Chapter 4: Campfires and Bird Dreams
That night, we camped by the road.
It was a simple arrangement we made: Blake would get together firewood, Ponyta would light the fire, Pichu would get he and Ponyta berries (we had no Pokémon food – great foresight, Chris!) and I would set up the tent.
Naturally I get the hard job.
You see, this tent. It was old. It had been a hand-me-down when Blake’s dad was a kid. I’m not trying to say Blake’s dad is decrepit or anything, but tents are not made to survive for that long. The instructions were gone, there was a Dustox-eaten hole in the fabric, and it stank.
“Remind me to beat some newbie Trainers,” I complained as I tried to put the rickety thing together, “so I can get some money for a tent fund.”
“It’s that bad?” asked Blake, glancing over. He was making a fire pit, arranging random rocks into a neat, orderly circle.
“Not really,” I admitted. “It’s just that tents aren’t made to last more than a generation, I think. Is this piece supposed to attach here?”
Blake frowned at the shape I had made. “Yeah, I think so. And then this end goes in the ground, and then this end goes into the crosspiece, and… You wanna trade jobs?”
I nodded, relieved. “Yeah, thanks.”
He smiled. “No problem. I know this tent like the back of my hand anyway; may as well put it up.”
So, naturally, Blake
gets the hard job.
Or the easy one, depending on which way you slice it, but that was neither here nor there.
About ten minutes later, Blake, Pichu, Ponyta, and I were gathered around a small campfire with sandwiches and all the berries we could eat. I sat on a big rock with a delicious roast Miltank-beef (NOT the kind of Miltank that people battle with, train, and befriend; a Savage strain, that are like true animals) and cheese sandwich in my hands and a fuzzy lump of electric rodent on my shoulder. Blake sat cross-legged on his Typhlosion-print blanket, happily munching away at a peanut-butter-nanab sandwich. Ponyta munched grass – she hadn’t been interested in the berries.
“Mmmm,” I uttered, sinking my teeth into beef on cheddar on bread. “I guess I sure know how to make a sandwich, eh?”
Blake nodded. “Peanut-butter-nanab just isn’t toppable,” he said with feeling.
I scrunched up my nose. “Is toppable
even a word?”
“Pichu pi pichu pi pichu,” Pichu suggested, mouth full. Suspicious-looking globs of blue liquid splattered on my sleeve.
“Ponyta ta, ta pony pony-ta,” Ponyta added.
“Pokémon-speak dictionary, please?” Blake asked. “You two make my brain hurt.” Ponyta grinned smugly.
“If only one of us had psychic powers,” I sighed melodramatically. “Then we could understand every word that issued forth from the lips of our precious partners
“Or we could have psychic Pokémon,” said Blake.
. He ruined my moment!
“And where do you get those?” I asked. “Psychic Pokémon aren’t exactly the most common things in the universe.”
“I hear there are some around Purruin,” said Blake.
“Yeah, and that’s the seventh gym
town,” I pointed out, scrunching my nose. “It’ll take us Slowpokes forever
to get there.”
We were silent for a few minutes, until an eerie call split the night: “Ho-whoo! Hoo-whoo!” the ethereal calls of Noctowls and Hoothoots rang out. The howl of a Mightyena pack answered.
I shivered in the cool air. I felt like she could almost understand the messages of the callers. Noctowl cried to the Hoothoots: “Follow me! Prey here!” the Mightyena sang to the heavens: “We are strong! I dare the world to challenge us!”
I shook my head. Apparently, I was very tired.
“Pi pi, pichu chu’pi pi’chu chu pi-chu,” Pichu muttered distastefully, shivering and huddling against my side. Doubtless he didn’t like the songs of predators that hunted his small, fuzzy kind. Ponyta grinned smugly. “Pony ta pony ponyta ta ta – ta’pony ponyta ta,” she said insidiously, and Pichu leaped up on my shoulder. “Pichu chu pichu chu pi’chu chu pi!” he hollered indignantly.
“That’s enough, you two,” Blake sighed. “Ponyta, stop taking shots at Pichu. You’ve been nothing but a big grump all day.”
Ponyta made a face. She folded her knees and lay her head on her strong legs. “Pony-ta – ta pony pony-ta
,” she mumbled, her peat-colored eyes closing. Her flames flickered down and the rhythm of her breathing changed, relaxing and slowing.
I looked away from the impertinent fire horse and watched their bonfire, the flames twisting into the sky like claws. Little embers rose like Volbeat, only to blink out seconds later and leaving the unfading glory of the stars above.
“Can you see Drakilunas?” I murmured as I looked at the glimmering stars.
Blake wrinkled his nose. “Don’t tell me you believe in all those myths and junk. All I see are shiny white dots.”
I glared at him. “I suppose you’ll claim not to believe in Rayquaza or Meloetta next,” I sniped. “The Drakis are as real as any other Legendaries.”
“Whatever.” Blake shrugged.
