This one's only kinda shortish. XD Not too short though. I actually have a completed one longer than this too! It was originally a single chapter but it was 18,000 words so I decided to split it up... XDDDDD So to let you know all randomly, this one's 8,000 and the next will be 10,000. ANYWAY I'LL SHUT UP SO WE CAN GET TO IT SHALL I? .0.
Chapter Twenty-Six: Knock-knock
It was an expectation of mine to see ground type pokémon. I thought they would be nearly everywhere, littering the hardened earth and burrowing through its core, carving paths that would soon be forgotten. Sometimes I thought of it to be quite a nasty scheme; a ground type could just dig its way through a section of the ground and wait for prey above – either that or any unsuspecting trespasser – to fall through the weaker parts and be sucked into the earth. I never really thought about that while living on the surface until the underground tunnels revealed such possibilities to me. It seemed somewhat unrealistic that some heftier pokémon could trek on the surface without falling into a hole that they themselves happened to make within that small collection of seconds.
Sometimes the ceiling above me would arch so high that I found it unbelievable that there was stable land on top. Some part of me was glad for relocating to this lower level, but part of me was worried—as well as the danger of being a pokémon on the outside falling down, for us there was a danger of them
falling on us
. I didn’t wish such a death upon any of the pokémon I was travelling with, let alone me, as even the houndoom did not escape my concern.
He and Azure, Splash and I had been trudging through an ongoing tunnel for a short time – possibly about half an hour, during which my temper managed to cool off – and in that time, hardly a word was uttered. I wanted to ask him how he knew Azure, but I knew the chances of him answering that were low. If he hadn’t told me yet, and he hadn’t before they met up with us, then I didn’t imagine he had a wish to tell me at all. I stopped myself from huffing when I compared it with my own wishes—I wouldn’t want him to know of any personal information about me. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop me from wanting to hear about his relationship with the ice type. It wasn’t as if I could ask Splash either. He was as dull as the surrounding cave walls, and provided no such entertainment. Not even words. It hadn’t been long since they met up with us, but I had a feeling that the dual type was not accustomed to talking much, if at all, and it even crossed my mind that perhaps he wasn’t capable.
After coming to a forked path and hearing the two canine pokémon argue over which way was the correct one, we eventually decided to follow Azure. I had no idea if the action was wise or not, but she gave us little choice as she began to strut down the tunnel she chose with little more than acknowledgement that there was another direction. Zaion (I still had trouble attaching the name to the face) was less than impressed or even accepting as we continued, and he dropped back to pad with me, a firmer gait and more focused attention suggesting that he was more alert that usual. He was clearly annoyed to have been overridden with the glaceon’s choice, and looked to firmly believe we would end up somewhere we didn’t have a desire to go.
Realising my chance had arrived to try to get some information out of him, I warily glanced up ahead to check that Azure’s ears were too far out of reach to hear our words. “Houndoom,” I hissed quietly, hoping the blubbery form of the quagsire between us and the glaceon would block some of the sound. “What’s going on? How do you know her?”
He looked relieved if anything that I had spoken, although the implication was so miniscule that I had to recheck if that was what it really was. His eyes didn’t meet mine as he muttered, “We’re...old friends
“You don’t look like friends to me,” I mumbled. “Neither do you sound like it. Or even smell like it. It’s like there’s some wafting stench of hate emanating equally from the both of you.”
He only allowed a frown to press atop his eyes, and curled his mouth into an expression of berating confusion, as if I had said something absurd and completely unrelated... And then I realised I had. “Maybe ‘friends’ isn’t the exact term to use.”
“No,” I agreed with several nods, following his line of sight past the powder blue pokémon and landing on the glaceon up ahead. “It certainly doesn’t seem like it.”
“It’s mere past quarrels is all,” he told me simply, and I knew from that statement that he was not inclined to tell me more. As much as I wanted to know, it wasn’t going to happen.
After another short while, we had come to an opening that overlooked a cavern far down below, which had opened up from the path we had been travelling to create a large roughly circular area. The distance amazed me; I wasn’t aware that the cave spanned so far downward. It was the distance that a short cliff would be from the ground, but when it was beneath the surface, it seemed all the more strange to see. There was a narrow ledge curving from our right that ran along the outside of the large room and descended for a time before it dropped off. The height of the end of the ledge, which stopped before the directly opposite side of the room to which we were standing, was still too great to be able to drop from. That was, unless one was willing to call themselves experts (but even then chance a broken leg). On the left side of the opened room branched another tunnel that burrowed through the great wall of rock that shaped one side of the room, and I suddenly came to wonder just how many underground paths there were.
“Flair,” muttered the houndoom, and to my surprise, I realised I was the only one stationed by the large opening in the wall that overlooked the cavern. They had all taken the path to the left that continued on from the one we had just been passing along. In my distracted state, I hadn’t realised that there was another way to go other than through the opening and into the large room. He jerked his head in the direction Splash and Azure had walked.
