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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 01-25-2008, 05:17 AM
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Default Soul of Serenity

For those of you who have read Heart of Vengeance, this is the sequel, as well as the conclusion.





Long before time began, everything we know of today was represented simply by a Spirit. These beings were not unlike the Greek gods, however, they had no human body, and they had no leader. They were more than a ghost, but less than anything with physical properties, as matter did not exist yet. There were five in total: The Spirit of the Sky, the Spirit of the Sea, the Spirit of the Earth, the Spirit of Fire, and the Spirit of Man.

Together, the five of them were all of creation in their time. They each had emotion, and each could love. It is said that love came to be when Sea and Man had created it. The Spirit of the Sea shared herself with the Spirit of Man, giving him all of the knowledge she had ever come to possess. The Spirit of Man took this knowledge from her, and gave nothing in return. The Spirit of the Sea, however, gave no notice and continued to love him, blind of his flaws. In time, the Spirit of Man grew weary of the Spirit of the Sea. His greed overcame him and he left her for the Spirit of the Earth.

Without Man, the Spirit of the Sea felt she no longer had reason to live, and it is believed that she died of a broken heart. She turned sour, and bitter, and her body tore in many places. As the Spirits evolved over time, her dead body became a part of matter just as the others. Man remained with Earth, and Sky and Fire formed their places around it as well.

Stories have told that there is a place in this time where the heart of the Spirit of the Sea still beats. The tale tells that the broken heart had killed the body, but remained alive itself. But without the rest of the Spirit to maintain it, the heart is cold and relentless, and those who have been unfortunate enough to happen upon it have lost their lives to its revenge on Man. The real tragedy of this tale is what happens after death, when a human’s soul moves on to the afterlife. They who were taken by the Spirit of the Sea had their souls taken as well, unable to move on, and trapped in a world with no beginning or end. The story tells that Sea desires to collect all of man, and that their combined souls will once again create the Spirit of Man she had once loved.

In retrospect, a theory had developed years ago by a young philosopher by the name of Rayfe Volker, that the only way to free the souls taken by the heart of the Spirit of the Sea would be to kill the heart itself, the only living remains. His theory states that the five Spirits reside in five elemental Pokémon, though he has not revealed which five he believes possess them. In theory, he believes the only way to kill the heart of the Sea would be to defeat it in battle with the Spirit of the Earth, as he believes is the only Spirit of the five to which the Sea will show signs of weakness.

To those who have lost their lives and souls to the heart of the Sea, we mourn your absence, and in time we wait. For the death of the heart of the Sea may be the only thing to save you.


-------------------------

A ball of ancient fury burst into the sky. It twisted and screamed as it tore through the wind and ripped clouds apart with its massive wings. The fossilized creature had only the time to fly a few hundred feet away before the girl it remembered took her orb, sadly, and recalled it once more. The gray dragon’s pair of demonic eyes burned red with rage, yet somehow held an opposing look of uncertainty the moment before it dematerialized into the red beam of light it knew would come. It was as if it had forgotten the reason behind its anger…

“What is the matter with it?” Rila sighed, half with frustration and half with disappointment.

This was the third time she had tried let the Aerodactyl out of its Poké Ball since she had captured it. Yet, it disobeyed her and responded to her commands with nothing but screams. Her impatience built with the Pokémon’s refusal to distinguish her as a trainer; if anything, it resented her.

She stared at the glossy sphere in her hand, which twitched ever so slightly. Even though she had captured the threatening Pokémon, it almost seemed as if it was constantly striving to break free; it was a tiger trapped in a cage.

“Well, my dear,” Dane’s voice came calm and matter-of-factly as usual, “What more could you expect from the Spirit of the Earth? This Pokémon was never intended to be captured.”

He had come to join her attempt to tame the new capture; his first trip to the clearing inside the wood since he had fought Rila himself. The worn skin on his face made him seem much older than he actually was, weathered and wary of his surroundings, his dark grey hair parted roughly to side with streaks of silver shining through.

“But the Earth is supposed to be peaceful and forgiving. Why would such a spirit take refuge inside such a horrible Pokémon?”

The gaze Dane held turned hollow. His smirk faded and he turned away from her as if he had just remembered that he had somewhere to go. “I think it would be a good idea for you to check on Charizard. I have something to do that requires my immediate attention.” And he left her, striding swiftly down the narrow path that led back to his cabin.

Rila stood on the very field that she had battled Dane on two weeks prior. At the time, she didn’t even know herself why she was doing it, as she had just met the middle-aged man and he had just revealed to her the secret that resided within Iternadi Lake. There was something else, though, something had pushed her to do what she did, but even now she couldn’t explain to herself what it was.

She placed the Poké Ball that seemed to be pulsing with energy into the bag she left constantly slung over her shoulder, and headed down the same narrow path that Dane had just taken. However, instead of following it the entire way, she veered right into a thicket of bushes and small trees. Twigs and fallen leaves crunched beneath her feet as she came closer and closer to the small barn that was hidden in between several large pine trees.

The sun barely streamed through the thick branches, providing just enough light for her to see the chipped brown paint on the wooden planks of the door, as well as the low roof that was missing several shingles.

With a heavy push, the door painfully opened with a squeek on rusty hinges.

“You in here, Charizard?” she asked.

The small barn had little space for the dragon, just a few bales of hay, and a large bed of blankets and pillows that Rila had managed to buy from the city. She peered through the darkness for a moment before noticing the small bit of light reflect off of a pair of eyes that had opened to the sound of her voice.

“Oh, good,” she sighed in relief. “I was worried that I was going to have to wait for you again. You really shouldn’t be wondering off when you’re certainly not up for battling. What if something tried to attack you?” She closed the door behind her, trapping them in almost complete darkness if it hadn’t been for the lizard’s dimly burning tail.

The fire dragon grunted softly, half in annoyance and half in shame. His pride was broken as he was unable to fly. Rila pitied him, but knew that if she didn’t keep him cooped up, then he would never recover; Charizard’s stubbornness caused him to where his already weak body out when he left the barn.

He lifted his tail up slowly to the pillar beside them that, along with three others, helped hold up the roof. A lantern with a single candle inside hung on a rusty nail about three feet high, and very mechanically, Charizard maneuvered his tail inside and connected the tip of his tail to the wick. In seconds a strong glow of light filled the barn, revealed the poor dragon as Rila came to sit down beside him.

His face had been completely mutilated. It was bruised and swollen and his jaw hung oddly on his face, broken, and wrapped with a soft cloth to the top of his head to ensure that it would heal correctly. One eye was blue as it had always, but the other was completely bloodshot, and his pupil was barely visible behind the crimson fluid. Another sling held his arm to his chest, hiding part of the long, deep gash that stretched from his left shoulder to his stomach, which oozed with puss and still had some of the ointment that Rila had delicately placed on the wound that morning. But most noticeable of all was his left wing, which had an enormous tear in the thin membrane that gave him flight. Rila had tried to sew it back together, but it was far too large, and thus, the dragon would never be able to fly again.

Her eyes glazed over as they had every time she gazed upon the saddened creature, the one who had saved her life. And in a brief moment, the day had once again flashed through her mind…

The dust from the fall settled, and Rila slowly reopened her eyes, blinking several times before she could see a clear picture. She was right at the edge of town, and it felt like someone had just smoked her head with a club. She turned over onto her stomach and somehow managed to push herself onto her feet.

“Charizard!” She noticed the unconscious dragon lying on the earth a few feet beside her. She staggered over to it, regaining her wit. “Wake up, Charizard. Wake UP!” She pushed against its side frantically trying to bring him back, though the attempt had little effect on the beast.

There was a deep growl and the dragon’s eyes reopened. His piercing blue eyes refocused and he jolted up with a roar, remembering where he was and what had happened. He searched the skies for any sign of their attacker, but it was completely clear. The dragon stared back at Rila and then pointed towards the city. He frowned in warning, and glared stubbornly at her.

“But…I’m not leaving you,” she told him.

The dragon roared, his raspy voice sending a clear message. He was going to stay and hold of the Aerodactyl while she ran. But she couldn’t bring herself to do it…

Another howling screech came from the sky, forcing both the girl and dragon to look up into it. Clumsily, a large flying dinosaur was charging through the air. The ancient Pokémon had found them, and it would only be a matter of moments before it would reach the spot where they stood.

Charizard was frantic now. He looked fiercely back at Rila and lowered his head to let out the most profound roar she had ever heard from him. His razor sharp teeth were bared and she could see the saliva dripping from them and spraying out from the sound waves. She knew he would not let her stay. So guiltily, she turned and ran, leaving him there to fight. Alone.

It broke her heart to hear the roars and screeches of the two dragon-like Pokémon battling behind her as she ran, but she knew everything that Charizard had done for her would go to waste if she stopped now.

The clashing sounds lasted minutes longer until Rila heard a final blasting roar from Charizard. The deep throated sound erupted into the sky, but it was not a victory roar, it was a roar of agony. Her heart sank as she ran. Charizard had lost…

It was a complete miracle that Charizard had even survived the battle with Aerodactyl in the first place, yet, his wounds were grave and Rila thought she was going to lose him in the first few days after the battle.

Her dragon wheezed sickly, sending a puff of pathetic black smoke from his nostrils. Rila was on the verge of tears, but held them back with all her might; she wanted to be strong for him.

“I only have a few Potion left,” Rila spoke to him. “So one today, and two tomorrow before we go back to the city. And Charizard, promise me you will stay here and not wander off while we’re away? If you keep wearing yourself out you will never heal…”

The fire lizard moaned softly, similar to that of a whimpering puppy, but then nodded at her and agreed. She used the item on him and then gave him a soft hug, leaving him the sack of food she had brought, and then leaving the barn once more.

-------------------------

That evening she ventured to the coastline of Iternadi Lake as she had every day before. The waves came tumbling over the rocks that seemed to get larger the closer they were to shore. She stretched her legs out; making them dangle over the boulder-sized rock she sat on, and filled her lungs with the misty breeze. It was then that she decided to have company tonight, and so she let her Umbreon out of his Poké Ball.

The light briefly appeared in the dusk accompanied by a sound resembling that of the opening of a wine bottle, and somehow it collected together to form what she knew to be a black fox with yellow rings.

The Dark Pokémon stretched from its confinement then came to her lap and curled up inside it. Her eyes began to well up once again at the gesture. Her Umbreon did not need orders to know just what she wanted, and everything she needed…a friend. And so she softly stroked his silky fur, gazing out at the sunset that bled colors across the sky, and remembered the day she lost her life forever….

It was interesting that Rila could see everything happening. Golduck swiftly swimming down to the Clamperl colony with the human on his back. His webbed hands and feet were expanded twice their normal size, gripping the water and pushing it aside. When they reached the clams, Rila could see Golduck wrenching them open and André taking its pearl to place in his pants pocket. After repeating this six times, the Golduck grabbed his trainer and swam to the surface. As soon as he broke out of the water, he burst out a huge gasp of air, refilling his lungs with the much-needed oxygen. He swam over to the boat and dumped his findings inside it.

Rila couldn’t believe the size of the pearls. Each one was the size of an apple. She collected them all and placed them inside of the pack.

“These alone could by us a house, and feed use for years. We don’t need any more…” Rila told him. But André ignored her, took a few moments to catch his breath, and traveled back underwater with Golduck.

Rila didn’t watch this time. She was admiring one of the pearls in her hand when the clouds appeared. “Unusual?” she said suspiciously. It had been perfectly sunny a moment ago. The sky blackened swiftly, and rain began pouring from it moments later. Rila jumped up and peered over into the water. Where was André? She couldn’t see him or Golduck anywhere. The six Clamperl he had taken pearls from lied open and broken on the lake floor, but the rest remained intact. It was as if he never made it to the bottom the second time. The rain poured harder, and thunder began booming behind the clouds. In seconds, waves appeared on the water rocking the sailboat back and forth. “André!” she yelled in fear, but she couldn’t find him. A bolt of lightning erupted from the black clouds and struck the sail, tearing it to shreds and tipping it over. She was going to drown…

Somehow, sensing danger, a burst of light erupted from her purse. It was her Pidgeot who appeared before her. But she wasn’t paying attention; she was searching the water for André. The bird Pokémon was frantic. It wrapped its talons around her shoulders and lifted her into the air. “No!” she screamed. “André! We have to wait for André! He hasn’t come back yet!” But the bird ignored her and flew on through the storm. “Please…” she began to cry. “We have to wait for André…” Tears were streaming down her face as her Pidgeot carried her on, though the rain from the storm had soaked her either way. In the distance, another lightning bolt spit out of the sky and blew the remainder of the boat into pieces; there was nothing left but wood and debris. It was only moments later when the storm ended. Swiftly, and as though it had never started.

