Thanks both of you!
The Path of Destiny
Chapter 6-Battle for Freedom
Wildflame, along with about ten other houndour, were out hunting. One of them had scented stantler, and Blazefang had sent them to catch prey for the rest of the pack. Now, the group was following the strong scent of the stantler herd which had been there not too long ago. Wildflame was the first one to spot the deer-like pokémon ahead, and the houndour pack spread out, singling out the stantler furthest from the main herd.
Before anyone could move further, one of the other stantler lifted its head and charged toward where Boneclaw was hiding, sending the houndour scurrying for cover. A few other houndour raced toward the stantler, surrounding it and allowing Boneclaw to escape. The stantler backed away, an alarmed look in its eyes, but a moment later, the rest of the herd came dashing toward them, just like they had done when Snowcrystal and her friends had accidentally threatened one.
“Move out of the way!” Wildflame shouted, “Come back and circle any stragglers!” The houndour bolted in different directions, having had experience with stantler before. Most of the stampeding ones were probably just illusions, but Wildflame wasn’t taking any chances.
The stantler heard thundered past, and Wildflame ordered the pack to follow them. As she raced after the rest of the houndour, one of the larger, tougher stantler suddenly leaped in front of her, bringing his hooves smashing down into her side. Wildflame let out a yelp as she was forcefully knocked off her feet and into a tangle of brambles. She glanced wildly around, but the pack had already left, chasing after the rest of the herd. She was alone, and there was no way one single houndour could bring down a stantler…and this one seemed bent on killing her to protect his herd from a future attack.
Wildflame barely managed to avoid another stomp of the beast’s hooves, and when she got to her feet, she knew there was no choice but to fight. After being kicked by the stantler, she knew she couldn’t outrun him in this state. Doing the only thing she could think of at the moment, Wildflame used a smog attack. Thick smoke filled the area, hiding the stantler from view. Hoping it would be blinded by the attack, Wildflame started to limp off.
However, it wasn’t enough. The stantler came charging toward her through the billowing smoke, rage filling its eyes. Wildflame saw in that look a hatred for her kind and for predators. She was unable to escape as the stantler charged toward her with a powerful take down, lowering his horns as he slammed Wildflame forcefully to the ground.
Wildflame lay prone on the leafy earth, hearing the worried cries of her packmates. They now knew she was in danger, but she would be dead before they could come to her rescue. With her last bit of strength, she painfully tried to stand up, and to her immense surprise, she did.
For some strange reason, she was able to stand firmly, no longer feeling as if she were about to faint. The smog had seemed to clear away a bit as well, or was it getting lighter? Wildflame then realized that the light, the glow, was coming from herself.
The stantler was charging toward her again, and with a snarl Wildflame leaped at him, her legs and paws already starting to lengthen and become much slimmer, her claws growing longer and more curved. Her muzzle was also becoming longer, her teeth even more sharp and deadly. Horns curved back behind her head, and as she struck the stantler, sinking her teeth around its neck, she could feel her tail grow long and thin, with an arrow-shaped point at the end.
The dazzling glow faded a moment later, leaving a newly-evolved houndoom clinging to the enraged stantler with teeth and claws. Wildflame felt the hooves pounding into her stomach, but she was much larger and stronger now. Releasing the pokémon, Wildflame landed on all fours, breathing heavily, but with the wild light of battle in her eyes. Leaping at the stantler again, Wildflame locked her jaws around its throat, hoping for a swift kill. A brief struggle ensued, and the two collapsed in the dirt. A moment later, Wildflame stood up shakily, her prey lying at her feet.
She had done it. Relief flooded over her, and she could hear the sounds of her pack coming closer. Wildflame lifted her head and gave a few barking cries, a signal to the rest of the hunting pack. As the other houndour approached, exhaustion overcame Wildflame, and she collapsed in a heap.
It was hard to tell who was more surprised-Volco or Snowcrystal. The quilava just stared back at the growlithe for a few seconds, but quickly overcame his surprise. Dashing towards Snowcrystal, he plowed her into the side of the fence with quick attack. Spark leapt to his friend’s rescue, striking Volco with thunderbolt and sinking his fangs into the quilava’s leg.
