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Old 09-13-2008, 08:30 PM
ashkelon's Avatar
ashkelon Offline
Elite Trainer
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 534
Default Untitled, so far...Silver Cave Reserve Story

I hope I don't break any major rules here. My internet connection hasn't been good out here in the sticks. Anyway, I haven't written anything but code since high school, and that was before some of you's folkies were born
I haven't decided on a title, and the chapters aren't titled -- yet, but I do have an outline and know where this is going. Here's the first 3 of about 9 chapters. I write fast, but edit slowly, so there'll be a gap before the next installment. Not too long, I hope.
Be gentle with me... Thanks.

10\31\2008 Addd Chapter 4, where Steve screws up and risks getting banned from Silver Cavern (and killed as well). Will be posting Chapt 5, where the egg hatches, in a short time. Danke, Ashkelon

Chapter One

I’m not the kind of person to keep a regular diary, but my life has been going through so many changes lately that I thought I’d better write things down while I’m still enough of a kid to remember how it really was when I was seeing, feeling and thinking these things. I’ve heard adults argue the details of events often enough, and I don’t want to end up like that. Kids almost always remember things the way they really happened.

Besides, I’ve always been the kind of person who has only a few very good friends, instead of a bunch of casual ones. That means the only companions I usually have on the road are my pokémon. They give very good advice, in their own way, and I love them for it, but there’s times when you just want another person to talk to.
I always knew I’d set out to see the world, I just never thought much about the details. I took it for granted I would take my Pokémon Journey the same time other young people do. But unlike the guy in that song, I always knew pokémon would be the biggest part of my life.

My name is Soulvy, and I was born in the country east of Silver Cave in Johto. That’s pretty close to half way between Silver Cave and the entrance to the Pokémon League. The countryside is rough and mountainous, covered in dark pine forests. There are fast, cold mountain streams running through them, and there are meadows in the woods where the sun shines most of the day and flowers and fragrant grasses bloom.

The woods smell like pine needles and damp, clean air. It’s an icy kind of smell, even in the summer. The meadows smell green and fresh in the spring, and like good hay the rest of the year. I love to stand in the middle of them with the grass seeds waving waist high. If you stand still long enough, you will see all kinds of pokémon. When I was little, I even had wild ponyta come up and graze right beside where I was sitting.

While we lived on the Silver Cave Reserve, the happiest times I spent were playing and exploring the mountains and meadows near home. I ran wild, and really got to know the pokémon who lived nearest to us. I never thought about catching them, it was enough for me to watch them. In return, they were patient with a little girl who could do them no harm.

The house we lived in was only a few rooms, but it seemed plenty big enough to me. It was made of rough cedar planks on the outside, decorated with painted flowers and vines on the eves and around the windows. Inside, the floor was smooth cedar planks that felt like satin to my bare feet and smelled spicy when the sun warmed them. The walls were plain white plaster, and the glass in the windows was not like fancy city glass. It was greenish, and full of ripples and bubbles. It was like magic when the frost made roses and ferns on the outside of them in the winter.

I had a little room all to myself downstairs, with a warm feather bed. Mom and Dad had a big loft up under the roof. It was like a second story, except one end was open, and you could look out into the rest of the house. I liked to sit up there with my legs through the railings, pretending I was on the side of a ship sailing out of Olivine, eager to explore faraway lands.

Back then, Dad wasn’t home much. He spent time training in Silver Cave, and he was working as a guard at the Pokémon League. Mom worked as a Ranger on the reserve, supervising expeditions by pokémon collectors and trainers who came from all over the world. Those trainers were the best of the best. To get access to the protected Silver Cave Reserve, you had to defeat the Elite Four and become the League Champion. There was a small Pokémon Center between our house and the cave, and a couple of other houses on the way to the Pokémon League entrance, but that was all. The neighbors were all older people who’s parents homesteaded near Silver Cave before the reserve was created. The only kids I played with were the ones who came with collector’s families, or when my cousins came to stay. It was kind of lonely, but I loved it there, and when I make it past the Elite Four in Kanto, I think I’ll go back. Maybe.

In Johto you usually go see Professor Elm to get your first pokémon, unless you parents are pokémon breeders or you happen to bond with a wild pokémon. Bonding like that is rare, and sometimes pretty dangerous. We are actually closer to New Bark Town (that’s where Professor Elm lives) than any other town in Johto, but it’s really not that much farther to Kanto from where we lived. My folks had me study all of the starter pokémon from both regions. We figured that when I was old enough, we would take a vacation and visit one of the professors and find the right pokémon for me. But it didn’t happen like that after all.

Early in the spring before we planned to leave Johto, a young pokémaniac and his collector friend came to spend a season with us. Dad was gone, so I helped Mom get the guest cabin ready. There never was much to do, since the cabin was only a single room in an earth-sheltered building. There wasn’t much in the way of furnishing, just two built-in bunks on the back wall, a plain pine table and chairs, a kerosene lamp, a couple cupboards and a small hearth on the front wall. Mom hung the washed cotton curtains at the windows, and I stocked the small cupboard with cocoa mix, crackers, tea, bread, oranges, apples and a tin of Mom’s cookies. Mom’s sneasel, Dmitri, ran around, sniffing in the corners and getting dirt all over from playing on the hearth. I frowned at him, knowing my last job would be sweeping up – again – before we left the cabin. Dmitri was always busy and playful, but only on his own terms. He was savagely loyal to Mom, and except for her, a person couldn’t pet him, or even look at him for too long, without testing his emotions first. Dad always laughed at how Mom and Dmitri were so much alike. Both of them quick tempered and relentlessly busy, but they also knew how to have fun and played as hard as they worked. And both of them had a surprisingly soft side, when you knew them well.

Mom chased Dmitri out, and finally finished sweeping, I followed him out into the late morning sun. The dew still hung in the bushes and grass of the meadow that surrounded our house. On the road to the southeast, we could see we could see two people walking up the hill. When the strangers looked up and saw us, they began waving. Mom took my hand and gave it a squeeze, and we started walking downhill to meet them. As we got closer, I could see that one of the people was a big man, maybe in his early 30’s. The sun blazed off his thick glasses, so it was hard to tell much about his face. Mom pointed to him and said, “That must be collector Edwin. The younger man is Steve. Did you remember that he’s a cousin of yours?”

I looked closer at Steve. He seemed to be about in his early 20’s, maybe ten years older than me. He was short for his age, but none of our family is tall. Steve was wearing dusty black jeans and an olive green t-shirt with something printed on the front. He had long, thick, dark hair and pale skin like mine, and he looked very lean and fit. He stopped and turned to look down the road behind him. When I saw what he was looking at, I forgot about everything else, completely.

Loping up out of the trees was the most beautiful pokémon I’d ever seen. Its back was almost level with Steve’s waist. The gleaming, bone-colored horns on its head were almost level with his shoulders. The pokémon was a houndoom, but instead of its coat being black, this one’s was shining silver-gray with copper colored markings and pure white exposed bone on its back and chest.

I pulled on Mom’s hand, wanting to hurry and see the beautiful houndoom up close. With a shrill cry of “Sneasel, Snease!”, Dmitri sped past me and rushed at the houndoom in excitement. Mom dropped my hand and ran after Dmitri, yelling at him to come back and not start anything.

Now, any sneasel is territorial and mischievous, and even the most well-trained have a mind of their own. Dmitri was all that, and Mom was pretty lax about the fine points of control with him. We lived alone so much, she liked his zealous protectiveness, so she usually tried to make sure he was in his pokéball when new trainers came to stay. She’d make him watch them from inside the house until he got used to seeing them.

