"Amoon village, here I come! You had best be prepared!" Dareon shouted, sprinting wildly towards the bridge above the waterfalls. The Ampharos was always quick on his feet, faster than Achilles, who couldn't keep up with him no matter what, stronger, and more popular with the ladies for his cotton hair and smooth fur.
Garland was faster than all of them. He'd left them behind in a rush to reach his hometown as soon as possible.
Achilles was left clutching his knees and panting from all the running. He'd never breathed air more fresh than this. When his lungs were full, he looked up. Across the waterfalls, there was the town of the Otori, built under the shade of the massive trees that grew in Vigil's Forest. The sight was captivating, even for someone like Achilles. This is an excellent spot for tourism, he found himself thinking, though the locals aren't the most hospitable people, from what I gather. Typical of him, to be on the lookout for profitable business opportunities. He crouched and touched the ground with his hand. Taking a bit of wet, cool soil, he took a whiff. I should take a sample to the lab. If there's any flogistron to be found here, I will know of it right away. Even though he was only twenty years old, he was already the CEO of Flogistron Co., the international Exathian company for the special fuel, flogistron, that was used by zeppelins and airships. The Trade Prince Kalis had always told him to look for potential sources of flogistron wherever he went, so he had made it his habit to check the soil.
"Achilles!" Dareon shouted from across the bridge. "Don't stop, now, I don't want to be seeing you panting. You're a Medicham, for Arceus's sake. Come."
The Emperor of Exathor was always impatient. Oh yes, Dareon was the Emperor, Ruler of All Exathian Nations and First Man of Union and Alliance, and he was only in his mid-twenties. Looking at him, an Ampharos with a satchel and an explorer's helmet, he didn't look like the part. But then again, neither did Achilles look his part. A CEO of Flogistron would never go hunting in Vigil's Forest, then get carried away for a spontaneous visit in a friend's hometown, which was at least thirty miles away from Union City. The three friends, Dareon, Garland and Achilles had to travel through the dense Vigil's Forest to come here, and in the wild, they were forced to abandon their lordly, appropriate looks. Achilles was doing his best to keep clean, but it was a lost cause. Dareon would just push him in a puddle of mud every time he saw one and Garland would mock him for being too much like his mother.
"I'm on my way," the Medicham said, crossing the bridge.
He found Garland surrounded by his family members. Most of them were Floatzel, like him. They were shouting and cheering for him, and he was laughing and cheering too. Garland was brimming brilliantly with happiness like a beacon. And his psyche was contagious, spreading to the members of his family. Those around him were always happy. That's what drew Dareon and Achilles to him; that's what made him so popular among his brothers and sisters of the Gold Tribe. The title of the Exalted One suit him well.
"Granny!" Garland shouted, hugging an elderly Floatzel whose hair on top of her head had grown so much, it covered her eyes entirely.
"Whiteknight!" Garland turned to a Lopunny next to him, shaking hands, "good to see you, cousin."
"And brother," the male teenage Lopunny chuckled in response, "I'll soon be your brother, just you wait and see! The Gold Tribe can't refuse me."
"It's so good to see you, my boy," the granny said, her voice weak and weary. She then noticed the Ampharos. "My, my, who is that? He looks familiar..."
"He's the Emperor!" somebody shouted.
"The Emperor? He's here?"
"Yes! Look at him, same as his father!" The little crowd started fussing about, surrounding the beautiful Ampharos. The ones the front lines were jumping, trying to get a better look at him. Normally, nobody would be allowed this close to the First Man of Union and Alliance, as his position required security to be extremely tight. The Gold Tribe handled his security, and the only one in the Gold Tribe here was Garland. The rest of the members of the Tribe wouldn't allow this, of course, but Dareon was a wild and unruly man, always doing what he will, not what he must. That's how Achilles and Garland were dragged into an adventure in the woods, where all sorts of dangers lurked.
"Unbelievable. Why did you come all this way out here?"
"Some time away from our duties would do us good, we reckoned," the Ampharos said in his stately voice, "and my friend Garland here had begun missing his family and hometown."
"But it was your idea to come here," Garland said, his smile wide across his snout. "I can't just say no to your whims."
Dareon roared his laughter up the skies. "You still missed them! Admit it!"