The two pokémon struggled in the dust, and as Rosie and Stormblade appeared, Volco’s trainer did as well, stepping from around the corner of a concrete wall. Glancing toward the pokémon, the man gave a cry of shock, for two reasons. One, “his” scyther was loose and standing right by the fence. Two, there was a growlithe recovering from one of his quilava’s attacks…that had white fur.
“Volco, flame wheel! Thunder, get the others!” the trainer shouted. Volco leaped away from Spark as the flames on his head and back flared up. Opening his mouth wide, he fired a whirling tornado of flames at his attacker. Spark nimbly leaped out of the way, his back fur only singed, and instantly turned his pelt to spines before whipping around and firing a large amount of them at the attacking quilava’s face.
Volco gave a shriek of pain as the sharp spines embedded themselves in his face and chest. Pawing furiously at them, the quilava didn’t hear his trainer’s next orders. Volco’s trainer now focused his attention on Stormblade, glaring at the scyther through the darkness. “Thunder, MOVE!”
Stormblade stood still, confused, and the human tried to look at him closer. It was only then that he realized that this wasn’t his scyther. Giving a cry of frustration, he reached for a pokéball hooked to his belt and threw it. “Redclaw, go!”
A massive shape materialized in front of Spark and the others. It bore a strong resemblance to Snowcrystal, only it was much bigger, had a longer mane, and thicker stripes, as well as fangs that stuck out of its mouth. Unlike Snowcrystal however, the arcanine had bright, vivid orange fur, and stripes as black as tar, strikingly different from the pale gray of Snowcrystal’s own stripes. Red flames had also been painted on the arcanine’s claws. Unlike Volco, who looked healthy and well fed, the arcanine was gaunt and thin, the marks of a whip clearly evident along its back. It wore a strange collar that emitted several sparks every few seconds. The arcanine looked almost as wounded and malnourished as the trainer’s scyther, whom from what the man had said seemed to be called “Thunder”.
“Redclaw,” the man shouted, “Attack that other scyther! And don’t let the growlithe escape!” Redclaw gave a loud roar, though it sounded less than enthusiastic, and charged toward Stormblade, launching a flamethrower in the scyther’s direction. Stormblade leaped aside, and at a command from his trainer, Redclaw fired the same attack again. This time, as Stormblade dodged, the flames seared across his shoulder, and when he landed on his feet again, he could see the arcanine with his mouth open wide, fangs gleaming, and a faint red glow at the back of the dog’s throat growing steadily brighter. Stormblade, knowing what was coming, quickly darted behind a concrete wall just as Redclaw launched the attack, feeling the heat of the flames as they blazed past him. Meanwhile, Volco had recovered, and was now battling against Snowcrystal, Spark, and Rosie.
As Volco shot another flame wheel at Spark, who barely managed to dodge and still got his paw burned, Rosie’s eyes started to glow as she focused them on Volco. All of a sudden the quilava’s eyes glazed over a bit, giving him a dazed and confused look. He tried to launch another flame wheel, which collided with the concrete wall instead of hitting Rosie, who was in the opposite direction.
Volco stumbled around to face his opponents again, shaking his head to try and clear his thoughts. Spark struck him with another thunderbolt, and the quilava sank to the ground, the confuse ray’s effects fading away, but all too late. The trainer cursed under his breath and immediately returned his quilava before Snowcrystal’s jaws could clamp around his front leg.
At the same time Volco was returned, Stormblade found himself face to face with Redclaw; both of them seeming reluctant to attack. Redclaw now seemed exhausted and weak, dreading the thought of having to go on, and Stormblade couldn’t seem to find it in himself to attack him. “Redclaw, fire blast that bug!” the arcanine’s trainer shouted. Redclaw seemed to flinch at the command, then began charging up the attack. Stormblade leaped out of the way as Redclaw launched the fire blast, but he needn’t have bothered. The attack was a miss, plowing into the ground to the right side of the scyther. Redclaw began panting for breath, his whole body visibly shaking. Stormblade left him as he ran to help his friends, who were now fighting a skarmory that Volco’s trainer had sent out. Their fire attacks had clearly weakened the emaciated pokémon, but nevertheless, it was still fighting, a look of insane rage in its eyes as it clawed Snowcrystal’s back, leaving bright red gashes that stood out strikingly against her soft white fur.
