DecadeShipping // Froslass & Scizor // PG
"The vote of the elders is unanimous. The youngling must be exiled."
The clan's mocking hisses ring in the thin wintry air. "Unnatural," some call. "Monster," say others. I even hear one that mutters, "Witch-child."
I see my parents staring back at me from the crowd, as if illuminated among all the mingled expressions of horror and suspicion. They're impassive, emotionless, as if I'm just a stranger to them. Yet when finally meet their gazes, they hastily look away. They don't want to be associated with me.
"It may wander the plains with the criminals," the speaker says. I cannot see his face. I'm not sure I want to. "It may drown itself in the sea if it wishes. But never shall it linger with us again, on pain of death. And it will leave immediately."
It. I am an it to them now.
I am escorted from the valley, heavily guarded. Everyone we pass watches me warily, murmuring amongst themselves. The spirits tell me it's partly due to jealousy. A Snorunt is not supposed to be capable of learning the Forbidden Technique. Even the Glalie have only a tenuous grasp of it, and the few times it is demonstrated at the festival, their aim makes it unlikely that the target will be frozen at all. But the spirits have taught me to overcome such mundane difficulties.
They stop at the edge of the valley, watching me intently and waiting for me to leave. I could freeze them solid, right here, right now – I've done it before, that's how they know my power. The spirits are pleased with this idea. They whisper to me, urging me to encase them all in that ice that even now creeps in my veins. I can see myself pushing them down the rocky slope, letting them fall and shatter. No one would know.
But I don't. I have nothing more to do with the clan. I turn and walk into the vast expanse of ice beyond.
My place is with the spirits now.
I don't encounter any criminals. The spirits are displeased with this.
On the fourth day since exile, I encounter a peculiar crevice in the ice. The spirits remind me of tales the elders told, tales of small expedition groups in the Burning Lands, exploring mysterious places called dungeons in search of something of value. Treasures, I believe. Stones that sparkle more beautifully than ice.
The spirits don't need to tell me to venture inside.
I enter the dim cave, lit only by what cold light streams through the opening behind me. A shriek assaults my ears, followed closely by the swooping shape of a Swablu. I backpedal a few steps, reflexively releasing a shimmering icy beam. It hits, and the bird drops out of the air, hitting the floor with a faint crunch. I step over its shivering body without giving it a second glance.
There are a few more Pokemon on this floor, and I dispatch them with equal ease. Finding the shadowy stairway at the opposite end of the room, I climb down to the next level. I find myself growing annoyed at my opponents' relative weakness. True, the spirits add to my strength, yet one would imagine that living in conditions such as these would toughen them to some degree.
The challenge is slight, but as I continue my descent, I feel myself tiring ever so gradually. It has been a long while since I have eaten or rested, and it is only the spirits' whispering that keeps my eyes open. I lose count around the seventh floor, or perhaps the eighth. The spirits don't remind me; they're unconcerned with such a trivial matter.
The final floor is inhabited by an almost troublesome Empoleon, whom I manage to defeat with the spirits' own spectral energy. Stepping past him, I marvel at the sight before me: a ring of glowing crystals of ice, encircling a particularly large and dazzling crystal, which scatters pearly-white light across the floor. There are no stones, but that does not matter. The spirits are content, as am I.
This is our queendom now, they decide, as I gaze at my unearthly prize.
I am not sure how much time has passed before he arrives. Some of the spirits say it has been a year or so. Some say it is a century, though my body does not betray such age.
It is while I stare into the depths of the main crystal that I first hear the sounds of conflict. There is a crunch of metal bashing against ice, followed immediately with a shattering sound. I look towards the exit, puzzled. Only I have managed to defeat this dungeon. Who else could have the strength?
My question is soon answered: a lanky red shape steps into view, wings humming softly. He raises a pair of pincher-claws reflexively as a Weavile bursts out of the shadows, baring her own claws to strike. Her ambush startles him, but he only needs to bring down a single claw, sharply and decisively, against her crested head. A yowl of pain escapes her as she crumples to the ground at his feet.
I cannot help but stare. What is this creature that so easily intrudes? He is glaringly out of place in my icy domain. Perhaps he is from the Burning Lands.
He glances around warily, waiting for another attack that I know will not come. The Pokemon of this dungeon are well aware of my residence here. I am respected and, more importantly, feared. Few dare to descend to my floor, and fewer still linger. The spirits are pleased with this arrangement.
