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Thread: A Divide

  1. #1
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    Default A Divide

    This is AU PMD2, about what might have happened if Grovyle had been able to hold on to the heroine in the Passage of Time, but she had still been transformed and suffered amnesia, and how that affects her relationships with...well, everyone. PG-13, for some profanity when the POV switches after this chapter, and for violence in battles.

    Enjoy!

    ---

    One:
    Gone


    ---

    He woke.

    The Grovyle blinked slowly, feeling light-headed. It took a number of minutes before he was free of drowsiness, and even then he wasn't sure if he was dreaming. Lying on his side, the grass prickling against his snout seemed… different. Smelled more vivid, looked sharper, brighter – the hue seemed impossibly bright.

    His body felt heavy, like an opponent had altered gravity so that he weighed as much as a Rhydon. Sitting required him to slowly twitch each limb a few times to regain feeling, and then to stiffly push himself up. Previous experience had not hinted toward this fatigue in the slightest. He didn't want to risk standing, so he instead turned his attention to his surroundings. He saw more colours, more impossibility, but something bright jumped into the corner of his eye, and he turned his gaze to the heavens.

    He had never truly understood why the term was used for the sky until that moment.

    It was blue, a dark blue that slowly became lighter to his left. It was speckled - spotted. The white pinpricks of light seemed to shimmer in the sky, surrounding a larger circle, white dotted with dark patches. They were all impossibly bright, and the Grovyle knew that without them the world would probably be darker. No, not probably; definitely. He could attest to that. In the place where it became lighter, there was also a hint of a familiar colour – pink. He vaguely wondered if he really was dreaming, entranced by the lights and colours around him. Then he looked down, across the clearing.

    If this was a dream...it was a nightmare. The sight was so heart-wrenching, so crippling, that the Grovyle had to hold back a cry of guilt as he ran to her side.

    His human partner was limp on the ground, brown hair strewn around her head. Her face was relaxed and untouched, but old wounds on her stomach had reopened, and her dark green shirt was shining with fresh additions to its gruesome red design of blood both old and new.

    Was she…dead? He checked for a pulse, claws trembling. It took a while, but finally he found it: weak, and dropping quickly. No, the Grovyle thought fiercely, even though somewhere in the back of his mind he knew it was a lost cause. This is my fault, and I will fix it.

    He looked up, searching the clearing. Finally, the familiar bag came into view, the leather more vividly coloured than ever. Although he was reluctant to leave the girl's side, she was practically gushing blood, and there were bandages in the bag. The Grovyle squeezed her hand slightly, taking into account her human fragility, then stepped over her and ran toward the forlorn knapsack.

    Kneeling beside it, he frantically tore through the bag's contents, feeling guiltier with every useless item he recovered. "Why did I not look?" he said quietly. "Why did I let my guard down? I should have been more alert than anything…"

    His claws grazed the bottom, and he remembered that the bandages were now in a side pocket.

    "And now she's…"

    Almost dead.
    It echoed through the Grovyle’s mind, but he chose not to speak it and instead closed a clawed hand around the roll of dull, white cloth. He quickly stood and turned to go back to her – but something was wrong.

    He had never seen another Pokemon evolve. When he himself had evolved, there had only been the sensation; his eyes had been too weary and slow to react to notice his own body's glow. But he imagined that it would have been similar to the glow that a point on Holly’s stomach had suddenly acquired. It spread slowly, but within three or so minutes her entire body was composed of light, and her features were no longer distinguishable. It seemed to expand outward slightly, blinding the Grovyle and forcing him to look away.

    The light abruptly disappeared.

    The Grovyle blinked the spots out of his vision, but continued to look away from her. What had the light done? It wasn’t anything he had seen before – and he’d seen a great deal of things. It could have healed her…but it also could have hurt her. He was scared that it was the latter, and considering their recent luck, he would have bargained most of their supplies that the light had done nothing beneficial.

    Slowly, though, impatience and curiosity began to overtake his fear. Every moment that he hesitated was a moment lost. Lost time could cost him dearly in the end, and besides, he couldn’t stand there forever. He needed to be doing something. So…

    He slowly turned his head, expecting to see Holly’s familiar form – all hair and blood and injuries. But somehow, even his wildest fantasies could not have foretold this sight.

    A Treecko lay in her place – smooth and clean and fresh. Gangly- limbed and all, it was still, lying in the grass stained by his partner’s blood.

    No.

    Impossible!


    It couldn’t be her. Humans did not suddenly turn into Pokemon. They couldn’t. They didn’t.

    Semi-rational thought processes began to return. He would have to make sure it was her, because although she might have transformed into a Pokemon, she also might have disappeared and been replaced somehow. He didn’t know if the latter was possible, but the former was just as inexplicable. At the moment he had no other explanations…and it wasn’t likely that an unconscious Treecko would have any answers.

    She stirred slightly.

    The Grovyle stiffened – but she fell back into her stationary position in moments.

    No, he wasn't ready to deal with this quite yet. Carefully laid out plans were shattered now, and the task of creating new ones seemed to be his for the moment.

    She stirred again, this time causing her eyelids to flutter.

    The Grovyle resignedly walked over to her. She would soon be awake, it seemed. He would have to deal with this turn of events now. Still, he hesitated before he crouched beside her. She was different in body. Would she be changed in personality or temperament as well? There was no telling what the change had done to her.

    If it really was her.

    She moved. He watched her closely as her head moved to face upward and her eyes slowly opened. Gigantic, golden, shining eyes. Treecko eyes. They blinked. They narrowed, and her wide mouth curved ever-so-slowly into a frown of confusion. Slowly, slowly, she used her arms and forefeet to sit, supporting herself with stiff limbs. Then, finally, she seemed to see herself. She flexed her forefeet, wiggled her toes, touched her leg, her face - nearly poking herself in the eye in the process. There was a pause.

    The Grovyle still didn't speak. He was now painfully aware that this was no Treecko – this was definitely Holly. Though this comforted him to some degree, it also worried him further. She would be completely clueless until she gained control over her abilities, and that would likely slow them down immensely.

    She made a face. "What the hell...?"

    The Grovyle cringed. While the phrasing and tone were similar to how they had once been, the voice - the voice! It was much higher-pitched, making her sound like a child, even though she was mentally nearing adulthood. It didn't fit her - too soft, too lighthearted. It had no edge to it - something that the girl had constantly employed as a human.

    Finally, the eyes of the pair met. The Grovyle had expected to see relief, recognition, something. But her face remained blank. Her eyes had none of the spark that had lit them as a human, only a carefully controlled confusion.

    After a silence that could only be called awkward, the Treecko's expression finally changed, now defensive. "…Uh...hi."

    The voice made him wince again, but he managed to reply. "Well...at least you're alive, Holly."

    Holly blinked slowly. "Do I know you?"

    Confusion. His brain was scrambled, trying to make sense of her words. What had she meant? She wouldn't joke. Not her. Not Holly.

    No… what if she really didn't remember him? Didn't know him?

    Had her memory been tampered with somehow? The blast had hit her pretty hard…

    What if it was completely gone?

    He looked at Holly again. She was still eying him, distrusting.

    She didn't remember. She couldn't have forgotten everything, could she? Perhaps she was traumatized...no. She didn't remember him, and they had a long history.

    He forced himself to speak. "...You don't remember me. You don't remember anything."

    The Treecko shook her head cautiously and paused. "You seem kinda…familiar, but I don't…" She trailed off, slowing her rapidly quickening breathing. When she had calmed herself, she murmured shakily, "There's nothing. I...I can't remember!"

    The Grovyle didn't respond, eyes closed.

    "I... Holy-! Wait, you knew me, right?"

    Nothing. She remembered nothing of the experiences that they'd shared. She'd be back to how she had started - she certainly wasn't going to be friends with him any longer. That was what hurt the most – knowing that this wasn't his Holly.

