Not even a single comment? You know, that kinda hurts, especially since I know people are reading. :/ It doesn't take much to come in and just let me know you're reading. In fact, tell me what you like - even dislike - about the story. As long as I know people are reading, I can keep up the motivation to write. If no one lets the author know they like a story, they would most likely just drop it. Even if one doesn't write for others, they write for their story to be heard. So even I like to know opinions and such, or just drop by to say hi. Then I'll know people are actually interested in my story, and that they want to hear it. So...thanks.
Anyway, onto the next chapter!
The first thought to cross my mind was that I had just experienced cruel irony. This time I was the one who completed the act. Oh, how ironic fate can be
, a voice inside my head mocked me. I was truly surprised that I could even think at all. I had run so far, for so long, my feet were aching. My mind could barely form coherent thoughts and my throat was parched. It had been ages since any form of water had entered my mouth, and I had forgone both breakfast and lunch today due to thinking my body might just haul it back up again if I tried. Many of us had seemed of the same mind when we denied offers of food this morning. Now the night was seeping in, and it cast venomous shadows into the depths of Wingardom City. Just another reminder of that which I couldn’t escape from.
The rise and fall of my chest was the only noticeable movement in the dark. I was hidden far from prying eyes on the outskirts of the town, by the waterfall I had so longingly looked at earlier. It hadn’t been until I’d arrived that I had registered exactly where it was my feet had taken me. It was as if they carried me here of their own accord, wanted to show me something.
There was a gentle longing within me to see Altair, to call out for my guide to help, but I knew that would hardly be the best course of action right now. What I really needed to do was gather all my emotions and turn them into the courage essential to forgive Rye. But that was just the question I was unsure of. Did I even want to forgive him? Could I? Sure, he said he was acting in my best interest, but by doing so he was actually still very much harming me. The longer I thought about it the more I came to the conclusion that there was absolutely nothing either of us could do in that situation that would not hurt the other. It was just bound to happen and now I had to build a bridge and get over it, as I’m almost certain Jarre would say. But I also know he would understand.
I let out a deep sigh and sank to the moist earth, grasping it beneath my fingers. Life seemed so simple back in Likera. At least it seemed simpler than it was here. I still retained the thought that I had formerly been human, but as yet I had no proof that I even existed as one. I could tell my claims to the others, tell Rye now while he was still possibly mad at me. But what good would that do? With no evidence they were just false claims, and it wasn’t even as if that would help anybody. So it wasn’t worth my time mentioning. Surely there was someone out there who knew about me, I just had to find it.
One step at a time, Zanna
, I told myself sternly. If I dwelled upon too many concerns it was beginning to be unlikely that I would even show up at the meeting tomorrow. I didn’t know what we should do next, or where we should go. Rye, keeping the promise he made to Windtalon at the temple, would send someone in search of Silvertalon. That was as far as my wanderings had gotten me. Where could
we go? Could we take an offensive stand here against Deoxys? We didn’t even know where Deoxys was at this current point in time. It was eerily scary he hadn’t tried another attack. It had also been an age since Raze or Scythe had been spotted. It was just all…too much.
My paws found the sides of my face and pressed inwards, drawing my concerns to a halt. What I really needed right now was to sleep. I had barely slept within the past few days, worried about the others’ wellbeing. Now that they all seemed fine, I could rest peacefully. If only I didn’t have what felt like a dozen Steelix weighing my mind down. In an effort to calm my racing thoughts I extracted the Orb of Sorrow from my fur. If it could demoralise targets by drawing upon the sadness within, I wondered if it also had the power to draw that sorrow out? Virok had stated the Orb of Life could both give and take the life of others, so it seemed only appropriate that this one should work in the same way.