This time the little sharp-claw pokémon was not going to give in and come back quietly. When he was ten feet from the silver houndoom, he gathered himself to spring and raised his wicked claws high. Well, Steve just stood there, not looking a bit concerned. In a second I was going to see why! Time seemed to slow down as the houndoom lazily rolled its head to look back over its shoulder and then a cloud of flame and oily black smoke shot out of its mouth to engulf Dmitri.

Dmitri pulled up short and tried to dodge, but he was too late. The fire caught him from the neck down. He had just a heartbeat to look back at Mom before he melted into a faint. I swear in that instant he looked like he was apologizing for not minding. I stood still as stone, not breathing, unable to blink. As many pokémon battles as I’d seen, it always gave me a little sick feeling in my stomach to see one faint. It still does now, even though I know that a rest, and maybe a trip to the pokémon center, was all he’d need to be his old, wicked self again.

Mom called, “Oh my God! Steve, Edwin, I’m truly glad to see you! I hope your trip was safe, and I wish I could stay to see you settled in. But instead, I have to take this naughty sneasel to the Pokémon Center. Oh! It’s been a long time since I saw a houndoom’s flamethrower attack, but I know the pain of these burns will never heal unless he’s treated right away.” As she spoke, she gathered Dmitri up and cradled him in her arms. The smell of the flamethrower attack hung in the air, a combination of burnt hair, burning oil and sulfur.

“Soulvy can show you where everything is. Dinner’s almost ready, if you want to eat with us”. Mom kept right on talking, but with every step she was picking up speed, jogging faster up the path to the center. In half a minute, she was over the hill and out of sight in the trees.

“Damn,” Steve swore, dragging the heel of his shoe against the gravel in the road, “I never thought about how far you all are from the Pokémon Center here. I should’ve told Fiora to use thief or faint attack instead…” He trailed off; with a worried look up the path Mom had taken.

I realized I was still standing frozen in mid-stride, with my mouth still hanging open. “It’s ok.” I coughed. “They make that trip often enough anyway. Dmitri’s always up to something. It makes you wonder how sneasels survive in the wild, as often as his curiosity and boldness get him in trouble.” That was true enough. Dmitri was always trying to get to the bottom of things.

“Last week he got his head completely stuck in an old jar and couldn’t get out. Nobody could get near him, not even Mom, until he was completely exhausted and fainted from lack of air.” I swung my arm for them to follow me. In my heart, I am always shy with new people, and I was kind of ashamed of how badly Dmitri had behaved. As well as how lax a trainer my Mom appeared to be.

Edwin, the heavyset guy with the round face and thick glasses, heaved his pack up out of the road and started up the hill. It wasn’t very hot yet, since it was only the start of spring, but he was sweating hard enough to plaster down his dark hair and make his dusty, once-white, dress shirt stick to his back.

“You know,” he huffed, as he came up even with me, “Sneasels only really get in trouble when they live with people. Their curiosity and extreme territorial behavior work fine in the wild. They live in isolated areas, and when something changes in their territory, they have to find out if it’s a danger or something they can turn to their own advantage. For example, a nest fallen from a tree or a rockslide that exposes new earth and roots to den in. Did you know that sneasels are one of the most playful pokémon, even in the wild? They are so protective of their territory that they are rarely challenged. Other pokémon just avoid them to avoid the fight. But that means it’s safe for their babies to run and play wherever, and the parents are free to play with them.”

Steve and his beautiful houndoom came up on the other side of me. He smiled at Edwin and said, “Soulvy lives with a sneasel, and they are native to this area. You probably have seen many of them, right?”

While Steve and Edwin continued talking about sneasels, I held out my hands to the houndoom. She sniffed my fingers, and then my palms with her cold nose – surprisingly cold to me, considering the river of fire that had come out of her muzzle a little earlier. I ran the back of my hand across her copper-colored, satiny cheek, and then started scratching behind and between her horns. Her coat was so soft, but the muscles rippling under it were hard. Her dark brown, almost black, eyes were shot with silver and flashes of wine-red light moved deep within them.

I ran my hand down her back, and then used both of my hands to scratch and massage the skin on her withers and down her shoulders to her front legs. She relaxed against me and began wagging her tail, opening her mouth in a silly, happy, houndoom smile. I moved my hand back to her head, and a tiny wisp of smoke curled up the side of her muzzle, wound through my fingers and floated away.

I suddenly remembered my manners, and stepped back from the houndoom, putting my hands in the pockets of my khakis. I looked up to Edwin, who was still talking about sneasels. “I’ve seen them.” I told him. “You spot them watching you, but you have to be really patient and still before they trust you enough to let you stay around and watch them. They are so quick, and the babies are so cute! But you have to remember that the parents will attack anything to protect them. I only know one family well enough that they don’t hide or attack when I cross the stream where they live. Did you know they will float in the water when it’s warm out, and let the current carry them downstream? Then they jump out and run back to the head of the stream to start over. I’ve seen them do that a lot in the summer.”

I was blushing a little, because the houndoom kept looking at my face and nudging my shoulders. Even little kids know not to touch another person’s pokémon without permission, and here I’d been scratching away at her without even looking at Steve. But that beautiful creature nuzzled her head into my hands anyway. I looked sheepishly at Steve who smiled at me. He nodded permission to me, but there was something else on his mind. I hoped I wasn’t really offending him, but I couldn’t keep my hands off his houndoom.

Edwin bobbed his head, “I’ve heard about them sliding down mudslides, like furret sometimes do, but I never heard of them floating like you say. I’d really love to see that! And Professor Birch in Littleroot would just go nuts over a chance to observe such behavior in the wild. I’ll put it in my notes to email him when I get over to the Pokémon Center.”

“Littleroot’s clear over in Hoenn, isn’t it?” I asked. “How do you know somebody from way across the world like that? I never met anyone from so far away!”

“Well, now you have.” answered Edwin. “Steve was born in Hoenn, and I went to school there. We’ve been friends since Steve and I were in the same study group with Professor Birch.”

I know my mouth fell open then because they both started laughing. “What a dumb hick I am.” I thought to myself. “First my Mom’s sneasel acts like she can’t even train him, I pet a complete stranger’s pokémon like a baby with no manners, and now I act like all goofy because they are from so far away.” My face was on fire as I pulled open the door to the cabin.

“Well, here it is.” I said, “You can put your stuff wherever you want. There’s a pump out back for cold water and an outhouse right down the hill that way. There’s a sauna farther up on the hill, right by the pond. You can use it if you want to clean up, but the water is from a spring, and it’s really cold all year. Mom said I should cut fresh pine branches for you and bring you charcoal for the sauna. And there’s peat for the fireplace out back in the brick shed. You’ll need it, it will get cold by tonight.”

My eyes on my feet, I turned to leave. Steve put a hand on my shoulder. “Look” He said kindly, “I hope I didn’t hurt your feelings by laughing. And I really hope your Mom’s sneasel is ok. I don’t want you to be mad at me. You and your Mom are the first relatives I’ve ever met. Your Mom and my Mom are cousins, and they played together every day. My Mom moved to Hoenn with her folks when Grampa took a job teaching at the Rustboro Trainer’s Academy. Our moms were as close as sisters, when they lived over by Goldenrod. I heard about your Mom all my life, and I really want for us to be friends. Please?”

