Author's Note: This story was first thought up as a one-shot, but now it's considerably expanded into something more of a much longer (though not terribly long) story. Four chapters including this one at most. Probably just three. Heavily revised from its first Pokécommunity version.
Anyways, this story is rated PG-13.
Any comments, critique, etc., etc., etc., are greatly appreciated.
In Her Dreams
By: Saffire Persian
In her dreams, she is young again:
There is still strength in her limbs and life in her body. She can still run until her muscles ache and her heart burns deep within her chest, until there is nothing but the sound of rushing wind and the light touch of grass as it bends to her pawsteps.
Inwardly, she wishes for that sensation again: to run without stopping until the world ends or her heart ceases to beat.
But those are only dreams. She can’t run now, though her spirit is willing.
In her dreams, she is home again:
She can see the beautiful limestone caverns, hear the gentle tap tap tap of footsteps that try to fill the silence. She is living once more up in the mountains where the air is thin and the weather is cold, a place where there are rocks and earth instead of grass and trees. Blue sky. Deep pools of clear water. Thick fog that curls and rolls down the mountainside in the dewy mornings until everything is shrouded in gray.
When she wakes, blinking away the images of her past, she wonders if she’ll ever go home again. Home is so far away, but even so, she would like to go back.
But deep down the Absol knows that she can't return home—not now and not ever—because she understands that there is more than just distance between her and her homeland now, and her memories aren’t enough to fill that void.
In her dreams, she is with her family:
She can hear her father’s words as he tries to teach her the ways of the world. What is is, what was was, and what will be will be. You have feet. Wander. See. She can still listen to her mother as she sings praises to Ab-lawven when the night comes and His eye is full. She is with her brothers, Eltanin and Rigil, older and wiser. She begs: Tell me a story. And they tell her a tale of the two twin brothers who did everything to save one, and are now spirits in the sky.
There is little more that she wishes for now than to be at her family’s side.
But she can’t be with them. Not anymore. Her brothers are dead and her father and mother are undoubtedly doing well without her. She couldn’t possibly face them now.
In her dreams, she could still do things differently:
In her little piece of un-reality, she doesn’t have to go down into the lowlands that day; she doesn’t feel the need to venture into the tall, dry grass under the vengeful eye of Ab-rah in order to sate her own curiosity to see the odd, rock-like Rhyhorn beasts for herself. The Absol is also keenly aware of the black clouds in the east that promise thunder and doesn’t disregard the eerie feeling in her bones.
If only this was her reality.
But it isn’t. She knows that, in the end, she chose to go down into the safari land that day, staying and watching the Rhyhorn with a young, innocent fascination until the sky above her was angry and roaring and she could no longer even think of returning home, as the sky now held her undivided attention.
(And because she was not at home, her brothers searched for her. They knew better than to go, but they ignored the sixth sense that came naturally to them and ran down the mountain. Not once did they look back.)
In her dreams, there is no such thing as fire:
Instead of fire, there is rain. It is a hard rain that stops the spark before it can hurt and kill. It is also a rain that takes away pain and washes away guilt into the ground to be drunk by the trees that are strong enough to bear it. The raindrops are the tears of Ab-lawven that cry for the world and forgive.
Ever since the day her brothers died, she has prayed dutifully to Ab-lawven for him to show mercy upon her, ready to welcome His tears and feel it patter against her body and make her whole again.
But Ab-lawven does not always step in. He didn’t stop the lightning from sparking the yellow grass that day, igniting it until the fire rose into the sky and laughed in its might as it destroyed everything within its reach. It was the fury of Ab-rah in all Her glory. It drove the Rhyhorn mad with fright and anger. They had tolerated her presence, but now things were different. Doombringer! some shouted. Their minds were clouded with smoke and the fire was fast. With seemingly nowhere to run, their shouts became one, bellowing, Doombringer, doombringer, you have killed us! and charged.
In her dreams, her brothers had lived.