    But what did that mean for him? His friend as he’d known her was gone. If he took her along…she had no resolve, no motivation. The reason they had succeeded up until then was that they were determined to complete their mission, no matter the cost. And the cost was heavy. She’d learn of it eventually…what then? It wouldn’t be worth it to her, oblivious to the pain, the destruction…

    The Grovyle opened his eyes and looked around the small clearing. It was typical of what he would normally see, structurally, but the colours seemed to explode into his vision, making even the brightest of those he had known seem dull in comparison. The earth beneath him contrasted more noticeably with the blanket of grass and fallen leaves. On top of that, everything seemed…lighter. Slightly in colour, but more noticeably in atmosphere. For perhaps the first time in his life, nothing about his natural surroundings seemed menacing or dangerous. Though he knew that he wasn’t completely safe from harm here, his own knowledge seemed hard to believe when met with such peace.

    She would never know anything else. She wouldn’t know how desolate and bare their home was – how desperate they had been to change it. She would be just like the others who lived here…oblivious.

    And to think that she had changed so drastically in mere seconds.

    Was he supposed to leave her behind and forget about her, then? They had decided, together, that if they became separated and were unable to find each other within a waking period, they were to continue with the mission and hope the other was alive and doing the same. This, though…this wasn’t quite what they had expected. He had to complete the mission at all costs, but there had never been anyone to leave behind – only those who counted on the mission’s completion. Nobody had ever relied on him like the new Holly would have to – and this was a critical stage. Should he abandon her to gain time, or, because she had seen him, should he let her tag along for her safety? Admittedly, the latter would help keep himself in check. The human Holly had always needed to tell him when he was pushing too hard and needed to stop and enjoy life. The Treecko Holly would slow him down, but that might help him savour this new world.

    But…their mission. Was going too fast really so bad if it got his mission completed?

    The mission. That was his choice – it was far more important than his well-being. “Listen. I – we were on a mission before. It’s extremely dangerous, and I doubt that you’d want to get involved after – after this.”

    Holly had an unreadable expression. Odd, how, now that she had a different face, he couldn't read her expression like he once had. "I don't care, I'll do it, just tell me who I am!"

    The Grovyle looked away. However much he tried to hide it...he was soft. He had been forced to harden himself for the sake of the mission, but...Holly's desperate pleading tugged at his heart, and he could only force it away, knowing that he didn't need clouded judgement. “You have no idea... Even when you did have your memory, the idea had to grow on you. You can't just come along-"

    “Well, why can’t it grow on me now? Please, I need to come!" Holly said, frantic. “I don’t get any of what’s just happened, and maybe if you knew me before, you can help my memory to return. And you know stuff about me that even I don’t – you just proved it. Let me come – you can help me, and if you’re lucky you’ll find some use for me. I'm begging you!”

    His heart lifted for a moment at the prospect of her memory resurfacing, but logic brought it back down. If the hit had caused this, and her brain had been damaged…well, if transforming into an unscathed, healthy Pokemon had done nothing, then there wasn’t much hope. There was some – there was always a glimmer of hope – but it was miniscule.

    It began to sink in then. He wasn’t getting his friend back. Already she had been reduced to begging. He'd never seen Holly beg. As usual, it was partially his fault, but this time he couldn’t make it up to her.

    Or…could he?

    Holly was looking around her now, taking in her surroundings. She didn’t seemed to be awed like the Grovyle had been, merely disoriented, and although she felt that way now, she would accept that the world was like this and always would be. She would never experience the darkness and oppression of her home. Perhaps that was a good thing. Perhaps...taking care of her, protecting her...could be his way of making it up to her. As long as he made sure that she wasn't directly involved in the mission...

    “You’re sure you want to come?” the Grovyle said. “You want to place yourself in the care of someone you know nothing about for the chance to learn about your past?”

    "Yes!" she replied vehemently. "I need you. I have to trust you. You're all I have. Please, just tell me about myself."

    That word. The one word that could win him over in seconds had been uttered.

    Trust.

    For a long time, he’d barely known what trust was, living alone. But when he’d suddenly had a partner, the word had taken on a whole new meaning. To him, trust meant putting yourself in the hands of the other and knowing they had your back. It was putting your absolute faith in them that they would tell the truth and stand by their promises. It was knowing that they trusted you just as equally.

    He knew it wouldn’t mean the same to her any more, but just knowing that she was putting at least some faith in him convinced him.

    “Let’s go, in that case. We have a deadline to meet.”

    Although Holly’s eyes widened slightly, she quickly brought them under control, no doubt trying to look respectable and trustworthy, and for a moment he felt a pang of familiarity at the mask that had hid her emotions from all – all but him.

    He forgot it as he watched her take a human stance – or rather, attempt to. Though she could unsteadily get onto all fours, it took quite a few tries to get up onto only two, and she immediately lost her balance.

    Shaking his head in disbelief, the Grovyle quickly circled the clearing. His eyes swept the circumference for hostile Pokemon, and, after confirming their safety, searched for some sort of pattern to the foliage. He quickly found one – the trees stood together in groups, and the shrubbery never seemed to grow near them. To the average Pokemon, it wouldn’t have meant much. But some, like him, knew that this was one of the signs of a Mystery Dungeon.

    He furrowed his brow unhappily and walked toward the knapsack, forgotten until now. He picked it up by the one intact strap (it seemed that the other had finally snapped) and lifted it over his shoulder before heading back towards Holly.

    She had figured out how to balance, but was now faced with a larger problem – walking. The Grovyle let an exasperated sigh escape him. Of course. Arceus had decided to make his life difficult and strip Holly of her natural Pokemon instincts. Every time she managed to take multiple steps, she lost her balance and was forced to all fours. It happened again and again, and she didn’t seem to be improving. He grew more impatient with every fall, and finally he advised her, “Walking on all fours is much easier.”

    He was met with the half-scowl-half-icy-glare that he remembered with a pang, but it wavered immediately, and he knew what would come next, so he turned his back to her and pretended to rummage through the bag. After counting to thirty, he turned back and found her on all fours, managing much better.

    Some things just wouldn't change, it seemed - including her pride in being right.

    As soon as she seemed to be steady, the Grovyle said, “Let’s go. Keep up.”

    He walked ahead quickly, hoping that they could travel in silence for a while. Speed was key – key to the plan, and key to his sanity.

    “Wha-!” THUD

    ...No, things would never be simple enough to please him.

    He turned his head. Holly had fallen onto the ground, presumably tripping over her own feet or something similar. She seemed winded and was struggling to stand.

    Growling slightly in annoyance, the Grovyle swiftly stepped to her side, lifted the small Treecko with a paw and set her onto the ground. Surely he hadn't been this tiny, this lacking in weight and muscle when he had been a Treecko?

    She looked up at him in relief. After a moment, she said, “Thanks." It sounded like she was trying to seem calm and sophisticated, but it came out sounding sheepish.

    He nodded and started walking to conceal his surprise. She generally didn’t give out thanks… No, he couldn’t dwell on the drastic personality change now. They needed to hurry, and he needed to free his gaze and mind of how she looked at him. Every time he saw her, every time their eyes met, his heart received another mournful dent.

    "H-Hey!"

    He looked back, but did so reluctantly.

    Holly looked indecisive for a moment. "I… I never got your name." Though her gaze was confident, she sounded slightly fearful.

    Was she?

    That thought threatened to crush what control he had over his own mask. She was scared of him – his best friend was now scared of him. He had been reduced to nothing – to her, he was what he had been when they had met – just another Pokemon.

    The Grovyle did his best to harden his heart and make himself oblivious to the pain. There was no time for this, and the hollow, empty feeling that threatened to overtake him…every time he felt it he was forced to stop and regain his composure. He would not think about her any more. He would abandon all thoughts of the past.

    He began to walk again and had made it a few steps before remembering her implied request. Without turning, he responded crisply, but even he could hear the slight crack in his voice.

    "Grovyle…just Grovyle."
    Last edited by Blazie; 19th August 2010 at 1:09 AM.

  2. #2
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    PMD (T/D) fics are elusive enough; well-written ones only more so.

    That said, I'm especially impressed with the depth of characterization on the part of both Grovyle and the heroine. 'Impossibly bright' is a very apt description for the present world, taking into account the fact that Grovyle had only lived in a bleak and colourless future world. You have addressed his response to Holly's amnesia and its implications well: he feels despair at having essentially lost his best friend, and is conflicted by the decision to either leave her be - blissfully ignorant - or to enlighten her (for what he would consider a 'selfish attachment' to the 'old' her). Of course, Holly's desire to rediscover herself does not help matters at all.

