More details at the end. But for now, enjoy.
His mind raced, his head in pain, and his thoughts went to his other comrade and their guest- with good reason.
Why oh why Gesta asked himself, baring his fangs. Why did he decide to bring their client from an item fetching mission along for an emergency rescue right into a Monster House, WHY? Cursed be the one day he disregarded his mentor Ŝafo’s advice to take on one threat at a time.
The Electrike berated himself as he shot a leer at the Larvitar, trying to lure him to his side of the wall and away from the still struggling Kadabra. This would only gain him time, as with a wounded leg the Electrike was in no condition to flee. The Larvitar, unaffected by the electric attacks, huffed and went straight at Gesta for a tackle.
In between the wall and the Larvitar’s position the Electrike managed to glance at the other Pokémon beyond, the team of newbies that they had been sent to rescue, a trio consisting of a Dratini, a Snorunt and a Seviper all surrounded by the likes of Skarmory, Larvitar, Houndoom and others who were attacking them.
Well… not them.
“Pick on someone else! I, Dalvin, shall not forgive this thievery!”
These five or six stronger Pokémon were all focused on their sole target, a Prinplup that had shortly before dashed into the mayhem and was busying himself slashing at the chest of a Tyranitar while his other arm’s shield knocked a slithering Onix in the face– all while the Pokémon was frantically trying to track a golden apple that had fallen to the mossy ground, rolling off to who knows where, since a previous attack had torn the Prinplup’s bag.
What the hell was with this client, Gesta barely had the time to ask himself.
Taking the opportunity, the newbies tried to fall back and hold their position against some remaining cannon fodder.
“Çaro! Come on Çaro!” Gesta called for his remaining Beedrill teammate as he dashed along the wall of the cave trying to avoid tackles, stones and bursts of fire. “Where are you?”
The most immediate response was the continued yelps, growls and other calls from the newbies in need of a rescue as they were being hit on the way out to a safe spot.
But Gesta’s call did earn him the attention of a Tyranitar from the other group, who after shoulder pressing the Snorunt tracker of the newbie team against a pillar hard, turned her sight on the Electrike and raised her arms to ready a Stone Edge. Gesta yelped and tried to find a corner to hide behind; he did not get to loudly curse about his situation however when the Tyranitar suddenly lost her footing and fell belly flat to the ground with a thud, the Prinplup dragging her by the tail for a moment.
A lot of debris fell from the roof with the commotion.
“You are in the way of little ones who will need this food!”
Gesta just took a long look at the situation and he could swear he saw the elusive golden apple fall from one of the Pokémon’s plates and roll all the way to a wall, which Dalvin missed given the Tyranitar’s size. Welcoming the brief break in the fight, he took a moment to tend to his wounded leg.
Gesta wondered… Mon what did they feed the penguins in the southern frozen islands anyway? Was this the same Dalvin that Mentor Ŝafo spoke about, a shy and laid-back Pokémon who was somehow said to have survived the near end of the world?
Before the lashing Tyranitar female could do more than resist wildly, the Prinplup fired a water jet at an attacking Houndoom and leapt forward past the Tyranitar to circle around a rock pillar in the room, checking the base apparently looking for the apple. Gesta signaled at him but he did not manage to get his attention before a Skarmory dove at the Water-type and knocked him out of the way, the two grounded birds rolling in a ball of violence, tearing and pecking at each other.
The Electrike gulped and made motion to charge at the attacking bird, but his plan was cut short when he saw two Houndoom, a Tyranitar and the Skarmory attempt to join in to pile up on the fallen Prinplup. Gesta shook his head and turned to more immediate threats: the Larvitar still confronting him.
Gesta bared his fangs and cried. “I really don’t have time for you!”
He had one chance, dashed and leapt right at the Larvitar; before the Rock-type could react Gesta used him as a springboard to propel himself and reach further into the center of the room where the newbies were defending themselves.
A well-aimed Thundershock, even if weak, managed to distract two attacking Roggenrola long enough that the Snorunt was able to dispatch them with an Icy Wind, before Gesta crashed on the floor unable to maintain his balance. A strong tail whip from the Dratini besides him made a Medicham flinch, allowing Gesta to bite their leg and shove the Psychic Pokémon away before it could do much else. Irate, the opponent started siphoning energy for a psychic blast.
“Incoming!” the cry from the Kadabra was heard. Gesta shoved the Dratini to the ground with him just as an orb zipped by, impacting on the Medicham’s face; the Pokémon, suddenly surrounded by a gust of pinkish wind, was lifted off its feet and floated all the way to the wall the other end of the room, flailing and cursing.
“Team Kokool here!” announced Gesta to the Dratini. “We have to get you out of here!”
“We were informed!” answered the Dratini, floating up in the air. “Really, thanks for the last minute help.”
Gesta took a look around. “The way it’s going, don’t be too glad yet.”
While Snorunt was helping keep a few opponents at bay, Kadabra was moving from pillar to pillar, having already dealt with the attacking Skarmory. Gesta took a long stare at her form, bleeding from various minor wounds.
“I smacked her with the bag,” she explained. “Told you it was a good idea to put those heavy orbs inside.” Gesta reminded himself that it was a good thing the mob didn’t get their paws on the one Slumber Orb.
A Houndoom was sent flying out of nowhere and landed with a yelp at the base of a nearby pillar, where she was pinned down by a sudden barrage of poisoned stings from above before she could get back on her feet.
“Çaro!” yelled Gesta. “About time, where were you?”
