Fox: Yeah, I really have no idea. It took way too long for this to happen. I give up. Brain hurts trying to comprehend. Also, on the 26th of November it will be my first year on Sofurry. Huzzah!
Brimcon: This is possibly the longest chapter yet.
Disclaimer: Pokémon is copyright of Nintendo, Game Freak, etc. Individual characters are my own imaginening, and are not intended to be any part of main cannon / plotline. Individual characters like Aaron, Song, Zin, etc, are my own creations, so please ask before using. Thank you.
Chapter 24 - Mount Silver
We were waiting for both Jonathan and his boss to appear. Only Joy sat across from me in the massive meeting room. While it was the same one that we've been inside when we came here to Ranger headquarters, it somehow felt bigger today. Joy was tapping her foot impatiently, the sound muffled due to the carpet under our feet. The ticking of the clock could be heard, the seconds ticking by extremely slowly. My heartbeat felt like it was beating along with it unconsciously.
"This is horrible." Joy muttered. "They're making us wait all this time even after we helped Jon?"
I nodded. "Sure feels that way."
"Fuck! I'm sick of this shit! What kind of dick sucker strings help along for them to jerk off to!?"
She stood up, beating her fists on the table once and walking around it. Before I could ask where she was going, she opened the door and walked out. I sat there dumbfounded for a moment, the seconds ticking by as the doors closed in front of my eyes. A few seconds later, the doors opened with Joy and Jonathan entering the room again. Joy stormed around the table and sat down in a huff in the same seat she was previously in. Jon closed the doors behind him, standing next to me.
"My boss was busy at the moment, so I grabbed all I could from his desk and brought it over."
He dropped a folder that looked like it barely had any contents. Joy said exactly what I was thinking at the moment.
"You're shitting me." she said, almost growling. "You've got to be fucking shitting me. This is ALL that fat bastard of a motherfucker has? Five pieces of paper and three pictures?"
I picked up one of the three pictures, trying to figure out anything in the dark background. It honestly looked like something black on a black background. Looking at the other two, there was nothing more than other similar shots. Nothing was more detailed than the last. I looked up to see Joy pouring over three different papers over on her side. Flipping the pictures over to Jonathan, I grabbed the other two.
One was the personal information of a trainer that had suffered from 'night terrors'. Why would the papers of someone with night terrors be here in some high tech Pokémon Ranger building? I read further on the first one, but it devolved into further medical jargon that made no sense to me. With nothing on the back of the first page, my attention went to the second page in my hands. This one was the same thing, except it was about a Pokémon instead of a human. Again, it devolved into more medical jargon, but the same case of 'night terrors' was present. Also, the Pokémon was an Alakazam that had lost most of his psychic powers.
"Pass me those pictures." Joy demanded suddenly. I grabbed the pictures that were hanging loosely in Jon's hands and passed them over.
She passed over the paperwork that she had, and I passed over the ones I had just looked at to Joy. The paperwork that she passed over was the same as what I had just looked at. More medical junk, this time about one trainer and two of her Pokémon. Both injured Pokémon were psychic types, a Mime Junior and a Solrock. The only one that didn't display any symptoms of odd behavior was the Solrock, but it still had lost a majority of its psychic powers. A note stated that it could barely float for extended periods of time.
"So, in the grand scheme of things what the shit does it mean." Joy stated, glaring at Jon. "This stuff doesn't tell us much."
"That's all we have on the Darkrai attacks." Jon said with a shrug. "The boss just handed it to me and said to bring it to you to look over at your leisure."
Great. So we all just risked our lives for this? This doesn't answer anything! It doesn't even help with anything that's happened to us in all this time. Other than the part that the psychic Pokémon lost their powers. So they were attacked by Darkrai, big freaking deal. So was I. It sucks, but this doesn't help at all.
"This doesn't help us with shit." Joy said, shoving paperwork to the floor.
"I know." Jon said, shaking his head. "When I asked him if he was serious with giving you this information, all he said was that this is all we had on the case."
"Would anyone else know anything about this? The League? Any other possible contacts?" I asked.
"Have you gotten back with these individuals or their families?" Joy asked. "How are their conditions. Have they gotten better or worse?"
He shrugged at our questions. "No, we don't have contact with the League. We've tried to drag them into the investigations, but they're too busy or so they say. Any local police force hasn't reported anything in other than the strange sightings we've heard of in the Goldenrod radio. These individuals have gotten worse, going into either a deep sleep similar to a coma or developing insomnia. So no, they haven't gotten better. The Pokémon develop similar symptoms as their trainers, except the Solrock. It just lost nearly all of its psychic power."
I sighed. "Well, that only points to one similarity that I have with these cases. This doesn't really point to a Darkrai having their claws on this."
"It doesn't?" he said, raising an eyebrow. He grabbed one of the papers I had and flipped it around. In the back of the paper, the words 'Darkrai is coming' was scribbled over and over again in black ink.
"The patient grabbed the paper when the doctor left the room and started writing. She didn't stop until she was sedated."
"More like she ran out of ink." I commented. Some of the letters overlapped each other, making it slightly hard to read.
"Either case, it's obvious enough that Darkrai is behind it." Jon said with a shrug. "Unless you think she's lying."
I gave a shrug of my own. "Maybe." I offered. "I just find it hard to believe."
"Nightmares are a Darkrai's realm of influence." he said with a frown.
I pointed at myself. "None of my team has had any nightmares. And from what I understand, neither have yours or Joy's. We're fine, too, or so you've conveniently forgotten."
He frowned, shaking his head. I continued talking, though. "Don't you find that just a little strange? We get attacked by one, me by two Darkrai, but we don't show ANY of the symptoms? Yet there's valid proof that it does happen, and people are going into nightmare induced comas."
"What's your point?"
I shrugged. "I got nothing. I just find it weird. It makes me feel that there's something more going on than just Darkrai attacking innocent people."
"Well, that might be the ca-"
The doors burst open, the fat man of a boss standing there panting for breath. Sweat poured out of his forehead, taking a deep breath before speaking.
"Emergency... call from Mount Silver. Three people... missing..." he said in between breaths. He took a large breath before speaking again. "Jon, I need you to go. You're the only one with a full team."
"A full team would be five Pokémon." Jon said with a shrug. "I don't fully trust Zapdos."
"It's more than these other guys." he said, waving his fat arm behind him. "We don't have any other Ranger on stand-by, and this has been shot up to emergency status. A true emergency, not some cobbled up crap to get a high ranking Ranger."
Jon looked startled for a moment, but nodded all the same. "Give me ten. I'll be out of here in fifteen. I'll need whatever information on the current status of Mount Silver. Weather forecast for the next ten days. The usual. Go!"
The boss nodded, as Jon closed his eyes. He took a deep breath before letting it out slowly. He shook his head from side to side, before opening his eyes.
"I need you two to come along with me." he said, looking at me straight in the eye.
"That's a load of flaming Rapidash shit and you know it!" Joy exclaimed. "What kind of crap are you trying to pull?"
"No, I really need your help." he said, turning to Joy. "I don't really want to do this on my own. Being down to five Pokémon isn't doing much for my confidence."
"We're not getting anything out of this, are we?" I asked.
"My thanks." he said, turning to me. "I'm sorry that this ended up being a waste of your time. I honestly thought that in the time I was gone things would have developed more, but obviously they hadn't. Raising your hopes up was not in my plan."
"Then what was your plan?" I asked.
"I just wanted to help. That's it."
Before I could respond, Jonathan's boss reappeared. In his hands were a few papers that he quickly passed over. "Turn on the Goldenrod radio, they're giving the weather report right now." he said.
"Joy, please." Jon asked, but she had already pulled out her Pokédex and was turning it on. The familiar radio voice cut in, continuing in mid-speech.
"...coming along just fine. And now for the rest of Johto! Blackthorn is probably expecting nice sunny weather, though maybe on the colder side of things. It seems that Mount Silver has a mighty big snowstorm brewing up there, so anyone going up there I suggest you rethink your options! The rest of the area seems just as sunny as always, though you might get some of those clouds from the western side of the world. So enjoy your sunshine!"
Joy cut off the radio before it continued. Jonathan's boss nodded, looking over to Jon. "There's a big blizzard, way bigger than normal for the area. It's possible that there's something unnatural involved."
"Unnatural?" Jon asked.
"Possible Articuno movement. We don't have any solid feedback from Indigo Plateau yet. It's too early for blizzards in Mount Silver, and especially of this size. We'll try to keep you informed as much as we get new information."
Jon nodded. "We'll head out right away."
"Not without your gear you're not." the fat man growled. "Are they coming with you?"
Jon looked at me with pleading eyes. What in the world was going on? I rolled my eyes, but nodded. "Yeah, I'm helping too."
Jonathan's boss looked surprised, but nodded. "I'll get something for him too."
"Get something for me, too, you fat bastard." Joy said. "I'm going too."
The man nodded, leaving the way he came. Jon smiled at me. I stopped him before he said anything.
"Look, I'm here helping you because at least you tried to do something." I said. "I'm helping you because your my friend, as much as I want to give your boss to Zin and let her chew him out for a while."
"Thanks." he said. "He's really not a bad guy."
"Right. He's just too fat from eating donuts for twenty hours straight." Joy said, slapping Jon's shoulder. "He better have some decent gear, because I don't have anything to handle snow conditions."
I nodded. "I might have a jacket? I still should have the one that Dan gave me... or something. Maybe."
"It won't do you any good." Jon said, shaking his head. "We're traveling heavy duty, possibly for a few days or maybe a week. Are you guys ready for that?"
"Again, we don't have any new leads right now." I said with a sigh. "I really have no idea how to get in contact with the League, even if they have more information than you guys or if they'll even help us."
"The champions are moving around, though," Joy pointed out. "We might find them."
"What are the odds of that, though?" I asked. "They're roaming around at least through four regions. For all we know, they're in Sinnoh or Hoenn right now. Maybe even Unova to pull their champion along, too. If they have one."
"Of course they have one!" Joy exclaimed. "Alder is an amazing Pokémon battler!"
I shrugged. "Never heard of him." I said with a grin. Joy was practically fuming. "Remember, I'm ignorant to things outside of Sinnoh for the most part."
Joy looked like she was about to strangle me to death when Jonathan's boss broke our argument with his presence. We turned to him as he shook his head side to side. Out of surprise or giving up on us, I don't know.
"We have your stuff ready." he said, nodding to Jonathan. He turned to us before continuing. "Your new things might be a bit big on you, but its best that you can wear them."
"We have plenty of supplies, right?" Jon asked, walking up to his boss. The man got out of the way, heading down the hallway. We followed after them.
"Yeah. We're cramming in plenty of emergency rations, flares, and fire starters. While we haven't had any problems in the Mount Silver tunnels, with this blizzard going on the local Pokémon are probably acting up. This will help you forage out there. There's plenty of berries growing at this time, too. It shouldn't be too bad, but you never know."
"Impromptu survival training." Jon said, shaking his head. "Great."
We were escorted over to a room with three others in it already. They were stuffing backpacks with things, and looked like they were going a final checklist. I was about to say that we had our own backpacks, but Jon stopped me. His boss grabbed three different jackets, passing each one to us. Jon got a dark navy blue, Joy got a bright red, and I got a yellow one. The backpacks were then handed over to us. I was startled at the weight of it, but managed to get it on my back after the second try. Joy shook her head as she threw the jacket over her shoulder.
"Think you packed in enough?" Jon asked with a laugh. "Consider us out of here."
Why do I keep getting put inside caves? Caves have been nothing but bad luck for me ever since leaving Solaceon! Abomasnow, two Steelix, dislocated shoulder by a Graveler. The list keeps growing, and no doubt it will continue like this. Arceus! And now I have to slog through another cave in the middle of nowhere Johto with a heavy backpack full of stuff that we'll never use!
Jon gave me a knowing look. "I know it feels like dead weight." he said. "Trust me, I've been there. But you'll be thankful for it when we make our stop."
"Which is when?" Joy asked from behind me.
"Just a few more steps." Jon said, pointing in front of him. "There's an exit around the corner that I want to check."
At the very least, the Mount Silver cave system was quiet. Too quiet, but I wasn't going to argue the point. A few Zubat's flew overhead, but most of the sound was either our breathing, footsteps, or the sounds water dripping from somewhere. We kept our Pokémon in the relative safety of their Pokéballs, due to the rather narrow paths that were around us. While our flying Pokémon had enough room to fly, we didn't want them to be ambushed by a possible Golbat. Jon even said that there were sightings of a Crobat around here.
