herd. Few were in the air, but many slower Pokemon lagged closely behind on the ground. She could see an air-born Charizard, a Fearow, and Rhylan’s Pidgeot leading the way for the rest. She caught a last glimpse of Landon on his Meganium, someone on a Dodrio, another on a Swampert, and another on an Arcanine. She then glanced back at all the people who were standing with her. They all had satisfied, nostalgic smiles upon their faces as they watched the new warriors ride away. They would now start the Last Journey.
The sun had only set a couple hours past, and Eralynn was laying in her bed, wide-awake. She had been trying to sleep for nearly an hour, but she had far too much on her mind. She was trying her best to shut out all the memories of the day, but she just couldn’t. In her mind, she kept turning back to the prediction made by the brave Oleander. She went through nearly everyone she knew, trying to decide if they were the one or not, but there were simply too many people in Derelon. And every time she thought of Rhylan, she remembered his cruel, yet true words.
“You must look, my Eralynn,” a sudden voice came from within her room.
Frightened, Eralynn sat up quickly to look around. “Who’s there?!” She demanded. When no one answered, she threw off her covers, got up, then looked under the bed. No one was there. She walked over to the door and opened it to check to see if anyone was out in the hall, but it was completely deserted.
“Wow, maybe I’m going crazy,” she muttered to herself. She got back into bed and made sure to stay awake for only a little longer, in case someone actually was in her room. Eventually, she rolled over onto her side and closed her eyes.
“Good, now keep them closed,” the haunting voice came again.
Eralynn disobeyed the strange voice and quickly opened her eyes once more, and looked around the room for whoever was speaking to her. Once again, she saw no one. However, before she had opened her eyes again, she started to see something, as if in a dream.
“What is going on...?” She said to herself, but closed her eyes once more, out of curiosity now.
The picture in front of her was so real, she felt as if she was actually there. She was being shown some sort of field, but barely anything was in the surrounding area. She could see an eerie patch of trees in a short distance, but not much else. All she noticed, at first, was the slight breeze blowing the grass, causing it to ripple. Then, turning around, she could see people riding on Pokemon. They were running and flying towards her and away from something, which she could infer by the expression of terror on their faces. She felt the rumble of the earth beneath her, as if its very core was being disturbed. She saw a boy with brown, messy hair on a large bird flying overhead first... it was Rhylan! There were the other warriors-in-training too, and they all fled in fear from whatever it was that pursued them.
Soon, a huge winged creature with a red strap around its neck came into view. It was grey in color, and its tail was quite long, ending with a tip that looked like spade. It had sharp teeth and little hands that looked useless on its wings. It easily caught up with the swarm of people and Pokemon, grabbing both in its terrifyingly sharp claws and its mouth. Other creatures of the same type followed suit, grabbing humans and Pokemon alike, lifting them into the air, then carrying them off in the other direction. They were screaming in protest and trying their hardest to fight back, but the huge creatures seemed almost immune to their attacks. Their terrified shrieks seemed to go on forever...
Eralynn opened her eyes with a start. She was sweating and breathing heavily. She wiped her hair off of her brow, and put both hands to her face.
“Please, tell me, what was that?” she asked desperately, barely able to catch her breath. “I know you’re still here, whoever you are.”
And to her surprise, she was answered.
“It was an unfeigned vision. There is still time.”
Great imagery and diction!
Congratulations, this is now the Fan-Fiction of the Month of July.
Aw, thanks. I'm honored.
Chapter 4- Diversion By a Persian
Eralynn jumped out of bed as fast as she could. She nearly tripped over her blanket, which she had thrown on the floor while stumbling around the room for her sandals. When she found them, she kept feeling around the dark room for her cloak. Eventually, she found it in the corner, where she had carelessly thrown it the last time she’d worn it. Without hesitating, she threw it on and pulled the hood up over her head. Also, she grabbed her bow and arrows, attaching the bow to the arrow bag and then strapping it around her chest.
“Was it a dream?” She asked herself suddenly. “No, no... I was awake. Someone spoke to me. They said it was all true...”
The confused girl quickly put her hand over her mouth at the memory of what she had seen. She paced for a moment, unsure of what she should do. She really wanted to know who had spoken to her. She also wondered why this voice had shown her such a horrible thing. Was it just... to scare her? She couldn’t guess. Then, she thought for a moment that she should tell her father what she had seen... But, no. He would not believe her for an instant. He would just tell her to go back to sleep and that it was all due to a bad dream.
Through all of her doubt, she was sure of one thing. Her heart yearned to escape Derelon... to leave... She did not know why, but she felt as if she must obey its order. She didn’t know how she would do it, but she had to find a way. Something in the distance called for her, needed her, even.
She quickly ran through a plan in her mind. She needed something that would work fast and allow for an easy departure. There were night guards assigned to every exit, surrounding all sides of the city, and it would not be easy to get past them. However, she would try, no matter what.
Eralynn emerged from her room and softly closed the door. The darkness remained thick around her, but fortunately, she knew her way through the corridor outside of her room and did not need the light. She crept towards the room next to hers and fumbled around for the doorknob. She moved her hand until she felt the cold, hard, round piece of metal, and turned it as quietly as possible.
Inside lay Orriso, sleeping soundly. She could hear him snoring softly, but could not see anything. It was pitch dark, and she nearly tripped over a few things on the floor. She felt around with her hands, and found the edge of her father’s bed. Using this as a guide, she walked towards the other end of the room. However, she found what she was looking for sooner than she had intended. She stepped on something soft and thin, which, upon her touch, proceeded to squirm, agitated. Immediately, Eralynn heard a hiss come from where the long, furry object was. She tried to pull her foot away in time, but it didn’t work, and suddenly, there were sharp teeth sinking into her skin. She bit her lip in pain, trying desperately not to make any noise. She could not afford to wake her father up. So, she shook her foot lightly, making the irritable creature release its grip.
“It’s only me, Donterr,” Eralynn whispered as quietly as possible.
She couldn’t see, but she guessed now that he felt less threatened, as he was backing away from her. Eralynn kneeled down to his level, knowing that, with his eyes, he could see her clearly through the darkness.
“Now, I have a-” She began, but immediately stopped when she heard her father shifting in his sleep to the side of her. She clenched her chest in fear as she heard him murmur something, but was relieved when he began snoring softly once again. She sighed in relief.
“Okay... I have a favor to ask of you, Donterr. Please, follow me back to my room,” she requested to the Pokemon.
They silently walked out of the room, Eralynn trying her best not to trip over anything, while Donterr was a type of Pokemon that was blessed with stealth, therefore, he barely needed to try. When Eralynn lit a candle in her room, she could finally see Donterr’s small, thin body, and his luxurious tan coat. He had rounded black ears and large shining eyes. Eralynn could see his sharp claws as he extended them from his paws while stretching. Donterr was a type of Pokemon known as a Persian. He was the Advisor’s pet, but being a cat, he wasn’t exactly loyal. He was completely independent, and mostly slept during the day. He was nocturnal, which meant he would normally be very active at night, roaming the streets of Derelon and hunting for mice. However, the Advisor always kept him locked in his bedroom with him during those hours, since he was worried that he would escape or get lost in the middle of the evening. Obviously, by assuming he would get lost, Orriso did not understand the level of a Persian’s intelligence.
Eralynn sat down on her bed and watched Donterr as he licked his paws without paying much attention to anything else. She scratched her head, wondering exactly how to make him pay attention, since she knew how self-centered he could be.
“Donterr, you know, I did you a favor by letting you out of that room, so I was hoping you could help me out with something,” the bargaining girl said.
Donterr kept licking his paw, but opened one of his eyes to look at her while he did so. He turned his arm at a different angle with every lick, letting his tongue lap the top of it, the side, and the underside, where the pads of his paws were.
“Okay. I’m in desperate need of a diversion tonight, to avert the attention of the guards at the borders of the city,” Eralynn said, her words spilling out of her mouth as she hoped that the cat Pokemon was listening.
Donterr put his paw to the floor and stretched, sticking his back up into the air and straightening his tail. He yawned and returned to his normal sitting position, staring at Eralynn with his slit, snake-like eyes. His attitude constantly reeked of sarcasm, but Eralynn couldn't help but like his company anyway.
“Um, well, it should be fun for you. I know how much you hate being cooped up in father’s room late at night. So, if I let you outside, and you do this for me, you can chase all the Rattata you want afterwards,” she wagered.
Donterr looked up at her now that he realized that there would be something in it for him as well. Selfish as he was, Eralynn sighed with relief, guessing that he was accepting to go through with this task for her. She opened her window, and Donterr immediately sprang from the ground and up onto the window sill. He sat for a second, allowing himself to absorb his surroundings. Head darting to the left and right to check which way he wanted to make it down, the Persian finally leapt out onto the roof and continued to climb down towards the earth.
Eralynn looked out the window and at the ground beneath her. She was only about twenty feet up, but it would still be something of a challenge to get down. She watched Donterr with jealousy as he made it down easily. Wishing she had the same climbing talent as him, she grabbed her bed sheet and tied the very end to her bedpost. She then attached her blanket to the other end of the sheet, forming a rope. She threw the attached sheet and blanket out the window, watching them as they fell. She could see that there was only about seven feet between the end of the blanket and the ground, so it wouldn’t be a long drop.
She climbed up onto the window sill and grabbed the sheet in one hand. Slowly, she pushed herself out the window, and held onto her assembled rope. She carefully climbed down, keeping her feet against the edge of the palace for extra balance. In her mind formed images of Spinarak gracefully descending as they hung onto their spiderwebs. Eralynn frowned when she realized that, in her struggling, she probably looked nothing like this. When she successfully reached the end of the rope, she dropped to the ground.
She now dusted herself off and looked around for Donterr. Of course, she couldn’t see well at night, so she was relying on him to come to her. “Donterr!” She whispered through the night air, hoping that he was in hearing distance.
Not amused by having to do Eralynn this favor, he trotted up to her slowly, but she could barely see him. She knelt down to where she imagined his eye level would be. “Listen, you need to act as a diversion for me, all right?” She asked.
“Mrawr,” Donterr meowed loudly.
“Shhh!” Eralynn responded, nearly losing her cool. “Now, I just need you to distract the guards at the South exit of Derelon. That’s the way I need to leave, since it’s closest to the forest. Also, I really need you to bring them towards... um, the archery hill, if possible. That’s the opposite way I need to go, so they’ll never see me.”
She got up and walked around the edge of the palace, towards the front, since they had hopped down into the back area. Once she got close enough to the street located in the front, she began to be able to see once more. The roads of Derelon were luminated by torches on either side, attached to the outter walls of pubs, banks, restaurants, and homes. They lit the way for anyone that traveled through the city by night, which was usually only the guards.
Eralynn stopped for a moment to take in the sight. The orange flames flickered and swayed on their torches as their soft light poured onto the street before the escaping girl. Before her, the stone roads were covered in the soft, beautiful glow, and it made Eralynn realize that she might miss this place in her absence... Wherever it was that she was going. She did not know... She only had a strong desire to continue on with the plan.
Eralynn looked down and saw Donterr walking at her side. They advanced towards the South side of Derelon, where Eralynn would make her escape. They walked the same way that Eralynn had gone the other day to see Aerance, but during the day, there would no guards on duty, so leaving the city wasn’t much of a problem.
Now, as they approached their destination, Eralynn could see two men on lookout. They stood atop the stone steps that led out into the plains, which in turn, led into the forest. They were mainly watching towards the outside of the city and not paying much attention to what was going on behind them.
Eralynn looked down at Donterr once again and nodded, directing him to begin his favor. She walked into an alleyway, where she could see what happened perfectly just by peering out from behind a building. She prayed it would work, because she didn’t want to have to struggle to escape.
The citizens of Derelon were not typically allowed to leave the city, unless it had to do with their job, or if they King permitted it. If one was to suddenly leave, many naturally would assume that this person was a traitor and was going to become one of Varlo Scantlar’s followers. However, people with duty of being a messenger were allowed to leave the city whenever they wanted. Sometimes, the King sent his loyal warriors on scouting missions, to see if they could find Varlo’s base, which, unfortunately, they never seemed able to. Also, the new warriors had to take their Last Journey. But, all in all, the remainder of people stayed in Derelon, in the comfort of their own homes.
This, therefore, was why the King needed guards. They were assigned to different locations on the border of the city of Derelon. Their objective was to make sure no one left, or got into Derelon City, without the King knowing about it.
Still, Eralynn knew that eventually, someone would find her room unoccupied, and figure that she had left, but she needed time to escape before they actually found out. The further that she could get away from Derelon without anyone knowing, the less chance they’d have of finding her. This would work especially well by her leaving the city at night. She was aware that her father and the King would probably send scouts to search for her, so she needed to gain a considerable amount of ground.
Eralynn watched Donterr creep silently up behind one of the guards, and then pounce. He landed square on the large man’s back, clinging to his uniform with his claws.
The guard jumped and instinctively reached back to grab Donterr and pull him off. He was too late, however, and Donterr jumped from this man’s shoulders to the other guard’s. The other reacted in the same way, but also dropped his weapon and reached for his back with both hands. Donterr was far too quick for these men, though, and hopped off, landing in between the two of them.
And now, he was done scaring them. He stood there, licking his paw for a moment, waiting for one of the guards to recognize him. He closed his eyes lazily as he did so and let his thin, flexible tail whip back and forth.
“Heyyy, isn’t that the Advisor’s pet?” One of them said, in a husky, unintelligent voice.
“I believe it is,” the other replied.
He sounded a bit smarter than his partner. The guard carefully approached the haughty Persian with his hands reached out, so as to grab him.
Donterr immediately stopped what he was doing, and leapt out of this man’s reach. He sprinted down the stone steps, causing the guards to chase after him. The heels of their boots padded on the steps until, at last, they reached the bottom and Eralynn could no longer hear them running. They had followed Donterr to the grass, and he would probably take them much further than that. Eralynn watched as they headed towards the archery hill, where she had terrorized those who were training the other day.
“Don’t let ‘im get away!” yelled the dumb-sounding one.
Eralynn took this as her opportunity. She ran out from behind the building, sprinting towards the steps. She hesitated, though. She could still hear the guards speaking. They couldn’t be too far from her, but she knew that this was her only chance, so she fled. She nearly tripped over rocks that lay on the stone steps as she flew down them as fast as she possibly could.
She reached the bottom of the steps, feeling the soft grass brush against her feet as she ran. She was tired, since she did not get any sleep, but she kept her eyes on the forest: her goal. She stared at the trees ahead of her as she ran, pumping her arms back and forth and never looking back. All there was to guide her was the faint moonlight. She squinted through the distance, trying to spot the familiar entrance to the forest, which she’d always used. She grew nervous when she could not find it, and she could feel her rapid heartbeat thudding out of sync with her pounding footsteps.
The exhausted girl stopped running at the edge of the forest, nervously scanning the area for anything familiar. Finally, she spotted what looked like a dark gap. She assumed that this was it, and she ran towards it.
While she could barely see out in the plains, she could not see in the woods at all. It was pitch black, and as soon as she had walked only about ten feet in, she lost sight of everything. Luckily, she had traveled this path so many times during the day, that she did not really need to see it to follow it correctly. She crept slowly along, reaching both arms out to feel for the trees as she walked by them. She tripped over a large branch laying across the narrow path once, but got up and continued on.
Eventually, after getting poked in the face by many a tree branch, Eralynn came to the familiar sound of rushing water ahead, and now knew for sure that she had been traveling in the right direction. She carried on, finally reaching the river, but she became worried.
How was she supposed to cross it in such darkness? She could walk the path with ease, but she needed to see the stepping stones in order to get across the river safely. She stopped right before the steep angle of the river’s bank, listening to the water and thinking of how she could possibly do this.
She slid down the steep slope, letting her feet into the shallowest part of the river. She removed her bow from its position and reached it out in front of her, feeling for the rocks that stuck out. She only had to check for a moment, then she felt her bow tap against something hard. She kept it there, picturing it in her mind, and stepped out onto it. It took her a second to catch her balance, but soon, she was standing on the smooth, cold rock without any trouble, avoiding the rushing water directly beneath her.
She continued to do this, gradually making her way across the dangerous moat guarding Aerance's cave. It wasn’t easy, but she managed to get about halfway across the river. She stood on one of the narrow stones, still panting from running earlier.
Everything had happened so fast. One moment, she was having some sort of vision, the next, she was standing in the middle of a river on top of a tiny rock and praying she wouldn’t fall. It seemed as if it had all occurred in one second.
Eralynn reached her bow out once again, feeling for the next rock. Once she had it, she stepped out. Then, when she believed it to be safe, she put all of her weight on the foot in front of her. Instantly, she knew something had gone wrong, as she felt her foot slide off of the next rock and into the water. Her knee slammed against the stone, causing her to scream in pain as her entire body collided with the river below.
She felt the cold water envelop her body, its current strong enough to pull her for a long way. In a split second, she struggled to pull her hands out from its depths, pushing out away from herself. She badly needed to grab hold of something, and she threw her hands threw the icy liquid that surrounded her. Arms flailing for some kind of contact, she felt her fingers finally clutch the rock that she previously meant to step on. Her bow was around her arm, now up at her shoulder from the force of the current. Her legs dangled behind her, as she kicked and struggled to find the bottom of the river.
In the end, she used her arms to pull herself up onto the rock into a sitting position. She was drenched from head to toe, dripping everywhere. Feeling it throb, she grabbed her bruised knee, and decided it would be best to take a short break. The girl rubbed the hurt kneecap, trying to stop the blood from flowing to the source so much. As she touched her wet skin, she forgot for a moment about what she had seen.
That vision... What did it mean?
Being reminded again so suddenly, she was up on her feet once more, struggling across the river. When she reached the other side, she hopped from the last stone to the steep bank, clinging to the wet grass and mud. She pulled herself up to where the ground was flat again, sinking her fingers into it and getting them tangled in the plants. Then, with a great sigh, she fell down onto her back.
She looked up at the stars through the treetops, not even really sure of what she was doing out here. The stars twinkled back at her, as if they were distant, clear, faintly glowing crystals. They were pinned in place by the dark blue surrounding them, which seemed to go on forever, as if the heavens didn't only look this way at night. Around Eralynn, the flowing sound of the river was still imminent, reminding her of her current situation once more.
The soaked girl gradually let the shock of nearly drowning in the river lessen, and soon, she got up and tried to ring some of the water out of her cloak. Now that she was a bit drier, she stumbled through the dark towards Aerance’s cave. The thought of seeing her friend again cheered her up immensely, and she momentarily forgot that she had plunged beneath a fast flowing river.
As she got close to the cave, she saw an orange light glowing from inside. It lit her way, slowly becoming brighter and brighter as she went further inside. Holding the rough, uneven stone walls of Aerance's home, Eralynn crept all the way to the back. Now, she could see that Aerance was in the middle of a deep slumber. She was laying with her legs stretched out and her head resting on the ground, the flames of her mane dancing in the darkness.
Eralynn hated to break up such a nice sight, but she was in a hurry, and she needed her best friend’s assistance. “Aerance,” Eralynn whispered, hoping not to wake her too abruptly.
Aerance awoke with a start, though, whinnying in fear. It took her a moment to realize that it was only Eralynn, but then, a look of worry came over her face. Eralynn never visited during these hours of the night, so she stood there in silence, staring with her big, almond-shaped eyes and waiting for an explanation from her human friend.
Sensing the flame horse's fear, Eralynn began to explain. “Listen, Aerance, I’m sorry to wake you in the middle of the night, but... there’s trouble. You see, I had a sort of... vision while I was trying to sleep. It was like a dream, but not exactly one,” she tried to illustrate, but knew she wasn’t making much sense.
Meanwhile, Aerance just stared at her blankly, not knowing what to think. She merely snorted, urging Eralynn on.
“I saw Rhylan and the other warriors who are training. They were getting hurt and being captured by some giant, scary creatures, and I thought... I’d try to help them.” The words that flowed from her mouth seemed insane. Hearing herself describe her vision made it seem even crazier than it actually was.
Aerance blinked confusedly and walked closer to her friend. Sensing how worried and scared she was, she nuzzled against her cheek, attempting to comfort her. Eralynn felt Aerance's soft fur against her own face, and she reached up to pet the Ponyta, responding to her kindness. She finally felt the relief of being with her companion, and it seemed to lift much of the weight off of her shoulders.
“Do you want to travel with me, Aerance?” the girl asked her closest friend rather suddenly.
The flame horse nodded her head, however, whinnying happily. She did not want to see Eralynn go on such a journey by herself. It would be far too dangerous, and she would do anything she could to help.
Eralynn held onto Aerance’s reigns and led her outside of the cave. Then, Aerance kneeled lower to the ground, making it easier for the tired Eralynn to climb on. As the small girl pulled herself up, Aerance snorted in discomfort. Eralynn was still very wet, and being a fire type Pokemon, Aerance wasn’t fond of making contact with water other than to drink it.
“I’m sorry, I know you hate that I’m wet, Aerance,” Eralynn apologized. “Could you make it out onto the plains? It’ll be easier to ride the distance from there. The forest is too easy to get lost in, especially as you go further South.”
Aerance nodded, and set off at a trot towards the forest’s edge. With ease, she jumped the width of the river, making Eralynn remember how difficult it was for her. The girl considered holding onto the Ponyta's reigns and sitting upright, but instead put her arms around Aerance’s neck and laid her head down, barely able to keep her back straight and her head up.
Aerance used the usual path to escape the holds of the woods, blundering over protruding roots and under rough, lowly hanging tree branches. All the features of the forest frighteningly whipped by in the darkness as they went, only glowing from Aerance's bright flames for a moment as she quickly passed them by, and Eralynn could barely keep track of where they had gone. Aerance's speed disoriented the girl's sense of direction, and her leaps and jumps scared her into ducking down and closing her eyes, fearing that Aerance would trip or hit something.
After Eralynn had her hair caught in several branches and Aerance had nearly set these said branches on fire with her mane, the two of them made it out to the grassy plains. The area seemed so much brighter to Eralynn than it did before in comparison to the darkness of the woods. And now, Aerance’s flames, along with the silver moonlight, would light the way for her.
Eralynn suddenly felt hope now that she would not be journeying alone. They had been through so much together, and now, she had a feeling they were about to endure so much more. She smiled when she thought of Aerance's reaction to both her strange plan and the fact that it resulted from a bizarre dream. Who else in the entire world could she trust and talk to like this? Certainly no one that she had been aware of.
Aside from the fact that the flame horse was a good companion, she was also brave and could travel much more quickly than most other types of land Pokemon. Eralynn patted her loyal friend on her shoulder, thinking that perhaps now, it was possible to reach the warriors of the Last Journey in time...
“Okay, we must travel South, since that’s the way to Norsillon,” Eralynn explained.
Aerance kicked up her front legs and sped away from Derelon City. She galloped hard against the ground, and all that could be heard in the still night was the rhythmic thudding of her hooves. She stomped against the long grass of the field, sending some flying and flattening other parts as she went.
Eralynn wanted nothing more than to sleep now, but she forced herself to stay awake as Aerance galloped on and on in the night. She needed to keep her eyes open for anything that might help her in her search. It would be difficult to find the fallen warriors without clues hinting at their whereabouts.
She shivered, despite riding a fire Pokemon. The wind blowing against her damp clothes made her feel the cool evaporation taking place. And, although the light of the sun gave great warmth, its reflection off of the moon usually made the atmosphere feel much cooler, even if it wasn't. Fortunately, though, Aerance’s fiery mane was helping the girl to dry quicker.
Aerance and Eralynn had eventually ridden so far south, they could not even recognize the land any longer. Usually, they’d stay close enough to the city to remain safe, and had never traveled this far before. Although these parts were unfamiliar, Aerance kept running steadily and determinedly along the grass.
On either side of them, to the East and the West, they could see the great forests in the distance. Closely surrounding them were only pastures of grass and short, rolling hills. It was a rather boring route without much scenery, and yet, probably due to its unfamiliarity, it seemed so dangerous.
They rode for hours through the night, and they didn’t have any intention of stopping soon. They needed to get far, far away, and they let Eralynn's seemingly nonsensical dream take hold of them, pulling and tugging them farther and farther away from what they had always known to be home.
“Aerance, I think it must be very early in the morning, now,” Eralynn told her friend when she had finally realized how long they’d been running.
As she said this, she noticed something in the far distance. There was a white light pouring out of the woods and through the treetops. It continued for an infinite distance into the night sky, and Eralynn couldn’t see the end. It appeared to be some sort of spotlight, perhaps used to look far into the mysterious heavens. Whatever it was, Eralynn could not take her eyes off of it. The sight was irresistible and alluring, and made her more curious than ever.
She tugged lightly on Aerance’s reigns, signaling for her to stop. She stared, wide-eyed, and let her jaw drop in amazement. She could not avert her gaze from the white light.
“Let’s go see what it is,” she said, hoping that Aerance was as curious as she was.
Evidently, the flame horse didn’t have a problem with investigating the mysterious aura, since she didn’t hesitate to turn east, towards the forest, and trot onward.
The grove of trees on the edge looked just as every other area of forest they had passed did. It was very ordinary, except for the stream of light that showed from above the trees. Of course, Eralynn also hoped the inside of the woods was normal, as well. She didn’t want to be running into anything hungry...
They wandered through the dark woods, using only Aerance’s flames to show the way. Looking hard through all the branches, Eralynn spotted the white light. The trees were quite dense in this part of the forest, however, so she had to move around to see it as she and Aerance walked. Whether or not this was the origin of it, she did not know, but that was the way that Aerance took her.
The aura seemed to have put a spell on both of them, drawing them closer and closer. It almost seemed involuntary now, as if they were both being controlled completely. It forced them nearer, and they barely even realized it.
A twig snapped suddenly behind them, interrupting their hypnotic state. Eralynn and Aerance were immediately released from their trance, but it was not soon enough for them to get away...
Chapter 5- The Starlight Guardians
Eralynn clutched the reigns as Aerance wheeled around suddenly. She gasped in horror at what she saw before her. She blinked hard, hoping that when she opened her eyes once more, the terrifying creature would just be gone.
A gigantic serpent rose in front of her, like nothing she had ever seen before. It’s body was completely ivory in color, with smooth scales that reflected the light of fire off at different angles. The tail end, however, was made of an alternating pattern of red and blue scales. The very end formed a fin that appeared to cleave into four different sections. The creature’s head had a long point on the very top. Its eyes were a deep red, with reddish fins that seemed to be eyebrows of some sort. These continued down off of its face and draped elegantly at the sides of its neck. It had a frightening dragon-like appearance, and was very mysterious.
The creature did not wait for Eralynn to speak or try to run before it had wrapped its body around her, removing her from her seat upon Aerance. Eralynn felt its surprisingly smooth, white-ish scales around her arms and midsection, and she felt the slender creature's hold tighten around her, so that she could barely move. Holding her with the end of its tail, it raised her to its eye level, examining her closely. She still struggled to get free, but its grip remained tight on her. She felt her breaths shorten, not able to expand her chest to its full capacity.
“Argh... What do you want from me?” Eralynn asked while striving to free herself.
Aerance whinnied and kicked wildly at the giant dragon-like beast, trying to shake her friend from its grip. The ivory serpent merely looked down at her, then back at Eralynn, hardly fazed by the Ponyta’s attempts to save her companion. When it said nothing in response to Eralynn’s question, she spoke again.
“Please, I mean you no harm, and hope you will let my friend and I be,” she pleaded, but she felt rather stupid after she said this. Perhaps she and Aerance had been trespassing on its land, and Eralynn realized she would be quite angry and frightened too, if someone had just walked into her own home. Also, why would mere words make the creature trust her well enough to just let her go? Anyone could say anything, but that didn't mean they always meant it. Surprisingly, however, someone actually answered her.
“What is your purpose in these woods?” a mystical, feminine voice asked.
Eralynn looked around to see who had asked her. It couldn’t have been the creature that held her tightly, since its lips did not move. The sound seemed to be coming to her, not through her ears, but from within her own mind. The voice echoed within the girl's head as a dream that only the dreamer could be aware of. It was like nothing she had ever experienced before.
“Who are you, and what is your reason for being here?” the voice asked again, and this time angrily.
“My friend and I only wanted to see what lay in this forest... and we were pulled in by the light,” Eralynn said nervously, looking around to find the source of the voice as she answered it. “And now that I think of it, it is rather late, and I was hoping to find some sort of shelter within the forest...”
The creature still seemed suspicious and stared at her for a moment, examining her. Its gaze settled on her face, then, and for a moment, it seemed to be pondering something. Then, suddenly, looking closer into her eyes, it seemed to gasp. Its eyes widened, and it released her from its grip. She fell a short distance, landing on her back.
Eralynn put her hand to where a bruise would inevitably end up. “Ow... what do you think you’re doing, dropping me like that?” She groaned loudly, forgetting her fear.
The creature before her began shaking its head. It closed its eyes for a moment, thinking hard about something. Then, it opened them, and the voice sounded in Eralynn's mind again. “You... You look like...” it could not seem to finish its sentence.
From the way its actions and facial expressions clearly matched up with what it was saying, Eralynn had to assume now that it was indeed the creature talking to her. But, how was this happening? How could someone speak without moving their lips? And how did the words so readily reach Eralynn's mind?
“I demand to know who you are,” the serpent said firmly, and then began to change its tone. “I’ve seen one like you once, but only one...” the creature said these words as if they wounded it in the chest, hitting it straight in the heart.
Eralynn did not know what to say at this. She was completely taken aback. What was this creature on about? “Whom do I resemble?” She asked defensively. “And... what on Earth are you?!”
“I am of a race of Pokemon known as Milotic,” the large creature said. “We dwell deep within this forest, and our home is the lands surrounding the sacred waters of the stars.”
Then, she (Eralynn realized she was a female from her voice) eyed Eralynn some more, watching her pull the hood of her cloak back on her head. “You seem harmless, so let me bring you to my lands,” she said, still filled with a hint of doubt.
Eralynn sighed and got up. She looked over at Aerance, who was just standing still and staring blankly at the two of them. The flame horse seemed not to understand what was going on, so she waited for Eralynn to decided whether or not to go with the serpent Pokemon.
“Just walk right in front of me and I will tell you which way to go,” the Milotic instructed, probably thinking it would be best to watch the human and the Ponyta and make sure they didn't try anything sneaky. It was her species' homeland, after all.
Eralynn did not trust this strange Pokemon very much, but she did not really have much of a choice. She listened to the Milotic, and, after throwing a nod towards Aerance, turned around, walking towards the mystifying light again. Aerance began to walk slowly, and soon, she caught up, walking closely at Eralynn's side.
They could hear the ivory serpent following close behind, its slithering body rustling against the forest floor. What would it do to them? Where was it taking them? Eralynn was lost in confusion, she had no idea what this was all about, and she shuddered to think that in this position, the Milotic could finish them off very easily. Their backs were to it, and they wouldn't even have the chance to react if it attacked them. Still, Eralynn and Aerance kept walking as they heard the Milotic's instructions to keep heading for the light.
They were now very close to the very thing that had originally drawn Eralynn and Aerance here. Soon, they were near enough to see it in detail. Looking down, Eralynn saw the origin of the great, white light. It was a small pool of water, bordered by rounded light grey stones. The water was absolutely pure, and looked rather deep.
Eralynn stared for quite some time, unable to take her eyes away from it. She had never seen anything like it, and its beauty exceeded that of everything else. Completely clear from bottom to top, it seemed to absorb the beautiful, glittering, white light, capturing it and holding it in place somehow.
“Stop,” the cool, female voice stated inside her head.
Eralynn pulled her gaze away from the light, finally noticing where they had been. Once again, it had seemingly put some sort of spell on her. She did not even realize which way she had been walking, nor for how long.
Now, finally able to break her gaze away from the pool's light and looking around her once more, she could see that she was standing directly in front of the pond of water that had entranced her. She could see, not far away, a much larger body of water. Other Milotic, resembling the one directing her, were slithering out of the lake and onto land to look at her and Aerance. They seemed quite frightened, but curious enough to stare.
Once she could see them all in the light of the brilliant pond next to her, she could see that they were actually much more beautiful than they were frightening. They had an elegant and enchanting look to them, leaving her to believe them to be less dragon-like than she had previously assumed. And, if they were like dragons at all, it was certainly not in any traditional sense.
“I found this girl wandering in the woods, probably lost. There is nothing to see here, so go back to your homes,” the Milotic that had found Eralynn said to its kind.
The rest of the Milotic did not seem to want to stop watching, though, and they gaped at Eralynn and Aerance in awe and concern. They did not speak or look at each other for a few moments, they only stared at the human and the flame horse.
“I said,” the Milotic behind Eralynn began again, this time much more sternly, “go back to your homes.”
Hesitantly, they did as they were told. From their eventual willingness to obey, Eralynn could tell that the Milotic that had found her must’ve been their leader, or some other position of authority. They watched as the others turned and disappeared back underwater.
The Milotic slid across the grass and went in front of Eralynn and Aerance. Noticing their confusion, she began to explain. “Like I said, you seem harmless enough, so we can give you shelter until you set out again. There are caves about these woods which my people do not occupy. We live in the water, only, and so you may sleep in one of them tonight,” the leader said.
Eralynn did not dare to reject the creature’s hospitality. However, there was something very suspicious about this entire situation. Why was this Milotic so willing to simply give her shelter for the night? How was she sure that Eralynn did not mean them harm? And, although she kept a watchful eye on both Eralynn and Aerance, she seemed to hold some kind of trust in them.
Also, why did the other Milotic stare at her and Aerance so much? Had they never seen humans or Ponytas before? Eralynn decided that it must have been that, and shrugged the thought off.
