Chapter Nineteen: Tasting the New Life
Sorry, for some reason it showed up really craply. =/ But I'll colour it and then reupload it. c:
Zhol grimaced as the first numel thudded against the ground, the ears of his so close together twitching. She held her left arm with her right set of claws, letting a breath seep in and back out again through her small nose. As inclined as she felt to assist her scyther acquaintance, she knew was simply too weak. That rock slide had really taken its toll on her, especially when she had slammed into the ground without being able to cushion herself in any way. Normally she wouldn’t be so drained after one hit, but reasoning with herself, she realised she didn’t often deal with rocks and had not many defences against them. She was just glad she’d arrived in time to free Dusty.
Dusty. She’d sped off into the trees which would surely decrease in number as the rocky plains drew nearer, and those two sandslash had been closely following. She knew they were strong, but Dusty was too. But judging by the wounds she had, Zhol was surprised the flareon was able to keep going when she wasn’t. She appeared just as beaten, if not more, and the sneasel never thought she was more experienced in battle than her. Maybe they were equal, but being a hunter, surely Zhol was higher skilled.
Her mind derailed as she laid eyes on a wave of fire circling away from the numb pokémon as Shard dashed backwards and to Zhol’s right as she watched with angered eyes. She tensed her arm muscles, attempting to regain some kind of strength, and stumbled towards them. She was confronted by the sandshrew as he emerged from the soil, striking her in the chin. She toppled over, her face beginning to pulse with beats of pain. In no time the ground type was back over her, straightening his amateur claws and raking her belly. In a fury Zhol swatted her right chunky paw above her chest and into the pokémon’s jaw, scraping as it fell from his face.
The sandshrew squealed, and the ice and dark type took advantage of the speed she always carried, using quick attack to stand and sprint past him, feeling his body land flat against the ground as she stretched out her arm on the way past. Her legs ached and her knee almost failed as she came closer to the numel, temporarily disappearing with the shadows and showing herself again sometime soon, shoving a blunt side of her claws into the fire type’s face just as he released a small shower of flames. The embers plummeted into her left foot, and she cried out, shaking it as the fire remained lodged on her skin.
As a result of the knock to the face Zhol had given, the numel’s neck swung and he came straight back with a headbutt, shoving the dual type’s paw out of range. As she was distracted and had to lean down to brush the embers aside, he reared back and slammed down again, the ground nearby shaking violently and creating splits which dislodged Zhol’s same foot. It slipped and she scraped her ankle as a sharp rock gashed its top, the rest of her body following and connecting with the ground as it failed to cease its trembling. The rocky ground continued to shift back into place, and she screamed, feeling a horrible pain as a bone or two in her foot crunched and begged her to leave them be.
Shard had no trouble as he hovered above the unstable ground, but he seemed to be otherwise immobile. Zhol, through generating tears and increased desperation, figured that something was getting the better of him. Either that or he simply and plainly refused to help, which was definitely not a suitable option for her, and did not seem like him at all.
The numel turned to the avoidant scyther and felt the hot magma inside his hump fizz and bubble before he unleashed another inferno, and it washed toward his enemies as Zhol’s eyes grew as large as oran berries. Shard gaped and began to flee, but as he laid eyes on Zhol, he sparked a fight with himself.
He couldn’t just leave her there. He was a protector; a warrior. He was not prey; he was a predator. He glanced down his left side, arguing internally. But as he remembered his duty as a scyther – and more importantly, as a friend
– he landed and sped to Zhol’s frail frame just in time for the fire attack to hit. The scyther screamed, acting as a barrier before Zhol, and her eyes were wary and wide. She waited only a pawful of seconds before he released another cry as a second attack was launched, bending over and using his scythes to support what his legs couldn’t. He met eyes with the sneasel, and they had but a moment before he swung around with rage and swiped at the dual type behind him. The numel was beyond his reach, but there was no need for closer ranges as a blade of air sliced through the space between them, knocking the numel paces back. He pressed on his right scythe to prop himself back onto his feet, and he turned, facing the foe.
