She awoke to the sound of the front flaps of the tent blowing in the wind. It was just before daybreak, and Dane was still sleeping beneath his bag beside her. Her face a neck were damp with sweat, and chill ran up her spine when she awoke to be blasted with a cold wind from outside the tent.
She reached into the pack beside her, and pulled on two pairs of pants on top of her long johns, as well as every shirt she brought with her before she threw on her heavy coat as well. Looking at her in comparison to how she looked normally, it was if she had gained fifty pounds and then some as she struggled to get up and wander from the tent.
It was obvious that a light snow had fallen the night before, once she noticed the few inches of snow that reached up to the ankle of her boots. And just as she went to go wake up her companion, she turned to see him emerging from the depths of the tent as well, followed by her Umbreon that stretched his back and yawned into the frigid air.
“I think you should rest in your Poké Ball the rest of the way,” she said to him as he simply blinked at her when she removed the multi-colored sphere from her pocket and recalled him to the warmth of the device once more.
Rila went to assist Dane in rolling up the tent and fitting it tightly inside his pack once more, then quickly, the two of them at some bread and dried meat before hoisting their backpacks upon them and heading off to the tallest peak once more.
The mountains formed around them with an intimidating presence, and when Rila attempted to look up at them, the sun blinded her as they stretched too far into the sky. Snow began to fall once more after only an hour of traveling inside the mountain range, and soon after that a rough wind picked up, turning snow to hail and pelting them harshly.
The cold began to become unbearable the farther the too of them traveled into the cover of the mountains; the wind chill stung at Rila’s face, and she was impressed at Dane’s strength to push onward with a severe wound in his side.
But her pain, as well as his, subsided at the sight of the mountain that approached them. One that was obviously far larger than all of those around it. And as they treaded throught the snow that was now at least a foot deep, she could see the blue tinted rock that created its base, and the armor of ice that shielded its peak.
It seemed only moments before they stood directly in front of it, as the sun began to set behind it.
“So what do we do now?” Rila asked him, as he simply stared up to the sky, as far as his sight would take him.
“Now…we climb,” was all he said in response.
“Are you kidding? How are we supposed to climb it? It’s pure ice up there!”
“Haha, calm down, dear girl,” he chuckled as he dropped his backpack to the snow. “Of course I am joking, the entrance is at the base. Just to find it…”
He ruffled through his bag for a moment, before retrieving an apple-sized pearl with swirls of silvery purple and pink.
“Th-that…” Rila said to him as he stood back up and began feeling around the rocky base of the mountain.
She didn’t say anything, but simply watched him search the rock for a circular imprint beside a strip of unusual symbols, and the experience that had been extremely similar to this one flowed inside her the moment he found what he was searching for and put the rare pearl in its place.
Time seemed to stop when she placed it in the circle. The wind stopped howlin;, her lungs stopped breathin;, 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.
Dane didn’t wait for her permission, and walked somewhat hesitantly into the darkness of the opening of the mountain. She stood outside of it for a moment before following him inside.
Something about the situation was different than it had been for her before. The mountain was entirely hollow with every wall having a completely smooth surface that stretched up for ages and turned into nothing but blackness. There were no fiery eyes appearing in the darkness to threaten her, no possessed creature lunging for her and a fire dragon on the edge of a cliff, and it was almost as if it was impossible to be afraid inside the cavern of the mountain, and the dimness of the light comforted her as she walked forward.
But her mind cursed itself for thinking too soon, as a loud screech that reminded her of an angry song echoed above them, and a large creature descended from the shadows.
For a moment she thought the Pokémon was riding on a cloud, but as it got closer, she had mistaken that for its wings. The brilliant blue creature landed softly on the ground before them, folding its wings to the side to hide its azure talons and present only a long smooth neck to a round face that would look incredibly sweet had the Pokémon not been frowning in annoyance. Two thin, ear-like structures stretched from the center of its small head and ended in roughly the center of its body. Then, opening its beak slowly and with patience, the Altaria sang another fuming song to the barren center of the mountain.
“This,” breathed Dane, slowly and in awe, “would be the Spirit of the Sky.” He had hardly finished speaking when he reached to his pocket and withdrew a dull orb that enlarged in his palm.
With a blinding flash that seemed much brighter than normal inside the darkness of the cave, a muscular and flying dragon appeared before them; the very same that fought Fire in the mountain range opposite of this one.
The peach dragon hummed in pride for being chosen yet again to face such a powerful opponent, one that it recognized as something more than what it seemed. Dragonite closed its eyes shortly, as if in meditation, but only up until the point where Dane called his first command.
“A Dragon Rage should do just fine.”