She followed as the serpent turned, leading Eralynn and Aerance away from the water. They did not speak while they walked, but every few moments, Eralynn would glance nervously at Aerance. They were still quite scared, and they felt more like prisoners being escorted to a jail cell than guests being welcomed to shelter.
The Milotic led the two to a steep-looking hill. From a distance, it looked like there were many tunnels dug into it, but Eralynn could now see, closer, that they were just small cave entrances.
“You may have to duck down,” the ivory creature said, easily slithering her thin body through. Eralynn watched as her head disappeared first, then her midsection, and then her cloven tail.
The girl and her Ponyta followed. Eralynn did not need to crouch much, being so small, but Aerance had to lower her head a bit. It was an uncomfortable walk, but it was very short and they were thankful for some shelter, so neither of them complained at all.
When they had walked the short distance of the tunnel, they reached the end of the cavern. The small entranceway before it opened up into a great, hollow room. Eralynn looked up at the top, which was quite far up, and sighed.
“You are to sleep here, tonight, but hopefully, you will be leaving in the morning?” The Milotic inquired.
“Um, yes. Thank you... Oh, I never got your name,” Eralynn said. Did these Pokemon even have names? Although the Ponyta standing next to her had a unique title, Eralynn had known that many warriors chose to just call their Pokemon companions by their species' name, which also worked just fine. Eralynn had to assume that, in this case, yes, they did, since there were multiples of the same species. She turned out to be correct in that assumption.
“I am called Malkaline,” the graceful Milotic responded.
“Okay, and my name is Eralynn. Thank you, then, Malkaline,” Eralynn had struggled to pronounce the unfamiliar name. Then, before Malkaline had had a chance to exit, Eralynn quickly spoke again, “Um, may I ask you a question?”
“I suppose you may. What is it?” Malkaline answered after a moment of indecision.
“How are you speaking to me? I’ve never known a Pokemon to be able to speak,” Eralynn wondered.
The light from the flames on Aerance's body bounced off the cavern's walls and ceiling, and it made Eralynn's, Malkaline's, and the Ponyta's shadows waver upon its stone floor.
“We speak only through our minds. Milotic are creatures with highly developed brains, even more so than those of humans,” she answered simply, as if it was a very well known fact of the world.
“Oh. I was always told that humans were the most intelligent on Earth,” Eralynn said, dumbfounded.
The Milotic chuckled somewhat mockingly. “You have also never been far out of Derelon. Am I correct?” Malkaline asked her.
Eralynn nodded bashfully. She did not yet realize how much she had to learn about the world around her. Derelon had always been her home, and she had always wanted to leave, but now that she had, she felt she should have been much more prepared for what laid outside.
“Well, many humans are only power-hungry. They do not seem to desire peace, but to conquer the world and all of its wonders,” Malkaline corrected her with a sad, pitying tone.
“You’re right. There are many evil people about...” Eralynn answered, instantly thinking of the trouble that Team Devastation had caused her people alone. “What is... that light I saw?” she then asked Malkaline, changing the subject.
“That is starlight. The shining pond you saw contains the power of our stars. We, Milotic, are the assigned guardians of the stars. We were given the intelligence and endowment to protect them, and that is why we live in these waters,” Malkaline answered.
“Is that why you attacked me when I tried to come so close?” Eralynn asked, wide-eyed.
“Yes, it is. We protect the sacred water of the stars with our lives, because that it our purpose on Earth,” the beautiful creature replied.
“Oh, I see. So what would happen if you failed, and someone else got hold of the stars’ power?” Eralynn asked.
“Then things would not be as they should. Although, I’m not sure of exactly what would happen, I just know that it is the most important task for my people. We all feel that if we failed, the world would collapse because it would no longer be... right,” Malkaline tried explaining to her.
Eralynn stared at her, confused. How did they know that this was their purpose? And, who gave them this task? How important was the power of the stars, anyway? She did not like being overly curious, but she felt as if she needed to know these things. But, to her surprise, the Milotic continued on, seemingly anxious to tell her the ways of her people.
“We protect these woods carefully, since they are both our home and our responsibility,” Malkaline went on.
“But, why are they your responsibility?” Eralynn asked her.
“Everyone in the world has a purpose, and I suppose that this is just ours. I have heard many times in legends that every element of the world is guarded by someone...” Malkaline spoke quietly.
“The Protector...” Eralynn muttered under her breath.
Her thoughts flashed back to what the King had said to her. Since the Milotic were guardians of starlight, was it possible that The Protector, too, was some kind of Pokemon? And what sort of Pokemon would this prophesied creature be?
“Do you know anything about Derelon City and its legends?” Eralynn asked Malkaline suddenly.
“I once knew a woman who lived there. She was a great friend of my people. I... don’t believe I know anything about its legends, though,” the Milotic eyed Eralynn nervously, wondering what the strange human girl was up to.
“Well, a queen from a long time ago, named Oleander-” she began, but was interrupted.
“Ah, Oleander is the woman that I once knew,” the beautiful Pokemon said excitedly.
Eralynn's eyes grew even wider with this news. This Pokemon knew the great Queen of the past? Why would Oleander have traveled here anyway? Eralynn's mind raced with questions, but she tried to remain calm. This Milotic obviously did not fully trust her, and asking too many questions could have easily been the way to drive Malkaline away. Even worse, Malkaline could have taken the only chance at shelter Eralynn and Aerance had had all night.
“I see,” Eralynn said, pondering these awful thoughts and answering the Milotic simultaneously. “That’s an odd coincidence that I know of her, then. Well, she told of a Protector that would save ‘all of pure heart’ right before her death.” She paused before asking, wondering whether or not it was worth it. She soon decided that it certainly was, though, and went on. “I was wondering, since you seem very wise, if you know anything of this?”
“Right before... she died? Well, she knew about it all along, actually. She had an eye for the future, and she knew what was going to happen to her precious city. She always wanted to tell us of it, to teach us more and more,” Malkaline explained, to Eralynn's relief, not offended by her questioning.
“She seemed so brave,” Eralynn whispered.
“Yes, indeed, she was. She was a generous, kind-hearted woman. She taught us many things about the world, and about hers specifically. We now know much of mankind, thanks to her,” Malkaline said gratefully.
“She taught you everything? Wow. Why did she do that, anyway?” Eralynn questioned.
“I believe she knew... She knew about the attacks that were coming,” The Milotic answered.
“Attacks from whom?” Eralynn asked, eager to know what the serpent Pokemon was talking about.
Malkaline sighed sadly. She turned her head away from Eralynn, and the girl suddenly felt foolish for asking so many questions. But, she was answered, nonetheless.
“Oleander used to warn us about those that were evil. She told us that not all humans would be good to us, like she was. Of course, we were naive, and only knowing Oleander made us love humans. Sometime after hearing of her death in the city of Derelon, however, my people were attacked by men with ropes and nets. They captured some of us, but luckily, many escaped through the water, where they could not grab hold of us as easily.
“You see, Oleander did not always trust her powers. We all believe now that she saw that attack coming, but she did not want to scare us, or make us panic. So, she tried to warn us with hints, teaching us the ways of humans, both good and evil. I wish we could’ve just believed her...” Malkaline said sadly.
Eralynn felt a lot of pity for the elegant creatures. Although they were very intelligent, they were also innocent and had probably been living in peace when evil people had attacked them.
“Probably Varlo’s followers,” Eralynn muttered to herself quietly.
“Now, we don’t trust human beings as well as we used to during the days of Oleander’s visits. Although it has been years since we have been attacked, we always have lookouts surrounding the land, scanning for threatening humans, which is what I was doing tonight,” Malkaline explained.
Eralynn looked around nervously, thinking for a moment.
“After you caught me, why did you show me mercy? I am, after all, human. So, why would you trust me to stay with you so quickly?” Eralynn asked.
“You remind me of her, my dear,” Malkaline said sweetly, and with that, slithered from the cave, leaving Eralynn and Aerance alone to wonder.
* * *
Eralynn awoke before dawn the next morning and left the small cavern to go and find Malkaline. She thanked her for allowing her to spend the night on the Milotics’ land, and requested permission to return and visit them someday. After Malkaline had said yes, Eralynn bowed graciously and hopped on Aerance’s back, ready to depart.
As Aerance galloped away from the land of the Milotic, Eralynn noticed that many of them had emerged from the water, once again, to look at the girl. They seemed astonished by the presence of her, and Eralynn could not find a way to fully understand it.
While Aerance found the way out of the woods they had come from, Eralynn thought hard about what Malkaline had said the night before. She reminded the Milotic of Oleander, and that’s why they were all so amazed by her. That’s the reason Malkaline had let her stay in their cave without too much hesitation. She had never resembled anyone before, and now Malkaline said she seemed similar to Oleander, the hero? Of all people, it couldn’t be.
Of course, Eralynn had never really known of the Queen's many triumphs and her one defeat before the King had discussed them with her very recently. Come to think of it, she had only heard the name Queen Oleander before then. Even after the King's telling of the legend, Eralynn still did not know much about the great Oleander, she realized. Only that she was brave and had the ability to see some of the future, and that she had died at the hands of the evil Varlo when she tried to kill him and save Derelon.
As the young girl thought, she and Aerance broke through the forest’s edge, once again, able to see the rolling, smooth plains. It was still before dusk, and the sun had not yet risen, so it remained slightly dark. Eralynn directed Aerance to turn and head South, keeping on the path to Norsillon.
Eralynn yawned, tired from barely getting any sleep. She had left Derelon early in the night, and had arrived in the forest for rest a few hours later. Then, she had to wake up very early to continue on her journey. She hardly got three hours of sleep that night.
As they rode onward, Eralynn kept thinking about her father, and how he would react to her leaving the city. Obviously, he wouldn’t be too happy with her, and she wondered if she’d even be allowed to return, since she had broken the rule that said all citizens of Derelon City had to remain within its walls. She watched in her mind as visions played of Orriso yelling at the guards to throw her out and never let her back in. She saw the once kind King, who seemed to respect her so long ago, shaking his head in disappointment as he watched this scene. She watched Rhylan scoffing at her, happy to see her leaving Derelon...
“Rhylan...” Eralynn suddenly whispered as Aerance galloped underneath her. Pangs of sadness throbbed in her body as she wondered if he was alive. She wondered if he would ever even have the chance to laugh at her getting kicked out, and she suddenly forgot about her fear of not being allowed back into her home city.
She kept a look out for anything out of the ordinary as she and the Ponyta traveled, now. She had been informed, when she was younger, that the area of Norsillon could be found easily. Eralynn would have to travel through an entrance at the edge of the trees which contained a large boulder that resembled a Magikarp. All she could see for miles so far, though, were trees. She looked around herself every so often, but the scenery never seemed to change.
Suddenly, Aerance stopped and whinnied, shaking her mane. She turned towards the East, facing the forest, directing Eralynn to look this way.
In front of them was a large, gray rock, sitting between the normal-looking grove of trees. It was oval-shaped, but came to a sharp point at the top. One side of it was rather smooth-looking, continuing the oval shape, but the other side jutted out into what looked like a tail fin. This was it: the large boulder that looked like a Magikarp!
“Wow, Aerance, good eyes,” Eralynn complimented. For if it hadn’t been for Aerance spotting it, she probably never would have seen it herself. She felt even more pleased, if it was possible, that the flame horse had come along for this journey.
Aerance turned, walking the way towards the Magikarp boulder. She walked around it, and they could both clearly see some sort of pathway that led deeper into the woods. The trees surrounded the walkway, which was made of short grass that had been matted down somewhat with the occasional trodding of warriors' heels upon this place. The area of forest wasn’t very dark, and Eralynn could see rays of the now rising sun peering through the thin treetops.
Eralynn and Aerance slowly crept down the path, wary of what lay ahead. All was quiet, however, except for the occasional chirpring of Swellow and Spearow here and there. They hadn’t been walking for very long when they came to a circular clearing. It was a large, plain-looking field with a small, odd grove of trees towards its center. The grouping of trees was also circular, and had a mysterious aura surrounding it.
Eralynn suddenly felt her memories flooding back to her. She felt as if she had actually been here before, but she did not know why. Even if only for a moment, she had once gazed upon this area, and she was sure of this.
“Oh my,” she looked around herself wildly, disbelieving. “This was what I saw in my dream... or vision,” she told Aerance. Eralynn now realized that what she was being shown was real, so that meant... “They were captured here!”
She directed Aerance to advance toward the grove of trees, so as to investigate. Closer up, she could see a hole in the trunk of each tree. Inside the hollow trunk, she could see some things that were very sparkly. She assumed that these were the magical gems that the warriors were assigned to bring back in order to complete their training.
Standing right outside of the grove, she stared at the gems. She longed to reach out and grab one, just to see which color it would transform to, but she dared not. Too much rested in the color of these stones. She wasn't sure if she really wanted to know her own destiny... It might have been too overwhelming for her to take in... She decided that she would only hold one of the gems if she was going to officially become a warrior, although this was only an excuse she had made to herself in an attempt to make the stones' power seem less appealing.
Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a sound overhead.
Eralynn looked up, pulling at Aerance’s reigns so that she’d back up. They both watched as a large bird Pokemon zoomed through the air high in the sky.
“Hey, wait!” Eralynn screamed as loudly as she could, but the creature was far too high and had already flown nearly out of site. “Rhylan must be nearby, if that’s his Pidgeot...” Eralynn thought aloud. “Come on, we have to go find him!”
Aerance nodded in affirmation, and ran around the circular grove of trees. She headed in the direction from which the Pidgeot had come, and they were now running back through the woods. Eralynn looked around her desperately, scanning every inch of the forest floor for signs of anyone she’d know.
Then, she saw him. Her heart raced and panic stabbed at her. She wished that Aerance would move faster so that she would know... Was he...?
On the ground lay Rhylan. The hood of his cloak was over his head, and he was laying on his side, completely limp. As they rode closer, Eralynn and Aerance could see that his arm lay in a small pool of blood. He was clearly unconscious, but whether or not he was alive, Eralynn was not sure.
They sped towards him immediately after spotting him. Eralynn hopped off of Aerance and kneeled down beside Rhylan. She put two fingers against his throat, underneath his jaw, to see if he had a pulse. She felt herself relax a bit more when she felt the rhythm in his veins. He was alive.
She still worried, though, as she glanced at the blood surrounding his arm. How badly was he hurt? Would she be able to help him? Sure, he was always rude to her, but she did not want to see him actually die. (“Especially since he is next in line to be Prince,” she tried to convince herself.)
She lightly tapped him on the face, but he would not wake up. She looked around, unsure of what to do. “Aerance, do you think you could carry us both comfortably?” She asked her.
Aerance nodded her head and smiled with her eyes. Despite her appearance, she was quite strong. She was also used to Eralynn riding her, especially now. It seemed she could endure more from this point, even if it was just to get away from this spot.
Eralynn sat for a moment, thinking. She did not know where they could go. Aerance could certainly carry them both for quite a while, but Eralynn wasn’t sure it would be such a smart idea to travel with and unconscious Rhylan for miles and miles. They would have to find somewhere to stay, at least until he woke up. If he’d wake up...
She shook her head, still thinking about the situation. She had only found Rhylan. Where could the others be? She assumed that they might have escaped, or possibly worse... Perhaps they were captured, or even killed. She felt nauseous at the very thought of it.
She rose from her position, grabbing Rhylan’s uninjured arm, and tried pulling his body over her shoulder. It took her quite some time, but she finally gained control, and began walking towards Aerance so that she could put him over her back.
Suddenly, from behind her, there came a low growl and a snap of jaws. Her motion hindered by Rhylan hanging over her shoulder, she turned slowly to see what it was.
At the site in front of her, she nearly dropped the Prince's limp body. She tried her best to keep him from falling, as she saw six Mightyena emerge from their hiding places within the trees. They all looked rather satisfied with themselves, sneering and snarling at her. Their noses were crinkled in anger, as they snapped at the air, trying to intimidate her.
All Eralynn could do was back away from them. She walked backwards slowly, feeling her feet crinkling the soft grass below her, until she felt Aerance’s side against back.
“What do you want?” She asked them harshly. “I don’t want to hurt you, I only wish to take this boy and keep him safe for a while.”
She watched as they closed in on her. It seemed there was really no way out of this. She could let herself survive and drop Rhylan for the wolf Pokemon to have, but she would never do something like that. However, if she tried to run now, with Rhylan over her shoulder, they’d catch her easily, without a doubt. Then, they would most likely kill her...
Her eyes darted frantically about the evil Pokemon approaching her. She felt the weight of Rhylan straining her shoulders. She felt as if she would collapse, both from fear and physical stress.
With barely any warning, a Mightyena directly in front of her lunged, and she knew instantly that her journey would come to an end.
Chapter 6- The Tunnel of Fire
Aerance leapt in front of Eralynn in a flash. She was now the only thing that stood between Eralynn and Rhylan, and the vicious, evil Mightyena.
“Aerance! What the hell do you think you’re doing?!” Eralynn asked her through gritted teeth.
The flame horse glanced back and snorted impatiently, then stomped her front hooves against the ground, attempting to intimidate the growling Mightyena. She shook her head, flashing her fiery mane at them, but they just kept closing in.
“Aerance, you’re going to get hurt. Now, stop this,” Eralynn instructed.
Aerance whinnied with frustration and kept stomping at the ground in front of her. Meanwhile, Eralynn watched some of the Mightyena flinching as she did this. She was trying to distract them, to give Eraylnn some extra time.
Finally realizing Aerance’s intentions, Eralynn lifted Rhylan off of her shoulders slowly, and set him over Aerance’s back. All the while, she was sure not to make any sudden movements. She still held onto him, however, as Aerance’s stomping motion might’ve made him slide off of her. Then, making sure that the Mightyena’s eyes were still on the Ponyta, Eralynn hopped on as well. She propped Rhylan up into a sitting position as quickly as she could, putting her arms around him and holding onto the reigns.
The Mightyena were now close enough to seriously harm Aerance. One of them nipped at her legs, causing her to throw her front feet up into the air, whinnying insanely. Eralynn could not blame her for being scared to death. The wolf Pokemon’s teeth were sharp, and the look in their eyes sent a chill down her spine.
They snapped at Aerance left and right, and she tried her best to avoid all their bite attacks by backing away. However, she did not count on there being more directly behind her. She was unable to dodge a snap from one of the Mightyena lurking there. She slammed her forelegs on the ground and kicked violently behind her, and Eralynn and Rhylan nearly fell forward and over the flame horse's head as she hit two of the wolf Pokemon, knocking them backwards.
Eralynn held onto Rhylan and grasped tightly to the reigns. She pulled her weight back to steady herself, despite the Ponyta's understandable rampaging. Eralynn felt her worry growing within her. Aerance would not be able to escape the circle of malicious Mightyena surrounding her. It seemed that there was no way out of this nightmare.
Her thoughts suddenly vanished as she realized Aerance was just standing still. She wanted to yell for her to run, to try and get away. She didn't understand what her friend was doing at first. Then, Aerance raised her head to the sky, and her eyes began to glow a zealous red. From the ground beneath which she stood, flames erupted brutally, surrounding the trio. Eralynn watched in awe as the fire swam around them swiftly, rising high into the sky. It formed a tunnel to the heavens, reaching a distance that Eralynn could neither see nor comprehend. She felt the sweat upon her brow almost instantly, as the heat around her dramatically rose. She also had to close her eyes tightly, the flames being so bright, the girl could barely see.
Through all her veneration, Eralynn finally realized that Aerance had been creating some sort of shield around them- A shield of brilliant fire. She heard a loud whimper coming from behind her as she snapped back to reality, and recognized that one of the Mightyena must have tried to penetrate the barrier of flames. Had Eralynn been able to see them clearly through the twisting, cycling fire, she would have watched as one of them had dared to go through the flame. She imagined a deep burn on its nose that would likely scar it for life.
Now safe from the Mightyena, Aerance kicked up her heels and sprinted forward. She effortlessly sprang over the group of them, showering them in flames. She only ran for a bit, then turned around to head back to where they had come from. She galloped hard through the trees, Eralynn struggling to stay on and hold Rhylan at the same time.
The fires of the tunnel surrounding them eventually began to die down, and Eralynn glanced back, now able to see around her. She was confused when she didn’t see the Mightyena anywhere, but only the empty trail upon which she had found Rhylan getting smaller and smaller as they rode quickly away.
She did not say one word while Aerance ran through the forest, past the odd grouping of trees, and back out onto the plains. She did not know what to think, since she had so many unanswered questions.
What had puzzled her most was Aerance’s sudden ability to produce such a powerful flame. She knew that fire Pokemon had the power to breathe fire as an attack, but only after training. Eralynn and Aerance had never even started training, so it was practically impossible for her to know that attack, much less use it so well. Also, she’d only seen the attacks flamethrower and fire blast, and they looked nothing like this. Was this something different, or just a Ponyta’s version of one of the attacks?
Her mind was completely clouded by this, and she still wondered where the others that traveled with Rhylan were. They could’ve been anywhere, for all she knew. She would have, of course, searched the area where she had found Rhylan, but the Mightyena left them with no choice. They had to escape, and she couldn’t blame herself for not looking for them. And now, even though the Mightyena had been out of sight when they were riding away, it was highly probable that they were still there. For once, Eralynn let her mind take control, and they escaped safely.
* * * *
They had ridden for a long time, and traveled a far ways across the plains. The sun was now high in the sky, as it was early afternoon.
Upon realizing that they would need some sort of shelter for a little while, Eralynn decided it best to start looking for a good place to stay. They took turns traveling both through the woods and the plains, hoping to find a good resting spot.
While walking through the dense forest, they came across a small valley. It was in the center of the woods, where the land dipped down into the beautiful area, thick with vegetation and especially colorful wildflowers. They decided to investigate the land here on the off chance that it would be a safe spot to relax.
Eralynn marveled at this gorgeous spot, which provided her with something different than she had seen for the past couple of days. She stared at the long grass that grew around Aerance’s legs, nearly up to her stomach. At the heart of the valley was a small, freshwater stream flowing towards the North. Looking around, she spotted a charming little bridge that led over the water. There was a few feet of land covered in shadow underneath the bridge, right before the little, sparkling stream.
“Someone must’ve lived here, once,” she said to Aerance. “Or else, maybe someone still does live here...”
Aerance snorted, and kept walking forward, heading for the water.
“Why don’t we just stay under that bridge? I think it will hide us well enough,” Eralynn suggested.
Aerance agreed and picked up the pace. Once under the bridge, Eralynn climbed off of the Ponyta. Her muscles ached from riding all morning, and she was glad to finally be able to rest. She pulled Rhylan off, as well, and set him down against the bottom of the bridge.
Now that they were stopped, she had a chance to examine his bleeding arm to see if she could help him. She pulled up the sleeve of his cloak, and she could see a long gash, still fresh with blood. She gasped, wondering what could’ve possibly happened to him. After riding for this long, the wound had still not closed, and this worried her.
Suddenly, she had an idea. She bent down, ripping part of her cloak off. She had to pull quite hard to tear the seams completely. She then wrapped the cloth around his arm, covering his gash. She tied it tightly, making sure that there was still pressure on the wound to stop it from bleeding so much. Lastly, she laid him down into a more comfortable position.
“Aerance, watch Rhylan for me, okay? I need to go find some firewood... and some herbs, as well. He should heal faster if I can help him,” Eralynn explained.
She walked out from under the bridge and gazed at the plants around her. She wasn’t sure how she was going to find the only healing herb that she knew of, but it was common, and had to be around this area somewhere.
While she searched, she ran over the events of the past two days in her mind. Something big was happening to her, but she couldn’t understand it. She had no idea why she had set out on this journey in the first place, but she was glad she did. And Aerance... what had happened to her? How had she learned such an amazing, powerful attack like that? It seemed Eralynn couldn’t think straight with all that had occurred.
Eventually, she found the healing herb not far off in the woods. She picked it, also grabbed some firewood, and hurried back to the valley. Upon her return, she found Aerance sleeping, laying down right beside Rhylan. She smiled warmly at the thought of them and herself finally being comfortable.
She allowed Aerance to nap for a while, keeping a lookout for anything suspicious or dangerous, then eventually woke her up. She was in need of her fire, and she had gathered the sticks, twigs, and branches into a small pile, ready to be ignited. Aerance exhaled gently, and embers flew out of her mouth and at the firewood, abruptly lighting it into a blaze.
* * * *
Later that night, Eralynn sat around the fire, allowing it to warm her skin under the moonlight. Desperate for food, she had picked Pecha berries during the afternoon for herself and Aerance to eat. Now, after eating until they were full, the two of them sat around the flames in silence.
“I don’t know how you did that back there, Aerance,” Eralynn said, breaking through the quiet of the evening. “I’m just... proud that you’re so strong, I guess.”
Aerance stared at her, perplexed, and listened on. The light of the fire glistened in the Ponyta's soft, almond-shaped eyes as she watched her human friend.
“We didn’t even train... I’ve never seen that attack before, anyway, but it was amazing,” She kept losing her train of thought, since she barely knew what she was saying at this point. By now, she was exhausted, and she only wanted to break the silence, however it was to be done.
Aerance only shook her mane and lay down, resting her head against the soft ground beneath her.
Peering out into the forest that lay beyond the valley, Eralynn suddenly jumped. She thought that she had seen something glowing between the trees. She stared for quite some time, then got up and walked past the fire and closer to the water to get a clearer look. After a moment, whatever she had seen had gone, though. She listened for a moment, just to make sure she could not hear anything but the silence was filled only by the crackling fire and the sound of Kricketunes chirping loudly all around them. Eralynn felt somewhat silly and paranoid, and she shrugged it off, thinking it was probably nothing.
“Wha... Where am I?” A groggy voice came from behind her suddenly.
Eralynn spun around to see Rhylan squinting and trying to pull himself off the ground. He still looked sick, somehow, but at least he was awake. He accidentally put his weight on his injured arm, and fell back to the ground when he felt the shooting pain.
Instinctively, Eralynn grabbed the herbs she had found and ran over to him. She propped him up and put his back up against the wooden bridge.
“Here, eat these, Rhylan,” she instructed.
Without really hesitating or thinking, he consumed the plants, still barely even realizing that he was awake now. If Eralynn hadn’t been holding him up, he would’ve just fallen back to the ground.
Aerance crept up behind Eralynn, and they both examined him closely. His eyes opened and closed slowly as he began to wake up. His face was pale and there were heavy bags under his eyes.
“Ow...” he mumbled while clutching his arm. Then, he looked up at Eralynn, who was still at his side, and gave her a goofy smile. “I... missed... you,” he murmured.
Eralynn raised one eyebrow and glanced at Aerance, who looked equally confused. Then, to only augment their astonishment, Rhylan put his arm around Eralynn and placed his head on her shoulder, still smiling.
“Uh... What the hell?” She asked as she pushed him off of her and laid him back down onto the earth. “Maybe whatever wounded him out there gave him a bump on the head, as well,” she sarcastically told Aerance. Perhaps it was the herb, or perhaps it was because Rhylan had been unconscious for so long, Eralynn did not know. Maybe he had been dreaming of something else. However, she knew for sure that he did not mean these things, and that he must’ve been very delusional.
She and Aerance sat by the fire for a while, waiting for Rhylan to be fully conscious once more. Unfortunately, it was the middle of the night when he finally came to. He had been laying down the entire time, and finally, he was able to push himself up into a sitting position.
Eralynn turned around and watched him rub his eyes and yawn. “You were half-asleep for a really long time,” Eralynn said to him.
“Where... am I? I don’t understand,” he was groggy still, but then, a hint of panic was in his voice. “Oh my god, where are the others?!”
Eralynn watched nervously as he tried to stand up. He was still wobbling all over the place, unable to obtain any real balance. He grabbed hold of the bridge behind him, using it as some sort of crutch.
“Um, Aerance and I were hoping that you could tell us that, actually,” Eralynn exclaimed, rolling her eyes.
Rhylan sat back down abruptly, and it nearly looked like he was falling over. He looked around himself hopelessly, as if trying to recognize something familiar, but Eralynn and Aerance were the only ones he knew around him. He put his hands to his forehead and looked down at the ground. “I was... with them... and....” He tried to tell Eralynn and Aerance, but it seemed that he could not remember the details.
“Well, you do have a large, deep gash on your arm. Maybe that’ll jog your memory?” Eralynn inquired of him, hoping he wasn't going to give her information she already possessed, thanks to her mystifying dream.
He looked down, then, to see the arm that was wrapped in a piece of Eralynn’s ripped cloak. He blinked hard, seemingly remembering what had happened to him. “I... something attacked me, I think. I remember running, and everyone was following me,” Rhylan paused for a moment. “Oh no, Pidgeot! Where is she? Is she okay?” He asked Eralynn desperately.
“I believe Aerance and I saw your Pidgeot fly over us just before we found you, Rhylan,” she spoke calmly, not wanting to rile him up at a time like this. “She was headed north, towards Derelon. I'm assuming she was heading out to find some sort of help, seeing as you were still alive out there.”
“Yes... that must’ve been her,” he tried reassuring himself. “Anyway, we were running from something terrible-” his memory seemed to be coming back as he went on, “-It was huge and gray... It had great, terrible wings and sharp claws and teeth. It was like a giant stone bird...”
Eralynn just looked at him as if he was a foreign creature, not understanding very much of his mumbling. “A... stone bird?” She asked him.
Just then, though, she recalled exactly what she had seen in her dreams. Witnessing the horrifying images and the dreadful attacks of the giant, gray Pokemon was her reason for coming out here in the first place. She had seen massive creatures lifting people away in their great claws. They were very frightening. Suddenly, Eralynn was much more interested in his story than she had been before.
“Was there only one?” She questioned. She distinctly remembered at least two of them.
“There were a few, I think. Pidgeot was flying away so fast, and I didn’t want to look back. I just hope she’s okay, now... And the others... I have no idea what happened to them... Something just clawed my arm and smacked me in the head and I was out cold. I don’t remember anything after that,” Rhylan told her, exhausting worry lingering in his voice.
Eralynn stared at him in wonder. She had never seen Rhylan act like such a wreck. He was being so emotional, and she hardly knew how to respond. Normally, all they did was argue, but it seemed as if he was trying to confide in her now.
“Do you remember where you were knocked out, though?” She asked, ignoring his obvious anxiety.
“It was... somewhere in the woods, I think. Yes. Yes, that’s it... I remember seeing trees as I fell down,” he said, shaking his head in confusion.
“Why were you the only one I could see, then?” Eralynn thought aloud. “Why would they just let you lay there like that, rather than capture you and take you away, like the rest?”
Then, it hit her. Was it possible that the creatures who attacked them knew that someone would be coming to save them? It could’ve easily been some sort of trap for Eralynn. It was also an odd coincidence that the King’s son, the Prince of Derelon, was the one to be left for her to find. Perhaps whoever had captured the others thought that the King himself would come to Norsillon to rescue his son... Then, attacking the leader of the great city would truly be a blow to their resistance in this war.
Her vision had surely been accurate, and she wondered how she was able to witness an event that had not yet come to pass. Perhaps this also had something to do with the Mightyena. Perhaps someone evil had sent her the vision in hopes that she’d come, and then they would capture or kill her.
“But, why me?” She thought aloud, once again. “I’m nobody in that place...” and her thoughts trailed off, leaving silence under the small bridge in the valley. Why was it that she had seen these events take place? Was she supposed to rescue them? Was that what this voice wanted?
After a moment of thinking, Eralynn looked up at Rhylan. He suddenly had a mixture of an annoyed and a confused expression across his face.
“Why are you out here?” He asked her contentiously.
“I came because I... I knew you were in trouble, along with the rest of the people that came out here.” She knew that the story of her vision would not suffice as an answer to that question.
“So... you took it upon yourself to have a little adventure?” He was becoming angrier and angrier, now.
“Adventure? Shouldn’t you be grateful?” Eralynn asked him defensively. “I mean, it took me a long time just to find you, and I got to Norsillon faster than most people could, so-”
“No, I’m not grateful. How the hell did you know we were in trouble? And how did you get here so fast once you heard the news?” He was completely frustrated.
“I just knew, okay?” She responded.
“You just knew? What kind of hunch is that to go on? You just abandoned your city for this feeling that you had?” He inquired irritably.
“Listen. I can’t explain it to you because you wouldn’t understand,” she whispered. “Just trust me. I had a good reason for coming.”
“Yeah, well, whatever,” he snapped. He wiped his face with his hands while he spoke. “You’re so damn weird, you know that?”
Eralynn just looked to the ground, quieted by Rhylan’s insult. Of course she knew, but did he really need to say such a thing? He was pointing out the obvious rather well, though. “Just because I’m not little Miss Perfect doesn’t mean you have to have your pride hurt over me rescuing you. Why don’t you just quit being so arrogant, and admit that you needed help out here?!” Her intense screams echoed through the still night.
“Just shut up, and let me get some sleep, you freak,” he grumbled, and sighing heavily, he laid down, facing away from her and Aerance.
The girl that had rescued the Prince huffed angrily and turned around to face the fire again. She would not deny that she expected this kind of behavior from him, so she just shrugged it off and decided to treat it like one of their typical arguments.
Eralynn went to sleep that night thinking about their plans for the next day. She figured that they could stay under the bridge for a couple more days until Rhylan was healed. But then, they’d have to return home to Derelon City. It had already been such a dangerous trek out here that she wasn’t sure she wanted to take the same trail back again. There could’ve easily been more Mightyena that way, and she didn’t want to risk it.
The Mightyena... She also wondered what happened to those that were back in the forest. She assumed that they had fled in fear, but she did not know how wrong she really was...
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...
Chapter 8- Battle in The Enemy's Lair
It seemed as if time had been lost. Eralynn could no longer keep track, since she could not see the sun rising and setting over the horizon. Her best guess would’ve been that she’d been waiting for at least two days, but she could not be sure of this.