A Beedrill fluttered down from high behind a corner and circled around the Dratini of the newbie team, drawing away some enemy fire from a Houndour and a Lairon which he easily avoided. A barrage of stings later the Houndoom was forced to flee.
“Looking for a safe exit but some Roggenrola kept me busy, boss,” the Pokémon explained. “Two hard left turns deep into that passage, it’s a good bottleneck and gives us enough time for our escape!” he continued, hovering and pointing at an exit which could be seen past one of the pillars in the cave.
Gesta nodded and gave a supporting Roar to the Seviper who had just smacked an enemy Medicham away with liberal use of Poison Tail, the retreating Pokémon tripping on the Lairon from before as a result.
This was not how these battles should go, Gesta thought to himself. They were supposed to come in and rescue the new blood, cavalry style; not to get ambushed and stuck inside formulating a plan while their client was out having fun smacking people and fetching fallen pebbles and apples in a Monster House.
“Unhand that now or you shall suffer the Peck of Justice!”
What a saviour.
Still, Gesta now had a clear idea of what had to be done. He quickly shared his plans with the two teams, leaving indications that they had to cover their retreat and recover their one missing client. The plan was simple: lure the Tyranitar close to the passageway into an Alliance ambush and use the unconscious body to create a movable roadblock. He was surprised, however, when their Kadabra teammate Jazila immediately cut him short.
“None of that nonsense. You are the team leader! You take Team Windspell to safety first.”
“No, I still have a responsibility to-”
“All we need to do is put a bit of distance for tossing that Slumber Orb,” assured Çaro pointing to the bag. “and boobytrap the passageway behind us. We’ll cover your exit!”
There was a sudden ruckus as one of the pillars broke and fell under the weight of a Lairon sent spiraling through it propelled by a strong jet of water. How had that happened Gesta did not want to delve into; there were footsteps coming from the direction they had previously come in, final evidence that their time was running short.
Suddenly a cry came and the teams had to roll out the way of a Flamethrower; Gesta shot an electric bolt at the Houndoom that was trying to get close to Jazila but the attacker took cover behind a pillar. The Snorunt made motion to advance for a better angle and Icy Wind their opponent but their Leader Dratini stopped him.
“Okay! Just make sure Dalvin heads out first.” Gesta commanded pointing to the general area where the Prinplup still insisted on drawing attention. He then turned to the Dratini and motioned for the hidden passageway. “Have Snorunt go ahead and let’s go at once.”
With that said he and the others readied preparations. A curt nod from Jazilla and she and Çaro headed to the nearest pillars, calling and calling the Prinplup to retreat to their position. Gesta had to shake his head when the answer came from his overeager client:
“One moment, they are learning their lesson here!”
«This is so going to suck reporting back at the Guild,» was the next thing that crossed Gesta's mind.
They were running out of time though. Snorunt and the others went their way and as he entered the passageway Gesta took a last look at his team and his client in the cave, agape at the sight.
«We had all heard the stories,» Gesta thought as he hugged the wall of the cavern and saw, right by one of the pillars, how a Tyranitar, a Lairon and two other Pokémon had managed to pin the Prinplup down while the Pokémon was fruitlessly trying to reach for some of the apples and pebbles tossed out there.
Stories of heroes who resisted alone against the greatest threats. Lairon jumped for an overhead strike but Dalvin suddenly surrounded himself with a bright teal aura and launched himself spinning at the Lairon in a Drill Peck that lifted both of them upwards until Dalvin crashed the Lairon head-first against the cavern’s roof. That loosened a good amount of rocks, causing a general distraction.
Dalvin hung himself from the Lairon’s flank plates and used his opponent’s body to propel himself downward, past the pillars and into the center area where he landed to launch a water jet at the other two Pokémon before turning his attention to a Houndoom that was absconding with the apple.
There were very few Pokémon capable of fighting and clearing Monster Houses like this. Gesta recalled the way Mentor Ŝafo spoke of the team he had joined back then, a Piplup and a Bulbasaur who took on everything from the lost wandering children and the common outlaws to a dangerous rogue Dusknoir and ancient deities trying to control the world.
With the rest of Team Kokool clearing the cannon fodder, Dalvin joined them in spreading out various attacks and Gesta was quick to leave through the passageway to carry out the extraction. The last he saw was his client shielding from a Tyranitar’s attacks as he demanded the Houndoom return the stolen item.
A spark in Gesta’s mind brought him back to reality, and as he made his way out he wondered if the resurgence of that Pokémon meant a coming hardship. He could not see why else would be here the one who had marched into Dialga’s World of Stopped Time and returned to tell the tale.
The Weavile inspecting Gesta’s wounds stepped back from the bed where the Electrike was being tended to and crossed his arms. The same Prinplup from before was standing besides the two and gave the Weavile an apologetic wave.
The Ice-type hissed. “Perhaps you would prefer that more electrifying paws massage you.”
Jazila’s giggling from the next bed to the left made Gesta feel embarrassed enough that he just muttered an apology and decided to shelve his complaints until later, replaced for now with annoyed grunts and snarls as the Weavile resumed “treatment”.
“I can’t believe it. Ŝafo’s protégée?” asked the Prinplup.
“Yeah,” Gesta grunted, more out of pain than anything else. The Weavile snickered, working on the Electrike’s bruised leg; Gesta chose to try and ignore it as he continued. “And you found the road to the Hidden Land! You even found a human!”
