Fanfiction of the Month (July): Stir of the Thunderstorm
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July 24th, 2007 (6:22 AM).
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.
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.
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.”
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.
,” 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.”
Joined Jan 2004
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