Re: [Fan fic of the year 2008 Runner up] The Path of Destiny (PG/PG-13)
The floatzel yelped as she was sent sailing through the air, the abomasnow’s roar of anger ringing in her ears as she hit the ground hard. Dazed, she tried pushing herself to her feet, but a barrage of knifelike leaves, sent flying toward her by the ice pokémon, knocked her down, opening long cuts in her body.
The still enraged abomasnow left the fallen floatzel where she was, rounding instead on Snowcrystal, who was still focusing on readying a flame wheel attack. The growlithe faltered in surprise, the flames flickering out as she lost her concentration. With another roar, the huge creature lumbered towards her. She didn’t have time to run. If she could just conjure up a powerful enough fire attack…
But she didn’t have to. Just as the pokémon was almost upon her, another roar resounded through the mountain area-Redclaw’s. A stream of bright orange flame seared above Snowcrystal’s head and headed straight for the abomasnow.
The creature howled in fury and pain, stumbling backward and away from Snowcrystal, some of its fur set alight. Wildflame appeared next to Snowcrystal, her paws kicking up snow into the air. Spark arrived next to her-every clump of hair on his body sharpened into needle-like spines. The abomasnow was still flailing in anger, trying to put out the flames.
“Do you think it’s-” Snowcrystal began.
“Look out!” Wildflame cried, and only just soon enough. Snowcrystal barely managed to close her eyes and duck as a wall of snow, ice, and wind came hurtling towards them. She braced herself by digging her claws into the ground beneath-but it wasn’t enough. The powdery snow broke loose easily and Snowcrystal found herself being flipped backwards, landing in a heap where she was forced to endure the howling wind and jagged shards of ice.
Then suddenly, it stopped. The other three pokémon were still standing, although Spark looked unsteady on his feet. The abomasnow stood facing them, all the flames extinguished-though Snowcrystal now realized with worry that it seemed as if for the most part, only the pokémon’s fur was burnt-the injury itself didn’t seem bad enough to truly hinder the ice type.
Redclaw was the first to leap forward, red flames forming inside his muzzle which he then launched at the pokémon. Yet before the flames reached it, another massive barrage of ice and snow made its way toward them, stopping the flamethrower attack. Snowcrystal’s eyes widened-this snow attack looked far worse than the first!
Before she could act on her own accord, teeth met in her scruff and she felt Wildflame frantically dragging her away, and to her surprise, they managed to avoid the blast of snow, which seemed for the most part to be concentrated on one specific area. As it thundered past, she noticed that Spark had managed to avoid it too, but Redclaw…
Redclaw was lying unconscious in the snow, ice frosted thickly over his fur.
“Redclaw!” Snowcrystal cried, both fear for her friend and fear for herself welling up inside her-Redclaw was the strongest fire type in the group. That left only her, Wildflame, Spark, and…
Where was Blazefang?
Without stopping to think about it, Snowcrystal looked frantically at Wildflame while the abomasnow paused, as if stopping to regain some of its strength. “What was that?” she cried, not knowing what sort of ice attack could stop a powerful fire type in his tracks. Wildflame, however, was more focused on trying to hit the ice type with another fire attack.
“Sheer cold!” Spark replied from where he stood, his eyes still focused on the enemy. “Watch out! It’s coming again!”
This time, Snowcrystal was ready. As the ice and snow hurtled towards her, she quickly moved out of the line of fire, and once the air cleared again, she was relieved to see that Wildflame and Spark had avoided it again as well.
Wildflame leaped forward, shooting a stream of flame from her mouth, but once again a mass of whirling snow and ice, more like the first attack than the second, weakened it before it reached its target. This time, even Wildflame was knocked backward by the fierce wind, crying out in pain as she tumbled into a patch of snow.
