H E R E..B E G I N S..P A R T..T W O :..J U D G E M E N T
Chapter 21: A New Dawn
The leaf that tickled my nose was beginning to get annoying. I blew it away with a short puff of air and cringed when a sharp pain shot through me. My paw automatically reached down to clutch at my stomach. The rough bandages felt strange against my fur. I closed my eyes for a brief second and took in a deep breath. So much had changed in so little time.
It had now been a week since we’d fled from the PRA and Deoxys’ attack. I had only awoken a few days ago. The first thing I’d seen when I’d opened my eyes was Jarre’s flashing grin. It turned out that he’d been keeping a rather close eye on me. I was amazed when he told me all that had happened. Jarre had stood up to Balian, only to be confronted by Deoxys himself!
He didn’t go into much detail about Groudon’s death, though. I could tell that he blamed himself for what happened. I tried to tell him over and over that that wasn’t the case, but either he didn’t hear, or didn’t care.
I was happy to see Lani up and about. She told me that the poison had only been temporary; that Balian still cared about her too much to kill her. That left me wondering if Balian really was
working for Deoxys after all. Could he be pretending?
I shook my head thoroughly, but gently. I was still rather weak, and had only just started walking again. But that was the least of my concerns. My own injuries were nothing compared to the Elekid that lay beside me.
Rye was lying on a small, leafy bed. His expression was pained, his arms lashing out every minute or so. No matter how hard everyone tried to persuade me to move, I would not budge from Rye’s side. Like Jarre, I blamed myself for the mess I’d dragged him and everyone else into. When I’d asked Jarre what had happened to him, he muttered something about ‘dark energy’ then snorted and left. I got a better answer out of Quoll later on.
I was rather pleased to meet the Pidgey. She seemed really smart, if a bit shy. She told me that the Weavile who had attacked him was one of the Hunters. I had shuddered at the mention of the name; I knew who they were after glancing into Jarre’s orb. She moved on to tell me that they had been imbued with a special power called ‘shadow poison’. With this poison, any Pokemon they infected would gradually turn into a Dark Pokemon, the result ending up like Scythe when she turned, only permanent.
Quoll mentioned that the change wouldn’t happen until the poison reached the heart. It was taking an awfully long time though. When I’d asked why he was still struggling, she said it was because he had a strong spirit. Apparently, if the spirit was strong enough, it could drive the poison away. When I’d asked why Rye had severed our link, she only murmured and turned away. It took me a while to persuade Jarre to tell me.
He said that Rye had cut the link because it was the best way I
would survive. He told me that Rye’s pain was too strong. While we were stronger when we were linked, he was also dragging me down with him. But something else nagged at me through the back of my mind; another reason, perhaps?
Jarre wouldn’t answer anything else. He sulked off like the rest of our team, plus the two new Eevee-lutions. Dawn was just approaching, so most of our party was still asleep; the exception being me. I had woken up early from nightmares again. They began to haunt my sleep a lot these days, and had the effect of reducing me to a curled figure. Not knowing how Rye was only made it worse.
I’d been trying to re-establish our link, but without him accepting, it was pretty much pointless. So that was when I’d decided to sit guard next to him. I’d keep an eye on him like this then. A gentle snap interrupted my thoughts and my eyes opened wearily.
“Zanna? May I talk to you?” Codan had his head to the side, mouth curved up in a warming smile. I nodded and yawned slowly.
“Sure, but I’m not moving.”
The Dragonite sighed. “I thought that might be the case.” He shook his head lightly and sat down beside me, gazing at the still visible moon in the sky. “Do you remember my story about Reyna?” he asked awkwardly. I frowned and stared at him.
“Yes, why do you bring that up?”
“I’ve noticed,” he said distantly, “that you’ve taken quite a liking to Rye.”
At this point, I almost choked on my own saliva. “What?! Rye? You’ve got to be kidding!”
The Dragonite chuckled and turned back to the moon. “I’ve had my experience with him, too. When he was saving you, I could sense not only a fondness for you, but almost a-”
“Yeah, yeah. I get it.” I yawned and cut him off sharply, lying across the grass. I had no intention of having this conversation with Codan.
“I wish you’d take me seriously, Zanna. I’ve been there. Don’t do it.”
