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Creative Writing Share your fan fiction, stories, poems, essays, editorials, song lyrics, or any other related written work. All written must be your creation. Start a new thread, and keep replying to that thread as you add on more chapters. Anyone can join in at anytime.


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Old 07-04-2011, 03:30 AM
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Default [WAR X] Kingdom 2 Come (Now open for comments)






I’ve noticed that a lot of weird things have happened to me.

I didn’t ask for any of them—hey, I just wanted a normal career as Trainer. But call it what you want: fate, chance, destiny… I’m stuck with it. Stuck with a stone, which everyone thinks will decide the path of the future. Of course, I have no idea what to do with it, much less how to use it.

My name is Zayna White, and I’ve been chosen. The details of how and why are vague, even to me, but apparently I am one of the heroes of a new legend. Two conflicting ideas, both with innocent intentions, have come head to head, and now only one will prevail. One fight will determine which will be the victor, and it’s been decided that this fight will rage between a “king” and me. On the one side stands a man fervent in his beliefs, with a legendary dragon at his side. On the other side, there’s me: a teenage girl, confused on her own stance and wielding…

…a rock. Yeah, go figure.

I don’t know what to do anymore. People expect me to do the impossible. How can I fight an organization so powerful if I’m just one person? If the Dark Stone actually worked, perhaps I might stand a chance. The myths say it holds the other key—the other Legendary Dragon that matched the other in all power. Yet it will only respond to the heart of one whose intentions are pure, and so far I haven’t seen any dragon action.

Is there something wrong with me? I thought that I could handle this. But maybe I’m not worthy?

…Maybe… was N right all along?

*****

I wasn’t running away. Don’t even think about calling me a coward. When I set out from Opelucid City, I had every intention to head to the Pokémon League and face my “destiny”, but with the huge responsibility I was about to face, I needed some time to think. So instead of heading north for Route 10, I went west with no real destination in mind. I explored the terrain around Route 9, letting my mind wander as my body did. The forests to the north were almost impassible, but down along the East River passage was gentler. Best of all, I was alone.

Seemed like a great opportunity, but that was before the rainstorm—and no regular rainstorm, mind you. I had been keeping my eye on the horizon, and for most of the afternoon it was clear. Towards evening, however, an ominous dark mass gathered from the south. With unbelievable speed, the beastly cloud consumed the sky and unloaded all of its fury on my head. Now, I fought my way through torrential rain trying to find shelter.

Shivers raced up my spine as another roar of thunder shook the drenched forest. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be so intimidated, but this storm was different. It was feral and fierce, attacking me like a predator with every weapon in its arsenal. Wind, rain, lightning… all of it swirled around me in a taunting dance, trying to overwhelm me. Unfortunately, it was working. Soaked to the bone and shivering like a soppy puppy, I trudged through the mud with my sense of direction utterly disoriented.

“Is this some kind of punishment?” I cried to the skies, rain droplets streaming down my face like tears. “Have I done something wrong?”

The ambiguous answer came in another peal of thunder, this time with purple lightning streaking across the black sky overhead. I jumped, and raced a ways farther up the trail, cursing everything I knew. This was stupid. Of all people, why me? Why choose me to pick on?

“Isn’t there some other miserable Trainer you can go plague?” I muttered, folding my arms across my chest.

Suddenly, I slipped. I could probably thank the long, slick grass that grew on the top of a ridge, but I soon found myself sliding down the bank. Water flew into my face, blinding me as I lost all control of my fall. Screaming over the storm, I picked up speed—flying faster and faster until abruptly crashing against a stone. Dazed, I laid there in a puddle until the rest of me could catch up with the fall. Unfortunately for me, however, they brought with them company: pain.

Head swimming, I sluggishly pulled into a sitting position as I gritted my teeth against the aches. A momentary flash of lightning lit up my new surroundings, revealing several other boulders like the one I had collided with. They rose against the dark sky like a giant’s pudgy fingers, their sides glistening with the filmy water that rolled down their sides. The terrain around them had turned rugged and rocky, devoid of any plant life. Just beyond the stone pillars…

A cave.

I stared at the yawning entrance, trying to figure out its significance. In my fuddled memory, I couldn’t ever recall hearing about a cave on Route 9. Its size was impressive; how could it be missed? Just how lost was I?

Some instinct inside me warned me to be cautious, but right then, I didn’t care. As far as I knew, the cave meant shelter from the rain. I was more than happy to take advantage of that. Dragging my sorry hide out of the gravel, I unsteadily stood and stumbled into the cave’s welcoming darkness. Once out of the storm’s reach, I collapsed against the cave’s damp wall with a relieved groan. Made it. Now all I had to do was wait out the storm. Of course, I knew I should probably dry out—maybe have Rascal start a fire—but I allowed myself a moment’s rest. Just one minute…

So were my intentions, but after five minutes of wishful thinking, I drifted off into a dreamless sleep. Not even the roar of a Haxorus could wake me, and I slept on totally oblivious to the passing of time.

*****

In the morning, I woke with a dreadful headache. Added to my misery, my clothes were still damp, clinging to my skin uncomfortably. I scowled in disgust before remembering the events of last night. I never started a fire! Now I was definitely sorry. But perhaps I could find some dry change of clothes? A quick search through my bag dashed that hope; everything I carried had been thoroughly soaked.

“Great,” I muttered to myself out loud. “Just great. Couldn’t have stayed up for five seconds, couldn’t I?”

Sighing, I turned to the entrance and sought for one optimistic thought. Sunlight streaked through the steaming air outside, bringing with it the happy trills of singing birds. I blinked, trying to see beyond the glare to the skies beyond. A few white clouds dotted its span, but they looked thin and frail, a shadow of their former fury.

“Well,” I sighed with some hope. “At least the storm’s gone. Maybe I can dry out in the sun.” Glancing down at myself, I frowned. “They’re going to be so gross, though…”

I sighed again, wondering why I was talking to myself. How hard did I hit that rock last night? Experimentally, I stood, but immediately I winced at the pain in my side. Yep, pretty hard. I wasn’t sure if I had broken a rib, but I was definitely bruised. Pacing around a little, I found that walking wouldn’t be too much of a problem. Though painful, I think I could tolerate it.

“You’ll be okay,” I reassured myself. “Just gotta get to a Center, and I’ll be fine. And stop talking to yourself…”

Bracing myself, I turned to the cave’s exit and took my first steps out into the sun. The brightness blinded me momentarily, but the gentle rays felt soothingly warm. Cupping my hand over my eyes, I adjusted to the light and made yet another wonderful observation.

I was completely lost.

Yeah, I had no idea where I had come from, or where to go from here. I could recognize the ridge I had slipped down last night, but the direction I came from before that… No clue. It’s times like these when you really learn to appreciate technology. I dug through my equipment and brought out my map, trusting that it would save my carcass yet again. But when I flipped up the screen, one unwelcome message greeted me:

No service available.

What?! I wanted to scream at the display. You had to be kidding me! I could always find a signal, even in the wilderness. The map ran on a GPS system for crying out loud. I fiddled with the stubborn device, but it never changed its message.

No service available.

Growing in frustration, I shoved it back into my bag. That had been worthless. Now what do I do?

“Maybe… the Xtransceiver?” I thought about Professor Juniper. If the GPS satellite wasn’t working, then perhaps I could still get through on the phone. If I could call the professor, perhaps she could help me get out of this predicament. With renewed hope, I dived back into my bag for my other device. If I could call the professor, perhaps she could help me get out of this predicament. With renewed hope, I dived back into my bag for my other device. Flipping out the screen, I immediately dialed her number and waited for her face to pop up.