Yet the bird kept flying, taking her and the two sacks over her shoulder as far as they needed to go. She was hysterical. She kept writhing in the grip of her loyal Pidgeot hoping to break free and swim back to the heart. But the pigeon gripped her tightly, and refused to let go. She knew her trainer would die if she didn’t bring her to safety first. The hours it took to reach the shoreline seemed to not exist. Rila was not herself; she would not accept that he was gone.
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Last edited by EmBreon; 01-25-2008 at 06:06 AM.
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Old 01-25-2008, 05:25 AM
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Default Re: Soul of Serenity

It was hard for her to remember what life had been like before everything had happened. That time before, when her and André being together was all that mattered to her. When she was happy and in love. And now, nothing seemed the same as how she had saw it before. Before, she could look out upon Iternadi Lake and admire the beauty, but the loss inside her stole her happiness and kept it for itself. That place in her heart that had once been full of happiness, full of hope, was now empty. It almost seemed as if the space was feeding off the rest of her in attempt to refill itself again.

Rila accepted Dane’s mission to capture the Spririt of the Earth because she had no other choice. No place to go, nothing to live for anymore, but the thought of André’s soul being caught in a world of darkness is what kept her going. That is what kept her sane. The only thing that mattered to her was setting him free, and until she did that, there was nothing that would stop her.

It was not until the sun had completely disappeared and the moon shone brightly in a star filled sky that Rila stood up again to return to Dane’s log cabin, while Umbreon’s glowing rings lead the way.

-------------------------

Dane was probing a fire he had started when she and Umbreon returned finally from the lake shore. His silver hair that he normally parted neatly to the side was all out of place and sticking up at the top as though he had been running his hand through it.

The fire popped once the log he had been poking tipped over, and the glow enlarged to lighten and warm the entire room.

“Ah, glad to see you, my dear. There is something to which we must discuss.” Dane motioned her over to the table as he went to sit there himself.

Umbreon trotted over to his pillow that constantly remained in front of the fireplace, and happily curled upon it. Rila smiled to herself, admiring how he was so easily pleased, and then pulled out a chair to join Dane at the two person table.

“There is something I have neglected to tell you, Rila,” he began. “Something that I thought would not matter in the end, but I have come to find out, perhaps it does.”

There was another old book that lie open in front of him, similar to the one he gave her before, but this one was different, it was strange looking. The cover was mane out of what seemed like some sort of skin, and the pages were extremely thin, half as thin as a normal sheet of paper.

“This book was written by a fortune teller about a hundred years ago,” he flipped back a few pages as he went on. “The man claimed he could see the future, but in his prophecies, no one could understand what they meant, and so his name is not remembered among others. Yet, he still pursued his warnings, and created this in hopes that some day the right person would find it.” He pushed it over to her once he found the right page, and gestured for her to read it.

Puzzled once more by Dane and his vague behavior, she pulled the book closer and began to read:

In time the one who came will come to remember what they were
But first a thaw must melt the ice that lives inside of her
The other three who wait the day when four must be combined
Will reunite just once more, then leave this world behind
Two hide themselves away in time, sightless from the sun
The third will search relentlessly until they find the one
A fate of another will change for this, as they will have the key
For only them as one will chance to set the last one free

“This doesn’t make any sense,” Rila sighed. “How do you even know he is talking about the spirits?”

“Because all of his prophecies are about them. Rila, according to this we need Earth as well as Sky and Fire if we are going to be able to defeat the heart.”

Rila read the text a few times over more before she responded again, “’Two hide themselves away in time, sightless from the sun. The third will search relentlessly until they find the one’ Well, we already know one came from the Ridge Mountains…since we have it. The other…do you think it hides in Roak? ‘Sightless from the sun’ could mean the inside of a mountain, just like Earth was.”

“Well, Rila, the Pokémon you captured was not Earth.” Dane resumed his matter-of-fact tone as he had whenever he discovered something. Rila had grown to know him enough not to argue, as she was sure he knew what he was saying.

Her eyebrows heightened as the news surprised her, and then soon angered her. Charizard had risked his life for her, for her to find a way to save André, and now he would never be able to fly again just so she could capture a worthless Pokémon. Rage built inside her and she found herself at her feet, a pitch away for yelling. “What do you mean it is not Earth?! So everything was for nothing?!”

“Rila, Rila, calm down, dear.” Dane stood up and put a strong hand on her shoulder, motioning for her to sit once more. “I said it was not Earth, I never said it was not a Spirit.” He didn’t wait for her to respond this time. “I first had the impression that the four Spirits that were not Man had decided to form into each of their elemental components. And by this I mean, Earth would become a Rock or Ground type, Fire would become well, a Fire type, Sky would be Flying, and Sea would be Water. But that is not the case apparently… It seems they have decided to choose the Pokémon that best represents their personality. The Spirit of Fire was strong-headed and stubborn, as well as being full of rage and fury. That is the Spirit who has chosen the Aerodactyl, and that is who resides inside your Poké Ball.”

Something inside of the girl had forced her to listen. And as he spoke to her, a calmness washed over her to put out the fire of her rage. The knowledge that the Aerodactyl had not been a waste to catch after all was enough to distinguish her anger. “Sky is swift and independent; Earth is kind, peaceful and forgiving…”

“Someone has been reading the book I gave her, hasn’t she?” Dane spoke to her, proud, and encouraged himself as he now had a partner to help him on his mission. Before, he had neither the energy, nor the materials to set off to find a Spirit on his own. But something about Rila had changed him, her hope and her courage despite what she had lost gave him courage as well. He felt young again; and his youth seemed to slowly come back to him, and now that he had purpose once more, he would help her on her, and his, journey for as long as it would take.

And so they spoke more, discussing what defined each Spirit’s personality, what they believed the Pokémon it would come to posses would be, and where they would be hiding. The loss inside each of them still burned dully, but the task they knew was ahead of them kept their mind elsewhere, and more importantly for Rila, as she was the one who ached to grieve.

“So which do you think is in Roak?” Rila asked finally as the conversation shifted. “It says ‘Two hide themselves away in time, sightless from the sun. The third will search relentlessly until they find the one’ That means one is not hiding anywhere, but searching for something…or someone. We know Man resides in all of us, and that he is unneeded, and we know that Sea is obviously what lives inside of Iternadi Lake..but which is hiding and which is searching? Sky or Earth?”

“That is something we will have to find out,” he said disappointedly. “But for now we are just going to have to go to the center of the Roak Mountains.”

“Why the center?” she asked him even though she knew the answer.

“Because more than likely the Spirit is in the center mountain, as Fire was. The difference this time is that I will be joining you.”

As his age and drive had been what was stopping him before, it seemed to be the very opposite for him now. This time he felt it was his duty to go. His knowledge of the Spirits was far vaster than hers was, as he had studied them for years, and he knew she would more than likely need his help this time. At least, he hoped she would. Feeling needed is the sole thing he had wanted for years since…

*****

Dane


“There is tea in the kettle, dear,” said a much younger Dane as he pointed to the stove. His hair was parted perfectly as normal, yet instead of silver it was completely black. His eyes were awake and warm, and his smooth skin appeared as though it could never wrinkle. The color in his eyes seemed brighter, and like a candle his heart was burning with love on a wick that never ended.

“Oh, goodness,” the kind woman giggled and blushed, slightly embarrassed. “Silly me, I thought I had moved it.” She was roughly the same age, mid twenties with golden blond hair falling roughly at her shoulders. She was beautiful, but her looks weren’t the reason. Something about her, the way she acted, something about her as a person mad her plain looks be not so plain and more extraordinary.

And that is why he loved her; not for her face, not for her body, but for her heart, and everything inside of it.

“Are you heading to the Lake today, sweetheart?” he asked her kindly as she filled her glass with hot tea.

“Oh yes,” she replied. “I have been wanting to take a few pictures of the sunset before winter arrives.”

The woman had very few things to do in the small amount of spare time she had between cleaning and cooking and taking care of their Pokémon while Dane worked in the city. But the one thing that had stayed with her through their marriage was her love of photography. And it amazed Dane that she could take a picture of something ordinary and make it look completely different than if you had seen it in person. A lifeless tree could have looked dead and decayed, but if she took a picture of it, you could see the color of it even through a black and white picture…something else, something that could almost be confused with hope bleeding from the tree in an effort to live once more.

“When will we be leaving then?” Dane asked, assuming he would be coming along.

She laughed sweetly before saying, “Oh Dane, I may be pregnant, but I think I can handle riding in a boat by myself, don’t you think?”

“But…”

“I will be fine, dear. I need the extra room for Ted anyways, he’s been looking forward to today.”

A small creature came scurrying beside her from in front of the fire. A perfect white, half moon rested on the young bear’s forehead, above a pair of kind black eyes. Its furry face seemed much too large for the rest of its body, but in more of an adorable way than a shocking one. It put a paw to its face, like a child would suck its thumb, and blinked innocently up at the man standing in front of them.

Dane looked down at the Teddiursa with a sigh, and then smiled. “Well, alright then,” he finally decided, not completely sure how he felt about leaving his wife in the hands of a bear cub. But, he had been obsessing over her since her first month of pregnancy, and he wanted more than anything to make her happy, he wanted her to have a day to enjoy a day doing something she loved, and more than that, he wanted her to know he loved her enough to trust her.

“I want a picture of us before we go, though,” she said, scurrying over to the table to prop the old fashioned camera in its place. “Push this button here, Ted” she asked the bear as she waddled ever so slightly back to her husband while the bear climbed on to the table.

Dane wrapped his arm around her waist and kissed the top of her head the moment the camera flashed.

“That was the last picture on this roll of film, so I’ll be taking a fresh one,” she said as she went over to the table, unloading and reloading the camera. “Will you take this into town for me when you go back to work tomorrow?”

“Sure, dear,” he told her as he helped her put on her jacket. “Do you have everything you need?”

“I sure do, packed it this morning while you were cutting the firewood.” She smiled and kissed his cheek as a goodbye. “Well, we’re off then.”

Dane looked down at her, his eyes sparkling with happiness and a smile on his face without trying give one. He put a hand on her round stomach to feel the warmth of what he created inside. Then he kissed her farewell once more as he watched her go.

He watched her slowly make her way to the docks in front of the cabin, then climb into the smallest sailboat they owned while Ted scurried inside behind her, letting loose the sail. He watched her sit inside of it, place her camera in her lap, and wave goodbye to him once more as the wind took the boat out into the lake.

And hours later he watched the storm pick up suddenly, and with no warning. He watched the waves heighten and crash against the shore; the sky darken and send electric shocks of thunder down into what seemed like the center of the lake. He watched himself run through the rain to get to their other boat and sail out into the wicked water. And he watched the storm lighten up and then disappear suddenly to make it as though it had never started. And hours later he watched the pieces of her boat float silently past his as the sun set into the western sky.

*****

The night was cruel to Rila as she slept restlessly, thinking of the new mission and what new problems the two of them may have to overcome. She thought of everything that had happened since the day she had seen André for the last time, of Charizard and Aerodactyl, of how Umbreon had the last piece of love in her heart and how he seemed to know it was there. An unusual connection formed between them, something more than a simple bond between a trainer and her Pokémon; it was something that words could not describe. Growing up in an orphanage was enough for Rila to realize the importance of having someone there for you, something that didn’t take her long to learn about André, and now that he was gone, Umbreon was the only part of him that she had left to hold on to, as well as the only one of her three Pokémon that truly understood her. The only one who seemed to love her back.

She stared at the ceiling in silence, wondering what Dane had planned for tomorrow once they went into the city to gather supplies. She couldn’t imagine how they would survive in the Roak Mountains for long, considering the temperature was less than half of what the Ridge Mountain range was. Not to mention that summer was turning to fall, and the crisp breeze took ten degrees out of the air.