When the Rhyhorn run at her, anger and fury in their eyes, it is she who is faster, sprinting through the smoke-choked landscape until the Rhyhorn are too tired to give chase. When her brothers find her, alone and unharmed, it is raining, and together they ascend the path to their mountain home and she never leaves it again.
But in reality, it was she who was the slow one. She could no more outrun the armored beasts than fight them herself, though that did not stop her from running, each hurried step buying her a fraction of time she would not have had otherwise. Her breathing quickly turned ragged and her throat burned from the thick smoke, but that pain was nothing compared to the stabbing fear that threatened to consume whatever rationality she had left at each new rumble of thunder. She could do nothing to calm it and force it down and the fire was spreading fast, moving with all the speed of a diving falcon, flitting haphazardly about with the aid of a harsh wind.
Below her, she could feel the earth tremble and quake beneath the feet of her pursuers, echoing like the ever-present thunder that came from the clouds, melding until her mind could hardly differentiate between the two.
There were so many, and she was only one.
Then—all at once—beside her— a familiar voice:
Be ready to go left. We will fend them off. And in answer to an unvoiced question: Fear not: there is just smoke blown by the wind. Fire has not spread there.
Two bodies fell into step beside her. Her brothers.
Don’t stop running.
There is water ahead, swim to the other side and wait for us. We will meet you there. It is some distance, but you can make it.
They began to lag behind. Two forms blurred into six. She looked back.
She swung herself to the left with her back legs, making a hard, near-diagonal turn. The Rhyhorn were still coming, thundering forward. She saw the forms of her brothers, darting around the herd, staying just in front of the beasts and Taunting them. Many of the Rhyhorn were skidding to the stop, colliding into one another in a colossal heap. Others were finding it hard to slow down and turn their bulky bodies to attack the new presences.
But some—some weren’t stopping at all.
They saw her. They weren’t going to let her go.
Dirt sprayed up from the earth as her paws kicked off in a sudden burst of speed.
They saw her they saw her they saw her—
She leapt over a large rock. Her feet landed on the earth, she pushed off. Headed up a slope.
Just after her came harsh bellowing noises. The large rock she had leapt over just moments before was sent flying.
She didn’t want to look behind her, but she did.
One, two, three, four, five—
Smoke filled her lungs as she vanished into a thick cloud of it. She couldn't see anymore, just feel the long grass as it brushed against her fur. Then came a strange noise—a song, harsh and grating to her ears. She recognized the singer. Both her brothers had inherited their mother’s vocal talent, but only Rigil had been born with their father’s haunting baritone.
Her legs almost stopped running then to listen. But then she heard the Rhyhorn coming once more, crashing clear through whatever was in their way. It took another few moments before she could see them—two of them now—coming through the smoke from behind.
Suddenly, a white blur came darting in from the side, leaping in front of the Rhyhorn. The rhinoceri roared, picking up speed. She cried out as a horn rammed into her brother's shoulder—but in moments, the form phased and vanished into nothing.
I told you, don’t stop.
Her body nearly jumped in shock, but she caught her balance and kept running as Eltanin jumped through the grass and now kept pace beside her.
She looked at her older sibling, meeting his wide eyes. Brother, where is—
Rigil is handling the others. He grit his teeth, worry flitting across his face. But there are so many. And they’re stupid. Stupid enough that we couldn’t just lead them all off and then run away.
Don't listen to it, her brother hissed. If you feel sick, keep running; you will feel better.
An angry bellow. A spark of lightning.
They’re gaining, he said, another false Absol form pulling away from his body. Can’t you go faster?
I can’t! she choked, coughing as smoke seared her lungs. My legs aren’t as long as—
Her brother grunted. Then I will do something.
What can I—
Nothing. His eyes began to glow. You are to get as far away as you can. Don’t worry about the thunder: just run. If more catch up to you, keep changing direction; don’t run straight. Perhaps then you can keep them at bay until you reach the water.
