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Jan 15, 14 at 8:15am ^re: Manifest Destiny - The Great Migration ("50th" Chapter!)
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Spoiler:Ky - 1
Energy flows through all things; drives all things. From the grass from under my feet to the Pokémon that dwell below, everything is connected, but the wind- oh the wind! Even without leaving the ground, the wind would tear through the trees, rip leaves from their branches and send young Hyca fleeing to safer air. Even so, it could be gentle and obedient. Under my fingers it slid by smoother than water whosesoever I wanted it to go. Energy controls everything, but can be controlled as well.
“Ky!” I turned, towards the voice as my brother Kon came running out across the field, blue-haired and gold-eyed as I was. “Have you been out here this whole time?”
Quickly letting the wind fly free again, I turned to answer him, promptly lying in the process “No. What are you doing so far from the village? Dad’ll worry.”
“We’ve been looking for you. It’s the day of our tenth year and he always makes you go first.”
Every year, on the same day we were born, both Kon and I had to meet with both our parents and the council of the village. Most of the time the meetings were short; we’d be told our new responsibilities and tasks for the village for the coming year. Everyone had to work together when you lived out of a mountainside; every mouth had to earn their keep. The tenth year though, that was the first year anything really changed. In years past, duties to the village were as simple as helping weed the cliff face every month or so, but in the tenth year; every youngling in the village was given the chance to join the skies. In this clan, there were two lives, one above the cliffs, and one below, though it was well known that those who could fly were regarded much better than those who could not. Though nobody ever outright said it, most people understood that there was something wrong with anyone who couldn’t hatch or raise a Hyca.
I followed him back down towards the cliff side, and further down a path cut clean out of the rock to our cavernous shelters within. Very few people ever broke away from the villages to live in the fields above. When you weren’t flying, there was something secure about knowing you were safe from the elements, and the caves provided that safety. Openings were large, so the fully grown Hycanem could spend the nights with their Trainers, when they weren’t at the Roost. Our home in all these caverns was fairly close to the rock face itself; in itself proving the status of my family. Those who were quick to the skies were well respected. Last to fly, first to die.
Kon pushed me forward into our family room first. He’d obviously been anxious for his turn today, but as I’d been born first (if only by a minute or two, from what I’d been told), I had to go first; no if’s, and’s not but’s. Like he’d told me earlier, everyone was already here waiting for me, sitting up at the front of the room. Dad was sitting in the center, as was his place, with Mamma to his right. The rest of the council was on either side; and their seats I was sure of, changed on their moods. They could probably get up and swap seats before Kon came in and he wouldn’t know the difference. The council didn’t scare me, not much, not anymore. I’d seen them moving from room to room while I was out and about, and the more I’d seen them, the less terrifying they seemed. My father on the other hand was completely the opposite. The more time I spent with him, the more affirmed I was in my assumption that he’d wanted a son, and got that son in Kon, but was saddled with his oldest being a daughter. Boys made better fliers, and boys made better leaders. Girls were fit for tending their husbands Hycanem, but according to him, weren’t much fit for the skies themselves. Whether he was born with that mentality or not, I had no idea; but it was true that I’d never seen Mom fly.
Dad started first, and his rather quick account of the year ended up feeling more like a lament of things not accomplished. I hadn’t grown much, hadn’t learned any new skills, to his knowledge anyway, and apparently, hadn’t done a good enough job with my chores of the year. By the time he sat back down behind the high table I was quite ready to leave, despite still not having received my tasks for the coming year, and those being the dullest of announcements for the tenth year. Members of the council took their turns, addressing, albeit quickly, their views past year. Most chores were removed from my daily routine, as was to be expected. The tenth year was busy, but in other ways than the others.
Finally, after the members of the council had finished speaking, my mother stood up, clutching a bundle of blankets that had been in her lap during most of the meeting.
“Kaizei, will you come here please?” Phrased as a question, I knew it was anything but. I approached the table, and she held the bundle out to me. “You probably know already, but the biggest burden of your tenth year is right here.” She passed the blankets down to me, “It’s your turn to join the Clan, the egg is yours now. It’s your responsibility to hatch it and raise it now.” For the first time in this room, I saw her smile, though the faces of the rest remained cold and stony, “I know you’ll do fine.”
I was let out the back way, down towards the living spaces and away from the sky above. Kon would probably already be meeting with the council as I descended the stone steps. That shouldn’t be important right now though. This bundle in my arms, this is what mattered. This here was my chance; if I could hatch this egg and raise a strong Hycanem, not even my father could say I didn’t belong here. Sitting down among my own blankets, I began to unwrap the egg. Mom must have swaddled it to keep it warm, but I could do that now.
My heart sunk as the last blanket was pulled away; plummeting down past my stomach. The egg, sitting still as a stone in my lap wasn’t nearly as warm as I thought it should be. Aside from that, it had already taken on a greyish hue. It was dull, the shell felt more like mud than stone, and that color just didn’t look right. How was an egg supposed to hatch if it might already be dead?
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Jan 27, 14 at 6:41am ^re: Manifest Destiny - The Great Migration ("50th" Chapter!)
I haven't left this I swear! I've just had a ridiculous amount of reading to do for class this month. Hope you guys (whoever on this earth that's actually still reading) enjoy!
Spoiler:Chapter 46 - The Wars of Old
“How much do you know about the ClanWars?” The man from last night asked, absentmindedly stirring a bowl of porridge while I sat opposite him.
“That was after the death of Sargon the Second wasn’t it?” I responded, trying to bring up any memories of history classes I still had left, “Where the Clans all tried to establish central power for themselves. It was the last fight involving independent Rangers, and the last toleration of Rogues.”
“In a nutshell, yes. Gods that’s hot!” He dropped the spoon, nearly spilling half the bowl. “Geez, well, his son, Sargon the Fourth was still too young to take the throne, so everyone else saw it as a chance to move power out of the Central Kingdom. There were apparently quite a few attempts to kill the to-be-king and were obviously unsuccessful.”
“Otherwise we wouldn’t have Sargon the Seventh, right?”
“Precisely, but in a place like this, that is to say, somewhere with little place to hide, where were people going to go to stay safe?”
“People? Weren’t the other Clans targeting the King?”
“They wanted the young Sargon dead, but according to history, there were battles breaking out nearly everywhere. Over where the fliers and the farmers live, they could take refuge in the mountains or in the cliffs, but we don’t have anything like that around here. Wooden buildings don’t hold up well under fire, and you can’t exactly hide in a river or on the top of a hill. So, how do you keep the common people here safe?”
“Couldn’t they hide down here, just like what we’re doing?” I asked, again looking around at the dirt and stone making up the chamber.
“Exactly, only they weren’t built yet. Originally these tunnels were built as a labyrinth to hide young Sargon the Fourth, but as the war went on, more and more people started flocking underground. Watchtowers, like the one you came through, were built to secure the entrances underground.”
I had to pause to think for a second. “If they were hiding the King down here, that means these tunnels go all the way to Rubika.”
“Further, I think. Most of this Kingdom probably had to hide so as to, well, not die.”
“So you think-“
“I think these tunnels cover most of the Kingdom. They’re old, and some might have fallen in, but they should still be there.”
It was nearly impossible to imagine, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. To effectively hide the target of nearly every clan in the region, there would logically have to be more than one hiding spot. Once the other Clans noticed people running underground, they would probably try and get under themselves, thus the need of the watchtowers. At a distance, the tall stone building may be mistaken for a Ranger Tower, which were admittedly built around the same time. Only a fool or a very large army would think to attack a Ranger Tower. The idea was clever, and given that the watchtowers (at least the tower in this town) were still standing, whether the ploy was intentional or not, it seemed to have worked. Sargon the Fourth survived until such a time as he could raise an army of his own and end the ClanWars. That was when the Ranger Academy was built, and the Clans became codependent on each other for protection. It was also then when the laws regarding Rangers and Rogues took effect.
