Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Thirteen Now Posted]
Deep, rattling echoes filled the surrounding space: the sonic companion to Oth’s account of its ultra rank contest experience. Its tale was interrupted here and there by a question or comment from Grosh, but Solonn, having heard the story several times before, kept contentedly silent as he sat there in that chamber with his friend and his father.
As the claydol was nearing the end of its account, Solonn was distracted by something peculiar: a quick and rather small yet undeniable tremor that rippled through the stone floor beneath him. It was gone nearly as quickly as it had come, and it left Solonn a bit surprised; judging from the way it had felt, he wondered if it might have been a small earthquake, something that he had never personally experienced there or elsewhere before.
“Did anyone else feel that?” he asked, turning his gaze toward the others. When it fell upon Grosh, Solonn found the steelix wearing a distinctly troubled expression, and his own changed to match it at once.
<I did not feel anything… What is the matter?> Oth asked as it noticed the looks of worry held by the others.
“There was a small tremor a moment ago,” Solonn answered.
<Oh… Are tremors not a common occurrence in this area?>
“As long as I’ve known this place, no, they aren’t,” Grosh said, powerful tension clear in his tone and the set of his jaw. He looked down toward Solonn. “I think that came from the warren—and I think it was your mother’s doing,” he told him quietly, at which his son’s eyes widened in surprise. “And I don’t imagine she would have used that unless she was in major trouble.”
“Oh dear gods…” Solonn said almost breathlessly, rising from the floor, an immense concern for the well-being of not only Azvida but also Jeneth, who was almost assuredly still with her, instantly awakening within him. He heard an untranslated utterance from the claydol to his right: a possible echo of his sentiments. A number of the dangerous scenarios that Azvida and Jeneth could be facing raced through his mind in rapid sequence, quickening his pulse and causing fear to settle heavily into the pit of his stomach.
“She’s a good fighter,” Grosh went on, “and I’m sure she can hold her own in a lot of situations, but if she’s found it necessary to resort to that…” He shook his head. “I fear she might be overwhelmed,” he worried aloud, and his eyes darted fretfully toward the mouth of his cavern and the long shaft leading up out of it. “We’ve got to try and reach her,” he decided firmly. “We don’t know what’s going on, how much time she has… I can’t stand the thought of not being there for her if she’s in need…”
“Oth can close much of the distance between here and the warren,” Solonn said, trying to think as fast as he could. “It can get us to the border-cavern at the very least—and if it can do what I think it can, it can get us to where we probably need to go.” He knew that some psychics, like Sei, could extract memories of destinations from others’ minds and thus teleport to places that they themselves had never physically been. Oth, however, was not as powerful a psychic as Sei was; there was therefore a chance that it might not be able to do such a thing. Solonn hoped dearly that it could. There was indeed no telling how much time Azvida and Jeneth had—every second counted, and he was sure that being able to warp instantly to where they wished to go could make all the difference in how they fared.
<I can,> Oth said, correctly interpreting Solonn’s statement about its abilities. <If you will allow me to form a temporary link with your mind, I can be ready to take you immediately to any place you can recall.>
Though ordinarily somewhat averse to letting others into his mind, even friends, such reservations could not have been further from Solonn at the present. “Please do,” he consented readily.
Oth brought itself directly before him. As was typical in the execution of many of Oth’s psychic abilities, all but the foremost of its eyes closed as the claydol focused its power through it. There was no ray or beam of light this time; the manifestation of its power was invisible. It wasn’t intangible, however; in no time, Solonn felt the distinct sensation of some foreign presence entering his mind. At the same time, he felt an equally foreign landscape open up on the outskirts of his perception; Oth was forming a two-way connection, he realized at once, a true link. He hoped not to accidentally pick up on any of the claydol’s thoughts, but such concerns were not first and foremost on his mind.
To his immense gratitude, the link was very quickly established. <Just think of where you wish to go, and I will transport us there instantly,> Oth told him.
“There’s just one problem,” Grosh pointed out, his frown deepening further. “We don’t know where in the warren she is, exactly. We could lose precious time trying to find her.”
“I think I know where she is,” Solonn said. He suspected that she and Jeneth were still at the temple… either that or they were on their way home. He didn’t think that they would be en route to the snowgrounds just yet, let alone would they have arrived there—he hoped to all gods that they hadn’t, at least. The thought of any children—and especially of Jen—being involved in whatever trouble had befallen Azvida and Jeneth only increased the chilling, sickening fear that roiled within him.“She’s probably at the temple with Jeneth, but if she’s not… well, I think I know where else they could be. We’re just going to have to move as quickly as possible,” Solonn said, trying with only minimal success to suppress thoughts of what might happen if Jeneth and Azvida failed to get needed help in time. “If we don’t find them in one place, we’ll move on immediately.”