Like a haunting memory, a familiar message appeared instead. No FREAKING service.

I resisted the urge to throw the thing. Yet I didn’t hold back an irritated holler. Birds fled from their perches at my anguished cry. I imagined that I turned the heads of some other forest critters as well, but I didn’t care. With forced gentleness, I replaced the communicator. The way things were going now, I would end up having to do things the old fashioned way. Sticking my chin defiantly into the air, I randomly picked a direction and prayed that I would luck-out.

*****

After climbing up the ridge, I followed a lengthy meadow towards a pair of hills in the distance. I thought that perhaps I could gain my bearings if only I had a higher elevation, and those hills were the tallest points around. Before I traveled too far, however, I smelled an unexpected whiff of smoke. A fire?

“A camp fire!” I jumped to conclusions, letting a smile spread across my face. I was so certain that that was what it was. A campfire meant campers, and campers meant a chance for directions. Ditching the hill idea, I grabbed a red and white sphere from my belt.

“All right, Lilly! I need your help!”

I threw the Poké ball, which opened up in a rapid white flash. Within seconds, my Pokémon appeared: a hairy, brown and purple dog with a sniffer as good as any—or better. Seeing me, she let her pink tongue loll out of her mouth. Her stubby tail wagged excitedly back and forth.

“Who’s a good puppy?” I lovingly scratched behind her fluffy ears. She barked delightfully back, squirming in place like she was still a Lillipup. Turning serious, I took a step back. “Okay, Lilly. You smell that? That smoke? I need you to sniff out its source.”

The terrier lifted her head and sampled the air, but grew uneasy. She glanced back up at me with a sad whine.

“What’s wrong?” I frowned, confused at her response. Could she smell something else in the wind? Normally, I’m one to pay attention to my Pokémon—but I was getting desperate. “Come on girl,” I rubbed her ear again. “I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about. Nothing we can’t handle, anyway.”

She stared, unconvinced.

I sighed, “Lilly, we don’t have much choice. We’re lost out here. We need some directions.”

Lilly whimpered again, still nervous.

“Lilly,” I asserted sternly. “I order you: Oder Sleuth.”

The dog blinked, taken aback. Finally, however, she submitted. Lowering her snout to the ground, she hunted for the trail. Guilt stabbed at my stomach. I regretted using force like that, but it couldn’t be helped. I watched her shaggy coat slip through the tall grass, wondering what we would do if I was wrong. Would we end up wandering the woods for months?

I should have listened to her.

The closer we drew to the source of the smoke, the fouler the smoke turned. I began to doubt my previous theory—campfire was supposed to smell sweeter or earthier, right? What we smelled now better compared to a ditch fire, or compost burning. When we broke through a strand of trees, we finally found it: an entire village, burned to black skeletons.

I stopped dead in my tracks, speechless and dumbfounded.

The first question that broke through my numbed mind was an illogical what? The second was a stunned why? And the last, as an afterthought, was where? Before my brain could recover enough to think, I heard Lilly give a threatening growl. Confused as I was, I turned to see men emerge from the woods.

They were another oddity I could not explain.

Each was dressed eerily familiar—like the grunts of Team Plasma. Yet their uniforms seemed more authentic. Over their rugged frames, they wore thick-woven tunics, with chain-mail and beaten armor. Underneath the ring-meshed hoods, their faces were grim. Eyes distant, they commanded an air of experience and sorrow I never had sensed from a Plasma goon. One sat in the saddle of a creature unfamiliar to my eyes, resembling a darkened Rapidash without fire or a horn.

“Stay where you are,” the rider warned as the other men pressed on with their approach.

“C-can I help you?” I warily asked. Dumb question, I know, but I was scared out of my wits.

“Careful,” one of the footmen warned. “She’s got a Beast.”

Lilly’s hackles bristled as she bared her teeth, ready to shrike the moment these strangers showed ill will. I gulped nervously, unsure how to act. These really weren’t Plasma goons, where they?

“Who are you? State your business here,” the rider barked.

“I… I am Zayna White, um, sir,” came my shaky reply. I had never been this frightened before, even when I faced criminals. I sensed something different about these men, something colder, crueler. “I am… I was looking for directions.”

One of the footmen suddenly drew a sword—a real sword—waking me up to the reality of the situation. Lilly and I yelped together.

“She’s a witch,” the footmen sneered. “I tell ya, Cap’n, she’s working with tha enemy. Prob’ly come to plague us wi’ monsters.”

“Look at her garment,” the first footmen added, almost fearfully. “I have never seen any like it.

The rider balefully glared at my Pokémon. “Should she prove so, we shall deal with her accordingly. Bring her back to camp.”

At his command, the soldiers pressed closer. For Lilly, that pulled her trigger. Before they could take another step, she lunged, latching her jaws around the arm of the closest man. The unfortunate victim cried out in pain, but out of the corner of my eye, I saw the sword—

“Lilly, no!” I shouted, though too late. The blade sung through the air, slicing across my Stoutland’s haunch. She released her hold, letting an agonized yelp to escape her maw. I leapt at the man with the sword, grabbing his wrist before he could bring down the weapon again. For my bravery, I was rewarded with a face full of gauntlet. Lights danced in my vision as I fell on my back, dazed by the punch.

Last edited by Charmander009; 07-04-2011 at 06:08 PM.
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Old 07-04-2011, 03:33 AM
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Default Re: [WAR X] Kingdom 2 Come

“Bind her!” I heard the rider bellow, and immediately a pair of hands seized me. I struggled against their owner, but my feeble strength was no match against his. He wrenched my hands behind my back and forced me to stand back up. I became aware of the rough texture of a rope as it was wrapped around my wrists.

“S-sniper!” I called out, not knowing what else to do. I don’t know if he could hear me, but sometimes the Pokémon knew when he was needed. Right now would be a wonderful time for him to burst from his Poké Ball on his own.

“What is she doing?” a soldier demanded.

“She’s summoning a Beast! Silence her, quickly!”

A hand wrapped around my face, muffling my begging cries. I nearly gagged at the metallic taste that tainted my mouth. As soon as they finished binding my hands, a coarse piece of fabric replaced the gauntlet. I kicked and screamed for that brief moment when my mouth was free, but for once in my life… I was helpless. I lost this battle.

The rider brought his horse-thing up behind his men, looking down at their handiwork with satisfaction.

“Leave the mutt,” he ordered, indicating poor Lilly, who was trying to limp towards me. A footman kicked her in the face, sending back into a miserable, whimpering wad of hair.

I cried behind my binds, tears welling up in my eyes. I’m so sorry, Lilly, I wanted to beg for her forgiveness. This is all my fault…

The last glimpse I caught of her, she weakly raised her head. Then the men forced me into a merciless march.

*****
After trudging through the woods at an unforgiving pace, the men stopped at a nearby brook. I suppose they wanted to let the horse rest, not really caring about me. Either way, I took advantage of the break. Collapsing in exhaustion, I sobbed into the grass. My Stoutland… my poor Stoutland. If I had paid better attention to her, none of this mess would have happened. The armored men—they were ruthless. I couldn’t understand why. What did they want with me? Where were they taking me?