“I’m not going to do anything!” I shot back. “Utterly impossible! I barely know him anyway.” I could see that Codan’s usually easy-going disposition had changed.
“Look, Lani, Jarre and I have all talked about it and-”
“WHAT??!” I shouted. “Jarre and Lani, too? JARRE?!”
Codan flashed a grin. “Jarre was the one who agreed the most.”
I sighed, rubbing my temples in small, circular motions. “I’m surrounded by idiots…”
The Dragonite shook his head rapidly. “Just, if he wakes up…” he trailed off and sighed.
“Don’t worry,” I answered. “Not in a million years.” I grinned broadly as I turned to him. “He’s not my type, anyway.” This seemed to satisfy him enough. The large Pokemon raised an eyebrow, but stood up swiftly and strode away back to the campsite.
I turned my head to the left slightly and eyed Rye. Seriously! Did he think I’d like Rye? He was polite, smart…strong…handsome…mysterious…ah! I shook my head twice in a swift motion. I couldn’t…could I? And the message Rye has sent through my mind – and I knew it was him – “I need you…”
Maybe Codan was right. Did he like me?
Huh…to be honest, it certainly would make a lot of sense.
The cold breeze that blew past freed me of my sudden thoughts, and for the first time in two days, I stood up to go for a walk.
“Why are you following me?!” I snapped back as a tree branch quivered slightly. Jarre stepped out from behind it and grinned.
“Thought you might like some company,” he replied hastily. I raised an eyebrow. Jarre sighed. “Codan asked me to keep an eye on you,” he amended.
I glared at him. “What? Does Codan think I need babysitting?” I moved a few steps towards him – too fast – and ended up doubled over on the forest floor. Jarre was with me in seconds.
“This is why he wanted me to keep an eye on you,” he murmured gently. “Are you alright?” He brushed a soft wing across my fur for comfort.
“I’m…fine,” I wheezed. “I’m just…oh!” Both paws flew to my stomach. Jarre grew concerned.
“You know, we can always go back…”
“No,” I murmured. “I’ll be alright.” I removed one paw slowly, then the other. Once I couldn’t feel any more pain, I stood up fully, gently arching my back. “See?” I smiled, ignoring Jarre’s look of protest.
I walked further into the forest, not knowing where I was going, but somehow being guided. “Hey, wait up!” he called after me. Jarre walked silently by my side as we took a look around the forest. I was actually amazed by how beautiful it was. The trees reached into the sky, the canopy blocking almost every ray of sunlight. Where it did shine, masses of wildflowers bloomed and twined themselves into vines and roots. Taillow chirped and Beedrill hummed melodically in almost perfect synchronisation. A shallow stream ran to my right. I glanced over to see a tiny Wooper frolicking by the stones.
“Hi!” It smiled up at me as we passed. I grinned and nodded in acknowledgement.
“Where are we?” I whispered to Jarre, as though talking any louder would ruin the untainted harmony sealed within the forest.
“We set up camp in a clearing by the Ocacia Rainforest. It’ll still be a few days, if not longer, until we reach Wingardom City, though.”
I pondered this for a moment. “Wait, I thought you said we were going to the Missionary?” Jarre turned to look at me.
“We are. It’s located right underneath the city. We thought we’d hold off until the Elekid wakes up, though.”
“That Elekid,” I shot back, “is called Rye.” I cast him a sideways glare before moving on. Jarre said nothing as he followed me again. The silence was beginning to get awkward.
“Where are we going?”
I sighed as the Torchic broke the silence. “I don’t know,” I replied, walking on. Then I smiled faintly. “Hey, maybe we’ll find a lost city out here.” I sniggered to myself softly.
“Uh huh…I wouldn’t bet on it.” Jarre seemed less than optimistic about the idea. I was still laughing when I pulled back some ferns. Almost instantly I was blinded. I raised a paw to shield my eyes.
“Jarre!” I called weakly.
“Here, Zanna!” He dragged me off to the side and the light disappeared. I struggled to breathe.
“Wha-what was that?”
The Torchic shook his head. “I’m not sure. Maybe I should take a look.” I opened my mouth to protest, but he’d already vanished. It wasn’t long before he reappeared, a huge grin spread across his face. “Hey, Zanna, remember that joke about the lost city?” I stared at him with my mouth wide open.