The others gave quick nods of agreement, and with that, Solonn focused as sharply as he could manage on visualizing the temple, hoping that the swarm of other thoughts and worries in his mind wouldn’t impede Oth’s reception of his desired destination.
Luckily, the claydol seemed to receive it without any problem. <Draw as close to me as you can,> it advised Grosh right away. The steelix did so at once, coiling loosely around Solonn and Oth. A teleportation field promptly formed around the three, erasing their presence from Grosh’s home.
In virtually the same instant, they rematerialized within the warren, in a fairly wide corridor that stretched out a fair distance from either side of them and curved away around corners into unseen passages beyond. Before them stood a tall, broad wall of ice, differing slightly in color from that which surrounded it; there was no stone immediately behind it, only open space. This was the barrier that sealed the temple of the Virc.
Upon arrival there, Solonn and the others recognized at once that it was also currently host to the trouble that they sought.
From the other side of the wall of ice separating them from the temple, the shouts and cries of the battle within reached the three, and the thundering dread and urgency that they shared surged higher still. Immediately, Oth teleported itself and the others into the temple, where they were greeted at once by the sight of the violence within, still raging despite the number of combatants who had already fallen in the minutes since the commencement of the attack. It was a far more brutal scene than any of the three who had just arrived had expected to find, drawing gasps and cries of shock from them at once.
Their entrance didn’t go unnoticed; several pairs of eyes shifted immediately toward the sudden flash of golden light that had just occurred at the exit, and those eyes widened massively at what they found there.
A fearful voice cut through the din, announcing the arrival of the steelix that had just appeared on the scene. “Ler Vhossilliar!” the voice shouted. “Retreat, retreat!”
At this call, a number of the glalie within the chamber broke away from the fight and surged toward the exit as one, many of them summoning protect shields around themselves as they did so. The barrier vanished at once before the small swarm of glalie as they fled the temple as fast as they could go, the three newly arrived pokémon whom they rushed past still in too much shock at what they’d found to even begin to realize why they should intercept them.
Following the departure of those glalie, the scene was instantly changed. The fighting had ceased completely; most of those who were now left in the temple were lying on the floor, unconscious or worse, while the few who remained off the ground hovered warily in place, their darting, fearful glances telling that they did not yet dare to believe that the violence had subsided.
Solonn looked upon the scene laid out before him, almost paralyzed with horror and disbelief—he had never beheld such carnage in his life. With an immense effort, he forced himself forward, shuddering hard as he and the others proceeded into the main chamber of the ruined temple, battling a faintness that threatened to bring him down alongside the victims. A thin, pale, silvery mist hung low in the air, vapors from the blood of the fallen; his stomach lurched hard at the thought that he was actually breathing it.
He spotted a small cluster of relatively unharmed-looking glalie huddling together and moving away from him and the strange, foreign creatures accompanying him. They froze in place when they realized that his eyes, as well as those of the claydol and steelix alongside him, had found them. Solonn noticed at once that Azvida and Jeneth were not among them, as did the others; Grosh broke away and immediately began searching the chamber on his own, a couple of his spiked segments rotating fretfully as he did so.
Solonn ceased his advance in an effort to seem less threatening to the fearful survivors but maintained his gaze directly at them, the troubled question plain in his eyes even before it was spoken aloud.
“Where are they?” he asked of them, his throat dry and constricted with fear. “Where are Azvida Zgil-Al and Jeneth Avasi-Ra; do you know?” He could only hope that one of them knew who they were and could recognize them.
One of the survivors nodded almost imperceptibly. Her eyes shifted off to her right—just as a bloodcurdling howl sounded from that very direction.
Solonn’s heart seized at the sound, and he made to rush toward it right away—only to have his dash arrested as familiar, yellow light briefly filled his vision. When it vanished, he found himself and Oth now directly beside Grosh, with the same sight before their eyes that the steelix had found the moment before… a sight that they found almost unbearable.
Azvida lay face-up before them, trembling uncontrollably and staring sightlessly into space through fluttering, ruined eyes. The degree to which she was suffering was difficult to tell, but that she was indeed in pain was all too certain. Her breathing was ragged, horribly labored. Her armor was deformed, hastily shifted to patch over her many wounds. She seemed to have lost the strength to do so at some point, for some of them were still exposed, still bleeding into the already considerable pool that surrounded her; Solonn mindfully took over the work for her, a wordless, strangled sound of horror escaping him as he glazed over the open wounds as quickly as he could.
“Mother…” he all but whispered, his voice catching in his throat. “Dear gods, what have they done to you?”
Azvida stirred slightly where she lay, trying but failing to turn toward the voice that had just reached her. “…Solonn?” she managed in a brittle, almost breathless tone, all too clearly struggling to speak. “Are you… here?”
“Yes,” he answered. “I’m here… and so is Father.”