    One thing that had bothered me when I first played through Sky was that the game lacked for detail regarding Grovyle and his human partner's backstory. While this would offer little in the way of the game's plot advancement, it would have been nice to watch some flashbacks or receive some sort of indication that the heroine's (retrograde) amnesia wasn't permanent and that she harboured stronger feelings than a distant camaraderie with Grovyle (due to his being an almost perfect stranger to her). I'm guessing you're intending to further explore this issue, aye?

    A point of contention: Grovyle ought to be referred to as simply Grovyle, not 'the Grovyle'; 'Grovyle' is his name.

    Also:

    Holly had fallen onto the ground, presumably tripping over her own paws or something similar.
    As lizards/geckos or whatever other reptilian creature that the Treecko family is based upon do not have paws, just call them 'feet' (or 'forefeet').

    Is this going to be mostly drama, with bits of action/adventure tossed in? Whatever the case, I'm most definitely keeping my eye on this fic.

  3. #3
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    Wow, very, very well done for a starter =). Good job Blazie can't wait for the next one.
    A fanfic set in a magical region far away from Nippon. where a boy faces a mass of Shadow Pokemon and typical travel!
    Check it out!


    I am a proud AmberDawnshipper, Pokeshipper, AmberMistshipper, Sunnyshipper, Sparksshipper...etc!

    PM me if your curious about what the hell are those shippings!

    Post this into your Sig. if you think the beast of Dartmoor is a Luxray!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by In a Quandary View Post
    PMD (T/D) fics are elusive enough; well-written ones only more so.

    That said, I'm especially impressed with the depth of characterization on the part of both Grovyle and the heroine. 'Impossibly bright' is a very apt description for the present world, taking into account the fact that Grovyle had only lived in a bleak and colourless future world. You have addressed his response to Holly's amnesia and its implications well: he feels despair at having essentially lost his best friend, and is conflicted by the decision to either leave her be - blissfully ignorant - or to enlighten her (for what he would consider a 'selfish attachment' to the 'old' her). Of course, Holly's desire to rediscover herself does not help matters at all.
    You have no idea how much you have made my day. =D I'm so glad that my characters have turned out; when I began writing fanfiction every one of them borderlined on Mary-Sue territory. I hope I'll be able to keep them up to the standard this chapter has set for me.

    One thing that had bothered me when I first played through Sky was that the game lacked for detail regarding Grovyle and his human partner's backstory. While this would offer little in the way of the game's plot advancement, it would have been nice to watch some flashbacks or receive some sort of indication that the heroine's (retrograde) amnesia wasn't permanent and that she harboured stronger feelings than a distant camaraderie with Grovyle (due to his being an almost perfect stranger to her). I'm guessing you're intending to further explore this issue, aye?
    While Holly's amnesia will very likely be permanent, there will be plenty of backstory to be seen, given that she will be staying with Grovyle for some time. And that she has both the Dimensional Scream and objects from the future relating to her and Grovyle.

    A point of contention: Grovyle ought to be referred to as simply Grovyle, not 'the Grovyle'; 'Grovyle' is his name.

    As lizards/geckos or whatever other reptilian creature that the Treecko family is based upon do not have paws, just call them 'feet' (or 'forefeet').
    I have this...quirk of sorts where I don't like to use characters' names in third person until it has been revealed through speech or something similar, and Grovyle didn't speak his name until the end. However, I realize that it would get boring and redundant, given that the reader should know who he is. I may go back and change it, but it won't occur in the rest of the story.

    Ah, yes, I couldn't figure out exactly what to call her feet, given that in the Pokemon world most have paws and that her feet didn't look quite like paws or hands. Forefeet sounds much better.

    Is this going to be mostly drama, with bits of action/adventure tossed in? Whatever the case, I'm most definitely keeping my eye on this fic.
    I believe so, yes. While there will be the plot of the whole 'save the world' part, I'm going to focus a lot on the relationships that Holly creates with others - and not just Grovyle, though it will seem like that for a long time. Thank you so much for your comments!


    Quote Originally Posted by PsychicChampion
    Wow, very, very well done for a starter =). Good job Blazie can't wait for the next one.
    Thank you very much. =)

  5. #5
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    Here is the second, equally lengthy chapter. Note that this is in first person from Holly's point of view, as it will be for the rest of the story. I like writing in third person limited with Grovyle, though, and I have plenty of excuses to bring that back in the future.

    ---

    Two:
    Silence


    ---

    We’ve been walking for a while now, but I still know nothing. You would think that, having seen how desperate I am, Grovyle might have explained something by now, but he’s been silent since telling me his name. I’m going to go insane at this rate; we’ve been walking and walking and all I can think about is that I don’t know who I am or what I’m doing here. Grovyle is the only thing that is keeping me sane because I know that he can explain all of this for me, but he may prove to be the thing that drives me to insanity if he won’t give me anything to make an identity out of. He’s the one with all of the power here, but he’s choosing not to use it, and there’s nothing I can do.

    I mean, I guess I could talk to him and convince him to explain everything, but the few times I’ve tried it hasn’t ended well. See - I can’t walk and talk at the same time.

    Yeah, stupid, right? But every time I manage to catch up to Grovyle, who barely walks slowly enough for me to keep up, I can’t get out more than his name before I’ve kicked my own foot, or tangled my legs, and down I go. Then all I can do is wait for Grovyle to turn around and pull on my hands so I can stand again.

    …Hands? Forefeet? Forepaws? What do I call them? I stare at them as I walk, and the first thing that comes to mind is ‘feet.’ But whenever Grovyle helps me up I think of it as my hand…

    Oh, screw it. It doesn’t even matter. I’ll call them whatever comes to mind. Not like Grovyle’s a mind reader.

    But yeah, walking is obscenely hard. I can’t quite balance on two feet yet - not with this hulking tail on my back - so I’m stuck on all fours. And while a Pokemon should have instincts and stuff, mine don’t seem to exist. If they do, they’re really, really deep in my mind where I have no hope of finding them. What that means is I have major coordination issues. While I’ve discovered how to move my limbs so I don’t feel like an awkward lumbering beast, I need to concentrate to make sure that they keep moving this way. If I let my mind wander, they start to move how I think I would try to move them as a human, but this body is different and my human instincts lead me to a face plant every time.

    I look up from my feet to find my head inches from a large tree trunk. I swerve madly to avoid it, and end up getting my legs crossed.

    THUMP

    The painful sensation of my entire body hitting the ground through the not-so-cushioning grass is something I’m used to by now, but it still draws a groan of frustration from my throat. I should be able to walk. Everyone can walk.

    An exasperated sigh sounds from Grovyle’s direction, another sound I’ve quickly gotten used to. Whenever I fall he turns, sighs, helps me up and continues walking. He doesn’t seem overly concerned about me, not speaking or even making eye contact. His face is always emotionless, save for a few hints of annoyance. I can’t imagine that he isn’t slightly upset about all of this, given the way he’s acting; maybe the blank slate is all an act. A mask.

    I grab his offered hand, avoiding his claws - last time I got lazy and got a scratch on one of my stubby, useless fingers. He pulls, and as I return to my feet I do my best to find my balance.

    Grovyle starts walking again.

    I follow as best I can, soon falling back into the rhythm of walking, one step at a time. Though I’m concentrating on my feet, my mind is beginning to wander and, deciding that I can walk without staring at the ground, I allow all of the previous, confusing paths of my thoughts to be replaced by the first thing I see: My surroundings. They are somehow different that they should be, but I have no idea why. It is disorienting, but I suppose the fact that the colours are like that at all means that they are supposed to be. Something nags at me, but I can't understand it, so I dismiss my confusion. At least I know what everything is - trees are trees and grass is grass. I have no doubts about that.

    Stumbling slightly, I immediately return my focus to my feet and walking. Staring at my hands - feet? - paws? Staring at my…whatevers against the grass, something occurs to me. I don't blend in at all. I dismiss the thought as soon as it comes, letting my mind wander idly.

    The next time I look up and see Grovyle, though, it occurs to me again. Grovyle's muted green and red skin would enable him to hide in the greenery of the forest easily, but the green of my skin is bright and has a bit of yellow to it. It comes closest to the shade of the grass beneath it, but even that has a darker, more pure colour.

