“So how do you even know where the Spirit of the Earth is? Have you seen it before? Have you fought it? How can you even tell if it is supposed to resemble a Pokémon that has-”
“My!” Dane held up his hand to quiet her, an amused grin spreading to his eyes. “One question at a time, please, one question at a time…”
The entire story confused her. She didn’t even know if she wanted to believe it. But the idea of André’s soul being trapped in the sea and unable to move on disturbed her. So she had decided she would do anything she must to assure that it would be set free.
The old man smiled down at her, and his eyes glazed over as if recalling a vivid memory.
“A long time ago, when I was young and-” he took a moment to briefly look down at his right leg that stood next to a wooden cane. “-and mobile, I ventured out to explore every inch of these mountains surrounding Iternadi Lake. I knew that the heart of the Sea would remain as close to the Spirit of the Earth as it could. It feels, Rila. It knows. It is hard to explain the truth beyond the fact that the myth is real, to someone who has only known about for a mere day, but everything you need to know is in the very book I have given you. In time you will understand, but for now you need to trust me that the souls of man depend on what you decide.”
“Heh, no pressure.” Her insides felt sore with the loss of André. Every time her mind left the thought of him the pain would ease, yet only to reappear with guilt once she remembered him again.
“Directly east of here are the Ridge Mountains. The very center mountain, the exact center, holds the entrance to the resting place of the Spirit of the Sea. In my journeys I have discovered the cave. It’s completely visible, but only from the sky, which is why I believe that no one has discovered it. Even if they had, they would not be able to enter it because I have the key.”
“Um…you have a key…to a mountain. As interesting as that sounds, I have no idea what you are talking about.”
He turned from her and went straight to the bookshelf that he had retrieved The Truth of Time from. He fingered through them until he reached an extremely old looking one. He pulled it out, nearly tearing part of the cover, and held it open to the exact center. It was then Rila noticed that it wasn’t a book at all. There was a tiny square compartment cut into the pages, which was hiding a small folded up piece of parchment. Dane removed it, and returned to Rila, placing it in her hands.
“This is the key, dear. This tells you how to get inside.”
She looked at him suspiciously, and unfolded the paper. It was very aged, and worn, but she could still make out the lettering. It was one tiny sentence, written in Unown symbols. “I can’t read the Unown language.”
“When I discovered the cave those many years ago, there was nothing inside of it apart from these symbols painted on the wall, and a circular groove carved into it. I’ve spent years translating, and I have just last year discovered what they say.” He placed a finger on the sentence, guiding it along as he read, “The pathway to the Earth is opened with a thievery from the Sea.”
“I don’t underst-”
“The pearls, dear girl! The pearls!” He went to André’s rucksack where it had remained since she arrived and pulled out one of the pearls they had taken from the lake. “This is what you need to place in the circular indent of the cave. This is all you need! It’s so simple!” His eyes were beaming; she couldn’t possibly understand what having one of the pearls meant to him, and how no one had ever survived from an encounter with the heart of the Sea, let alone escape with six of the most valuable objects in the world. “Once you’re inside, your presence should awaken it. You see, the Spirit of Man is represented in each of us individually. We are the fifth elemental Pokémon, together we are part of them, just as they are a part of us. I want you to take this with you.” He reached into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out a Poké Ball. “You will need all the help you can get.”
Everything that had happened since yesterday seemed to vanish as Rila felt purpose for the first time in her life. She fit her purse inside of André’s rucksack, and flung it over her shoulder. Everything was up to her now.
“Oh,” Dane said swiftly just as she had reached the door. “I suggest taking Charizard.”
The journey to the center peak of the Ridge Mountain range would have taken days on foot, but atop the back of André’s Charizard, the entire flight lasted a meager few hours. She had never seen the mountains from this angle before. They looked so much bigger and spread so much farther than she had ever imagined. The orange dragon looked like a tiny fly amongst an endless sea of grass. The thin air stung her lungs as she took shallow breaths to remain conscious. Even at this height, the mountains remained towering hundreds of feet above them. She had urged the dragon to fly lower so she could catch her breath when the precise mountain Dane had spoken of came into view.
