Re: Mirror, Mirror; Chapter Three [WWC]
It wasn't long before the trio reached the Blackthorn Gym. It towered above all the other buildings in the small northern city and it was the only one to be built out of slate, rather than steel or iron. It was one of the oldest gyms in Johto, having been maintained by members of Clair's family for several generations. However, the gym was not the main attraction which was being sought. Behind the massive training facility was a small lake - one so small it could be considered a pond, with the exception of its depth. Yet beyond its frozen waters was the entrance to the Dragon's Den.
Draco stood next to Azul on the shore line, raising a hand to cover his eyes from the sun. He squinted across the gloomy waters in an attempt to spot the cave. Behind him stood Clair, with a magnificent smirk on her face.
"Come forth, Melee!" With a quick flip of her hand, a Pokeball detached from the violet belt and flew into the air. It popped open at the peak, letting go of the Pokemon who had been sleeping peacefully inside.
"RI-AAA!" The voice poured over the water in a haunting melody. Feathers turned to cotton, as they wound into knots around the slick blue body. Her long neck gracefully bent downwards, ivory beak plucking at her tangled wings.
"She's very pretty, isn't she?" Clair let a gloved hand trace over her Pokemon's lithe antennae. "I do like to take care of my Dragon Pokemon."
"Of-of course, Master," Draco stuttered, looking upon the Altaria. He had never seen his master use such a Pokemon, but in retrospect, he hadn't seen many of her Pokemon, save for Dragonair and the Kingdra of her own.
"Azu!" The water-mouse stamped his foot in protest. With this action, his bandages fell loose and floated into the lake.
"Er... right. How are we supposed to get there? My Kingdra can’t hold me, and well - I'm pretty sure this Azumarill can't fly," the boy groaned. "What are we going to do?"
"What do you mean?" Clair said, with a voice as sharp as ice. "Why else would I bring my Pokemon?" It seemed her attitude was returning at a rapid pace. Once she had exited the PokeCenter, her reflection was clearing. She was no longer a frightened little girl. Instead, she had reverted into her old, obnoxious self. "Melee is more than capable of getting myself, you and that Azumarill to the Dragon's Den."
It seemed Clair was forgetting that Melee was only three feet high and weighed less than Azumarill. Draco turned to his teacher with a skeptical look etched on his face.
"You don't believe me?" the Dragon Master scoffed. "Fine. I'll show you. Melee!"
The Altaria puffed out her chest in pride at being acknowledged by someone so high in the dragon taming world as Clair. She was more than glad to stand at attention for her.
"Melee, use Attract. I want to see what sort of dragons will arise from the depths today."
"ALTARIA," the creature responded. Clawed feet moved her to the edge of the lake. They dug into the cool sand as the long neck craned over the water. She cried her name several times before light pink hearts began to appear. They danced around the waving antennae before sinking into the cold depths like the S.S. Titanic.
"I don't see the point o-"
"Shut it and wait!" Clair snapped, crossing her arms. Impatience was not going to help them on this journey.
Everything was silent, save for the calming breeze which ran over the shore line. It seemed as if Melee's attack was in vain. Draco was about to voice another protest when a deep rumble ran through the ground. There was an unnerving roar, causing the boy, as well as Azul, to stumble backwards. The once calm lake shuttered with each impending wave. Several forked crowns began to peek above the water. They were soon followed by penetrating eyes, cast in anger at whoever had awoken it.
"GYARADOS!" From the bottom of the cold lake emerged an upset Gyarados, his cerulean skin giving a lighter quality to the dark waters. His Koi mustache hung down over the Altaria while he glared, as it was she who had awoken it from its slumber... but suddenly the intense anger it held melted away. The crimson eyes of the massive water snake turned gentle, showing great affection for Melee.
"Al, Altaria," she flirted. Would you mind helping my Master out?
"GYA! Gyarados, Gyarados," he replied, gazing longingly at the graceful bird. My dear, I would do anything for you. What do you require from me?
"Ria, Ria. Altaria." My Master, the young one and the Azumarill need a lift to the Den at the other side of the lake. I would fly myself, but...
"Ra! Gyara. Gyarados. Gyarados," he replied, winking at Melee. Don't trouble yourself, pet. I would be more than honored to help a pretty young girl such as yourself with such a simple task.
"Ria? Al. Altaria." Really? Thank you. I may have to repay you later. She turned to look at Clair before giving the nod of approval. Once more, the mystic bird had proved that looks can take you just as far as power.
The mighty Gyarados smirked, leaning forward out of the water to place his head on the sand. His curved face provided the leverage needed for footwork, welcoming the party to climb board.
Clair smiled at Melee for doing an excellent job with their transportation needs. She swiftly kicked a boot to Gyarados' nose while both hands clasped around a navy colored crown. She hoisted herself up without much trouble, ushering Draco and the Azumarill to follow suit.
Azul went next, having much more difficulty than Clair. His round, pudgy body wasn't built for climbing. Yet, with the use of his tail and a bit of maneuvering from the dragon below, he joined Clair who was perched on his head. A large white fin jutting from the calloused backside of the Gyarados was providing rear support. He climbed in front of Clair, to take position at the head of the ride.
"Are you coming? We haven't much time."
Draco was still in shock at seeing the massive water snake arise from the murky depths. Gyarados was quite an intimidating force. He was certainly one of the last Pokemon the boy would climb upon like a jungle gym and ride on off into the sunset with.
"Ra..." Although he was busy taking casual glances at Melee, it was beginning to look like the Gyarados was getting impatient.