I nodded, “I just don’t see many new people, that’s all. We have some cousins on my Dad’s side who visit every summer, and trainers come, but not that many talk to me. You have to be really good to come up here, and they are usually too serious to talk to little girls.” I looked at Steve’s thin face then, and the kindness I saw there was so much like Mom’s that I stepped up and gave him a quick, hard hug. “Everything’s cool. Dmitri’s always in trouble of some kind. Come down to the house whenever you’re ready. The stew will be done – if I didn’t let it burn while I was talking!”
The best kind of friend is like iron sharpening iron.
***** Text uprate to 77673 *****

Last edited by ashkelon; 10-31-2008 at 10:51 PM. Reason: paragraph breaks
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Old 09-13-2008, 08:33 PM
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ashkelon Offline
Elite Trainer
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 534
Default Re: Untitled, so far...Silver Cave Reserve Story Chapt 2

Chapte Two

Mom was back before Edwin and Steve came down for dinner. She came banging through the door like always, with a hello and a hug. She let Dmitri out of his dusk ball, and cuddled him for a minute before letting him glide down into the cushion on the rocking chair. He purred and chirped to Mom before he settled down. When I looked over at him, he gave me the evil eye, like the whole battle was my fault. Typical.

“Nurse Joy says he’ll be fine after a day’s rest, so don’t you bother him, ok?” Mom lifted the lid of the stew pot, and the aroma of garlic, dill, chervil, tarragon and tomatoes rose with the steam. I glanced one more time at Dmitri and thought, “As if I’d want to bother you.” His eyebrows twitched, but his eyes stayed closed. Mom poked at the potatoes, and then tasted a sip of the broth. “Just right! I hope our guests will be down before too long. I don’t want the veggies getting mushy.”

I stayed out of the way. I could cook when I had too, but I didn’t love cooking the way Mom did. When she was in the kitchen, the only one who didn’t seem to be in the way was Dad. They danced around each other in a way that was wonderful to watch. Me, I just turned into one too many sets of knees and elbows in the wrong place.
Instead, I opened the carved black apricorn-wood box on the mantle that held small mending supplies. I chose a piece of waxed Jumpluff thread and a strong, curved Arbok tooth needle. I settled to the floor to whipstitch a loose place on the hem of the big rug that covered the hearth area. Mom thanked me without turning around. I glanced over and met Dmitri’s dark red eyes, and I knew that in that mysterious way pokémon and their trainers have, he’d told her what I was doing.

I just finished putting away the scissors and needle when Steve and Edwin knocked on the door. They had been to the sweat house, and the smell of pine, wood smoke and clean air came through the door with them. I ducked behind the living room curtain and peeked out. Their clothes were all spread out in the sun. They must’ve emptied their packs to air everything. There were a lot of socks, and most of them had holes.

Steve carried a little twig basket into the kitchen and set it on the counter. Mom looked up from slicing bread and scolded him. “You didn’t have to bring anything! We have plenty to eat!”

Steve and Edwin locked eyes and burst out laughing. “You’d never want to eat this!” Steve then smiled in a self effacing way. “I did a really stupid thing when we came through Goldenrod. I’m hoping you, and especially Soulvy, will help me out.”

“We spent a few days visiting Whitney’s family.” he continued, “I can understand the relationship you and Mom had with her, and why you fought with her, but still stayed such good friends anyway. She can still be a bragger and a sore loser, but she knows how to get the most out of normal pokémon, and she can be a lot of fun. Her daughters are a lot like her. Her oldest daughter has an awesome espeon, with a real talent for dark moves. She and I left her espeon and my Fiora at the day care for a few days. I guess you know what happened next.”

Mom looked in the basket, and then gave Steve a look I couldn’t understand. But her sharp look was so much like Dmitri I almost laughed. Before he could continue, she turned to me and said, “You need to clean up before you set the table. Go wash up in your room, and put on a clean shirt, at least. You could stand to change those pants, too. They look like they could walk on their own.”

I opened my mouth to say they’d been clean enough this morning, but Dmitri gave a sudden little whimper. Mom looked quickly to him, and then back to me. I knew she was worried about her little sneasel, so I just shrugged and went in to change. When I shut the door to my room, I left it the tiniest bit open. I hoped I wouldn’t miss anything. I could hear Steve pretty well. He talks kind of loud.

He was saying something about, “…should’ve been smarter… Brenna kept one… The … in here… “. I tore off my shirt, and slopped water from the pitcher into the washbowl, slopping half of it on the floor. I mopped my hands and face, pushed back my hair and then threw the towel over the water on the floor. I couldn’t waste time now, mopping up stupid water. I could hear Steve continue, “…going to be here most of the summer …no time to nurse it now …rather be out in the field, only chance I may ever have…”.

I pulled a clean shirt over my head, flipped most of my hair out of the neck, and decided to take a chance Mom wouldn’t notice my pants. I was just too curious to wait. As I pulled the door open, my heart stopped. I clearly heard Steve say, “If you’re ok with it, I’d like to offer the egg to Soulvy. You didn’t see her, but Fiora went right to her. After all, Soulvy’s grown up in the same house with a dark pokémon, and it shows. She knew instinctively just the right approach with Fiora. I just have a really strong feeling about this, and Fiora agrees with me.”

I couldn’t breathe, and my vision narrowed to a small spot of sunshine on the wood floor. A little houndour, one of Fiora’s own pups! Oh my God! How perfect! I always liked fire pokémon and felt an affinity to the ponyta and rapidash that live nearby. Mom still hadn’t said anything, and I stepped softly into the room, afraid to draw attention and break the spell.

Mom slowly set down the knife and the bread basket. After the longest minute of my life, she turned toward me and said, “You know Dad and I planned to travel so you could choose your starter pokémon this fall. And you are responsible enough.” My heart squeezed even tighter as she turned back to Steve. “Houndour are not really beginner pokémon. I’ve never handled one, and I’m not really into fire pokémon anyway. Soulvy does show talent with dark pokémon, but she’ll need to be able to count on your help.”

Steve nodded, and Mom continued, “You will be here most of the summer, so you’ll have time to coach her. You need to promise me you will make the time for her. If not, I just can’t approve.”
Steve nodded “yes”, but Mom’s eyes were on Dmitri, a black curl, asleep in the rocking chair. “At least a houndour pup will stand a chance of holding his own against that little mischief maker.” She smiled, and her face softened in a wistful gaze that included both Dmitri and me. Later, I’d understand she was thinking of the moment she first knew that Dmitri would be her own pokémon, bonded to her for always.

Steve told me to sit down on the couch. It was a good idea. I was shaking so bad I could’ve dropped the little basket. He sat it in my lap and knelt to steady it with his own hands. The egg was nestled in a layer of soft mareep wool. It was leathery, and a pale greenish color with brownish-burgundy splashed across it.

I touched the egg with one reverent hand, and it seemed to lean into my touch, almost humming under my fingers. I could feel the awareness inside it. There was the seeking mind of my own little houndour, reaching out and listening for me already.

I sighed, and the tears stung at my eyes. My pokémon, my own little houndour, and I was going to hatch it! There is no better or stronger bond you can make with a pokémon than the one that’s formed when it hatches into your own hands. Trainers all say so. It’s a rare and wonderful thing, but unless you are a pokémon breeder, it’s not a common experience. It’s also a huge responsibility, you are both trainer and parent to the baby.

I bent low over the egg in my lap, and my hair fell around my face, closing me and the egg in our own space. “I will be both mother and sister to you, little one. “ I breathed, with my cheek against the warm egg. “We will be close enough to think each other’s thoughts. I know it. We will always be there for each other. You’ll be part of my heart and soul forever.” I closed my eyes and listened to the egg with all my heart.

Steve was kneeling close, and he heard me. “That’s the way you need to feel, if you are going to be a successful partner to a houndoom.” He scooted closer to me, and I could hear the happiness in his voice. He sounded younger when I wasn’t looking right at him. “They are pack animals, and they need to form an especially deep bond with their trainer. It’s the only way to keep their respect and love. Respect and love go hand in hand when you’re training a houndoom. Some pokémon do fine if they’re traded away, but houndoom really suffer. They must both trust and obey you. A houndoom can be incredibly dangerous if they are frightened or disrespectful.”

