Sorry for how late this is-I've been having more inspiration with Mind Whisperer lately until just a little while ago. But now, here's chapter 39! I don't really like how this one turned out, but I did my best! ^^'
The Path of Destiny
Chapter 39-The Battle
Snowcrystal left her friends’ cavern in the early morning. She was tired of waiting for sunrise. She thought of going to check on Stormblade, and quickly made her way back to the cavern her friends were still resting in to see if any of them wanted to come with her.
Upon entering the cavern, she wasn’t surprised to find everyone still awake-no one had slept the entire night. Nightshade, however, wasn’t there. Unsure of where he had gone, she asked the others if any of them wanted to see Stormblade, but to her surprise, all but Rosie refused. Snowcrystal wasn’t sure she could blame them, and it surprised her that Rosie had been willing to come; the ninetales had looked the most shocked and horrified upon seeing Stormblade’s condition before.
They headed toward the healer’s cavern together, and when they reached it, they were surprised to find the healer gone. She supposed that Streamrose must be caring for some other pokémon somewhere else, but she found herself feeling a bit angry that she had left Stormblade alone.
As she walked inside, it didn’t take the growlithe long to find Stormblade in one of the small caverns further back, near a small pool where water had collected from somewhere else in the cave. He was lying on a large patch of moss next to the water, and though Snowcrystal could see that he was no longer covered in mud, that fact actually made looking at him worse. Now that the mud was gone, she could see how badly hurt he was. On his back were long vertical gashes that made Snowcrystal wonder what on earth could have torn wounds so deeply in an armored pokémon. There were other cuts as well, but none of them were as severe as the ones across his back. As she approached Stormblade, the scyther didn’t give any indication that he was awake.
She walked closer, nudging Stormblade’s head with her muzzle. This time, the scyther’s eyes slowly flickered open and turned to look at her. His blue eyes seemed dull and lifeless, in a way that she had never seen them before. It startled her.
“Snowcrystal?” he asked in a barely audible voice, and as he opened his mouth, Snowcrystal could see that there was blood covering most of his white teeth. “I thought you were dead.”
“Dead?” Snowcrystal repeated. “But why would I-”
“Where are the others?” Stormblade asked. “Are they dead?”
Snowcrystal rapidly shook her head, and Rosie stepped forward, to show Stormblade that she was there as well. She wondered why the scyther hadn’t smelled her. “We’re all fine,” Snowcrystal told him. “Well, Thunder’s sick, but…” Her voice trailed off as she realized that she probably shouldn’t have told him that.
“You’re all here?” Stormblade whispered, sounding more hopeful than she had heard him sound so far. Looking at him, she nodded. Stormblade seemed both relieved and confused. His eyes moved away from Snowcrystal and to the wall of the cave. After a moment he continued. “I think I understand now,” he continued in his wavering voice. “That night…when I was traveling alone, I saw Solus kill all of you. I realize now it must have been a dream, or I was hallucinating…but when I was with Cyclone’s army, Solus told me he would do it…showed me he could with his psychic powers, so I thought that what I saw was real, and I gave up after that.”
Snowcrystal was at a loss for what to say, but before she could open her mouth to say anything, Rosie spoke instead. “Well we’re not dead!” she cried. “You shouldn’t have believed anything that stupid pokémon said!”
Stormblade didn’t reply. He lay still for a moment, his eyes flickering closed. Then he spoke to Snowcrystal. “Is Thunder all right?”
“Thunder!?” Rosie shouted, interrupting Snowcrystal before she could reply. “Thunder’s the last pokémon you should be concerned about! She’s just fine, now stop worrying about her!”
Snowcrystal was startled by Rosie’s outburst, but she said nothing, not wanting to spark an argument while they were around Stormblade. Instead, she glanced around the cavern and saw a dead taillow near where Stormblade was lying down. Realizing that someone must have brought it in for Stormblade earlier, she walked over to it, seeing how thin Stormblade looked. When she reached it, she could see that it was completely untouched, and when she brought it over to Stormblade, he made no move to even acknowledge it. He looked for all the world like he had just given up.
She was trying to think of something she could do to help when Streamrose returned. Snowcrystal and Rosie both looked up in surprise as the healer entered, and they could tell she didn’t look pleased.
