Chapter Four: Es Cade and an Escapade
“Is this Victory Square?” asked Rui as she eyed the elaborate fountain erupting from the square‘s center. The water coming from it rose into the air far above our heads, then rained down into its white-marbled pool. Several stone buildings and shops surrounded the fountain, all just as white as the wall surrounding the desert paradise. Among them was a Poke Mart and Center, which I took note of. After I got Rui on her own way, I’d be sure to swing by those places.
“So that guy said to go up that way, right?” the redhead pointed past the fountain, up the hill. I couldn’t see much past the curve of the hill, but I could make out the top of the dome-roofed Stadium.
“Yes, Rui. That‘s the Stadium up there.”
“And he said that the Mayor’s house was off to the left?” She looked at me with those innocent eyes.
“You ask a lot of questions,” I sighed as I headed for the stairs leading up the steep incline.
“Is that bad?” She slapped her hand over her mouth when she realized that she had asked yet another question. I just shook my head and smiled.
“You’re not from around here, are you?” I asked as we climbed.
“Nope.” I heard her answer from behind me. The staircase was only wide enough for one person here, squeezed beside an evenly paved road. A rusty car drove down it, passing us in respectful ignorance. Rui friendlily waved at the driver blissfully unaware, then said, “I’m just here for a visit. I guess I just ask so many questions because I have no idea where I‘m going. You live here, though, right?”
“Yeah,” I said before I could stop myself.
“Where do you live?”
“Just down south.”
“And that would be . . .?”
Just then, we reached the stop of the staircase. Now, we could see the all of the Stadium in its architectural beauty. I was relieved by the opportunity to change the subject. Pointing to a smaller building down in front of the Stadium, I explained, “That’s the Prestige Gymnasium, or the Pre Gym for short. The Mayor’s house should be over that way.”
“Oh,” she followed my gaze. “Let’s go!”
She took off ahead of me, making a wide turn to avoid an overgrown palm tree. With much less enthusiasm, I followed at a slower pace with Yin and Yang at my heels. Just as we turned the corner, I heard a startled shout from Rui.
“I’m so sorry!” she was apologizing. “I wasn’t looking where I was going.”
I looked down the street to see her in front of a spacious house, but she wasn’t alone. A tall man stood before here, but his appearance was startling. He wore a strange, dark-purple jumpsuit, and his silver white hair writhed above his head like snakes. What disturbed me the most, however, were his red-colored eyes. Of all the shady characters I had seen in my life so far, he easily topped the list. They looked down at Rui menacingly, though he tried to remain calm.
“That’s quite all right,” he replied coolly, his arms folded across his broad chest. “There was no harm done.”
Cautiously, I approached the two. Both of my Pokémon were just as wary, their ears flattened against their heads. Keeping my eyes on the stranger, I asked Rui, “Is everything okay?”
“Yeah,” Rui laughed weakly, rubbing the back of her head in embarrassment. “I accidentally ran into this guy here. Sorry.”
The dark man just chuckled, but looked over me curiously. “I am assuming that you two are travelers?”
“Yep,” Rui quickly replied, though by the tone of her voice I could tell that she was a little scared by the man‘s presence.
“And judging by the Pokemon at your side, I’ll say that you are a Trainer,” he looked at me with his enigmatic eyes.
I only replied with a wary nod of my head. Yin and Yang shrank further behind me, enjoying this man’s presence just as much as I did.
“So you are,” he answered thoughtfully with a frown. “Perhaps one day I will have the opportunity to see you in action, young Trainer.”
With a short jerk of his head, the strange man turned and left, though he left a cold foreboding behind with us. I watched him warily, wondering what a man like him would be doing loitering in front of the house of Phenac’s Mayor. Something didn’t quite seem right, here.
“Er,” Rui cleared her throat, looking up at the building behind us. “This must be the Mayor’s house. Shall we go in?”
I merely answered with a nod of my head, finally looking away from the stranger. “Ladies first.”
The girl managed a small smile, and then wrapped her fingers around the door’s handle.
It was a little dark inside, but the sight of bookshelves lining the walls immediately met my eyes. All sorts of thickly bounded books rested in them, mottling the walls with subdued colors of blue, red, green, and gold. The smell of their old parchment filled the air, along with the sound of a radio playing jazz music. A large screen plasma T.V. rested against the wall opposite of the entrance way. Off to our right was a red-brown wooden desk, where an old but squat gentleman with gray hair and a kindly expression sat. As soon as we entered, he looked up from his paperwork with a pleasantly surprised expression.
“Oh! Well, hello there!” he greeted us warmly, his voice like a dear grandfather. “I don’t believe that I’ve seen your faces before. How can I help you two youths?”
Rui stepped forward shyly to him. “We’re kinda new here.”
“So you are!” with a wrinkled smile, the man stood up from his desk and walked around it to give both of us a hearty handshake. “In that case, allow me to welcome you to Phenac City. I am Mayor Es Cade.”
“You’re the Mayor?” Rui immediately perked up. “Oh, thank goodness! I’ve had such a rough time, Mr. Mayor. You won’t believe what happened to me.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Es Cade frowned sadly, though a playful twinkle in his eye remained. “Tell me all about it, miss.”