A suspicion played around my thoughts then. It whispered to me, making me wonder: I wasn’t in the same world anymore, was I? Watching the men, how they drank from the stream alongside the horse-thing, I realized how primitive they were. Apparently, they had no fear of the micro-organisms that possibly swam around in the stream—or else, they didn’t know about sanitation. Their weapons and shields looked a little too real for my liking, as well. Had I... gone into the past?

What had I dragged Lilly and myself into?

My gaze met the rider’s, and I stared loathingly at him. Lilly, I promised there and then. I will come back to you. Hang in there.

The rider returned my stare, unconcerned and unmoved. I hate to admit it, but I was the one who finally broke away from that intense staring-contest.

My bag had been confiscated, but my Poké Balls still hung from my belt. If I could just use one… I tested the rope tied around my wrist, seeing if I could slide my hands around any. The footmen’s knots were tight, however, and I couldn’t find any leverage. But if my elbow could knock one off, maybe I could stand a chance.

Keeping an eye on the soldiers, I experimentally twisted my body. Ignoring the complaints from the bruise on my side, I could actually slide my arms over the spherical capsules. If I bent forward enough, the crook of my elbow could maneuver underneath the last on my left. The unusual movement could attract attention, so I had to be quick. Waiting until they were facing the opposite direction, I bent over and slid my arm over a ball, then jerked back. Missed. I tried again. And again.

A footman casually turned his head.

Panicking, I had to think fast. Bending all the way over, I pretended to scratch my nose on my knee. The man grunted, and returned to combing the horse’s fur. I waited a moment before trying a few more times. Eventually, the ball grew loose, ready to pop off at any moment.

“What is she doing?”

I froze, staring like a Deerling caught in the headlights.

“Witch curses,” spat one, glaring at me like I would bring the plague. “She’s prob’ly try’un ta place a hex on us.”

The rider glanced up with a frown. “We should continue on, now. We’re not too far from camp.”

“Aye, the sooner we get rid awf ‘er, ta bettah.”

No! This might be my only chance! In a final desperate lunge, I finally knocked the Poké Ball free. It fell to the ground with a satisfying thump!

The men leapt to their feet, alarmed at the sight of the strange technology. Before they could race forward to stop me, I brought down my foot on the lock and kicked it into the face of the closest soldier. He shouted in fright as the capsule opened, the sudden white light blinding him. Seconds later, my hero appeared, all ten feet of him.

About time, Sniper.

The massive green snake took in the whole scene for one second, red eyes darting from my bindings, to the oddly dressed strangers, to the rearing horse-thing. He immediately jumped to the conclusion that the men were bad news. With a warring screech, the Serperior swung his powerful tail and knocked back the men closest to him. The horse bolted, dragging off the unfortunate rider who had tried unsuccessfully to calm it. Three men were left standing, but none of their previous confidence showed.

“Stand down!” one finally braved forward, drawing the sword from his sheath. The others followed suite with grim expressions.

Sniper hissed, scales bristling. He coiled his lengthy body around me defensively, daring the men to attack. I ducked my head, knowing what he planned to do next. Razor-edge leaves suddenly swirled out from beneath his scales, pausing in midair before suddenly flying forward. My kidnappers soon were engulfed in a tornado of knife-like leaves that mercilessly hacked at any exposed flesh.

I felt the ropes around my wrists give out as Sniper sliced through them with the blades at the tip of his tail. Hands free, I ripped the gag from around my face.

“Good boy,” I half-mindedly thanked my Pokémon, most of my wary attention focusing on the shouting soldiers tangoing with Sniper’s Leaf Storm. Deciding not to wait around to see what they would do next, I scooped up the empty Poke Ball , and ran for it.

*****

My legs burned as I crashed through the undergrowth. To afraid to stop, I kept racing, even after I could no longer hear the shouts of the soldiers. Beside me, Sniper easily kept pace; in fact, he probably had an easier time maneuvering his limbless body through the trees and shrubs then I did. He was in his element—I wasn’t.

Eventually, we reached a road block: sheer cliffs that caged us into the forest. I had to tilt my head back to see the rim of the impressive wall, but when I did so my knees gave out. I fell on my back, and I stayed there, panting until my breath caught up with me. Sniper watched me in concern before up next to me. Gingerly, he laid his head on my stomach and trilled in the back of his throat.

“What am I going to do,” I moaned, rubbing my face with one hand while resting the other on my Pokémon’s head. “We must be a thousand years in the past, but… How is that possible?”

Sniper silently opened an eye.

“Or… or maybe this is just a dream. Yeah, a dream—a really horrible nightmare,” I concluded, figuring I was close to the truth. It made sense, too. None of this could be real. Maybe I did knock my head against that rock last night, and all of this was mere delusions. “I’ll just close my eyes, and wake up. Then everything will be as it should be.”

My Serperior lifted his head a few inches, cocking it in puzzlement. I ignored him and squeezed my eyes shut. Let this be a dream, just a dream; I repeated a self-invented mantra, crossing my fingers. None of this is real. It isn’t happening. I’m still back in the year 2011…

Placing all my hope in this silent plea, I sat up and re-opened my eyes.

And I came face to face with the dead end of an arrow.

Sensing my alarm, Sniper whirled his body around. He let out a sharp hiss as he tensed his muscles, preparing to strike once again.

“Move, and I shoot,” the arrow’s unshaken owner threatened, keeping the projectile aimed straight at me. He was close enough that I could neither dodge nor deflect—if I could do even that.

I stared aghast at the archer, a young man looking only a year or two older than me. He looked as rugged as the soldiers I met before, with a regal air that made him seem princely. His sharply angled face stared back fiercely at mine through sea-green that would have made even a Watchog glance away in shame. I didn’t doubt for a second that he wouldn’t execute his intentions, if provoked.

“Down, Sniper,” I whispered to my Pokémon. The Serperior lit out another low hiss, but reluctantly recoiled.

“Who are you,” the young man demanded with a commander’s strict tone. I got the feeling that no one ever disobeyed him.

“Zayna… White.”

“Who are you allied with?” he didn’t blink for a second.

I strained my brain to try to understand, “I… what? I’m not aligned with anyone.”

The archer pulled his bow farther back. “Who?”

“Look, guy, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” my hands flew up in the air. He was crazy!

“Tell the truth,” he narrowed his eyes.

I wanted to cry, but I tried to hold myself together. “Fine, then,” I took in a deep breath. “I’ll tell you the truth: I’m lost, okay? I woke up on the wrong side of the universe this morning, and not long after a group of men tried killing my dog and kidnapping me. I only just escaped, having ran a million miles through the jungle, so can you back off some?”

Maybe I got a little out of hand with that last part. The kid was intimidating, but it seemed easier to face one man instead of several well-armed soldiers. Kind of. Besides, I was getting tired of this life-endangerment business. After the second time someone points a weapon at your face, it gets old. Can I go home, now please?

“You expect me to believe that?” his voice was devoid of humor, only tipped with ice.

“Will you relax, brother?” a new voice entered the scene.

I turned my head to see another young man emerging from the woods. He favored a leg, I noticed, but waved cheerfully to the three of us. Up close, I saw the remarkable resemblance he shared with the archer—the same, sharp face, sea-green eyes, and regal air. Yet instead of having white-blonde hair, the newcomer had a darker tone of brown. His eyes sparkled with mischief, and I liked him immediately. So far, he was the only stranger I met who didn’t want to attack me.

