“Hey! Get up! It’s almost noon…”
An anxious voice drifted to my ears as I moved my paws over my head to block out the sound. I didn’t want to get up. I just wanted to sleep here for as long as I could…
“Get up!” the stern voice came again. Feathers jabbed into me sharply and I yelped in pain, sitting up almost instantly.
“Ouch! Why did you do that?!”
Jarre shook his head slowly. “I’m sorry, but everyone wants to see you. They’re…concerned.”
I snorted. “I’m fine.” I blinked my eyes slowly as Jarre looked over me.
“Not to sound disrespectful or anything, but you look like a mess.”
“And there goes my dignity.” I rolled my eyes and threw up my paws for an added effect. Sarcasm was one of the ways I hid my feelings, and generally it worked.
“Zanna…I just want to help you.” He tilted his head towards the ground a little in despair. I don’t think I’d ever seen him like this before. He was the one who always cheered me
up. Standing, I walked over to the Torchic and placed my arms around him.
“Thank you for the offer,” I whispered, “but you can’t help me”. I nuzzled him slightly before exiting the tent. Jarre was the best friend I’d ever had, and I didn’t want to drag him into this. It would be better for everyone if I was left alone.
What a great start to the morning,
I thought sourly. Then the memory of Rye’s letter returned, along with the night before. It hit me like a sudden gale, but it wasn’t the letter itself; it was the smell of Rye, the feel of his fur between my paws…My mind had to be playing tricks on me.
“Ahh!” I gasped and hunched over, kneeling on the ground as a pulsing pain spread through me. This wasn’t like the usual pain I had; this was different. And it was only getting worse.
“Zanna!” Jarre’s distraught cry reached my ears, but it just sounded like a broken bell.
W-what is…going on?
I thought through gritted teeth. I felt like I was being torn apart, almost the same feeling that I had when Altair dragged me into the Farplane, only much
“Gah! No!” I spluttered, unable to keep my eyes open for a second longer. I collapsed on the ground shortly after Jarre reached my side. The faintest flicker of darkness obscured my vision and I froze, not caring how cold the snow was. All I could do was murmur two words, and two words only before the pain caused me to pass out. “It’s him…”
“Argh!” Rye’s growl pierced the cool air as he held a paw over his stomach in pain. “What – is this?” The Elekid gasped frantically as he shrugged off the paw that was resting on his shoulder.
“It’s getting worse,” Altair whispered calmly. “The darkness within you is spreading.”
“Grr…” Rye glared at the ground sullenly, teeth gritted. If I don’t do something soon, this could end up killing me…
“Hmm,” Altair murmured to himself suddenly.
“What is it?” Rye almost spat at the Pikachu. Altair didn’t bother to even acknowledge he’d heard. The Elekid’s patience grew thin. “What is it?!” he snapped again angrily, eyes glowing red. The Light Pokemon finally turned.
“Apart from your growing temper?” he mocked. “The link between you and Zanna still exists.” At first, his sentence didn’t make sense to Rye, then the Elekid jumped, albeit painfully.
“That means Zanna can still feel my pain!” He winced as he realised what this must mean. “If I can barely stand this, what will it do to her? Altair! Make it stop!” Rye lashed out at the air, striking it with loathing. “I thought I could protect her, but even if I leave she’s still in danger…”
Altair noted that the Elekid’s breathing had picked up pace. Although the Light Pokemon really didn’t like him, he couldn’t stand by and watch him suffer. It would hurt Zanna too much,
he added as an afterthought. Shaking his head wearily, Altair grasped the Elekid’s arm and dragged him forward.
“Wait! Where are we going?”
“Did you even notice where we are?” Altair replied in a sharp whisper. “You’d do well to keep quiet.” He let go of Rye’s arm as the Elekid finally looked around. What he saw made him stop dead.