The wind began to blow in, the cold biting into my exposed face. My body instantly shivered as it felt like my bones became instantly brittle. Flakes of snow landed on my skin and began to obscure vision. I was thankful that it wasn't accumulating on the ground, or else we'd be sliding all around here. Thankfully the ground was relatively flat, so we'd only eat stone and not slide backwards.
We followed Jon outside to be well within a winter wonderland. I've seen snow on the television, but this was ridiculous. The world looked like it was covered in uniform white. Nothing grew out of the ground that broke the sight of white. No trees or rocks, and even the mountainside was hard to see. It didn't help that snowflakes fell on us, the wind howling ever louder the longer we stayed out. Jon pulled us back inside, shaking his head. We retraced our steps further, stopping only when the flakes of snow stopped swirling around us.
"In order for us to go deeper into Mount Silver, we're going to have to cross that." he said, pointing behind me.
"You're kidding." I said. "Please tell me you're kidding."
He shook his head. "Unfortunately, no. Not all the tunnels link to each other through the inside of the mountain. Thankfully, this one is only a short walk. Are you ready?"
"So wait, it didn't feel like we climbed all that far up." Joy said. "I know for someone to climb Mount Silver, you need to climb up but snow doesn't appear until the higher section. Are we there already?"
Jon shook his head. "Unfortunately, we're on the lower mountainside section. It takes a good two days to climb Mount Silver. Maybe more."
"We're in so much shit." Joy mumbled. She grabbed my arm, pulling me towards her until we were face to face. "Damn you, Aaron! I wouldn't be here if it wasn't because you just had to help this prick!"
"Nobody told you to follow me, Joy." I said calmly. My voice was at total odds with my heartbeat. "You could have stayed in Blackthorn, or you could have gone on your own like you were talking about."
"Oh no. I'm not going to let you just walk away. I have plans for you." she said smugly. "And they're none of your business!" she spat out as I was about to speak.
"Right." Jon said, pulling me off from Joy's grip. "Look, in order for us to keep going we need to move through that snowfield. We need to move together, fast enough to avoid staying outside for too long but slow enough to not lose each other. Am I clear on this."
That last part wasn't in the form of a question. Both of us nodded to Jon, while I kept a wary eye on Joy. Jon grabbed my attention quickly though, shaking my shoulder gently.
"You're going to be in front." he said. He narrowed his eyes as my mouth opened to protest. "I'll be right behind you. I can't risk you falling behind. You're the weakest hiker in the group. You have the highest likelihood to get lost out there, and I can't let that happen. I'll point out the way, alright?"
I nodded, Jon pulling me in front of him. "Joy, you're right behind me. Are we all ready?" Jon asked from behind me. I nodded, giving a thumbs up with my gloved hands.
We exited the cave to brave the snowstorm outside. My body temperature felt like it dropped the instant my foot stepped outside. Jon gave me a light shove from behind, urging me forward. His finger pointed towards what looked like something vaguely shaped like a tree. I nodded, headed in that direction. Our footsteps were loud, snow crunching on our march. The only thing that was louder was the wind. It seemed relentless, as if by the will of Arceus it would howl unceasingly to the ends of time. The falling snow would turn my world into a blanket of white for extended periods of time. Jon wouldn't let me stop though, pushing me from behind when my steps began to falter. The tree was thankfully closer than the snow allowed it to appear, though the thick branches were weighed down by snow. I didn't notice any snow around the mountain when we went to look for Zapdos. How did this happen so quickly?
Jon grabbed my shoulder, pointing to my left this time. I nodded, willing my feet to move as fast as they could. The snow was beginning to become a burden, and even through the overalls and jacket everything was freezing. My breath fogged the instant it left my mouth. The cold air that filled my lungs froze my chest every time I cycled through my breathing pattern. My foot struck something hidden by the snow. Catching myself before my face met the snow, I silently hoped that it wasn't a Pokémon hiding.
Jon was at my side, mouthing words that were lost instantly in the wind. I was panting hard, and it felt like my sweat was frozen on my brow. He looked worried, but my hand met his shoulder. I used it to straighten myself out, and he kept pointing ahead of us. My steps became more hurried as what looked like a cave entrance appeared through the haze of snow. Looking backwards, I pointed over to the entrance but Jon shook his head. He continued to point ahead, away from what I saw.
I nodded, trusting Jon's sense of direction and experience. Not even what felt like a few minutes later his hands stopped me and pointed to our left. Another cave entrance was there. What was the difference, one cave from another? All I wanted was a warm fire and shelter from all this snow!
I quickened my pace, snow crunching loudly underneath and behind me. Getting inside, Joy and Jonathan were quick to pass by me. They were shivering as badly as I was, but we were still together and we were in one piece.
"Something tells me that we haven't really covered much today." I said out loud. Jon laughed, the sound changing in pitch as he shivered.
"No, we haven't." he said, shaking his head. "We might be about halfway to where we would need to be to call it halfway."
"Shit!" Joy swore, leaning against the stone wall. "This is ridiculous! There better be something worth it at the end of this Arceus forsaken place!"
"What do you expect to find here? Moltres?" Jon said with a laugh. "Good luck with that."
"Well, something that wasn't freezing would be nice!" Joy shouted back.
"Joy, I think we should keep our voices down." I said, shaking my head. "We don't want to wake up another Steelix."
"Right, because last time was my fault." she said as she rolled her eyes. "Next time, don't dislocate a shoulder."
"I'll remind the Graveler the next time one grabs me."
"Can you two stop arguing like an old married couple?!" Jon roared. "You're both giving me a headache!"
A muted roar came from somewhere deep in the mountain. Joy and I looked at each other, then to Jon. "That was all you this time." Joy said unhelpfully.
"Sue me." he muttered, pulling me aside. "We need to keep going. We're burning daylight, and I do not want to find a pissed off Steelix in here."
We followed his march through the cave. Thankfully leaving the snow covered mountainside behind us, our footsteps took us deeper into the labyrinth that was Mount Silver. Joy walked next to me, shaking her head.
"What is it with Steelix and us?" she asked out loud. "I mean, they shouldn't be this popular."
"We just so happen to be lucky." Jonathan said, not bothering to look back. "This is the season for territory disputes, and when trainers go missing thinking their top shit to catch one. People tend to forget the fact that there's like twenty of the giant things in one spot."
"And how have we lived beside them all this time?" I wondered.
"They usually keep to themselves?" Jon offered. "Be grateful we haven't found a Crobat or an Ursaring. We've been pretty lucky so far to find a handful of Zubats so far."
"Thanks for reminding me." Joy said. "Next time I want someone to ruin my mood, I'll come for you."
"Bitching costs extra."
For once, Joy cracked a smile. "Maybe I'll just go tease Aaron about sticking his dick in things that aren't human." she said, punching me lightly on the arm.
Not to be picked on, I was quick on the recovery. "Well, that doesn't explain how you were naked that one time in the Poké-"
"Oh no you don't." she said, her eyes narrowing at me. "Don't you even dare mention that. You two didn't knock."
"Right. Because that explains everything." Jon said with a laugh. "Since Aaron brought it up, why were you naked in there?"
"For your information, I was changing. Other than that, none of your business." she said.
"Really now." he said, grinning. "I think it is since you almost threw stuff at us. Did she throw stuff? I don't quite remember."
I shrugged. "Don't remember. I closed that door quickly so we didn't get anything hurled our way."
Jon laughed. "That's right. What? Were you afraid of getting caught?"
When Joy didn't respond, I got the feeling that he shouldn't have said that. I grabbed Jon's hand and turned him around. In all honesty, I silently hoped that Joy wouldn't kill me to kill Jon. Standing between them, it was the best way to test the theory.
"Jon, really, stop it. This isn't getting us anywhere. She was naked, alright. Drop it, man. That's enough."
"And you don't want to know?" he asked with a grin. I shook my head.
"Not if it means me getting my throat slashed in my sleep." I hissed back. "There's no need to argue over something that happened a while ago. Now quit it and keep walking."
As surprised as he was at my words, he was more surprised when I pushed him forward. His steps were hesitant at first, but turned more consistent as we continued now in silence. I sighed. Well, that didn't turn out to be the better way now was it? Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut. Another sigh escaped my lips as I walked in between Joy and Jonathan. Suddenly, I was caught between two people that wanted to have nothing to do with each other on a mountain that wanted us dead.
Wonderful. What could make things worse?
The wind howled again, the familiar sound that we left not that long ago coming back to us with full force. It carried a flurry of snow with it, the flakes dancing among us before disappearing into the ground or out of sight. I could already hear Joy groaning behind me as the path opened up to another cave leading outside.
"You could have warned me, Jon." Joy growled out. "I was getting comfortable."
Jon sighed, tapping me on the shoulder gently. "Same process as before. We made some decent time last time. Let's see if we can clear this side faster. It's shorter if I remember correctly."
"If you remember correctly?" I asked, echoing his words.
"Well, the next entrance is like one hundred paces to our left. We go through their and up some convenient steps and we'll reach the second floor."
"Second floor?!" Joy screamed behind us. Jon didn't acknowledge her outburst.
"After that, we'll set camp. We'll be halfway through this as soon as we're out of this blizzard outside."
I nodded. "Alright. Joy, are you ready?"
She grumbled for a moment, but nodded. "Yeah, sure, fine, whatever. Let's get this over with. I want to sleep."
I nodded, turning to Jon. Receiving his nod, I took the lead again. Taking a left as we exited the tunnel, we were once again greeted by the outside blizzard. If anything, the weather had taken a turn for the worse. The howl of the wind seemed louder than before, the flurry of snow all but making it impossible to see straight. The snow crunched underneath my feet, as I became more eager than before to continue out of the blizzard and inside of the Mount Silver tunnels. My mind brought up images of me setting up camp in this weather. It made my feet move faster to make that not into a reality. Jon grabbed me by my shoulders, stopping my march. His voice was loud to me, thought that was probably due to him shouting in my ears.
"The next tunnel you see, take it!" he yelled. "I think we're being followed!"
"Followed!?" I yelled back, but he shoved me forward without answering. Oh Arceus, what would be following us right now? I really, really hope it isn't that Steelix...
A rumble caused me to stop and look around for a moment. When Jon pushed me from behind, I lost my balance and fell. A crunch in front of me made my heart freeze like the snow around me. Looking up, I saw a brown furred Pokémon standing over me. The face was blurred due to the snow, but I could easily tell that two massive paws were coming towards me from above.
I rolled out of the way, a wave of snow lifting me up to my feet. Landing in a heap of snow, I stood up to try make sure the gigantic Pokémon didn't think I was an easy meal. The snow around me moved, a roar that shook the snow from under me made me turn around.
Of course, the mountainside would be home to an Onix. A very big Onyx.
"Shit!" I swore, forcing my limbs to move. Another wave of snow pushed me forward, my world turning into a pure white. My body rolled, not being able to stay out of the tidal wave of snow that covered me. I was able to move my limbs, and managed to force myself out of my premature burial. Another large Pokémon moved towards me. It didn't look like one from Jonathan's or Joy's, though. I willed myself away from the mirage, idly noticing that there were more gigantic figures in the snow ahead of me. I grabbed two Pokéballs, and released Baast and Xola from them.
I ran past them but they kept up with me easily enough. Another gigantic brown furred Pokémon stood in front of us, but Baast was quick in launching an Aura Sphere. The attack connected through the barrage of snow, pushing the Pokémon out of our way. Xola was next to me, gliding across the white powder without any problems. I kept an eye out for the cave, but the wind got knocked out of me when Xola tackled me to the ground. A blast of flame soared above my head, giving a warm respite for a fleeting second before the air grew cold instantly. Looking over, I saw a four legged Pokémon with a mane of fire. Except the problem was it wasn't alone. Standing next to the tallest one were three more of equal height, while the other two looked they were the previous evolution. All five charged towards us without any hesitation.
Of course they wouldn't be alone. They're never alone.