“You’ll have to excuse my brother,” his mouth curled into a genuine smile, a goofy yet charming grin. “He’s always been the type to jump to hasty conclusions.”

“Zekarus,” the light-haired archer muttered in a warning tone, glancing distrustfully my way. “Stay your tongue. We know nothing about this girl.”

“Remish, just trust me on this one,” Zekarus stepped aside to argue, tossing me an apologetic look.

“But how do we know we can trust her?” the archer, apparently named Remish, growled back in agitation.

How could I trust them? I wondered at the same time. Grateful that Sniper backed me up, I continued to evaluate the boys.

“Faith, brother. Besides, just look at her. I do not think that she will harm anyone. She looks rather lost.”

Remish narrowed his eyes. “She looks like a witch to me. Look how that Beast obeys her whim.”

Zekarus’ expression turned grim as he replied, “Then are we any different from her?”

I watched as Remish suddenly backed down, averting his eyes almost shamefully. His brother rested a hand on his shoulder, adding so softly that I almost couldn’t hear him, “I think she can help us.”

Help them? I blinked in curiosity. What could I do to help them?

A smile sprouting on his face again, the dark-haired brother turned back to me. “My apologies,” he bowed like a prince. “He just needed some reassuring. My name is Zekarus, son of Rhoan, and my brother is Remish. I’m afraid I didn’t catch your name, however.”

“Um, it’s Zayna… Zayna White,” I repeated, exchanging an uncertain glance with Sniper. The Serperior had quietly observed them, but I couldn’t tell what he thought of these young men. I wasn’t even sure what I thought.

“It is a pleasure to meet you, Zayna,” he gallantly took my hand, kissing it. A blush involuntarily found its way to my cheeks. “Though I wish it could have been under better… circumstances.”

“Uh, yeah… Nice to meet you too?” Gosh, I sounded like an idiot.

“We should not stay out in the open for too much longer,” Remish declared, slinging his bow across his shoulder. “The armies are not far from here.”

“You show much wisdom, brother,” the brown-haired teen agreed, and then asked me, “Will you come with us?”

Do I have much choice? I glanced over my shoulder, thinking of the men who had kidnapped me. I didn’t know if they were hunting for me, but I didn’t want to stick around to find out. Admittedly, I also had no clue where I was. If these boys were offering some assistance, then maybe I should take advantage of that.

Sniper hissed again, still glaring at Remish. Obviously, he felt some distrust as well. I’m not sure if we can trust them, either, I thought to myself, examining them closely. But sometimes, you got to take a leap of faith. They were just two boys—maybe my team could handle them if they did prove to be dangerous. Yet Zekarus seemed nice…

“Yes, if that would be okay,” I caved, offering a cautious smile.

“Of course,” Zekarus turned aside, offering his arm.

Yeah, I’m not doing the whole medieval game, I laughed inside myself. Instead of taking his arm, I patted it and followed behind Remish, leaving Zekarus with a baffled expression.
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Old 07-04-2011, 03:36 AM
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Default Re: [WAR X] Kingdom 2 Come

*****

We travelled south down along the cliff walls, skirting them until we came to a ravine with a gentle climb. Remish led us up them, casting furtive glances in all directions. He seemed more high-strung and cautious than his laid-back brother, as if expecting an attack at any second. The archer never said much, only giving vague grunts whenever Zekarus asked him a question. On the other hand, Zekarus was as talkative as a song bird. I filled him in on my adventures here—though I didn’t dare mention anything about time travel—and in turn he shared a few of his own. From the sound of it, Zekarus was very mischievous, having an affinity with trouble. Yet I liked his easy-going nature, and it put me at ease. Even Sniper, who followed dejectedly behind, seemed to relax after Zek released the third peal of laughter from me.

Feeling more comfortable with the boys, I braved more questions. “So… what exactly is going on in this, er, land?”

Zekarus’ energy dimmed a bit, but offered a sad smile. “War, Zayna. I’m afraid you picked the wrong time to visit.”

“War?” I blinked, unable to comprehend the word.

“Yes,” Zekarus’ eyes took on a far-away look. “The Southern Kingdom is rising against the Northern Kingdom, and all the places in between are in utter chaos.” He grew silent for some time, reflective, but then turned thoughtful. “Zayna? How much do you know about the kingdoms in this land?”

Remish suddenly stopped, turning to fix his severe gaze on his brother. Both engaged in an intense staring contest, neither side giving in to the other. I stood by in bafflement, wondering if I had missed something. Finally, Zekarus spoke in a soft undertone.

“I know what I am doing.”

Remish narrowed his eyes, replying coldly, “I hope you do.”

With that, he turned his back on us again, leaving a chill in the air. Only after he put a little distance between us did I dare ask Zekarus, “What was that about?”

Zekarus sighed, “Nothing. Don’t worry about it. So, want a history lesson?”

I glanced up at Remish tentatively. “Sure?”

The young man grinned, not even hesitating for a second as he started his story:

“A long time ago, our ancestors settled Unova in tiny villages scattered across the land. For ages, the villages lived separate lives from one another, until an adventurous governor set out to establish trade. Eventually, the villages united, forming one thriving kingdom that spread from the oceans down south, to the mountains in the north. However, the day came when the sole monarch died of an ill disease, and a usurper rose to the throne. The usurper introduced new ideas, and ruled with an iron fist. Some parts of the land grew to like his ideas, but the northern regions objected his tyranny.

“They broke away from the south, forming their own kingdom with the one true heir to the crown. The usurper, enraged by their rebellion, brought forth armies to bring the new kingdom back under his dominion. However, the resistance they met overwhelmed their forces, and they retreated back to their kingdom in the south. Though bitter about their defeat, they left the new Northern Kingdom alone for a time, until another ambitious man rose to command. Decades had passed, and both kingdoms had attained an era of peace and wealth. Yet the new commander of the Southern Kingdom wanted to regain the lands that his Kingdom had lost. He was hungry for power and control. He didn’t want a kingdom; he wanted an empire.

“Another war began, though one this time that would last for a hundred years. In time, the Kingdoms began to decay from the inside, out. The wealth and splendor of the old ages were burned to the ground as our land was ravished. Both Kingdoms tried pulling everything they could to gain ground against the enemy, but never did they realize that they were destroying themselves.”

Zekarus’ expression grew weary as he finished his tale, “In the past year, corruption was sown in the Northern Kingdom. The true King was assassinated upon his own throne, and his heirs, two twin brothers who were barely of age, were forced to flee from their home. Now a pretender sits upon the throne, mercilessly playing the war game until we have lost all we gained.”

The young man fell silent, the brightness of his character leaving his face. He suddenly looked older to me, like a man who had seen too much sorrow in his young life. I slowly absorbed his story, still sorting through all the details. I had never taken a history class, and regrettably I didn’t know as much as I should about Unova’s roots. But I felt like I had heard a story like this before. I just couldn’t put my thumb on when and where. When I glanced up from my thoughts, I met Zekarus’ solemn eyes. Then I knew.

“You’re… you’re the brothers from the story,” I uttered, looking between the two. “You’re princes…”

“We were,” Remish stopped.

He had brought us to the opening of a cave, where the remains of a fire rested before its maw. Little evidences of a camp were scattered across the rocky ground: a pile of neatly stacked wood by the fireside, a line of rope leading from one cliff wall to the other that held strips of meat or clothes, and a pair of logs used for seating.

“Welcome to our camp, Miss White,” Zekarus welcomed, livening up once again. “It’s not much, but it’s been our home for the past little while.”

