Well, here's my second chaptered fic I advertised in the Author's Profiles thread! To keep my writing skills sharp, I'm following my mentor and colleague's advice and testing my skills in a new kind of journeyfic.
Without further ado, shall we begin...
Rated PG-13/T for violent scenes and alll the other stuff that warrants this rating...
HEART OF SEVEN STONES
ARC ONE: Viridian Roots Arc
Chapter 1: Viridian Roots (this post)
Chapter 2: Soon
Chapter 3: Out the Starter Gate
Chapter 4: My Knight in Shaggy Armour
Chapter 5: Heating Things Up
Chapter 6: Wotta Lot I Knot
Will be updated at the conclusion of ARC ONE...
The knot which binds all kin as one,
Beyond the floes off which light shone,
A quest for fortunes laid in ruins,
An outcast's boon, his last resort,
Along the blue and verdant paths,
Deep in the heart of seven stones
My hero's time is born.
- Air Dragon
The morning sun shone brightly over the green crests of Viridian Forest early on the seventeenth of May, PA 2034. A flock of Pidgey which had eaten their morning fill of Worm Pokémon took flight and soared past a window of a modest, two storey home behind which a desk stood.
Next to the desk, which was scrupulously neat with a silvery study lamp on it, was a single bed which housed a living, breathing mound of covers that heaved in tandem with slow, rhythmical grunts.
Suddenly, a high pitched, beeping sound began to resound through the room, causing the sleeping figure to groan softly and shift slightly towards the alarm clock which read 7:00 A.M. Slamming the clock with his palm and stifling the cacophony it made, the boy raised himself on one elbow and rubbed his gummed up eyes open with the back of his other hand.
Groping for the desk, he found a pair of square, horn-rimmed glasses and pushed them up his freckly nose. Opening his blue eyes slowly, the boy rose to a kneeling position on his bed, his hand now scratching the back of his bright-red haired head.
His eyes free from the sleep that gummed them together, the boy slipped out of bed and into the adjoining bathroom, stretching as he did so.
A half hour and many poorly whistled tunes later, the door opened once more and the boy stepped out, accompanied with a cloud of low-hanging steam. Pausing only to watch the sun continue its ascent over the trees which lay to the east, the gangly youth stepped towards his wardrobe, pulling out the outfit he’d chosen to wear for his last full day home.
“Morning, Mom,” he said about ten minutes later as he jogged to a stop after taking the stairs at a brisk trot. “Hey, Karin... hey, Matt!” he added, addressing the twin children seated at the table dressed in the uniforms he recognised as being of his old school, Viridian Pokémon Academy.
“Good morning, Aydan,” the young woman greeted in reply as she looked up from the stove at her oldest son, her red and blonde-streaked hair falling elegantly into her vibrantly vivid greed irises. “Your father left a note for you on the table...”
“Hey, Aydee-nii,” the little girl piped up as Aydan sat at the table and picked up the note, pushing his glasses further up his freckly nose. “Walk us to school?”
“Will ya, Aydee-nii?” the boy added imploringly.
Both looked at their brother with their green eyes (no doubt inherited from their mother) full of begging. “Please?” they added in unison with a slightly stern look from their mother.
Aydan looked as though he was debating the matter, and then grinned, saying, “Sure, why not?”
“Yay!” they cried jubilantly as they slurped down their cereal noisily. Aydan took the moment to glance down the note his father had left him:
I’m sorry we couldn’t eat breakfast together, but Malandra came by to tell me that my challenger arrived early... and that another one showed up. I swear to Celebi that these wannabes just don’t know when to quit...
Anyways, how would you like to hang out a bit with your old man before your cousin Topaz gets here this afternoon? Anytime after four at the gym sounds good?
Bring the twins with you if and when you do come around, okay?
See you around four then.
Aydan threw back his head and let out a tiny groan. He’d almost forgotten that his cousin Topaz was going to come along for the ride to Knot Island the next day... Brash and brutally honest, Topaz had an extremely competitive streak and would often want to hold the most ludicrous contests on the face of the earth every time she came over to visit... even though Aydan, as the exact opposite, would want nothing to do with her competitions...
“What’s wrong, Aydee-nii?” Katie and Matt enquired together.