If she hadn’t been flying, she never would have noticed the tiny speck of black located near the top center of the mountain. It grew in size as they neared it, turning from a speck to a dot to a hole and finally a cave. The crimson creature slowed and hovered slightly, and with a snort they landed softly on the cliff’s edge.
She slid off his smooth back and cautiously walked into the cave. It was very shallow, nothing to see apart from the ragged walls on the sides and the mysteriously smooth wall in the back. It wasn’t until she was standing directly in front of it that she noticed the pearl-sized circular groove and the tiny Unown symbols above it.
Before she could think, she was subconsciously reaching into her pack and pulling out one of the six pearls. Time seemed to stop when she placed it in the circle. The wind stopped howling, her lungs stopped breathing, all she could see was the symbols light up and the pearl rotating in its place. It spun faster and faster until it was simply a rotating blur. And then suddenly, it stopped. A click, a snap, and then a deep rumbling noise that seemed to come from the very center of the mountain itself. She looked down at her feet where she could see stray pebbles vibrating in the noise. And then her attention was shifted upwards, the very wall in front of her was shifting upward. Like a huge stone curtain revealing nothing but darkness. In the minute it took to completely open, Rila couldn’t decide whether to stay or run. She simply stared blankly into the blackness, wondering what was going to happen if she stepped into it.
But unfortunately her mind was made up for her. Though the darkness masked how close they were to her, a pair of luminescent green eyes appeared simultaneously following the opening of the stone door. She stared at them entranced, a deer caught in a pair of life threatening headlights. And then came the howl. An enormously high-pitched, ear drum bursting howl erupted from the depths of the cave. She dropped to her knees and covered her ears in agony from the sound greater than a thousand nails on a single chalkboard.
She couldn’t hear the enormous wings beating as the immensely strange creature took flight, but she could see the tiny pair of eyes growing larger and closer as she got to her feet.
Swiftly, she turned on her heel and ran back to the ledge where Charizard awaited her return. She was panicking and jumped aboard his back. “Quickly!” She urged him onward and into the air as another deafening scream came from the cave. Just as the dragon’s claws left the rocky cliff edge, the walls surrounding the entrance the opening of the mysterious cave burst apart as an enormous grey creature became visible for the first time.
Rocks and gravel were soaring in every direction smacking the Charizard and Rila herself. Another thunderous rupture and the cave exploded. Boulders crashed down, rocks slid down the mountain and the entrance caved in. This, however, was irrelevant. Rila’s attention was diverted onto the raging creature zooming towards them. She edged the Charizard onward, willing him to go faster. There was a whistle, a hiss, and then a burst of immense energy whizzed past them, missing them by inches.
“It’s using Hyper Beam on us!” She knew she would need to fight back if she expected to slow it down enough to reach the edge of the mountains. “See if you can manage a Dragon Rage attack at it!”
At these orders, the fire dragon shot upward in a v-line towards the sky. It opened its jaws, building a ball of dragon energy as it flew higher and higher into the air. Then with a jerk, he spread his wings and bolted backwards in a spiraling dive toward the ancient pursuer. The Charizard roared with fury as he unleashed the Dragon attack directly onto the Aerodactyl. The dragon flames burst into the creature sending him falling back towards the earth and crashing into the trees below.
“Nice work, but that’s not going to stop him, we need to get away from these mountains.” So the pair surged forward, gaining speed as they rushed away from the scene.
The mountains were thinning and the town was beginning to come into view. “We’re almost there!” Closer and closer they came. The trees were thinning. But the relief was short lived as a familiar ear splitting scream exploded behind them. There was no time to think; a whistle, a hiss, and the second attempted Hyper Beam hit home in the side of the Charizard. His wings buckled and they were plummeting out of the sky. In the few moments they had before they hit the ground, Charizard managed to spin onto his back and protect Rila from the majority of the fall as they crashed hard into the earth and everything went black.