Without taking direction, Xola straightened herself and confronted the charging Pokémon. A blast of water shot out from Xola's mouth and straight into the largest charging fire Pokémon. I looked over for Baast, but she was holding back three of those other large brown furred ones. Grabbing two more Pokéballs, I released them, bringing Mist and Deoxys into the fray. Deoxys rushed over to Baast, while Mist floated over to support Xola. I focused on Xola, silently hoping that the weather conditions didn't affect her coordination during a battle.
If I didn't know better, both Xola and Mist looked like they were dancing. Even surrounded by five of those four legged fire Pokémon, they didn't stop moving. It was a little eerie, seeing them look so focused like this. Maybe the training was beginning to pay off. They are experienced battlers though, so that might have something to do with it.
Sprays of fire slowly brightened the snow filled sky. The manes and tails of the fire Pokémon brightened as they ran around in formation, keeping Xola and Mist in place. Their attacks kept their assailants at bay, but wasn't doing much. I kept myself in the middle, between the two fights that were going at the same time. Doing my best to shout order between fights, it was surprising that they could hear me over the howling gale.
The ground shook underneath me as something lifted me up from the ground. Baast and Deoxys came for me, grabbing me from the shuffling mound of snow.
"Why did you wake up the Donphan?!" Baast exclaimed as we ran.
"Because I knew I was standing on top of one the entire time!" I shouted back. "Part of the plan!"
"What plan?!" the Lucario exclaimed.
"There was a plan?! I would have never guessed!" I yelled. "Let's get Xola and Mist out of here! This blizzard has to be wearing on them too!"
Deoxys joined us as we moved towards Xola and Mist. Two of the large fire Pokémon have been taken out of commission. Their fires on their manes and tails were bright still, but they lay still on the snow. Xola whipped her tail around her, knocking another fire maned Pokémon to the ground. Mist launched another Shadow Ball, scattering the remaining two away. Both of my Pokémon moved towards me, all four of them looking towards me for some kind of direction.
"Cave!" I yelled, pointing with my left hand away from the commotion we came from. They all nodded, getting away rather unscathed from the sudden carnage. I idly noticed that Jon and Joy weren't behind me, but decided to focus on my own survival first. Baast called out, pointing to our left. Behind a tree heavy with snow was a cave entrance. I nodded, motioning everyone to follow me as we followed Baast.
Half of the entrance to the cave was blocked off by snow. Deoxys took care of that, the pile of snow moving by her psychic energy. We rushed in afterwards, my feet sliding on the stone floor and my face meeting the rock wall. Baast grabbed my hand, pulling me away from the wall and into the darkness inside. While somehow it was bright enough before inside the cave system, now it was pitch black. I wanted to fumble for a flashlight or anything, but I realized that we left our original supplies back at the Pokémon Center. Wonderful.
"Stay quiet and be still." Baast hissed at me. "These Donphan aren't friendly neighbors."
I nodded, biting my tongue to stop myself from talking. I felt Xola and Deoxys next to me. Where was Mist? Baast's paws held me in place as I struggled against her grip.
"She's inside of you, Master." Baast said, tapping my chest.
Sighing in relief, it became easier to stay still knowing where everyone was. However, Jonathan's and Isabella's safety was still up in the air. My relief turned to anxiety quickly, and the longer we stayed still the more pronounced it became. I felt my insides turn to ice as Mist's voice echoed inside my mind.
"You are going to stay still and be quiet!" she admonished loudly in my mind. "We are all worried about them, but we must focus on keeping ourselves safe so we may aid them."
I nodded, trying to keep myself under control. Both Mist and Baast had a good point. And besides, both of them were experienced travelers. Between the two of them, they should be even safer than me. Well, that doesn't help my self-confidence much, but at the very least it's the truth.
Baast put a paw on my lips before speaking. "I'm going to check the entrance. We should be clear of trouble though. It doesn't look like they followed us."
Her silhouette disappeared from view as she left the way we came. It seemed we were in some kind of crack on the wall, a small hole dug out by someone or something. Xola's hold on my body tightened, my legs slowly being gripped tighter inside her coils. Her tongue licked at my hand gently.
"You should sit." she said softly. "Get comfortable. I think we're going to be here for a while."
I nodded. "I'll be sitting on you, though."
She giggled softly. "It's fine, silly."
At her insistence, I slowly lowered my weight on her body. Deoxys still had her tentacles wrapped around my body tightly, but slowly relented. Sitting comfortably on Xola's scales, she wrapped around me multiple times. Her face rubbed against my cheek softly as she giggled again. Deoxys helped shed the heavy backpack from me, a soft thud resounding loudly in the small chamber.
"You can sit on Master's lap, Deoxys." Xola offered. I blinked for a moment, feeling an unfamiliar weight on my lap. Deoxys' tentacles gripped my arms, resting on top of my shoulders. My head was tipped forward, brought to rest against Deoxys' shoulder. I embraced the odd looking Pokémon, doing my best to stop myself from worrying about Baast.
I felt Xola remove the glove from my right hand as Deoxys removed the left one. My hands felt numb for a moment, but both Pokémon held me tightly in their embrace. I tensed slightly, the echo of something outside of our little hideout reaching my ears.
Muffled footsteps could be heard as Baast appeared with a glowing ball of energy on her paws. A grin appeared on her muzzle as she saw us. She closed her paw around the ball, the light disappearing instantly. Another unfamiliar weight fell on my lap, a cold wet nose pressing against my neck. Baast sighed, her body relaxing against me. My hand touched something wet and sticky on her body. The Lucario winced slightly and I pulled my hand to my face. Even in the dim light, I could feel my fingers covered in something.
"It's nothing." she said dismissingly.
"You call bleeding a trivial matter?" Deoxys asked.
Xola immediately reacted. "Blood? Where!?"
"Xola, grab the backpack." I said firmly, guiding the Milotic. "Baast, when did this happen?"
"Just now, fighting off those three Rapidash that hung around the entrance of the cave." she said, her paws gripping my shoulder tightly. "I think an Ursaring caught me from behind. I ran as soon as I got hit. They didn't follow."
You stupid, proud, idiot of a Lucario! My thoughts fumed at her injury, doing my best to remain calm as Xola passed a bottle of medicine to me. I grabbed another Pokéball, releasing Zin from the sphere. The first thing I heard was her laughter, but was quickly silenced when no one else joined.
"Baast, what did I tell you about getting Master worried?" the Houndoom asked loudly.
"Zin, I need you to keep as quiet as possible, and to shed enough light so I can see what this is." I said sternly, holding out the medicine in my hand.
"Hold on a second. I think I see something flammable here." Zin said suddenly, the nails on her paws echoing in our small little corner. A flash of fire followed, highlighting everything in a bright orange glow. Whatever Zin had in mind to light didn't catch on fire, so the first burst of flame was followed by another. After the fourth attempt, whatever it was caught fire.
"Found a stick!" she said excitedly, bringing the flame closer to me. I thanked the Houndoom and used the flame to read what I was handed. Nodding to myself, the spray worked it's magic as soon as I sprayed it upon the injury. With the light, it was clear that Baast's injury was more than 'nothing'. While she would be intact, it would take more than just one Super Potion for her to fully heal. I was grateful that the bleeding had stopped, but her fur would be stained until we could wash out the blood. Suddenly I regretted having Joy carry the water.
Zin's warm nose touched my hands as I dropped the empty potion bottle. "Don't blame her too much now." Zin said cautiously.
I frowned, but stayed quiet. Xola nudged my back gently, getting my attention. Turning around, she had another Super Potion on her mouth. I took it off her, nodding once before placing my attention to the Lucario once more. The spray made Baast wince again, but from my angle it looked like it was healing on the nicer side of bad.
"It looks worse than it probably is." Zin said. "That could have been pretty bad."
"It feels like I've been pierced by a spike." Baast said unhelpfully.
Well, that's a beautiful mental image for me that was completely unnecessary. I frowned, shaking my head. "And I can't have you inside your Pokéball. It would eliminate the chances of aggravating the wound, but it wouldn't heal until we get off Mount Silver."
Baast shook her head vigorously. "I wouldn't go inside that infernal contraption at this moment anyway." she said firmly. "I'm not going to abandon you at this time."
I sighed, not willing to fight against her. "Just promise that you'll take it easy." I cautioned her. "You're health and safety is my priority."
"Your priority should be figuring how to get off this mountain." Baast pointed out.
"Do you have any ideas, Master?" Zin asked.
"The way we came is blocked by at least an Onix the size of a mountainside." I pointed out. "Not to mention that... whatever is called that I just so happen to be standing on."
"Right, that thing. And let's not forget the big brown one and the five fire maned Pokémon."
"The large brown ones are called Ursaring. The large fire Pokémon are called Rapidash, while the smaller ones are called Ponyta." Baast corrected.
Zin looked at me and shook her head. "You just love to attract all kinds of trouble, don't you?"
I wanted to argue the point, but how would I? It sure seemed that way. The more times we stepped in a cave, the more I was convinced that they're bad for my health. Also, it appeared that my Pokémon weren't immune to this bad luck either. Silence settled around us, everyone surrounding me with their bodies in some degree or another. The only sounds were the rapidly dying fire and the howling wind outside. At least the blizzard stayed outside. While it was cold in principle, the snow stayed out of our little hideout.
My pants suddenly made a ringing noise that grew in volume rapidly. Finding the offending sound proved to be a challenge, but Deoxys was more than happy to get it. My Pokédex was held in front of me, courtesy of one of Deoxys' tentacles.
"Thanks." I said, taking the device. I opened it cautiously, not entirely sure what was going on. The ringing stopped, soon followed by a voice.
"Aaron! You damn fucking... dammit! If he ends up being dead I'm never going to hear the end of it!"
Jonathan was talking? Was this that phone thing that he put in my Pokédex in Sinnoh?
"Jon?" I asked loudly, speaking to the Pokédex.
"Aaron! Thank Arceus! Are you alright? Where are you? What happened? Are you injured?!"
"I'm fine, all things considered." I said, trying to keep my voice calm. "We're all fine." I decided to omit Baast's injury at the moment. It didn't sound like he needed the extra stress.
"As for where I am, I got no idea. After that Onyx appeared, we got chased by a group of Rapidash and Ponyta. And a few Ursaring's, apparently. Oh, and we woke up a Donphan too. We're back inside the cave again. Not sure where, though."
"You're lucky you didn't fall off the edge of the mountain." he growled out. "Anyway, do the walls look like they're made out of blue rocks?"
"I haven't paid any attention to that detail. I was more focused on making sure I was alive."
"Funny. Go check."
I sighed as Zin clicked her tongue in annoyance. She blew a small flame upwards, revealing that the stone walls were of some blue coloration. I relayed the information to Jon, who sounded exasperated.
"Alright, I think you might be around the transition point towards the second area of Mount Silver." Jon explained. "I don't remember at the moment. My boss deemed it unnecessary to pack us a map of the place. You're going to have to find a way to the top of the mountain and find what's causing the blizzard. Hopefully it isn't anything serious."
"And what if it IS the Articuno, like your boss said it could be?"
"Then you ask them politely to stop so you can get off the damn mountain." he said. I hoped he was sarcastic. "If it is the case that there are Articuno, just wait out the storm. This shouldn't last more than a few days, a week at most."
A week?! "You honestly think that it'll last that long?" I asked.
"Kid, I've seen blizzards last almost a month." he deadpanned.
"Thanks, Jon. Appreciate it."
"You're welcome. Think of it as impromptu survival training."
"Except I don't have any survival training in the first place." I said, sighing. "I'll keep in contact. I think we can move forward a bit more before the cold gets to us."
"Just find the phone application, like anything else." Jon said. "Keep in touch, kid. Joy over here is almost ready to rip my throat out when we couldn't find you."
"I WAS NOT!" Joy screamed, before the call terminated.
It made me feel better that those two were safe. It definitely sounded like they were, at the very least. Now all we had to do is make sure we got out of here alive. Easier said than done, but yeah. I'm confident that we'll make it out just fine.
I used the dying flare as a makeshift lighter for the campfire. Movement has been extremely slow, but thankfully without any nasty surprises. Baast was doing better, though her side was still in pain. There was plenty of medical supplies in this giant backpack, so we patched her up as best we could. At least it would keep her wound from being exposed and prevent it from being infected.
No one wanted to stay inside of their Pokéballs, regardless of my objections against the fact. Every time I brought it up, eight pairs of eyes stared at me with a look that bordered on hostile. My focus went back to the fire, gently prodding it with a rock to get it to burn a little brighter.