He glanced quickly at Mom, but she was tossing salad and didn’t hear. “You’re really sure you want to do this, aren’t you? I don’t want to push you, and you’re making a commitment that will probably last the rest of your life. Man, you’re like what, ten? I never wanted any other kind of pokémon, and my Dad trained Fiora’s mother. My Mom’s own absol is her father.”

“I’m twelve.” I barely whispered, looking at him through the curtain of my hair. I’d just discovered I could really breathe again. “Yes, I think I understand, and I know I can do this. Fiora is the most wonderful pokémon I‘ve ever seen. I saw the way she looked at you after the battle with Dmitri. She never stops listening to you. Right now all I am is so happy. Oh Gods! Thank you Steve! I’m just so happy.”

The egg was heavy in my lap, and I could feel the warmth of it, even through the basket and wool. A horrible thought struck me then, and I was almost sick to my stomach. Dimitri! He stole wild pokémon eggs and ate them! I’d seen him. I know all sneasels did that. Mom told me they were damaged and infertile eggs, but I just knew I couldn’t trust him. And he was so fast! My hands clutched the basket and I leaned over it. I was panicked at the thought, and tears stung in my eyes. I could feel an echo of fear and questioning coming from the egg.

The loft stairs squeaked softly as Mom came down with something in her hands. She knelt beside Steve and slipped a wad of soft chamois leather between my stomach and the basket. I opened my eyes a crack to see what she’d given me. It was a soft leather sling, something like a big purse. Mom gently pushed my hair behind my ears and said, “That is the baby sling I carried you in after you were born. It should work fine for a little houndour egg. Put the egg and wool inside and wrap the ties around you like this, so the egg is cradled against your chest or belly.” She looked over at Dmitri, who was running in his sleep, and then smiled up at me. She knew exactly what I was thinking, and I was so grateful.

But then Mom’s hand reached down and touched my egg. I felt a tiny, bright, flash of anger. My egg! She grinned and then said, “You’ll be alright, this egg doesn’t have long to go.” She looked at Steve and he nodded. They exchanged a look that let me know they understood my fear for and possessiveness of the egg, and that it was normal. They expected it, even if I didn’t, and I didn’t feel embarrassed anymore. Mom said, “Don’t you worry. Dmitri’s no fool. He knows how angry we’d be if he even thinks about this egg! And once this little one hatches, Dmitri will just have to watch out.”

Mom’s eyes were bright as she stood up and called us all to the table. I don’t remember eating. I was only conscious of the egg’s warm weight against my chest. The pouch fit over my shoulder and had stabilizer strings that went around my waist and tied in front. I could swear I felt my little egg’s heart beating next to mine. I could feel it’s sleepy contentment, and that calmed me too.

When dinner was finished, I went up to the loft. It was early evening. It still got dark early this time of year. I wanted to be alone with my egg, but I was afraid it would get chilled if I went outside. Instead I sat on Mom and Dad’s bed and watched through the window as the sky turned pink, fiery rose, and finally lavender dusted with stars.

Edwin, Steve and Mom talked for a long time about the different pokémon in the Silver Cave Reserve, what they wanted to do while they were here, and what they hoped to catch. I could hear Mom’s laptop keys as she took notes. I wondered if I should go down and help, but instead I pulled out some Pokémon Journal magazines from Dad’s bookcase and an old book called “Pokémon of Kanto”. It had some information about houndoom and houndour, and I slowly read each article through. Before it had seemed like those books had so much information in them, but now that my own pokémon would hatch soon, I was frustrated by how little the books really told me.

I looked up quickly at the familiar, light scratching sound of Dmitri’s claws on the loft stairs. I tensed up as he crossed the floor toward the bed. I was more than ready to fight him over my egg, but I couldn’t read the look in his eyes. He just gave a quick purr and leapt on the bed, as far from me as possible. He turned his back to me and went to sleep. I relaxed a little, but stayed on guard, wondering what he was really up to.

My sense of peace lost, I went back downstairs. Edwin and Steve were standing around the table, which was now covered with papers, sketches and maps. Mom was back in the kitchen, making up some food for them to take back to the cabin. They were all talking at the same time about plans, places and lists. I understood then why Dmitri had come up to the loft.

I sat down on the flagstone hearth by the small fire and picked up a small crock from beside the hearth tools. In it was a mix of plant ash, charcoal, mineral salts and copper shavings. I put a couple pinches in the fire and watched as the flames danced in shades of rose, gold, purple and green. As the room darkened, everyone became quieter.
Steve touched my shoulder and handed me a mug of mocha. Edwin and my Mom settled in chairs, and Steve dropped down beside me on the rug. He pulled a pokéball out of his pocket and looked at Mom for permission. She nodded, and he released Fiora into the living room.

The big, silver houndoom took everything in at a glance and then settled down between me and Steve on the rug. She nudged under my elbow, so I began stroking her back. She reached over and nosed at the egg in its pouch, and then looked intently into my eyes. Suddenly, she darted her head forward and began licking my cheeks and nose. I put my arms around her neck, and Steve leaned forward to hug us both. “She agrees with my choice. I knew she would!” he laughed.

Edwin noisily finished the last sip of his mocha, and handed his mug to Mom. She stretched as she stood, took the mug and reached out toward me. “Time you were in bed.” She handed me her empty mug, and Edwin’s, and I drifted out to the kitchen. Steve and Fiora both yawned. He got up and carried his mug into the kitchen. “Look, you can come get me any time you have a question. Edwin knows more about pokémon than most professors, and more than any pokémon breeder I ever met. You should never be shy about asking him anything, but just don’t expect a short answer.”

I rinsed everyone’s mugs in the sink, and put them on the side to dry. “Thanks”, I told him, “but I don’t even know what my questions are yet, except I want to learn all there is to know about houndour and houndoom. I can never thank you enough. I think Fiora is the most wonderful pokémon I’ve ever seen, and I promise to do my best with her baby.”

He smiled and we gave each other another quick hug (being real careful not to bump the egg), and said goodnight.
The best kind of friend is like iron sharpening iron.
***** Text uprate to 77673 *****

Last edited by ashkelon; 10-31-2008 at 10:43 PM. Reason: paragraph breaks
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Old 09-13-2008, 08:34 PM
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Default Re: Untitled, so far...Silver Cave Reserve Story Chapt 3

Chapter Three

The next morning, I knew Steve and Mom were right! The egg was moving, and sometimes I could hear soft chirps and whines from inside. My life became a blur of concern, impatience, anxiety and happiness. I ran through all of the names I could think of. I made a bed for the baby (which he never used, because he slept in my bed for the rest of his life). But most of the time I just sat dreaming on the hillside below the house, warmed by the sun, watching the breeze in the tender, young , green grass.

Over the next few days, I spent more time with Edwin than anyone else. He was patient and gentle, and seemed to know everything about pokémon. He was better than a book. I could ask him any question, and that would start him talking. He was unselfconscious when talking about pokémon, art, or anything else that comes out of a book. His fingers were deeply stained from the pen he took notes and made sketches with. I don’t think he was really aware of most people, not the way some people are. He treated me the same as he treated a grown up, and he was interested in everything I could tell him about the time I’d spent watching wild pokémon.

Edwin’s two pokémon were a lovely, graceful linoone named Flash, and a powerful ursaring called Elna. I’d seen ursaring here in the reserve, but linoone are from Hoenn and were totally new to me.

