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Old March 14th, 2008 (6:35 AM).
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silverfrost silverfrost is offline
    Join Date: Jan 2004
    Location: NY
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    Chapter 16- Beneath the Lava

    Eralynn stepped forward slowly with Rhylan, who was riding Aerance, close behind. They walked along the wide river until they came to a bridge that they had spotted shortly after they'd first noticed the notoriously unstable volcano. Upon reaching it, they could see its details close up, and noticed that it was made of hardened lava. The black, shiny stone had its base at the bottom of the river and was built as rocks piled on top of one another, except somewhat more smoothed out than that. They surfaced about one foot above the running water, with occasional gaps between the dark rock. There were other sections in the river in which the rocks rose above the river, but none went completely across the water, as this one did.

    Without taking too much time to marvel at the obsidian bridge, Eralynn walked across, being trailed shortly after by Rhylan and Aerance. They had to make a couple of leaps with the water rising above the rocks every now and then, but they made it across safely and in relatively good time. It felt like good timing, too, since they all dreaded actually reaching the Great Dragon. Therefore, whatever amount of time it really took, it felt like seconds to them.

    They kept rather silent until they reached the other side of the river, which was where the beginning of the volcano directly began. The ground was now entirely made of the hard, smooth, black rock that had formed in the river, and it curved upwards, its slope becoming exponentially steeper until it reached the mouth of the volcano at the top, which Eralynn could not see from where she stood.

    On the side, though, she spotted a large, somewhat circular opening towards the very bottom of the volcano. It was a little to the left of where she presently stood. Eralynn saw, carved in the hardened lava, a smooth path that dipped down. In fact, it looked as if a large tree had fallen and been dragged along as the rock had formed, leaving a trail shaped like a half-cylinder in the ground.

    After pondering for a moment why it looked this way, Eralynn then stepped forward towards the path, and began walking along it. She looked up for a second as she went, realizing this road seemed relatively stable, and so, she hadn't a need to look where she was going.

    She was nearly blinded by the bright light in the swirling mass of clouds that was now directly above her. At first, it looked like it could be a small version of the sun, what with its white-yellow rays penetrating the thick, mysterious chunk of clouds. Eralynn forced herself to break her gaze away from the ball of light and direct her eyes back to where she was headed.

    She crept up to the entrance, which was much, much larger now that she was very close. Just outside the foreboding opening to the volcano, Eralynn turned to looked at Rhylan and Aerance, who were just about ten feet behind her. When she stopped, they did too, and looked at her without making any sound.

    “You two wait here,” Eralynn said finally. “Actually,” she continued, “I'd prefer it if you waited much further down, seeing as it still wouldn't be any easier to escape from this point.”

    Rhylan looked annoyed and frustrated, but tried to remain civil with her. “Eralynn, this is what we agreed to do. We're not going to wait down there. We're not going to travel across the river or back to Derelon or whatever!”

    Eralynn looked at the ground solemnly and ashamedly. She knew that he was right.

    “Please,” Rhylan whispered after a moment. “Let us just wait here, and if you need help, just call us. This... Great Dragon might not even end up helping you at all. I mean, how do we really even know what's going to happen?”

    Eralynn sighed in response. Still, she knew why she was here right now. The Mightyena's words flooded her ears once again as she remembered that Varlo's grandson would attack Derelon for sure, and the horrible vision flashed before her eyes simultaneously. She did have good reasons to trust the voice that spoke to her, too, and that was what originally had told her to go this way.

    “Fine then,” Eralynn said, and then turned to walk into the volcano. She took a deep breath the moment before she took a step into the entrance of the fiery mountain. She had to adjust her eyes as the light from outside began to fade and another type of light took over. From within, a faint, orange glow poured out into the tunnel Eralynn was currently in. It became slightly brighter as she went in, but perhaps that was just because her eyes had become used to the dark.

    With the amber light, the terrified girl could see that the tunnel beneath her feet remained the same, continuing on in a half-cylinder shape. The rest of the tunnel could be observed as well, and Eralynn looked up towards the top of the cave to see that its ceiling was about six or seven feet above her.

    She ignored her rapidly beating heart and walked on, soon reaching what appeared to be the end of this tunnel. It abruptly opened up into a much larger room, from which, it semmed, the orange light originated. Eralynn stopped walking when she realized that in order to continue, she would need to cross another obsidian bridge, which led to the center of the inside of the volcano. This time, though, it was not a bridge over water. On either side of the path to the middle, Eralynn could see pools of fiery lava far down below. She knew she would have to be careful of this, but even so, it wasn't the liquid fire that made her heart begin to pound even harder...

    In the center of the volcano, there was a large mound of the obsidian rock. It almost looked like another smaller volcano that was less shapely than the outside one, its sides holding the same slope all the way through, not allowing for any curves. Upon this mound sat a nest of some sort. It was the perfect size for something very large and very heavy...

