The salamence and zangoose looked unsure of how to respond, when a voice sounded from somewhere nearby. “Oh leave them alone! They aren’t any threat to us!”
Nightshade and his friends turned to see a linoone jump gracefully from a tall tree growing near the top of the cliff and land gracefully beside the rest of the strangers. “I don’t see what the problem is,” the linoone continued, staring at her stunned clanmates, “it’s not like there’s any food shortage or anything. And they’ve been traveling for a while from the looks of it.”
The zangoose stepped past Nightshade to face the linoone. “Our leader wants us to make sure any strangers are harmless before they go any further through this canyon!” he growled.
“Oh sure,” the linoone replied. “Clearly a bunch of injured and tired pokémon are a real threat to our great leader
. Just look at them-if anything they need help. And at least the heracross knows how to be polite, unlike you.”
Taken aback, the zangoose faced the travelers again. He looked uncertain. “But-”
“Our leader has allowed us to help others in the past,” the linoone continued. “And I thought that was one of the duties of our clan-to help those in need.”
“That was one of the old
duties!” the zangoose growled, but seeing that some of the others who had originally confronted the travelers seemed to be agreeing with the linoone, he relented. “Fine,” he muttered. “We’ll take them to the clan. But don’t get mad at me if our leader rejects them.”
“If he wants to stay leader he won’t,” the linoone replied sharply. “It is a leader’s duty to allow the clan to help others and to help as well!”
“Maybe so,” the zangoose replied, “but the leader only helps when he sees fit. And I don’t see what this little group of travelers could do for us. And as for him staying leader, well…he certainly won’t be giving up the position anytime soon. And there are many who support his ways, as I do.”
The linoone’s eyes narrowed. “Maybe not, but if he wants the respect of half the clan, he’ll help them.” She turned to the travelers who all looked either confused, worried, or both. “Follow me,” she told them. “We’ll take you to a place where you can rest.”
Following the linoone gratefully, Snowcrystal and her friends joined the native pokémon as they all climbed down toward the river.
In the early morning light, the place where Cyclone’s army had been resting now lay desolate after the vaporeon had gathered his army together and began undertaking the journey. It was not far, but rounding up everyone had taken time, and Cyclone still needed to find the hidden entrance’s specific location. However, now that the army had left that area, the local pokémon lucky enough to have avoided them before could now breathe a sigh of relief.
But the army had left one pokémon behind. Lying half submerged in thick mud at the bottom of a shallow ditch in the ground where rainwater had once collected was Stormblade. Having no further need for him, Solus had simply tossed him there using his psychic powers after the scyther had finally passed out from pain. Now Stormblade was completely alone, apart from two inquisitive poochyena who approached the ditch curiously, then left when they discovered that he was a half-starved scyther and not some plump prey pokémon. All throughout this time Stormblade lay senseless.
It was a while before he woke up. When he finally did awaken, he was in so much pain that he was hardly aware of anything around him. His wounds were covered thickly with dry or drying blood, and one of his wings lay limp and broken at his side. For a while he could do nothing but lay there alone in the mud. But the memory of himself giving away his friends’ plans of escape was burned in his mind. He had helped put them all in danger, and though his situation seemed hopeless, he had to warn them.
Stormblade’s first few attempts to stand up failed, and instead he was forced to crawl slowly through the deep mud and up and out of the shallow ditch. Several times the pain made him stop or suddenly scream in agony, but he forced himself to keep going until he made it out and onto the grass at the edge of the ditch. Once he felt the grass beneath him he collapsed, lying still for a long time.
However he knew that he could not just lie there. Pushing himself painfully upright, Stormblade lurched forward, nearly stumbling to the ground and stopping his fall only by digging his scythes into the soft earth. Even though every instinct within him was screaming for him to lie down and not move, he forced himself to keep going, hobbling painfully and awkwardly on all fours, following the traces of Cyclone’s army which would lead him to the canyon. Several times he stumbled, or became so overcome by pain that he could not move, but every time he got back up again. He needed to find his friends before Cyclone did, and he knew he had to keep going, no matter how slim his chances of getting to them before Cyclone were. In his dazed state, he had no way of telling how far ahead Cyclone’s army would be by now. He only knew one thing.
He was going to find his friends and warn them-or die trying.
To be continued...
Ok, so things got worse. Don't kill me! *hides* Also, I mentioned earlier that part of this chapter came from a dream-it was the part with the canyon and the pokémon statues (I wish I could remember more of the species of the pokémon statues). In fact, the entire canyon place was from this dream I had xD Oddly, while in the dream (and having no idea it would inspire part of this story) I was walking along that sort of ridge of stone along the cliffs, thinking "I wonder what the Path of Destiny characters would think if they traveled through here" and "It would be hard for Stormblade". Then later on in the dream I came across the place with the statues.
There was more to the dream I was going to include, but I decided to include only part of it in this chapter, the rest of the dream-inspired ideas will come later.
And once again...don't kill me...