((Ok, new chapter^^ I don't really like how this one came out...I was working with very little inspiration because I wanted to get to the events in later chapters as that was what I was inspired to write. However, I did try my best to make this at least decent, so I hope you enjoy ^^;))
The Path of Destiny
Chapter 35-The Crystal Abyss
It wasn’t long before Snowcrystal and her friends met up with Nightshade and the others in the large cavern. The golbat knew the entire cave by heart, and quickly showed them the shortest way to the cavern where their friends rested. The going had still been somewhat slow, but this time it hadn’t just been Stormblade who was slowing the group down. Thunder had been having difficulty keeping up as well, though she had tried to disguise that fact by acting as if she wanted the others to walk ahead with the strangers instead of around her.
Despite the journey being slow, everyone had made it without any danger. Now the group huddled in the cavern, listening to a few zubat who had explored the cave while looking for Snowcrystal’s group talking to Shadeclaw.
“We went by a few of the exits…there are strange pokémon everywhere…just waiting. One of them shot a flamethrower at us.”
“He’s right. They all seemed to be expecting something.”
“We know just what they’re waiting for,” Redclaw told them, his gaze dark and serious. “They want Blazefang’s Forbidden Attack…well, Cyclone wants it for one of his fire type cronies.”
In the short time the group had talked with Shadeclaw, Redclaw had explained everything they knew about Cyclone and his intentions, while Blazefang huddled sullenly in a corner of the cavern, his back pressed against the smooth rock as he listened to the conversation with dread.
“I think your only surely safe way out,” the weavile leader began, “is through the exit I told you about before. You can only get there from swimming through a vast underground lake, and the exit is in the middle of a large canyon-full of tall rocks and foliage-and very difficult to climb down from the top. Flying pokémon however will find it difficult to track you with all the cover the area provides, though you will have to be careful.”
“Underwater?” Rosie cried, her eyes widening. “Are you crazy? That’s-”
“There are water pokémon here that would be willing to help you if I asked them to,” Shadeclaw replied. “But like I mentioned to some of you earlier, it may be difficult to hold your breath for the length of time it takes a water pokémon to swim through that tunnel. But no, it certainly won’t kill you,” he added before Rosie could protest again. “It would be best to leave soon,” he added, “in case the army finds out from any local pokémon that there is a hidden exit they haven’t checked.”
Almost involuntarily, Snowcrystal glanced sideways at Stormblade. The scyther was still lying motionless, sprawled across the floor the same way he had since they had reached that cavern. The raw and infected burns that covered his body looked sickly in the pale light. He gave no sign or any indication that he was listening to anyone.
“Well I think it’s about time we get out of here,” Nightshade told Shadeclaw, startling Snowcrystal out of her thoughts. “From the sound of it there’s plenty of food and water in this canyon, so I don’t see any reason for any of us to wait around here.”
Spark brightened up at the mention of food, and Wildflame looked eager to keep moving. However Blazefang and Rosie both looked worried. Redclaw went to help Stormblade and the rest of the group gathered together.
“Follow me,” Shadeclaw told them, and began leading the way ahead.
“We barely got a chance to rest!” Rosie mumbled as she limped after the others, keeping close to Snowcrystal and Wildflame.
During the short journey, Snowcrystal couldn’t help feeling worried as they walked through strange passages and tunnels that twisted in every direction. She had no sense of where they were going or where they had come from anymore, but she reminded herself that Shadeclaw knew what he was doing.
Stormblade had decided to walk by himself, despite the fact that he was obviously weakening. Thunder had kept to the front of the group during the first part of the walk but after another dizzy spell she had been forced to walk at a slower pace, but still ahead of Stormblade.
Snowcrystal’s fur prickled uneasily as they once again reached the edge of a vast underground lake. She noticed Thunder growl and back away warily. Once near the water, Stormblade lay down and closed his eyes-too exhausted to move.
“So do we just have to wait?” Snowcrystal asked Shadeclaw.
The weavile was about to answer when Rosie suddenly shouted, “what is he
Snowcrystal turned to see Blazefang stop in his tracks, a look of fear plastered across the houndour’s face. Snowcrystal had suspected that he would follow them, and it didn’t surprise her to see him there.