During their time there, Rhylan slept a lot, trying to avoid conversation with Eralynn. She, on the other hand, stayed awake for hours, waiting for the creature near her to claim that it had its powers back. She wasn’t normally patient, and she was dying to escape on her own, without its help, but she tried her best to control herself, not having much of a plan of her own.
Every single idea she had come up with had involved the help of Aerance, but her whereabouts were unknown now. Eralynn desperately wanted to see her friend again, not only for help out of this cage, but because she missed her and worried about her. She hoped that the being imprisoned next to her would help her find Aerance, as well as escape.
Meanwhile, the evil men, who had captured them all, constantly came to check on them. Their eyes must’ve been very used to the dark, since they didn’t need to bring a torch to view them. Eralynn could always tell when they were checking up on her and Rhylan, though, since they taunted them both incessantly.
Whenever one of them came in, despite how the fierce creature next to Eralynn was feeling, it would drop to the floor and lay down as if troubled or sick. The idea that the poison was still affecting it gave the men false confidence, and they checked on them less and less as the time passed.
Eralynn decided that it would be best to stop asking it so many questions, due to the fact that it was going to help her regardless. It seemed worried enough on its own, without having to answer all of her annoying queries.
Eventually, Eralynn fell asleep. She’d been trying her best to ignore her head injury, and her exhaustion had proven to be quite a burden. So, she gave in, finally sleeping soundly.
However, she hadn’t been sleeping for very long when a voice behind her caused her to wake with a start.
“Hey, yeah... just bring it in here. These aren’t much of a catch, but the boss should care since we got him the biggest prize of all,” a man snickered.
Eralynn slowly rolled over on her side so that she could face the side where the man’s voice was coming from. She stared hard, able to see slight motion, as one... No, two men brought in another cage. It was much smaller than hers and Rhylan’s, though. They were dusting their hands off on their clothing, when it all seemed to happen in the blink of an eye.
Eralynn could see, on the other side of the chamber, the two eyes beginning to glow, like she had witnessed before. This time, they were at a higher level, so she had to assume that it was now able to stand. It took the two men a few moments to notice, but by the time they had turned around, it was much too late. From the faint light of the glowing eyes, Eralynn saw that they were both pummeled by a stream of rushing water, which knocked them backwards. The force of the water caused them to slam against something, most likely the wall of the enclosure.
Her gaze flew from the two men back to the glowing eyes. She saw them slant to the side, and she heard rough scraping against the bars. It trying to rip them apart. After it gnawed viciously at the steel, Eralynn finally heard the creaking and breaking of the cage walls. She marveled at its strength, never having known anything with jaws so powerful.
It continued its escape by pushing the bars outward with only its weight. It eventually got out and turned to Eralynn and Rhylan’s cage with haste. The small girl fell back next to Rhylan as the eyes were suddenly thrust so close to her. They both gasped as they watched and listened to it ripping through the steel, tearing open the cage for their freedom. It pulled back the tough bars almost effortlessly, making a clear escape for them both.
“Come!” The beast shouted.
Eralynn grabbed Rhylan by the shoulder of his cloak and yanked him out of the cage with her. She watched as the creature leapt quickly away from the room, trying to lead them out. Carelessly running after it, she tripped over a rock and fell to the ground. She felt Rhylan bump into her, but caught himself before he could fall on top of her.
“We cannot see!” She exclaimed towards the creature. Frustration surged through her body. How was she supposed to follow such a swift one, when she could not even see where she was going, much less who she was to follow?
“Yes, you are right,” its voice rang again in her mind.
Then, the solution to this problem came. Eralynn and Rhylan’s attention was grabbed by a sudden light in front of them. It was not so much a glow as it was a faint blue and green shimmer, but it was enough to make Eralynn squint at first. She forced her eyes to get used to the strange aura that lay ahead, and focused upon it.
It was a Pokemon. Eralynn was sure of it, now. It was rather large, and she knew that it would tower over her with ease. Its body was all blue, with white diamond spots scattering its sides. It stood on all fours, and its body resembled that of a magnificent, giant dog. It had a white snout, and atop its head it bore a hexagonal, dark green ring. Beneath the ring, a purple mane was attached, which draped out across its back and flowed gracefully as if it was made of silk. Its tail split into two parts that resembled strips of ribbon, and they wrapped around, towards the creature’s front.
Eralynn wanted badly to ask what and who this Pokemon was, but they were in a hurry, so she bit her tongue and got up quickly, so as to follow the giant, glistening dog. She could see the rocky floor slightly better than she could beforehand, and she kept herself wary of obstacles that might be in her way as she ran. She kept looking down at the ground, up at the Pokemon leading her out, and then back to make sure Rhylan was still with them.
Before exiting the room, she saw something familiar lying in the corner. It was her bow and bag of arrows. She also spotted Rhylan’s sword lying against them.
“Hold on!” She pleaded as she ran to grab her and Rhylan’s weapons.
They made it out of the room just fine, and now, the huge Pokemon led them through a narrow tunnel. Not able to really ask questions at this point, Eralynn was forced to just quietly follow the creature, hoping that it knew the way out of this place. Strangely enough, it seemed to run by leaping and jumping, not by trotting, and it had incredible speed. Eralynn and Rhylan were holding it back a lot. She knew this because it kept having to stop and wait for them both to catch up.
They came to a sharp curve in the tunnel, and the Pokemon suddenly come to a halt. The two humans followed suit, gasping for breath while they had a chance. They waited to hear its orders, but instead, it only stood and watched. Suddenly, its shining body began to fade, and they were all shrouded in darkness again.
“What are you doing?” Eralynn whispered anxiously.
“Shh, do not speak for a moment,” it told her.
She obeyed, trying her best to breath softly. She looked up and barely saw the creature staring intently at something. She attempted to follow its gaze, and she could see a dim light in the distance. Listening closely, she could heard faint noises: a banging sound and also voices.
“They are there,” the Pokemon said, and even its whispers echoed within the tunnel.
Without a word more, it began to walk forward. Eralynn sighed, but followed it anyway, Rhylan trailing close behind. As they crept forward, the light grew brighter and brighter, and they no longer needed the Pokemon’s aid to see their way. Turning yet another sharp corner in the tunnel, the light suddenly became brilliant, and Eralynn was forced to cover her eyes with her hands. The strong creature that guided her only needed to blink a few times before it was able to stare into the firelight.
“You must crouch lower now,” it informed the two.
Listening, they both bent down low to the stone floor of the tunnel. The large dog Pokemon did the same, and they followed it as it crawled forward, closer to the opening of the rocky corridor of the mountain. Slowly, the square opening towards which they crawled grew larger and larger, and the sound of voices rang louder and louder.
Just before the edge and out of site of those below, the blue creature made them stop. They remained there, crouched down, observing the room that this tunnel had led them to find. It was vast, with a ceiling that seemed to possess an infinite height. Torches were scattered about the walls, giving the large room a bright, orange glow. Each of these was positioned at a gigantic hole in the wall, which Eralynn presumed to be more tunnels, just like the one she now waited in. There were many of these, at least twenty in this room alone, and at their entrance was a flight of stairs leading to the floor of the room.
Beneath her, Eralynn could hear men shouting orders, but to whom, she did not know. She could also make out the distinct sound of a cracking whip, and roars and cries which did not seem familiar.
“They are taming Pokemon down there,” the creature next to her muttered gravely, answering her unasked questions.
Eralynn looked down and frowned, feeling the anger building up inside of her. This was why her people were at war. This is why these cruel humans had captured her and Rhylan. The reason that they wanted to treat Pokemon this way was for their own greed and desire for power. She felt it difficult to control her temper, especially now, and she wanted badly to stand up and fight all of them by herself with only her bow and arrow. However, she tried to calm herself as she glanced up at the one who had saved her from being imprisoned. They had all made it this far alive, and Eralynn now knew for sure that she could trust the great Pokemon, whoever it may be.
However, her thoughts were instantly interrupted when she heard a sound that she recognized coming from below. Her heart leapt in her chest as she realized that it was a horse’s whinny.
“Aerance!” She screamed, unable to control herself.
“No!” The powerful creature at her side bellowed as she rose from her hiding position.
She stood staring down at the floor of the great chamber, now able to see the men and Pokemon at its bottom. She observed that she, Rhylan, and the blue Pokemon were quite high in the room, and that there were many stairs leading down from the tunnel to the floor. She watched as the men below stopped what they were doing and turned to look at her. Anguish filled her as she saw all the Pokemon chained to the walls, being forced to obey their new masters.
Scanning the bottom quickly, she spotted a flash of fire. Her eyes rested upon her best friend, chained to the wall by a rope tied around her neck. She appeared out of breath, struggling to free herself from the clutches of these evil men all this time.
The man that stood in front of her, the one trying to tame her, was momentarily distracted, and Aerance took advantage of this. She quickly opened her mouth, revealing a ball of flame. She shot it at him with all the force she could muster, and it hit him from behind, leaving him stunned. He screamed in agony, feeling the flames licking his back, and all eyes were on him.
“Why would you do that?!” The dog Pokemon at Eralynn’s side screamed angrily at her.
She was speechless, now perfectly aware that she had made a mistake, giving away that they had all escaped.
“It’s those kids from Derelon!” One of the men below shouted. “Do not let them get away!”
Almost immediately, all of the men dropped everything and began running up the stairs that led to the tunnel housing Eralynn, Rhylan, and the dog Pokemon. They scrambled upwards, believing Eralynn to be the only one there. However, they stopped dead in their tracks as the blue, majestic Pokemon arose from hiding to face them. Eralynn watched as their expressions changed from those of determination to those of terror.
“Suicune is loose, too!” One of them screamed.
“Impossible! It has been unconscious from the tranquilizing herbs for days!” Another muttered to the rest.
“Yes, I even checked on them all... They all seemed...” A man’s voice trailed off in despair and disappointment.
They stopped discussing the problems and watched as Suicune, whose name Eralynn finally knew, raised its head towards the ceiling, as if baying at the moon. Rather than a howl, it let out a great roar that echoed throughout the entire cavern, causing all within to cover their ears with their hands.
“You will pay for what you have done,” Suicune spoke nobly, powerfully.
The men below pushed their fear aside and charged towards the three once more. Eralynn glanced at Rhylan, looking for a plan or a way out.
“Let me handle this,” Suicune ordered, and stepped right out on the edge of the tunnel.
Its body began to shimmer blue, green, and purple, just as it did before, and suddenly, Eralynn could hear the sound of rushing water coming from behind them. Suicune grabbed the sleeve of Rhylan’s cloak in its jaws and pulled him closer. He beckoned for Eralynn to come near, as well.
“Hurry, get on!” He shouted over the sound of fast running water coming from behind.
Eralynn and Rhylan obeyed the great creature, and climbed swiftly onto its back. They held on tightly as Suicune leapt gracefully from the edge of the tunnel, and landed on the other side of the men who had previously trapped them. Just as Suicune began to speed down the stairway to the floor, water flowed forcefully out, making its way for the group of men the trio had narrowly avoided. They turned and ran, but they were no match for the push of rushing water. It collided with them all, and they fell with it as it flowed down the stairs.
Eralynn looked across the floor as Suicune reached the bottom. She spotted Aerance in the far corner, ripping at the ropes that strangled her with her teeth. She was trying her hardest to free herself. Then, the terrifying realization came to Eralynn.
“Oh no! Aerance is a fire Pokemon! She can’t take the water, Suicune!” She yelled over the sound of screaming men, Pokemon, and gushing water. “Aerance!” She shouted. “Try to climb to higher ground!”
Aerance still struggled to free herself, pulling and tearing at the ropes that entangled her. She could not seem to break them, since her teeth weren’t those of a carnivore.
“Suicune! Do something, please!” Eralynn exclaimed in her fury.
The great Pokemon nodded, and flew towards Aerance. It shouted at her to move to the side so that the rope would stretch out. As soon as she did, it leapt, and with only one bite, Aerance was free. Immediately, she ran for the nearest staircase, galloping rapidly upwards, away from the flowing water beneath. Suicune followed her, with Eralynn and Rhylan still holding on.
The other Pokemon that were enslaved by these people were also breaking free. They ran as fast as they could up the stairways, anxious to reach safety. They followed the way Suicune and Aerance had run and were now waiting in the tunnel beside them. Eralynn noticed a familiar Meganium amongst them...
On the other hand, the evil men were not so fortunate. They were swept up by the careless, relentless waves, and they were now trying to stay afloat the violent waters that trapped them.
Suicune finally came to a halt, as did Aerance. They both turned, allowing Eralynn and Rhylan to watch what was occurring at the depths of the giant chamber. This was only a temporary victory, though. Eralynn knew somehow that she, Rhylan, Aerance, and Suicune were not the only ones who were trapped within the mountain. The other warrior initiates had to have been there, as well. She turned back to look at Rhylan.
“This is the lair of Team Devastation, Rhylan, I just know it,” she said solemnly.
“It has to be,” he replied, for once not arguing with her.
“They must have the others, then… Listen, back in Derelon, I saw these Pokemon, Mightyena, you know. Anyway, they had these dark red collars on. It must’ve symbolized that they’re on the bad team. So, I saw these Pokemon chasing you and the others… They had the red collars on, as well,” She explained quickly to him.
“How the hell did you see us being chased by Pokemon?” He asked her, frustrated.
“You just have to trust me; I know that they’re here, okay?” She said.
“Ugh... fine then,” Rhylan grunted.
“Suicune,” Eralynn said, turning around again, “There are others like Rhylan and myself, here. We have to go find them, too.”
“Hmm, yes. We should set all the prisoners free, now that my full potential is back,” it said.
“But, there’s a slight problem,” she said. “I have no idea where they might be.”
Suicune sighed hopelessly. He seemed to be thinking for a moment.
Suddenly, Aerance walked up to the dog Pokemon’s side and nudged Eralynn on the cheeked. She snorted, indicating that she wanted Eralynn’s attention.
“What is it, Aerance?” She asked her friend.
Aerance whinnied, kicking up her front legs. She then turned, and began walking deeper into the tunnel in which they all stood.
“Should we… follow you, then?” Eralynn inquired, puzzled.
Aerance nodded, shaking her mane up and down, causing the flames to spiral upward.
“Okay, then,” Eralynn said, then turned to Rhylan. “Perhaps she saw where the other prisoners were taken.”
He nodded, looking back at Aerance. She trotted slowly, making sure they could see where she was leading them. Suicune followed closely behind, able to see clearly by the light of Aerance’s flame upon the stone walls of the tunnel. The other Pokemon walked right behind them. They walked quite a distance, but Aerance seemed quite confident in where she was taking them. They came to many forks and turns, but the fire horse barely hesitated, leading them deeper into the mountain.
Eralynn grew nervous after some time. What if the men from the gigantic room had finally escaped the water that engulfed them before? They could have easily been following them by now. And although Aerance kept them going at a fast and steady pace, they could’ve caught up anyway.
Her fears were soon replaced by curiosity, though, as they finally came to a small doorway. They all ducked and stepped inside cautiously, careful not to make too much noise. Eralynn could see two guards lying inside. Behind them, there was a large cage, housing many people. Eralynn recognized them soon enough, and realized that these were the warriors who had been captured by Team Devastation in her vision.
“Hey, what do you think you’re doing here?” One of the angry guards asked them, drawing his sword.
Suicune’s reaction was nearly instant. It threw its head back and opened its jaws, releasing a stream of water from its mouth that directly hit the guard. The other gasped at its power, and he quickly sheathed his sword and tried to run. Aerance caught him right behind her, though, and performed a stomp attack, throwing him off balance and causing him to fall.
“Yeah, Aerance!” Eralynn praised happily.
Aerance turned to face the fallen guard, and he now lay quivering in the corner of the room. She stared him down, making him even more frightened than before.
“Hey, grab the keys off of him!” Rhylan shouted at her.
She listened, bending down and taking the keys out of his hand. She brought them back to Aerance, who hopped off of Suicune so that she could unlock the cage which held all the warriors.
“Eralynn? Rhylan?” A hoarse voice came from within.
“Landon?” Eralynn and Rhylan both uttered at the same time.
“What are you guys doing here?” Landon asked.
“We’re saving you,” Eralynn replied, rolling her eyes.
She twisted the keys in the lock until she found the right one, then she opened the door, letting the prisoners out. They all exited slowly. It seemed they couldn’t walk very well. Meanwhile, Aerance kept watch on the guard in the corner.
“Come on, hurry up!” Eralynn urged impatiently.
Eventually, the last person stumbled out, and Eralynn shut the cage door behind him. Landon and the others seemed to be exhausted, and they could barely stand.
“How long have you guys been here, anyway?” Rhylan asked them.
“We’re not sure, actually,” a boy named John responded. “They captured us and brought us here, and we don’t really remember much of it…”
His cloak was ripped, along with everyone else’s. It appeared as if they had been beaten, but none had very serious injuries.
“I’d say maybe six days or so,” Landon told him.
Then, a sudden smile came across his face as he looked through them and towards the group of Pokemon behind them. His eyes lit up and he staggered towards them.
“Meganium!” He said cheerfully. “I thought I’d lost you, buddy!”
The green grass Pokemon came forward to greet its friend. It looked like a dinosaur, stood on all fours, and had flower petals around its thin neck. Eralynn knew she had seen it somewhere before, and this only confirmed it. It smiled happily at Landon as he hugged it.
The rest of the tired warriors did the same, getting up just to greet their friends. They were caged up for a long time, so Eralynn and Rhylan let them have their moment before making them run off again.
After they had all found their friends in the crowd of Pokemon, Eralynn told them that they had to leave as soon as possible.
“Does anyone know a safe way out of here?” She asked everyone around her.
They all responded with murmurs of uncertainty, and she only sighed with worry. They had come this far, though, and she would not let them all give up now. She glanced up at Aerance.
“Alright, we’re going to have to lead them out of here, bud,” she informed her.
She hopped up on her back and noticed that there was still a piece of rope around her neck. She untied the knot and pulled it off, revealing a line of irritation around the Ponyta’s neck.
“You poor thing…” Eralynn muttered softly.
Aerance turned around, so that both she and Eralynn could face the group behind them.
“We must leave this place now,” she said loudly enough to get everyone’s attention. “We are lucky that we have escaped and made it as far as this, but we need to find a way out. If anyone knows one, please, tell me.”
She looked around at the quiet group. The humans were having a hard time moving and standing, while the Pokemon looked scared and frustrated. They were all so weathered, and she did not know what to do for them.
“Um, everyone mount your Pokemon now,” she said quietly.
To her surprise, they obeyed her without question. Did they think of her as some form of authority, now? She didn’t know, but she felt that they needed some sort of leader. All of them were so tired and disheartened. They had no motivation to escape on their own, so it would only help. She herself had been imprisoned for a couple days, while they hadn’t had any food for at least one week. It was up to her and Rhylan to aid them now.
“Follow me,” she told them, and she could hear the sound of their Pokemon's feet walking behind her.
Rhylan on Suicune walked at her side, not a pace behind her. Landon and Meganium were on her other side, but a couple steps back. With the four of them flanking her, she found herself to be slightly less nervous, but she was still rather uncertain of exactly where she was going. She was finally doing something that wasn’t just for fun. She wasn’t playing a game or a prank, but trying to lead a small band of her people to safety.
“Psst, Aerance,” she whispered to her friend. “Do you have any idea of the way out?”
The Ponyta snorted, declaring that she didn’t. She kept walking at a steady pace, allowing the slower, tired Pokemon behind her to keep up. They had not been walking for very long, when they suddenly heard voices.
Eralynn felt Aerance twitch in excitement, and she saw, out of the corner of her eye, Suicune prepping itself to attack. Landon’s Meganium, tired from the lack of sunlight that a grass Pokemon normally loved, still extended its vines and poised itself for battle. Eralynn was dreadfully nervous. She now could hear the sound of a Pokemon… A big Pokemon…
She saw a dim shadow coming around the corner, and five men in dark cloaks emerged. Eralynn sighed in relief at first, thinking they were safe from any real danger.
Then, to her absolute horror, two huge, winged beasts came up behind them. Through the firelight, she could see their dull-colored bodies, their sharp teeth, and their ripping talons. She could hear nearly everyone positioned behind her gasping in shock, as the two creatures let out a piercing, deafening roar.
“Everyone, hold your ground,” Eralynn instructed, while shaking from fear herself.
How were they to defeat such huge, vicious Pokemon when all of them were exhausted and unfed? She knew that they were all doomed. She knew that even Suicune’s power might not be able to match these creatures,’ from the looks of it.
“Yes, that’s it,” one of the cloaked men said, stepping away from the others. “You will pay for trying to escape, little ones. You have no chance against my ferocious beasts; it is over for you!”
Chapter 9- The Decision
“Now, my precious Aerodactyl, attack those fools!” The evil man said before them.
The grey, fierce, flying Pokemon screeched, and lowering their heads, charged at Eralynn and all that waited behind her.
Next to her, Suicune let out a fearsome roar, stepping forward, closer to Aerance and Eralynn. She nearly jumped as it fired its powerful jet of water at one of the two threatening Pokemon. They were very fast, as Eralynn could see when they dodged the water attacks.
“Aerance, come on, let’s attack!” Eralynn cheered the Ponyta on, despite her fear.
Aerance whinnied excitedly, kicking her hind legs back. She readied herself, and then shot a blast of fire at one of the large Aerodactyl. This time, it attempted to dodge again, but the fire grazed the very tip of its wing, causing it to scream angrily.
“Good job!” Eralynn shouted with pride.
She now noticed that the five men were advancing toward them slowly, carefully. Instinctively, she reached back for her bow and positioned an arrow, ready to fire if need-be. “Do not approach any closer,” she told them sternly.
Eralynn kept her eyes on the men while the two Aerodactyl swept overhead, trying to grab anyone or anything in their massive claws. The Pokemon and humans below continued to duck, however, and Suicune continued to fire streams of water at the flying beasts.
“Watch out!” Its deep voice boomed through the tunnel suddenly.
It leapt through the air, straight over all of the scared, huddled ones once behind it, and shot its blast of water once more while in midair. It made a direct hit with an Aerodactyl, striking it in the face. Through the flying creature’s fury, it stopped flying and shook the water away, obviously very aggravated. It gave another roar, this time concentrating its attack on the powerful Suicune.
The other, however, was still after the rest of them. Eralynn watched it fly over Landon and Meganium. The grass Pokemon extended its vines, trying to slap it as it flew overhead, but it kept missing.
Then, an idea came to her. “Hey, Landon! Tell your Meganium to try and stop the Aerodactyl from moving with its vines!” She shouted across the raging battle.
She still kept her gaze upon the men dressed in cloaks. She didn’t dare look away for a moment, might they come closer if not threatened by a weapon. Despite her concentration, she could still hear Landon agreeing to her suggestion.
She turned from her stare and fixed her eyes upon Meganium. It was now waiting for an Aerodactyl to fly by, she was sure of it. It swooped down from the air suddenly, grabbing Landon in its talons.
“No! Landon!” Rhylan yelled. He had now gotten off of Suicune’s back, allowing it to fight the Aerodactly without his weight as a burden.
Landon was not doomed, though, as Meganium quickly lashed out its vines towards the winged beast, finally able to wrap them around its legs.
Angry and horrified, the Aerodactyl dropped Landon, and he didn’t have to fall a far distance, as Meganium had been pulling the flying Pokemon closer and closer to the ground. He landed with a thud, but was quickly on his feet again.
“Good, Meganium,” he said, supporting his companion.
“Alright, Aerance, now we can really get ‘em,” Eralynn said, ready to take advantage of the fact that the Pokemon was trapped. “Fire away!” She yelled.
All of them gasped as the Ponyta released the biggest fire attack any of them had ever seen. It had a distinct shape to it: a cross, but with an extra leg. Unable to escape, the Aerodactyl was devoured by the powerful fire attack. Its body burned and damaged, it fell to the ground; at last it had fainted.
Eralynn sighed with relief, as the cloaked men groaned in anger. But then, she noticed Suicune fighting the other Aerodactyl. It let out a series of water attacks, and the Aerodactyl countered them with an attack that looked like a yellow beam of light, a hyper beam. Both kept missing the other, however, and the pointless, repetitive battle between the two raged on. Suicune used the walls of the tunnel to its advantage, bouncing off the sides with incredible agility. On the other hand, Aerodactyl used its flight to its advantage. The fight seemed futile, but they kept at it.
Eralynn glanced back at everyone behind her, but still kept her arrow pointed toward the men ahead of her. She needed to get out of this place, although, she knew that she couldn’t just leave Suicune there. It had saved her and Rhylan from imprisonment, and now, she really owed it a favor.
“Okay, everyone, help Suicune! Attack that Aerodactyl!” She finally yelled to them.
Behind her, she could hear voices commanding their Pokemon to attack, each with their individual types and special attacks. All of them combined would have to do something to help, she thought.
“Aerance, blast it with your fire,” she told her friend.
The Ponyta obeyed, reeling back, and releasing a flame attack at the flying Aerodactyl. Unfortunately, Aerance’s attack missed, but there were many more to come. Eralynn watched in amazement as streams of water, ice, fire, psychic energy, electricity, and hyper beams came from behind her and shot towards the Aerodactyl. The huge, flying beast spun around as it realized nearly all the Pokemon there were attacking it. It nimbly avoided the fierce attacks as they came, though, weaving and swerving through the air in the tunnel.
Directly underneath it, Suicune realized that it was finally distracted, and attacked. A jet of water slammed into the Aerodactyl’s back, throwing it against the opposite wall of the tunnel. It screamed furiously as it turned around to face its assailant. Eralynn plugged her ears from its scream, and many Pokemon and humans behind her flinched.
“Again!” Eralynn cried.
Once more, the attacks flew at the vicious flying Pokemon, all narrowly missing their target. Erlaynn’s focus was now on the Aerodactyl, and she nearly forgot that there were five evil men before her. The one in front crept up to her slowly, hoping she wouldn’t notice his presence. He was in reach of her, now; he could kill her easily. He pulled out his sword and reeled back, ready to strike his young foe.
Eralynn’s attention was quickly drawn back as she heard the clang of two swords right in front of her. She looked down to see Rhylan, holding his weapon against the unidentified, cloaked man.
“You get away from us!” Rhylan exclaimed through clenched teeth.
The other four men attacked, this time, but were met by the tired, formerly imprisoned warriors of Derelon City. They had jumped off their Pokemon and ran to meet their enemies. Eralynn stayed upon Aerance, though, as she fired blasts of flame at the Aerodactyl, which was still battling with all its might. Suicune helped defend Aerance and Eralynn, leaping in front of them to shoot it with more water attacks. Eralynn listened to the clashing of weapons next to her, unsure of how she should be fighting. She could only watch, as Suicune and Aerance combined their powers, sending a swirl of fire and water at the large, flying creature. It hit the tired Pokemon in the center of its chest, and it fell to the floor of the tunnel, fainted.
Triumphant, the three turned to look at the fight between the men. Rhylan was holding one of them off decently, but he was still getting tired. As for the rest of them, it seemed hopeless. They were exhausted, and all the strokes of their swords were done with the last of their strength. They were hardly able to defend themselves.
Through the crowd, Eralynn spotted Landon fighting one of the men alone. He countered the man’s moves well, blocking his attacks, but eventually, he fell to the ground, weak from hunger. The cloaked one raised his sword to stab the defenseless Landon, but Eralynn would not have it. She pulled an arrow back with her bow and shot. The man’s sword dropped to the ground as the shoulder of his cloak was pinned to the wall by the sharp arrow. The girl felt relief surge through her, and she shot another arrow, pinning his other shoulder back. He was the prisoner, now.
“One down, four to go,” she murmured to herself. “Do not kill them, but try to trap them!” She shouted to the warriors.
Rhylan was nearest to her, and she watched as he feinted and jabbed with his sword, finally grazing his challenger’s abdomen. The cloaked man dropped his weapon, clutched his gut in agony, and dropped to the ground.
“Call your men off, or I’ll finish you,” Rhylan spoke ruthlessly.
The man on the floor trembled, holding his stomach and looking up at the boy who threatened his very life. Eralynn could now see his face somewhat clearly. He had deep, hollow, black eyes, and a dark beard. His expression was of anger, frustration, and terror. For a short while, he did not speak, deep in thought.
“Stop… Stop the attack!” He called out, after hesitating much.
Eralynn had admired Rhylan’s idea. He somehow knew that the man would be selfish enough not to risk his own life, and now they could be free. Rhylan poked the sitting man, causing him to arise from his position. He forced him back to the other side of the tunnel, to where the group of warriors had come from.
“Now, make them all come to you,” Rhylan ordered the wounded one.
He nodded hastily. “Come over here, with me,” he stuttered, but they still followed his orders. All except the one pinned to the side of the tunnel.
“You will remain here until we have all exited the mountain,” Eralynn mandated. “Not one of you is to move until we are all guaranteed our safety out of this place.”
“But… how will we make them stay if we’re running out?” Rhylan turned to ask her.
He was right. They could just start chasing them as soon as they were out of sight. Eralynn scratched her head at the reminder of the flaw in her plan.
“I will stay here with them,” Suicune said suddenly, its deep voice reverberating.
“No, Suicune, I cannot ask you to do that. It would be too dangerous for you,” Eralynn replied, trying to stop it.
“I disagree,” it responded, eying the two injured men and the three other, tired ones. “I can handle them just fine. Now, go.”
“I said GO!” It shouted at her, making her jump.
Eralynn grabbed Aerance’s reigns and they whirled around, ready to run in the opposite direction. She noticed that Rhylan was the only one that didn’t have a Pokemon with him, so she grabbed him and pulled him up onto Aerance’s back, behind her. She beckoned to the rest of them to follow her, and Aerance galloped away. Eralynn couldn’t help but steal a glance back at Suicune, who still cornered the four men. She forced herself to move onward, despite her worry for the Pokemon.
They all headed down the long, vast tunnel aimlessly. The only goal they were sure of was escaping the mountain, but the way, they didn’t know. Eralynn just kept going straight, hoping desperately to find some kind of exit.
She listened as the pounding of Aerance’s hooves began to slow, and her vision began to blur. Time seemed to fade and the space around her left her alone. She was by herself, now, watching something- listening to someone. Her heartbeat sounded in her ears as something, or someone, called to her through the darkness that now lay ahead.
The twists and turns that were before her were suddenly clear, as if she’d been here before or known about it her whole life. She could see the way out.
“Go back and lead them,” a soft, beautiful voice whispered in her mind.
Then, as quickly as the vision had come, it was gone. Reality seemed to whip back at her as the tunnel, the people, the Pokemon, and the sounds around her seemed to flood her mind again. She was back.
“Where are we going?!” Rhylan shouted from behind her.
She turned her head to see his confused expression. Perhaps he had noticed that she was acting funny a moment ago.
“I know, now!” She said, so that everyone else could hear her, as well.
Rhylan was utterly bewildered, but Eralynn turned around to face front, unwilling to explain the situation any further than she had. It wasn’t as if he was the most understanding person, anyway.
Aerance now ran at a full gallop through the mountain, hoping that the other Pokemon would be able to keep up well enough. She came to a fork in the tunnel, but Eralynn quickly directed her to keep going and take a left. After giving her a strange look, Aerance listened, and moved the way she was told.
They ran this way for a long time. Eralynn seemed so sure of where they were going, but Rhylan and Aerance could not help but doubt her knowledge of the enemy’s base. As for those following them, they were far too tired to bring up their concern. They merely traveled behind them, trusting that Eralynn knew the way.
Eventually, they came to a steep rise that led straight up to a brilliant white light. It was a small, square opening, and the tunnel looked narrow, but it seemed it was the only option they had.
Rhylan gasped as he realized that Eralynn had indeed known the way out. The others seemed surprised, also. Aerance merely snorted in disbelief, amazed with her friend.
“Let’s go,” Eralynn exclaimed triumphantly, and they all followed as Aerance sped up the slope and headed straight for the exit.
They burst through the small doorway, and immediately, Eralynn found herself squinting from the sudden sunlight that surrounded them. She could barely see, but was enthralled, nonetheless, for breaking through the opening. She sighed with relief, but then, she felt Aerance struggling beneath her. She looked down to see that the flame horse had nearly plummeted off of the mountain’s path, and was now pulling herself back further away from the edge. Eralynn swallowed as she saw smaller rocks roll off the edge and fall nearly forty feet to the bottom.
“Hey, there they are, Max!” An angry voice came from their left.
Eralynn looked to see two guards standing at the exit, staring at them and frowning. She didn’t count on there being guards outside of the mountain, too, and a wave of panic rushed over her.
“Sick ‘em, Mightyena!” The other commanded.
Eralynn’s eyes widened as she searched her mind for a solution. The only thing she could come up with was to run, and they did just that. She went ahead of the other humans and their Pokemon, trying to make them all run faster down the thin mountain path, but the Mightyena were much more agile, not having a human to wear them down.
To Eralynn’s horror, she could hear the wolf Pokemon running close behind, snapping and snarling at the group of fleeing warriors.
“Alright, we’re going to stop, so everyone, go around me,” she instructed, having to yell back at them.
Soon, she pulled Aerance’s reigns, causing her to stop, her hooves skidding along the dirt-covered mountain road. The other Pokemon kept running around her, but only two could fit on the width of the path, making them passing her a bit slowly. As soon as they had all run by, Aerance turned to face the wolf Pokemon, who stopped in alarm.
There were eight of them. They stood crouched down, biting at the air and barking wildly. The one in front, Eralynn presumed, was their leader. He was much larger than a normal Mightyena. His teeth and claws were sharper and longer, and the hair on his back stood higher than that of any other’s there. He was indeed intimidating, and Eralynn already felt fear passing through her as she stared at him.