“Who let you in here?” she asked crossly. “Get out and leave him alone until I say you can come here!”
Startled, Snowcrystal and Rosie hastily left without a reply. “Why did she sound so angry?” Rosie asked, looking back at the tunnel entrance in confusion.
“I don’t know…” Snowcrystal replied. “Maybe she’s overwhelmed by having to take care of a lot of pokémon…” Her voice trailed off. Truthfully, she wasn’t worried about why the healer had yelled at them. She was worried about Stormblade.
Both fire types looked up as Nightshade approached. “She didn’t let you see Stormblade?” he asked, and Snowcrystal shook her head, though she didn’t tell him that she had
gone to see him before anyway. Nightshade was silent, and for a moment he looked away from them toward the pokémon who were walking through the large cavern nervously in anticipation.
Nightshade knew that he had to find Rockclaw, who would show him where the battle arena was so he could be there in time for his battle with Scytheclaw. Turning to Rosie and Snowcrystal, he told them, “I’m going to find Rockclaw soon. I’m not sure if other pokémon are allowed to watch, but…if you want, you can come with me there.”
Snowcrystal looked up at the heracross, and somehow she felt that Nightshade wanted one of them to be there when he battled. Slowly she nodded.
“I’d…rather not,” Rosie admitted. “Not after just seeing Stormblade…like that…” she shuddered.
“I understand,” Nightshade replied, a bit disappointed. “You can go back to the others if you want. Come on, Snowcrystal.”
Snowcrystal watched as Rosie limped away and then she followed Nightshade as he looked around for the linoone. It didn’t take him long to find her, and she quickly led them into yet another tunnel.
“Will Snowcrystal be able to watch?” Nightshade asked her.
Rockclaw nodded. “There are often large numbers of pokémon watching,” she told Nightshade. “She and her friends may come.”
“Should I ask if any of them want to?” Snowcrystal asked.
Rockclaw and Nightshade nodded, and Snowcrystal ran off. She soon returned with Wildflame, Redclaw, and Spark. The rest had chosen to stay in the cavern. Wordlessly they all followed Rockclaw as the tunnel they were walking through opened up into a large circular space surrounded by tall rocks and foliage on all sides, and lit by the pale light of the early morning sun.
There weren’t many pokémon in the area, but those that were there were gathered on the ground or on rock ledges, waiting. Snowcrystal recognized Moonlight the umbreon watching from the top of a tall boulder. “I suppose we just wait?” she asked Rockclaw.
“Yes,” the linoone replied with a nod. “I’m not staying here-I don’t see the point of watching such a gruesome…‘sport’
.” She stood up and left carefully back through the cavern, leaving Snowcrystal feeling confused.
“Gruesome?” she repeated. “I thought it was just a battle to decide who would-”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it did get gruesome,” Redclaw replied. “But if Nightshade can win fast, he can end the battle before Scytheclaw has a chance to fight dirty.”
“That’s what I plan to do,” Nightshade replied.
Gradually, more and more pokémon gathered together in the small area, until the edges of it were rather crowded. All of the pokémon kept well away from the center of the clearing, and Snowcrystal wondered if there were usually this many, or if everyone was simply too anxious to see the outcome of the fight.
It wasn’t long before Snowcrystal was led away from Nightshade’s side by some of the canyon pokémon and told to sit on one of the ledges. She looked worriedly at her friend, but to her surprise, Nightshade still looked calm and confident. Maybe
, she thought, Nightshade really is a great battler. He must know what he’s doing…
Snowcrystal found herself anxiously glancing up at the sky, as if expecting one of Cyclone’s army pokémon to fly over the arena and noticed them. Luckily she found that Rockclaw was right-there was so much dense foliage and spires of rock up above them that a flying type could easily fly right over the clearing without noticing anyone.
A sudden silence fell over the arena and Snowcrystal turned to see Scytheclaw striding into the clearing, while Nightshade watched him carefully. The scizor gave the heracross a cold glare, and Nightshade returned it. The pokémon who had accompanied their leader into the clearing quickly scurried to the rock ledges as everyone waited to see what Scytheclaw would say.