Wildflame looked frantically at Spark, who seemed just about out of energy, and back at the abomasnow, who didn’t seem tired at all. Snowcrystal had expected the pokémon to be strong, but not this strong. The thought that it might have trained itself to develop strategies against fire types briefly crossed her mind, and with a jolt of horror she saw it readying another attack, far quicker than she knew she could finish summoning a flame wheel…
Suddenly a loud screech overhead sounded around them-its echo making it seem far louder than a sound any pokémon could make. Out of the corner of her eye, Snowcrystal spotted a birdlike shape in the sky. Was that Articuno?
“Hey, leave them alone!” a voice shouted, but it was a voice Snowcrystal recognized-Alex’s voice.
The floatzel was bounding toward the abomasnow, water beginning to form around her body from the air around her-already it was crackling with ice from the intense cold brought about from the recent ice type attacks, but the water was moving too quickly around the floatzel to freeze. With a yell, Alex launched herself forward, more water spinning around her as she collided with the abomasnow just as it launched another attack.
This time, the blizzard wasn’t as strong as the ones before it. Snowcrystal endured it rather easily before it faded, quicker than the other two. When it did, the sight that greeted her eyes greatly surprised her. Both pokémon-Alex and the abomasnow-were partially frozen to the ground from the water meeting the blizzard attack. Alex was standing on all fours-with each of her paws immobile, but that did not stop her from firing a water gun attack disdainfully in her enemy’s face.
“Now!” Wildflame shouted to Snowcrystal, before quickly launching a flamethrower at the surprised abomasnow before it had a chance to retaliate.
Snowcrystal focused all her energy and concentration on a flame wheel, realizing with immense surprise that it formed far quickly than she had expected. She launched the whirling tornado of flame at the struggling pokémon, and Alex ducked her head as the flames struck the abomasnow-right on target.
Snowcrystal began summoning the strength for another flame wheel, knowing that the attack would have melted the ice, but a sudden shriek from Wildflame made her glance in the houndoom’s direction, and what she saw made her blood run cold.
A massive pidgeot, far larger than any she’d ever seen flying over her mountain, had sunk its claws into Wildflame’s back and bowled the houndoom over. It wasn’t Articuno she had seen…it was another enemy!
Near the abomasnow, Alex grunted as she wrenched her paws free of the weakening ice. The huge white pokémon was injured and tiring now, and the floatzel knew it. Opening her mouth, she fired several star-shaped beams of energy at the weakened pokémon, causing it to give a yell of rage.
Snowcrystal’s attention, however, was on the massive bird pokémon. Spark was darting around it, firing sharpened spines at it whenever possible, but he couldn’t use an electric attack-the pidgeot’s massive talons were still gripping Wildflame.
With a strength she hadn’t known she had, Snowcrystal summoned up another flame wheel even quicker than she had before, and sent the searing flames spiraling straight at the massive flying type.
The pidgeot squawked loudly, releasing Wildflame and taking to the air. Spark struck it with a thunderbolt, but to everyone’s surprise, the flying type stayed airborne.
Snowcrystal heard another cry of pain and then saw Alex running toward them. “Abomasnow’s down!” she panted, though she seemed exhausted, and had several long cuts across her face-probably from another razor leaf attack.
As Spark focused on attacking the huge pidgeot, another shriek rent the air, and a second pidgeot, almost as large as the first, dove down toward the jolteon, ignoring the bolt of lightning that shot upwards toward it from the panicked eevee evolution. It was Spark’s lightning speed that saved him. Luckily, he was standing on a flat rock with only a thin covering of snow, and bounding off of it, he avoided the pidgeot’s raking talons as it swooped past.
Snowcrystal was about to try and aim an attack at the swiftly flying pokémon, when a screech for help met her ears. Whirling around, she saw Blazefang in the distance, struggling in a patch of snow next to a dangerously steep cliff, a fearow bearing down on him. She saw it stab downward with its beak, catching Blazefang in the hind leg and making him howl with pain. From what she could see, some of the snow around him was red…
Then what happened next made Snowcrystal feel like everything had suddenly gone horribly wrong, much more wrong than anything that had happened to them so far. Bright, blue-white flames, flames she had wished never to see ever again in her entire life, erupted from Blazefang’s gaping mouth. The houndour’s eyes widened-glowing a searing bright yellow, as the twisted fire warped itself around the fearow, enveloping it completely and causing it to tumble backward over the cliff with an earsplitting screech. Blazefang stood up slowly, not noticing the blood flowing from his leg wound, and turned to look at the group who were still fighting.