“I can take you to the edge of our little camp,” he said, putting down his now-empty bowl, “but I’m not going across the Kingdom. I still have to look after my little sister.”
I nodded, but couldn’t help voicing my concern, “How am I going to find my way out?”
“Follow the tunnels. They curl all across the Kingdom, but from what all I’ve heard, dead ends aren’t really part of the design. You should be able to follow your compass wherever you plan to go.” He stopped as I turned my eyes away, a little embarrassed. “You do have a compass don’t you?”
“Well, it’s impressive you’ve managed to get this far without one, but you’ll be lost underground. There aren’t any stars to follow, and I don’t know how much the tunnels curve.”
“Do you know where I could find one?” I asked, part of me still wondering how well Rodromus would be able to function in the tunnels. He’d already shown his disdain for compasses, but I had no idea how he actually functioned.
“There might be an extra lying around somewhere down here. If not, the market up above is bound to have one up for sale. Get yourself packed up, I’ll take a look around.”
I nodded again in response, and moved about to rouse my partner. For all the work he’s done so far, it only seemed right to let him sleep. Only mere moments before my hand reached his scaled back, his eyes popped open.
Make sure you leave something for him, for all he’s done for us.
“How long have you-“
I’ve been listening this entire time BrightEyes. Do you really think I’d leave you alone with someone you only met last night?
“Heavens forbid I ever meet someone I actually like.”
Forbid it indeed. There’s a coin pouch on the left side of the saddle.
“I know where my own things are.”
I never know with you.
Making no effort to hide my annoyance, I began gathering our things. All we really needed to do was gather a few tin dishes we’d eaten off of for the last two meals, and to repack the bedroll. Neither proved to be a challenge, but I managed to leave a handful of coins by the still-sleeping Carlotta without anyone noticing. She’d find them when she woke up; I’d put them close to her head. Even if she didn’t notice them, her brother surely would. They really were kind people, but life hadn’t played fair, as it rarely did these days.
Spoiler:Ky - 2
I had my shriveled up little egg wrapped up tightly and hidden in my bed before Kon got back to the chamber. In a sense, he really did seem older, even though less than an hour had passed between the last time I’d seen him and now. Was it in the way he walked? Maybe it was his own bundle of blankets, held tightly and triumphantly in his arms. I couldn’t help but notice his was quite a bit larger than mine, probably the size of his head, while mine could barely rival a melon.
“I thought I’d find you down here Ky!” He called, moving slower now that he was encumbered with his egg, “How’d yours go?”
“Same as usual,” I tried to brush off the comment as unimportant, gently leaning back to keep my egg out of sight.
“Look at this!” He plopped down on my bed beside me, unwrapping the bundle in his lap, “I got my egg!”
He seemed so excited, and judging by the look of his egg, it seemed like only a matter of time before it hatched and he joined the skies. His egg was whiter than any cloud I’d ever seen, and though I hadn’t the nerve to touch it, the shell seemed solid and sturdy; all in all, beautiful, healthy and strong. Any bird that could hatch from this would be fit for a chief.
“What about you, can I see yours?” He asked, pulling one of the blankets over the egg again.
Fighting the sudden cold chill that had sprung over my arms and down my back, I answered him, “No; I didn’t get one.”
“Naw, you can’t be serious.” He looked at my face and seemed to decide that my umpteenth lie was fact, “But, everyone gets an egg in their tenth year. Why wouldn’t Dad give you one?”
“I don’t know, maybe his Hycanem only gave one egg.” Eggs given to children of the Clan were always borne from the birds of their parents. It was rare, but in the case of infertile Hycanem, or Hycanem who didn’t give enough eggs to fit the family, the children would either go without, or wait until an egg was available for them. If there had been a choice, or a shortage of eggs for our family, I was almost completely sure that Dad would have chosen Kon to endow first.
I let him sit and wonder, cradling his own egg as if it was his firstborn son. Chances were he wouldn’t let go of that egg until it hatched. It was admirable, but in a lot of cases, it would be safer for him to wrap up the bloody thing and take care of his own business. It wouldn’t do for the little one to get smashed because he was too stubborn to let go of it during a bath, or something of the like.
“Kon, Ky,” the voice was my Mother’s as she appeared around the corner, “Could you two do me a favor?”
“What is it?”
“We’re running low on firewood for the kitchens. Could you two head up to the plains and get some for me?”
“Mom, I can’t carry anything with –“ Kon started, tugging the blankets from his egg close to him.
“Wrap it up here in your bed,” she said smiling. “I know you want to nurture your egg, but you still have work to get done. You don’t see your sister complaining.”
“But she didn’t-“ he started, but I grabbed his arm and dragged him up towards the sun and the wind.
“No problem, we’ll be back soon.”
The wind up above was probably the single best cure for any ill. No matter what depths I’d fallen, no matter where my mind wandered, the wind blew away the doubts and set me back on my feet. The wind is mine. Upon my first breath of real, living air it took to me, swirling around and holding me tight as if to comfort the injustice of my tenth year. It was a nurturing hand when my Father’s had been harsh and cold.
“What are you doing Ky?”
I’d forgotten he was here along with me, forgotten that I hadn’t rushed up here alone as I so often did. It didn’t occur to me how noticeable the wind was to anyone else. The wind was mine, it listened to me, but apparently it was willing to show itself to anyone else.
“Nothing.” The wind around me died almost instantly, bits of hair falling in my face.
“You’re lying!” I couldn’t decide whether he looked hurt or angry. “Your necklace was glowing and the wind went straight for you.” My hand flew up to the small garnet gemstone around my neck, whether to hide it or confirm that it was really still there I had no idea. Kon wore a similar stone, though his had looked smoother, as well as containing more orange hues; we’d received them on the same day several years ago.
“Must have been the sun.”
“The sun isn’t out today. Out with it, what were you doing?”
“I told you I wasn’t doing anything Kon. Let it go.”
“No way! You lie to me every day. I want to know how to do it too.”
“I said no Kon. No means no. Let’s just get that wood for Mom.”
He grumbled and made a fuss about the entire chore, kicking around more wood than he actually picked up. The chore took longer than I’d intended it to, but the last thing I was going to do was let him go around pitching and moaning about every little thing when we got back home. If he kept complaining, someone else would figure out what I really could do with the wind, and then my wind really wouldn’t be mine anymore.
“Thank you,” Mom said, taking the twigs and sticks from our arms and pitching them into the fire. “Ky, you might want to go back to your bed, I thought I heard something moving in there earlier.”
She didn’t get a chance to tell me twice. I tore away down the stairs as soon as my arms were clear. She’d been right, there in my mess of blankets something was rattling around. Only one thing amidst a mound of cloth could rattle, though I never expected it to. I had to be careful now. An egg wrapped up in blankets could be sent flying if I pulled it away too fast. One by one, cloths of all wears and colors were set aside, revealing the trembling tiny egg.
“It’s all right.” I whispered, lifting the little shell close to my chest and holding it against my heart, “Don’t be afraid. We’re all waiting for you.”
By this point my Mom, as well as brother and half the other kids of the village had come to the doorway. I hadn’t exactly been discrete about coming down here, and anything out of the ordinary was exciting. It was okay though, spectators or not, this wasn’t their moment. I could hear it, faint but still distinct; a tap-tapping coming from my lap. Little ridges began to form along the side of the egg, no doubt formed by the pecking of a young bird that just couldn’t push through the shell that wasn’t quite solid. There, a little pinhole appeared on the greyish surface, made by a tiny white beak. Another appeared slightly to the left of the first, with a small, hairline crack appearing the two. Gently, I wedged my fingernail along the crack and chipped away at the eggshell. With a hole probably about the side of my fingernail finally peeled away from the egg I caught my first glimpse of something reflective, something that most certainly couldn’t be water, or whatever fluid was gently seeping out of the egg and soaking my boots. Pausing for a second, we just looked at each other, even though there still wasn’t near enough light to see anything more than the glitter of newborn eyes. Before I could poke my finger in again to lend a land, a soft coo echoed out from the shell before the egg started to shake. It seemed for a moment as if the eggshell stretched before finally cracking and breaking apart, leaving a few chunks of solid shell in various parts of the room. Where it had been stood a little blue-grey bird, new feathers plastered to its tiny shaking body, withdrawing its wings to try and warm itself. Quickly snatching up the blanket I’d been given with the egg, I scooped up the baby bird, my own little Hyca, and held it close to my chest. Whether I was just elated, or the bird was terrified, I could only feel one steady tempo from two young bodies, finally together for the very first time.