“Back away from us and let us go!” Eralynn yelled, despite the terror she felt inside of her.
The leading Mightyena only gave a wicked smile, penetrating all of her courage with its gaze. She cleared her throat nervously, now fully aware of what she must do. Battle.
“Aerance, attack them!” She screamed.
The attacks from both sides seemed to occur simultaneously. Aerance opened her jaws and sent a blast of fire at the group of angry Mightyena in front of her, and the Mightyena Leader lunged viciously for her throat in return. Startled by his suddenness, Aerance cut off her attack and dodged his bite. The fire only grazed the rest of the pack of wolves, and the Mightyena Leader barely missed his target.
Eralynn became immediately worried. How did she expect her Ponyta to take on eight Mightyena? And plus, this one that had just attacked seemed so much stronger than the rest. Its bite could’ve possibly been fatal. Eralynn winced at the thought of her best friend getting hurt because of her. She would never get over that if it happened.
“Back up, Aerance. I don’t want you getting hurt,” Eralynn yelled in a panic.
She did not listen, however, and stomped her hooves against the dusty floor of the mountain lane. The attack caused the large Mightyena to back away slowly, cautiously, but Eralynn could tell that he wasn’t done trying to hurt Aerance. He gave a low growl as he glared at the three. Only then did Aerance listen to Eralynn and back away.
The largest Mightyena gave a quick gesture to the others. He threw his head backwards, then forwards, in a swift motion, and they charged. Eralynn and Rhylan both screamed, and Aerance whinnied, throwing her front hooves into the air in a fright. All Mightyena attacked, then, from all sides and angles.
“There’s no hope for us,” Eralynn thought gravely to herself.
She felt the powerful jaws of a Mightyena clamping around her forearm, and she screamed in pain. Behind her, Rhylan was kicking and punching them away. When he noticed that Eralynn was being attacked by one of them, he kicked it in the stomach, forcing it to let go. It fell and hit the ground, moaning unhappily. Eralynn grasped her arm in anguish, but then, she realized that she wasn’t the one that was truly in trouble.
She was suddenly taken aback when she saw the Mightyena attacking Aerance. One had taken hold of her front leg, even while she tried her best to kick it away. Another was attacking her from the back, avoiding her kicking and tackling her. Yet another attacked her from the side, repetitively using quick attacks upon her flank. The largest Mightyena, though, simply stood at her front and sneered, watching happily as his evil companions ripped her apart.
After fighting back enough, Aerance was unable to block a critical bite attack from one of the wolf Pokemon. It had taken hold of her upper leg, and her weight gave way, causing her to topple to the ground. Eralynn and Rhylan barely made it off of her as she landed on her side. They stood up against the wall of the mountain, with Aerance lying in front of them. Eralynn was desperate to protect the fire horse, and she tried to jump in front of her, but Rhylan caught her by the shoulder, pulling her back.
The leader of the Mightyena was completely willing to take advantage of the fact that Aerance was vulnerable. His lips curled back as he sneered and growled at her. Fangs bared, he leapt straight for her neck. He opened his jaws and-
A deafening, thunderous roar came from the exit of the mountainside. Eralynn plugged her ears and squinted in discomfort. She saw the large Mightyena drop to the ground just before he had the chance to kill Aerance. He, too, was covering his ears with his paws. However, he did not look annoyed or bothered, but frightened by the booming roar.
Eralynn looked up the slope and her heart leapt. The magnificent figure of Suicune stood atop the mountain path, which looked even more charming in the sunlight. The blue of its coat gleamed, and the purple main flowed elegantly in the wind. Eralynn stared in awe at the noble creature.
It jumped down to where Rhylan and Eralynn stood, and where Aerance laid. It shoved itself between Aerance and the ruthless Mightyena, and quickly shot him with a powerful water gun, sending him flying towards the edge of the path. He just barely held on to the brink of life, now, for he held only to the mountain path with his front paws. He clawed and scrambled to pull himself up, but to no avail. He was clinging for his life, and Suicune was readying himself to finish the wolf off with another water attack.
“No! Suicune, no… Please, don’t kill him,” Eralynn whispered, feeling pity for the dark Pokemon.
“And why shouldn’t I?” Suicune shouted furiously at her.
“It’s not his fault that he’s bad,” she stated kindly. “These people taught him to be like that, they raised all of their Pokemon to be evil, and they deserve our mercy, at least.”
“Ugh…” Suicune muttered, frustrated. It seemed to consider for a while whether or not she was right, but it must’ve eventually agreed with her, because it decided to let the Mightyena live.
Eralynn and Rhylan helped Aerance get up, since she had difficulty, due to the pain in her leg. Just then, they noticed that there were still Mightyena scattered about the path, ready for another assault on the trio, now a foursome, thanks to Suicune.
“Oh no, what should we do?” Eralynn asked all of them.
“I’m… not sure,” Rhylan replied sadly.
“Plug your ears,” Suicune ordered.
“Plug my- AHHH!” Eralynn’s question was interrupted as Suicune let out another vicious roar, causing her to scream from witnessing the attack so close-range.
The rest of the Mightyena trembled in fear for a moment, and then sped away, down the road which wrapped around the mountain. Their heels kicked up dust, leaving a small cloud behind them. Meanwhile, the larger Mightyena had managed to pull himself up, but did not dare mess with Suicune. It trotted away, up the slope, back to its masters, with its tail between its legs. It whimpered in its shame, and they all watched as it went out of their view.
Suicune turned to look at the three, and then motioned for them to start moving. Eralynn walked at Aerance’s side, helping the injured pony walk down the narrow path. Rhylan walked in front of them, next to Suicune. Their altitude was practically nothing compared to the actual height of the mountain, so the journey was not as bad as it would’ve been. If they had come out of one of the upper exits, they would’ve been a few hundred feet up, near the very top.
Over all, the path was quite smooth, and Aerance was especially grateful for that. She had to make a couple of painful leaps where there was a gap in the road, but other than that, all they encountered were small rocks and pebbles.
They reached the bottom, which led directly to the plains below. They kept walking and walking, and Eralynn could finally feel freedom and hope. They would be okay, now. But, she was still rather worried about Aerance’s wounds. They seemed very serious, and she wasn’t sure how much she could help her best friend.
They traveled the fastest they could to the forest that lay beyond. They came to the conclusion that they would be much safer under the cover of the trees than out in the open grassland. Apparently, their friends had come up with the same idea. As soon as they entered the woods, Landon came out from hiding behind a tree to let the four know that the rest were all there, too. He had supposedly served as a lookout for them while they rested.
The four of them followed Landon to where the tired warriors were resting. They were all lying by a thick grouping of trees, and were well hidden. The humans had their backs up against the trees, some of them sound asleep. The Pokemon were also exhausted from all that had happened, and many of them rested on the forest floor, next to their human companions.
Eralynn brought Aerance over to them, and allowed her to finally lie down. The flame horse was absolutely relieved, and was very willing to sleep.
“Rhylan, watch over her, okay? I’m going to go find us some food,” Eralynn said quietly, so as to not disturb those that were asleep.
She walked through the woods towards a grove of Oran Berry trees that she had spotted when they were walking into the woods earlier. She picked quite a few berries, and began walking back to where all of the warriors were sound asleep.
She jumped when she noticed something had come up behind her, but sighed thankfully when she noticed the blue, shimmering coat of Suicune.
“What are you doing awake? Why don’t you sleep, like the others?” She inquired.
“I wanted to say goodbye to you, Eralynn,” It whispered gravely.
“Do you really have to go, though?” Her voice echoed in the stillness.
“I do. I must attend to my duties… But I wanted to thank you,” it told her.
“Thank me? For what, though?” She was confused by the creature’s gratitude, when it was actually Suicune that had helped Eralynn so much.
“You made me realize that there is still good in this world. You showed mercy for an enemy, and that showed me how kind a human can really be. Thank you… for reminding me, Eralynn. I am glad that I could’ve been of service to you,” Suicune replied.
Eralynn watched as it leapt through the trees, farther and farther away, until she could no longer see the glistening blue fur any longer. She sighed sadly at the parting of such a brave, wonderful Pokemon.
“Goodbye…” she whispered through the trees.
She returned to where everyone was resting and smiled when she noticed that Aerance was resting her head upon Rhylan’s lap. The boy had his back against a tree, and was snoring.
She decided it’d be best if she did the same. She sat down close by, and shortly, she fell asleep. She dreamt of returning to Derelon City, and how her father would react. She knew that it wouldn’t be a pleasant reaction, and she suddenly wasn’t so sure if she should go back or not…
* * *
Eralynn awoke to the sound of Taillow and Pidgey chirping happily amongst the other forest Pokemon. She opened her eyes slowly, adjusting them to the faint sunlight around her. She looked about, and noticed that everyone was already awake. She had assumed last night, before she’d fallen asleep, that she’d be the first to rise, since her and Rhylan were most likely the healthiest of the band.
She rubbed her eyes and yawned, and saw that Aerance was lying beside her. She stroked her white fur, trying her best not to touch the cuts and bruises that the pony had suffered through the previous day. The kind Pokemon whinnied softly, and lowered her head to the ground.
Eralynn saw that all the warriors were up and eating, as well. They were stuffing themselves with the Oran Berries she had picked the previous night, and she noticed that there were hardly any left.
“Hey, you better not eat all of those. Let the Pokemon have some, too,” She said groggily.
They all jumped at the sound of her voice. Apparently, they hadn’t yet realized she was awake. They were too busy eating to notice.
“Eh, don’t worry, Miss Grouchy,” Rhylan retorted. “We fed our Pokemon first, then we went and picked more berries for ourselves, so calm down.”
She sighed at his rudeness and got up, allowing herself to stretch. She ate breakfast with the rest of them, and encouraged Aerance to eat more of the healing berries in order to help her wounds. All the while, she thought about Suicune, and how she would miss it.
The group of young warriors stayed in the forest all day, mostly resting or talking quietly amongst their friends. They hadn’t had a chance to relax in so long, and they loved that they didn’t have to worry about much, far enough away from the enemy’s hideout. They eventually decided, however, that they would leave at nightfall and head back for Derelon City. By night, none of the evil humans lurking about would be able to see them clearly. And even if they were to run into any dark Pokemon, all of their own Pokemon were strong and nearly back to full health, now. So, they would be no match. They all agreed that this would be best.
As the sun was setting, all the warriors gathered their Pokemon, and Eralynn did the same. Thanks to the berries, Aerance’s wounds were finally healed, and Eralynn could now ride her once again. She was thankful that she wouldn’t have to travel by foot for the rest of her journey. They all lined up, ready to travel together, and Rhylan climbed up onto Aerance, naturally.
“Uh… Why can’t you ride with Landon, for once?” She asked him.
“I didn’t think it bothered you so much,” he scowled, rolling his eyes.
He hopped down and began walking over to Landon, who was already on his Meganium. After asking him if it was okay, he got on, as well. They all began at a walking pace, which eventually turned into a jog. Eralynn followed them for a very short time, then, she ordered Aerance to begin slowing down. Her hooves hit the ground less frequently, and eventually they were far behind. No one noticed their absence, right away, however.
“Okay, turn around and we’ll start heading the other way, then,” Eralynn said to Aerance.
She turned and began to make tracks in the other direction, but was stopped almost immediately.
“Hey! What are you doing?” Rhylan called from across the plains.
Eralynn sighed in disappointment. She had hoped very much that no one would notice that she was gone, but there was Rhylan, making it all too blatant for her to hide. The Meganium he was traveling on had now stopped, and he was waving to Eralynn and Aerance in the distance. He jumped off of the grass Pokemon’s back and began to run across the grass toward the girls. He stopped once he reached them, very out of breath.
“What are you doing?” He asked again.
Eralynn slapped one hand to her forehead in annoyance. “Listen, I can’t go back there, okay?”
“What are you talking about? Why not?” He wondered.
“I… just can’t,” she looked down and to the side with shame. She knew that he wouldn’t believe her even if she told him the truth.
He growled and shook his head at her. “Well, where do you plan to go?”
“I’m not sure yet. I just want to stay out here, away from the city for a little longer,” she told him.
Rhylan looked towards the West, where the sun was still setting. The orange light reflected off of his brown eyes as he squinted, and he let the wind gently blow his short, brown hair back. He was pondering something, and Eralynn already knew that she didn’t want to hear what the stubborn boy had to say.
“You know… I don’t think you’re smart enough to handle the wilderness on your own. I mean, you’ve lived in Derelon all your life, and it’d be too different for a dumb girl like you,” he explained predictably.
She blew her hair out of her eyes and stared at him. She somehow knew that he would say she lacked intelligence or that she was only a “stupid girl” or something of that nature.
“I can handle whatever, whenever,” she told him arrogantly.
“No, you can’t,” he said sternly. “Now, I’m going with you, until you find whatever you’re looking for, I guess.”
“Look, I practically led everyone out of that mountain, and you think I can’t handle anything?” She asked.
“Uh, no, you didn’t. The blue Pokemon was the one that helped us, really,” he corrected her. “So, I don’t care what you say. You need my quick wits and courage around to help.”
After a moment of hesitation, she finally gave in. “Fine. You can come, but I don’t want you getting in the way of anything,” she demanded.
“Yeah, I thought so,” he said, pulling the hood of his dark cloak over his head. He turned and waved Landon on, shouting, “We’ll catch up soon!”
Landon nodded and waved, and the trio watched him and his Meganium ride off and out of sight. They were, once again, alone and separated from the warriors. Eralynn felt sick at the thought of Rhylan still traveling with her, but it got him to be quiet, so that seemed like enough for now.
The three of them rode off into the darkness, letting the night swallow them. Eralynn knew deep within her soul that there was a mystery that needed to be solved. She badly wanted to know who kept calling her and showing her visions. She also needed to know more about Aerance’s sudden firepower, or had she possessed it all along? She was dying to know more about Derelon City’s prediction, as well. And one thing she was certain of was that she would never find the answers to these questions inside the walls of the city, her home, so she had to keep going… To find the answers to the questions that haunted her, even if it took a lifetime…
Chapter 10- Secrets of The Future
Eralynn restlessly sat by a campfire she had made earlier, while Rhylan and Aerance slept soundly next to her. It was a cold, windless night, and Eralynn found that she had trouble sleeping.
They had settled in the depths of the forest after traveling for the entire night. It was only a couple of hours before the sun would rise, now, but it was still dark. The cloudless sky sparkled with thousands of stars, and the trees around them were silent and tranquil. The only things that could be heard were Rhylan snoring softly and Aerance breathing deeply in her sleep.
Eralynn poked the timber in the fire with a long stick, impatiently waiting for fatigue to wash over her, but so far, she hadn’t any luck. For the time being, her mind simply could not be at peace with itself and all going on around her. It was clouded with thoughts she had never had for the duration of her life, prior to the past couple of weeks. Now, she sat up pondering the meaning of everything that was occurring before her very eyes, and her life and its former problems suddenly seemed so simple.
She looked around her, then at Rhylan, noticing something odd about him, or his attire, for that matter. Something strange was protruding from the side pocket of his cloak, and she bent closer to look at it. It was diminutive and somewhat shiny, and was cut at many angles, causing it to scatter the reflection of the fire light.
Being careful not the wake its holder up, she reached for the object slowly. She gently grasped it with the tips of her fingers, and pulled it out of Rhylan’s pocket. He did not stir, and kept on snoring contently.
She gaped at what she held in her own hands. It was a small stone, a gem. Overall, it had an oval shape, and was only a little smaller than a human fist. She felt the sharp angles of the dull, grey stone in her palm, and she eyed it curiously. Could this be…?
Eralynn had never seen one of the gems of Norsillon up close before, but she knew that this had to be it. How come Rhylan had never mentioned to her that he’d obtained one of the sought-after stones? Perhaps they had been too wrapped up in escaping from the prison of the mountain and healing their wounds for him to think of telling her about it. That must’ve been it.
But, now, she held one of them in her hands. She stared down at it, waiting for a reaction. It always took a little while for the stone to turn color.
Meanwhile, Rhylan was beginning to wake up. He rose silently and nudged Aerance so that she’d wake up too. They both watched Eralynn, wondering what she was up to.
“Um, Eralynn, what are you doing?” Rhylan asked her condescendingly.
Startled, the petite girl jumped, and became embarrassed, now that she realized someone was watching her. Still holding the gem, she threw her hands behind her back nervously. She gave a smile that clearly was not genuine, and laughed uneasily.
“I uh… I didn’t know you two were awake,” she responded, still laughing quietly.
Aerance snorted, and shaking her flame mane, stood up. She glared at her friend suspiciously, curious as to what she was hiding behind her back.
“Eralynn,” Rhylan began angrily, “What are you holding behind your back?”
“I was just… looking at the gem of Norsillon that you were holding, Rhylan,” she muttered, embarrassed and slightly frightened by Rhylan’s facial expression and tone of voice.
Before she could even finish her sentence, Rhylan stood and ran at her as fast as he could. She barely had time to blink before he had tackled her. He grabbed at her arms, then, without putting her hands in front of her, he reached back and viciously grabbed the stone from them. He pushed himself off of her, concealing the stone in a fist, and immediately put the hand containing it behind his back.
“Rhylan, what do you think-” Eralynn began.
“Eralynn!” Rhylan’s face was red from anger and he was breathing extremely hard. “Can’t you just respect our people’s traditions?! I can’t believe you would take this from me! It is my stone!”
Eralynn sat on the ground, still where Rhylan had knocked her over. She clutched dirt between her fingers as she made fists to hold herself up. She was speechless and confused. Of all the fights that they had had, this was the worst. Rhylan had never hit her, much less yelled at her like this. Of course, before, he had taken lots of cheap shots which involved insulting her personality or way of living, but never had he knocked her to the ground over something. She had no idea of what she could say, and merely stared at him, wide-eyed and scared
He stood in front of her, still panting. After a moment of this, he turned around to face the other way, careful to still keep himself between Eralynn and the Norsillon stone. He quickly dropped it in his pocket and stormed away from her.
Eralynn felt a wave of delirium come upon her. Rhylan was acting insane, and she simply did not understand why. In fact, Aerance was also acting slightly different than usual. The flame horse was typically very protective of Eralynn, and had saved her from Mightyena and harmful humans many times in the past. Oddly, though, Aerance had simply stood there as Rhylan attacked her.
Eralynn got up from her sitting position and rubbed her eyes. She felt herself shaking, and her heart beating quickly. She did not understand what was happening at all, except that she was beginning to doubt just who she could trust in this world. She knew that Rhylan was annoying, but definitely not evil, and she had trusted Aerance her entire life. Now, she realized, Rhylan was trying to hide something from her. Perhaps Aerance was as well.
“No,” she whispered to herself. “They couldn’t be… Could they?”
Upon hearing her shaky voice, Aerance snorted softly and took a step forward. She looked concerned and kind, but Eralynn did not know anymore. Was her lifetime friend truly her friend?
“A trustworthy companion would not keep secrets from me,” she stated sadly, and took a step back from Aerance, refusing her compassion.
Aerance cocked her head at this, while Eralynn remained in her position.
“I have to go for a walk,” she said solemnly, turning toward the opposite direction and beginning a slow, lazy hike.
* * *
Eralynn walked slowly through the dense fog that now covered the woods. She could barely see fifteen feet in front of her, but she trudged along, for reasons presently unknown, even to her. At first, she had only needed to spend a short time away from Aerance and Rhylan, just to get her thoughts together, but now, it was for something - or someone – else. She followed whatever or whoever was beckoning her along the path that she traveled. She had lost track of time completely, and had no idea of how long she’d been moving.
Her despair had consumed her thoughts, and she thought that maybe it would be best if she just lived out here from now on, alone and away from everyone. To think, the one friend she had always trusted, and another person she had counted on to eventually rule her city could actually have been plotting against her.
All these thoughts distracted her from wondering where she was and how she got there. She hardly even realized that she had come across a few very peculiar creatures, until she bumped into one of them, causing it to stumble for its balance.
This snapped her back into the real world, and she was forced to momentarily shove her melancholy aside. She gasped as she realized what was before her.
A green bird that was almost exactly the same size as Eralynn turned around to face her. The expression in its squinty, black eyes did not change at all. It seemed to hold no emotions of any kind. It had a pointy, orange beak that rested in the center of a perfectly round head. Its white wings, tipped with feathers of black and red, were folded down across its stomach, rather than at its sides. On its chest, it bore a pattern that looked like two red eyes, and it stood upon single-toed, rose-colored feet.
Eralynn put her hands up as a gesture that was saying she meant no harm. She tried to speak, to apologize, but she could only open her mouth and gaze at the creature.
It looked back at her, neither angry nor amused. She watched in confusion as it turned back around. She could see others of its kind. It appeared that there were six of these bird-like creatures here. They stood in a circle and remained silent, apparently concentrating on something.
Eralynn’s fear subsided as she realized that they did not intend to hurt her, and she gathered up the courage to speak.
“Pardon me for being nosy, but what are all of you doing?” She inquired timidly.
For a while, none of the green birds responded, and Eralynn felt bad for interrupting whatever they were doing. Then, suddenly, the one who she had nearly knocked over stretched its wing to the right, pointing towards something. She turned to look in the way of which it was directing her.
Out from one of the largest trees jumped what looked to be a smaller version of the green birds. Its body was round, and it had yellow wings instead of white ones. Its feet looked like normal bird feet, two toes in front and one in back. Atop its head lay a single red feather, sticking straight up.
“Hello, there. They’ve been expecting you, Eralynn,” spoke an innocent, kind voice inside her head.
She flinched at first, not quite used to things speaking to her through telepathy. It must’ve been the small, round bird who had spoken to her, since it was now walking closer to her. At the site of it waddling, all of Eralynn’s fear was swept aside, and she knelt down to be at eye level with it.
“How do you know my name, little one?” She asked it sweetly.
“My kind holds great psychic abilities, and I foresaw you coming here,” it answered.
The cute creature spoke intelligently, but sounded almost child-like. From the sound of its voice, or thoughts, for that matter, Eralynn could tell that the young bird was male.
“Um… Oh. Well, who has been expecting me, and why?” She asked him.
“The Xatu in their ring, of course,” he replied.
“Wow, they actually knew I was coming,” she murmured to herself in wonder. “Did they, perhaps, lead me here?” She asked, finally realizing that she had no idea of where she was.
“They did indeed. They sensed your sadness, and it has been long since they’ve communicated with a human. They know how kind you are, and they are sure you will not hurt any of us. I suppose that they are merely curious about you,” he explained.
“Well, I’m not very interesting, so I don’t know why they want to know anything about me… I think I should just leave and get back to my friends,” she uttered apprehensively.
“No, do not worry. Your friends are still back with your fire. They do not worry or fret for you,” he reassured her.
“Gee, thanks,” she said sarcastically.
“No, it is not that they are indifferent towards you... I mean that the Xatu have stopped time to lead you here. Your friends are not waiting for you, because time is now waiting for us to catch up. It is still the same time as when you left earlier.”
Eralynn pondered this for a moment. Now that she really thought about it, the only thing that was actually moving was the fog around them, the Xatu, and this little bird who she was speaking with. Everything else did seem rather still, but the concept of being able to stop time baffled her.
“Ah, here they come, now,” the little bird said, interrupting her contemplations.
She turned to see that the six green, bird-creatures were approaching her. They did not walk nor fly, but floated in mid-air. They all landed softly on the ground when they were finally close to her.
“Hello, dearest Eralynn,” one of them said to her, once again, telepathically.
“Hi…” she said shyly. “Why have you stopped time just to talk to me?” She eventually asked.
“We were curious when we witnessed you passing through our forest with your Ponyta and the other human. We normally investigate everyone, but you seem to be the most interesting out of the three… Your sadness is profound, and we want to know what ails you so,” the large bird spoke very calmly, with a slight hint of concern.
Eralynn glanced down at the little bird at her feet. It looked up at her and nodded, indicating that it was correct in its assumptions. She looked back at the six that stood before her, suddenly getting an idea.
“You… can tell the future, correct?” She asked them.
“Yes, we certainly can. This is why we had to stop the present time, because we always see both the future and the present simultaneously. It can become difficult to understand, so we stopped one of them in order to concentrate and talk to you for a moment,” the same one answered her.
“With your powers, you can see anything you desire?” She wondered aloud.
“Yes, we can. Why do you ask, young one?” The Xatu asked.
“I have many questions about things that have been… happening to me, and I want to know what they mean exactly,” she spoke quickly, finally containing a shred of hope that she’d discover the answers.
“Ah, of course,” the Xatu said kindly, perceptively. “First, we must know your motive in our home before we can help you.”
“I… I’m looking for something. I’ve been following a voice that’s been guiding me. I don’t understand what or who it might be, but I’m following it, nonetheless. It has led me all the way here from Derelon City, and I surely mean your people no harm. Initially, it seemed as if I was to just rescue the new warriors of my city, but now, I just… I feel that there is much more,” she told them bravely.
“Yes, I can tell… I just wanted to see how honest you would be with me,” he chuckled happily.
For the first time, she saw one of them smile at her. She smiled back, relieved that she had done the right thing.
The bird Pokemon led her back to where she had originally bumped into one of the Xatu. The leader instructed her to sit in the center of their circle, and she did so. They all stood around her, closing their eyes and allowing themselves to concentrate once more. As they began, she felt the wind pick up, and it blew her hair back suddenly, nearly causing her to fall.
“Do not lose your focus, Eralynn,” the Xatu told her.
She did as she was told, and closed her eyes, letting them peer inside her mind. She felt them penetrate, not only her brain but also her heart. She felt a sudden rush of emotions she had recently felt, and nearly became sick. Memories flashed before her eyes, some of them making her cringe and flinch; very few making her feel the warmth of joy. Then, in one instant, it all paused, and she was sitting on the ground in the middle of the six Xatu again.
“I can see that your main concern is whether or not your people will survive this conflict, which has now erupted into a war?” The Xatu asked her, hardly waiting for her to recover.
“I… yes,” she said, surprised even with herself. She hadn’t really realized it until it was spoken out loud, however.
“I am only allowed to say so much…” he said sadly.
“What? Why? I mean, who’s stopping you, anyway?” Eralynn asked him, not really comprehending.
“There are reasons why I cannot tell you, and you will discover them later, but I will inform you of one of the things you’ve desired to know: The prediction of which the late Queen made is true. Everything that she spoke of will occur,” the Xatu said cautiously.
Eralynn gulped nervously. She stared down at the forest floor, unsure of what to think or say. She had prayed all this time that what was said wasn’t real, but somehow, this wasn’t exactly shocking news to her. She knew in her heart that it was true all along; she just wanted to deny it.
“The Ponyta, your best friend, was once someone else’s,” the Xatu claimed calmly, changing the subject.
“What?!” Eralynn jumped up, and was now standing in front of the Pokemon who was speaking. “Was she my father’s, maybe before he got Donterr?” She asked eagerly.
“She was, but that is not the whole story. Your father... Well, unfortunately, I cannot tell you everything, because you must find out on your own,” he stated boldly while staring at her with expressionless eyes.
Frustrated, she sat back down. She folded her arms over her chest and thought about Aerance and her knowledge of the powerful fire attacks. It made more sense, now, even if she didn’t know who had taught her the attacks.
“I sense that you are worried about what color the stone from Norsillon would turn once you hold it?” Xatu asked her.
“Yes, I am,” she replied, scratching her head. “I’d like to know, but-”
“The boy will not let you see,” The bird interrupted. “Things are not all as you think they are, Eralynn. You must return to your friends soon, since allowing the present time to work once again will make them worry,” he told her.
She sighed sadly, looking at the ground. “I don’t know if I can even trust those two anymore. Rhylan’s pretending to be all concerned over our traditions, and Aerance didn’t try to help me at all,” Eralynn explained.
“Eralynn, you must trust your friends. They are both good, and everything that they are doing is because they care about you,” Xatu told her confidently.
“Rhylan cares about me? Doubtful,” Eralynn thought. Still, somehow, she knew that Xatu must be correct. It wouldn’t make sense for those two to be trying to hurt her.
She looked up at him, eager to learn more from his unique powers.
“Um… Most of what you’ve told me has certainly been useful, but it’s really been about the past and present. I’m mostly concerned with knowing my future… Would it be possible for you to tell me any of it?” She requested.
The green bird Pokemon nodded. “Yes, it’s possible. Concentrate again,” he ordered nicely.
She closed her eyes, letting the six of them peer into her mind and heart again. This time, though, it was different. She could not feel nor see anything, except blackness. Only a void lingered where she had previously seen memories and felt heavy emotions, and she imagined that the psychic creatures weren’t allowing her to see what would happen. After a while of this, it abruptly stopped, permitting her to see the six Xatu circled around her. They did not speak, this time.
“So…? What did you see?” She demanded enthusiastically.
They did not answer her. They continued to stare straight ahead, as if still watching what had just played in their minds moments ago.
Eralynn stood up, frustrated that they wouldn’t answer. “Please, tell me what you saw,” she spoke seriously, quietly.
The Xatu who had spoken to her earlier seemed to finally realize that he had to answer her question somehow, and he looked around, trying to find the right words. Instead of speaking, he hovered close to her. He stretched his wing out in front of him, causing Eralynn to worry at first. When she noticed that he was being gentle, she relaxed. The soft, black edge of his wing brushed kindly against her cheek. The Xatu looked at her considerately, and pulled his feathers away from her, putting his wing back over his front.
The worry, fear, and doubt in Eralynn’s soul seemed to augment exponentially every second as she looked at the Xatu’s reaction.
“You won’t tell me, will you?” She finally said, feeling the urge to weep again.
“I cannot,” replied the Xatu morosely. “You will understand, child.”
With effort, his loving, caring expression changed to that of his typical indifference, and he turned away from her. She got up and only stared at him, as did the other Xatu.
“You should go back to Rhylan and Aerance now,” he said solemnly.
“But, I don’t want to… I need to know what will happen, Xatu,” she pleaded.
“Eralynn, you will understand soon why I cannot tell you what I have seen. For now, you must be brave, and follow your heart. It is what you have been put on this earth to do,” he said quietly in her mind.
“But, why?!” She found herself suddenly screaming at the intelligent Pokemon. “Why should I follow my heart any longer if I don’t even understand what’s going on?”
“Just trust me, Eralynn. You will see in due time what all of this means; I promise you,” he whispered, hoping that she would have faith in his words.
* * *
After Eralynn had said goodbye and thanked the psychic Pokemon, she headed back to where Rhylan and Aerance were waiting for her. The Natu, which she had discovered was the little bird’s name, led her most of the way back to her traveling companions. It also assured her that the present time would soon be restored, and things would be normal once again.
Before she had reached the area of the campfire, she saw Rhylan and Aerance sitting around a fire. She sighed at the sight, remembering how aggressive Rhylan had been with her.
“It was because he… cared,” she told herself, choking back her resentment.
She pushed branches aside, stepping over loose rocks and twigs on the forest floor until she reached them.
Rhylan did nothing at first. He stared intensely at the fire for a long time, even after she had sat next to him. Aerance, on the other hand, whinnied and nuzzled her, most likely easy to forget that Eralynn had acted scared of her earlier.
Rhylan, of course, was not all that mad. He looked up from the fire eventually, cleared his throat, and turned to look at her.
As Eralynn returned his look, she noticed that his expression had softened from that of anger, to a mixture of tranquility and sadness. He stared at her for a while, soon making her feel uncomfortable.
“What?” she asked anxiously.
“Where did you go?” Rhylan asked, ignoring her defensiveness.
“Just a little ways into the woods,” she said, shrugging at this. She was unwilling to explain everything about the Xatu and Natu to him.
They said nothing more that night, and Eralynn sat and watched as Rhylan poked the fire with a long, leafy stick. Eventually, they both decided it was time to get some rest, and Eralynn curled up next to Aerance, letting herself recuperate from the strange and exhausting day.
* * *
“Ah, just in time, little Miss Lazy,” Rhylan’s familiar voice rang from behind her.
She rolled over to see him jumping off of Aerance’s back, spilling Oran Berries from his cloak. Eralynn eyed them hungrily and got up into a sitting position.
“I guess you can have some, too,” Rhylan said dryly.
“Gee, thank you, Your Highness,” Eralynn said through a yawn and some stretching.
The three of them ate in silence, and Eralynn found it to be almost awkward. The Prince had acted so strangely the previous night. It was as if he was becoming unwilling to fight and argue over petty subjects like before. Sure, he was still sarcastic around her, but he seemed so much more serious for some reason.
As she ate, Eralynn thought more and more about the incident that occurred the day before. She imagined all of the warriors holding their stones, completely bewildered by some of the unique colors they would get. Everyone must have received a stone before they were attacked by Team Devastation that day, and Eralynn wondered if anyone had gotten especially good or bad news from them.
She stopped eating and looked at Rhylan. “Hey, did anyone get really bad colors?” As soon as she asked this, however, she realized that it may not have been such a good idea to bring up the stone again.
Surprised, Rhylan stopped consuming the Oran Berry as well, and looked back at her. “Who else? The other warriors? Well, we didn’t even really have time to share which colors we got actually. Those awful people came and captured us first,” he explained.
Eralynn gave a disappointed look and continued eating.
“Of course, most people don’t like to share their color with anyone else anyway, and especially not if it’s a color that has a well-known meaning. People that cause the stone to grow a new, unique color don’t really care much, because no one will know what their destiny will be anyway,” Rhylan said.
“Well, then what’s the point of getting the stones and trying to find out your destiny if some people can’t?” Eralynn asked, annoyed with the concept.
“Eralynn, please,” he replied, just as aggravated. “One of the reasons for this journey, other than making sure young warriors are ready for adulthood and battle, is to learn more about the stones and what their colors mean. Think about it- no one knew that bright yellow meant the holder will be a traitor until a traitor held a yellow stone. We’re still trying to understand all of it, and by matching the colors to the way a person lives, we can understand what many of them mean.”