“It’s…,” I started, but trailed off as I heard barking. Dog-like barking. To my surprise, a familiar face emerged from the cave with her stumpy tail wagging. “Lilly!”

I ran to her, words not even describing my joy. As soon as we met, I wrapped my arms around her wooly neck and held her tight. She squirmed in my hold until she could lick the tears off my cheeks, whimpering happily all the while. I didn’t notice till later that a bandage had been wrapped around her thigh, clean and white.

“Ah, so she’s yours, then?” Zekarus’ eyes glinted as he laughed.

“Zekarus, what is this?” Remish sighed, shaking his head.

“I found her out in the woods, trying to follow some North Kingdom troops,” Zekarus sheepishly answered, ducking his head. “The poor thing was bleeding, and… well, I couldn’t help it. I had to help her out.”

Wiping the tears from my face, I finally released my Stoutland—then turned and hugged Zekarus. His body stiffened in surprise, but gently lowered his arms around me.

“Thank you so much, Zek,” I whispered, ever grateful.

“You’re very welcome,” Zekarus chuckled, holding me tighter before quickly pulling away. Clearing his throat, he added, “Er, but you should be a little more careful—the people of this land aren’t very… kind to Beasts.”

I laughed. “I think I figured that out long ago.”

Remish had quietly watched us for some time before suddenly speaking up, “Are you a witch?”

“No, of course not,” I rolled my eyes, exasperated. “Why does everyone keep accusing me of that?”

Remish and Zekarus exchanged glances.

“That is what they call those who bond with the Beasts,” Remish offered an explanation.

I frowned, turning to Sniper and Lilly. “Is that such a bad thing? Where I am from, people and Pok—people and ‘Beasts’ live together in harmony.”

“Is that true?” Remish’s eyebrows lifted in doubt. “Can that be so?”

Zekarus smiled. “How ideal would that be?”

I stared. My head buzzed, trying to tell me that I was missing something immensely important. No way. There was no way…

“Perhaps… you can help us, then,” Remish’s stony masked softened some, and I could sense that he was lowering his guard some. Maybe he still didn’t trust me, but at least he was giving me a chance to prove myself.

“Help with what?” I blinked. I overheard them before, mentioning this, but what did they mean? How could I be of any service to them? They’ve already helped me more than I could repay them, I suppose.

“We, er, actually wondered if you might be able to help our friend,” Zekarus again turned sheepish, glancing cagily towards the cave. When I furrowed my brows, he took my hand. “Come with me.”

I didn’t object, though I was beginning to wonder why these two acted so elusively. Zekarus pulled me through their humble camp, towards the gateway into the cliff face. I felt apprehensive approaching the cave, given my adventures earlier that day, but Zekarus squeezed my hand reassuringly with an added wink.

“Um, I should warn you. Our ‘friend’ might be a little… surprising,” Zekarus clued me in as we stepped inside, sounding uncharacteristically nervous.

“Surprising?”

“You’ll see.”

My question answered itself when a gust of wind suddenly blew my hair back. Rustling filled the darkness as something massive shifted against the rock. Rumbling rattled my bones before the shadows in front of me moved. I tensed, automatically expecting an attack. Soon, I was staring into the golden eyes of a dragon.

“Zayna, this is our friend, Shachor,” Zekarus introduced us, enjoying my astonishment.

As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I saw more of “his friend.” The dragon was massive, taking up the whole back part of the cave. Its wary slitted eyes watched me from a horse-shaped head, striped with shades of black and white. The long neck that held it sported a main of silvery feathers, as fine as down. It lay on its side, over long limbs that ended in sharp talons. Only when I got over its majesty did I notice its misery. Every breath came out in slow, wheezing gusts—its broad chest rising and falling in a sickly rhythm.

Zekarus moved by its side, placing a hand on one of its ivory horns. The dragon didn’t strike; instead, it closed its eyes and rumbled again. Very timidly, I walked up to the creature as well, marveling at its size. The only Pokémon that I could compare it to… was N’s Legendary. Was this a Legendary as well? I worried that it might not be so friendly to me, but Shachor only eyed me through a narrowed lid.

“He’s… magnificent,” I breathed. “But… what’s wrong with him?”

“He is ill,” came Zekarus’ soft reply. “And we are not sure how to…”

I met his eyes, knowing what he meant. Braving the last few feet that distanced me from Shachor, I knelt and placed my hand on its cheek. The scaly hide felt warm beneath my hand.

“Can you help him?” Zekarus asked hopefully.

Shachor’s golden eyes opened again, and up close I could see into its depths. Staring into them felt like standing and peering over the edge of a bottomless canyon. Ancient, timeless… familiar. But sadness; much sadness in those eyes.

“Zayna?”

I started, shaking from the spell.

“Um, yeah,” I finally replied, feeling a little dizzy. “I think I might have some medicine in my—”

I stopped as I became painfully aware of the absence one of my belongings: my bag. “Crap,” I cursed.

“Something wrong?”

“My bag,” I winced. “It was confiscated by those soldiers. They still have it.”

“What?”

I pinched the bridge of my nose, letting out a moan. “I can’t believe that I lost it. It has everything—all of my stuff. And… medicine, and… Ugh, this is bad.”

“That is not the only ‘bad’ development,” Remish’s voice suddenly called from the entrance. Zekarus and I turned to see him outlined against the light outside. “Soldiers are traveling up the ravine.”

“How many?” his twin brother whirled around, sounding alarmed.

“Thirty, and all armed to the teeth.”

“We can’t let them find us!”

Remish nodded grimly. “If they find Shachor…”

I glanced between the two twins, sensing the fear that stiffened them both. I realized something then: they had bonded with Shachor. Two brothers, two twins—one dragon…

“We have to fight,” I stood, clenching my fists in determination.

They looked at me in surprise.

“What?” I shrugged, but they kept staring. Shaking my head, I continued, “Look, we can’t let them get to this cave, right?”

“But there’s only two of us,” Remish lowered his head, growing ancient.

I raised an eyebrow. “’cuse me?”

“Okay… then three of us,” Zekarus tried to repair his brother’s damage.

I smiled, “Still not close. I can add six others to our team.”

The brothers exchanged confused glances.

Remish, still doubtful, ventured to ask, “What do you mean?”

Right on cue, Sniper and Lilly poked their heads into the cave. I whistled to them, and the two joined us in the cave, ogling at the giant within.

“Lilly can’t fight, but Sniper can,” I started to explain, reaching for the Poke Balls at my belt. “And I got five others right here.”

Ripping them from their placing, I threw the capsules one at a time. The cave lit up with each consecutive flash, momentarily illuminating the expressions of total shock on the faces of the twins. First came Kiki, my ever quirky Simipour with her glowing smile. She was followed by my Darmanitan, Rascal, and Terra the Scrafty. Last of all, Rouge the Krookodile and Archie the Archeops.

“What sorcery is this?” Remish recoiled, fear mixing with his amazement.

Rouge narrowed his eyes at the prince, crossing his arms with immediate dislike. Still grinning, I rested my elbow on the crocodile’s shoulder. “It’s not sorcery, guys. It’s science—technology.”

“Science?” Zekarus scrunched his nose. “This is the strangest piece of science I have ever seen.”

“Don’t worry too much about it,” I laughed. “It’s beside the point. Now, I got six fighters here—what’s the plan?”