Flash’s coat that was long and glistened in stripes of purest white and the golden brown of shed oak leaves. Like other linoone, her eyes were a deep, autumn-sky blue. She was constantly busy, picking up things she found interesting, and bringing them to Edwin. You wouldn’t believe the lost things she found in our yard! When Edwin was busy, she would play with a bright stone or an apricorn shell, rolling and chasing it, or lying on her back and bouncing it from foot to foot. She was very affectionate with Edwin, but no matter how much I wanted to touch her, I rarely could. She would growl and hiss if you came too close. She meant business -- not like Dmitri, who was often just messing with people. So, I couldn’t touch Flash, but I never got tired of watching her.

My Dad always said people become like their pokémon and vice versa. It was true of my Mom, and it was certainly true of Edwin and his pokémon! He was as relentlessly inquisitive as Flash (and just as cranky if he was distracted), but he was also as lazy and generally good natured as his ursaring, Elna.

Every year I’d see a few ursaring around home, but here’s one thing I never knew about them. Up close, they smell different than you would expect. The odor is strongest around the pads of their paws and their chest. Mom said each one has a unique scent, and Elna’s was like honey and apple blossoms. Elna was very gentle, but her little, dark eyes were hard to read. They only softened when Edwin leaned against her to read – or when she was eating. She liked anything sweet, and developed a weakness for my Mom’s cookies. Ursaring are formidable fighters, so I had to respect Edwin as a trainer. Teddiursa are cute and playful as can be, but Edwin caught Elna after she’d evolved into ursaring. There’s nothing very cuddly about an angry adult with four inch razor claws.

Steve was spending most of his time in the field. At first he went out with Mom, then later on his own -- after Mom decided he could read a map, and wasn’t going to fall down a mountain or get lost and need rescued! Our closest neighbor had a nosy old murkrow who loved to spy on new people (and steal from them too). Mom said it was a blessing in disguise because, until the “new” wore off, that old pokémon would follow Steve everywhere. If Steve got into trouble, he’d be back like lightening to tattle on him.

After a couple days, I asked Edwin when he was going to hunt new pokémon. It looked to me like he never planned on getting very far from the cabin. Edwin said he’d go out after Steve finished the “field surveys”. Although Edwin is a collector, he was more into catch-and-release collecting. He wanted a complete pokédex more than having a bunch of pokémon depending on him. His own pokémon satisfied him. His interest seemed to lie in observing new and interesting things.

For the next week, Edwin and I just stayed close to home and chatted while he read and I waited for the egg to hatch. The weather stayed fine, with only a dusting of snow one night. While it was chilly in the morning and evening and still cold at night, the daytime was fine and warm. The early flies were beginning to awaken, and the first flowers started to blossom in the grass. The water in the streams was still icy with melt water from the snows up high on the mountains. It tasted wonderful, but would give you brain-freeze if you drank it too quickly. It was like drinking cold, glittering light.

One afternoon after lunch, Edwin and I sat in the meadow below the house. The meadow runs from the pond at behind the house above the cabin, and ends with a sharp drop over a bluff an acre or so away from the front of the house. When I was little, Dad and his rhydon rolled smooth boulders into a chest-high wall about 100 ft above the edge of the cliff. The south face of the wall made a perfect place to lean back against the sun-warmed stones and look out over the river valley. The valley was wide and stretched out almost to the horizon, where you could just make out the blue line of the facing valley bluff. This valley and the bluffs on either side were what made the almost impassable border between Silver Cave Reserve and the rest of Johto. In the spring with the rain and melt water, the river swelled and swept through the valley, whirling in rapids and falls to vanish into the distance. By the time fall was coming, the river would thin down to a stream a child could cross.

Edwin brought his binoculars, and his sketchbooks, and we took turns scanning for any pokémon who came into sight. Edwin made maps in his sketchbook, showing where we sighted any pokémon, and noting the times and the weather. I’d spent all my life wandering the wild areas, but this was the first time I was exposed to the idea of having a system for watching pokémon, and discovering things about them that way. I learned that Edwin later put the notes about the sightings of the individual pokémon into his laptop. From those files, he was able to plot the times and movements and behaviors of those pokémon. Later, when we actually went into the valley, he was able to catch or make close observation of the ones he was interested in, without wandering around and disturbing them all.

Edwin said this way of studying pokémon was “ethology” and he learned it from Professor Birch in Hoenn. Professor Birch was famous for his field observation of pokémon. He thought there were better ways of understanding pokémon than capturing them and taking them back to a lab. Instead he observed wild pokémon and paid special attention to ways of behaviors across species. His ideas were catching on with the younger pokémon students, so many collectors and artists were joining forces to understand pokémon in the wild.

That afternoon I was warm and comfortable, snuggled into Elna’s soft belly fur, as I wove grasses into new placemats for the house. Elna’s soft snore, the sun, the weight of the egg against my chest, and the sound of Edwin’s voice wove a blanket of lazy contentment around me. Edwin was flipping through one of my Dad’s old books, and habitually scanning the valley. He was talking – as much to himself as me – about the detailed population maps in the book.

I was just about asleep when Elna came alert and scrambled to her feet. Grumbling, she rapidly shook me off, and started down to the bluff. I followed her with my eyes, and there was Edwin, standing in the slippery new grass almost on the edge of the bluff, face to the sky. I slipped and slid in the grass until I found my feet, and rushed down to get him away from the edge. What was he thinking! Anybody with half a brain would know how much danger he was in!

When I reached him, I followed his gaze and froze, open mouthed in awe. Up in the clear sky, a silver shape was gliding toward earth in a lazy spiral. It was a skarmory; big, old and clearly something unusual. Usually skarmory are silver, with bright red flight feathers on the inside of their wings. As the big pokémon dropped lower in the air, the light passed over it in brilliant emerald flashes.

Slowly, without taking his eyes off the sky, Edwin passed me the field glasses. I could clearly see that the flight feathers on this huge pokémon were a pure, shining green. I dropped the glasses over my neck and took hold of Edwin’s arm hoping to gently begin backing him away from the edge. Elna was way ahead of me, and she wasn’t so gentle. Growling with worry, she stood on her hind legs and pulled Edwin against her chest. Then she lowered her huge head, and grasped his shoulder in her powerful jaws, and began dragging him back from the bluff.

Edwin struggled with Elna, and pointing out into the air and waving his arms. Panting, he cried out, “Look! Soulvy! Look! Watch where it lands! Don’t miss it! Don’t take your eyes off it! Oh God! I have to find it! I’ve got to find it tomorrow! Must have it! Don’t loose it!” I saw the whirling emerald flash of a falling flight feather, shed from the shiny skarmory. I dove on my knees, right at the edge of the bluff, and marked the feather’s fall.

A skarmory’s feather, not surprisingly, is steel. Shed feathers are made into special knives, and even swords, with keen edges that never dull. Small feathers are often made into keepsake pendents, frequently etched with special mottos to help remember that there are beliefs that are as important and unchanging as a skarmory feather. Finding that green skarmory feather would be the next best thing to catching the pokémon itself!

Elna had finally succeeded in dragging Edwin all the way back up to the wall. Edwin had collapesd against her side, rubbing his damp, sore shoulder. He was still breathing hard, and I was as excited as he was. He almost shouted at me, “Did you see where it landed? Can you mark it on the map? Don’t tell anybody else, we have to keep this secret! Oh, there’s nobody else to tell, I guess… Oh, won’t your mother want to take it for the reserve collection? We can’t let anyone know until I find it, maybe not even then! Oh… Oh…” Edwin trailed off into muttering. He was so wound up it almost scared me. All of his Collector’s greed shined in his pale, blue eyes that bored into mine. He fidgeted against Elna, who kept a worried paw hooked around his waist.