“Go find your own way out!” Rosie yelled to the houndour. “We’re not helping you.”
“Actually, Rosie,” Nightshade interrupted, “I think it would be wise to help him.”
Rosie rounded on the heracross. “Why?
” she demanded.
Nightshade turned toward her, his yellow eyes serious. “Do you want Cyclone to get his claws on Shadowflare?” At this response, Rosie was silent.
“How are we going to ride some water pokémon under the water?” Snowcrystal asked Shadeclaw, who had been briefly distracted by Rosie’s outburst.
“Either Mystic or River can carry you-I know them well, and I’m sure they’d be willing to help. It won’t be an easy journey though,” Shadeclaw warned, “but it will get you out safe.”
“But Shadeclaw…” Wildflame spoke suddenly walking toward him. “I’ve been thinking…there’s no way Stormblade could make it through that. He barely has enough strength as it is. And being carried…will probably be too painful because of his injuries.”
A silence hung over the group, and Snowcrystal was sure that if Stormblade were carried, it would only make his injuries worse. “There’s not much we can do about that,” she told the others regretfully. “He’ll have to do it.”
She was surprised when Stormblade suddenly spoke up. “No I won’t,” he told her, and added with bitter regret, “I’m not strong enough. I wouldn’t make it. If one of the cave pokémon can guide me to another exit and then to the rest of you, I could meet up with you later.”
“But what about the army?” Rosie asked.
“They won’t bother me,” Stormblade told her. “I can’t fight for them, so they won’t want anything from me. And if a zubat guides me, he or she could easily hide from them… Look,” he added, seeing their doubtful faces. “I’m not some helpless hatchling-I’m strong enough to do this
“You can barely walk,” Snowcrystal pointed out, realizing too late that that was probably the wrong thing to say.
“I can travel at my own pace,” Stormblade said simply. “Believe me, I don’t want to weaken myself more than I already am.”
“All right,” Snowcrystal told him. “Just…be careful. I’m sure whoever wants to guide you will help you if you need it.” She wasn’t sure what the pokémon guiding Stormblade would be able to do to help him, but she pushed that thought to the back of her mind. Maybe Stormblade was
stronger than he seemed.
Snowcrystal jumped suddenly when a large pokémon’s long neck and head burst out of the water, confronting Shadeclaw with curiosity. It was a graceful pokémon, a large serpentine creature covered in pearly scales ranging in color from creamy white to bright red and blue.
“Shadeclaw?” the milotic asked, regarding the travelers with curiosity. “Who are these pokémon?”
“They’re travelers, Mystic,” Shadeclaw explained. “They need to get out of the cave in secret as quickly as possible. I don’t have much time to explain now, but I will certainly explain later. I need you to take these pokémon one by one through the underwater exit...and fast.”
Snowcrystal noticed the milotic’s eyes drifting toward Thunder and the large water type pokémon sneered slightly, but the scyther didn’t seem to notice. The large milotic turned to the group and sighed. “Very well,” she told them, “but don’t think you’re going for a pleasant swim. However, all I ask is that you don’t pass out.”
At that statement, Rosie and Wildflame exchanged nervous glances. “You’ll be fine,” Stormblade told them gently. “I’ll meet up with you and the others later.”
“Thanks, Stormblade,” Rosie told him, smiling, though she still looked rather scared.
“So who’s going first?” Shadeclaw asked, and after a moment where no one said anything, Redclaw volunteered.
Snowcrystal watched with fascination as Mystic bent down and lifted the arcanine by the scruff of his neck, making him look like a small puppy hanging from its mother’s jaws. It looked almost comical. Mystic turned and carried the arcanine over the water, swimming to where the lake met the opposite wall of the cave. Then, while still holding Redclaw in her mouth, the colossal milotic dived under, creating a large splash that soon settled, leaving the water crystal clear and smooth again.
For what seemed like ages, but really couldn’t have been more than a few minutes, the group waited in silence. Snowcrystal kept leaning her head against Stormblade’s leg, watching the water worriedly.
Then all at once Mystic’s graceful head reared out of the water, and she turned to face the rest of the group. Snowcrystal once again felt very small at the sight of the huge milotic towering over all of them.
“He made it safe,” she informed the others. “He’s recovering now-so who is going to go next?”
