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PokePaul
13th October 2005, 3:18 AM
It doesn't have a title yet, apologies. This is my first post for this forum so hello everybody, and I hope the lack of a title doesn't break a rule - I did try to think of one!
Anyway that'll either put people off reading or intrigue them into doing so, and there can't be any expectations as to what this is about :)
Enjoy.


~~~~~~


Chapter One
Honest Rock


Calum had been daydreaming again when he’d noticed the train. Sitting in his fathers plush office he had been staring idly out of the window, watching the clouds drift past so slowly that if he hadn’t been staring with such interminable boredom he might not have noticed the difference.

Small frothy bubbles of clouds began to rise across the azure sky, joining the larger ones like playful Altaria before slowing and lengthening out into milky trails. It was an incredibly warm, still day. The window had been open all afternoon but the plush scarlet drapes barely wrinkled in the weak breeze. It was unusual for the mountains to be so generous with the weather so late into autumn but the entire town of Honest Rock had gleefully excused themselves outside with one excuse or another, to savour the remains of the day. Even there, on the fourth floor of the Town Hall, Calum could bitterly hear the frivolity outside.

Up until then he had miserably resigned himself to his extracurricular Latin studies; his father may not have been in the room but he could feel the eyes of the oil painting behind observing him sternly. At times he thought he could almost feel his cigar tinged breath on the back of his neck …

Uncomfortably Calum had turned around in the gigantic, brown leather chair to stare up at the portrait of his father on the wall above. And the honourable Mayor Theodore Baker stared righteously back.

It had been then that the beauty of the day had stolen his attention and he’d rolled lazily about in the chair, draping his head over the arm rest to watch the clouds roll by.

After a good hour he noticed those peculiar clouds and after a while wondering idly what they could be the obvious dawned on him as the whistle of a steam train sounded joyously in the distance. His curiosity peaked, trains to the town used to be few and far between but during the last six months the town had welcomed the construction of an official League Pokemon Gym in the interests of growth and tourism. His father had personally spearheaded the campaign to get the license, and succeeded. Ever since all manner of people had been arriving to Honest Rock and with the building newly finished, an official League trainer would be arriving to assume the post of Gym Leader any day.

Jumping up and clutching the window sill, Calum stared down across town to the nearby station and followed the winding track just into the meadows before spotting the olive green locomotive chugging it’s way pleasantly forward.

“It’s him! It must be!” Calum whispered excitedly to the empty room.

He watched the equal interest of the people below unfold rapidly as the throngs of townsfolk milled in the direction of the station; including his father, as the Mayors stately black saloon trundled pompously through the square. The freshly waxed bonnet glinted the sun back to Calum at the window.

“As if he didn’t take me along,” the boy growled, “Here I am stuck with a Latin textbook …”

He ran a hand defiantly through his blonde hair, well not for much longer he thought. Reaching for his school satchel he ripped a cool metallic ball from the pocket and flung it out the window.

“Swellow!” he called, the ball bursting with a crackle of electricity and spark of blue light. A large navy bird sailed gracefully back towards him, it’s powerful wings bristling as it settled on the stone window ledge.

Calum laughed and clambered onto it’s back, holding firmly but gently to his companions feathered breast.

“You can guess where we’re going can’t you?”

The Swellow released a shrill call of agreement before spreading it’s wings and diving from the window. Within moments they had covered the square, capturing the attention of the people beneath, then dipping and racing past the passenger door of his fathers car. Calum winked cheekily at his reflection in the tinted window and knowing his father had seen as the window began to lower, with a nudge Calum urged Swellow back high into the sky and together they left the car far below and behind.

The train hadn’t yet pulled into the station but had almost wound it’s way through the countryside and with boyish playfulness Calum rode Swellow towards it - eager to perhaps get a look through the carriages at his soon-to-be hero. As they flew nearer however, he was suddenly aware of somebody else.

Racing along, at phenomenal speed, beside the brassy bulk of the engine was a raven haired woman hoisted to the saddle of a Rapidash! The beasts pure white legs a blur of ivory and scarlet as the flames which engulfed it’s body swirled like a bushfire about it’s hooves, scorching the trail it made alongside the tracks.

Dumbfounded, Calum paused and stared in awe at the unlikely competition between animal and machine. Swellow likewise hung in the air, it’s attention just focused enough to ensure it’s wings continued to flap and keep them both airborne.

Drawing nearer, the woman suddenly seemed to noticed the pair watching her from so high in the air. She looked directly up, but Calum saw most of her face was hidden by a leather aviator cap and goggles, her body was clad in identical attire. With a spirited whoop the woman greeted them, lifting both hands from the reins to wave crazily. Calum was sure she’d be thrown from the creature as it thundered along but absurdly she stayed mounted.

He waved meekly back, slightly embarrassed at his dumbstruck state.

The woman laughed friendly and then gripped her steed, flattening her body against it, and the Rapidash seemed to burn even stronger as it quickly overtook the train; leading it victoriously into town.

Calum blinked, looking after them. That woman was amazing! He’d stupidly been expecting a man but it made no difference, her skill and control of that Rapidash had been legendary. And he was now more determined to shake the hand of the new Gym Leader for Honest Rock.


~~~

Apart from a few people who had been in the right place at the right time, the train station was relatively quiet. Calum’s father had yet to arrive but he was no doubt only minutes away, along with the rest of the town.

As Swellow swung low out of the clear sky and under the glass roof of the central platform conservatory, the train itself was just slowing to harbour at the end of the track. But it wasn’t that he was interested in any longer, the person he’d been so desperate to meet ironically hadn’t been on the train to begin with.

“Take us down Swellow,” he asked as his eyes skimmed the station. The woman was nowhere to be found.

Swellow alighted onto the stone platform just as a swarm of people emerged from outside, pushing alongside the Mayors car. Swellow chirped anxiously as the crowd rushed past them both and thronged beside the opening doors of the carriages. Calum petted his friends soft brow, knowing how much it disliked large numbers of people, when a shadow was suddenly cast over them. Calum turned to look into his fathers irritated glare.

“Well, young man,” he said sternly, adjusting the weighty golden chains of office that hung about his robed neck, “We shall be having words when we get back. For now, however, I have a pressing engagement as you’re obviously aware … and you might as well hang around now that you’re here,”

Calum breathed a sigh of relief as his fathers face softened with the last sentence.

“But you’ll be doing double Latin tomorrow evening understand,” he added maliciously as he strode away, pushing past people.

With an irritated groan Calum continued to look for the strange rider he’d seen but with so many people arriving it was next to impossible. Instead he turned his attention back to his father who was talking earnestly to a large, heavy-set man who had just stepped down from the first carriage. He had a heavy tan, something almost unheard of this high in the mountain district, and shaggy silver hair. He nodded as his father talked but his cold blue eyes looked about attentively, as if memorising every face around him. It was then that Calum noticed the six, shiny Ultra Balls strapped to a khaki belt the man wore …

“Ladies and gentleman, settle down, settle down,” bellowed his father suddenly to the crowd, bringing order to the disparate raucous, “Thank you, thank you very much. Now, this is a significant day in our towns history. With our Gym freshly completed a wealth of opportunities has been given to us …”

Calum nodded impatiently, barely paying attention to the mandatory speech, any moment that woman would be appearing and he’d finally get to meet her.

“This advancement will bring new faces and new life to our small town,” his father continued grandiosely, “which will welcome young Pokemon trainers in earnest, eager to claim a Badge from the hands of our esteemed resident Gym Leader …. Nathaniel!”

Calum’s jaw hung in puzzlement as the sturdy man waved a clenched paw at the applauding crowd.

“What…?” he whispered, a thousand questions bombarding his mind, he instinctively began to scratch his forehead furiously - an awful habit his mother detested.

“Hmm, seems as good as choice as any,” came a direct voice from behind him, “Do you happen to know what Type of Pokemon he specialises in?”

