Ok, I'm finally able to post the chapter! This one's a little shorter than some of the others, but still pretty long.
The Path of Destiny
Chapter 26-Journey Through Darkness
Snowcrystal, Spark, Wildflame, and Rosie had continued walking at a slow pace. Rosie, who was trying her best not to complain, had been struggling to keep up with the others. When one of her friends asked her if she was all right, she would simply make a short reply saying she was, and continue hobbling after the others.
“Snowcrystal?” Spark asked as he limped over the grass, “Do you think we should stop and rest? I don’t see why we have to keep going like this…we have no clue where to start looking for Articuno…”
Snowcrystal was about to agree that they rest when Wildflame interrupted them. “Humans are near,” the houndoom stated quietly, scenting the air, “And a pokémon. We have to go…”
Fearfully, the four pokémon increased their pace, running through the tall grass without looking behind them. Up ahead, Wildflame spotted a tall group of rocks with a dark gaping hole at their base. “We can hide in that cave!” she cried, noticing that Rosie and Spark were starting to have trouble keeping up.
As soon as they reached the large grayish stones, the four pokémon darted into the cave, keeping to the shadows and huddling against the cold rock. Snowcrystal turned around, noticing drops of water trickling down the walls.
“Do you think they’re poachers?” Spark asked Wildflame fearfully, distracting Snowcrystal.
“Don’t know, don’t care,” Wildflame replied, “All humans are bad news for us, now quiet!”
Snowcrystal found her thoughts drifting back to the strange wounds Thunder had gotten from the poachers-those wounds had seemed small, but they had been very deep, and bled a lot. She hated to think of a poacher giving a pokémon a wound like that in their neck-they would die for sure.
These thoughts only worried her further, and she edged backwards into the cave, fearful the humans might walk closer and spot them.
Suddenly, without warning, a clawed paw covered her muzzle, and a thick vine looped around her neck. Snowcrystal made a strangled cry, causing the others to turn towards her.
Wildflame rushed forward, but long vines looped around her paws, bringing her crashing to the ground. Rosie and Spark were soon in the same state, other vines soon wrapping around their muzzles and silencing them. Spark’s head had struck a rock, and he seemed to dazed to use any electric attacks.
Snowcrystal snapped at the paw covering her mouth, causing its owner to yelp and draw back. Struggling against the vine on her neck, she moved towards the others, hoping a fire attack could free them, when suddenly a strange, choking scent filled the air around them.
Snowcrystal coughed as the pungent fumes become stronger, and she began to feel dizzy and disoriented. She soon stumbled over her own paws, landing flat on the ground. She was tired…very tired… She tried to fight it, but her efforts seemed to be useless as she continued to breathe in the scent, and her vision started to fade. She struggled to stay awake, but a few moments later, her senses faded into blackness as the pokémon who had attacked gathered around them.
Justin stopped and stared. For a moment, if only just a split second, he had thought he had seen the white growlithe and some other pokémon running in the distance. He sighed, realizing that it could have been any other white-furred pokémon, and decided not to mention it to Katie.
They had traveled far, and not found any sign of the growlithe. Katie, however, had a new goal in mind. She had told Justin that she believed that many rare pokémon lived in the areas most trainers didn’t bother to explore, and had told Justin that she planned on exploring these areas, though how far she was going to explore, Justin didn’t know for sure. He was actually pleased with the idea, for it gave him a chance to make a new discovery-what if there were even other species
of pokémon out there just waiting to be found?
Whether there was or not, traveling here would be a lot better than having to watch Katie follow the routes, battling other trainers and winning gym badges in the cities; something he could no longer do. At least here he’d be able to be of help, as he had a lot of experience from traveling in the wilderness from when he was a trainer.
Watching Katie’s shinx and poochyena happily chasing each other, Justin fingered the pokéball he always carried in his pocket. He knew he really wasn’t allowed to use it on a pokémon, though he was sure the police would make an exception if he found something new or rare and made a discovery. Sometime, he hoped, they would find a very rare pokémon and he’d have a chance to use it, and if they could find the white growlithe…it would be a good target.
When Redclaw woke, he found himself in complete darkness. Dazed, he tried to move, finding himself trapped beneath large pieces of wood and metal. Feeling panicked, he pushed with his back legs against the ground, scrabbling forward until he was free. Hearing some of the pieces of wood collapse, he shuddered, but nothing else happened. Confused by the darkness, Redclaw blew a tiny flame into the air, looking at the scene around him before it flickered out.