Edit: Mar 19, 14 12:15am
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Feb 06, 14 at 9:23am ^re: Manifest Destiny - The Great Migration ("50th" Chapter!)
Gah, I need to get some chapters in before the semester really starts and I'll be swamped with nothing but drawing these characters over and over :3 hooray for studio art
It's a bit of a shorter chapter, but the next arc of this part should be fun, and there's no point dawdling around
Spoiler:Chapter 47 - Tunnels
Do you miss them?
Rodromus and I had been wandering the tunnels for what must have been a few hours by now, dutifully following the needle of a beaten up old compass that would probably have sold for more from an antique dealer than an adventurer’s shop. At this point we’d only been able to travel east, if not south. The single cavern we’d seen going northward had obviously collapsed several years ago. We had no proof that the tunnel continued north for very far. For all I knew of the region, we could have been perilously close to Rubika City and the King, or we could have nearly crossed the border out of the Central Kingdom. It really didn’t seem cold enough for that, but it was still a possibility. I’d never been there in person, but if it was cold enough for the sky to freeze while it was falling, I’d probably notice the shift.
“How long do you think this’ll take?” I asked, kicking a round stone ahead of me, trying to avoid stepping on anything rough or jagged.
A few hours or a few days, I really don’t know.
“Weren’t you the one boasting about not needing a compass to know where you were?”
I told you I could tell which way was north. Anyone should be able to follow a star, even you BrightEyes.
“There are countless stars in the sky. How would I know which one to follow?”
Next time we get out there, I’ll show you.
We trudged along a good while longer in silence. Some sections were lit, some others I had to provide our means to see. Even without the night sky, I was fairly confident we were still traveling, for the most part, east. Since the first, no northern trails had presented themselves to us. It seemed like a bit of a roundabout journey was in store after all.
You wanted this to be a quick trip?
“The longer we’re out here, the more likely it gets that we’ll be caught.”
I thought you would relish the adventure of it.
“Thought wrong, if by adventure you mean killing just about everyone who recognized me.”
Your one friend from that old tavern should still be okay.
“I suppose, but,” I paused, feeling sweat start condensing on my palm that gripped my staff at the memory of Alise pinning me to the ground and shouting at me, “she would have seen me die, just like that. I don’t understand.”
How any one person could turn on a friend so quickly?
“Exactly; we were, or I thought we were really good friends. If it had happened the other way around, I still wouldn’t try to kill her.”
You don’t know that.
“I wouldn’t! She was –“
That isn’t what I meant. BrightEyes, I know you’re loyal to anyone who so much as smiles at you, and I know you’d rather run or try to talk before raise a fist to anyone. No matter who you are, we can think we know what to do, but when all else fails, there’s a part in everyone that is nothing but instinct.
“That’s why I was chosen to train as a Ranger, because my instinct has to be good.”
Because your instinct happens to coincide with their laws, there is a difference between that and “good”.
“Are you trying to make this more complicated?”
No, I’m trying to be honest. The last thing I want to do is make this journey harder on either of us.
“It’s hard enough as is.”
Exactly, so we’d best not be fighting with each other.
“I wasn’t fighting-“
You were d*mn near close then. If nothing else just remember this; you don’t see the world the way you used to, and it’s fairly likely you never will.
Don’t interrupt me BrightEyes. You’ve been forced to take a side in a war that should never have started, without knowing what ever started it. Guard your heart carefully; the world can still be a kind place, but that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of darkness.
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Feb 10, 14 at 8:37pm ^re: Manifest Destiny - The Great Migration ("50th" Chapter!)
Happy Birthday tGM! It's been a whole year since this story started (holy cow, time moves quickly when I look away for a moment). Anyone who remembers ItA knows I love writing about Moran Forest, so we'll be having some fun for a little while, playing with lore and little ends of stories all connecting together nice and pretty :3
Also, as a little birthday present to everyone who's supported tGM so far, and everyone else since I can't control who reads what, I've put up the first chapter to a companion story to tGM - a nice little mystery taking place in Moran Forest. Go ahead and check it out
Spoiler:Chapter 48 - Something Dark
“Did we really travel this far east?”
Clearly, I don’t see any other way we could have ended up here.
“Still though,” I continued, looking up as the trees towering high above us, “These look nothing like the fruit trees back home.”
The tunnels had led us further east than I had ever expected or planned to go. Here we were, pitched out of the underground tunnels of the Central Kingdom right on the edge of what could only be Moran Forest; nowhere else in the world could trees grow to blot out the sun. I’d heard stories of trees bigger than I could imagine, trees that couldn’t be climbed, and the creatures that dwelled between. For one, there was the Rayevern; probably the most well-known as hunting it had become a rite of passage for many young warriors of the clan. There were plenty of other Pokemon that could be just as dangerous as that horned beast; Pokemon whose poison would dissolve your skin and Pokemon that could turn all reality into nothing but fantasy. If I didn’t know any better, it would seem like the entire forest was thinking of a new way to kill you whenever the weather turned.
I started, and nearly slipped off Rodromus’ side. Was it really my luck to run into someone out so far away from any city? All of the villages of Moran were nestled among the trees, and there wasn’t a house in sight around the watchtower I’d used to come back above ground. Giving a quick look among the trees, it was easy to spot the caller. He was seated on an Elkin with a dark green coat and curling horns – one clearly grown in the forest, waving both hands above his head to attract my attention.
Go on BrightEyes, he’s already seen you.
Loathing the fact that he was right and it would more suspicious to turn tail and run right there, I waved one hand high over my head. Even without my gentle leading, Rodromus led me over to where he sat waiting, scratching his Elkin behind the horns.
“You’ve made it out here quicker than we expected!” He said, reaching out to enthusiastically shake my hand, grinning from ear to ear. I could only assume he was one of the hunters the Clan was so well known for, and fairly young at that. He didn’t have the tell-tale tattoos that signified a great victory over a Rayevern, but as we continued further into the forest it was clear to see that he handled both his Elkin and his bow with the hand of someone exceptionally well-trained.
Improvising, I asked, “They didn’t give me much information about what’s going on out here, but it sounded urgent. Could you fill me in?”
“Sure thing! Wait, no” He reached out and waved over to me, “this trail here, we’re not heading into that part of the forest.”
“Any particular reason?” I asked, following the young man’s guidance.
“Really the main reason we had to call for a Capitol Ranger; most o’ the Northern Forest’s gotten too dangerous to go hunting. We sent two of our own Rangers in a while back, but Cesilie came back too hurt to go out again, and we haven’t found any trace of Theravada since she went out. We’ve really only got Finni left, and we can’t send him in alone. “
I nodded, trying to wrap my head around it. Theravada had told me she’d run away from her job here, but the rest of the island already knew her as a deserter, and by extension a Rogue. Was news really so slow to reach the villagers here, even about their own Rangers? True, travel through the forest had always been as time-consuming as it was dangerous, and as a result the folks out here were more often than not left to their own devices.
“What exactly makes it so dangerous all of a sudden?”
Laughing, he answered, “When isn’t the forest dangerous? Everything out here either wants to separate your head from your shoulders, or find a way to make you do it yourself.”
“Fair enough, but recently, what changed?”