Calum turned to reply, still scratching his head, “Listen, I didn’t even know he was going to be-”

It was then he discovered that the person who had spoken to him was the woman he’d been looking for all along. She gave him a brilliantly white smile as his jaw dropped once again.

“It’s rude to stare,” she tutted, taking a heavy swig from a bottle of mineral water, her forehead dotted with hot sweat. The goggles she’d been wearing earlier hung loosely over her shoulder.

“You’re incredible!” was the first thing Calum managed to shout out. He promptly cringed with embarrassment.

The woman laughed softly and took another drink.

“Where’s your Rapidash!?” he then asked eagerly, never having ridden one before.

“I left her just outside the station in the meadow, deserves a well earned break,” she replied simply, capping the bottle and stuffing it into her leather jacket, “Is that your father then?”

Calum followed her to a bench where she sat down with a relieved sigh, but showed no other signs of exhaustion.

“Yeah. Yeah, he’s the Mayor.”

“I gathered that. And that’s a fine Swellow you’ve got there,”

Calum had completely forgotten his bird which had flitted to the top of an iron post and made itself at home in the hanging basket.

“Thanks, I’ve had it since I was a child. How long have you been training for? And why are you … um, dressed like that? You look like a fighter pilot.”

The woman laughed loudly again, tossing her black hair from her face.

“Have you not seen the flames a Rapidash can put out when they’re in full gallop? This flame-retardant leather is the only thing stopping me from cooking when I’m riding her. Beautiful creature though, I’ve not had her long. I traded for her about three months ago and certainly haven’t regretted it,” she smiled, her cheeks slowly beginning to tinge pink as she rested, “I can be the most disorganised woman you’ll ever meet, young … ahm, what did you say your name was?”

“I didn’t. It’s Calum,”

“Charmed, I’m Isabel,” she said, giving him a strong handshake, “As I was saying, I can be the most disorganised fool, and wouldn’t you know it - I missed the train! Of course I’d had all my luggage loaded the night before but naturally it’s myself I forget to put on the damn thing. Anyway, luckily Rapidash can get me here just as promptly as any machine can. And I got to see a far stretch more of the countryside as well. Beautiful weather you have up here!”

Calum shrugged, “You’ll see,”

They both looked over to where Calum’s father was escorting the Gym Leader into his car and dozens of people were still applauding mindlessly.

“I’m sorry,” Calum said, turning back once again to Isabel, “Just who are you? I had myself convinced you were the new Gym Leader but, as you can see…”

Isabel laughed loudly again, “My, what a compliment. I’m sorry to disappoint you, no. Actually I’m the new Nurse at the Pokemon Center.”

T.B.C

Bigbrother87
13th October 2005, 7:44 PM
Wow. For a first post that was very good.

For a name if your going to stay in that town a lot you could use the name of the town, Honest Rock. Without using the names of characters I can't think of any others, maybe you'll find one later.

I'm looking forward to what you do with this, especially since I havn't seen the name Nathaniel around a lot, and that's my name. Good luck on future chapters.

I just remember something wrong with it, if the Swellow was large enough to carry Calum, how did it fit in a hanging basket?

UnholyWeather
14th October 2005, 1:49 AM
That was indeed a every good first post.

I didn't spot any grammer or spelling mistakes. I can't really help you with a title but i can give some advice on how to choose one. If you've planned out some of the story you could make the title related to the plot. Or you could name it after some thing revelent that happens in the story.

Anyway good first chapter. I await the contiuation of this story.

Later

Pinecone Tortoise
14th October 2005, 12:27 PM
Wow! This is spectacular! Lovely characterisation and unsettled stereotypes. Original and funny. I was a little put off at the lack of a title (that normally indicates lack of thought/effort) but I'm glad I had a look. Eagerly awaiting the next update!

Pinecone Tortoise.
;204;;324;

