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Stories Write a story to catch Pokemon. A Grader will then decide if it catches or not.


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Old 05-11-2009, 04:46 AM
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Default My (Not So) Happy Ending

Ready to grade! ^^

Gee, I think I started this story in January. I worked on this on and off until it somehow morphed into this. I think this is one of my favorite stories I've written so far, so I hope ya'll enjoy it, too. ^^

Note: Yes, I did get most of these names from "Les Miserables." That book is just so epic, especially the Friends of the ABC. <3

_____

My (Not So) Happy Ending


It seemed I could never get a break. Lesson after lesson, tutor after tutor, it was enough to drive anyone insane. Of course, I was Fabian Canet Adjanim, so instead of whining like some commoner in the company of those second-rate tutors, I merely twirled the eagle quill in my fair hand and looked around the room. The wallpaper was the same mahogany shade as the plush, Persian carpet at my feet, but it was impossible to tell behind all the bookshelves and paintings of my ancestors. My eyes wandered until they found the sole window of the room. Unfortunately, it was stained class, painted to feature Arceus alongside Saint Vincent, an overweight, black-haired friar who I was forced to learn about. A disgusted sigh was trying to escape my lips. I knew all the saints like the back of my hand, I could speak the ancient language of Arkane as fluent as English, and I’ve read the testaments since the fifth year of my seventeen-year-old life. I didn’t need reminders of my religion everywhere around me, especially in this grand library where all my lessons were held.

However, I could still make out my reflection in the panes of opaque glass that made up the god’s fur and the preacher’s white cloak. Platinum-blonde framed my defined face in curls. Crystalline eyes the color of the most beautiful ponds in my mother’s garden stared back. My reflection smiled as I observed myself. Noble blood ran through my veins, and my looks told it all. A cotton-white, long sleeved shirt buttoned to the collar, brown leggings, and black leather boots announced that I wasn’t just any noble; I was a noble who was wealthy and was not afraid to flaunt it. Beyond the colored glass. I could make out the grounds of our estate, smack-dab in the middle of the city of Majorelle, the city where most of the nobles and royalty of Kanto made their home.

“No place like home,” I drawled beneath my breath as I traced the golden, jewel-encrusted wheel that wrapped around Arceus’ horse-like body. My finger wandered to his dainty, golden hooves then to the midnight mask that covered his all-knowing, jade eyes.

“Sir Adjanim,” came the nasally voice of my tutor as I about to trace the god’s hood-like fur that extended from his head. I did not roll my eyes; I had been taught better than that. Instead, I merely turned to the gangly man that stood in front of the immense chalkboard on wheels. His honey-colored robes hung around his frame loosely, the amazing detail in the ruby-embroidered hems and breast pocket useless since I couldn’t help but think that his clothes were on the verge of swallowing him whole. My tutor cleared his throat. I kept an annoyed twitch from raising my eyebrow. He dared cleared his throat to someone who the had power to send him to the king’s dungeon if I so chose so?

“Yes, Professor Cabot?” I addressed the chestnut-haired man.

The fifty-year-old man puckered his lips, making his shallow face even narrower; I guessed he picked up on the slight sarcastic tone that had underlined my words. He chose to ignore it, maybe realizing that I could make his life a living hell with a few words. The professor did not look directly at me and chose to fix almond eyes on a spot above my head as he talked to me. Intimidated, huh? He wouldn’t be the first.

“Please pay attention, Sir Adjanim,” he told me. “You need to learn this if you want to become a knight.”

This time, I did roll my eyes, merely because I’ve had this argument with so many of my tutors that it was getting frustrating. I straightened and forced him to look me in the eyes.

“I’ve said this many times: I have no interest in being a knight.” Yeah, yeah, a Noble knight was a very high honor. Many times, they served as ambassadors for other kingdoms. You were treated as a king in the kingdoms you visited because nobody was stupid enough to anger an ambassador from Kanto, the most powerful kingdom. But suggesting I wanted to be a knight was as insulting as suggesting I aspired to strip my name and live with the commoners down south. “My father was a knight, and he foolishly got himself killed,” I laid it out for him. “And why did he become a knight? He wanted more power, more honor.” I glared at Professor Cabot, challenging to protest my reason, and repeated, “He was foolish.”

My tutor sighed, knowing he had lost the battle. Though I had won, I had gained a deeply etched scowl that no amount of manners could hide. It was never going to end. They were going to keep at it until I either agreed to be a knight or finally lost it. The information he spouted about astronomy flew right over my head, and frankly, I didn’t care. I was going to be a member of the king’s council. I wouldn’t need to know when which planets aligned with which constellation. A politician who needed to read the stars? Hah, it was unheard of.

As I was considering to whether dismiss the tutor from my sight or humor him by pretending I was absorbed in his words, my mother chose that moment to walk in. A woman of her position did not need to knock and ask permission to interrupt the lesson (not that I minded in the slightest). The way she strolled into the room made her glide rather than walk, her forest-green dress flowing elegantly around her slim but curved frame. Each graceful movement made the dress’s golden flower designs and her bracelets and necklaces of emerald shimmer like the brightest of stars. Her hazel eyes, on the other hand, were anything but. I had to resist the urge to smirk as my professor visibly cowered as she towered with her six-feet two-inches. I only wish that I would gain that ability later on.

Professor Cabot conversed with my mother, no doubt uncomfortable in the presence of the tall and pale woman, whose silky blonde hair was up in a braided, pure-business bun. But when my mother fixed me with a hard glance that made her eyes a darker shade of brown, I fixedly turned my attention back to the sole window in the room.

“Fabian, your uncle would like to speak with you,” the words flitted to where I sat. Musical her tone was to anybody else, but to me, it was laced with practiced authority.

With my chin held high, I walked out of the room. A part of me was irritated beyond reason. She and Uncle Marth already concluded that I would refuse to learn anything Professor Cabot was here to teach by her strolling in. Of course, I wouldn’t, but the lack of trust they had on me was downright awful.

The grand hallway that I walked was a constant reminder of what my mother and uncle wanted me to be. The walls on either side of me were filled with portraits of my prestigious family. The frames of my female cousins, aunts, and grandmothers always illustrated them in regal dresses, whose pastel colors made them appear more like angels than humans. In bright and bold colors stood out the knights. Their stallions were always graceful, their swords and arrows lethal and sometimes covered in the blood of their enemies. Beneath their visors, they were always smiling and confident.

By the light of the candles that were mounted on the wall, I could see the battles painted on the canvases in a whole new way. Death, pain, power, and greed: the very things the artists tried to cover up with the glory of fame and victory. Disgusted by the sight, I made my way down the heavily carpeted, snaking flight of stairs, crossed the vast living room (whose white marble tiles and polished antiques made my eyes water), and exited the mansion.

“Uncle Marth!” I yelled, leaning against the metal railing of the set of stairs that split to the left and right. I looked beyond the gardens that decorated the front of the house and into the ten-foot high hedges cut into the shapes of numerous Pokémon. My frustration with the day began to grow as I scouted for the loony knight I was unfortunately related to. How hard was it to find a forty-five-year-old man riding in a suit of armor so shiny, it blinded migrating birds?

“Absolutely ridiculous,” I fumed, jumping over the railing and landing right into one of my mother’s garden plots, squashing a couple of maroon tulips. Oh well. I started walking towards the wide expanse of well-cared grass and Pokémon figures, muttering under my breath as I looked for Uncle Marth. “He handles the finances of our estate? A commoner could do his job….”

Something sharp poked my back, and I jumped forward in response. A soprano, guffawing chuckle made me turn around after rubbing the forming bruise.

“Morning, Uncle Marth,” I sourly addressed the short but wiry man on the Rapidash. The horse’s billowing flames of orange that surrounded her hooves and made up her mane reflected off the man’s armor, making me shield my eyes and stumble back. Uncle Marth’s blue eyes twinkled in amusement, and with a clatter of metal against metal, he dismounted the white, single-horned Fire-type. The spear he always used for training was held at his side, nearly a foot taller than his five-feet six-inches.

“So you wanted to see me,” I bluntly stated and leaned against a Houndoom grass statue.

Uncle Marth put a hand on the steed’s milky-white pelt, caressing her flank with a smile.

“I know you don’t want to be a knight,” he started. “But you don’t realize how you’re throwing your life away by wanting to be a member of the ‘king’s governing council.’” He said the words not with disgust but with a scoff.

Uncle Marth now turned to meet my eyes, and two shades of blue as different as day and night met. “I hate to say it, but Kanto’s government is going downhill. Each and every year, money is unwisely spent. Tournament after tournament, expedition after expedition. Why do we need to fill the egos of the elite with victories? Why do we need to cross seas and oceans when we have all the land we need? Members of the council will be nothing more than the bottom of the economic ladder when the time comes for our government to crumble, and all the nobles who have contributed to these ridiculous treasure hunts will go down with them.”

Despite myself, I cocked an elegant eyebrow. Something in my mind clicked into place.

“Is that why you insist on handling all of our family’s wealth?”

Uncle Marth chuckled. “Glad you finally see why I do what I do.”

“That still doesn’t explain why you want me to be a knight,” I snapped, hating how he thought I was finally seeing him eye-to-eye.

He continued with the same air that told he thought he was getting through me. “Knights travel, knights meet royalty. If, no, when, our kingdom collapses, knights will be able to join another kingdom, thus being saved from being pulled under by our own government. The more we travel, the more backups we have. Why, the queen of….”

“So knights are parasites that feed off a kingdom until it shrivels up?” I interrupted. “Aren’t knights sworn into knighthood, forever loyal to their kingdom?”

This time, the man gave me a wicked smile, one that I’ve seen a hundred times in the paintings of my ancestors.

“When the government collapses, there is no kingdom.”

I was left shell-shocked from the sheer truth in his last words. Moreover, a sudden coldness gripped my bones. This was wrong, maybe even treason.

…Yet neither Mother nor Uncle Marth saw anything wrong with it. They wanted me to betray my own kingdom. Years of patriotism thrummed within me as though to protest my family’s wishes. Only thing I could do, though, was lock my jaw and stare defiantly at my uncle.

The knight actually looked disappointed that I didn’t meet him eye-to-eye after his speech. After a few moments, he smiled at me like a teacher looking at an intelligent but stubborn student.

“You have that jousting tournament tomorrow,” Uncle Marth said, already turning his back to me. “You should train before it becomes dusk.”

I didn’t bother to nod as he began to ride off. I caught a glimpse of his shield, the kingdom’s insignia winking at me. It was a single eye, its pupil inscribed with a picture of a sword and the profile of Arceus. In our religion, sight meant power and holy goodness; blindness meant weakness and the inability to see Arceus’ guidance.

Which ultimately meant corruption of the soul.

I couldn’t help but think that you didn’t need blindness to lose sight of Arceus. However, before I could contemplate the matter further, Uncle Marth disappeared behind a grass statue.

No matter. I was sure to see the insignia a lot tomorrow.

_____

The annual King Cyrus Jousting Tournament was one of the only opportunities to interact with other noble families. The time where one family invited another to a social gathering had gone. Nowadays, families kept well away from each other. Mothers were afraid of exposing their sons to other families that might potentially taint their “dreams”.

I audibly scoffed, fiddling the leather reins that I was using to guide my Rapidash, Wildfire, through the trampled grounds of thirsty earth. Boys around my age poked their heads out from tents decorated with the kingdom’s colors: navy, black, and silver. Just like me, they were all wearing the same chain mail with the kingdom’s insignia emblazed on the chest. Our wool pants and shined, horse-leather boots were going to be torn and ruined by the end of the day.

They took one look at me then headed back inside their tents, either to shine their swords (though they didn’t need them, many were very vain and kept their swords in top condition at all times) or groom their horses. Touching the sword at my side, the one I always kept on my person no matter where I went, I shook my head at them. Very few were actually going to see my match. It’s been the same nobles for five years, so everybody knew their competition.

The smell of badly cooked food mixed into a bad concoction in the air as I walked towards the arena. Wrinkling my nose, I walked past stand after tacky, wooden stand. It wasn’t the food that made me almost recoil. It was the many commoners that flooded the grounds like insects circling a dead animal. Though only nobles can participate in the jousting tournament, commoners were allowed to sell and watch. Only commoners bought from commoners; we nobles had enough sense to stay clear.

The smell of commoners and food soon turned into the odor of dozens of horses being prepped for their masters’ duels. Wildfire softly neighed as the smell of Rapidash bombarded her snout. I wish I could sent her back to her stall until most of the Pokémon were gone, but it was a rule that all jousting Rapidash and Ponyta had to be outside for the tournament, so as to familiarize themselves with their surroundings just as they would if they traveled with a knight.

“It’s okay, girl,” I comforted her, stroking her flank. “We’ll be out of here before you know it.”

Wildfire gave me an all-knowing look, and I sighed. We both knew that we would be here for a long while, and her fiery mane brightened in irritation. I caught sight of the high, wooden fence that was the perimeter of the oval, dueling ring. I nimbly hoisted myself into Wildfire’s saddle, readjusted the reins, and lead her towards the ring in a steady gallop. A couple of moments later, cheering erupted as the audience saw me from the stands I started to make out. Two men dressed in the garb of the royal guard opened the padlock gate to let me in.

I stepped into the world I desperately wanted to get out of.

The actual battle arena was merely a strip of trodden soil, where the blood of jousters long ago were hidden beneath the dry dirt. Yes, the tournament was for the youths, but that didn’t mean that barbaric bloodshed didn’t happen. Nobles were fierce and prideful, something even I can’t deny. A much sturdier wooden fence surrounded the strip, and at least fifteen meters away on either side were the two stands that housed the excited audience. Those could not afford seats were content on sitting on the grass and dirt near the fence. Turning my head to my left, I saw a small tower, the wood an oak polished to perfection, at least ten feet high. The kingdom’s flag, a replica of the insignia of our knights’ shield, waved lazily in the afternoon air. Beneath was built a balcony with three thrones, upon which sat the royal family. Their Pokémon pet, a Scyther that stood by the princess’s side, also had the luxury of having a bird-eye’s view of the matches.

“You! Dreamer!” My attention went to find whoever spoke in that harsh and guttural voice. I couldn’t help but groan when I laid my eyes on my opponent a couple feet away from me. It was always my luck to fight against jousters who seemed to belong more in the peasant population than among nobles.

The youth was at least eighteen-years-old, but his pinprick eyes and the red beard that already covered his double chins made him look at least twenty-five. He was short but seemed to carry enough weight to equal three men; the poor Rapidash he rode upon made a Herculean effort to keep from collapsing under the girth. Bushels of wild, unkempt hair burst from underneath the helmet he wore, and I could practically hear his chain mail bursting. I thanked Arceus for not being near enough to catch the awful odor he must have been radiating. This pig-like competition grunted when he saw I didn’t respond to his calls.

“What are you? Brain dead?” he spat.

“No, I’m not,” I answered ruefully and said no more for the announcer was making his way toward us. Even the lanky man dressed in earth brown pants and tunic seemed to shirk back from my monstrous opponent.

“In the third round of this fabulous tournament,” he boomed, his voice easily carrying over to the stands and up to the king’s balcony. “We have Sir Fabian Canet Adjanin,” he motioned to me with his left hand, arousing applause and cheers, “and Sir Jarvet Jean Thenardier!” Applause went about but not nearly as loud as the round I received. A veteran facing someone they had never seen in these parts? They already knew who was going to win.

“Now,” the announcer hollered, “when you shake hands and assume your positions on the opposite sides of the arena, we can get started.”

Leading our horses, Jarvet and I shook hands. For a split second, he held mine in an iron grip, those small eyes on his huge, pale face targeting my own in firm determination. As soon as I was aware of these things, our handshake was over, and we were going to our spots. Discreetly, I took off my right, Tauros-hide glove and massaged my hand. He had strength, I’ll give him that, but did he have the brains to defeat me? I doubted it.

Turning Wildfire to the front once in place, I was handed the seven-foot metal lance. The weight was, unfortunately, familiar to me. I saw Jarvet take his with a sinister smile, and he was handling it like it weighed a feather. The announcer gave the signal to ready ourselves. Simultaneously, we let the visors of our helmets fall, reducing our vision into merely three slits as wide as my thumb. I heard Wildfire neighed softly, and I once again patted her neck. This was going to be over soon. It always was.
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Old 05-11-2009, 04:49 AM
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Phantom Kat Offline
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Default Re: My (Not So) Happy Ending

“BEGIN!”

The sound of eight, galloping hooves tore the air. I felt myself being sent at an amazing speed, and if it wasn’t for my firm grip on the reins and the weight of the lance, I could have no doubt been sent flying. I saw Jarvet closing in on my right. The grip on the handle of my lance tightened. My breath bounced off the visor and echoed in my ears. Wildfire’s whole frame tensed, but she did not slacken her charge. Gritting my teeth, I thrust my lance forward; I saw Jarvet do the same a moment later.