    I pause. The grass in front of me, covering the clearing - it isn't the same. It's still grass, but somehow the colour seems lighter than the rest of my surroundings - and a little brighter, too. It’s like light is shining on it - but there’s nothing around that could possibly do that. I glance around to be sure, but there’s nothing out of the ordinary in the small clearing I’ve just entered. Realizing that I’m in a clearing, I look straight up. The sky is - blue? What? Something about that strikes me as odd, but just like all of the other odd things I’ve seen, I can’t consciously think of anything wrong with it, so I continue walking, contenting myself with looking ahead, through the gaps between sparsely-distributed trees-

    Something glints, but it’s so bright that I swear I’m blinded for a moment. I yell, lose focus, tangle my feet and plummet to the ground.

    Grovyle's exhausted sigh and the crunching of leaves under his feet confirm my failure at walking, but I can't focus on anything other than what has just happened. Ignoring his offered hand, I carefully get to my feet and look upward, near the tops of the trees. Again, a bright white light in between the needles of the pines draws in my gaze, and just as quickly causes my eyes to sting and become momentarily useless. My eyes squeeze together tightly as I shuffle backwards, wincing all the way. Finally, when I think I‘m back in the forest, I let my eyes open again.

    The first thing I notice is Grovyle, staring at me like I'm insane. I vaguely wonder if he's right. I don't know how light can appear in the trees - or in the sky, if that was where it came from - but it's something else to add to the list of things that I don't understand. It's turning into a very long mental list, one I wish didn't exist. I also notice that parts of my vision are obscured with bright colour, and it stays no matter where I look. Wonderful.

    He's still staring at me. I stare back for a moment. On the plus side, he's meeting my eyes for the first time in a while. The downside...his gaze is skeptical and dumbfounded. A little rueful, which isn‘t good. "I'm not crazy," I say thickly, still a little dazed. "In case you were wondering."

    After a moment he seems to believe me, and now that I'm looking at him his eyes are looking everywhere but at mine. "You’re not hurt?”

    I'm surprised by his concern. It's the first time all day he's asked me if I'm okay - despite my many tumbles. I'm relieved that he actually cares. "My eyes sting. My vision's kind of...spotty. I'm mostly, you know..." I trail off, noticing his blank face. "Take a step closer," I order.

    After a moment of hesitation, he complies. Now he's casting a fuzzy shadow on the spot where I was standing. "Turn around and look up near the tops of the trees, and you'll get what I mean."

    Grovyle complies, but I regret my request as soon as I hear his surprised grunt and watch his entire body tense up. His hands shield his eyes as he takes a few steps to the side. Then he's looking back, eyes slightly unfocused and blinking rapidly, but meeting my own. I almost apologize, but I shut my mouth in awe as I watch his mind work. That's what it's like, looking into his eyes - he's an open book as long as he's meeting my gaze. He's thinking - he has an inkling of what this is - and he looks up to the trees again.

    I follow his gaze. There's nothing really special about the trees, really; they're dark and tall and full of needles. Exciting. You can barely see the sky through all of the branches, but if I shift my gaze forward I can see it due to the lack of trees in the clearing. It’s still blue.

    After another moment, I give up on trying to see and look to Grovyle, to see if he has any ideas.

    Or, rather, I look to where he should be.

    My senses are already on overdrive as I frantically look around. He's not here any more. He can't have abandoned me - not now. He could have been attacked, or-

    I catch a sound from high above, and my head whips in its direction. It takes me a moment to find the source, but when I do I'm able to relax a little. The green of Grovyle's skin makes him hard to see, especially when he's moving as fast as he is. He jumps nimbly from branch to branch, quickly and powerfully scaling a tall pine as if the tree has given him wings. I watch him in awe for a few moment before I realize that we have a problem.

    "Hey!"

    He doesn't seem to hear, so I stand on two feet and yell again, louder. "Hey!"

    He slows, stops, then starts descending quickly. When he's within audible distance, he calls back, "If you want to follow, you can!"

    "Excuse me, but I can barely walk! What makes you think that I can do - that?" I ask, gesturing vaguely at him. Suddenly I'm set off-balance, and I crash to the ground a moment later, as if to prove my point.

    I'm getting better at standing up, but I'm only halfway there when Grovyle reaches me. He grabs my arm and hauls my to my feet. He doesn't release my arm, considering me for a few seconds. I hear him mumble something, but I’m not sure what it is. Maybe no time?

    Without warning I'm whisked off my feet and immobilized. By the time I've gained an understanding of what just happened we're already far off the ground, Grovyle carrying me securely against his chest with one arm. His grip is tight, and I'm not scared of falling, but I can't help feeling a bit helpless.

    "What was that for?" I ask. “I mean...you could have warned me!"

    "Do you want to go down?" he replies flatly.

    "...No."

    "Then stop complaining. You're coming up. It doesn't matter how."

    I sigh and try to concentrate on watching the tree's trunk speed by. Grovyle's...harsh. I don't understand it. But I have to trust him, I remind myself. He knows who I am.

    We're pretty high up when I start to wonder what the point of this is. "Hey...why are you climbing this tree, anyway?"

    Grovyle pauses a moment before responding coldly, "Try to have some patience. You'll see."

    I scowl and stare at the trunk of the tree. He's so condescending that I wonder how we could have put up with each other before. But you did. Put up with him now…

    When he slows to a stop, he makes no move to release me. Having been carried much too long for my liking, I squirm a bit, but he doesn't move, so I snap, "Put me down! You can’t just-”

    THUMP

    Instead of putting me down carefully, he simply lets go of me, not saying anything as I hit the branch hard. I scramble to get a hold on the bark, and I take a moment to look myself over and grumble about Grovyle's lack of judgment. A few inches over, and I would have briefly met every branch in the tree by way of hitting them with my face on the way to the ground. Hundreds of complaints are already formed, and I’m in the middle of chosing one to start with-

    Then I see the sky.

    My first thought is that something is wrong with it, but as I watch, the feeling of how right this seems strikes me. The rare colours that melt into the slowly lightening shade of blue are impossible. I swear there's a small spot of purple amongst the light pinks and oranges. But the way it all fits together - it is too surreal to be happening, but it feels like it is supposed to be there.

    The circle full of light just above the horizon, which I can‘t look at for more than a moment without blinding myself - impossible. But it's there. And somehow, it should be.

    I want to stay, to sit here and watch this sight. It is relaxing, and calming, and somehow I feel like it‘s giving me energy just by shining on me.. I enjoy this.

    Really, I'd rather sit here for a while than travel. The stillness and calm of the atmosphere helps me focus, and it would help me to sort Grovyle out in my head. He's a topic that is difficult to wrap my head around, between his secrecy and caring and harshness - not to mention how hasty he is. He doesn't like to slow down for anything or anyone, especially not me.

    I glance at Grovyle briefly but look back to the sky quickly - and my quick peek reveals that he, too, is having trouble looking away. Perhaps I'll be able to stay for a while…

    A moment later, however, I hear Grovyle's voice, soft but more determined than I've ever heard it. "This...this sight convinces me even more that we must hurry - that what we are doing will be worth everything."

    "Which is what, exactly?" I ask quietly, trying not to disturb the peaceful atmosphere. "What the heck were we doing that was so important?"

    He makes a small sound of what seems to be pain, but a glance in his direction reveals no physical injury. I've hit a nerve then - probably by mentioning my memory loss. He seems to hate that. His voice is controlled, but I can hear the underlying pain when he replies, "You don't understand the significance of this. This...this should shock you, be something unnatural and strange to you, but I can see that you have already accepted it as natural. I...I wish-"

    Grovyle cuts himself off, but I hear the unspoken desire in my mind, as I have been for as long as I can remember. I wish you could remember. I wish you were human. I wish this had never happened.

    I scowl at him, and my temper snaps. "Well, it happened, okay? I'm in a Pokemon's body and don't remember you. Get over it. What's done is done; you need to be able to leave it behind and work with what you have. That means working with me, got it?"

    "Why would I want to work with you," he retorts, "when all you've done is be a nuisance and-" Grovyle stops himself once more, cringing and looking like he regrets his words. But I’m not letting him get off easy.