“Settle down, man. Jus chill!”, I yelled back. “I saw where it landed! We are lucky, it’s close to one of the stone pillars down in the valley, right by a bend in the river, near a grove of birches. I know right where to find it!” I fell back against the wall, thinking of how cool it would be when I came home with something as special as that electric green skarmory feather.

Edwin got a crafty look on his broad face. “Oh, you just put the location on the map. I’m sure with our experience, Flash and I can find it. After all, I am an expert on this sort of expedition. You just hurry up and mark it accurately on the map before you forget.”

“Hey, I’m not buying that!” I countered. “You are not going without me! You have to take me with you when you go hunting for it. I won’t let you get away with just kiting down there and picking it up! I want my share too. I’m the one who saw where it landed, and that’s a great, big primary flight feather—as big as a sword – big enough to make knives for all of us, or at least pendants.”

Edwin’s face fell, and a line of sweat trickled from his hair down across his temple. He looked both embarrassed and angry. He turned his face away from me up the hill and clenched his hands. He spoke in a stiff, distant, voice, “I suppose you can’t wait to tell your mother. Just like a little girly. Well, go ahead, you’ll get plenty of attention for finding it.”

“Hey, don’t be like that!” I pleaded. “Mom wouldn’t take it away from you, any more than she’d take a pokémon you caught. And neither will I. But isn’t it fairer to share it with everyone? It’s a great, big, feather. But I guess… if you are going to get all hot about it… you can have the whole stupid thing.” I understood his greed, but I felt like I was better than him. At least I wanted to share it!

“Well… it’s a unique… artifact.” Edwin countered. “I don’t think it’s… responsible… to cut it up like a cheap souvenir! It should be preserved, entire, for future… uh… study. Yes! Study.” Edwin turned and looked at me, and I swear there was a kind of fear and need mixed with the greediness. I realized that in some way, for him this was about far more than an awesome feather. It was about something that hurt in him, and it was part of what made him a scholar and collector.

I dropped my eyes, feeling my own anger and greed drain out of me. “Ok, I don’t understand… but you did see the skarmory first. But at least I can go with you… you’ll let me hold it... won’t you? I don’t want it that bad… I don’t want it at all… not if… you won’t stay friends with me.” I had that choking feeling that comes from fighting crying, and I realized that even though Edwin was a lot older than me, he had become one of my closest friends. His friendship meant so much more to me than some stupid feather. I also realized that I’d have to talk to Steve and find out more about Edwin, so I could understand him.

Edwin sighed, and dropped his head in his hands. He tossed his glasses on the grass and scrubbed his eyes with his fists like a little kid. He snuffled a little and Elna nosed between his hands, licking his face and whining. Edwin put his arms around Elna’s thick neck and buried his face in her ruff. We sat like that for several minutes, letting the breeze cool our faces and tempers. I finally got up and walked over to where Edwin was sitting, one arm still around Elna’s neck. Elna glared and muttered at me, but I didn’t care. I leaned over and smoothed the damp hair off his forehead, like Mom does to me when I’m upset. Then I put my arms around his neck. He stiffened, and then relaxed his scratchy cheek against mine. “It’s ok, really, it’s ok, it’s cool.” I softly chanted to him. “I don’t care about any old feather, I just want to travel down and help you find it. I’ll go ahead and mark it on the map. Just be cool, it’s ok.”

Edwin gently pushed me away and gave me a watery smile. “I’m a serious jerk sometimes. But you’d still better put it on the map. However, do I promise I won’t go after it without you.” He held out his hand. “Help me up, I’m stiff from Elna dragging me. I won’t be going anywhere at all for a couple days.” I grabbed his hand in both of mine and pulled for all I was worth. Edwin heaved up, and I wiped my hands on the seat of my jeans. I think both of us felt drained. We didn’t speak as we gathered up the books and quilt, and hid the cookie tin in a space between two boulders. Still without talking, we headed up to the cabin. I could feel my little houndour rolling around in its egg, responding to my emotions. I tried really hard to calm down.

I was almost back to calm and centered by the time I pulled open the door to the cabin. I walked in and dumped my armload of stuff on the bottom bunk. The room smelled kind of funky, so I opened the windows and started picking up the socks and towels off the floor. Edwin plopped down at the table and after a minute he flipped open his current leather-bound sketchbook. His quick, clever hands rapidly sketched the skarmory in the sky, showing the sun flashing off its body. With colored pencils, he added quick touches that brought the image to life. I leaned over his shoulder to watch. I can draw, but Edwin could tell more, with fewer lines, than I could with a whole page of details. It still fascinates me, and I cherish the sketches he made of life on the road and has given me over the years.

The egg suddenly rocked against my chest, and in the next heartbeat I heard Fiora’s deep bark. Edwin shot me a glance, “Please, let’s keep the shiny-skarmory-feather-thing between us for now. I want to savor telling Steven about it. I’d really like to completely surprise him with that part of the expedition.” His eyes were pleading, but deep in them I could still see a little of that fear and greed from before, although it didn’t bother me so much now.

I suddenly realized that it was part of my friend and it was nothing I’d understand overnight. Edwin was so much older than me, and came to me that there was a difference between being adult, and being mature. Even if a person was grown, and you could trust and love them, it didn’t necessarily mean they were perfect. It was too much to think about right now. Both of us got up and went out into the meadow to see Steve coming through the trees.
The best kind of friend is like iron sharpening iron.
***** Text uprate to 77673 *****

Last edited by ashkelon; 10-31-2008 at 10:44 PM. Reason: paragraph breaks
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Old 10-31-2008, 10:48 PM
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Default Re: Untitled, so far...Silver Cave Reserve Story

Chapter Four

I ran to meet Fiora, who wagged her tail and panted her happy houndoom laugh. She gave me a quick lick on the cheek and danced around, bowing and slapping her front paws on the ground. In a few minutes, I was breathless with giggles. Her play thief attacks stole my bandana and emptied the change out of my pockets. It was hard to believe that she could be so ferocious in battle, when she was so funny and silly. She loved to play, and would chase a ball for hours (and sometimes vaporize it out of pure excitement). I realized how lucky I was to have her child for my beginning pokémon. I can be too serious, myself, although I didn’t know it then. In the future, a houndoom’s light-heartedness would be worth more to me than I could ever imagine.

Steve called out that he’d been all the way into Silver Cavern! As he got closer, we could see he was tired and breathing hard. I had never seen him this tired. His arms were wrapped in bandages, and his clothes were a mess. When the wind swung around from the west, I almost fell over from the nasty stink coming from him. “Oh, Gods!” I gasped, jumping up and down and holding my nose, “What is that smell? Are you ok? Oh man, bandages! Are you very hurt?”

The stench didn’t seem to bother Edwin as much as it did me, but Fiora backed away from her trainer and sneezed. Steve came up beside me, threw an arm around my shoulders, and tried to put the other around Fiora’s neck. She wrinkled her nose, showing her long, white teeth, and tried to duck behind me. “Ok, so I stink, get over it.” He growled. “I feel like I was run over by graveler anyway. I almost was. Soulvy, please, please, would you cut pine for me? I really need the sweat house right about now.” I waved my hand to fan away the stink, but I let him keep his arm over my shoulders. He was heavy with exhaustion. He needed someone to lean on. His clothes were filthy, but up close, his skin looked clean. Edwin moved up beside Fiora and began prompting Steve to continue his story.

“Well, Soulvy, your Mom warned me. She said I’d need a pokémon with flash to go deep inside, but I figured I could handle the darkness with Fiora’s fire moves, and a torch or two. When we finally got to the cave, and I got that first look inside, I was just too curious to wait around. I figured a quick peek couldn’t hurt anything.”

