Re: Soul of Serenity
The sun was beginning to set, and the two of them still had a long way to go before they reached Dane’s home. The clouds seemed to decide to give them a hard time as the formed a shield in front of the sun, casting an extra tint of darkness upon the path. Rila had never been in this part of the forest so late before, and she hardly recognized the trail, so instead, she and Umbreon followed behind the wagon but close enough so that she could reach out and touch the edge of it.
Darkness began to suffocate them as they passed the halfway point, and something about Dane’s demeanor shifted with the passing of the light. He clutched the reigns hanging from the bit of his Tauros and glanced nervously into the woods surrounding them. Rila watched him curiously, wondering what his was getting so worked up about, until her question was answered when several things happened at once…
A pack of hounds appeared out of nowhere, jumping from the wood and howling madly as they surrounded Dane, his bull, and the large wagon. Then, a sound similar to a shooting firework, but before it exploded, whizzed by Rila’s ear and with a thud, she heard Dane’s scream in agony. Then finally, a group of shadowed men appeared behind the group of dogs who were snapping at the bull’s hooves and enjoying the terror they caused to it.
“Rila!” Dane shouted. “Bandits! Run!”
The group of men hadn’t seen the girl walking closely behind the wagon when they planned their attack, and they whirled around frantically looking for the object of the man’s screams.
As much as she hadn’t liked doing the opposite of what Dane asked her, this was one command she refused to obey. And so, giving a short nod to her Umbreon beside her, she sent him running at the two men holding Dane by the arms.
“Dark Pulse!” the girl yelled to her charging Umbreon. As if shocked by the voice they didn’t know was there, the two men jerked slightly, one releasing his grip on Dane, while the other stayed firm for a few seconds longer before a cruel purple wave of energy hit them both hard in the chest and sent them falling to the ground.
“Ravik, they have a Pokémon!” came the voice of one who lied in the dirt as he scrambled to his feet.
“So I have heard,” another voice rang through the darkness, this one deep and eerie, and hiding the location of its owner. “It is just a girl, men. Kill the man, but don’t harm the girl too much, I’ve been wanting a nice maid.”
And suddenly, as though the new orders organized the men, the wagon was entirely surrounded by at least ten figures, each eyeing the girl, and the two who had fallen took hold of Dane once more.
Rila had little time to think; her heart beat with fear as she anxiously attempted to formulate a plan. But nothing came to her as the dark figures of the men drew closer, nor when she heard the groans of Dane as the men sucker-punched him in the stomach. She backed to the wagon behind her, as if it would provide some sort of protection for her when she could not provide it for herself.
Tauros continued groan and moo with pain as the hounds continued to snap at his feet. He lowered his head in an attempt to catch one on the sharp edge of his horns, but the dogs were too fast for him.
Rila looked to the direction where Dane was being beaten, and as though time were stopping just for her to see, the moonlight reflected off of a blade that a figure clutched in his hand the second before he sent it plunging into Dane’s side.
A low scream erupted from his mouth as he fell to the ground, and another came from her as she screeched “No!” and began to run to him. Then a third scream howled into the night air, followed by a sickening crunch and an abrupt end, but this one not human in the slightest way. Rila glanced over to the wagon where Tauros was attached and saw him thrust his hoof into the corpse of the Houndoom that been unlucky enough to fall victim to all of his weight combined in a single fall of his hooves.
Rila took the few seconds of distraction she needed to think up a means of escape. “Umbreon, use Substitute and follow it with a Psychic on every figure you see.” She ran to the front of the wagon where the angered bull was connected, then pulled off his bridle and removed his harness in enough time for him to break free the rest of the way and paw roughly at the ground to keep the rest of the hounds at bay. “I think you know what to do,” Rila said to the Tauros with a smirk as she watched him burst towards the group of animals who had been fool enough to torture him before.
Puffs of smoke erupted from his heels as he charged at the dogs cowering away, but still snarling in anger at a safe distance from him. When, one mustered the courage to lunge at the tan creature that was three times its size, Tauros reared on his back legs and crashed into the ground causing a massive shake to the earth’s core. The Earthquake attack ricocheted through the soil, hitting each hounds and sending yelps into the sky.
Satisfied that Tauros could handle himself, she turned to face the opposite side of the path in time to see beams of light erupting from the creature hidden in darkness. Frustrated, the men who had been pulsed back to the ground anxious searched the dirt around them in hopes to find and kick whatever had chosen to attack them.
One managed to find Umbreon’s decoy, but ended up bruising his own foot on its hard surface.
“Good,” Rila whispered, having faith that Umbreon could hear her regardless of how far away he was from her. “Now, use Yawn.”
Then, as though he had thought of the attack before she did, a swirled mist leaked into the air before she had ever finished her sentence. The glittering white substance found its way to all of the figures standing around them, she didn’t bother to count exactly how many there were, but certainly enough to pose a threat as there seemed two men for every one of them.
