Fanfiction of the Month (July): Stir of the Thunderstorm
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October 5th, 2007 (1:40 PM).
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.
Stir of The Thunderstorm
Joined Jan 2004
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