“Nothing,” Aydan reassured his eight-year old siblings tiredly. “Shall we go, then?”
“Oh, and Aydan? Could you please pick up the groceries from Mr. Nickels?” His mother called as Aydan rose to go, straightening his bright red tee shirt as he did so.
“Sure, Mom,” Aydan called back as he slipped into a pair of lightweight sandals. “Well,” he added, as his siblings came into the hall, their satchels slung over their shoulders. “We’re off!”
“Have a good day, Karin. You too, Matt,” their mother said to the twins as they stepped outside to the brightening morning.
Viridian City was always bustling with activity and today was no exception; everywhere the siblings looked as they made their way along the broad dirt roads was alive with activity. Other children of varying ages yet wearing the same attire as Karin and Matt (white-collared short sleeve shirts with a pair of dark green shorts in the case of the boys or skirt in the case of some of the girls) were kissing their mothers goodbye as they also made their way to the Academy.
“Say, Aydee,” Karin asked, her dark brown pigtails blowing in the breeze as they walked on.
“What is it, Karin?”
“When you become Champion, will you come visit us?”
Aydan looked down into his sister’s green eyes and said reassuringly, “Of course I will... but that may take a few years...”
“Why?” Matt piped up curiously. “You aren’t afraid of cousin Topaz, are you?”
Letting off a nervous chuckle, Aydan smiled wryly and said, “A bit, but she’s not the issue. I don’t really plan to be the champion yet... at least not for a year or so...”
“Why?” Both twins asked in unison.
“I have my reasons, OK?” Aydan said quietly, and as both twins shook their heads as one, he let the topic drop.
“You’re mean,” Matt said sulkily, and Karin nodded vigorously.
“Well, I’ll tell you in due course,” Aydan said cryptically.
“And then you’ll be Champion, right?” Karin asked.
“Yeah,” Aydan said a little distractedly as the school came into view. “Then I’ll try to be champion.”
“But you’ll visit, right?” Karin said with a little whining voice.
“Yes, Karin. Then I’ll visit. Well, here we are,” Aydan said looking up at the large three-storey brick house that was Viridian Academy. “I’ll be back around three to pick you guys up.”
“OK!” The twins said in unison as they dashed through the gates to look for classmates and friends.
Aydan’s smile dropped a little as he watched them go. Not wanting to be questioned by any of his old teachers, he turned silently and walked back into town to perform his mother’s errand.
“So! Tomorrow’s the big day, hunh?” A large, beefy black man wearing a grocer’s apron and slacks said genially as he browsed the shelves behind him, looking for the right parcel.
“Sure is, Mr. Nickels,” Aydan said cheerfully leaning on the counter as he watched the senior citizen at work. “Have you heard from Kenan, sir?”
Oliver Nickels smiled ruefully and said, “I’m afraid not, young Aydan. But I’m not that worried. Kenan’s disability is nothing in the light of his ability.”
“That’s true,” Aydan said with a smile, remembering his closest male friend from their days in the Academy.
“He was rather upset when he had to leave without you last year, though he understands it was due to no fault of your own. Kenan certainly is an understanding kid, best grandchild I could ever ask for,” Mr. Nickels said in a reminiscent tone of voice.
“You have more?” Aydan asked with interest. “I know Kenan has brothers, but...”
“One granddaughter but not directly from my side,” Mr Nickels said calmly, picking canned yams from the shelf and placing them in a green jute bag. “Another on the way.”
“Wow,” Aydan smiled then asked, “From your younger son?” as Mr. Nickels nodded.
“Honestly, Arla could learn a lesson from Tyrone Jamal,” he said a little resentfully, but smiled brightly as he went on to hand over the now grocery-filled bag, “But that’s enough of this old man’s neighing for one day. You have a big day tomorrow, and you shouldn’t spend it worrying about an old fart like me.”
Aydan laughed, although reluctantly and said, “If you say so. Well, thank you for the groceries, Mr. Nickels. I’ll see you soon...”
“Bring the Cup to Viridian, Aydan!” Mr. Nickels called as Aydan left, prompting a wince from the gangly teen.
