The hardest part was the look. The look in her younger sister’s eye as she had tussled backwards in the effort produced by the elders, ironically deemed wise, before her sweet face was abruptly obscured. Their masses had absorbed any vision she had of her only family, and although she was marginally relived the younger pokémon didn’t have to see her last moment of exile, she was saddened. She had wanted to see her, to know that she was still there, even if it was while shame was flooding through her mind. She was deeply troubled that her last communication had to be in the worst moment, when not even words could be shared.
For that she was thankful in a way; she couldn’t bare more pleading and more conveyance of desperation and disappointment. It was mutual, in light of her insistence for her sister to join her cause and stray from the flock’s foolish choices, which made their last exchange of words with one another a painful repetition of pleas and refusals. She knew that her sister enjoyed it as little as she, but the discomfort of their situation alone was little to do with its beginning and end. It ended when she was called to offer her cause before the elders, so they could present their judgement. Her reputation and whatever position she may have hoped to gain in the future were lost; she had tarnished any chance she had at a purpose in her flock.
My belly was starting to rumble as my apparent new companion and I stalked the dimming forest in no effort to find food, but to simply move ourselves along, despite the fact that it was growing closer to night. We had stopped for a long while in order to rest a time after passing the area around which Shardclaw, Zhol and I had attempted to hunt the day before, where vegetation was sparse. Because of this break, I was reluctant to waste any more time—the party would be a fair way ahead already, and if we didn’t make an effort to catch up, they would very well reach the hideout before we had a chance to meet with them. I knew that travelling through the night while they slept was a most suitable plan, and I didn’t care if the dual type following me had objections. Truthfully I had objections of my own, but I dared not voice them; questioning my own orders would encourage him to whine or complain, then justify his protests by pointing out that I was first to voice my annoyance.
I was no good with numbers or estimations, but I knew that we would have to run for large portions of the journey in order to reach them. I had no problem with that, and apparently the houndoom didn’t either, but...running with
him was the thing that irked me. He had been pretty quiet most of the day, and sometimes didn’t respond when I made comments or asked him about something. It was probably his silent revenge for my attitude toward him, but in all honesty, he deserved whatever came to him.
We began to descend a slope of an unusual amount of grass, and I briefly wondered how it was so green amongst the general brown around these parts. It was not something I was familiar with, but imagined that a certain pokémon probably lived nearby that cared for the soil. After we reached the bottom of the hill, the angle of the ground nearly catching me off guard and almost faltering my legs, we came to another part of the forest which had been virtually the same as before. The trees were fairly faded and some were a tiny bit grim, but mostly they were welcoming and partly cosy. I thought that, if some homes and dens were built, this forest would house a group of pokémon very well. Of course, I preferred the luxury of a more developed space, but every community had to begin with a single idea.
“Hey, Flair,” the houndoom began, striding a few paces behind me, “do you actually know where we’re going?”
I furrowed my brow at the question. Of course I knew where I was going. I wouldn’t be blindly leading myself and one other through random territory I wasn’t familiar with if I didn’t have direct instructions to where the hideout was. “Yes,” I told him simply, not deeming the answer important enough to require elaboration.
“A’right,” he accepted, giving a brisk nod I hardly picked up on from my peripherals.
I exhaled and tried to clear my mind as I padded on, picking up the pace into a jog. I imagined he would immediately question my pace increase and make some kind of snide remark, but surprisingly he said nothing. I suddenly wondered if he was backing off to allow me room for the possibility of liking him and accepting him as a temporary – for I would never allow such a pokémon to permanently accompany me – companion. It was entirely possible, since he knew that my temper could definitely judge somebody before my head did, and so far he was pretty much only been judged by my angry temperament. It was his own fault, and I was not prepared to take any sort of responsibility for his actions.
After a while of moving, I noticed that the temperature was beginning to drop bit by bit. It was such a small change that my constantly heated body barely noticed, and I was hardly fazed as I kept going. The houndoom, being a fire type as I was, probably shared the inability to notice temperature changes very easily. I wasn’t all that interested in asking him, but one question certainly gnawed at my mind—a question that annoyed me to know end. The thing was that if I asked this question, I knew it would get me nowhere, and I would be quite annoyed with the results. I reasoned with myself that I was already expecting the answer, and a specific one at that, so there was no point in trying to hope for another one. And if I was expecting one in particular, why would I bother to show hesitation to ask it, for the reason of being dissatisfied by the answer? It was a pretty confusing notion, but I shoved it out the way and just decided to ask.
“So...why exactly are you following me?” I questioned, turning my head to the left as we carried on, and he skipped a few paces, lengthening his strides momentarily to catch up. He was beside me in no time.
“Because I believe you’re foolish,” he told me simply, shrugging a bit as he jogged on.
“Foolish?!” I spat, eyes clouding with a scowl entailing minor confusion. “I’m the foolish one? Oh, I’m sorry—I thought the stalker without a reason to stalk somebody who, I might add, has no desire to be stalked, would be the pokémon considered foolish.” I rolled my eyes, straining them as I kept them angled to show my immense annoyance at this houndoom. He was arrogant and had no cause to make such an accusation. Even if that was not the answer I had been expecting, it was no better.