“Stop it!” Stormblade cried, rushing toward the others, “He’ll only send out one pokémon after another. Don’t attack the pokémon, it isn’t their fault-we just need to get out of here!”
Rosie nodded, but knowing that the trainer would only follow them, she used her confuse ray once again, on the skarmory this time, and she and the others took off, running past Stormblade and toward the woods. The skarmory gave a cry of rage and flew towards Stormblade as he turned to follow the others, gouging its claws into his back. Stormblade tried to shake the pokémon off, not wanting to attack it in this weakened state-it had obviously been trained in a cruel way purely to fight again and again. The skarmory tore its claws deeper into the scyther’s back, letting loose another angry cry. Stormblade was sent crashing into the ground, the skarmory still hovering above him.
Redclaw and his trainer came dashing toward the two, watching as the skarmory swiped its razor-edged wing feathers across the scyther’s face. Stormblade, knowing that there was no other option, lashed out with both scythes at the skarmory’s chest, but it seemed to do little damage to the steel pokémon. A moment later, the skarmory had him pinned down, its claws digging cruelly into his shoulders.
The trainer watching the fight took an empty pokéball from his belt. “All right, Redclaw, finish ‘im off!” Redclaw darted swiftly toward the fight, a bright glow coming from his muzzle. He then blasted the flames not at Stormblade, but at the skarmory.
The steel pokémon gave a cry of pain and collapsed, allowing Stormblade to struggle to his feet. As the skarmory recovered, Redclaw stared into the scyther’s eyes, ignoring his trainer’s cries of, “Redclaw! I’ll punish you for this!...You’ll wish you were dead by the time I’m through with you!”
“Get out of here,” the arcanine whispered to Stormblade softly, “Go away…don’t come back. You don’t want him to catch you…you deserve a better life than this, friend.”
Stormblade stared back in shock for a moment, then realized that this arcanine was grateful to him for his refusal to fight back, and that the arcanine probably got beaten by his opponents quite often. Knowing there was nothing more he could do for the fire pokémon, he nodded and flew off toward the forest.
Watching him leave, Redclaw bowed his head as his trainer caught up with him, furious that the group of wilds had gotten away. Redclaw knew what was coming, but he didn’t care. He had done what was right; he had helped that scyther, and he had denied his trainer a new group of pokémon, as well as a rare-colored growlithe.
And that in itself was like a small victory.
Spark cried out in pain as he collapsed, exhausted, in the middle of the forest, before starting to lick his burned forepaw. Snowcrystal collapsed next to him, the claw wounds on her back still bleeding.
Rosie, luckily, was unscathed. She approached the others timidly, whispering, “What about my fire stone?”
“Rosie,” Snowcrystal whispered, “I think that human used the fire stone on that arcanine.”
Rosie glanced toward the ground sadly, and to Snowcrystal’s shock, started crying again, not caring if she or Spark saw. “I…I’ve waited so long to evolve,” she whispered softly.
Snowcrystal was about to reply when Stormblade came staggering into the clearing. Apart from the burn on his shoulder, he had several deep claw marks in his back and shoulders, and the bleeding cuts on his face from the skarmory’s feathers. Stormblade sat down beside a tree, panting, as the others tried to recover from the effects of the battle.
“We shouldn’t have gone in there,” Spark whispered at last, “You were right, Stormblade.”
“Well, we’re alive aren’t we?” Stormblade replied, “And we did get to help that other scyther...”
“Yes…” Snowcrystal agreed, standing up, “But we’d better get going. That human could be looking for us…come on…”
Rosie slowly stood up and plodded after Snowcrystal, Spark limping beside her. Stormblade stood up and followed, and Snowcrystal could tell by his slightly awkward movements that he was in pain. She was surprised when Rosie spoke up in a helpful-sounding voice, “You know, there’s rawst berries over there. If you and Spark eat them, it will help your burns to not get infected, and maybe even heal a bit faster.” She motioned toward a berry bush nearby, and Spark and Stormblade, as well as Snowcrystal and Rosie herself, ate a few before carrying on.
The trainer’s scyther had never felt so much freedom. Ever since she had been freed, she had spent nearly an hour running and flying all around the forest, just for the sheer joy of being able to do it. The long chain still attached to her arm had gotten tangled in many bushes and brambles, but she had hardly noticed. She was free
The scyther had not known freedom for as long as she could remember. Having been raised by her trainer at a young age, her life before that was a blur. Whether or not she had had a name then, she wasn’t sure, as she had always gone by the nickname her trainer had given her, Thunder.