All she could do was nod. Her brother spun around and lunged, wind whipping around his fur as tiny, scythe-shaped discs flew forward, hitting the ground and kicking up a cloud of dirt that found its way into the Rhyhorns’ eyes. They cried out in pain, slowing and staggaring, but never stopping. Her brother jumped back, sending another wave of dirt cresting upward.
All she could do was run and not look back.
As she ran farther and farther away from the battleground, eyes fixed on only the area ahead of her, she wished that her brothers would stop fighting to run along beside her, so she didn’t have to flinch at every crash of thunder, fearing that it would start another fire or strike her down as she fled. But no matter how far she ran, she never heard them calling, leaving her to run the entire distance alone.
Through it all, she kept her word: Not once did she stop running—not even when a round ball of shimmering Psychic energy appeared from out of nowhere, blazing through the terrain before exploding in a glimmer of light some distance away.
When she finally cleared the thick smoke and found the water her brothers had mentioned, she was almost too worn out to dive in and swim, nearly paralyzed with exhaustion and fear, but she forced herself, dogpaddling across it until she reached a small patch of ground where the foot of the mountains began. There she collapsed, fur wet, and utterly spent.
We will meet you there.
She looked up at the sky, shuddering as thunder boomed overhead. She wanted to sleep, but didn’t dare to, curling up into a small, tight ball, head buried under her paws.
The lightning continued to tangle itself around the dark, full-formed clouds as the long minutes passed. (Why wouldn’t it stop?) Not far away, the reddish-orange glow of the fire continued to spread, until it seemed to outline the dipping horizon. (Where were they?) It never shrank, and the thoughts that the blaze might draw near did nothing to assuage her fears. Her only response was to curl into an even smaller ball, pleading, praying, and wishing that the lightning would stop and the sky would clear, so Ab-lawven could come out and fix what His sister had done, that her brothers would be safe and they would come find her like they said they would.
But in the end, it was a long time—hours—before the sky cleared and Ab-lawven opened His ears to listen to her quiet prayers, but by then it was already far too late for Him to grant the ones that mattered most.
In her dreams, it isn't her fault.
When her mother say to her, Don’t blame yourself, little daughter, she can tell that she means it. When her father comforts her mother, saying, It can’t be helped: what will be, will be, she knows his deep, penetrating eyes aren’t focused on her, but instead on the burnt, charcoaled landscape that the flames devoured. When those in the clan say, Ab-lawven was merciful; at least you didn’t lose all three, she knows with a certainty that her parents feel the same, and that she should be glad to be alive.
But she knew nothing that they during that time was ever true. She had long ago accepted that they—the clan and her family—all began to hate her the moment her parents found her alive and found her brothers dead. She knew then that if only she had died, if only she had fought with her brothers until the end, then, at the very least, she would have been mourned for and cared about, and perhaps would have been given place in her parents' hearts.
But she was not dead, and it was only Eltanin and Rigil that her mother sang for. Even now, she can still hear the requiem with ease, remembering how the words gently drifted up into the quiet night sky to join the stars, etching themselves deep into her mind: Give glory, glory to the dead, for death is kind.
In her dreams, the human had been faster.
Instead of taking it slow, so he would not damage her body and spill blood all over her precious fur, he does it fast. So fast that she feels no pain and has no opportunity to change her mind and wish, like a dying prey at the mercy of some predator, not to die.
But she was young and foolish then, and was never that brave in the first place. Five weeks after her brothers’ deaths, she found she could not bear to be home any longer. She had tried, but now she couldn’t even meet the eyes of anyone in the clan anymore, a lump in her throat, eyes always at the brink of tears.
There was a pain inside of her now that was steadily eating her away, devouring her thoughts and making her feel numb and listless. There was hardly a day that passed her by when she did not feel like she was trapped inside a labyrinth with no exit, a labyrinth with a thousand uncaring eyes that forever were fixed upon her, watching her every move. They were waiting for her to mess up, to make another mistake. And they knew, just like she did, whose fault it was.