Walking home with his head bowed slightly, Aydan began thinking: Everybody expects so much of me... Karin, Matt, Mr Nickels... with my dad, too, most likely at the head of the cheering squad, he added with as his gut slipped down a few notches. He hadn’t discussed his true purpose to visit the Sevii Islands with anybody, and he wondered what they’d think of him if they found out he had little interest in the league for the immediate future.
Pausing by the grand exterior of the Viridian Gym, Aydan looked up and exhaled heavily. If there were anybody he didn’t want to keep in the dark about his intentions, it was his parents. He stared at the Gym’s bold sign which hung above the door and said ‘OFF-SEASON GYM OWNERSHIP CHALLENGES END TODAY’ and a slight breeze ruffled his hair. Exhaling softly, he turned and began walking for home slowly, resolving to let them know before he left tomorrow.
After a twenty minute walk, his home came into sight. He supposed he’d start with his mother; she’d be instrumental in cushioning the blow for his father when he would be informed. As he unlocked and opened the screen door that lead to the kitchen and kicked off his trainers, he felt a sudden prickling sensation above his eyebrow that made it twitch, a sure sign of being watched.
Aydan groaned as he scratched his itchy eyebrow, attributing the sensation to the Butterfree he felt trying to escape his belly at the prospect of coming clean. Taking a step forward, he called out, “Hey, Mom? I’m ba-Aargh!” He yelled as he was tackled to the floor from behind and placed in a very painful leg lock and a spunky voice yelled, “Got you, Aydan! C’mon, say ‘Uncle’! Say ‘Uncle’!”
“OK, OK... Uncle, uncle!” Aydan yelled in pain as the leg lock increased in pain and suddenly receded as his assailant let up the pressure and proferred a slender hand to help him up.
“Ha! You should have heard yourself, Aydan! You cried like a little girl!” His attacker roared with laughter as Aydan quietly bent down to retrieve the groceries that had gone flying during the attack.
Once more in control of his heart rate and straightening up again, Aydan merely stared and said in a surprised voice, “Hey, Topaz. When did you get here? And how did you get in?”
“I’m fine, thanks for asking,” Topaz said sarcastically, brushing her short reddish blonde hair out of her bright brown eyes. “Your mom let me in just as she was going out about five minutes ago. I guess you think you could have gotten me if I’d come later?”
“Not really,” Aydan said calmly, as he put the groceries away. Turning around he asked, “Why are you here so early, anyways?”
“My mum was driving me nuts,” Topaz replied. Raising her voice to an annoying squeak, she said ”Have you packed your toothbrush, Topaz? And your jumper? And your moisturizer?” She pouted as she placed her hands on her slender waist that was left bare around the belly by her purple zip-up jacket which stopped about two inches shy of her navel, and added, “Honestly, you’d think I was going to Glam Camp rather than Pokémon training... and all that guff about my outfit being inappropriate... what’s wrong with my outfit anyways?”
Aydan cocked an eyebrow as he gave his cousin a looking over. Her outfit, which from her Alice band to her trainers and long sweat pants, followed the same colour scheme as her jacket (purple with pink highlights) showed off her slim yet curvy figure characteristic of a junior high cheerleader a year or two older than Aydan and herself.
Seeking to avoid another violent and less playful tackle form his more aggressive cousin, Aydan opened his mouth to say, “Nothing,” but was saved the necessity by the return of his mother, who walked in with a neighbour; a dumpy woman with a cheery face and rusty brown curls, obviously to resume a healthy gossip session with mugs of steaming coffee.
“Ah, Aydan! You’re looking well... and this beautiful girl can’t possibly be your cousin Topaz?” the woman said with a theatrical gasp as she saw Topaz glower with praise at the compliment.
“Hi, Mrs. Finkle,” Aydan and Topaz said in unison, although the boy said it with less enthusiasm.
“How‘s Mr. Nickels, Aydan?” His mother asked as she put the coffee pot on and fetched mugs from the kitchen cabinet.
“Fine,” Aydan said a little glumly. The early arrival of Topaz and the presence of Mrs. Finkle had put quite a damper on the thirteen-year-old’s confessionary plans.
Scowling on the inside, Aydan made to lace up his shoes again, a movement his mother noticed as she asked, “Oh, are you going out, Aydan?”