I let myself fall forward, the hand that gripped my Rapidash’s reins now gripping her neck. Her fiery mane didn’t hurt me as I practically buried myself in it to avoid the lance’s point. I felt my own lance hit something then slide off. I heard the crowd cheer and applaud, and some spectators let out groans at whatever they saw. Once I heard Jarvet galloping away, I righted myself, gripped the reins, and readjusted my hold on my weapon. With a sharp jerk, I brought Wildfire to a halt and quickly turned her around.

Jarvet, the moment he did the same, acted as though his right arm didn’t hurt, but I could tell that he flinched when he brought his lance up. Though he couldn’t see my face, I raised an eyebrow as to say, “Who’s the brain dead one now?”

“And Sir Jarvet takes one in the arm!” the announcer uselessly reported. “Meanwhile, Sir Fabian dodged his demise at just the right time!”

Again, Wildfire charged, and again, Jarvet followed suit. The crowd grew silent in expectation. I leaned forward and watched as Jarvet closed in. I aimed my lance at his chest, but in a movement that seemed too quick for someone his weight, he leaned to his left to dodge my attack, almost falling from his saddle, then retaliated just as quickly.

I gasped as pain from a single point in my chest flared, the wind knocked out of me. Resisting the edge to double over and hold my abdomen, I completed the run then jerked Wildfire back into position at the end of the trail. The way Jarvet cocked his head, I could tell he was wearing a pleased smirk on his porky face. I growled at his cockiness. Barely registering the announcer’s annoying commentary, we both charged at each other again, adrenaline shooting through my veins for the first time today.

The Rapidash’s hooves against the trail seemed louder, like multiple war drums signaling the advancement of a huge army. My grip on the reins and lance tightened so much, I knew my knuckles were a ghostly-white. Jarvet emerged in my line of vision. With a cry, I leaned forward, out of my saddle, so far out I could have petted Wildfire’s snout, and jabbed.

The point collided with the fat youth’s right shoulder with such force, an uttered yelp of surprise could be heard from behind his visor. I gave one final shove before I passed him, and it was enough to sent him over the edge. Jarvet fell, rolled once, and stopped by slamming into one of the beams of the wooden fence. His mount neighed and immediately stopped. Deafening cheers exploded into existence, and for once, the announcer said nothing, either because he knew he wouldn’t be heard or because everybody had witnessed the victory.

Proudly, I rode up to the announcer and dismounted Wildfire. The lance was given back to one of the standing guards.

“The winner: Sir Fabian Canet Adjanin!” The crowd cheered again. I waved and smiled, basking in the glory. As was customary, I turned around and gave an elegant bow to the royal family, the pain in my stomach long forgotten. I couldn’t help but smile; jousting tournament or not, I lived for adoration.

Then I heard shouts of surprise. Like arrows piercing the air, two frightened neighs arose, high-pitched and milk curdling. I turned around just in time to see Wildfire run towards the other end of the field as another cream blur surrounded by flames rushed at me. Quickly, I rolled towards my right. Merciless hooves rushed past my face but were gone within heartbeats. Looking up, I saw Jarvert beside a hysteric peasant and her two pet Growlithe. My former opponent hid his smirk with a worried mask. I knew he scared his own horse with those two dogs. It was written in his ugly, milky eyes.

Before I could get up and get out of this accursed place, another chorus of screams reached my ears.

But these were human and coming from high above me.

Scrambling to my feet, I witnessed as Jarvet’s Rapidash crashed into the king’s balcony tower with a Fire Spin. The flames on her mane and tail billowed upwards, circling around the wooden structure and grasping for the humans on top. The princess, a fair-haired maiden of eighteen, screamed and cowered in her father’s arms. The king and queen quickly headed towards the door, yet the Scyther was the one who was panicking the most. The green mantis swiped at the coiling orange flames with his large scythes, but when he knew it did no good, he flew above the balcony and rushed at the Pokémon that had conjured the attack.

The poor Rapidash, already frightened beyond his wits, stood dumbstruck when the Scyther began to advance in blind fury. Seeing that the guards were too busy escorting the king and his family to safety, Wildfire was nowhere to be found, and Jarvet was too stupefied to calm down his Pokémon (now, he really was horrified at what was happening), I rushed at the Scyther, unsheathing the sword at my side.

Before the Mantis Pokémon beheaded the stallion, I stopped in between them and parried the strike of his two-foot scythe with the blade of my sword. Scyther reared back, shock overcoming rage for a split second. Jarvet’s Rapidash whinnied and galloped away from the Bug-type Pokémon as fast as he could. Then, understanding his target had just run away because of me, Scyther flared his four filmy, golden wings in anger and flew at his new target with a screech.

The speed with which he attacked surprised me so much that I barely managed to raise the sword to my face. The clink of scythe against metal rebounded off. The Scyther, still in the air, pushed down his right blade against me, and I, in turn, put both hands on the hilt of my sword and shoved back. Scyther revealed his fangs, and it wasn’t until I saw a flash of white to my left did I find out it was an all-knowing grin.

“Ughh!” I cried out. His left scythe collided with my side with nasty precision. Fueled by the pain that began to stream into me, I firmly planted my feet on the ground and threw myself against the Pokémon.

My shoulder hit his emerald and beige stomach, which made him choke and falter in his flight. Taking advantage of this distraction, I tenderly put a hand on the spot where I was hit. The silver chain mail there had been mostly ripped and gnarled. A spot of blood started to form beneath my undershirt, and my rib cage began to throb painfully.

When I looked back at the Scyther, I noticed the air was humming and thrumming with a sound akin to that of waves hitting a rocky shore. Like a mirage, images before me started to blur and waver. Scyther brought up his two scythes above his spiked head and brought them down.

The “SCYTHER!” he yelled out was distorted as a column of air, only visible by the dirt it had picked up, shot towards me. With a nod of my head, the visor of my helmet came down to shield my face, and I crouched to roll away. The Air Slash, though, was quicker than I thought it was and picked me up into the air and hurled me towards the wooden tower. I was slammed against the wall hard, a ringing ensuing and flooding my ears when my helmet smashed against the wood.

I became disoriented, barely acknowledging the fact that I was slumped against the wall. A headache was beginning to seep in, making me groan. The only thing that made me stand back up again was the sound of scythes being continuously sharpened against one another. Distinctly, I heard someone shout that the guards and their Pokémon would come soon, that I should just fight off the Scyther a little bit longer, but I focused all my attention on the dual-type that I could see through the slits of my visor.

I began to run at him, full charge. Scyther stood his ground and took two swipes at my head. Immediately crouching down, I dodged them then jumped up and struck his two right wings. The filmy interiors were torn, and it fell like papier-mâché to the ground, stained garnet with his blood. Scyther took one look at the remnants of his torn wings and kicked me with one clawed foot in the chest. Gasping for air, I stumbled back a few feet, took one look at the mantis, and blinked in shock.

Scyther’s ruby stare was mere inches from my face. I cried out in surprise, and sudden terror made me swing my sword blindly. The bug swiftly dodged and sent his scythe swinging for my abdomen. As I lowered myself to dodge, he knocked my helmet off with a powerful blow from his other blade.

The False Swipe had successfully confused me.

In a flash of movement, Scyther had me up against the tower, one scythe up against my throat.

He slashed at me.

Pain beyond imagination took over my face. Rivulets of blood ran as I screamed.

And then it was gone.



_____

It seemed to me that later (hours, days?), my consciousness was shifting from the dream world to the real world. At first, I thought I was reliving the battle with Scyther. However, each strike that hit me was ten times more powerful and a hundred times more deadly. My yells echoed eerily in my ears, and time seemed to go in slow motion to prolong my pain.

Then, just before the final strike was delivered, the colorful dream world morphed into a horrible abyss. It was the thickest and deepest blackness that I had ever encountered. There was pain and agony in every nerve of my body, but I knew I was awake. I could feel someone mopping my forehead. I could smell the nauseating smell of blood, both dry and fresh. I could hear numerous worried voices, all either speaking too rapidly or too softly for me to understand.

“…Doctor, please s-!”

“Can’t you do anything….?!”

A period of silence stretched, and I wanted to open my eyes to see what was going on or to be able to speak to demand an answer, but I could do neither. I already felt my limited senses fading as the pain numbed and began to take me under.

“He lost it.”

I then heard weeping near me. The voice behind the pathetic noise was familiar. Before I could place it, I had blacked out. The next time I was semi-aware of my surroundings, I smelled the sweet aroma of the forest.

The pain was still too much for me to open my eyes or to speak. Strong hands held me against someone’s chest. The constant shaking I felt told me someone was carrying me. When a cold, sweep of the wind passed over us, I felt the icy needles penetrate my body like knives. Instinctively, I drew in closer to whoever was holding me. My pride and dignity was gone by this point.

The person’s fingers were running through my hair, and I both felt and heard the sigh he emitted.

“What a waste of a young lad,” the man spoke. “Religion and beliefs blind the royalty. Omens and superstitions cloud their minds with fear and hatred.” The words he said in his deep, bass voice chilled me. “Our kingdom is truly falling, and I fear nothing can stop it.”

He stopped, his fingers no longer intertwined in my locks. As I felt myself being lowered, my heart stopped. I didn’t know what was happening, but I could feel the impending doom that laid ahead of me. I knew, without being told, that this unknown man was the only link remaining to who I was. Gathering my strength, I ground my teeth against the immense pain that resulted in me reaching out towards this stranger. With a whimper, I had managed to grab his shirt collar with a weak and shaking hand. I clung on with all I had.

The man seemed to falter. I was met with silence. Then I was laid on the ground. Gently, the man unhooked my fingers from the collar of his shirt and laid my hand on my chest like someone would do with a corpse. Another gale of wind blew, and I felt colder than ever. With all my strength gone, I lay on the ground, motionless in pain.

“Goodbye, wretch. May Arceus have mercy on your soul.”

With the wind echoing his grave words back to me, I would have cried if I could as I heard his footsteps fade. Soon, I as well faded back into blissful unconsciousness.

_____

After I awoke, I tried to get up as fast I could. Maybe some part of me believed I could still catch up to the man if I hurried. With a strangled gasp, I fell back onto the cool soil. My arms cried out in anguish, and my head was hit with a sudden wave of dizziness and pain. Lying there, I regained my bearings and sat up as gently as I could. The simple task was arduous. Sitting there, making sure I wasn’t going to collapse again, I opened my eyes for the first time in what seemed like an eternity.

I was indeed in a forest. Lush jade trees and grass, all moist with drops of dew, greeted me. Beyond the thick, emerald canopies and bushes covered in shadows, I saw a sliver of what was the night sky. So enthralled in seeing the world once again, it took me a moment to realize that something was wrong: only my left eye was open.

Immediately, my hand flew towards the right the side of my face. However, I soon recoiled in disgust and shock. A second passed before I tentatively let my fingers brush over the clotted blood. It was everywhere, some of the dried streams even reaching my chin, but that didn’t scare me nearly as much as when my fingers found my empty eye socket. Despite the bolts of excruciating pain that ran down my body at the slightest touch, I couldn’t help but explore the gash that ran from the dry blood towards the bridge of my nose.

My mouth opened, but nothing came out. My hand was frozen to the side of my face. I closed my eyes (I couldn’t admit I only had one) and opened them. Nothing. I did it again. All that did was make me aware of the burning pain on the right side of my face, and I had to take deep breaths to stop myself from crying aloud. Somewhere in my mind, I realized that that Scyther was the one who did this to me. Like a switch, shock was overcome with anger. Before I could do anything about it, I stood up. I could not let this go unpunished. There was going to be hell to pay.

I began to walk towards where I saw the trees part into a clearing, but not a moment had passed before my knees buckled and sent me sprawling to the floor. I landed on my face, and the impact sent a spasm of pain running through the rest of my body. As I curled into a ball, gasping and cursing with what little breath I had, I caught sight of something I didn’t notice before.

Like a dying man at the sight of an oasis, I crawled towards the pond feet from my reach. Hauling myself onto my elbows, I looked over the edge and into the crystalline waters.

I wanted to reel back at the face that stared back at me, yet I was too engrossed in my reflection. My face was covered by dirt and mud, it was as pale as the moon, and stains of dry blood covered me all the way to the base of my neck. Where once my right eye had been was now that hideous slash that was a shade of grotesque red and black. My hair, once lustrous and beautiful, had been carelessly hacked away at the back to leave nothing but a few short strands that tickled my neck and ears. Now, only my forehead was covered with limp locks matted with sweat, dirt, and blood. Lifting myself into a sitting position, I could see the beginnings of a sandy-brown tunic dotted with tears, a belt that was only a thin piece of leather, and brown leggings, whose tattered edges reached only to my knees. My feet were bare and cold.

Ironically, now that I could speak, I didn’t want to say a word. What if my voice was reduced to that dry, rasping tone I heard in the commoners that worked night and day in the fields? Chin held high, years of discipline the only thing that kept me from breaking out into convulsing sobs, I stared my reflection in the eye. Yes, the only thing I still recognized was my eye. It still held that proud and arrogant glint in that azure depth that made me who I am. I couldn’t, wouldn’t, let myself be reduced to a sniveling mess, not while I still held something that still made me Fabian Canet Adjanim.

I dipped my hands into the pond, bent down, and began to wash my face. I fiercely scrubbed my hair, neck, and the left side of my face. My fingernails tore at the grime before I scooped more water into my cupped hands. Carefully, as I bit the inside of my cheek, I chipped off the dry blood around my gash. The stabbing pains ebbed away whenever I washed my face but returned when the water ran down to soak my tunic. As time went by, I began to get more aggressive with my scrubbing. Once or twice, I had stopped to tremble as the pain went down in waves along my face. There were times I thought I cried.

The night air got chillier. Though the shadows around me had gotten thicker as the time had passed, the stars were still only pinpricks that were too far away. Once the water in the pond stilled, I checked my reflection. I sat there, staring, my heart suddenly plummeting. Even though I looked more like my old self, I still didn’t look like the noble I was. My face was still too pallid for my tastes. Now that my hair was not matted in knots and sweat, I saw how horrible it had been cut. With a dismayed sigh, I shook my head, knowing it could not be helped.

“Now,” I declared aloud, standing up and giving my reflection one last glance. That single word resonated in the woods, and I was glad that my voice was still the same, albeit rough with lack of use. I took a deep breath and clenched my fists at my sides. “I have to get back.”

I began to look around, expecting to see a beaten trail or even the footprints of the man that had left me here. After I didn’t see anything of the sort, I began to walk around this small clearing. The dirt, as far as the eye could see, was some kind of muddy concoction that oozed between my toes but always made my footprints disappear after a few seconds. My eye widened in surprise, and with a newfound anxiety, I whirled my head this way and that. The forest looked the same at every angle. The spaces between the trees only offered darkness and more vegetation. In all my travels, I’ve never seen such a forest.

Was it possible I wasn’t even in Kanto anymore?

I couldn’t let this discourage me. Turning towards the sky, I tried to locate the North Star, but the clouds I hadn’t noticed before were too thick to let me see clearly. Frustrated, I picked the brightest and biggest start I found and began to trek towards where I assumed was north.

My strides were sure and firm after I got the hang of walking again. Thankfully, the forest was nothing but trees, darkness, and mud, no bushes filled with briars or sharp rocks hidden beneath the slushy ground. The only goal I had in mind was to find some sort of cottage or village that would point me in the right direction. After that, it wouldn’t be too hard to get back home.
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Old 05-11-2009, 04:50 AM
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Default Re: My (Not So) Happy Ending

The time passed in silence. My legs grew stiff, and I soon lost all feeling in them (though that might have been a good thing for my stone-cold feet). Although I grew tired, the pang of emptiness that was hunger resonated deep within my stomach. The ache grew and grew as I marched on, and it soon became my first and only thought. I let out pathetic groans and looked vainly at my surroundings. There had to be someone around here!

But unfortunately, no such someone showed up. Closing my eye, I leaned against the trunk of a tree. That was a bad idea. Now that I wasn’t walking, the growling of my stomach seemed to intensify. Immediately, I began to walk again, now just to take my mind off this infernal hunger. It wasn’t long until I stopped again, however.

“Dear Arceus, stop it!” I growled to my stomach, my hands wrapped around my torso. Letting my head dip onto my chest, I tried to think about what would be the best thing to do. Stay here until my hunger subsided? Keep walking and hopefully find a village?

I collapsed into a sitting position, thankful the ground wasn’t so muddy now. Leaning against the trunk of a tree, I pulled my knees up to my chest and laid my head on them. Now that I wasn’t walking, numbness and soreness encased my body. It wasn’t long before I found myself drifting off, the night’s chill the only blanket I had.



_____

I was rudely awaken.

“OW!”