Eralynn nodded her head thoughtfully.
“Anyway, not too many members of the party out on the Last Journey receive brand new colors. My father told me that a usual amount is two or three, so most people have colors that are decipherable,” Rhylan further explained.
Eralynn now wanted to know what her color would be more than anything. She thought that maybe she could take it from Rhylan while he slept, but she would have to be extremely careful.
“No, I can’t do that,” she whispered to herself.
She knew that that would be unwise, since Rhylan had nearly killed her the last time. Doing it again would be very stupid.
Besides, what if, after all of that trouble and curiosity, she received a new color? What if, even after seeing the stone, her destiny would still be a mystery? She had a feeling that no matter what she did or who she asked, she would never get an answer…
Chapter 11- The Eyes That See
“Do not end your journey just yet,” a soft, soothing voice enveloped Eralynn as she lay on the ground.
She looked straight up, right into the bluest sky she had ever seen. Not a cloud existed here, and it felt like paradise. She hardly felt herself paying close attention to the words that were uttered, and she kept gazing longingly into the cerulean heavens above her. Everything seemed to form beneath a haze, which made viewing the details of her surroundings difficult. Nevertheless, it did not matter. She didn’t need to see everything. She was at peace.
Something velvety graced her skin, all around her entire body. She hadn’t noticed it before, but now, she could sense the warmth of whatever bordered her. She slowly rose, eyes half open, and looked around herself dreamily. At first glance, all she could see was a vast blur of white, rose, and purple, but she adjusted her eyes to the haziness, and could see more clearly. She had been lying in a field of wildflowers. What had brushed against her body were their many petals.
She blinked lethargically while letting her hair fall forward onto the side of her face. It felt like the petals had, tickling her cheeks and forehead slightly. She suppressed the urge to laugh in her temporary, ignorant bliss, and reached out to pick one of the flowers. Her fingers wrapped around the stem of a white plant, and she plucked it from the earth.
She stared at it, deep in thought. Her vision was still obstructed by the apparent mist that surrounded all, but she squinted, focusing upon the elegant flower. It was a beautiful thing, and yet, it was rather unique. At its base, pointed leaves sprung in all different directions. They seemed to be coiled around its stem tightly, then winding out at all angles. The buds themselves were propped upon stick-like stems, which stuck out of the whorled leaves. Its petals were small and faintly wrinkled, but attractive, nonetheless. Eralynn felt herself become hypnotized by its appealing scent, and wanted to remain here forever.
She had forgotten about Rhylan and Aerance. She had forgotten about her meaningless existence, especially to her people. She’d also erased the thought of her father’s resentment from her mind. She thought of nothing, but happiness and peace. Wasn’t that all there was?
Her own thoughts would contradict this. Her people would surely die if the one was not found. It had to be Rhylan… She needed to convince him to save them. He was Prince, but also, much more…
“Go to the Great Dragon in the West. He will show you all you need to know,” the silky voice caressed her ears.
At this, all was devoured by a great blackness. The girl began to fear for her life as the flowers were pulled from her hand, then from the ground and away from her sight altogether. The grass was blown away, as well, along with the sunlight, the blue of the sky, and the feeling of peace. What replaced it were the feelings of normalcy: worry, anger, fright, and determination.
Eralynn opened her eyes, forcing her heavy eyelids to move apart. Her head was pounding as she gazed through the blur caused by her eyelashes. She put her hands against the sides of her head, hoping that somehow, this would cause the pain to diminish.
They had traveled further South for the duration of the previous day, and she was still very tired, even after getting a good night’s sleep. It had been the first day that wasn’t really eventful or exciting, which Eralynn had been relieved about. They had found a comfortable spot in the forest and slept there soundlessly, for once, and they were all grateful.
She nearly screamed when she saw something hovering over her face. Letting herself focus, she saw that it was only Aerance staring at her, and sighed with relief. The flame horse snorted and pulled her head away, letting Rhylan, instead, come in to take her place.
Still clutching her head, Eralynn sat up, almost hitting her forehead against Rhylan’s. She gave him a dirty look, confused as to why he and Aerance were so eager to watch her wake up.
“You were talking in your sleep and rolling around an awful lot,” he said, unknowingly answering her question.
“I was dreaming, I guess,” she tried to explain, but he didn’t look very satisfied.
Aerance walked up to Rhylan’s side, looking at Eralynn dubiously. Rhylan crossed his arms and glared at her, only interested in the truth, now.
She looked at the ground, still feeling the splitting pain inside her head. “What do you want me to say, huh?” She asked them both.
The anger across Rhylan’s face seemed to smooth into concern, and he lowered his arms. Aerance was only able to look to her side and frown with frustration.
“Eralynn, we only want the truth. What’s been going on with you?” Rhylan inquired.
“Even if I told you, you would never believe me. I know you, Rhylan. I know you’d only make fun of me, as always,” she attempted to defend herself.
He walked closer to her, never pulling his gaze away from her eyes. “We’re out here for a reason, and I just want to know what that is,” he said, surprisingly calm.
Eralynn sighed, pulling her hand up to cover her mouth. This was it. She had to tell him what was going on, and maybe this time, he wouldn’t mock her for what she believed in. She highly doubted that, but knew she needed to let him know, anyway.
“Okay, well…” She swallowed, hesitating. “I’ve been having these visions. They show me things… like what’s happening or what’s going to happen, and…” She looked up to see Rhylan holding his stare, raising one eyebrow in bewilderment.
“Visions?” He seemed skeptical already. “And what exactly have you seen in them?”
“Well, I saw you and all the others being captured,” she muttered shamefully.
“So, that’s how you knew that we were all in trouble,” he replied, finally understanding. “Is that why you’re out here?”
“Originally, yes, it was my reason for leaving Derelon. However, now I’m not… so sure why I really did,” she exclaimed, as if finally realizing it for herself.
“Yeah, that has to be true. Why else would you keep going and not return to Derelon with us?” He contemplated. “Why are the three of us still traveling if everyone’s been saved?”
She glanced around, not wanting to explain further. Nevertheless, Rhylan’s persistence made her go on. “Something out here is calling to me. I think… I think it has something to do with The Protector.”
At the very mention of its title, Rhylan gasped. He turned his back on her and scratched his chin, deep in thought. Puzzled, Eralynn walked up beside him and peered around, for any sign of a reply that might come.
When no response came, she continued. “Last night, I was dreaming that I was in a patch of flowers, in some huge field. It was really beautiful, and I didn’t want to leave it at all. The sun was bright and the sky was pure blue. It was all just so… peaceful. There’s not really another word to describe it properly. But then, there was a voice. She was telling me not to stop going and that I should seek the advice of the Great Dragon of the West,” she stopped at this, fearing that it might’ve been too much to take in for Rhylan.
Peeling his eyes away from the dirt, he looked over at her. “The Protector… The Great Dragon… What is this all supposed to mean, Eralynn?” He asked with a look of pleading in his eyes.
“You know about the Protector, that’s what your father said, anyway,” she said quietly.
“I do, but we never figured out who it was. I wasn’t even sure I believed in that crap. I’m pretty sure it’s just a story,” the words came tumbling out of his mouth, as if out of control. “And you’ve dragged us all the way out here for that?” He slapped a hand to his forehead and sat down.
“Rhylan, it has to be true. I wouldn’t be seeing and hearing things if it wasn’t,” she responded. “And, before you say I’m crazy or something, I know that I’m not.”
He shook his head in confusion and incredulity, obviously refusing the take her seriously.
“Please, just believe me,” she uttered softly, grabbing his arm.
He looked up and into her eyes, suddenly showing a look of compassion. Eralynn, embarrassed, quickly let go of him and turned away.
From behind them, Aerance snorted suddenly. The two turned to look at her as she slowly approached them. The flame horse glared down menacingly at Rhylan for a moment, and then turned to look at Eralynn. She bent to nuzzle her gently, and Eralynn smiled while petting her soft coat.
“I think she just wants some attention,” she said to Rhylan, attempting to lighten the mood.
In response, he pulled the hood of his cloak over his head, nodding at the same time. She frowned as she realized that something was clearly bothering him.
“What-” she began.
“So! We have to go and search for the Great Dragon, now, right?” He asked deafeningly.
As the boy was still not looking at the two, Eralynn and Aerance stole a glance at one another. Looking back, he turned to them with a blatantly fake smile upon his face. Eralynn wasn’t normally one to be able to take a hint, but she tried her best, this time, by welcoming the change of subject.
“Um, I guess we do. He’s in the West, if my dream is correct. I mean, I don’t know where exactly, but… I’m sure it’s possible to ask around and find out more about him,” she told Rhylan.
“Okay, we’ll just follow the setting sun, then,” he concluded.
“Yeah, good idea. That’ll be the easiest way of going west,” she remarked. “It’ll certainly help us stay on course.”
Since it was still somewhat early in the morning, they decided it would be best to travel for the rest of the day, then stop and rest, like they had been doing. It seemed to be working out well so far, so they got ready to leave, making sure to grab extra berries before they set out again.
The sun had risen only a few hours ago, and they now traveled in its path: west. They cut through the woods, finding the plains once again. All the while, the sun chased them, rising higher and higher into the sky and heading for the same destination.
The ride seemed to last a very long time, during which they could find no one to ask about the Great Dragon. Eralynn knew that her dreams seemed so unreal, and she was sure that Rhylan did not believe her. So, if she could hear another’s proof that the dragon did exist, perhaps he would begin to believe. She could only hope, anyway. At the moment, it seemed as if he was only continuing with her and Aerance because he had no choice, and certainly not because of faith in the supernatural experiences that Eralynn was having.
As time passed, the ground beneath them began to change. What was once lush, soft, green grass slowly morphed into dusty, obsidian rock. The padding and thudding of Aerance’s hooves soon turned into tapping, and then into clattering as the earth became progressively harder. The air that was once pure and clean formed into a foggy mist, causing both Eralynn and Rhylan to continually cough and waft it away. The land was changing all around them, they could just feel it. Nevertheless, Aerance carried them through the dense fog and onward into the unknown.
Despite their hindered visibility, Aerance was still able to spot the general figure of the landscape before her. She walked slowly, however, hitting her hooves hard against the stone floor with each step. Eralynn and Rhylan scanned the foreign area for any signs of life, only able to see the dark outline of rocks through the white mist. So far, they had seen no one, and it was as if they were walking further and further from civilization every second.
The air itself smelled rather stale, somehow holding the scent of dryness, despite the vapor all around. The entire place reeked of neglect and misery, and it seemed that there was so much to learn about it.
Eralynn looked up at the sky, which no longer held any evidence of ever being blue. Staring hard enough through the mist, she could see a pink and red tint in the heavens, like nothing she had ever known. It was as if they were on a different planet, and she was scared to truly know what mysteries it held.
Through her confusion and fear, she suddenly spotted something close. She turned her head to look at what she had seen out of the corner of her eye, but nothing was there. She had only seen a gleam, but she was sure it was something unusual, and she had to know what it was.
“Aerance, walk that way,” she requested, pointing to the right.
Aerance slowed down and turned in the direction of which Eralynn had pointed. She trotted eagerly, hoping to see something, anything there. Eralynn held her breath, anxious to see a change of scenery in this dark place.
Through the fog, she could see it getting clearer. It wasn’t very obvious, but she could vaguely make out movement. It appeared to be sitting upon a rock, which jutted out from a large grouping of boulders. Its shape was not recognizable, being small, standing upright, and having pointy ears. At least, Eralynn assumed they were ears. Perhaps, they were horns…
Before the three of them could get close enough, the little creature opened its wings. Eralynn jumped back, not really expecting this. It hopped off of its perch, and into the air, taking flight. It soared low over their heads, apparently trying to get away from them.
Eralynn felt her chance slipping away from her along with the escaping animal. She began to panic, unsure of what to do.
“No! Stop, please!” She shouted before she realized what she was doing.
The sound echoed against the rocks and cut through the mist. The sound of her own voice made her flinch, and she looked up, half-expecting the creature to be flying faster. Instead, it began to turn in the air, and circled back, flying straight for them. It pulled up before the rock it had occupied previously, and sat down once again, claiming its spot. It did not make a sound, seemingly waiting for Eralynn to initiate conversation, or leave it alone, she did not know which.
A flash of light suddenly came from the creature, and Eralynn realized what it was she had seen before. Its eyes gleamed faintly through the fog, even without any light to reflect. Eralynn wondered how this was, but decided to start talking to it. She nudged Aerance to walk closer, and the Ponyta listened, but only barely. Frightened, she only stepped twice before stopping again.
“Hello,” Eralynn spoke bravely. “I am Eralynn of Derelon City, and I need to ask for your help.”
The flying one did not respond immediately, and when it did, it only cocked its head to the side. Eralynn was instantly surprised by its amount of flexibility, but went on.
“Do you know anything of the Great Dragon?” She asked it carefully.
Rhylan looked over her shoulder at her. “Do you think that thing will be able to answer you? Damn, you talk to yourself more than anyone I know.”
“Talk to myself? No, it can answer. They can talk, Rhylan,” she corrected him.
He pulled back and stayed quiet after that, leaving Eralynn to wonder if he could even hear when a Pokemon spoke to her. But he had to have heard when Suicune was speaking to them…
The creature beyond fluffed its feathers and straightened its head. “As a matter of fact, I might know a little about it,” he finally answered in a somewhat hollow, emphatic voice.
“Wow, really? Well, could you help us out?” She asked it.
“That all depends,” he replied, preening his wing. “What do you need from me?”
“Um, we need to know how to find it, and also, what it’s like… Things like that, if it’s not too much trouble, I mean,” she told it.
The bird’s eyes glittered through the mist for a moment as he considered going through with the favor. Then, he stopped moving and kept his gaze on the three wanderers.
“I am but a mere Noctowl. Do you think that I myself would’ve ventured into the lair of the Great Dragon?” He asked rhetorically.
Eralynn glanced back at Rhylan, then back at the Noctowl. “No, I suppose not… Um, I’m not so sure, actually,” she gave a nervous laugh, since she honestly didn’t know much about the bird Pokemon.
“Hm, interesting,” he hooted thoughtfully. “I know where he dwells, but nothing more.”
Rhylan coughed uncomfortably from behind, blowing some of the mist in front of Eralynn. She fanned it away with her hands, and then glanced back up at the Noctowl.
“Can you tell us how to get there?” She inquired hopefully.
“Hm,” he pondered. “I cannot simply tell you, but perhaps… no…” his words trailed off.
Eralynn looked around, wondering what she had said to make him so confused. “If you can’t tell us, then what?”
The bird Pokemon hesitated slightly. “I may be able to take you there… At least, part of the way,” he explained doubtfully.
“That’s great!” Eralynn exclaimed. “I mean, whatever way you can help us is fine with me.”
“Like I said, though, I can only take you part of the way, and fortunately, that is the most difficult to navigate. The rest, in which I can’t travel, will be much simpler,” the Noctowl told her.
“Okay,” she agreed, then turned back to Rhylan. “It’s going to take us to the Great Dragon, isn’t that great?”
“Yeah, sure,” he said unconvincingly.
The Noctowl spoke up once again. “Be aware, my dear, that it will not be a pleasing journey. And you’ll find that when you reach your destination, you won’t have an enjoyable stay with him...”
* * *
Noctowl was absolutely correct about the path to the Great Dragon. Eralynn, Rhylan, and Aerance had thought the terrain rough until now. Advancing further westward, the paths became narrower and the blackened rocks around them more jagged. It seemed as if the three of them were constantly dodging parts of the landscape that seemed to be trying to barricade the way. Once, Eralynn got her cloak caught in the branch of a withered tree, which hung down over the way they were walking, and they had to stop so that she could free herself. Rhylan, not paying attention well enough, hit his shoulder on a sharp, charcoal rock that stuck out from the clusters of mountainous stone at their sides.
Eralynn had instructed Aerance to follow close behind Noctowl, and she did. The bird Pokemon flew in front of them at a pace much slower than his usual, so that they could make their way safely across the rough land. It helped to pace themselves, but they still had to stop once in a while for minor problems.
As they walked, Eralynn wondered why Noctowl was so willing to help her without receiving anything in return. However, she was scared to ask the intimidating creature anything personal. Instead, she decided, she’d start up a conversation about the land upon which they were traveling.
“So, Noctowl,” she called to him, and he pulled back slightly, so as to bring himself into earshot, “What is this place?”
The wise Pokemon continued to flap his wings and stay ahead of them, but Eralynn could still hear his voice rather well. “Many call it the Ridge of Obscurity, and obviously with good reason. No one comes here, much less lives here, and I’ll admit that I was quite surprised to see two humans and a Ponyta wandering through the area.”
Eralynn scratched her head in confusion. “Ridge? So wouldn’t that mean we’re on top of a mountain?” She asked.
“We are, actually, yes,” Noctowl replied calmly.
“But, we haven’t even scaled anything to get here… And, how high are we, right now?” Eralynn wondered, beginning to worry.
“Well, the Ridge of Obscurity is a mystery to all. The few that do come here are said to not realize they have climbed or gone up in altitude, as you are claiming right now. Rumor has it that the incline is so gradual, that it is unnoticeable, but I do not believe that,” he said quietly.
Eralynn looked around for a second. “Then, what do you think it is?”
“I think that there’s something in the air that, perhaps, lures visitors upward without them even knowing,” he stated.
“Oh…” Eralynn’s words trailed off as she thought about the possibility. It wasn’t truly against their will, however, as they wanted to find the Great Dragon, anyway. Quickly, another question arose in her mind. “You don’t live here or anything, do you?” She asked Noctowl.
“I do not live here exactly, no, but sometimes, I can feel the mist pulling me towards it, too,” he answered. “Unlike others, I find myself giving in to it a lot. I do not know why, though. Also, I’m somehow always able to shake it off and fly away unharmed.”
“How odd,” Eralynn found herself muttering.
“My species have just about the best site of any, so seeing through this fog is not very difficult for me,” he continued. “Of course, it is a disturbing place that brings up bad memories for me,” he confessed with difficulty.
Of course, Eralynn could not really see how anyone could actually enjoy living or venturing through this area, but she shrugged it off, unwilling to continue with the conversation. Her thoughts now focused on the Great Dragon, and she realized that she still didn’t know anything about him. Nonetheless, she knew she had to find him and ask about Derelon’s Protector, despite the risk involved.
Noctowl flew faster with the sudden silence between them, anxious to get the boring journey over with. He rose and fell with the gradual updrafts, barely having to flap his wings. Still, the path was not taken so effortlessly for Aerance, Eralynn, and Rhylan. The flame horse still stumbled across rocks and tree roots, and the riders nearly fell from her back countless times. They could only hope that the walk would be over soon.
However, they were quite thankful to have a guide in this situation. Many times, the path they were taking split into three or four different directions, making it easy for anyone to choose the wrong way. Luckily, the bird Pokemon seemed very confident of the trail upon which he led them, and barely hesitated when choosing which way to go. Eralynn wondered silently how he knew the area so well, but she kept the question to herself.
After a long time of Aerance tripping and staggering, Noctowl came to a quick halt. He flapped his wings, pulling up short and allowing the air to stop his floating body. The three followers stopped, as well, looking to the bird Pokemon for guidance.
Rhylan cleared his throat behind Eralynn, and it was the first time she had heard him make any noise since they had almost fallen last, which had to be an hour ago, at least. She briefly wondered what was troubling him, but turned her thoughts back to what she had to do.
“What’s the matter, Noctowl?” She asked meekly.
The flying creature turned to face his followers, then looked back again. He found what he was searching for, and sat down. Eralynn stared closely and could vaguely make out what looked like a wooden post. He turned upon it to look at the three nervously.
“This is where I must stop and leave you to yourselves,” he informed them gravely. “I must warn you, however, that what lies beyond is not something you can take lightly. Dangers of the Ridge of Obscurity await you, and this time, it will not only be a difficult walk that impedes you. You will encounter frightening things that you may not have seen before, but keep going and do not let them stop you. Just follow the path all the way through and you will eventually get out of the Ridge.”
Eralynn tried her best to keep her anxiety from flooding through her veins, but to no avail. She truly felt scared now, and wondered if the three of them would even come out of this alive. Perhaps she’d find the information she wanted, but would she survive?
Noctowl jumped from his wooden perch and spread his wings, taking to the air. Eralynn watched him fly for a moment, then stop, and turn around again.
“There is just one more thing I need to tell you,” he stated, staring at Eralynn with huge eyes. “Whatever you do, do not look into the water.”
And with that, he flew straight up into the air, leaving the three to finally find what they were looking for, and also, to fight for their lives.
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.
Chapter 13- Eight Arms, One Horn
Eralynn convulsed beneath the water as she tried to break free. She pulled one of her hands out of the tight grip of Rhylan, and fiercely tore through the water. She wanted to hold him with both hands, but also had to try to get them both closer to the surface somehow.
She stopped struggling for a moment to look around and try to find some way out. All around her, she could see tiny specs that looked like dirt floating. Faint light glistened off of the floating pieces, and she looked up to see that she was in the middle of the stream of light that poured down from the small surface. They were still close enough to the top of the water to get back…
Just then, Eralynn noticed something else against the light. There was a small ring around the opening of the water that sat upon what looked to be a shelf of rock. The ring was made of something that appeared to be seaweed mixed with straw.
Erlaynn’s eyes widened, however, when she observed what sat on these circular shelves. She saw large, ivory, oval shaped rocks sitting side by side, nestled in the layers of seaweed.
“Rocks,” she thought. “No, those aren’t rocks.”
Eralynn now understood what was happening. She now could easily see why Noctowl did not want them to look into the little pools of water.
The opening that she and Rhylan had been dragged into was actually where these creatures nested. It was where they laid, protected, and then hatched their eggs. Since Rhylan was so curious about the waters around him, he probably thought that a mere glance into them would not cause him any harm. Unfortunately, the creature to which these eggs belonged did not think that Rhylan was just taking a look into the water. The surface was much too close to the eggs for comfort, and even just going near the liquid circles was a threat to the mother of the eggs.
“No wonder we were attacked,” Eralynn thought sadly, as she sympathized with the creature that was only trying to protect its young.
She knew that Rhylan just wasn’t thinking when he stared into the pools, and she realized that it was his fault that the creature felt threatened and was doing this, but she had to do something, and there was sadly only one way to get the monster’s attention.
She looked down to see Rhylan still clutching her hand, and she knew she had to let go for the time being. He would be angry with her, she knew, but this was the only way. She made a face at him, lowering her eyebrows and opening her mouth as if to speak under water. When all she got in return was a confused face, she pulled her hand from his tough grip, knowing that he would understand what she was trying to tell him eventually.
Did she have time? She didn’t know, so she swam towards the surface as quickly as she could. Her breath was not quite gone yet, since all of this had happened in an instant, but she knew that Rhylan could not hold on much longer, and she had to hurry.
She got to the rock nest soon, and reached out to grab one of the large eggs. Up close, they were smooth, with spots on them. Eralynn assumed that these were probably clumps of dirt from the sea floor. Some of the eggs had a piece of seaweed slung on top of it, perhaps caused by the struggle.
She needed to grab one without the restraint of seaweed. Fortunately, there was one straight ahead of her. She had to wrap her entire left arm around it in order to hold onto it as she swam. She clutched it tightly until she finally reached the surface. She reached out to grab the rocky ground that bordered the water, and slammed her right hand onto it, relieved to feel the hard rock floor again. She gasped for breath as she gently set the huge egg down. Rubbing her eyes to get the water away from them, she looked around, still with slightly blurry vision.
Aerance was intelligently standing right in the middle of the path, looking terrified and guilty. The moment that she laid eyes on Eralynn, she broke into a sprint, slamming her hard hooves against the even harder stone beneath her.
“Aerance! Rhylan is still down there! Help me up,” Eralynn pleaded with the fire Pokemon.
Aerance obeyed, and immediately bent down to allow Eralynn to grab hold of the reigns on her neck. When the dripping wet Eralynn got hold of them well, Aerance began to back up, pulling her out of the water as fast as she could.
Eralynn knew she had to get out of the water soon, but she did know just how fast the creature would notice the fact that its egg had gone missing. It would not be very long, however.
She was nearly out of the water entirely when something rose from it and slammed against the rock floor. It sent shards of obsidian flying everywhere, and Aerance jumped when one hit her in the side. She stood on her hind legs, kicking in fear. She turned and galloped the other way when the creature attempted to hit her directly.
The sudden movement caused Eralynn to shriek with terror and let go of Aerance. She was almost out, though, and no longer really needed Aerance’s help. She pulled herself the rest of the way out of the water, still in a laying position. Looking at what had hit the ground so hard next to her, she could see the same red tentacle reeling back to slam the ground once more.
Breathing hard, she knew she had to move fast. Her plan was a success so far, but she had to carry out the rest without getting harmed. She rolled over towards the right, where she had set the egg. She put her left arm around it once more, and pushed herself up from the ground with her right. As she stood, she pushed off to sprint away from the creature’s nest. She ran as hard as she could, wary of the furious Pokemon behind her.
She could feel the earth move as, she could only assume, the creature’s tentacles were slamming against the hard ground. She nearly tripped twice due to what felt like a short earthquake.
She soon reached the path upon which they had calmly traveled before, and stood there, waiting for the beast to emerge from the hole in the ground and come after her. Aerance stood next to her and watched, wondering what she was planning on doing with the giant egg.
It did not come out, however. Eralynn guessed that it thought she was still standing by the nest, since it continued to hit the ground over and over. She needed to get its attention.
“Hey! You want this back?!” She shouted, hoping it would be able to hear her beneath the depths.
Her voice pierced the air and startled Aerance, making her shift in her stance.
Then, she saw what she had hoped for. Another tentacle grew out of the water, slamming against the stone. Another, then another, then another…
“How many legs does it have?” She asked aloud, feeling her fear increasing with every passing moment.
After seven tentacles were revealed, an eighth was thrown above, as well. This one, however, held something and did not hit the ground with the force that the others had. It squeezed the limp body of Rhylan, carelessly throwing him around while it tried to pull the rest of itself above the nest.
And then, Eralynn saw it in its entirety. As it forced its way above, its large, round head was revealed, and was nearly as large as Eralynn. It had a cylindrical snout beneath its eyes, almost resembling a very short elephant trunk. Its eyebrows were lowered in anger, and its big eyes were burning with rage. Its eight tentacles sprouted from only its head, and were spotted with rough, yellow suction cups. It stood and stared fiercely at Eralynn as its appendages writhed beneath and around it.
She took a step back and looked down at the egg in her arms, which was what the sea creature wanted so badly from her. Then, she looked back at it, and at what she wanted from it in return.
Rhylan remained in the clutches of the sea Pokemon, arms and legs dangling lifelessly. His clothes were pressed tightly against his body, and his hair was darker and flatter against his head from being in the sea. His face was pale, with eyes closed and mouth open.
Eralynn clutched her chest with her right hand as she wondered just how bad his condition was at this point.
“Could he have already drowned?” She asked herself in a panic.
She watched as the creature lifted its head towards the sky and let out what sounded like a deafening roar. It slammed the ground with one of its many arms, and glared at Eralynn still, waiting for her to return its prized possession.
Eralynn had to make sure it knew what she wanted, as well, and she took a couple of steps forward.
“You want this back?” She yelled clearly.
The creature let out a similar roar as it began slowly approaching her. It propelled itself using all of its legs, which allowed a great deal of control in its movement.
As it got closer and closer, Eralynn felt herself backing away without even thinking. She had originally planned to stand her ground, but her terror was too great to allow her to be brave in this situation.
Suddenly, though, she stopped walking. She put both hands on the egg that she held and raised them up into the air in front of her face. She pulled them back further, to show the Pokemon that she was not surrendering the egg, but aiming to throw it at the ground.
It stopped walking and opened its eyes in shock. It stood frozen before her, as she threatened the life of something that it loved the most in this world.
“If you want it back safe, you must give me the boy!” Eralynn demanded in a shout.
The creature made a gesture in response, extending its tentacle towards her and the egg, but purposefully missed them, as if solely reaching out for its child. It suddenly looked a lot different. Its eyes no longer held the look of anger, but that of sadness and defeat. It stopped standing tall and let itself drop lower, towards the obsidian ground.
Eralynn felt awful. She had stolen the egg. She had taken a baby from its mother and threatened its life.
“But, I had to, right?” She asked herself. “Our lives were at stake, even if it was Rhylan’s fault...”
She felt the creature’s sadness flow through her, and pondered what was right and what was wrong. She thought that perhaps, she could simply try to reason with it rather than threaten it. After all, as the dying Mightyena had told her, “Only when you listen will you understand.” Perhaps it was correct.
The creature immediately took advantage of Eralynn’s racing thoughts, and whipped a tentacle out towards the egg. It was wrapped around it almost instantly, and it pulled its young away from her.
She fought back, however, refusing to release the egg from her grip. She was pulled this way and that, feeling as if her arms might come off themselves. She was yanked off of the ground a couple of times, until she couldn’t hold on any longer. With one last shake, the creature threw her backwards, causing her to land on top of Aerance.
The flame horse was knocked on her side, whinnying and kicking before Eralynn could get off of her. Eralynn struggled, though, and was able to push herself away, allowing the Ponyta to get back on her feet as well.
Eralynn looked around her, trying to understand what was happening. What could she do now? The creature had its egg back, and it still held onto the unconscious Rhylan. She had no choice. She had to attack it somehow.
She turned back towards Aerance, and quickly grabbed her bow and arrows. She strung the bag of arrows around her body, and positioned the bow at the side of her head. Reaching back instinctively for an arrow, she grabbed one, set it against the bow, pulled it back, and sent it flying for one of the Pokemon’s tentacles.
Eralynn watched the arrow soar straight for it. It would be a direct hit!
However, although Eralynn’s aim was perfect, it was not enough. She felt the life drain from her body as the arrow hit the creature’s tentacle, but did not pierce it. It merely tapped it and bounced away, as if she had thrown only a small twig.
Eralynn turned to glance at Aerance, who held the same look of disappointment. She turned back to look at the eight-armed Pokemon.
It was apparently done playing this game, as Eralynn saw it turn back towards its nest in retreat. Still, this was not quite a retreat. It had won. It had both the egg and Rhylan in its clutches. Eralynn could imagine it all clearly. It would go beneath the surface to return the egg to its nest, and then… let Rhylan drown.
She could no longer control herself in her anguish. She fell to the ground, letting out a scream to mourn the future loss of her Prince. She felt tears gathering and clutched her chest to hold her broken heart. Was there nothing more she could do?
Aerance, standing silently behind her friend, felt her sorrow. She couldn’t stand watching her best friend in so much pain. The guilt that she felt was unreal. She had just waited safely on the surface as Eralynn and Rhylan could’ve been drowning. She had run away when the monster had attacked her and Eralynn above the water. She was terrified of that water Pokemon, though. After all, she was a fire-type, which always had a great weakness to water.
The flame horse shook her head, pushing away her fears and cowardice. She snorted confidently, and began to run after the very creature that she was so scared of.
It had only a little ways to go until it would reach the hole of the nest again. It moved slowly and nonchalantly, as if Eralynn and Aerance were no longer there. It was as if it had not just been extremely upset and in a fight with them.
Eralynn looked up when she first heard Aerance’s gallop, and she stood immediately as she realized what her closest friend was doing.
“Aerance, no!” She called out, trying to stop her.
Aerance ignored Eralynn’s order, knowing that there were more important things than her own safety. She sped up instead, and already being infinitely faster than the eight-armed Pokemon, she had already caught up to it within seconds. When she was right beside it, she leapt forward and to the side, landing on the solid rock right near the edge of the beast’s nest. She felt her hooves skid a bit at first as she gained her balance, but this happened sooner than the creature could react.
She now stood before it, blocking it from returning to its water-nest. She held an intimidating stance, knees bent slightly, as if ready to tackle the creature at any moment. The flames on her mane and tail grew slightly, just like a guard dog’s fur would do when facing an unwelcome intruder.
Eralynn watched in awe and admiration. Her sweet and brave friend was trying to save the Prince despite her weakness towards this type of Pokemon. Eralynn wondered if her fire attacks would do the trick against it.
“Aerance! Try using your fire blast!” She shouted as loudly as she could.
Aerance reacted instantly to her friend’s request, and her mane and tail flames grew even more. She opened her mouth and threw the fire attack at the creature. The burning symbol went flying towards it as the big creature tried to defend itself. It raised two tentacles in front of its face as the attack hit.
“Good, Aerance!” Eralynn yelled, hoping that would be enough to stop it.
The creature looked down at its tentacles, where the flames had hit. It had a few dark patches, where it had been burned slightly. It lowered its eyebrows, making a face to indicate that it was no longer at ease. It aimed down towards its burned arms, and shot a gentle water gun at the injury. Then, it glared ferociously at Aerance, ready to strike back this time.
“Aerance! Watch out!” Eralynn ordered, but she was too late.
As fast as Aerance was, she was not fast enough to avoid three tentacles sweeping at her at once. One swung in from the left, one from the right, and one from above.
The Ponyta jumped, avoiding one swing. Looking up, she bolted to the side, evading the strike from above. She could not get away from the last tentacle, though, which had been shot at her at the same time as the upper blow. It slammed directly into her, sending her flying to the side. She whinnied in pain and hit the ground hard.
“Aerance!” Eralynn shouted, terrified.
Without thinking, she ran towards the monstrous Pokemon that had just attacked her friend. She saw it raising its tentacles to hit the Ponyta once more, and knew she had to stop it.
It did not notice her approaching it from behind, but she had to get its attention. She knelt down by one of its tentacles and picked it up. She stood up and pulled back, trying to bring the creature as far from her friend as possible. Even while using all of her might, however, she could only drag it a few inches away from Aerance.
