Chapter 7 – Convergence
Tall, thick grass surrounded Solonn, swaying slowly in a light breeze, save for in the wide, more or less circular patch that had been flattened where Solonn had tried unsuccessfully to sleep during the night before. There, he now sat under the pale pink morning sky, gazing out over the grass into the east. Though it was too far away for him to actually see, he knew that the city that he’d fled stood there beneath the rising sun. He wondered if the ones who had tried to abduct him were prowling Lilycove in search of him at that very moment or if perhaps they were extending their search outside the city limits.
He didn’t know how likely it might be that his enemies would find him there before his allies could return to him. Despite his worries, part of him still managed to hold on to some hope that Morgan might appear through the grass at any moment, calling to him with the news that their friends were safe once more and that she was ready to take him back to Virc-Dho.
These were precisely the sorts of thoughts that had denied Solonn sleep through the previous night. Countless times, his eyes had begun to close, only to immediately fly open once more and dart about in fretful search of anyone, friend or foe, who might have been approaching him.
Solonn could not recall ever having been so on edge in his life, and wondered how he would ever allow himself to sleep during the coming night if he still hadn’t heard from Morgan or from anyone else who could help him. He also wondered how he was going to go about feeding himself at this point. While he had lived with Morgan, she had always provided him with sustenance. Before Solonn had evolved, Morgan had given him that flavored snow to eat, and after his evolution he had been provided a diet of specially-formulated pokémon food designed to meet the nutritional needs of a large carnivore without requiring the predator to do their own hunting.
Now, however, without Morgan to provide for him, he seemed to have no choice but to take on his natural role as an active predator. Solonn was anything but eager to go through with this. His hunger was steadily growing, but through minute after minute, hour after hour, he had ignored its pleas, and he still remained determined to continue doing so for as long as he could.
He began to wonder just how long he could go without food. Morgan had always fed him twice a day. He didn’t how frequently the glalie back in Virc-Dho hunted, for they still generally kept those matters from the snorunt.
Solonn suspected that their reason for not telling snorunt of the hunters that they would grow up to become was so that the unevolved would be able to accept the predatory instincts that came with evolution without any prior misgivings about predation to get in the way. Solonn had possessed precisely those kinds of reservations ever since learning that glalie were carnivores. Still, the instincts that came with his evolved form were nonetheless also present within his mind. He tried not to pay them any heed, but they remained steadfastly in place, waiting for his inevitable surrender to their demands.
He winced slightly at yet another pang of hunger. It had been nearly an entire day since he’d eaten last; Morgan had fed him prior to leaving for school the day before, and he’d not had anything since. Though Solonn had looked toward the day when he would regain his independence ever since coming into Morgan’s custody, the simple fact was that he had fallen into the habits of a human’s pokémon. He had been rendered unused to fending for himself, and was certainly not prepared for anything along the lines of “roughing it”. Though he was quite hesitant to admit to himself that he’d grown accustomed to being tended to, he could not deny that he was left in no position to defy his body’s expectations for much longer.
A brief rustling in the grass alerted Solonn to a newly arrived presence not too far from where he sat. He turned toward it and saw the glow of the newcomer’s body heat, which seemed to flicker as it shone between the swaying blades of grass. Something stirred within the back of his mind, trying to persuade him to see the solution that lay in this discovery.
it seemed to say. Take it and know relief…
Solonn paid no mind to the notion, closing his eyes and beginning to turn away from the creature nearby. He silently told the faction of his mind that had suggested using the newcomer as a means by which he could alleviate his hunger that whatever the creature was, it was not
prey. Still, his instinct continued to relentlessly plead its case, but still, Solonn managed to tune out its suggestions, even as it seemed to emphasize its point by sending another tendril of aching hunger down into his belly.
I’m not doing it,
he argued internally, gritting his teeth in desperate determination. Good gods, I’m not starving to death yet!
