Thanks! And I'm ready to post the next chapter, which is the last of the old ones. This one probably has more mistakes, since I only checked it once, so sorry about that. ^^; I also don't have a picture for it yet; I'll draw one later. And yes, this chapter is very, very long.
The Path of Destiny
Chapter 22-Danger Arises
Snowcrystal jumped in surprise as Spark’s scream reached her ears. She and Wildflame darted forward; Wildflame leaping over the bushes and Snowcrystal crawling through them. They found Spark lying dazed near the base of a thick oak tree, his left leg clamped in the jaws of a metal trap.
Snowcrystal walked forward, sniffing the trap, and Wildflame pushed her aside. “Let me look at it,” she muttered to Snowcrystal, who backed away, looking at Spark, who was lying motionless, still dazed. Carefully looking the trap over, Wildflame sighed. “It’ll be hard to get it open…if only Stormblade were here…he could probably pry it open…” Sighing to herself, she tried to think of the best way they could open the trap. Noticing that because of Spark’s paw being caught between the ‘teeth’ of the trap, it was open slightly, enough for Wildflame to carefully squeeze her paw in.
Spark looked up, giving Wildflame a frightened look, as he muttered, “Don’t…you’ll only make it worse…”
“You want me to leave you here?” Wildflame muttered, pulling her paw out of the trap, “Look, at least the trap is a small one…your paw isn’t broken. All we need to do is get it open a little bit, and you can pull your leg out.”
“Oh yeah?” Spark muttered, his voice sounding strained although his usual attitude seemed to have returned, “Sounds real simple doesn’t it? And just how do you plan on doing that? You put your paw in there and try to pull it open and you’ll only get your paw all cut up!” He glanced down at his trapped leg, giving it a sharp tug.
“Stop that!” Snowcrystal hissed at him, agitated, “You’ll make it worse! Hold still…I’ll try and find something we could use that might open it at least a bit wider…” Her voice trailed off as she turned around to search, eyes scanning the rocky ground. All she saw were rocks, sticks, a couple flimsy broken tree branches, mud, and…rocks
… “Wait!” she cried, turning to Spark who seemed ready to just simply try and pull his leg free again, “I think I have an idea!”
Spark watched as Snowcrystal searched around a bit before walking back to him with a long, thin, and almost pointed rock. Snowcrystal set it beside the trap and nudged it inside as far as it would go until it got stuck. She then placed her paws on the other end of the pointed rock and pushed downward.
Nothing happened. “This isn’t working!” Spark muttered through clenched teeth, “And you two better think of something that will
work quick, because this HURTS!”
“We’re not idiots,” Wildflame replied icily, “We can figure out that it hurts by ourselves.” Spark merely scowled in response. Ignoring him, she walked toward Snowcrystal, who was still trying to use the sharp rock to lever the trap open. “Let me do it,” she told the growlithe, nudging her aside, “Spark, the moment you feel the trap open a little, pull your leg out-as quick as you can, all right?” Spark nodded, and Wildflame paused a moment before pushing down on the pointed end of the rock with both forepaws.
Spark felt the metal teeth of the trap pull out of his leg slightly, and ignoring the pain, he pulled his leg away as hard as he could, feeling the trap’s steel draws scrape through his fur and into his flesh as he did so. However, he’d done it fast enough, and he half collapsed on his side, his leg a bloody mess, but free of the trap.
“There,” Wildflame stated calmly, “Problem solved.”
“Problem solved?!” Spark cried, looking down at his injured leg, “You call this
solved?” The jolteon staggered to his feet, keeping his bleeding leg held above the ground. “Look! I’m injured! Who knows how long it’ll take to heal…and how do you expect me to travel all day like this? And it hurts even worse than the burns from those stupid houndour!”
“Quit making a big deal about it,” Wildflame snapped, “The trap wasn’t very strong. Your leg’s only badly cut up. You can still walk.”
Spark’s eyes narrowed and he gave Wildflame a seething look but made no reply.
“Look, Spark,” Snowcrystal began, hoping to calm the tension between the two pokémon, “I can see a small forest not far from here. We can rest there and maybe Wildflame can try to hunt, plus there might be some berries there we can eat if there’s nothing else.”
Spark merely nodded sullenly, and the three set off, Spark occasionally complaining about the traps and his wound. The sky was beginning to darken by the time they reached the forest.
Stopping to rest in the shelter of the leafy trees, the trio by now felt too exhausted to search for food, and surprisingly, none of them were particularly hungry. Instead, they had stopped to drink from a small stream and then settled down to rest; making small nests from moss in the undergrowth.
Snowcrystal was asleep almost instantly; all that traveling having taken a toll on her small body. Spark was kept awake a little longer by the stinging pain in his leg, but despite that, the jolteon was soon asleep as well. Wildflame stayed awake longer, several conflicting thoughts clouding her confused mind.