His eyes were still a bright, pure, unnatural yellow. Walking mechanically, as if not on his own, Blazefang made his way toward them, leaving bloody pawprints in the snow. His eyes blazed, his mouth stretched in a grin…
But before he reached them, a dark shape raced across the snow, its long legs sending more powder sailing into the air, and cannoned into Blazefang, knocking the houndour clear off his feet and into the icy snow. It was Wildflame.
The houndoom stood over Blazefang, her sides heaving. Snowcrystal heard Alex and Spark approaching her, having managed to fend off both pidgeot. Snowcrystal felt a pang of shame-in her panic at seeing Shadowflare, she had not rejoined the battle. Not like she could have done much, she tried to convince herself. The only good long-ranged attack she had was flame wheel, and she could never have hit something as fast as a pidgeot. Only half-satisfied with her self-thought excuse, she walked over to where Wildflame was standing over the motionless Blazefang. The others followed solemnly.
Blazefang’s eyes were opened, but they were back to their normal red-the houndour was looking at Wildflame with an expression of helplessness. “I’m sorry…” Snowcrystal heard him whisper as she approached. “I tried to fight it…I really did…”
Snowcrystal glanced around at the others-everyone had cuts from shards of ice or leaves, and all of them looked exhausted as they looked down at Blazefang. Silence fell upon the group, and Alex was the first to speak.
“What about Redclaw?” she asked.
Snowcrystal turned around and darted toward the arcanine, who was beginning to stir. “Redclaw?” she whispered, stopping by his side and nudging his icy fur.
The arcanine’s eyes opened. “Snowcrystal…” he whispered weakly. “Is everyone all right?”
“I…I’m not sure,” she replied uncertainly. “No one’s seriously hurt…I don’t think. Can you get up?”
Redclaw didn’t reply, but he slowly lifted himself to his paws. He was weak, but he didn’t fall down. “I’ll be fine with a little rest,” he rasped. “It only knocked me out. It was an ice attack after all, and I’m a fire type.”
Snowcrystal heard footsteps as the rest of the group bounded through the snow toward them, even Blazefang, who was still looking horrified at what he’d done.
“Well, we’d better get going,” Wildflame told everyone. “Those birds might come back…with friends.”
“Wildflame’s right,” Redclaw agreed, staggering forward. “Let’s move on.”
“But are you sure you’ve got enough strength?” Snowcrystal asked worriedly.
“I’m strong enough,” came Redclaw’s reply.
Without much of a choice, they began heading further up the mountain, fear giving them both strength and speed. Even when the snow became thicker higher up, they did not stop-fear that a pokémon would drop down on them from the sky and attack spurred them onward.
After a while of trudging through snow, the group finally decided to take a break. There were no signs of any enemies, and they all felt very worn out.
“How much further?” Spark muttered, flopping down in the snow.
Snowcrystal lifted her head, narrowing her eyes against the biting wind. The wind had grown stronger ever since the abomasnow’s blizzard and sheer cold attacks…it would be harder to climb the rest of the way, even if it wasn’t quite so far. A sudden, horrible thought struck her. If the blizzard attacks could make more wind and snow and ice, did that mean...that they could be causing the mountain to be this way, not Articuno? No! That couldn’t be true. Darkfang had seen Articuno, and Alex had told them…
“It’s not that far,” Wildflame told the others from where she was still standing. “We can keep going. If we stay here, we risk being in danger.” The wind whipped at the houndoom’s thin flanks and dried blood shone out on her wounds, but her eyes shone. She was more determined to get to Articuno than ever now.