With a scowl upon my face and my remaining vision blurry with sleep, I looked around for the thing that had hit me squarely on the head. When I saw what the thing was, even the fact that it was only dawn no longer mattered. On the ground laid an apple, its ruby skin gleaming up at me in a taunting manner. The hunger from last night awoke, much more fierce. Just then, something with claws decided to use my head as a step stone to drop in front of me. The plump rat turned his head at me and gnashed at my feet with square, ivory fangs. I leaped back and shivered as the rodent’s naked tail touched my ankle. The unknown Pokémon fluffed up his brown and cream fur in a threatening manner and picked up the apple. Suddenly, I jumped at the six-whiskered fiend and grabbed it from his paws. My stomach gave a silent cry of glee when the fruit was in my hands.

“RATICATE!” he screeched in fury, oval ears now flat on his round head.

Raticate (as I now dubbed him), just as instinctively as I had reacted, tackled me in the stomach in a flash of brown. I gasped but refused to fall on my knees. I kicked him in the side and began to run, the apple held against my chest. With a flurry of leaves, I heard the Raticate take pursuit. Everything was a blur of trees and bushes until I felt sharp incisors sink into my right leg. Yelping, I froze and tried to shake him off. The Raticate hung tight, and the pain was now excruciating. All of this could be solved if I just gave him the apple, yet my stomach snarled at the mere thought. It wanted food, no matter at what price.

I never knew that extreme hunger could do this to a person.

A jarring sensation escalated up my leg. The Raticate fell into a crumpled heap as I stared with a widened eye; I had just swung my leg and slammed him into the nearest tree. I blinked, and it wasn’t until the Normal-type stirred that I remembered what I had been fighting for. Blindly, I ran for it, checking over my shoulder every couple of seconds.

A root caught my foot. The sky was the ground for a split second as I toppled head over heels onto the forest floor. With my chin hitting the ground, a tremor shot up and made the right side of my face flame in agony. I hissed through my teeth but then snapped my head up when I saw the apple roll away from my hands. To my utter surprise, a pair of large and calloused hands picked up my prize. My eye trailed up to see a giant man tossing my apple from one hand to the other with an amused smirk directed down at me. His clothes, stained with soot and dirt, was taut around his muscled body as he knelt down in front of me. Crooked teeth danced in my line of vision, making me draw back and hastily sit up.

“Come, lad,” he boomed. “If you want the apple, you have to at least stand up.”

I stood, shakily but as straight as I could. This man screamed commoner with his short and messily cut chestnut hair and the clothes of simple leather boots, yellowing pants, and a matching tunic that was held by a worn, leather belt. The wrinkle of my nose disappeared when I looked down and saw my tattered clothes and my bare, muddy feet. A wave of depression seemed to hit me.

“Well?” the green-eyed man asked, obviously seeing my emotions flitting across my face. “Do you want it or not?”

The mere mention of the apple made my attention snap to his hands. Was it just my imagination or was I actually drooling at the prospect of sinking my teeth into the fruit?

“Of course I want it.” The authority I wanted to install in my words was lost to the pleading edge that had come creeping in. I made a grab for the apple, but the man held it up beyond my reach. I simply didn’t have the strength to try and jump for it. Besides, no matter how hungry I was, I would never succumb to that in front of a commoner.

“You look pretty beat up there,” the stranger continued, his giant body quaking as a chuckle reverberated deep in his stomach. “Are you sure that all you need is an apple?”

His emerald eyes went to my missing eye. Feeling more self-conscious than ever, I tilted my head so that my uneven bangs covered the right side of my face and said, more quietly and with my hand outstretched before me, “All I want is the apple.”

When a weight was felt in my palm, surprised, I looked and found the apple in my hand. I stared up at the man. What looked like pity was in his expression before he shook his head and turned his back to me.

“I hope good fortune falls on you.” He then shrugged. “Besides, I’m sure I’ll find better apples in Majorelle’s market place.”

So engrossed I was in the apple’s beauty that I almost missed his words. When they hit me, however, I started as though something had shocked me. I looked frantically at the man, who was now parting a pair of bushes to exit the clearing. I rushed over to him, almost tripping on my own two feet.

“Are you really going to Majorelle?” I asked, breathless at the mere prospect of going home.

The stranger turned and studied me with a wary glance, startled by my question.

“Yes, my caravan is going there to take part in the seasonal trade.” He didn’t elaborate, probably hoping I would not question him further. This man obviously had not dealt with me before.

“Can you take me there?” Upon seeing the refusal mounting his lips, I continued, now begging. Right now, I had to choose between pride and salvation from this Arceus-forsaken forest. “Please, I really need to get there. I have no idea how to travel there by myself.”

The heavy-set man took a step back and sized me up.

“Why do you want to go there?”

The question took me by surprise.

“…Excuse me?”

He repeated. “Why do you want to go to Majorelle?”

My mouth opened, but nothing came out. I couldn’t possibly tell him I was a noble going back to my family. What if he was a bandit that would kidnap me and demand something from my parents for my safe return? Those occurrences were rare, but in my predicament, even the worst things were possible now.

After a few seconds of thinking it over, I answered, “I was kidnapped but then left here. I need to get back to them before something else happens to me.”

The man’s eyes seemed to soften. “I can’t tell you whether you can go or not; it’s not my decision to make. However, if you follow me to my caravan, we’ll find out if the rest of the guys think you should go. We can’t let anybody who will slow us down hitch a ride. We have a schedule to maintain.”

Turning towards the forest again, he cocked his head to tell me to follow him and began to walk. A smile like one I had never worn before was on my face, and my heart felt just a little bit lighter. I was quickly at the man’s side, not daring to fall back and lose him among the growth. I had started to take huge bites out of my apple after polishing it on my tunic (Arceus forbid that Mother should see me with such manners, or lack thereof) when the man held out a hand, still walking. I stared at it until he chuckled again.

“My name’s Marius. Shake my hand, I won’t bite.”

With a small smile, I relished the fact that I was shaking hands with another human, merchant he may be. It seemed like forever since I had talked with anybody.

“I’m Fabian,” I told him, assured there was no danger in telling him my first name.

The journey of fifteen minutes was spent on Marius navigating through the forest and me on eating my apple. It wasn’t until I heard the voices of men that I began to feel nervous. What if they thought I was just deadweight that would slow them down? I didn’t want to go back into the forest to wander and fight with more Pokémon for food like a savage.

Marius parted the branches that blocked the way and led me through.

The clearing was bigger than the one I woke up in, and it barely had enough room to house the wagon that was parked to the left. The wooden cart’s flaps of beige fabric were as moth-eaten and dirty as my clothes (my skin crawled at the realization). The wood would have looked nice if the dark, rich-brown color it had wasn’t due to rot. A Rapidash, currently not hooked onto her harness, rested a few feet away. She was nothing like the purebred, well-cared stallions of knights and knights-in-training. Her coat had patches of missing fur, her flames lacked luster, and the horseshoes on her hooves were beaten to smooth pieces of metal. The mare lazily craned her neck towards us then settled back to gazing out into the forest.

The men, however, didn’t dismiss the arrival. All five of the strangers stopped their chortling and drinking (the smell of alcohol nearly rocked me back on my heels) to stare at me. Marius was obviously more at ease than me. He led my stiffened body to his friends. The gangliest of the caravan group wiped his dirty hands on the green vest he wore over his white shirt and black breeches, went up towards us, and cocked his head as he studied me. Cheap whisky radiated off him in waves.

After looking at me, he looked up at Marius and said with speech that was surprisingly not slurred, “We sent you out hunting, and you brink back a wretch.”

Marius chuckled and unloaded something that had been strapped to his back. The two tan and brown Furret corpses blended so well with his clothes and skin tan that I hadn’t noticed them until now. The disheveled man with the graying chestnut hair that reached to the tips of his ears smirked at the sight.

“You were saying, Joly?”

“Guess we’ll eat after all.”

The brown-eyed man promptly picked up the carcasses, took a knife stained with dry blood from his waist band, and walked to the back of the wagon. I mentally gagged, knowing all too well he was going to skin the dead creatures to eat. I was snapped back to reality when multiple shadows fell over me. The other four men had abandoned their whisky bottles to inspect me. The one right in front of me was obviously the leader after I noticed how Marius stepped back and the other three kept their distance. This man was tall yet not nearly as lanky as Joly. His arms and chest were toned beneath the long-sleeved gray shirt he wore. Those hazel eyes were sharp beneath the fringe of raven hair. Just the way he stood made me gape at the confidence that was oozing from his demeanor.

“Who’s this, Marius?” he spoke, not unkindly, but the authority was still there.

Marius, as though he was just given permission, came to my side and dropped a heavy hand on my shoulder. Now that it seemed his leader wasn’t going to reprimand him for bringing me in, that easy-going smile was on his face.

“Name’s Fabian, found him in the woods not too far from here. Says he wants to go to Majorelle with us.” Then, to me, he motioned towards the man and told me, “Fabian, this is Enjolras, leader of our merry group.”

Enjolras quirked a smile at this and extended a hand towards me. When we shook, I felt the strength behind his grip.

“So, Fabian, why exactly do you want to go to Majorelle?” Those sharp eyes analyzed my face. “More importantly, how did you find yourself here, in this forest? The closest village is a day and half’s trek from here.”

His gaze told me that he did not want the half-answer I told Marius. Slightly on edge, I explained, “I’m from Majorelle, but someone kidnapped me and dropped me off here.” I wasn’t lying. It was merely a very to-the-point summary without the necessary detail. I hoped that would be enough. “I’ve been trying to get help, but there’s no one here.”

“Well, we’re here,” Enjolras told me, eyes no longer intent on my face. He took a step back and motioned to his men. “And you can come if you can prove to us that you’re not someone that will hold us back.”

I blinked, confused. “What exactly do you want me to do….?” Then I added hastily, “Sir.” Was it help around the camp? Hunt?

Enjolras seemed to guess my thoughts because he laughed and shook his head. “We don’t need help with our mundane chores and tasks; most of these men have the strength of two. No, we need help in raising money. We craft and make things to sale, and in order to buy the materials, we need to raise money. Marius is a woodcarver, and Joly’s a marksman, for example.” Again, his intelligent gaze was on me. “What can you do, Fabian?”

When I didn’t speak immediately, one of the men behind Enjolras piped up, obviously drunk beyond the point of knowing what he was saying, “Maybe you can use your missing eye to foretell the future.”

I bristled, furious. Marius scowled and threateningly stepped forward. Enjolras turned on his heel and faced the burly man with a leveled gaze. “Grantaire, I know intoxication can dwindle one’s diplomacy, but you should know not to speak like that. Please stop acting like a drunken noble.”

While Grantaire, shame filling his chocolate eyes, fiddled with the ebony ponytail that tickled the nape of his tan neck, the leader of the caravan returned to me, expecting my answer. The comment still stung, so I raised my chin high and looked Enjolras as I would the king after winning a jousting match. “I’m a skilled swordsman.”

I was given skeptical looks from everybody except Enjolras. I suspected that the other two men behind their leader didn’t laugh for fear of being rscolded. The strong leader I was admiring with each word he spoke said nothing. He merely analyzed me much more carefully than before.

“If you can prove that, Fabian, I’ll be more than happy to have you in this caravan.” Wordlessly, he wandered towards the wagon, and it wasn’t long before he dug out two, very dull, swords, their sheathes laid on the ground. Grantaire and the other two men exchanged doubting looks while Marius just seemed worried for me. Enjolras presented me the hilt of one with an almost solemn air. A little perplexed, I took it. My unanswered question was answered when the man stepped back and took a stance of defense, a cue for everybody else to back away and give us room.

Even though I knew what this meant, I still fingered the rusting hilt with a questioning eye. This commoner’s sword was nothing like the polished, professionally-crafted weapon my hands were used to wielding. It felt as though this sword was reminding me how much of a wretch I have become. If my salvation wasn’t at stake, the tarnished blade would have hit the grass in a heartbeat.

No doubt able to see the conflicting emotions in my sole, azure eye, Enjolras gave me a moment to quell them before he began to explain this challenge. “My skill with a sword may not be much, but it is enough to determine whether you’re good enough to come with us. If you can put me in a position where I am no longer able to retaliate, you have proven yourself.”

As he spoke, he maintained his defensive stance; the battle-scarred sword never wavered in his grip. My own two hands fitted themselves around the hilt of my sword, and I ignored the brown-red rust that began to speckle my fingers and palms. Bare feet shifted my lithe frame into the stance I always took when training, the one my instructors had drilled into me ever since I was old enough to understand what everybody wanted me to be. But right now, I was actually fighting for something I wanted. In a way, this is what my training has always been preparing me for.

Enjolras swept his eyes over my stance once before he said his final words. “If I rid you of your sword, however, you are on your own.” My heart quickened before I took a steadying breath and gave a confident grin. Enjolras mirrored it.

Then he came running at me as fast but silent as Persian. While Grantaire whistled in wonder, I was unfazed by my opponent’s speed. I raised my sword and parried his blow with a metal-on-metal clang. Enjolras stepped back, and I danced to the right and thrust my blade at him, fainting. He fell for it and sidestepped to the left. Grinning, I leaned forward and aimed the flat edge of my blade at the hand that held his sword.

Enjolras lowered his sword-wielding hand and allowed my blade to slap his arm, much to my surprise. The limb trembled, and his fingers threatened to drop the sword. Yet they didn’t. Instead, Enjolras came at me with the same, self-assured air as before. I dodged the blade that came towards my feet with a jump then skipped back again when the blade neared my knees. My frustration began to mount when protruding rocks and fallen branches dug into my feet like thorns; I couldn’t dodge without looking over my left shoulder. Eventually, I just mustered up the strength to tolerate the pain in my feet. If I looked away even for one second, it would be over.

Suddenly, Enjolras’ barrage of stabs and swipes ceased. His right arm, the one I had hit, seemed to bother him enough for him to stop and take a quick breather. Now was my chance. I zeroed in on his abdomen and ran in a charge. The man planted his feet firmly on the ground and swung at my head. His shaking arm made his move sluggish. Ducking, I somersaulted toward him and was quick to get back on my feet in a crouched position, inches from him. In a split second, the butt of my hilt slammed into his stomach.

His breath was let out in a whoosh! as he rocked back on his feet, and soon, he was lying on the ground after I knocked his feet from underneath him. Victory swelled inside me as I looked down upon the fallen man. This was going to be over soon. In no time, I would be heading towards Majorelle to set things right.

“You celebrate much too early.”

Enjolras had recovered in that split second. Hastily, I tried to slip my blade under his fallen sword to unarm him, but it was much too late. Impressively, the black-haired opponent jumped to his feet with a single surge of adrenaline and rolled away to the right from my swipe to his shoulder blade. Very briefly, panic made my heart flutter; he had rolled right into my blind spot. I whirled around but only caught the edge of his gray shirt before he disappeared. A moment later, I cried out when I felt the side of his sword hit me in the small of my back. My teeth were being gritted together, and I mentally cursed the eye I was missing. Enjolras took advantage of this again by rolling away from me seconds before my sword would hit him and skipping behind me. By this time, the only thing that kept me from yelling out was how distracted I would be if I allowed my anger to take over.
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Old 05-11-2009, 04:51 AM
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Default Re: My (Not So) Happy Ending

“OW!” Enjolras’ blade hit my right shoulder blade, making my entire body shake, and I dropped to my knees. At that moment, I knew it was do-or-die. He would aim for my neck, the most vulnerable spot for a knight, even with all that armor and chain mail. So with that firm belief, when I heard leaves and pebbles being kicked up, I flipped on my back and held my sword in front of me. Swords met with a ring that made my ears ache. The man’s face behind the blade was riddled with shock, to say the least. This time, I truly grinned with conviction that I had him.

I pushed the blade forward in a way that he could not withdraw his own without meeting mine headlong, and when I got my feet underneath me, I launched myself forward. This time, it was Enjolras’ turn to be on his back, but unlike him, I didn’t let my foe get up. Grounding his sword by planting my foot on it before he could move it, my blade was a hair’s width from his throat in the time it took him to blink in surprise.

Silence stretched on, my sword never moving. Finally, Enjolras let go of his sword and closed his eyes. “I admit defeat, Fabian.” With my cue to let him go, I straightened and held my weapon at my side, holding one hand out. Enjolras took it and pulled himself up.

He now raised his voice so that everybody heard. “You’ve earned the right to come with us.” Marius looked relieved and even a bit proud. Grantaire and the others seemed taken aback but then nodded with what seemed like respect for me. I smiled; that was more like it. Finally, something I was used to people showing me.

The leader now addressed the caravan members. “Now drop your whiskey and gather the firewood. Joly should be about finished skinning the carcasses.” Enjolras laid a hand on my shoulder. “And you, Fabian, we’re going to do something about that ghastly wound.”

I was led towards the wagon, the man’s grip on my shoulder telling me that he was going to do more than just heal my wound.

_____

It was like reliving the attack all over again. The antiseptic made of natural herbs and spices wasn’t as good as the professional concoction of the Majorelle doctors, but it still sent bursts of pain throughout my face whenever Enjolras dabbed my wound with cotton balls soaked with the stuff. My hands twitched to find something to sink my nails into. All that my fingers met was the wooden floor of the wagon. I wanted to slam my head on the wall I was leaning against, yet that would cause more pain and probably sent the numerous things hanging by pegs (swords, paintings, and numerous tools of woodcraft) falling. Instead of focusing my attention on the pain or the growing mound of bloodied cotton balls beside me, I took in my surroundings, trying as hard as I could to not judge them as the noble I was but as the desperate (I wrinkled my nose at the word, but it was true) boy who just wanted to get back home.

