Sweet, Shion! Can't wait! ^^
Well, sorry for the long wait, guys; I didn't quite make my goal (er, yeah... it's been a week, I know ^^'), but I'm pleased to announce the next chapter! :D It's as appropriately lengthy as the wait you guys had to go through, and finally it progresses into Kanto! We're gonna meet a new character today Hope you don't mind having him in here, but he's the first of a handful of canon characters that will be appearing in this fic. But I better not say anymore.
Chapter Fourteen: Kanto
Emma fiddled with her necklace, rubbing her fingers over its smooth, blue stone amulet as she waited outside the medical tent. She waited nervously for someone to come out to let her know how Weston was going to be, but the seconds ticked by all too slowly. Biting her lip, she looked past its cream-colored fabric at the rest of Knight’s camp. Soon after they were rescued, these “Knights of the Aura” had taken the Rangers here to rest up. The camp was located just outside of the Chroma Highlands, south of the Ruins themselves. Even from here, she could spot the columns of dismal grey stone rising at the crest of a grassy hill just beyond the perimeter of the camp.
“Emma?” a concern voice spoke behind her shoulder, and she turned to see an older woman with long, black hair standing behind her. Immediately, Emma turned to attention, recognizing her as one of her superiors.
“Miss Deliah,” she stammered, wishing she didn’t look as if she had been crying all day. Her eyes were still moist and red, though she tried to appear as professional as she could in her broken state.
“No need for formalities, dear,” Deliah put her hand on the young Ranger’s shoulder, speaking with a much softer tone than Emma could ever remember her using. Usually Miss Deliah was sharp-tongued and strict, as mean as a grouchy Ursaring. Now, however, she looked small and diminished, but mostly concerned as she looked over this frail, teenage Ranger. “How are you doing?”
Emma at first didn’t know how to respond to this new Deliah, caught entirely off guard. For a moment, she stared at her in incredulity until she finally found words. “I-I’m doing okay.”
Miss Deliah looked at her kindly, as if she understood how Emma really felt within. “And Weston?”
“I… I don’t know.” Tears started to well up in her eyes again, and she looked away. The Ranger’s leader looked away, casting her eyes on the ground. She seemed to be struggling with something to say to comfort the distraught Ranger, but she just managed a tiny whisper.
Emma just nodded her head, not trusting herself to speak right then. All the emotion was coming back to her, and she didn’t want to break down again. Especially in front of her superior.
“Emma, I really am sorry,” Miss Deliah continued, “for the way I acted back there. I had given up all hope, but you and Weston refused to give up. I didn’t mean to snap at you like I did. If anything, I should have been there with you, trying to hold back that door. I’ve been an awful leader to all of you young Rangers.”
“No, don’t say that, Miss Deliah,” Emma shook her head, though her next words sounded much too hollow. “You… You tried your best.”
Fixing her moist eyes on the younger Ranger, Miss Deliah shook her head. “No. I didn’t. I failed all of you. If anyone here deserves to be a leader, it was Weston. I had never seen such bravery in any of my recruits.”
Emma looked back towards the medical tent, still trying to reign in her tears. But her voice falters as she said, “He was my best friend, Miss Deliah. Almost a brother to me. I wouldn’t have made it as a Ranger without him. He helped me overcome my fears, and led me on adventures I thought I would never have. I would give anything to have him back.”
That had done it. Now the tears were flowing down her face once more like miniature rivers. Emma suddenly found herself in Miss Deliah’s embrace, crying into her shoulder, as the woman tried to comfort her. Both remained silent while tears on either sides fell, but the two had cried so much that not many flowed. In a matter of minutes, they felt drained but little better. Before they could speak to each other, the tent’s entrance opened up as a man dressed in a white cloak came out.
“Docter?” Emma immediately jumped to her feet, startling the Knight’s doctor.
“You are Emma, correct?” he asked as he recovered from his jolt.
“Yes, I am.”