She trusted him, however. And so, with a great effort, she somehow managed to make herself fall asleep to the crickets chirping beneath the cabin window and the waves softly tumbling to the shore.

-------------------------

“Rila? Rila, wake up, girl.” She felt herself being pushed into the small mattress, and her face smashing into a pillow.

“Wha? What?” she croaked, managing to open her eyes enough to see the man pushing on her shoulder.

“It’s sunrise, we need to get going now if we are to make it to the city and back tonight.” He left her then, going to pack the wagon and ready his Tauros to pull it.

It took her a minute, but she managed to wake up and pull a colorless long sleeve shirt over her sleeveless and shorts. She had bought a few items of clothing the last time she had went a week ago, but the weather didn’t call for anything dramatically warm just yet. The girl pulled her long hair back into a ponytail and then left the cabin to help Dane finish his work.

She rounded the cabin to see the stables hiding comfortably behind it, and Dane putting a harness around his old Tauros. The bull was worn and tired in his old age, his horns extremely dull compared to the deadly sharp they used to be when he had just been captured. He lived comfortably inside Dane’s stable beside the young Miltank he had just purchased from the city a few years prior. The Tauros snorted tiredly, just being awoken himself, and patiently pawed at the ground with his strong hooves.

“Hello, boy,” Rila said to the Pokémon soothingly as she approached, stroking his coarse fur with her hand. She had been feeding the animals for Dane as a way to repay him for his food and hospitality. He had never expected her to do any work for him, as simply her company and drive to help him in his research was enough for him to care less whether she tended to any of the chores. But it seemed he could not talk her out of it; the animals liked the girl regardless.

Rila picked up the bridle lying in the dirt below the large beast, and gentle fit it into his mouth.

“I’ll finish up the rest here, mind feeding the cow for me?” Dane looked up at her as he scraped dirt out of Tauros’ back hoof with his knife.

“Sure,” she said, as she walked into the wooden stable.

The morning light was enough for her to see, but the dimness of it hid all of the imperfections inside of the old barn. Like the moldy wooden planks that created the walls, the barrel of manure the rested in the corner, even the broken pitch fork and shovel that were still being used as new ones were too expensive to buy just yet.

She smiled sweetly at the fat cow gulping water out of her trough. Then went to the far corner of the building to wrap her arms around as much hay she could carry and bring it back to set on the floor beside the large Pokémon.

“This should last you until we get back, Mary,” she spoke to the mostly pink creature who peered drowsily back up at her. Then, after a quick scratch behind the cow’s ears, she turned and left the barn as Dane had finished preparing the wagon.

“You’re welcome to ride in the wagon,” Dane gestured to the somewhat small cart attached behind the beige bull.

“I’m fine, I think. No need for him to waste energy pulling me when I am perfectly capable of walking,” she said stubbornly as she released Umbreon from his Poké Ball so he could stretch his legs.

The dark fox loved to be in her company, and she knew this, so she would let him out at every possibility. In another cliché and identical flash to all the others of its kind, the slender and black Pokémon appeared before them, blinking its bold ruby eyes as a shield to protect itself from the immense brightness the release had caused.

It was only moments after when Dane took the bull by the reins and began leading him down the trail to the city. It was a winding path that only went straight for a rough one hundred yards before twisting into an entirely different direction and staring over again.

The bull snorted as misty gas swirled from its nostrils, a sign that happened only in the cool mornings before fall. The sun rose slowly, casting shadows on the trails and reflecting of the multicolored leaves of the forest branches. Rila admired their radiance, thinking of the irony that an organism could be so lovely as it died for the winter.

The few hours it took to walk the trail seemed like nothing to her, as she had taken this route with Dane many times before, and the passing time seemed shorter and shorter with each trip. The sun rose even further, casting warm light upon their backs as the trees began to thin and small houses on the city’s edge came into view. It was a sight that would have, before, given her comfort, and a piece of mind to know that she was home. But now, all that the sight of the city gave her was loss and heartache, and a memory of what could have been instead of what will be.
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Old 01-25-2008, 05:30 AM
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Default Re: Soul of Serenity

The Tauros bucked its head excitedly, anxious for water and rest. His three tails smacked flies away in annoyance and his mane shook out dirt that had been resting there for days.

“You should take this, and buy yourself some warm clothes,” Dane told her as he handed her decently large pouch of coins. “I’ll lodge Tauros and take care of the rest, just meet me back here at mid-afternoon.” And without waiting for her response, he parted from her, heading east of the city, and away from the shore where the stables resided.

She watched him go for a moment, but then, clutching the pouch before placing it into her shoulder bag, she walked directly into the center of the city.

This was the most populated area in this part of the world, where mountains and mountain ranges prospered as they owned the land. A city large enough to be a trading port for those who decided to brave the terrain and work their way through the mountains, as well as those who came by ship across Iternadi Lake. The large wooden buildings that resided in the center of town were those that were either full of goods, or full of fish. It most resembled a large supermarket in a sense.

The buildings got smaller the farther they spread out from the center, each being a private business of things like butchers and weavers, but most were simple homes, looking only slightly different from the rest as nearly everything was made of wood. It made sense, however, considering the town was surrounded by forests, relishing in the clear atmosphere. Apart from the fish industry, lumber is what kept the city thriving.

The girl walked patiently into town with her Umbreon in tow, each enjoying the scenery and looking for things she could purchase that they might need before her next visit. The weekend brought several visitors into the city; those that lived nearby and need to stock up on food and supplies, as well as those who lived in the city themselves, anxious to sell the things they no longer needed.

She walked further and further into the center, as the buildings got closer and closer together and more people gathered in the tightly packed streets to get first pick at whatever new merchandise each store had to offer. But then, a certain building caught her eye, one that was broken and ravaged by the weather, as well as deserted to any living thing that would be absurd enough to wish to live inside of it. The windows that had once been flawless glass were cracked and broken, waiting the day that they would be replaced. The door was sealed shut with two wooden planks, as if its purpose was to keep thieves from entering and stealing what was absolutely nothing inside.

But to Rila, the broken building meant something quite different. And at the sight of it, another painful memory flashed through her mind, as only the ones she least wished to remember had…

*****

André


Something about today made the young man spend an extra amount in the shower behind the outhouse. The water that had turned cold minutes ago splashed over his body as he was extra greedy with the soap he lathered his body with.

His heartbeat was much faster than normal, pounding inside his chest, aching for the moment when all of its built up tension could be released. He rinsed his body beneath the shower head a third and final time before stepping out finally, and returning to his home with a damp, and semi-purposeful cloth around his waist.

He stood in front of the cracked mirror once he had finally dressed in the nicest clothes he owned, being the only pair of pants he hadn’t ripped, and a button up tee-shirt his mother had gotten him for Christmas the year before.

He tilted his head in dissatisfaction at his reflection and attempted to run a come through his shaggy hair. For a moment, it stayed in place, but once he moved his head in any direction, the hold broke and his hair once again resumed the position it always had, regardless of his efforts.

Giving up, he decided he looked as good as he was going to get, and sighed as he walked out of the door and down the cobblestone street to the house he had visited more than his own.

Pleasant black smoke puffed from the chimney as he knocked nervously on the front door. A single window placed conveniently on the right hand side of it held the figure of an old woman peeking through the curtains before the door opened for him to enter.

“Why, hello André,” the old woman screeched in her raspy and fading voice. She smiled at him for a moment, causing her already wrinkled skin to wrinkle twice as much as it already was. “Would you like to come in?”

“No…” he said, his voice tense, but not in a way that would come of rude. “Is-is Rila around?”

“Yes she is,” she chuckled. “I told her you were here a moment ago, she should be down shortly.”

And as though her sentence was a cue, Rila appeared at the top of the staircase in front of the door. Her auburn hair as vivid as always, draping over her shoulders as it always had whenever he saw her, and the light always seemed to hit it just perfectly so as to make it shine ever so slightly. Her legs were hidden behind the dull grey dress she wore that went down to just below her knee caps, which also had no arms or sleeveless and had an apron tied around its waist.

Her cloth slippers made very little noise as she descended down the stairs, and she only stopped when she was just a few inches in front of him.

“Well, don’t we smell lovely today?” she giggled and smiled up at him, curious to see him blush instead of laugh as well. “Is there something you needed, André? You seemed stressed…”

She tried to flatten out her dress as she spoke to him and waited his reply, slightly embarrassed of the wrinkles and cooking stains on her apron.

“Would you come for a walk with me?” the boy managed to say as he couldn’t hide his nervousness no matter how hard he tried.

“I- sure, I don’t see why not,” she smiled at him, both surprised and confused to why he was acting so strangely. “Would that be okay, grandma?”

“Sure dear, I’ll finish supper and have it ready for you when you return.” A slight smirk appeared across her face as though she had already known what was going to happen. “I’ll take this then.” She swiftly loosened the tie of the apron around Rila’s waist and fastened it around herself instead. “Off you two, and please have her back before dark, André.”

He nodded courteously, then took her granddaughter by the hand and led her out of the door.

“What is going on, André? You’re acting as though you’re preparing to tell me that you are suffering from a terminal illness,” she cast him a suspicious glance from the corner of her eye, and then glanced again at her hand that still remained in his.

“There’s something I want to show you,” was all he said as he continued to lead her down the road.

It was the time of day right before the sun began to set; that early evening when the light was dimmer than it was throughout the day, but the colors in the sky had not yet begun to change. Grim shadows found their way in between the crevices of buildings and behind objects and areas that hid from the sun, but something seemed different about today. Something changed the dusk from an eerie atmosphere into something slightly romantic, and Rila continued to hold his hand eagerly as they rounded the corner at the end of the road, and the place that André was taking her came into view.

There, in the very corner of the center of the city, a tiny house stood barren, and completely vacant. The roof was caved in and had a hole in the side, and the wood surrounding it was old and decayed; even with the lack of sunlight, the house revealed several flaws, and Rila wondered, half amused, why anyone would ever want to live there.

“Ah,” she said finally. “You’ve found us a new clubhouse. Or is it haunted and there is rumored to be buried treasure inside?” she teased.

The two of them had gone on many make believe adventures when they both were younger, each being the other’s only friend. And growing up, friendship had evolved into something else, something more than that than either of them could describe. Neither of them had ever tried to describe what they were, but secretly they each knew exactly what it was: love.

André smiled slightly at her comment, though half embarrassed and worried as well. “No. not quite,” he finally managed to say. “I bought this house yesterday.”

Rila was taken a back for a moment, unsure of what to say, and a bit ashamed that she had made fun of it just before. “Why?” was all her voice allowed her to say, as her mind was lost for words.

“Well, I was going to fix it up…and it was all I could afford with the money I saved.”

“But what about your uncle?”

“He’ll be fine without me, I’m sure he’s been aching to have a house to himself and my aunt for ages. Besides…I…”

His voice seemed to give out, and his heart beat faster than ever as the moment he had been preparing for came unexpectedly. He turned her to face him, and took both of her hands in his. And after a few moments of silence, he finally managed to speak once more.

“I can do the work. I can fix it up to be the best looking house in the city. And with my job at the butcher’s as well as the lumber yard I’ll be making enough to support the both of us and…” he realized he was rambling, and a slight redness rushed over his face.

Rila simply stared deep into his eyes, as her own began to well with the kind of tears that a person would get only in a moment of complete happiness. Realization was rushing over her, and her heart skipped a beat as his body dropped to his knee.

“Will you marry me?” Something inside of him seemed to burst through his anxiety and he spoke calmly, and sure of himself as though he had never been scared before this moment. “I-I don’t have a ring…but I have my heart, and I want you to have it.”

She managed to raise a hand to her face and hide the smile that was forming beneath it. She had never been so sure of anything in her life when she told him yes and he stood back up to kiss her.

*****


The memory stabbed into her heart like a dull blade, and she found herself in tears as she ran away. Her legs seemed to move on their own as she ran to get away from you used to be the best place to her in the world.