Dalvin nodded contently seeing that one of the most important details of his tales back then had not gone forgotten.
“Figures...” Gesta pawed at the bed for a moment. “My mother’s tribe used to live by the northern edge of Amp Plains… We were happy… until the head tribe at the very core of the Plains caught the attention of Treasure Town and they were flushed out by–”
“–Dusknoir the great deceiptive!” said the two Pokémon in unison.
The two Pokémon laughed nervously for a moment. They looked at each other and then the Electrike noticed the Prinplup was carrying a new bag; the old one would surely have been torn to pieces by the attackers back in the cave.
Dalvin seemed to be more concerned with the nostalgia.
“Aaaah, Minto and I had lots of trouble with that Pokémon...”
“Well, look at us,” groaned the Electrike. “chased away from our homeland now roaming townless because of that fuss. I was born in a cave and caves was all children like me saw until Ŝafo found us.”
The two remained in silence save for some grunts from Gesta every time the Weavile medic dug deeper than the Electrike would have liked.
“I see... way to ruin it for everyone,” commented Dalvin, looking elsewhere. “So, I haven’t heard of the Shimmering Hill flock in a while… how is Ŝafo doing?”
Gesta hesitated for a moment, realizing he had not seen his mentor for long. He thought about it for a moment and tried to answer but only a yell came instead, due to a sharp pain in his leg.
“...Owww! What was that? What are you doing?” yelled Gesta as he angrily turned to the medic Weavile.
The Pokémon in question stood up and presented the other two with three small pieces of a metallic material, stained with blood and Electrike fur.
“...Getting the metal fragments out of there, thank you very much,” was the high-strung answer from the Weavile.
As Dalvin watched the pair in silence, healer and patient snarled at each other. Whose idea was to employ Pokémon with such sharp claws anywhere past triage in the infirmary hut?
As if on cue, a hoot made Gesta’s fur stand on end.
“Finally awake I see. How are our valiant explorers doing?”
Gesta groaned and bumped his head on the bed. He leaned his head to see the Noctowl Guildmaster come into the medical area accompanied by an Audino and a few attendants. The bird circled around to examine the various patients in the informary hut, his hops resounding on the woodboard floor, and ended his circuit standing in front of Jazila and Gesta.
“Afternoon, Guildmaster,” greeted Jazila from her position in the other bed; the Noctowl answered with a nod and turned to Gesta.
“Uhm… hello, Guildmaster,” was the Electrike’s faint greeting.
Dalvin bowed to the Noctowl but otherwise said nothing.
The Noctowl craned his head and stared at Gesta’s wounds intensely. “Are you badly hurt?” he asked.
“Only my pride, master Tagrau,” answered the Electrike trying to shrug off the whole matter of the mission. As soon as he turned his head he winced however due to a back pain. “Okay, my body a bit too.”
As Gesta tried to shift around in the bed to make himself more comfortable, Guildmaster Tagrau stepped back and let out a hoot. A nasty sound followed from Gesta’s leg, like a crack, and the Electrike did not manage to suppress a yelp. “Fine, a lot! I can barely… Ugh, just give me some Lansat!” he cried, breathing with some difficulty.
The Weavile attendant merely poked Gesta on the shoulder, making him wince in pain. “Such delirium is sought by outcasts and delinquents. What you need is herbs– and Ekans spit.”
Gesta yelped again, feeling the sweat in his fur, and tried to shake his pained leg.
The Noctowl Guildmaster noticed the Prinplup looking at the situation and waved a wing, getting the attention of the Weavile. He nodded to him and the Weavile bowed back and wandered off. With that, the Noctowl and Prinplup approached the team’s beds.
“I see you have met Dalvin already,” spoke the Guildmaster. “Certainly did not expect him to come around here for hired help.”
“Speaking of, now that the Guildmaster is here,” interjected Dalvin brushing his bag, “I wanted to thank your exploration teams for helping me gather all this stuff.” He turned to Gesta. “Sorry for all the trouble.”
“...Trouble?” came the call from the other side of the room where Çaro was.
“I came for a quick visit,” explained the Prinplup. “Did not expect getting into a fight, certainly!”
Gesta answered with a “mmmmm” and looked at the bag, wondering if he should give lots of thank yous in return. He shot a look at Jazila, who seemed to share the sentiment, and the team fell silent.
Taking advantage of the lull in the conversation, the Noctowl motioned for his accompanying Audino to move in and continue treating Gesta’s wounds. The Electrike winced at the idea of more pain and pleaded for the Audino to just go away, which Tagrau noticed.
Master Tagrau spoke next. “To my surprise, despite the misadventures of Team Kokool, you were able to gather these golden apples in time.”
“In time?” inquired Jazila and Gesta; they were not aware of any urgency in their client’s mission when he hired them.
“Dalvin was just passing through.” The Noctowl leered at the Prinplup, measuring his composure. “He was not even supposed to hire an exploration team.”
“Hmmm… it is true I am short on time for the return trip...” spoke Dalvin softly. He then fell silent and seemed to trail off into his own thoughts.
As the Audino started poking Gesta and interrogating him about his bruises, the larger bird stepped back and flew past the beds to reach besides Dalvin, drawing him out of his reverie and away from the team for a conversation.
A few minutes later of treatment later, Gesta noticed he was not feeling much pain. He took a look at the bandages that covered his front leg, figuring out that similar bandages would cover now his back leg, and muttered to himself that it was far better than being clawed at. Gesta then turned his head carefully and looked up at the two bird Pokémon talking. He could not hear much except for mentions of a temple of ice but he could from his position appreciate the contemplative stare the Prinplup held during the entire conversation.