They seemed to be in a dark plane, so dark, it was almost pitch black. For miles, Rye could only see a void of darkness, with a few exceptions. Stone columns rose out of the ground jaggedly, almost like sharp teeth, and they seemed to pave a path through the plane towards a dark crevice that was etched into the side of a cave. The black cave seemed to be the only thing residing within the plane apart from Altair and himself.
“What is this place?” Rye was hesitant as a chill raced down his spine. Altair stood a few feet in front of him, arms crossed and a frown creasing his face.
“This is the deepest part of the Farplane; a place which I still loathe to visit.” A shrill wail answered Altair’s voice and Rye flinched backwards, paws raised in case of attack, but none came. “This place,” Altair continued icily, “is the Underworld.”
Rye felt such an icy shudder pass through him that he almost lost his balance. “The Underworld…I don’t like the sound of that.” He thought back to the wail and flinched inwardly. Taking a deep breath, he steadied himself enough to think rationally. “So who am I to meet?” The question seemed to give Altair the hysterics. The white Pikachu burst out laughing, though softly. Rye raised an eyebrow at the Pikachu’s gesture, growing rather impatient and irritated. Finally the Light Pokemon composed himself enough to utter a few words to the Elekid.
“I shouldn’t even be here; you
shouldn’t be here. But because of your…condition” – he spat the word disapprovingly – “there is no other choice. Come with me.”
Altair headed off towards the dark void of the crevice, Rye following slowly behind. “Wait…we’re not going in there, are we?”
Altair snorted at Rye’s question. “Where do you think we’re going?”
Rye blinked once before shaking his head with frustration. “Let’s just go.” He side-stepped into the crevice and felt the rough rock graze his fur. It was going to be a tight squeeze. Rye felt Altair’s warm breath behind him as he realised the Pikachu was following his lead. The tunnel ahead was so narrow that he had to hold his breath at times just to get further ahead. “Why do you keep this so narrow?” he asked with disdain. “It’s hard to walk through. Is it to keep others out?”
Only the rhythmic pattern of Altair’s breathing mixed with Rye’s could be heard now. The Elekid stopped as another high pitched wail passed through the tunnel, this one much louder than the first and echoing off the walls. He instantly raised his paws to his ears to block out the terrible noise. Once it had passed, he shook off the sound, though it still seemed to be ringing in his ears. Rye turned his head halfway round so that he could just faintly see the outline of Altair. The Pikachu stood deathly still and seemed somehow much paler than before, even if he was white.
“To answer your question,” he replied nervously, licking his lips. “It’s not to keep something out
, but rather to keep something in
Rye recalled the wailing voice once more and froze. Oh no…
”Altair…what have you done?”
“Please…are you okay?”
A familiar voice drifted towards me as my vision finally cleared and I was able to find the strength to roll over in the soft, fluffy snow. “Jarre?” I murmured through chattering teeth. “What happened to me?”
The Torchic grinned almost instantly and his eyes shimmered. “I’m so glad you’re alright. With all these recent bouts of unconsciousness…well they can’t be good for you.” He shook his head slowly, wings falling vertically to his sides. “You just sort of collapsed back there. But you said something. You said ‘It’s him’, and that’s when you fainted. Looked like you were having a bad dream of some sort.” He lowered his voice to a whisper and glanced around anxiously. “Did you see Rye?”
The instant his name was uttered, my head swam and a horrible feeling lurched within my stomach. I felt like I was going to be sick and pass out again all at the same time. I fell back into the snow, panting heavily, paws covering my ears to drown out the voices now filling my head. I screwed my eyes shut and talked through gritted teeth. “No, well, not really. I don’t want to talk about it.” I pressed against my ears harder, even when it hurt, but still the voices came. And through them all, the melodic one which I now craved too much than was healthy. NO! Drown it out, you fool!