The doctor took in a deep breath, and then said very slowly, “I have good and bad news.”
Just what Emma dreaded, but she nodded, “Continue.”
“We have the Ranger stabilized. However, he remains comatose with the nightmare still plaguing him. I doubt that he will awaken from it by himself.”
Emma’s heart sunk, and suddenly the world seemed a much darker place. She looked down to the ground, dejected and defeated. With a quivering voice, she managed to ask, “Can… Can I see him?”
The Knight’s medic nodded, and stepped aside for her to get in. Biting her lip, the young Ranger slipped into the tent’s darkness with the doctor and Miss Deliah right behind. Light dimly filtered in from outside, but a bright lamp had been set up on the tent’s ceiling. It illuminated the pale face of a young boy who suddenly winced from something within his dreams. He lay there in a cot awfully still, with only his chest rising up and down. IVs were connected to his wrists, allowing precious fluids and nutrients to enter into his nerve-wracked body.
Emma came and solemnly sat on a stool by his side, though her face betrayed no emotion. She reached out and took his hand into hers, feeling a spasm of shivers running up his arm as she did so. Her broken heart shattered more as she saw him in this diminished state, and questions began running wildly though her head. Why couldn’t it have been her? Why didn’t she step out and challenge the man, instead of poor Weston?
Now she began to regret coming into the tent. This was not the way I wanted to remember him. No!
she stopped herself. She couldn’t think that way! She was going to see him again and she was going to make sure of it.
“Is there any way?” she asked the doctor in a firm voice.
“There aren’t many cures for nightmares this advanced,” he shook his head, but then stopped himself. “But…”
“But what?” She spun around to face him.
“I shouldn’t tell you-”
“Tell me,” she spoke with fierce determination of the likes she had never before expressed.
“Well,” the doctor looked uncertainly at Miss Deliah. “There’s this legend that tells of a cure.”
Again he paused, and the girl Ranger grew impatient. Why did the grown-ups have to act so ridiculously at times? She could handle whatever he threw at her; she wasn’t a little girl anymore. “Just tell me,” she pressed.
“Darkrai is said to cast those around him into deep and frightening nightmares. He is the personification of the darkness. But, there is another Pokémon who is said to be just the opposite: a representation of light. Apparently, it can bring those trapped in Darkrai’s prison out of their nightmares.”
“What Pokémon is that?”
Emma stood up with her hands closed into tight fists. Her next question rolled off her tongue without giving it too much thought. “Where can I find Cresselia?”
“Find Cresselia?” the doctor sputtered, his eyes growing wide at this ludicrous inquiry. “You don’t actually intend to-”
“She could be anywhere,” Another voice answered for the astounded medic, but it came from no direction in particular. Everyone within that tent, however, knew to turn their heads to the tent’s entrance, for the voice was telepathic. In the burning light of the afternoon sun stood a wizened old Swampert, leaning heavily on a wooden staff. The Mudfish Pokémon’s skin was tinted with gray, and seemed a little more shriveled than the average Swampert, but there was an air of wisdom about the elderly Pokémon that deserved deep respect.
“Sir Meryon,” the doctor immediately bowed, stepping out of the way as he did. From his example, Miss Deliah and Emma dipped their heads as well - since neither one knew how to do a proper curtsy.
The Swampert licked his cracked lips as his pale eyes blinked, though they remained fixed on Emma. “Child, are you willing to travel to the very ends of the earth to save your friend, if needs be?”
Emma became shy at the appearance of a veteran Knight, but her spark of determination still lingered. “I’d do anything, sir.”
Sir Meryon gravely nodded, then hobbled farther into the tent with his staff making a muffled thud
as it hit the grassy ground. He rested a large, flat, and webbed hand on the corner of Weston’s bed to steady himself as he continued, “Cresselia does indeed hold the key to awaken him. But she travels across the world as she pleases, so finding her shall be no easy task. However, the old legends say that she has a nest that she always returns to. Off the northern coast of Sinnoh lies a small island uninhabited by humans. Traditionally, it has been dubbed Full Moon Island, for its round shape. It is there that you should seek out a Lunar Wing.”