Achilles was standing behind those two, watching the commotion as motionless as a rock. Nobody paid him much attention. Nobody ever noticed the third member of the company; he had no family to return to, he wasn't of noble birth to be loved by every Pokemon in the kingdom. He wasn't a gallant hero of the Gold Tribe, nor had fancy titles along with his name. He was only Achilles, a stinking-rich guy who owned some fuel company, as far as some people knew, and his face wasn't known at all. His face was a mask right now, watching as the villagers ignored him. It was Garland's grandmother that noticed him first.
"And who would you be?" she asked nicely.
The Medicham's face was suddenly lit by his smile that didn't reach his cold, blue eyes. It was a fake smile, part of his standard procedure of communication. If business had taught him one thing, it was to smile. "Greetings. My name is Achilles Proudmoore," he said in his hushed tone that did not mix well with his smile. "A dear friend of Garland's, as I am sure he would be glad to inform you."
"Proudmoore, eh?" the granny said, with the accent of the Otori countrymen. "Can't say I've heard your name, boy. Where do you come from?"
"Oh, I'd like to know that myself," he only said. He looked around the village. The trees, the waterfalls, the houses, all were reflected upon his pale, blue eyes. "Your town is so beautiful. It would be magnificent if I had a home here."
"I'm sorry, honey, but we don't let strangers live with us..."
Achilles laughed a bit. "Then let us be acquainted, lady..."
"Lady Jane Fordring," she said, smiling, fascinated by the young Medicham.
"Did I hear something about a home?" Garland asked cheerfully. The two Floatzel looked so much like one another. "Let Achilles stay, granny. He's like family to me."
Jane laughed. "Alrighy, then, I'll speak with Cendric and arrange a deal. But only because my little Garry likes you."
"Of course, I appreciate that," Achilles said, smiling brilliantly and bowing slightly.
"Hey, where's sis?" Garland asked.
"She went out to the woods," another Floatzel from the family informed him.
"Let's go find her," Dareon roared, raising his fists in the air. He dashed through the town, leaving the relatives of Garland behind. "Race you to the end of the town!"
"A poor challenge," Garland declared, rushing after him, "you'll lose."
Dareon laughed, the Floatzel almost having reached him already. "Nah, it's Achilles who'll be finishing last!"
The Ampharos was always quick on his feet. Faster than Achilles, who couldn't keep up with him no matter what
I think these two sentences should be combined as the second one isn't a complete one. Every sentence needs a subject, and even though Dareon carries over into the second sentence, it's proper grammar.
though the locals aren't the most hospitable people, from what I gather Typical of him, to be on the lookout for profitable business opportunities.
You missed the period before, "Typical".
"Nah, it's Achilles who'll be finishing last!"
Poor, Achilles! D:
Once again, I'm enjoying this. It seems that the only holes I can pick out are simple typos. The beginning is well written, the characters are coming out, and I have a pretty good grasp of the setting. I don't really have any critiques for you, nice job!
The woods were magical. The grass was wet under their feet, the distant sound of the flowing rivers resonated in the clearing of the forest. Birds chirped melodic songs for the morning. The three friends were standing in front of a tree at least ten feet tall. It was a unique tree, nothing like Achilles had ever seen before. Its trunk was silver, like its many branches, and it had no leaves, oddly, only a strange kind of red fruit hanging from them. "Are those apples?" Dareon asked, reaching out his hand to pluck one out.
"No!" Garland exclaimed, swatting his hand away. "You shouldn't eat that."
"Huh? It's just a common apple."
Achilles was staring at the tree in fascination. He didn't know why, but it caused him much discomfort. It was a strange feeling, not knowing why looking at this tree heightened his pulse.
"It's not a common apple," Garland protested. "This is the sacred tree of the Otori, the heart of all forests on Exathor. Nobody is to go near it!"
"Sacred tree, seriously?" Dareon said mockingly. "My people believe in the mighty being with the thousand arms that shaped the universe, Arceus, and your people believe in a tree?"
Garland covered his face with his palm. "My people also believe in that mighty being with the thousand arms that shaped the universe, your Highness."
The Emperor stared at him as if he was crazy. "Sacred tree or not, it's just an apple tree. Everything on this land is mine, Garland, including this. If I want to eat an apple, I will eat this apple."
The two stared at each other wildly, suddenly seething with anger. Usually, it was Achilles who would split them before it got down to fighting, but right now, the Medicham was mesmerized by the silver tree. It seemed to glow in the sunlight. He looked around for others like it, but there was no sign that this tree had spread its seed around. Suddenly, Dareon begun laughing. The Ampharos pointed a finger at Garland. "You should've seen the look on your face, Garry! Hah! Come on, fight me you bastard! We'll settle this in a fight!"