Zhol breathed a small gasp as she took in the scorch marks the lava plume caused, and focused back on her foot with an effort to free it as she tugged. It remained lodged between the halves of earth, creating an enormous inconvenience for her...especially as she captured the moving image of a sandshrew plodding in her direction, and suddenly curled up and quickened his pace—or roll.
She bit down and cried out, trying harder to wedge her foot from the trap, but it would not budge and it was simply too painful to yank at. Shard was busy dodging attacks and issuing ones of his own to notice, and Zhol could only fire shards of ice—which rebounded off the ground type because of his rapid movement. She had no idea what to do as he neared, and her leg screamed in pain as she tried once more to free it.
She was mentally and physically stuck.
The dark and fire type continued rumbling, and as one of the sandslash made her move, he leapt, clearing me completely. I felt a wave of relief as I realised he must have made a tragic miscalculation and jumped over his target entirely, leaving me with the perfect opportunity to escape the way he came. My muscles jerked, my mind settled, and...I stopped myself.
The houndoom had came down onto Angry Sandslash, and while she was busy being stood on, he shot a trail of brightly burning fire at Sandslash One. She held her claws up, hissing as the flames worked around her, and I was taken by utter surprise. Why
was he attacking them and not me? Pushing aside the possibility that he could have been mixed up, I realised...he must not be the typical enemy I imagined him to be. He was not only helping me, but on my side!
He pushed off Angry Sandslash and moved back a number of paces, only a few metres from me. I turned to him, but before I could ask anything, Angry Sandslash propelled herself forwards and slammed into the houndoom’s body.
I gasped, racing sidewards and tackling her with immediate regret; the pain in my shoulders intensified, and I hardly knew what I was doing as I realised I was throwing myself in harm’s way for a pokémon I didn’t know. We were thrown across the soil while the houndoom shook himself off and targeted Sandslash One. Instantly I scuttled away from Angry Sandslash, almost earning myself another scratch, and stood back to view the scene.
The houndoom fooled his opponent, leaped over her head, and landed behind her before blowing a powerful mouthful of fire onto her spines. She shrieked, darting from the flames, and the dark and fire type whirled around to repeat his action on Angry Sandslash, who was about to attack me. The sandshrew evolution squealed as well and wrapped herself in her spikes, becoming that large, spiky ball again.
I eyed the newest edition to the fight. My suspicion was rising. “What’s with the saviour act?”
The houndoom stopped before me and lowered his eyelids, his mouth flickering into a sly smile. “I’d love for you to stay and chat, but you better get out of here.”
My head withdrew, and I blinked numerously. Had he just told me to leave? “Wh...”
“Just look at you,” he began, scoffing and running his eyes across just about every hair on my body. For some reason I suspected he was only making excuses to check me out.
“What?” I growled in return.
in any condition to fight,” he pressed, glancing over his shoulder as Angry Sandslash uncurled and plodded to her companion. He looked back at me as I opened my mouth. “They’re not gonna stop now, so go. I’ll take care of them.”
I fumbled with my letters, dropping them and feeling them roll clumsily around my tongue until they formed real words. “What’s in it for you?!”
He snorted amusedly, flicking his long, thin tail. “Impressing a female,” he replied, and whipped around to face Sandslash One as she ran at him. He lowered his head and crashed into her front, and the ground type managed to stand her ground as she blocked his horns with her palms. “Go!” he shouted, his voice strained under pressure.
I barely debated with myself as I gave a heavy sigh and spun around, making for the bushes next to the stone. Once I cleared them, I halted and turned back. The male dual type slipped from the sandslash’s embrace as her inadequate claws failed to attain proper grip, and darted between the trees that led to the barren land beyond. The two enraged pokémon followed, and I watched as they disappeared in the complete opposite direction to me. Huffing, I turned and ran without another thought, leaving them all behind.
After a tussle with that spearow who attacked me earlier, I accidentally killed it and it landed in a pile of crap. I felt kinda bad...but at least I finally managed to catch something. Although when I finally did, what were the chances of it becoming inedible? Sure, everything on the inside might taste okay...but I had suddenly lost my appetite when it plummeted into that cursed crap heap. “Stupid wild pokémon...” I muttered, padding to the fallen flying type. I slipped its tail feathers between my toes and dragged it from its place, scowling and knowing I wouldn’t let myself even taste it. “I’m a freakin’ trainer pokémon! I can’t eat this!”