To Snowcrystal’s surprise, Scytheclaw didn’t stop to say anything-instead he darted toward Nightshade with a speed that shocked Snowcrystal completely. What!?
She thought, I thought only scyther could move that fast!
Nightshade was also unprepared for the sudden onslaught, and though he tried to dodge, he was far too slow-Scytheclaw’s razor sharp pincer slashed him across the chest. Nightshade stumbled backward, but Snowcrystal could see that luckily he had moved back enough that it had not done any serious damage. However, Snowcrystal didn’t feel any less worried. She could see a few drops of blood dripping from the wound. If Scytheclaw could cut through the heracross’s thick armor that easily, Nightshade was in trouble.
Nightshade, however, didn’t seem worried or bothered by the injury, though he looked at Scytheclaw with more wariness as he anticipated another attack. A red blur moved across the clearing and came to a halt at the other side, revealing Scytheclaw.
“Surprised?” the scizor hissed at the other bug type. “I never wanted to evolve, so after I was forced into it I trained myself to be able to move nearly as fast as my previous form…and to fly as well.”
“I thought we were here to battle, not talk,” Nightshade said coldly, but Snowcrystal could see that he was beginning to look worried, as if he wasn’t sure what Scytheclaw was planning.
“Of course,” Scytheclaw replied with a smile, and without any further warning darted straight across the clearing toward Nightshade.
This time Nightshade saw him coming, and with a shock realized that now the scizor was aiming right for his eyes. The heracross dodged-though not quickly enough-but instead of getting his eyes gouged out by the blade-like pincer, it clamped around his arm. Nightshade swung around, attempting to strike Scytheclaw with his horn, but the scizor moved too quickly. However, this motion allowed Nightshade to dislodge Scytheclaw’s pincer before it could cut deeply. The heracross then charged toward the scizor, who retaliated by darting to the left and cutting deeply into Nightshade’s side with his pincers.
Snowcrystal watched as small flecks of blood littered the trampled grass, shocked that an attack that vicious would be allowed in this sort of battle. She began to wonder if this really wasn’t a sparring match, but deadly combat. Snowcrystal remembered that she had been the one to agree with Scytheclaw that someone from her group would fight, and she wondered with frightening horror if she had unknowingly sent Nightshade to his death.
In the middle of the clearing, Nightshade lurched forward, his eyes half-closed as he gripped a tree with his claws to keep from falling over. Snowcrystal could see that Scytheclaw had wounded him badly. The scizor bolted toward the Heracross again and gritting his teeth, Nightshade spun around, ramming into Scytheclaw with his horn.
Snowcrystal’s eyes lit up with hope as Scytheclaw was thrown backwards, landing roughly on the rocky ground. However to her dismay, he quickly stood up, looking unharmed. The scizor rammed into Nightshade, ripping at him savagely with both claws. For a series of seconds the battle went on, Scytheclaw attacking and Nightshade trying to defend, and then the two pokémon stopped to catch their breath.
Snowcrystal became even more afraid. Nightshade had many wounds, but Scytheclaw was completely unscathed. He was just too tough…too fast…
Once again, Scytheclaw was the first to attack. This time, however, Nightshade succeeded in blocking the attack with his horn…well, almost
succeeded. The scizor quickly locked his claws around the heracross’ horn, before slamming the weakened pokémon into the ground. Scytheclaw aimed to slash at his eyes again, and in a frantic attempt to shield himself Nightshade blocked the attack with his arm, and the pincer clamped around it, crushing down with surprising force.
With a cry of rage and pain Nightshade leaped to his feet and slammed into Scytheclaw in one fluid motion, knocking the scizor forcefully into the ground. This time Scytheclaw actually looked winded. “What are you trying to do, kill me?” Nightshade shouted, glaring at Scytheclaw through eyes narrowed to slits. Blood was dripping slowly from his wounds-mostly from his arm and the wound in his side.
“I thought we were here to battle
instead of talk…” Scytheclaw hissed as he stood up.