I looked up at the sky again. I quickly found the pole star – the tip of Drakilunas’ horn that guided travelers in the night. I followed a loose pattern down that formed a neat head, a long, snake-like body, short limbs, and a tail-tip with a sort of crescent-shaped horn fitted on the end. The constellation, on the winter solstice, aligned perfectly with the moon so that the lunar rock formed the tail-tip. When the moon was a crescent, the traditional shape of Drakilunas’ tail, it was thought to mean good luck. It was rare to see, though.
“I think I’m going to follow Ponyta’s example,” I declared with a loud yawn. “I feel like I’ve been staring at a Stantler’s antlers.”
Blake nodded drowsily. “Same here. Wanna curl up in the tent?”
That sounded wrong, but I let it pass. “Sure. Pichu, you coming? And Ponyta – if you can turn off your flames?”
Pichu nodded eagerly and shivered in the cold, but Tess just shook her head.
“Okay,” said Blake. He ambled off and, after curbing the fire, I followed.
I blinked. Who on earth was Aevohs? I opened my eyes to see that I was lying behind a stalagmite, in a cave lit by blue crystals. The stone beneath me was cool, smooth, and pale, like marble. I peeked out from behind the fang of rock to see a Lugia, hunched over with ragged feathers, standing on a sort of dais at the far end of the cave, with runes etched into the stone, runes that glowed teal and cast a weird light on the bird’s feathers. He looked ancient and proud despite his disheveled condition; a circlet of silver rested on his head. His tail, curiously enough, was coated with multicolored prongs – eight on either side, with a bland grey one at the tip of his tail. The Legendary looked up sharply, his eyes – a stormy silver – shining as though he’d been weeping.
“Boneclaw,” he sighed, as another seventeen-foot bird walked in. This one looked like bad news, covered with battle scars. His left crest had been ripped in pieces; the same eye was murky and blind. Three more of the noble birds followed, smiling deviously.
I gasped. It was a whole clan
of Lugias (Lugi-i?)! I tried to hide myself farther behind my stalagmite, but when I looked at my hands I realized that they were barely visible, semi-transparent and shimmering. At that point I decided I was probably dreaming. Bad… er, sandwich.
“What do you want with me?” the old Lugia demanded, spreading wide his wings. He had more scars than even ‘Boneclaw’. “Can you not see, Boneclaw, that I am grieving? Or has your right eye become as blind as your left?”
“You daft old fool,” Boneclaw sniffed, “my sight is as fine as ever. However, yours
must not be if you did not see this coming.”
Aevohs looked at Boneclaw’s three followers. All of them looked at their leader expectantly.
“Have you no honor, Boneclaw?” Aevohs’ voice came in a deep, sad whisper. “Have you no shame
? My son is vanished, Boneclaw – vanished
! He was captured by those… beasts
from the Eos region? And I have the ridiculous rampage of Giratina’s Guard in Tamun – HAVE YOU NOT HONOR ENOUGH TO LET ME BE??” the whole cave was shaking be the time Aevohs finished.
“You have ruled for long enough!” Boneclaw snarled. “The line of the first Bird has become weak indeed – if the King’s very son is kidnapped, why, how can you care for the entire world, Aevohs? The Birds need a new King! I am
that King! DUEL ME!”
I covered my ears. These were some loud
“FINE!” Aevohs leaped off his dais, mouth wide open. An orange sphere glowed in his wide red maw. He landed on Boneclaw with raking talons; the latter let out a shrill of surprise. Then Boneclaw let out another ear-piercing howl as a massive blast of orange energy shot from Aevohs’ open beak. It was so large, powerful, and loud that it seemed to shake the world. Mixed in with the dazzling orange, I gleaned all the colors on Aevohs’ tail.
I was sure that the massive amounts of energy would have certainly killed any non-Legendary Pokémon, but when the smoke cleared, Boneclaw was still very much alive – he was also very angry. He screeched, and it wasn’t just an audible
screech. I could feel a scream tearing through my mind, lancing through my thoughts like a Zangoose’s claw. I rocked back and forth and moaned in pain. A veil of crimson covered my eyesight Once the pain subsided and the red haze faded, I could see Aevohs looking in my direction, gaping.
“TAKE HIM!” Boneclaw bellowed, and all three of his groupies converged on Aevohs. As I watched, they pinned the king down – Boneclaw slipping out from under Aevohs’ talons and gleefully joining in – and destroyed him. They slashed him with beak and talon and tail, battered his strong body with their wings, and released Aeroblasts and Hydro Pumps into his face. Within moments Aevohs did not have the strength to resist, and so he lay motionless, his grey eyes glazed as he endured the punishment his kin dealt. Tears filled my eyes as I watched. I wanted to turn away, but I was held in place by my horror.
How could anyone do this?
After a few minutes, the Lugias stepped back from Aevohs by an unspoken signal. Boneclaw reached down with his beak, plucked the silver circlet from Aevohs’ head, and held it towards one of his fellows. The other Lugia placed the crown upon his brow.