I had a premonition what was coming. I bit my tongue, remembering all Mom’s lectures about respecting Pokémon’s lives and minimal disturbance to the environment. She yells at me if I even turn over a rock and don’t put it back exactly like I found it. She always reminds me that rock might be somebody’s home. If my premonition was correct, I knew exactly what vile things she’d say when she heard about it! We’d be lucky if we weren’t all grounded.

Steve looked at his feet and shook his head, before he continued. “We hiked far enough into the cave to lose the light from the entrance. So far, so good, it was just a cave like any other. The air is cold and a little damp. The floor is earth, and there are big boulders and fist-sized rocks scattered around. Further in, I could see some ledges, but I couldn’t tell how far the cavern goes. There was that damp funky smell that you expect, like wet rock, but there was something else too. I could tell from the echoes the place was huge, really huge. I thought maybe with a little light, I could tell more about the size of it, and the layout of the ledges. I could hear some squeaking, but the only pokémon sign I could see were some faint graveler tracks.”

“You have to remember, I didn’t intend to go any further, and I just wanted to get a quick look. I told Fiora to let loose a quick flamethrower attack. Oh, that was a Stupendous Bad Mistake!” Steve rolled his eyes. “Right away I was coughing and blinded by smoke, and the air was full of shrieking, biting golbats. I’ve never seen so many in one place. They were huge. They came right up in my face. I could feel their hot breath, and their fur, as they came by. It’s not just the bites. Wing attack from a golbat is enough to knock you flat. They hit you with their wings, hard and fast. It’s like being slapped hard in the face with and old leather coat, it actually hurts. I’ll have nightmares about it forever, just wings hitting my face -- all over me. All I could do was try to stay on my feet and keep them off my face. Fiora tried to help. She kept jumping up against me and cutting loose one flamethrower blast after another. The smoke from that kept me blinded and coughing, and made the golbats completely crazy.”

“You’d think things couldn’t get worse, but every time I stopped coughing to inhale, I heard rumbling from graveler. The noise we were making had to be disturbing the whole cavern. Further off, I heard those deep, deep roars made by angry onix. Damn it, I was so scared! All I could think was how graveler and onix would be the worst thing possible. Fiora is powerful, but fire can only do so much against rock pokémon -- and ground pokémon are mad dangerous to fire pokémon. One explosion or earthquake attack could knock Fiora out, and if Fiora fainted in there, we might never make it out.” Steve hung his head and rubbed the back of it with one hand. He looked up and clenched his fists. “I was too eager and I guess that made me stupid. I hadn’t planned on going in; I didn’t even take my pack with me. I didn’t go back to notify Nurse Joy. Nobody would even know to look for us in there. I guess I just got cocky. We haven’t run into anything here at the reserve we couldn’t handle, so I thought the cavern couldn’t be as bad as everybody said.”

I almost blurted out about Mom’s murkrow spy. Then I realized the murkrow hadn’t come squawking back, so maybe he wasn’t following anymore. Steve had made such a serious screw up, almost a fatal one. It was sobering to think that while Edwin and I were arguing about stupid stuff, Steve and Fiora were fighting for their lives.

“Fiora finally realized I couldn’t talk. She actually shoved me out of the cave. I was coughing so hard by then, that it was all I could do to hang on to her and walk out. I could feel Fiora shaking. She knew how much danger we were in! The onix roars were deafening by then, and small stones were starting to shower down from the roof. It seemed like forever, but she finally pushed me out into the light. The fresh air coming in the entrance was like heaven. The smoke was being drawn out of the cave and Fiora’d switched to using faint attack to control the golbats. We practically fell out the entrance. The golbats followed, trying to get a bite in here and there, but once we were out in the open air, Fiora was able to drive them off without suffocating us. I am so humbled and grateful to her. I owe her my life.”

Steve’s eyes teared up, and he went down on his knees to hug Fiora. She licked his face and whined. Her eyes glowed with concern and devotion. Steve put his face against her shining satin shoulder, and she dropped her head around his neck. He reached up with both hands, and grasped her powerful horns, pulling her tight against him. I heard him muttering things to her, and turned away. Seeing how powerful his feelings were brought tears to my eyes. I ducked my own head and assured my own little houndour that I would always love it.

Fiora backed away and sneezed several times. She opened her mouth as wide as it could go and made a wet “ghack!” sound, and licked her copper lips. Next minute she was wiping her face and rolling in the soft spring grass.

“Shee! That explains the stink.” Edwin snickered, breaking the tension. “Golbat guano! You’d better hurry and get stripped. Even Fiora thinks you reek.” He was leaning against the door to the cabin, a little smirk on his face. “You sure know how to find trouble. Will we have to wait while you make golbat wings before you can go back in the cave?”

“Yeah, well, we stunk worse than this when we got to the Pokémon Center.” Steve continued, getting stiffly up from the ground. “My arms hurt like fire from the golbat bites. I was pretty dizzy and nauseated from the venom. It’s a good thing the Pokémon Center is so close. Nurse Joy wondered what happened to make the golbats come out and go after us. No way did I tell her that we’d gone inside! I figure she’ll put two and two together soon enough. Her first concern was for Fiora anyway. Lucky for us, Fiora was fine after a bath and a rest. Nurse Joy had more work to patch up my bruises and golbat bites. She didn’t shut up the whole time, about me risking Fiora and asking if I knew why were the golbats so mad -- her and that old lady who was hanging around – they both made me feel even worse.”

“That must be old Mrs. Feral,” I broke in, “she spends part of every day at the Pokémon Center, gossiping to anyone who comes in. Her husband was a trainer back in the day. He got hurt bad in Silver Cavern years ago, before there was a Pokémon Center. She loves to scare everyone with what a horrible place it is. Too bad for you, she’ll tell everybody who comes in what happened! You better hope you get back in the cave before Mom hears. Once she does, she might never let you go in again, at least not without her! Didn’t she tell you to wait and go in with her the first time?”

Steve nodded and looked worried, but he was also crazy with excitement to go back in. He might have headed back the next day, but concern for Fiora made him listen to Nurse Joy. She insisted he and Fiora rest a few days at home and see if any poison remained in the golbat bites. Usually eating a pecha or the juice from a poisoncure berry works as well on people as it does on pokémon, but when a bite is from an old golbat, it may be especially venomous. If it any venom stays in a wound, it can eat into the flesh and damage the veins and arteries. Then it’s almost impossible for the wound to heal.

Steve staggered through the door of the cabin to change. I knew it was going to take more than a day of soaking to get the golbat-stink out of his clothes, if it ever came out! I waited outside the door of the cabin, while Steve put on clean cotton pants, and threw his nasty clothes and shoes out the door. Edwin snickered when I picked them up on the end of a stick. I thought for a second about pitching them at him. Instead, I dumped them in a wooden washtub, and covered them with rainwater from the barrels under the eaves. I put a rock on them to keep them under the water. Steve would have to deal with it. There was no way I was cleaning them. Personally, I would’ve buried them.

“It’s too bad you don’t have a venusaur or ivysaur with flash to take you into the cave.” I called inside the door. “Since they are grass-poison type their moves are effective against most of the pokémon you’ll find in there. Almost all of them are part ground, rock, or water types. Just one good grass move like solar beam, or even razor leaf, will take care of 90% of what’s in there.” I actually didn’t know from experience, but I’d heard all the advice my mom had given all the visiting trainers. I thought talking up what I knew would make them think I’d be an asset on the return trip. Then they wouldn’t think of me as a little kid, but as somebody with knowledge they would need. I didn’t want to be left behind for that trip – even if it was cheating for me to explore. Even the rangers assigned to the Silver Cavern Reserve have to have beaten the Elites before they are hired.