Deciding it was worth a shot I grasped the cool, smooth surface of the orb in both paws and held it tightly to my chest. With all my might I willed the sadness I felt to flow into it, to be taken away. I sat like that for at least a few minutes, clenching the orb firmly, but nothing seemed to happen. If anything, I felt worse. Growing increasingly frustrated with my failed attempts, I tossed the round object away with a growl, launching it towards the lake. It disappeared into the water with a splash, scaring away what little life could be found within. Those orbs were nothing but trouble and I didn’t want another thing to do with them. Adamant, I crossed my paws over my chest.
A bright light illuminated the sky, rising upwards in a beam from where I had just disposed of the orb. It was so bright that I brought a paw upwards immediately to shield my eyes from the glare. If there were enemies within sight I’m sure I would have been spotted from miles away, like a sitting Ducklett. The beacon shot straight up into the sky and disappeared well above the clouds. Everything around me was instantly visible. My first thought was that Rye would be able to find me easily now, if he so wanted. My second thought was why had the orb lit in the first place?
Curiosity seeped into the depths of my mentality. It won out. Gathering myself, I crawled over to the lake edge to peer over into the water. There the orb was, sitting a few metres below the surface in the rocky waterbed. I was lucky that the lake was rather shallow, and if I so desired it would take but a minute to retrieve it. Something stopped me, however. Instead I merely gazed at its tiny round surface in wonder. I believed it was trying to convey something to me, although I had no idea what. The last time I made contact with it I thought it had shown me as I stabbed myself. But…what if I was wrong? It could have been any figure I saw; the vision was so murky. It could easily have been another Pikachu. Another Pikachu…another Pikachu…another…Pikachu.
“Oh no,” I gasped, my voice escaping in an exasperated cry.
I was almost frantic, scrabbling and splashing through the water to retrieve the orb. I didn’t want anyone else to see its light, to know I was here. Taking a deep breath I broke the surface of the water with a thousand ripples. I extended a paw around the orb now below me and held it to my chest once more, willing it to show me the vision again. I had to see it; had to confirm my suspicions. It didn’t occur to me that I was beginning to run out of air until the orb complied and dragged me into a subconscious state, the apparition once more beginning to take form from within.
“I said I won’t do it!” The white Pikachu growled menacingly towards a dark figure, which crowed with glee.
It was a gloomy cavern, deep underground. The likes of which I had never seen up here on the surface. It was filled with glittering stalactites and stalagmites, each trying to desperately reach the other. The moonlight that shone through a break in the cavern ceiling lit them with hues of blue and purple. And although I knew this sight should cause me to gaze in wonder, it only served to send a shiver down my spine. Something was not quite right about this place.
Altair stood in the center of the room, facing the wisp of a figure. At first I had just thought my imagination was causing hallucinations within the vision, but that didn’t seem to be the case. This was a Pokemon – a dark, ferocious being. Just the mere presence of the creature was enough to make my stomach twist and turn. The imminent feeling of dread that followed almost made the former feel like a happy fun-ride gone wrong. This was more like hanging from the edge of a cliff when you know
you’re about to plummet, and there wasn’t a single thing you could do about it.
“I know that everything comes with a price when it involves you, Darkrai!” Altair shouted towards the Pokemon. “Did you really think I would kill myself again?” The Pikachu shuddered. He hated to remember the harm he had caused this world. He hated even more to remember the pain his death had cost him. But this shadowy figure – Darkrai – merely offered a lopsided smirk in response.
“It will simply transfer your state of being – there is no other way. You are the one who wanted to live, is that not so?”
Altair cursed his own folly. He had come to Darkrai out of his own selfish desire to help Zanna. He believed, that with this evil Pokemon’s assistance – for he refused to call it help – he could once again walk among the living. There was absolutely little he could do from the Farplane, but he was certain he could be of use if he were alive again. He would be able to feel
the breeze as it tousled his fur. Run within the many plains that encased the land. Eat food fresh from the buffets of Wingardom City. And most of all, most of all…he would be able to see Zanna. He could help her – he knew it. He could save her.