“Everything’s gotten way more aggressive out here, even the wee ones. They make any sort of tracking near impossible, and that’s not even to mention what the bigger beasties are like. It’s nearly suicide to go out hunting, and without hunting we’ve got no food.”
“When did all of this all start?”
“Right around Midwinter, when we go to cleanse the Maidengrove, quite a few weeks ago. We’d tried to get our forest under control for a while but-“
“The Maidengrove?” I asked, never having heard the term before, though this boy said it as if it was beyond common knowledge.
“It’s a small clearing in the northern forest, right around the Eldest Tree.”
“Why go and cleanse it?”
“Got to keep out the dark energy, but nobody could get in. It’s like the forest changed, we couldn’t even find it. There’s gotta be something out there, something dark.”
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Mar 09, 14 at 10:02pm ^re: Manifest Destiny - The Great Migration ("50th" Chapter!)
I'm not dead I swear! Lots of thinking, lots of homework, and lots of trying not to be sick while diving season ended.
Also yay Moran Forest
Spoiler:Chapter 49 - The Chieftains
The young hunter led me deeper in the forest than I had ever planned to go, but like it had before, it was more important to play this part than to rush my journey and get caught. By the time the night had started creeping in, we’d made it all the way to Moran’s largest village, in the center of the forest.
“Are we really here?” I asked, stopping at the edge of the trees. Taking a look around the small clearing I saw only a few houses and huts built out of a very mossy forest floor. The largest was long and rectangular, and looked like it was built of nothing but tree trunks, while the others were rounded and seemed more woven than built. Little sticks, vines, and clumps of mud were netted together, resembling a nest more than an actual house or building. There couldn’t be more than a half a dozen of these huts scattered around the clearing.
“You bet we are. Come with me, you’ve gotta meet the Chief.”
He led me into the clearing, and only once the tallest of trees were behind me could I see why such a large village could survive in such a tiny space. Up high above my head, no less than twenty feet off the ground, houses upon houses were built into and around the tree branches and massive trunks. Bridges of nothing more than woven and knotted rope crisscrossed between them, a manmade system of webbing. Most of the forest-dwelling predators would never be able to make it up to the huts in the trees. As it happened, he didn’t try to lead me up into the trees, but straightforward to the largest hut in the clearing.
“They should be in here right now,” he said, gesturing to the door, “Go ahead.”
I’d expected the inside to be decorated much like the Shaman’s hut back in the clanlands – clad with banners and other artifacts to illustrate the history of the clan. There was no indication, no warning that this wasn’t the Chief’s own home at all. In truth, it was like stepping through a door and ending up back at the academy, back in Pipik’s Infirmary. Kingdom-issued beds lined the walls of the long room, though they were noticeably much older than those I was used to seeing. All but two were empty, the first and closest to the door was an elderly man, who didn’t seem to be hurt in anyway, but at the same time didn’t seem capable of getting up and walking away. The second was near the back of the room, but its inhabitant was blocked from view due to the presence of two people, both with their backs to us.
“Adria, Niyun, may we have a word?” The man who’d led me here through the forest spoke, instantly sounding much more formal than he ever had out under the trees.
The two turned in almost perfect unison, and I couldn’t help but stare. The woman, Adria I assumed was clad from head to toe in fur and leather; beautiful, but not necessarily effective as any sort of defense. Her hair was twisted into a knot in the back of her head, where it from there fell down to her waist. The man, Niyun in many ways was the double of the woman. They shared the same face, same general body build, and the same air of power. His hair was much shorter than hers, though his was still braided back into one larger clump at the back of his neck. Up his arms and across his face showed the tell-tale tattoos of the warriors of Moran Forest.
“What’s happened?” Adria asked, sounding far more worried than I thought the situation warranted.
“Our Ranger’s finally arrived.”
“It’s about time,” Niyun said, smiling in such a way so as to tell me he wasn’t actually upset. “We’ve been waiting. Could you run and fetch Finni for us?”
“Yes m’lady.” My previous companion said, gesturing politely to the chieftains before leaving the hut.
“We really are grateful that you were able to come here so quickly. We need your help.”
“What exactly is it that’s been happening?” I asked, “I’ve only been told bits and pieces.”
“Come here,” she said, putting one hand on my shoulder and leading me over to the second occupied bed, “It’s gotten a little complicated since we sent our request.”
Sandwiched between Adria and Niyun, I could finally see who exactly was lying there; the sight itself made me want to turn tail and run. The bed was occupied by a woman, or I was forced to assume she was a woman due to the way she was dressed. Her face hadn’t been cut by the several long gouges that ran from end to end – it had been torn apart. Skin had been ripped from bone across two sections of her face stripping away the skin over her right eye and a good chunk of her nose. Dried blood that had yet to be scrubbed away caked the holes and lines left by her attacker, and had run and smeared across most of her face and her hair. Her arms had been treated likewise, bloodied and battered. Bandages that had been stretched over what I was forced to assume were the worst of her injuries had been completely soaked through.
“What happened?” I asked, through my fingers that had tried to silence my shock and horror.
“Something out there got their claws into her, but even in the worst of the hunts we’ve rarely ever seen anything this bad. “
“Cesilie was a better fighter than she was a Ranger. I can’t imagine what could have done that to her.”Niyun said, trying to wipe a clump of bloodied hair out of one of her wounds.
“In essence, our request is still very much the same. We need you to travel with Finni, one of our Rangers, deep into the Northern Forest to cleanse the forest as we do every year. If we can expel the darkness from our lands, the Pokemon will go back to normal, and our clan will be safe again.” She paused for a moment, and continued, “We originally wanted to send Cesillie too, but that isn’t an option anymore.”
“Since it’ll be only you and Finni going out, we think it’s a better idea to wait until the weather lets up.”
“I didn’t notice any problems with the weather heading in.” I cut in, not wanting to spend any more time lingering around than I had to.
“The west is going through a dry spell, so I wouldn’t have expected you to see anything. Winds from the far north are carrying the blizzards down to us. Mostly it all turns to rain by the time it hits the trees, but we’re not prepared to handle another accident if one of you two fell to a Pokemon because you couldn’t find your footing.”
It made sense – if the mud or a slick tree branch was able to put us off our feet while we were trying to escape from some sort of predator, either of us could end up here in just the same shape as Cesillie.
“You sent for me Chief?”
The voice came from behind me, back where the door was, and until he continued further into the cabin, bodiless. He was so tall and wiry that it seemed impossible that this Ranger could have come from Phu'un, the Clan just north of mine that was notorious for churning out large, strong warriors. He certainly had the height, being at least a head taller than me, but was more lean than bulky; though that would probably serve him better in the forest. I suppose it was that reason that Rangers so rarely went to work for their home Clan, more often than not they were significantly better suited to live somewhere else, despite them not generally knowing any of the customs or traditions of their new Clan. Though I wasn’t sure if I had him pegged for a good climber (as his old home was nothing but rock and cave), he seemed to be happy here. His face was like that of a young child, in constant wonder of everything around him, with a wide toothy smile that was hard not to like, despite him apparently have knocked out a tooth or two at some point.
“Good Finni, you’re here.” Adria said, smiling to embrace him before contuining, “This is our Ranger from the Capitol, er, what did you say your name was?”
“Mahin.” I answered, fully aware that this was the first time she’d actually asked for my name.
“Mahin.” Finni said, testing how the word sounded, “that’s a lovely name, it’s wonderful to meet you!” He moved forward and hugged me in much the same was as he had Adria.”Thank you so very much for coming.”
“Calm down Finni,” Niyun said, half laughing, “She’s only just arrived.”
He flashed Niyun a coy smile before returning to Adria’s side, putting on arm around her waist. “I know I know. When do we get started?”
“Not for a few more days, at the very least. It isn’t a good time to try the forest.”