The minutes came and went. Jazila and Gesta shot long looks of annoyance at each other. The Electrike was still breathing with some difficulty, and groaned at the idea that his team’s effort seemed to go largely unappreciated.
“I was hoping that with missions like this we could graduate to chasing outlaws...” spoke Gesta absentmindedly. “Like Mentor Ŝafo told us about."
“What?” Dalvin head from the distance and quickly came around, effusively bat his wings. “You are on the way there, guys! Once you have bags full of random dungeon stuff, believe me: you will be assigned to outlaw missions and you will find need for all that junk!”
Jazila was the first one to open her eyes wide at the idea, considering it was her job to manage the team’s bag. Gesta was not far behind, daydreaming perhaps of how he would one day join his mentor in the hunting of evildoers.
The Noctowl attempted to interject with some information about the missions but in the end decided against it, the uplifting mood of Team Kokool considered.
Gesta laughed for a moment before he noticed something.
“Well that’s– wait, what do you... want this many apples and stones even for?” he asked the Prinplup in between gasps for air.
Dalvin resumed the contemplative posture from before and looked around. “Where I live the sunset is eternal and fruit won’t grow.”
“Wha-?” asked Gesta, confused. He had always thought the tales a bit too embellished; then again it was not often that an Exploration Team *and* the cavalry sent to rescue them had to be rescued by a raider basically going solo. “Why where you… you mean like in that te–… temporal sea or something?”
The Prinplup and the Noctowl stared at each other and blinked a couple of times. Guildmaster Tagrau cackled and laughed, a laugh that everyone noticed and turned around for; then the Guildmaster looked down at Gesta’s flustered face and craned his head as an apology.
“So you do read upon the old wives tales,” asked the Noctowl only half-serious.
“That land...” interrupted Dalvin, “has been sealed off for many years.”
The Noctowl brushed his wing against Dalvin’s shoulder and pointed Gesta to the larger Pokémon’s crest, only now Gesta noticing the crest was a bit wider and more tilted than he had seen in other Prinplup. All this Gesta noticed while making a motion for the Audino treating him to move a bit out of the way.
“Prinplup like Dalvin here live in the ice sheets to the very south of the world. Blizzard Island, was it? Far away land, where big trees are a ghost of the mind and the night and the sunset last for months. The only fruit to bear there,” added the Pokémon puffing off his chest, “is the one of your own effort.”
Dalvin straightened himself and fumbled for a moment with one of the apples. "In the lonely inlets," spoke the Prinplup in a somewhat mystified voice as he raised the Apple and gave it a look, "items like this are highly valued.”
Gesta looked at the Noctowl Guildmaster for an explanation and the bird only shrugged. As the Audiino finished bandaging Gesta’s leg, the Electrike looked down then up again at the Prinplup, who picked up on the clue. The Pokémon produced from his pouch a grayish round pebble and compared it with the apple.
“See, smooth and round short from perfection, much desired by the females; and if that combined with your charms doesn't sway them to your side you’ll still have food."
“So it’s like… you want these things for getting chicks?”
Dalvin practically beamed a smile. “Well… chick.”
“Kinda cute,” muttered Jazila from her bed.
“Wow… It was quite some luck that you were here,” commented Gesta somewhat hesitantly.
Dalvin smiled and stored the golden apple in the pouch he was carrying. Gesta mused about the journey the Prinplup would have taken to come from the faraway south all the way to the heart of the continent– after so long an absence.
However before Gesta could inquire more about the Prinplup’s life a voice came from behind them.
“My, what a luck for us that we would find you here then.”
Several faces turned to the entrance of the medical care area; Gesta and his team were of course unable to do so, but the Electrike’s ears did catch heavy footsteps suddenly landing on the wooden floor behind them. Jazila murmured something that Gesta could not hear, and upon his growl request for clarification she raised her voice only slightly.
“An exploration team… from the south,” she explained, her body tensed.
In effect Guildmaster Tagrau, who had turned to receive the newcomers, had in front of him two Dragonite, a Liepard female and a Duosion. The two Dragonite were carrying black satchels and stone pendants, which the bird recognized from the dungeons near the coast. All four Pokémon were wearing amber-colored scarves as well, with an intricate but faint design. The room suddenly fell into silence, the various infirmary staff and Guild members there eyeing this new development.
“Envoys from the south?” growled Master Tagrau, addressing the Liepard. “I would request a modicum of respect: this is a care and treatment area.”
“We apologize,” interrupted one of the Dragonite. “But we are here on urgent matters...”
As the Dragonite walked closer to the Noctowl the bird could recognize the design in the scarves as a sigil representing the guards of some southern dungeons. The Noctowl’s plumage flared up, the bird now tense.
The two Dragonite eyed Dalvin and inched closer to him, looking much like they wanted to make themselves scarce as soon as they could. The other Pokémon observed carefully as one of the Dragonite walked past Tagrau and greeted Dalvin with a nod. He sized the Prinplup up and then spoke.
“We are here not to visit the patients. You, Dalvin, would do well to come with us.”
Gesta and Jazila eyed each other, the Electrike wordlessly asking if there was motive to worry. While Jazila did not speak, she remained collected in her bed and Gesta opted to do the same, tuning an ear to pay the most attention he could to the discussion.