“No,” he agreed. “But check this out.” Jarre parted the ferns with a wing as I stared at him questioningly. The Torchic merely nodded as I peered around them. If it was possible for my mouth to gape any wider, it did.
What stood before me was better than any lost city. It seemed to be an ancient temple, possibly thousands of years old. I couldn’t utter a single word; all I could do was stare. The stone building arched for miles and towered like a pyramid. Well,
I thought, if it isn’t a lost city, it’s certainly as big as one.
But though the stonework and size was impressive, they were nothing compared to what surrounded it.
Just like before, the vines of the trees seemed to have woven themselves into the temple. But the strange thing was that they formed an arc over the top of it. I suppose this is what had protected the temple all this time. The shield of vines had covered it safely from erosion. The river that we’d followed now stretched out into a glorious lake. It joined up to a cascading waterfall which led to the temple entrance. The only way into the temple seemed to be via a half ruined stone bridge.
By now, Jarre had joined me and was eyeing the large temple with awe. “Do you think we should go in?” I craned my neck higher to search for the temple doors, but they were obscured from view.
“Uh…don’t you think a place like that would have a lot of traps?” I replied slowly.
Jarre raised a wing to his beak for a moment before grinning. “I’m up for it if you are.” I frowned and gestured to the bandages that covered my body. “Oh…right. Well, you have a bodyguard!”
I laughed gently. “You really want to go up there, don’t you?”
Jarre began to walk towards the bridge and called back to me. “I don’t think I would if you weren’t coming. Makes it more fun this way.” The Torchic winked back at me and waited by the edge of the bridge. I frowned for a moment. And what did that
mean? Nevertheless, I shook my head and joined Jarre a moment later.
“This better be safe,” I said, eyeing the rocks that seemed to crumble at the slightest touch. “I know quite a few Pokemon back at camp who would murder you if I wasn’t brought back alive.” I smirked sideways at Jarre who merely took a step forward.
“Zanna, please. Would I purposely put you in danger?” He stared at me so hard that I went to feel for a hole in my face.
“No,” I muttered once I’d found my voice again.
“Good,” he replied gently. “So I’ll protect you all the way. Let’s go.”
I was cautious as I crossed the bridge, but my mind somehow wandered back to Rye. This seemed more of his specialty than Jarre’s. My step faltered for a second and a rock collapsed beneath my feet. Jarre grabbed hold of me and held me back before I could move any further. “Zanna! Watch what you’re doing!” He looked at the expression on my face and then frowned. “Are you alright?”
“I-I…” I don’t know...
I suddenly felt very strange. I let a paw trace the bandages around my stomach and held it there. A dull throb was beginning to pulse through me.
“Zanna?” I kept my eyes scrunched now. I felt woozy. Why…was I like this? “That’s it. We’re going back.”
“No…” I muttered. Then I stopped. A small sound had run through my mind. “What? No…” That voice…
it was…”Rye!” I shouted, standing fully upright in an instant. “I think he’s…in trouble!” Jarre glanced at me oddly, but nodded. He’d begun to trust my instincts.
“Now should we go back?” I opened my mouth to reply, but flinched as another wave of pain shot through me. The force of it compelled me to the ground, buckled in agony. I writhed soundlessly as Jarre mouthed words that seemed distant. As I tried to grasp at some last strand of reality, something surrounded me, gently pushing me down.
I had forgotten what it was like to feel so groggy, let alone feel anything. This place,
I thought. It seems familiar.
My eyes fluttered open to meet a light blue ceiling. No sound could be heard; I was very much aware of that. As I sat up, I realised I was inside the temple. Jarre must have dragged me here,
I thought calmly. But something wasn’t right. The temple had taken an odd, iridescent glow, almost like that of a rainbow.
The sharp, throbbing pain had now ceased, and I was able to stand with no ailment. My first impression of this place was that it was ancient.
The carvings would have said it all, had the style not caught my eye.
Large stone pillars protruded upwards from the ground and ran towards the ceiling where they formed a graceful arch. I was walking on what seemed to be a marble floor, but it was so aged that it had cracked in all but a few places. I raised a paw to my eyes and peered further into the archway. Several hallways broke off from the main room and I suddenly felt very small in this vast place.