Umbreon sprinted after her, galloping at her heels as she ran until her body wouldn’t let her anymore, and she collapsed to her knees beside an aged building. Her hands flew to her face and she sobbed into them, salty tears streaming down her face farther than they ever had before. And during all of this, Umbreon had found his way beside her, and nuzzled her shoulder while he peered up at her with worried eyes.

“Excuse me?” a voice called from inside the building that Rila had happened to be crying beside of, and she hadn’t realized the door was wide open until just then. “Would you mind coming inside, dear? It’s not very good for service if people see a young lady crying outside my shop.”

Rila tried to wipe the wetness from her face as quick as she could in hopes to avoid looking as though she had been in tears; though, it was a bit obvious that the elderly woman who had called to her already knew.

She slowly got to her feet, wrapping her arms around the Umbreon resting against her, and carried it into what seemed to be the woman’s home.

It took her a moment before her eyes adjusted to the dimness of the room in comparison to the blinding light that the sun provided outside, but in moments her vision cleared and she saw a stereotypical old woman’s home.

There were random gadgets and decorations strong everywhere; something an older person would love to see, but cluttered and tacky to a younger person at the same time. A few old chairs led to a crowded table at the far edge of the room, and random plants were hanging around the ceiling, some alive and blooming with flowers, while others dead, and rotting away.

“Come, sit down dear, let’s have a look at you.” The old woman gestured toward the seat across from her.

Rila cautiously walked over to her, watching her age in years before her eyes. The closer she got to her, the older the woman seemed to be. Rila clutched the Umbreon to her chest, as though trying to protect it from something she didn’t even know. The old woman was clearly not able to cause any more harm than a wisp of bad breath.

“Frightened, dear? I assure you there is no reason to be,” she croaked, but sweetly, if a croaking voice like hers could ever be considered sweet. “Don’t be afraid, have a seat, girl.” She gestured once more to the seat across from her and closest to Rila.

Feeling slightly comforted, Rila sat down and managed to really get a good look at the woman for the first time.

Her white hair was pulled back into a tight bun, one that seemed to help her lined face seemed smoother than it already was, and something about her eyebrows seemed to be transparent, as though you could see them, but they weren’t actually there. Her neckline was covered by some sort of quilt-turned dress, as though she had decided one day to turn her blanket into an outfit. But her eyes, they were the most striking of all…instead of a black pupil with a colored iris, they were entirely glazed over with a white milkey substance that hid everything that they once were.

“You’re…you’re blind…” Rila said, unintentionally out loud.

“I am, but thank you for reminding me, I had forgotten that the blankness I see around me was actually blindness and not someone pulling a cheap trick and turning out the lights.” She smiled at the young girl across from her who was blushing from embarrassment.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean-”

“Haha, it is fine, dear. I have been blind for long enough to not be offended when someone tells me I am.”

The bluntness of the woman took Rila by surprise, and she sat there, simply, wondering what to say. But fortunately for her, the woman spoke for her.

“May I see your hand?”

“My hand?” Rila asked, surprised at the unusual request.

“Yes, that thing with appendages attached to your wrist?”

Rila laughed shortly before reaching her arm across the table, not seeing a reason to deny the woman what she asked. The Umbreon in her lap tilted his head curiously as he gazed at the elder who took Rila’s hand in one of hers, and began feeling around it with the other.

“Ah,” came a cackled sigh from the owner of the shop as she traced the lines on Rila’s palm with her fingers. “Your heart.”

Rila had no idea what she was getting at, and simply asked, “What about it?”

“It’s broken”

A wave of shock rippled down Rila’s spine, unsure if the woman seriously had knowledge of this, or if she had just taken a wild guess. Either outcome seemed too farfetched to be untrue. And so, suddenly, and as though she had been poked with a needle, she jerked her hand away. “I…I’m sorry.”

“I understand quite well, dear. I have hit an uncomfortable nerve it seems,” she waited for a few minutes for Rila to respond, but when she didn’t, she continued, “It is hard to escape from something that is always in your shadow, but there comes a time when one must look to the future, and not the past.”

A lump appeared in Rila’s throat, begging her to stop holding back what had come to her face so many times before. But she fought it, and with a trembling chin, she said nothing to the woman and simply watched her stand up and go to a cabinet on the far wall to retrieve something inside of it.

The old woman, came limping back to her, and held up a transparent stone on a silver chain.

“I think you should have this,” she said. “My mother gave it to me when I was a young girl; it’s supposed to be made from the jewel of a Staryu.”

“Oh, I couldn’t possibly…” Rila said to her, waving her away with a hand that the woman could not see.

“I insist.” The elder did not wait for her to speak this time, but placed the chain over her head until it rested softly on her neck.

Umbreon hopped from his trainer’s lap and waited patiently beside her on the floor as the aged woman finally let go of the amulet and let it rest against Rila’s body. And the moment it fell upon her, the clear stone seemed to ripple with color until it settled on a deep sapphire color that gleamed once before it faded silently into something less remarkable.

“So? What color has it chosen?”

Rila looked down at her new pendant before hiding it beneath her shirt. “Blue.”

“Ah, I assumed as much.” The old woman then returned to her seat behind the table. “As long as that necklace has been in my possession, I have come to see it be four colors. Blue, as it is now, is supposed to represent loss, black, which represents anger, red, being the most obvious, love, and white, the rarest color of them all, being peace. People mistake it for some sort of mood ring, but it is not. The jewel will only change colors when the feelings in your heart have changed. It does not tell your mood, it tells you what your heart already knows.”

Rila sat for a moment, listening to her speak, and unable to construct a response worth speaking. “Thank you…” was all she managed to say before wincing and realizing how pathetic it sounded.

“You are welcome, my dear. But I think now is around the time you should be on your way. My bed is calling me for rest, and I assume you have places to be before nightfall.”

Before Rila could protest, the woman stood up, and wandered from the room towards the back of here home, where her bedroom was more than likely located. And, feeling awkward that she was now in a stranger’s home unsupervised, she stood and left with Umbreon at her heels.

The rest of the day she spent walking to random shops and purchasing warm items like long johns and sweaters as well as a pair of heavy boots and a thick jacket. She also managed to find some gloves, ear muffs and a scarf as well as meet Dane at the edge of the city just a few minutes behind schedule.

“You’re late,” was his welcome to her as he saw her approach. The wagon that had been empty when they arrived was now full and wrapped with a tarp. Rila pitied the bull who would now have to pull such a heavy load, but she assumed this was not his first time performing the task.

She placed her bag of clothing upon the wagon as well, before saying, “Only by a few minutes. I…got caught up with a few things.”

Dane arched a suspicious eyebrow at her, but didn’t bother to question her; he simply took Tauros by the reigns and began to lead him back up the path toward the cabin.
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Old 01-25-2008, 05:36 AM
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Default Re: Soul of Serenity

The sun was beginning to set, and the two of them still had a long way to go before they reached Dane’s home. The clouds seemed to decide to give them a hard time as the formed a shield in front of the sun, casting an extra tint of darkness upon the path. Rila had never been in this part of the forest so late before, and she hardly recognized the trail, so instead, she and Umbreon followed behind the wagon but close enough so that she could reach out and touch the edge of it.

Darkness began to suffocate them as they passed the halfway point, and something about Dane’s demeanor shifted with the passing of the light. He clutched the reigns hanging from the bit of his Tauros and glanced nervously into the woods surrounding them. Rila watched him curiously, wondering what his was getting so worked up about, until her question was answered when several things happened at once…

A pack of hounds appeared out of nowhere, jumping from the wood and howling madly as they surrounded Dane, his bull, and the large wagon. Then, a sound similar to a shooting firework, but before it exploded, whizzed by Rila’s ear and with a thud, she heard Dane’s scream in agony. Then finally, a group of shadowed men appeared behind the group of dogs who were snapping at the bull’s hooves and enjoying the terror they caused to it.

“Rila!” Dane shouted. “Bandits! Run!”

The group of men hadn’t seen the girl walking closely behind the wagon when they planned their attack, and they whirled around frantically looking for the object of the man’s screams.

As much as she hadn’t liked doing the opposite of what Dane asked her, this was one command she refused to obey. And so, giving a short nod to her Umbreon beside her, she sent him running at the two men holding Dane by the arms.

“Dark Pulse!” the girl yelled to her charging Umbreon. As if shocked by the voice they didn’t know was there, the two men jerked slightly, one releasing his grip on Dane, while the other stayed firm for a few seconds longer before a cruel purple wave of energy hit them both hard in the chest and sent them falling to the ground.

“Ravik, they have a Pokémon!” came the voice of one who lied in the dirt as he scrambled to his feet.

“So I have heard,” another voice rang through the darkness, this one deep and eerie, and hiding the location of its owner. “It is just a girl, men. Kill the man, but don’t harm the girl too much, I’ve been wanting a nice maid.”

And suddenly, as though the new orders organized the men, the wagon was entirely surrounded by at least ten figures, each eyeing the girl, and the two who had fallen took hold of Dane once more.

Rila had little time to think; her heart beat with fear as she anxiously attempted to formulate a plan. But nothing came to her as the dark figures of the men drew closer, nor when she heard the groans of Dane as the men sucker-punched him in the stomach. She backed to the wagon behind her, as if it would provide some sort of protection for her when she could not provide it for herself.

Tauros continued groan and moo with pain as the hounds continued to snap at his feet. He lowered his head in an attempt to catch one on the sharp edge of his horns, but the dogs were too fast for him.

Rila looked to the direction where Dane was being beaten, and as though time were stopping just for her to see, the moonlight reflected off of a blade that a figure clutched in his hand the second before he sent it plunging into Dane’s side.

A low scream erupted from his mouth as he fell to the ground, and another came from her as she screeched “No!” and began to run to him. Then a third scream howled into the night air, followed by a sickening crunch and an abrupt end, but this one not human in the slightest way. Rila glanced over to the wagon where Tauros was attached and saw him thrust his hoof into the corpse of the Houndoom that been unlucky enough to fall victim to all of his weight combined in a single fall of his hooves.

Rila took the few seconds of distraction she needed to think up a means of escape. “Umbreon, use Substitute and follow it with a Psychic on every figure you see.” She ran to the front of the wagon where the angered bull was connected, then pulled off his bridle and removed his harness in enough time for him to break free the rest of the way and paw roughly at the ground to keep the rest of the hounds at bay. “I think you know what to do,” Rila said to the Tauros with a smirk as she watched him burst towards the group of animals who had been fool enough to torture him before.

Puffs of smoke erupted from his heels as he charged at the dogs cowering away, but still snarling in anger at a safe distance from him. When, one mustered the courage to lunge at the tan creature that was three times its size, Tauros reared on his back legs and crashed into the ground causing a massive shake to the earth’s core. The Earthquake attack ricocheted through the soil, hitting each hounds and sending yelps into the sky.

Satisfied that Tauros could handle himself, she turned to face the opposite side of the path in time to see beams of light erupting from the creature hidden in darkness. Frustrated, the men who had been pulsed back to the ground anxious searched the dirt around them in hopes to find and kick whatever had chosen to attack them.

One managed to find Umbreon’s decoy, but ended up bruising his own foot on its hard surface.

“Good,” Rila whispered, having faith that Umbreon could hear her regardless of how far away he was from her. “Now, use Yawn.”

Then, as though he had thought of the attack before she did, a swirled mist leaked into the air before she had ever finished her sentence. The glittering white substance found its way to all of the figures standing around them, she didn’t bother to count exactly how many there were, but certainly enough to pose a threat as there seemed two men for every one of them.

Soft thuds echoed through the night as each of them fell to the earth in sleep, but then out of nowhere something burst from the darkness and grabbed hold of Umbreon’s neck, ripping through its fur and flesh. The poor fox screamed in misery as blood rippled down his skin.

“Very good, Houndoom,” said the wicked voice she recognized of the man they had called Ravik. The moment his dog released her creature, his voice rang again, “Kill it, another Crunch.”

Umbreon had fallen to the dirt the moment he was released, his energy fading fast as it leaked through the wound in his neck. “Try a Quick Attack to use Confuse Ray on it!” Rila shouted desperately. And somehow, even though his eyelids hung half over those piercing ruby eyes, the Umbreon stood an evaded the second Crunch.