I blinked a few times and bounded after them as Zaion turned and began to stalk away, catching up to him in no time. When I spoke, my words were hurried with excitement, which I hadn’t purposely done, but was perfectly content with it anyway. “Did you see
that?” I paused to see his reaction, but he merely stared ahead with half-open eyes, clearly far from amused. I didn’t care though. “It was amazing! Like some giant...circular...hall in the centre of a cave
“It’s not the centre,” he murmured, and I cocked my head, somehow feeling washed with a form of mollified joy.
“Oh, well, it’s still awesome.” I glanced back over my shoulder, only witnessing the stream of light pouring in from the opening, which was difficult to see from the angle, much less the room itself. Minor disappointment seeped through my mind as I turned back, but I shrugged, angling to the right as the others did so whilst following the path.
It soon occurred to me that we were inside the wall that the left tunnel of that room had burrowed through, and concluded that we would be crossing over it, considering the different levels. I found myself wondering what other wondrous elements of caves were in existence; in all my travels with my trainer, I had only occasionally passed through caves, and the ones we made it through were short and daft. It was amazing to explore a proper one. However, happily I corrected myself, noting that this was hardly exploring. Exploring would mean stumbling across things more amazing than a simple room and on purpose; I began to picture all the other kinds of sights I would be able to see.
Surprisingly the number of pokémon we happened across was fairly limited. The whole trip consisted of a few families of drilbur, a sandshrew or two and a couple of trapinch. They were often on the move for meals or, as it was for the drilbur, popping up at random intervals and intersecting our paths by mistake. One of them shot up from the ground right in front of me at one stage, scaring the living daylights out of me. She repeated hasty apologies before disappearing; I got the impression that she was looking for someone, but I wasn’t to know. The details didn’t exactly matter anyway.
There had not been another cavern such as the one we had encountered earlier, much to my disappointment, but the amazements didn’t cease. On a few occasions, the cave became granite, and sometimes produced more tunnels in one spot than we could have split up to travel down. A wider room soon came into view, the walls extending outward and the ceiling a was fraction higher to allow for hanging stalactites to drop from above and have enough room to shatter. As we began to pass through, me at the back with the others in front, I was glad to deduce that there were no spears of rock looking to be unstable enough to fall, and I was reassured by my judgement alone that it was safe to pass through. Besides, the houndoom had clearly been through these parts before, and therefore was somewhat familiar with the oddities lurking in the depths of the underground tunnels. If he thought there was something wrong, I believe he would have spoken up.
Stalagmites grew from the floor, riddling the walking surface with their obstructing forms. The arrangement went on for a while, and even though I was somewhat assured that we were not going to get separated, I had that odd sick feeling that was hard to shake.
I made the decision to walk with the others, but my random position change might have drawn some kind of unnecessary attention; I didn’t want them to think I was afraid of the possibility that they might descend and pierce my body, or that I was frightened of enemies which may have crept up from behind. “Hey, uhh...what’s up ahead?” I asked aloud. I tried to look as casual as I could as I waited for their answer.
“Um,” Zaion began, tossing his head out in front before returning it to me. “Nothing of note.”
“Oh, really?” I asked, pretending to be totally clueless. He looked at me oddly and nodded slowly with a raised brow. I waited a moment longer after purposely averting my eyes, and upon looking back to him, his questioning face made me clarify. “Oh, it’s just that I can’t really see anything up ahead. You know, with three pokémon in my way.”
He furrowed his brow, and was quite perplexed. “Dusty. The room is wide,” he began, gesturing to the rest of the room at once. “You just have to look past us. And what view could three pokémon like us possibly obscure?”
“Hey,” I started, realising for a moment that he had a valid argument, “I couldn’t see, okay?” I reiterated, a little bewilderment in my tone as I shrugged,
“Right.” He whirled around and continued on.
I was a little agitated that he didn’t seem at all to care. “Well, I think I’ll just...”
Not waiting for a reply, I trotted past him, feeling his eyes on my back as I continued, and stopped at the front after passing Splash and ending up beside Azure. The glaceon was clearly not very impressed as she glared at me. I understood; it wasn’t like we were friends. She heaved a sigh and I turned around, eying the houndoom from up front. His head was turned, but he probably knew I was looking.
We walked around protruding spires of rock as we went, and a few times I got to stand on stumps, the top half no longer there. None of the stalactites fell either, and I assumed that they were fixed to the ceiling with security that was difficult to surpass. Nevertheless, it was difficult to come by and rely on reassurance alone; at least, travelling with a pokémon beside me, we would have more of a chance to defend ourselves if one of them cascaded from above and threatened to puncture our bodies.
We kept going, encountering a small pool at some point, which we stopped to drink from. It was appropriately guarded by rock watchman sprouting from the cavern floor, and for some reason I was compelled to imagine them with human dress and some type of spear. And then I imagined a moustache on one of them, a broader one, and was so distracted by the other amusing mental images which generated in my mind that I forgot about the fact that we were on the move, the others departing from the lake before me. When I realised, I flicked my head about and quickly caught up with them.