His physical demands would not stand to be silenced, however, and so they presented yet another unbidden argument through his mind: You had better get used to this—it’s going to be the way you’ll be feeding yourself for the rest of your life. There aren’t going to be any humans around to feed you when you get back to Virc-Dho.
Solonn sighed in resignation as he ceased his internal argument. There was the undeniable truth of the matter: his independent survival required him to embrace his predatory nature. There would be no processed pokémon food outside the human realm. There would only be prey—lives which he would have to end in order to sustain his own. He knew that he would ultimately have to accept it, but he couldn’t imagine himself ever liking it.
It was with an immense reluctance that he turned back toward the heat signature of his would-be prey, rose from the ground, and began to glide in its direction. The creature had drawn closer to him since he’d last allowed himself to look toward it, apparently oblivious to his presence; even moving at minimal speed, Solonn would be upon it swiftly.
As Solonn approached, he called upon his element, summoning ice to hold the prey in place and prevent its escape. The hapless creature began screaming at once in response to Solonn’s actions, its voice shrill and surprisingly loud to be issuing from what had to be a tiny throat and tiny lungs.
Solonn tried in vain to shut out the cries, but his keen hearing allowed him no refuge from them. Struggling to steel himself for the task that lay ahead of him, he pushed his way through the last blades of grass separating him from his prey and looked down upon it directly for the first time.
There, with ice encasing her legs and tail, a female zigzagoon screamed ceaselessly, the terror in her cries magnified greatly upon seeing the huge face of her captor looming before her. Her head thrashed and her spine arched as she fought to free herself, but her struggles were of no use; in truth, she knew this just as well as the creature who had frozen her to the spot did. Closing her eyes, she fearfully awaited her imminent demise.
Solonn could almost literally taste the fear of his prey on the air as he prepared to deliver the killing strike. He knew that he could freeze the flesh and blood of the zigzagoon in an instant, and perhaps that way, just as his mother had told him years ago, his prey would not have time to suffer. He needed only to tap into that power, and the deed would be done…
He hissed as hesitation pulled him sharply back from finishing off the zigzagoon. You should have just done it in when you first noticed it,
chided the faction of his mind that still remained in favor of the act that he had so very nearly committed. You shouldn’t have looked at it first…
Solonn’s gaze fell upon the face of the zigzagoon, whose features were contorted almost grotesquely in mortal terror. His throat constricted painfully, and his stomach went sour, extinguishing his appetite. With a hiss of disgust, he instantly vaporized the ice that had held the zigzagoon in place.
After a second’s delay, she dared to open her eyes. She stared up at Solonn with a wild gaze, seemingly paralyzed with fear and confusion.
“Go,” Solonn said abruptly. “Just go.”
The zigzagoon remained rooted to the spot, fixed in place by disbelief. Her jaw worked almost imperceptibly, as if she were trying to speak.
Solonn didn’t wait for her to pull her words together. “Go
!” he commanded sonorously, darting at her to emphasize his point. With a squeak of fright, the zigzagoon scrambled away as fast as she could with not a single glance behind her.
Solonn sank wearily to the ground, thoroughly disgusted with himself. Gods’ mercies, you almost killed that poor creature…
He shuddered as he thought of what would have happened had his reluctance not gotten the better of him in time.
“Well, that certainly was magnanimous of you,” said a jovial and utterly unexpected voice.
Quite startled in his rather compromised state, Solonn spun around instantly to face the source of the utterance. He found a swellow hovering in midair before him, sweeping the grass below him around with the steady beats of his wings. Solonn wondered how this creature had managed to sneak up on him so thoroughly unnoticed.
The swellow descended to the ground, pushing the tall grass out of his face with his wings once he’d landed. “You know, ordinarily I might hesitate to stop and chat with an ice-type such as yourself, but given what I’ve just witnessed here, I’d dare assume yours to be safe company,” he said. The swellow then bowed. “Do allow me to introduce myself. I am the swellow Jal’tai. And you are…?”