Remish released a sigh, shaking his head. “We’re still outnumbered. I don’t see how we can stand a chance.”

“Wait…” Zekarus mused, examining my team. “I think… I might have an idea.”

“Throw it at me,” I grinned, hoping he would say that.


*****
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Old 07-04-2011, 03:41 AM
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Default Re: [WAR X] Kingdom 2 Come

Minutes of preparation later, Remish and I hiked to the top of ravine. The day had grown hot and dry; the ravine had little vegetation to offer in shade or relief. We army-crawled our way to the edge, where we could spy on the soldiers. They filed through the ravine in a long train, since the walls allowed only one or two to pass through. True to Remish’s word, they were dangerously armed with swords, pikes, and shields.

“Are you sure about this?” the light-haired archer asked for the umpteenth time, watching the procession dourly.

“Sure as I’ll ever be,” I muttered back. I followed the procession with my eyes to the front, where a rider led the troops on the back of a horse. My eyes widened as I recognized him—and the bag resting on the saddle. “That’s him!”

“Who?” Remish leaned in, trying to follow my gaze.

“That’s the man who tried to kidnap me,” I answered, never tearing my eyes from the rider. “And he has my bag!”

Remish finally found the man I was talking about, but then returned his regal eyes to me. “What do you want to do?”

I bit my lip, wondering what I could do. The plan was already laid down—all they needed was a simple signal. But if I could grab the bag, I might be able to help Shachor…

“I think I might have an idea,” I nodded without much confidence.

Remish snorted and shook his head. “You and Zek with your ideas…”

“You’re free to add some input, you know,” I retreated from the edge of the ravine. Once I was far enough, I stood and started back towards the cave.

“What are you thinking, Zayna?” Remish called as loud as he dared.

“Go ahead and give the signal when you’re ready.”

“Zayna!” he hissed, but I ignored him. Soon I left him in the dust, my thoughts whirling as I tried to refine my plan. It wasn’t much; most of it consisted of winging it. As I traveled beside the ravine, I could see where my Pokémon were stationed, patiently waiting for their part in defending the cave.

“Zayna?”

I turned to see Zekarus pulling out of his hiding spot—an alcove set into the ravine wall. Rascal’s fiery eyebrows peered over the rock as well, curious but excited.

“Don’t worry, everything’s fine,” I hurried to assure him. Letting out a shrill whistle, I called for my flyer, Archie. The prehistoric bird appeared in a flurry of feathers, flying from his perch on the opposite side of the ravine.

“What is going on?” Zekarus pressed, unsatisfied with my vague reply.

“Fly, Archie,” I ordered, and obediently the raptor flapped behind me, grabbing my arms just below the shoulder. Giving Zekarus a grin, I shouted, “I found my bag,” before Archie lifted me from the ground.

“Zayna, wait!” Zekarus started climbing out of the alcove, but I was gone before he could stop me.

I had Archie fly me back down the ravine, but landed just before the place where I knew Rouge waited. There, we crouched close to the edge of the cliff, and waited.

Remish, I pleaded, please just stick with the plan.

Down below us, I could see two black points resting in the ground. Strangers might have mistaken them for rocks, but I knew what they were: Rouge’s eyes. They were the only part of his body that remained above ground, the rest of him lurking below the earth like a crocodile waiting in water. I marveled at his immense patience as he remained frozen in place, not even blinking as the wind stirred the dirt. Eventually, the ravine filled with the sound of tromping footsteps. Soon, the first of the men appeared around the corner.

The soldiers stomped on through, oblivious to the Pokémon buried in the earth as they passed. I tightened my hold on the lip of the canyon, straining my ears for the sound I prayed would come.

And come it did: the bugle of Remish’s hunting horn.

Rouge exploded from the dirt, eyes glinting hungrily as he startled the men closest to him. Before they could strike, the Krookodile raised his arms and commenced his part of the plan. The ground beneath the troop suddenly thinned, sinking as it turned into sand. The men at the front suddenly found themselves buried knee-deep into a Sand Tomb they could not escape from. The horse had been trapped as well, flinging its rider from its saddle as it struggled desperately.

Rouge grinned toothily as he reveled in the chaos he had created.

“The Beast!” the rider barked, scrambling to his feet. “Kill it! Kill it!”

The soldiers who weren’t trapped pulled out their weapons and started towards my Pokémon. I tensed, but Rouge sneered, waiting for them to come. Just as they reached him, the crocodile dived into the ground, escaping them as he dug through the earth to safety.

“After it!” the rider roared, looking outraged.

Six men had been trapped in the sand, but the others surged forward. Their footsteps churned the sand, slowing them down some before they reached firm earth once again. With nowhere else to turn to, they went deeper into the ravine, and deeper into our trap. I stood up and walked with Archie down to our next checkpoint: now it was time for Terra to shine. The Scrafty had been positioned on the other side of the ravine, but when men started passing through her turf, she crawled out from her hiding spot.

The men never noticed her as she lifted a boulder several times her size. With her incredible strength, she threw the boulder at my wall. I braced myself as the wall shook with the incredible force. Below, I heard the shouts of men as the rocks rained down on them. The ravine rumbled as a rockslide brought down part of the wall, and if it weren’t for Archie support me, I would have lost my balance. When the chaos stopped, I peered over the edge again. The troop had been separated by the rockslide, half on one side, the rest trapped on the other side.

Now, Kiki would do her part. The Simipour appeared next to Terra, looking absolutely thrilled. Before the men could begin to scale the rock, she deftly climbed her way down the cliff, landing right on the peak of the rock pile.

“What the--?” I overheard a soldier cry as they paused in surprise. Kiki happily screeched, dancing in place until she threw her arms out. For a minute, nothing happened; then, the walls on either side of her exploded. A deluge of brown water flowed from the holes, flowing down towards the startled soldiers. They screamed and started retreating, but their efforts were futile. Kiki’s Surf washed them away, back down the ravine and far from the other men. Kiki laughed, sliding down the now-empty side of the ravine and sticking her tongue out offensively.

“So far, so good,” I muttered, counting up the men we still had to deal with. They had gone to thirty strong, to a mere dozen men.

The rider glared at the rock wall, accusing it of stealing his troops. I spied from atop the ledge, barely hearing the men mutter amongst themselves.

“We should just turn back, Cap’n,” one braved, turning to his leader with care.

“No,” the man’s stubborn voice echoed off the walls. “We’ll keep moving.”

He spun around, fixing his men his men with a determined expression. “The exiled princes are here—I know it. I saw them conspiring with the witch with my own eyes.”

The captain raised my pink bag in emphasis, shaking it before the men’s faces.

I narrowed my eyes. These men weren’t just here for me—they were here for Rem and Zek. The prize for capturing a pair of exiled princes must be tempting, especially for a rank-seeking Captain, I would think. But I wasn’t going to let him find them. I had to stop him.

The men wordlessly continued down the ravine. I followed along the rim of the ravine with them, staying just as silent. Archie, however, was growing anxious. He had no idea what I had in store for him, nor did he understand why I had pulled him from his checkpoint. But he would see, soon enough. Next was Sniper’s turn to shine.

As the men rounded another bend, they suddenly stopped short. I hurried over to the next viewpoint just in time to see what had given them pause: several whirlwinds stirred the dirt ahead, swirling with razor-sharp leaves. The minute the men came into view, Sniper—from his unseen perch—sent the Leaf Tornadoes raging towards them. The continual attacks from my Pokémon had unsettled the soldiers, and for some this was the last straw. While others braved forward, others fell back and began to retreat.