Fortunately, though, this did the trick. The enraged Pokemon turned around, now focusing its attention on Eralynn.
“Yeah, that’s it,” Eralynn said quietly to herself. “Turn this way! Come get me!” She now yelled at it.
She turned to run, but right away, she felt something around her legs. The creature had grasped her with its arm and squeezed tightly, forcing Eralynn’s legs together. Without her balance, she fell face-first on the stone, bashing her knees against the hard surface.
“Argh!” She groaned in pain.
She reached down to her kneecaps and rubbed them, already able to feel serious bruises forming. Meanwhile, the creature was dragging her body towards it, ready to end this battle once and for all…
Aerance, now facing the back of the creature, began to stand up. She felt dizzy as her wobbly legs tried to keep her from crashing to the ground once more. She shook her head to break the confusion away and looked up to see what was happening.
The moment she saw Eralynn being pulled closer to the creature, she leapt into the air towards the water Pokemon. Without hurting it, she landed, setting one of her hooves on top of one of its tentacles, as if telling it to wait.
Eralynn looked down and around the creature when she felt that it had stopped dragging her. She was shocked to see some sort of light coming from behind it. The sea creature turned its head slightly, as well, trying to see what was holding onto one of its legs.
The light that Eralynn had seen was not that of fire, but something else. Looking closer, she saw that it was a bright white, like a sort of intense moonlight. The glow was… in the shape of a Ponyta.
“Aerance!” Eralynn shouted, unsure of what was happening to her friend.
She watched as the glow started to grow into a slightly different shape and size. What Eralynn could assume were Aerance’s mane flames grew larger, as well as the size of her body. Her legs became longer, making her quite a big taller. More magnificent, though, was what sprouted from her forehead. A thin, pointed horn slowly grew there- a tool of a warrior.
The light began to fade as the change was complete. In place of the sweet, innocent little fire horse that Eralynn once knew was now a majestic, noble unicorn. Aerance’s new form had some kind of strength about it, with muscles in her chest and legs, more powerful flames on her tail and mane, and, of course, the hard, tough horn she had developed.
“Rapidash,” Eralynn whispered, mesmerized by what Aerance had become.
She had seen Rapidash before in books when learning about Team Devastation, and which Pokemon were good to use to fight against them. She had learned that Rapidash were extremely fast and tough. They made excellent partners in battle, using their horn as a spear to fight with. Also, with a Rapidash, a warrior could make a quick and safe getaway, if necessary.
Eralynn remembered that the chief advantage here was speed, and decided that that’s how they could get Rhylan back.
“Aerance, use agility!” She called out to the Pokemon.
The fire unicorn snorted and obeyed Eralynn. She stepped off of the monster’s tentacle and turned to the side. She began to run, which turned into a sprint, which then turned into… a flash of color and light. Aerance moved so quickly, that Eralynn could not even begin to pinpoint where she could be at any given moment.
The sea Pokemon, now confused, tried to retaliate by whipping one of its tentacles at the fast fire Pokemon. Aerance, being quicker than lightning, stopped for a moment to calculate the tentacle’s path. Right before it could reach her, she was off and running again. It looked as if she had simply disappeared or even teleported away from the point at which she stood.
“Wow,” Eralynn said in amazement.
The creature continued to swing its tentacles wildly, nearly hitting Eralynn a couple of times. No matter what it did, however, it could not land a hit against Aerance.
Eralynn, now concerned that the Rapidash had forgotten their main objective, decided to give her an attack to use.
“Aerance,” She began, but was interrupted.
Aerance had stopped running from the attacks, and was now bending down, ready to jump at the sea creature. She pushed off hard from the ground, sending her body flying towards it. Eralynn could see that she was headed straight for the very tentacle that held Rhylan. Head lowered and horn exposed, she landed a direct hit with the tentacle that grasped the Prince.
The creature roared in pain as the unicorn’s horn that was harder than diamonds pierced through its flesh. Its arm swung around, still clutching Rhylan’s body.
Aerance stepped away from it, still avoiding its flailing tentacles with her drastic increase in speed. She knew that she had to do something more to stop it. She had to make it drop Rhylan somehow. She stopped running once more and readied herself.
As Eralynn struggled to free herself from imprisonment, she watched her friend begin a frightening attack that she had only seen once before.
Again, Aerance’s eyes began to glow a bright red. Flames somehow rose up from the ground, causing the rock floor around the unicorn to break and crumble. The fire rose up around her and began to spin as it reached further up. It kept going, until Eralynn could no longer see the end of it. Within the fiery cylinder, she could only see the shadow of her dear friend. She watched as she could vaguely see Aerance lowering her head to strike once more.
“She’s combining attacks!” Eralynn thought to herself, extremely impressed with the Rapidash.
Aerance once again crouched lower and then blasted off like a rocket, heading straight for the arm that held Rhylan.
The creature lurched back as Aerance attacked, unable to do a thing. It let out a roar as both Aerance’s fire and horn collided with the underside of its tentacle.
Finally, it was enough. The sea Pokemon dropped Rhylan from high in the air, only concerned with its own pain.
“No! Aerance, don’t let him fall!” Eralynn pleaded desperately.
Aerance ran to him like a bolt of lightning, and was just quick enough to catch the falling Prince on her back. She kept running away from the eight-armed creature, making sure it couldn’t grab Rhylan again, whose body was now safely draped over her back.
At last, Eralynn felt the creature’s grip on her loosening, and she quickly pulled her injured legs out. As painful as it was for her to stand so fast, she knew she had to in order to make sure she could get away safely. She felt her knees throbbing, and looked down at them to see brownish-purple marks beneath her skin.
However, the sea creature was not actually going after her. Instead, it retreated back towards the water, still holding the egg that Eralynn had tried to take from it. It submerged, making the water splash up onto the rock around it.
When Aerance noticed that it was safe, she started trotted back towards Eralynn, making sure that she wasn’t going too close to the pools of water around the area. She remained especially far from the one that the creature had just returned to, and made it back to the path undamaged, where Eralynn was now also standing.
The girl raced to Aerance, who still carried Rhylan. She grabbed his arm and pinched his wrist, placing her fingers on the underside of his arm. She sighed with relief when she felt a pulse.
“He’s alive, Aerance. He’s alive,” she said, and she began to cry.
She wrapped her arms around his neck and rubbed her cheek against his. Sniffling, she looked back up at Aerance.
“Thank you, Aerance. You were so amazing. He might not be alive right now if it wasn't for your courage,” Eralynn told her appreciatively.
She looked back down at Rhylan. His face was still paler than normal, his hair and eyebrows were wet, and his lips were blue. His cloak was dripping wet, and Eralynn realized she had to get him to some sort of shelter, so that he could warm up properly. For the time being, she removed his cloak and put her’s, which was much drier at this point, around him.
“Aerance, can you do me a favor?” She asked.
The flame unicorn snorted and nodded her head in affirmation.
“Can you try to keep your mane warmer than usual for Rhylan? He’s going to need something extra to help him dry off. Try not to make it too hot, though,” Eralynn said.
She moved him closer towards Aerance’s mane, making room for herself to climb up. She grabbed hold of the Rapidash and tried to pull herself on.
“Jeez, Aerance. I forgot you’re much bigger now,” she said as she struggled to swing her leg over.
She eventually got on, though, feeling much higher up than normal. As Aerance trotted along the path, Eralynn could feel that everything in the ride was different. The once bumpy but tolerable gait of the Ponyta was now transformed into the graceful and strong gallop of a Rapidash. Eralynn almost felt like a real warrior riding Aerance the Rapidash, instead of the playful, trickster child that once rode Aerance the Ponyta. (That wasn’t to say that Aerance’s form mattered at all in regards to their friendship, of course.) She could also feel more warmth coming from her mane, and she sighed with relief.
Her thoughts changed from Aerance’s gallop to more serious matters. They had to find shelter, but where? The land was still the same everywhere she looked: a flat rock floor interrupted by occasional pools of dark water. The fog was also still there, making it hard to see too far in the distance.
“Aerance, I think we just have to make it across the Ridge of Obscurity. Otherwise, we won’t find anywhere to rest. We may not even be able to find any food,” she worried.
She heard her stomach growl with the mention of food. She realized that none of them had eaten a thing all day, and they did not have any extra berries from before. They had to get out of here somehow.
“Aerance, we have to move fast! Let’s go!” She requested of her companion.
With a whinny, Aerance set off into a much faster gallop.
Eralynn clutched the reigns tightly and squinted into the distance. She did not know how long this path went on for. She did not know whether or not they would starve to death, or if they would become dehydrated. She dared not drink the water of the sea creature’s nests on either side of her. She wondered how long it would be until exhaustion would plague her and Aerance.
Most of all, she wondered if any of them would be able to return to Derelon City...
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.
Chapter 15- The Path to The Great Dragon
“Eralynn, you need to decide whether or not we're going right now!” Rhylan shouted at the top of his lungs. He was practically on the brink of insanity due to Eralynn's apparent inability to make a decision.
“Listen to me, Rhylan,” the impetuous girl responded. “I know for sure that we should go, okay?”
Rhylan scoffed at this, unable to take her seriously at this point. “So, let me get this straight: First, you're really die-hard about coming out here and rescuing us and then continuing on. Then, you decide it's much too dangerous, considering there's a dragon and a perilous volcano out there. And now, you want to keep going again?!”
“Please! I know it's hard to understand, but you just need to listen to me,” Eralynn tried reasoning with the Prince. “There's no doubt in my mind anymore...” she then said, letting her words trail off.
After, there was a moment of silence during which Eralynn took the opportunity to take in the scene around her. The steam still slithered between the branches of the great tree, upon which Noctowl no longer sat. He had flown down to perch on the huge roots of the tree when Eralynn had collapsed, trying to see if she was all right. He sat very close to Aerance, who was even more concerned, and was also sitting close to where Eralynn had just fallen. Rhylan had lifted her in his arms and tried to awaken her. He had shaken her, yelled at her, and even slapped her cheeks lightly, but it was not up to him to make her wake up. She had eventually, much to their surprise, and it was very fulminant, as if the oxygen had suddenly been pumped back into her dying lungs.
No one really understood what had happened to Eralynn when she fainted. They never had to experience this before, since she previously had seen these visions while alone or sleeping. She had never collapsed in front of the others that way, and although she had been scared into doing things in this manner all the way here, none of the visions she was shown was anything like this.
Still, it made sense when she thought of what the dying Mightyena had told her previously. Team Devastation was most certainly planning a deadly attack on Derelon City. They were going to try to take it for themselves, so that must've been exactly what the voice was showing her.
Eralynn knew that it was imperative that she witness this horrifying future now, though. Whoever it was was showing her this at that moment because Eralynn was about to leave. She was completely ready to give up on whatever instinct she was going on. After all, she had no real proof that she should go on, except for a voice telling her to do so. In her eyes, it wasn't even an order before now, but really just a suggestion or request. She hadn't ever needed proof to realize how important it was, though. All she needed was to see the citizens of Derelon dying and their great city falling to Team Devastation, and the haunting voice knew that.
It wanted badly for her to continue, Eralynn knew that much. This was evident enough by the fact that it had just threatened the lives of her people and of her friends. In fact, it had given her an ultimatum: If she turned back now, they would all die, and she would probably suffer the consequences too.
Just then, she thought of something she hadn't immediately wondered about before. She hadn't actually seen what had happened to herself in that vision. She was paying close attention to Rhylan's terrible misfortune, and forgot to try and spot where and how she would end up.
Still, she knew that this was because relatively, everything else that she had witnessed in the dream was much worse. How could she have been concerned with anything else after seeing all of that?
Eralynn put her hand up to her chin and scratched it. She gently bit her lip and looked towards Aerance, Noctowl, and Rhylan.
“I need you to take me to the Great Dragon,” Eralynn stated firmly.
The wise owl blinked twice, and then nodded at the girl, indicating that he understood. “I will take you to him, my dear.”
* * * *
Eralynn did not realize it, but the great old tree in which Noctowl nested was actually on top of a large hill. Its roots began to thin out as the three travelers moved away from it and headed towards the opposite side from which they had come. At the same time, the land sloped downward, making it very difficult to walk away. After a certain point, the hill became much steeper, and Eralynn and Rhylan had to use the roots on the ground to climb down, as if they were rough, gnarly, uneven stairs. They stepped down and down, nearly losing their balance countless times as they went.
Aerance, on the other hand, had it even harder. Used to standing on all fours, it was difficult for her to put her forelegs forward and step down onto the knotty roots while leaving her haunches up higher behind her. She struggled all the way down, unable to grab the higher roots behind her like Eralynn and Rhylan could. Instead, she had to find a place to put all fours each time she stepped.
Eralynn occasionally looked up behind her to see how Aerance was doing. A part of her felt bad for her friend, but another part wanted to chuckle a bit. After all, Aerance was typically a strong, graceful animal. She always moved the fastest and the smoothest, and she was usually the one making daring leaps and sprints and the like. (This was true even when she was a Ponyta.) Now, here she was, finding it hardest out of anyone to get around.
Of course, the steam certainly didn't help matters much. It still surrounded them all as they descended, but it wasn't that hard to see where to step as they went down. Interestingly, the steam became much thinner after they had passed the tree. All of them could see much more clearly, and what wasn't completely sharp to their eyes was only foggy instead of impossible to see. Still, steam or no steam, the route was extremely difficult.
Noctowl floated down easily, of course, making the other three travelers jealous of his wings. He could fly much too fast for them, so sometimes, he would stop and sit on the tree roots for a bit while telling them to just keep going down. He had agreed to be their guide, but tended to get impatient with them anyway.
Eralynn clutched onto a root behind her as she felt her way down with her feet. Her sandals touched what felt like a relatively flat piece of a root and she allowed her weight to drop onto it. She had trouble being careful on the path, however, since she found it very difficult to actually concentrate. She couldn't get her mind off of everything that had happened to her. She thought endlessly of the Milotic and how one of them had said Eralynn resembled the woman that was once a queen. She also thought of the Xatu and their predictions. She recalled Aerance's powerful fire move and her dramatic change during evolution. She remembered the horror experienced at frightening Ridge of Obscurity and her imprisonment at the Team Devastation base. Still, out of everything, she thought mostly of the Great Dragon. Too many questions sprang to her mind, and she thought it best to ask while she had the chance.
“Noctowl, why did you tell me the Great Dragon would be so dangerous?” she asked him suddenly.
Floating in the air nearby, he turned to face her. He flapped his wings lightly and less forcefully than before, letting himself hover lower and lower to the roots until he was able to rest on one.
“Oh, humans. You always have to know everything, don't you?” Noctowl sighed and went on. “Any creature that you meet in the wild might be dangerous, and although no Pokemon are born with darkness in their hearts, we are all born with animal instincts, just as humans are.”
Eralynn looked from side to side as she was about to grab another root to hold onto. “Well, what instincts are you talking about exactly?”
“Many are born with the desire to hunt,” Noctowl said after pausing for a moment.
Eralynn gulped. The desire to hunt? Perhaps she had been right in assuming that the Great Dragon was a blood-thirsty monster that would simply eat them when they walked into his lair. She huffed at the thought, watching the scene play over and over again in her mind.
“Okay, fine. What the heck is he saying to you, Eralynn?” Rhylan asked abruptly.
Eralynn looked at him and frowned. Had he been that stubborn that he couldn't even have asked before? He was probably embarrassed about assuming that Eralynn was crazy and was talking to herself. Finally realizing that the owl Pokemon might actually be saying something was likely too much to handle. Eralynn rolled her eyes at the thought of the Prince's pride being hurt.
“Well, he's saying,” she started to say rudely, but then broke into a less condescending tone, “that the Great Dragon might be quite vicious.” She nearly choked at the sound of her own words.
Rhylan didn't respond. Instead, he just continued to step down the steep tree branches while holding on to those behind him.
“You see, I have never seen him, but I have certainly heard stories,” Noctowl chimed in. “Basically, none of them ended well, though.”
Eralynn lightly held her bottom lip in her teeth as she both struggled down the hill and listened to Noctowl's words. If she had heard this bad news before being warned by the mysterious voice about the fall of her city, she would have turned back with barely any doubt at all. However, since being shown that that was a real possibility, she decided to muffle her fear the best she could. Sure, she was usually reckless, but she was in for certain doom, as Noctowl told her, so she couldn't help but feel some mental anguish about meeting the creature.
She knew she couldn't run anymore, though. It was just too dangerous for everyone. She had to keep going, even if she knew she would be in trouble.
“So, what does he look like?” Eralynn inquired of her guide.
“Hmm, I don't know,” Noctowl answered simply.
Eralynn shot him a strange look. This Pokemon seemed to know everything else, but he had no idea of what a legendary dragon looked like?
Taking note of her reaction, Noctowl continued. “You see, no one was ever really that concerned with what the dragon looked like, Eralynn. The few things that I actually learned from gossip among the flying Pokemon were related to how the dragon acted.”
Eralynn nodded in response. Sure, this made sense. If anyone was seeking out the Great Dragon, wouldn't they rather know if they were going to get eaten or not? Still, his appearance would have been a good thing to know, so that Eralynn could be aware of just how intimidating the creature would be.
They all continued making their way down the hill, and Eralynn explained to Rhylan what Noctowl had said. She also had to tell him the things that the owl Pokemon had told them the first time that they met before entering the Ridge of Obscurity. Eralynn wasn't exactly surprised to see that Rhylan was outraged by the fact that Noctowl had actually warned them about the pools of water in the ridge. He wasn't being stupid and refusing to take Noctowl's advice, since he hadn't even heard it in the first place.
Eventually, the land began to grow flatter and flatter. The roots remained, but started diminishing in both size and amount. This wasn't a problem once they all reached the lower part of the gigantic hill, seeing as they would no longer need the roots to climb down a steep slope. Still, they had to watch their step to make sure that they didn't trip over the smaller roots that remained.
They were still walking downhill somewhat, but the land could now be walked on instead of climbed. Aerance seemed to be the one most relieved by this, as she could finally trot much more freely. Her movements became fluid once again, and the two humans were now the ones walking awkwardly down the increasingly more gradual slope. They walked in between the remnants of the big tree, upon the dirt that was sunken in between.
Soon after they had walked this path for a little while, Noctowl came to a stop mid-air. He turned around and looked at Eralynn, Rhylan, and Aerance and sat on the ground.
“This is where I must leave you again,” Noctowl began. “If you keep walking this way, you will come to a stream. This is the stream that crosses through the lava path of the volcano. When you come to this water, do not cross it. Remain on this side. The stream runs nearly parallel to the way in which we are moving now, but it is still at an angle that will allow your path to intersect with its own. When you reach it, just walk alongside it so that you're traveling parallel to it. The water will be flowing south-east, so walk the way that the water flows.”
Eralynn looked at Rhylan nervously, and then nodded dubiously at Noctowl. It seemed simple enough, but she really would have rather he was staying with them the whole way.
“You can handle it without me very easily,” Noctowl explained. “Keep walking the way I told you, and you will come to the area upon which the lava has cooled. There will be lots of dark, black rock, similar to that that makes up parts of the Ridge of Obscurity. This will indicate that you are near to the volcano itself. Keep going, and you will find it. It's very hard to miss.”
“Okay...” Eralynn said quietly.
“I personally would not like to risk running into the Great Dragon. I'm sure you have a reason for seeking him out, but I could not handle him very well. I bid you farewell, and good luck in your travels,” Noctowl said, and then with a strong flap of his wings, he was off.
Eralynn, Aerance, and Rhylan turned to look behind them as Noctowl flew off into the distance. They would've watched him longer, but before they knew it, he had disappeared into the steam. The partially vaporized water swallowed his small body as he floated back in the direction of the gigantic tree that was his home.
Rhylan sighed and Eralynn simply closed her eyes tightly. Aerance lifted a front leg and lightly tapped her hoof against the dirt-ground. All three of them seemed to pretend for a moment that they didn't know what they should be doing. This was not the case, however, and they most likely just didn't want to know what they had to do.
After a little while of this, Eralynn was the first to decide that they had to move on. They couldn't just stand there doubtfully forever waiting for something better to happen. They had to find this horrible place with this terrifying creature. Perhaps it could help them find out what this voice was. Even better, maybe it could tell Eralynn how to prevent the fall of Derelon City.
“Okay, Aerance,” Eralynn said quietly, “we have to get going.” With this, she tugged the reigns softly, indicating for the Rapidash to turn and begin moving.
Aerance lifted her forelegs and began to trot along the dirt ground, allowing her hooves to land between the tiny roots that were now few and far between. Eralynn and Rhylan hung on tightly to the reigns as she moved, nervous about the rest of this trip.
As they walked, they noticed again that the steam was gradually beginning to disappear. It was still there, but was lessening drastically by getting closer to the stream that Noctowl was talking about.
“Hey, why do you think it's getting clearer if we're getting closer to the source of the fog, or... steam?” Rhylan asked Eralynn eventually.
“I don't really have a clue, Rhylan,” the girl responded, perplexed. She didn't really understand it that well either. Perhaps that was just another thing that she could ask the Great Dragon about when they got there. That is, if he didn't kill them first.
At one point, Aerance let out an abrupt snort and stopped moving. She bent her neck lower to the ground as if looking for something.
“What is it?” Eralynn asked the Rapidash in a whisper.
Aerance answered her with a snort that barely allowed her to finish her question. She once again bent her head low and pricked her eyes so that they stood erect.
Eralynn watched her friend, at first not understanding exactly what was going on. After noticing Aerance's ears raise so high, though, Eralynn decided to follow suit. She held her breath and clutched her chest as she listened carefully. At first, there was nothing, but then, she heard just what Aerance was trying to tell her about: It was the sound of rushing water. The stream must have been getting closer. They were actually going the right way without Noctowl's help.
“We're nearly there,” Eralynn said aloud with wonder in her voice.
Rhylan leaned to the side to look around her, also trying to listen for the sound. When he realized it, he sighed again. It wasn't like him to be so speechless, but Eralynn didn't question him. She just assumed that he was worried about what this dragon was going to be like.
“Let's go,” Eralynn said somberly.
Aerance listened and continued moving again. She kept trotting until the trio did indeed reach the stream. It was actually much larger than Eralynn had pictured. It was not like the stream in the woods back in the Derelon City area, but much closer to a huge river instead. Jumping across to the other side wasn't exactly a feat that Aerance could handle, even in her evolved form.
Luckily, this was not something that the flame unicorn would have to accomplish, since Noctowl had told them to just continue alongside the river, moving parallel to it. Eralynn made sure that they were moving with the current rather than in the opposite direction before they went, but soon after they arrived there, they were on their way.
Aerance trotted on throughout the rest of the day, and soon, the three travelers could see in front of themselves much better than they could before. The steam was practically gone at this point, and all that remained was a light fog. Even the stars were visible now, and Eralynn stared at them for a while as they traveled, thankful to be able to catch a glimpse of the many constellations above.
For a moment, the sight of them made her think of the starlight guardians. The graceful, beautiful Milotic protected the lights in the sky, and she wondered if this was true even when she couldn't see the stars because of the steam. Why was it so important to protect them anyway? Sure, they were beautiful, but did they hold some sort of power? She let out a quiet sigh as she imagined them controlling fate and all that happened to the people on Earth. Perhaps that was it...
“Hey, Rhylan,” Eralynn started. “Have you ever seen a Milotic?”
“Huh?” Rhylan asked after a long period of hesitation. “No, I haven't, Eralynn,” he said .
“Well, I was just wondering if they had anything to do with that prophe-” but she couldn't continue her sentence without being interrupted.
“Eralynn, I don't believe in any prophesies, okay? It's all garbage, you know. I'm sure you were told stories just to scare you,” he rambled.
“Why would your father want to do that, you idiot?” she asked him angrily. She had thought just the opposite, actually. She'd assumed that King Nevarro was doing her a favor by letting her in on such a secret.
“Please, Eralynn, stop whining about magic and sorcery and things that just don't exist,” Rhylan snapped back.
Eralynn was taken aback by the comment, wondering why he was so defensive. He had only reacted this badly once before, when she had tried to look at the stone of Norsillon he had received. She knew that Rhylan must have been hiding something, but she quickly swayed herself into remembering what the Xatu had told her before: to trust her friends. It was hard, but with some convincing, she managed to tell herself that neither Aerance nor Rhylan could have possibly meant her any harm.
“I'm just being paranoid,” Eralynn thought to herself silently.
Without another word, the trio rode on into the twilight, moving right alongside the wide river whose current would soon take them to the Great Dragon's lair. Only Aerance's fiery mane and tail lit the way, and they all remained deep in thought as they went, Eralynn keeping her eyes peeled forward, unable to look away from their destination. Rhylan and Aerance were silent, unwilling to bring up the topic of what loomed before them.
After a few hours of traveling quite slowly along the river, Rhylan suddenly spoke.
“Eralynn,” he whispered, tugging at her shoulder, “look up there.”
Eralynn followed the direction of his finger and stared up at the sky. Straight into the distance he pointed, trying to guide her eyes towards something quite strange. Right above her, the stars remained very bright in their fixed positions, but as Eralynn looked further out into the distance, she could see a dramatic change in the appearance of the heavens above. First began the formation of dark clouds. Then, she could see them getting thicker and thicker, until at last, they formed a circular, swirling mass in the sky. It was very far ahead, and Eralynn had to try very hard to be able to tell what it was. What helped her was actually some kind of light within these clouds. Just like the dark gray cotton that littered the sky, the whitish-yellow light became stronger and stronger towards the center of the slowly rotating cyclone. In the middle it was strongest, and then faded as it traveled out from the center of the huge pinwheel.
“What is it?” Eralynn asked Rhylan and Aerance while in a daze.
“I... I don't know,” Rhylan answered in the same stupefied voice.
Aerance let out a soft whinny, frightened by the terrifying thing in the sky. She lifted her forelegs and began to slowly back away.
Ignoring this, Eralynn said, “They look like... rain clouds, but I've never seen anything so big.”
“Yeah... rain clouds,” Rhylan said frightfully, as though both in some horrifying trance.
Eralynn quickly shook her head at the sound of his reaction. She lightly pulled on Aerance's reigns until the Rapidash started moving again. Eralynn had to tell her friend countless times to keep going, since Aerance was so scared. She even stopped a couple of times, practically refusing to continue on. Still, Eralynn had to urge the unicorn Pokemon on despite being so scared herself.
She couldn't take her eyes off of the cloud formation that they were headed straight for. The entire time they walked, she just stared at it, and she imagined that Rhylan was doing the same, being just as stunned as she was.
After what felt like only a few minutes of walking, the three of them got much closer to the swirling clouds, and also what was just beneath it...
Eralynn did not notice for a long time, since she was completely mesmerized by the strange sky, but they were coming upon a drastic change in the landscape ahead. She managed to finally break away from looking up into the distance, and saw that just underneath the swirling clouds was what initially looked like an oddly-shaped mountain. Its sides were charred with something black, and they sloped straight up into a small opening on top, with the exception of a few shelves of rock that jutted out every now and again.
“Rhylan, that's the... the...” Eralynn started, but could barely speak.
“I know what it is,” Rhylan stated from behind her, his voice nearly cracking.
Straight ahead loomed the very lair of the Great Dragon. It was the same place that all of them both wanted to find and wanted to avoid for the rest of their lives. Regardless of that, they were there now, waiting to see their fate.
Eralynn put her own arms around her so as to hold her own body. She felt a shiver run up and down her spine, and she started to breathe deeply. She couldn't allow herself to be scared any longer, though. She had to find out what was going on, and there was only one way to do it.
The girl gave Aerance a pat on the side, and, hanging onto the Rapidash's body, slid off of her. She held onto Aerance's body as she stopped to take in the sight before her. This was it.
“I have to go in alone,” Eralynn stated emphatically. “I can't have you two getting hurt for something that only involves me.”
Rhylan slapped both hands against the sides of his head and blinked hard. “Eralynn, what are you talking about?! We cannot let you go into that place alone!” He had to restrain himself from screaming.
“Rhylan, please. Think of Aerance! She'll need your help escaping and returning to Derelon if something goes wrong,” Eralynn retorted.
“No, she won't. And besides, why can't I just go?” Rhylan asked in a shout.
“Rhylan, you can't hear Noctowl when he talks. You couldn't hear the dying Mightyena either. How are you supposed to listen to the Great Dragon's words? Also, you aren't the one that's been having visions and hearing voices. I think I deserve an answer to my questions about this, don't you?” Eralynn argued.
Rhylan frowned and lowered his eyebrows, trying desperately to think of a reason that would convince the foolish girl not to go it alone. When he couldn't find one, he thought of an alternative to going inside with her. “Eralynn... we're coming with you at least to wait directly outside for you. Aerance and I will not take 'no' for an answer.”
Aerance gave a loud snort and slammed a hoof against the ground. Rhylan smiled and folded his arms over his chest, satisfied that the Rapidash so readily agreed with him.
“Fine,” Eralynn said after heaving a sigh. She put her hand in Rhylan's and gave a forced smile, trying to tell him everything would be all right. Then, letting go of him, she threw her arms around Aerance's neck and kissed her. “Everything will be just fine,” she found it hard to say the words and believe them.
Then, she released her grip on Aerance and began creeping towards the fiery mountain that housed the Great Dragon himself...
Chapter 16- Beneath the Lava
Eralynn stepped forward slowly with Rhylan, who was riding Aerance, close behind. They walked along the wide river until they came to a bridge that they had spotted shortly after they'd first noticed the notoriously unstable volcano. Upon reaching it, they could see its details close up, and noticed that it was made of hardened lava. The black, shiny stone had its base at the bottom of the river and was built as rocks piled on top of one another, except somewhat more smoothed out than that. They surfaced about one foot above the running water, with occasional gaps between the dark rock. There were other sections in the river in which the rocks rose above the river, but none went completely across the water, as this one did.
Without taking too much time to marvel at the obsidian bridge, Eralynn walked across, being trailed shortly after by Rhylan and Aerance. They had to make a couple of leaps with the water rising above the rocks every now and then, but they made it across safely and in relatively good time. It felt like good timing, too, since they all dreaded actually reaching the Great Dragon. Therefore, whatever amount of time it really took, it felt like seconds to them.
They kept rather silent until they reached the other side of the river, which was where the beginning of the volcano directly began. The ground was now entirely made of the hard, smooth, black rock that had formed in the river, and it curved upwards, its slope becoming exponentially steeper until it reached the mouth of the volcano at the top, which Eralynn could not see from where she stood.
On the side, though, she spotted a large, somewhat circular opening towards the very bottom of the volcano. It was a little to the left of where she presently stood. Eralynn saw, carved in the hardened lava, a smooth path that dipped down. In fact, it looked as if a large tree had fallen and been dragged along as the rock had formed, leaving a trail shaped like a half-cylinder in the ground.
After pondering for a moment why it looked this way, Eralynn then stepped forward towards the path, and began walking along it. She looked up for a second as she went, realizing this road seemed relatively stable, and so, she hadn't a need to look where she was going.
She was nearly blinded by the bright light in the swirling mass of clouds that was now directly above her. At first, it looked like it could be a small version of the sun, what with its white-yellow rays penetrating the thick, mysterious chunk of clouds. Eralynn forced herself to break her gaze away from the ball of light and direct her eyes back to where she was headed.
She crept up to the entrance, which was much, much larger now that she was very close. Just outside the foreboding opening to the volcano, Eralynn turned to looked at Rhylan and Aerance, who were just about ten feet behind her. When she stopped, they did too, and looked at her without making any sound.
“You two wait here,” Eralynn said finally. “Actually,” she continued, “I'd prefer it if you waited much further down, seeing as it still wouldn't be any easier to escape from this point.”
Rhylan looked annoyed and frustrated, but tried to remain civil with her. “Eralynn, this is what we agreed to do. We're not going to wait down there. We're not going to travel across the river or back to Derelon or whatever!”
Eralynn looked at the ground solemnly and ashamedly. She knew that he was right.
“Please,” Rhylan whispered after a moment. “Let us just wait here, and if you need help, just call us. This... Great Dragon might not even end up helping you at all. I mean, how do we really even know what's going to happen?”
Eralynn sighed in response. Still, she knew why she was here right now. The Mightyena's words flooded her ears once again as she remembered that Varlo's grandson would attack Derelon for sure, and the horrible vision flashed before her eyes simultaneously. She did have good reasons to trust the voice that spoke to her, too, and that was what originally had told her to go this way.
“Fine then,” Eralynn said, and then turned to walk into the volcano. She took a deep breath the moment before she took a step into the entrance of the fiery mountain. She had to adjust her eyes as the light from outside began to fade and another type of light took over. From within, a faint, orange glow poured out into the tunnel Eralynn was currently in. It became slightly brighter as she went in, but perhaps that was just because her eyes had become used to the dark.
With the amber light, the terrified girl could see that the tunnel beneath her feet remained the same, continuing on in a half-cylinder shape. The rest of the tunnel could be observed as well, and Eralynn looked up towards the top of the cave to see that its ceiling was about six or seven feet above her.
She ignored her rapidly beating heart and walked on, soon reaching what appeared to be the end of this tunnel. It abruptly opened up into a much larger room, from which, it semmed, the orange light originated. Eralynn stopped walking when she realized that in order to continue, she would need to cross another obsidian bridge, which led to the center of the inside of the volcano. This time, though, it was not a bridge over water. On either side of the path to the middle, Eralynn could see pools of fiery lava far down below. She knew she would have to be careful of this, but even so, it wasn't the liquid fire that made her heart begin to pound even harder...