    "Because I'm all you've got," I say, letting my words become blunt. "I'm the closest thing you have to what I was before, so I bet you're not going to let go of me too easily. So work with me."

    He refuses to look at me, and I can tell that his face is masked; it’s blank and unfeeling. "Stop it!" I yell, surprising myself. He winces and glances at me. "That's part of it! You won't even tell me how you feel about this mess, so what am I supposed to do about it? Why can't you just speak to me?"

    "You couldn't begin to understand," he says after a pause. There's something in his voice that worries me - it wavers. Suddenly I realize that I'm yelling at my only chance of learning who I am, and I look away in apologetic silence.

    It takes a few minutes for him to speak, and the words aren't what I had hoped to hear. "We need to leave. Every moment is precious. We're wasting our time."

    "But…Grovyle, what if we never see it again?” Suddenly I’m reminded of my memory - how, for now, I won’t be remembering things. “We might as well enjoy it while we’ve got it.”

    Grovyle looks surprised and blinks at me oddly.

    It occurs to me that this is the first time I've used his name out loud.

    The moment of peace disappears as he grimaces and says harshly, "Let's go. I expect you can get down by yourself, since you're so adamant about forgetting that you were human." He turns away from me, and suddenly he's gone, bounding down the tree.

    I watch him, wondering for a moment if I should feel proud or ashamed of what I've done, then turning my attention to how the heck I'm supposed to climb down a fifty-foot tree.
    Last edited by Blazie; 20th August 2010 at 10:42 PM.

  6. #6
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    May I be your beta? There are several edits I would suggest - multi-quoting is a pain - and since I have every intention of continuing to read this fic, I might as well do a thorough job of it.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by In a Quandary View Post
    May I be your beta? There are several edits I would suggest - multi-quoting is a pain - and since I have every intention of continuing to read this fic, I might as well do a thorough job of it.
    100% yes! I've been thinking of having someone be my beta, since I'd like to get a second opinion before posting, so... Yes, please! =)

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    ...Chapter is very late...but it's super long. =)

    EDIT: I forgot, lots of thanks to In A Quandary, who beta-d this for me.

    ---

    Three:
    Knowledge


    ---

    Getting down the tree is difficult. Needles poke at me wherever I step, and the branches are so spaced out that I have difficulty getting from one to the next. A few times, I have to jump for a branch, and more often than not I barely manage to grab it. Grovyle mercifully decides to rescue me from the tree after my fifth close call, no doubt preventing my messy end.

    It’s been silent since then.

    Grovyle has refused to look my way since our disagreement. I can’t really blame him, considering how hard my words were meant to hit. At the same time, I wish that I hadn’t lost my nerve at the end. He was wavering, close to snapping. If I had managed to break him, maybe he would have opened up.

    But I was angry. I let myself give in to my emotions, and I have no idea whether the next words out of my mouth would have resulted in Grovyle helping me or simply hating me more. I suppose that you have to take risks to get what you want sometimes, but at that moment the risk was too high.

    In any case, I’ve been thinking. I will try again. I know that I need to trust him, that he’s all I have, but I can’t see the logic behind withholding anything and everything that has to do with my past. Sure, he’s upset, but that doesn’t mean he can’t tell me something. Anything would make me happy at this point. Unfortunately, I still can’t walk and talk at the same time, so I’m stuck trying to find a way to get Grovyle to stop walking.

    I stumble over the root of a tree, realizing that I’ve strayed off-course. I adjust my path to make sure that I don’t crash into anything, and decide to concentrate on walking for now. Just because I haven’t fallen for a while doesn’t mean I won’t at any given moment.

    And suddenly I know how to postpone our travel.

    Watching the ground for an opportunity, I grin deviously when I catch sight of a branch lying on the ground. Grovyle easily steps over it, but when I get to it I purposely catch my foot on it and fall to the ground. I don’t have to fake a cry of pain and frustration; hitting the ground hurts just as much as it did before.

    As I hoped, Grovyle releases a heavy sigh and retraces his steps until he’s standing right in front of me. I raise my hand, expecting him to offer his own, but for some reason he simply picks me up and sets me on two feet. He’s already starting to turn around when I realize what’s happened, and I think quickly enough to grab his arm. However, I’m not strong enough to stop Grovyle, and he turns around with his arm in my grip. This pulls me around, too, and because he just set me down on two feet rather than four, I can’t find my balance quickly enough to stop myself from falling over.

    Having let go of Grovyle’s arm before completely toppling, I just sit where I’ve landed, staring up at him. He stares back. After a moment, an sheepish sort of smile works its way onto my face.

    A tiny, amused smile mirrors my own.

    It takes me a moment to get over my surprise and take his offered hand. Is this the first time I’ve seen him smile? I think so. Then, either forgetting how I ended up on the ground or trying to get out of a conversation, he tries to move around me.

    I cut him off, mercifully without falling. “Nuh-uh. We need to talk.”

    He can’t pretend not to have heard. Not looking me in the eye, he draws in a deep breath and says softly, “What about?” All traces of a smile are gone.

    “Uh, whaddya think? I’ve just been turned into an amnesiac Pokemon and you wonder what I wanna talk about?”

    He looks away - more away than he has been, anyway.

    Oops. Not thinking about my words again. I need a different approach. “I just want to understand what’s going on right now. Maybe I could even remember things after a while, if you would just-”

    “You won’t.” He sounds certain. Like nothing will change his belief that I’ll never remember a thing.

    This sends a new wave of desperation through me, though I keep my face straight. “You won’t know until we try! How can you say that? Wouldn’t you be happy if I remembered something?”

    He gives the tiniest of smiles, but this time it is sad, mournful, and bitter. “You could say that. But there are facts that cannot be denied. Your transformation was a fluke which saved your life, and if that didn't repair your memory - or if it was the cause itself - I sincerely doubt that you'll be able to remember any more than you already do, especially if meeting me triggered nothing.” He tries to move around me again, but I get a hold on his wrist, and he stops moving so I won’t fall once again.

    There was something in there - something important about me…

    There! “What do you mean…it saved my life? What happened to me?”

    Grovyle reaches over, detaches my hand from his wrist, and starts walking.

    “Hey!”

    He doesn’t respond.

    Desperately, I yell, “I don’t know why I’m here or where I am, or why you know me! And without an explanation of what we’re doing I have no purpose! At least give me something to live for!”

    He turns. Eyes me hesitantly. Walks over, each step taking generations to finish. When he finally reaches me, he squats down to my level and looks me in the eyes. In his I see pain, frustration and reluctance. But there‘s another emotion flickering in and out, trying to cover the others. Certainty. And when he speaks, I know that he means every word.

    “Telling you what I’m doing - letting you become involved - isn’t giving you something to live for. It is something that could easily lead to your death. And without motivation…without your memories…it isn’t worth it. I am willing to face any consequence, but you have no reason to put anything at stake. You also have no loyalty to me, no trust in me - don't look at me like that, I know - and if we got separated you would willingly tell anything to whoever came along. Staying with me does not benefit either of us, and I have half a mind to leave you to live off the land as soon as you are capable.

    “I also have lost my partner, lost my friend and gained an effectively newborn Treecko all at once. So if you want an explanation…prepare to be disappointed.”

    This time, when he tries to walk away, I let him. Is all of this really so dangerous? So much that just knowing about it is a danger? That he’d-

    He is considering abandoning me. Making sure I can function and then abandoning me. I thought he cared - I mean, I was his friend, before - but maybe he doesn’t see it that way. Maybe he doesn’t deserve my trust.

    But I won't leave him, and I can’t back down now. He's all I've got, all that ties me to my past, and I need him to survive. If he wants me gone, I’ll have to prove that I’m not going anywhere - at least until I have my information. Then…we’ll see.

    I frown and make to follow Grovyle, but something in the air distracts me. A sound. I'm about to dismiss it, but then I hear it again, louder. Kind of like a snort - an angry one.

    I look in Grovyle’s direction. He seems to have heard it too; he’s standing still, turning his head, searching the area. After a moment he abruptly starts walking again like nothing happened.

    Confused, I do my best to catch up. “What was that?”

    “Probably nothing, considering that we haven’t been attacked…but stay close.”