Boneclaw smiled coldly, then cried, “Come! We must tell the clan this joyous news.” He paused theatrically, then called out, “I, Boneclaw, am now King over all the Pokémon! No more weak Kings!”
“No more weak Kings!” the others called. My vision turned fuzzy, then faded to black. When it came back, I was alone with Aevohs, who lay bleeding with closed eyes and heaving flanks. I stood up stiffly, uncurling from my protective ball, and walked over to Aevohs, crying. I placed my hand on his head, kneeling, without knowing why. All awe and fear were gone in a wave of compassion and pity.
Suddenly, after a moment, the great bird’s eyes opened, as clear and sharp as ever. Like a whisper of my own thoughts, a voice murmured in my head. It was deep and ancient and powerful, underlain by a subtle melody of music that no instrument could imitate that bespoke a life that stretched over eons, full of hope and responsibility and tragedy and triumph.
It was the voice of Aevohs, I realized, as it was meant to sound.
said the voice, 'you have the eyes of my son… What is your name, child? His gaze was gentle and warm.'
I knew I could confide in him, even if I didn’t understand what he was talking about it.
“My name’s Crystal Arvada,” I told him, then added, “but my friends call me Chrissie… sir.” I had no clue what to call him – and no title at all wouldn’t have sufficed.
Despite his physical state, amusement touched his features, lifting the corner of his beak. 'You have no need to use formalities on an overthrown King, Crystal Arvada… Chrissie.'
My face fell. Finally I got up the nerve to ask, “Why did they attack you? Boneclaw and his friends?”
I felt a wave of sorrow that didn’t come from me. 'First of all, Chrissie, when you speak with a Lugia, we like it when telepathy is used. Think and I will hear. Secondly… Boneclaw believes I was – and am – weak. My son… vanished a day ago, and Boneclaw seized my subsequent grief and isolation to overthrow me, which he has been wanting to do for a while.'
There was a pause, then, 'Listen, child. I am no longer the King of the Pokémon. Do you know what the King of Pokémon started as?'
I thought about my knowledge of Pokémon lore. “When -” I began, then stopped myself and thought. 'When Arceus made the world, he made some Legends solitary – Mew, Dialga, Regigigas – and some a species – Raikou, Moltres, Latias – and Lugias were the least populated. The species had an argument about who should rule over the Pokémon, until the solitary Legends – furious that they be left out- tried to kill all of them. But the first Lugia King – the Greatest Bird, Ga’ivayen – had been granted seventeen spikes for his tail, to represent the seventeen Pokémon types. So… Uxie interpreted that as a sign from Arceus. And the Lugias have ruled ever since.'
Aevohs looked satisfied. 'Aye,'
he replied, 'and we have begun to do less and less. The Birds’ greatest treasure, the Silver Wing, was lost ages ago – a feather from Ga’ivayen himself. Since then, the magic and power in the blood of his line has decreased and so our importance. But now, Team Darkstar in your home Region is plotting something that will destroy the world if it is left unchecked. And we need to make a comeback. We cannot do this without the Silver Wing. I am not strong enough to get it here, but…'
Suddenly there was a flash, and I saw myself standing on a beach. In front of me was sand and then open ocean. And on the fine-ground pebbles lay a dazzling feather the color of a Lugia’s. It was bigger than normal and seemed to hum with power.
'You will come across it soon,'
Aevohs told me as the white cave melted back into focus, 'and I warn you, you will need to be brave. You and your Pichu will have to stand up to a test – you will have to fight for the Silver Wing.'
'Why would I want the Silver Wing?'
I asked, before I could realize how impertinent and rude I sounded. However, the only sign Aevohs gave of annoyance was an aggravated blink.
'The Silver Wing will mark you,'
he said, 'so that the messenger I send can know you, and aid you. And also because the Lugia Clan needs the power of it to help you fight Team Darkstar.'
'I don’t want to fight anyone!'
I protested. How could he just expect a teenage girl to go fight a massive criminal gang?
'You have to,'
Aevohs warned me. 'You are the only one who can. You have a gift that sets you apart.'
I asked. Privately I thought, I wonder if it’s sarcasm…
Aevohs’ words echoed, as if from far away, 'that only appears when a human must unite with Pokémon, and any less will seal the doom of the world.
You, Crystal Arvada, have the Heart of a Lugia.'
And Aevohs’ wise, noble face faded into blackness.
“I believe in you, Chris.” Blake’s voice was grave, as if sealing a pact.
“Well, duh, I like banana milkshakes!” said a voice suspiciously like Pichu’s.
“Nice moves, Chrissie!” a cheerful call – an unfamiliar girl’s voice.
“You don’t know what you’re getting into, girl.” The man’s voice was deathly quiet, a cold whisper.
a thought echoed in my head: a voice similar to Aevohs’. 'It’s the only way to survive.'
And after that, guess what.
I woke up.