In the center of the volcano, there was a large mound of the obsidian rock. It almost looked like another smaller volcano that was less shapely than the outside one, its sides holding the same slope all the way through, not allowing for any curves. Upon this mound sat a nest of some sort. It was the perfect size for something very large and very heavy...
Eralynn thought she could see something sticking out of the nest, and when checking to see if she could catch a glimpse of movement or sign of breathing, she could not. She had to check to see what lay there. She had to cross the rock bridge.
She stepped out prudently, making sure she could keep her balance before allowing her weight to rest fully on both feet. She crept towards the bed and squinted her eyes, trying to see just what was there. Her vision became almost completely clear after she had crossed about three-quarters the length of the bridge, and she could now make out what it was. It did not bring her mind the peace that it desired so much, however.
The reckless girl nearly screamed when she saw leaves and grass hanging over the side of the nest. She wasn't sure of whether or not the Great Dragon slept there, but she wished that he did, and that he was sleeping there at that moment. She much rather would've seen him in front of her, rather than being left to wonder just where he was hiding. Eralynn didn't want to stick around and deal with the suspense of looking for him...
She turned to run back to where she had entered, but it was too late. Something suddenly emerged from the depths of lava below, luckily only splashing the lower sides of the obsidian bridge. Eralynn did not care to look at it, though. She momentarily forgot about the threat of Team Devastation attacking Derelon City and just wanted to get out of this place as quickly as possible. She felt her heels slam against the hard path, and was just about to reach the end of the bridge. Then, she felt something grab hold of her cloak.
Eralynn let out a scream that could have made all of the lava ripple below her as she was pulled backwards, further into the place she'd feared for so long. She tried desperately to tear her cloak off, hoping it would grant her freedom for enough time to get away. She violently tore her arms away from it, letting them slide out of the black fabric.
The moment she realized she was only in the white dress she wore underneath, she bolted for the exit. However, she was nearly thrown off of the bridge as something long and cylindrical slammed down in front of her body and blocked her way. She fell backwards as splinters of hardened lava flew off of the narrow path from the force of whatever it was that had hit it.
Eralynn, having been knocked on her back, pushed herself up with her hands, so that she was in a sitting position. She now looked at the thing that was attacking her. It had a long, slim body which had a girth probably close to Eralynn's height. It had a face similar to that of a snake, but with two horns sprouting from atop its head. Two small arms protruded from its side, ending in talon-like hands with three claws. It also had a strange pattern of yellow circles on its body, which were connected to one another and appeared in a line of some sort. Also peculiar was what looked like a few small, rectangular fans that stuck out of its body. What Eralynn noticed most, though, was its glowing, yellow, cat-like eyes. They glared straight at her, and Eralynn thought it was as if they would burn right through her at any moment.
The small girl raced backwards, trying to get away from the long, giant, snake-like beast. No matter what she tried, however, it failed miserably. When trying to move towards the nest in the center of the volcano, it simply wrapped its body around her, cornering her into facing it.
Eralynn thought she was going to have a heart attack as it lowered its head and started to close in on her. It opened its jaws, breathing deeply and revealing its fangs.
“Please,” Eralynn started to speak, thinking there was nothing else she could do, “don't hurt me! I've come from a very long way to find you!”
The serpent-type beast cocked its head to the side as it continued to stare at her. Then, it spoke. “You were foolish to walk into my lair, you know,” he (Eralynn realized it was a male) said with a strong, deep voice. “It's been a while since I've eaten, and I'm beginning to get quite hungry.” With this, he moved his head around her, making sure she was still imprisoned as he slithered around and around her.
Eralynn shivered despite the heat emanating from below them. This was her worst nightmare. She had traveled all this way to meet with a creature that wanted to eat her. She wanted to curse the voice that had sent her here. It knew everything else, so why wouldn't it know that this thing would be starving right now?!
Previously, Eralynn had kept her eyes closed as the giant creature moved in on her, readying itself to feast. Now, though, she heard something... Something clicking and clattering nearby. She opened her eyes and tried to look around the monster, who apparently noticed the noise too.
Eralynn could not actually see what was coming, but she knew just who it was from the sudden brighter glow of orange and red on the inside walls of the volcano. She heard the clicking stop, and then came a whinny and a couple of stomps.
“Eralynn! Are you okay?” Rhylan asked from somewhere Eralynn could not see, then added a quiet, “Oh my God,” at the sight of what had captured her.
The creature let out a great roar and began turning towards the distraction behind it. “Who dares disturb me? Come to think of it, I may need to eat more than just a tiny little girl, though,” he grumbled angrily.
Upon turning to look at Rhylan and Aerance, however, he began to act quite strange. Eralynn noticed that he slowly straightened his body, getting rid of his coiled position around her. His tail dropped off of the side of the bridge as he sat staring at the two that had just entered.
Rhylan looked around confusedly for a moment, probably expecting that it would have attacked already, but Aerance acted odd just as the serpent did. She reeled back, whinnying and throwing her forelegs in the air. She stomped the ground and snorted on the way down, all while Rhylan struggled to remain on her back. The Rapidash stood her ground, not afraid of the creature whatsoever, and she stared right into his eyes.
The giant beast seemed mesmerized by her, and he just watched in awe for a few moments before speaking. “You...” he began with disbelief. “What are you doing here? I thought I'd never see you again, and my, how you've changed!” he stated in amazement.
Eralynn stood up behind him furiously. If he was going to hurt Aerance, he would have to go through her first. “She is my friend and she came in to save me! Don't you touch her!” she yelled unwisely.
The creature turned his head slightly so as to indicate that he was listening to her. He waited a moment, sighed, and then nodded while looking back at Aerance. “Is this girl your companion now?” He asked the Rapidash.
Aerance responded with a nod of her head, and Rhylan remained as perplexed as ever, raising his eyebrows and looking around aimlessly.
Now that she had taken a second to think about it, Eralynn was taken aback by the things this creature had said to Aerance. He had seen her before? She had another companion once? What did this mean? She decided to interrupt their mysterious conversation with a question. “Excuse me, are you... the Great Dragon?” she asked loudly.
The creature slowly craned his neck towards her until he was looking at her. “Yes,” he then said. “I am what's known as the Great Dragon of the west.”
Eralynn sighed with relief now that he was being civil with her. “I was told to come see you,” she stated anxiously. “A voice in my dreams... it told me to find you and ask for your help.”
“My help... Ah, it must be time,” the Great Dragon responded, apparently not surprised by what was going on.
“See, I was told that Derelon City would fall to Team Devastation if I didn't come talk to you,” Eralynn started to explain, but the dragon Pokemon shook his head.
“I know all about that,” the Great Dragon said calmly. He seemed like a completely different Pokemon, now that he had recognized Aerance anyway. He looked back at the Rapidash, and then back at Eralynn. He stared at her for a long time, and then began chuckling a bit.
Eralynn looked around, not knowing what was going on. “Excuse me, but what is so funny?” she asked, frustrated.
The dragon slowed his laughing down until he stopped completely, and said, “I don't know why I didn't realize what this was before, but I suppose all dragons have to eat, and an empty stomach can certainly affect one's judgment.”
Still not sure how he knew this was “supposed to happen” or what exactly was so very funny, Eralynn frowned. She exchanged glances with Rhylan, who looked equally stumped.
“What is your name, my dear?” the dragon asked, interrupting Eralynn and Rhylan's visual communication.
“I am Eralynn of Derelon City,” she replied while staring into those cat-like, yellow eyes of his.
“Hm, Eralynn,” the Great Dragon said, and then thought for a moment. “I will tell you what we must do, but first, you must tell me what you know.”
Eralynn nodded her head, agreeing, and the dragon led Aerance, Eralynn, and Rhylan up to his nest, which, as Eralynn already knew, was in the center of the volcano.
* * * *
“...So, then, we found Noctowl again, and he led us here to your volcano,” Eralynn said, finishing up the tail of her journey. She shifted in her seat to get more comfortable. Crossing her legs, she looked around. Eralynn, Rhylan, Aerance, and the Great Dragon now sat upon the nest in the center of the volcano. It was surprisingly large and was able to fit all of them comfortably, even with the Great Dragon's gigantic body.
The dragon Pokemon sat on the opposite side of the mound of hardened lava so that he was facing the two humans and the Rapidash. The rest of his body bordered the top of the resting place, stretching out around and behind the three travelers. His head and arms were in the air, since he was bent so that what could've been his torso was elevated.
Eralynn, who had since put her cloak back on, had done most of the talking, with Rhylan chiming in here and there to add something, but when the Great Dragon responded with a question or comment, he seemed so intelligent and knowledgeable. Eralynn had a tough time just talking about her journey, because she wanted to listen to the majestic dragon Pokemon tell tales of his own experiences. She just wanted to hear him talk more and learn of his thoughts, really.
Rhylan shifted uncomfortably next to her, as well. He was probably tired of sitting there and having to listen to Eralynn recall the entire trip they had taken.
Surprisingly, though, Aerance was laying down and relaxing. Eralynn was surprised by how placid the Rapidash really was, despite sitting inside of a volcano and having a conversation with a Pokemon that easily could kill them all in just moments. Still, the flame unicorn must have known the dragon from before, so perhaps he was simply an old friend to her.
Eralynn didn't give much of a chance for the Great Dragon to react to the story, since she decided to ask a question right away. “How do you know Aerance?” the words tumbled out of her mouth abruptly.
The Great Dragon glanced over at Aerance, and then began to explain. “Well, Eralynn, Aerance came to visit me a long time ago. She arrived here on a quest similar to the one you are on right now, but it was a journey to help plan for your own.”
Eralynn blinked twice, not knowing what to say. Apparently, there was much about Aerance that Eralynn did not know, despite having known her for as long as she could remember.
“Hm,” the Great Dragon gave a soft laugh when he realized that Eralynn did not know what he was saying. “Do you remember when you met Aerance? Do you remember where she came from?”
Eralynn lowered her eyebrows and began to think. Now that she was asked, she didn't really know what to say. She searched for something in her past that would tell her about when she met Aerance, who was then a Ponyta, but she couldn't not find any clues. “I think that I've always just... known her, I guess,” she finally said. She couldn't remember being an infant, but she did recall being very, very young and playing with the flame horse.
The Great Dragon nodded, as if he expected this answer from her. “Eralynn, she has always been in your family. You see, Pokemon can live for a very long time. Aerance has been alive for a lot longer and experienced so much more than you probably think.”
“Well, how old is she, then?” Eralynn asked.
“Oh, nearly two centuries, I'd think,” the Great Dragon told her casually.
“What?!” Eralynn nearly shouted, stunned by the dragon's answer. “Two centuries? How is that possible?! And, why is it that I never knew this?”
The Great Dragon smiled, his snake-like face grinning awkwardly. “Eralynn, there are a lot of things that you were not meant to know until now.”
The aggravated girl looked at the dragon for a moment. “Well, then, tell me what I need to know. Why was another journey taken to your lair before?” she asked, becoming more and more impatient with the huge creature.
“Someone, and I'd wager my life that this someone is the one who speaks to you in dreams, came to tell me to look for you. This human told me that you would have Aerance traveling with you, and that you would be seeking my help to save Derelon City,” the dragon Pokemon informed her.
Eralynn thought hard for a moment. If Aerance had always been in her family as the Great Dragon had told her, it must've been someone related to her, but who? “Who was it? My father, Orriso?” she queried.
“No, it was not your... father,” the Great Dragon said while hesitating to find the words.
Eralynn looked around, unsure of who else she could ask about. Her father was her only living relative. Her mother had died during childbirth, according to Orriso, and so Eralynn never actually met her. She did not know of any uncles, aunts, cousins, or grandparents either. Who could it have been?
She looked to the side of her, to see that Rhylan was staring straight at the ground, whereas before, he had been watching the Great Dragon in awe. Eralynn had previously asked if he could understand what the dragon was saying, and Rhylan said that he could. Neither of them knew why he could hear the huge Pokemon's words and not others', but Eralynn assumed that it was because the dragon used his vocal chords to speak, unlike Noctowl and Mightyena, who had spoken to her through telepathy.
Rhylan's face held an odd expression, though, as if the dragon had said something to make him feel guilty or ashamed. Eralynn thought about asking him what was wrong, but she knew it was probably best not to at this moment. She turned instead to look back at the Great Dragon.
“So, if it isn't my father, then what other relative of mine could it be?” Eralynn inquired of the huge, green Pokemon.
“Well-” the Great Dragon began saying, but was stopped by a sudden noise, which seemed to be the flapping of wings. The long dragon turned its head to look towards the opening of the tunnel that led to the outside of the volcano, and so did Eralynn, Rhylan, and Aerance.
Eralynn could make out some kind of bird Pokemon speeding through the tunnel and towards them. As its body touched the orange light of the volcano's interior, it became clear that it was a Pidgeot that looked similar to Rhylan's battle partner. It flapped its massive wings until it was across the bridge and landed right next to the dragon Pokemon.
The Great Dragon looked nervously at the two humans and the fire-type Pokemon who were waiting eagerly to be informed of what was happening, but then bent his head lower, close to where the Pidgeot's was.
The flying-type put its wing up so as to block its face from view, and started whispering something in the Great Dragon's ear. After a moment of this, it contracted its wing back towards its body, turned around, and flew back out of the volcano from the same way it had come.
The dragon Pokemon looked at the ground for some time, allowing himself to think. Then, he straightened up and looked at Eralynn. “Come, Eralynn. They are nearly here... It is time,” he uttered gravely.
She rapidly stood up and glanced over at Rhylan, who held a hand to his head and bore a serious expression. (Eralynn wondered why he wasn't equally as confused as she was.) Aerance stared at the hardened lava beneath her, also quite upset about something. Even the fierce Great Dragon of the west looked sad as he turned to lead her out of the volcano and into a situation she never imagined...
Chapter 17- Stir of the Thunderstorm
“But you haven't even explained any of this to me!” Eralynn yelled as she struggled to keep up with the Great Dragon.
It seemed as if the long, green Pokemon did not hear what she had said, however, and simply kept moving. He slithered through the tunnel and out into the open.
Eralynn looked around, seeing that everything was practically the same as when she had come inside the volcano before, but it was difficult to see, as it was much brighter outside than it had been inside the lair. “Please! I just want to know what's happening. Why do I have to be here with you right now?” she asked frantically.
“Eralynn, trust me. Do you want to save Derelon City or not?” the dragon asked her.
“Yes,” Eralynn replied quietly, feeling as if she still deserved to know more, even if the dragon guaranteed that he was going to help her save her city.
“Then just do what I say. I mean that everything will be all right,” the Great Dragon said kindly, reassuring the fearful girl. Then, after a moment of comforting Eralynn, the dragon's tone changed. “Quickly, now, climb onto my back.”
Eralynn gave him a surprised look, unable to envision herself riding a huge dragon. Regardless, she slowly approached him, and with some trouble, pulled herself onto the green dragon's slender back. She felt his hard, smooth scales on the way up and wrapped her arms around his body as best she could, although it was much too large to let her arms go all the way around.
“Are you somewhat comfortable?” The Great Dragon turned his head all the way around to ask Eralynn.
Looking sad and frightened, the small girl only nodded.
“Hmm,” the Great Dragon said, noticing her mood. “Eralynn, do not worry. We will talk as we ride. I will explain much to you.”
“Okay,” she replied softly. With this, Eralynn felt a little better, seeing as she would finally be taken from the dark. She had waited for what felt like ages to understand what the dreams meant and why she was on this journey. There was much to be told. However, then, she realized the other part of what the dragon had said. “Wait... ride?!” she asked, shocked.
Before the Great Dragon could explain, though, he pushed off of the ground, and Eralynn felt a push downwards as the two of them sprang into the air. Eralynn nearly fell off from the force, but she managed to hang on as the dragon headed for the sky.
“I would recommend holding onto one of my fans,” the Great Dragon told Eralynn as he concentrated on where he was going. “I use them to fly, you see, but they help me move through the air and change direction, so I don't need to flap them.”
Eralynn didn't say anything, but reached forward and put each hand on two separate fans on the dragon's back. She did find it easier to stay on this way, as the flying fans acted as reigns or handles for her. She couldn't help but remain terrified, though, since she didn't even know what the dragon was up to.
“Where are we going?” Eralynn yelled so that the Great Dragon could hear her.
The gigantic Pokemon turned his head a little and said, “We are headed for the light you see in the sky.”
Eralynn's eyes widened at the thought. “To that huge swirling cloud... thing?” she asked anxiously. Glancing down for a moment, she could see the river, the volcano, and Rhylan and Aerance, who now waited outside, becoming much smaller as she and the Great Dragon soared through the air.
“Yes,” replied the dragon Pokemon. “You see, Eralynn, awakening the lightning is the last step. The others have already been stirred.”
“The lightning? The others? What does that even mean?” Eralynn asked, becoming frustrated again.
“Eralynn,” the Great Dragon began seriously, “There are guards for your great city. These three Pokemon will restore balance to the world, no longer allowing Team Devastation to hold the upper hand in this war. And, if all goes well, the war will soon fade and be finished.”
“Who are the three guardians, then?” Eralynn asked as the wind of the skies whipped by her.
“Well, they are the Wind, the Fire, and Lightning. They usually hibernate, and do so happily. That is, until there is a great need for them,” the dragon said. Then, he paused for a moment, letting Eralynn take the information in. “You see, I am the one that awakens them.”
Eralynn thought for a moment. Her mind raced to something that seemed to be in the distant past for her. It was something that King Nevarro had told her about, and it was something very important. The realization came to her suddenly, as if she had been smacked in the face by the dragon's words.
“So... you're... you're the Protector,” Eralynn said as if it was some sort of dream.
“Hm,” the Great Dragon thought. “That is what your people call me, I suppose. So, yes. I am the Protector. I am the one that is said to prevent a great attack upon your city by telling the three guardians to go there and watch over it.”
Eralynn said nothing, and instead thought about the King's words. “The Protector would need to be awakened...” That didn't make any sense to her. If the Great Dragon was the Protector and he was the one stirring the guardians, then what did that part of the prophecy mean?
“I was told that the Protector would need to be awakened, not the guardians. That is my understanding of the prophecy, Great Dragon,” Eralynn explained.
The dragon gave a faint smile, which Eralynn could see from his profile. “But, my dear Eralynn, I have been awakened.” He spoke no more for a little while, trying to let Eralynn figure it out for herself.
She thought as she looked around her. She now saw clouds approaching quickly from above, and when looking down, she could no longer make out anything specific- not even the giant volcano. The two were also growing nearer and nearer to the massive white light in the sky, whose dark gray clouds still revolved slowly around it.
Eralynn stared at the ball of light as she tried to understand what the dragon was saying. He had been awakened? How so? And, by whom? She did not understand, and searched her mind for any sort of clue.
The dumbfounded girl recalled something curious that the dragon had told her, though. He had said that someone in her family alerted him of Eralynn's arrival in the future. The dragon had been informed that she was going to be seeking help in saving Derelon, and also, the dragon would not awaken the guardians unless informed that they were badly needed... She suddenly felt the excitement of coming to the solution of this odd riddle.
Eralynn had awoken the Protector.
The Great Dragon must have been told by Eralynn's relative only to release the guardians if Eralynn came to tell him they were needed. Otherwise, it was possible for just about anyone to gain control over the three powerful Pokemon- even members of Team Devastation. Eralynn could not help but wonder, however, who it was that the dragon was willing to listen to so well. How could any human have assured that such a frightening Pokemon would do what was asked?
“I think I understand a little bit, now,” Eralynn admitted to the dragon Pokemon. “My alerting you of our great need for protection was what actually 'woke you.'”
“Yes,” the Great Dragon responded, pleased with the fact that the girl on his back finally knew. “You see, language is quite a funny thing. Words can only go so far, and when trying to figure out the meaning of them, you often think literally. Humans, at least, do this often. Eralynn, knowledge is something that wake someone from slumber. It is something that can change things, and that is what you have done for me. I would have never released the final guardian had you not come to speak with me.”
Eralynn nodded as the two of them passed through a white, fluffy cloud, much different than those surrounding their destination. “So, why are the other two lurking about?” she asked confusedly.
“The Wind and the Fire are roaming about because I sent them to make sure the earth was not destroyed. That is really their primary goal, and when they are awake, they protect their respective elements. The Wind guards the water, wind, and ice, the Fire protects the sun, the earth, and the fire of life, and the Lightning the weather, the light, and the energy.
“Those that threaten to destroy your home also threaten the very earth we all live on. They overuse natural resources too quickly for them to be available again, and they pollute the air and water with their sciences. The chemicals they use while attempting to make their Pokemon stronger are not good for the environment, and so, two guardians presently wander the earth, trying to help.
“In fact, from what you have told me of your travels, it seems that you have already met one of the guardians. It was the Wind,” the Great Dragon explained.
“The Wind?” Eralynn thought aloud. Where had she met a Pokemon that could control and protect water, wind, and ice? Then, she remembered someone that could use powerful, unbeatable water attacks. That must have been the Wind.
“Is the Wind's real name... Suicune?” Eralynn asked the dragon.
“Yes, it is. The Fire's real name is Entei and the Lightning's is Raikou,” the Great Dragon explained further.
“Do you have a real name?” Eralynn inquired of the dragon.
“I suppose I do, Eralynn,” he said. “It is Rayquaza, and means 'dragon of the sky.' I can see why the nicknames and real name would be confusing for you, though, so you may call me one name and stick to it, if you like.”
Eralynn nodding and mentally noted that she would stick with the Great Dragon, as that was what she first knew to be the name of the long, green Pokemon. She then looked up to see that they had arrived at the cloud of light. It was so bright that it nearly blinded her, and now that she was closer to it, she could see sparks jumping out, as if it was a struggle to keep them contained in the great ball of energy.
“Now, if you'll please plug your ears,” the Great Dragon requested.
Eralynn did so, covering the sides of her head with her hands and watching to see what was going to happen. She saw the Great Dragon open his mouth, and soon, he let out a magnificent roar that the entire world could probably hear. Plugging her ears just wasn't enough, as she felt the sound waves of the roar nearly tearing her very mind apart.
Her eyes remained opened, though, and she stared in astonishment as the dark gray clouds began to spread away from the sparking ball of white light. The roar had forced them to move away, uncaging the ferocious energy that once lay within. It was now fully exposed, and Eralynn had to squint to look at it. It was nearly as strong as the sun in its brightness, and likely much less stable in its ability to hold together.
“Now, Eralynn,” the dragon spoke to her suddenly, startling her, “a lock was put on this guardian, so that only your voice will release it. You must speak these words to fully awaken the final one: 'Awaken the lightning, awaken the storm.'”
A lock? Eralynn badly wanted to know how this was done, and who had done it, but it seemed that these questions could come later. “Awaken the lightning... awaken the storm!” She felt that she needed to shout these “magic words” for some reason.
As soon as she had uttered the words, the felt the force of the wind increase dramatically. She had to hold onto the Great Dragon tightly as she was pushed backwards, away from the ball of energy. She watched as the clouds that had drifted back began to rise and spread all across the vast sky. Then, suddenly, the energy contained within the dense, bright ball was released all around Eralynn and the Great Dragon. Like the clouds, it moved across the heavens, allowing the dark sky to absorb the strong sparks. Eralynn let out a shriek at one point, thinking she was going to be hit by one, but the Great Dragon assured her that she was safe from danger.
When the ball had shrunken considerably, having released most of its energy, Eralynn noticed something strange happen. The final bolt of lightning that escaped did not fly into the clouds, but down towards the ground. She watched it descend at amazing speed until she could no longer see it.
“That is him,” the Great Dragon informed Eralynn, and the girl assumed that he meant the Lightning Pokemon. “Hold on tight,” the dragon told Eralynn, and with that, he dove down towards the earth, allowing the gravity to push his body even faster.
Eralynn had to try very hard to stay on as she and the dragon whipped through the sky. Fortunately for her, the journey back to the land below was much faster than to the condensed lightning in the sky, and soon, she began to see the outline of the volcano, then the river, and eventually, Rhylan and Aerance, who were looking up to see when she would return.
Before reaching the ground, however, Eralynn heard a loud crack in the sky. She had only heard thunder a few times in her life, but she was sure that this was it. Then, shortly after, a light rain began to fall, and Eralynn felt the drops hitting her back as she traveled downwards with the Great Dragon.
She noticed something else on the ground that she hadn't previously seen, however. There appeared to be a large group of people or animals on the opposite side of the river from that of the volcano. Seen from above as a black, slowly-moving mass, Eralynn could tell that they were headed for the very bridge that she had taken before to cross the river. They were a little ways off, though, and most likely wouldn't make it to the volcano right away.
“Who are they?” Eralynn asked, pointing to the moving group below.
“That, Eralynn, is who Pidgeot warned me about previously. They are the reason that we had to release the Lightning right away. It is the fastest of the three guardians, and it will warn the Wind and the Fire immediately. We need all three of them right now...” the Great Dragon spoke emphatically.
“Why is it that?” Eralynn asked, perplexed.
The Great Dragon hesitated for a moment as he sped towards the earth, and then, looking back at Eralynn, said, “Because, the greatest battle in all of history is about to begin. Prepare yourself. They will need you too.”
For some reason, it only posted the end of this chapter. o.O Corrected it. Sorry 'bout that.
Chapter 18- Eralynn The Warrior
Eralynn leapt off of the Great Dragon's back once he had finally landed on the ground. She convinced herself that she did not have any time to be careful, and stumbled as she hit the black rock too quickly.
Immediately, Aerance trotted over and nuzzled her friend affectionately, and Eralynn returned the favor, giving her a hug and burying her face into the Rapidash's white fur. “Oh, Aerance! I learned a lot, but I still don't understand what's happening to us,” she confessed, and she suddenly felt tears streaming down her face. She wouldn't allow herself to cry for long, though, and soon broke away from her embrace with Aerance.
“Eralynn, my dear,” the Great Dragon spoke softly, “I know in my heart that you have always felt worthless to your city and its people, but I assure you, you are the most important person on Earth, and you do not need to understand much more than that in order to help right now.”
The emotional girl felt a wave of appreciation from the dragon's compassionate words, and had to struggle to hold her sobs back. She managed to, however, and after rubbing her eyes, turned to look at the Great Dragon. “So, tell me what to do now,” she said firmly.
The wise Pokemon smiled, and proceeded to tell her about how to overcome the current threat. As he spoke, Eralynn watched the large group of men coming closer. They were nearly at the bridge now, and Eralynn could now see that they all wore black cloaks which had hoods that covered their eyes. Alongside them marched smaller beings, who were more difficult to spot since they were also black, and blended nicely with the cloaks that the men wore. When she squinted, though, Eralynn was sure that most of the creatures were the vicious Mightyena that often accompanied Team Devastation.
And, according to the Great Dragon, that's just who this was. The dragon explained to the girl that Team Devastation was also seeking the power of the three guardians, and since their last attempt at capturing Suicune was a failure (“As you witnessed, Eralynn,” the dragon Pokemon had said at this point), they had decided to come straight to the infamous Great Dragon's lair, having heard rumors that this great Pokemon could fully control the three powerful beasts. This time, of course, they brought a small army. They wanted to assure that the legendary Pokemon could not get past them like last time.
Eralynn shivered as she watched the men steadily approach the river. She quickly reached back and looked at her arrow back to make sure it was full. Then, she yanked the string on her bow, checking to see that it would hold up during battle. The little equipment that she had seemed to be fine, and she put her bow at her side and her arrow sack around her shoulder.
To the side of her, Eralynn could see Rhylan removing his sword from its sheath. This was the first time she had actually seen him do this, aside from when she was given the premonition by the voice. He then proceeded to remove a shield which was strapped to his back and under his cloak. He now held it in his hands nervously, alongside the gleaming, silver sword that would rid them of enemies.
Aerance abruptly moved forward so that she was right next to Eralynn. She started bobbing her head up and down and stomping her hooves against the solid obsidian beneath her in an attempt to get Eralynn's attention.
“What is it?” Eralynn asked her friend.
In response, Aerance moved her side closer to Eralynn's body and gently nudged her. Getting the hint, Eralynn grinned. “You want me to ride you in battle?” she questioned.
Aerance smiled with her eyes and knelt slightly, allowing the small girl to climb onto her back. Once Eralynn was on, Aerance stood tall and proud, trying to intimidate their foes.
As brave as Aerance seemed, however, Eralynn simply could not feel the same. Looking around, she saw the Great Dragon, who was certainly a force to be reckoned with. On the other hand, could he really handle an entire army of Team Devastation members along with their Pokemon? Also, there was Rhylan. He was indeed a good warrior. He always did well with a sword, but there were just too many for him to fight. They could easily just circle around him and slice at him from all angles with their swords. Eralynn could not help but feel that the four of them, even together, were far from enough.
Both fear and doubt augmented in her mind as she saw the first man, who was apparently leading this army, step onto the bridge that led to where she and her companions stood. The other men followed, but the troop had to shift inwards in order to fit on the narrower bridge. Rather than all of them walking together, only three of them could fit in a row as the walked the length of the bridge. This would buy the four of them some time, but still...
Just as Eralynn was sure that they were doomed, she saw something coming from the distant. It was off to the side and moving at a great speed. The only thing she could see at that moment were three different colored streaks. Whatever it was was racing across the land quicker than anything Eralynn had seen.
But then, Eralynn realized something. It was not one thing, but three separate ones, and they all presently weaved in and out of each other's paths quickly and easily. Still unable to see them clearly, Eralynn could only see the colors light blue, red, and yellow, which all formed as a result of the creatures' rapid movements.
Meanwhile, the front man of the army had made it to the other side of the bridge, and his minions were chasing after him, polluting the fiery mountain and its river with their presence. They were coming closer and closer...
When the quick Pokemon had arrived at the volcano, they began to slow down. Eralynn could begin to make out what they looked like. She stared in awe at Suicune, who was the first to arrive there. He stood proudly, letting his purple mane blow in the wind as he stared down the oncoming army.
Right after the Wind had arrived, another large Pokemon did. Also standing on four legs, this one resembled a big, brown-colored lion. Its huge white paws hit the rock ground, and it turned to look back at Eralynn. It appeared to be wearing some sort of mask that was yellow on top, with red and silver on the bottom. Like Suicune, it also had a long, flowing mane, but on this creature, it was white.
Next to the brown lion Pokemon, a spark flashed in the air, and with barely any warning, another Pokemon appeared. This one looked like a bright-yellow, striped tiger. It had a blue, zig-zagged tail, a purple, curly mane, and a similar mask to that of the lion Pokemon. It appeared lean and strong, and Eralynn could tell that it was tense with energy as it released sporadic sparks from its body.
Eralynn watched them as they faced the cloaked men. She felt as if they were completely different from one another. Perhaps, if taking them in pairs, they could be opposites. However, Eralynn got the feeling that they held the type of opposite traits that could complement each other.
“This is Entei, or Fire,” the Great Dragon said, pointing to the brown and white lion Pokemon, “this is Raikou, or Lightning,” he continued, showing Eralynn the sparking yellow tiger, “and this is Suicune, or Wind, as you already know.”
Suicune turned around to look at Eralynn. “Ah, you've made it all the way here. I was sure that would would, Eralynn,” he said in his deep voice.
“Yes,” Eralynn said. “It's very good to see you again, Suicune. I was sure we'd never meet again.”
“It's unfortunate that it had to be under these circumstances,” Suicune answered angrily, turning back around to face the approaching Team Devastation. Then, he shouted so all could hear, “But, we are the guardians, and we are here to rid these men from their power.”
In response, Raikou crouched down, sticking its shoulders out and bending its hind legs. The electrical energy that flooded its body was dying to be released, as sparks were sent flying here and there. It initially seemed to Eralynn that Raikou barely had control of this, but she was sure that couldn't be true.
On the other side of Suicune, Entei let out a huge roar. It then shook its mane and puts its large shoulders back, getting ready to charge.
The cloaked men were now almost completely across the water, and were beginning to slow down in order to leave some space between themselves and their enemies. Eralynn slowly became more and more surprised as she realized just how many there were. Once off the bridge and able to spread out again, the men could line up for quite a ways down the river. Had all of them queued in a circle around the volcano, they probably could have met its width, and perhaps then some.
Eralynn badly wanted to panic. She told herself she was going to fight, though, and this was her only chance to prove to everyone she could be a warrior. Maybe, if she returned to Derelon City someday, her strict father would allow her to become an official warrior for the city...
Their enemies, at least in number, were formidable, however, and Eralynn did not know how she, along with the three guardians, the Great Dragon, Aerance, and Rhylan, were going to handle this. They were only a handful, and Team Devastation had a true army to battle with.
The evil men stood a short distance away from them, now. Looking closely, Eralynn could see a lust for blood in their penetrating stares. She watched their Pokemon too, all of them full of anger and rage. She spotted many Mightyena in the crowd, who stood by their masters' sides and growled at Eralynn and company. There were also many of the dark dog Pokemon, Houndoor and Houndoom, with them. Like the Mightyena, they curled their lips back, revealing sharp teeth as they growled intimidatingly. There were some Pokemon in the air, as well, such as Fearow, Golbat, and Gligar. They floated easily on the warm updrafts, circling around the Team Devastation army beneath them. The Fearow squawked a couple of times as it flew, sending shivers down Eralynn's spine.
“Now is the time, my guardians,” the Great Dragon said from the side. “I will be right behind you, helping as best I can.”
The three guardians stood facing Team Devastation still, and when they heard the majestic dragon Pokemon say these words, they moved closer to together, Suicune in the middle, Raikou on the left, and Entei on the right. In fluid, unison motion, the three of them raised their heads towards the sky, holding their snouts perpendicular to the ground. Slowly opening their jaws, they all let out a strange call that sounded like some sort of howling. Eralynn winced when hearing the loud noise as it traveled up through the sky and all around her.
“Look up,” The Great Dragon whispered.