The interior of the farm cart was just as crude-looking as the outside. Apart from the things hanging on the walls, numerous sparkling trinkets and items hung from the ceiling. It took me a while to figure out that they were glass figurines of Pokémon and people, and if they didn’t move and reveal the rotting wood of the walls behind them, the sheer detail that was carved into them would have made me stare for hours. On the opposite wall were mounted three shelves, one filled with all kinds of boxes, another one with jars filled with what appeared to be dried meats, fruits, and berries, and the last one had piles of clothes. Just as I was asking myself how I felt about sleeping in one of those sleeping bags of sheets and blankets that I saw on the floor (no doubt the men’s “sleeping quarters”), I heard Enjolras sigh. Focusing my eye on him, I saw him lean back into a sitting position.

“Well that’s the best I can do,” he told me with a tired smile. “But I can guarantee you that you won’t fall over dead from an infection anytime soon.”

I managed to let out a chuckle. Just like how I had done back at the pond, I touched the right side of my face with feather-light fingers. There was no more crusted blood, not a spot. Although my wound throbbed like hell, I knew that it was now as clean as it possibly could be. I felt strangely refreshed, and I sent a sincere smile at the man.

“Thanks, Enjolras.” While I was distracted, though, the traveler had pulled something from the chest behind him. I frowned when I saw what it was. “Please tell me you’re joking.”

Enjolras laughed before shaking his head. “As clean as your wound is, such a sight will still scare off potential customers.”

Seeing the logic behind his words, I took the eye patch from his hands and begrudgingly put it on. I felt like an idiot. I was sure the strap that held the eye patch in place was making some of my hair stick out in awkward angles. Running my hand through my locks self-consciously, I was about to say something else when Enjolras fixed with me a look that I found was quite eerie. It was like he was looking through me and finding just what he was looking for. Any humor he had was replaced with a somber look that made me sit still.

“Fabian, there is no need for me to beat around the bush. You know and I know that you’re not a commoner that has been kidnapped. You fought remarkably well, and if it wasn’t for your lost eye, I have no doubt you would have beat me much, much quicker. No commoner in Majorelle would have access to a sword and train enough to be at your level, a level I’ve only seen in knights and knights in training.” Putting one arm on his knee, he leaned towards me, face expressionless. “So, who are you really, noble?”

It took me a while to understand he wanted me to speak; his words had trapped me into a state of disbelief. Putting aside the question as to how Enjolras could be so observant, I spoke. “My name is Fabian Canet Adjanim, and I really was kidnapped from Majorelle. I was kidnapped and just dropped in the middle of this forest.”

“It would be better if you told me the whole story.” His face had softened. I hoped it was because he had sensed the truth behind my words.

And so I told my story. It was easier than I thought it was as I saw Enjolras’ face take a look of understanding. I finished, my whole body relaxing. It looked like he didn’t have a problem with who I was, which was just another load off my shoulders. When Enjolras didn’t speak, I looked at him. Understanding had melted into sympathy.

“Fabian, do you still want to go back to Majorelle?”

A spark of anger ignited in me, blocking out the confusion that had settled. “Of course I do! I didn’t go through all that just to be asked such a stupid question.”

The man shook his head, slightly exasperated. “It was no coincidence that you were ‘kidnapped’,” he said the word with a hint of bitterness, “right after you were injured. You’re a noble; surely you know of Arceus’ beliefs of damnation.”

Subconsciously, my hand went to my eye patch. The wailing woman I had heard before I awoke in the man’s arms was suddenly very familiar. Balling my fists, I refused to believe what the facts and the religion I had grown up with were telling me. Defiantly, I stared Enjolras in the eye.

“Nobody abandoned me, Enjolras. My family loves me.” My voice broke on the last word.

The leader of the caravan nodded, giving me the impression he was agreeing with a stubborn toddler who wanted his way. “I’m sure they do, Fabian.” His words sounded sincere. Enjolras straightened, taking care he didn’t disturb the hanging figurines above his head. “The others should have the fire started and the meat turning by now.”

He walked away and jumped out of the wagon, leaving me with only my uneasy thoughts. So that I didn’t have to delve into them, I hastily followed Enjolras outside.

_____

To my great relief, Enjolras did not mention my identity to the rest of the group. I got to meet the two men I hadn’t known before, and I learned that they weren’t as intimidating as I first thought them to be, especially the lankier Jean Prouvaire. With fair hair of auburn tinted with the faintest shade of red, his horrible wardrobe of a brown shirt, forest-green leggings, and boots that were made of a black leather I did not recognize didn’t look so bad. He had a calm and understanding demeanor; those lime-green eyes were as pure as the glass figurines in the wagon, which I learned he made.

The black-haired, hazel-eyed man I had seen was named Combeferre, as I learned from his boisterous chat with Joly. He solely believed in the fact that there was no one in the world that was worse or better than anybody else. The man might have only been half a foot taller than me, but his broad shoulders and stoic, bearded face told everybody that he could defend his claim if it was challenged.

So I soon sat down to eat with Marius, Enjolras, Joly, Grantaire, Jean Prouvaire, and Combeferre. (However, not before I was given new clothes to replace my rags. I now wore a beige tunic and leggings that were just a size too large and worn boots of brown leather. I was extremely grateful, which was one of the reasons I resisted the urge to throw up at the sight of our “dinner.”)

The cooked Furret was a lot better than the fought-over apple only if I didn’t dwell on where it had come from. When I did let my mind wander and slip, I would gag and gain a shade of sickly green, which would make all the men around me guffaw good-naturedly. I passed on the liquor they passed around afterwards and instead helped Joly gather firewood in the forest for storage in the caravan. It wasn’t until the men’s laughter faded and we were alone as noon slipped to late afternoon did I notice that I hardly knew anything about him.

“That’s a nice Pokémon you have there,” I commented upon seeing Joly release a creature from a Poké Ball. “What is it?”

The butterscotch-yellow creature that only reached up to my knee looked up with the same surprised expression as his trainer. Then the black-striped Electric-Pokémon crossed his pudgy arms and huffed, the sparks on the plugs that grew from his head telling me that he was annoyed at me for not knowing what he was. Joly chuckled and patted the bipedal companion.

“Lynd here is an Elekid. They’re quick-tempered, rowdy, and eat you out of house and home if you leave them to their own devices.” Lynd looked up with a frown. “But they’re loyal and can be one of the best friends you’ll ever have.”

“An Elekid, huh?” I mused as I tilted my head to get a better look at this pocket monster; it was a habit I appeared to be developing to compensate for my lost eyesight. Lynd was so small, yet he seemed more than eager to show everybody what he was capable of.

I was interrupted mid-thought when Joly asked, “You haven’t seen many Pokémon, have you?”

I shook my head. “I’ve seen many Ponyta and Rapidash. A lot of nobles have classy Persian and Glameow, and the king himself has a Scyther he would always bring to jousting tournaments.” At the mention of the mantis, I quickly finished with, “But other than that and the Pokémon in the forest near Majorelle, I haven’t seen that many Pokémon.”

The middle-age man looked at me before looking up at the sky. “That’s a shame, Fabian. This world isn’t called the Pokémon World for nothing. I can guarantee you, though, that while you’re with us, you’ll see plenty of Pokémon.”

Something like childish wonder sparked within me. “Really?” I asked.

“Yep, the town we’re going to next is one of my favorites. They love their Ghost Pokémon. Just be careful, though. A lot of them love to trick and steal stuff from travelers. They give the stuff back but not always in one piece.”

I chuckled sadly. I was already robbed of everything. What else could they take?
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Old 05-11-2009, 04:54 AM
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Default Re: My (Not So) Happy Ending

_____

Awkward was the only word I could use to describe the one day trip to the town. The rest of the afternoon went fine. It was when night fell that I felt even more like a noble among commoners. When I slept in my bed of a blanket and sheet on the floor of the wagon, I couldn’t help but feel trapped between the bodies of the caravan members. After an hour of trying to close my eye and sleep, I had given up and crawled outside with my “bed” in my hands. The night air gave me such relief, and I soon found a nice tree to lay against and sleep under. As I made myself comfortable, I could see the lithe figure of Enjolras asleep in the coach of the wagon. I had smiled, relieved I wasn’t the only one who needed some elbow room.

After being rudely awaken by Joly, I was forced to go hunting with him. After we returned with a pair of Raticate, I myself half hoping that one of them was the one who had tried to make off with my apple, we quickly ate, put out the fire and smothered the ashes, and took off. The real awkwardness begun when Joly, Marius, and Grantaire forced me to play a card game called “Johto Hold’em.” Needless to say, I couldn’t make out heads or tails of the rules, and I had looked at a reading Enjolras for help. When he just smiled and told me to endure it just as he had so many times before, I did just that until Jean Prouvaire took me aside and began to help me form ideas for the exhibition I had to put on once we got to the town to earn some money.

And so the afternoon and the night was spent with dinner and conversations about the caravan’s exhibitions. As I sat and listened to them, it was eerie how comfortable I was becoming around them. I didn’t scoot aside when someone plopped themselves next to me. I didn’t wrinkle my nose that much when the men passed around the beer. When it was time for me to sneak out and sleep beneath a nearby tree, I lay awake for a while and thought about it. Joly and the rest were not so bad, crude at times with their jokes and drunken chats, but not bad. Yet, I was a noble. I could never, should ever, act like that. It scared me, though, that a small part of me did want to act like that. Yes, there weren’t any nobles around, but was that reason enough to become so…unsophisticated? Even if it was for a little while?

It was amazing that I was so engrossed in my thoughts, I never noticed Enjolras silently watching me from the shadows.

_____

Hallow Town. The name didn’t ring a bell, but apparently, it was the name of the town we arrived late the next afternoon. This humble place was nothing like Majorelle. The buildings were merely made of cheap oak; only places of business like smith shops were of sturdy pine. The streets were dirt that wasn’t as compacted and smooth as they should be. As our wagon rolled through the main street, clouds of dirt puffed up into existence. Ignoring it, I looked out from beneath the back flaps. After a few minutes of doing this, I cocked my head towards Grantaire, the nearest person.

“Joly mentioned the people here loved ghosts. So where are they?”

The raven-haired man laughed, his breath still smelling of beer from last night. “Ghost Pokémon prefer to get out when night falls. It makes it easier for them to scare people. Thought everybody knew that.”

“I haven’t been around Ghost Pokémon,” I admitted in a mumble. Thankfully, Grantaire was now too busy in trying to convince Joly, the one who handled the caravan’s food and drinks, to let him sneak in another beer before they hit the town square.

The wagon came to a halt half an hour later. With the sky now a mix of ebony and dwindling orange, everybody got out. Grantaire took the deck of cards that were used for “Johto Hold’em” while Joly took the bow and the quiver of arrows from a nail on the wall. Jean Prouvaire merely fished three Poké Balls from the depths of his worn leggings. The balls, made of tough, oak-colored leather, each covering a tin sphere, were almost alien to me. Knights were taught to never leave their steed’s side during a quest, which meant I almost never encased Wildfire in her Poké Ball. The sphere was probably gathering dust in the depths of a drawer in my desk. Sheer curiosity almost made me grab one of them and turn the tin stopper that would split the ball in half and release the Pokémon inside.

I shook my head at the thought. I was a noble, not a commoner’s child!

Hesitantly, I grabbed the sheathed sword I had been lent and followed the rest of the men out, fiddling with my eye patch the whole way. I would have never thought that I would someday be nervous, almost ashamed, in front of commoners.

As Comberferre strolled past me from where he had been riding in the coach, my thoughts strayed to him and his unusually empty hands. “Comberferre, aren’t you going to exhibit anything?”

The wise man said with a know-it-all smile, “Wait and see, Fabian.”

Watching his retreating back, I muttered beneath my breath, “Probably going to lecture these people on some philosophical theory.” Still, my curiosity was piqued.

We stepped onto the small stage constructed of wooden boards and supports that was normally used for political events and town proclamations. People began to gather as night began to claim the city. Owners of the shops that circled the town square merely repositioned their chairs in front of their stalls and leaned back to watch the show. Families stood instead, and the children that managed to escape their parents’ grasp went in for a closer look or to sit on the rim of the fountain that was the middle of it all. The jets of water that spurted from the Lapras statue wavered and began to soak the nearby people.

My brows were furrowed in confusion until I saw a shape materialize in front of the water. A floating sphere of black appeared, his huge pink tongue lolling as the violet gas that encased his body fanned out behind him. Parents merely pulled their children from on top the statue’s back and walked to a safer place. Pokémon that I assumed were the Ghost-types popped beside stores and homes. From skull-wearing figures with robes to creatures that looked like decapitated heads with purple locks of hair, they joined the inhabitants to see our show. I, in turn, gaped at them with the expression of a small, fascinated child. I saw them phase through walls, extend their limbs to impossible lengths, and emit low moans that sent shivers through my spine.

Enjolras placed a tin box in front of the stage, breaking me from my stupor of awe. He stood before the townspeople, cool, collected, and professional. Then, he spread his arms before him and gave a humble bow. “Ladies and gentlemen, ghosts of the town,” he spared a glance to the surrounding specters, who beamed and basked in the attention, “my caravan and I are grateful for the opportunity to let us entertain you. If you like what you see, please, don’t hesitate in donating some Poké to finance the materials for our crafts and skills.” He motioned towards the box he placed beside him. “And now, without further adieu, enjoy our performances.” With one last, elegant bow that, before all of this, I wouldn’t expect a commoner to be capable of, Enjolras moved towards the side, the rest of the caravan following except for Marius.

The broad man carried out two large pieces of wood (maybe the more appropriate word should have been “trunks”) and set them on twin pedestals Enjolras had set up while I had been distracted. After he was sure that they were placed just right, he got out a Poké Ball from the folds of his pants. I raised a brow. I had never expected Marius to be a Pokémon trainer. He turned the stopper and released his Pokémon in a flash of opaque light. The black-furred weasel that appeared beside him wiggled one of her ears, making the ruby feather that grew from it sway. When she saw what had been placed for her, her four red tail feathers shook in excitement, and even her topaz gem in the center of her forehead gleamed in unison with her garnet eyes.

Marius explained to the audience with the most confident tone I had ever heard him use how he and Cosette, his Sneasel, were going to race to see who could carve the best wooden statue of a Duskull, who had just flown in from where he had been floating to become part of the show. Wood shards flew after Enjolras declared, “Go!” With Cosette using her ivory claws at the end of her paws and Marius his pocket knife, the Pokémon was revealed the winner ten minutes later, though both statues seemed flawless to my untrained eyes. The nearby spectators were showered with wood shavings, but they applauded and dropped a few Poké into the tin can. The Duskull basked in the limelight for a few moments before joining his phantom friends, leaving the stage to Jean Prouvaire.

A small hippopotamus, his body a sandy brown with darker patches covering his body, opened his humongous maw in a yawn as he walked to his spot, buggy eyes sleepy. A glamorous fox with a coat of beautiful garnet, however, walked behind her partner and trainer with a proud flick of her six tails and pointed ears. Jean Prouvaire politely introduced himself and the show he was about to put on: the making of glass figurines. His Hippopotas, Bienvenu, released a column of sand from the opening on his back, and before the grit went flying every which way, his Vulpix, Fantine, released tendrils of orange flames that constricted the sand and prevented most of it from escaping. Jean Prouvaire ordered for her to turn up the heat. The temperature rose. Sweat started to break out on everybody’s faces. Marius gently pushed me back as the scene grew hazy with heat.

The fire suddenly stopped. Fantine, drained, slinked to her trainer’s side. Bienvenu simply fell asleep on the spot. Jean Prouvaire caught the glimmering, one-foot-long hunk of glass in his hands with a thick cloth I hadn’t even seen him produce from his pocket. As people began to regain their vision, he began to explain how glass must always be cut just as it’s cooling for much smoother results. While explaining, he was shaping the glass with a knife much sharper than Marius’. By the time the glass lost its light orange glow, he had cut a piece of glass from the mass and shaped it into a sphere. Jean Prouvaire acknowledged the applause he received with a wave. He soon joined the rest of us once he recalled his Pokémon back.

Once he was beside me and Comberferre went up to story tell (I had to wrap my mind around that concept several times before it sunk in), I couldn’t help but notice that Jean Prouvaire didn’t carry a single burn on his clothes or skin. “How did you manage to not get burned?”

The man’s smile was sure but serene, as though the question brought him pleasant memories. “I trust my Pokémon. They would never put me in any danger. I trust them with my life, just as how they trust me with theirs.”

