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Old August 22nd, 2007 (4:16 AM).
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silverfrost silverfrost is offline
    Join Date: Jan 2004
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    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…
    FanFic: Stir of The Thunderstorm (Please R&R.)
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