Something of a sad, wistful gratitude managed to convey itself through Azvida’s marred features at this. “Thank you…” A frail, shuddering sigh escaped her. “Wish I… could see you…”
The failing light in her eyes flickered erratically as she unknowingly met her son’s gaze directly. A wrenching pang seized his heart as he watched the almost colorless rivulets of blood that were flowing from the wounds closest to her eyes… it looked to him as though she were crying, shedding impossible tears.
“Who did this to you?” Grosh asked, anguish and fury plain in his tone. “I won’t let them get away with it, I promise…”
“Don’t know,” Azvida responded very weakly. “There were… so many…”
“Mother… where is Jeneth?” Solonn asked hoarsely. “Is he… ?” He couldn’t bring himself to finish the sentence.
Azvida couldn’t bring herself to answer, at least not in words. Her face contorted, and a frail sob escaped her.
Solonn’s heart sank even further at the way that he interpreted that response, and he drew in his next breath as a shuddering, pained hiss. “Oh… oh gods…” he said near-voicelessly, and he started to tremble. He heard sorrowful sounds from the other two who were gathered there with him and Azvida, and all around them, the ice that had fallen from the walls and ceiling surged back up to surround them, jagged projections erupting from it and beginning to twist and writhe at Solonn’s unconscious command as if in torment. The notion that Jeneth was gone was hard enough for him to endure as it was, and the anguish that was still plain on his mother’s face only made it hurt all the more.
He didn’t want such bereavement to be one of the last things she ever knew—and he had no intentions of letting it be. Her potential salvation hovered right at his side, he knew.
“Oth,” Solonn spoke up. The claydol made a faint noise of acknowledgment. “I know a place where they might be able to save her,” Solonn told it, and he brought thoughts and images of a state-of-the-art medical facility in a city far to the west to the surface of his mind. He could only hope that the pokémon who had been trained to work there still did so, that they had not decided that the skills of the human lifestyle were obsolete and thus abandoned them after the Extinction.
The familiar light of teleportation did not bloom around them, however. Solonn feared that Oth might have somehow failed to receive the image of their destination, and so he tried to focus harder on the Haven. This was far easier said than done, though, with such a terrible scene surrounding him, with one loved one already lost and another bleeding before him…
He noticed then that Oth had circled around Azvida to hover at her opposite side, and at that very instant, he saw a pale red beam project silently from the claydol’s foremost eye and strike the prone figure of his mother, seemingly to no effect.
“What are you doing?” he asked the claydol, urgency peaking within him. “We’ve got to get her to the hospital right away!”
Oth didn’t answer. It wordlessly widened its red beam and swept the ray of light over the wounded glalie before it, passing it over her twice. The beam was then terminated, and a long, low, almost toneless rattling issued forth from its maker, a sigh without breath.
<I am so sorry,> the claydol said somberly.
“What is it?” Solonn asked, dreading the answer.
There was the slightest pause as Oth struggled to deliver its next, difficult statement. <I am afraid that in her current state, she would not survive rematerialization,> it said regretfully. <She cannot be teleported.> Its head lowered, its many eyes closing in earnest guilt. <I am so sorry…> it said again.
None of the three gathered at Azvida’s side wanted to believe what was happening before them, but with that, the finality of the matter seemed undeniable no matter how dearly and desperately they wished otherwise. Solonn looked upon his mother with a profound apology in his eyes, hating the apparent hopelessness of the situation.
“I just wish I could do something about this,” he lamented quietly, “anything at all…”
Azvida drew as long a breath as she could manage, letting it out on a soft, hoarse note. Her jaws parted and she tried to speak, but a powerful tremor wracked her broken body then, stealing her breath before it could be given words. When it subsided, the lines of her face tightened briefly and a small, pained sound escaped her, almost a whimper.
“Just…” she finally resumed with immense difficulty, her words more exhaled than truly spoken. “Please… just stay safe.”
“We will,” Solonn assured her, swallowing against a fresh surge of anguish at the sight of her latest wave of suffering. “We promise we will. Don’t worry.”
Her only acknowledgment was the slightest nod and something whispered that came short of words. She gave another great shudder, one that seemed unwilling to relent… but then she finally fell still. The light in her eyes faded out, and her life went with it.
There was one last, precious ghost of a moment after in the minds of her observers in which she still lived. Then the truth fell upon them all, and deep within himself, Solonn felt something seem to tear itself wide open. The bereavement already aching badly deep within his bones swelled in him until it finally tore its way out through his throat in a long, raw, piercing cry, joining the anguished roaring and somber lowing of those at his sides. The surrounding ice through which his pain had manifested before shattered, crumbling from the walls and ceiling in tiny pieces that fell like frozen rain.
Last edited by Sike Saner; 04-11-2011 at 06:03 AM.