While they passed the opening from which Zaion and Etire had come, the houndoom was quick to mention the lake, in case either of them needed a drink, so they took a small break to drink before Etire dipped himself in, keen to wash off any blood and cool any burning wound he may have still been suffering. When Maka questioned the lake’s random appearance, Zaion remarked, “I think it travels from some small hole in the wall hidden under the surface or something. One that would be big enough for it to flow through.”
“Well...what if the hole is big enough to fit through?” Etire asked, wading calmly into the water. Splash dipped in and out around him, constantly popping up. “Maybe it’ll take us to where we need to go. I mean, it would have to come from the surface, right?”
Maka and Zaion looked to each other with hardened hesitation. Both glanced distastefully to the water and resisted, each taking a step back or leaning away from it. “I’m...happy to follow in its general direction on land,” the rhyhorn confirmed. “Besides, I’ll sink in water. Many of my kind...have died by falling into lakes and deep rivers.” The others stared at her with relative horror, except Splash, who continued to obliviously dip in and out. “Well...oceans not so much for two reasons; the first being that salt makes us much lighter, not that it prevents us from dropping straight to the floor anyway, and the second that no rhyhorn would want
to live near one. That’s not where these formations generally are.” She angled her head and surveyed the room.
“And I thought I had it bad,” the houndoom remarked, giving a light chuckle that was more nervous than anything else.
“Ah...yes,” the krinar simply responded, then, in the middle of keeping himself afloat, turned around to the pokémon whose attention seemed to be focused completely elsewhere. “I guess he would have told us if there was an underwater path we could follow.” He looked up, catching Zaion’s raised brow and eyes with eyelids halfway down. Etire was unsure what he was making the face for before he shook his head quickly, as if remembering something, and corrected himself. “Well, you know; not told us
‘told us,’ just...told us. With arms. And...grunts.”
“Grunts,” the houndoom repeated with a strong tinge of amusement that was close to mockery.
Etire scoffed and rolled his eyes. “You know what I mean!”
“Uh...I’m not getting any of this,” the rhyhorn interjected, unintentionally excluded.
“He doesn’t talk,” Etire clarified, deciding it was time he emerged. As he began to wave himself towards the edge of the lake, Splash rose from behind him, his large, goofy smile plastered to his wet face.
“Quaaaaag!” he gurgled, flecks of water jumping about at the back of his big mouth.
The rhyhorn cringed with amusement and gave a small chuckle. “I think he’s adorable.”
Etire made a noise of clear disagreement mingled with distaste as he placed his arms carefully on the rocky ground. “Yes, that’s the term the females use.”
“What’s wrong with it?” she asked.
“Nothing,” Etire snorted in amusement, not looking at her as he hauled himself up into a seated position. “It’s just what the females use.”
Zaion chuckled with agreeing amusement as they both looked to one another while Maka stood, a little confused by the whole thing. The rhyhorn only released a sigh.
“So far she hasn’t commanded
us to do anything,” Azure uttered, prowling beside Tarla as she directed one eye to the rhyhorn behind her. She kept her head low and only angled it just so, and knew it wasn’t enough to be seen by her target.
Tarla too turned her head with her elongated neck, proceeding to bend over and ‘preen’ a cloudy feather or two before returning to normal, under the impression that keeping a watchful eye was a wise choice in such a circumstance.
“Is that not fair?” they heard from Thunderquake, who was discussing matters with a few of her fellow rock and ground types. A few from the passage the two had passed through before meeting with the rhyhorn herd’s leader had emerged and pledged their allegiance to the rightful leader, as they referred to her as, while many of them remained behind. Tarla assumed they were either gathering their strength and waiting for a suitable time to attack, or they were simply reluctant to move on when the one they betrayed was so near...as well as some of her followers and, more importantly, an ice type.
Azure had offered to seal the tunnel with ice, but Thunderquake declined her offer for two reasons: one being that she was reluctant to anger the issue even further and demonstrate that she harboured no true dignity, and second that a block or sheet of ice would be useless against their heavy bulks. They would be able to shatter through it with a number of tries, depending on how thick the ice was. Azure was a little sour at the notion that her ice was hardly effective; Tarla understood her frustration as she continually glanced at her crippled wing and sighed, wondering how long it would take to heal. She hoped it was only bruising and a sprain, rather than a snapped bone. Aemara could tell her when they returned, but she resenting having to wait so long.
It wasn’t long before they came upon another wider cavern. It was painfully dark, and the duo, entering first, were required to wait as they stared into the inky depths of the room until details they hadn’t previously been able to detect smudged into existence. It was fairly large and although the ground up ahead was exceptionally dark and there was some eerie chill about the place, the altaria swallowed her apprehension and strode forward, the glaceon tentatively following.
It was only because there was rush of air that shot from the ground and blew back her feathers did the altaria stop, angling her head away as she grimaced in distaste. Azure, barely paying attention, bumped into her from behind and jumped instantly away before she realised it was only Tarla. However, before the glaceon could question her friend’s actions, she paused and blinked several times. In the minimal light, she could make out only ground...which then disappeared.