“Stand your ground!” the captain ordered, but even his bellow couldn’t stop their retreat. Apparently, he didn’t have as much of a hold over his men as I had thought—or perhaps their fear for Beasts far outweighed their fear for him. Those who stood with him, however, were soon caught up in the tornadoes, the blades cutting into their armor and skin.

I saw my opportunity.

While the soldiers occupied themselves with fighting the razor-sharp whirlwinds, I stood up and nodded to Archie. The raptor cawed uncertainly, but reluctantly wrapped his talons around my upper arms. Together, we dove from the top of the ravine, heading straight for one man: the captain. He shouted at his men, trying to regain control of the situation, and it was too late when he noticed my approach. The minute he glanced up at us, I landed a kick right to his face.

We both tumbled to the ground. The landing jarred me more than I thought it would, but I glanced around, looking for my bag. There! Just ahead! I started crawling towards it, only to be grabbed from behind. A strong arm abruptly yanked me backwards, throwing me on my back. The face of the Captain seethed down at me.

“You!” he growled wrathfully, his face twisted in such rage that I felt afraid for my life.

“Yeah, nice to meet you again, too,” I spat, and then kicked at his leg. In half a second, I regretted that. His legs had metal shin-guards, and ended up hurting my foot more than his shin. Giving that up, I tried to squirm away. My efforts ceased when he kicked me in the side.

I cried out in pain; he had hit me where I was bruised. As I curled into a pathetic ball, the Captain reached down and secured a strangle hold on my neck, lifting me high into the air.

“You would steal my victory,” he tightened his hold, cutting off the air to my lungs. I gasped, my vision starting to blur before me. “Witch! Spawn of the Demon!”

I guess… I hadn’t thought this through enough. Being strangled to death wasn’t part of the plan. As I tried clawing at his gauntlets, I heard familiar shouting—then a rancorous squawk. Feathers brushed against my face as Archie attacked the captain, claws scratching at his face and armor. The man cried out in pain, losing his grip on me and stumbling backward. I fell to the earth, gasping desperately for air. I slowly lifted my eyes—and found the bag once more.

Light-headed, I crawled towards it as Archie continued battling the captain. I couldn’t see much beyond my narrow goal, but as soon as I wrapped my hand around its strap, I realized that the other soldiers were retreating. Turning around, I found out why: Rascal was coming, tucked into a fiery Rollout with several flaming boulders following after him. Just behind him, Zekarus raced down the ravine.

“Zayna, get out of there!” the dark-haired twin shouted on the top of his lungs.

I glanced back at Rascal, who continued tumbling down the ravine. From the looks of it, the Darmanitan wouldn’t be able to stop easily. Once he was in a Rollout, he stayed until he lost his momentum.

Heart racing, I called out, “Archie!”

The raptor made a final, powerful kick that sent the captain falling onto his back. After giving one last hiss, he flapped back over to me. Catching me around the arms again, we prepared for another flight. I started running, helping the Archeops to get some momentum, and little by little we gained altitude.

Then a hand grabbed my ankle.

We were yanked back to the ground, back into the hands of the vengeful captain. I spun around, holding my screaming ribs, and watched as the man pulled the sword from his hilt. He raised it, aiming right for my skull. Archie squawked, and would have lunged if I hadn’t held him back. No! I couldn’t let him get hurt! Not like Lilly… I wrapped my arms around my Archeops, squeezing my eyes as I expected the blade to pierce through my flesh.

The ground rumbled. I opened my eyes as the first flaming rock careened past—then Rascal. Curled into a tight ball, he rolled right towards us. I watched as he bounced right before us, leaping into the air and catching the captain mid-swing. I didn’t see what happened to the man after he was knocked off his feet; instead, I became preoccupied with the other rocks that rushed towards us.

Grimacing, I sat up and whispered a command: “Ancient Power.”

As soon as I released him, the Archeops turned and sharpened his focus on the incoming avalanche of stone. Spreading out his wings, the raptor cawed. Like soldiers obeying his command, the rocks immediately before us slowed to a stop, letting others harmlessly barrel past us. When they passed, the ravine returned to an ear-piercing silence.

Letting out a sigh of relief, I fell onto my back. My throat felt sore, and my bruised ribs burned with pain, but I was alive. I survived. And I had done it. I had stopped the army, retrieved my bag, and saved two very special twins.

“Zayna!” I heard footsteps approaching.

Speak of the devil, I weakly chuckled. I didn’t try to call back, or even sit up to greet him. I stared up at the blue skies overhead, reveling in our victory. Archie, however, soon blocked my view, and so did the anxious face of Zekarus.

“Hey, Zek,” I smiled. “How ya doing?”

Zekarus shook his head, either stricken, amused, or relieved. Maybe all of the above.

“Are you all right?” he asked, letting concern take over.

“I’ll be fine.” To prove so, I finally sat up—though my grimaces probably didn’t convince them thoroughly enough. Grinning impishly, I held up the bag and said, “Got it.”

Zekarus heaved a frustrated sigh. “Why did you do that? What on earth were you thinking?”

“What? I had to get my bag back. We need the medicine for Shachor.”

He blinked, opening and closing his mouth as he tried to think of something in return. Apparently, he wasn’t use to being the one giving the scolding. “You didn’t… But… That was… Just… don’t go scaring me like that again, Zayna.”

“I can’t make any promises,” I laughed.

“Zekarus! Zayna!” a voice shouted from above. The three of us, including Archie, glanced up to the source, finding Remish calling from the lip of the ravine. “The soldiers are retreating. Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, just peachy,” I answered before Zekarus could, though the burst of air stung my lungs and side.

“Zayna has been hurt,” Zekarus couldn’t stand my honesty.

“What? What happened?”

“I will explain later,” the dark-haired twin replied. “We should head back to camp.”
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Old 07-04-2011, 03:41 AM
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*****

“Zayna, you should rest.”

I dismissed Zekarus with a wave, continuing to head towards the cave. When he grabbed my hand in a sterner attempt to restrain me, I replied, “No. Shachor needs medicine as soon as possible.”

I had a whole legend here to save.

Despite his touching concern, I stubbornly slipped inside Shachor’s lair with my bag in tow. Zekarus and Remish followed watchfully behind, ready to spring forward if I faltered even just a little. I took each step with care, not wanting to give them reason to stop me.

The dragon lay right where we left him, weary eyes observing the world from a distance. Ignoring my own pains, I sat next to him, running my hand through his soft mane. For his sake, I hopped the medicine would help. The herbs I bought back in Driftveil were potent, if not bitter, but would they work for a Pokémon so massive? I guess there was only one way to find out. Burrowing through my medicine bag, I wrapped my hands around a hairy root, and pulled it out.

“What is that?” Remish ventured to ask.

“An Energy Root,” I simply replied, though my mind was preoccupied with the task of fishing out a bowl.

I took little notice of the young men as they watched me work, grinding the root with a make-shift mortar and pestle.

“Water,” I ordered, holding out a hand like a surgeon working on a patient. After a moment of hesitation from the guys, I snapped my fingers impatiently. “Come on, guys, water.”

“R-right,” I heard Zekarus stammer, but he took some time getting me what I wanted. He eventually brought a crudely carved cup, which I snatched from his hands without much thanks. Concentrating, I poured a few trickles of the cool liquid into powder, then stirred the mixture until it turned into a paste.