“Wildflame’s right,” Redclaw agreed, heaving himself to his feet. The arcanine swayed for a moment but managed to stay standing. “I can keep going. What about the rest of you?”
“Redclaw,” Spark began, “I don’t think you should-”
“I may not be Thunder,” Redclaw replied. “But Master did teach me something I could make use of, and that was endurance. The real question is…are the rest of you ready?”
“So soon?” Alex asked, looking at him with a mixture of surprise and bewilderment.
“I’m ready,” Spark replied as he gave a weary sigh and stood up. “I sure don’t want to be caught in the open.”
“Me neither,” Snowcrystal agreed. “Let’s go…”
They headed off, more slowly this time, keeping their eyes fixed on the rocks and trees around them, as well as the sky, in case an enemy could be lurking near. As they got ever so closer to the top, Snowcrystal could see that the sky was darkening even more, the clouds above them seeming more ominous.
They soon came to a place where the rocks sloped upward so steeply that even Snowcrystal knew that she would not be able to climb it. Finding a dead end at one side and forced to go around the other way instead, they were soon met with a horribly steep cliff that seemed to slide down into pure gray nothingness. The group of six pokémon huddled together, the wind pushing at their backs as if it wanted to fling them over into the abyss.
“What now?” Alex cried over the wind. She was clutching Snowcrystal’s fur.
Snowcrystal wasn’t worried about heights-she was used to this in her mountain home. But something about the wind made her nervous. It seemed almost…hostile. Nevertheless, she glanced around, wondering if there was any way…
Yes! There was. A narrow ridge leading up the mountain. Despite there being only a few feet between the rock wall and the edge of the cliff, Snowcrystal felt as if the ridge would be perfectly safe.
For a mountain growlithe…but for the others?
“That way!” she called, pointing her nose toward the winding ledge.
“Are you crazy?” Alex replied.
“No,” Snowcrystal replied. “I know it looks dangerous, but if we move carefully, it won’t be. The rocks should block most of the wind…” Until we round that corner… she thought, looking ahead to where the path swerved out of view around the rock wall, then the wind could be heading straight for us…
Wherever it led, they couldn’t go back now. How long could they waste looking for another route with those enemy pokémon lurking about? Taking a deep breath, she walked over to where the ledge began and placed a paw on it hesitantly, then walked onto it. It felt as sturdy as it looked, and the wind didn’t seem near as strong there. “Follow me!” she cried, walking forward with confidence, hoping that would help the others overcome their fear.
Spark went next, and the agile jolteon seemed almost as comfortable as Snowcrystal after the first few hesitant steps. “She’s right!” he called back. “The wind’s mostly blocked here!”
Alex went next, a lot slower than Spark, followed by Wildflame and Blazefang and lastly, Redclaw. The arcanine was having the most difficulty, being the largest, but he followed the others determinedly, his gaze focused only on the way ahead.
Snowcrystal plodded forward carefully, her fur prickling as she neared the place where the path veered around the corner. Taking another deep breath, she approached it carefully and stepped around the corner.
A blast of wind met her, forcing her to close her eyes and dig her claws into the icy ground in fear of being blown backward over the edge of the cliff. When she managed to open them, she was horrified at what she saw.
The path ahead sloped gently upward for a little while, and then suddenly turned steep. The steep part of the slope was made up of jagged rocks leading upward with a sheer drop on one side. Snowcrystal even doubted her own climbing abilities would allow her to scale that. With sinking regret, she realized that they needed to turn back.
Turning around ever so carefully, she rounded the corner and faced the others.
“What’s wrong?” Spark asked, looking puzzled.
“It gets really steep and narrow over there!” she explained, having to shout over the noise of the wind. “We have to go back and find another way!”
“Are you sure?” Redclaw cried worriedly from behind everyone. “I don’t think I can turn around!”
Realizing the bad situation they were in, Snowcrystal frantically tried to think of a solution. Yet before she could, things became much worse.
(Continued in next post...)
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