At last Thunder became so exhausted she had to stop and rest, no matter how much she wanted to keep running forever and ever. It was so different from being chained to a wall all day, as her trainer tended to do to her often, or being stuck inside a pokéball. However, one of the things that did get Thunder to finally stop her constant wandering was a nearby stream.
The moment she saw it, she darted over, plunging her head into the stream and drinking as much of the cool, clean water as it took to quench her thirst. She was amazed. All this water was here, and no one to tell her how much she was allowed to drink. She could come here to the stream again and again-as much as she wanted, and her master would never know.
Thunder became suddenly afraid. Her trainer was sure to come after her with his other pokémon. She couldn’t stay here, but she could find another forest…and another water stream like this one.
Once she had finished drinking from the stream, Thunder headed deeper into the forest, not caring to look for danger and fearing nothing and no one…
…No one but Master.
Snowcrystal was glad Stormblade could still fly. The wounds on his back looked nasty, but his wings weren’t badly damaged, the only real damage having been done with the chained scyther had attacked him. Stormblade had just told them, to everyone’s great relief, that they were nearly out of the forest, and a vast grassy plain lay beyond.
Snowcrystal didn’t like sending Stormblade to scout ahead when he was injured, but they really didn’t have much of a choice. The cuts across Snowcrystal’s back still stung, but they had stopped bleeding. However, many of Stormblade’s wounds were still bleeding, as he had been flying back and forth in search of a way out, and all that extra traveling hadn’t been good for him. Snowcrystal wanted to suggest that they rest, but what was important now was getting out of the forest.
The trees seemed to thin out as the group got further, and Snowcrystal sighed with relief as she realized that they really didn’t have far to go.
A movement up ahead caught her eye, and she realized that the same scyther they’d helped before, the one the trainer had mentioned was named ‘Thunder’, had flown to the forest floor up ahead, looking completely exhausted. The moment she saw the group, Thunder jumped toward them with the intention to attack, but stopped herself when she realized who they were.
“What are you still doing here?” Stormblade asked her, “You should be far away from this forest!”
“I will be,” Thunder replied simply, “But I don’t know where to go. Maybe Master’s pokémon will try and find me…I don’t know these lands well.”
Spark gave Snowcrystal a confused glance, but they both knew that what Thunder meant by ‘Master’ was her trainer. “We don’t know these lands either,” Snowcrystal explained, “I’m on a journey…I’m traveling to find…Articuno.” She was surprised when Thunder didn’t show any interest in the legendary’s name being mentioned. “Stormblade, this scyther, and Spark, this jolteon, are looking for a new home,” she finished, “And I’m sure Rosie is too. If you want, you can come with us…you shouldn’t be wandering alone when you’re injured.”
“I am not injured,” Thunder replied, though Snowcrystal could plainly see that that was a blatant lie. From the look on Snowcrystal’s face, Thunder could tell what she was thinking. “I am not injured,” she repeated, “Master was not very angry with me. He did not hurt me much. If Master was very angry, I would be injured now, but I’m not.”
Spark and Snowcrystal exchanged puzzled looks again, clearly not understanding how this scyther could regard such painful looking wounds as ‘nothing’. However, they decided not to question her on the subject. “So…do you want to come with us?” Snowcrystal asked, fully trusting the strange scyther, “After all, Stormblade and Spark are looking for the same thing you should be looking for-a safe new home.”
Thunder shrugged. “I guess so…” she replied, “I don’t know whether Master’s pokémon are searching for me, but I will come with you…for a little while.”
Snowcrystal nodded happily and the group headed off. Snowcrystal couldn’t help but notice how Spark and Stormblade were limping; their wounds were obviously bothering them. Thunder, however, moved swiftly and easily, as if she wasn’t injured at all. Only the look in her eyes gave away that she was in pain, and even then it was hard to tell.
Snowcrystal sighed. They were certainly becoming an odd group of adventurers, but at least they would be working together if any danger happened to come their way.
To be continued...
As usual, I need your help to stop the evil typos! =D I also want to know what you thought of the events in this story and whatnot. c: