After having left the cave the swoobat had so generously offered for her to take refuge in until the snowstorm came to a standstill, which ended up being in the morning, Tarla was considerably saddened. The swoobat was the only friend she had known since the colony’s banishment. Realistically she had only met the flying and psychic type a fraction over an hour after she had been banished, but the isolation that consumed her the moment she dropped from that cliff and flapped her wings furiously as the elder dropped down after her was a sort of proclamation that she was alone. Perhaps for a long time, and maybe for the entirety of what remained of her life.
After being expelled from her home, she felt as if she didn’t deserve to live anywhere else. She had already stained the grounds she had previously lived, so why did she deserve another chance with a separate flock? She knew she could certainly never live with another altaria flock—that much was definite. Yet she still longed for the touch of a caring family, or the closest she would be able to near.
Kori had been both helpful and kind, and the fact that another had shared their home with Tarla gave her an inch more hope. The fact that she was an outcast, as revealed sometime into her stay, had not bothered her new friend at all. If the swablu was entitled to address her as such. She wasn’t sure if she was just in assuming that they shared a friendship, but tried not to ruin the thought with unpleasant questions.
She was sad to leave, but she felt a calling from another direction, on another path. She couldn’t have stayed anyway; that was Kori’s mountain, and it would feel wrong to impede.
“But I’m alone anyway,” she had begged, her wings sagging too much to allow her to remain airborne. Most of the time Tarla had spent with her, she had been on the ground, but had also been suspended with utmost glee; she obviously enjoyed the feeling and cherished her ability as an aerial pokémon.
“I can’t stay here,” Tarla had reiterated, and felt the drop of her own wings as she realised there was no way she could let herself stay. “It’s not just that, it’s...” She had looked up, the pair of flying types perched right before the edge of the cliff, and lay her eyes in the distance. “I’m...too close to my flock. I need to get away from here. I don’t want to live here any longer.”
The swoobat had looked at her with eyes of deepening depression, and one glance turned Tarla’s stomach. She was simultaneously regretful for turning down the offer, but her need for relocation was far greater. She didn’t reveal to the swoobat that she valued her too much, even after only a short time, to see her at risk; if the flock were to find out that she was being sheltered not two hours’ distance from their living grounds, they were entitled to attack. If somebody were to recognise her, she would be in danger of an assault, and anyone with her would probably not escape their notice.
“I’m sorry...I have to go,” the swablu had insisted, hardly able to look her friend in the face. The swoobat, as Tarla had realised, did not understand her want to get away. She didn’t seem to know what it was like to have been banished, and because of that, she didn’t think it made sense that Tarla would escape all reminders of her past in order to move on. It frightened the swablu herself, and if she felt she could stay, that there wasn’t that grief attached to the great mountains and their high altitudes, she would have taken Kori’s offer at first suggestion. She felt somehow selfish for rejecting her offer, especially considering the psychic type was eager to have her friend remain, as she was keen to remain with her.
As her wings broke through the weak streams of wind, the swablu’s mind wandered back to the recent two hours she had spent contemplating this. Her many swirling thoughts told her differing things—some to stay and some convincing her that she had made the right choice. However, she wasn’t entirely sure as she powered on, reluctant to believe that she had no choice in the matter. She could have stayed. She could have remained with this new friend, and an amazing friendship could have blossomed. But she again was not sure... What if she had stayed, only to come to realise that the pokémon was not suitable to live with? She may have eaten completely different things and made her uncomfortable. Perhaps they had separate resting habits, and would disturb the other or not even be in the cave at the same times. Or perhaps she could have gotten caught in a blizzard on her way back to the cave sometime, unable to free herself from the wind’s cruel grasp.
‘This is ridiculous,’
she told herself bitterly, closing her eyes as a gust of wind blew freezing air into her face. ‘I’ve only known her for a single night.’
The straining effort her mind went to did not fit the friendship they held. She thought it could have been that she was grateful for the hospitality; after all, without Kori she would have frozen in the cold or been eaten by whatever else could have lived in that cave had it not been home to her.
Attempting to clear her mind of all thought relating to the issue, she continued on after having to decrease the distance she had wedged between her and the ground. The frigid air stung her body and she found it difficult to move her wings as frequently as she needed. For yet another half hour she ploughed on, dodging leaves and branches of trees welcoming her position change.