PokePaul
15th October 2005, 5:42 AM
Hi. Wow, thanks so much for reading guys - and the comments were great to find, I didn't really expect much of a response being so new.
Bigbrother87 : Lol, I guess you're right but Swellow was meant to be perched atop the hanging basket rather than in it. But still, you've got a point. I don't know, in my mind it was a particularly large hanging basket. Lol. Nathaniel is a wicked name, I really like it. Thanks for title suggestion, I guess I gotta start thinking.
Unholyweather & Pinecone Tortoise : Thanks v much, glad u liked it guys. Again - will think long hard about the title. Especially if it put you off without one.
Anyway, have written another chapter - please enjoy.



~~~~~~


“You’re joking! She’s the Nurse?”

Calum grinned across the field to his friend, “I couldn’t believe it either, I was certain she was some hotshot trainer! Swellow, now’s your chance - Quick Attack!”

Calum’s bird somersaulted in the sky before spiralling down through the air at the speed of light! The large, burly Rhyhorn hefted it’s grey head up just in time to see the Swellow sweep past and beneath it, knocking it off it’s feet. Already exhausted, the craggy Rhyhorn grumbled lowly as it hit the ground with all it’s weight and was defeated.

“Cheap trick, you know how slow my Rhyhorn is,” called Calum’s good friend, Jake.

“What’s your excuse for the last six times you lost then?” s******ed Calum, retrieving Swellow back into it’s ball.

The two boys walked the short distance back to each other and sat down on the grass.

“I’d love to get a look at her Rapidash,” mentioned Jake, “I wonder how high its Level is,”

“Dunno,” answered Calum, chewing on a rubbery blade of grass, “She’s only had a it a while so it’s previous trainer must have done most of the work. But still, it’s amazing she’s able to control it so well after such a short time - especially if it’s so strong! You’d think the two had been together forever!”

The afternoon had remained bright but already the light was dwindling as the sun sank behind the foggy violet mountains. Stars were already beginning to prick the sky and Volbeat were starting to chirp and glow in the meadows.

The two boys sat down in the long grass and lay back, staring away at the darkening mountains. Jake sighed wistfully.

“So what about the actual Gym Leader? Did you get to meet him?”

Calum thought back to the silver-haired giant who had shaken his fathers hand, “Yeah, I saw him. He seems strong. Not very friendly looking. Apart from that, I don’t really know much about him…”

Jake s******ed, “It sounds like you’re more interested in the Nurse, I think you’ve gone soft!”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Calum snapped, feeling his skin betray him as a blush tinged his cheeks.

“You’ve been saying all summer how you’re going to impress the new Gym Leader and convince him to take you on as a Gym Trainer - but all you’ve been talking about is this lady!”

Calum stood up angrily, “You don’t know what you’re talking about! I am still going to become a Gym Trainer! In fact I’m going to introduce myself this minute, he should be in a meeting with my father if I remember. It‘s only too
bad he didn‘t get to see me cream your Rhyhorn!”

With that he stormed away, kicking back the bobbing tides of grass from in front of him and grumbling about just how stupid people could be.


~

Isabel took the stairs two at a time, cursing her poor timekeeping. As she arrived on the fourth floor of the Town Hall she strode rapidly to the large mahogany door and rapped sharply, pausing before opening it so as to catch a quick glimpse of herself in the corridor mirror. The unruly black hair she wrestled with daily had managed to disarray itself since entering the building and she groaned inwardly. Late and untidy. Behind her she heard a heavy thudding and turned to observe a large, pink cow-like Pokemon clutching the banister of the staircase and dragging itself bit by bit up to the floor.

“Quickly, Florence!” she hissed at the Miltank as a faint ‘come in’ echoed from behind the door.

The Pokemon snorted with frustration at her and hefted her large, rotund udder over the final step before stumbling up beside Isabel.

Opening the door, Isabel almost collided into another person. A tall muscular man whose cold eyes she instantly recognised from earlier that day.

Nathaniel, the new Gym Leader. He grinned politely as he stepped aside to let her and Florence through.

“I was just coming to see what was keeping you,” he said, his voice thick with a clipped foreign accent, “You are the Nurse?”

He asked the question politely but, as he swirled warm brandy smugly around
in a crystal glass, his eyes travelled about her as though he were making private important judgements.

Isabel straightened her back coolly and flashed him her best professional smile.

“She is indeed,” a voice answered for her, “It’s a pleasure to meet you … Isabel, is it?”

Mayor Theodore stepped from behind his desk and crossed over to join them. He was no longer wearing his cloak, opting instead for a more casual shirt and tie. He looked much younger without it, she noted, or maybe it was just his attitude he’d changed since before. He didn’t appear quite so fussy or pompous.

“It is yes,” she agreed, pointedly stepping past Nathaniel to shake the Mayor’s hand rather than his, “I apologise for my lateness Mayor, I had difficulty transporting my Pokemon from the station to the Center - you wouldn’t believe the looks you get when you explain you don’t have Pokeballs to contain them!”

She gave an exasperated laugh and took a glass from the drinks cabinet. The two men stared at her.

“May I?” she asked, pouring the brandy without waiting for a response, “Anyway, as it is I’ve had to bring my Miltank along - oh, don’t chew on that rug! I am sorry sir,”

Florence again snorted indignantly as she let the tasselled corner drop from her jaw and crossed her chubby arms.

“It’s quite alright,” Mayor Theodore replied, looking uncomfortably at the saliva soaked fabric as he sat back behind his desk. The Miltank ignored his disapproving look and settled her body on the carpet to doze.

“You do not contain your Pokemon in Pokeballs?” pressed Nathaniel.
Isabel returned her attention towards the tall man and shook her head.

“Not one of them, no. I’ve learnt that Pokemon are best contented when they’re out and free,” she answered, “But they’re still perfectly obedient, no problems at all. They’re just more difficult to move all together you see, and this is certainly a long way to come I’m sure you appreciate,”

Nathaniel shook his head, “Very unorthodox. The League is very explicit about trainers submitting their Pokemon contained,”

“Well I clearly don’t plan on entering the League so that’s grand,” she remarked simply.

His cool glance then caught her straight in the eyes and he spoke very quietly as he stared back at her, “I see. Just, for a moment, you seemed extraordinarily familiar to me ….”

Mayor Theodore coughed, eager to stop any bickering between two people who clearly were total opposites before it began.

“Yes, yes. Thank you both for coming anyway,” he said shuffling the papers on his desk almost instinctively, “There were just a few matters I wanted to bring up with you both before you got settled,”

Isabel was thankful for his interruption, having been so entirely creeped by the man now taking his place beside her. She took a sip of her drink and deliberately focused her attention on the Mayor’s formalities. Although as he discussed the workings of the town and notable people they should meet, she found the light hairs on her arm pricked defensively by Nathaniel’s presence. Or perhaps it was the view from the Mayor’s window, curtains undrawn, as she looked out into a blackening cloudy night sky that hid the moon. Either way, she shivered.

“… of course, there are a number of people who already to wish to volunteer at the Center. Many are students at our school, I hope that’s acceptable?” Theodore looked expectantly at Isabel; his chocolate eyes reflecting the pleasant look Calum himself gave her, she noticed.

“That’s fine, of course, I encourage it actually. Obviously the League only pays for myself to work there so any volunteers you can muster will be grand,” she replied.

“Excellent. And, of course Nathaniel, there are a great number of young people in our town who would like to apprentice at the Gym. My son, actually, included. If that would be something you’d con-”

“I only make time for three apprentices,” Nathaniel interrupted sharply, shaking his head, “I am a very busy man. And I am afraid those positions have already been filled; my students from Phenac City will be joining me early next week,”

At this remark, Isabel dared a glance back to him. So, he’d come all the way from Orre? No wonder his demeanour was so raw. The Orre region was one of the most turbulent lands in the world; being, for the most part, a virtual wasteland of desert and shanty towns where street-smarts were not only a blessing but a necessity. The Pokemon League had only a very small foothold in the area what with poaching, black-market networks and illegal battling grounds so rife in the southern state. Granted, Phenac City was the closest thing to a civilised community it had to offer but even still … it was a wonder the League had recruited somebody from such a place.

“Well, if that’s the case, it is disappointing,” continued the Mayor, then he addressed both of them, “Even so, I’m sure you’ll find Honest Rock to be a very hospitable place to live. We may be a quieter, smaller community than either of you are accustomed to but what we lack in size we make up for in respectability and hard work. And I hope you enjoy the benefits of such spectacular countryside that is on our doorstep; the meadows and pastures that surround us are wondrous, although the further past the hills and into the mountain region you go does become quite treacherous…”

The Mayor’s voice then lowered peculiarly and his warm eyes became concerned, his brow wrinkled in thought. As the tone in conversation switched, Isabel felt that crawling nervous feeling again. The night sky outside was now even blacker than before, so much so it seemed to cast a shadow across where they sat.

“One other thing I should inform you of …” he continued, clearing his throat gruffly, “We do warn against travelling further north unaccompanied. The immediate area is, of course, quite without concern. But once you reach the Black Forests, and the North Peak, there have been … incidents,”

He turned and stared out of the dark window, despite it being such a cloudy night the silhouette of the mountains could still be seen. Huge black voids sitting on the horizon. There could be anything out there right now, Isabel thought.

She and Nathaniel said nothing. It felt like everyone held their breath, the hooting of a Noctowl outside became incredibly loud in such a silence.

Grudgingly, the Mayor knew he had to further explain.

“Besides the ridiculous superstitions and folk-legends I’m sure you’ll soon be told, there have been occurrences … of rather, savage, attacks on travellers by things unknown. And people have gone missing, entirely, when exploring off the mapped trails,” the Mayor dropped his gaze to the table, almost as if in shame that this had gone on under his governing, “We are attempting investigations into these events, but they themselves are not even without risk. So, I would urge you please, to keep outside the northern boundaries. And if you must venture there - do so never after dark.”
With that sentence the panes on the window suddenly shook and rattled violently, as if something scrabbled to get in. Isabel swallowed a cry of shock from the battering.

“Don’t be alarmed,” the Mayor smiled, as though automatically switching his brain off from such unpleasant things, “It’s the altitude of our town, the winds coming off the mountains can really pick up at night,”
Noticing the sombre mood of his guests he chuckled harmlessly.

“I’m sorry if I’m disturbed you. Think nothing of it, you’ve really nought to be concerned of so long as you stay south of the forests,” he added kindly before rummaging in his pockets, “Now, I have a horrible amount of keys to give and explain to you I’m afraid …”

It was then that the door to the study burst open! Nathaniel and Isabel both leapt from the seats and looked back while the Mayor shouted past them.

“Calum!” he barked at his son who stood earnestly in the doorway, “You know not to come barging in here when the door is closed! Now apologise for your behaviour and get out. I’ll speak to you when I’m done,”

Before he could however Isabel had burst out laughing and crossed the room to speak to him.

“Well, hello again!” she greeted him and Calum nodded shyly back.

“You’ve met my son?” enquired the Mayor.

“I had the pleasure this afternoon, yes Mayor,” she answered, putting a hand on the boys shoulder, “And might I say his handling of his Swellow was very good. Did you teach him how to train Pokemon?”

Before the Mayor could respond Calum chirped up anxiously, “Actually that’s why I burst in just now - sorry, by the way - I just wanted to ask Nathaniel if he is looking for-”

Mayor Theodore shook his head sympathetically to his son before he finished, “I’m sorry Calum but our Gym Leader has already promised apprenticeships to some other children for the time being,”

Nathaniel coughed rudely and gave Calum the same critical look Isabel had received, “My students are not children, Mayor. And I am afraid your sons enthusiasm would not have sat well with me anyway,”

He then crouched his massive body down to Calum’s height and stared his icy eyes into the lads.

“Little boys should be seen and not heard, young man,” he said sternly.

“Well, with that attitude I wouldn’t worry about anybody else bothering you for your time,” Isabel retorted, her temper running away with her as usual.
Nathaniel straightened up and have her a withering look.

“Perhaps you can volunteer at the Center instead?” he suggested to Calum, but he made clear the sarcastic undertone with a cool grin. Stepping back to the Mayor’s desk he grabbed the ring of keys that had been set out for him and strode back to the door.

“Thank you for your time Mayor, please visit the Gym whenever you wish,” he called without looking back, “I guarantee you’ll be impressed with my management,”

As he disappeared down the stairs Isabel turned to a crestfallen Calum.

“To be honest Calum, I think you got lucky. Would you really want to spend every afternoon with someone like him?” she said warmly.

“I guess,” he shrugged, clutching the Pokeball in his pocket.

The Mayor walked over to them and handed Isabel her keys.

“He’s certainly not what I expected either,” he admitted with a frown, “Anyway, please contact me Isabel if you have any problems,”

“It’s been a pleasure Mayor Theodore,” she smiled, shaking his hand again.

She called for Florence and the Miltank stood sleepily up on her pudgy hind legs and plodded over.

“Now Calum,” she said, “I don’t suppose a strong lad like you would mind walking us home? After this evening I think I’d welcome it,”

Another rumble of wind against the windows confirmed that she wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

T.B.C

Pinecone Tortoise
15th October 2005, 6:47 AM
Lovely. And surprisingly quick to update. I must say, Nathaniel seems almost stereotypically cold and harsh. "Little boys should be seen and not heard, young man"... it's just too blatant for my likings. Perhaps a little more subtlety is in order for his character? But Isabel is great. A strong trainer (so it appears) but one who actually traded for a pokemon. And the name Florence really suits her Miltank. (Nice choice of pokemon - quite original for around here) A bouncy sort of name with a willful, whimsical feel to it. ^^ Slick work.

Having Gym Trainer as Calum's first choice for future also strikes me as new and interesting. A refreshing difference from the stock 'trainer'/'coordinator' (coordinator is less common, but seems to be rising to prevalence with disturbing momentum).

Just a last point - I find it hard to believe that a Swellow could beat a Rhyhorn. Perhaps if it exhausted it then tripped the poor thing, but not from pure attacking. Unless, of course, there was a VAST difference in level, but I get the feeling that wasn't what you were intending (at least not to the degree necessary for it to be believable).

Anyway, great story. Looks set to be a real gem, so keep at it!

Pinecone Tortoise.
;204;;324;

Bigbrother87
15th October 2005, 4:32 PM
Isabel is just the nurse? With the way you've done the character I find it hard to believe that she'll stay in that role for very long.

Good job of including the Orre region in this, and that does help explain some of Nathaniel's attitude. But I aggree with pinecone tortoise about the rest of his attitude, it's seems too hard. And I wonder what kind of history Isabel and Nathaniel have had in the past, if any.

Keep writing please, I can't wait to find out what happens next.

BenJS
15th October 2005, 5:35 PM
Well this is pretty good so far, I'll definately be keeping up with this. Isabel is a reasonable character and your update timing is amazing compared to a lot of authors'. A few negatives though:

Firstly I'd have to say I'm a bit worried about the mayor, he seems to be going in the direction of the typical overly strict and tempremental parent, if we find out that he's only this way because he wants Calum to be safe or something similar, then I would be rather concerned if I were you - it's a very Sue-ish quality IMO.

Also I find that Sellow at fault - they're normally only about a metre tall at the most, hardly large enough to carry a toddler let alone a grown boy. Although I do agree that some of the official sizes don't really suit the creatures - five foot is far too big for a Noctowl, IMO - Swellow's official size seems to fit it just fine.

Another problem is with that battle with the Rhyhorn. Their belly's are only a few mere inches off the ground, as far as I can tell, and a Pokemon the size of that Swellow as you've indicated would never fit underneath - it would simply crash into the creature's rock-hard body and hurt itself. Pinecone Tortoise is right when she said Swellow probably shouldn't have one, the Rhyhorn's Rock-type and sheer size/bulk compared to it's opponent would have assured it's victory.

A few typos also pop up here and there, though nothing major.

A great story so far, I hope you keep at it. Good job.

PokePaul
23rd October 2005, 11:39 PM
Hi again. I'm gonna put the next chapter separately after this post just so I can reply to some of the feedback and so it won't get in the way for anybody who just wants to read the next chapter.

Thanks for all the comments firstly, I really appreciate any feedback - especially bad.

Pinecone Tortoise : Thanks v much, glad you like the overall story idea. I see your point about Nathaniel actually, but I wouldn't necessarily judge him as a stereotypical 'bad guy' as I've only described his manner generally and it remains to be seen whether he'll live up to that reputation. You might be surprised. Or not. But that particular quote is quite cringing - am mortified I wrote it! The reason I put it was because it wasn't so offensive that it was indecent to say it in front of Calum's father, but nasty enough so as to let Calum know what he thought of him. Especially as he didn't consider his apprentices children. Either way, I'll be rounding out his character a bit more accordingly - thanks for your opinion. As far the Swellow/Rhyhorn battle that EVERYBODY has a problem with, lol, I have no defence. I don't have as extensive a knowledge about Pokemon stats as you all do, and I definitely should look these things up. I guess when I'm writing/reading about battles or Pokemon creatures I'm not quite so strict as to the physics of it all. So yeah, you're probably right Swellow shouldn't have beaten Rhyhorn. I will take more care in future. BUT the official explanation, lol, will be that after several battles the Rhyhorn was weak and c'mon, Rhyhorn is a Ground type - surely Flying Types trounce them? Thanks for your comments again anyway, v v appreciated.

Bigbrother87 : Thanks to you both for continuing reading and commenting, don't feel pressured to do so but I am grateful for it. I think I've covered most of your point with my reply to 'Piney'. I'm glad you noticed and liked the Orre mention though, I wondered if anybody would like that reference as from what I've read it seems quite underused. But yeah, thankyou for your comments - I will build on Nathaniel's character. :)

BenJS : Hi, thankyou for reading and your feedback. To be honest though, I'll defend myself and say I disagree with your opinion on Calum's father. I did mentally make a point of not portraying him as Stern Parent Stereotype, but maybe that hasn't properly come across. In the second part he is gentle towards his son. But I will revise how I write him a bit, so thanks. As for the Swellow/Rhyhorn battle - I have no defence, and stand humbled by your superior knowledge of Pokemon base stats etc. I will be much much more careful in how I write my battles from now on. However, I would suggest some artistic license to be allowed - Calum's Swellow could be bigger than average and Jake's Rhyhorn have longer legs? How I write things is not always based on typical Pokemon lore so I sometimes to alter stuff to make it more my own world. But you do have a point I wouldn't have considered, so thankyou v much!

So basically, am going to post the next part. I've sort of decided on a story name but also have decided on the way I'll post and present this stuff. Basically, rather than chapters I'll have mini-novellas or 'episodes'. They'll usually be in three parts like this will be. They'll all be here - I won't post them in separate threads cos that'll be spamming and obviously, they fit together as an overall story anyway and need to be read in order. But the next post finishes off this first 'story' from Honest Rock - yes not much has happened in this really, but it has accomplished setting up whats to come and introduced important characters. I hope this explains how I'll present the rest of my stuff to you anyway. I hope some of you stick with it, as there's lots of really good stuff to read here instead of mine, and I really appreciate anybody who takes the time to comment :) Thanks.

PokePaul
23rd October 2005, 11:44 PM
~~~~~~


The next morning came bright and peacefully, but the air was cooler and bit against the skin when the zephyr swelled. A light fog bogged the acres of green pasture and sparkled when caught in the sunlight. Having spent all fourteen years of his life in the mountain town, Calum understood the weathers temperament. Cold air and mist in the morning usually meant rain by mid-afternoon. He left home jacketless, airing the creases out of his school shirt in the breeze, but had the maturity to bundle his waterproof into his satchel; his mother, wherever she was, would be comforted to know that. As he walked down the brick street he released Swellow from his ball and let the spirited bird glide out into the sky. He didn’t need to worry if he went out of sight, Swellow would always find his way back to him and he enjoyed the freedom. Besides, the way to school would be different that morning. He travelled the short walk down the roads until he was stood outside a place he’d been coming to gawk at for months.

The Pokemon Gym was a large, imposing building. The circular granite wall, still immaculately clean and polished, had no windows. Instead, the light shone in purely from above through the bottle-green glass of the majestic dome that formed the roof of the building. Some people had deemed it an eyesore but Calum felt the building was a perfect reflection of the strength of the trainers and battles it would house. It was still, to his disappointment, closed and he hung his arms through the locked iron railings that fenced the grounds; as he had done nearly every day. And considering the reception the Gym Leader had given him the night before, that was probably the most he could expect.

The toll of the clock tower in the town square broke into his train of thought and he pulled himself away, picking up the pace to school reluctantly. But even running late he still took a detour to the other new building he’d intended to stop by; Isabel’s Pokemon Center.

The Center, in contrast to the Gym, was a humble building just at the edge of town - which was not much farther away because of the size of Honest Rock. As much of the town’s money had gone into constructing the gluttonous architecture of the Gym, the Pokemon Center was not a flashy new building. It had once been a large country tavern but had been virtually destroyed in a fire over thirty years ago. While the structure of the place had for the most part remained intact, the tavern had been gutted and remained a derelict ever since. However despite the budget, the refurbishment had been remarkable. Most of the rotting scorched timber had been removed and replaced with whitewashed brick, that gave it a clinical but pleasant look. For historical posterity, and a certain quaint feeling, the large oak beams that formed an awning over the front doors had been left and the universal medical sign for a Center - a large red silhouette of a Pokeball in a white square - hung fittingly underneath.

Calum stepped up to the door and was just about to rap his knuckles on the glass window of the door when he heard a shout from behind.

“I knew you’d be here!”

He recognised Jake’s voice even before he’d turned about to shoot a glare at his buddy.

Jake stood there chuckling, hands stuffed into his pockets. Beside him stood a small girl, who looked watery-eyed and slightly afraid.

“Cut it out,” snapped Calum, then he gave a wave to the nine-year old, “Hi Abby,”

Jake’s sister was virtually identical to him. The same shock of acid green hair, pale skin and large seawater eyes. But where as Jake was scruffy, his hair choppy and slicked with gel, and always sporting a taunting toothy grin; Abby was the total opposite. She was quiet and timid, her hair pulled into a neat plait that hung over her shoulder and her fringe slipped beneath the navy beret she always had planted on her head. From her backpack, almost as large as she was, two eyes blinked at him from a pale squishy head that peeked over her shoulder.

“We’re late for school,” she spoke, biting her bottom lip.

“Yeah,” agreed Jake, “We waited for you in the square forever but decided to come look for you when you broke your record time. Like I said, I knew you’d be here visiting your girlfr-”

“Actually,” argued Calum, “I had to come here because … of Swellow! Yeah, his … wings been dodgy since our battle yesterday, thanks very much. And I want to get him looked at,”

Jake raised an eyebrow suspiciously, “Ok. So where is it then?”

Luckily, before Calum panicked for an explanation, Swellow came naturally swooping past them with a squeal and with a flutter of feathers landed atop the roof of the Center.

“There’s nothing wrong with him, Calum. You’re telling lies,” Abby said, almost sadly. Jake gave an insane laugh.

“I’m not! It comes and goes, but he’s not himself today anyway,” mumbled
Calum before pushing at the handle of the door and letting himself in. To his frustration, the pair followed him in.

Stepping onto the polished wooden floor of the main foyer the smell of new paint and lilac air freshener met him as he looked about the open gloomy area.

“Hello?” he said, reaching over to the wall and hitting the light switch. The windows had only given shafts of dull light and as the power came on the room sparkled with a fluorescent glow from lights that hung from the high wooden beams on the ceiling. Behind the gleaming worktop of the reception, the Pokeball machine was humming with life. There was another sound too, a faint snoring coming from somewhere.

“Cool!” exclaimed Jake, walking over to a couple of heavy plush sofas arranged by the bay windows, sitting down and putting his feet up on the coffee table.

“There’s nobody here,” commented Abby, standing patiently by the door.

Calum scratched his head and walked over to the reception and as he reached to ring the brass bell on the counter, discovered a scrap of paper with a note scrawled on it.

Morning!
I’ve just had to go out, I promise to be back as soon as can. If your Pokemon are tired or weak, please feel free to use the treatment machine - I’ve yet to work out how to use the thing anyway! For anything more serious, Miltank knows some first aid and should be around somewhere.
Sorry for any inconvenience!
Nurse Isabel.
(p.s - if you find my damn keys, please leave them somewhere I can find them, I hope you have better luck than I did)

Putting the note down, Calum then stretched across the counter and looked behind it. The snoring was coming from the large Miltank sprawled on her back. Her velvety black ears batting occasionally and a shiny bubble blossomed from her snout, shrinking and expanding with her snores.

“Is that her Pokemon?” asked Abby, who had walked around the counter to see what he was looking at.

“Yeah, I think it’s called Florence,” Calum replied, remembering back to when he’d walked her home the previous night.

Abby watched the sleeping cow thoughtfully.

“I thought most Nurses had a Chansey or two as their assistants. That Miltank doesn’t look like much help …” she said.

Calum shrugged, “Well, she’s not really like your average Nurse. Trust me,”

Abby paused for a moment before reaching behind her and pulling the small clear Pokemon from her backpack and holding it’s squishy body outstretched in front of her. It’s eyes blinked in alarm.

“Look Castform,” she said softly, “A Miltank. Isn’t it fat?”

A high pitched scream suddenly erupted from the creature’s tiny mouth and it scrunched it’s eyes shut in panic. Florence sat bolt upright, her bubble bursting and spattering over her nose wetly as she looked about urgently.

“Abby!” shouted Jake, striding over to them, “What are you doing? Get that stupid thing to shut up!”

“It can’t help being scared!” called Abby over the din as the crying Pokemon wiggled out of her arms and slopped to the floor, “Oh Castform! Stop!”

The Castform slid across the floor past her and began to wiggle down a corridor. It moved surprisingly quickly for something that didn’t really have legs, Calum thought. He’d only ever seen the thing in Abby’s bag which was it obviously where it preferred to stay. Abby dashed after it.

As Calum went to join the chase he collided with Florence who had grumpily gotten up and started to barge after the pair.

“Argh!” Calum grunted as the Miltank trod on his foot with a heavy hoof, which knocked herself off balance. Tumbling forward she hit the floor and began to roll uncontrollably forward, mooing in distress.

“Get out of the way Abby!” Jake shouted to his sister as the cow toppled down the corridor, udder akimbo, picking up speed.

Abby shrieked and managed to clutch her slimy pet just in time to flatten herself against as the wall as Florence rolled heavily past, hitting a closed door face first with an almighty SMACK! The door burst open and she fell through, though thankfully coming to a halt from the force.

“If that thing didn’t seem so clumsy,” chuckled Jake, “I’d have thought that was a Rollout attack!”

Their problems weren’t over though, they realised, as through the open door a multitude of small Pokemon began to skip through. Laughing between themselves and hopping merrily over the dazed Miltank they scuttled quickly down the corridor playfully. Calum watched in fascination as three bright yellow furry Pichu chased each other past him; followed by an excited Azurill and a Magby which was blowing puffs of grey smoke out it’s funnel-like snout. It was only as they started to dance towards and through the door that Calum snapped back to attention.

“They’re escaping! Don’t just stand there!” cried Jake as he darted after them.

Calum joined him and the boys burst out of the Pokemon Center, followed by Abby and a decidedly groggy Miltank.

The baby Pokemon were already marching down the path and towards the fields, chattering amongst themselves. Fortunately for Calum, his legs were far much longer than those of the tiny waddling Pokemon and he and Jake quickly caught up with the group.