He was in a hollow space, most likely deep within the collapsed building. A part of the wall to the left of him had held, forming the small enclosed space when the floors above him had collapsed.
Standing up, Redclaw limped around the area, feeling the walls with his nose and paws while occasionally using a small bit of flame, trying to determine if there was any way out. Finding none, he looked around the small area, alarm filling his mind as he remembered that Stormblade had fallen too.
Finding it hard to walk with all the chunks of debris on the floor, Redclaw searched for any sign of his friend, knowing he had to be nearby. After a moment, he paused as the scent of blood reached him.
Walking toward it, he found a large wooden beam that took up a big part of the enclosed space, that he hadn’t given much notice to before. Following it, he came to where rubble blocked off any exit, but there was no sign of Stormblade, even though the scent of blood was strong.
Redclaw paused before starting to dig through the rubble. After pushing aside a few wooden beams, he came across an even smaller space. Stormblade was lying inside, half covered by wood or metal. Redclaw crawled in halfway, grabbing Stormblade’s wing in his mouth and carefully dragging him out of the small space, before sitting beside him near the large wooden beam he had found earlier.
Stormblade’s left wing was torn to shreds near the top, and Redclaw could see various other cuts and bruises along the scyther’s body. He nudged Stormblade, expecting a response, but getting none. Leaning closer to Stormblade, he could hear his friend’s feeble breathing. Relieved, Redclaw lay down beside him, knowing there was nothing more to do now but wait. Wait, and hope for a miracle.
As time dragged by, Redclaw stayed beside Stormblade, feeling unusually tired. Stormblade had woken up a little while ago, and had been coughing a lot, which worried Redclaw. He knew that Stormblade had breathed in the smoke and needed to get to where there was fresh air, but there seemed to be no way out unless he moved a lot of the rubble, and even then…would there even be a way out at all? Redclaw closed his eyes, trying to calm down. He was starting to get a headache, and the wounds he had gotten from the fall pained him, though luckily they weren’t serious.
Stormblade was faring a lot worse; the gash on his head had started to bleed again and the pain had intensified. As he tried to rest, Redclaw got up and searched around the room yet again for a way out, like he had done before.
Wearily, Redclaw pushed against the heap of rubble that blocked one side of the small area, but it barely budged. Sighing, he walked over to Stormblade, who had started coughing again, and sat down.
“There has to be some way out of here…” Stormblade whispered weakly to Redclaw once his coughing had subsided, “I think the only way we’re going to get out of here is to climb back up…”
Redclaw looked up, using the light of a small, flickering ember attack to brighten up the area. Above them, the ceiling had collapsed, and so had most of the one above it. Yet what surprised him was there was a long wooden beam leading up to what was once one of the higher floors, and there seemed to be a way they could climb further using the rubble.
“You’re right…” Redclaw murmured, letting the flame die away. “The only problem is the climbing
…” He turned to Stormblade, and though he couldn’t see the scyther’s face, the silence that followed his statement was enough to tell him that Stormblade was afraid…afraid he wasn’t going to make it out.
Looking up at the beam, Redclaw pressed his paw against it. Leaning against the rest of the rubble, it seemed sturdy enough for him to climb, if he climbed quickly. Gripping it with his claws, the arcanine scrabbled up the pile of rubble using the beam until he reached a flat surface above, and climbed up onto it. He turned and looked down at Stormblade, softly blowing a small flame to light the scyther’s way and make his climb easier.
Stormblade, doing his best to endure the pain from his many wounds, tried to climb up the beam multiple times, but each attempt failed. At last, overcome by exhaustion, he sat down, his injured wing hanging limply at his side.
Redclaw sighed and sat down, feeling hopeless. After a moment, Stormblade lifted his head and looked upward through the blackness. To Redclaw’s surprise, the injured scyther struggled to his feet again, attempting to climb up the beam another time, this time sinking his scythes deeper into the wood as he climbed, helping him to climb further.
Redclaw watched him, using another small fire attack to light up the area, until Stormblade was close enough for Redclaw to help him up the rest of the way. Redclaw let Stormblade rest for a moment as he sat down again, feeling some of his hope returning-Stormblade was still weak, but it made Redclaw hopeful to know that he wasn’t going to give up easily.