To her annoyance, she had found herself worrying over Stormblade and Thunder, and Rosie too, wondering where they were, when she had far more important things to think about. Her main concern was finding Articuno; she didn’t have time to worry over Snowcrystal’s friends. After all, they weren’t really her
Sighing, she laid her head against her paw, the faintest traces of doubt that her plan could have any success nagging at her mind. Her main concern should be helping the other houndour and houndoom…those at her homeland…but did she even want to go back? Thinking of what things had been like, she wasn’t quite sure anymore…but did she really want to be here? With them
? She wasn’t sure about that either, and it bothered her. Why should she want to travel around the wilderness, facing humans and whatever other danger happened to come upon them, having to see pokémon with horrific injuries and not being able to do anything about it…? But yet…serving under Firedash, even with a reward if she somehow managed to find Articuno, didn’t seem pleasant either. For once, Wildflame was in doubt.
But it didn’t last long. Pushing her conflicting thoughts away, Wildflame settled on the fact that her life with her clan back by the mountains would be far better than it ever was before, once she returned. She would make sure to succeed, make sure that life would be better…for all her clan. And she’d never have to worry about these other pokémon ever again…
And with those thoughts, Wildflame soon lulled herself into sleep…
Blazefang wasn’t far off. In fact, he and the rest of the pack were quite close to where the others were resting, but unaware of it. The houndour was in a dark mood.
The journey had been slow, and one houndour had been caught in a trap, and it had taken a long while to get him free. Blazefang had been angry about the entire thing afterward and as soon as they had stopped to rest, the other houndour had given him a wide berth.
Blazefang sat moodily on top of an old tree stump, his claws digging into the rotting wood. Angrily he tore a large chunk from it, swatting it with his paw into the undergrowth below. Leaping down from the stump, he started to head deeper into the trees…when he heard a voice.
The hairs on Blazefang’s neck stood up straight, and he turned at the sound of a large pokémon crashing through the bushes, and in no more than a few seconds later, a grizzled old ursaring stood before him. The larger pokémon’s eyes bored into Blazefang’s, and the houndour, feeling intimidated, stepped back.
“You…” the ursaring muttered in a low growl, pointing a shaky claw in the direction of where the pack was resting, “You and those others…leave. This part of the forest belongs to us. We don’t allow other predators here.”
Blazefang didn’t answer, but paused to look the ursaring over. The bear-like pokémon’s fur was matted and dirty, as if the pokémon hadn’t bothered to take care of it. The fur around his muzzle was tinged with silver, and he looked shaky and feeble. He was also very thin, and Blazefang suspected that the ursaring had frequently had to deal with competition from other predators, and thus, he and whoever else was a part of his group had probably lost a lot of their territory. The old ursaring was obviously going through rough times.
Blazefang smiled. He didn’t seem like much of a threat. “Don’t worry,” he muttered, “We aren’t stayin’ here. We’re just resting. We’ll be gone well before sunrise. So leave us alone until then, and we can all get on with our lives!”
The ursaring bared his teeth in a snarl. “No,” he growled, “There are plenty of other resting places. As long as you and those others are here, you endanger my family!”
Blazefang felt his temper rising. “We’re not here to harm anyone but prey!” he spat, “We-”
Before he could speak further, the ursaring had latched his claws around Blazefang’s throat and lifted him clear off the ground with a forced that greatly surprised the houndour leader. A moment before, the ursaring had looked weak and feeble.
Blazefang gasped and sputtered as the ursaring brought him close to his face, his claws closing around Blazefang’s windpipe, leaving him struggling for breath and unable to focus on creating any fire attacks. “Lissen…” the bear pokémon hissed, “You take what little prey we have…you threaten my family! Now either you leave…or I’ll drag you and every other houndour here out of the forest myself!”
The ursaring released Blazefang suddenly, who lay coughing on the ground, gazing up at the larger pokémon in cold fury.
He felt…angry…far more angry than he thought he should feel, considering the ursaring’s poor condition, and the obvious predicament he was facing. Yet, that seemed to matter less and less the more that anger grew. Baring his fangs, he snarled back at the ursaring’s face, “Make me!”
A look of fear and disbelief crossed the old ursaring’s face as he realized he’d have to put up a fight. Yet he had done this many times before. With a roar he charged at Blazefang with a speed that surprised the houndour, slicing his claws across Blazefang’s flank and knocking him to the ground.
That was it.
Without thought, without contemplation, Blazefang rose as if he hadn’t even felt the pain. He opened his mouth, and saw, without thinking, his vision fading into a blinding yellow and white, and then white flames erupting from his jaws.
The ursaring’s scream of agony barely registered to him; he barely saw the old pokémon flailing in anguish as the bright flames surrounded him in a small, fiery tornado. He didn’t care, he didn’t think, he just saw.
And then the brightness faded, and Blazefang’s senses returned. He looked forward, and gave a startled cry of shock. The ursaring was dead. The smell of burning flesh was overpowering, and Blazefang felt himself choke.