“That’s enough fun for you guys,” smiled Calum, scooping up the Pichu into his arms.

“Yeah, party’s over,” Jake agreed, taking Azurill by the tail and snatching up the Magby.

“Do they all belong to the Nurse?” asked Abby as she and Florence reached them.

“I guess so,” Calum replied, nervously gripping the Pichu who were starting to spark little bursts of static as their fur rubbed against his shirt.

“Mil!” lowed the Miltank indignantly as she snatched the dangling Azurill from Jake, stomping her hoof and glaring at the two boys.

“It wasn’t our fault!” exclaimed Jake, “It was her stupid pet!”

Abby clutched her Pokemon defensively.

“Castform isn’t stupid! You know how it gets when the weathers like this,” she argued. As she spoke, Calum watched in fascination as the Castform started to turn a shade of royal blue as a damp bubble ballooned around it’s spherical body. It’s facial expression seemed to grow even more glum and it’s eyes lowered sadly as it started to drip over Abby’s arms. If Calum didn’t know better, he would have thought the thing was crying.

“Oh no,” Abby said softly, “Poor Castform … I knew it was going to rain today,”

Sure enough, Calum felt spots of rain begin to drop from the sky. Soaking through his thin school shirt and making him shiver. As the group looked up they saw the clouds had darkened slightly and within moments the rain had started to fall heavy.

“C’mon,” said Jake, “Let’s get back to the Center before we get soaked,”

In agreement, they all turned to walk back the way they came when they heard a shrill shriek from the sky.

Looking up, Calum saw Swellow hovering in the sky. Her beak beckoned his gaze out into the fields.

“What is it?” he asked the bird as it called again to him louder.

“Smoke!” shouted Abby as they stared into the distance.

Over the rise of a hill was coming long plumes of light smoke that disappeared into the grey sky.

“Do you think we should go see what it is?” asked Jake.

Swellow answered the question by swooping down past them and leading the way swiftly.

“Here Miltank,” said Calum, before following, “Take the Pokemon back to the Center. We’ll go check it out,”

Florence gratefully took the bundle of babies and stomped away wetly.
With another shriek from Swellow, the group quickly bolted from the road and into the fields, the long grass clinging to their trousers; sticky from the pouring rain.

It only took a few minutes for them to cover the hill and come charging down into the meadow, the open countryside sprawling in front of them. Swellow dove down, the rest in hot pursuit, and watched as it began to circle above a cloaked figure knelt beside a huge horned Rapidash that lay on the ground. Calum recognised the person as Isabel instantly and quickened his pace, worried that something was wrong.

As they neared them he could see the smoke was coming from something cradled on the ground in front of her. Isabel looked up in astonishment as he reached her and smiled in bemusement.

“Good morning everybody,” she said, “What’s with all the hurry? I’m guessing you haven’t sprinted down here in the rain just to say hello,”

Panting, Calum gripped his sides to ease his the cramp in his abdomen.

“We were in town and we saw smoke,” he gasped, “What’s happened?”

Isabel laughed and leant back so the trio could peer over her shoulder.

Shrouded in the folds of a leather shawl was a wide-eyed newborn Ponyta. It was crouched on the grass, four spindly white legs trembling beneath it and the soft downy hair on its mane was smouldering quietly. Abby gasped in amazement.

“Sorry to have worried you guys,” Isabel grinned, “You can imagine the flames a Rapidash gives off during labour, I’m sure. But the smokes died down a fair bit now she’s resting,”

As if in response Rapidash whinnied proudly and her fire burned more brightly.

“You never said your Rapidash was pregnant,” stated Calum in amazement, “And you even rode her yesterday, wasn’t that … dangerous?”

Isabel shook her head. Her black hair was, again, uncombed and unkempt and he could tell she’d been awake from the early hours of the morning; and perhaps out here in the cold meadow for just as long. But her wide smile and red cheeks showed no sign of tiredness or impatience.

“Not at all, Rapidash are incredibly strong Pokemon. And to be honest, the ride was mainly to help things along; she was overdue by a couple of weeks, and exercise can do wonders in those matters,” Isabel explained, “Anyway, I apologise for having to leave the Center unmanned - but when nature calls, you understand,”

The three kids stared at the infant as it blinked and stared around the world with wet eyes. The heavy rain startled it and it sheltered under the leather shawl. It’s mother, on the other hand, relished in the hot clouds of steam her flames gave off as the rain hit her, failing to extinguish her fire.

“That Rapidash of yours is incredible,” said Jake excitedly, “I’ve never seen one this close!”

“It’s not my Rapidash anymore, but thank you young man,” Isabel replied.

From their puzzled expressions she continued to explain.

“I’m releasing Rapidash and her child into the wild as of this morning,” she said, with satisfaction but a hint of sadness in her voice, “Part of the reason I traded for her was that she was pregnant and her trainer, a decent gentleman though he was, intended to continue to battle with them as a team. She’s been a lovely companion for the last six months but she deserves to raise her child in peace, in the same environment she grew up in,”

Jake said nothing, but Calum knew his friend would be thinking this was the most ridiculous thing he’d ever heard. Abby, meanwhile, had gotten closer and was letting the Ponyta nuzzle her hand.

“That’s such a kind thing to do,” she said, “But trading for a Rapidash - you must have had to give up a very good Pokemon?”

“Luckily, the gentleman was quite taken with a particularly strong Machoke of mine. I’m not saying it was easy to give him up either, but he’s probably living the life of Riley where he is now. He was born to compete and I have a feeling he was starting to get bored with me,”

The kids stayed with Isabel for a while longer as the rain fell - almost freezing them - but watching in wonder as the Ponyta attempted it’s first tentative steps and moved to be comforted by it’s mother. Before long though, Isabel looked at her watch and turned to them.

“Shouldn’t you three be in class? Run along, I’d hate your teachers to judge me as a bad influence already!”

Reluctantly, they dragged their sodden selves away. They said very little on the way back to school, almost in awe of the moment they’d just shared.

“When I’m older, I want to be a Nurse just like her,” said Abby passionately as they reached the school gates.

Jake shrugged, “She’s not like any Nurse I’ve ever met. I mean, she had a fully trained Machoke? She’s either a liar or she’s not telling us the full story …”

Calum said nothing, as his friends bickered about their opinion of Isabel. Even as his teacher reprimanded him for his tardiness and his soaked appearance, his mind was lost. Jake was right, but he couldn’t believe this amazing woman was actually lying to him.

Either way, he thought, things in Honest Rock had definitely started to get interesting.


~~~~~~

Pinecone Tortoise
24th October 2005, 9:15 AM
You've certainly got the potential here, but I have to say you're walking a dangerous line with Isabel. Having her spontaneously trade a much loved pokemon to help a pregnant pokemother and her child seems bordering on Sue-dom. Plus, wouldn't Rapidash and her kid be better off staying close to the pokecentre in case of later complications than wandering around an unfamiliar and infamously dangerous land? Apart from that, things are proceeding quite well. Congratulations and keep the chapters coming!

Piney.
;204;;324;

Bigbrother87
24th October 2005, 6:30 PM
Another great chapter, and you didn't do what I expected. Since the kids where there I thought the baby ponyta would go to one of them, I'm glad you didn't do that actually, it would have been cliche.

I did find to grammer mistakes, but they're easy to fix.
'his legs were far much longer than those of the tiny waddling Pokemon and he and Jake quickly caught up with the group.'
Just take out the 'much' and it'll be fine.

'Panting, Calum gripped his sides to ease his the cramp in his abdomen'
Take out the 'his' between ease and the, then it will be correct.

As long as these three part stories make since to the series, then I say go for it.
As of right now Isabel is the most intersesting person to me, and I loved the note you had her put on the bell in the center. But to have baby pokemon in the center, when it has just opened, we'll need to hear the story behind that eventually.

BenJS
27th October 2005, 1:01 PM
As for the Swellow/Rhyhorn battle - I have no defence, and stand humbled by your superior knowledge of Pokemon base stats etc.

I wouldn't say superior, I just play the games too much, and have a good memory for that kind of stuff. I get rather sick and tired of people claiming there's enough Pokemon already, that adding more will make things different and harder to remember details. Personally I want more.

I have no trouble remembering names, types, most attacks I've heard of, appearances, approximate physical size (usually in comparison to myself), the approximate highest and lowest base stats etc. I'm rather piccy.


However, I would suggest some artistic license to be allowed - Calum's Swellow could be bigger than average and Jake's Rhyhorn have longer legs? How I write things is not always based on typical Pokemon lore so I sometimes to alter stuff to make it more my own world.
I agree, I'm just fussy at times, and as you can see with my Noctowl thing, I don't always agree with the official stuff.

Perhaps Swellow was strong enough or built up enough speed to send rhyhorn flying as it went past, although it would still be too heavy.


c'mon, Rhyhorn is a Ground type - surely Flying Types trounce them?
But Rhyhorn's also a Rock-type, which brings the damage back to normal, as far as I know. Because the flying and normal elements are considered physical attacks, and Rhyhorn has high physical defence (as can be concluded from it's physical size and weight) Swellow's attacks wouldn't do much damage and would be at a great disadvantage.

I must also agree with Pinecone 'Piney' Tortoise up there.

UnholyWeather
2nd November 2005, 10:27 PM
Excellent chapters. A few grammatical errors here a there but nothing too big. The story flows smoothly and there's just the right amount description. You have some original and interesting characters. I wonder what the story behind the Nurse is. She seems to be a capable trainer, but instead she's a pokemon Nurse. I'm curious as to what kind of pokemon Nathaniel will train at his Gym. I'm thinking ground types but I could be wrong.

Anyway, this appears to be an interesting story and I'm curious as to what's gonna happen in this little mountain town.

PokePaul
8th March 2006, 8:28 AM
Hi.
I realise I started this and it's been a good five months sinc I continued it but my computer was stolen and I've only just been able to afford to buy a new one so I've rarely been online, except for the odd visit to the library. Anyway I did continue it in private, and I'd got it saved on disk anyway so it's all good.
Thanks for all the comments I never got to check, lol. It'd be really great if you guys who were reading it before decided to still do but I understand you probably have completely forgotten about it by now.
Anyway this next bit is the official first part of the second chapter. It's got a sort of Halloween/October feel to it since that was when I wrote it.
If you do read it, thanks for taking the time :)


~~~~~~


Chapter Two
The Clock Tower

There was an old saying in Honest Rock; only two kinds of people dared venture through the Black Forests … the very brave and the very mad.

Had there been anybody around to see the woman making her way through those dense backwoods that morning, they would have certainly judged her to be the latter.

Stooped over and draped in the ratty folds of a grey shawl she lumbered her way along, stabbing webs of thorny bracken out of her path with a cane she clung to for balance. In her other hand she clutched a large wooden bird-cage, inside which slept an aged Hoothoot. His downy breast was grey and he woke very rarely, saving his energy for this annual excursion.

Her face was hidden beneath a hood that enveloped her hanging head. Only a few stray locks of flame red hair gave any hint as to the woman beneath the cloak. That and her croaking, low voice as she muttered feverishly to herself as she walked.

The strangest aspect about her however was the birds. They had followed her, as they always did, since she had begun her three-day journey down from the mountains. And they had multiplied in number over the trip. Now there were no less than two dozen birds hovering and swooping around, above and beside her. They formed a storm cloud over her that kept her in an almost perpetual shadow, and the constant falling feathers littered her robes and the path around her.

Some were mousey brown and red, from the young Spearow that flew closest to her. Others were jet black, shed by the screeching Murkrow that sometimes dove down to scratch at her. She thought it to be a good omen when, on occasion, a heavy steel blade sliced down from the very top of the swarm and embedded itself in the ground before her. These, the feathers of the Skarmory, she wrestled from the earth and kept in secret pockets within her cloak. As such, the increasing weight of which, agonised her back forcing her to double over.

The noise was deafening. A cacophony of brittle caws screaming day and night into the air. Fortunately for her, she was already deaf. The only thing she heard was her own voice, if she could remember it correctly anymore, chanting the mantra over and over in her head. She wasn’t aware she was mumbling this aloud. And that this was the cause of her unwelcome following.

She wasn’t scared of the forest, unlike the townsfolk. But they of course had good reason to be. The woods would not welcome them, they would be destroyed within. She was one of the few it allowed to pass through. She couldn’t remember why of course. Perhaps then it was her own insanity that forever spared her. And so, besides the exhaustion and effort, she did not despair of this trip. She was safe from the dangers that lived here. Nothing would have changed.

Soon it would be over, she knew. She would reach the town at the precise moment, play her part and she would be done for another year. Then she would only have to make the return journey, and for this she would be alone.

The birds never followed her back. Back to her home on the North Peak where she would wait out another year, until it was time again. She was telling herself this in her mind as she stared down at the ground in front of her.

It was then that her senility allowed her a brief moment of clarity and to her astonishment she realised the birds had suddenly, and most mysteriously, gone. She was walking alone. The sunlight once again on her. The noise had stopped and only her shuffling steps through the long grass echoed through the forest trail. She stopped, knowing it was watching her from somewhere.

Her whiskered chin trembled and she clawed at her cane nervously.

“Leave me be,” she spat viciously.

It was the last thing she would do.

Her Hoothoot would only realise he was alone, and his mistress missing, when he awoke sleepily much later in the damp underbrush - his cage broken open and left abandoned in the clearing.


~

The first Spirit Festival Jake could remember was when he was five. At that age the paper lanterns and tinkling tambourine music had marvelled him. And the excitement of being allowed to stay up past bedtime and to venture into the town at midnight had been as palpable as the night fog that chilled and cracked his lips. And while there had always been a few children who spent the event in tears from fear, he had always witnessed the ceremony with starry eyes.

At fourteen, however, he regarded the festival with the same typical adolescent disdain and boredom as his peers. There was nothing particularly scary about ghosts anyway. Most were simply another kind of Pokemon. They could be vanquished with the simple toss of a Pokeball, and so the whole ritual of bringing in a batty old Channeller from the North Peak to shout nonsense and exorcise the clock tower with her Hoothoot seemed slightly melodramatic.

And then of course there was the urban legend of a simple schoolgirl who broke into the tower and captured the ghost herself two days before the festival. Somebody therefore had then had to dress in a sheet and act out the part for the entire festivities. It was all just silly child’s play, Jake thought.

His younger sister, on the other hand, was of a different opinion.

“Don’t be stupid,” he snapped, grabbing her hand, “Nothing is going to happen to you,”

Abby shook her head, jade hair tousling everywhere, and wriggled free of his grasp.

“I don‘t want to, Jake,” she whined, “I want to go home,”

“I told Calum’s dad we’d help out with decorating the square. It’s easy money!” insisted her brother, “And I need the cash to get a couple of empty Pokeballs!”

He watched in frustration as her eyes began to tear.

Jake sighed and took his Pokeball from his belt, with a short command his burly grey Rhyhorn emerged on the street - startling an elderly couple who were walking by. Rhyhorn gave a dull snort and pawed at the ground with it’s small legs.

“Look, we’ve got Rhyhorn with us now,” Jake explained, crossing his arms, “There’s nothing to be afraid of when we’ve got big old Rhyhorn to protect us, remember?”

Abby nodded half-heartedly, “I suppose. And Castform too,”

Jake rolled his dark green eyes, “Yeah. And that thing of course … ok, so c‘mon,”

They arrived in the square moments later. It was humming with activity as the townsfolk busied themselves, preparing for the festivities in the few remaining hours of daylight. When autumn arrived in the mountains, it did so in earnest. Already the weather had turned and the nights were beginning to draw in; the cold air and light country mist all contributing to the ethereal atmosphere of the Spirit Festival.