Thinking I may be able to clean it, I carefully chose a place to stick my fangs in. I carried it through the bracken and emerged before a reasonably sturdy scyther and a panting sneasel. Shard was on the rock level above, where we’d been prior to the fight. He didn’t notice me as I showed myself, but Zhol, on the other hand, saw me immediately and radiated a relieved expression. She was leaning against a boulder implanted into the ground, and one eye was closed with what I assumed was pain. I was surprised and less than happy to see her like this, and walked over to her weakening frame, dropping the spearow.
“You’re...back,” she heaved wearily. “Did you...lose those sandslash?”
“Oh, Zhol...” I murmured, ensuring she was propped up. “We need to get back to the colony...”
She cringed, and I couldn’t help but do the same at the sight of her. “Are they...gone?”
“Crap... What happened to your foot?” I asked with worry, taking in its crumpled and deformed appearance. There was a notable gash along the start of her claws on the top of her foot, and she was not using it for support. “It looks—”
“Dusty,” she stated firmly, her eyes narrowing as her breathing showing as laboured. I was slightly startled by the tone in her voice as she swallowed her anger. “Where...are the sandslash
“Oh,” I started, agitation sparking, “them. Some houndoom showed up and stole them.” I kicked dirt over the spearow with a front paw, and Zhol seemed to notice, a tad confused.
Our conversation was tucked away for us to retrieve later as Shard landed with a thump beside us. He held a very mangled pair of buneary between his jaws; one was missing an ear. With disappointment trickling from his face, he set them down and grimaced. The skin above my eyes folded in as I groaned, annoyed to have lost dinner to a bunch of rocks...not that there was much meat between them anyway. I was sure Shard felt the same way until he turned to wipe his scythe against a rock, and a scraping noise wavered to my ears. I noticed the long stream of singed armour along his back, and that seemed to be what he was making the uncomfortable faces at.
“Shard, you...your back,” I stuttered, and he met my eyes as his body faced me again.
He flung his eyes over his shoulder, running them down. “...I’m fine,” he insisted, but I shook my head.
“I don’t think so. You sure don’t look it...” I then laid eyes on Zhol. “Neither do you.”
The sneasel’s lips curled. “You aren’t exactly in pristine condition yourself,” she remarked sharply, and I took a step back.
“I’m just sayin’!” I responded, wondering why she got so defensive. “How ‘bout that river you went to check out?” I asked her, addressing the scyther at the same time. “We could go get cleaned up before heading back.”
The pokémon both agreed, and we made our ways to the rushing water past the rock wall with many levels, and where the forest began growing again. I neared the water’s edge and immediately felt like spitting into it, and I barely bothered to clean myself. I just splashed the liquid along my right side were the wounds from shards that had stuck into me at one point were, and I had to dunk my face in to clear the skin of stones and grit (leaving my tuft soggy and dripping wet).
Zhol sat on the bank and applied the water with care, washing away any blood or muck that may have been caking her fur. Shard stood in the centre, too strong and hardy to be taken by the current, and at times he lay down and held himself still to cool the burns on his back. After I was done with myself, I dipped my catch into the river and scrubbed it against a rock—which helped clean the excrement off, but coated it in moss and grime.
We stayed for nearly ten minutes before picking ourselves up and trudging back to the colony, using a shortcut behind the giant rock wall and eventually overtaking it once it levelled out. At one point I offered the bird pokémon to Shard, who accepted my gift and tore at it once we stopped for a single rest. He shared some with Zhol, and when I was offered some, I declined without a second thought. I thought he’d be able to smell the unpleasant odour, but apparently the water had washed it away.
“Why didn’t you want it? It was your catch, after all,” Shard had asked/mentioned, and I had given a sheepish smile.
“I...uh...dropped it in the river, and it...got...slimy?”
He’d been satisfied with that and we’d continued on, eventually arriving at our destination. By the time we waddled in through the east entrance, we were all about ready to collapse. We conveniently had another run-in with some wild ambipom and they’d somehow swiped me, placing me on a branch for their own amusement, and watched me teeter and topple from the unstable place. And it’s not like Shard could have caught me—unless I wanted a change from four to two legs.