With an inhale of breath that could be seen expanding in its stomach, the beast opened its gaping jaw to release a burst of heatless flames. But, their target had something else in store for it, and quicker than what could be possible, and icy Mist formed around the Spirit, blocking it from view and stretching to the far corners of the cave. No song of pain came from the creature to where Dane had called his attack, so he rightfully assumed that his Dragon attack was a miss.
There was nothing to see at this point apart from white. The mist swirled around them, but as some of it swirled away, more came rushing in to take its place. Dane was semi-perplexed at this, but something about his demeanor seemed as though he knew what he was going to do.
But, before he could call out his next command, the Spirit, which seemed to have the ability to see through the thick whether while the others could not, sent a well-aimed Ice Beam directly into the dragon’s heart.
The screech of pain was magnified within the hollow walls of the mountain, and the biting ice stung at its chest as he tried to get up.
“Sunny Day, dragon!”
Despite the pain it had obviously been caused, the mythical creature’s eyes turned yellow, and the sun outside the mountain burned brighter and fiercer than Rila had ever seen before. Rays came crashing through the small entrance at its base and somehow managed to clear just about every inch of mist away from sight; forcing it to melt and fall to the ground in massive puddles.
The Altaria’s location was revealed, and as soon as it no longer had a hiding place, it gave a single flap to its wings and lunged at the dragon that was still regaining its composure.
“Quickly! Use Flamethrower!” Dane bellowed to his Pokémon.
Turning its head just as the bird was feet from it, Dragonite spit a nasty stream of fire directly into the Spirit’s face. With a screech, the blue bird fell back, hitting the ground hard and writhing in pain from the flames that slowly destroyed its cotton wings. The flames dimmed in seconds, however, as clear light washed over the half Flying type, and the Refresh attack had cleared Altaria of Flamethrower’s secondary effect.
“Again,” the order came from a calm Dane, who realized that Sky would not be down for much longer.
As the dragon prepared for another bolt of fire, Altaria whirled around as though it had never been attacked and sent a beam of ice flowing towards Dragonite just as the first bit of fire had been released. Both dragon and bird were hit in the chest by each other’s attack and sent falling back to the earth beneath them.
Dane’s Dragonite was fainting swiftly, and with the encouragement of the sunlight at his back, he ordered his dragon to perform a Fire Blast to finish off the Spirit.
The golden Pokémon did not bother to stand and prepare for the attack, but just opened his mouth as wide as he could allowing the fiery orb inside of it to grow in size, and only when the energy inside it pulsed to fiercely to be contained, he let go of his final attack and sent wave upon wave of hot, and multi-colored flames to every bit of the hollow cave, leaving no escape for the bird Spirit to escape, and only when it struggled to release one more cruel Ice Beam, did the dragon finally faint; once again falling to a Spirit Pokémon.
“Well done, my friend,” Dane whispered as a trail of vivid light traveled from the sphere in his hand to the unconscious creature on the mountain floor.
The Altaria stood before them still, wheezing heavily from both energy loss and pain. His gorgeous wings that had once been white without a single blemish, were now singed and black and almost completely covered in soot from the smoke. The angered eyes gave a piercing look at the man who had ordered the Pokémon to do such things to it, and though it seemed livid, it would not move to attack him.
Dane reached into his pocket once more, though this time the orb he retrieved held no Pokémon inside of it, and he cast it lightly to the Spirit swaying with tiredness before them.
Like normal, the light discharged from the Poké Ball and encircled the creature above it, and like normal, it dematerialized into the nothingness that returned to the ball. As it swayed back and forth and the light in the center blinked red, Dane walked toward it, cockily, and as though he had already won. But just as he went to pick up the ball that barely held the Spirit of the Sky captive, it shot open, and a trail of white light burst into the air as the mystical creature appeared before them once more.
Dane gazed it at puzzlingly. “What is it?” he asked to something he knew would not understand his speech. The Altaria was obviously in no fit state to battle, yet somehow it both refused and had the energy to avoid capture.
It was only seconds later when a popping sound came from shoulder bag from Rila’s side and another beam of light came crashing through the cave.
An ear drum bursting scream filled the air as the Aerodactyl she had managed to capture emerged before them, flying in angry circles around what room there was before finding its place beside the Altaria and glaring evilly at the two of them.
A rush of fear came over the girl, as well as the man, as now their were two Spirits before them, and both glared menacingly at the two of them as if holding back the urge to provide them with their deaths. The two of them seemed to understand exactly what the other had decided, and conveniently at the same time, they each opened their mouths to show two identical orbs forming inside them, growing larger and larger, and just the second before each attack was about to be released, something happened that Rila had never expected nor imagined would.
A second light erupted from the very bag that had just been a refuge for the Spirit of Fire, and as though sensing what was happening, Rila’s Pidgeot formed in front of them and glowing gold, it sent a shield flying before them; an attack that she never knew a Pidgeot could learn.