Though his answer was not as straightforward as I wanted it to be, I couldn’t help but think of Wildfire. Would she protect me as Bienvenu and Fantine protected Jean Prouvaire? Would I protect her as fiercely? To my dismay, I didn’t come up with a definite answer for either of my questions.

Joly’s archery demonstration and Grantaire’s magic tricks went by in a blur. After what seemed like seconds later, Grantaire pocketed his deck of cards, and I was walking towards center stage. Unsheathing my sword, I waited for Enjolras to introduce me. The hazel-eyed man walked up with his own sword in hand. Many audience members murmured in question and excitement.

“And now,” he announced, “a performance of swordsmanship done by Fabian Aston, which I will assist with. It will be a small duel; first one to disarm the other is victorious.” When he turned to face me, I gave him a smile, grateful for the last name cover-up. Enjolras nodded in acknowledgment and positioned himself into his battle stance in a single, fluid movement. Kicking my sheath to the side, I did the same, able to find my footing in a heartbeat. I tried to ignore the many pairs of eyes on me. They saw a commoner, but I was a noble, and nobles never bend under the eyes of a captivated audience.

Marius, from somewhere off to the side, gave the signal to start. This time, I was the one to dart forward for the first strike. Enjolras brought his sword to chest level to block my attack, yet I feigned to the right and tried to hit his hand with the blade of my sword. Inches away from my target, my opponent spun on his heel to make both blades collide. With a look that said, You won’t get me with the same trick twice, Enjolras forced me back with a shove.

The grip on the hilt of my sword tightened as I heard my name being called in a chant. It seemed as though I was back in one of my jousting tournaments on top of Wildfire. The commoner clothes I wore were now a helmet and chain mail. My sword, the sword that had been crafted just for me by one of Majorelle’s finest blacksmiths, was in my hands instead of the rusted weapon I had been lent.

And for a split second, I imagined I had both eyes.

I parried the man’s blow with one of my own. After that, I quickly took the upper hand. I caught his openings before he caught mine. Whenever we faltered, I was always the one who regained his footing first. Mediocre skills Enjolras had picked up during his travels were no match for my years of tutored lessons. In what felt like forever, I finally felt like Fabian Canet Adjanim.

Clang! Enjolras’ sword clattered to the wooden stage. On his back, the dark-haired man could only watch cross-eyed at the blade an inch from his nose. I was standing but panting with the adrenaline in my veins that refused to die down. I felt alive, I felt like myself, and I never wanted it to end.

Mechanically, I helped Enjolras to his feet. The crowd’s applause filled the air, and I bowed a regal bow. The leader of the caravan also waved, thanking the audience for coming and donating. When the crowd began to disperse, he seemed to notice the smile that split my face in half. He put a hand on my shoulder, let his own smile touch his face, and began to lead me to the other caravan members, who were already counting the money that our performances earned us.

“You were splendid, Fabian,” he commented. “And though tomorrow is a busy day, tonight, we enjoy the fruits of our labor.” A wry grin lit the man’s handsome face. "We’ll dine like nobles.”
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Old 05-11-2009, 04:55 AM
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Default Re: My (Not So) Happy Ending

_____

Currently, I was sitting on the edge of the wagon, the wood that swung to close the back down, allowing me to sit and lean over towards the men that merrily ate and drank. After we had gathered our Poké, we bought drinks and food that would feed us for a week and rode towards the edge of town. The trees that surrounded us marked the beginning of a forest, and their canopies were alight with orange light from the campfire. That same light also reflected off the transparent glasses the men clinked together and swung about in the beginnings of drunkenness. The eastern entrance to the town could be seen, the buildings illuminated as street lanterns were being lit.

For once, I didn’t turn my nose up at the beer that was being passed around. Maybe it was my state of euphoria I was still in or the increasing egging on by Grantaire and Joly, but I took a sip of the alcohol beverage. A sip turned into a gulp, and I practically had to pry the bottle from my lips and past it to Marius. I was feeling better than I had in days, so damn all of those noble thoughts in my head that screamed this was no way for me to behave!

Eventually, after more sips of beer, my mind, for some reason, wandered back to the shops I had seen earlier that afternoon. Curiously enough, the picture of a small bakery stood out above all. The delicious, frosted treats that had caught my attention from behind the window of the store made me grin like a small child. Such treats were kept from me back in Majorelle. Right now was the only chance to eat them without Mother’s disapproving glare. With the alcohol in my system preventing my brain from chiding how foolish and childish I was acting, I easily jumped to the ground, the bag with my share of the money tied to the band of my pants.

“You’re going into town?” Enjolras looked up from his plate of food when he spoke. When I nodded, he said with a quick glance towards the entrance, “Though people are about, there are still alleys that are desolate yet contain thieving plebeians.”

“I’ll be fine, Enjolras,” I replied, the silly smile I had before sobering with my words. “I’ll be back before you know it.”

“Be careful,” he advised me.

I was already leaving the camp behind, the pouch of money now in my hands; I didn’t want the ring of coins to echo as I walked in case there were thieves lurking around.

Like one of the many ghosts I had seen that afternoon, I slinked through alleys and streets. Every shop I laid my eye on was open and ready to attend to any of the people who were walking through the streets. The street lanterns, one on each corner, revealed silhouettes of Ghost Pokémon within the shadows of the buildings. I could feel some of them follow my path with ethereal eyes, but their stares weren’t malicious. It was more as if they were curious to see if I would be caught by my Mother.

“A batch of your finest pastries,” I declared when I entered the bakery shop. The chubby woman behind the wooden counter tucked a strand of graying hair behind her ear as she counted how much money I had put in front of her. Once through, she scooped up the bronze coins and quickly fished out a paper bag to put the pastries she was already getting from the trays that lined the shelves near the window. I inhaled deeply, relishing in the smell of bread and sugar that filled the small room. The bags of flour that laid against the wall behind me must have torn for the wooden floor had a tint of powdery white. Behind the counter, I made out the door that I concluded led to the kitchen.

“Here you go, hun.” With a quick word of thanks, I took the bag of pastries and exited the humble establishment, immediately retracing my steps towards the east exit. By this time, the small amount of beer I’d drunk had run its course, making me much more aware of my surroundings, so I quickly noticed that the shadows on my left were moving. I stopped and stiffened, coolly looking over my shoulder and saying, “What do you want?”

From the darkness emerged three boys around my age. Even in this dim lighting, I could tell their coats, leggings, and boots were of expensive material. My eyebrows shot up; I never expected to come across nobles in this small town.

“It seems you can see perfectly well,” one of them quipped. “Even with that ludicrous patch on your face.” Jade eyes observed the eye patch I wore with a mocking stare.

With my back ramrod-straight, I fixed the long-haired speaker with a steely gaze. “I repeat: what do you want?”

One of the other two crossed his arms and fixed me with a cocky glance, blonde hair almost hiding his cunning, almond eyes. “Is that any way for someone like you to answer a noble?”

Someone like me?” I quoted, my noble pride making me grit my teeth.

“Yes, someone like you: an abomination with no place on Arceus’ green earth. With half of your vision gone, you’re corrupted, filthy. You should be thankful that we’re allowing you in our presence.”

“I am no abomination,” I spat. “Nobody but fools believe in those religious superstitions.”

The one with the green eyes bristled at my tone. “You wretch, you were more than likely forced to travel with that caravan after your family threw you out. They didn’t want you, and those men will get rid of you when they tire of your performances.”

“My family did not abandon me.”

The noble cocked his head, feigning innocence. “So you didn’t wake up in a strange place after you lost your eye? That is, after all, what a town is supposed to do to rid themselves of the bad luck Arceus cast upon the damned.”

At the words, the night I was left in the forest came back to me. The words of the man who had carried me unwillingly echoed in my mind: “What a waste of a young lad. Religion and beliefs blind the royalty. Omens and superstitions cloud their minds with fear and hatred.” I tried to block out the realization that seeped into my subconscious, but it was impossible with the boy’s grinning face.

I turned on my heel to run away. Seconds later, something wet licked my face. I fell to the ground when my legs didn’t bend, a pained grunt leaving me when I fell flat on my face after my arms refused to move and stop my fall. The three nobles chortled at my expense.

“That Haunter came at the right time,” one of them managed to say between his chuckles.

Struggling to lift my head up, I saw the Ghost Pokémon that licked me, a mauve shadow with two huge, clawed hands, in hysterics at what he just saw. Furiously, I tried to shout at them, yet my mouth was firmly glued shut. All four of them laughed harder when I got to my knees only to fall back down on my stomach. While I was seething and still trying to banish the realization of my abandonment, one of them walked to my side and ripped my eye patch from my face.

“Something like this won’t be able to hide what you are,” he taunted me as he dangled it in front of my face.

“You’re a disgrace to all noble families,” I wanted to snarl. However, I couldn’t do a thing. I was helpless. I felt exposed without my eye patch. Most of all, I felt like a complete idiot for not realizing what my family had done to me. At the moment, I wanted nothing more than to be alone and figure out what I was feeling. Anger? Sadness? Betrayal?

Out of nowhere, something bowled over the kid beside me. The pink thing kept going towards the other two, who stopped their laughter long enough to scream in surprise. Like their friend before them, I heard them land hard on the ground. The Haunter decided he didn’t want to fight and melted back into the shadows of the buildings.

“Unless you want Creamia here to deal you some real damage,” an icy voice was heard from somewhere in front of me, “I suggest you leave.”

I heard the beginning of three protests, but an angered, “MILLL….” and the sound of a hoof pawing the ground shut them up. Soon, their running footsteps vanished.

Shocked and confused about what just happened, I hardly noticed when someone picked me up in their arms. It wasn’t until I saw the ground below me instead of inches from my nose did I startle and look up.

“En…En….” I stuttered; the paralysis didn’t allow me to say more. The cow-like Pokémon he had released walked back to his side, her long, cream-colored tail swishing along with the four pink udders on her stomach as she laughed at the boys’ cowardly run.

“It seems I came just in time.” Enjolras’ hardened features were softening under the light of the passing street lamps. “Granted, I’ve been in the shadows, keeping an eye on you since you’ve left.”

But I wasn’t listening to what he saying. For the past minute, my mind was whirling and nearly busting a gear as I tried to remember all the signs that I missed, everything that would have told me what my family had done if I hadn’t been so oblivious. Then something clicked into place, and I stared up at the man who was carrying me with renewed anger.

“L...let go….!” I tried to shout. I used all my strength to try and escape his grasp, yet with the paralysis still teeming within my veins, I could only manage a wiggle that merely made him look down.

“Fabian, I’m sorry I followed you,” he apologized. “It was wrong of me, but I know how dangerous these towns can be at night.”

I growled between my teeth and shook my head. “You li…lied to me! You knew what…what my family did to me, and you nev…er told me.”

Enjolras gave me a sympathetic look as I continued attempting to escape from his arms. “Fabian, it was not my place to tell you.”

My fingers twitched as I tried to ball my fist and punch him in the face. Enjolras had no right to lie about my own family! He should have told me! Maybe I wouldn’t have believed him, maybe I would have broken down, but at least I would have known.

As I continued to thrash as much as I could, the black-haired traveler touched my shoulder, his voice much gentler than I ever heard it. “Fabian, if you continue to struggle, the paralysis will spread to your heart.”

“I don’t c-care…as long as I get away from you!” Head snapping to meet his gaze, the scowl that had been angrily etched on my face faltered; level-headed Enjolras looked hurt by my words.

He looked over to his side and solemnly addressed the pink and black bovine, “Creamia, Heal Bell.”

The Pokémon cocked her head, the two small horns that protruded from her skull glinting in the lantern light. Sky-blue eyes met my own, single orb just as the air began to thrum. A soft melody of dozens of bells weaved through the buildings of the town. Sighing in sudden contentment, I felt my body relax as the strange yet peaceful ringing lulled me to sleep. Head landing and lolling on the crook of Enjolras’ arm, the last thing I saw was Creamia’s bright eyes looking up at me with a pitying shine.

I didn’t want anybody else to feel sorry for me. Then again, I would probably feel sorry for anybody who thought he still had a family when in fact, he was all alone.

_____

I pulled my legs up to my chest and rested my head upon my knees. The leaves of the tree I sat under shook and trembled as a breeze cantered across the outskirts of Hallow Town. Though I shivered, I refused to go back to the bed of blankets I had woken up in back at the caravan, where everybody was fast asleep. Somehow, the smell of ashes that still lingered in the air after someone put out the campfire comforted me. This was a time where I wanted nothing more but to be alone and left to my own thoughts. Hugging my knees closer to me, I took a deep breath and just stared into the forest.

“It seems the paralysis has worn off.”

Narrowing my eye at the shadows of the trees before me, I replied through tight lips, “I would appreciate it if you left me alone, Enjolras.”

Despite my words, I heard him step closer. Something was dangled in front of me, and annoyed, I snatched it from his hand. My expression softened when I saw that it was my eye patch, the strap repaired. I turned around to see Enjolras sitting on the other side of the tree’s trunk, one leg drawn up so that he could rest his arm on it. Silently placing my eye patch back in place, I told him coldly, “You had no right to lie to me.”

“I did not lie to you, Fabian. I never said that you weren’t exiled.”

“You said my family loved me.”

A blanket of silence covered us. I thought I could hear the faint twinkling of Jean Prouvaire’s hanging glass figurines whenever a gust of wind swept through the area.

“You know they do, Fabian,” Enjolras finally answered.

I plucked a blade of grass and twirled it in my fingers. “Do they? Do they really? Then why am I here?”

“Religion is a powerful thing. Its beliefs can influence people’s decisions and actions, as rash as they may be.”

The strand of grass that I had been weaving through my fingers was crushed. “Are you justifying what they did?” I heard his intake of breath as he prepared to retort; I cut him off. “As loyal as I am to Arceus, I would never do that to my family if the roles were reversed. Stubborn they may be, but I love my mother and uncle.” My eye lowered itself to the ground. “I still do.”

“And there’s nothing wrong with that, Fabian, because they still love you, too.” A rustle of grass and a tumbling of pebbles resulted in Enjolras standing before me. I met his face, expression still troubled. The young man’s eyes held a glint of something I couldn’t identify. Whatever it was, it made me anxious: Enjolras wasn’t telling me something. “Tell me, have you ever heard of a case when a noble was banished from his town?”

I could only shake my head.

“That’s because banished nobles have their minds erased. Nobles are proud. They would not want something such as a blind son or daughter to make their family seems weak and brittle. By destroying their memories, they eliminate the possibility of the damned somehow coming back and blemishing the family’s reputation. By keeping it secret, a kingdom can still boast about their noble families.” Surprising me, Enjolras got on his knees and took hold of my shoulders. Though his voice was as calm as before, something in his grip made it seem as though he was shaking me to make me understand what he was getting at. “But you still have your memories, and if you’re anything to go by, your family seems to be as proud as any noble I’ve ever met. Doesn’t that mean anything?”

I shrugged off his hands, still suspicious about his words and actions. “I’ve never heard about that. How do I know that what you’re telling me is true?”

Enjolras smiled a sad smile. “I once belonged to a noble family, back when I was seventeen. My little sister, twelve at the time, was made blind by a chronic illness and left in the nearby forest without even her name to remember. I set out to find her, despite my family’s refusal and threat to disown me. That was six years ago, and I’m still searching.”

He stood up, his face once again in shadow. “It’s your choice whether you want to believe me or not. All I ask is for you to keep my secret just as I have kept yours.”

Leaning against the trunk of the tree, my legs now stretched out before me, I laid my hands on my lap. Enjolras could have made all of that up on the spot, yet imagining him as a noble, dressed in the finest clothes and living in a grand mansion, wasn’t as impossible as I first thought. He had tact, charisma, and even the air of someone you knew had the situation under complete control.

And his eyes….

I don’t know whether it was the unidentifiable emotion I saw in those orbs or the need to have a reason to believe that my family hadn’t really abandoned me, but I believed him.

“Alright,” I nodded after a few moments, a hint of a smile playing on my lips. “I’ll keep your secret.”

Enjolras returned the smile. “Thank you, Fabian. Now, if I dare ask, what are you planning to do?”

“I still plan on going to Majorelle and seeing my family. I’ll show them that they were wrong in leaving me. One eye or not, I’m still Fabian, and I’ll prove that and demand they take me back.” I lowered my voice, fully aware of all the possibilities. “And if they don’t, it’s their lost.” Though I had crossed my arms and turned my nose to the air, I glanced at the caravan leader, a question I was, unfortunately, too proud to ask in my eye.

The young man was quick to understand. “You’ll always have a place here in the caravan.”

Righting myself, I said, “Thanks, Enjolras.”

He nodded and looked towards the forest. “We’ll arrive on the outskirts of Majorelle tomorrow night. That will be the perfect time for you to go in and do what you have to do.”

“I’ll be ready,” I assured him. “And whatever happens happens.”