“I would hope you know what you are interrupting,” spoke Tagrau turning his head a full 180 to raise awareness of the situation the newcomers were potentially getting into. Dalvin, on the other hand, merely blinked and presented his bag.
Gesta felt something move harshly and the wooden floor cracked; it took him a moment to realize that the two Dragonite had reacted defensively to the Prinplup’s movement and had changed their stance.
“I already have my schedule set, and would be on my way soon,” he answered coldly.
The two Dragonite stood their grown but eyed each other curiously. Dalvin frowned and turned to the Liepard, the Dragonite following his gesture.
The feline smiled and merely walked in, eyes half-closed, to speak to the Guild members in a calm tone, but with her claws out and her tail swishing.
“We would not intend to intercept your journey to wherever but, alas, we must. There is a situation that needs a solution post haste,” she explained while still betraying a hint of uneasiness in her voice.
Dalvin huffed and held his stare at the feline. “And what would it be?”
The Liepard remained silent, tail swishing. One of the Dragonite lowered his head and answered.
“Honestly, we were hoping you could tell us.”
“We are really hoping to avoid fights until we return,” added the other Dragonite, fretting in his position.
This time it was the Duision who spoke.
“It is the authority of Dragon’s Gate that sends to fetch you urgently.” Various Pokémon including Dalvin reeled at the mention of the settlement. “Just imagine, some merchants saw you in Capim today and four teams were sent in that direction.”
Dalvin raised an eyebrow at the mention of Capim; Gesta got the impression something was amiss too but a psychic ping from Jazila suggested he would remain silent on the issue.
The Liepard sat and licked her paw. “We got lucky with wind of you being here before the others. Bounty for us.”
Guildmaster Tagrau turned around still in his position and tilted his had at the Liepard. After that he hopped into the air and after circling around the room went to perch by the entrance, pointing the visitors –and Dalvin– to the exit.
Seeing this, Dalvin attempted to move only to find the Dragonite still trying to block his path.
“I said I would go,” the Prinplup stated threateningly.
“Ahem...” the Duosion interrupted, trying to clear the situation. “The situation does seem quite particular, mister Dalvin. The shrine’s highest floors are sealed off and the altar awaits our notification of travel.”
“...Whoa, sealed off?” Jazila asked suddenly.
The voices of other patients and staff who had been tending to the situation up to that moment rose, a wave of questions was heard all around the room.
“The sky dragon’s altar?”
“Blasted dragons! Always going on rampages...”
“Can’t the Fairy types stop them?”
“What if it is another meteor?”
The Liepard turned and hissed at the Duosion, maybe for revealing too much. The other Pokémon simply floated idly and shrugged the complaint off.
Dalvin sighed and turned to the members of the Guild that Tagrau led. He knew full well what kind of creatures sat atop the highest floors of the Gate; one of particularly bad disposition came to mind.
“No choice but to shut this down. Gesta,” the Prinplup chirped. “Much as I would have loved to hear more of Ŝafo I guess today won’t be the day. Would you kindly send my greetings?”
“I… yeah I can, mister Dalvin,” answered the Electrike weakly.
After that Gesta only heard the Prinplup’s steps as he walked away, soon followed by the amber-scarfed team of the other Pokémon. No one else in the room was speaking until they were long gone, and once they did, Guildmaster Tagrau instructed everyone to keep a lid on things until he would say otherwise.
That night, Jazila was the one to start the conversations and the gossip. Gesta was not too into it, he had a still busy spark of doubt in his mind.
He was sure Dalvin had not been anywhere beyond Lietre today; after all, he had just spent the day with them in two missions back-to-back.
Edge of Dragon’s Gate
Behind him was another, much taller figure–a quadrupedal Pokémon sporting blue colours much like Dalvin but of grander size and posture. The protective plates of the “dinosaur-esque” –as Minto used to describe him– creature waved up and down with the creature’s breath, reflecting the sunlight in different angles and casting wandering sunbeams across the beach.
After a long while, the crabby wandering of the Prinplup stopped short. Dalvin turned a 180 to walk back across the beach to where Dialga rested, right past the rocky edge of the beach.
“What is this position the Primeval ones are offering that you spoke of? Hopefully not that of an emissary.”
Dialga shook his head; his red eyes ventured into the horizon and the creature swung his tail idly behind him. With a roar, he stood up and moved closer to Dalvin.
“An assistant. An aide. A protector if you will.” The Dragon growled not seeming to notice much the loudness of his words. The deity then stepped closer, the ground rumbling under his feet. “Someone who helps take care of the things we the Primeval Ones guard.”
The Prinplup turned to the sea and narrowed his eyes as he scouted the beach and the horizon. Some Wingull were flying fast right over the faraway waves, enjoying the breeze. Dalvin was reminded of the last time he had to cross an entire sea with company.
Dialga seemed to catch up on the Prinplup’s feelings. “I had figured such a calling would interest you?” roared the larger Pokémon standing close. “For its worth lies in the singularness of its challenge.”
Dalvin nodded but made no other motion; it took him a moment to scratch his head.
“I have come here for other occupations… more immediate concerns that I need to be more involved with. Besides...” He turned to face the deity and assumed a more serious posture. “This is not something that you can just throw at me so you can shake it off.”
Dialga’s eyes glowed red, redder than usual even, and looked at the other Pokémon down for a moment. He turned to face the sea, allowing himself a speck of exasperation in the gesture. Few were the Pokémon who dared speak to Dialga in such direct terms, and much as the regal penguin had earned the right (unlike many), the ancient dragon and other Pokémon like him still showed their discomfort whenever this happened.