“Got’cha.” He paused, twitched his nose a bit, and looked over his shoulder before jumping back in surprise. “Good God! I heard she got it bad, but… d*mn. When did we get her back?”
“Early this morning, one of the hunters found her during his patrol. She might have lost one of her eyes, but she should make it through. Can you take our guest to one of the vacant huts? She probably needs some rest at this point. She’s got a Pokemon with her, so something either on the ground or close to it would be best.”
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Mar 10, 14 at 11:34pm ^re: Manifest Destiny - The Great Migration ("50th" Chapter!)
haha, still not dead! It's two in the morning and I still have yet to finish my Japanese and Studio Homework, but I'm not dead yet C:
Somewhere along the journey I must have fallen asleep. I had no memory of flying over the cities in the northern bit of the Kingdom, or even the plains or mountains even further away. We must have passed them, flown over them at some point as we were further north than I thought possible. Snow, or at least I thought it was snow having never actually seen it before, lay like a long-neglected dust over everything. White like clouds in a blue summer sky, it clung to the exceptionally thin leaves of the trees all around us and covered the dirt and rock in a smooth, pristine blanket. It was as if that huge brown bird, the Kukree had dropped us right into another world, a world where the earth was cold, and the skies blew furiously, but the angry hands of wanting men were nowhere to be found. Unless this man, with the dark hair and green eyes was planning something of his own. Here he had me so far away from home, all alone out here in the wilderness. Any way I looked at the situation, it seemed bad. I must have been absolutely mental to leave home with someone I’d never seen before, much less actually talked to.
“Finally awake Melody?” His voice echoed even above the rush of wind and flurries of snow, “You’ve been asleep for quite some time.”
“I, I mean, where-“ I was still half-asleep despite the frigid air whirling around us.
“We’re getting close. I never expected you to sleep for so long; we should be there in a few hours.”
“What? Where? Who are you? Where are we going?” I struggled to make myself heard above the gale. How was it that his voice could float over the wind so easily while mine all but withered and died?
His only response was a fleeting smile that seemed to curl more on one side than the other. It was more cocky than confident, but reassuring nonetheless. He’d done this before, flown these skies in these winds. He knew exactly where we were going, even though I couldn’t see it yet. Whatever his reasons were I never found out, but we flew the rest of the way in silence.
Well, near-silence probably would be more accurate. Upon seeing the twisting lines of light dancing and crisscrossing across the evening sky I couldn’t help but utter my sheer amazement. Lights like that just didn’t exist, they couldn’t be real. It was like they were alive themselves, and not at all content to stay in nice neat straight lines. More impressive than the night-lights was the castle that loomed on the horizon. In truth it was more like a fortress, tall and proud with no way I could see to enter; but it really was too beautiful for the rough word of “fortress” to really fit. If the mountain could have grown into these spiraling towers, with snow and ice to fill in whatever was missed, could nature even have imagined something so grand?
“Welcome to Bethel.”
To Ferven’s obvious amusement, I was all but completely incoherent until we touched down in front of the magnificent arching doors of stone, swirling sections of ice making it glisten in the glow of the lights, still dancing high over our heads. Though I thought something so grand, and still so heavy considering it was made from solid stone, would consider budging to let us past. To my surprise, the doors opened of their own accord when Ferven approached.
“Are you going to wait out in the cold all day?” He asked, looking back to me over his shoulder.
I shook my head, running to catch up before those great stone doors closed again. The interior, if even possible, was more wonderful than the exterior. For one, it was warm in here! No arctic winds blew within the walls, but somehow it was more than the bite of the rush of air that should have been able to freeze solid. It was as if the atmosphere in here was welcoming me to my new home.
We weren’t three steps inside what must be the entrance hall before we were approached by a man, probably two or three years my senior. His skin was very lightly tanned, probably through hard work outdoors. Similarly, his hair was tan, probably just a shade or two darker than his skin, cropped just above his shoulders, and braided back away from his face. He was also completely out of breath.
“Easy Tarou,” Ferven said, helping him upright, “What’s going on?”
“Ivett’s been looking for you.”
He could easily have spit fire from the feeling of frustration emanating from every fiber of his being. “Lords above! She knew exactly where I was this entire time. What is she doing sending you down here in such a hurry?”
“I’ve no idea, but she and ol’ Kesh looked like they were up to something important.”
“Shouldda known.” Ferven half groaned, rubbing his hands across his face, “Alright, I’ll be right up. Would you do me a favor and take Melody here,” he gestured to me, “down to your room – you’re still by yourself right?”
“Yup, not a problem.” He offered his hand out to me, “You look ready for some rest.”
I took his hand tentatively while Ferven chucked, “She was out most of the way here.”
He led me down a series of hallways and stairwells that I was sure I would not be able to remember. Up and down could have changed places half a dozen times and I wouldn’t have known the difference. Two lefts and a right, then a staircase… or was it three lefts, a staircase then a right? He stopped suddenly, pushing a door open and letting me head inside first. The room was relatively small, clearly intended for sleeping and not much else. One small opening in the wall I supposed was a window, looking over I-couldn’t-tell-what. One bed was propped up on a wooden frame, sitting on the ground, while the other was made from a rope netting, and hung from the ceiling.
“Pick whichever one you like,” Tarou said, leaving the door open behind us, “and get some rest. I can use either.”
I’d never used a hanging bed before, and while it seemed a little more than exciting to be able to sleep so far away from the ground, I had no idea how to get in to it. Taking the cue to the obvious, I settled myself on the floor-mounted bed, pulled a blanket that turned out to be far warmer than it looked over myself before really falling asleep for the first time in a long time.
Not again, never again. No, I can’t be back here! He can’t have me back! I’m free now, I have to be free. No!
The call was sharp and swift, and the voice male though not someone I was very familiar with yet. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t move! Something was ringing in my ears and no matter what I did I couldn’t break free.
“Melody calm down please. Melody wake up!”
Wake up? I’d wake up if I could, I’d do anything to get out of here again, or had what happened yesterday been real? As soon as I stopped to consider, the ringing stopped. The old manor house faded away and I was left in complete and total darkness, until I had the thought to open my eyes. I wasn’t back at Valdovas’s old house of h*ll; I was still here in the small room Tarou had shown me earlier. Tarou himself was all around me, arms holding me like a young child, cradling me through the blanket I’d cocooned myself in. The look on his face was somewhere between concern and fear, and in that one gut-wrenching expression I knew what I must have done.
Before I’d gotten the chance to open my mouth to form any sort of apology, three figures had appeared in our doorway. The one in the back was the only one I knew for certain that I’d seen before – Ferven. In front was a woman probably his equal in years, and certainly his equal in beauty. Like Ferven, her face could not be pinpointed to any one clan, but seemed to take the best traits from every clan. Her hair could have been woven from ten thousand strings of pure golden thread and trailed slightly behind her every movement in a splendid mane. Her eyes, again like Ferven’s, were a color of green that until I’d met the pair of them, I’d never seen anywhere but in the wild Pokemon. Slightly behind her was an older man, blue hair streaked with the grey and white of age and wisdom. The whole lot of them looked like they could have run the way from the Central Kingdom to this castle, though all looked worried as if they’d heard the bloodcurdling cries of their own family members.
“Is everything okay?” the woman asked, sitting on the bed beside Tarou before looking down to meet my gaze, “I’m sorry, this isn’t the way I expected us to meet.”
Her voice was the equal of her body and grace in every way, and stunned and embarrassed as I was, all I managed to utter was “I’m sorry.”
“May I” she asked Tarou. Whatever the question was, he must have obliged as I felt the blanket around me change hands. Holding me tight as a mother would, she said now much softer and gentler, “Never apologize for something you have no control over.”
“I usually can, I mean…” I trailed off as hot pools of tears began to well around my eyes and something caught in my throat.
She responded by pulling me closer, and softly saying, “It’s okay Melody, there’s no reason to cry. Everything is going to be okay.” She waited a few more minutes for me to pull myself back together. “What happened Melody?”
