(New chapter! This was originally longer, but it was so long (longer even than the Articuno chapter), so I had to split it into two chapters. This is the first half, and the rest will be Chapter 52).
The Path of Destiny
Chapter 51 – Searching
It was later in the evening when Justin, Katie and Damian returned from the library. All the pokémon waiting for them sat up eagerly, but Snowcrystal could immediately tell from the look on Damian’s face that their search hadn’t been successful.
“Nothing…” Damian sighed as he released his pokémon into the clearing and sat down on the grass.
“There’s still a lot more left to search,” Justin reminded him, sounding a bit more hopeful. “And some of the books we wanted were taken. We’ll just wait until they’re brought back.”
“That was pointless,” Katie muttered, “we only found the same stupid story over and over again.”
“I guess we’ll try again tomorrow,” Damian sighed.
“Well, Justin and I are going back to the hotel then,” Katie said with a shrug, starting to walk in the other direction.
“You are going to help us tomorrow…” Justin began, “...aren’t you?” Katie mumbled something in reply that Snowcrystal couldn’t hear.
Snowcrystal didn’t know how long they were going to be able to count on Katie’s help, and though she didn’t care much if the human left, she was worried that if she did, Justin…and Spark…would leave with her.
“Uh…Katie!” Justin cried, starting to run after her. Spark began to follow, but paused and looked back at the others. After a moment’s hesitation, he started to follow after Justin.
“I can tell the humans you want to stay,” Arien suggested to him.
Spark hesitated a bit more, but shook his head. “I’ll see you guys tomorrow,” he told them sadly, before hurrying into the trees after his trainer. Snowcrystal wondered if he was acting sad because he hadn’t had a chance to see Stormblade.
Damian looked back at all the pokémon, who were gathered together in the clearing near the tent, watching him. Snowcrystal could hear some of the others talking and wondered if Arien was telling Damian everything they were saying through their psychic link.
With a sigh, she sat down near Redclaw. “I guess there’s not much else to do but wait,” she mumbled.
“We’re making better progress than we were,” Redclaw reminded her. “Now that we have access to the human’s knowledge.”
“Yeah, but we can’t do anything but wait around for them to find it!” Blazefang growled in frustration. “Those humans better find something tomorrow.”
Snowcrystal was going to agree, when a flash of light filled the clearing and Scytheclaw appeared in front of Damian. The scizor gave the pokémon gathered there a venomous glare and turned and limped away into the trees.
“Hey!” Redclaw said suddenly, his ears pricked, like he had just noticed something exciting. “Do you think…if Scytheclaw has that healing power…”
Snowcrystal knew what he was going to say. “…then he can heal Stormblade?” she finished.
“Yes, and Nightshade,” Redclaw replied, a grin spreading across his face. A few of the other pokémon turned their heads in the direction Scytheclaw had gone, looking suddenly just as hopeful as Redclaw.
Snowcrystal sighed. “I tried asking him last night,” she admitted to the others. “He…refused…”
“Then let’s force him!” Rosie growled. “A few flamethrowers to the face and he’ll do what we want! He’d have to listen to us or get his armor melted off.”
“NO,” Arien said firmly, causing the ninetales to look at him in shock. The alakazam stood up to his full height, looking very intimidating. “He is Damian’s pokémon and I cannot allow you to hurt him. And don’t you think your heracross friend and the wild pokémon have hurt him enough?”
“Nightshade-” Rosie sputtered, but seemed too furious to think of exactly what she wanted to say, until she yelled, “NIGHTSHADE HAD TO BEAT HIM UP. AND HE DESERVED IT! HE-”
“Well then he paid for it,” Arien said calmly. “Now you can all leave the past behind and move on, just as he is trying to do.”
“Now look,” Wildflame began, stepping up beside the fuming Rosie. “Who-besides Rosie-said we needed to hurt Scytheclaw? We just need to…find a way to convince him, that’s all.”
“Good luck with that,” Blazefang muttered, rolling his eyes.
“You can ask him,” Arien said calmly, “but you can’t force him. And if you ask, please at least
try to be nice.”
Wildflame glanced at Rosie, and then at the others. “Maybe just a few of us should go,” she sighed.
Damian, who had been watching the argument curiously, but not seeming to understand what was going on, climbed into the tent after a moment’s hesitation. Snowcrystal sighed. She knew she couldn’t be one of the ones to go and try to convince Scytheclaw.
However, Wildflame, of course, didn’t realize that. “Do you want to go with me and Redclaw?” the houndoom asked after a few moments, looking at Snowcrystal.
“I….I don’t think so,” she muttered.
“I’ll go then,” said Dusk the absol, standing up. “Scytheclaw seems fine around us. He might listen to me.”