Before the Houndoom had realized that his attack had missed and he was instead biting on the ground below and not a Pokémon, a rippling wave of blue was sent puffing towards the Dark Pokémon and hitting it full on in the face. Its dark and demented eyes turned white as it began crashing into random objects including the wagon on their side.

“Hurry!’ came Rila’s next command. “Use dream Eater!”

With every amount of energy that Umbreon had left to spare, he managed to conjure up another attack, and began pulsing with a soft yellow glow. Simultaneously, the eight or so men that had fallen victim to the Yawn it had used earlier began glowing in an identical shade, and each grew brighter and larger until a soft stream of it was sent from each man in streams to connect to the Umbreon in the center; a sight that most resembled a glowing spider web.

Pain began to flee from Umbreon’s face as his droopy eyes began to widen, and the wound on his neck began to heal. He was still sucking energy from his enemies when the confused dog came charging through the web of light in an attempt to perform some kind of tackle. Foam was frothing from its mouth as its white eyes looked nowhere and seemed to not bother to tell the Houndoom that he was charging into a tree once the Umbreon moved to the side.

The trunk of the pine tree did not give way when it was hit full on by a sprinting Houndoom, and relieved that it seemed to be knocked out, the girl and her Umbreon turned their attention toward the man commanding it.

“Use Psy-” Rila began to say…

“No need for it,” the figure’s cruel tone had left him, as a slight edge of what sounded like fear took its place instead. “This is not worth my efforts.”

Then, as though he knew she would let him go, he disappeared into the shadows of the forest he came from, leaving his fallen men and Pokémon behind.

Tauros came prancing back to them, looking wounded with several cuts and gashes along his coat, but his eyes burst with pride and he turned to look once more at the fallen hounds that littered the path.

As Rila’s adrenaline rush began to subside, her stomach began to clench in sickness as she turned to the side of the wagon that Dane lay against, seeming to be unconscious…or worse… She crouched down beside him, seeing his hand clutch his side where she assumed the knife had entered.

“D-Dane?” she whimpered the words softly into the quiet air.

“I am okay, dear,” he groaned. “But I told you to run.”

Rila smiled and sighed with relief as she wrapped her arms around him, thrilled he was alive.

“Ohhh, be gentle.” He smirked at her slightly and winced in pain.

“Come on then, it is time for us to be getting back; and obviously, you will be needing rest.”

She draped his arm over her shoulder, and helped him to his feet. He staggered beside her for a moment, but the walk to wagon was short, and he lied down inside it the moment he could, using a bag of clothes as a pillow.

“Is that enough room?” Rila asked him as she pushed most of the merchandise towards the front of the wagon so he could have the back.

He didn’t say anything, and Rila took that as a sign that he was fine. Then, picking up her Umbreon, she said, “You are going to ride in the back as well.” She smiled at him and stroked his fur before he hopped out of her arms and into the trailer as well, taking only a few seconds to situate himself before curling up and resting at Dane’s side.

Rila walked back to the front of it, where Tauros waited patiently for her to reconnect him. She pet him generously as she attached the harness and slipped the bridle back into his mouth.

“Thank you,” she sighed to him as her forehead wrinkled and her throat throbbed slightly again at the thought of losing any of them. Then, she quickly took hold of the reigns and led the three of them, as well as the wagon, the rest of the way home.

-------------------------

“Ah, be careful!” Dane pleaded as Rila pushed the hot rag a bit too hard into the wound in his side.

“Oh, sorry! But I have to clean it…” She furrowed her eyebrows as she concentrated on getting all of the dirt out, while in the meantime providing him with as little pain as possible.

She finally finished a few moments later, and applied a thin cover of ointment over the long strip of torn flesh that stretched the length of a finger down his waist. Then, very carefully, she wrapped a bandage around his stomach with enough pressure to keep the blood in and bacteria out.

“You need rest, now.” Rila pulled a blanket over him as he lie there, semi-helpless.

“Yes, we are leaving for the mountains in the morning.”

“We most certainly are not!” she said as she stamped her foot to the floor and folded her arms stubbornly. “You are in no condition for travel!”

“I think I know my own capabilities just a bit better than you, thanks,” he told her calmly as if she was being irrational. “Roak is cold enough as is, if we wait much longer, the seasons will change and we would freeze to death before we made it through the first night.”

Rila simply glared at him, angered by his foolishness, and refusing to give in to his request. “One week. We wait one week, and if you are healing and there is no sign of infection then we will go.”

“Oh, so you are telling me what to do now?”

“Yes, I am. If you expect me to travel with you, then you will wait one week. Otherwise, you can go alone and dress your wound yourself.” The look of determination on her face did not break as she stared into his stubborn eyes.

“Well, fine then. We will wait one week and not a moment longer.” He then turned on his side to face away from her, and she didn’t see him smile slightly as she turned swiftly to walk away. A typical daughter, he thought, as his heavy eyes closed shut and he drifted away to sleep.

-------------------------

The following week passed quickly for Rila; the anticipation of what they must do worried her as well as excited her. She hoped the Spirit that resided in Roak Mountains was less vicious than the Spirit of Fire who chose to become an Aerodactyl. She didn’t know if they would manage to capture it this time if it was something equally insane.

She tended to chores of feeding the animals in the stable, as well as visiting Charizard each day to make sure he was healing properly, and whether he was simply healing at all. It was a slow process, but each day he showed a slighter side of his true self, and he was slowly beginning to resemble the Charizard he once was. Yet, even with him healing, and even with his energy slightly being restored each day, something about him changed permanently. For a dragon, losing his ability to fly was, to a person, losing part of themselves. And a constant sadness hid behind his eyes, regardless of how healthy and well he was feeling.

There was nothing in her power for her to do to the fire lizard, except let him know what he meant to her, and how grateful she was for his sacrifice.

As the week went on, the knife wound in Dane’s side healed surprisingly well, and by the end of it, the skin on either side of it had nearly joined completely together. Puss still leaked from it, occasionally, but a potential scab was forming around it, and the dangerous stage of the healing process had ended.

“It feels like I was never stabbed,” Dane exaggerated, though Rila could already see through his lie.

“Are you sure you’re up to it? We don’t have the back of a Charizard to ride on, and I am doubting a Dragonite would be the best choice to take us through the rough end of a blizzard.”

“No, we will be walking. The tallest peak is only a few days of travel in. Though, pack light, we’re not bringing a wagon for supplies in the chance the snow might be too deep.” He told her this as he avoided her initial question. But she minded, and went off to fill a backpack with everything they might possibly need the following day.

-------------------------

The morning came the same as all of those before it. The same sun rose slowly into the sky, while a girl who was almost a woman helped fit a large pack onto the back of a man who acted to young for his age. She voiced a call to a creature that came prancing up to her side obediently, and closed its eyes in pleasure as she massaged behind one of its long dark ears.

“Is that everything? Just my pack and yours?” she asked, surprised at how little they seemed to have.

“That’s everything. We will only be gone a few days,” he reassured her.

With that, the two of them left the small cabin and the stables beside it to head north, where the temperature shifted and weather would tear at their bodies relentlessly until they left it.

It was a journey that seemed to move too quickly for the both of them. Like an event you were unprepared for would arrive without warning and leave you worse off than when you had began to head toward it.

The trees surrounding them thickened noticeably with every passing hour that they walked the trail; each one growing in thickness and size. The thin braches that held thousands of graying pine needles were turning to a thriving green, and doubling in height.

The air became thinner as the humidity left it completely and a cold chill rushed over them, and they had just changed into their jackets and warm clothing when the pines began to clear and an enormous mountain range appeared, towering over them.

“We’re camping here tonight. It’s only a half a day’s walk to the largest mountain from here.” Dane removed his back pack and set up a small tent that was just large enough to fit the two of them, and just as the sun left the sky, Rila crawled inside her sleeping bag beneath it, and allowed her Umbreon to sleep beside her.

The smile she remembered prodded into her mind once more. A kind face found itself resting on a pair of broad shoulders, and underneath a mess of deep brown hair. Those haunting eyes that had captured her heart those many years ago still seemed to peer far into her soul, sending shivers up her spine.

“Rila,” he spoke to her finally, as his body materialized from what seemed like nothing but darkness.

“Y-yes?” A hot mist came from her mouth once the warm breath contacted the cool air, if air was even what the atmosphere was.

She hugged her arms close to her chest in effort to keep as much body heat in as possible, but the harder she squeezed, the more her warmth seemed to want to leave her.

The figure who had spoken still loomed in front her, staring with an all-knowing gaze, and seeming older and younger than she remembered at the same time.

“Wait!” she called desperately, running toward the man who was now beginning to fade into the shadows around them. She reached out a hand to touch him, to feel his warm embrace just once more…“Please…” Her eyes welled up with tears as his body vanished into a cloud of wispy smoke the moment her fingertips touched his chest. “Don’t go…”

The wound in her heart seemed to burn deeper as she slouched to a ground that wasn’t there. And soon the shadows began to move and bend around her, swirling and encircling her into a silent cyclone of darkness. However, something about them was more comforting than threatening, and each seemed to pity her after every tear slid down her face. Then, just as she began to slip back into consciousness, just the moment before, a sound that resembled an “I’m here” came from nowhere and everywhere at once.
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Old 01-25-2008, 05:40 AM
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Default Re: Soul of Serenity

She awoke to the sound of the front flaps of the tent blowing in the wind. It was just before daybreak, and Dane was still sleeping beneath his bag beside her. Her face a neck were damp with sweat, and chill ran up her spine when she awoke to be blasted with a cold wind from outside the tent.

She reached into the pack beside her, and pulled on two pairs of pants on top of her long johns, as well as every shirt she brought with her before she threw on her heavy coat as well. Looking at her in comparison to how she looked normally, it was if she had gained fifty pounds and then some as she struggled to get up and wander from the tent.

It was obvious that a light snow had fallen the night before, once she noticed the few inches of snow that reached up to the ankle of her boots. And just as she went to go wake up her companion, she turned to see him emerging from the depths of the tent as well, followed by her Umbreon that stretched his back and yawned into the frigid air.

“I think you should rest in your Poké Ball the rest of the way,” she said to him as he simply blinked at her when she removed the multi-colored sphere from her pocket and recalled him to the warmth of the device once more.

Rila went to assist Dane in rolling up the tent and fitting it tightly inside his pack once more, then quickly, the two of them at some bread and dried meat before hoisting their backpacks upon them and heading off to the tallest peak once more.

The mountains formed around them with an intimidating presence, and when Rila attempted to look up at them, the sun blinded her as they stretched too far into the sky. Snow began to fall once more after only an hour of traveling inside the mountain range, and soon after that a rough wind picked up, turning snow to hail and pelting them harshly.

The cold began to become unbearable the farther the too of them traveled into the cover of the mountains; the wind chill stung at Rila’s face, and she was impressed at Dane’s strength to push onward with a severe wound in his side.

But her pain, as well as his, subsided at the sight of the mountain that approached them. One that was obviously far larger than all of those around it. And as they treaded throught the snow that was now at least a foot deep, she could see the blue tinted rock that created its base, and the armor of ice that shielded its peak.

It seemed only moments before they stood directly in front of it, as the sun began to set behind it.

“So what do we do now?” Rila asked him, as he simply stared up to the sky, as far as his sight would take him.

“Now…we climb,” was all he said in response.

“Are you kidding? How are we supposed to climb it? It’s pure ice up there!”

“Haha, calm down, dear girl,” he chuckled as he dropped his backpack to the snow. “Of course I am joking, the entrance is at the base. Just to find it…”

He ruffled through his bag for a moment, before retrieving an apple-sized pearl with swirls of silvery purple and pink.

“Th-that…” Rila said to him as he stood back up and began feeling around the rocky base of the mountain.

She didn’t say anything, but simply watched him search the rock for a circular imprint beside a strip of unusual symbols, and the experience that had been extremely similar to this one flowed inside her the moment he found what he was searching for and put the rare pearl in its place.