“Sort of, Mom,” Aydan said noncommittally as he stood up straight and pushed his glasses on straight. “I was thinking of walking around for a bit before going to pick up Karin and Matt and seeing Dad...”
“You’re going to the Gym?! I’ll come too!” Topaz said brightly.
“Perfect! You two get going while Mrs Finkle and I prepare dinner!” Aydan’s mother said cheerfully.
Aydan groaned inside. This was not what he needed...
Topaz and Aydan strolled around the town, Topaz filling Aydan in on an exaggerated version of her final year at Olville Pokémon Academy in Corei and her mother’s grievances with her fashion sense, thankfully leaving Aydan the sole responsibility of looking interested as he racked his brain for ideas as to when he could tell his parents about his true purpose for journeying to the Sevii Islands the next day.
“What is it?” Aydan said with a start, Topaz’s yell knocking out of his ponderous reverie.
“It’s almost three already,” Topaz said with a suspicious look on her face. “Shouldn’t you be picking up Karin and Matt right about now?”
Stunned Aydan looked down at his watch and saw that it was indeed quarter to...
Topaz then glared at her cousin and asked his bluntly, “Hey, were you listening to a word I said to you all this time?”
Pretending that he saw the question as offensive rather than unsettling, he said in what he hoped Topaz would see as an affronted voice, “Of course I was! What kinda question was that?”
“Whaaateverrr,” Topaz said, still glancing suspiciously at Aydan as they made their way to the front gates of the school, arriving just as the last bell of the day rang out with deep, loud booms.
Topaz and Aydan moved forwards with the other parents present to pick up their wards to meet the surging wave of children in the school yard. They had only begun to scour the crowd of children before spotting Karin and Matt, standing by the jungle gym, waving their brother over.
“Aydee-nii!” they chirped in unison, before they spotted Topaz and said apprehensively, “Hey, Cousin Topaz...”
“Hey, squirts!” Topaz said cheerfully. “Still wetting the bed?”
Glowing scarlet as a couple of children nearby overheard her and began snickering at the twins, they yelled in unison, “Stop it!”
“C’mon guys,” Aydan said in his lazy, laid-back voice, glaring at the laughing children as his siblings threw sharp glares at Topaz, who looked like she had done nothing beyond teasing her cousins. “Let’s go...”
As they left the playground, the children’s jeers still rang in the mortified twins’ ears. “Ignore them,” Aydan advised them quietly as they walked towards the northeastern section of town. “They’ve got all summer to forget...”
“What’s their deal anyways?” Topaz said, still ignorant of her lack of tact. “I’ll bet they wet the bed, too...”
Karin and Matt were too sulky to see the humour in anything Topaz had to say then as they walked on in huffy silence.
“What’s with them?” Topaz asked Aydan, who shook his head and rolled his blue eyes to the heavens as they arrived outside the Gym once again, from which loud cheers issues despite the doors’ double glazing being thickened to keep the cold out during the winter months.
The quartet of children made their way past the pimply ticket vendor, who thanks to their affiliation with the Gym Leader were granted free access, and stepped into the stands that ran along both the long sides of the rectangular arena, a dirt-brown clay court separating the two long rows of seats.
White chalk lines surrounding and crisscrossing the court outlined the playing area of the gym, a battle reaching its climax in the centre. Chants of both trainers mingled in the air as Viridianians and other people from all over Kanto who’d assembled to watch the current Hoenn League Champion, Leonard Raskill, return his fallen Salamence – a dragon with four stout white clawed legs holding up a broad body from which broad red wings sprouted – with a displeased expression on his face.
On the Leader’s side of the field stood a tall, dark haired man whose facial hair was trimmed into a neat, full beard and moustache; his blue eyes, which Aydan had inherited, glittered as he grinned proudly towards his last Pokémon, a large coral blue Pokémon that crouched low to the ground on its splayed, chunky digits, its large semi-circular tail and cranial rills a darker hue of blue rippling slightly in the heating atmosphere as its copper eyes focused on what the scarlet-clad trainer opposite him had up his sleeve as a last resort.
“One more, Tidal,” the Swampert’s trainer said with pep, sweat causing his dark green fleece pullover to become uncomfortable. The Water type acknowledged this with a smile curving his broad, ovoid face.