“Okay, good,” Wildflame stated, sounding worried, as if she was secretly as doubtful as Snowcrystal was that Scytheclaw would agree to help. “Do you think we should…give him something? Can someone hunt?”
“Why don’t you ask him first?” Rosie muttered, sounding a little calmer. “That way you won’t waste your time…”
“We can promise him something, I guess,” Redclaw suggested. “But I…I don’t know if we should hunt prey when Scytheclaw has plenty of human made food…”
“So what?” Rosie muttered. “Those stupid prey pokémon would kill us if they could! That’s just the way nature works!”
Redclaw gave her a fierce glare. “I thought you said we shouldn’t waste our time hunting for him…” he growled, but didn’t say anything more.
“I…I don’t know if…” Snowcrystal began, but stopped herself. She didn’t think this was a good idea, but she couldn’t try and stop them before they’d even had a chance to try. She wondered if it would be too soon to ask him after what had happened the previous night, but she trusted Redclaw to keep calm.
“Don’t worry,” Redclaw assured her. “If he refuses, we’ll leave him alone for a little while.”
Snowcrystal was glad he understood that getting angry or trying to force the decision on Scytheclaw would only make things worse, and watched as the arcanine, houndoom, and absol walked into the trees after the scizor.
Wildflame wasn’t quite sure why she was doing this. It seemed a bit hopeless, but she badly wanted to help somehow…now that everything in her life seemed uncertain, now that she had nothing to bring back to her pack, and that there was no way she was returning to serve under Firedash again. Her future, at least for the time being, lay with this group, and she felt she had to do what she could to help them. Though they had started off as enemies, Stormblade was now her friend. She wanted to help him.
Her thoughts wandered to the previous night and hoped Scytheclaw would be calmer now. She was prepared to apologize for what she had said before if she needed to. Redclaw seemed wary too, and she remembered what had happened when they had first met Scytheclaw away from the canyon.
‘Why did it have to be him?’
she thought in frustration. ‘Why not some other pokémon with a healing power?’
They stopped as Scytheclaw’s scent became stronger and the houndoom realized he wasn’t far away. Dusk stepped forward.
“I think I should ask him,” Redclaw told the absol. “After all, Stormblade is our friend.” Dusk hesitated for a moment, but nodded solemnly and let Redclaw lead them further on until they spotted the clearing where Scytheclaw was resting.
The scizor noticed them instantly. He leaped up, stumbling a little because of his injuries, but if he was embarrassed or angry at his weakness he didn’t show it. He held up his pincers threateningly as they stopped at the edge of the clearing, acting completely unafraid, as if he was facing a tiny piece of prey and not two powerful fire types and an absol. “What do you want?” he asked warningly.
“We want to talk to you,” Redclaw told him calmly.
“I know what this is about!” Scytheclaw snapped, his expression even more furious.
“Just listen to us,” Redclaw replied. When Scytheclaw merely glowered at him in reply (Wildflame was surprised he wasn’t screaming at them to leave yet), the arcanine continued. “We’re all willing to put the past behind us. We-”
“Just because you want something from me,” Scytheclaw snarled.
Redclaw seemed to decide to get to the point. “We want to ask you to try and heal Stormblade. At least…the Shadowflare wounds. He needs help badly…and you are probably his only chance. We are willing to do whatever you ask for this favor. We can bring you food, the best of our food, every day, and-”
“Damian gives me plenty of food!” the scizor growled. “Why would I want yours?”
Wildflame glanced at Redclaw worriedly. What else did they have to offer him besides food?
“I have everything I need,” Scytheclaw told them smugly. “There’s nothing any of you can do about it. And I haven’t forgotten the way you attacked me…” He glared at Redclaw. “Or what you said after you found out Damian was my trainer!” He gave Wildflame an equally venomous look. “I’m loyal to Damian,” the scizor said proudly, lifting his head as if he thought the intruders to his space were beneath him. “Not
to you,” he spat in disgust.
“Scytheclaw, listen,” Dusk began as he padded forward. “I know these pokémon have wronged you…”
Wildflame had to try to make herself look calm when she really wanted to snarl at the absol. We wronged him?
“But you are the only one who can help this scyther,” Dusk continued. “I’m not saying you have to or we’re going to force you, but…it would be very noble of you to do so. Damian could buy you any sort of food, or treats, or items you wanted. We’d all be grateful if-”
“The answer is NO
!” Scytheclaw shouted, and for a moment Wildflame thought he was going to fly at them and attack them, but instead he turned and darted further into the forest. Wildflame’s heart sank.
“I guess…we’ll have to try again later,” she said hopelessly as they turned to walk back to the group.