She came close to plunging into the ground in a number of occasions, but each time managed to right herself to avoid the collision. For a time she flew aimlessly, regretting her decision to part with Kori and her home. She wasn’t sure
what the right thing to do was, honestly. She did the thing she thought resembled right the most, and even if that was difficult, it was all she could do.
She hardly saw any pokémon at all. There were few scattering the mountain she had lived at; mostly ice types dwelled there, and very occasionally she would see other flying types soar past. She recalled a few times that she had spotted one, felt excitement brew in her mind, and had taken off to meet with them. Often they were not in the mood for conversation, as they were either lost or agitated by the frigid air. Tarla could never quite understand how others could not stand the cold, as she was so used to it. She had never seen a desert, but from what she had heard of it, it seemed completely the opposite of snowy mountains. She could not imagine living there. She wondered if any pokémon could.
The swablu made her way wearily on, resting for a few hours in a snow-laden tree before fluttering away to resume her search for permanent residency. She was rather devoid of intention, and she knew that as she worked her wings without the need to register the strokes; flying came naturally and therefore she was able to focus the thoughts in her mind on something else. That channel always led her mind to a certain single thought: she did not know where she was headed. She had no idea how she was going to survive, either, after living her entire life with a flock and having others to rely on. But she had been exiled from that flock. She had become a loner, an outcast.
She had no home.
Embracing the thought with little more than a fleck of acknowledgement, she squeezed out a few tears; they worked their way off her face in response to the wind’s demands and some of them soaking into her wings.
Avoiding a russet trunk suddenly upon her after she emerged from a tree sprouting many leaves, she gave a cheep of surprise, pulling up to slant herself away. When she realised she would have to soar through the spiny bare branches, she bound her eyes, encountering surprise each time one of the sticks scratched her flesh. None dealt recognisable damage, thankfully, and as she was freed from the tangled limbs, she felt several agitations about her body, but nothing that caused her to bleed or scar.
“Stuff this,” she grumbled, powering her wings to lift herself further up. “I’m taking to higher skies.”
It wasn’t long until she desired another rest, partly because she was the tiniest bit paranoid that the sticks had cut her in places that were numbed by the cold, and therefore unrecognisable unless inspected closely. She could see that the snowy regions began to meld with regular land on her left; she had been able to see this for hours now, but had purposely stuck to the mountains. Although she did not exactly plan to stay within their masses, she was hesitant to part with them. She felt that separating herself from all she had ever known was a symbol of some finality to end this whole situation—she would be cursed with the burden of exile, forever to live with the shame she brought her flock in order for the banishment to take place.
Veering off to the right, or south as she knew, away from the land and toward the ocean that stretched to one side of the vast strip of mountains, she hardly noticed as a metallic ring filled the air. The screeching of steel caught her attention after a few moments of consideration. She recognised the consistent beats as wing movements, and blinked in succession.
A forceful current of wind picked her up, tumbling her aside and rendering her wings completely useless in the spiral of its force. She struggled to maintain any sort of balance until a number of frightening seconds after, and once upright, she turned to the source of the attack. A great steel bird – at least, she thought that’s what it must have been – hovered but a few metres away, its eyes fierce and beak nipping at the air.
“Stop! I didn’t do anything!” Tarla protested as the pokémon sped toward her, faster than any speed she was capable of matching.
The bird pokémon only screeched in return, driving a wing directly into her cheek and causing her to falter. The blow was surprisingly painful, and the full extent of the pain alerted her as she felt it pulse a few moments after being clobbered.
“I said...stop!” she cried, breathing unevenly to summon a burning collection of flames in her small body. They erupted from her beak, consuming the metal creature. It made no noise as it remained, cringing while still able to effortlessly flap its wings.
Tarla nearly celebrated at the attack’s success before the dragonbreath subsided, fading into nothing, and creature before her revealed its eyes as if it had suffered no type of injury. It displayed only demeaning contempt as it glared back at her, and suddenly she knew she was about to be punished.
“Come on, Tarla!”
From an unrestful sleep the altaria stirred, the world around her fuzzy as she shook her head, frowning to gaze over her branch and spot a small collection of pokémon. The krinar, Etire, was waving his arm, using the other hand to cup beside his mouth for projection. Rentana paused to wait while Derino powered heedlessly along.
She grumbled a response and proceeded to stretch. As her neck curled, she remembered the permanent ‘gift’ of a scar granted by that skarmory. She had never discovered what that creature’s excuse was for its vicious attack, but frankly she no longer cared. All she knew was that she was thankful it happened.