“That was hardly what I had in mind,” the Pikachu stated in response, lowering a brow. “You’re an almighty god, right? I thought you had a safer transportation method. If you don’t, however, it seems that I’ll just have to leave.” Eager to get this over with, Altair turned his back on the nightmare Pokemon and made for the exit. He was not willing to kill himself for what might be permanent. He did not trust this Pokemon. And while there was no proof, he was more than willing to mull around here. It wasn’t so bad.
“But for how long can your other half survive?” Darkrai’s haunting tone entered his thoughts, mimicking his own.
He knew. Knew that Zanna could fall at any moment. And yet…
“How long,” Darkrai repeated, “before she succumbs to the darkness within that boy…”
There was that, too. At this very moment Rye and Zanna were separate. But if they somehow drew closer and the darkness seeped into Zanna then…the Light Pokemon would be tainted. And a tainted Light Pokemon cannot fulfil its duties. She would be stripped of the power to defeat Deoxys, and ultimately Darkrai himself. That was the last thing anyone needed.
“How long can you watch while that happens? Unknowing, unwilling to say–”
“Shut up.” His words came out as a hiss. Altair whirled around, eyes thin slits piercing through the darkness, fur elongating into thick spines. He felt his fangs grow, piercing the sides of his mouth. “Shut up!”
The being before him raised an eyebrow and chuckled. “Ooh, temper, temper. Did I hit a nerve? Well, well. One cannot have two…”
“Darkrai!” Altair was shouting at the figure in front of him, doing everything in his power to hold himself back from tearing him to shreds. That was what he wanted. Darkrai could no longer send him over if he were not here. But the Pikachu felt his muscles quiver with the pressure it took to restrain himself. If the two fought here, it might ruin everything. It might ruin the only chance he had. He could not let that happen.
By the time Altair regained his composure his breathing was thick and ragged. His chest heaved and his mouth tasted unpleasant, as if ash had seen fit to settle itself against his tongue. “Tell me everything,” he commanded with a dull voice. “I will not do anything unless I am certain. So tell me.”
Darkrai stared at him without scorn this time. The nightmare Pokemon crossed his arms as a deep rumble filled the air. “Very well. You know as well as I do that those within the Farplane are denied access from the outside world. Only those that have the dark taint or the purity of light can be ‘pulled’ over for a brief time.”
“Yes, yes, I know this,” Altair snapped, growing impatient. “Tell me what I need to know.”
But Darkrai merely ignored him, giving a snort of derision. “Within the Farplane, the physical body is separated from the spirit. We are denizens with no physical form, hence unable to traverse the two worlds. What you are now is no more than the energy that was Altair before he died. To be able to cross to the other side you need a body, a vessel that will contain your spirit.”
“And you’re saying that by sacrificing myself I will be returned to my physical state?”
“False. Sacrificing oneself brings upon the transfer, but it does not grant a physical body. Even if one should sacrifice itself, without a vessel there is no use. It would not work. Your spirit would have nowhere to enter.”
Altair pondered this. “So then how…how do I gain a physical state? If I cannot find one here?”
Darkrai’s eyes gleamed at the Pikachu’s question, and Altair felt he had hit a crack, one that he could fall through at any moment now. “You must find one in the living world who is willing to accept you. You must live within another.”
“I what?!’ Altair was taken aback. “But shouldn’t I just be able to retrieve my own body? Can’t I do that?”
“Foolish boy!” Darkrai shot at him. “Your body no longer exists! It would be possible if it were done when you were recently deceased, but that is not the case. You have no physical form and cannot retrieve it. To survive within the other realm you must live off another. By entering their body you take over their existence; force them out.”
“’Force them out?’”
“It means they die,” Darkrai stated flatly, not bothering to cover the obvious. “With life and death there is a balance; there must be a balance. It is as simple as that. To survive where your so-called precious one is, you must force another out of their body and take over its existence. The Pokemon in question will be sent here, to the Farplane, to remain until you are incapacitated once more. That is the catch you were looking for, yes?”
“I…” But Altair had no words. How was he able to do it? He desperately wanted to see Zanna, to help her, and yet…how could he kill another just for his own selfishness? It was unthinkable. He couldn’t do it. There was no way. He screwed his eyes tight in turmoil. There had to be something he could do, someone... “Wait.” Altair glanced at Darkrai who awaited his question. “Am I able to choose any Pokemon to transfer into, or do they have to accept me, as you said before?”
Darkrai’s grin vanished. “To an extent, they must accept you,” he said grudgingly. “But if your spirit is strong enough, you will be able to force the other out without too much resistance. It is possible.”
“So I would be able to take over anyone I chose, really, if my spirit were strong enough to force them out.” He smiled.
Deoxys was out of the question; Altair would be no match. But maybe he could enter the body of one of his underlings, play along for a while and gather information, then return to where Zanna was. The only question would be if she would trust him. If it was someone who she had met in the past, of course not. But if he took the form of one she had never seen, there was a chance. Although he could always war with the Elekid over his body. But he knew at once that would be wrong, and Zanna would never, ever forgive him. It was out of the question. He would not take over one of her companions.
“There is…another way.” Darkrai had conveniently chosen this moment to intervene with another option. How uncanny.
Altair cast him a brief glance, scowling. “What do you mean?”
“I mean that I will be able to retrieve your body for you…”
“What? But I thought you said that was impossible? Because I am already long dead!”
Darkrai bared glittering teeth in the dull light, eyes glinting. “It is not impossible for me, boy. Who do you think you are talking to?”
Altair didn’t know what to think. If there was the option of regaining his own body, shouldn’t he take it? But Darkrai had told him there needed to be a balance, so what would balance out something this large? “And what about the order of balance?” he questioned the nightmare Pokemon. “What would happen then?”
“When the time comes, the debt will be repaid,” Darkrai stated. “I cannot say in what form, as even I do not know. But a debt will
be repaid. It is the natural order.”
So either he could go with option A and render another body null, forcing its existence to join the void. Cut its life short. Or he could go with option B, regain his body, the debt being collected at a later date. But…the debt was unknown. Could he leave something that large up to chance? How much would his life cost? A single soul? Ten? A hundred? No, it was still only one life, and only one life would be taken in return. But it could very well be Zanna’s. Was he willing to gamble everything on a risk that large? I can do this,
he thought to himself. Zanna will not die if I help, I am sure of it. Things will work out; they will be all right.
“So…you are able to recover my body?” he asked tentatively. “I understand the debt will be repaid, and I am willing to pay the price.” He drew in a deep breath of air at coming to a conclusion. This was how it would be. “Yes, I am willing to pay the price.”
Altair was unable to read the emotions on the nightmare Pokemon’s face; he had completely wiped it clean. Whilst a niggling feeling at the back of his mind told him it was unwise to ignore this, he let it go. Soon he would be able to have a body of his very own, to fight by Zanna’s side. He would protect her. This he was sure of.
“Then let us begin.” Darkrai waved an ethereal hand through the air and a silver dagger began to materialise. Its hilt was a dark crimson; or at least it appeared that way in the dim light the cavern had to offer. Inlaid within was a set of four onyx gems, each at one point, balancing with the jagged, serrated blade. Altair felt his stomach heave at the thought of plunging that into his body. Though he was unable to feel any fragment of pain, he knew that dagger would harm him. The point of crossing realms was to die, to be reborn again. As such he knew this weapon would mar, and the pain would be very real.
After a moment of admiration at the dagger’s beauty, Darkrai held the blade towards Altair, watching carefully as the Pikachu took it within his grasp. “So I…just stab myself with this?” He swallowed. Somehow his bravado had disappeared. He couldn’t believe it, but he was actually afraid to feel any ounce of pain. He was safe here. Cut off from the outside, yes, but he was safe. He could experience any kind of catastrophe in the outside world. But he had said he was willing to do this, he couldn’t turn back now. It was unthinkable to show Darkrai that the great Altair, a Light Pokemon, was scared of a little pain. He was not a coward.
[continued in next post]