When he is satisfied that there is no immediate danger, he lowers his claws and strides in my direction. A faint cling resounds every time his feet strike the ice. His body is metallic? I find myself marveling at this alien creature. Perhaps it has been constructed ... a complex machine? No. His golden eyes, locked onto the main crystal, are too alive and determined.
The spirits chatter to themselves in confusion. For once, I ignore them.
It is not until he stands before the crystal that he notices my presence. His eyes widen ever so slightly. I cannot blame him. Why would he expect to see a little one such as myself, after encounting a horde of monstrous creatures?
I meet his gaze. He is powerful, but he fails to intimidate me.
"Snorunt," he says finally.
Something unfamiliar flutters in the pit of my stomach. I frown slightly, confused. I cannot remember feeling anything without the influence of the spirits. Neither can they. They are murmuring to each other.
"I do not wish to harm you," he says. His voice is raspy from exertion, but kind. He has an accent I cannot place. "I'm called Scizor. I am only seeking an elusive treasure."
"You knew of the crystals?" I am surprised, as much at the possibility as the sound of my own voice. It is dry from disuse.
He smiles and shakes his head. "No, though I've never seen a Dawn Stone of such odd formation. It is quite lovely."
Dawn Stone? I glance at the crystal. "It does not look like a stone."
"The Stones I refer to are a peculiar type of crystal. Many consider a Dawn Stone such as this to be the most beautiful, as it generates its own light." He shifts his gaze back to me, a knowing look in his eyes as he gently places a claw on the top of my head. "They can also evolve a few select Pokemon. You've never heard of Stone evolution? The Pokemon simply needs to touch the Stone in order to take on its new form. And the Dawn Stone is notable for evolving Snorunt."
I blink, startled. "But Snorunt will evolve to Glalie naturally," I say, trying to ignore the excited chatter of the spirits. The excited motion of my heart is what I feel instead. What is this creature, who can create such strange things within me through just a look or a touch?
"Yes. However, a female Snorunt – particularly one with a supernatural affiliation – could use a Dawn Stone instead."
The idea is staggering. I stare at the crystal, wondering what I will become if I touch it. The spirits urge me, more strongly than before. They understand what will happen. They wish for an increase in their own ghostly power.
I seize it with a stubby hand without a second thought – a hand that stretches into something like a narrow wing as I find myself shooting upward. I cringe initially, wondering if I might hit the ceiling, but the sensation halts as abruptly as it starts. Suddenly I am larger, something greater, floating effortlessly above the icy floor. Though Scizor is remains taller, it is not by much; the crystal itself, whose pearly light winks out, is suddenly remarkably small.
I gaze at my slender new form, then smile at him in wonder. He smiles back.
Abruptly my mind is overwhelmed. The spirits are ecstatic, immersing themselves in the newfound well of power within my soul. For a moment, my limbs are no longer my own: bursts of ice and pulses of shadow emanate from my outstretched wing-hands. I am not alarmed. It has happened before.
But Scizor is alarmed.
"Froslass!" he calls, eyes wide. He leaps forward, buzzing in alarm, and seizes me to hold me steady. His claws pin my arms to my sides.
The spirits do not like this. They retaliate.
My vision turns blue as the spirits yank my arms free, throwing Scizor to the side as if he were a mere pest. He staggers backward as my body swivels to meet him, and he barely has the chance to blink before the spirits summon a wave of terrible chill. In my detached state, it seems as if the thick layer of ice is only crawling up his feet, his legs, his torso. He struggles, wings beating and arms flailing furiously in a futile attempt to free himself.
He is frozen.
The spirits' glee is powerful, but my horror is more powerful still. I hardly notice that my body is mine again, floating swiftly over to the terrible ice cube that has captured his last terrified movements. Only his eyes indicate that he is still alive, and they follow me, pleading for help.
But I cannot reverse the Forbidden Technique.
Abruptly I am stricken with a painful wave of loss. Only now do I realize that I consider him a friend, he who gave me my new name as my body turned on him. Never will he return to the Burning Lands, or find the treasure he seeks. What he could have told me of his world will eternally remain a mystery.
Would he have been a mere friend? That feeling he instilled in my heart ...
But it no longer matters: he lives, yet he is dead. And I have killed him.
I throw my head backwards and wail while the spirits triumph.
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