“All right-ee, big guy,” I lifted the bowl and approached Shachor.

Those golden eyes darted from my face to the bowl before the dragon gave a disgruntled grunt. When I scooped some of the paste onto a spoon and offered it to him, he moved his head away stubbornly.

“Hey, none of that,” I scolded him, though he still refused to cooperate. “Guys, I need some help.”

“What do you want us to do?” Zekarus scratched his head, clueless.

“Both of you sit on either side of his head, and open his mouth,” I gave more orders. This time, however, they weren’t so quick to listen.

“What?” Remish staggered back, while his brother flew bit his lip uncertainly.

“No, you guys can do it,” I reached towards them, calling them back. “Come on, I can’t do it alone. Besides… he’s bonded with you.”

Again, the brothers exchanged tentative glances. For a minute, I thought that they would back away—unable to undo the teachings of a couple hundred year’s worth of beliefs. From childhood, they probably had been told over and over that Pokémon—Beasts—were creatures to be feared and hunted. But to my surprise, both of them nodded simultaneously. Wordlessly, they sat on either side of Shachor’s head, securing it so the dragon couldn’t move away. Remish and Zekarus ran their hand along the dragon’s forehead, looks of concern etched in their expressions.

For a moment, I quietly observed the trio. Here they were: the very entities of a timeless legend, in embryo. In time, one would undertake the pursuit of truth, while the other would seek after ideals. But both would be rulers, and help shape the future of Unova.

And then… I would carry their torch.

“Open wide, Shachor,” I approached with the spoon again with more gentleness. At first, the dragon resisted, but his masters patiently stroked his head, moving their hands to his snout. They forcefully opened his mouth, and though he resisted that at first, Shachor eventually submitted. I reached into the toothy maw cautiously, spreading the paste on the dragon’s tongue. After I was satisfied, I recoiled, and the twins released their hold. We held our breaths as the mouth closed, then released sighs of relief when we heard Shachor swallow.

“Will that be enough, Zayna?” Remish patted the dragon’s hide in obvious pride.

“I hope so,” I weakly smiled, feeling exhausted.

Remish smiled back—the first time I had ever seen him do so. He bowed his head in earnest humility, “Thank you. We are ever indebted to you. If you need anything, do not hesitate to ask.”

Actually, I’d appreciate it if you could help me get back home, I wanted to ask. I knew I couldn’t, however. They wouldn’t be able to help me, not in that way. I had been avoiding the thought since the attack, but now it returned to me unbidden: how would I ever get home?

“Zayna, you should get some rest,” said Zekarus, somewhat hypocritically. He looked just as exhausted as I was, even as he tried to keep up a joking smirk.

“No, I’m fine,” I told him, though not sounding as confident as I wanted to. He chuckled slightly, getting to his feet, and then offered a hand. I didn’t have the energy to argue. I took his hand, and he gently pulled me up beside him. Careful with my injuries, he guided me back outside where a happy campfire burned.

“Are you always this bossy?” I grumbled as he sat me down on a bedroll.

“Only on special occasions, miss,” he chuckled.

I wondered how I could possibly fall asleep with all the pain I felt in my ribs, but somehow, not long after Zekarus sat next to me, I ended up leaning against his shoulder, dozing dreamlessly. It felt so familiar, resting against him, with the crackling of the fire and the choir of insects in the distance. Since arriving in the past, I felt comfortable for the first time. I didn’t worry about what I would do tomorrow. It didn’t matter, not right now.

Sometime during the night, after the fire had faded to glowing embers, I woke up. Remish was nowhere to be seen, and Zekarus was peacefully sleeping with his head tilted to the stars. Color touched my face as I realized that I had been leaning against him. How did I let that happen? Quietly, I retreated, taking care not to disturb him.

But what had disturbed me?

Standing, I glanced around the campsite. For a moment, I felt a trill of fear—was it the soldiers? Had they returned for another try? Yet as I turned towards the cave, my fear was replaced with wonder.

“Shachor…” I breathed.

The dragon had emerged from his lair, holding his head high from the earth. He had gone through a miraculous recovery, no longer the sickly dragon wheezing in the cave. He stood on two powerful, thick legs, with long forelimbs folded up against his chest. His wings rested along his sides, half-feathered, half-scaled. I imagined that if he stretched them out, they would fill the gorge’s ceiling. With the lighting that came from the moon and stars, I could see the similarities—the Reshiram that hid within. But I could see something more… the other dragon, my dragon…

Shachor’s golden gaze locked into mine, and I could have sworn he spoke. Well done, thou chosen servant. I gaped at the dragon for a moment, before I glanced around like an idiot looking for the source of the sound. Only when I returned to Shachor did I realize my silly mistake. He had spoken. And I understood.

“Zayna?” Zekarus stirred from his slumber. When he saw Shachor, he started from his seat. “Shachor! You are… you are healed!”

“Yes,” I raised the corner of my mouth in a happy—yet sad—smile.

“Something wrong?” the twin joined my side, not missing the strange tone in my voice.

I turned to him, stuck between two worlds. “He… he can send me home.”

“Your… home?” The poor boy looked confused. “But… I thought…”

I shook my head. “I… I’m needed somewhere else.”

Unexpectedly, he took my hand, “Wait. Can’t you stay? Just a while longer?”

Did he have to make this difficult? Biting my lip, I slowly retracted my hands. “I don’t belong here, Zek. Never will. But… I should thank you.”

He stared at me, somewhere between sadness and bafflement.

Stepping backwards, I continued, “I was struggling for a while, wondering if I had what it took to face the enemy. Then I came here—and I fought an army. We fought an army, and we won.” Glancing up to Shachor, I added, “It made me realize that I have so much to fight for, so much to protect. But even if the numbers are piled against me… I can still win. I need to go now, and face my destiny, because if I don’t, then all is truly lost. Even if I have doubts, I’ll fight. If I lose, then at least I lost fighting for what is right.”

I don’t think he understood me, but nonetheless, Zekarus relented. Even if it hurt him. With a diminished voice, he nodded, “You should go, then.”

I smiled, then moved forward to wrap my arms around him. “Thanks, Zek.”

He hugged me tighter, whispering, “Take care, Zayna.”

After we released each other, I turned to Shachor with renewed readiness.

Take me home, Shachor, I nodded to the great dragon.

Shachor leaned over, opening his mouth. His breath stirred my hair, swirling around me in a purple cloud. I guess I could have inserted a joke about dragon’s breath right then, but honestly, I couldn’t smell anything. Soon, I couldn’t see anything. All I could see was swirling mists, and I sensed that Zekarus was no longer at my side. A bright light appeared overhead, momentarily blinding me. When I could open my eyes again, the mist was gone. I stood in a circle of rocky pillars, with a familiar cave right behind me. Birds sang, clouds rolled by, and everything went on as if nothing had changed.

The moment seemed so surreal that I couldn’t decide whether or not I was dreaming. The magic broke, however, when an electronic ringing sounded. It took me a minute to realize what it was: my Xtranciever, ringing from my bag that had somehow appeared next to me. Fumbling with the zippers, I burrowed through and retrieved the device, answering it just before the last ring.

“H-hello?” I stammered into the receiver.

“Zayna! There you are! Where on earth have you been?” Professor Juniper’s laughing face appeared on the screen.

I took my time to answer, pondering over my experience. With a grin, I simply answered, “Just searching my roots.”


END
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