I took an anxious step forward when someone called my name. “Huh?” I turned around instantly, but no one stepped out to meet me. I shook my head brusquely. It must have been my imagination. I took another step forward and a flash of white light glistened in front of me. My movement halted in midair as a white form materialised.
“Greetings, young one,” a voice echoed from the midst of the light. “I have been waiting for you.” As the light took a final form, I saw it looked almost exactly like myself, only slightly larger and more graceful. It was male, I could tell, for its voice was deep, though enthralling. The Pikachu remained white and never fully materialised; just stayed as a flickering, white form.
“Wh-who are you?” I managed to croak out. I was actually surprised I hadn’t bolted yet, had I been able to do so. The white Pikachu smiled. I think.
“I was expecting more of a ‘what are you’,” it answered warmly. “But that will do just fine. I am an Ancestral Light Guardian, and my name is Altair.”
I frowned slowly. “Ancestral…what?”
Altair laughed lightly and gently touched a paw to my stomach. “You are hurt…here…” I tried to recoil as the light reached out, but Altair merely placed his paw against me, a shining light flowing from his palm. Instantly, I began to feel better.
“Shh,” he whispered. “Look.” I glanced down at my stomach and removed the bandages. I swear I could have almost fainted.
“It’s gone!” I shouted, twisting every way I could. Not a single stab of pain could be felt anywhere. I stared up at Altair who merely smiled at me.
“I healed you,” he replied, as if that was the easiest thing in the world. “Zanna,” he murmured, grabbing hold of my paw. “I want you to have this.” I looked to where our palms joined. A small flash passed from Altair’s paw to mine in an instant. “What I just did, the power is now yours.” He released my paw and studied my face for a kind of gratitude. I could only blink.
“I…I can heal?” I replied, stunned.
Altair raised a paw to his mouth and laughed airily again. “My, you’re funny. It’s been so long…since I’ve had company…” Altair’s face abruptly changed into a grim frown.
“What happened?” I asked, trying to console him. The Light Pokemon shook his head.
“I died…many years ago. Your kind will remember me as a hero…but that was not so.” He hung his head before staring at me sadly. “If I could cry, I would. But I’m only a spirit, incapable of any such gesture…” The Pikachu broke off and looked up at the ceiling. “Zanna, you are the first Light Pokemon in over a hundred, thousand years.”
I stood completely shocked. Then I remembered something. Though I was half unconscious at the time, I was sure Balian had uttered the word ‘Altair’. “Balian mentioned you,” I said hesitantly.
Altair looked back at me solemnly. “Yes, I was the first ever Light Pokemon, and the last. It was I who drove off the dark invaders. But by sheer luck.” He laughed dryly and then turned away. “But I didn’t bring you here for that.”
“You?! You brought me here? Wait, where exactly is ‘here’?” I asked. Altair responded calmly.
“I brought you to the Spirit World, also known as the Farplane. Here, I am able to interact with you. But your friends…everyone who is still alive will cease to exist here. This is a world only for the dead.”
I gasped and recoiled without thinking. I touched myself warily. “Am I…”
“No!” he amended. “I can talk to you because you’re a Light Pokemon; a guardian of Talzere. I think…only you can bring balance now. But it won’t be so easy; everything has gone out of order!” He threw up his paws and stopped moving. He seemed to be thinking. “Hmm…come, Zanna. I want to show you something.” He held out a paw for me and when I took it, gently led me through the archway.
He still held my paw as we stopped by some ancient carvings to examine them. “This one,” Altair motioned with his free paw, “describes what happened to Talzere when the Dark Ones invaded.” I went to take a closer look, but the impatient Pokemon dragged me on. He stopped at a rather dusty and dark carving. “This one,” he said in a mere whisper, “depicts my death…” He trailed off and left me to stare at it. I realised that the light etching was of Altair, but who was the dark figure? It looked similar to a cloaked shadow. “That is Darkrai,” Altair answered, noticing my gaze. “He was the one who led the Dark Ones. I sacrificed myself unwillingly to send him here, to the Farplane.”
I ran a paw over the cracked stone and stopped as it rested on the light etching, smeared with red. I closed my eyes, disgusted. “Then you were a hero,” I murmured. “You were so brave…”
To be continued in next post...