“I have a reason,” he commented, and my head hovered toward him in a short swivel around. I was confident I would not run head-on into any trees as I faced him, so continued without heed of direction.
“Oh, do you now? And what might that be?”
His sights were set before us, at the trees in the distance, as he admitted, “You have no idea what you’re doing.”
The answer shocked me a little. I heard my brain fall silent as I considered what he had told me. “I have no idea what I’m doing,” I restated flatly. “That
is your claim?” I scoffed, finding no evidence to support his words, and saw no harm in challenging the absurd statement. “If you’re gonna insult me, at least choose something that’s true to use against me.” Immediately after I said that, I frowned, reconsidering. No, I didn’t want to hear him insult me about something that was true, either. It was less than ideal to hear my faults.
“It’s not made absent foundations,” he responded, and my mind suspended all thought again, although my legs continued to hurry me along.
“Hey,” I growled lowly, the houndoom coming to a stop as I did the same. I faced him with my body braced and my head down, while he stood upright and without assumption of power or defence. “I was given specific instructions pointing me in the direction of this hideout, you know. I’m
the one who knows it’s abandoned, and I’m
the one who was given the task to go and find the party.” I raised my head and snorted. “Of course I know what I’m doing!”
At that I felt surely justified. Of course, I didn’t need
to provide him with any viable justification, but it felt good to know I was confident about my abilities and the fact that I had been assigned to the task.
The houndoom’s lips curved into a smile, peeling back to reveal his stained pointed teeth. I was once again surprised by his actions. “You don’t know what you’re doing,” he reinformed quite confidently, and, the grin still painted on his face, began in the direction we were headed before our paws claimed the same patch of soil for an extended period. The way he sauntered off greatly irritated me, and I could feel my jaw starting to spread with the growing pressure of clenching them tightly together. He was clearly amused by the obliviousness he most likely assumed I possessed, like he found himself to be of much higher importance.
“What do you mean?” I demanded, leaping after him. As he heard my strides, however, I saw a flash of his playful – and completely unwarranted – grin before his bounding fasted, slowing as I slowed to allow me the chance to catch up. He waved his tail playfully and began walking in a peculiar fashion obviously intended to be comical. I was not amused.
He was teasing me. TEASING
me! With a twitch of my muzzle, I suddenly shot forward with a burst of speed, watching as he was quick to catch on and sprung off the ground, racing away. He was too fast for me, and as my little legs repeated mechanical actions, I was highly agitated to find that I didn’t nearly match his pace. Immediately my mind went to Zhol, and I scowled as I wished she were here. She would be able to put him in his place.
Blowing smoke through my nostrils, I galloped on, chasing him between trees and in circles over dwarfish hills. At one point he splashed through the river we had been loosely following, clearly elated far beyond my mood, and seemed unaffected as the water clung to his fur and smoothed it flat. I quickly stopped myself before I had the chance to plunge into the shallow waters, slamming my paws down to unearth the soil and bring me to a halt. I eyed the water with wide-eyed caution and a twinge of fear as I shook my head brusquely, tearing myself away from it to travel back in the direction I had been headed before that wretched houndoom had led me on a wild pursuit. I disapproved greatly of his angering behaviour, and grumbled to myself under my breath as I considered his glaring immaturity.
“Such are males,” I growled to myself.
As I stalked off, shoulders hunched and mane fuzzed up around my face, I tried to figure out exactly what he meant. My mind was struggling to come up with anything that made a reasonable amount of sense. I knew that the houndoom was quite fond of teasing me, it seemed, and provoking my tempter, but somehow I sensed he was being truthful, or as truthful as he could have been in his own mind. It was displeasing that he doubted me, because apparently I only had my own faith in myself to draw from and utilise.
I didn’t dwell on the question too much, and instead drew a breath, resetting my mind so I could think something about food. At least food didn’t intentionally aim to piss me off.
Tarla stretched her wings, elevating herself to beat them against the air and create gushing gales of wind. It gave her shoulders the repeated movement they needed to keep well and gave her a calming sense of comfort. She tucked them beside her body as she hopped up and settled onto a low-hanging branch under the tree of which the three other party members took shelter. It was open, quite exposed to the rest of the forest, but the atmosphere was tranquil, and it seemed as if nothing would dare disturb their quiet night. She assumed nobody else would want to be disturbed either and bother themselves with pointless efforts to initiate a fight. Four experienced battlers were not to be reckoned with, especially if no harm was intended by them, and no cause for alarm needed to be raised.
“You’re right up there, Fluffy?” the krinar from below called up with a chuckle, a knee bent as he rested an elbow against it, the rest of his arm hanging. His left arm extended behind him for support. Beside him was the kirlia, who sat silently with crossed legs. The granbull was keeping himself occupied with sticks varying in length and thickness around the other side of the trunk.