I was cold, though it was arguably freezing in here. Thankfully the wind didn't reach us, though it we listened for it we could hear it in the distance. It's only been one day since we've been lost on Mount Silver. No wonder this place was usually unexplored. It also didn't help when we found abandoned camps made by humans, like this one.
"Do you think they made it out?" Deoxys asked, looking towards the abandoned tents.
"I don't want to find out, in all honesty." I said. "I'm pretty sure if there was anyone here they would have come out to investigate."
Mist floated over, shaking her head. "The tents are abandoned." she declared. "They look like they have been unused for quite some time."
I nodded. "Well, that solves one of our problems. I'm just grateful we have plenty of food."
Everyone nodded at the assessment. I pulled out my Pokédex, internally debating if I should call Jonathan to let him know of my status. Not like we made much progress going upwards. Though I wasn't entirely sure how far we've gotten, it definitely didn't feel like much. Zin and Xola were quick to debate otherwise, but the looks that Mist would give them told me otherwise.
I pressed a few buttons on my Pokédex, finding the phone application with relative ease. Pressing a button, a short list depicting a number appeared. It had to be Jon's, seeing as no one else had called me before. Pressing the same button, the Pokédex began to make a familiar ringing like a regular phone call. It stopped quickly, Joy's voice echoing in my surroundings.
"Aaron! Aaron, you Arceus damned motherfucker! Answer!"
"Joy! I'm here! Jeez, you don't have to yell. I can hear you just fine."
She stopped yelling, but her breathing was loud through the speakers. A snoring could be heard faintly over the background, but that could be the wind.
"How are you?" she asked.
"I've been better, to tell you the truth." I answered. "Honestly have no clue how this is going to work out."
"Stop acting like a damn baby and man up." she growled out.
"That's what I've been telling him this whole time!" Zin exclaimed.
"I get it. No more complaining from me. So yeah, other than us moving a bit further forward, we haven't had anything happen to us. We found an abandoned camp with the tents still up. But other than that, nothing."
"Really? That sounds weird. You sure it's abandoned?"
I looked over to Mist, who nodded. "There is no residual energy around this camp. No human has come by here in at least the last few months."
"Mist says there hasn't been any humans here for the last few months." I relayed. "So yeah, I'm pretty confident. It isn't that there are bodies inside of the tents anyway."
"Yeah... that would be creepy. You need to stay warm though. Won't be doing us any good if we find your corpse."
I held back a witty comment of me being dead or dying. "I'll stay safe, don't you worry about that. I'm more concerned about everybody else."
"We're more than fine." she said. "That Onyx was a mean one, but between me and Jon we managed to chase it away. We're just glad that it didn't find you."
"I had to worry about a small Rapidash family, a few Ursaring's, and a Donphan." I said, shrugging.
"Please tell me your joking." Joy whispered.
"Er... no? Not going to joke about that." I decided to refrain from mentioning Baast being injured. Don't think that would help her get any rest.
"Jeez. We really can't leave you alone without your life being put on the line."
"Exciting stuff, I guarantee you that." I muttered. "If you ever want to switch, lemme know. I'd more than gladly swap if you'd like to be in my shoes."
"And have to satisfy all your horny Pokémon? Fuck no. I'm good on that, thanks."
I laughed, shaking my head. "Alright, I'll give you that one. Where are you guys, anyway?"
"We're outside of Mount Silver right now actually." she reported. "It's almost night time, and we decided to make camp for the night. We haven't had it easy either."
I bet. "Well, how's the weather? Not cold, I imagine."
"Yeah. We're not freezing our asses off, unlike you."
"Could be better, but could be a lot worse so I'm not arguing too much." I said with a shrug. "I'll let you go for now. Want to get some rest before we hike up to... wherever it is I'm headed to."
"Alright, stay safe, Aaron. Please." Joy said, before the call ended. I looked at my Pokédex in curiosity. She did just say please, right?
"You're not going to mate with that human." Zin proclaimed loudly.
"Zin, I don't think she wants me like that." I said with a laugh. "The thought of Joy thinking of me as a romantic interest really doesn't sound like her."
"Either way, you're not."
"Either case, you should go to sleep. We all should."
"I was about to say that." I said, nodding to agree. "Maybe we should take the tents. As long as there isn't a body inside of them."
"The tents are clear in that aspect, Master." Mist declared. "Just some personal artifacts from the previous owners."
"Then let's take advantage of this." I declared, standing up to stretch. "Is anyone interested in staying up?"
Everyone shook their heads. Xola came up to me, rubbing my side. "Do you want me to put out the fire?" she asked.
"Yes, please. We don't need any wild Pokémon being a little too curious."
With a blast of water, we were plunged again in darkness. Mist floated in front of me, the gems on her body guiding me forward. I heard the sound of a tent flap opening and the cold seemed to be held at bay after a moment. A soft touch led me forward, my feet knocking on things invisible to my eye. The sound of empty cans and paper was loud as I was sat on a bed. Mist pushed her ghostly hands against my skin, making me lay back against the soft material. It was rather uncomfortable having everyone almost on top of me, but I wasn't about to say no.
"Good night, everyone." I said, yawning. Exhaustion was quick to claim me as soon as I closed my eyes.
The morning greeted me in the form of an alarm blaring loudly against my skull. My arms flailed wildly, grabbing hold of my Pokédex and almost throwing it away from me. I willed myself not to do so, though it was a very strong impulse to get rid of the damn thing. The alarm was easy enough to turn off, though it was a mystery to me as to who set it up.
Through my blurry vision, Aurora was standing on my lap. Her claws brushed my hair off my face, gently placing something against my lips. I tried to look down, but couldn't see what it was without any success. The look on Aurora's face didn't give me reason to mistrust her, so I opened my mouth as she pushed whatever it was inside. The chewy bar woke me up faster than I wanted to admit, but it was quickly eaten when my stomach got the better of me. I hugged Aurora, ruffling her head gently.
I swallowed my mouthful of granola. "Thanks, Aurora." I said earnestly. Looking around, I noticed that we were the only ones here. "Where's everyone?"
"Weavile." she said, pointing outside. I nodded, standing up quickly. Aurora launched herself up to me, quickly making claiming her perch before we left our shelter.
As soon as we stepped outside, everyone was greeting me in some way. From Zin rubbing my legs to Baast's polite bow, I was just glad to see everyone alright in the morning. It bugged me that the only way we knew it would be morning was through my Pokédex. We were still stuck in this stupid cave. The fire was popping merrily in front of me, so I huddled close to Deoxys to warm myself a little better.
"How are you this morning, Master?" Deoxys asked.
"Better, I'll admit." I said. "Still, being stuck in this mountain isn't any fun. And we can't really go backwards, either."
"Our only solution is to go up, and pray the blizzard ends by then." she finished, her eyes meeting mine.
"Pretty much. And if it really is a bunch of Articuno flapping their wings, we get to ask nicely if they'll stop so we can fly down."
My Pokédex began to ring again. I sighed, flipping it open to hear Jon's panicked voice again.
"Aaron! Are you there?"
I rolled my eyes. If I wasn't who would open this Pokédex? "Yeah, I'm here. What's up?"
"Have you tried having Deoxys teleport you out of there?" he asked.
Wow, don't I feel like a retard? I looked over to Deoxys, who had her eyes closed. For an instant, she seemed to flicker from my vision, but instantly reappeared solid next to me. She shook her head, panic in her voice.
"There is something blocking the outside world from my powers!" she exclaimed, eyes wide. "I cannot access anything outside the mountain!"
"She says she cant." I relayed. "Something is blocking her."
"Dammit!" Jon swore. "This has to be Darkrai's work!"
I raised an eyebrow at the comment. "And why would it be Darkrai?" I asked. "It's not like we have proof. You really need to stop blaming everything on them."
"And you're a little shit that believes that everything isn't out to get you!" he yelled back. "Look, there's something that's stopping you from leaving. You've been attacked by two Darkrai, one after another in a very short amount of time. And now we're here trying to find something to link anything similar to you and the attacks. You're going to tell me that this is just a giant coincidence?"
I sighed. "Nevermind. Alright, so it's Darkrai. Fine, whatever. What's the plan now? Do you still want me to go to the top of Mount Silver?"
"Yes, and avoid Darkrai at all costs."
"Because I totally want to pick a fight with one. Yeah, lets not and say we did."
"Sometimes you worry me."
"Don't tell my parents."
He laughed, though I don't know if it was out of irony or him being honest. "Alright. Just stay safe. Please."
"Will do." I said. "I'll call you when something dramatic happens."
"I'll hold you to that, Aaron." Jon said, before cutting the call. I closed my Pokédex, slipping it back inside my pocket where it belonged.
Everyone nodded at me as I looked at them. Turning to Deoxys, I gently patted her shoulder. "Are you alright?"
She shook her head. "Someone does not want us off this mountain." she said. "Whoever it is, they do not want our escape to be so easy."
"It bothers me that we didn't think of this yesterday." I pointed out. "We could have been out of this mess a lot faster."
"Perhaps there is a reason." Mist offered. "There are things that cannot be explained so easily."
"For everything else, there's money for that." I said, sighing. "Let's get a move on. Daylight's burning somewhere."
We gathered our things, picking up after ourselves to make sure that there wasn't more trash in the area. Doing one last sweep around and being satisfied, we left the area as clean as we found it. In all honesty, we probably left it better than before.
We marched onwards, Baast behind me with Deoxys in front. Zin and Mist were ahead of the group, while Aurora rested on top of my head. Xola and Spirit were behind Baast. Akalia walked next to me, refusing to go anywhere in the line. Our footsteps were the only sound that made any sound in the cave. It felt odd that not even Zubats were screeching above our heads. Maybe it was too early for them. To be honest, I was surprised that we didn't wake up the entire mountain when that alarm went off.
The wind grew stronger the further we walked forward. Thankfully there was no snow attached to the wind, but it probably wasn't that far away. Either that, or the wind outside has gotten worse over the night. We encountered nothing on the path, though I was just as thankful that we didn't have to put up with snow at the moment. I think I've gotten my fill of the stuff, and we weren't even done yet. The path opened slightly, allowing us to fan out a little more. At the very least we didn't have to worry about falling off into what looked like the abyss.
Sunlight filtered ahead, snow beginning to blow inside the cave through the exit. I sighed, dreading going back outside. We reached the exit, but didn't go through the threshold. I pulled out my Pokédex, pressing the now familiar buttons to call Jonathan.
"How are you, Aaron?" Jon asked.
"Doing fine, actually, except I don't know where to go. The exit leads back to the outside, but which way do we go?"
"This is the first time you've exited the cave after splitting up, right?"
"Yeah. I would have called you in the middle of the night if it was otherwise."
"Ideally, you can reach the higher levels of the second floor from the outside." Jon said after a moment. "Though you can reach them from the inside, they're a bit... claustrophobic. How's the blizzard?"
"Still bad." I said, sighing. "I honestly don't know if its gotten better or worse, but the snow doesn't stop if that's an answer."
"Anyway, if you take a left as soon as you get to the outside, you should be able to find a cave that leads back inside and the way to the upper levels."
"That would be that claustrophobic passage you mentioned."
"Right. Anyway, if you ignore that entrance and keep going, you should be able to find a way up the mountain and find another set of cave entrances. That would be the easier way to the summit."
"Should be." I echoed. "Well, at least the sun is out. That should help with the visibility, right?"
"Let's hope so. Call me if you need any help."
"I'll be in touch then." I said, shutting the Pokédex. "Alright, are we all ready?"
A round of affirmatives echoed through the cave. "Remember, stay together. I don't want anyone getting lost."
I moved first, the snow blinding me momentarily. Getting my bearings I turned left, thankful that the snow blew against my back. Zin ran over to stand next to me, followed by Akalia and Baast. The rest of the group followed relatively quickly until I was surrounded by my friends. Zin grinned up at me, flames licking out of her jaws.
"A bit of snow isn't going to slow us down." she declared loudly. "Let's get out of this place. We're going to go for that first cave and see how much we've walked. Is that alright?"
I nodded. "Sounds like a plan to me. Care to lead the way?" I asked loudly.
"You got it." she declared, wagging her tail happily. "Let's go, everyone! Like Master said, daylight's burning!"