The words that came out of her mouth next came out in an unintelligible rush. “SoIwasinthisothertownwhenthesegoonssuddenlysentou tthesewierdcreaturesandIdidn-”
“Whoa, whoa, there,” the mayor interrupted with a little chuckle. “I can’t understand any of that. Slow down and tell me more clearly.”
“Oh,” Rui blushed and took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. Okay, it’s like this: I was in this neighboring town, a little lost, and while I wandered around I saw these trainers having a battle. I watched for a little while, when suddenly one of them sends out this really weird Pokémon.”
“A weird Pokémon? Good heavens! What do you mean by that?”
“I’m not sure how to describe it, sir. It looked pretty normal, except for a strange black cloud that surrounded its body. But that wasn‘t all of it; that Pokémon was brutally vicious. It didn‘t even hesitate to attack a human!”
“Attack a human! Oh my! Are you just making all of this up, dear?”
“Of course I’m not! I saw everything, and because of that I was kidnapped!”
“You were kidnapped?” By now the old man was clearly bewildered, sputtering his statements incredulously. He looked to me, his expression asking me if I believed any of this, but I could only shrug. This was the first time I heard the story, too, and I had never heard of anything like it before. To be fair, I wasn’t quite sure I believed it myself. How long had Rui been in that bag?
“Yes,” Rui sighed, becoming exasperated. “Just ask Wes here. He was the one who rescued me.”
“Is this true, lad?” the mayor looked back at me with more scrutiny.
“Well, yeah,” I replied, but no where near certain.
“Then an investigation must be started at once!” the old man said with more determination. “I’ll get the detectives and the officers out of their offices and out in the streets! This just won’t do. Such a crime is intolerable! Don’t you worry, miss. I won’t rest until these kidnappers are put to justice!”
Rui visibly relaxed at the kind Mayor’s pledge, her hands falling to her side. “Thank you so much, sir.”
I wondered, however, whether or not this would be enough. Criminals were running rampant and free these days, and the Police force just couldn’t handle everything that went on. How could this man promise her all these things? For her sake, though, I held my tongue. I couldn’t bring myself to disappoint her, but it was very unlikely that her kidnappers would never face trial.
“So much to do,” the Mayor muttered under his breath as he scrambled back behind his desk. Louder, he added, “I’ll be sure to send you any information as soon as I can. This might all take some time, though. May I suggest that you take a tour of what our great city has to offer? I’m guessing that you, young man, are a Pokémon Trainer. I highly recommend that you visit our dear Stadium. It’s such a grand establishment, the apple of this city’s eye! What do you say?”
“I’d like to go there,” Rui put in, looking at me with excitement.
“Er, actually I-,” I began.
“It’d be lots of fun, Wes! I’d like to see your Pokémon in action!”
“You’d better hurry, then,” the old mayor chuckled. “The next challenge should be starting soon! Go on, you two. I’ll get things started here.”
“Come on, Wes!” Rui giggled as she grabbed my wrist and practically yanked me out of the mayor’s home.
“Rui, I-,” I tried to reason with her again.
“Okay, you said that the Stadium was this way…” she continued to pull me along.
Frustrated, I broke free of her grip and stopped in the middle of the street. “Can you just listen to me for a minute?”
Rui skidded to a halt and turned around, looking confused and a little hurt.
“Listen,” I took a deep breath and began. “I did what you asked: I led you to the mayor’s house, didn’t I?”
“Um, yeah,” she frowned. “You did.”
“Then there’s no reason for us to stick together. We should go our own ways, now.”
“But…,” she looked defeated, mournful.
“I’m really sorry, but it’d be better if-”
“Hold on, Wes. I understand what you’re saying,” she seemed to shake off her sadness like a coat. “But I just wanted to see you battle. You rescued me, but I didn’t get to see how. Well, I want to see what my hero is made of!”
I cringed slightly at the word. “I’m not a hero.”
“Of course you are! You rescued me.”
“I only did what I had to do, because I was there.”
“You can say what you want, but you’re a hero to me. Now, please? I just want to see you battle at this Stadium thing, and then I promise that I’ll be on my way.”
I blew a bit of hair out of my face, bit my lip, and looked away. Not only was this girl energetic, she was also uncooperative and bullheaded. I had a feeling that she was used to getting what she wanted, no matter what. So what was I to do? This could always lead to another reason for her to stick around. I had to put my foot down sometime. But what harm would it do to let her at least come with him to the Stadium? Even if I said no, she’d follow me there anyway. Just what did she want from me, anyway? Maybe ... Was she was still afraid of the kidnappers?
“Fine,” I finally gave in, my shoulders dropping in defeat.
She beamed, ignorant of my glumness. “Thank you, Wes! Let’s go!”
There was a low growl down below, and I glanced down to see Yang looking dejected. From his brother, however, I got quite the opposite feeling. The Espeon trotted up beside Rui buoyantly, pleased to have her accompany us for a little longer.
“You’re my new favorite,” I muttered to my Umbreon, who barked in agreement.
Yin only glanced behind his shoulder, sending a feeling of laughter to me.