We made it out of the cavern and popped out into a tunnel branching left and right, each of us displaying a notable difference in our tenseness. I could relax now that there was no blatantly obvious danger, even if it had only been falling stalactites that were the threat. The coast was clear, and there was nothing that could visibly cause any sort of wariness.
The others began to move off to the right, and I skipped ahead to catch up with glaceon, thoughts of her telling me what had happened between her and the dark type testing my mind. When I walked beside her once again, she sighed irritably, making me strangely content.
“So you...know the houndoom,” I confirmed slowly. She remained silent, so I took it upon myself to continue. “Tell me...how long have you known him?”
A spark jumped between us, some sort of wave that shattered a wall she learnedly hoped I wouldn’t even gaze upon. I continued to look her in the eyes as my curiosity gained me the right to know what exactly was going on. If they didn’t want me to know, then they could keep their strange rivalry to themselves and stop involving me in it. Even though they hadn’t said a word to each other since their “greeting” when Azure and Splash ran into us, aside from the argument over the path we were going to take at one stage, they constantly shared looks of silent disdain they clearly didn’t want to voice.
However, I would be caught in the crossfire, and their mutual mistrust of one another made it difficult to make decisions based on fact and logic alone. If that was the way it had to be, then I believed I deserved to know why my journey was being obstructed by personal matters. The conversation they had exchanged upon meeting with each other in particular stuck with me; there were things mentioned that I wanted the answers to, but then again, I probably didn’t have the appropriate jurisdiction. I fought with myself to leave it alone, but regardless, I was left immensely curious.
She shifted uncomfortably and looked ahead, as if maintaining some sort of expected pride. “I don’t wish to answer.”
“You don’t have a choice,” I growled, and she was momentarily shocked, and then her condescension returned.
“I always have a choice. And I’m choosing not to tell you.” She swished her tail in a manner that reminded me of her insolence on the ship, and suddenly fragments of those events flashed in my mind.
“Sooner or later, I’m gonna find out. You guys can’t look at each other without some sort of trade of hate. I wanna know what is up with that; I do believe I have a right to know why the members of my travelling party are incapable of getting along for at least a few minutes. If it didn’t affect your ability to make rational decisions, I’d be more likely to leave it alone.”
“That’s asking too much,” she snapped, twitching her head toward me but not actually directing her eyes to mine. It was my turn to react with shock, and I proceeded to stare at her, almost bewildered. She was as stubborn as Zaion.
“So you think that I have no right to know? Is that it? You guys are allowed to go on and banter about this and that, and nearly get into a physical fight, and you tell me that it’s not my business?” I tried to catch her eyes while not letting Zaion come into awareness of our argument. “Yeah, I get privacy. But this is ridiculous. What happens when the fight involves me, and I’m forced to choose between trusting you or him? Can you still not explain it then? Is that what you call fair?”
“Oh, just shut up!” she hissed, finally meeting my eyes. She quickly looked back to Zaion, who was thankfully not paying us attention. His sights were set on a nearby duo of wary rattata. I assumed he was rather eager to catch some food, on account of how we hadn’t eaten all day so far. She looked to hold something back before giving in and whispering quietly, with almost a hint of shame, “I can’t tell
I snorted. Couldn’t tell me? What kind of nonsense did she expect me to freely believe? “And why not? You two have some kind of falling out? What, were you...” I tried to search my mind for possible answers, chancing one that came to mind. The thought raise my spirits a little with amusement. I nearly chuckled with cheekiness before I proposed, “Were you once mates or something?”
“What?!” she responded, the incredulousness in her tone melting through the solid rock walls. Immediately she piped down and cleared her voice, redirecting her face as Zaion looked up, obviously curious about the sudden outburst. If she could have turned red and have it show through her blue fur, she would have. She looked to readjust herself and uttered to me in a hushed voice, “No! Of course not! Why would you even suggest that?” The disgust in her words made me smile with humorousness; the thought of being mates with that houndoom was on a level of repulsiveness suited to her reaction.
“Calm down,” I replied, an entertained scowl brushing my face. I spoke the sentence as if she had reacted far more dramatically than what she had needed to.
She threw me a glare I was suddenly sure could startle the fiercest of enemies. “Don’t be so absurd.”
“It was just a question,” I responded with a claim to innocence. At the same time, my voice betrayed layers of patronisation.
She rumbled and stared at the ground for a collection of seconds before looking up toward the path before us, the torch Splash still held emanating its light. I took a moment to admire the awe that entered my mind and embodied my limbs when I came into the presence of fire, embracing its glory. There were so many things I loved about fire, and when I blinked, only to open them on the glaceon beside me, I could see nothing but solemness. It was then that I recognised the weight of duty and sealed knowledge which dragged her down and stole her thoughts. Clearly the answer to the question I had put forth carried elements of a burden, or at least something that she felt she could not easily share. I could understand, but at the same time I was still highly curious to know, although I didn’t wish to press any further.
Continued in the next post...