At the very least it was easy to follow the Houndoom through the snow. A moving black patch was easy to spot in a white field. I should say easier, because the blizzard wasn't really helping much in the terms of visibility. When the falling snow limited visibility, jets of fire would streak ahead of us, allowing us to track Zin easier. Looking around, it was a huge relief that nobody was left to the cold. Zin wasn't setting a hard pace to keep either, so that probably helped a lot.
All things considered, it was probably me that was slowing everyone down.
We continued undeterred through the blizzard. With Zin leading the charge, it didn't take us long to find that first cave entrance. I was honestly surprised it was so easy to spot, which gave me the impression that someone or something moved through here recently. We entered the cave, though I did my best to see if there were any kind of indication that something lived in here. The blizzard made any old tracks invisible, and it looked like there was no signs of habitation. No leftovers from any predatory Pokémon, nor signs of tents or trash of human trespassing. We quickly piled inside, cramping the small entrance. The cave narrowed quickly to the point that we would have to crawl to continue.
"So this is what he means when he said claustrophobia." I said, raising an eyebrow. "He wasn't kidding."
I shook my head, frowning. This wasn't going to work. My backpack alone would make this impossible for me. Not to mention that all of my Pokémon outright refused to go back inside their Pokéballs. No, this was definitely not going to work out. Turning around, Zin was already pawing at the snow on the ground.
"Well?" she asked.
"We keep going. We need to find that other entrance. Following the side of the mountain shouldn't be too much of a problem."
"And what if we don't find it?" Xola asked.
"Pray to Arceus that the blizzard calms down slightly." I answered grimly. "We can come back and rest here if it's too bad. Hopefully that wont be the case."
Everyone nodded at my assessment. I was curious about something, so I turned to Spirit. I walked calmly to the dragon, touching her claws to get her attention. She turned to face me, her eyes wide under her red goggles. She shook her head, leaning down and touching my cheek.
"Spirit, you can sense the ground, right?" I asked her.
She nodded slowly, tilting her head to the side in curiosity. "Can you sense how the mountain path looks like?"
She closed her eyes, her tail hitting the rocks under our feet. The impact rocked through me, one after another. Everyone stopped and looked at the Flygon, who shook her head after a moment. Her cheeks looked looked flushed, hiding her embarrassment against my chest. I held her there for a moment until she pulled back on her own. She nodded, though, pointing animatedly through the walls of the cave outward.
"She says that way should be the right way." Zin translated. I nodded.
"Then that's the way we need to get to." I said.
Spirit nodded, smiling at me. I felt her scales on my cheek, her claws holding me tightly. My hands stroked her long neck, everyone gathering around us. "Is everyone ready?" I asked.
Everyone nodded at me as we made our way back outside. The blizzard didn't relent at any point while getting our bearings. If anything, it got worse while we waited. The wind had shifted at one point or another, the snow blowing in our faces as Spirit took the lead alongside Zin. Our footsteps crunched the snow underneath us, Spirit and Zin setting an easy pace to keep up with. The snow kept falling, but at the very least it didn't stop us altogether.
To our left the snow began to slope downwards. We were following the side of a mountain, so it felt odd that it would suddenly lurch down. I was honestly afraid that there was a hole or something down there where we could fall down. We continued forward, following Spirit's lead until she suddenly stopped. Her claw pointed to our left, and Zin immediately climbed up the snow hill.
Spirit urged us onward, and we followed her directions. Baast and Deoxys were quick in helping me climb the hill as my footing wasn't the best. It honestly felt like Deoxys was helping Baast help me, but we made it work. Getting a mouthful of snow wasn't on my active list of things I needed done in my life, but whatever. I was grateful to have flat ground under my body again. Anything with an incline and caves seemed to be my bane.
Getting lifted up on my feet, Spirit once again took lead. Akalia nuzzled my legs gently as I stood up, one of Deoxys' tentacles holding me by my waist. Rubbing the snow out of my eyes, we continued to follow Spirit's lead. Spirit grabbed hold of my hand, pulling me along as we continued walking along the surface. The wind continued to howl, though somehow it sounded louder than before.
Funny how walking through an empty field gives you any sort of perspective in life. What keeps everyone here? Maybe I'm just an idiot, thinking that there's some other reason. It's why Zin has put up with my idiot self, not to mention Song or anyone else. Shaking my head, my idle brain slowly processing the fact that we were still outside with a crazy mountain that wanted us dead.
My hand felt like it got pulled out of its socket as my world tumbled to the side. The wind stopped blowing around us, though I was confused as to where we were. Spirit smiled down at me, helping me stand up. She nodded, waving her claws out to show me the cave around us.
"Everyone here?" I asked, looking around. Everyone responded in some way. Aurora jumped into my arms, Akalia and Zin rubbing along my legs. Relief washed over me, just knowing that we were still together.
"We're not off the mountain yet." I reminded everyone. "Let me check the time and contact Jonathan before we decide to set up camp."
Everyone nodded as I pulled out my Pokédex and dialed Jonathan's number. Surprisingly he didn't answer this time. Not even Joy answered. I terminated the call, trying again after a few moments. The call went through after the fourth ring.
"Yeah, it's me."
"This isn't either of your human friends."
"You know who this is. I took your Gardevoirs powers away from her."
A chill went down my spine. Somehow, not even the cold outside made me feel this way. But how could...?
"Your questions don't matter at this time." the male Darkrai said. The speakers sounded like they strained to play out his voice. "You are not supposed to be where you are. You must leave immediately."
"Well, I would love to, but there's the problem of a gigantic blizzard and something is preventing one of my teammates from teleporting." I said back calmly.
"That must be my sister then. Regardless, leave Mount Silver immediately."
"And why should I do that? Arceus willing, taking your advice sounds like a one way trip to death."
"Our reputation doesn't allow much in the way of trust it seems." he said, the speakers screeching slightly. "We are following our duty."
"Right. Anyway. Yeah, I'm pretty sure you'll know when I'm off this rock. So you can go now, please and thank you."
"Just make sure that you do. We would never hear the end of it from Father if you died."
"Wait a second! Your sister wanted me dead two weeks ago if that!" I yelled.
"You know! The one you sent to kill me at the monastery!"
"Aaron? Are you hallucinating?"
I shook my head, frowning as I took in my surroundings. All of my Pokémon were giving me odd looks, my hands holding my Pokédex. The wind was howling loudly outside, the snow blowing at a sharp angle. Joy's voice came from my Pokédex.
"Aaron? Are you still there?"
"Yeah, I'm here. Sorry, was talking to Darkrai there for a second."
"You wouldn't believe me even if I told you." I said, rubbing my eyes. "I just wanted to let you all know that we've made it further to the top. We're not there yet, but we're getting there."
"What did you say about Darkrai?" she asked.
"He answered when I called Jon's number." I said, rubbing my eyes.
"But how would that happen?" she asked.
"I don't know and I don't want to find out." I grumbled. "We're already in enough danger as is. We'll handle it one step at a time though. No use thinking about it right now."
She sighed. "Here, I'll pass you over to Jon."
Jon was quick to fire more questions. "What's this about Darkrai?"
"OK, you can shut up about it, too. Fine, you were right and I admit it. Can we please focus on helping me get off the mountain instead of you gloating?"
"Where you are, does it look like a gigantic chamber?" he asked.
"You got it, Master." she said with a wag of her tail. A blossom of fire flew through the air. While I expected it to dissipate quickly, it continued to travel all along the air. The light from the fire revealed a pit that looked extremely large and far too deep. The fire sign dissipated without much fanfare, though the Houndoom was extremely proud of herself.
"Yeah. It looks like the room we're in is huge. There's a gigantic hole in the middle that seems to funnel downwards as well." I answered Jon, trying to burn the picture in my mind. "We don't have to go down, right?"
"No, that's how that previous tunnel connects to here. Unless those tunnels collapsed." he said.
"No problem. Alright, your goal is to get to the area above you right now. You'll have to walk for a while inside so you can forget about the snow. Afterwards, you're going to have to walk outside one last time before reaching the summit area."
"I'll call you when we reach the outside area so we can get specific directions." I said.
"You do that. We'll investigate this Darkrai influence." he said confidently. "Stay safe, Aaron."
"You too." I said, closing my Pokédex. Looking around, it was obvious to me that everyone was tense. It wasn't like my conversation with Darkrai was a subdued affair.
"Is everyone alright?" I asked. I got stares back in response before Mist spoke up for the group.
"Was that really Darkrai speaking to you?" the Mismagius asked.
I shrugged. "More likely than not, unfortunately. He never said so, but the things he said would only make sense if it was him."
When no one responded, I sighed. "Look, even if it was him, we need to get off this mountain. We get to the top and we wait out the storm or rescue, whichever comes first. Arguing about if Darkrai wanted a chat with me isn't going to get us to our destination any faster.
"I appreciate the concern. Really, I do. But right now, Darkrai isn't here stopping us. We need to focus on getting to our destination. You can rake me through the coals all you want, but only after we're out of this death trap."
"Don't tempt me." Zin growled at me. "That sounds like a really good idea at the moment."
"You can have all the fun, but later." I said, kneeling down. She came up to me and rubbed against my hand.
"We're too lenient on you." she said.
"I'm going to use my right of silence on that statement." I said with a laugh. "Come on. We can decide if we want to rest before or after the last area."
Zin looked at me, worry clear in her eyes. I scratched behind her horns for a moment, relaxing for the first time since we started this 'morning'. I dropped my backpack in front of me, digging through it to bring out food for everyone. All gathered around as we shared an impromptu food break.
At Zin's questioning look, I shrugged. "I was hungry, and I figured that I couldn't be the only one either."
She smiled at me. "You're getting better." she said, her tail wagging. Akalia purred, rubbing against me softly.
I scratched the Luxray's fur, smiling as electricity danced alongside my fingers. Akalia's purrs rumbled loudly, almost masking the howling wind around us. We moved a bit more inwards, to get away from the wind but still benefit from whatever sunlight filtered through the blizzard.
It was interesting to watch Deoxys 'eat' her food. It was more like she absorbed each piece of food that she touched with her tentacles. I ate another granola bar, silently watching everyone relax around me. My own body did the same, the stress slowly leaving me. My fingers slowly began to drum out a beat against my knee, the vast majority of the song forgotten in my mind. A touch on my shoulder made me look to see one of Deoxys' tentacles. Her eyes looked clouded as she looked at my own.
"What is it, Deoxys?" I asked.
"You still have to give me a name." she said softly.
I chuckled, smiling at her gently. My fingers curled around the tentacle around my shoulder. "Give me a second, I think I remember a name or two."
She nodded as I did my best to remember a name from a story. Funny that it was a tragedy that I was trying to think of. It was the name of the character and the meaning of the name that I was trying to remember. How did that story go again? Guy meets gal from the rival household and fall madly in love for some reason or another. Why is it that I remember the bloodshed? Suppressing the shiver, Deoxys gave me a questioning look when our eyes met again.
I was startled to hear her voice say it with my own. Chuckling, I nodded slowly with a smile. Her grip tightened around my fingers gently.
"I will respond to my new name." she said.
"Do you even like it?" I asked with concern. "I mean, if you do-"
"No, I like the sound of the word." she said, another tentacle stroking my hair. "Thank you. I wish to ask was that so hard to think about?"
"You'd be surprised how much I have going through my mind." I said, chuckling. "I just had to focus on it to get things. Though that just makes me sound like an ignorant git."
She shook her head. "Perhaps, but it is part of why I chose you." she said. "You are not perfect."
"No one is, as far as I'm concerned." I said with a shrug. "We strive to be better, at the very least. It's the least I could do."
"Then perhaps that is what I wish to observe from you." she said, helping me stand up. "Or at the very least, one thing about you."
I grinned. "Would you prefer Iolanthe or Io for short?" I asked.
"I would like Iolanthe, though I imagine in the heat of battle Io would be appropriate." she said with a smile.
I nodded. "That sounds fair, Iolanthe."
If she had a mouth, I would swear that she would be smiling at me right now. Spirit and Mist were beside me and Iolanthe immediately. I looked down to see Zin rub against me.
"I like her name." the Houndoom said with a grin. "It's nice."
"I like it a lot, actually." Xola said, sliding next to me. "It sounds mysterious."
Chuckling at the Milotic's assessment, everyone seemed to be gathered around us. Iolanthe seemed to be the center of attention suddenly, and she was enjoying it. She didn't seem overwhelmed by it all, but I dare say reveled in it. She seemed definitely more at ease since joining us, though we hadn't spoken as much as I'd like. It felt really good to see that we've become some sort of odd family of sorts.
"Are we all ready?" Baast asked.
I nodded. "I think so. Are we all ready to continue? Or do we want to stop here for the day?"
Everyone shook their heads. "I suppose that means we continue." Iolanthe said, her voice giggling.
"Then let's keep going. Daylight's burning somewhere."
"Zin, Fire Blast!"
The fire sign blasted from her muzzle, scattering a flight of Zubats and Golbats that were headed our way. Somehow an entire flight had awakened and decided that we were going to be their meal of the day. Baast and Xola did their best from the ground, but it was mostly Spirit, Mist, and Deoxys up in the air. Akalia and Zin were obviously doing their best to ward off any that dared to go near us. Aurora aided as best she could from the perch of my head, beams of ice shooting from her claws. The screeching of the flying Pokémon almost drowned out the howling from the wind. Almost.
How Iolanthe stayed in the air I hoped to find out some day. I blame psychic powers. The air seemed to ripple as the flying attackers fell by the scores around her. Spirit and Mist worked extremely well together, I noticed. Iolanthe seemed extremely situational aware, drawing Golbats in crossfire from both her, Spirit, and Akalia. It was like watching something out of a television action show.
Except one mistake would make them tumble into the vast abyss under them. And there wouldn't be some kind of safety net if that happened.
Instead of giving orders, I would keep watch on their backs. Usually it seemed unnecessary, but it managed to keep the flock of bloodsucking Pokémon guessing and not ganging up on anyone specifically. My eyes wandered around, deliberately ignoring the smell of ozone around me and the chills from above. They seemed to move in deliberate coordination, so there had to be some kind of leader. Perhaps a grizzled Golbat or a...
"Crobat!" I shouted, pointing at the small swarm flying towards me. The swirl of blue and black sped towards me and my group with incredible velocity. Both Akalia and Zin stood side by side, unleashing a torrent of lightning and fire respectively. Both attacks seemed to combine in the air, an explosion pushing the wave back. The Crobat flew through the explosion, its four wings visible against the fireball behind the flying Pokémon.
Aurora jumped, using my head as a springboard. Reaching the peak of her leap, she unleashed multiple beams of ice through the air. The temperature somehow seemed to drop as the Crobat was caught within the web of ice. Without any hesitation, the Crobat's wings glowed for a second and dove towards the web of ice. Bringing its glowing wings in the forefront of the dive, they sliced through the web as effectively as fire. We ducked, shielding Aurora with my body as the Crobat flew above us. A horrible screeching sound echoed in my ears. Standing up, I noticed that at head level was a straight line carved into the stone. It wasn't there a second ago.
Well, it was obvious that the Crobat was out for our blood in some way. With another screech it flew in direction of Iolanthe, but Mist distracted the attacker with a well placed Shadow Ball. With her being the new target, she discouraged further harassment due to a blast of electricity. Startled that she knew electric moves, she continued to press her advantage and harass the living blazes out of the flying Pokémon.
In all honesty, I didn't know who was more surprised of Mist's Thunderbolt attacks. I was pretty convinced that both of us were on equal ground on that aspect.
With the vast of the flock of Zubat's and Golbat's in disarray, Mist focused her lightning attacks on the lone Crobat. A slash across my cheek got my attention, making me lose my focus on the battle. I touched my cheek, feeling a thin cut that stung something fierce. Crimson blood was on my gloves, in contrast to their color. Baast grabbed hold of me, dragging me away slightly. I struggled against the Lucario's grasp, but she was unrelenting.
"You're bleeding." she said.
"I'm not dead yet." I said firmly. "Let me go."
Spirit let out a high pitched screech that made me push out of Baast's grasp. Iolanthe had just thrown the Crobat off the dragon, though the damage was already done. Mist covered for both of them as they both landed in a heap next to us. A high pitched sound made me almost tumble to my knees. Baast leaned on me heavily, making me drop to the ground. It felt like my ears were bleeding, and I wouldn't be surprised if they were.
"Baast! Help Spirit!" I ordered, urging myself to help in any way I could.
Mist seemed the one least affected by the attack. She picked up Akalia, who nodded at the Mismagius. Neither of them moved, though bits of static would spark between them. Struggling towards them, Mist gave me a smile as our eyes met.
"Direct us, Master!" she yelled. I nodded, holding out my hand to her. A ghostly tendril touched my fingers. Iolanthe kneeled next to me, the audible screeching affecting me less and less. If it was due to loss of hearing was something I'll handle afterwards.
Spotting the Crobat among the remains of its flight, Iolanthe sent another concussive wave of energy towards it. Disrupting its flight path, it suddenly stopped moving. How or why, I didn't care.
"Fire!" I yelled out.
If I thought I smelled ozone before from standing too close to Akalia's attacks before, this trumped it instantly. Half my vision was instantly blinded as the ball of electricity fired, my eyes watering trying to focus on the target in case it moved. Though I didn't know how viable it was possible to move a ball of energy. The attack landed, expanding to encapsulate the Crobat within the pulsing electric ball.
The flying Pokémon all left us alone, flapping around silently as the attack slowly dissipated. The Crobat fell from the air without any fanfare, none of the Zubat or Crobat flying down to save their fallen leader. They screeched about for a moment or two, but they flew away without instigating a fight. I looked toward Iolanthe, Mist, and Akalia. They all nodded at me, breaking off to see how Spirit was.
Orange fluid leaked from her wounds across her neck and back. I flung the backpack to the ground with a resounding thud, pulling out medical supplies and flinging away what wasn't imperative to my Flygon's survival. Grabbing a piece of gauze, I used my mouth to carry a potion while administering the other. Her breathing was labored and shallow, though the wounds looked almost superficial. If only there wasn't so much blood.
"Golbat wounds tend to take a long time to heal, due to the poison in their bites." Baast said.
I grabbed the gauze and pressed it against the wounds with my left hand. Iolanthe stopped me before my recklessness flung the bag over the edge by accident.
"Tell us what you want, Master." Mist said gently.
"Medical tape and another potion." I ordered.
Spirit's claws grabbed hold of my left hand. My eyes met hers for a moment, before I gently moved her head on my lap. I stroked the top of her head gently as her breathing began to slowly deepen. Baast applied the medical tape, Iolanthe encouraging me to stay with Spirit. I had no intention to leave her side at the moment. The Lucario's paws grabbed my hand, pressing a smooth cold cylinder into my grip. I turned to face her, her eyes downcast.
"It's anti-venom." she said with a slight nod.
I looked back to Spirit, who gave a single nod. It was more felt through my touch than a visual cue. Taking the cylinder and noticing the cover where the needle was, I used my teeth to remove the plastic. Spirit gave me another nod, stronger than the first as the needle speared her scales. She didn't give any indication if she was in any discomfort brought by the injection. Pressing the medication into her bloodstream, she closed her eyes momentarily as if blinking. Except they didn't open right afterwards. She was still breathing, but it slowly became more labored. Allergic reaction? I grabbed her Pokéball from my belt, but Spirit's claw grabbed my hands before they left her scales.
Her eyes were open, looking into my own unwaveringly. I nodded, her claws releasing me from her grip as I pulled the anti-venom needle from her neck. Baast and Iolanthe changed the gauze on the Flygon's neck as I comforted her as best I could. Sighing and looking around myself, everyone not currently busy was tense. Either from the battle or what Spirit was going through, it was a mystery. Perhaps both.
"We're setting camp." I declared. "Spirit isn't in any form to continue."
Nobody argued with my statement. Mist took the lead in getting our tent secured with both Zin and Akalia helping. I looked over to Baast, who was looking straight at me.
"The bleeding stopped." Baast whispered.
I nodded, looking down at the Flygon. Zin and Akalia could be heard arguing, Xola and Aurora trying to stop them before they made more noise. Iolanthe pressed a tentacle against my arm.
"Mist has the tent prepared for her, Master." she said with a nod.
Spirit's body slowly floated up by Iolanthe's psychic powers. I let her walk ahead of me, everyone else making way for both Pokémon. Iolanthe went inside, coming out alone. Her eyes looked strained as she looked at me. Stepping inside, I was grateful that this tent was on the bigger side. Spirit was on the ground, the gauze on her neck soaked in her blood.
"Bring me the first aid stuff." I said.
Someone rushed out, the sounds of feet scrambling reaching my ears. I extended my hand to feel a potion and more gauze pressed into my grip. I kneeled down, replacing the old gauze with clean ones. Applying more potions to the wound, it was a relief to see that Baast's words were true. The potions and anti-venom seem to have done their job. Spirit crooned softly as I stroked her cheek.
"Jacket." I said, extending my hand out. Grabbing the offered item, I brought it slowly in front of me. It was more of a blanket, but I wasn't going to argue the point. The blanket covered her entire body, her claws grasping it tightly against her. Turning to the backpack, I began to dig through to find another blanket. Seeing none, my hands excavated through everything that was packed inside and used that as a pillow for her head.
"Everyone out for now." I muttered, slowly standing up. "I'll be right back Spirit. Sleep for now, alright?"
She nodded slowly, her eyes closing as she attempted to sleep. We marched out of the tent as quietly as we could, until we were all outside. It seemed that the wind wasn't that loud anymore. Either due to my eardrum being permanently damaged or not remained to be seen.
"She should be ready to travel in a few days." Baast said. "I believe that we stopped the poison from spreading too far."
"A few days. Can you guesstimate?" I asked. She shook her head.
"Three to five days, possibly." she responded. "I understand that you don't want to drag her suffering, but this weather isn't helping either."
"Almost a week isn't really a few days." I said, sighing. "We'll hold out the fort until she gets as best as she can. We'll continue then."
"So you're putting her back in her Pokéball?" Zin asked.
"I will if need be. She needs more medical assistance than we can provide." I answered. "I'm waiting for her wound to heal a little better so she isn't in pain while in stasis."
Everyone nodded at my verdict. Before I could continue, Xola and Akalia both stopped me.
"While it's great that you're in charge, I'm going to insist that you stay by Spirit." Xola said. "She needs you right now. While your there you can rest yourself."
I raised an eyebrow. "Because I did so much compared to all of you."
"We'll be fine." Zin said. "Go make sure she's better."
Before any defense could be mounted, Iolanthe pulled me away gently. My feet dragged along the stone floor until I spun around and almost fell forward. Turning around, everyone was giving me a nod as my mouth opened to say something about staying quiet. I didn't say anything due to fearing Spirit's precarious health.
Spirit was sleeping soundly, her breathing loud inside of the tent. I cleared the mess I made quickly, doing my best to organize the things as well as my thoughts. Could there been anything I could have done to avoid this? Perhaps have Spirit fly in a closer formation with Iolanthe? But would have that exposed Mist? Would all three grouped together fair better than individually? I honestly don't know. Considering that out of all of us only Spirit was injured shows that something was going right for us. Up to that point, anyway.
I brushed a hand over my cheek, where the thin cut was still tender. While it didn't hurt at all, it bothered me more than my head could have been sliced off just as easily. It was a surprise that my hair wasn't missing by this point. A rustling sound made me turn, seeing Spirit looking towards me. I smiled at the Flygon, but she continued to stare at me intently. Stopping myself from sighing, she smiled as I made my way to her. Kneeling next to Spirit, she shook her head as my hands held her claws.
"What is it?" I asked.
She moved the blanket out of the way, making a cooing sound as she pulled gently. I didn't struggle against her as my body rested against the tarp on the ground. She turned me around until we faced each other, her claws holding me tightly. Spirit cooed softly, holding against me tightly. I stroked her cheek gently as she took a deep breath. My eyes closed on their own accord, though I didn't fall asleep until well after Spirit stopped fidgeting over me.
Two days have passed since the attack. No Pokémon have even dared make their presence known to us. Even during my short watches over the camp nothing dared to show. I was always teamed up with someone, and someone was usually with Spirit. My sleeping habits weren't something to be desired, and it was leaving everyone on edge to some degree. Zin and Mist would argue about finding proper timber, with Iolanthe desperately trying to keep the peace. Xola and Akalia, who were normally in good terms, were almost to each others throats. Baast seemed to be making best of the situation by meditating constantly. Aurora was sleeping on top of my head, to no ones surprise.
I rubbed my eyes, trying to stay awake. It was technically my turn to keep watch, but everyone else was awake. A yawn escaped my lips, balancing the resting Weavile on top of my head as my arms stretched. Aurora didn't give me any inclination that she was bothered by my motions. Her claws gripped my hair tighter, but nothing else. Grabbing her gently, I picked her up from the top of my head. She struggled in my grip for a moment, but didn't lash out as she saw my eyes. Whatever she saw must have made her worry, as she brushed my cheeks gently.
"Weavile." she said in her tongue, pointing at the tent. I grinned.
"My turn to take watch." I said. "Not like all this arguing is going to let me sleep anyway."
Mist and Zin both walked towards me, heads butting against each other. How the Houndoom walked sideways baffled me. As if to prove my point, Zin started growling. I groaned in exasperation as soon as the sound reached my ears.
"Zin, Mist, please tell me there's a good reason why you're arguing." I pleaded.
Both Pokémon turned to me, prepared to argue their points. When they just stood there gaping, my curiosity got the better of me. I laughed, shaking my head.
"Do I look that bad?"
"You look like something I've eaten and barfed up." Zin commented. At my confused look, she continued to clarify. "You look exhausted."
"Have you gotten any sleep, Master?" Mist asked.
I shrugged. "Not really. I've been too worried about Spirit's health."
"She's fine." Zin said confidently. "Just a day or two of rest and she'll be ready. I know it."
"Everyone appreciates the vote of confidence, Zin." I said, shaking my head. "I just hope that your right."
"You think she's getting worse?" she asked.
"She's developing a fever." I said with a smirk. "It's really bad, too. Not to mention she's going through our supplies extremely quickly. If it doesn't break after tonight, we'll have to continue with her inside the Pokéball."
"But how will we get off the mountain?" the Houndoom asked. "She's supposed to... oh Arceus."
"Yeah, not sure about that yet. The blizzard isn't weakening, either."
"We must hope that Spirit gets better, or Jonathan and Joy can arrive with rescue." Mist said.
"Which in either case, the blizzard has to stop. Good times."
Nobody said anything after that. A shiver made both Zin and Mist look at each other worriedly, before Zin leaned against my left side while Mist leaned to my right. I looked at them in surprise, but didn't argue with the fact that they now stopped arguing. Aurora snuggled against my chest, letting out a purr as I scratched her neck and back. Zin snickered and I turned to face her.
"What?" I asked.
"She seems happy." she commented.
"Not now, Zin. Please." I said, exhausted. "Don't talk to her unless she brings it up."
"Brings up what?" she asked.
"You perverted Houndoom." I muttered, shaking my head. "Where's Iolanthe?"
"Trying to stop Xola and Akalia from strangling each other." Zin commented. "They're over there by the tent, glaring at each other."
"At least they're quiet about it, unlike you two."
"Hey!" they both exclaimed.
"Not so loud." I said, wincing. "Jeez."
I sighed as all three Pokémon around me laughed. It didn't sound like it was ill meaning, so it was a welcome sound. My chuckle joined their laughter, though it didn't last long. The feeling did lift up my spirits. It made me hopeful that we would be alright. I stood up slowly, Aurora staying in my arms as my body stretched again.
"Are you going to actually sleep tonight?" Zin asked.
"I hope so. Have to make sure that Spirit is properly healing though." I said, Aurora holding tightly to me. "Though I think we need to help out Iolanthe."
Walking towards the trio, it was a surprise that they weren't behaving like themselves. Both Xola and Akalia were staring at each other as if in a staring contest. In all honesty, I had no idea how long they've been doing this. They weren't like this yesterday or the day before. What had brought this along?
"Xola, Akalia." I said, standing next to them. "What's the matter? You've been like this all day."
Both turned to face me, turning their glares at me instead. They both averted their gaze as soon as they saw my face though. Like Zin and Mist before them, they averted their eyes and begun to mutter apologies. I chuckled as Xola wrapped me up in her coils, her face aligning with mine.
"You're going straight to bed, Master." she said with finality.
"Only if you promise to stop arguing with Akalia."
She looked sheepish for a moment before shaking her head. "Was it that obvious?" she asked.
"Just a little bit." Zin offered. "I've never seen Akalia that angry before."
The Luxray pawed at my legs gently. Looking down at her, her eyes looked straight into mine. I could feel that she was sorry. Chuckling, my fingers reached for her head to scratch behind her ears. She purred happily, leaning into my hand. Aurora climbed on my shoulder as Xola began to squeeze my body tightly within her grasp.
"Xola, if you keep squeezing I'll choke." I said.
"Sorry!" she exclaimed. "It's just... well..."
"When is it going to be my turn with you?" she asked pointedly. "I've been waiting for you to ask me all this time!"
I sighed, burying my face in her scales. "Xola, if you've never noticed I've never asked to have sex with any of you."
"But you do it without any complaints." she pointed out.
"I think it wouldn't be a wise move on my part to ignore your needs. Especially if it's to our mutual enjoyment."
She giggled at that. "Well, then I'll have to be a bit more forceful with my intentions."
I nodded. "Well, it isn't like I have much of a say in it."
"Well, as soon as we get off this mountain, you're mine." Xola said. "So you better stay alive until that happens."
"And what happens after?" I asked. "No one else gets a turn?"
"Well, Iolanthe needs one." Xola said, the tip of her tail tapping her chin. "Unless you've already done it."
I shook my head against the accusation. "Iolanthe hasn't expressed anything that would say that she's interested in that."
"Well, I changed my form to become better acquainted with you, Master." Io said softly. "All of your Pokémon are female, and you seem to have many different interactions with them."
I sighed, shaking my head. "I want to say that this wasn't in my initial plans when choosing to become a Pokémon trainer. All I wanted to do was see the world."
"Well, you got a lot more than you bargained for then!" Zin exclaimed happily. Everyone nodded at the Houndoom's outburst. A chuckle escaped me.
"Alright, I guess you're right. Not that I'm really complaining. Just... let me know how I can be better." I said, smiling.
"Just take care of yourself." Zin said, her horns scraping against my jacket. "You look like you're barely conscious."
I nodded, everyone moving to help me stand up. Iolanthe stood by my side as my exhaustion began to take its toll on me. My legs felt heavy as she guided me back to the tent. Aurora jumped down from my hands as we approached the sleeping Flygon. She pressed a claw gently against Spirit, nodding after a moment. She jumped up from the ground, Iolanthe catching her. She climbed down back to my arms, smiling brightly. I kneeled down next to Spirit, checking at her bandages once more. Taking off my gloves, my hand pressed against her scales to see if her temperature was cause for concern. I sighed, her fever still strong. It was probably breaking, but she was still asleep. Spirit hasn't awakened for anything, only to eat and drink some water.
Her wounds had healed, but something had infected her. I didn't want to move with her in such a state. My fingers slowly slid down her forehead to her cheeks. Spirit's mouth opened to ease her breathing. It was a labored breath, the exhalation warm against my skin. I gently stroked her neck, carefully gauging her reactions to my touch. Her breathing slowed to a steady pace, but quickly picked up in desperation.
I turned to Iolanthe. "You can go if you want. I'm going to get some rest."
She nodded. "I would rather stay to make sure that you do rest." Iolanthe said.
Aurora snuggled against my jacket. I sighed, knowing that no words would dissuade either of them. Iolanthe pushed me gently to the ground, my back laying against the ground cover of the tent. Aurora squirmed out of my grasp, climbing over to snuggle against my neck and face. A tentacle snaked its way across my vision, pushing my eyelids closed. My face leaned against her chest, resting above Iolanthe's bust. I wrapped my arms around her, holding her tightly against me.
I woke up suddenly, hearing the wind howl around the tent. Disengaging myself from Iolanthe's hold, I was extremely grateful that she was still asleep. Aurora was nowhere to be seen, which was interesting. Exiting the tent, my face almost ran into Baast's chest spike.
"You're planning on something extremely stupid, aren't you?" she asked, her eyes narrowed.
"Probably." I answered. "Jon said that there were berries up here, right?"
"Please tell me you're kidding." she said. "Tell me that this is a nightmare."
"Baast, just tell me if Lum berries grow around here." I said sternly.
"Lum berries? You're going to risk your life for a Lum berry?"
"If it will help Spirit, I'll do whatever it takes." I said. "If you don't know, that's fine. Don't follow me, either. If I'm not back in twenty minutes... you can raise the alarm."
I walked forward, towards the outside. The winds have calmed down, but snow fell by the score in front of me. The familiar sound of crunching snow greeted my ears as I walked outside. Thanking Arceus, my eyes scanned anywhere where the elusive berries might grow. Spotting a familiar outline of a tree, I headed that way. It was thankfully only twenty paces away from my starting point, so it was an easy landmark. Doing my best to dig through the snow, it proved fruitless as nothing was around. Standing, the horizon around me was a flat land of snow. Other than the tree next to me, nothing stood out to my eyes.
Shaking my head, I walked forward away from the tree. Every few steps my hands dug through the snow. Nothing, though sometimes I would find a rock sticking out through the snow. I left those alone, not wanting to possibly aggravate a sleeping Geodude. Another tree was my landmark somewhat into the distance. Making that the next destination, my feet slugged through the deepening snow. The cold air made my feet move faster as the seconds ticked by.
Every exhalation was visible, the warm air from my mouth curling around my face every time I breathed. Gloved fingers did little to shield my hands from the temperature from the outside. Reaching the tree, my knees supported me as my fingers dug through the snow. My effort was rewarded with more dirt underneath the snow. A green leaf caught my eye for a brief moment. Digging through the snow, I hoped that it would be some kind of berry bush. Something would be better than nothing at this point.
Green and blue leaves poked out through the snow. Freeing the plant, two small berries grew at the top of the plant. They were green, smaller than any berry I've ever seen before. Were these Lum berries? Well, it was better than coming in empty handed. I stood up, brushing as much of the snow from my body as possible. Placing the berries in my pockets, I did my best to retrace the steps that were still visible in the snow.
My feet hit something, sending me stumbling forward face-forward into the snow. I stood up, double checking my pockets. With both berries checked and neither of them crushed, I continued walking. Pushing myself, my lungs felt like they've been dipped in ice. Every breath felt like something sharp was scratching at my throat. My nose felt frozen, and my teeth were beginning to chatter.
My world turned upside down as I fell again. This time it didn't stop immediately upon contact of the snow. I rolled down, snow going inside of my mouth every time it opened. My shoulder hit something hard, making me cry in pain. Suddenly there wasn't any snow under my body. For a moment, I was floating in the air. Then, air rushed past me as I fell. It didn't last long though, as my body landed roughly against snow again.
Funny how I wasn't screaming. My vision tumbled over and over again before all of a sudden coming to a halt. With my eyes facing skyward, it was relief to know that my face wouldn't freeze. I took a deep breath, my heart beating against my chest like someone desperate to break down a wall. My breathing came in gasps, the cold snow freezing my back. Shadows began to play tricks on my vision. A familiar face appeared in front of me. I was pulled off the ground gently, making me sit up. Someone laughed loudly in the silence around me.
"You shouldn't have gone out by yourself, Master. That was very dangerous." a feminine voice said.
Turning to face the voice next to me, pure white legs greeted my eyes. An orange robe hid the rest of her body though. Embedded in the snow next to her was a red staff. She was tall, the falling snow not helping my perception at the moment. It didn't help that I was still flat on my back. The familiar looking Pokémon giggled at me as I looked up to her. A white face with piercing red eyes looked down towards me. It took far too long for my brain to process this information to make the connection to my mouth.
"Song?" I asked, bewildered. She nodded.
Song leaned down, grabbing my hand and pulling me up effortlessly. Standing next to each other, she looked down at me with a smile on her face. Her hands wrapped around me, our bodies touching as best as my jacket allowed. My body shivered as tears began to fall. I felt my cheeks freeze slowly as the temperature froze the flowing tears. Song giggled again, leaning down and meeting my lips. The kiss deepened quickly, my breath caught in my throat as she explored my mouth. She pulled back slowly, her tongue passing over my lips as we parted. She smiled, the falling snow highlighting her features in my eyes. She looked around, shaking her head side to side with a smile.
"You get yourself in the weirdest of situations when your being stubborn." she said.
"Spirit is sick." I said with a sigh. "It's also possible that she's allergic, or the poison reduced her body's defences. This weather can't be helping, either."