    Eralynn thought she could see something sticking out of the nest, and when checking to see if she could catch a glimpse of movement or sign of breathing, she could not. She had to check to see what lay there. She had to cross the rock bridge.

    She stepped out prudently, making sure she could keep her balance before allowing her weight to rest fully on both feet. She crept towards the bed and squinted her eyes, trying to see just what was there. Her vision became almost completely clear after she had crossed about three-quarters the length of the bridge, and she could now make out what it was. It did not bring her mind the peace that it desired so much, however.

    The reckless girl nearly screamed when she saw leaves and grass hanging over the side of the nest. She wasn't sure of whether or not the Great Dragon slept there, but she wished that he did, and that he was sleeping there at that moment. She much rather would've seen him in front of her, rather than being left to wonder just where he was hiding. Eralynn didn't want to stick around and deal with the suspense of looking for him...

    She turned to run back to where she had entered, but it was too late. Something suddenly emerged from the depths of lava below, luckily only splashing the lower sides of the obsidian bridge. Eralynn did not care to look at it, though. She momentarily forgot about the threat of Team Devastation attacking Derelon City and just wanted to get out of this place as quickly as possible. She felt her heels slam against the hard path, and was just about to reach the end of the bridge. Then, she felt something grab hold of her cloak.

    Eralynn let out a scream that could have made all of the lava ripple below her as she was pulled backwards, further into the place she'd feared for so long. She tried desperately to tear her cloak off, hoping it would grant her freedom for enough time to get away. She violently tore her arms away from it, letting them slide out of the black fabric.

    The moment she realized she was only in the white dress she wore underneath, she bolted for the exit. However, she was nearly thrown off of the bridge as something long and cylindrical slammed down in front of her body and blocked her way. She fell backwards as splinters of hardened lava flew off of the narrow path from the force of whatever it was that had hit it.

    Eralynn, having been knocked on her back, pushed herself up with her hands, so that she was in a sitting position. She now looked at the thing that was attacking her. It had a long, slim body which had a girth probably close to Eralynn's height. It had a face similar to that of a snake, but with two horns sprouting from atop its head. Two small arms protruded from its side, ending in talon-like hands with three claws. It also had a strange pattern of yellow circles on its body, which were connected to one another and appeared in a line of some sort. Also peculiar was what looked like a few small, rectangular fans that stuck out of its body. What Eralynn noticed most, though, was its glowing, yellow, cat-like eyes. They glared straight at her, and Eralynn thought it was as if they would burn right through her at any moment.

    The small girl raced backwards, trying to get away from the long, giant, snake-like beast. No matter what she tried, however, it failed miserably. When trying to move towards the nest in the center of the volcano, it simply wrapped its body around her, cornering her into facing it.

    Eralynn thought she was going to have a heart attack as it lowered its head and started to close in on her. It opened its jaws, breathing deeply and revealing its fangs.

    “Please,” Eralynn started to speak, thinking there was nothing else she could do, “don't hurt me! I've come from a very long way to find you!”

    The serpent-type beast cocked its head to the side as it continued to stare at her. Then, it spoke. “You were foolish to walk into my lair, you know,” he (Eralynn realized it was a male) said with a strong, deep voice. “It's been a while since I've eaten, and I'm beginning to get quite hungry.” With this, he moved his head around her, making sure she was still imprisoned as he slithered around and around her.

    Eralynn shivered despite the heat emanating from below them. This was her worst nightmare. She had traveled all this way to meet with a creature that wanted to eat her. She wanted to curse the voice that had sent her here. It knew everything else, so why wouldn't it know that this thing would be starving right now?!

    Previously, Eralynn had kept her eyes closed as the giant creature moved in on her, readying itself to feast. Now, though, she heard something... Something clicking and clattering nearby. She opened her eyes and tried to look around the monster, who apparently noticed the noise too.

    Eralynn could not actually see what was coming, but she knew just who it was from the sudden brighter glow of orange and red on the inside walls of the volcano. She heard the clicking stop, and then came a whinny and a couple of stomps.

    “Eralynn! Are you okay?” Rhylan asked from somewhere Eralynn could not see, then added a quiet, “Oh my God,” at the sight of what had captured her.

    The creature let out a great roar and began turning towards the distraction behind it. “Who dares disturb me? Come to think of it, I may need to eat more than just a tiny little girl, though,” he grumbled angrily.

    Upon turning to look at Rhylan and Aerance, however, he began to act quite strange. Eralynn noticed that he slowly straightened his body, getting rid of his coiled position around her. His tail dropped off of the side of the bridge as he sat staring at the two that had just entered.

    Rhylan looked around confusedly for a moment, probably expecting that it would have attacked already, but Aerance acted odd just as the serpent did. She reeled back, whinnying and throwing her forelegs in the air. She stomped the ground and snorted on the way down, all while Rhylan struggled to remain on her back. The Rapidash stood her ground, not afraid of the creature whatsoever, and she stared right into his eyes.

    The giant beast seemed mesmerized by her, and he just watched in awe for a few moments before speaking. “You...” he began with disbelief. “What are you doing here? I thought I'd never see you again, and my, how you've changed!” he stated in amazement.

    Eralynn stood up behind him furiously. If he was going to hurt Aerance, he would have to go through her first. “She is my friend and she came in to save me! Don't you touch her!” she yelled unwisely.

    The creature turned his head slightly so as to indicate that he was listening to her. He waited a moment, sighed, and then nodded while looking back at Aerance. “Is this girl your companion now?” He asked the Rapidash.

    Aerance responded with a nod of her head, and Rhylan remained as perplexed as ever, raising his eyebrows and looking around aimlessly.

    Now that she had taken a second to think about it, Eralynn was taken aback by the things this creature had said to Aerance. He had seen her before? She had another companion once? What did this mean? She decided to interrupt their mysterious conversation with a question. “Excuse me, are you... the Great Dragon?” she asked loudly.

    The creature slowly craned his neck towards her until he was looking at her. “Yes,” he then said. “I am what's known as the Great Dragon of the west.”

    Eralynn sighed with relief now that he was being civil with her. “I was told to come see you,” she stated anxiously. “A voice in my dreams... it told me to find you and ask for your help.”

    “My help... Ah, it must be time,” the Great Dragon responded, apparently not surprised by what was going on.

    “See, I was told that Derelon City would fall to Team Devastation if I didn't come talk to you,” Eralynn started to explain, but the dragon Pokemon shook his head.

    “I know all about that,” the Great Dragon said calmly. He seemed like a completely different Pokemon, now that he had recognized Aerance anyway. He looked back at the Rapidash, and then back at Eralynn. He stared at her for a long time, and then began chuckling a bit.

    Eralynn looked around, not knowing what was going on. “Excuse me, but what is so funny?” she asked, frustrated.

    The dragon slowed his laughing down until he stopped completely, and said, “I don't know why I didn't realize what this was before, but I suppose all dragons have to eat, and an empty stomach can certainly affect one's judgment.”

    Still not sure how he knew this was “supposed to happen” or what exactly was so very funny, Eralynn frowned. She exchanged glances with Rhylan, who looked equally stumped.

    “What is your name, my dear?” the dragon asked, interrupting Eralynn and Rhylan's visual communication.

    “I am Eralynn of Derelon City,” she replied while staring into those cat-like, yellow eyes of his.

    “Hm, Eralynn,” the Great Dragon said, and then thought for a moment. “I will tell you what we must do, but first, you must tell me what you know.”

    Eralynn nodded her head, agreeing, and the dragon led Aerance, Eralynn, and Rhylan up to his nest, which, as Eralynn already knew, was in the center of the volcano.

    * * * *

    “...So, then, we found Noctowl again, and he led us here to your volcano,” Eralynn said, finishing up the tail of her journey. She shifted in her seat to get more comfortable. Crossing her legs, she looked around. Eralynn, Rhylan, Aerance, and the Great Dragon now sat upon the nest in the center of the volcano. It was surprisingly large and was able to fit all of them comfortably, even with the Great Dragon's gigantic body.

    The dragon Pokemon sat on the opposite side of the mound of hardened lava so that he was facing the two humans and the Rapidash. The rest of his body bordered the top of the resting place, stretching out around and behind the three travelers. His head and arms were in the air, since he was bent so that what could've been his torso was elevated.

    Eralynn, who had since put her cloak back on, had done most of the talking, with Rhylan chiming in here and there to add something, but when the Great Dragon responded with a question or comment, he seemed so intelligent and knowledgeable. Eralynn had a tough time just talking about her journey, because she wanted to listen to the majestic dragon Pokemon tell tales of his own experiences. She just wanted to hear him talk more and learn of his thoughts, really.

    Rhylan shifted uncomfortably next to her, as well. He was probably tired of sitting there and having to listen to Eralynn recall the entire trip they had taken.

    Surprisingly, though, Aerance was laying down and relaxing. Eralynn was surprised by how placid the Rapidash really was, despite sitting inside of a volcano and having a conversation with a Pokemon that easily could kill them all in just moments. Still, the flame unicorn must have known the dragon from before, so perhaps he was simply an old friend to her.

    Eralynn didn't give much of a chance for the Great Dragon to react to the story, since she decided to ask a question right away. “How do you know Aerance?” the words tumbled out of her mouth abruptly.