"C-Coming," Draco replied, edging closer to the beast. He placed a hand on the large nose, propelling himself upwards. A thin leg swung over the left eye while his probing hands tried to grab onto Clair's cape for leverage. However, he missed the cape by miles and began to fall down the water snake when an oddly shaped rescue rope came to his attention.
Azul had graciously extended his tail to Draco. "Azumarill."
"Thanks," the boy replied sheepishly before taking a position behind his master. He grabbed a hold of her waist and nodded - giving the sign he was ready to go.
Clair removed a hand from Azul's waist to signal her Altaria.
Melee took off, soaring about the lake. She gave a final call to the Gyarados, to tell him to follow. He graciously complied.
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After several minutes of complete silence during the ferry service, Draco took it as his chance to inquire about the mission. "So what is it that Luvdisc do, again? Do they have like... some sort of magical liver in which the inner mucus stuff is a cure all or something?"
"Hardly," the woman said, rolling her eyes. "That doesn't sound very scientific, now does it?"
"Well, no. But -"
"But nothing," Clair interrupted. "You obviously weren't paying attention in school. Luvdisc are covered in small, heart shaped scales. Many of these are very valuable, as Luvdisc scales don't grow back. Once they fall out, they're gone for good. It's why they're sold for a high price in the Market and why many Move Tutors demand them as payment."
"But why do they make good medicine?"
"Azumarill!" It seemed Azul was tired of Draco's interruptions as well.
"I like him," Clair spat, pointing at the water Pokemon. "He has manners."
Draco sighed, throwing his hands up into the air as a sign of surrender.
"Good. Now as I was saying, Luvdisc scales are rare to come by. Many people attempt to catch Luvdisc as a means of selling Heart Scales, but there's one fatal flaw in that plan. The Heart Scales can only be removed by the Luvdisc's mate. Even killing the Luvdisc and attempting to pry off the scales does no good. They'll be there for eternity, unable to be used. The ones trainers find are Heart Scales washed up on the shores from mating rituals. They can get pretty intense."
The boy flinched, trying to push the image of Luvdisc sex from his head.
"Anyways, being able to find and track down the exact pair will be difficult - but since the water in the Dragon's Den is isolated, it's fairly obvious that there’s a pair in there together. They can't quite escape in a confined area, now can they?"
"I suppose not, Master."
"Indeed," she responded, pointing ahead.
Before the triad was a colossal mountain range which wrapped itself snuggly around the neck of the city. Nestled between two particular crag was a shallow indent. As they approached the entrance, it became obvious to see that was the 'check in point' of the Dragon's Den.
"That's it, Melee."
"Ri," she responded, coaxing the Gyarados to stop just shy of the entrance, yet still allowing the passengers the possibility of getting off on dry land.
"Gyarados," the creature announced, as per arrival. With another great dip of his head, he let the trio off at the shore line.
Azul was the first to depart, squeezing his way through the three large crowns on the beast's head, only to use his nose as a makeshift slide. Clair joined the rabbit in his descent from the Gyarados. Last but not least was Draco, who didn't seem to have as much difficulty getting down as he did getting up.
Overhead, Melee gave a screech. "Altaria!" I owe you one, kind sir.
Gyarados smiled as he returned to the depths of the small lake. Small pink hearts appeared over his head before the shattered like glass as he sank deeper and deeper into the water.
Clair waved a final goodbye to the Gyarados, before recalling Melee to her side. The wondrous bird cooed in appreciation as she landed next to her master. It was then that the group was met by a stout man. He was standing guard next to the Dragon's Den entrance. Dressed in what could be considered medieval peasant clothes, he didn't seem particularly scary, let alone an effective guard.
"What's his deal?" Draco whispered to Azul, who nudged him gently.
"Azu..." One should never judge a book by its cover.
"Ay, Clair! I's nice ‘ta see ya again, lassie. I ha'nt been seein' ya aroun' lately! Ya come ‘ta getcha some more dragons?" Behind the thick beard of red was a smile. It was rare that the man had company, so to see anyone for any period of time was welcome.
"It must be lonely out here, Rudolph. I'm sorry I don't visit more often," Clair said, returning the man's kind gestures. "However, I'm here on important business. We need to enter the Dragon's Den immediately and return to the PokeCenter before sunset. May we enter?"
"Of course ya may!" Rudolph grinned, stepping to the side. A thick hand was extended to the quartet as both humans and Pokemon alike ventured into the darkness of the Dragon's Den.
"I can hardly see," the boy muttered, squinting into the unknown.
"Mar," Azul agreed.
With a sigh, Clair snapped her fingers. Without as much as a second warning, Melee's cotton coat began to shimmer distinctly gold in color. It seemed as if it were drawing in light from an invisible source. In no time, the Altaria was functioning as a walking lantern.
"You see? I have it covered. Safeguard can do more than just protect from status ailments, you know," the woman smiled. "It would do you good to see what Kingdra can do when it's not in battle. It does have other abilities rather than just surfing. In fact, a well done Flash Cannon is better than Melee's Safeguard."
The Altaria scoffed at that accusation, rousing a chuckle from the Dragon Master.
"Come now. Let’s find us some Luvdisc." Clair motioned foreword, ushering them farther into the cave. The only sight for at least a hundred feet was simply cave.
"I thought this was a den, not a tunnel," Draco muttered, eyeing the walls suspiciously.
"What is it with you and patience?"
"Well, you were the one who said that it's an emergency!"
"Azu," the water rabbit sighed, as if to say, 'Oh no you didn't.'
"Don't get pissy with me! You didn't have to come. In fact, I think I already regret bringing you into what is considered the most sacred cave in Johto," the woman retorted.
"I'm sorry, Master Clair."
She said nothing, only continuing forward to pursue the point when the tunnel emptied into the den.
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