Soft thuds echoed through the night as each of them fell to the earth in sleep, but then out of nowhere something burst from the darkness and grabbed hold of Umbreon’s neck, ripping through its fur and flesh. The poor fox screamed in misery as blood rippled down his skin.
“Very good, Houndoom,” said the wicked voice she recognized of the man they had called Ravik. The moment his dog released her creature, his voice rang again, “Kill it, another Crunch.”
Umbreon had fallen to the dirt the moment he was released, his energy fading fast as it leaked through the wound in his neck. “Try a Quick Attack to use Confuse Ray on it!” Rila shouted desperately. And somehow, even though his eyelids hung half over those piercing ruby eyes, the Umbreon stood an evaded the second Crunch.
Before the Houndoom had realized that his attack had missed and he was instead biting on the ground below and not a Pokémon, a rippling wave of blue was sent puffing towards the Dark Pokémon and hitting it full on in the face. Its dark and demented eyes turned white as it began crashing into random objects including the wagon on their side.
“Hurry!’ came Rila’s next command. “Use dream Eater!”
With every amount of energy that Umbreon had left to spare, he managed to conjure up another attack, and began pulsing with a soft yellow glow. Simultaneously, the eight or so men that had fallen victim to the Yawn it had used earlier began glowing in an identical shade, and each grew brighter and larger until a soft stream of it was sent from each man in streams to connect to the Umbreon in the center; a sight that most resembled a glowing spider web.
Pain began to flee from Umbreon’s face as his droopy eyes began to widen, and the wound on his neck began to heal. He was still sucking energy from his enemies when the confused dog came charging through the web of light in an attempt to perform some kind of tackle. Foam was frothing from its mouth as its white eyes looked nowhere and seemed to not bother to tell the Houndoom that he was charging into a tree once the Umbreon moved to the side.
The trunk of the pine tree did not give way when it was hit full on by a sprinting Houndoom, and relieved that it seemed to be knocked out, the girl and her Umbreon turned their attention toward the man commanding it.
“Use Psy-” Rila began to say…
“No need for it,” the figure’s cruel tone had left him, as a slight edge of what sounded like fear took its place instead. “This is not worth my efforts.”
Then, as though he knew she would let him go, he disappeared into the shadows of the forest he came from, leaving his fallen men and Pokémon behind.
Tauros came prancing back to them, looking wounded with several cuts and gashes along his coat, but his eyes burst with pride and he turned to look once more at the fallen hounds that littered the path.
As Rila’s adrenaline rush began to subside, her stomach began to clench in sickness as she turned to the side of the wagon that Dane lay against, seeming to be unconscious…or worse… She crouched down beside him, seeing his hand clutch his side where she assumed the knife had entered.
“D-Dane?” she whimpered the words softly into the quiet air.
“I am okay, dear,” he groaned. “But I told you to run.”
Rila smiled and sighed with relief as she wrapped her arms around him, thrilled he was alive.
“Ohhh, be gentle.” He smirked at her slightly and winced in pain.
“Come on then, it is time for us to be getting back; and obviously, you will be needing rest.”
She draped his arm over her shoulder, and helped him to his feet. He staggered beside her for a moment, but the walk to wagon was short, and he lied down inside it the moment he could, using a bag of clothes as a pillow.
“Is that enough room?” Rila asked him as she pushed most of the merchandise towards the front of the wagon so he could have the back.
He didn’t say anything, and Rila took that as a sign that he was fine. Then, picking up her Umbreon, she said, “You are going to ride in the back as well.” She smiled at him and stroked his fur before he hopped out of her arms and into the trailer as well, taking only a few seconds to situate himself before curling up and resting at Dane’s side.
Rila walked back to the front of it, where Tauros waited patiently for her to reconnect him. She pet him generously as she attached the harness and slipped the bridle back into his mouth.
“Thank you,” she sighed to him as her forehead wrinkled and her throat throbbed slightly again at the thought of losing any of them. Then, she quickly took hold of the reigns and led the three of them, as well as the wagon, the rest of the way home.
“Ah, be careful!” Dane pleaded as Rila pushed the hot rag a bit too hard into the wound in his side.
“Oh, sorry! But I have to clean it…” She furrowed her eyebrows as she concentrated on getting all of the dirt out, while in the meantime providing him with as little pain as possible.
She finally finished a few moments later, and applied a thin cover of ointment over the long strip of torn flesh that stretched the length of a finger down his waist. Then, very carefully, she wrapped a bandage around his stomach with enough pressure to keep the blood in and bacteria out.
“You need rest, now.” Rila pulled a blanket over him as he lie there, semi-helpless.
“Yes, we are leaving for the mountains in the morning.”
“We most certainly are not!” she said as she stamped her foot to the floor and folded her arms stubbornly. “You are in no condition for travel!”
“I think I know my own capabilities just a bit better than you, thanks,” he told her calmly as if she was being irrational. “Roak is cold enough as is, if we wait much longer, the seasons will change and we would freeze to death before we made it through the first night.”