I snapped at myself. You’re fine…you can do this. Even without…
my thoughts trailed off there as I began to feel a fuzzy feeling wash over me. I sighed half-heartedly. Not now…
I could feel myself become lighter, my fur paling, claws getting sharper. My fangs protruded over the edge of my mouth and my senses were automatically heightened. My stripes dulled to a dark grey, my red cheeks barely visible. Serrated spikes jutted out from my body randomly, causing me to twitch with irritation.
“Zanna…” Jarre’s voice shook a little as he took in my Light Form. It wasn’t the most pleasing sight, I knew.
Almost hesitantly, I removed my paws from my eyes and stood up, no longer feeling depressed. I knew the aura within me had the ability to suppress negative feelings, and even if it was only temporary, I revelled in the fact.
“It’s okay,” I smiled slowly. “I’m in control now. This form just…it helps. It makes me feel almost whole again.” I felt the sides of my mouth draw up into a wistful half-grin. Jarre didn’t say a word, but nodded in understanding. I took a moment longer to bathe in the light before I withdrew from the form, though dreading every second of it. The lurching feeling in my stomach returned, but thankfully not as powerful. “I know I can’t let others see me like this…” Then I thought of changing the subject. “I suppose we’re leaving soon? That’s why you came to wake me?”
“Yeah,” Jarre nodded, also seeming thankful for the change of subject. “We’re heading off for the Missionary as soon as everything’s ready. You can go for a walk if you want. I’ll call you when we’re done.”
I smiled at Jarre’s offer. “Thank you.” I ruffled his feathers gently as I passed him, making for the edge of the forest. Perhaps a walk will do me some good.
I had stopped at the edge of the forest, doubling back to gather the orb Rye couldn’t seem to open. The Remembrance Orb. I figured the temple could hold some answers for me that might be able to unlock it. I’d crossed the bridge with no problem this time; my senses were now attuned to weak spots. I now stood in the vast hall of Altair’s temple wondering where to start looking. Altair’s voice never flowed into my mind, but I expected he was busy with countless other things. So many things had happened. At least I now knew that Deoxys was the pure evil clone of Darkrai. How such a thing could exist, I had no idea. As far as I knew, Darkrai was safely sealed away. He couldn’t hurt anyone anymore; that was for certain.
Finally making a decision, I chose a narrow path diagonally right of me. This hallway had an arched ceiling, marble tiles lining the floor and rough images etched into the sides of the walls. I was always amazed by how these pictures could tell magnificent stories. Stopping for a slight second, I raised a paw and rested it against an etching. This one depicted three white figures illuminating the darkness. No doubt it was Altair and the other two Light Pokemon. It was still so strange to think that I was one of them now. All these dormant powers that lay hidden within me…
I held up the shining orb and closed my eyes briefly, focusing on the light etching with a certain sorrow. Without knowing exactly what was happening, a spark of light shot out from the Remembrance Orb, causing me to jump and almost fall over. Only my quick reflexes saved me from toppling with humiliation to the floor. Gazing at the orb curiously, I removed my paw from the etching and slid it underneath the cool, round surface. Holding it steadily within my palms, a strong feeling of sorrow instantly overcame me. I yelped, dropping the orb without hesitation. It clattered to the floor, rolling even further down the narrow hallway until a jutting rock barred its path. I hadn’t moved an inch from my spot, frozen with curiosity.
Willing my feet to move, I walked towards the orb. Every step took me closer, and as I did, it seemed to grow brighter. When I’d finally reached it, I kneeled on the ground and touched the emanating aura, going to pick it up. But I was halted before I’d even placed a second finger against the cool surface.
A single, black image flashed through my head. Red and white splattered the scene and a bone chilling scream coursed through its very core. I could feel the very essence of the orb tearing me apart. The pain…the agony! It felt as if I’d lost the will to live! Clutching a dagger…I slowly drove it inwards until it grazed my fur. With only a momentary thought of repressed regret, I placed both my paws firmly around it and thrust.