Despite his boyish attempt at maturity Jake felt slightly wary as he arrived in the centre of it all … his mind playing tricks on him, convincing him he could see Gastly blinking in and out of sight in the corner of his eye.

They spotted Calum perched on a small ladder propped up against a street lamp. He was tying a garland around it’s iron neck, the thin trail of wire was clipped with small cuts of paper that had symbols drawn on.

Cleanse Tags.

A superstitious folk remedy for keeping wild Pokemon at bay. Jake’s Grandmother swore by them for keeping Rattata out of her flowerbox. The length of wire looped down from his hands and then up into the air where Swellow hovered obediently, clutching the bundle in his beak. He cooed a greeting as he spotted the pair approach.

“Hey! About time!” called Calum impatiently as he finished with the lamp and scrambled down the ladder. He joined his friends on the cobble pavement.

“My Dad said he’d give us enough to buy a Great Ball or two each for this,” he grinned, “So we’re definitely hitting the long grass this week!”

“That’s great,” replied Jake, “Sorry I’m late. Abby was kicking up a fuss-”

“Jake!” Abby snapped as she blushed beetroot.

The boys chuckled and Jake began to help his friend move the ladder to the opposite lamp.

Abby sighed and sat down on the ground beside Rhyhorn, staring into his large docile brown eyes that were set into the canyons on his huge craggy head. He snorted welcomingly and Abby fished in her pocket for a mint to give him. She considered opening her own Pokeball and waking up Castform for some company, but decided the weather was too cold. Castform was a sensitive little thing.

She felt somewhat safe from the prickling cold that seemed to be seeping from the clock tower. She looked up into the high belfry above the clock face, where the gigantic cast iron bell hung, and remembered how terribly she had screamed the year before when the Channeler had banished the ghosts from it.

Nervously she tore her eyes away from it and turned her attention to her shadow that stretched by her side, black as midnight as she had just caught the direction of the sun as it began it’s slow descent. She remembered worriedly how Gengar could hide in your own shadow, or even replace it …….

“Hey! Hey there!”

It wasn’t a voice Abby recognised and as she looked to her other side she found it wasn’t a person she recognised either.

A tall boy of about her brother’s age came jogging up. He had dazzling bleached blond hair and glasses, not to mention a ridiculously huge rucksack strapped to his back. It was then that Abby noticed an impressive collection of six shiny Pokeballs strapped to his belt. A Pokemon trainer.

“Cool Rhyhorn!” he said eagerly, “Fancy a battle?”

Abby stood up quietly and looked him up and down, despite being several feet shorter than him.

“Where are you from?”

The boy smiled at her directness, “Goldenrod City. I’m a long way from home, I know,”

Abby raised an eyebrow. She supposed this was to be expected now Honest Rock had a Pokemon Gym. As she was about to reply she noticed her brother take his place protectively at her side, Calum behind him.

“That’s my Rhyhorn,” he said warily to the other lad, “And my sister is too young for battles,”

“We don’t get many strangers up here,” Calum interrupted excitedly, “Are you here to take on the new Gym Leader?”

The boy nodded.

“My name’s Ero, nice to meet you,” he introduced, “And I was just south from here, in Mahogany Town when I heard about this place. So I figured I’d take a little detour on my way to Blackthorn … but the Gym isn’t open at the moment. Do you guys fancy a battle?”

“Both of us?” asked Jake.

“Yeah,” Ero laughed as he patted his belt, “I’ll take you both on!”

“You’ve got it,” agreed Calum for both of them. Battling a new person was a rare opportunity for him, but not for much longer he hoped, “Over here Swellow!”

His Pokemon dropped the garland in his beak and fluttered over to a spot just in front of his master.

“OK,” nodded Jake to his friend, “C’mon Rhyhorn,”

Rhyhorn made a grunt in response and stomped to a spot in front of them.

“Right then, just let me make a space,” Ero replied eagerly, jogging back a short distance before tossing out two Pokeballs in front of him, “Go!”

The balls glinted in the golden sun as they fell through the air and burst open in a hot crackle of power.

Calum groaned as the first Pokemon appeared. A small but spunky little Mareep, bleating as it’s woolly coat fritzed with static. His Swellow would have to be careful dealing with that.

A second Pokemon, a tall lanky tree-like creature, joined it’s team-mate and shook it’s bobbly green appendages at them. Calum vaguely recalled it as a Sudowoodo. He’d heard they were quite common in the Black Forests, hence why he’d never seen one.

“Go Rhyhorn, Take Down!” barked Jake immediately, not even bothering to think up any strategy. His Rhyhorn stumbled into the battle towards the two opponents.

“You go for the Mareep,” added Calum quickly before calling on Swellow for a Quick Attack.

“Mareep, Thundershock!” Ero called out. The Mareep expelled a small bolt of electricity from it’s tail, narrowly missing Swellow as it surged past with it’s Quick Attack, “Sudowoodo, Headbutt Rhyhorn!”

As Rhyhorn stormed into Mareep and knocked it flat on it’s back, the Sudowoodo jollied itself past them both feverishly before somersaulting over and kicking Swellow squarely in the chest as it sailed across.

“I said Headbutt not Low Kick! And not Swellow!” shouted Ero furiously. Sudowoodo ignored him and watched as Swellow flailed through the air and hit the ground.

“Argh, Swellow!” cried Calum, “Get out of the way!”

The Sudowoodo was now hopping merrily towards the fallen bird.

“Rhyhorn, Take Down Sudowoodo!” ordered Jake.

“Sudowoodo, Block yourself!” shouted Ero as Rhyhorn began charging up towards it’s back.

“It’s not even listening to him,” laughed Jake.

At the last minute however Sudowoodo paused, abandoned it’s pursuit of Swellow and dodged out of the way. Rhyhorn skidded past and prepared to make another charge.

“Sudowoodo, what are you doing!?” cried Ero, “Mareep, get back in there and Cotton Spore that Rhyhorn!”

The group however paused and watched as Sudowoodo began to run away from the battlefield frantically.

“Sudowoodo!!” shouted Ero, getting his Pokeball out ready.

“What’s it doing?” muttered Calum.

“It looks like it’s chasing something, but what?” replied Jake.

Suddenly a surge of black energy formed in the air and bolted into the back of the Sudowoodo, catapulting it onto it’s chest and sending it rolling across the ground.

“It’s not chasing something,” shrieked Abby, “It’s being chased! Look!”

Perhaps it was the way the light shifted as the sun sunk just low enough behind the rooftops, or perhaps the game was just over, but the friends watched in horror as a large Haunter - it’s body a thick chemical plume of purple - suddenly melted out of nowhere above the collapsed Sudowoodo and began gliding towards them with it’s smoggy talons unfurled menacingly …

T.B.C

HB5squared
8th March 2006, 5:46 PM
I really like your story, I can defintly see me reading it some more but Jade really bugs me. She seems cliched as the typical younger whiney sister who gets annoying after a while.


He watched in frustration as her eyes began to tear.

Is this going to be repeated?Because if so .... write JAde off.

I've read many fics on this forum and when it comes to sibling relationships there are four types:
Rivalry
Pure hatred
Chummy best friends
I hate you but I secretly love and care for you and wants what is best for you.

The fourth one seems like theres. Perhaps you could go beyond the regular sibling relationships and dare to be different.

This is a good fic but you're playing it safe. I want to see extraordinary not just "Wow really good..." I want to see a fic where I can say "WOW SPECTACULAR" And only say that as I'd be speachless.

This fic is good... just good.

Bigbrother87
8th March 2006, 7:28 PM
I disagree squared. A 'just good' fic would be one that I enjoyed reading, but arn't really looking forward to the next part. While with this fic I'm looking forward to what happens next. It's written believably, not in any cartoonish way, and I love fics like that.

I admit I didn't remember it until reading the very beginning again, but then I was excited to finally have another chapter in the series.

Please continue writing this Paul, I want to see where you take it.