Garland chuckled. "You're on. Let's spar. Not here, though."
They soon left, having forgotten about Achilles.
The Medicham took two steps forward, his eyes reflecting the tree before him. The wind blew strongly for just a moment, as if to warn him not to step any further. He was now in reach of the nearest apple of the tree. It was luscious, red, fresh looking and mouth-watering.He noticed some Pidoves flying by, chirping in the evening.
"Don't you eat these apples?" he asked the birds, but they were wild, and he did not get an answer.
That's when a little shady figure appeared next to the tree. In broad daylight, that Pokemon looked nothing more than a wooden head, but Achilles recognized it as a Phantump, the spirits that haunt rotten tree stumps.
"Nobody has ever eaten this apple!" the Phantump spoke with a child's voice.
"Why is that?" Achilles asked, his gaze fixed curiously on the ghost. This conversation was certainly a product of his imagination.
"You know... people say that it's bad if you eat the apple, but that's just stuff they say to keep you from tasting its sweetness."
"Why should I eat this apple? There are plenty of other fruits in the forest."
"But this one is special. Do you see any fallen apples around here? No! That's because they're meant to be eaten! Only fools would turn down such an exquisite meal. And only the boldest of the bold, the toughest of the tough can reach out for it..."
Achilles thought of Dareon. Dareon was bold, bolder than him. Dareon didn't manage to eat the fruit. Dareon is tough... but not the toughest.
"Mmm," the ghost said, reading his mind, "you are right! Are you bolder, tougher than him?"
The Medicham in the clearing flexed his fingers, looking at them with his wide eyes. Physically, he wasn't strong. It was all the other things that made him strong. "I do not know yet."
The Phantump laughed, "you do not know it yet... but you do qualify for eating this fruit." And with that, he was gone.
With his hand, Achilles plucked the apple off the branch rather easily, as if it was ripe for falling.
Achilles looked down at the apple in his hands. He took the first bite...
"Hold!" someone screamed behind him. "What do you think you're doing?!" He turned only his head, still chewing on the heavenly, juicy apple. The experience was exquisite, and he instantly felt like the world was so much brighter. Not only because of the apple though.
There was a Lopunny standing on the clearing, and although she was visibly angry, all he could see was her unique beauty. Achilles almost dropped the fruit. He wasn't scared of her, he was just astonished. So amazed, dazed by her bewildered expression and young looks. Normally, he would have his usual, strained smile on and have already made a valid excuse, given an apology for eating the forbidden fruit, offered a compensation and struck a quick deal with her... but nothing of the sort happened.
Several moments passed with him too astounded to speak. His mouth was still full of the forbidden fruit, and the taste was fading away. Perhaps it was only an apple after all.
Her hands on her hips, she was giving him the death stare. "Well?"
"You," he choked awkwardly on a bit on the first bite of his apple, before resuming his hushed tone, "you must be..." Garland's sister. Warmth and comfort engulfed his spirit, and he couldn't tell if it was the girl he was seeing or the apple he just ate. He slowly recovered his subtle boldness. His smile appeared, only this time it reached his eyes. He didn't even know the Lopunny. It was a strange, unknown feeling to him, almost as alien as the impression that silver tree left him with. "Here I am, stumbling from one wonder to another," he muttered, his whole face burning up as if he had the fever.
"What did you say?" she had the accent of the Otori and their fierceness. A real country girl with guts and no manners, it appeared.
Achilles didn't even have the chance to reply. She started walking to him, her brown stare fixed on the apple he was holding. "How dare you!" She slapped him, and it stung. The apple fell from his hands to the grass below.
"Did I offend you?" he asked in a silky voice.
"This tree is sacred!" she grunted, "I knew outsiders were mindless, but to come this far...!"
"Pardon me, my lady," he continued with sweet courtesy, "you are Otori, yes? You were watching us, weren't you?"
She seemed confused and shocked. "You knew?" she said, then demanded to know, "how?"
Achilles ignored her question. He used his psychic powers to send the apple flying from the grass to his hand, and he took another bite, looking her in the eye as he did.
"Put that down!" she ordered. "That's our sacred tree, you can't..."
"I did not know this specimen was important to your people. Did my two friends mention something about it ? I apologize. I wasn't paying attention. I was mesmerized by the dazzling radiance of this tree."