Still slightly bewildered by the pokémon who had just apparently spontaneously appeared in his midst, Solonn responded with a bit of a delay. “Solonn Zgil-Al,” he introduced himself; then, after a short pause, he added, “the—”
“Oh, I know, I know,” Jal’tai interrupted with a chuckle. “You don’t need to tell me what you are, Mr. Zgil-Al. There’s no mistaking a glalie for anything else once you’ve seen one. So, then. I haven’t seen you around these parts before. Have you only recently relocated here?”
“I guess you could say that,” Solonn replied. “I mean, I haven’t exactly moved here permanently…” The swellow cocked his head inquisitively. Solonn hesitated at first to elaborate on what he was doing in the area, but then reckoned that it was safe to tell of such as long as he was careful not to give away too many details of the situation. “I’ve just escaped from human kidnappers in Lilycove,” he told the swellow. “I’m just lying low in this area until I can find some way to get back where I came from, across the sea.”
“Oh my… that must have been harrowing,” Jal’tai remarked, sounding both astounded and pitying. “Thank goodness you escaped, then. Say… if you need a place to stay, I know an excellent candidate.” He took on a rather grand pose, puffing out his feathered chest. “I don’t reside in this area, either; I just like to come here every now and again for a break from all the hustle and bustle back home. I come from a city in the west, and it’s the greatest city in the world, in my opinion. And I’d bet anything you’d agree with me, given the chance to see it with your own eyes! You could stay safe from your pursuers there, and in far more comfortable conditions than you’ll find out here. Plus, I’m certain you’d find a means to cross the sea there—that is, if you’ll want to leave!” the swellow added with a chuckle. “So, what do you say, hmm? Can I tempt you with a stay in my beloved city?”
Solonn eyed him somewhat skeptically. “That’s a very nice offer, but… well, I would really rather not enter another human city if I can avoid it—that is what you’re talking about, isn’t it?”
Jal’tai blinked in surprise, then burst out into crowing laughter. “No, no! It’s not a human city, I assure you. You’d realize that quite swiftly if you saw it for yourself. Oh, you’d be amazed at the things it has to show you…”
Solonn considered the swellow’s offer. Moving farther into the west, and thus farther from Lilycove, would keep him farther from the reach of those who sought him with ill intent. It also occurred to him that the natives probably wouldn’t mind sharing their food with him as well as their shelter; he could already feel the relief of possibly being spared the need to hunt, even if only for a while. Plus, the swellow certainly made this city out to be a nice place, although Solonn did find the level of Jal’tai’s enthusiasm vaguely disturbing.
At the same time, however, he couldn’t help but think of Morgan, who had said she would return to where she’d left him if she came up with a means to take him back to Virc-Dho. He didn’t want to entirely discard faith in her; furthermore, he did, in all honesty, still hope to once again see her and the pokémon whom he’d met and befriended through her, and hopefully in a happier light next time. That, at least, seemed to him like a more proper farewell, and an easier one—the one she and they deserved, in his opinion, for treating him so well.
He hadn’t forgotten what Morgan had said the evening before, though, not one word of it. She had expressly told him that if he found another means for him to return home before she could find one, then he was to take it. Solonn questioned whether or not this truly was what the human wanted; surely she wouldn’t want to lose a chance to see someone who had been one of her pokémon one more time, would she? But in the end, he decided that he had to give her the benefit of the doubt where that was concerned. This was what she’d said she wanted, and he reckoned that he should take her word for it.
“All right,” Solonn said finally.
“Ah, excellent!” Jal’tai said, sounding supremely delighted. “Come, then, follow me!” With a powerful flap of his wings, Jal’tai took to the air, sending the grass below him into a frenzied dance as he set off very swiftly toward the west.
Solonn sighed wearily; the evening before had been quite taxing and his body was still not quite ready to endure being made to hurry anywhere. “Jal’tai? Excuse me, could you slow down a bit?” he called after the swellow as he hastened with difficulty to follow.
“Oh, of course!” the swellow responded, and slowed down significantly. “Terribly sorry about that. I just simply can’t wait to show you my city…”