And not just her—everyone knew. Everyone could see her sin. They knew exactly who they should blame for her brothers’ needless deaths, but none of them—not one—said anything about it. What was there to say? What was done was done, and now the burden was the surviving sibling’s alone to bear and alone to fix. She knew that. They knew that.
That’s why no one stopped her from leaving a day later.
She left her home at midday, heading down the familiar mountain paths at a slow, halting walk. She already had a destination and a goal in mind. It was the only way, she told herself, the only way—the sole way to make amends for what she had done. After all, what right had she to be here? What right had she to live and grow up and eventually take a name of one of her ancestors and bring honor to her proud family line when her brothers wouldn’t be around to see? It would be meaningless.
That was why she would find them again, the Rhyhorn, the stupid, single-minded creatures that she had sacrificed everything for, and she would make them kill her.
Ab-rah was slowly descending in the distance when she arrived in the low lands. She had taken her time, stumbling down the trails, resting and thinking and dreaming. As she walked through the lowlands, she could still see evidence from the fire’s rampage. Much of the ground was scorched or severely blackened, looking more dead than alive, and there was a smell, faded, but ever-present that made her stomach churn.
The Absol looked up into the bright sky, sure that Ab-rah was mocking her. And indeed, Ab-rah had to be, for She (or was it Ab-lawven?) had driven all of the Rhyhorn away, for no matter how far she searched, she couldn’t find even one. However, Ab-rah was neither so cruel—nor so kind—to let her wanderings go unrewarded.
It was the scent of blood, of a dead body baking in the rolling heat, that led her to him.
She crept through the grass, before crouching and halting her movement. She spotted a human man dressed in clothes that almost blended in with the grass and teal dog-beast that she had never seen before. Its body was covered in fresh wounds that still bled, with scorched fur and blackened skin that looked raw and painful. Beside the two were a pair of dead, distinctly canine bodies. Black. The blood that was seeping out of one of the corpses was being washed away quickly by a Marill before it could even drain into the ground. The man’s hands were covered in it, and he was doing quick work with a knife, pausing only to look about every few moments in a twitchy, mouse-like fashion.
It took the Absol a few moments for the reality of what the human was doing to set it, but when the truth of it finally dawned upon her, eyes widening in muted horror, she nearly turned and fled—but something stopped her: a thought, an obligation.
She stood up and walked forward, one step at a time.
At the noise, the dog’s head jerked upward and barked, a piece of its own burnt skin hanging from its jaws. The man startled, cutting a shallow, bleeding gash into the meaty part of his palm as his hand fumbled with the knife, dropping it, nearly fleeing on hands and knees into the brush for cover. The dog smirked, snorting as it spat the fur-covered piece of skin out onto the ground.
She froze, not daring to do anything but stare, wide-eyed. Force down the fear, she told herself, stray tears coming to her eyes, unbidden and unwanted. Her eyes were fixed on the two dead bodies, shaking her head. Never mind the blood. Never mind the hollow eyes. Give glory, glory to the dead, for death is—
The man swore under his breath, hurriedly wrapping a dirty piece of cloth around his bleeding palm as he surveyed her. The Marill was staring at her now with pity in its black eyes.
The dog mumbled something, voice low and masculine sounding. It was barely understandable, yet she was able to catch the language, piecing together the speaker’s likely species. Mane…cetric.
“Steady,” she heard the man say, creeping forward along with his animal. “Steady now… Don’t want to frighten the damned thing.”
A spark of some kind of energy moved up the Manectric’s legs, dispelling into the grass.
“Don’t do anything that will ruin the fur, got it? No blood. We can’t have that. It'd stain it. If you can’t kill it right off, knock it out, but no more. Know how much it’s worth, Khan?” The human shook his head, sneering. “No, of course you don’t. You're just a stupid mutt…”
The Manectric’s head jerked upwards, snarling. Teeth flashed as the dog’s jaws snapped at the man’s injured hand, but bit into nothing but air. The human slapped the dog across the muzzle.