"Who were you talking to?!" she demanded to know.
He quickly glanced behind him, knowing the Phantump was long gone. He took his time answering, enjoying the distant sound of the river and the company of an angry teenage country-girl. "Don't we all space out every now and then?"
She stared at him suspiciously and he ignored her look. He took another bite from the apple, "but there's nothing to be done about it now. Would you like a bite?"
"No! Don't. It's cursed."
Achilles laughed. He had met a lot of superstitious people, but this one was cuter than all of them. He took an even bigger bite. "See? I am unhurt." He offered her the apple. "Try it out."
"No way," she said, "it is forbidden." She glanced at the silver, glittering tree, then back at him. He could feel she was about to scold him again, but her attention was caught by something else. "What's that rock?" she asked curiously, pointing at the pendant hanging from his neck. Rather than a fancy, flashy jewel like most figures of importance wore, it was a simple, small rock. He was always wearing it, and people asked him that question all the time, but he never felt like telling them the truth. It was different with this girl.
"I'll tell you, if you tell me your name."
"Ariadne," she said.
"This rock, Ariadne," Achilles whispered, "is the only thing I have to remind me of home. It's a rock from my homeland. I love it as much as you love your tree."
Ariadne looked at him doubtfully, the hostility lifting from her face, but it was still there. "I'm going to tell Garland of what you did."
"Ariadne, what's your greatest wish?" he suddenly asked.
"What do you wanna know for?"
"So that I may grant it to you."
She laughed mockingly. "You? You're just a Medicham. And a weak one at that, too, I mean look at you. Do you even lift?"
He straightened his posture, his smile flickering a bit. He didn't take insults lightly, but coming from this girl, it hurt him even more. "I am the CEO of Flogistron Company."
"What of Flo-what?"
Achilles sighed, somewhat frustrated. "It's a fuel company, haven't you heard of it? I'm one step below the Trade Prince."
She huffed with contempt. "So you're just some rich guy who likes to trample on nature like that," she said scornfully. Her look was like poison to Achilles. His greatest power, wealth, meant nothing to the Otori. This girl had grown up in the forest, in the tribe where the only form of trade was fruits and food. They scorned the coin.
"On the contrary, I'm a fan of nature. I have even done charitable deeds." He paused. "I could take you places you've never been before," he said in his hushed tone.
"So, is this a bribe? You're taking me places and I won't tell my bro that you just defiled our tree?" she laughed sarcastically.
Achilles's lipless mouth became a tight line. His pale, blue eyes stuck onto her, seeing through. He was thinking fast, and he knew the way to salvation was near. "You're fan of exploration."
"How'd you know?" she questioned immediately.
"Yes, I am."
"There are schools for archaeology and exploration in Union City, but there are none out here."
Her expression didn't change at all. But she didn't speak either. She was hiding something. Bingo, Achilles thought. He wasn't wrong about her. He grabbed the chance. "Sounds like a deal. I will take you with me back to Union City, and you won't tell a word of this to Garland."
"I didn't say yes."
"Your eyes said yes, sweetling. My job requires me to see things in people, so that I may hire the worthy and dismiss the useless. I do this every day."
"Whatever." She settled down. "I'm giving you this one chance to redeem yourself. But. Don't think that means I forgive you for what you've done here."
Achilles smiled and nodded, as if he hadn't heard what she'd just said. He extended his arm, offering the fruit. "Apple?"
The Medicham was digging through his organized files on the drawer of his desk. His mind was busy with the mathematics of Flogistron business; he had fully returned to the CEO business after the eventful trip to Amoon Village with Dareon and Garland. His life had changed drastically, though. quations on the field of economy weren't the only thing his mind was busy as of late. Ariadne had agreed to come with him to the Union Citadel and attend the ECUL for archaeology classes. In a corner of his mind, the passionate Lopunny was huddled when business was plenty, but she was there, nonetheless. He was thinking of asking her out on a date, but somehow he had a hunch that the stakes were against him. She did, though, usually paid a visit to his office just about...
Achilles glanced at the clock on the wall. 2 o'clock.