Time seemed to stop when she placed it in the circle. The wind stopped howlin;, her lungs stopped breathin;, all she could see was the symbols light up and the pearl rotating in its place. It spun faster and faster until it was simply a rotating blur. And then suddenly, it stopped. A click, a snap, and then a deep rumbling noise that seemed to come from the very center of the mountain itself. She looked down at her feet where she could see stray pebbles vibrating in the noise. And then her attention was shifted upwards, the very wall in front of her was shifting upward. Like a huge stone curtain revealing nothing but darkness. In the minute it took to completely open, Rila couldn’t decide whether to stay or run. She simply stared blankly into the blackness, wondering what was going to happen if she stepped into it.

Dane didn’t wait for her permission, and walked somewhat hesitantly into the darkness of the opening of the mountain. She stood outside of it for a moment before following him inside.

Something about the situation was different than it had been for her before. The mountain was entirely hollow with every wall having a completely smooth surface that stretched up for ages and turned into nothing but blackness. There were no fiery eyes appearing in the darkness to threaten her, no possessed creature lunging for her and a fire dragon on the edge of a cliff, and it was almost as if it was impossible to be afraid inside the cavern of the mountain, and the dimness of the light comforted her as she walked forward.

But her mind cursed itself for thinking too soon, as a loud screech that reminded her of an angry song echoed above them, and a large creature descended from the shadows.

For a moment she thought the Pokémon was riding on a cloud, but as it got closer, she had mistaken that for its wings. The brilliant blue creature landed softly on the ground before them, folding its wings to the side to hide its azure talons and present only a long smooth neck to a round face that would look incredibly sweet had the Pokémon not been frowning in annoyance. Two thin, ear-like structures stretched from the center of its small head and ended in roughly the center of its body. Then, opening its beak slowly and with patience, the Altaria sang another fuming song to the barren center of the mountain.

“This,” breathed Dane, slowly and in awe, “would be the Spirit of the Sky.” He had hardly finished speaking when he reached to his pocket and withdrew a dull orb that enlarged in his palm.

With a blinding flash that seemed much brighter than normal inside the darkness of the cave, a muscular and flying dragon appeared before them; the very same that fought Fire in the mountain range opposite of this one.

The peach dragon hummed in pride for being chosen yet again to face such a powerful opponent, one that it recognized as something more than what it seemed. Dragonite closed its eyes shortly, as if in meditation, but only up until the point where Dane called his first command.

“A Dragon Rage should do just fine.”

With an inhale of breath that could be seen expanding in its stomach, the beast opened its gaping jaw to release a burst of heatless flames. But, their target had something else in store for it, and quicker than what could be possible, and icy Mist formed around the Spirit, blocking it from view and stretching to the far corners of the cave. No song of pain came from the creature to where Dane had called his attack, so he rightfully assumed that his Dragon attack was a miss.

There was nothing to see at this point apart from white. The mist swirled around them, but as some of it swirled away, more came rushing in to take its place. Dane was semi-perplexed at this, but something about his demeanor seemed as though he knew what he was going to do.

But, before he could call out his next command, the Spirit, which seemed to have the ability to see through the thick whether while the others could not, sent a well-aimed Ice Beam directly into the dragon’s heart.

The screech of pain was magnified within the hollow walls of the mountain, and the biting ice stung at its chest as he tried to get up.

“Sunny Day, dragon!”

Despite the pain it had obviously been caused, the mythical creature’s eyes turned yellow, and the sun outside the mountain burned brighter and fiercer than Rila had ever seen before. Rays came crashing through the small entrance at its base and somehow managed to clear just about every inch of mist away from sight; forcing it to melt and fall to the ground in massive puddles.

The Altaria’s location was revealed, and as soon as it no longer had a hiding place, it gave a single flap to its wings and lunged at the dragon that was still regaining its composure.

“Quickly! Use Flamethrower!” Dane bellowed to his Pokémon.

Turning its head just as the bird was feet from it, Dragonite spit a nasty stream of fire directly into the Spirit’s face. With a screech, the blue bird fell back, hitting the ground hard and writhing in pain from the flames that slowly destroyed its cotton wings. The flames dimmed in seconds, however, as clear light washed over the half Flying type, and the Refresh attack had cleared Altaria of Flamethrower’s secondary effect.

“Again,” the order came from a calm Dane, who realized that Sky would not be down for much longer.

As the dragon prepared for another bolt of fire, Altaria whirled around as though it had never been attacked and sent a beam of ice flowing towards Dragonite just as the first bit of fire had been released. Both dragon and bird were hit in the chest by each other’s attack and sent falling back to the earth beneath them.

Dane’s Dragonite was fainting swiftly, and with the encouragement of the sunlight at his back, he ordered his dragon to perform a Fire Blast to finish off the Spirit.

The golden Pokémon did not bother to stand and prepare for the attack, but just opened his mouth as wide as he could allowing the fiery orb inside of it to grow in size, and only when the energy inside it pulsed to fiercely to be contained, he let go of his final attack and sent wave upon wave of hot, and multi-colored flames to every bit of the hollow cave, leaving no escape for the bird Spirit to escape, and only when it struggled to release one more cruel Ice Beam, did the dragon finally faint; once again falling to a Spirit Pokémon.

“Well done, my friend,” Dane whispered as a trail of vivid light traveled from the sphere in his hand to the unconscious creature on the mountain floor.

The Altaria stood before them still, wheezing heavily from both energy loss and pain. His gorgeous wings that had once been white without a single blemish, were now singed and black and almost completely covered in soot from the smoke. The angered eyes gave a piercing look at the man who had ordered the Pokémon to do such things to it, and though it seemed livid, it would not move to attack him.

Dane reached into his pocket once more, though this time the orb he retrieved held no Pokémon inside of it, and he cast it lightly to the Spirit swaying with tiredness before them.

Like normal, the light discharged from the Poké Ball and encircled the creature above it, and like normal, it dematerialized into the nothingness that returned to the ball. As it swayed back and forth and the light in the center blinked red, Dane walked toward it, cockily, and as though he had already won. But just as he went to pick up the ball that barely held the Spirit of the Sky captive, it shot open, and a trail of white light burst into the air as the mystical creature appeared before them once more.

Dane gazed it at puzzlingly. “What is it?” he asked to something he knew would not understand his speech. The Altaria was obviously in no fit state to battle, yet somehow it both refused and had the energy to avoid capture.

It was only seconds later when a popping sound came from shoulder bag from Rila’s side and another beam of light came crashing through the cave.

An ear drum bursting scream filled the air as the Aerodactyl she had managed to capture emerged before them, flying in angry circles around what room there was before finding its place beside the Altaria and glaring evilly at the two of them.

A rush of fear came over the girl, as well as the man, as now their were two Spirits before them, and both glared menacingly at the two of them as if holding back the urge to provide them with their deaths. The two of them seemed to understand exactly what the other had decided, and conveniently at the same time, they each opened their mouths to show two identical orbs forming inside them, growing larger and larger, and just the second before each attack was about to be released, something happened that Rila had never expected nor imagined would.

A second light erupted from the very bag that had just been a refuge for the Spirit of Fire, and as though sensing what was happening, Rila’s Pidgeot formed in front of them and glowing gold, it sent a shield flying before them; an attack that she never knew a Pidgeot could learn.

The Dragonbreath attacks rebounded from Pidgeot’s shield and back upon the creatures that had caused them, and each fell back against the far wall with a deafening thud.

The two Spirits were taken completely by surprise, and the anger on each of their faces faded entirely the moment they gazed upon the Pidgeot who was staring calmly back at the two of them. It seemed both hours and seconds that the five of them remained inside the mountain in silence, but then, just as Rila was about to speak, the Aerodactyl peacefully dematerialized into its Poké Ball, Altaria placed its beak into the orb that lie at its feet, and Pidgeot turned to them with an intense fire in its eyes.

“Rila…” Dane gasped shortly while the Pidgeot flapped its wings powerfully to remain in flight. “Where did you find that bird?”

*****

Pidgeot


Her wings tiredly flapped onward through the sky. It had been weeks since she rested, and her soul ached for eternal sleep. But she drove onward, in search of something that she must find, and soon.

The sun began to set behind her as she left the mountain range and Iternadi Lake came clearly into view. She descended to just inches above the water as she passed over it, dipping her beak into the liquid to gain a drink as she flew. She peered curiously down at her reflection, admiring how she had a body that was hers and how it was something that she could see. She clicked her beak together to watch the motion in the reflection of the water and clenched the needle pointed talons attached to her feet. This body was chosen to sustain her Spirit because its simplicity was easy to hide from those that would seek her for inappropriate reasons.

The colorful feathers connected to hear head rippled majestically in the breeze, and even though her form was common, anyone could see how she differed from the others had they ever bothered to look hard enough.

Time was wearing thin, and she knew it was not long before she along with her companions would be needed in the last battle of its kind. And she rounded the lake bend as the city on the edge of the lake came into view. Something seemed different to her about today, and she realized just what it was when she noticed the young girl sitting on the edge of the cliff above the water, throwing large stones into the lake just to watch them splash and sink to the bottom.

She approached the girl carefully, slowing the speed of her flight drastically before hovering and landing beside her. The girl must have been daydreaming, or perhaps her flight was quiet enough not to disturb her, because the human hadn’t noticed her presence until she ruffled her wings to place them at her sides.

A look of fear washed over the child’s face as she looked to the giant bird who had appeared beside her. The girl began to back away slowly, lifting her legs as though she were preparing to run away, but then, as though the Pidgeot could read her thoughts, she chirped sweetly and enticed her to stay.

The child of about twelve or so, became curious instead of afraid after this, and some twist of bravery inside her caused her to reach out a hand to stroke the odd creature who had randomly decided to a approach her. And somehow, at the girl’s touch the bird was able to see into her very heart. She saw faith and innocence, kindness and love, and most importantly of everything she saw, there was one thing that set her apart from all of the others to which she had performed the same feet, and that was hope.

The bird released her gaze from the child, and swiftly and as though she had planned it all along, she reached her beak into the bag that hung from the girl’s shoulder and tapped an empty Poké Ball inside.

*****

“I didn’t find her,” Rila said, as some form of realization overcame her once she peered into the deep eyes of what she used to think was a Pokémon. “She found me.”

“This is no Pidgeot,” replied Dane, but he was telling the girl something she already knew. “This is the Spirit of the Earth.”

The peaceful bird dropped softly from the air before them, and blinking the sunlight out of her eyes, she vanished in a stream of light to the Poké Ball she had chosen for herself those many years ago.

-------------------------

It was as though time had stopped for their trip back to Dane’s lakeside cabin. There were no storms or drastic temperature changes to hinder their travel, and only when they were almost home did they converse for more than a moment about something that was remotely important.

“So, what now?” asked Rila through the darkness to the man who walked beside her.

“Now, we find Sea,” he said as though it were obvious. “And for that to be done, we’ll need to use my boat.”

She said nothing more, but continued there eerily silent walk back home. Even once they reached it, neither said a word to the other, as each was tired, and each needed sleep. The following morning would come sooner than either one was ready for it.

For once Rila had no dreams that night; the night before the most important day of her life. She slept soundly, and even remembering that night in the future, she would swear that there was something supernatural in the cabin that was helping her get the rest she needed.

-------------------------

The morning broke silently as the two of them packed nothing but a small pack for each of them and pushed the tiny sail boat out into the water. It was hard for Rila to get into such a floatation device, especially considering it was this very lake where her horrible memories rooted from. She had back the urge her stomach gave her to release what she had just eaten, and sat quietly in the center of the boat as Dane untied it from the old dock and released the sail. She had no idea, however, that this was equally hard for him to do as it was for her.

Everything that had happened in the time she had spent with Dane seemed to all build up to this moment. Everything she had discovered played vaguely through her mind, repeating itself over and over in an endless circle of information. As the boat sailed forward, she wondered what her life would have been like had she never ventured out onto the unforgiving waters with André the very day she lost him. She wondered what would have happened if she had never agreed to go with him at all, if he would have went without her, if would have ever went at all.
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Old 01-25-2008, 05:49 AM
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She couldn’t help but drown out the sounds of Dane’s voice with her thoughts as he spoke to her, having no idea what he was saying. But it wasn’t until the boat had stopped and the sun was directly in the center of the sky that she emerged from her silent daydreaming to help him shut the sail and listen to what he said for the first time that day.

“…and we’ll be submerging here.” He finished a sentence that she had only heard the end of.

