With a yelp, Jirachi jumped back from the Pokémon that suddenly materialized in her face. Almost tripping on her tassels, she gripped the side of the window and straightened herself with as much dignity as someone who had just been scared senseless could muster.
“Good day,” she greeted the phantom inside the room. The red eye centered in his cylindrical head narrowed as the three silver spikes on either side of his neck flared out; he was not happy. He rose higher into the air, exposing his rotund, dark gray stomach and the golden zigzag on it that stretched into a frown. Getting a glare from both his ruby eye and the two yellow ones on his abdomen, Jirachi decided to square her shoulders and respond with her own, firm look.
“Death,” Jirachi addressed the Dusknoir. “I have something urgent to discuss with you. It has to do with something the Council of Legends agreed upon no more than a few hours ago. I-”
“I have no interest in talking with you, Jirachi,” Death told her. He turned and flapped a thick, gray hand to her as parting. “Good day to you, too,” he added sarcastically.
Jirachi grinded her teeth at the slap to the face. She was not going to tolerate another dismissal. Soaring into the room after him, she pointed a finger at the ghost’s back and barked, “Death, this is a serious matter that cannot be ignored!” When he did not turn, the space wielder ordered in a booming yell, “Halt and face me, Death! Do not walk away from a Legend!”
The Ghost-type obeyed, though his grinning eye and the short laugh that echoed from deep within his stomach still taunted her. “Jirachi, you have no right to call yourself a Legend while Purgatory is in this state. Do you see forests and meadows from where Shaymin has blessed the land with her power? Are there any stars that you and Cresselia have put or any oceans that Lugia has brought forth with his rains? You and your ilk are just hatchlings with power.”
“This is not Earth,” the dual-type hotly responded.
“The souls that reside here think it is,” was the reply. Dusknoir approached her, only to pass by and peer out the window. Jirachi turned and looked on from behind, watching the wandering dots below. “There are houses and buildings to try and simulate their past lives on Earth. We have even created illusions of a soul’s family and loved ones to fool them further. Throughout their stay, they believe they have never left Earth. In this manner, when their time to be Judged finally comes, they will be as though they barely moved on. Or so, that was the plan.”
Here, he glanced at her, sadness softening his glare. “Eventually, some notice the lack of weather, of changing seasons, and life beyond them. Eventually, they come to realize that this is not Earth and that they have died. They call it ‘Hell’ and make their way out of their settlements and into the open land. Most of the time, my guards manage to return them and enchant them anew. Other times, souls are lost in the harsh vastness of Purgatory. Of course, when their Judgment comes, Arceus always manages to find them. By that time, they have wallowed in their ill discoveries for many long years, however.”
Entranced by the oblivious souls, Jirachi shook her head and sighed. “I never knew that. I always thought… Never imagined…” She trailed off, shook her head at her own folly, and turned to the melancholy reaper. Death began to wander back into the room, which Jirachi now saw was bare for anything but a scythe hanging on a wall; it’s curved blade had been the shine she had seen earlier.
“I came here to help, Death,” she began again, drifting a few steps behind him. “The Council of Legends, or rather, Mew and Celebi, intend to steadily wipe out those souls they think of as sinned; they believe Purgatory is too crowded and unorganized. I am afraid that Arceus will agree to this because they are his oldest children and thus, the wisest. Is there anything you can say or do to prevent this?” Her voice had dropped an octave when she began her plead. “It seems that I’m the only one who objects, and my voice goes ignored without anybody else’s to aid me. I have no doubt in mind that this will end badly for the human race.”
Death’s eye narrowed. “It’s true that Purgatory becomes crowded, even with other settlements besides this one spread throughout the dimension. Dusknoir guards are only used to make sure no rips in the barrier occur and to keep the souls in their proper areas. They do not have the power that I do, the power to lay enchantments needed to raise the land for a new settlement. I would create many more if my job of collecting souls did not drain my power and time. Even now, though I’m here, I can do nothing more than teleport.”
Jirachi raised a hopeful brow. “So if a Legendary was able to have your powers, this crisis could be solved? With more homes and room for the souls, could we avoid this looming catastrophe?”
With a sigh that was half sad, half frustrated, the ghost laid a hand on the hanging scythe and said, “I’m sorry, but I do not trust a Legendary to wield this power. Purgatory is my domain, and I will rule it only beside a being who will follow my orders and nobody else’s. They need to be loyal, trustworthy, and most of all, understand the true value of power and responsibility.” Death traced the two, v-shaped cuts engraved on the edge of the scythe’s blade then ran his fingers down the four-foot-long ebony handle. “I have this made and waiting for the soul that I deem worthy to be all of that, but no one of that nature has come.”
Deflated, the space Legendary asked, “Is that the only way you would be able to prevent this mess?”
“There’s nothing else I can do. The Council has made up its mind.” When Death saw Jirachi lean against the wall, drained from everything she had to endure that day, he floated up to her. “Is there anybody else who disagrees with this?”
The Psychic-type looked up, surprised to see Death sympathetically staring down at her. She only answered with a mumbled, “I’m sure that Shaymin shares my opinion; I could see it in her eyes, but she’s much too timid to talk against Mew and Celebi.” The harsh thorn of betrayal dug into her heart.
“Well, I’m glad to hear that there are truly Legendaries out there who are not wrapped up in their own issues, even if they do not speak out,” the Grim Reaper admitted. At the smile she heard weaving through his words, Jirachi faced him again and realized he wasn’t as cold as she previously thought. The face on Death’s stomach didn’t seem as angry, and that harsh shine to his eye was gone. “I apologize for assuming you were one.”