“I had a nightmare again.”
“Have you had them before?” She asked, not accusatively, but curiously.
“I used to have them nearly every night before I came here.”
“You said you could control them?” She asked, with the air of someone finding the last piece to a complicated puzzle.
“Yes, so long as I focused on something else before bed I wouldn’t dream. They’d always tell me I was sleeping with my eyes open though.”
“You’re a lot stronger than you know Melody.” She said, smiling now, “but a trance like that isn’t meant to replace sleep. Rest now,” the atmosphere in the room shifted, still relaxing as it was before, but now somewhat warm and fuzzy, “dreams won’t bother you tonight young one.”
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Mar 12, 14 at 11:13pm ^re: Manifest Destiny - The Great Migration ("50th" Chapter!)
Yay still not dead :3 though I'm thoroughly convinced that I'm writing stories for myself at this point.
Spoiler:Ky - 3
The word was unfamiliar to me as my mother was trying to explain it, standing next to me in the break between my lessons. Ever since my Hyca had hatched, lessons I had already started in balance, avian anatomy and various other survival skills, had been accelerated in preparation for its evolution. Those few weeks that had passed since the eggshell was discarded had been the busiest of my life; nobody had expected any egg, let alone mine, to hatch so quickly.
“It means an egg without life.” She said, sitting down beside me. “His egg’s been cold for nearly a full week. We’ve only just got the official statement from the hatchery this morning.”
“How is that possible?” I asked, raising one of my hands up to gently rub the side of my Hyca’s face, “I thought the breeders could tell things like that, or the Rangers at least.”
“Nobody’s perfect Ky, mistakes happen.”
“It’s someone else’s life, it’s his future. How could they screw up that badly?”
“Come on Ky, calm down now,” Mom started, putting one hand on my empty shoulder to get me to sit back down.
“I thought it was going to be me.” I said quietly, looking down between my feet. “I thought I was going to be the one without a hatchling. I thought it was my egg that was dead.”
She smiled, “Then your Hyca is just as stubborn as you are Ky. It was determined to prove you wrong, just like someone else I know.” I couldn’t help smiling a little bit. “Be kind when you go to see him, he really is down right now.”
I nodded, took a final swig of water, and returned to where my instructors were waiting. They probably could have been intimidating if size and strength were all that made them. Each of the five men was at least double my own height and looked like they had the muscle to snap each other in half, though they had enough respect for each other to avoid such brutal methods to prove their strength. Instead, their strength showed on me and my training, this time balance and if I wasn’t lucky, aerobatics.
Balance training was exhilarating by itself, and was probably the closest thing to flying that I’d get to flying until my Hyca evolved. Down in one of the lower caves that fallen out into the sea years ago, someone’d gotten the idea to string up one of the Hycanem flying saddles to one of the single most complicated pieces of rigging I had ever seen. There were no less than six ropes attached to the old saddle, one each on the front and the back, and two more on each side. They were intended to be able to simulate the natural movement of flight, and seemed to do a good job. For training, I as the student would be strapped into the saddle as if I were flying, hands each holding the ripcords, one on each side, designed to be able to free me from the leather straps at a moment’s notice. Balance was maintained entirely based on placement and movement of the legs, hips, and torso, and it took time to learn how precise movement had to become in order to not crash mid-flight. Should my balance fail to such a point where I couldn’t right myself again, I would have to pull the cords away, and fall through the belly of the cavern that had fallen out years ago, into a mesh suspended several feet below the saddle to save us the accident of falling to the ocean and landing too shallow.
Once I was strapped in my father together with the instructors each took a rope, raising me up off the ground. As soon as there were a few feet of clearance below the saddle should it completely flip over and I’d still be safe, the real work began. It started slowly at first, the ropes on either side made the saddle rise and fall, a simulated beating of a bird’s wings. They began to speed up as my imaginary bird and I flew faster. We banked left and right, and tightening the muscles in my legs was all it took to stay upright. Maneuvers became increasingly more complicated, and I was forced to not only squeeze and loosen my grip on the saddle, but lean, twist, and more than once violently throw myself to the side to prevent completely going upside down. By the time they were satisfied I was drenched in sweat and nearly about to flip over without any pseudo-flight meddling.
They didn’t wait around for me to unstrap myself before leaving the cavern. There didn’t have to be anything important going on for them to leave me on my own like this. In lessons like these, it was painfully obvious when I did something wrong, an instructor wouldn’t have to tell me. All that was left to take care of before the evening meal would be to get back to my bed and check on my Hyca, as well as my brother now. My mother hadn’t been lying, he looked awful. Despite receiving the news several hours ago, his eyes and face were red and blotchy, and it seemed like he hadn’t bothered to wipe his face. Tear tracks lined his face and shone brightly in the evening light and he barely moved when he heard me come in.
“Kon,” I said, intentionally breaking the silence before it solidified between us, “Mom told me the news, are you doing okay.”
“No.” His voice was unsteady, cold and ready to lash out at a moment’s notice.
“Come on Kon, I was just-“
“You can’t understand this Ky. Your egg hatched faster than anyone’s ever seen; your place in the clan is set. You can do amazing things – I’ve seen you do it even though you won’t say so.” He crossed his arms and drew his knees up to his face. “It isn’t fair.”
Sitting down next to him, I put one hand on his shoulder, “I don’t know Kon.”
“Could you teach me? I’m sure if Dad thought I could do something cool…”
“I don’t know how I do what I do. The wind feels like it’s a part of me, but I could pretend for you.”
“Sure. Come on now Kon, let’s go grab some food.”
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Mar 22, 14 at 11:36pm ^re: Manifest Destiny - The Great Migration ("50th" Chapter!)
Yay still writing stories for myself More Melody this time, as I feel like I'm really behind on her story, plus it's a great chance to sort of explain more in depth what makes a Ranger and what makes a Rogue, plus a touch of history (because lore is a thing, especially once we start getting more into the Luceattos, I've got pages and pages written about pre-tGM, but would be spoilers to share everything ;D)
“Finally awake?” Tarou’s voice drifted out to me as I began to stir, “You’ve been out for quite a while.”
Was I actually awake? This didn’t feel anything like waking up. This wasn’t refreshing or revitalizing; more like I was being dragged along the ground away from something I needed more than food or water. My only real response was to let out a stifled groan as I rolled over, and pulled the blankets up above my head to block out the sun. I could hear him laughing somewhere from the other side of my cotton cocoon, but he didn’t try to pull them away. I had no idea whether he was still waiting around in the room or not. Only once it became apparent that I was not going to fall asleep again did I peek my head up past the blankets and look around.
The room was much the same as I last remembered, relatively small with one bed on the floor, and one bed hanging from the ceiling. There he was, laying out in his hanging bed, toying with something I couldn’t quite make out. He wasn’t looking at me, or even facing my direction, which for some reason I couldn’t exactly pin down, was comforting. He waited until I’d gotten myself out of the layers of blankets before rolling over again.
“Sleep well?” He asked, setting whatever it was he’d been playing with on a shelf high up on the wall.
“I think so.” I paused a second, surprised at the hoarseness of my own voice. “Do you know where I could find some water?”
“Sure do; bet you want some food as well.” I hadn’t thought about food until he’d said that, but now I couldn’t ignore that ravenous hollow in my stomach. “Follow me.”
He dropped off his bed and went straight out the door. Hurrying out of bed as quickly as I could, I ran after him, following so closely that it was no small miracle that I missed stepping on his heels. I couldn’t afford to get separated from him; I’d never find my way back to the room. We continued past windows that showed impossibly green fields and mountains not covered by snow, as well as other groups of people. He’s stop to wave or trade a few words with most of them, though how he could know so many people was beyond me. So many of them looked the same, or similar enough that I couldn’t remember the differences. He could be social, he knew these people. I just kept my head down and followed as closely as I could.