The two Pokémon listened to the waves for a long while, Dalvin eyeing his own shadow to keep track of the time. Barring Dialga’s growls, none of the two said a thing.
Finally, when Dalvin’s shadow was long enough and Dialga’s back fin first lost the shine that the sunlight behind them brought, Dialga approached his interlocutor and craned his head until the two were level, now side by side.
“I hope you would appreciate it for its value. It is both service and compensation.” he insisted in what could be said to be his inside voice, stressing the last part of the sentence with a tilt of his head. “For those who serve the Primigenial One in this capacity, the most Illustrious and Exemplary brand is awarded.”
Dalvin cackled and produced one of the apples that he had fetched from his earlier missions. He raised it and presented it to Dialga.
“I’ve already made commitment to return to the southernlands and spend a good time there.”
Dialga approached the apple. Dalvin had never asked the Legendary if they were able to smell or taste things and the dragon did not seem to care. Dialga just raised his head again and motioned with his leg for Dalvin to make his point.
“I really don’t want to miss out on another courtship season. “ Dalvin said that and shook his head, noticing how bitter he was sounding. “I sorry, it’s just, I’ve had to repeat myself about this quite often as of late.”
“I only request the split of a second, if so desired,” growled Dialga somewhat irked at the resistance his preferred assistant was placing against his offering.
Dalvin breathed. “Your second. It’d still cost me an eternity. Like that time we had to raid your annoying Tower for like two weeks? And we couldn’t even die of hunger because time was freezing...”
Dialga stared down at the Prinplup for a moment, the tip of his tail dragging morbidly left and right behind him. His Tower was not a nasty place to be, absolutely! It was just eternally unkempt...
The dragon opened his muzzle to respond but no sound came out at first. He could not deny that for a fragment of reality so pivotal to the continued existence of the world, it had been certainly left unprotected for long. Of course it had to be Dalvin that would call him out on it.
Dalvin stored his apple and tilted his head, prompting Dialga to try from another angle – the same that deep down had encouraged Dalvin and his human Pokémon partner to face Him of all things many years ago.
“Your hesitance in acquiescing to this request does come out as surprise,” he growled in about as much an amicable tone he was able to. He wandered around, arcing and turning around like would a snake. “Ever since before the Tower you were one to welcome adventure and challenge with open flippers.”
Dalvin huffed, recalling his many adventures – and the fact that for most of them he had had company. Seeing Dalvin huff, the Legendary pressed further.
“I find it commendable.”
Dalvin sighed and walked towards the sea until he met the first waves. He allowed his feet to be washed before lowering his head, all the while Dialga watched.
“...What? Those are adventures people return from. Where the day is won at the end and our hopes count for something. With your kin it’s quite different!”
Now Dalvin pointed at the deity accusingly and raised his voice. “We are the ones paying the price! I’m not going to toss my life into something like that now, I am busy here. I am busy today damn it! I don’t care if the world goes to darkness!”
Upon those words Dialga’s body straightened, the Pokémon remembering the times when the Tower was about to collapse. Dialga looked at the Prinplup’s form, the water around him scrambling and stirring. Dialga had seen the world, all worlds, face many a dire time and certainly every now and then it was his fault. He could not help but find sound reason in the Prinplup’s words.
Dalvin meanwhile had noticed the stirring water and turned around to storm off, but two steps after he had stopped in place.
Dialga could not help but find the hypocrisy and hurt in the Prinplup’s words either. He wondered for an infinitesimal moment if he would lose a faithful aide were he to press that particular point; yet, in a moment of respect for the lower, mortal aide, he chose to wait for Dalvin to come by himself to terms with how unlike both of them those accusations were.
“...Okay,” the Prinplup said, kicking some sand. “It’s not like anyone would ever believe that one. Minto didn’t.”
Dalvin trailed off for a moment, which Dialga allowed. When the Prinplup regained composure, he flapped a wing and walked around the Legendary.
“But you still don’t want to tell me what really is the problem?” asked Dalvin turning around to face the deity.
Dialga looked down at Dalvin for a moment and went to wander about the beach, with the Prinplup soon following.
“I’ll say it’s a unique situation given the crises in the last years,” explained Dialga while arcing his neck. “I think you got notice of the confrontation in the Mist Lands.”
Dalvin thought for a moment of news he had heard and frowned.
“The such and so Wintercold or whatever and yadda yadda that Hydreigon had so much trouble with?” he offered nonchalantly with an added wave of a paw.
“Well it’s Bit– I mean...” Dialga answered, averting an eye roll. “These situations are no longer outliers. Often and oftener this world, all worlds, lean into the abyss of oblivion.”
Dialga now bared his fangs at an imaginary opponent in the sky. “We are to find the cause,” he added.
Dalvin did not bother to look back at the Legendary. He simply continued his wandering up to and past the Legendary, appreciating the beach’s rough sand.
“...Don’t you have that thing where a human is brought in when you have problems like that? Minto would sure love more humans around to find about their worlds.”
Dialga growled and floated ahead; he landed in front of Dalvin cutting his path with his flank.
The two eyed each other cautiously for a moment before Dialga circled around to come to stand right in front of Dalvin. The higher Legendary did nothing else however; he just stood in place and Dalvin noticed how the sunlight shining upon the creature’s natural armour seemed to gave off an eerie golden glow, which lasted little as the sun was setting behind the mountains.