"Then we better get back." she said with a nod. "Think of them, and I'll take care of the rest."
I closed my eyes, focusing back on our camp. It didn't take long for my stomach to reach my throat, the sensation of teleporting not lost to me. It felt like being stuck outside in the blizzard this time, a roar ringing in my ears as my legs gave out from under me. My arms shook as I was grabbed from the ground. Song's laughter from my right made me feel safe. Someone else pressed against my opposite side, making sure that I didn't fall.
"Arceus! It's been too long, Song!" Zin's voice said loudly. Song giggled again.
"Let's take care of Spirit first, and I'll tell my story later." Song responded.
I opened my eyes as we entered the tent. Spirit was struggling to sit, but Zin and Mist stopped her. Song grabbed the berries from my pockets, passing them to Baast. The Lucario kneeled next to Spirit, who opened her mouth as the berries were placed inside her mouth. She chewed, grimacing against the taste. After swallowing, she sighed with a smile on her face. Song giggled, hugging me tightly.
"She'll be fine now." she declared. "I wouldn't have had to leave my training if this human had to get himself in danger."
Silence followed that statement, and Song laughed. "You didn't tell them, did you?"
I shook my head. Zin growled loudly. "Tell us? He just told Baast that he was coming back in twenty minutes! That was an hour ago!"
An hour ago? I guess time flies when your tumbling around in the snow. Zin continued though, interrupting my thoughts.
"I have half a mind right now to do... something!" she barked out. "Be grateful that you really found those Lum berries, or else I'd rip out your throat!"
It wasn't worth the effort to argue her point. I knew that it was a huge risk, but it was that or leave Spirit to fend whatever ailed her by herself. It was a gamble that could have had a really bad end.
"Song, how did you get through the barrier?" I asked suddenly. My voice sounded exhausted, even to me.
She shrugged. "I didn't feel one when I teleported. Why do you ask?"
"Iolanthe can't teleport us out of here." I explained. "There's some kind of barrier preventing her."
Realization dawned on her face. She nodded, but gave a shrug. "Maybe it only works one way?" she offered. "If whoever is aware of Iolanthe's powers, perhaps they're focused on keeping you inside and not worried about outside interference."
She shrugged. "I really don't know. If I focus now I feel the barrier. But my powers aren't what they used to be."
"Wait, you just traveled from Sinnoh to Johto?" I asked.
"Johto?" Song asked, perplexed. "I thought we were in Mount Coronet!"
I shook my head as she blinked at me in surprise. "You're not lying, are you."
I shook my head in response. Song looked incredibly worried. "I might have exhausted all my psychic power for a few days. Though when that happens, my body is exhausted."
"As long as you're safe, that's what matters." I said sternly. "Baast, how is our supplies looking like?"
"They will last another day, two if we restrain ourselves." she responded.
"Wait a second!" Song exclaimed. "How in the world do you have... nine Pokémon! I thought you could only have six!?"
"That's a long story." I said, chuckling.
"We have time." she pointed out.
"Not until we get off this mountain." I said, shaking my head. "Spirit isn't in any shape to continue yet."
"Why not put her in her Pokéball?" Song asked.
"Tell everyone that." I said with a grin. "No one wants to listen to that line ever again."
She tapped my head with her staff. "I have to give you something." Song said, opening her orange robes. In her hand was a Pokéball. She smiled as she passed it to me. It looked different than a regular Pokéball though.
"It is rightfully yours." Song said. "The monks decided to paint it during my stay."
The colors were the same, which honestly surprised me. It was a sharp contrast to Baast's Pokéball. An orange bell was painted on the top half of the device, three silver spots on each side leading downwards. Following the dots to the other side, the same design was mirrored except the colors were inverted. The bell was now silver with the dots in orange. The expanding button was now green instead of white as well. I grinned up to Song as she giggled happily.
"I think I'll have to thank the old guys at the temple one day." I said.
"They would appreciate it." Song said happily. "I'm glad that you like it. We didn't want to make something overly complicated."
"No, I think it's perfect." I said. "We've missed you."
She giggled again. "I can tell! But regardless, where's everyone sleeping?"
Mist floated over. "It seems that it is my turn to take watch. Everyone can rest. Please keep Master safe."
Mist floated by, brushing my cheek as she left. I was herded towards Spirit by everyone else. The Flygon grabbed my hands and pulled me down on top of her. She wrapped me up in the blanket she was using, her claws and tail preventing me from moving. Laughter erupted around me as Spirit held me against her scales. Disregarding everyone, I snuggled close to her. The laughter slowly died down as everyone slowly piled around us. With the exception of Mist, everyone had a paw, hand, claw, or tentacle on my body. Zin muttered something into my ear.
"You're going to pay for this." she said, her teeth nipping at my skin.
The snowfall was falling lazily now. With no wind, it was easier to move to our destination. The summit, if this was it, was a platform near the peak of Mount Silver. I guess it would be possible to climb up to there, but the will wasn't with me at the moment. There were no landmarks here, either. The entire area was about thirty paces wide and fifteen paces long. There weren't any kind of footprints on the snow. With no borders on the sides, one slip and it was all over for any of us. We moved slowly to avoid such a catastrophe.
My Pokédex ringed loudly, now that the blizzard was finally gone. It was the fifth time I've called and receiving no answer. Regardless, if he didn't answer, we would head to Blackthorn. We still had our things there. Not to mention the candy that still had to be eaten.
A screech came out of my Pokédex, making me close the device immediately. Unfortunately, it didn't stop the horrible noise. If anything, it felt like it made it worse. Even putting it inside my pocket didn't help much. The pitch increased as a black dot floated in front of me, rapidly enlarging itself. The hole was as large as my head when a clawed hand grasped the edges of the darkness. The familiar white hair of Darkrai showed itself first, followed by the other clawed hand. The body was slowly formed behind, the dark bubble slowly disappearing to create it.
Backpedaling quickly, Akalia and Zin were beside me immediately. Mist escaped my body through my chest, hovering in between the Houndoom and Luxray. Spirit and Iolanthe pulled me away from the possible battle scene. Song didn't hesitate, immediately running past me and jumping over Mist, staff swinging wide. The resounding impact made me even wince as Darkrai was flung sideways to my left, sliding across the snow.
"Well, that was unexpected."
A chill went down my spine at those words. Was this the same Darkrai that attacked us at the monastery? Song's grip on her staff told me all I needed to know. Before any words would form out of my mouth, Darkrai spoke.
"Stop! I'm not here to fight you."
"Rapidash shit!" Zin barked out. "Why would you be here in the first place?!"
"Would you believe that I am here to apologize?"
Everyone had yelled their answer at that question. I don't think it would be possible to not hear that resounding exclamation. The echoes alone would probably reach the bottom of the mountain. Darkrai sighed, slowly rising from the snow covered ground. She brushed off the snow on her body, looking around for a moment. Her eyes narrowed slightly.
"Perhaps I will never gain what I'm asking." she said, floating in place. Her arms were crossed over her chest. "Regardless, I will try to earn it, as impossible as that may be."
"What are you saying?" I asked loudly.
"I was under orders from Mother." she stated. "I had interpreted those orders incorrectly, and this is an attempt to redeem myself."
"I think you have a lot more to do than just apologizing." I said, standing next to Song.
Placing a hand on the Gardevoir's shoulders, her stance relaxed slightly. Spirit and Iolanthe were standing next to me as well. Darkrai looked at us and shook her head.
"Fine. I wanted to warn you, though. Sister is after you now."
"Who?" Zin barked.
"You would know her kind as Cresselia." Darkrai said with a shrug.
And why would this be a bad thing? Cresselia would be a blessing at this point, wouldn't it? Spirit's claws tightened on my shoulders, her face rubbing against my cheek. Akalia bounced in place, her star tipped tail wagging. Even Aurora cheered, jumping from Baast's head into the air. Darkrai shook her head, another dark hole opening next to her.
"Why are you cheering?" she asked, turning towards us. The black sphere grew next to her.
"Because finding Cresselia would be ten times better than finding you ever again!" Song yelled.
Darkrai shrugged. "Perhaps. You don't know her how I do, though. You may regret ever finding her if you do."
"Why?" I asked.
"Why what?" she asked back. "Why am I helping you? Why would I do the things me and my kind has done? Those are questions you are better off not knowing."
No one spoke after her as she shook her head. She began to giggle again, the maniacal sound making me nervous instantly. Song's stance shifted again, snow shifting next to me. Darkrai shook her head, her white hair billowing behind her.
"I do not need to answer the last one." she said. "But, I will say that after speaking with Mother we are deeply sorry for attacking you. Again, it was our misinterpretation of our orders that made us attack. We bare no ill will against you or your Pokémon."
"And what about the others?" I asked. "Other trainers have been attacked by either you or others of your kind. They're in comas, and psychic types all over the world are loosing their powers. How do you answer to that?"
She shook her head. "We find what we seek in their dreams. Unfortunately, it leaves a human like how your human doctors find them. Pokémon have the misfortune to lose most or all of their powers."
"And what is it that you're looking for?" Song asked.
She shook her head, giggling softly again. "That is for me to know, and for you to find out."
"Then why warn us in the first place?!" Zin demanded. "If you're going to follow us, just attack us now!"
"I've warned you." Darkrai said, ignoring the Houndoom's demands. "My duty is complete. It's up to you to take my warning or not."
She disappeared as quickly as she appeared, entering the black sphere and leaving nothing behind. The black dot faded into nothing, leaving no trace of its passing. Song and I looked at each other, the Gardevoir shaking her head from side to side.
"I don't like the warning either." I said, frowning. "But at the very least, let's be careful as we continue."
Turning to Spirit, I stroked her neck gently. She cooed at my touch, making me smile. Baast walked up to me, holding Aurora and a rather large blue feather.
"Aurora found this while Darkrai was speaking to us." she said. Aurora held out the feather. Pulling my backpack in front of me, she placed it inside. I shrugged as everyone looked in curiosity.
"We'll figure something out." I said. "In the meantime, let's get you all back inside your Pokéballs and let's finally get out of here."
My Pokédex began to beep once more as I grabbed a Pokéball from my waist. I flipped it open, wary of more odd noises.
"Aaron!? Are you there? Answer me, dammit!"
Joy's voice echoed around me, making me wince slightly. "Hey Joy." I responded.
"Thank Arceus! We've been trying to call you for days with no response. The blizzard ended, by the way. Where are you?"
"At the top of the mountain, apparently." I said. "We're on our way down as soon as I hang up."
"Right. I'll let Jon and his fat ass boss know that you're safe. You're going to have to go through them afterwards. They're charging us for using their stuff."
I rolled my eyes. "Right, because that makes total sense. I'll see you in a bit."
"See you when you get here." Joy said, before terminating the call.
I shoved the Pokédex into a pocket, grabbing my backpack. Returning everyone to their Pokéballs one by one, until Song was the last one left. She smiled at me, ruffling my hair playfully. She pushed her staff against me gently. I warily gave her a look.
"It's not heavy." she said with a smile. My fingers touched hers as I took the staff from her.
The staff felt extremely light, lifting it cautiously from the ground and into my hands. It felt solid, with a smooth holding surface. The red paint had small designs into it. Orange and red mixed together in a swirling pattern, slowly turning into lazy circles as it went further down the staff. She smiled at me as I admired the craftsmanship.
"It's really something, isn't it?" she asked. I could only nod in response. She giggled again.
"The Pokéball won't accept it, so you're going to carry it for me while we travel. Is that alright?"
"Of course. It's not going to leave my sight." I said, grasping the staff tightly in my grip.
Song nodded, smiling at me. "Thank you."
Expanding her Pokéball, she was recalled in the familiar red glow, disappearing with a smile on her face. Securing her Pokéball on my belt, I noticed that my hand traveled to where Iolanthe left the empty spot. Smiling at Spirit, she bent down to allow me to climb up on her back. Securing myself as best I could, the staff gripped tightly in one hand.
"Are you ready, Spirit?" I asked, rubbing her neck gently.
She nodded happily, turning to give me a grin. Her wings lifted us effortlessly, leaving the snowbound mountain under us. Spirit's wings hummed merrily, drowning out any other sounds. The snow was a bit annoying, but I did my best to ignore it. The feeling of the air on my face was worth it. Air burned through my lungs as I took deep breathes, but this mountain was all behind us now.