The canine glared at the man, baring his fangs, growl rumbling in his throat, but the human took no notice, rapping the dog hard on the skull with his knuckles to quiet him. “I’m your master tonight. My hunt, my rules. Now quiet. ”
Even though every rational part of her screamed at her to flee, the Absol stayed in place, swaying back and forth like a stupid thing in a dream. It will be quick, she told herself, though her muscles refused to relax, tightening like hard, metal coils. Easy.
Just a brief moment of pain, and then—
The Manectric shot forward, howling aloud his battle cry, the yellow strings of energy that she had seen previously now crackling all over his body. Building. The static popped in the air, hissing and dying as paw touched earth. Her fur stood on end as the yellow aura grew and she realized the energy for what it was.
Run, her mind whispered.
She remembered the sounds. Of lightning building as it rolled across the clouds.
Now, it was rolling across the beast's paws.
The Absol was moving backward, though was barely conscious of it. She couldn’t stop herself, just like she couldn't stop her muscles from tightening, just like she couldn’t stop the images that were spinning through her head, reminding her of a time she wanted to forget.
She remembered how the lightning tore apart the air, coming down from its place in the sky, its voice more powerful than the roar of a dragon. A God of the elements.
Now, it was the Manectric’s howl that was rough and deafening. He had tamed a spark of the wild lightning.
Run, her mind hissed.
She remembered how the lightning had crashed into the ground and terrified it until it shook, blackening the grass, taking away its life and turning it into a vengeful fire whose soul was ravenous…
It took the Absol a long time to realize how hard she was shaking. How fast her resolution was crumbling.
She hated the thunder. She hated the fire. She hated it all.
The giant bolt let loose with a booming crack.
Run! her mind screamed.
It took only a split-second for her body to obey, throwing itself into a frantic dash. The attack passed by her, but the Manectric did not. He caught up with her in seconds, shouldering her hard into the grass. She didn’t even have time to rise before a second burst of concentrated electricity crashed into her body, sending her rolling head over tail. She saw the bright sky above, drifting clouds, then, Her eye. Laughing.
Another bolt. Stronger. Commands she didn’t understand. The energy rippled through her muscles and nerves, making her scream as black dots dashed haphazardly across her vision while her muscles contracted and tightened in protest.
The Manectric was on her in seconds. She could feel his teeth trying to find her it through her thick, bushy mane of fur. She could hear him growl in frustration.
Her back legs dug into the ground, and with energy she didn’t know she had, she forced herself up towards him.
She screamed at him. Leave me. Leave me alone! I—! Her claws found his neck, muzzle, and face, driving him away as he tried to use his superior weight to get on top of her and pin her down.
She had sparred with her brothers before, but never like this. She nearly laughed. She had once dreamed of being a fighter like her brothers, hoping perhaps she would gain a name of one of her brave warrior ancestors, just like them. Eltanin, the serpent-dragon. Rigil, the proud lion.
Hold still! The Manectric’s mouth twisted into a snarl as one of her claws scraped a wound across his face. Hold still, rot you!
But she wouldn’t hold still, driving him back until she had room enough to turn around and flee.
What would her name be now?
Stupid creature, she heard the dog spit as he allowed her to run. The human man was yelling, and the Electric-type barked angrily back at him. Fine then! Fine then! Fine then! I’ll have it, but not for you. Not for you. All the world but not for you.
She could hear the crackling sounds of electricity, a roar in her ears that made her heart race and make her limbs move quicker, despite how stiff and uncooperative they were.
Her vision swam, but she didn’t need to see to run. All her mind could think of was that night when everything went wrong, and how badly she wanted to get away from the thing that brought back all those memories she’d rather not see and emotions she’d rather not feel, and how far that outweighed her wish to die and let it just end.
How little sense that made. Here, now. After everything.
A staticy hiss.