He had killed a pokémon…and not for prey. It felt so wrong…
He averted his head from the grisly sight of the ursaring’s charred remains, horrified. A memory of one of Wildflame’s meetings passed through his mind. While telling him about the growlithe and the other pokémon accompanying her, she’d told him what one of them had said about the ‘Forbidden Attacks’. Blazefang remembered it too well, and he became even more horrified. Why had he used that attack? And how come it seemed…so beyond his control? And slightly…more powerful?
Shuddering, Blazefang forced himself to look back at the ursaring, but immediately had to turn away again. He was shaking uncontrollably, still in shock from what happened.
“What have I done…?”
He looked up again, averting his eyes from the dead ursaring, as he glanced at all the burned foliage. So much of it was burned to nothing, and other trees and plants had started to burn, small white flames with bluish-black streaks flickering over their branches and leaves.
Blazefang stared at the scene in a trance.
Then the sudden realization of what he'd done hit him like a freight train. Whirling around, he suddenly darted back toward the pack, screaming at the top of his lungs.
"GET OUT! EVERYONE OUT!"
A frantic energy seemed to pulse through him, giving him seemingly boundless energy as he bolted toward the pack. He'd felt this energy before, several times, but this time he didn't like it. It hurt. It throbbed through his veins, making him almost wince with every step. It was odd...it didn't really hurt physically, but the feeling...he couldn't stand it. It felt dark and foreboding, and although it made his frantic dash swifter, he felt as if he had to fight against it to move in that particular direction.
It wasn’t long before he spotted the pack. “GET OUT OF THE FOREST!” he yelled, looking frantic and wide-eyed as he skidded to a halt in front of them, “GET EVERYONE OUT…NOW!”
“What?” one of the houndour asked, “I thought we were here to rest-”
“GET OUT!” Blazefang cried, his voice rising to a fearful howl, “GET OUT OF THE FOREST YOU IDIOTS! UNLESS YOU WANT TO DIE!”
Startled, all the houndour stood up and started to back away. One of them still looked hesitant. “But what’s-”
“OUT! GO THAT WAY! NOW! JUST GET OUT!” Blazefang started to race ahead, and the others, though confused, had no choice but to follow. Blazefang was moving so fast, they had to struggle to keep up, knowing that they would not get any answers until they were out of the forest. Luckily, they didn’t have too far to run.
In a deeper part of the forest, unaware of the commotion, Snowcrystal, Spark, and Wildflame slept soundly…
…as the fire burned.
Stormblade opened his eyes, finding his surroundings new and unfamiliar. Because there was currently no light in the room, it took him quite a few moments to realize that he was inside a pokémon center, but in a very unfamiliar pokémon center. He tried to lift his head, but the movement only sent pain shooting down his neck and the wounds in his back. He lay still again, the memories of the past events, and the battle, slowly coming back to him. In a panic he wondered just how much damage Volco’s attacks had caused him. At the moment, however, he had no way of knowing. He couldn’t see much of the room, which surprised him, as he could usually see well in the dark, but he could tell that he was lying on some blankets on one of the beds he’d seen so often used in pokémon centers he’d been to in the past. He could still feel quite a lot of pain, but nothing close to what he’d been enduring before, and if he lay still, it was at least tolerable.
Gradually through the gloom, he could see the faint shapes of other pokémon, though they weren’t very close to him and he couldn’t really tell what species they were. As he tried to make sense of how he had gotten here, he vaguely wondered if the humans’ medicine could heal a wound from a Forbidden Attack, and whether what Spark had said had been a lie or simply just a myth. But remembering Blazefang’s attack, how completely unnatural it was, he found it hard to believe that what he’d heard from the others over the past few days had been lies.
After a moment, another thought came to him. If he was here…where was Thunder? Suddenly alarmed, he lifted his head, slower and more carefully this time, so he had a better view of his surroundings. He couldn’t identify Thunder’s scent, or the scents of the other pokémon for that matter; there were too many strange and confusing scents in the place and he still felt dazed and only half-awake.
As he turned his head toward the side, he noticed that a bowl of water had been placed on the bed right beside him. Ignoring it, he tried to push himself up to stand, but found it harder and more painful than he had imagined, and only managed to stand very awkwardly on all fours before he collapsed from exhaustion.
He heard someone moving in another part of the room, and realized it must be one of the nurses’ pokémon.
“I…I need to find out where my friend is,” Stormblade called, surprised by how weak and frail his own voice sounded. The pokémon didn’t respond, and he lay his head down, realizing that whoever it was, they had already left … Dazed, he tried to ignore the pain that raced up his leg like fire; standing on it hadn’t been the best of his ideas, as he thought to himself that Thunder would be all right; if he was here, she had to be here too…right?
At the sound of approaching human footsteps, Stormblade fell completely still; for some reason he himself was unsure of, he didn’t want the humans to know he was awake. As they came closer, he opened his eyes slightly, and noticed one of the humans who worked at the pokémon center, and a pokémon ranger, who was carrying an injured poochyena.
(Continued in next post...)