“For these problems the Primigenial One would have us eschew humans,” the dragon clarified. “Besides, would we want more threats of oblivion just to have more humans around?”
Dalvin pondered this for a moment about such a flaw in the universe, but decided to discard the issue; his head hurt just from thinking about it.
What he did have tho was a realization of why Dialga was looking for him specifically. He could believe that Dialga’s reasons for involvement were more personal.
“...I’ll bite now.” The Pokémon walked around in a circle, looking at the Legendary funny. “All this noise to summon me here? Isn’t that… because this title would be something to hold over Palkia’s head? How you find a chosen one of your brand to serve the Primeval kin?”
Dialga was the surprised and frenzied one this time. As his answer, Dialga roared and lowered his head getting closer to Dalvin, his stripes glowing a vivid purple, and his answer came with a roar and a wind almost aimed at Dalvin alone.
“We Primeval Kin are not so petty… and I am glad you have never suggested otherwise,” the Legendary roared, almost blowing the Prinplup off the sandy ground before the wind calmed down. “But… yes. I should shine better.”
Dalvin shook some loose sand off his body, drew an even wider smile at Dialga, then bowed in a graceful if subtly mocking gesture. Dialga huffed at him again then floated up. Once he was comfortable in mid-air he looked down at the Prinplup and roared once again.
“Well then? You would look dashing with the most i–”
Dialga just looked at Dalvin below, the lesser Pokémon resuming his pace and walking right under Dialga and past him. After tracking Dalvin’s movement for a long while –which required the Legendary to perform a slow and ungraceful roll in mid-air– and watching him shake his head and clean his wings, Dialga wondered where had the former saviour’s sanity of mind wandered off to.
Surely securing the survival of the entirely of Pokémonkind would be a task that Dalvin would gladly take, boasting all the way!
“I already told you, I’m busy!” announced the Prinplup as he walked away.
Thinking for a moment, Dialga decided he was approaching the problem from the wrong angle. He was, after all, not mortal.
What was needed was a mortal trade.
The dragon would have bit his lip if he had one, but for the time being a sigh would have to do. He was quick to float ahead of Dalvin once again, landing a couple steps in front of him. As Dalvin stopped in his tracks and looked up to him, Dialga morosely pointed a paw at the pouch bag the Prinplup was guarding with such zeal.
“If a nest of females is what you want you could just have said so,” the dragon stated coldly, standing proud and making himself shine. “Do they fall for the round and shiny? I happen to have access to a very smooth, Lustrous Orb,” added the Legendary, pacing around Dalvin, “singular in the Multiverse and of perfection superlative that will even empower the elemental mastery of you and those who share your nest.”
“Oh… You mean Palkia’s Orb that you praise like that?” clamored Dalvin to the world around him.
“HUSH!” Dialga demanded, flailing and stomping as his red eyes shone; the Legendary was quick to scan his surroundings. “And tell me if you would accept this deal.”
Dalvin seemed to think it for a moment, enough that Dialga took interest and decided to land in front of the other Pokémon to get the answer. After a moment Dalvin simply walked up to the Legendary and pointed at him.
“While I would like it certainly, we Prinplup have a rule that we shall obtain the courtship offerings by our own merits, as they will become our females’ to have.”
Dialga blinked at the demand, thinking he had realized what Dalvin was suggesting – that Dialga would have to politely ask Palkia for the Orb. However, Dalvin had other plans that the Legendary was not ready for.
“That means we’d need to take Palkia’s Orb in a fight.”
Dialga blinked. “We…?” he asked, somewhat confused.
The Prinplup then stepped back and dropped the bag besides him. He started flexing his muscles.
“Sure! It would be a hard fight. But if I defeat you in single combat and recruit you for my team...”
“...Oh you just… NO!” hissed Dialga, almost skipping a beat. The Legendary was quick to rear up and launch himself into the air once again; he growled at Dalvin and his ridiculous idea. He, Dialga, was not to wander obediently besides a mortal Pokémon! No matter how friendly they were.
Looking puzzled, Dalvin stopped stretching and just tilted his head at the deity.
“...What? It would be fun...”
Dialga snarled. He summoned his power, making his chest gem glow for a moment, then breathed out a wave of swirling energy which reformed itself into a mini-tornado. The tornado grew a short distance past the two Pokémon and from the other end materialized what looked like a blue portal. Dalvin stepped back to take a better look: whenever lied on the other side, it looked like a misty morning.
“...You are leaving me to be, then?” asked Dalvin with his head tilted. “What about the world? What do I tell the guards outside?”
Dialga looked down at the creature. How did things come to this, he wondered. What was really the risk to himself? There was no way Dalvin was able to deal them crippling harm. Still… Palkia would never let him hear end of it if he tried. At least the world would be safe…
The Legendary launched another minor tornado to the ground a short distance from Dalvin, and another portal appeared, this time of about Dalvin’s size. The Legendary waved his head and roared down at the Pokémon.
“May you at least assure me you shall countenance the thought?” he offered curtly, “I was to submit you with my sincerest recommendation… and our gratitude.” He added a curt bow to the last part of the sentence.
Dalvin cawed. He took a look at the portal and then waved at Dialga. “Eventually.”
The Legendary nodded. “In Dialga’s World that is a yes,” he proclaimed.
Dialga floated up in midair to head into the portal; right before diving into it however he waited for a moment and finally left some parting words for his chosen one.
“Enjoy the walk.”