There was no real pain this time, but the energy that curled up her legs, made her muscles react and stiffen more than the stronger bolt ever had. Her legs jerked. She stumbled, nearly sliding headlong into the dirt before she caught herself. It was harder to move her legs and she could hear sounds of pursuit.
Stop now, a voice commanded. Surrender now, stay down now, down for the thunder and fire. Down like them.
She remembered her brother. How he had summoned up the wind. How he had stopped and faced them, and let the dirt and dust do their work. But unlike Eltanin, she didn’t stop. She refused to halt and meet the Manectric’s blazing eyes—so much like her own—knowing how she’d freeze and stop running altogether if she did.
A wind began to blow. She felt the power build until she turned, blasting the ground just as the Manectric sent another furious yellow bolt of energy at her, feet away. The dust and dirt carried into the Manectric’s eyes, and he snarled as the bolt missed, shaking his head he tried to rid his eyes of dirt.
Rot you! Rot you all! The eyes see you!
The Manectric let out a terrible, howling cry, electricity snapping at his heels as he moved faster than she could ever hope to. He lunged.
There was a sudden, searing pain as the dog’s teeth caught her heel and pulled, electricity coursing through his fangs and into her. She resisted, vision nothing but messy bits of color that flitted in and out of her vision, feeling the fangs tear through her leg, until his jaws secured their grip and held. Then, something gave way and snapped. Her back leg suddenly felt limp and dead and useless. Her whole body followed suit as the rest of her legs gave out from beneath her and the electricity took hold, until even her lungs could barely fight against it the constricting force.
The Manectric was trembling with rage, blood on his teeth and flesh and fur—her flesh, her fur—in his mouth. The man was yelling harsh, angry words at him, the Marill hiding behind the man's leg, but the canine did not heed.
You are not my master, rot you, damn you! he barked, sending out tight forks of electricity careening at the human when he dared to get close, dodging the red beams of light that came at him, whilst keeping her pinned the ground. You do not matter to me! You are nothing! And you— He snapped his head back to glare at her. –you are less than nothing.
She tried to fight back. To plead with him to stop and leave her, but she could hardly breathe, much less fend him off, as every protesting movement she made only angered him and sent a new wave of electricity through her body that sent one step closer to oblivion. Her back leg seared with pain when her body was allowed to move. He wouldn't let her up, just stood there, shouting nonsense to the sky.
Perhaps, in the end, she would get what she wanted.
In the end.
Her struggles gradually ceased as she began to drift in and out of awareness, each stab at resistance more laughable than the next, but the darkness never came. It was like her body wasn’t going let her die. She didn't deserve to live (that she knew with a certainty) but no matter how much she wanted to let go and just make it stop by just not being, her chest still rose and fell with the erratic timing of her heart as her lungs still tried to—now futilely—take in air.
She didn’t understand. But did understanding mean anything?
Wasn’t this what she had wanted?
The darkness was coming now: she could feel it just like she could sense even the most subtle change in the atmosphere. Now, even her body was giving up, lying still like some unfortunate broken thing beyond repair. The air wasn’t coming into her lungs anymore, and she felt like she was drowning. The darkness and the unknown were frightening, and she wanted to run away from it just like she had run away from the Rhyhorn—just like she ran away from everything…
Everything else. Just like everything.
That was what she was. Someone who runs. Lasulu. The eyes in the deep darkness knew it and she knew it, and now, so would...
So would they.
They would hate her.
Lasulu… Would that be her name now? Lasulu, Lasulu, Lasulu –
Her chest tried to heave for her, to make her breathe.
The world spun until she no longer knew where anything came from or what she was doing. All she was aware of then was that it felt like she was sinking in a pool of gold.
There is water ahead, a voice said from somewhere. We will meet you there.
It is some distance, but you can
"Hey! Hey, you! What the hell do you think you're doing?!"
Different. Black filled her eyes instead of gold. Something entered into her lungs that was cold. Someone was coughing. Her?
Water was… blue, wasn’t it? Like sky.
The earth shook, rippling with power.