“Not yet!” the enraged teen said angrily, ugly red blotches betraying his emotions. “You haven’t won yet, old-timer! Go, Breloom!”
A large bipedal Pokémon replied to its master’s summons by letting out a feral growl as it materialized in center field, its short red fists clenched as it glared at the Swampert with beady black eyes from beneath its wide-brimmed ‘hat’, the spores on the tip of his long, tan tail rattling softly as it swung its tail from side to side.
“Tch, Grass type,” the Leader said without interest. “Tidal, let’s rock.”
Tidal consented by raising his broad palms above his head and slamming them forcefully on the ground, creating a miniature tremor that rocked the gym to its very foundations. Leonard struggled to stay on his feet as his Breloom leapt into the air as soon as it saw the Swampart raise its hands. The Swampert looked up in some surprise at the falling Breloom, who on Leonard’s orders, began to charge up a beam of whitish yellow light in his hands.
“That’s Solarbeam!” Topaz yelled unnecessarily as Karin and Matt yelled, “Daddee, Tidal... look out!”
Hearing their voices yet not turning around, the leader smiled and gave tidal his next command, “Tidal, Substitute!”
A shimmering beam of light was loosed upon the amphibious Pokémon upon the Solarbeam’s completion, striking a dummy the Swampert had left in his wake as it leapt backwards, avoiding the Grass Pokémon’s assault.
“Now, Ice Punch!”
Leonard, frantic now, shouted back, “Breloom, use Mach Punch to defend!”
The Swampert raced across the gymnasium floor towards his falling opponent, his fist glowing whitish blue as Breloom flashed across the gym floor fist-first, colliding with the powerful attack. While this manoeuvre kept the Mushroom Pokémon in the game, it came with a price, which Leonard noticed with a vehement expletive.
The gym leader smirked as Leonard blanched at the sight of his Pokémon twisting in midair, clutching its wrist and bellowing in pain. Breloom may have met Swampert’s punch speed for speed, may have had half a type advantage, but the raw power with which the Mud Fish Pokémon had laid into the Breloom was enough to send the slighter Pokémon for a loop. Flailing helplessly in midair, the Breloom landed on its back in excruciating pain, the Swampert gripping his wrist and muttering darkly.
“OK, Tidal... time to use High Tide!” The Gym Leader commanded swiftly as the Breloom struggled to overcome the wracking pains his now useless right hand was putting him through.
“Breloom! On your feet, now!” Leonard commanded remorselessly.
The Water type nodded once and raised his palm in the air, once more glowing whitish blue. Slamming his palm down hard on the ground. A flurry of snow spread out in a straight line before the Swampert and from it, with a violent rumbling, a wave of freezing cold water burst out, together with an inordinate amout of mud and dirt. The wave rose high over the Breloom’s head, who’d finally struggled to his feet and through tightly squinting eyes stared as Tidal leapt into the flow of water and used it to catapult himself into the air. Tidal seemed to fly above the wave as it began to descend, deluging it in a wave of shockingly cold water. The Breloom shivered from head to toe, as it struggled to stay conscious after the onslaught of attacks that were far from over.
Leonard’s eyes widened as he saw the Swampert had imbued both hands with icy energy this time and falling swiftly due to his weight made a beeline straight for the Breloom. “Breloom! Above you, use Solarbeam!”
Too little, too late, the more seasoned trainer thought grimly as Breloom blindly prepared a Solarbeam. Halfway through its preparation, the Swampert landed heavily on the Breloom’s wide-topped head, piledriving both fists into the Grass type pugilist’s head with sickening force.
The audience winced emphatically as the Breloom hit the now-muddy floor and lay there, twitching feebly, yet clearly in no shape to resume battle. The referee stepped up to the fallen Breloom and after a customary five-count, raised his red flag towards the older, wiser man and his Pokémon, signalling the winner of the match... and the gym leader for the next three years.
Aydan, Katie, Matt and Topaz cheered with the Viridian faction of the supporters as the man smiled, raised a hand modestly and returned his jubilant Mud Fish Pokémon and made his way to the fluently-cursing Leonard Raskill.