“I’m way ahead of you.” Steve answered. “I called my folks from the Pokémon Center. They sent me some of my pokémon from home to help us out. I just wish I’d stopped and gotten them before I went in the damn cave!”

“Which ones did they send you?” Edwin asked.

"Well, Mom sent my venusaur, Ginseng, and my old scyther, Grasswind. He knows false swipe, Soulvy, which is great ‘cause you can wear down a pokémon to the very edge, but not faint them. Grasswind and Ginseng make a great hunting pair. Oh and cousin, you just wait until you see what else she sent! I got my Mom’s absol, Shadar. He’s Fiora’s father. Have you ever seen an absol? I think you’ll really like him. Mom loaned him to me so you could get to know another dark pokémon.”

My heart leapt up with the thought of meeting my baby’s grandfather. The disaster pokémon was native to Hoenn, and I’d only seen them in pictures. They are rare even there, so I couldn’t wait for Steve to bring out Shadar. What a chance! I would probably be the only kid in Johto who’d been around an absol long enough to get to know it.

“Huh, at least your folks couldn’t smell you over the webcam!” Edwin laughed. “Your Mom would have hysterics if she could smell you now! No way she’d loan you Shadar if she thought you’d send him home stinking like that. She’d never even let you come home. I’m going to remember to wear my oldest stuff when we go in there, and burn it after we come out! Yuck.”

Edwin went into the cabin to change and left me standing there alone. I scuffed my bare feet, making patterns in the soft dust outside the door. I was more concerned with what was going to happen when my Mom found out the mess Steve had made in Silver Cavern. I turned away from the cabin, twisting the hem of my shirt in my hands. I felt devious, because I hoped Steve and Edwin would keep assuming I knew my way around Silver Cavern. The cave was one of the few places on the reserve that was strictly off limits for me. With no pokémon of my own, I had only been there a few times with Mom or Dad, and only a little way into the second cavern. I knew the maps by heart though, and I was aching for a chance to see the deeper caverns.

“There’s no way I’m missing this trip.” I told myself. I wondered if I should tell Steve and Edwin not to “bother” Mom about me going. After this afternoon, I knew Edwin would keep his mouth shut, but I wasn’t sure about Steve. Maybe he’d be scared of making Mom even madder by taking me in the cave, since I didn’t really have permission. I decided I’d just have to take my chances and pretend that I was as free to go in there, just like I was free to go to any other place on the reserve. If they said anything to Mom, I knew there was no way I’d be allowed to go.

My insurance was how busy rangers are in the spring. It’s the busiest season on the reserve, and Mom was spending all day in the field, checking to see which pokémon made it through the winter, and which ones needed some help. She was placing salt and mineral blocks at the watering places used by the ponyta and rapidash. They would be having their babies soon, and the little ones would need the extra minerals. She’d get home way after dark, pack up provisions, and head back out before daylight. Through most of the spring, we communicated by leaving notes for each other. There was a good chance she wouldn’t know anything about us going to the cave until the adventure was over.

Steve and Edwin came out dressed for the sauna in light, loose, cotton beach pants and sandals, and carrying towels. “I’ll cut the branches if you guys get the fire going and fill the water buckets, ok? I could stand time in the sauna too, and I know for sure it’s going to feel good to Edwin.”

I spoke without thinking, and Edwin shot me a warning glare, but Steve was looking under the edges of his bandages and missed it. I shook my head at Edwin and went into the shed to get my knife. It was dark and cool in the shed. Like the house, it was made of cedar. All along the ceiling, there were screens to let the air in, but the deep eaves kept the rain and sun out. There was a strong, spicy scent from the herbs drying in the rafters and the lotions, salves and teas stored on the shelves. Steve followed me in to get a hopper of charcoal.

I pointed to the bundles of dried herbs hanging from the ceiling. “Take down a bundle of that plant, and some of that one, and a couple twigs of that wood. We’ll put them in the water to soak, and then lay them on the coals. The herbal steam will make your throat and lungs feel better. And it should help take away that God’s awful stink too.” I pushed him towards the door. “Hurry up and get out of here, you smell worse that something that died last week!”

Steve stuck out his tongue at me. “Ok, Bossy Boots. But wait until you get plopped on by angry golbats… don’t expect any mercy from me then!” He stretched up and pulled down the herbs I’d selected. Blood dotted the bandages on his arms, so I handed him a jar of lotion and a bottle of rinse my Mom makes. The rinse cleaned your skin and hair, and had a pleasant kind of sting to it. It felt great when you came out of the sauna. “That should help keep those wounds clean. Use it after the sauna and keep it up at the cabin. Wash with it a couple times a day. Use the lotion too, under the bandages. It’s medicinal, and will keep the wounds from itching while they heal.”

We came squinting out into the late afternoon sunshine, and Edwin reached for a handle of the charcoal hopper Steve was carrying. Between them, the guys headed up the hill, laughing and teasing as they went. I turned and headed southeast, to the road, for some branches of the pines that grew there. We used them to flick water onto the charcoal and make steam. I liked to drop the needles on the charcoal too. I’d need to hurry and change into light cotton pants and a tank top for the sauna. I liked it better naked, but Edwin about had a fit when I said that. We weren’t so modest in the sauna up in these parts, but like my Dad always says “Other countries, other ways”. I guess where they were from they just never learned to be polite and keep their eyes where they belonged.

While I was striding through the grass, I realized why we all needed the sauna so badly. Yes, it would take care of the physical hurts, but more than that, time in the sauna takes the bad emotions right out of you, along with the sweat. Edwin, Steve and I were all carrying some emotions and memories we weren’t proud of right now. I hoped we’d feel better inside, and think a little clearer, when we came out. I stood in the road and looked up at the red and gold sky, with clouds mounting in the west. My little houndour egg made a nestling motion against my chest, and my heart ached with love. This was the weirdest and at the same time, the best summer ever.
The best kind of friend is like iron sharpening iron.
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Old 11-07-2008, 11:49 PM
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ashkelon Offline
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Default The Watchfire

I renamed the thread, to the working title for my story. I have the next chapter about ready to go. The egg is hatching, and an unexpected visitor is going to show up.

Things will be speeding up in the story from here on out. I have things blocked out at another 6 or 7 chapters for the first part of the book.

I have to do my posting at the library, which is a pain in the butt. It's snowing today, and I wanted to ride all day, even though it's wet and the horses are VERY frisky. The shire mare (6.5 feet at the shoulder) is really wild in the snow, galloping, reaing and even bucking. She quiets as soon as you're on her back, but she really puts on a show in the paddock.

I borrow a lot from being with my own animals, and having such a menagerie helps!

The best kind of friend is like iron sharpening iron.
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Old 11-20-2008, 12:11 AM
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ashkelon Offline
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Posts: 534
Default The Watchfire

Still working on the next chapter, and it's getting very close to completion.

Before I post, I wondered if anyone is reading, or if there are formatting or other problems with the story. I know it's not the most original piece of work. I'm constantly amazed at the quality of writing that I see out here.

The thing is, it's not really a short "short" story, and so is a little slower developing. I'm reading it to my family, and they are enjoying it -- believe me -- they would let me know if it sucked in their opinions. I'll finish what I'm writing anyway, since I've really gotten to like my characters. Funny thing, I know them better than you do

I tell myself stories about them almost every night before I go to sleep, and I've got a breakdown of where I'm going with the story line, and how fast.

I just wondered if anyone else is reading, and what they think.

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