“Here? But we still have a decent bit farther to go until we reach the center,” she argued.

“Who said we were diving at the center? It’s far too cold for us to be swimming there.” He turned away from her for a moment as he dug through the bag he had brought, while she remembered the reason André had been able to swim at the center in the first place. “Ah, here we are,” Dane spoke once again, “I’ve just bought; figured they’d come in handy.”

Rila stared at the two small objects he held in each hand, one of which he held out to her. It seemed to be made of metal, but she wasn’t sure. The small figure had a round center with two thin parts protruding from it. She thought it mostly resembled a whistle with two blow holes.

“What is it?” she asked, taking the one he offered her form his hand.

“Some sort of breathing device,” he answered. “It should be enough to get use to the center.”

“Should?”

But he was already placing the bag on his back, and stepping to the side of the small sailboat when he turned to her and asked, “Are you coming?” Then, placing the new device in his mouth, he stepped over the side and plunged into the water without waiting for her response.

Figuring that there was little else for her to do, Rila slung her bag over her shoulder, pushed the breathing device into her own mouth as well, and jumped quickly into the water behind him.

The water around her seemed to remain perfectly still as it waited for her regain composure and swim after the man who was several feet away from her. It was much to deep here to see anything but blue, a blue that got darker and tint the farther it traveled below the depths of the surface. Tiny beams of light made their way through the surface and into the lake itself, but other than that there was little to see apart from the figure kicking its feet ahead of her and the bubbles spouting from both his movement and the device inside her mouth as she exhaled.

It was a short swim to the location where they were headed. She had barely begun to tire as a cavern appeared before them and the entrance showed itself as well. Dane descended slowly to the only structure that was ahead of them, and pushing her arms out and to the side as hard as she could, she managed to catch up to him and enter the cavern at roughly the same time as him.

It was completely black for a few moments, and for the time when she could see nothing nor where she was going, Rila was worried she had gotten completely turned around and would be trapped in the blackness until she drowned. But to her comfort, a soft glow appeared above her, and the light strengthened to the point where she could see Dane swimming at her side. The look on his face seemed that of relief as well when he glanced over to see that she was right there with him, and together, they gave a few more heavy kicks into the water before their bodies breached the surface.

She spit the metal object into her hand and clenched in her fist as she breathed in lungful of air from inside the cavern, and slowly swam her way to the waters edge before pulling herself up onto the rocky shoreline. She helped Dane by pulling him up as far as she could along the edge when he came swimming behind her, and the two of them sat for a while, panting, and caching their breath from a swim that hadn’t seemed to be as tiring until it ended.

Only once they had finished regaining their energy did they stand once more to continue traveling to the heart. The wall had a gaping opening for them to pass through, and each of them was desperate to see what was on the other side.

Rila was up first, and ventured to darkness that seemed to stream from the archway, yet, as soon as she got to it, she realized that it wasn’t darkness at all, but another cavern in itself that had no floor. She strained her eyes to see a bridge that stretched from where the cliff she stood on ended, and a new one began.

“Why would a bridge be here?” she asked, puzzled at how a man-made object would have been created in a Spirit’s lair.

“Perhaps we are not the first to attempt to come down here,” Dane said. “We are just the first to have the key.” He groaned slightly and held the very side that his cut rest on.

“Here, give that to me,” Rila told him, referring to his backpack. “You’ve more than likely torn it open with all of the strain you have been putting on it. Perhaps you should just wait here.”

“Of course I will not, I have not come all this way just to give up the moment I began to feel a bit of pain.” He winced as he slowly hand her his pack. “Let’s keep going.”

Rila realized that the situation was beyond her argue, and she turned from him, pulling the bag over her back and stepped out onto the wooden bridge that had nothing for her to hold onto apart from a few strands of weathered rope.

The wooden planks beneath her feet seemed very unstable, and each puffed a cloud of dust as her footsteps hit it. She walked slowly and carefully, and the creaking noises intensified the closer they got to the other side.

“I don’t think this is very sa-” but her sentence did not finish. Just as the words left her lips, the ropes holding the bridge to cliff they had just came from snapped, and the tow of them were sent falling into the darkness below.

Rila screamed as she managed to hold on to the wooden step of the bridge as it smacked into the rocky wall of the other side. She saw the outline of Dane’s body beneath her when she looked down at the sound of his groan of agony. He hung by only one arm, as reaching the other up to help would stretch out his wound and cause him too much pain to hold himself up.

“Hold on!” Rila shouted, “I’ll pull you up!” But as if fate wanted to hurt her, the rope connected to the cliff to which they were head began to give way.

“No,” Dane said to her, sadly. “It won’t hold us both.”

“It will! Yes it will!” she reached her hand down to him desperately. But he simply shook his head, and looked up to meet her gaze.

“I will be with her either way,” he said, and just the moment before he let go, a glaze came over his eyes that was speaking for him of both pleasure and pity. And never looking away from her, he forced himself to release his grip on the wooden step of the broken bridge; the cavern light reflected softly from his kind eyes as he fell into the abyss. And even through her sobbing and her tears, she realized that it had been the first time she had ever witnessed Dane cry.

-------------------------

It took her a while before she mustered up the strength to press onward after she pulled herself up from the old bridge, but she realized that if she didn’t finish what she had started with Dane, then his death would have been for nothing. She pulled herself from the ground and tried to block out every emotion that tried so hard to keep from pouring from her heart, and continued to the next cavern that’s opening lie just a few feet away.

Something peculiar hit her ears as she rounded the cavern entrance and saw no water, but heard splashing coming from every direction. The ground beneath her began to soften as she walked, turning moist until she was wading through a terrain of knee-high mud. A horrible smell hit her nostrils, as if something had died three times over and came back to life to regurgitate itself up into the dim light.

She looked down at the mud and saw the corpse of a fish lying in the muck as she walked past, and then another, and another, and it took her only a few moments longer before she strained her eyes enough to realize that she was in fact walking through a sea of dead fish. But even that idea had been misguided, for just when she raise her hand to her nose to shield the smell, she felt something wiggle by her angle, and terrified, she shrieked, which was unfortunate for her, as every creature that she had assumed to be dead awoke at the noise and began flopping around dramatically.

Routinely, she reached into her shoulder bag and withdrew the Poké Ball that contained her third Pokémon; the one who saw the battlefield the very least of the three. She tossed it madly into the air, and before she let it finish materialize, she shouted, “Grovyle! Use Bullet Seed on everything you see!” and with that, she wading through the nasty fish that flopped around her as fast as she could, as if they were the very spawn of the Sea.

Pellets of light were shooting in every direction, and the brown, corpse-looking fish she assumed to be Feebas were flopping wildly around her, not bothering to defend themselves, if they even knew a move that would. Grovyle shot bullets and bullets of the Grass attack into the muddy sea of fish, and Rila tumbled onto dry surface unexpectedly, dropping both her bags onto the dirt. She hoisted herself up and called the green lizard to her as he relentlessly fired the seeds into the darkness. When he reached her, she had just pulled Dane’s backpack onto her shoulders, and withdrew the gecko after she smiled at it in gratitude.

She retrieved her shoulder bag from the dirt, but somehow, she failed to see the empty Poké Ball roll from it, and just happen to bump into an unlucky Feebas who was wheezing from taking a good amount of damage from Grovyle’s Bullet Seed. She also failed to notice the burst of light, and the fish being sucked into the sphere as it wiggled back and forth while she rounded the corner….

The wall she had been searching for appeared in front of her. The very last wall she would ever see of its kind. She placed one foot in front of the other as she walked toward it, watching it get closer and closer to her until she was only inches from it. And reaching into Dane’s bag a final time, she retrieved and apple-sized pearl with a rainbow of colored swirls on its smooth surface, and managed to fit it inside the indent in the wall that lie next to the line of strange symbols, and like the other two before it…

Time seemed to stop when she placed it in the circle. The wind stopped howling; her lungs stopped breathing; all she could see was the symbols light up and the pearl rotating in its place. It spun faster and faster until it was simply a rotating blur. And then suddenly, it stopped. A click, a snap, and then a deep rumbling noise that seemed to come from the very center of the cavern itself. She looked down at her feet where she could see stray pebbles vibrating in the noise. And then her attention was shifted upwards, the very wall in front of her was shifting upward. Like a huge stone curtain revealing nothing but darkness. In the minute it took to completely open, Rila couldn’t decide whether to stay or run. She simply stared blankly into the blackness, wondering what was going to happen if she stepped inside of it.

But when she did, something strange happened to her surroundings; she was in a circular area of the cave with no roof whatsoever above her. Several hours must have passed since she had entered the cave, as the moon was bright in the sky and surrounded by a net of glittering stars.

She had little time to admire the scenery, however, as the being she had come to see swirled with an evil darkness around her. In wisps of black that combined together in the very center of the circular room, a creature made its appearance for the first time in human history. Rila was not the slightest bit scared, as the blackness changed colors to reveal something that she would have never guessed to hold the slightest grudge or sign of hatred. She wasn’t scared when a blue and crimson mermaid tail formed beneath a beige body. She did not blink when its face formed and two long ruby whiskers formed beside a pair of flaps that seemed to resemble ears. And even when its eyes shone red with rage and wicked snarl erupted from a voice she didn’t expect the creature to have, all that Rila did was gaze at the thing in her presence, and allow the three Spirits she had brought along with her to break from their confinement and appear on the field beside her.

The Spirit of the Sea seemed entirely taken aback at this revelation, and as shock rushed over her, she began to glow with rage the moment her eyes fell upon the Spirit of the Earth. Then, in her rage, an abrupt storm began above the five of them. Thick black clouds appeared out of nowhere to completely shelter the peaceful sky from what was happening beneath it. Rain erupted from the clouds and began pelting Rila fiercely as she refused to take her eyes off of the four Spirits in front of her. Then, the moment a single lightning bolt formed directly above them and came crashing down to find its place in the back of the Spirit of the Sky in the form of an Altaria, the great battle of Man had begun.

Sky screeched in pain as the electric energy pulsed through her, and angered by this, Fire sent an abrupt fling of rocks and boulders at the water creature who opposed them. But somehow, the Sea which had chosen to become a Milotic managed to ward off most of the Ancient Power attack, and only a small fraction of it made any impact on the creature at all.

What had once been Rila’s Pidgeot began to spin entirely, tucking her wings to her sides as she somehow managed to spiral faster and faster while still remaining in flight. The Altaria and the Aerodactyl were both conjuring similar Dragonbreath attacks, sucking energy from their very souls to form menacing and golden orbs of flames, while the Milotic thrust her unusual had back and sang into the sky.

It was a sound unlike any other she had heard before, both gruesome and hypnotizing at the same time, and when fierce waves formed above the sides of the cavern, it appeared as thought the fish were calling out to the very sea itself.

Sky and Fire managed to release their powerful Dragonbreath attacks in two blinding beams that found their way to each other, and forming a larger one that doubled in strength. And just as they hit the Milotic in its chest, the deep blue waves came splashing down the edges of the cavern, and destroying everything inside. The Surf threw both the half Rock and half Dragon types into rough floor beneath them, and Rila struggled to move back into a corner to avoid being drowned by the relentless waves. And moments before they pounded into her fragile body, a ruthless wind swirled by her and a pair of talons clutched her by the shoulders as they lifted her into the sky.

The Twister that the Pidgeot had conjured served both as a shield and a weapon, as she somehow managed to use it to send the waves flinging back at the aquatic Spirit that conjured them, and the moment Rila had clambered onto the back of the determined bird, she released the Twister and sent it barreling into the vengeful creature below them.

A shriek of pain tore through the winds of the storm, as Pidgeot circled the scene from above, and for a moment, Rila thought for certain that the battle had ended. Then, just the moment she glanced down at the water-filled cavern beneath them, she saw a black wisp of smoke and then a beam of manic energy erupt from the place that Sea once was and relocate to the sky before them.

The swirls of blackness once again reformed into the figure Rila recognized as a Milotic, though something about it had changed. For one it was flying, something that any Milotic was physically incapable of doing, but more drastically, its beauty faded from it, and the thing that floated in front of them seemed to just be a small fragment of what it once was. Like a wicked heart with no body.