“Your Pokémon fought well,” the man said gently. “But you expect too much of them. It’s true that they won the Hoenn League through sheer determination to impress, but more is required of you, their trainer. You need to chill for a while, and rethink what you’ve been doing wrong on your own.”
Leonard gave no sign that he had even heard a single word of advice as the man exhaled heavily and, scratching the back of his head, thought quietly, you have the power, you need the cool.
“Dad! You were excellent!” Matt and Karin said in unison as they leapt upon their father and hugged him tightly.
Smiling at the twins, he turned his attention to his first child and his niece, the latter giving him a cool look as if to say, ‘How lame.’
Chuckling wearily, he turned towards the exit and waving away the media, who were fighting through the throng to interview him, beckoned to Aydan and Topaz to follow as he carried his younger children in his arms home.
The evening was filled with laughter and celebration as Aydan and his family sat down to a sumptuous dinner and toasted to his father securing the position of gym leader for another tenure (the children toasting with fizzy Pecha berry juice, much to Topaz’s indignation.)
Thus it was several hours after the battle that the last guest (Mr. Nickels) took their leave after many hearty congratulations that Aydan’s father called a halt to the verbal replays constructed by Topaz for the others entertainment and insisted that they all turned in for the night.
Aydan yawned loudly as Topaz was shown the way to the guest room by Aydan’s mother, who had muttered slyly to her husband that her congratulatory gift was ‘due when the excitement died down.’ Blushing faintly, Aydan’s father scooped up Karin whilst Aydan helped lift Matt onto his back and followed him into the twins’ room, where they changed them for bed.
Aydan watched his dad for a long while, wondering if he could spoil his father’s euphoria with the news of his true intentions for the next few months. He was deciding how to break the ice, when his father said softly, “Penny for your thoughts, son?”
Aydan looked into his father’s serious and presently exhausted features and murmured kindly, “Nah... they’re worth a lot more than that, Dad. Congratulations.”
And without a further word, Aydan, turned and walked across the hallway into his room, where he closed the door on his thoughtful father, who wore a slightly mournful look on his face that his son was hiding something.
In his room, Aydan walked over to his bed where his rucksack had been packed by his mother whilst he and Topaz had been out. Reaching into the bottom of his neatly packed desk drawer, he pulled out a false bottom and withdrew a sandalwood box, which he sat on the edge of his bed to open. Pulling out a piece of paper, he stared at its content for a long while afterwards, only stuffing the paper and it’s box into the backpack and drawing the drawstring around the mouth firmly shut, slipped between the sheets of his bed and staring out of his window at the moon, wondering if the whole world was watching it too and thinking of others as he slipped silently into a night filled with dreams of the future, not knowing how difficult the future of his dreams was going to be hard to attain.
Elsewhere in the darkness-shrouded city, a man in a red tracksuit kicked the wall furiously, enraged that he had lost. That he, Leonard Raskill, Hoenn’s League Champion, had been cheated out of his dreams by fate, that cruel mistress, once more.
A voice spoke to him from the shadows in a carrying hiss, interrupting his dark thoughts almost as abruptly as though the voice had shouted.
“...do you seek power?”
“Who’s there?” Leonard repeated loudly, his fist clenched on a pokéball, ready to unleash its contents upon whoever was moving in the shadows behind him.
“Do you seek to let the world acknowledge your potential?” The voice went on, ignoring his questions.
Lowering the pokéball slightly, yet remaining on edge, Leonard decided to humour the mystery man (for his voice had a deep bass quality to it) and spoke back, “What do you propose?”
“Follow me, Leonard Raskill. Follow me into the fold of the powerful, of the hunted, of the future rulers of the world,” the voice whispered, fading into the blackness that encompassed it.
“Wait! How will I find you?” Leonard said sharply take a bold (and foolhardy) step into the shadows.
“You already have, Leonard Raskill,” the voice said smugly as Leonard began to scream as something stole over him dragging him into the darkness. “Welcome into the fold... of D.”
How's that? Hopefully this won't dull, my writing skills any. I'm going for shorter chapters in this fic, not to mention a shorter story...
I apologise for all the vague plot holes (not), but they will be filled when the time comes...
Any guesses to unrevealed personalities? Please keep them in the spoiler tags, thanks.
Well, that's it for this post... L@er!