As much as the words chased away the ill feeling of betrayal, Jirachi dismissed them with a weak wave of her hand. “You were right to assume. Like you said, look at this place! No stars, no moon, no atmosphere, all of the things I could have created centuries ago are absent. It’s my responsibility to take care of Pokémon and humans alike, even when Earth is no longer their home, and I did not uphold to my duties.”
“It’s never too late to start,” Death advised. “You can still give Purgatory and its residents all of that.”
“But first I have to sort Mew and Celebi’s mess out!” she cut in, again anxious. Jirachi now hovered above him and glanced out the tower’s window. “No matter what it takes.”
“What do you plan to do?” Death probed. He unhooked the scythe from the wall and began to skillfully swing it about. It was a habit he had formed over the past century. The paranoia that the perfect assistant would come yet the scythe would be dull and powerless, unable to be used, haunted him like a nightmare. As he inspected the ivory skull nestled at the top, Jirachi looked away from the hollowed, pitch-black eye sockets.
“Talk to Arceus about alternate ways to improve Purgatory’s state,” she answered. “Either he wasn’t aware of what we Legends can do for this dimension or he neglected to mention it, he will
listen. He might also be willing to help with finding you an assistant.” Jirachi bowed and said, “Thank you for your help.”
The reaper met her eyes. “Go fulfill your duty, Legend.” He closed his eye and nodded towards her. “Though I am powerless, I feel not all is lost for the souls in Purgatory.”
His version of a compliment,
Jirachi realized with a small smirk.
With a wave, the psychic flew out the window. When her tassels fluttered out of sight, Death took one last look at his scythe and placed it back on its hook on the wall. He was sure that one day, it would be in hands other than his own. Until then, he would rule over Purgatory with nobody but his shadow at his side.
Sitting on the ledge of a mountain so much more different than the one back home, Jirachi could see the Purgatory village in the distance. Looking over her shoulder, she saw the faint glow of power that kept the barrier rip from opening. It was so close, but in a way, it was so far from her grasp.
With a short flight, she could be back on Earth, in her cave, or soaring through the skies to find Arceus.
Yet something compelled her to stay.
Jirachi glanced at the ruby and orange sky and couldn’t help but compare it to a melancholy sunset. With the clouds never moving and the harsh glare forever beating down on the hardened plains, she truly wondered whether this dimension was frozen in time. Leaning back, she immediately straightened when she felt the sharp rocks protruding from the mountain’s rocky, garnet surface.
“This is so different from Heaven and Earth,” she thought aloud.
What must it feel like to look up and see no moon or sun? That, more than anything, made Jirachi shiver. Didn’t these souls deserve the same world as the souls in Heaven? Didn’t they have the right to live under a cluster of stars and a joyous sun just as those deemed worthy enough to live in an internal paradise did?
she answered her question. Yes they do.
“Where have you been hidden?” Jirachi asked the forsaken world. “I could have helped sooner.”
“You! Up there!”
The wish granter grasped the edge of the ledge and looked down. Ten-feet below was the madly waving figure of a male soul. When the Pokémon just continued to stare, he jumped up and down and resumed his shouting.
“You! Legend! There’s something you need to know!”
“What is it?” Jirachi questioned, coming down. “And how did you kn-?”
“Never mind that!” the man shouted. He adjusted his collapsing top hat over his sandy-brown hair. Everything from his suit, dark dress pants, and polished shoes were covered in a fine layer of yellow dust (Jirachi even had to wonder if brown was his natural hair color). If he had been alive, he would have been huffing and puffing. His semi-translucent form and the fact that that he was in Purgatory told the Legendary he was a soul, and because of that, the stranger kept on talking in the same anxious tone without a hitch to his breath. “My friend is in trouble! I don’t know where he is!”
“Be calm, be calm,” the Steel-type told him. “Where was your friend sighted last?”
“Celebi and Mew took him!” the being cried, ignoring her words. Jirachi stiffened at the names and began to demand where this had happened, but the silver-eyed man (for all souls lost their eye color when they passed on) was too caught up to stop. “They just took him! I knew they were coming back for me, so I high-tailed it!”
“Where did-?” the Legend started to say but was cut off. Déjà vu settled into her; hadn’t she been interrupted enough today?
“I’m lucky to have made it this far! I saw no Dusclops guards anywhere…”
“But where did this take pl-!”
“… They might be behind me as we speak! I swear that-!”
Uneasy and nervous to the point of trembling, Jirachi snapped and took hold of the soul by his shirt collar, screaming in his face, “For the love of Arceus, from where was your friend taken?!”
The soul clamped his mouth shut and obediently pointed to another small range of mountains behind him. He was then unceremoniously dropped to the dirt when Jirachi took off towards the bloodied needles, her psychic aura brimming with ferocity.
A/N: First of all, thank you for commenting, David and everybody else. :)
And meet another very important character of the story: Death. Jirachi and Death's discussion turned out very different than I had expected, as well the revelation of the scythe and Purgatory itself. I'm very happy how it came out. I just hope I don't stray too much from the outline I already have. xD
There's a pun in there, if somebody can spot it. :p
Oh yes; I'll be making profiles of the three worlds (Purgatory, Earth, and Heaven) soon and will add more as the story progresses.
What it's in store for next chapter? A very dangerous fight and maybe (depending how the chapter turns out) the entrance of a main character.