Wanting to seem brave in front of the others, Spark volunteered. Like Redclaw, he was picked up and carried under the water. This time, Snowcrystal was less worried, and when Mystic later surfaced and told them that Spark had made it safely as well, Wildflame, wanting to get it over with, went next.
This time, Mystic seemed to take longer, and when she returned, she explained that Wildflame had breathed in some water during the journey, but would soon be all right. Rosie refused to go next, and Nightshade, who had volunteered to go last, suggested that Thunder take the next turn.
At first Thunder had refused, not liking the thought of another pokémon touching her, but the others managed to convince her to let the milotic carry her by the wings, under the promise that she would be allowed to attack the milotic if she purposely tried to drown her. Obviously Mystic had no such intention, but the promise seemed to make Thunder more willing to be carried under the water.
Afterward, Blazefang volunteered, and then Rosie, although with hesitation. Snowcrystal waited for Mystic to return after taking Rosie through the tunnel, knowing that her turn was next.
“Are you scared?” Stormblade asked her, turning to look down at her.
“A little…” Snowcrystal admitted, still staring at the water.
“It’ll be all right,” Stormblade replied, following her gaze. “The others seemed to have made it through all right. You’ll be just fine.”
“I…I hope so…” Snowcrystal replied shakily, and looked back up at him. “Are sure you’ll be all right traveling alone? I mean, I’m sure Mystic could…”
“There’s no way she’d be able to carry me with these injuries,” Stormblade replied, almost bitterly. “And I won’t be alone-one of the cave pokémon will be willing to guide me. So don’t worry. I might take a little while meeting up with you and the others, but I’ll be just fine. I promise.”
“Are you sure?” Snowcrystal asked him, uncertain.
“Ok…” Snowcrystal said with a sigh, but quickly drove any doubts away from her mind. She was probably worrying too much. He would be fine.
A large splash caused her to look up, and Mystic looked at her. Slowly the growlithe stood up and walked over to the huge milotic-dozens of different thoughts running through her head at the same time. She had no idea what this experience was going to be like.
“Good luck!” Stormblade called to her, trying to smile.
Snowcrystal turned and smiled back at him as Mystic leaned down toward her.
“Remember,” the milotic said, “just before we reach the cave wall over there-take a deep breath.”
Snowcrystal felt teeth meet in her scruff as her body was lifted off the ground. Mystic lifted her head high above the water, and Snowcrystal was fascinated with how the vast cavern and its glimmering crystals looked like from above. Mystic slowly neared the wall, and once they were close, Snowcrystal took a deep breath and then the milotic plunged into the icy water.
Despite the fact that she was too used to cold to be bothered by it, the speed at which the milotic had dived and was carrying her through the black water came as a huge shock, and she had to fight the urge to instinctively struggle. Feeling like she would need a breath of air soon if she moved too much, Snowcrystal forced her body to relax, and closed her eyes, trying to remain calm and to not use up any of her energy-that would only make her run out of air faster.
As the two of them seemed to glide through the water, Snowcrystal suddenly felt the urge to open her eyes. She did so, realizing with great surprise that she could see
. While she had expected the underwater world to be completely dark, somewhere far deep down in the water’s depths-were large and small specks of glowing light. They covered the entire floor of the tunnel far below, and up ahead, there were even more. She realized that these must be more glowing crystals. Further on these crystals covered the entire floor of the large underwater tunnel Mystic was swimming through, which was narrow but very deep, like some sort of massive abyss.
Starting to feel dizzy, Snowcrystal focused her gaze on the way ahead, still too fascinated by the glowing crystals far down below to close her eyes. That was when she noticed it.
Up ahead, some of the lights seemed to be flickering out, in large groups, yet a moment later those crystals would be bright again, and others would go dark. It took her a moment to realize that it wasn’t the crystals’ light going out, it was something huge swimming above the crystals like a dark shadow.
The growlithe’s eyes widened, and just when she began to wonder if it was another milotic, Mystic swerved violently to the right, almost causing Snowcrystal to gasp in shock. Mystic turned again and then swam in a straight direction, but was clearly increasing speed, when before that hadn’t seemed possible. Snowcrystal fearfully wondered what was wrong-she had lost sight of the dark thing, and a moment later several things happened at once.
(Continued in next post...)