The temptation to remain in the Cascoon of civilisation was a strong one. Atara village was a strange place, owed in no small part to its only recent founding and completely isolated location, but it was not unlike any small village that one might stumble upon. It was quiet, far from the life that Martha was used to, and yet there were still many people bustling back and forth from one half of the town to the other. That was something that she remembered very well. Maybe it was that people were likely to be much more forgiving than the endless wilds of Pandora were, but Martha suspected that it was only her imagination running away with her, rather than any real threat.
Then again, she had just been warned not to head down one of the paths out of town if she really valued her life. That may have been what really discouraged Martha from strolling out, knowing that she could be walking into a death sentence. That was only route five, she had been told, but who was to say that route one was any different?
It was the first step on a journey into the unknown, made by a woman with almost no experience in the art of travel. She had an excuse to be worried. Never had there been a more experienced woman for the job, Martha was sure.
Grete seemed remarkably more keen, apparently ignorant of Martha's hesitation. The psychic type tugged at her trousers again, trying to will her trainer onwards. Martha shooed her off once more and thankfully the beast decided to leave her alone, but it was enough to convince Martha to keep walk. If such a tiny, fragile creature was perfectly happy to wander into the forest then Martha was sure that the wilds couldn't be too detrimental to her health. Marching along the dirt path that ran through Atara village the two headed off, walking away from the centre of the village and in the direction that she had been pointed by the merchant.
Still eager to get going, at least more so that Martha was, Grete bounded several paces forward, keeping far in front of the woman. In her excitement she occasionally turned down alleyways and streets that Martha had no intention of taking, and at one point the bounce Pokémon managed to spring a few steps up the temple before turning back down and returning to her owner's side. She was a Pokémon fuelled by enthusiasm if nothing else, and that was something that Martha struggled to relate to. The reward was just about the only thing driving her.
Kicking up a little dust as they walked, the Pokémon and trainer spent a few minutes trailing along the dirt path until they approached the edge of route one, assuming that the sign beside them was to be trusted. Martha glanced over it, hoping to find a few friendly tips that you might find on the signs back home. They had often gotten on her nerves back home, reading the same message every time that she passed by, but now Martha was feeling almost desperate for a tiny piece of information to help her get by. It showed nothing but directions. Not even a mention of using small cliffs as a shortcut.
For a moment the woman halted, her mind running through a plethora excuses not to leave just yet. She hadn't picked up any medicines, and she was positive that she had left something back on the ship. Martha was having a hard time convincing herself of these lies, and poorly thought up excuses did not find one a legendary treasure told through ancient fairy tales. She held her eyes shut, pushing them tightly against each other. When she opened them she was going to walk.
With one foot after the other, followed by the sounds of rusty springs and light thuds, the witless pair began their stroll down route one. The bushes and trees grew thicker and taller as they went, winding and twisting around the roads, forging itself into a thick forest. A thin, winding dirt and stone track was all that Martha had to make sure that she wasn't wandering around in circles, as the pillars of bark and wood all looked the same to her. They did pass by a thin stream which connected to a lake just off of the beaten path, but neither Martha nor Grete bothered to spend the time exploring it. Presumably the stream quickly headed off down to the coastline, but the woman couldn't see much point in venturing any further.
Route one was not spent just walking. Martha had slipped a small red device from her pocket, and had begun to punch in a few of the buttons that lined the side of the contraption. The Pokédex was a marvellous, albeit completely useless device for an inexperienced traveller. So many buttons, so many settings and absolutely no information whatsoever. It showed plenty of information on Spoink, but that was only because Martha had scanned Grete earlier today. Being the only reading material she had on her, Martha pondered through the information more specific to Grete rather than her species. Apparently she knew a move called 'Splash', although she lacked any other combat techniques. It sounded like a Water type move, and Martha only hoped it was simple enough to not need much practice in. It also stated that Spoink were a Psychic type, but she already knew that.
“So, you can use Splash?” Martha didn't leave a moment for Grete to respond. “I have no idea what that does but I hope it's enough to fend off anything that comes along. I sure hope so, since I have no idea what lives in these forests. It could be just about anything.”
Grete gave an uneasy smile.
Flicking the device closed, she slipped it back into her pocket. In twenty seconds she had read just about everything stored in the device. While it had a few other features beyond examining Pokémon, none of them were of any use to Martha just yet.
Despite what Martha had first thought, she did not flinch at every broken twig or jump at the sound of a Pidgey cooing. She kept her eyes planted firmly on the ground, refusing to find herself distracted and preferring to watch her footing. She wanted to guide herself down the occasion slope and over the odd root or two that splayed out onto the path, not stumble into the undergrowth. She paid little attention to anything beyond the route ahead of her.
There was a flash of green and black in the corner of Martha's eye, creeping across one of the thick tree trunks that lined her path. For a moment she thought it to be nothing but the wind rustling the tree branches, but when it appeared in front of her her eyes shot towards its. Martha was surpised that she had even seen the creature. Martha knew that Spinarak liked to strike when their prey was unaware, and this one just seemed clumsy. It simply sat on the tree branch hanging ahead of her, watching.
A thin stream of webbing flew from the trees. It took a moment for Martha to register what had happened, only to be punched in the arm by the force of the silk spray. Striking her, it splattered out like some kind of fishing net, wrapping around her arm and knocking her backwards. While Martha stumbled she did not fall, her foot moving back to support the impact just in time. Instead her free hand began to claw at the webbing that clung to her clothing, trying to pull it off in clumps. All that she succeeded in doing was getting her hand wrapped in a sticky silk.
The Spinarak rappelled down from the tree branch on a thread of string, its back facing towards Martha, the pattern across it displaying a typical grimace that gave the creatures their fame. It flexed its legs and dropped to the ground, landing remarkably gracefully for a Pokémon that looked like it would trip over its own legs when moving at anything other than walking speed. It reared its head, spraying another beam of silk, this time spiralling towards Grete. Unlike Martha, Grete was a little more agile, bounding up and out of the way from the webbing and letting it splatter against the ground.
Martha glanced at Grete, checking that she was perfectly fine, and then turned back to the Spinarak which seemed to be preparing for another attack. “Grete, em...” she paused for a moment, pondering her next move. She hadn't many options. “Use Splash!”
Grete started bouncing up and down, much faster and more aggressively than it had done moments earlier. Staring at the Spoink, Martha waited impatiently for it to perform some kind of amazing move that would knock the Spinarak away and let the two of them continue with their journey unscathed.
Another spear of silk struck Martha's shin like a firm kick, her feet vanishing from underneath her and her chest smacking against the dirt floor. She kicked her legs but they stuck firmly in place. Grete quit her mindless springing and moved beside her trainer, pulling at Martha's shoulder and trying to help her back up. Another string shot attack caught Grete in the back, latching onto her and launching her backwards out of sight.
Martha grunted, rolling onto her back and bringing her knees to her chest. Pulling at the webbing with both hands, she found it almost impossible to pry off, wrapping tightly around her ankles and keeping them pressed together. But she had a knife. One of the many things that Laughner had included in his bag of supplies. Hand falling to her thigh, she gripped the weapon and pulled it from its holster. Martha brought the blade to the binds and tried to slice through the string, tugging at it with the blade using both hands. It wasn't much help.