As they were resting, Stormblade suddenly spoke up. “Do you smell that?” he asked in a weak voice, “There’s fresh air…coming from over here…”
Redclaw used yet another small fire attack to light the way as Stormblade awkwardly limped over to where a wall had collapsed, looking for any opening. Redclaw approached as Stormblade broke into a fit of coughing, and examined the collapsed wall himself.
After a few moments, he scented what Stormblade had, and realized that there was a small opening near the top of the destroyed wall, where air was coming through. Frantically digging at the rubble, he used all his strength to push the large pieces of debris out of the way, while Stormblade watched while trying to stop coughing.
After a moment, the remainder of the wall collapsed, raising a small cloud of dust. A couple pieces of the ceiling fell down, but most of the ceiling was supported by another part of the wall that was only half collapsed. Redclaw carefully peered inside the opening he had created, using the light of fire, before he helped Stormblade into it, noticing that most of the room behind the wall he’d just broken down had been completely destroyed, and there was only a small space the two could stand in.
Redclaw could still faintly smell fresh air, and walked forward, quickly realizing that it was coming from somewhere above them. Helping Stormblade climb over part of a collapsed wall and ceiling, they reached another place where an opening led them into what was once another room. Obviously the ceiling from below had collapsed, but most of the one that was now above them hadn’t.
“This way,” Stormblade whispered, taking a few unsteady steps forward with the aid of his scythes, “I can smell the fresh air coming from-” He stopped mid-sentence, as the ground beneath him suddenly gave way. Redclaw darted forward, grabbing Stormblade’s wing in his teeth and yanking him back before he could fall through the opening.
“Careful!” The arcanine whispered to the cringing scyther, “Let me go first…”
Cautiously skirting the opening in the floor, Redclaw followed the faint scent of fresh air, soon spotting a dark opening at the base of a wall. “Through here!” he whispered, leading Stormblade toward it.
Slowly Redclaw crept inside, feeling something sharp brush against his fur as Stormblade followed, much more slowly. Several times Redclaw had to duck or move to the side if a large piece of wood or rubble was in the way. After a while of crawling over strewn debris and occasionally having to clear the way for Stormblade, Redclaw could smell the fresh air much stronger.
“I think we’re getting closer!” the arcanine shouted excitedly, “Up ahead must be near where we can reach the surface!” After a short while of climbing and crawling, Redclaw could sense that they were very close to the surface. The fresh air could be smelled much clearer, and they had been climbing upwards through the destroyed building for a while.
Helping Stormblade, Redclaw walked forward, stopping when he felt a faint breeze. “This way!” he called, excited, as he made his way over the rubble-strewn floor, soon noticing a thin sliver of moonlight shining down on them through a small hole near the top of a thick wall.
Going ahead of Stormblade, Redclaw placed his front paws on the wall, peering up through the small opening. He couldn’t see much through the darkness, but he could tell that even if they broke through the wall, they would have to climb over a large heap of debris that blocked the way. Telling Stormblade to back up, Redclaw studied the wall for a weak point. “Guess I’ll have to make us a way out of here myself!” he told the scyther, determined, before running up and slamming his shoulder against the weakest part of the damaged wall.
Thunder woke up suddenly, feeling strangely wary and nervous. At first, she was unsure what had woken her. Then, a strange scent reached her, and she froze, recognizing it instantly. Human…
Standing up, Thunder darted behind the rock she had been laying against, watching the human come into view. She could not see him clearly, but he didn’t seem to have noticed her, as he had stopped near another rock and put something on the ground.
Why he had come here, she wasn’t sure, but she stayed put, watching with interest as the human set up a trap before moving onto another spot. This was a poacher…but what was he doing here?
Deciding it was best to move on in case the human had a gun, Thunder slipped away into the darkness, heading for the grove of trees. For some reason, seeing the poacher had made her unsettled, but she figured that if she left, she wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore.
However, even once she was out of immediate danger, she still felt worried, though she was unsure why. Pausing as she noticed a pidgey land on a small rock nearby, she pushed the thought from her mind. She was going to be well able to survive and learn to hunt on her own, so why worry?
Trying to keep quiet, Thunder edged closer to the pidgey, but it noticed her and flew away before she could get close enough to strike. Frustrated, she turned and ran toward the trees, deciding to try and hunt again when daylight came.
(Continued in next post...)