She couldn’t help but drown out the sounds of Dane’s voice with her thoughts as he spoke to her, having no idea what he was saying. But it wasn’t until the boat had stopped and the sun was directly in the center of the sky that she emerged from her silent daydreaming to help him shut the sail and listen to what he said for the first time that day.
“…and we’ll be submerging here.” He finished a sentence that she had only heard the end of.
“Here? But we still have a decent bit farther to go until we reach the center,” she argued.
“Who said we were diving at the center? It’s far too cold for us to be swimming there.” He turned away from her for a moment as he dug through the bag he had brought, while she remembered the reason André had been able to swim at the center in the first place. “Ah, here we are,” Dane spoke once again, “I’ve just bought; figured they’d come in handy.”
Rila stared at the two small objects he held in each hand, one of which he held out to her. It seemed to be made of metal, but she wasn’t sure. The small figure had a round center with two thin parts protruding from it. She thought it mostly resembled a whistle with two blow holes.
“What is it?” she asked, taking the one he offered her form his hand.
“Some sort of breathing device,” he answered. “It should be enough to get use to the center.”
But he was already placing the bag on his back, and stepping to the side of the small sailboat when he turned to her and asked, “Are you coming?” Then, placing the new device in his mouth, he stepped over the side and plunged into the water without waiting for her response.
Figuring that there was little else for her to do, Rila slung her bag over her shoulder, pushed the breathing device into her own mouth as well, and jumped quickly into the water behind him.
The water around her seemed to remain perfectly still as it waited for her regain composure and swim after the man who was several feet away from her. It was much to deep here to see anything but blue, a blue that got darker and tint the farther it traveled below the depths of the surface. Tiny beams of light made their way through the surface and into the lake itself, but other than that there was little to see apart from the figure kicking its feet ahead of her and the bubbles spouting from both his movement and the device inside her mouth as she exhaled.
It was a short swim to the location where they were headed. She had barely begun to tire as a cavern appeared before them and the entrance showed itself as well. Dane descended slowly to the only structure that was ahead of them, and pushing her arms out and to the side as hard as she could, she managed to catch up to him and enter the cavern at roughly the same time as him.
It was completely black for a few moments, and for the time when she could see nothing nor where she was going, Rila was worried she had gotten completely turned around and would be trapped in the blackness until she drowned. But to her comfort, a soft glow appeared above her, and the light strengthened to the point where she could see Dane swimming at her side. The look on his face seemed that of relief as well when he glanced over to see that she was right there with him, and together, they gave a few more heavy kicks into the water before their bodies breached the surface.
She spit the metal object into her hand and clenched in her fist as she breathed in lungful of air from inside the cavern, and slowly swam her way to the waters edge before pulling herself up onto the rocky shoreline. She helped Dane by pulling him up as far as she could along the edge when he came swimming behind her, and the two of them sat for a while, panting, and caching their breath from a swim that hadn’t seemed to be as tiring until it ended.
Only once they had finished regaining their energy did they stand once more to continue traveling to the heart. The wall had a gaping opening for them to pass through, and each of them was desperate to see what was on the other side.
Rila was up first, and ventured to darkness that seemed to stream from the archway, yet, as soon as she got to it, she realized that it wasn’t darkness at all, but another cavern in itself that had no floor. She strained her eyes to see a bridge that stretched from where the cliff she stood on ended, and a new one began.
“Why would a bridge be here?” she asked, puzzled at how a man-made object would have been created in a Spirit’s lair.
“Perhaps we are not the first to attempt to come down here,” Dane said. “We are just the first to have the key.” He groaned slightly and held the very side that his cut rest on.
“Here, give that to me,” Rila told him, referring to his backpack. “You’ve more than likely torn it open with all of the strain you have been putting on it. Perhaps you should just wait here.”
“Of course I will not, I have not come all this way just to give up the moment I began to feel a bit of pain.” He winced as he slowly hand her his pack. “Let’s keep going.”
Rila realized that the situation was beyond her argue, and she turned from him, pulling the bag over her back and stepped out onto the wooden bridge that had nothing for her to hold onto apart from a few strands of weathered rope.
The wooden planks beneath her feet seemed very unstable, and each puffed a cloud of dust as her footsteps hit it. She walked slowly and carefully, and the creaking noises intensified the closer they got to the other side.
“I don’t think this is very sa-” but her sentence did not finish. Just as the words left her lips, the ropes holding the bridge to cliff they had just came from snapped, and the tow of them were sent falling into the darkness below.
Rila screamed as she managed to hold on to the wooden step of the bridge as it smacked into the rocky wall of the other side. She saw the outline of Dane’s body beneath her when she looked down at the sound of his groan of agony. He hung by only one arm, as reaching the other up to help would stretch out his wound and cause him too much pain to hold himself up.
“Hold on!” Rila shouted, “I’ll pull you up!” But as if fate wanted to hurt her, the rope connected to the cliff to which they were head began to give way.
“No,” Dane said to her, sadly. “It won’t hold us both.”
“It will! Yes it will!” she reached her hand down to him desperately. But he simply shook his head, and looked up to meet her gaze.