Rila simply glared at him, angered by his foolishness, and refusing to give in to his request. “One week. We wait one week, and if you are healing and there is no sign of infection then we will go.”
“Oh, so you are telling me what to do now?”
“Yes, I am. If you expect me to travel with you, then you will wait one week. Otherwise, you can go alone and dress your wound yourself.” The look of determination on her face did not break as she stared into his stubborn eyes.
“Well, fine then. We will wait one week and not a moment longer.” He then turned on his side to face away from her, and she didn’t see him smile slightly as she turned swiftly to walk away. A typical daughter, he thought, as his heavy eyes closed shut and he drifted away to sleep.
The following week passed quickly for Rila; the anticipation of what they must do worried her as well as excited her. She hoped the Spirit that resided in Roak Mountains was less vicious than the Spirit of Fire who chose to become an Aerodactyl. She didn’t know if they would manage to capture it this time if it was something equally insane.
She tended to chores of feeding the animals in the stable, as well as visiting Charizard each day to make sure he was healing properly, and whether he was simply healing at all. It was a slow process, but each day he showed a slighter side of his true self, and he was slowly beginning to resemble the Charizard he once was. Yet, even with him healing, and even with his energy slightly being restored each day, something about him changed permanently. For a dragon, losing his ability to fly was, to a person, losing part of themselves. And a constant sadness hid behind his eyes, regardless of how healthy and well he was feeling.
There was nothing in her power for her to do to the fire lizard, except let him know what he meant to her, and how grateful she was for his sacrifice.
As the week went on, the knife wound in Dane’s side healed surprisingly well, and by the end of it, the skin on either side of it had nearly joined completely together. Puss still leaked from it, occasionally, but a potential scab was forming around it, and the dangerous stage of the healing process had ended.
“It feels like I was never stabbed,” Dane exaggerated, though Rila could already see through his lie.
“Are you sure you’re up to it? We don’t have the back of a Charizard to ride on, and I am doubting a Dragonite would be the best choice to take us through the rough end of a blizzard.”
“No, we will be walking. The tallest peak is only a few days of travel in. Though, pack light, we’re not bringing a wagon for supplies in the chance the snow might be too deep.” He told her this as he avoided her initial question. But she minded, and went off to fill a backpack with everything they might possibly need the following day.
The morning came the same as all of those before it. The same sun rose slowly into the sky, while a girl who was almost a woman helped fit a large pack onto the back of a man who acted to young for his age. She voiced a call to a creature that came prancing up to her side obediently, and closed its eyes in pleasure as she massaged behind one of its long dark ears.
“Is that everything? Just my pack and yours?” she asked, surprised at how little they seemed to have.
“That’s everything. We will only be gone a few days,” he reassured her.
With that, the two of them left the small cabin and the stables beside it to head north, where the temperature shifted and weather would tear at their bodies relentlessly until they left it.
It was a journey that seemed to move too quickly for the both of them. Like an event you were unprepared for would arrive without warning and leave you worse off than when you had began to head toward it.
The trees surrounding them thickened noticeably with every passing hour that they walked the trail; each one growing in thickness and size. The thin braches that held thousands of graying pine needles were turning to a thriving green, and doubling in height.
The air became thinner as the humidity left it completely and a cold chill rushed over them, and they had just changed into their jackets and warm clothing when the pines began to clear and an enormous mountain range appeared, towering over them.
“We’re camping here tonight. It’s only a half a day’s walk to the largest mountain from here.” Dane removed his back pack and set up a small tent that was just large enough to fit the two of them, and just as the sun left the sky, Rila crawled inside her sleeping bag beneath it, and allowed her Umbreon to sleep beside her.
The smile she remembered prodded into her mind once more. A kind face found itself resting on a pair of broad shoulders, and underneath a mess of deep brown hair. Those haunting eyes that had captured her heart those many years ago still seemed to peer far into her soul, sending shivers up her spine.
“Rila,” he spoke to her finally, as his body materialized from what seemed like nothing but darkness.
“Y-yes?” A hot mist came from her mouth once the warm breath contacted the cool air, if air was even what the atmosphere was.
She hugged her arms close to her chest in effort to keep as much body heat in as possible, but the harder she squeezed, the more her warmth seemed to want to leave her.
The figure who had spoken still loomed in front her, staring with an all-knowing gaze, and seeming older and younger than she remembered at the same time.
“Wait!” she called desperately, running toward the man who was now beginning to fade into the shadows around them. She reached out a hand to touch him, to feel his warm embrace just once more…“Please…” Her eyes welled up with tears as his body vanished into a cloud of wispy smoke the moment her fingertips touched his chest. “Don’t go…”
The wound in her heart seemed to burn deeper as she slouched to a ground that wasn’t there. And soon the shadows began to move and bend around her, swirling and encircling her into a silent cyclone of darkness. However, something about them was more comforting than threatening, and each seemed to pity her after every tear slid down her face. Then, just as she began to slip back into consciousness, just the moment before, a sound that resembled an “I’m here” came from nowhere and everywhere at once.