“AHH!” I released the orb at once, breathing heavily and listening to the echo of my scream. That…that wasn’t me I’d seen…was it? My eyes screwed shut in disbelief. I couldn’t end my own life! It…it can’t be the future!
“It’s…something else!” I stammered to myself in almost a whisper. “I wouldn’t do that…” But the orb caused me doubts. Somewhere, there was something so powerful. Something that caused me so much pain I would gladly end my own life just to escape it. No…
I backed off shivering, rising fluently and turning to run. Only then did a strong paw slide agilely across my mouth, preventing me from screaming. It was cold and chilling to the bone!
“Grab the Orb of Sorrow!” A male voice hissed to a nearby companion. I heard scuffling before I had the courage to cry out.
“Hel–” But I was cut off halfway. The figure holding me clutched tighter and whispered into my ear.
“You ought to be nicer here, missy. After all, it’s your life at stake.”
The paw gradually lessened its hold as I stopped struggling. The figure grasped me firmly around the shoulders as I raised my head to look into its eyes. They shone bright amber and peered down not with malice, as I’d thought, but with concern! The figure raised its mouth into a quirky smile as it winked and set me upright. My mind instantly turned blank and swam in spirals. It couldn’t be!
“It’s too late to stop now!” Altair shot back, casting eerie glances behind Rye. “This is what you wanted!” Rye shuddered and took a step forward.
“I said I wanted help!” he shouted, voice holding a hint of fear. “Not…not this!”
Altair took a hasty step back at Rye’s shout. He didn’t reply, but he was probably too edgy to do so. The Pikachu slowly raised a paw and gestured to a light grey glow coming from ahead. “It’s the only way.”
The Elekid stood completely still, eyes rooted to the ground in front of him. Maybe it was the only way, but this…this was condemning him! He lifted his head hesitantly. “What if…he doesn’t comply?”
A moments silence passed through the tunnel before Altair burst with laughter. Rye glared, irritated by the Pikachu’s sudden mood changes and demeanour.
“He can’t afford not to!” he replied airily. “To get to the world he needs you.”
“So then what? I become…” Rye stiffened. “One of them?”
Altair shook his head thoughtfully. “You can’t. You’ve been touched by light.”
“I don’t–” Then he stopped. Rye put a paw to his mouth. “Zanna…” he murmured with awe. The Light Pokemon nodded, ushering the Elekid forward again. This time, Rye turned around, albeit timidly. He heard only a whisper before he was left alone in the gloomy darkness.
“May Arceus be with you…”
Shivering slightly in the cool tunnel, Rye took a step forward, and then another as he made his way into the light. An eerie feeling instantly enveloped him as he halted in the center of a small cavern. A soft chuckle sounded nearby. But it wasn’t a chuckle of joy, no; this sound held ice and a malicious feeling that none could ever hope to comprehend.
The chuckle rose louder and louder until it was like a high pitched wail running through Rye’s ears. The Elekid shrank back, paws covering his head to drown out the torturing melody. But as soon as it had begun, it stopped. Slowly opening one eye, Rye froze. A black wisp of darkness flowed from the ceiling in a spiral, coming to rest only metres in front of him. As the dark wisp gathered, more of a form took place, even though it was still cloaked in shadows. Two clawed arms stretched lithely from its body and a white wisp of matter flowed out somewhat gracefully behind it. A red collar was placed around the being’s neck which it stroked soothingly with an outstretched claw. As soon as Rye met its gaze, the creature grinned, narrowing its deep blue eyes and beckoning to him with its other claw.
“Riley…” It hissed almost caressingly.
Rye shuddered. So this was his help. The only being that could help him control his dark side was also his worst enemy. Forcing the word through his stunned lips, Rye returned the greeting,
So there you have it! Rye's mysterious letter is revealed, along with the fact that he must now train with Darkrai if he is to ever control his power.
And who did Zanna meet? What is happening in this strange world? What are the Orbs of Altair? Find out all this and more in the upcoming chapters! ^^