“I will be with her either way,” he said, and just the moment before he let go, a glaze came over his eyes that was speaking for him of both pleasure and pity. And never looking away from her, he forced himself to release his grip on the wooden step of the broken bridge; the cavern light reflected softly from his kind eyes as he fell into the abyss. And even through her sobbing and her tears, she realized that it had been the first time she had ever witnessed Dane cry.
It took her a while before she mustered up the strength to press onward after she pulled herself up from the old bridge, but she realized that if she didn’t finish what she had started with Dane, then his death would have been for nothing. She pulled herself from the ground and tried to block out every emotion that tried so hard to keep from pouring from her heart, and continued to the next cavern that’s opening lie just a few feet away.
Something peculiar hit her ears as she rounded the cavern entrance and saw no water, but heard splashing coming from every direction. The ground beneath her began to soften as she walked, turning moist until she was wading through a terrain of knee-high mud. A horrible smell hit her nostrils, as if something had died three times over and came back to life to regurgitate itself up into the dim light.
She looked down at the mud and saw the corpse of a fish lying in the muck as she walked past, and then another, and another, and it took her only a few moments longer before she strained her eyes enough to realize that she was in fact walking through a sea of dead fish. But even that idea had been misguided, for just when she raise her hand to her nose to shield the smell, she felt something wiggle by her angle, and terrified, she shrieked, which was unfortunate for her, as every creature that she had assumed to be dead awoke at the noise and began flopping around dramatically.
Routinely, she reached into her shoulder bag and withdrew the Poké Ball that contained her third Pokémon; the one who saw the battlefield the very least of the three. She tossed it madly into the air, and before she let it finish materialize, she shouted, “Grovyle! Use Bullet Seed on everything you see!” and with that, she wading through the nasty fish that flopped around her as fast as she could, as if they were the very spawn of the Sea.
Pellets of light were shooting in every direction, and the brown, corpse-looking fish she assumed to be Feebas were flopping wildly around her, not bothering to defend themselves, if they even knew a move that would. Grovyle shot bullets and bullets of the Grass attack into the muddy sea of fish, and Rila tumbled onto dry surface unexpectedly, dropping both her bags onto the dirt. She hoisted herself up and called the green lizard to her as he relentlessly fired the seeds into the darkness. When he reached her, she had just pulled Dane’s backpack onto her shoulders, and withdrew the gecko after she smiled at it in gratitude.
She retrieved her shoulder bag from the dirt, but somehow, she failed to see the empty Poké Ball roll from it, and just happen to bump into an unlucky Feebas who was wheezing from taking a good amount of damage from Grovyle’s Bullet Seed. She also failed to notice the burst of light, and the fish being sucked into the sphere as it wiggled back and forth while she rounded the corner….
The wall she had been searching for appeared in front of her. The very last wall she would ever see of its kind. She placed one foot in front of the other as she walked toward it, watching it get closer and closer to her until she was only inches from it. And reaching into Dane’s bag a final time, she retrieved and apple-sized pearl with a rainbow of colored swirls on its smooth surface, and managed to fit it inside the indent in the wall that lie next to the line of strange symbols, and like the other two before it…
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 cavern 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 inside of it.
But when she did, something strange happened to her surroundings; she was in a circular area of the cave with no roof whatsoever above her. Several hours must have passed since she had entered the cave, as the moon was bright in the sky and surrounded by a net of glittering stars.
She had little time to admire the scenery, however, as the being she had come to see swirled with an evil darkness around her. In wisps of black that combined together in the very center of the circular room, a creature made its appearance for the first time in human history. Rila was not the slightest bit scared, as the blackness changed colors to reveal something that she would have never guessed to hold the slightest grudge or sign of hatred. She wasn’t scared when a blue and crimson mermaid tail formed beneath a beige body. She did not blink when its face formed and two long ruby whiskers formed beside a pair of flaps that seemed to resemble ears. And even when its eyes shone red with rage and wicked snarl erupted from a voice she didn’t expect the creature to have, all that Rila did was gaze at the thing in her presence, and allow the three Spirits she had brought along with her to break from their confinement and appear on the field beside her.
The Spirit of the Sea seemed entirely taken aback at this revelation, and as shock rushed over her, she began to glow with rage the moment her eyes fell upon the Spirit of the Earth. Then, in her rage, an abrupt storm began above the five of them. Thick black clouds appeared out of nowhere to completely shelter the peaceful sky from what was happening beneath it. Rain erupted from the clouds and began pelting Rila fiercely as she refused to take her eyes off of the four Spirits in front of her. Then, the moment a single lightning bolt formed directly above them and came crashing down to find its place in the back of the Spirit of the Sky in the form of an Altaria, the great battle of Man had begun.
Sky screeched in pain as the electric energy pulsed through her, and angered by this, Fire sent an abrupt fling of rocks and boulders at the water creature who opposed them. But somehow, the Sea which had chosen to become a Milotic managed to ward off most of the Ancient Power attack, and only a small fraction of it made any impact on the creature at all.