    I walk faster, suddenly on edge. "Attacked? Why would we be attacked?“ Though I stumble, I manage to right the position of my feet before I embarrass myself again.

    Grovyle sighs, but, mercifully, decides to explain. "Ferals - wild Pokemon - aren't friendly. Very territorial, very aggressive; even more so if they live inside mystery dungeons.“

    The term ‘mystery dungeon’ is new to me, but I hear something again - a different sound - and that's all the warning I have before something wraps itself around my wrist and jerks me to my right.

    My balance is easily upset and I come crashing to the ground with a grunt. Mentally grumbling about the number of times I’ve fallen, I sit up and grab at the thing circling my wrist - it looks like some sort of vine, though I have no idea where it came from.

    “Holly…” Grovyle whispers. “…Don’t move.” He seems worried. Concerned. …About a vine? As he quietly takes a few steps toward me, he raises his arms slightly and tenses his body.

    I’m not scared so much as curious. Watching the vine carefully, I follow it from where it leaves my wrist. It’s pulled taut, stretching into a group of bushes.

    Grovyle takes another step and seems poised to do…something. But I swear there’s something there… It takes a moment, but finally I see them. Eyes. And after a moment, the eyes realize that I’ve noticed them.

    I’m suddenly and completely disoriented, but when a jerk rolls me so my face is on the ground I realize that I’m being outright dragged towards the bushes. I yank over and over again on the vine, but that only seems to make it pull faster. My feet aren’t shaped for digging into the ground, and there aren’t any plants close enough to grab. Though terror starts to seep into me and take over my thoughts, I tell it to shove off. If I’m going to die, I might as well see my killer - and that is becoming very possible, considering how close I’ve gotten to the bushes in such a short amount of time.

    There’s a sound, like something slicing through the air, and a squeal sounds as the vine’s pressure disappears. I realize that, despite my resolve to see my attacker, my eyes are closed. I open them, searching for an explanation. The first thing I see is Grovyle, and it’s easy to assume that he’s the one who’s saved me; he looks relieved but is watching the bushes where my attacker probably still lurks. He’s tense, and looks like he could spring forward and attack at any moment. I don’t know whether to be grateful or scared.

    I pick myself up, struggling to get to my feet but managing. The end of the vine is loosely wrapped around my wrist; it’s been severed a foot or so away. Wondering if it was part of my attacker’s body - if it was once alive - I shake it off so I won’t have to think about it.

    The bushes rustle, and a bunch of leaves come shooting from within. I wonder how they’re going so fast and not floating to the ground, but then a few nick my arm on the way by and I realize why as I grab my arm in pain. These aren’t normal leaves. Normal leaves aren’t sharp enough to break skin.

    I look up to find that the Pokemon (I assume it’s a Pokemon; I have a feeling that it isn’t a human) has revealed itself; it’s around my height if you don’t count the pink flower bud on its back. It’s mostly green and spotted, but its eyes are red, which is just a little intimidating.

    It charges at me, and my first instinct is to dive out of the way, but I still don’t know my body too well, and I end up falling over, still in the Pokemon’s path. Grovyle moves quickly, so quickly that all I see is his arm and some sort of glow before the Pokemon suddenly receives a long cut along its side. It gets off-course and runs past me, giving me enough time to get to my feet.

    It shoots more leaves, and this time they’re aimed right at me, but before I can make a fool of myself again Grovyle pulls me out of the way. By the time they’ve skimmed past my arms, he’s already gotten in another slash - I watch carefully this time and see a blade of energy extend from the trio of leaves on his forearm. It’s enough to scare off the Pokemon; it runs into the forest, limping.

    I stare after it, unblinking. “What the…what was that?”

    “An Ivysaur,” Grovyle answers nonchalantly. He walks around me and inspects my shoulder for a moment before starting to walk.

    “No, why - why did it attack us?”

    “I told you, we are inside a mystery dungeon.”

    “Which is…?”

    Grovyle turns and considers me for a moment, confused. “You forget even this…” He closes his eyes and recites quickly, “It is a cursed region, usually a forest or cave, which appears to erase your memory of its layout when you leave it. If you fall unconscious inside of one and aren’t revived quickly, it takes you to the outskirts of the region where you have a limited amount of time to exit. If you can’t exit in time…you get sucked back in.”

    “Whoa, whoa…so…what?” I try to wrap my head around the information, but I don’t really understand it. “So if I get knocked out, I’d just…disappear and appear somewhere else?”

    He nods. “Somewhere close to an exit. But after a while it would bring you back farther away from the exit than where you were previously.”

    Okay. That…makes no sense. Is he saying that this forest has some kind of mystical powers…? But I’d rather not learn firsthand if this is true, so I just nod. He’s turning around to walk again when I remember my original question. “Wait, so what does that have to do with the Pokemon?”

    He keeps walking, and calls over his shoulder, “Sleeping counts as falling unconscious, so the Pokemon who live here are moved every time they fall asleep.” I realize that he isn’t waiting for me and quickly start walking after him. “They also lose their memory of the layout of an area if they haven’t been there for a while, and not knowing your own home is…frightening. They try to take out any threats they see because they don’t always remember which way their home is.”

    His response is quick, doesn’t take any thought. He seems to know this well. I don’t question him, thinking that maybe there’s more to this guy than I think… Of course there is, stupid. You lost your memory. You’re not supposed to understand him.

    I shake my head, confused with even my own thoughts, and walk straight into Grovyle. It doesn’t hurt, but I say “Ow!” anyway. I’m not sure why. Shaking my head again, this time clearing the pain, I snap, “You could have warned me!”

    He doesn’t retort, just stares at me. He’s looking me over, thinking.

    This can’t be good.

    Finally, he says, “You were barely able to defend yourself back there.”

    I really don't like where this is going. “Well, I guess. Sort of. I'm fine now, though, so-”

    “You won’t be fine next time,” he retorts.

    “’Course I will,” I return airily. “You’re more than capable of keeping me safe.”

    “Not if I’m facing a Pokemon that demands all of my attention,” he retorts. “I can keep an eye on you, but to simply be your bodyguard would be the death of both of us.”

    Death is bad. Death is really, really bad. But I’m not sure what he wants. “…Where is this going? There’s nothing I can-”

    “You need to learn to fight. To dodge and run and retaliate. Otherwise you won’t stand a chance.”

    I blink at him for a few seconds. "What? Retaliate, like, fight? Like you? Glowing leaves and superhuman strength? No way can I do that.“

    The tiniest growl escapes from Grovyle's throat. "Superhuman? You - you aren't human any longer. You are a Pokemon." He stops for a moment and takes a breath before continuing. "If you will be a Pokemon for any length of time, you must learn to live like one.”

    “And…how do I do that?”

    He hesitates. “…I teach you.”

    Interaction with Grovyle to do something I don’t want to? I keep my mouth shut, but curses fill my thoughts.

    ~~~

    I officially suck at this.

    I've been trying, really. But this is ridiculous. First we tried running and agility. He tried to get me to run and jump and do all of these crazy things - does he not realize that it hasn’t even been a full waking period since I got this body? It ended in failure, so we moved on to basic fighting.

    Grovyle's been having me hit a tree over and over. When he demonstrated the results of...what had he said? ‘Unlocking the part of your brain that gives you your fighting power.’ Or something. Well, he demonstrated a regular his to the tree, which dropped quite a few pinecones - and then a powered-up hit to a tree, which made pinecones and leaves rain down on us.

    Now, when I hit the tree... Guess what? All that happens is I get a sore paw. It's gone numb from all of my failures. Plus, I can’t even do it properly. Grovyle told me that the best limb for me to use would be my tail - like I know how to use a body part I’ve never had!

    I hit the tree again. My hand slams against the bark, but nothing really happens.

    "You aren't trying any more," Grovyle says in exasperation. He seems to be on his last thread of patience, and after trying to work with me for so long, I can’t really blame him. "You need to try to access your reserves of strength.”

    “I tried,” I say simply. “Whenever I fail, it hurts. And my head hurts from trying to figure this out. If you won’t give me a break, I won’t try.”

    “Why not?" he asks, growing louder. "You can't afford to give up!”

    “Well, maybe I'd know that if you would explain our situation!”