The Dragonbreath attacks rebounded from Pidgeot’s shield and back upon the creatures that had caused them, and each fell back against the far wall with a deafening thud.
The two Spirits were taken completely by surprise, and the anger on each of their faces faded entirely the moment they gazed upon the Pidgeot who was staring calmly back at the two of them. It seemed both hours and seconds that the five of them remained inside the mountain in silence, but then, just as Rila was about to speak, the Aerodactyl peacefully dematerialized into its Poké Ball, Altaria placed its beak into the orb that lie at its feet, and Pidgeot turned to them with an intense fire in its eyes.
“Rila…” Dane gasped shortly while the Pidgeot flapped its wings powerfully to remain in flight. “Where did you find that bird?”
Her wings tiredly flapped onward through the sky. It had been weeks since she rested, and her soul ached for eternal sleep. But she drove onward, in search of something that she must find, and soon.
The sun began to set behind her as she left the mountain range and Iternadi Lake came clearly into view. She descended to just inches above the water as she passed over it, dipping her beak into the liquid to gain a drink as she flew. She peered curiously down at her reflection, admiring how she had a body that was hers and how it was something that she could see. She clicked her beak together to watch the motion in the reflection of the water and clenched the needle pointed talons attached to her feet. This body was chosen to sustain her Spirit because its simplicity was easy to hide from those that would seek her for inappropriate reasons.
The colorful feathers connected to hear head rippled majestically in the breeze, and even though her form was common, anyone could see how she differed from the others had they ever bothered to look hard enough.
Time was wearing thin, and she knew it was not long before she along with her companions would be needed in the last battle of its kind. And she rounded the lake bend as the city on the edge of the lake came into view. Something seemed different to her about today, and she realized just what it was when she noticed the young girl sitting on the edge of the cliff above the water, throwing large stones into the lake just to watch them splash and sink to the bottom.
She approached the girl carefully, slowing the speed of her flight drastically before hovering and landing beside her. The girl must have been daydreaming, or perhaps her flight was quiet enough not to disturb her, because the human hadn’t noticed her presence until she ruffled her wings to place them at her sides.
A look of fear washed over the child’s face as she looked to the giant bird who had appeared beside her. The girl began to back away slowly, lifting her legs as though she were preparing to run away, but then, as though the Pidgeot could read her thoughts, she chirped sweetly and enticed her to stay.
The child of about twelve or so, became curious instead of afraid after this, and some twist of bravery inside her caused her to reach out a hand to stroke the odd creature who had randomly decided to a approach her. And somehow, at the girl’s touch the bird was able to see into her very heart. She saw faith and innocence, kindness and love, and most importantly of everything she saw, there was one thing that set her apart from all of the others to which she had performed the same feet, and that was hope.
The bird released her gaze from the child, and swiftly and as though she had planned it all along, she reached her beak into the bag that hung from the girl’s shoulder and tapped an empty Poké Ball inside.
“I didn’t find her,” Rila said, as some form of realization overcame her once she peered into the deep eyes of what she used to think was a Pokémon. “She found me.”
“This is no Pidgeot,” replied Dane, but he was telling the girl something she already knew. “This is the Spirit of the Earth.”
The peaceful bird dropped softly from the air before them, and blinking the sunlight out of her eyes, she vanished in a stream of light to the Poké Ball she had chosen for herself those many years ago.
It was as though time had stopped for their trip back to Dane’s lakeside cabin. There were no storms or drastic temperature changes to hinder their travel, and only when they were almost home did they converse for more than a moment about something that was remotely important.
“So, what now?” asked Rila through the darkness to the man who walked beside her.
“Now, we find Sea,” he said as though it were obvious. “And for that to be done, we’ll need to use my boat.”
She said nothing more, but continued there eerily silent walk back home. Even once they reached it, neither said a word to the other, as each was tired, and each needed sleep. The following morning would come sooner than either one was ready for it.
For once Rila had no dreams that night; the night before the most important day of her life. She slept soundly, and even remembering that night in the future, she would swear that there was something supernatural in the cabin that was helping her get the rest she needed.
The morning broke silently as the two of them packed nothing but a small pack for each of them and pushed the tiny sail boat out into the water. It was hard for Rila to get into such a floatation device, especially considering it was this very lake where her horrible memories rooted from. She had back the urge her stomach gave her to release what she had just eaten, and sat quietly in the center of the boat as Dane untied it from the old dock and released the sail. She had no idea, however, that this was equally hard for him to do as it was for her.
Everything that had happened in the time she had spent with Dane seemed to all build up to this moment. Everything she had discovered played vaguely through her mind, repeating itself over and over in an endless circle of information. As the boat sailed forward, she wondered what her life would have been like had she never ventured out onto the unforgiving waters with André the very day she lost him. She wondered what would have happened if she had never agreed to go with him at all, if he would have went without her, if would have ever went at all.