What had once been Rila’s Pidgeot began to spin entirely, tucking her wings to her sides as she somehow managed to spiral faster and faster while still remaining in flight. The Altaria and the Aerodactyl were both conjuring similar Dragonbreath attacks, sucking energy from their very souls to form menacing and golden orbs of flames, while the Milotic thrust her unusual had back and sang into the sky.
It was a sound unlike any other she had heard before, both gruesome and hypnotizing at the same time, and when fierce waves formed above the sides of the cavern, it appeared as thought the fish were calling out to the very sea itself.
Sky and Fire managed to release their powerful Dragonbreath attacks in two blinding beams that found their way to each other, and forming a larger one that doubled in strength. And just as they hit the Milotic in its chest, the deep blue waves came splashing down the edges of the cavern, and destroying everything inside. The Surf threw both the half Rock and half Dragon types into rough floor beneath them, and Rila struggled to move back into a corner to avoid being drowned by the relentless waves. And moments before they pounded into her fragile body, a ruthless wind swirled by her and a pair of talons clutched her by the shoulders as they lifted her into the sky.
The Twister that the Pidgeot had conjured served both as a shield and a weapon, as she somehow managed to use it to send the waves flinging back at the aquatic Spirit that conjured them, and the moment Rila had clambered onto the back of the determined bird, she released the Twister and sent it barreling into the vengeful creature below them.
A shriek of pain tore through the winds of the storm, as Pidgeot circled the scene from above, and for a moment, Rila thought for certain that the battle had ended. Then, just the moment she glanced down at the water-filled cavern beneath them, she saw a black wisp of smoke and then a beam of manic energy erupt from the place that Sea once was and relocate to the sky before them.
The swirls of blackness once again reformed into the figure Rila recognized as a Milotic, though something about it had changed. For one it was flying, something that any Milotic was physically incapable of doing, but more drastically, its beauty faded from it, and the thing that floated in front of them seemed to just be a small fragment of what it once was. Like a wicked heart with no body.
The air borne Sea began to throb threateningly with waves of blue power, and for some reason, Pidgeot refused to move out of the way when the alarming attack was sent spiraling towards it, but instead braved the damage to its chest, before whirling in a circle, collecting the same blue energy and sending an identical Dragon Pulse attack back at the angry spirit with a well-planned Mirror Move.
Both Earth and Sea were weakening, and Rila feared for the Spirit of which she rode on.
“I think that a Brave Bird attack would be a good choice here,” she whispered nervously, feeling slightly awkward to suggest something to a creature far more experienced than she ever would be. But Earth surprised her when her feathery head nodded and she chirped fiercely through the storm.
Milotic had predicted a similar attack, and conjured a beam of ice in the little time she had to think of a counter attack. And even when she released it and it hit the bird charging through the air, it almost seemed to reflect of it entirely. But the Pidgeot was forcing itself to continue to its attack as it tore through the air and ice, and she didn’t slow even when her feathers ripped from her wings and chest heaved with pain. Not until she plunged into the very stomach of the Sea with all her remaining strength did she plummet from the sky, and fall to the cavern floor of which all the water had drained from.
Her wings beat a few times in the last remaining seconds before the ground came up to meet them to soften the fall, but even with that the two of them crashed hard into the rocky surface where the battle had begun. Only seconds later did another thud echo from the shallow walls around them; one that Rila was sure belonged to the Spirit of the Sea.
She winced painfully as a sting shot down her arm when she attempted to stand, a sign that said her arm was broken. She glanced around her through the rain, and saw each of the powerful figures in an ironic and fainted state. Sky and Fire lie limp against the far wall, and the body of the Spirit of the Sea had fallen to the exact center of the roofless cavern while the Earth inside her Pidgeot lie motionless beside her.
“Are-are you okay?” she asked sadly to the pigeon who did not stir.
She stood in silence, gazing at the mess around her, until something strange happened. The three spirits she had taken with her turned opaque, and soon they vanished into clouds of silver smoke. She watched the wisps travel to the center of the cavern and swirl around the lifeless Milotic in the center. A cyclone of wind and silver completely surrounded the creature, and a sparking sound began popping behind it as golden flakes of dust shot from the center of the whirlwind and into the sky. Some of the sparkling powder seemed to form rough figures of things they used to be. She thought she saw a young man and his Golduck walking through the mist of gold and taking refuge amongst the stars; something she was sure she had seen in later years as she recalled the event in her aging mind.
And as swiftly as it had begun, the swirling stopped and the silvery smoke followed the collection sparkling dust into the dark sky.
She hadn’t realized it had happened, but the pendant that lie against Rila’s chest had turned white the very moment the wind had taken the remaining particles of the spirits with it. Then, as she looked down at the body of the Milotic that had hosted the Spirit of the Sea only moments before, Rila removed an empty Poké Ball from her bag that lie damp on the cavern floor, then placed the orb to the tip of the creature’s nose…just to see what would happen.
The clouds parted, and light began stretching down from the sky. The thunder ceased; the lightning ended, then the waves flattened. And the ocean-sized lake calmed quickly, as though nothing were ever there…
To Catch: Milotic and Feebas
Character Count: Roughly 110k