    “I…have told you why I won't do that. Try again.“

    Something rises with my anger. It's a strange instinct, but it’s so strong that I don't try to stop myself as I swing a hand at Grovyle as hard as I can. I know it doesn't have whatever 'hidden power' Grovyle wants, but the idea of hitting him seems so satisfying…

    His hand reaches up to stop me, and he doesn't seem too concerned about it, almost lazily blocking me until I make contact, and I push him back a step. And when I fall over from lack of support, he’s a little off-balance, too.

    I look up at him. He looks back, looking at me differently now. I’m ready to defend myself, but all he says is, “I’d rather you didn’t use me as a practice target. Try it on the tree.

    I turn to the tree, relieved. Now with confidence to spare, I focus, trying to figure out what I did. Then I hit the tree. Nothing happens.

    Crap.

    I can’t get it. I keep trying, but I can’t get it. All I know is that I was angry at Grovyle, but that can’t be right. Grovyle was fighting, and he didn’t look angry so much as worried. Eventually I ask for a break, and this time Grovyle decides to comply - though he insists that I practice my coordination and movement - so we start walking.

    Of course, my first thought is to not practice at all, but as I get some of my energy back and my hand starts to hurt less, I decide that I might as well, since Grovyle doesn’t seem to be in a very talkative mood. So…running. That seems pretty simple. Figuring that running should be pretty close to walking, I start walking faster, building up speed until I’m practically tripping over my feet. Then I do trip over my feet, stumbling and careening into a bush. Ow.

    I back up shaking my head and trying to ignore the sting of the new scratch on my face. I sheepishly look in Grovyle’s direction. He says nothing, simply staring at me. Embarrassed, I take a few steps in his direction, but there’s a rustle from behind me. I turn as fast as I can, stumbling but keeping my balance.

    The Pokemon that jumps out is primarily purple. It seems to be a rodent, it those giant fangs and whiskers have anything to do with it. Still, it doesn’t look overly intimidating.

    Grovyle isn’t moving. Why? He could probably take this thing out easily. “Hey. Take it out or drive it off or something,” I say quietly.

    He looks back and forth between me and the Pokemon a few times. “…I’ll let you take this one.”

    I warily look at the Pokemon. “Why can’t you just scare it off?”

    “You could use the practice,” he says pointedly. Looks like this is punishment for slacking off.

    I give a last-ditch effort, glaring at him and pointing out, “It would be a lot faster if you just got rid of it.”

    His response is a stern, icy look that rivals my own, and I sigh, turning to face the Pokemon-

    Which promptly tackles me to the ground.

    I squirm under it; it isn’t very heavy, but it is doing a good job of pinning me so I can’t escape. I finally manage to jerk hard enough to loosen its grip, and I swiftly push it back and roll to the side. Somehow, I don‘t mess up rolling like I did running, and stand without a problem.

    The Pokemon is already looking at me menacingly, though. Its giant teeth are bared, and though it makes no moves towards me, I know that it will soon. I turn to Grovyle. “Seriously, I can’t even hit trees yet. I’m not going to be able to-”

    “Rattata are harmless,” he says, unconcerned. He‘s leaning against a tree lazily, watching me. “You think I’m going to put you in mortal peril?”

    After realizing that he’d prefer to abandon me, I have my doubts. I raise an eyebrow (assuming that I have eyebrows…) and say nothing.

    He sighs, a familiar sound. “They’re harmless,” he reiterates. “As long as you don’t let them-”

    Something sharp digs into my arm, and I jerk away, flailing my arm as I try to dislodge the object. It remains, and as I try to take a step I wonder why it’s so heavy. Still flailing, I take a peek at the painful-

    “-bite you,” Grovyle finishes with a wince, just as I realize that the things clamped around my arm are the Rattata’s jaws - and, more importantly, it’s gigantic teeth.

    It’s a struggle to push down the new wave of panic, but I manage to resist the urge to continue flailing. Standing as still as possible, I do the first thing I can come up with. I kick the Rattata. It jerks slightly, pulling on my arm, and I start kicking more quickly so the pain will be over quickly. Finally it gives up, and when it lets go I manage to back away to a safe distance before grabbing my arm. Then I remember that I should probably look at it, and I let go to find that though my skin hasn’t been broken, it’s a bit red and hurts like hell.

    I hear footsteps, the sound slowly getting louder, but I’m too disoriented to put it together until the Pokemon’s claws rake across my other arm, leaving stinging scratches. “Ow!” I shout, glaring at the Pokemon that is already coming towards me again. I manage to dodge, this time, and it runs by without incident.

    I’m sick of this. I really, really want to punch the rat, to show it who’s boss…but I’m smarter than that. I can’t get hold of the power needed to make any sort of difference. Sure, I might make it stumble, but a hit from my hand wouldn’t be enough to scare it off or do any real damage. Probably wouldn’t even leave a bruise. And, well, I’d rather not get roughed up any more if I don’t have to.

    So I seek out Grovyle’s help one last time. “That thing is definitely not harmless. There’s no way I’m going to keep doing this. Your turn.”

    He watches me. Doesn’t do anything; just…watches. After a moment the corner of his mouth lifts, and he moves his gaze behind me.

    I turn and get a face full of claws.

    My emotions are past boiling, and I give in to the impulse to attack the Rattata. I swing an arm, ready to teach it a lesson-

    And my foot slips. I tumble to the ground. The Rattata cackles.

    I sit up, disgruntled, but before I can stand Grovyle has walked over and calmly given the Rattata a slash with a blade. The gash runs deep, and has already started to seep blood as its eyes widen, and the Rattata lets out a tiny cry before keeling over.

    I blink a few times, speechless. “Is it…dead?”

    Grovyle kneels beside me. “If you want to know, we’ll find out in a moment.”

    “What do you…” I pause. “Why couldn’t you have just attacked it in the first place?”

    “Because it took you so long to actually attack. Ah, there. It was alive, then.”

    He gestures in front of me, and I look away from him to find that the Rattata is gone. “Where…what… Okay, explain what’s going on!”

    He stands, offering a hand, which I take. “It’s a Pokemon. It fell unconscious. We’re in a mystery dungeon.”

    It takes a few moments for it to click. “So…it got transported somewhere else?”

    He nods. “Won’t matter much; I probably put a little too much power into that slash…” He begins to walk away, and I follow. It’s not until a few moment later that I realize what he’s implying and stop dead in my tracks.

    “It’s going to die?”

    “It’s possible, but it will probably-”

    “And you don’t care? That you might have just killed another Pokemon?”

    Grovyle turns with the same, familiar sigh I’ve been hearing since this all started. “I…I don’t like the idea. But I have come to accept it as a part of the life I lead. If I can help it I try not to take life, but if the need arises I will not hesitate to kill a feral to save the lives of my companions and me.”

    My head is reeling. I’m not squeamish about the blood or anything, but how calm and indifferent he is about it… “That Rattata wasn’t going to kill me.”

    “I am unused to my opponents being as fragile as it was. If it ends up dying, know that it was a mistake, but one that we cannot afford to dwell upon.” Grovyle turns, and there is a new hardness to his eyes now. Without another word, he strides into the next section of forest.

    …And he’s probably mad at me again. As he disappears from sight, I decide that now is a good time to practice running…

    ~~~

    Grovyle’s done the same thing every time we run into a small Pokemon, making me battle until I improve on the last one before getting rid of my opponent. I notice that he’s more cautious about it now, either scaring the Pokemon off or giving it non-lethal wounds. I say nothing, but I’m grateful.

    Grovyle’s method of training has forced me to improve, and already I’m better at evading the enemy and getting a hit or two in, though I rarely can get enough “energy” behind it. I’m also better at dodging, which has saved me from a lot of unnecessary scratches and bruises - though the ones I can’t dodge heal quickly.

    Despite my improvement, I’m not happy right now. We’ve stopped for the occasional break, but though I ate a lot then, I’m hungry again now. And there’s something that overrides even that - exhaustion. We’ve been walking, walking, walking without much rest. All of the walking and fighting and dodging has been wearing me out. I suppose I could keep going, but I would kill for a rest.

    …Bad wording. But I’m just so tired… “Can we stop soon?”

    Grovyle takes a moment to respond. “Not until we’ve left the woods.”