Eralynn, Rhylan, and Aerance obeyed, craning their necks to look at the clouds. Although it was dark before, it suddenly grew much darker. The clouds turned from a pale gray splashed with occasional white into a dark, furious, charcoal gray. Then, a huge flash of lightning struck from above. It crashed down and hit Raikou directly on the back.
Eralynn jumped back, at first thinking this would have killed him instantly, but she watched in surprise as it only seemed to give him more energy. More and more sparks flashed from his body, nearly hitting Suicune, who stood right next to him.
Immediately after, it began to rain. It sprinkled lightly, and then broke into a heavy, forceful downpour. Eralynn's hair and clothes were soaked within minutes of the rain's arrival, and she put her arms around Aerance's neck, worried for her safety. The Rapidash did not seem all that bothered, however. Rain probably wasn't that big of a problem. Instead, it was direct water attacks that could truly hurt her.
Suicune turned to look at Entei, and said calmly, “Now, Fire, it is your turn.”
Eralynn now realized just what the three guardians were doing. They were each using their elemental powers to change something about the battle. They were most likely trying to make it more difficult for Team Devastation to do well in this fight, but then... wouldn't the rain and thunder make it difficult for their own side too? It would probably make it harder for Eralynn, Rhylan, and Aerance, anyway.
Then again, maybe the two humans and the Rapidash were not the most important warriors in this battle... Maybe the guardians were increasing the amount of thunder and water so as to augment their own powers. Also, this way, the Pokemon of Team Devastation would not gain any power, since they seemed to be mostly dark or flying types, which were types that could not benefit from rain and thunder. Only the three guardians could gain something.
Entei, ruler of fire and Earth, continued the trend, and Eralynn wondered just what it would do to increase its own power. She assumed that fire would not be a good idea, since the rain was pouring down. Entei apparently realized this, as well, and with a hard slam of its massive paw, it sent a shock wave through the ground. Between Team Devastation and the three guardians, the very earth shifted, specifically causing pillars of obsidian to rise up and crevices of it to form. Everything from short, stumpy-looking boulders to tall, thin, pole-like rocks popped up; wide, shallow dips and deep, narrow trenches formed, leaving the landscape looking completely different than it had before.
Eralynn now noticed that she could only see through the protruding rocks at certain points, and was only able to spot a couple of men from the opposing army, whereas before, she could see all that stood in its front line. She knew what Entei was thinking, and smiled admiringly at his clever idea.
With his powers, he had raised a rough, unpredictable terrain, making it nearly impossible for the opposing side to simply run across the volcano's base and attack. Having to watch the ground to make sure they didn't fall or run into a pillar of rock would slow down their ability to make it closer to the three guardians.
The three elemental Pokemon, on the other hand, were quick and graceful, and they could handle leaping and swerving to avoid the mountain-like terrain with ease. This would not slow them down nearly as much as it would the others.
“Ahhhhh!” came a frustrated roar from across the other side. Eralynn could not see who had made the sound, but she could tell it was a man's voice. “Charge! Now!” the same man shouted furiously.
This was it. The battle had begun.
Eralynn's heart pounded in her chest as she saw what was happening. First, she caught a glimpse of the flying Pokemon, who stopped hovering and turned to fly towards the guardians and herself. Then, she saw many swords raise into the air, and the hands attached to them, as well. They rhythmically moved up and down as the men ran straight for them. Soon, Eralynn could see their faces and their upper bodies as they tried to climb up and over some of the boulders and pillars that had been raised from the ground.
“Now, it is our time to charge,” Suicune said rather calmly.
The three guardians sprang forward, nearly too fast for Eralynn to see. Raikou, being the quickest, was the first to reach the unstable terrain, and he began the battle by slamming his large, tiger-like body into the first Mightyena that had managed to cross the artificially made rocky barrier. The black wolf yelped in reaction and stumbled backwards, falling behind a pillar it had worked so hard to climb.
Entei was already working hard, as well, and reaching a couple of humans from the other side, let out a huge roar that stopped them in their tracks. They looked shocked for a moment, buying the large lion-like Pokemon the time to attack other humans behind them. It quickly let out a blast of fire, charring one of the dark warriors and his Mightyena, but missing the other one it had aimed for.
Eralynn, already aware of the power that Suicune held, watched it in anticipation. The lean, blue Pokemon leapt towards a couple humans, and after stopping to charge up power, let out a jet of water. The attack collided with its target, throwing them back. (In fact, one of them hit his head against a large boulder behind him, knocking him into unconsciousness.)
“Okay, Aerance,” Eralynn said after swallowing her fear, “let's go!”
Aerance pushed her front legs into the air, and whinnied loudly as she only stood on her back legs. The moment she was firmly on all fours again, though, she charged towards the army of Team Devastation with her sharp horn lowered. The fire unicorn watched the ground carefully, though, making sure not to twist her ankle in the crags of rock all around.
Eralynn set her bow at her side and grabbed an arrow from behind her, but before she could attack, she noticed that the Great Dragon was flying overhead. He was headed straight for one of the Fearow in the distance, and upon reaching it, tried to slam his body into its. The flying Pokemon was just as quick, though, and instead of letting itself get hit, it reached its sharp talons into the air and grabbed the dragon's claws. The two of them wrestled in the air for a moment, Fearow's wings flapping violently as it struggled to stay up, and the Great Dragon trying his best to push the other down to the ground. With the whip of his tail, though, the dragon managed to knock the Fearow away, who had to struggle to gain control since it had been sent tumbling through the sky.
The Great Dragon watched what he had done momentarily, hovering upright in the air above the warriors of Team Devastation. However, it seemed that the dragon was too low to keep safe, and one of the cloaked men below him managed to grab his tail. The man tried to yank the Great Dragon closer to the ground, and then, started to remove his sword from its sheath.
“No!” Eralynn screamed in an attempt the warn the legendary Pokemon. This would not do, and she knew it, so she pulled the arrow in her hand against the string of her bow, increasing its tension as she aimed. After letting go of the arrow, it went flying straight for the man that was attacking the Great Dragon. It plunged into the center of the man's back, and before he could realize what had happened, he fell to the ground.
The Great Dragon, now free from the evil man's clutches, rose higher into the air, learning his lesson. “Thank you, Eralynn,” the dragon said graciously, and then turned back around to continue his fight with the tough Fearow.
Then, suddenly, Eralynn saw something flash out of the corner of her eye. She turned to the left to see a gleaming silver sword in the hand of a cloaked figure. She reached back for another arrow, but she knew she could not fire it fast enough. The man was right next to her!
Much quicker than the evil warrior could attack, however, Eralynn felt Aerance shift in her stance beneath her. The unicorn Pokemon twisted her head to the side, and with a great push, thrust her horn forward and into the man's chest. The Rapidash's surprisingly hard weapon pierced through the other warrior's armor, and right away, he dropped the sword he was holding. He let out a scream, and then, became limp.
Aerance reached one of her forelegs out, and, pushing against the dead warrior's body, released her bloody horn from it. The crimson liquid flowed from the lifeless man as he fell to the ground.
“Wow, thank you, Aerance,” Eralynn said, shocked and slightly appalled by her friend's ability to fight. She looked up and away from the man the Rapidash had just killed, and saw the three guardians using all sorts of attacks on their enemies. Eralynn could barely keep track of the body slams, the wind attacks, the violent streams of water, the fireballs, and the sparks of lightning. These Pokemon used their attacks quickly and efficiently, and Eralynn hoped that they would indeed protect Derelon City someday...
Close to Raikou was Rhylan, who helped the electric tiger Pokemon out. And although the Prince could only manage to take down one man at a time with his sword and shield, any little bit would help the guardian. Raikou protected the boy in return, jumping in front of him whenever he was slightly outnumbered. It was a magnificent sight to see, but Eralynn had other things to attend to.
Up in the sky, the Great Dragon had completed his fight with Fearow, finally throwing the bird Pokemon to the ground. Then, something else happened. The Great Dragon let out a huge roar and extended his claws. Soon, he lowered himself, and started gyrating his body mid-air. It looked as if he had completely lost control of himself as he shook and slammed his tail towards the ground. In between roars, he reached forward, opening his jaws and trying to catch a Team Devastation warrior in his mouth.
Eralynn grimaced as she saw that he was able to grab a couple of the cloaked men. They screamed in terror, but the dragon Pokemon simply closed his mouth tighter and tighter until their horrible yelling came to an end. Blood soon formed on his lips and teeth as he swallowed the men whole.
When the other warriors saw what the dragon was capable of, they began to run in the other direction, screaming and flailing their arms wildly in their desperation. Some, in fact, were headed straight for Eralynn...
This was it. Eralynn and the Great Dragon had cornered many of the men. She knew what she had to do. She pulled a multitude of arrows from behind her and put one of them against the string of her bow.
When the fleeing men saw what she was doing, they stopped dead in their tracks. They turned to look back to where the Great Dragon was, but jumped as he roared ferociously at them, again showing that they had no choice.
One man attempted to make a run off to the side, hoping he could get away, but Eralynn released her arrow upon him. It struck him in the ribs, and he fell. Others tried to follow, but the archer was too quick for them. Stringing up her arrows and releasing them one after the other, four additional men dropped to the ground, defeated.
Not seeing any more of the opposing side's men nearby, Eralynn lightly tapped Aerance's sides with her heels, causing her to bolt off to the side. The magnificent fire Pokemon sprinted through and leapt over boulders and crevices, and the two of them sped by some of the more idle looking battlers, who typically happened to be Pokemon.
“Perhaps they don't want to fight,” Eralynn thought to herself sadly as she remembered the dying Mightyena's words, and then continued moving. She soon stopped Aerance from running, however, as she saw something dreadful happening. As Aerance slowed her pace, Eralynn was sure of it now: Suicune was surrounded by at least ten men.
“Why doesn't it stop them? With just one blast of water-” she started telling Aerance worriedly, but was stopped by the answer to her own question. She could now see, stuck in its leg, was a sword. It had been seriously wounded. Eralynn watched in horror as she saw that it could barely stand up, and the men were closing in on it...
This was the Pokemon that had saved her, Rhylan, Aerance, and the rest of the warriors on the Last Journey from imprisonment in the enemy's lair. If it hadn't have been for Suicune, Eralynn didn't know how she could've escaped. It was so strong, and to suddenly see its vulnerability was truly a great shock.
“Noooo!” she heard a yell come from behind her, and immediately, Rhylan ran by, sword and shield raised. He sprinted for the men that were attacking Suicune, and, shaking his sword forcefully, reeled back to put an end to it. His sharp weapon already dripping with blood and his shield held cautiously at his midsection, Rhylan viciously stabbed the back of one of the Team Devastation warriors before he could turn around to react. The silver sword first caught on the warriors' side, and with a hard tug, Rhylan pulled it through the rest of the threatening man's body.
Eralynn gasped, nearly panicking. Rhylan was acting like he was out of his mind, just as the Great Dragon had. He could not take on ten men by himself, though, and so, Eralynn padded her heels against Aerance's sides, and the Rapidash sped towards them, quicker than sound.
She felt the wind and the rain trying to force her back. She felt the fear pulsing relentlessly through her veins, attempting to stop her, but she could not quit now. A Pokemon and human that she cared for deeply were in quite a bit of trouble, and Eralynn could not think straight any longer.
With a bow and arrow already in hand, Eralynn sent one flying. It whipped through the wind as it made an arc-shape and headed for one of the Team Devastation warriors. It hit its target, and the cloaked man grabbed his side. He looked down and put a hand at his gut. When he put it out in front of him, Eralynn could see that it was convulsing wildly, and then, his shaking became worse when the man noticed his own blood was draining rapidly from his stomach. Perhaps Eralynn had temporarily saved Rhylan the trouble of fighting two men at once. There were still the others, though. They had to finish them all off somehow.
Rhylan was throwing and swinging his sword all around his own head uncontrollably. He furiously stabbed and sliced through the Team Devastation warriors, taking out a few more men by himself so that Suicune could get away. He looked almost as if he was a child who was just now learning to sword fight. Fear could take away anyone's hard work and wisdom...
“Try riding around to the other side of Suicune, Aerance!” Eralynn asked of her friend, trying to make it so that she would have a better chance of hitting the Team Devastation warriors with her bow and arrow.
Aerance did just that, and Eralynn fell into the rhythm of the Rapidash's hard gallop once more. When they got closer, she now had a good view of them. Her haired whipped back with the wind, which seemed to be working against her, trying to make things harder. She put an arrow up to her bow, pulled it back, and-
“SMACK!” Something hit Aerance's side extremely hard. With a whinny, the flame unicorn went tumbling down, and Eralynn fell along with her. She had flown off of Aerance towards the side, and she landed against her arm hard.
Eralynn let out a scream as pain like nothing she'd ever experienced throbbed through her right wrist. She quickly sat up and put her hand around it, trying to stop it from hurting so badly. It felt awful, and even by just touching it with her left hand, Eralynn could tell something was seriously wrong with it. Along with the pain she felt, she also noticed it had suddenly grown much bigger than it was before. It was swollen so badly that Eralynn thought she must have been hallucinating. She felt she could no longer move it, either. Her right limb was now useless, and she'd have to use her left arm to fight.
Her heart sank in her chest as she realized that she could no longer use her bow and arrow to ward off enemies. How, then, would she battle? She also noticed that Aerance had collapsed from the blow. She was laying down with her side on the ground, her mane and tail fire looking much weaker now...
“Aerance! Are you all right?” Eralynn shouted at her.
No answer came from the Rapidash, though, and Eralynn could only hear the rain and the distant sound of roars, fireblasts, thunder, and screeches. However, as Eralynn continued to watch her friend closely for any sign revealing she was alive, she caught sight of movement from someone else... Eralynn now saw what had slammed into Aerance. A very familiar Mightyena approached the wounded girl slowly. It was massive, with its tufts of fur tangled and sticking out at all angles. Its teeth were bared as it crept toward her, snarling and drooling. Its padded feet lightly touched the wet, obsidian ground beneath it, and if she hadn't have been looking, the girl would not have been able to hear the stealthy beast.
Eralynn felt her anger grow as she remembered this Pokemon very well. It was the very same she had met at the Team Devastation prison. In fact, it was the one she had shown mercy to. She remembered convincing Suicune to let it live, and now, she wondered if she should regret this good deed.
Then, from what seemed like out of no where, another figure began to approach her, as well. This one was human. The cloaked man stepped silently towards her, hood covering the majority of his face. He stopped next to the Mightyena. “Good,” he said in a deep, quiet voice, giving his Pokemon a soft pat on the head. Then, he reached up, and gradually pulled the hood of his black cloak down and away from his head.
Instantly, Eralynn recognized the tall person with the thin, young face, the short dark hair, and the deep brown eyes. She had never seen him in person before, but she remembered him quite well. This was the remorseless warrior that had killed Rhylan in the vision Eralynn had been shown.
The girl felt herself trembling. She struggled to concentrate despite the severe pain emanating from her broken arm. Although it was harder than pushing a three hundred pound boulder, Eralynn forced the thoughts of pain out of her mind so that she could speak.
“Wh-who are you?” she asked the man that stood before her through her heavy breathing.
The standing warrior gave an odd smile, then, as if it was something Eralynn should have already known, said, “My name is Selton Scantler.”
“Scantler...” Eralynn whispered. The name echoed loudly in her mind, drowning out thoughts of anything else. She remembered the story that King Nevarro had told her- the one in which Derelon was attacked by traitors. Could this be? The very grandson of Varlo the Terrible?
“Yes, I'm sure you've heard of me,” the wicked young man in front of her said. “I lead Team Devastation now, and I have heard that you're the one that messed with my plans to control Suicune.” Then, he looked around at those still battling for a moment. He watched as if one would watch the trees sway from a soft breeze on a sunny day. Then, he looked back at her, hissing, “You've also been preventing my men from winning this battle now, along with the others. I don't appreciate that, my dear.”
Eralynn cringed at the sound of his malicious, sarcastic voice, but she couldn't think of anything to say and simply stared up at him, feeling weak and helpless. She let the rain splash onto her face and felt the cold air against her wet skin, all the while trying to control the pain and fear that pulsed loudly through her body. In the distance, she could still hear the loud clanging of swords and the roars of a dragon, but none of it seemed to matter much now...
Eralynn had always wondered what the Team Devastation leader would be like, and now, here she was, face to face with him. She was cornered, with nothing else to do but stare at him fearfully and hold her useless right wrist. Why was he here right now, talking to her, when there was a battle being fought right around him? And, why was he just attacking her, when the three guardians, Great Dragon, and Rhylan were also interfering with Team Devastation's ability to win the battle?
Eralynn did not know, but she wondered whether or not because of what had happened in the Team Devastation base. She had, after all, assisted in the release of many, many prisoners, and therefore, many Pokemon that could have been used for the evil group to gain power. Still, she had merely assisted and certainly hadn't done it all. Why was the Scantler boy so concerned with her, then?
Team Devastation's young leader did not allow for Eralynn to continue her thoughts, however, as he began to speak once more. “You're going to pay for your resistance,” Selton continued, and with this, he marched over to Eralynn. His stead was strong and forceful, and Eralynn felt her heart beat faster with every step that he took towards her. When he reached the injured girl, he loomed over her. Eralynn slowly looked up, tightning her shoulders and craning her neck back so that she could see his face.
The dark figure of Selton Scantler sat against the dark gray clouds above. His face was contorted into an expression of frustration and rage, and he simply stood there for a moment, glaring evilly at Eralynn. Then, slowly, he bent lower, so that he could look directly into her eyes. His gaze burned through her, instantly melting away her feelings of physical pain and leaving only the mental burden of terror. Eralynn watched his brown, hypnotizing eyes, trembling.
With his hand, he suddenly grasped the shoulder of her cloak and lifted her from the ground. Eralynn felt her body straightening in the air against her will, and, still tight in the shoulders, she reached up to grab the boy's arm with her good one, but then, had to let go, as surges of pain were sent through her body again. The fearful girl let out a groan as her wounded arm began to hurt much more from having to move it, and she grasped it tightly with her left hand. “What do you want from me?” She finally managed to say.
The enemy's leader stared at her for a long time, and Eralynn felt she was going to die from this alone. Would she ever see her father again? Would she and Rhylan be able to pick on each other? Could she ride Aerance through the peaceful forest, jumping over thin rivers and over huge, fallen tree branches? Would she ever find out why she had gone on this quest in the first place? It seemed unlikely that she would make it out of this alive, but she just had to find a way...
“What do you want with me?” Eralynn decided to ask again through tears and pain.
The ruthless young man holding onto Eralynn frowned as he stared at her. “I want you dead,” Selton spat ruthlessly.
Then, it all happened fast. With his free hand, Selton reached for his sword. Eralynn, not knowing what else she could do, reached backwards and fumbled to grab an arrow as quickly as she could. She twitched her fingers around in her arrow bag, panicking until she she could securely pull one out. She knew that she didn't have the strength to just force the arrow into him at this position, though. She needed to resort to something else. She needed some sort of help...
But, she wanted to cry. She wanted to be back in the Great Hall, feeling guilty as her father yelled at her. The terrified girl desperately longed for the days when she and Aerance could casually ride through the forests and play tricks. She wanted to fight with Rhylan. She wanted anything, except for what she now knew in her heart had to happen...
Eralynn eyed Selton's sword and then looked down at his feet. She felt the adrenaline rush through her body as she realized what she needed to do. The risk was great, but there truly was nothing else.
The clever girl threw her left hand back, as if to throw the arrow right into Selton, but instead, gave him the hardest kick she could imagine, pushing one of his legs out to the side so that it no longer supported his weight. Feigning an arrow attack did the trick, and Selton became momentarily distracted, losing his balance from Eralynn's hard kick. Still holding his sword, he fell forward, screaming and taking Eralynn down with him. Time, then, seemed to stop, suspending the two of them in the air, letting their fall go much more slowly than it should have gone.
Eralynn momentarily refused to believe what was happening to her. The one that thought she had never mattered to her people, that she would never accomplish anything useful to impress her father, and that she would never make a difference for anyone or anything now forced the arrow forward as she and Selton fell. The force of gravity gave her great help, and the arrow pierced through his cloak, through his armor, and then, into his chest.
At first, Eralynn felt great warmth in her heart, despite the frigid, rainy air. She finally felt something she hadn't before... she was satisfied with herself. It lasted only for a moment, but it was everything in the entire world to her.
Eralynn was unable to hold onto the good feelings for much longer as Selton's body landed on hers. Rather than relief, she felt something more horrible than just falling could ever cause. A strong jolt of pain suddenly emerged from her abdomen. Something had torn through it. The wounded girl gasped from the horrifying sensation, knowing perfectly well what it was.
Selton's sword sat buried in Eralynn's gut. It had punctured through her skin, muscles, and intestines, and now, she was losing most of her blood. It escaped quickly, not wanting give her a moment left on Earth, and with it, she felt her body and mind leaving, heading off to somewhere else...
“ERALYNN!” She heard a voice scream in the distance. It was a boy... and a boy she knew very well.
The critically injured girl could barely keep her eyes open as the searing pain flowed through her body. She felt something being pushed off of her, though, and she forced herself to look. She realized, since she now had more room to breathe, that Selton's body was being thrown off of her. Eralynn inhaled deeply, hoping it would help ease the pain, but the moving up and down of her stomach and diaphragm only worsened it, and she gasped from the shock. She couldn't think clearly, and, she found, she could not breathe steadily.
Then, above her, a face appeared. It was someone she knew. It was someone she loved. Through a blur, she could see his brown hair and brown eyes... and she could see tears streaming down his freckled cheeks. She felt a hand placed on her forehead. It stroked her kindly as she struggled to breathe.
Rather than trying to clear her mind, Eralynn simply accepted her confusion. She did not know anything, but she did not try to know or remember either. She simply laid there, looking up and struggling with her pain, even when the boy tried to speak.
“Eralynn, please,” the handsome boy said. “You're going to be okay! Just hang in there,” she now realized he said this through sobs.
Eralynn opened her eyes and looked into his, still blinking slowly. She coughed, and then said, “No. I have to go now... Tell Aerance that I love her more than anything...”
“No...” Rhylan whispered.
(“Yes, that's his name... And the Great Dragon and Orriso and Suicune and Noctowl...” Eralynn had thought, her mind racing nonsensically.)
“Eralynn,” the Prince said, holding Eralynn's head in his hands, “I'm sorry I've been so cruel to you. I'm sorry I never allowed myself to get close to you... I'm sorry I knew you had such a huge responsibility and didn't tell you! Now, look at what's happened...” He knelt over her, pressing his cheek against hers as he cried. Then, he leaned back and kissed her on the mouth and cheek.
Eralynn barely had the strength to kiss him back, but she knew that she would have if it wasn't for the inexorable weakness she felt. Still, if there was anything to numb the feeling from her excruciating stomach and wrist wounds, it was a kiss from Rhylan. She forgot for a moment that she was dying, and she forgot everything that had led her here. She let herself feel what, she now realized, she had longed to feel. She let go of everything, and, for a second, she smiled at him.
The impulsive and brave girl looked up to the sky to the see the dark gray clouds, and allowed herself to feel the rain as it poured onto her face. The gray soon began to fade into white and the feeling of rain into no feeling at all.
Then, the pain subsided, and she was gone.
This is the end of this fic.
The first thing Eralynn noticed when she opened her eyes was the purest blue she had even seen. There wasn't a single cloud to interfere in its solidarity. There wasn't even a sun or a moon. It was only blue.
The dark-haired, bright-eyed girl blinked and realized she was laying on her back. She moved her fingertips and felt something strange. It tickled her palms as she squeezed it, feeling pointed tips on something soft and bendable.
“Grass?” Eralynn thought, slowly coming to her senses. After a few moments of confusion, she moved her arms closer to her side and forced her body into a sitting position. As she rose, she saw the end of the blueness that seemed to surround her. Now, instead, she realized that what she had seen before was only the sky. She could suddenly see trees in the distance. The confused girl readjusted her eyes and concentrated on what was closer.
She sat in a familiar field of brilliantly-colored flowers. Reds, yellows, purples, pinks, whites, and blues surrounded her for a long ways. The only difference in the landscape was the grove of trees far ahead, but other than that, it was only colorful flowers on gently rolling hills for what appeared to be miles.
Eralynn smiled at the lovely scent in the air, allowing a feeling of tranquility to take over. For a moment, she did not care where she was, what had happened, or even who she was. She simply sat, letting the warm, gentle breeze touch her face and enjoying the sights and smells around her.
“Ah, I see you've arrived,” came a voice from behind her.
Eralynn nearly jumped, not expecting that anyone else would be there. Then, she thought about the words. “I've arrived...” she looked around, and then, she suddenly remembered everything.
“Where are Rhylan and Aerance? Is Suicune okay?! Who won the battle?!” Eralynn found herself shouting eagerly. Then, she clutched her right arm and looked down at the white dress she presently wore. She no longer felt any pain. Her wrist was a normal size, and there was no wound on her stomach, from which blood would've still escaped.
Then, Eralynn saw someone step into her view. It was a woman, who smiled at Eralynn while clasping her hands together in front of her stomach. She appeared to be in her thirties and stood at average height. Curiously, this person had long, elegant, black hair. She had fair skin, although not nearly as fair as Eralynn's was. What was most peculiar, however, were the light blue eyes laced with dark eyelashes this woman possessed.
Eralynn stared at her, completely stunned. Then, she looked down at her own jet-black hair. “Who are you?”
“I am Queen Oleander,” the woman said in a hauntingly familiar voice. “Mine was the voice that led you on your journey, little Eralynn.”
Eralynn sat, wide-eyed and mouth open. Finally, she was meeting the voice from her frightening dreams, and it was the Queen that died fighting Varlo the Terrible.
“Don't worry,” Oleander began to speak again, “your friends will be okay. Rhylan has bandaged up Aerance's bruised ribs, and in a few days, he will begin the ride back to Derelon City. Suicune will remain in the Great Dragon's volcano as its leg heals, and then it will travel to the city to begin its duties. The other two guardians were only mildly injured in battle, and they are presently making their way to Derelon as we speak. They will keep intruders out for now, and then Suicune will join them to help.”
Even though everyone was all right, Eralynn knew that she should have felt a bit sad, seeing as she would not see her best friend or the one she was in love with again, but it was very hard to feel any kind of negative emotion at that moment. Jealousy, hatred, anger, fear, sadness, and guilt seemed to have completely vanished from her mind as she sat in the beautiful field with the beautiful Queen. Instead, she felt wiser and more experienced. She felt satisfied and fulfilled. Most of all, though, she felt proud.
Eralynn had killed the leader of Team Devastation, and although she would no longer walk on Earth, she took comfort in knowing that he would not either. She sighed as she now knew that things would be okay for her people. She did not know how she was so sure, but there was no doubt in her mind that this was the last of Team Devastation.
“I know that you have many questions still, Eralynn, and I know that you've been waiting for answers, so I will give them to you,” the elegant Queen smiled at Eralynn as she said this.
Although her overwhelming curiosity had gotten the best of her before, Eralynn felt much different now, and was unable to feel frustration from not knowing these things. She wanted to know, of course, but she was suddenly much more patient and understanding here, as if this place – wherever it was – had changed her entirely. “Okay, where am I exactly?” She began with this obvious question.
“You are in the Afterlife, my dear,” the soothing voice of Oleander answered. “You might feel differently here than you did on Earth, Eralynn. You see, you are no longer a human, and have thus lost many of the things that make up a person, like emotion, impulsiveness, and greed. Here, it will be different, because you are an angel.” Oleander sighed, and then continued. “You have certainly sacrificed much for your people, and therefore, here, you will be rewarded generously.”
Eralynn nodded, already being somewhat aware of where she was. Then, she asked many other questions, all of which the Queen had clear-cut answers for. And there, walking hand-in-hand with the legendary Oleander in the vast field of flowers, Eralynn discovered many things.
She mainly learned why so many had respected and honored the Queen. Oleander had pledged her life to save the colony of Milotic that Eralynn met, and, as she was told, Malkaline was the love of the Great Dragon. He had, in return for rescuing his lover, promised to do Queen Oleander any favor, and that was how the dragon agreed to wait for Eralynn and help her when she arrived.
Queen Oleander knew of the future because she was a seer. She knew that she would die at the hands of Varlo before she could rid the world of Team Devastation, and she knew that someone else would have to finish what she had started. The Queen explained to Eralynn that she saw the birth of a girl similar to herself in the future. Oleander had decided for sure that this was the one to save Derelon City, as she was clever, brave, and cared much for others.
She explained everything to the girl, whose fate on Earth was now sealed. Eralynn listened attentively, absorbing a lot of shocking information, but she did not get mad or question why it had to happen to her. She did not wish to be sent back to the world to start over. No longer human, Eralynn simply accepted what had happened, and was satisfied to have an explanation for her great journey.
“You must understand- no one else could have done this, Eralynn. No one else but you,” Queen Oleander told her grandchild warmly.
* * *
“I just wish that it could have been different, sometimes. That's all,” Rhylan explained to King Nevarro guiltily.
It had been one year after Eralynn had passed away, and the King and the Prince sat in the dining room of the castle alone. The orange, setting sun came through the windows and reflected off of the cherry-wood table. Other than that, the two were sitting in the dark, deep in conversation and thought.
“My boy,” said King Nevarro, “as I've said hundreds of times, none of us knew that this would happen to Eralynn.”
Rhylan slammed his fist on the table angrily while fighting back tears. “But you knew she was the chosen one! You should have told her! You shouldn't have forced me to keep it a secret... or keep who she really was a secret!”
“Rhylan, please understand,” said the King gravely, “that we did everything we could to protect her. Why do you think we traded your home with hers? We didn't just prefer you to be King eventually, my boy. After all, being raised by my Advisor allowed both for her protection, and for me to keep an eye on my only daughter. I must say, however, that it proved extremely difficult not to interfere in her life.”
“Then why didn't you?” Rhylan asked, finally beginning to calm down.
“My mother, the great seer, told me that I would someday have a daughter, and that she would be the chosen one. I was only a six-year-old Prince at the time, mind you, but the Queen made me promise to ask someone else to raise my child for me, and in return, take their child into my home,” King Nevarro explained.
“But, why couldn't she just remain as the heir to the throne? That was her rightful place. It was never mine...” Rhylan said shamefully.
The King frowned, and then answered him. “Rhylan, the men from Team Devastation would not hesitate to capture or kill a Princess in order to get what they want. If I had allowed her to remain heir to the throne, there was a higher likelihood that she wouldn't have taken her journey to gather the three guardians, and the entire city could have fallen. And it wasn't as if we wanted you to take the fall instead, but you must understand that Team Devastation knew it was a young woman said to someday save Derelon.”
Rhylan let out a quiet sigh, realizing his surrogate father was right. He stared at the table silently, waiting for the kind King to speak again.
“That,” the King continued, “is also why she was not permitted to be a warrior. It would have been much too dangerous for her to venture out on the Last Journey or to simply fight in any battles besides the one at the Great Dragon's lair.
“My former Pokemon, Aerance, and I also made a deal so that she would remain relatively hidden in the forest. Aerance and Oleander had once been captives of Team Devastation, but they had escaped the prison together and released some of the Pokemon. Team Devastation members, therefore, were furious, and always on the hunt for the Ponyta, even after Oleander died. And, since Aerance had sworn an oath with Oleander to protect the chosen one when she came, we had to keep the fire Pokemon concealed alongside Eralynn. This is why they were always together, and why Aerance fought so hard to save her human friend.”
Rhylan looked down and stared at his hands for a moment, then said, “Well, Aerance will live with us now, and she won't have to hide any longer.”
“Yes,” the King responded. “Now, perhaps, you can train her alongside Pidgeot. She hasn't been formally trained for battle since she was Oleander's. This wasn't Eralynn's fault, of course... And poor Orriso! Imagine having to lie to Eralynn and tell her she was not physically strong enough to battle.” King Nevarro shook his head sadly.
“Yes,” Rhylan responded. “I sometimes forget how big of a responsibility the Advisor had in this, as well.”
“Indeed,” said the King. “No wonder Orriso was always so strict with her. He knew that he had to keep her safe, and because of Eralynn's reckless attitude, that was no easy feat. It was hard watching him discipline my daughter so often, but I knew that it was for the best and that I could not interfere. Aside from you and Aerance, though, my Advisor took the news of her death the hardest. He tried for so long to keep her safe, and so, it was very difficult for him.
“Little did we all know, trying so hard to protect such a brave soul was foolish. Eralynn handled herself well on a tough journey, and ended up saving her people from otherwise certain doom,” The King thought aloud. Then, after pausing, he said, “Anyway, Eralynn did not need to take the trip to Norsillon to be initiated into warrior-hood; rather, she was already the greatest warrior of Derelon City.”
The King gave a sad smile as he sat, deep in thought. Then, he stood up, patted Rhylan on the shoulder, and walked out of the dining hall, leaving the untrue heir to the throne by his lonesome.
Rhylan reached into his pocket and pulled something hard and smooth from it. He set the stone of Norsillon on the dark-red table and stared at it closely while leaving one finger on it. After waiting for a moment, the gray rock began to change color. It zipped through many different shades, from yellow to red to blue to black, and then, finally, settled on one true color. The destiny stone was an olive green, the color of peace.
Rhylan looked up to the sky, imagining that Eralynn was looking down, watching over him. He pictured her holding the stone in his mind, and he saw the crimson red of the line of Kings and Queens form in her hands.
Despite not being born into the ruling family, Rhylan knew he would grow up to become King of Derelon City someday, and he knew that he would never stop thinking of the rightful Princess for all of his life.
“Goodbye, my Eralynn,” Rhylan said. “I will hold you again someday.”
And from above, the greatest warrior of Derelon heard him, and she smiled.