The altaria gave him a sneer of contempt, turning away whilst pressing her beak together. She heard the ralts evolution question her actions and feign innocence, although Tarla had a feeling he really did believe himself not guilty. That was not of concern to her, however; she wanted some peace and quiet, eager to enjoy Torqueal Forest in all its serenity without an oblivious krinar to present constant irritation on a silver platter. He was a dark red stain of pure annoyance, like a jabbing toothpick in her side, which she had originally found slightly disappointing, but had figured that not many others were as mature as she. It would come with age and experience, she told herself, and long awaited the day he would grow out of it.
Blocking him out didn’t seem to work, however, and as he babbled on, half addressing her in the process, she wondered if his sole purpose was to serve as a sort of symbol for everything annoying that had ever come into existence. The prospect would hardly come as a surprise to her, though, and silently she was thankful that he was incapable of any such ability as cloning himself. She didn’t know how she would cope if there were two
Sick of his voice, the dragon and flying type launched herself off her perch, her back to the small party as she carved an unscheduled path through the air. Her mind swirled with irritation as she heard the cries of the krinar protesting for her return and claiming apologies that she knew meant nothing. It wasn’t long before he presumably gave up, and she exhaled once more, certain that she was not going to be returning for the night. She figured that in the morning, when they passed, she would join up with them. Either that or she would fly ahead by herself.
Finding a suitable tree to spend the night, she climbed the night air and landed her feet on a branch. The smooth bark with raised freckles were comfortable under her scaly toes, and as she shaped herself and felt her feathers settle, she knew she had chosen the right tree with the right branch. Fluffing up, she thought about the next day, when she would probably be asked once again by Derino to again determine their estimated time of arrival at the mountains. If not an estimation of time, then of distance. It was as if he didn’t understand that such vast land was not going to shift at any point during their journey.
Her mind lingered on the thought of those mountains. She again reminded herself of their significance to her. They were both her home and the only place she had been expelled from. She had mixed feelings toward the giant mounds of thickened earth, fickle like the snow that could melt with little to sway it. She was content with the colony, but there was always that lingering feeling...that cruel sadness that reminded her of the point in her life when everything was rejected into a pit of everlasting change.
Nothing seemed exactly real; the swablu flew on, not allowing herself the pleasure of gliding until she was far from the flock, and sped onward. She was fairly horrified at what had recently happened. Not only was her dignity spat on and rolled in the mud, but any trace of trust she had with those she thought she knew seemed gone. Her whole life she had lived with them, helped improve it, sought protectors in the older pokémon, and found friends of all ages. It was a pleasant life of happiness, and yet...she was pushed from its embrace it like she was never there. Like she never had a chance to make a difference, or to even deserve a place among her kin. She felt as if she had put her whole mind and body into the flock, and it was exceedingly unfair that her banishment was not given a second thought. It was their
fault for making such a stupid decision...
The thought suddenly occurred to her that she was endangering her sister even further by allowing her to stay with that flock. She wished with all her heart that she agreed to come with her...even if it meant they were both exiled. At least then they would be able to be together and support one another, even under such circumstances. However, that was clearly impossible as they were separated, and Tarla felt enormous regret for what her sister would be put through. It was as if she alone knew. That was what frightened her as well—her flock was charging headfirst into a foolish decision, and nobody but her realised that. They had had no time to properly consider any of it, and were immensely foolish for pretending they knew the effects on the flock it would have. She knew those so called “benefits” were nothing but lies, whatever they supposedly were.
The wind picked up, blasting her face with more force than before. She noticed with surprise that her thoughts had taken her far from her mountain already; she must have been flying for a minimum of an hour. As she realised that she was flying head-on into a blasting current of wind, she gasped suddenly for air, finding it difficult to swallow anything but more snow as she continued. Sometimes a piece would wedge itself into her nostril, and she had to gather the strength to let a dragonbreath surge through her beak, erupting from the only place it could go—her nostrils. However, using the move repeatedly drained her energy, and as she waded on through the falling snow as the shadowy sky above her bled with increasing darkness, she found herself growing progressively exhausted.
It was not a pleasant feeling as she realised she was drifting away from reality, her wings faltering as she plunged downward into an unintentional dive, but quickly righted herself and shook off, the two stray feathers that sprouted from her head wobbling with her. Another spec of snow became lodged in her left nostril, and she coughed, feeling the strange buzz of the dragonbreath excite her throat before being admitted through the holes atop her beak.
‘I need to rest,’
she thought to herself, and began to cast her glance about. The mountains were endless; the fact that she was not a very effective flier in both manoeuvring and speed did not help her cause, but she doubted the hours of mountains stretched below her would end even if she could fly harder, faster and stronger. She already felt as if she were going to collapse, and she didn’t even try to think of how she might have felt if she had been required to apply more energy to her movements. It would only have drained her more.
She was forced to shield her eyes with her eyelids as she searched for a spot to land somewhere, and began her descent. The snow was growing denser and increased with purpose. She knew the signs to be those of an oncoming blizzard, and she would not have much time before it would be upon her with relentless mercilessness.
Continued in next post...