    “But-”

    “I’m sorry, but I’d rather not fall asleep and wake up halfway across the forest. But if you want us to be separated in this mystery dungeon with the sky dark like this, be my guest.”

    I bite my tongue against his sharp retort. I’d forgotten about that, and now I remember that I want out of this forest. “I’m s-”

    Grovyle doesn’t bother to listen. “You can survive a while longer. No more complaining.” The words are stern, but his voice is more than that. Exhausted, sick of it all, on edge. Maybe he’s just as tired as I am.

    A loud noise echoes through the trees, and both of us jolt to attention. I have no idea what just happened, and I’m about to say something when it happens again. This time I can hesitantly identify it as a roar, and I look in the direction of the source. It’s just a clump or trees - one seems to be moving slightly, but that’s all.

    Grovyle doesn’t seem to think so, cursing, “Dammit!” He continues to mutter varying expletives under his breath, stepping in front of me.

    I try to look around him. “I’m assuming a moving tree is bad…?”

    He turns his head. “That’s a Pokemon - a very powerful one.” He looks back at the clump of trees and says hastily, “Climb a tree. You’ll be safe there.”

    It’s nice to hear that he cares, but I’m starting to get worried, so I silently turn and find a large tree - when I realize that I have a problem. “Uh, a little he-”

    A snapping noise startles me, and a gigantic Pokemon crashes through the trees. It’s monstrous - though it stands on four legs, it easily surpasses Grovyle’s height. Its legs are pillars, its body like an enormous rock - a rock with huge, metallic spikes and a small tree growing on it. I try to back away, but I’m stuck against the tree. Grovyle isn’t, however, and runs to the other side of the clearing so quickly that I swear he must have teleported or something.

    The Pokemon’s miniature tree begins to glow, and a number of leaves rise up and shoot themselves at Grovyle, who gets hit by a few before getting out of the way. They don’t seem to faze him, though, and the Pokemon repeats the process - except this time the leaves fly in my direction, and though I try to duck, I’m not fast enough to dodge the majority of them and end up covered in scratches.

    “Go!” Grovyle calls. He runs to the other side of the Pokemon, probably trying to distract it so I can climb the tree. Not like it’ll be much help, I think, staring up at the nearest branch. It’s well out of my reach. I half-heartedly jump, but I’m just not tall enough.

    “Holly!”

    I look in Grovyle’s direction and am met with his pleading eyes and the sight of another scratch or two on his torso. Knowing what he’s going to ask, I shrug and point at the branches, high above my head.

    He turns away for a moment to avoid a tackle from his opponent, then shouts, “Cover your ears!”

    I comply, and even through my hands I can hear an ear-splitting screech that gives me a slight headache. The Pokemon looks disoriented, and Grovyle hurries over to me. “What is going on?” he hisses. His voice is harsh and I struggle not to cringe in surprise.

    “There - there aren’t any branches close enough for me to reach,” I say, trying to keep my voice steady and confident. He seems to have been pushed past his breaking point, and it shows.

    Grovyle looks around, extremely uptight. “For pity’s sake - there’s no time-” He lets out a growl of frustration. Then he quickly picks me up and throws me upwards.

    It’s nowhere near high enough to reach a branch, so I scramble to get a hold on the bark. My fingers are short and clumsy, so I’m forced to press my paws against the bark and hope they’ll stick - as if that‘ll happen…

    …I stick.

    I look around, confused, then try moving. I can lift my paws easily, but when they touch the bark they anchor me there. It takes no effort to just hang there. Well, it’s not really hanging, but it’s close enough.

    Grovyle hops up after me, passing me, and drops the bag in between two branches. “Stay. Don’t come down.” He leaves the tree with a single leap, landing effortlessly and giving the other Pokemon a good slash before it knows what is happening.

    I lift a paw and place it above me. I pull, and it stays, so I begin to climb, which turns out to be easier than I expected. I’ve reached the bag in no time, so I sit in front of it and watch the fight.

    Grovyle cries out and staggers back. It looks like that the Pokemon managed to bite down on him; there are marks on his side that are starting to bleed. He ignores them and jumps on the Pokemon’s back.

    From there on it’s a blur. Grovyle is impossibly fast, striking and retreating in moments. I watch, awed into speechlessness every time he narrowly avoids the Pokemon’s jaws or a flurry of leaves. But for every minute of safety, there comes a hit. Scratches begin to cover his torso, and the behemoth manages to get its jaws around his arm a few times.

    It’s not until he’s backed against the tree I’m in that I realize that though the other Pokemon is getting worn down, Grovyle is hurting. I can’t see him very well due to the lack of light but I can hear his breathing taking more and more effort.

    And I’m not doing anything. Sure, I’m not fond of him, but he’s actually in danger. And part of the reason is that he’s protecting me. Many times he’s given up a hit to draw the Pokemon away from the tree I’m in.

    My hand brushes against the bag, and I wonder if there’s anything other than food inside. It takes a few tries, but I figure out how to open the buckle and begin to dig through the bag. There are a bunch of fragile-looking blue ball things, which I ignore, a bunch of apples and berries, something that feels like fabric, and a lot of seeds. Nothing really useful. I take out a seed anyways; I’m hungry. This one looks odd, though. It looks almost…red. I turn it over in my hands a few times; then, finding nothing amiss, I break it in half to see if it’s rotten or something-

    And all hell breaks loose.

    It explodes in my hand, and a burst of energy hits me. I can swear that I feel flames where the seed used to be, and it’s all so much that I lose my balance and fall from my branch, cursing and screaming in both pain and fear.

    I land, but I don’t feel hard dirt underneath me. I feel leaves and some hard branches. I sigh in relief and pain; my hand feels raw and throbs, but I’m glad that I landed on another branch rather than the ground.

    “Holly…?”

    I struggle to get up, and when I do I’m disoriented. I look for Grovyle’s figure and find it much closer than it should be. I must have fallen farther than I thought.

    His eyes widen slightly. “Get out! Out of the tree!”

    It’s then that I realize that I am not nestled in the needles of my pine, but in the flat leaves of some other tree, and it’s only when some of the leaves begin to glow and I hear a feral snort that I understand where I am.

    I’m on top of the giant Pokemon.

    I scramble to find a foothold, but the leaves are too fast and rise up into the air quickly, scratching me and throwing me into the air as well. I land on the ground, feeling like I’ve been trampled on. The impact knocks the breath out of me so I can’t breathe properly. Coughing desperately, I see the Pokemon turn to me.

    Out of nowhere, Grovyle leaps at it and viciously slashes at it. One, two, three - I lose count, thrown off every time the Pokemon yells and headbutts him. But finally the Pokemon collapses. Grovyle watches it a moment, tense, relaxing only when it silently disappears.

    He immediately comes to me. “You‘re okay?”

    I take a few breaths, feeling the consequences of my truly idiotic action. I was useless the entire time, and when I finally got a chance... “I…think…ow. What was that seed…?”

    He looks slightly amused despite his weariness. “It’s called a Blast Seed. Don‘t break the shell within a few feet of you unless you want to get burned.”

    “Thanks for the warning.”

    Grovyle ignores my sarcasm and holds out a hand. “Hand. Now.”

    I’ve managed to sit up, so I let him look at the hand where most of the seed exploded. It looks burned, red and raw-feeling, but I can feel it, and I’m not missing any fingers. I guess it'll heal, eventually. Grovyle retrieves the bag, a few feet away from me, and pulls out a small green berry. “Here. For the burn. You can sleep off the soreness.”

    I eat it willingly, but my mind is occupied with other things. “When I was a human…was that what it was like? I just hid unless you needed something?” I ask bitterly. I’m feeling pretty worthless, and I need assurance that Grovyle is used to it. I’m not sure what good it will do, but I want it.

    Grovyle visibly flinches. I realize that I’ve referenced that I’m not human any more - something sure to put him in a bad mood. He doesn‘t answer as his face hardens. Instead he instructs coldly, “We’re almost out. Let’s go.” And he walks away. He leaves me there to get up by myself.

    My mind races. He’s tired, I tell myself. He’s exhausted and wants to get going. But I know it’s not true. I’ve broken the fleeting bond between us yet again.

    Damn it.
    Last edited by Blazie; 21st October 2010 at 6:49 AM.

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