    The Great Dragon glanced over at Aerance, and then began to explain. “Well, Eralynn, Aerance came to visit me a long time ago. She arrived here on a quest similar to the one you are on right now, but it was a journey to help plan for your own.”

    Eralynn blinked twice, not knowing what to say. Apparently, there was much about Aerance that Eralynn did not know, despite having known her for as long as she could remember.

    “Hm,” the Great Dragon gave a soft laugh when he realized that Eralynn did not know what he was saying. “Do you remember when you met Aerance? Do you remember where she came from?”

    Eralynn lowered her eyebrows and began to think. Now that she was asked, she didn't really know what to say. She searched for something in her past that would tell her about when she met Aerance, who was then a Ponyta, but she couldn't not find any clues. “I think that I've always just... known her, I guess,” she finally said. She couldn't remember being an infant, but she did recall being very, very young and playing with the flame horse.

    The Great Dragon nodded, as if he expected this answer from her. “Eralynn, she has always been in your family. You see, Pokemon can live for a very long time. Aerance has been alive for a lot longer and experienced so much more than you probably think.”

    “Well, how old is she, then?” Eralynn asked.

    “Oh, nearly two centuries, I'd think,” the Great Dragon told her casually.

    “What?!” Eralynn nearly shouted, stunned by the dragon's answer. “Two centuries? How is that possible?! And, why is it that I never knew this?”

    The Great Dragon smiled, his snake-like face grinning awkwardly. “Eralynn, there are a lot of things that you were not meant to know until now.”

    The aggravated girl looked at the dragon for a moment. “Well, then, tell me what I need to know. Why was another journey taken to your lair before?” she asked, becoming more and more impatient with the huge creature.

    “Someone, and I'd wager my life that this someone is the one who speaks to you in dreams, came to tell me to look for you. This human told me that you would have Aerance traveling with you, and that you would be seeking my help to save Derelon City,” the dragon Pokemon informed her.

    Eralynn thought hard for a moment. If Aerance had always been in her family as the Great Dragon had told her, it must've been someone related to her, but who? “Who was it? My father, Orriso?” she queried.

    “No, it was not your... father,” the Great Dragon said while hesitating to find the words.

    Eralynn looked around, unsure of who else she could ask about. Her father was her only living relative. Her mother had died during childbirth, according to Orriso, and so Eralynn never actually met her. She did not know of any uncles, aunts, cousins, or grandparents either. Who could it have been?

    She looked to the side of her, to see that Rhylan was staring straight at the ground, whereas before, he had been watching the Great Dragon in awe. Eralynn had previously asked if he could understand what the dragon was saying, and Rhylan said that he could. Neither of them knew why he could hear the huge Pokemon's words and not others', but Eralynn assumed that it was because the dragon used his vocal chords to speak, unlike Noctowl and Mightyena, who had spoken to her through telepathy.

    Rhylan's face held an odd expression, though, as if the dragon had said something to make him feel guilty or ashamed. Eralynn thought about asking him what was wrong, but she knew it was probably best not to at this moment. She turned instead to look back at the Great Dragon.

    “So, if it isn't my father, then what other relative of mine could it be?” Eralynn inquired of the huge, green Pokemon.

    “Well-” the Great Dragon began saying, but was stopped by a sudden noise, which seemed to be the flapping of wings. The long dragon turned its head to look towards the opening of the tunnel that led to the outside of the volcano, and so did Eralynn, Rhylan, and Aerance.

    Eralynn could make out some kind of bird Pokemon speeding through the tunnel and towards them. As its body touched the orange light of the volcano's interior, it became clear that it was a Pidgeot that looked similar to Rhylan's battle partner. It flapped its massive wings until it was across the bridge and landed right next to the dragon Pokemon.

    The Great Dragon looked nervously at the two humans and the fire-type Pokemon who were waiting eagerly to be informed of what was happening, but then bent his head lower, close to where the Pidgeot's was.

    The flying-type put its wing up so as to block its face from view, and started whispering something in the Great Dragon's ear. After a moment of this, it contracted its wing back towards its body, turned around, and flew back out of the volcano from the same way it had come.

    The dragon Pokemon looked at the ground for some time, allowing himself to think. Then, he straightened up and looked at Eralynn. “Come, Eralynn. They are nearly here... It is time,” he uttered gravely.

    She rapidly stood up and glanced over at Rhylan, who held a hand to his head and bore a serious expression. (Eralynn wondered why he wasn't equally as confused as she was.) Aerance stared at the hardened lava beneath her, also quite upset about something. Even the fierce Great Dragon of the west looked sad as he turned to lead her out of the volcano and into a situation she never imagined...
    FanFic: Stir of The Thunderstorm (Please R&R.)
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