Curiously she wandered up to the edge, where the ground seemingly disappeared, and rolled her paw pad on the edge. She slipped her paw slowly downwards as she leaned, bending her back legs and applying the most amount of body weight she could on them to ensure that she wouldn’t topple over forward and fall down into what appeared to be some kind of...nothing. The ground had been removed. With a rush of alarm, she realised that it was an absolute drop down to someplace far, far below.
“Tarla...” she began, her voice a little weaker than she hoped for it to be. “Don’t...move...”
A zap of shivers suddenly scaled her back as she ceased all movement but the frantic beating of her heart and her curious eyes, which rolled toward the glaceon, chancing movement with her head to face her. “Wh...why?”
“Put your foot out. But don’t put weight on it,” the smaller of the two commanded, hearing voices from the cavern they had just been.
Extending her leg, the altaria began to stretch out, running her foot along the rough ground before there was something that felt like an edge. She quickly confirmed her assumption that the ground suddenly vanished. “A chasm?”
“One that extends across both sides of the cavern,” the glaceon confirmed, referring to the walls on the left and right. She stared down below, shooting tiny bullets of ice without particular force. They plunged into the darkness and vanished. Not a single sound of shattering managed to reach their ears as they waited in silence before flashing looks of alarm, which were hardly visible in the blackness, to one another. Azure bounded off to her right, travelling alongside the chasm but ensuring she was at least a few paces from it before stopping once the wall came into her face. She turned toward the abyss and, unable to see to the other side of the empty space, squashed her cheek against the cold, stony wall before she fired more ice shards. She watched them travel with the wall for a time before they lost momentum and sunk, also disappearing without a sound to follow.
In her amazement, the altaria hardly realised she was so close as she moved to the edge and peered down, unable to make anything out. Her foot edged closer to the cliff, and she reached down, wondering if there was a ledge just below ground level, but realised she was wrong. In the midst of her awkward position, she suddenly jerked, the pain from her wing pulsing to life as she angled it awkwardly while distracted. The abrupt movement stole her balance and the altaria shrieked as she instantly filled with dread.
Before she panicked, the pokémon broadened her wings and beat the air, sure she could easily overcome any kind of drop before her bad wing cried out with a splitting pain and she roared in agony, realising with horror that it left her to fall. In the split second that she began to fall, her foot about to lose any connection it had with the floor, impossibility flashed through her mind. She was a flying type, and she was condemned to fall to her death. It was both inglorious and frightening, as she knew not how far she would be falling at all. The sense of fear was far greater than anything she had ever felt, terrified she had been denied the precious wings that had always given her security. For a flying type to fall to their death was the most shameful death of all.
Suddenly her foot felt as if it had caught aflame as it halted in place, when her bad wing simultaneously fired up with a painful sensation as it was pulled and tugged, the altaria ready to struggle against whatever caused it. Despite the strength of the pain and the extreme discomfort it caused her, she realised that it had stopped her from falling. She couldn’t move her foot either, and as the searing iciness began to shoot up her leg, she realised that it was, in fact, ice.
“FLAP!” screeched the glaceon, her mouth full with feathers as she applied all her weight to her back legs, leaning back and resisting against Tarla’s mass. In spite of her desperate attempts, she quickly began to slip toward her. It wasn’t enough.
A flock of thoughts soared through the dual type’s mind before she realised her comrade was referring to her good wing, which was under her, and furiously and frantically she began to force the air under it to retreat and return, elevating her as a result. With a burst of a realisation that it was working, she ignored the pain in her wing as best she could, cringing as she worked her wing even harder. Finally she was upright again, but with a feeling of fright, discovered that she couldn’t actually move out of the way of the cliff given that her foot was trapped in ice. Azure still gripping her bad wing, the altaria, although in a blubber of pain and discomfort, bent over and drilled her beak repeatedly, shattering enough ice to slip her foot out from her ankle.
The two flew backwards, tumbling on the floor and halting in a tangled heap. Tarla was more in shock and fear than anything as she and her friend heaved with the effort, and remained there until Azure helped herself up, her breathing steadying again. “I told
you...not to put your weight—”
“That’s not how it happened,” Tarla snapped, and Azure guessed she was more intent on nursing her pride than her wing. She was not to know, however, as the altaria rose and allowed the wing to drape over one side and meet with the floor. After a moment more of silence, she looked to the glaceon. “...Thank you for...saving me.”
Azure looked back, studying the altaria’s face as she detected streams of draining fear. “It’s...fine,” she responded, looking away. Both pokémon laid their eyes on the horror that the absence of light had made all the more dangerous and inhaled deeply. Tarla strongly regretted her foolishness while Azure tried to convince herself that she was not to blame for encouraging the pokémon to do such a thing, but the two did not speak of either matter.
“We’ll have to warn the rhyhorn about this,” Tarla concluded, and the glaceon shook her head, even if in agreement.
“Yeah, but...even if we tell them to steer clear from it...how do we cross it?”
The question repeatedly rang in both pokémon’s minds. There was obvious there was no bridge from their side to the other, and without Tarla’s ability to fly, not even she was capable of crossing. As far as they could tell, the question had no answer.
Through the Eyes of a Flareon has moved to Pokemon Crossroads. It can also be found on ff.net and DeviantART!