The scyther had at least flurried to the treetops and pursued the annoying two purple jesters, but they’d given him quite a challenge as they weaved between branches and played tricks on him. I thought it’d never end until I threatened to burn their homes down, and proved I wasn’t bluffing by setting a tree on fire. They panicked and ran off, but clearly they didn’t know that a fire pokémon’s flames burn out quite easily. They began to smoulder, but to be sure Zhol cooled and muffled them with one of her ice moves. After that experience I’d be happy not to hunt for at least a week.
“...Am I better yet?” I questioned, and the floating dual type glanced at me once more, nearing my body. She inspected my covered wounds and asked me to stand up. I did, and she got me to lift my paws and jog on the spot. My bones ached, but weren’t too bad. I assumed they were freezing up, being in this joint, and I was afraid that if I tried to blow any fire, it’d disintegrate and fail to do anything but look pretty. Therefore I deemed getting up and doing chores as more desirable than staying in this...oddly clean, medicine-scented place. Though I was secretly relieved to have my wounds treated, my face buzzed and the many rock shard-inflicted wounds thudded as ice melted inside them. That was apparently the froslass’ way of treating exposed sores, and needless to say, if she was a flareon, she’d use anything but water based medicine.
She’d also smeared my face and every other open wound with a type of oil that she obtained by crushing and mashing leaves from a certain tree, and although I was told it would help disinfect them, it stung! On top of that, I was practically sealed off from the others; there were removable panels between us on either side, and I was in an end cell.
“You seem fully functional,” she replied softly, “and you won’t need any more bandages unless you really want them.”
“Yippee!” I cheered, inspecting the one piece of white material hugging my right front leg. I glanced to my right after exiting my cubicle, spying a dark figure lying inert, her belly rising and falling faintly. “Is she...okay?” I wondered, my concern getting the better of me. A wave of dread washed over me as I recalled my friend’s state before we arrived. “Her wounds weren’t...fatal or anything, were they?”
The froslass – Aemara – looked shocked. “N-not at all,” she quickly responded, and I sighed, feeling considerably thankful. “However,” she started, and I jerked my head to her immediately. She looked lost for the correct words. “She will not be out for a few more hours.”
I nodded after feeling my shoulders drop and I popped my head around to see Shard sitting on a hay-covered bench in the section next to Zhol, his legs hanging over the side. He looked up. “And him?”
“Shardclaw will be fine,” she told me, a weak smile brushing her face.
“Looks like getting to that river was a good idea,” he admitted, giving me a graced nod.
“Y-yes, indeed.” The froslass set down the object she’d been holding. “The cold slows the wound’s developing process.”
“Oh...and that’s why your clinic is all...icy and freezing?” I questioned, not thinking of that till now. She nodded happily, and I copied her motion. “Anyway...can I go now?”
“Yes, you may go,” she affirmed, and I was more than happy to begin my walk towards the exit. Thankfully the clinic had its own entrance (or exit, in my case) so I wasn’t forced to cross her adjoined living area to escape. I came to a halt before entering the sunnier realm, and threw my head over my shoulders. From the angle I was at, only Zhol’s feet and some of her arms and head could be seen. I felt my eyebrows fall. ‘Sheesh... That left foot looks terrible... I really hope her injuries aren’t too bad...’
After wandering the premises for something to do and coming across Mynk, I strode to Habib’s home by her recommendation. Only the slowqueen was home, and I sighed, wondering what she would issue me to do next. “Excuse me,” I began after poking my head in. “I need something to do.”
She pulled away from her bench, which Larse was on the other side of, and stated, “Oh! Hello, there. Would you like to come in?”
I wondered myself if I wanted to. “...Nah, I’m good here.” I was about to repeat myself as she seemed to realise why I was there.
“Oh, the hunting trip... How unfortunate.” She looked as if she was searching her mind when Mynk appeared beside me.
“Oh, hey again.”
“Hi, Dusty.” She turned to Ikari. “We will set out immediately.”
“W...where are you going?” I wondered, hoping not to be left alone.
Continued in next post...