I just hope I can handle it, a small part of me whispered.
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Old 05-11-2009, 04:56 AM
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Default Re: My (Not So) Happy Ending

______

Unfortunately for me, the next day had gone by without much excitement. Hesitant about wandering the city after what happened the night before, I stayed where Marius and the others set up shop to sell their crafts while Enjolras and Joly went about to buy necessary supplies. As I had sat there, keeping an eye on the crafts while the others negotiated with potential customers, thoughts of what I was going to do that night came and refused to come out.

Whenever I came to the all important question of whether I would be welcomed back or forced to return to the caravan, it seemed as though I was flipping a coin in my mind. Curiously enough, I subconsciously labeled heads as Majorelle and tails as Enjolras’ caravan. Tails on a Poké was the same eye insignia that was emblazed on every knight’s shield. It symbolized purity and protection, so did that mean I would be better off with the caravan?

At one point, I actually borrowed a coin from Marius and began flipping and catching it. I thought it may get my thoughts prioritized about where I really wanted to go; it was better to think this all though right now rather than when I would be sneaking within Majorelle’s walls like a common thief.

Stopping the coin so that heads, an engraved profile of the king, faced up, I pondered on the possible outcome that I would be welcomed back as a noble. The respect others had for me would vanish the moment they would see my eye patch. My chances of becoming a member of the king’s royal council would be laughable. As for being a knight, the opportunity wouldn’t even be there if, for some reason, I did want to become one. Yes, I would be back with my family, but for what? To be pitied by them and looked down upon by everybody else? To be able to say, “I’m a noble,” while I’m treated with the dignity of a dog?

Yet what about the pros of all this? I wouldn’t have to work for my food and the right to stay. Instead of sleeping cramped on the floor or on the ground beneath a tree, I could sleep on a bed again. Food would again be chef-made plates, not fried Rattata and some kind of fruit concoction (or beer if I wanted to lose touch with reality for an hour or two.) I pulled on my short-sleeved tunic and envisioned a tailored suit in its place.

After a while, I flipped the coin to tails. Staying in the caravan meant that while I wouldn’t escape scrutiny of others, Marius and the rest wouldn’t look down at me. Part of it was due to the fact that only Enjolras knew about my situation; the rest was simply because they weren’t one to judge. Apart from that, I would see different places, Pokémon, culture, and everything else I wouldn’t be able to encounter if I stayed in Majorelle. I would do swordplay simply to perform and make a living, not to please my mother and uncle….

I stopped myself and went to the cons before I lost the reason I started flipping the coin in the first place. If I did stay with them, I would be stuck with commoner clothes, food that wasn’t really nearly as good as the Pokémon pellets I fed Wildfire, and a comfortable bed to sleep on would be unheard of. Everything I took for a granted back in Majorelle would be gone. Did I really want to travel for days, work for everything, and not even get some simple luxuries?

When I heard Jean Prouvaire shout for me to hand him a glass figurine, I reluctantly pocketed the coin and did as he ordered. It seemed that even when I dwelled on my thoughts more than usual, the questions never ended.

Or maybe I just didn’t want to come to a conclusion.

_____

“I’m sure you know your way around Majorelle, right?” Enjolras asked me.

I nodded, unable to stop looking at the forest around us. The woods were thick with trees that sported fat, muscular trunks and leafy canopies that blotted out the night sky. What little moonlight trickled through the leaves basked the grassy ground and the caravan Enjolras and I left behind us in rays of white. Already, the trees smelled like the Octillery oil Majorelle used for their street lanterns. I would be traversing through this forest in a matter of minutes. Then I would burst through and slip into Majorelle, where a few turns would take me to my mother’s mansion….

“Fabian, here.”

I turned, and there, among the bleakness of the night, were two Poké Balls in Enjolras’ hands. Stupidly, I looked up and wondered if he really was offering them to me. Grinning at my lack of an intelligent response, he got my hands and put the capturing devices in them.

“Take my Miltank and Riolu with you, in case you run into trouble. I’ve had them since I was your age, so I trust they’ll keep you safe. Attached to each Poké Ball is a slip of paper with their moves and descriptions of them.” When I glanced wide-eyed at the spheres in my hands, he continued, a smile in his words, “And no, I’m not giving them to you. You can return them to me either when you come back tonight or when you see us at our performance tomorrow at the square. Either way, I trust you.”

I was left so speechless, so touched by this trust he had bestowed upon me, that I felt incredibly guilty for almost rushing off without even a thank you. Safely pocketing the Poké Balls, I looked up. “I don’t know how many times I’ve said this to you over the past few days, but thanks, Enjolras. Really, for everything. And because of how…humble I was forced to be, I can confess that without you and the others, I honestly don’t know where I would be.”

“Hardships do that to people,” he told me, his eyes not quite meeting my gaze. “I can’t tell you how much I’ve changed these past four years.” Enjolras broke out of his reverie. “But you’re very welcome, Fabian, and I hope things turn out the way you want them to.”

“I don’t really know what I want,” I admitted. “But I prepared myself for whatever happens.”

“Then I wish you luck.”

With that and a final smile of gratitude, I entered the forest. For a few minutes, I simply trekked through the thick foliage, batting branches away and jumping over roots that nearly disappeared through the tall grass. I knew the paths I would take through the streets, how I would hide from the guards that were stationed around the city, and where I could sneak into the estate without being noticed. All I had to ready myself for was how I was going to present myself in front of Mother and Uncle Marth. Angrily to emphasize what I had to go through? Calmly to show them I was still the noble son that I was before I lost half my eyesight?

“UGGH!” I yelled as I stumbled back with my face throbbing in pain. With a growl, I gripped the tip of the still-swaying branch and foolishly tried to rip it from its tree. As though taunting me, it refused to break and continued to shake its leaves. When logic came back to me, I resisted the urge to slap the palm of my hand against my forehead. Fishing out the Poké Balls in my pockets, I turned the knobs and released the pocket monsters from inside.

The rotund cow from before brandished the ebony bell at the end of her tail as a greeting. The Riolu, a navy-blue puppy that stood on its black hind legs, gazed at me in slight confusion. Kneeling down to both of their eye levels, I saw Edward (according to the slip of paper attached to his Poké Ball) come closer, the two tufts of black fur on either side of his head lowering when he saw I was of no threat. When his fluffy, azure tail began to wag, I knew I had his trust.

“Enjolras probably told you guys he let me borrow you for a little while. I would appreciate it if you guys helped me out. Can you do that for me?” Creamia and Edward nodded, and I suddenly thought of Wildfire and the confidence she always showed for me before the start of each jousting tournament.

“That’s great,” I said before looking at the moves listed on their respective slips of papers. “Creamia, use Rollout to flatten the grass in front of me. Edward, use Iron Tail on the low hanging branches of the trees.”

Neither of them wasted any time in complying with my orders. Creamia’s black-spotted bulk rolled itself into a ball and shot into the thicket of the forest with the force of a Tauros. Grass stalks were instantly flattened into a path, and even meddlesome roots and rocks that had been hidden within the bush were ripped from their spots and sent flying into the air. The small jackal sprinted a few feet ahead of me before he launched himself into the air and whacked a row of branches with a glowing, silver tail. CRAAAACK! they groaned before they splintered into pieces and fell to the ground.

Chuckling at the utter chaos I had just helped create, I continued to walk.

And so the rest of the way was spent with Creamia creating a traversable pathway and Edward clearing the branches that would have surely given me a couple of good bruises, seeing as how the forest grew darker the more we walked.

Then, a “Mil!” came from up ahead. With the Riolu at my side, I jogged until I was beside the Normal-type. Her fine, pink-and-black flank was covered and knotted in briars, leaves, and dirt. Despite that, she beamed with pride when she pointed at Majorelle’s entrance with a wave of her black hoof. Seeing the majestic, granite arch that grew from the walls that surrounded the city, my heart swelled to twice its size.

“Come on,” I excitedly told the Pokémon, already beginning to run towards the entrance. I heard them following me, and we soon crossed the archway and entered the finance district of the city. At least ten buildings built with the finest pine Majorelle could afford to import met our sights. They were huge and elaborate with ornately-decorated columns of limestone at each corner and at least three windows on each wall. This prominent area was lit by a street lantern at each corner.

Suddenly remembering that this was the most guarded district in the city, I quickly herded Creamia and the Emanation Pokémon to the side of the street and continued on our way from within the shadows the intimidating buildings cast. I froze in my tracks when I heard the crunch of gravel from somewhere up ahead. Gripping the column of the building we had been sneaking by, I hid and ushered my two companions behind me. Straining my ears, I tried to find out if there was indeed somebody lurking beyond my line of vision. Unfortunately, my own raspy breathing prevented me from detecting something as quiet as a footstep.

“Damn it,” I cursed in a whisper. “I can’t hear a thing.” Calming myself, I addressed Creamia and Edward, “We’re going to have to move fast and even more quietly. Let’s just wait - Edward! What are you doing?!”

Edward stopped walking out into the street and turned innocent, ruby eyes my way. Now more on edge than ever, I rushed to where he was standing beneath the shining street lantern and dragged him back to the darkness.

“You can’t just walk right out into the open. This place could be swarming with guards!”

The bipedal canine ignored my scolding, smiled, and bowed his head to show me the tufts of fur underneath his pointed ears. They were standing on end, practically horizontal, and brimming with a cerulean aura that made his masked face glow. He pointed at them, then at me, and swept his paws around to indicate the finance district. I stared, slack-jawed, as I tried to comprehend what he was saying.

“Are you…telling me…that you can detect if there’s anybody around?”

Edward nodded his head vigorously then ushered me and the Miltank to the side of the street with one of his ebony paws.

“Okay, I’ll follow. Just warn me before you do anything like that again, got it?”

The Riolu nodded again. With my breathing less erratic, Creamia and I were led by Edward through the streets, keeping away from the light the street lanterns shed but no longer immersing ourselves in the bleak shadows of the district. Twice Edward warned us to hide, but other than that, we made it to the street that forked towards the entertainment district with no problems.
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Old 05-11-2009, 04:57 AM
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Default Re: My (Not So) Happy Ending

Though small, it was the most popular area in the city. On the horizontal street we walked into were inns and bars that stretched to the right and left. Both types of buildings were two stories, rectangular in shape, and always filled to the brim with people. In front of us, the street forked into three different directions. The northwest street led towards the stadium and training grounds, the very same area that my last jousting tournament I participated in was held. The north street was the one that held all those multicolored tents where people could waste their Poké on games they had no chance in winning and on shows that were tacky at best. Ignoring both branches, I ran towards the third one, the one that led to the noble district.

However, Edward and Creamia pulled me behind a vendor’s cart. Seconds later, I heard somebody approaching. Hunkering down, I mouthed a ‘thanks’ to both of them and peered to see who it was. I kept myself from laugh aloud at the drunken duo that meandered our way from one of the bars. Both of them, judging by their unsteady gait, seemed just about ready to fall on their faces, yet they somehow stayed sober enough to stumble and chat at the same time. I was rearing to continue on sneaking when something in their slurred words made me freeze.

“Wildfire?” I echoed to myself. In a second, I was balancing myself on the balls of my feet as I peeked over the wooden counter of the cart.

“…beautifu’ stallion she is. ‘Ine bred and smart!”

“Why she on sale again?” the other one asked.

“Say that Adjanim brat wen’ to live with his relatives in Amarillo after ‘e recover’ from that Scyther fight.”

“Irresponsible ‘obles….”

The minute they were out of earshot, I shot up and ran towards the street that would lead me home. I was too shocked and angry to pay attention to Edward and Creamia, both of whom were trying to catch up to me. Mother and Uncle Marth were selling Wildfire, my Wildfire! They may not have told the city I was dead, but by selling my lifelong companion, I might as well be. Whether I stayed in Majorelle or not, I would not let Wildfire be sold! Even if I was dragged out of the city by my hair, I would take my precious Rapidash with me.

Something grabbing my arm and practically throwing me to the floor snapped me back to reality. When my elbow slammed against the trunk of a tree, my cry of pain was silenced by a paw against my mouth. Still keeping me silent, Edward kneeled and pointed to somewhere on my far right. Craning my head, I caught sight of my mansion over the hill. My smile was wiped away when I saw a guard stationed near. I crawled backwards to hide behind the tree.

“Rio….” the canine apologized once we were out of sight.

“Don’t worry about it,” I told him. I rubbed my elbow and looked over to the mansion. “I’m just glad you stopped me before I walked right into Greg.”

Greg was the sharpest guard in Majorelle, which is why he was the only one that was hired to guard my family’s estate. The thirty-year-old man was dedicated to his job and to the family he protected. Neatly combed chestnut hair cut to right above his ears betrayed how quickly he could spring into action. Those sharp, jade eyes could already be felt as the tall, broad man walked around in search of potential thieves, navy uniform blending into his dark surroundings.

When I saw him momentarily disappear behind the house, the three of us half ran, half crawled up the cobblestone pathway that led to the iron gates of my house and hid behind a clump of bushes; Creamia was holding her tail in her hooves to keep her bell from making a sound. We were feet away from the left side of the gate, and I looked over to where I could see the sloping of land near the bars of the gate. For some reason, this particular spot accumulated too much water when it rained, making the ground muddy and too infertile to allow anything to grow. It was Mother’s vexing problem but probably my salvation.

“When it’s all clear, Edward, you go and dig a tunnel right there for us to get in through.” He nodded, and when he twitched his aura sensors a moment later, he ran up to the spot and began digging with his forepaws. As dirt flew in chunks, I peered at all the grass statues beyond the twelve-foot tall gate, half expecting for Greg to pop out from one of them. I could hide behind them, yet at the same time, my already limited sight was going to be hindered.

With Greg still somewhere else on the estate, Edward, Creamia, and I crawled through the crude tunnel the Riolu finished making. When I made it to the other side with relative ease, I looked back at the tunnel in confusion. Had I grown thinner while I was gone? Maybe I had, but this was no time to wonder about it.

Getting up from my knees, I could see the yard was exactly as I remembered it. Nicely trimmed grass with drops of dew, gargantuan bushes carved out into Pokémon, and Mother’s garden bordered by granite stones, nothing had changed. I waited while the Milk Cow Pokémon struggled to fit through the tunnel, trying to feel a tug at my heartstrings or something that would tell me I really missed this place.

And there it was, a feeling of happiness that made me warm all over. I let out a breath I didn’t know I had been holding. I guess not every part of me wanted to stay with Enjolras.

After the cow was finally dislodged and the Emanation Pokémon gave the a-okay, it was all a matter of reaching the window of my room. A few all-clears and the use of a Ninetales and Nidoking grass statute brought us beneath my large, stain glass window. The image of Arceus rearing up to banish some dark entity was emblazed in panes of pearl, gold and azure. Behind the wheel he bore around his waist, I could make out the shape of the latch on the other side; it was unlock, just how I left it. To think that I had merely left it open to gaze at the stars in the ungodly hours of the night!

Gently pushing the window open, the two vertical halves swinging in without the slightest squeak, we all scrambled into the room as quietly as we could. I was somewhat taken aback at the sheer vastness of the room, somewhat used to the cramped interior of the caravan. Edward and Creamia actually gasped in unison, looking at each other as though asking if they really were inside a noble’s house. Closing the window, I took a good look around.

My king-sized bed with its navy and silver bedspread looked so inviting to my weary bones. Forcing myself to look away from the tantalizing sight, I walked towards the door, the wooden floor taunting me by squeaking every step or so. My dirty hand hovered over the doorknob, and I couldn’t help but gaze at the room. This might be the last chance I would have to be in here. Despite Edward and Creamia watching me expectantly, I wandered over to the bookcase that covered the entire wall in front of my bed. Tomes upon tomes were neatly organized in the ten shelves that ran up and towered over me. Smiling at the books, most of them about politics and religion, I kicked the leaned ladder beside me, the one I used to reach those last, high shelves.

“Ri?” the small jackal questioned in a whisper, an insisting tug on my pant’s leg. Creamia anxiously stood beside the door.

“I’m…going,” I told him once I ran my hand on the top of my wooden desk and traced the candle I had always lit to read. Economy Through the Ages was still lying open, waiting for me to pick up where I left off and continue my aspiration of becoming a member of the royal council.

Reality was tugging the hem of my tunic.

“I’m coming, I’m coming,” I whispered in reply, taking one last look at the book before I walked out and closed the door behind me.

The closing click, though faint, sounded final.

Taking a deep breath, I focused on the task at hand. Other than my room, the five rooms that lined the walls of this vast, carpeted hallway were studies and libraries. Ignoring the painted pictures of my ancestors on either side of us, I led the Riolu and Miltank to the hallway at the end of the corridor. It branched towards the kitchen, which led to the living room, which ultimately led to the bedrooms of Mother and Uncle Marth. Setting foot into this aforementioned hall, we arrived at two doors: the one on the right led to the dining room and the other led to the kitchen itself.

“The maids and butlers are asleep by now,” I commented as I heard the clock of the dining room strike five in the morning. “Getting to my mother and uncle will be smooth sailing from here on out.”