The air borne Sea began to throb threateningly with waves of blue power, and for some reason, Pidgeot refused to move out of the way when the alarming attack was sent spiraling towards it, but instead braved the damage to its chest, before whirling in a circle, collecting the same blue energy and sending an identical Dragon Pulse attack back at the angry spirit with a well-planned Mirror Move.

Both Earth and Sea were weakening, and Rila feared for the Spirit of which she rode on.

“I think that a Brave Bird attack would be a good choice here,” she whispered nervously, feeling slightly awkward to suggest something to a creature far more experienced than she ever would be. But Earth surprised her when her feathery head nodded and she chirped fiercely through the storm.

Milotic had predicted a similar attack, and conjured a beam of ice in the little time she had to think of a counter attack. And even when she released it and it hit the bird charging through the air, it almost seemed to reflect of it entirely. But the Pidgeot was forcing itself to continue to its attack as it tore through the air and ice, and she didn’t slow even when her feathers ripped from her wings and chest heaved with pain. Not until she plunged into the very stomach of the Sea with all her remaining strength did she plummet from the sky, and fall to the cavern floor of which all the water had drained from.

Her wings beat a few times in the last remaining seconds before the ground came up to meet them to soften the fall, but even with that the two of them crashed hard into the rocky surface where the battle had begun. Only seconds later did another thud echo from the shallow walls around them; one that Rila was sure belonged to the Spirit of the Sea.

She winced painfully as a sting shot down her arm when she attempted to stand, a sign that said her arm was broken. She glanced around her through the rain, and saw each of the powerful figures in an ironic and fainted state. Sky and Fire lie limp against the far wall, and the body of the Spirit of the Sea had fallen to the exact center of the roofless cavern while the Earth inside her Pidgeot lie motionless beside her.

“Are-are you okay?” she asked sadly to the pigeon who did not stir.

She stood in silence, gazing at the mess around her, until something strange happened. The three spirits she had taken with her turned opaque, and soon they vanished into clouds of silver smoke. She watched the wisps travel to the center of the cavern and swirl around the lifeless Milotic in the center. A cyclone of wind and silver completely surrounded the creature, and a sparking sound began popping behind it as golden flakes of dust shot from the center of the whirlwind and into the sky. Some of the sparkling powder seemed to form rough figures of things they used to be. She thought she saw a young man and his Golduck walking through the mist of gold and taking refuge amongst the stars; something she was sure she had seen in later years as she recalled the event in her aging mind.

And as swiftly as it had begun, the swirling stopped and the silvery smoke followed the collection sparkling dust into the dark sky.

She hadn’t realized it had happened, but the pendant that lie against Rila’s chest had turned white the very moment the wind had taken the remaining particles of the spirits with it. Then, as she looked down at the body of the Milotic that had hosted the Spirit of the Sea only moments before, Rila removed an empty Poké Ball from her bag that lie damp on the cavern floor, then placed the orb to the tip of the creature’s nose…just to see what would happen.

The clouds parted, and light began stretching down from the sky. The thunder ceased; the lightning ended, then the waves flattened. And the ocean-sized lake calmed quickly, as though nothing were ever there…

-------------------------

To Catch: Milotic and Feebas
Character Count: Roughly 110k
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Old 04-25-2008, 06:10 AM
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Default Re: Soul of Serenity

You are way too nice for your own good, Nancy. *celebrates the 3 month anniversary of you waiting for this to get graded*

The Big Picture: Gotta give you credit here, Janet. I really enjoyed your characters here, especially Dane. His whole history with his family and pursuit of the Spirit really hooked me. And dammit, you killed him! Sure, it was emotional and an amazing plot device, but it was just plain mean. *holds grudge against you*

Though, I'd like to discourage the use of bandits as a general plot device. Despite the fact that the tussle with the bandits had a lasting impact on the story in the form of Dane's injury, I can't help but dislike how 'random' that whole ordeal felt, especially considering the fact that the bandit leader got away. I mean, you went through the trouble of portraying the guy as this menacing presence, but I never got to learn anything else about him. It left me kinda curious about what his whole situation was. And really, bandits are pretty commonly used in journey fics, so... yeah. :P

I really liked the twist with Pidgeot, by the way. Maybe it's just 'cuz I'm kind of a sucker for majestic-type birdies 'n all, but dang, that was nice.

However, my favorite thing was that incredible mood you set in the story. Every encounter with danger really felt much heavier, like the characters were really at risk of getting hurt or killed, probably because of André's death in Heart of Vengeance. It was pretty astounding, really; this much later, André's death still has such a tremendous impact, not only in Rila's mind, but in the reader's as well.

The Light 'n Clockwork: Altogether, the grammar was good. Not necessarily great, though; I just noticed a lot of little things. Typos, I imagine. i'll only point out a couple, mkay? ^^;
Quote:
Originally Posted by Natasha
But, he had been obsessing over her since her first month of pregnancy, and he wanted more than anything to make her happy, he wanted her to have a day to enjoy a day doing something she loved, and more than that, he wanted her to know he loved her enough to trust her.
Comma splices are the devil. So yeah, semicolon or period 'll exorcise it real good-like. :P
Quote:
Originally Posted by Delilah
He nodded courteously, then took her granddaughter by the hand and led her out of the door.
Really, this isn't quite a mistake, but you should be careful with things like this. "Her," while in the same sentence twice, is referring to different people, which can be a smidgen confusing without some kinda clarification in between. Obviously, it's no big deal; just something to keep in mind.

All your dialogue 'n the like was done perfectly, which is certainly nice to see. A fresh pair of eyes or a another once over your story probably woulda eliminated a lot of 'em.

The Special Effects: Parts of your story were absolutely spectacular, I hafta say; but other parts seemed a bit off. Places like:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paulina
The water that had turned cold minutes ago splashed over his body as he was extra greedy with the soap he lathered his body with.
This is a bit quirky, probably because of excessive words and prepositional phrases in mysterious places. It could be reworded into something like:
Quote:
Originally Posted by George of the Jungle
The water had gone cold minutes ago, but he paid it no mind as he greedily lathered his body with soap.
Yeah, that wasn't easy to change around. ^^; Important thing to notice here is the lack of prepositional phrases like 'that had turned cold minutes ago' and 'as he was extra greedy.' Instead, I changed those important points to not use prepositions, which makes them more inclusive in the idea that you're trying to get across. Inside prep-phrases, the idea of 'the water going cold' and 'being greedy' with the soap are somewhat distilled, like they're less important.

A similar concept can be applied here:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vivian
But she fought it, and with a trembling chin, she said nothing to the woman and simply watched her stand up and go to a cabinet on the far wall to retrieve something inside of it.
Areas like this would benefit from a little reorganizing. As the reader moves through the text, things kind of drag with extra words and prepositional phrases like before.
Quote:
Originally Posted by George Washington
But she fought it with a trembling chin and said nothing to the woman, simply watching her stand and move to retrieve something from a cabinet on the far wall.
This change reads a little more smoothly because it reference 'cabinet' only once; the 'inside of it' part is cut out, since 'retrieving something from a cabinet' provides the same image for the reader as 'retrieving something from inside a cabinet.'

Also:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caroline
Rila had little time to think; her heart beat with fear as she anxiously attempted to formulate a plan.
I wanna discourage the use of the word 'fear' like this. As is, you're using the word 'fear' in order to portray the feeling of 'fear,' which is kinda mundane. It's like using a word to define itself, so instead, you might wanna emphasize what that fear 'does' to Rila.

And of course, I'm not saying my versions are the best. I'm sure you could come up with much better ways to word things, so don't feel limited by my examples. And you know I like to help with things like this, if you ever want a second opinion on shtuff. That said, I feel obligated to point out one part that I felt was downright exceptional.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marilyn
His eyes were awake and warm, and his smooth skin appeared as though it could never wrinkle. The color in his eyes seemed brighter, and like a candle his heart was burning with love on a wick that never ended.
That part really gave me pause. Way to freaking go, Jezebel. ^^

The Throwdown: Plenty of action here: the bout with the bandits, the fight with Sky and Fire, and definitely the climactic clash at the end. You depicted battles quite well in my opinion, and attacks were portrayed vibrantly and powerfully, yet still in a realistic sense.

Also, I enjoyed how battles weren't just about power, but also dedication on the part of the Pokémon like Pidgeot and Umbreon. Made it more emotional and definitely tied the battles into the whole storyline seamlessly.

The Long Road: As I'd expect, it's right within the range.

The Physics Engine: Yes, it was realistic enough, I'd say. Battles, attacks, the environment, all the stuff; it was good enough that I didn't really question why things were working out the way they were.

The Gist: Milotic and Feebas captured! All things considered, this was an impeccable story. It probably could've used another once over in the department of typos 'n such, but that's not really enough to keep the 'mons from you. It was a wonderful story, probably my favorite of all the ones I've graded. Yeah, that's not that many, but hey... GET OFF MY BACK.

Anywho... beautifully done, Susan. Congratulations and good luck with your future stories.
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Old 04-26-2008, 12:31 AM
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Default Re: Soul of Serenity

GEORGE, you stud-ly, courageous, wonderful, fantastic, magnificent angel in the form of a Grader. Thank you so very much for grading my story, and I'm so glad you liked it! I appreciate the tips and various suggestions you gave me. :3

And now I can put the ending:



Her skirts rustled as the clean air whipped by them. She reached her elderly hand up to a face that had once been beautiful those many years ago. Before everything had happened. Before those aged lines reached every last inch of her skin. Yet she gave it no notice, and gently brushed her brittle grey hair away from her sunken cheek. The cliff she stood on hung high over the lake she peered out into. It was beautiful; endless water going far out of sight due to the curving of the round earth. The sun cast warm rays upon it, causing a glittering reflection to cover a vast majority of the body of water. But even in the midst of this remarkable sight, she loathed that lake. She despised it with an understanding of a formidable foe. It was like a tiger, whose gorgeous stripes she would admire from afar yet never dare to get close enough to give it the chance to strike. And so she stood on her cliff, far out of its reach.

The interesting thing about Iternadi Lake lies deep beneath the surface. Even by the clearest sky, the sun’s light would never be strong enough to breach the secret. Truth was, few believed the mystery inside of the lake. It was a fairy tale, a myth, but those who had suffered its curse, well, they believed it. And in doing so, they fled; enveloped in fear or out of mere despair for everything that had happened. Except for her.

Old though she was, her vivid memory played as a broken record through her mind. Reminding her of everything she had lost, everything she had suffered, and forcing a wet sheet of salty tears down her sagging face. Yes, she remembered. And the lump in her throat began to swell as the story burst into her mind once more.


And when it had ended, her heart ached with remorse, yes, but also of hope. She had lived on her own since then, but she had André’s spirit living with her in his Pokémon. She knew it was only time that stood between her and being reunited with them all at last. And so she turned on a fragile heel to make her way back to the cabin that rested perfectly between the edge of the forest and the edge of the lake. The elderly woman turned her head over her shoulder to peer up into a white sky where she pictured those familiar faces smiling down upon her behind it. All she had to do was wait…

*****

A man with jet black hair walked cautiously toward the blinding light, which for some reason, gave his eyes more comfort than pain. Pearly white mist wrapped happily around his feet as he walked closer and closer to warm light.

In moments, a large golden gate emerged behind the layers of foggy haze. Without flaws, the rods of pure gold twisted artistically in various directions to form a breathtaking gate that barred whatever it was hiding behind it from view.

A few shallow breaths emerged from the lips of the man who watched silently as the large gate opened inward to reveal more light and two figures walking toward him. He knew exactly who they were before they came clearly into his view.

The first, though petite, was fairly larger than the second, her yellow hair falling roughly at her shoulders, and her porcelain skin radiating with an inner glow. The young child beside her beamed with a grin larger than receiving the perfect present for Christmas; one that stretched all the way up to his eyes. And though the man had never seen this child before, he knew in his heart what the boy was.

The woman reached a hand out to the man standing before her. A gesture he was waiting for. He turned back to see where he had come from only for a moment. And in that moment, you could see that his eyes were awake and warm, and his smooth skin appeared as though it could never wrinkle. The color in his eyes seemed brighter, and like a candle his heart was burning with love on a wick that never ended.

The End
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