“L-lunar wing? What is that?” asked Emma.
Once again the Swampert licked his cracked lips, looking back up at her. “It is a feather that one can only receive from Cresselia herself; a wing that holds her power to dispel nightmares or prevent them. If you have a pure heart and good intentions, then Cresselia will grant you such a precious treasure. Bring it back here, and it shall bring this lad back from the world of woe.”
Emma stood back a moment, taking all of this information. A quest lay before her now, something that both scared and excited her. She had never embarked on something like this on her own, before. Weston was the one who usually pushed her into his little adventures, or else Headquarters gave her a mission. Sinnoh was only a short boat ride away, through the Almnoh Sea to the south. Surely she could manage that much, but truthfully the idea of leaving Almia scared her. She had spent almost all her life here after moving from Johto at a very young age. How could she do this? Nervously, she looked down at her feet, but out of the corner of her eye she saw Weston twitch.
“Emma . . . ,” he mumbled in his sleep, sending shivers running up his friend’s back. She felt her stomach give an uncomfortable turn. He was having a nightmare about her? What was he seeing?
“I’ll do it,” she glanced back up at Sir Meryon, whose wrinkled old face lifted in a smile.
“I have no doubt,” he chuckled.
“But how is she going to get to Sinnoh?” Miss Deliah finally spoke up, causing heads to turn. “All the major ports are blockaded. There’s no way she could catch a boat to Sinnoh.”
“I suggest that she takes a ship from a different port,” he replied, unabashed. “One to the east.”
“The east?” the Ranger Captain looked doubtful. “Where’s there a port in the east? Last I heard, Haruba Village was conquered.”
“I didn’t say it had to be in Almia,” the old Swampert regarded her as-a-matter-of-factly.
Realization suddenly dawned on Miss Deliah, causing the color to drain on her face. “You don’t mean . . . You can’t send her to Orre!”
Emma’s eyes grew wide as she heard the name. She had heard plenty about the neighboring region. All the rumors said that the land was a lawless cesspool of ruffians and thugs, and not too long ago there had been a startling skirmish of uprising and cases of extreme Pokémon abuse. It had to be the last place on this planet that she wanted to go.
“I don’t see why not,” Sir Meryon went on, as casual as he could be. “Gateon Port is a sizable place. I imagine she’ll easily find passage to Sinnoh from there.”
“But Orre’s full of those scoundrels who-”
“Have been taken care of, my dear. It may have taken a while, but Orre’s old wounds are beginning to heal. There’s reason to be cautious, for sure, but it’s not as dangerous as before, madam. And, she won’t be going alone.”
“I won’t, sir?” Emma blinked, confused. She was just beginning to accept the idea of solitude, but just what did this old Knight mean?
“Of course not. I shall send a Knight to accompany you until you find a ship.”
Emma’s shoulders dipped in relief, but she remembered her manners. “Thank you, Sir Meryon.”
The Swampert just stared back, then after a moment of silence he said, “Your heart is strong, young Ranger. There will be great obstacles in this quest of yours, but I know that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. Don’t ever give up, and don’t ever forget who you are.”
After that cryptic message, the venerable old Pokémon turned his bent back away from the Rangers and disappeared into the world of light outside. Emma watched him leave with many unanswered questions swimming through her head. Her heart was strong? That couldn’t be right; she thought that she was the most cowardly of all the Ranger recruits. She nearly failed Ranger School, of all things. Was that just encouraging ramble to help her feel better?
“Who was that, doctor?” she quietly asked the medic, though her eyes never left the tent’s entrance.
“Sir Meryon of the Knight’s grand council, a wise and important Pokémon. But come now. We’d better leave Weston to his slumber. You, young lady, have a quest to prepare for.”
Emma only nodded, her hand absentmindedly rising to the blue stone hanging from her neck.