That night, everyone slept in silence, most of them by themselves. For once, Snowcrystal didn’t feel like sleeping next to the others. She couldn’t help wondering how Stormblade and Nightshade felt, alone in those buildings without the sky above them as they slept. As she lay down, she felt the grass prickle against her paws. She still wasn’t quite used to not being around snow or hard stone, and for a moment she thought longingly of her home, wondering how much the growlithe’s territory had shrunk, and what they were doing now. She wondered again if she should have left in the first place. What had this quest accomplished?
‘I’m doing something that’s going to help now…’
she thought to herself. ‘It won’t all be for nothing…I’m going to help the legendaries, and all the pokémon…It won’t be for nothing…I’m sure…’
Stormblade and Nightshade, she thought, would both want her to continue trying to learn about the Forbidden Attacks. Nightshade had even said so. Still, her little adventure hadn’t done them any favors. Yet they had helped her so much…she wished there was something she could do to help them.
Suddenly she sat up. She did
know what she could do. For Stormblade, at least. Getting to her feet, she headed over toward where Damian’s pokémon were getting ready to sleep. She needed to talk to Arien.
“So…” Katie began, looking from Damian, to Arien, to Snowcrystal, “you’re telling me the police were wrong all this time, and that Scyther-uh, Stormblade-was innocent?”
Snowcrystal looked at Damian hopefully and he nodded. It was morning, and Katie and Justin had just come back from the trainers’ hotel, and as soon as they arrived, Damian began eagerly repeating Stormblade’s story to them. Unfortunately, Katie just seemed confused, and Justin had been steadily backing away as if he didn’t want to hear it at all.
Katie sighed. “Look,” she said, “I know Stormblade is their friend, and they want him to seem like he was always a good guy…but how do they know the whole story? And more importantly, why does it matter? I mean, maybe it was another pokémon that attacked that girl, but we can’t really know for sure, and-”
“YOU weren’t there,” Justin said suddenly, stepping forward. The look in his eyes made Snowcrystal crouch lower to the ground. He looked, in a way she couldn’t really explain, frightening
. “You weren’t the ones the police came to. There was blood on the scyther’s blades. Believe me, the stupid pokémon is making that up. If you’re not going to drop this subject…for good
, then I’m leaving.”
Snowcrystal gave Damian and Arien an alarmed look. Justin had seemed so eager to help with their new quest, but the look in his eyes was so serious that she didn’t doubt that he meant what he said about leaving. She didn’t think Justin was that valuable an addition to their team; after all, Damian was far more helpful and he could do anything Justin could, but she knew that if he left, Spark might leave too…
“All right,” Damian said reluctantly, looking over at his alakazam, making Snowcrystal think Arien had warned him telepathically not to try and argue with Justin. “We’ll drop it.”
Justin looked satisfied but still angry, and Katie just shrugged, as if the whole thing hadn’t changed anything. Snowcrystal thought she probably had been skeptical because she hadn’t wanted to have any false hopes about Stormblade, and before she could really think it over, what Justin had said must have felt like a confirmation of her beliefs. Snowcrystal felt helpless. She wanted them to know all the details Damian had left out in the quick version of the story he’d told Katie, which he’d stumbled over quite a bit and forgot important details that Arien had to remind him off, making his story seem less convincing.
The other pokémon who were listening, the ones who knew Stormblade, looked disappointed as well.
“Well, it was worth a shot,” Spark said sadly.
“Why don’t you
try to get it through your trainer’s thick head that it wasn’t Stormblade’s fault?” Rosie snapped at him.
Redclaw quickly put himself between the two before an argument could break out. “Look,” he growled, “fighting’s not going to help Stormblade. If we want to help him, we need to try to keep the humans together. The three of them can search the human’s information stash faster together than just one human can. Maybe after Justin has calmed down, we can try again.”
“And hopefully Damian can tell it without sounding like a babbling idiot!” Rosie muttered.
“Okay, so maybe explaining things isn’t his strong point,” Redclaw replied, “but he and Arien are the only form of communication we’ve got. It’s better than nothing. It may take a while, but the other humans will understand.”
Snowcrystal wished she felt as hopeful as Redclaw sounded.
The next few weeks passed uneventfully, and things remained much the same within the group. Katie, after much thought and discussion with the other two humans, had chosen to stay. How long she would stay, Snowcrystal wasn’t sure, but she hoped she had chosen to stay with them for the entire search. They needed all the help they could get.
So far, none of the humans had managed to find any useful new information on the Forbidden Attacks, and several of the books had stories with details that conflicted with each other. The humans weren’t giving up yet, and insisted that there were many other books they could search through.
(Continued in next post...)