He ended up leading me to a larger hall, with long tables running from wall to wall. Most of the seats were empty, with just a few small groups of people here and there.
“Go ahead and choose a seat, I’ll go grab us something to eat.”
I nodded and chose a seat as far from the others as I could. As far as I could tell, none of them looked around, which was all the better. They didn’t seem like normal people. For one, they were larger and looked stronger than anyone I had ever seen. For another, they all had a weapon strapped to their hip, slung over their shoulder, or else sitting on the table beside their food. They were loud, though nearly unintelligible from how far away I was sitting.
“You still there?” I jumped, not realizing I’d been staring. Tarou had returned with two plates, each piled high with what I assumed was food. It wasn’t the long, thin noodles that we so often ate back in the Central Kingdom, but rather something thicker, and much darker in color.
“What is this?”
“Buffimus meat; it’s pretty tough, but the easiest thing to get out here. Give it a try.”
Tentatively, I poked at the chunk of meat, as if there was the chance that it might still be alive, before picking it up. Tarou hadn’t lied, it was tough meat. I had a hard time getting me teeth into it, let alone trying to get a small piece off to swallow. It was still good though, I couldn’t remember the last time food was so satisfying.
He let me keep eating for a few more minutes before speaking, “I’m sure you’ve got a million questions by now. Want any answers?”
I had to fumble around for a bit before voicing the most basic of my curiosities, “What happens next?”
“I suppose Ivett’ll send someone over to start your training.”
He just looked at me for a second, as if to decide whether I was pretending or just plain oblivious. Apparently deciding on the latter, he asked, “Have you ever heard of the Rogues?”
“The word sounds familiar, but I don’t know what it means.”
“Do you know what Rangers are?”
“Of course, Mumma told me about them all the time.”
“Well, I suppose in the most basic way, a Rogue is a Ranger who’s broken the rules.” He paused, and when I didn’t say anything, continued, “What rules do Rangers have to follow?”
“They have to … stop bad things from happening?”
“It’s a little more specific than that. There’s a couple rules laid out for them so they can do their jobs.” He began to tick them off on his fingers, “First, and most important and well known, Rangers have to protect and serve Kataya. Pretty straight forward, but it prevents a Ranger from turning into some sort of psudeo-demon. They aren’t allowed to cause undue harm to humans or Pokémon. That one basically boils down to treating the living ones around them with respect, but still have the ability to end a dangerous wild Pokemon, or for that matter, anyone else that’s gotten wildly out of control. A Ranger also has to stick to their post. The fourth one seems to cause the most problems. Rangers aren’t allowed to alter the natural flow of energy.”
“What does that mean?” I’d never heard the phrase before, or really any reference to energy, other than being utterly exhausted.
“It basically means that Rangers can help along the natural process of nature, the flow of emotions and healing, but aren’t allowed to cause any changes – anything that wouldn’t likely happen naturally. It’s a tricky business as not everyone draws the line in the same place. A good chunk of Rangers can’t actually tap into any of the ‘unnatural energies’, and the ones who can usually end up here… or dead.” He stopped at the look of my face as my stomach dropped through the floor, “It’s pretty harsh, but I think that’s why Ivett keeps us all here. We’ve got her gift – the Gift of the Dragon to be able to tap into the other side of our world. It leaves us as marked men, and I don’t think that’s the way it was meant to be, but it’s the way it is, and we’ve got our bloody friend Sargon to thank for that.”
“The King?” I asked, never have heard anything bad about the ruler of Kataya.
“Oh yeah, it’s a prejudice that goes back as the rotten man’s blood.”
“What does that have to do with us?”
“I thought you would have guessed Melody. The lot of us here are all Rogues, by the King’s definition.”
“You too. We can take hold of the energies on the other side of the world, and most everyone has gone through a pretty rough time to get here, but we aren’t just hiding. Bethel has to be protected if this’ll stay a safe place for us, and I’d give anything to see the King’s line end.” He smiled mockingly, raising his cup of water and saying in a voice that wouldn't carry beyond our table, “Down with Sargon, the killer of Kings.”
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Mar 24, 14 at 9:16pm ^re: Manifest Destiny - The Great Migration ("50th" Chapter!)
Woohoo, fifty chapters of the main story (we hit the fifty-chapter mark ages ago with bonus chapters included, but this is still pretty cool) Also Moran Forest, and how healing magic is supposed to work... take that as you will ;D
Spoiler:Chapter 50 - Healing Hands
“Well Miss Mahin, I must be off,” Finni had come to visit my little hut early in the morning; “Someone’s got to watch over this big ol’ forest of ours.”
“Did you want me to come along?”
“No no no no no no!” His voice fluttered up and down the words, making them sound more like the introduction to some unusual joke than a reprimand, “You don’t know this forest or what to watch for silly girl. Now don’t worry your pretty little head, I’ll be back before dark.”
He drew himself up off the cot more gracefully than I thought would have been possible, and left me alone. They hadn’t been able to find an empty hut on the ground, so Rodromus had to stay down below, and for the first time in a long while, I’d had a night to myself… almost. Not that I was complaining, but a human presence was in a way comforting in a way that Rodromus, close as we were, couldn’t quite match.
How was your night?
“How long have you been listening?”
No need to sound so hostile BrightEyes, it was just a little question. Either way, as you aren’t going out to the forest today, what are you going to do?
“Hadn’t thought quite that far ahead yet…”
You really are a piece of work.
“I suppose I’ll go back to Adria and Niyun and see if they needed help with anything else.”
“You know,” Adria said, leaning back against her seat next to Cesillie, “it might be a good break for you just to hang around town.”
“Finni is right,” Niyun picked up, “you don’t know the forest, and it’d be terrible to lose you before you two even attempt the job.”
“We’ve been so busy lately, I’m sure there’s someone here who could use a helping hand-“
“-and if not, consider it a well-deserved rest Ranger, I can’t imagine breaks come very often these days.”
“Thank you both,” I paused, catching sight of Cesillie over Adria’s shoulder, “could I be any help here?”
“I studied healing when I was back at the Academy; maybe there’s something I could do to help her.”
The two looked at each other for a second, and then back to me before Niyun spoke, “She is going to recover-“
“-but if she’d be able to help you and Finni out in the forest that would be amazing. If you think you can help her, I don’t see the harm.”
The last two words were said in unison as they moved out of the way to let me stand next to the wounded Ranger. Really, I couldn’t blame their hesitancy, healing was the one facet of our job that walked closest to that line of ‘the natural order of energy’. Besides, most people didn’t understand Ranger Magic; if the Clans weren’t so reliant on Rangers to control the wild Pokémon, there was no doubt in my mind that they’d be hunted just as much as the Rogues were.
She really was a sight to see, despite bandages covering most everything that would need to be worked over. The only improvements seemed to be a removal of the blood that had been caked so thickly on her skin and hair. She was clean, but her skin around those pristine white bandages didn’t look quite right. Though I’d never seen it before, I’d wager that her injuries had started to get infected. That in itself posed a whole host of other problems; everything would have to be cleaned before her skin could be pulled back together, else it fester and destroy her from the inside out.
I could almost hear Pipik’s voice inside my head as I drew my staff and sat down beside the bed. Easy does it, slowly now – you have to know exactly what you’re getting into, you have to really feel it. I could only pray she’d taught me well as I reached out to her, all personal defenses that I usually had to use with wild Pokemon completely taken down. With them, I didn’t want to know how their every muscle moved, and had no need to feel their blood rush through veins that felt too small with every heartbeat. If I could understand their situation enough to understand why they were acting the way they were, it was enough, and I could work from there. Healing was an entirely different game. When working with the human body, any number of things could go wrong. Whether you thought you understood the injury or not, one miscalculation or guess could theoretically endanger the body. Anything, from unusual muscle growths to organ failure, to even partial head-death was a more than common consequence. There could be no guesswork involved; only a master could take in such pain, and push it aside enough to continue working.