We entered the kitchen, a maze where every surface was a glistening white. Everything from the tiled floor, the walls, the stacked plates beside the row of sinks at the far wall, and the countertop in front of us was glimmering from the moonlight the skylight above us provided. Mother loved skylights, she thought it would brighten the day of any servant if they saw the sun shinning above their heads, and thus, it would inspire them to work harder. Well, judging from Edward and Creamia’s expressions, it seemed it brightened their moods. They didn’t seem so skittish and unsure about what they were doing.

But then Edward’s tranquil expression changed as he whirled around to face the very door I had been about to point out. The shuffling of two pairs of feet against carpet reached my ears, and immediately, all three of us plastered our backs against the bottom of the countertop and behind a row of stools. At the edge of the counter, I gripped the legs of the stool in front of me and cocked my head to catch a glimpse of the opening door.

I clasped my hand against my mouth to prevent myself from gasping aloud. The very people I had been looking for walked into the kitchen. Without bothering to turn on the lights (for which I was immensely thankful for), my mother and uncle came closer, like ghosts unaware of their deaths. Mother’s silk robe of garnet-red, buttoned to the top of the v-neck, shimmered when caressed by the moon’s rays but faded away when she was in shadow. The train and her fair hair were loose, no hair ornament or robe sash in sight.

The man that trailed behind was a bit more disheveled in appearance. With ends of his hair standing on end and the array of wrinkles on his maroon robe showing he had put it on with little care, he hardly resembled my intelligent, if arrogant, uncle.

“Marth, would you be so kind as to fix some tea?” the woman offhandedly asked. My heart skipped a beat when she leaned against the opposite side of the counter, hiding most of her body from view.

Uncle Marth nodded once and began to fill a kettle with water. Questioningly, my eyebrows drew together. Wouldn’t it have been easier for Mother to call up a maid to do the tea? Why come to the kitchen with Uncle Marth? Her tone of voice told me she had something on her mind. Hopefully, both of them would leave once she drunk her tea. Really, after running around Majorelle and sneaking past Greg, I did not plan on making my stand in a kitchen.

The freshly brewed cup of tea was handed minutes later. I gritted my teeth when both adults stood in silence, the occasional sips from my mother just adding to the frustration. Were they going to spend all night here, brooding with whatever they had in mind? Out of all the nights to do this, why in Arceus’ holy name did they choose tonight? Resisting the urge to sigh, I slowly leaned back and ran a hand though my hair. I guess I had to wait it out.

Of course, with my luck, things never go as planned.

Sometime before Mother and Uncle Marth entered, Creamia had shifted a few stools to make way for her large hulk. One of the stools’ legs was put on Edward’s tail, and it wasn’t until now that he noticed that he couldn’t dislodge it. The dog gave his appendage a few tentative tugs; the stool held his tail firmly in place. Triangular-ears sweeping back in irritation, he tightened his hold and pulled harder. My breath hitched at the back of my throat when the stool moved, emitting the tiniest and shortest screech possible. I shook my head at him, mouthing for him to stop immediately. At the same instant, Creamia grabbed one his shoulders, trying to calm him down. An almighty jerk from Edward sent both of them skidding backwards. The loud bang that resulted from their heads slamming against the wall of a stove was nowhere near as loud as the moo that ripped itself from the Miltank’s throat when the tottering stool fell and smashed her tail.

A muffled scream and the breaking of china followed soon after. I saw Mother’s robe swirl as she whirled around for the source of the commotion. “In Arceus’ name!” she exclaimed. “Marth, quickly, do something!”

At the sound of the tea kettle being picked up, I instinctively sprung to the rescue. “Don’t hurt them!”

I knelt beside the dazed Pokémon and then looked up. Uncle Marth was standing over me, the tea kettle precariously above my head and his glare telling me he would not hesitate in pouring the scalding liquid over me.

“State your name and the reason you have trespassed upon my home!”
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Old 05-11-2009, 05:03 AM
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Default Re: My (Not So) Happy Ending

I opened my mouth but shut it, along with my eye, when the room was suddenly bathed in artificial light. A heartbeat later, the kettle was dropped, and the tea pooled around the frozen man’s feet and crept towards me. I scooted back until I bumped into a robed figure behind me. I met the eyes of my mother, who stared down at me with her mouth agape and expression disbelieving. I stood up, squared my shoulders, raised my chin, and stepped back so that both of them were in my line of vision.

“I know I’m not supposed to be here,” I started. “And I know I don’t look like myself.” I fingered my eye patch, a wry grin spreading on my face. Oh how true that statement was. “But I’m Fabian, your son and nephew, and hear me out before you tell me anything.

“A lot has happened to me over these past few days. I’ve been forced to work in order to just get fed. I’ve been humiliated and treated like trash. I know that in Majorelle it won’t be any different, not like this.” I motioned to my missing eye. My tone of voice began to lose its edge. “I know you guys still love me, I still love you guys, too, which is why I came here to see if you would allow me to stay.”

Mother and Uncle Marth came closer. Edward and Creamia shifted on the floor, ready to come and protect me, but I lightly shook my head at them. Soon, their forms were hidden when the usually stoic woman embraced me in a light but tender hug. Before I had the chance to wrap my arms around her, she let go, bent down, and grabbed hold of my chin. Apricot eyes were, for once, not trying to belittle those in front of them. With her other hand, she began to stroke my cheek.

“I cried after you were attacked. I cried when you were taken away. Most of all, I cried when I realized you would never be able to live your life again. You are my son, Fabian, and as harsh as I am at times, I would never put you in a position where you would be despised and ridiculed. I know you would never be happy like that. Would you, Fabian?”

I mirrored Mother’s small smile, but my quivering, bottom lip threatened to collapse it. There was so much utter relief and sadness that my normally composed attitude had been chipped. Biting my lip, I shook my head. “No. Believe me, I had put a lot of thought into this.”

A pair of heavy hands gripped my shoulders from behind after Mother let go of my chin. “Fabian, you’re smart, resourceful, and talented. You can make a life outside of Majorelle without our help. No matter what kind of life it is, I can assure you it will be much better than whatever we could give you now.” When he spoke no more, I turned in slight confusion.

“Is that all you have to say to me?” I asked skeptically.

He laughed his merry laugh. Unlike so many times before, it didn’t sound condescending. It was cheerful and warm. “Yes, that’s all I’m going to say. It seems you already found a place outside of the city. The only times I’ve seen you brim with such confidence has been when you had everything planned out, when you were sure about where you were heading. I say you already made your decision before you walked into this kitchen.”

Taken aback, I avoided stuttering, “Really?” I looked to the two creatures on the floor and thought of their owner. “Maybe I did.” Gazing up to glance at the night sky beyond the skylight, I sighed sadly. “I think it’s time for me to go.”

I looked over to the fair-haired woman, knowing that anguish had befallen my features. This confrontation, though it had gone well, had been too short. I wasn’t ready to be thrown back to the harsh world I had crawled from long enough to tell them I was alive. Though she was stern and I proud, we were still mother and son, and I loved her as much as any child should. Unashamed, I walk towards my mom and hugged her around the waist, my head lying on her chest.

“I’m going to miss you, Mom. You have no idea how much.”

Her hair tickled my cheeks. A single tear slid down her face and caressed my own. “I’m pretty sure I will.”

We parted and exchanged one last, painful glance. Uncle Marth, sensing my hesitancy to leave, gently steered me to the door. “Please, Fabian, take care. Beware of Greg. I fear he will not recognize you under this blanket of stars and will arrest you if you are seen. We haven’t told him about you only because the less people know, the safer you’ll be.” He glanced over to the Pokémon that had picked themselves up from the floor and were following at my heels. “Protect him, no matter what.” Creamia and Edward solemnly nodded.

Opening the door, I slipped into the hallway. The doorknob seemed too cold in my grasp. “Goodbye, Uncle Marth.”

He warmly smiled. “Goodbye, Fabian.”

I closed the door.

Leaving them behind was hard. What wasn’t was taking Wildfire’s Poké Ball from a forgotten drawer in my desk. I wasn’t going to leave everyone I loved in Majorelle.

_____

“It’s…it’s blocked….”

I stared wide mouthed at the twin, cement benches, stacked on top one another, that blocked the tunnel we had come through. Out of everything that could have gone wrong tonight, this was the last thing on my mind.

“Is Greg nearby?” I hurriedly asked, already sizing up the barricade and wondering how in Arceus’ name we were going to move this.

Edward cocked his head with a far-off gaze. With his tufts of fur glowing and twitching, he indicated no.

“Good, then. Let’s try and move this out of the way.”

The Milk Cow Pokémon shuffled over to the right side of the benches and planted her fore hooves against the handsome, gray stone to push. Her entire girth began to jiggle as she planted her heels on the ground and gave it all she got. Edward began kicking the upper bench with precise high kicks and jumps. Cracks began to dance across its surface like spider webs with every hit. I began to push the top bench off with everything I could. Cursing the uneven and soggy ground beneath my boots that made me slip every second or so, I wondered how Greg managed to do this in the first place.

Something cold smashed against my back from the left. I hardly had time to gasp at the pain that exploded into existence before I was sent hurdling into a grass statue feet away. Soaking wet and with my back beginning to become numb from the impact, I raised my head from where I lay on the floor. A pink blob, my hazy eyesight not up to details at the moment, stood on top of the pile of benches. Forcing myself to my knees, I swept back my sodden hair and tried to get rid of the ringing in my ears.

The creature brought his long, white-tipped tail to his beige snout and twitched it, taunting Edward and Creamia to attack. The act might have been intimidating if he didn’t have the dopiest look I’ve ever seen. Those minuscule pupils set in twin craters of white were simply silly, and his curled ears resembled tacky ornaments on his head. My two companions kept their distance from this four-legged Pokémon, unsure of what to make of him.

“Just scare it away, guys,” I told them, getting back to my feet. I winced as my back refused to fully straighten, and I rethought my last command. “On second thought, give it-Ahhh!”

Gargantuan arms were wrapped around my midriff and picked me up at lest two-feet off the ground. Grunting, I thrashed in these brown-plated limbs, but stopped when the creature’s claws dug into my stomach threateningly. Below me, I felt some sort of pouch on the Pokémon’s dark-yellow belly. I gasped when I heard something move and squeak from within.

Creamia and Edward jumped and spun around unison. Their eyes widened, yet they held their ground. Something rustled the bushes my attacker had come from and stepped in front of me. When I saw the man, I immediately lowered my head, my hair limply shielding my face.

“No trespasser is going to get by,” Greg fiercely stated. “I take my job seriously, wretch, and so do my Slowpoke and Kangaskhan.”

I didn’t answer, fearing he would recognize my voice. I never talked to him, but I didn’t want to take a chance.

“Take care of those Pokémon, Hiro,” he addressed the Dopey Pokémon. Unable to help it, I raised my head, afraid for Enjolras’ Pokémon. Hiro jumped down, surprisingly landing on his feet, and stared up at Edward. The dog growled, and when his aura sensors began to sparkle dangerously the closer the pink Pokémon got, I concluded that Hiro’s presence must have somehow allowed Greg to sneak up on us.

Hiro ran up to Edward as fast as his stubby, white paws could, his head bent low and his tail tucked in tight. Edward expertly dodged the Headbutt by jumping on the Pokémon’s back and leaping behind him. Hiro let out a gasp as he fell spread-eagle on the ground, the momentum of his run making him skid before coming to a halt. The masked, azure pup whirled around and launched himself into the air in a High Jump Kick. When he was falling back to Earth, his knee was aimed at the Slowpoke’s back.

Hiro opened his gaping mouth and shot a concentrated torrent of water. The Water Pulse hit Creamia in the udders, and it was all she could do to keep herself from falling over. The Water-type, on the other hand, was propelled backwards, out of the High Jump Kick’s way, like a furry bullet. From up above, Edward barked out in surprise just before he collided with the ground. I looked swiftly away when I heard his knee give a disgusting pop. When I glanced back, I saw, to my utter relief, Edward regaining his footing. The cerulean, column of water was now an icy shower of droplets that rained down upon the moaning Fighting-type as he straightened his leg with a hiss if pain.

Though he had escaped relatively unscathed, Hiro decided to come back for more. He slashed the air with his tail…. But nothing happened. Edward and I shared a confused look. Then, as I noticed the slow Pokemon gazing up at the sky expectantly, I, too, looked up. My mouth fell open at the sight of a handful of stars fluctuating in brightness before twinkling out of existence, leaving nothing but an abyss of midnight. Hiro whipped his tail again, and this time, a gust of wind blew my hair back, as though a rift had been opened before him. Orbs of glowing, silver gas shot out from the invisible portal, and after they pelted Edward in the chest in rapid succession, all that was left of the Swift was wispy trails of shimmering gasses.

“Stop messing around, Hiro, and just knock them out,” the guard growled. “You,” I avoided meeting his eyes, “are going to be handed straight to a head guard. Let’s go, Illia.”

The Kangaskhan began to follow him to the front gate. Panic bubbling deep inside my chest, I resumed my attempts to get free. With my arms held tight against my sides, I could only kick my legs. I felt a tremor go throughout my body as Illia growled whenever a boot made contact with her pouch. Knowing that whatever she had in that pouch was very important, I aimed my kicks there, ignoring the claws that began to dig into my skin. Finally, the Parent Pokémon (because by now, I deduced the frightened yelps in the pouch were from a hatchling) stopped and was on the verge of slamming me into the ground. With the hot air that tingled my face telling me her nostrils were flaring in fury, I now wondered if resisting had been such a good idea….

“MILLLL!” came a muffled battle cry.

Greg had a mere second to jump out of the way of Creamia’s Rollout attack. Well-cared turf exploded into a flurry of green and brown that covered everything, including me and Illia. The mother roared and stomped around, more than likely blinded by the debris, just like how I was. Then I felt something hit Illia in the pouch, and I was dropped to the floor; presumably, she doubled over to protect her young. Although unable to see a thing, I dragged myself away from the earth-shaking stomps the Kangaskhan was producing in her anger. I wiped away the mud just in time avoid crossing paths with the still-rolling Creamia. She had u-turned and was heading towards Edward’s battle.

I saw the Riolu get on top of Hiro’s back and hold the Pokémon’s paws down with his own. The Slowpoke yelled out in agony when Edward dug his canines into his neck in a Crunch attack. Light-colored fur was stained with blood and a spreading, inky-black that crept up his scalp and down his back. Edward pulled away, his maw speckled with drips of blood, and rolled to safety when he felt the earth beneath them tremble. Hiro began to get up but was smashed against the stacked benches by Creamia’s Rollout.

“Illia, Double Hit on that Miltank!”

I turned around and saw the Normal-type fully for the first time. Illia’s beige, floppy ears bounced on top of her green-plated head as she charged Creamia’s way. A mini, mauve-colored Kangaskhan popped her head out from the pouch she had been in. Seeing the battle that was going to ensue, the baby ducked back in.

Creamia stood on her two legs, ready to roll to avoid the attack. Hiro, however, wrapped his long tail around her legs and tripped her. Illia reached the fallen cow and tossed her into the air with a slap of her thick, twin-spiked tail. The Miltank yelped as she turned head over heels above the attacker’s head. Illia raised her fisted paw and punched Creamia behind the head. She fell on the back of a Rapidash bush statue. Though the back of her skull was turning a grisly violet, the cow stood and tensed her muscles for the follow-up attack that was no doubt coming.

“Gyro Ball!” I shouted the first attack that came to mind. Eye widening, I glanced over to Greg. He looked furious about us resisting capture, but no look of recognition flashed across his face.

“Hammer Arm!”

Illia stepped back and swung her arm down. Creamia jumped into the sky at the last minute. The statue was split messily in half, grassy limbs breaking off and horned head left attached to the fallen torso by a few, hair-thin vines. Outraged, the Parent Pokémon sluggishly looked for her foe. The pink Normal-type tucked herself into a ball and shot herself like an out-of-control, spinning gear. Illia was hit in the nose, and the flash of silver that crackled on impact made her momentarily blind.

Edward, meanwhile, was enraged about the underhanded trick Hiro had pulled on Creamia. Coiling his hind legs, he disappeared in a flurry of wind. The Slowpoke lazily looked around. Only shaking grass announced the fighter’s presence, and using his shoulder to ram the Pokémon against the benches in the blink of an eye, the Quick Attack was executed before the dual-type could even prepare himself. The stone cracked almost in half, but Hiro’s resolve didn’t falter. Throwing his head back, he Zen Heabutted Edward, who fell back in pain from the violet energy that coursed from the Dopey Pokémon to him. His arms twitched uncontrollably, which made his punch miss Hiro’s head and break off one of the bench’s legs.

“Stop and turn yourselves in, or I’ll be forced to knock out your Pokémon!” Greg warned. He surveyed the damage already done by the battles with a steely gaze.

“I will if you let us go,” I immediately retorted.

Greg seemed taken aback. Taking advantage of this, I dug out the lists of moves for Edward and Creamia and scanned over them before the guard snapped back to his senses. “Edward, Bite! Creamia, Present!”