With that, Dialga disappeared into the portal and the portal itself soon after disappeared into thin air. Dalvin was left alone in the beach to dream of a better day, with better company.
He looked around the now empty place, and he realized he was now on the opposite side of the mountains and without anyone he knew could take him back to the west coast soon. He called out for a while to see if the guards were there.
Dalvin then picked his stuff up and went to take a look at the portal that Dialga had left open for him. A bright sunlight came from the other side that barely allowed him to make out some shapes, but there was definitively a salty breeze and sound of Wingulls and a lively town coming from the opening.
«Just imagine, some merchants saw you in Capim today and four teams were sent in that direction.»
Dalvin smiled at the much welcome shortcut that Dialga had left for him. A way to recover part of the time he had lost. He could still make it to a Lapras transport before the four teams arrived.
Yet before he stepped inside he reminded himself to avoid “helpful” Legendaries if possible from now on.
?? Years in the (Good) Future
All in all, a good day for a walk.
Atop a wave, sliding gracefully, two Prinplup emerged from the sea and approached the beach. Belly-flat they touched the sand and, after the wave had receded, they stood up and patiently looked around. The two Pokémon, a male and a female, took a time to enjoy the marvels of the world around them. The coast was clear and there would be no problem gathering some food, they decided after a while.
The two then turned to each other and somewhat hesitantly held each the other’s hand. Their faces fell to look at their hands held together, and the two Pokémon thus remained for a while, wave after wave bathing their feet. Every once they spoke to each other, brief and faint, their words only for each other and beyond their little world lost to the breeze.
The male and the female quickly eyed the continent around them and then turned their attention to each other. It was a long held, content stare first at each other and then at the wavy beach in front of them, ideal for a walk without preoccupations and for a bit of rest from the daily struggle of securing food and materials for their nest, the cradle for the survival of their genes and their species with them. From the time they had managed to spend together, their choice of mate was one they would grow to not regret.
They went their way hands held, walking across the beach. The rest of the world could wait, it was still safe.
From atop a rocky formation the opposite way the two lovers went, Dialga would see to that.
He had seen it once and again after all. The best Pokémon grew with the nature of their tasks and the grandeur of the world they built around them: with the hardship, but also with the rewards. It was true of the young cadets that had grown to one day stop the paralysis of the world; it was true of the Empoleon among them who had come in the future, after enjoying this good life, to look into the beyond.
It was true of Dialga himself as well, he thought, feeling soothed in the marine breeze. He would now return to his tower; once ravaged and broken, now proud and tall, lively painted and adorned for a new splendor. A project that he had undergone to pass the time (the linear, old-fashioned way) but that he had grown to enjoy.
Dialga waited until the two Primplup were lost past the rocks before growling contently. He enjoyed the results of acting and waiting so far. Even for him, the path that took one from merely surviving beyond today and led to a fulfilling and productive life, starts at home.
Enjoy the walk.
Author's NotesThis story was submitted to PC's Small Writing Contest 2018 under the prompt "survival", and awarded the 1st Place. The scoring and commentary from the judges can be observed in the archivedd SWC thread back at PC.
Regarding the story proper, the usual notes:
This is the version sent to the judges, updated for a few stylistic corrections. There are no corrections for flow as according to at least one judge's commentary they would be major and require a re-release.
This is also my first foray into the world of PMD as a writer. While I have played Sky and I have not finished it, I am well aware of the spoilers, the memes and the sadness. I have the tissues ready. I also have some knowledge of the other PMD games from worldbuilding studies, but other than GTI's first arc, I have not played them.
Deepsmoke Cave and the Lietre Guild are original/fanon locations developed for this story; everything else is canon as far as I know; since I have not played the games past Sky yet, I used this fabulous interactive PMD World Map as a reference for placing some of the locations and content.
Dalvin the Piplup is the partner in my Explorers of Sky save, and Minto the Bulbasaur the main character.
The members of Team Kokool (Electrike, Beedrill and Kadabra) as well as other NPCs are stand-ins for characters I have picked from my Explorers of Sky savefile, only evolved. Originally an offering had been made in the PC's Koko Tribe thread to have two or three NPCs submitted by the Tribe take part of the story as members of Team Kokool, but as the full three slots were not filled before the contest's deadline extension, I decided to fall back to characters from my save.
The members of Team Windspell (Dratini, Snorunt and Seviper) are based off of species of NPCs of players I have roleplayed with before.
Ŝafo is a Mareep recruit in my Sky save but the character himself was named and based off Ŝafo the Flaaffy, a character of Zeal from the WAAPT community, who authorized me to use him for the story.
Dialga’s ALL-CAPS dialogue is a stylistic choice that preserves and homages the character’s speech in Explorers of Sky. As such the capitalization (or lack thereof) is intended. The release production has it styled as HTML small-caps formatting rather than the historical and glorious ALL-CAPS (which, let's recall, is CRUISE CONTROL FOR COOL), for the official sites that support it (PC and AO3); other sites with less capable parsers fall back to either ALL-CAPS or to sized text.
The story references events and locations in the PMD games so far up to 2018, but does not necessarily follow their continuity(es).
The official article for the story is linked here and should, once made available, contain information about the characters and setting, official links for other releases (ATM only AO3 is planned) and downloadable print versions.
The ending of the story is partly inspired by a certain video of penguins holding hands that made the rounds across the internet recently.
...Aaaand I think that would be all for the time being. As usual, comments and questions are welcome.