Snowcrystal’s eyes then widened in horror as, faster than her eyes could track, Scytheclaw dashed toward Nightshade and slashed him with one of his pincers along his injured side, and blood welled out from the further opened wound. The growlithe found herself unable to watch any longer. Turning from the battle, she bounded along the side of the rocks, looking for a familiar face. With a sickening jolt she remembered that Rockclaw had left the arena, and the way to where her friends were was blocked by the group of pokémon sitting between them. Though no sooner had she started to panic than she noticed Moonlight the umbreon watching from a boulder nearby. As quickly as she could, she made her way over to the dark type.
“Moonlight!” she cried, “What’s going on? I thought the battles weren’t supposed to be-”
The umbreon regarded her with a hint of surprise but quickly answered before Snowcrystal could finish. “These battles usually last until one of the pokémon gives up,” he told her, and she could easily sense the nervousness in his voice.
“Usually?” Snowcrystal replied, but was cut short by another cry from Nightshade.
Snowcrystal frantically turned around, and she quickly realized that Nightshade was trying to block a metal claw attack from Scytheclaw. Startled, she wondered why the heracross seemed barely able to hold the scizor’s pincer back-was his arm injured that badly? It looked for a moment like Nightshade was going to collapse-Scytheclaw clearly had the upper claw, and Snowcrystal had no idea what sort of damage those blade-sharp pincers were truly capable of.
Then suddenly, everything changed at once.
With a cry of both effort and pain, Nightshade gripped tighter around Scytheclaw’s arm, lifting him up so quickly that the scizor’s foot claws were ripped from the earth before he could even register what was happening. Using all his remaining strength, Nightshade slammed Scytheclaw bodily to the ground, knocking the wind from him.
Snowcrystal expected Nightshade to continue the attack while his enemy was weak, but the heracross seemed to need the moment to recover as well. It was Scytheclaw who got up first. With a bellow of rage he dashed toward the heracross, aiming to slice through his armor and into his flesh with his razor sharp claws. The heracross dodged, and instead Scytheclaw found his pincers once again locked around Nightshade’s horn. Not wasting his chance, Nightshade flicked his horn upward in one violent movement, tossing Scytheclaw into the air and crashing to the ground again. The heracross then ran toward him, thrusting his horn against the scizor’s side and slamming him against a rock. Snowcrystal felt a flicker of hope. Nightshade was winning…
But it was just then that the tide of the battle changed again, this time for the worst. Getting up and pushing off from the rock in a huge leap, Scytheclaw spread his wings and moved toward Nightshade like lightning-opening his pincer wide and slashing Nightshade again in his wounded side. Another small spray of blood littered the grass, and this time Nightshade sank to his knees. Scytheclaw paused, catching his breath as he waited to see if the heracross would make a move.
Shaking from head to foot, Nightshade sank to all fours, looking at Scytheclaw through eyes half closed with pain. Scytheclaw grinned, watching his own pincer begin to glow with bright light, a metal claw attack. Rushing forward with a speed that nearly matched a scyther’s, Scytheclaw swung the glowing pincer down at the heracross.
In the same moment, Nightshade’s eyes opened fully, and with his horn still pointing at an angle toward his foe as he stood on all fours, he lunged toward Scytheclaw, exerting every bit of strength left in his body-which wouldn’t have been much, only he was a heracross, one of the strongest pokémon alive. A sickening crack was heard as Nightshade’s horn rammed into Scytheclaw’s stomach, sending the scizor flying backward against the rock wall with a force that stunned all watching-even Nightshade himself. Scytheclaw slammed into the rock and fell limply to the ground, where he lay still.
Snowcrystal watched, still stunned by the surprising attack, as a pokémon ran to Scytheclaw’s side, confirming that he was only unconscious. The zangoose who had supported Scytheclaw jumped to the ground from a rock ledge, a look of worry on his face. “Get the healer!” he cried, kneeling next to Scytheclaw’s limp form. A sneasel ran off to do his bidding.
Snowcrystal ran over to Nightshade, who was now lying face-forward on the grass. She examined the wound in his side, which looked like the worst one. It looked deep, but thanks to the heracross’s thick armor, the attack had not caused any lethal damage. Nightshade let the growlithe nudge him to his feet, and slowly he made his way toward the cave, stopping for breath every few paces. Snowcrystal looked toward the cave entrance, and just as Scytheclaw was being carried inside, a small persian darted out, looking worried.
(Continued in next post...)