Edward was currently holding his head as Hiro’s Confusion made him stumble back and hold himself up against the barred fence. Gritting his teeth, he got on all fours to steady himself and bit the goofy-looking creature in the same spot as before. Hiro prepared to slap Edward in the face with his tail, yet he could barely muster a blink. Within moments, his body was completely devoid of all movement except for that of his slowly rising chest.

I smiled in triumph and looked over to Creamia. She held her tail in her hooves and ran up to the slowed mother. The bell at the end was vibrating as though an angry bee had been trapped and was raging hell to just get out. Illia raised her foot and brought it down in a Stomp. Most of it missed its target and only made the ground tremble for a heartbeat, but her claws managed to nick the cow in the side. Bleeding from the gash, Creamia heaved, twirled her tail, and smashed the bell against the parent’s side.

A soft melody, like that of twinkling wind chimes on a summer day, filled the air. Illia’s pelt began to glow an unearthly white, and I grinned.

“Great job, Cr….” The Milk Cow Pokémon fearfully stepped back, making me trail off as a foreboding sensation gripped me from the inside with cold clutches. I read the small description Enjolras wrote for “Present” and immediately blanched. Illia, as though taunting my realization, flexed her arms and moved without that flinch she had adopted minutes ago.
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Last edited by Phantom Kat; 05-12-2009 at 01:40 AM.
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  #10  
Old 05-11-2009, 05:05 AM
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Default Re: My (Not So) Happy Ending

Keeping my back against the fence in case Greg decided to sneak up on me, I cried, “Body Slam!”

Creamia tucked herself into a ball and rolled towards the Parent Pokémon. At the last, possible minute, she straightened and sent her bulk flying into the Pokémon’s stomach. Illia howled as a crack reverberated from within her chest. When Creamia landed on the ground, I saw something threatening to pierce the kangaroo’s hide from the inside: a broken rib.

I sucked in a deep breath, shocked. I didn’t want to hurt her that badly. I just needed to knock her out. Averting my eye from the injury, I yelled, “Dizzy Punch!”

Creamia drew back her hoof, and a glassy look was already overtaking her eyes. Then-

“Sucker Punch, Illia!”

The Kangaskhan backed up into the shadow of an Arcanine statue. Horror-struck, I saw her seven-foot tall form blacken and melt into the darkness below. Sensing the opponent was gone, the Miltank righted herself. She turned every which way but was still unable to see the sliver of ebony that slithered through the grass and solidified into a three-clawed hand.

“Look out!”

Creamia whirled around only for the wisp-like appendage to punch her in the udders. The Miltank moaned and flopped to the ground, still conscious but winded. I tensed as Illia reformed from the shadows and slowly made her way to the fallen bovine with the Crush Claw Greg ordered. Claws lengthening to twice their size, and the points so sharp they were nearly invisible, she approached.

Suddenly, she collapsed onto her knees and clutched her chest. Her tail thumped madly against the ground as she began to hyperventilate. The baby in her pouch appeared and began to claw at her throat. From behind them, Edward burst through the same Arcanine bush as before and delivered a punch in the back. Illia gasped in pain then took in a huge gulp of air. The baby Kangaskhan, no longer clawing for air, ran back to the safety of the pouch as her mother swayed unsteadily.

“I guess that must have been a Vacuum Wave,” I mused when I got out the move list for Edward again. “Use Screech!”

The bipedal jackal took the claws from one paw and ran them over the metal plate on his other arm. The sound, so shrill and high-pitched, ripped through the air. Illia flinched and planted her paws on her light-colored ears. Yet the teeth-gritting noise penetrated and made her skin crawl.

“Illia, Outrage!”

Almost instantly, she regained her footing, and her ears flew back against her skull. A feral roar slithered its way from her throat. Edward inched backwards, yet Illia furiously charged towards him as though he had greatly insulted her. He managed to avoid her gnashing, salivating jaws by crouching, but he was knocked senseless by a huge paw to the head. Glazed, unfocused eyes located him trying to crawl away. Edward rolled on his back just as a foot came crashing down and crossed his arms in front of his face. They shook in their sockets as he held the foot at bay for a split second. Then, it came crashing down at the same instant he tried to roll away.

“RIIIO!” he yelled when his right hind leg was caught beneath the stomp.

Illia’s eyes were beginning to focus, but uncontrollable rage was still surging through her bulging muscles. So intent I was that I gasped in surprise when Creamia, huffing and puffing, came running towards the Parent Pokémon. She jumped on the Kangaskhan’s swishing tail and slammed her hoof right beneath Illia’s neck. The rampaging Pokémon arched her back as crystalline ice formed with crackles and pops that made her even angrier. It was apparent, though, that both the Outrage and her health had significantly dwindled.

With what seemed like the last of the Outrage-fueled adrenaline, she plucked the exhausted Miltank from her back and sent her soaring. Creamia met unforgiving iron bars, and it knocked her breath, and what remaining energy she had, away. Recalling the unconscious, crumpled heap she had become, I focused on Edward, who looked ready to join his companion. He flexed bruised arms, the iron plates on them deeply scratched by Illia’s foot claws. That confident, fighting stance had become wobbly and unsure due to the pain that was making it hard to breathe and the injured hind leg he was keeping his weight off of.

But Illia was slouching, nearly dragging her paws on the ground. She shivered from the golf ball-sized chunks of ice that stuck to her back.

“Illia, Mega Punch!”

The grand Pokémon confusedly trotted towards Edward, who limped to the right to avoid the oncoming attack. Dirt exploded over them when fist met only wet ground. Illia looked at the melon-sized crater with a cocked head, squinting to see if she had hit her target.

“Low Kick!”

The Riolu heaved a great sigh and backed away a dozen feet. He then began to awkwardly sprint, his masked face contorted with the pain he was trying to put aside. More than once, he stumbled on his lame leg, which made him utter an agonized whimper. I immediately regretted ordering him to attack, but it was too late to stop him. Besides, from the look of utter determination on his sweating face, I doubted he would stop after coming so far.

Edward threw himself to the floor in an angle, which enabled him to slide on the wet grass with his good leg outstretched. Illia had no idea what was coming until she was kicked in the knee. She buckled and knelt, the shock of the hit radiating from her leg to the rest of her body. Edward scrambled back like a kicked puppy, on all fours and ready to collapse.

“Aqua Tail….” Greg fingered the two Poké Balls in his hands, and I fidgeted with Creamia’s and Edward’s. Though we glared at each other, neither of us knew what was going to happen.

Illia gave a dying bellow and spun around. Grass stalks around her stood on end then shook. Every last, sparkling drop of dew flew up and formed a watery, transparent armor on the mother’s tail. It slammed into the Fighting Pokémon’s chest, where the water sheet burst into millions of droplets that drenched his fur and made him choke. He was pinned to the ground by her tail until the Normal-type fell on her back. Both of their eyes were closed, their bodies twitching and fighting to keep them conscious.

Greg and I waited to see who would stand up first. If it was Edward, our chance to escape would finally come. If Illia was the one to get up, even a weakened Kangaskhan would be more than enough to outrun me and knock me out.

The fallen Pokémon began to stir….

_____

If Illia stands up, it's no capture for all of them. If Edward stands up, they are captured. I added Slowpoke at the very end, so I'm glad he doesn't seem like something I added at the very last minute. xD Uggh, I spent the last three days proofreading this, so I REALLY hope I don't have many typos this time around. @_@

Going For: Riolu, Miltank, Kangaskhan, and Slowpoke
Min. Length: 90K - 130K
Total Length: 149,381K
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Old 10-29-2009, 11:00 PM
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Default Re: My (Not So) Happy Ending

Gah, I feel so guilty for taking this long, but to sorta-kinda help alleviate some of that frustration, I decided to construct a custom grade, just for you. Well, okay, I just ordered the categories from top to bottom in terms of what I thought was most important, so it's not that big of a deal, but there you go.

Grammar: Typos really are your mortal enemy, aren't they? I'm aware that you've struggled with them in the past, and this story indicates pretty clearly to me that you're still doing so. I know you mentioned that you hoped there weren't very many typos in this story, and I'm sorry, but... dang. I'd generally spot about three or four typos per paragraph. It was kinda surprising, actually.

But I'm sure this is somewhat of a sensitive issue for you. I promise not to make fun of you too much for it (BAHAHA, TYPOS). And seeing as you're a veteran story writer around here now, I wouldn't be content if I just told you to "try harder" or some other lame thing, 'cuz I'm sure you're trying plenty hard already, right? I mean, if you're not, then you already know it, so what's the use in me telling you? I s'pose I could yell more, if it helps, but I don't think it will, so instead, let's try attacking this problem of yours from a different angle.

I noticed something a bit peculiar in your story. The number of typos per paragraph wasn't very constant. In fact, sometimes, there'd be several paragraphs at a time that were virtually typo-free, which leads me to think that you have a tendency to focus your proofreading on certain areas of your story that interest you most. I suppose this is just pure conjecture on my part right now, but it stands to reason that your favorite scenes get the most attention. I certainly can’t blame you for such a tendency; I do the same thing, actually. But knowing about it makes all the difference, I think. Sometimes, I find myself glossing over the transitionary scenes in my stories, and I have to catch myself, keep myself in check, because even though those scenes may be somewhat less interesting than the moments of high action or drama, they are still incredibly important, right? They make the story cohesive and understandable for the reader, so they deserve a similar level of attention.

And sometimes, I find that it helps to try rethinking a scene if I find myself glossing over it in such a manner. Add something to it, make it more interesting, more engaging for myself and hopefully the reader as well.

Also, in terms of proofreading, I don’t know how you go about it, but you might benefit from organizing your thoughts a bit more, if you’re not already doing so. For instance, you could organize your proofreading visually. Change the color of the text that you’ve already proofed once. If you proof it another time, then change it to another color. This way you can keep track of what you’ve given the most attention to and maybe what could use some more editing.

Or, if you’re really having a hard time, you can go about it statistically. Let’s say you run through your story after it’s finished and keep track of all the typos you found. If this was your first proofreading and you found, say, fifty typos, then statistically speaking, you probably didn’t find them all – or even almost all – because there were so many to find in the first place. In all likelihood, there are still quite a few typos left, which means you should probably do at least one more proofread. So then you do it one more time, keeping track of all the typos again, and you find only seven this time. That’s a dramatic improvement, of course, so statistically, your story is probably pretty well off. There are probably a few more typos, but nothing too glaring, so another read-through is probably unnecessary, unless you’re just going for perfection. In which case, you’d at least wanna wait ‘till you read through it completely and found no typos.

And then, of course, there’s always the option of finding someone to proofread your story for you. Heck, I’ll offer to proof a story for you, if you just ask me, but I’m kinda particular about how I go about it. I prefer to do it in really small chunks, like a page or two, rather than ten ‘r something. But enough of my grammar ramblings.

Hope that helps.

Story: A nice plot, overall, I thought. It was suitably complex in its setting, where the beliefs and customs of your world play a key part in the drama that unfolds, and at the same time, neither was the story too overblown. You kept the main conflict fairly simple: the young noble looking for personal truth.

However, there were some curiosities that I found a bit… stifling to what I think you were trying to accomplish. For instance, the scene where Enjolras saves Fabian from a group of thugs struck me as a bit… tiresome. Perhaps even cliché. I know this particular scene is important to the overall story in terms of character development, but I always kinda cringe when main characters encounter a group of random dudes lookin’ for trouble, unless y’know, the whole story is about like gang wars ‘r something. So, I would’ve preferred something a bit more creative, because I mean… c’mon, realistically speaking, Fabian goes into town by himself one time and meets a buncha guys who wanna beat him up? What’re the odds? And if you think about it, what would Fabian have done later on if he didn’t encounter those guys? It seems to me that this random event served to help Fabian sort through some inner turmoil and develop a stronger friendship with Enjolras, but what if this unlikely event hadn’t happened? Would that have sealed Fabian’s fate into some hapless end later on? Hmm.

Okay, so I’m sorta over-thinking things here, but I’m sorry; random bandits ‘n thug characters just annoy the heck outta me. My point is, that while the event in question did serve to build up your overall plot a little bit, it didn’t do so in a very reasonable or particularly interesting fashion.

And really, I could say the same thing about Fabian’s encounter with the Scyther who took his eye, albeit to a lesser extent. But the event with Scyther was also a bit confusing, if you consider what happened later on. Fabian ended up losing his eye, but considering what you wrote here:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom Kat View Post
In a flash of movement, Scyther had me up against the tower, one scythe up against my throat.

He slashed at me.

Pain beyond imagination took over my face. Rivulets of blood ran as I screamed.

And then it was gone.
…it seems more like Scyther would’ve slit his throat, not his face, or at the very least, his throat and then his face afterwards. And if you consider “Arceus’ policy” towards such things, then how would he have possibly survive getting his throat cut without medical treatment? Unless the doctors decided to just patch up his throat only and then dump him in the woods…? Seems a bit… unnecessary, since they’re already leaving him for dead, anyway, right?

But I don't want to be too harsh. I suppose this story is fittingly complex for the four Pokes you intended to capture, so I shouldn't go feedback crazy... There're some other things I kinda wanted to mention, but now that I think about it... I guess I'll restrain myself. You did well, all things considered, and I don't want you to get it in your head that this was a bad story.

Battle: Yeah, there was lotsa action ‘n stuff. Personally, I thought there was a bit too much, to be honest. I mean, this is a story that is – at its heart – about ambition and family and pursuing personal happiness, things of that sort. A bunch of hectic fighting isn’t quite… fitting, in my opinion, and I don’t want you to feel obligated to include these things for the sake of appeasing some URPG standard, either. Not every story’s climax has to involve violence, y’know, and this one probably could’ve done without it.

But I can’t really penalize you for including so much action, either. It’s sort of a sad tradition around here, it seems, so that’d be unfair of me. And it’s not like your battles were ‘bad’ or anything. They were action-y ‘n everything. I was just kinda… ‘meh’ about it most of the time, because a lot of the fights seemed so extraneous.

Anyway, that’s just me. You can just ignore this section, if you prefer, I guess. Well, technically, you could ignore the whole grade, but… AWW, WHATEVER. NEXT SECTION.

Realism: Kinda interesting, actually. You took some time to flesh out the setting, which helped to establish a certain sense of reality in this fictional world. I think you did a pretty good job.

Length: I kinda thought it dragged on a bit too long ‘cuz of all the fighting, but yeah, that’s just my personal opinion. Obviously, I won’t hold that against you or anything.

Description: Yeah, I won’t trouble you with my ramblings about description ‘n whatnot. You do a great job, already. I suppose I could give you some more extensive feedback ‘n junk, but… frankly, that’d just take a lot more thought and effort than I wanna expend. And this isn’t meant to be an advanced grade, so… GOOD JOB ‘N STUFF.

Overall: This was a little bit closer than I expected, actually, but I can't take the 'mon from you. Riolu, Miltank, Kangaskhan, and Slowpoke captured! Keep workin' on your typos, okay? You're a good writer, so I know you'll get a better handle on it, eventually.

Congratulations and good luck with your future stories.
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Last edited by Galleon; 10-30-2009 at 01:46 AM. Reason: Huh? Wha?
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  #12  
Old 11-03-2009, 01:09 AM
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Phantom Kat Offline
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Default Re: My (Not So) Happy Ending

First of all, thanks a lot for the grade, George. :D

Second, man, did I really have that many typos? I honestly thought I proofread really well. Out of everything that you said, the typos is what really made me upset, since I thought I had already gone past the stage of "typos all over the place". Sometimes I think that the fact that English is my second language makes me overlook mistakes (I speak Spanish when I'm home), or maybe it's the fact that I read so much into a paragraph for mistakes that I don't catch them. Nonetheless, I'll try the color coding strategy. Having someone read my work to pick out typos... no thank you. If I let someone do that (as in pick out all my typos, not the people who would point out a mispelled word or a typo when I show them what I wrote), I feel as though, "Oh yeah, great grammar, but he/she picked out the mistakes for me, so praise them instead." I rather have a typo-riddled story that I can call 100% my own (or as much as you can when it's fanfiction :P) than have a clean story but knowing someone else edited it.

The slight cliché-ness of the encounter with the boys in the city... I didn't really think it was cliché when I wrote it. I guess we both have different ideas as to what's cliché?

Yeah, now that I read this, I can see how Scyther would have sliced his throat. I just meant for Scyther to hold him still by the throat with one scythe and slash with the other (and some guard would stopped Scyther before he attacked again, thus saving him from a torn throat). I guess I should have clarified that.

Were there really that many battles? I didn't do the battles because I felt obligated to but mainly because I'm a bit battle-happy. ^^" I should have toned it down a bit, and I'll on that on my fan fiction, which has many battles but also focuses on finding your place, relationships, and so on.

Again, thanks a lot for the grade, I really do appreciate it, especially since I thought this would never get graded. I'll keep what you said in mind for my fanfiction and future URPG stories (I don't know when I'll be writing URPG stories again; hopefully I can whip one up this December). ^-^

- Kat
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