Now. He went up to his window, and sure enough, he saw her passing through the gates of the Flogistron HQ and walking hurriedly through the main path. That was the brightest part of the day for Achilles, who couldn't help but smile as she pranced to his office. Only today she wasn't prancing, and in fact, she looked a bit worried; or it could be his imagination. His office was many floors above the ground, so the distance could be fooling his eyes. Once she disappeared from his sight below the building, he sprung from his seat and rushed to the shelves, pulling out a small mirror and looking at his image. His eyebrows were twisted, but not twisted enough, so he grabbed the fake hair and pulled and twisted it while murmuring, "who's the greatest of them all?" Once he thought his eyebrows were fancy enough, he left the mirror in its place and grabbed a fancy pipe for smoking, took a bit of blended Cola berry from a small box and stuffed it in the pipe. He returned to his desk, closed the drawn drawer with his files and jumped on his rotating chair. All that was left to do now was put his feet on the table and wait for the door to open.
The door did open about three seconds later and in came marching dear Ariadne, the cherished celebrity of Union City - at least in Achilles's eyes. She greeted him with a strained smile, which was a bit odd, and Achilles noticed immediately. "Welcome," he said, a real smile adorning his otherwise stone face. He dipped the tip of his pipe into a Flame Orb that was carefully placed in glass on his desk; the cola caught on fire and he took a deep breath to inhale it.
The Lopunny started laughing somewhat. "What are you doing?" she asked excitedly, as if she couldn't believe what she was seeing. "Are you...?"
"Yes," Achilles nodded, "I am entitled to, I believe, after all the hard work of the day." He took his feet off the table and stood up, spread his arms. "See where I brought you? The land where cola is illegal, but found in every one of its corners."
"Shame on you. I hate this city, you know," she said, half jokingly.
"You lie poorly," Achilles said, "do you want me to teach you how to lie?"
"What? No! You bastard! ... have you ever lied to me, Achilles?"
Achilles took a moment to consider his answer. He searched in his memory, and he did find one, small lie: that one time, back in the Otori forest, when he had told her he wasn't really listening to Garland and Dareon fighting about the silver tree and that he did not know it was sacred. Of course he knew it was sacred. He had studied its existence thoroughly before even setting foot on Amoon village; in fact, that was what interested him most in the land of the Otori. It was a small, harmless lie, but he could not tell her straight out that he had lied, so he said in a tricky manner, "if I said no, would you know if I was lying or not?"
She stared at him very seriously for a moment. "You're good. But I don't like liars. Back in town, we used to beat liars with sticks, so beware, Achilles Proudmoore."
He laughed. "I will. Is something wrong?" he asked her suddenly. "Sit down and tell me about it."
The Lopunny looked at him, surprised. "How did you know?"
"I looked down from my window. I noticed you weren't smiling."
Ariadne rubbed her mouth subconsciously, looking awkwardly at him sideways. "Ah, sweet of you to notice. Umm, something came up," she said, rather uncomfortably. "A maid was murdered in the Union Citadel. She was a friend of mine."
"I heard about that," Achilles said, nodding, "Marisha. She was murdered by her own roommate for the Golden Ribbon, the prize for the Maid of the Year. Then she disappeared."
Ariadne stood from her seat and put her hands on his desk, her brown eyes throwing sparks, but pleading him. "No! I knew her! I knew both Marisha and Helena... neither could hurt a Ledyba. They can't blame Helena! She wouldn't... she wouldn't. I know."
The Medicham licked his lips and glanced out the window, then put down his pipe. "In any case, she's just a servant, Ariadne..."
She stared at him, shocked. "How could you say that! You scumbag!"
He raised his arms defensively. "Alright. Calm down. What do you want me to do?"
And she looked at him with the most determined look he'd seen in a woman. "I don't think Helena would murder anybody. And for the Golden Ribbon award? What kind of motive is that? I think there was something much bigger involved."
Achilles twisted his eyebrows with his fingers, thinking. "You want me to leave my business here to investigate the murder of a maid?"
She reached across the desk and grabbed his hand, looking him in the eye. "Achilles. Please."
"Hire a PI, that's what they're for," he said, trying to avoid her eyes. She wouldn't let go of his hand.
"So, you won't help out? Why?" she asked gently, her eyes chasing his.
"I am a businessman, Ariadne, not an investigator. They would do the job better."
She smiled brightly and poked his head. "You're not as modest as you make it look like," she said. "I don't want to hire PIs. I want you to investigate. You're the smartest guy I know."
Now it was Achilles's turn to look at her surprised. He watched her, searching for signs of mockery, but he found none. She genuinely thought he was the smartest guy she knew! That had to be the first compliment he had received in his life. He was so stunned, he couldn't respond, so he just kept staring at her until she nudged his hand. "Achilles? Did you hear me?"