Easy now, first thing’s first, whether she’s conscious or not, I had to establish the link. Much the same as working with wild Pokemon, I’d have to get inside her head and pacify her. There had been stories of the patient waking up during the healing process and panicking. I shouldn’t have to work with her head like Pipik worked with mine so many months ago. Placing one hand on her shoulder, I closed my eyes and let the second-sight guide me. Unfettered by images of blood and gore, it was easy to find her, though something seemed wrong. Even injured, anything alive should look pretty close to the same. Cesillie was about as far from that normal as I’d ever seen with the edges of her consciousness appearing to be dissolving away. She’d met more than some wild beast out in the forest.
As I began to approach her to establish that ever-important link, I found our closeness caused not so much by my own efforts, but something in her drawing me out of my own body. For a moment I stopped, afraid to let myself wander somewhere I couldn’t return from. In that moment, my mouth parted and I asked, seemingly unaware of the act,
“Has anyone else tried healing her?”
From some distant way away, I felt the words more than I heard the answer, “No. Finni doesn’t know how, and we don’t have anyone else.”
No other questions escaped me. I was too deep now, her pull too strong to escape. Though we were connected now, she was still unconscious, and no dream or emotion drifted through her mind. There was only pain, pain across our face, pain up our backs and our arms, pain inside, pain outside, pain everywhere. Only once before had anything felt so extreme, and that once occasion landed me in Pipik’s ward for far too long. Instinctually, I tried to get away. Every muscle in our body tightened, our fingers curled into the blanket as our back arched against the cot, straining bandages wrapped tightly against our skin. No, we were too sore to more, it wouldn’t do any good.
But what could have done all this? There was too much to focus on at once. Push it aside, one little bit at a time. What hurts the most? Easy question, the slash across our face; I didn’t need any sort of fancy reasoning to know what pain was, and how strong it felt. That cut; there is nothing but that cut right now. It’s deep, still seeping blood, but bandaged well to stop the worst of it. From the ground up, skin meets with skin to become whole again. Ow, no, the face isn’t the worst of it, not by a longshot. Something deep within our shoulder flared up white-hot and stabbing deeper than the wound. There, now something cold was inching up our back, tightening our muscles and making us shake. Where was I – the face, I’d been working on that slash across the face, but I couldn’t feel it anymore. Not just the wound, I couldn’t feel our faces at all. We were shaking worse than ever.
My body didn’t hurt, though it ached where Cesillie had been hurt… which was pretty much everywhere. I was still shaking though. It took me a minute to realize I wasn’t sitting up next to Cesillie anymore, but was laying back, head in somebody’s lap. My arms were bent in close to my chest, and I didn’t have my staff anymore. I couldn’t find it, my vision wasn’t cooperating, and my fingers weren’t helping much either. I had to find it.
“Don’t even think about it,” the voice was female, was it Adria? “Just stay down, it’s going to be okay.”
“That was a bad idea,” This time it was male, probably Niyun. “It started working, she looked relaxed and there’s color back in her face, but you went really pale and started sweating.”
“What happened Mahin?”
“I-I got overwhelmed.” Scared to hear my own voice shaking, “I-I couldn’t f-focus. There was t-too much, I-I-“
“Enough, just rest.”
“We can get the details later.”
“But there’s-“ I started, frantically trying to tell them.
“Can it wait?”
“She n-needs medicine – s-something.”
“We’ll get it for her.”
“Just rest, please. We still need you to help us in the forest, and we can’t send you back to Sargon torn up like this.”
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Mar 27, 14 at 12:49am ^re: Manifest Destiny - The Great Migration ("50th" Chapter!)
aaaaand Spring Break is turning into "do whatever art you can before school comes back"
Also, Finni, watch your Freudian Slips xD
Spoiler:Chapter 51 - A Ranger's Job
You really are a piece of work BrightEyes.
Adria and Niyun, after making it abundantly clear that leaving this cabin and trying to climb up to my own hut was a bad idea, had let Rodromus in to sit with me. They seemed to understand a Ranger’s Bond with their Pokemon, or at the very least figured he’d cause a fuss if something happened to me.
PrettyBoy should be back from patrol soon; he’ll get you back to your proper bed.
“I don’t want to move.” That was more than the truth. Save for one inconceivably stupid attempt to get up and follow the Chieftains out of the cabin, I’d been laying here on one of the empty beds in the healing cabin. Though I was still conscious, and was in no danger of falling under, I had no real will to get up. My arms and legs and everything still ached even though I wasn’t the one who bore the injuries.
What were you thinking anyway?
“You know full well, I wanted to fix her. You’re normally the one who talks me out of stupid ideas.”
You were confident in yourself, and I didn’t know enough about healing to doubt you.
I hope so. I don’t care what the cause is; I don’t want to see you kill yourself.
Smiling, to myself, I put one arm over the side of the cot to rub his face. Really, how far would I have gotten without him? I probably wouldn’t have made it through the tunnels in the Central Kingdom before starving without him, but it went back further than that. He was the one who kicked the door off the prison kart when I’d been arrested with Mahayana and Theravada, and the one who’d carried me out of the Shaman’s village when everything went bad. If I went back to the beginning of this entire mess; he’d been the one to carry me away from the Ranger Academy, even got me away from Pyry’s crazed Penebrae. It even went beyond physical harm; the sheer companionship, if not the advice keeping me out of my own head was invaluable and amazing.
I thought you didn’t want to move.
“You’re worth it.”
I jolted up from the half doze I’d slipped in, sitting up way too fast. Head spinning, I asked, “Finni?”
“Yes you silly girl, I’m here. What in the world did you get yourself into while I was away?”
“I uh… tried to heal Cesillie.” Even my reasoning at this point sounded feeble.
“Are you actually out of your mind?” It was the most serious I’d ever heard him, and that in itself was enough to shock me back to this room, “Why?”
“She was hurt and I thought I could-“ It didn’t feel like he was accusing me, and I wasn’t getting particularly defensive, but something was coming apart at the seams.
“Hey, I know it’s hard to see someone hurt that bad, but she wasn’t your job. She’s healing like she’s supposed to.”
‘If I can help I should, that’s our job; it’s what we have to-”
“Come here,” he stepped carefully over Rodromus to sit on the cot beside me, “Yes we’re Rangers, and yes it’s our job to try to protect everyone, but that includes ourselves. We’re no good to anyone if we’re dead or close to it.” He paused and tried to wipe my face dry, “come on now, your face is leaking.”
I couldn’t help smiling a bit, trying to wipe my face, but had to ask the question, “How do you know when pushing past what’s safe could save somebody.”
His face now a stony mask, he replied, “You don’t. There’s a reason there aren’t a lot of old Rangers; ol’ Bahme from the Academy is probably as old as they come, and you know what sort of shape he’s in.” I nodded, remembering his scars, limp and missing fingers, “The rest of the masters, even at the school are pretty young. You don’t hear about it a lot, but they go mad – overthinking what they could have done and should have done. Even little Theravada started having problems after she had to deal with a Rayevern that got into the village. She put it down, rather than take the chance of not being able to subdue it before it could hurt anyone, and locked herself in her hut for nearly three days afterwards.” He sighed, absentmindedly wiping a few stray tears from my face before continuing. “It’s almost more of a curse than a gift – to be chosen to be a Ranger. They find the most emotionally tuned people they can, take them away from their friends and families, and give them the job to decide who lives and who dies. It’s no wonder they had to make a law to keep us at our posts; except now it’s either muscle through or kill yourself.” He stopped again, as if only just realizing what he’d said, “Sorry, that’s not what I meant.”
“It’s okay. Is that what you think happened to Theravada?” I asked, remembering they still thought she was ‘missing’.
“I wouldn’t be surprised. By the time she left on that last patrol she couldn’t even look at herself. Cessie went with her, but they got split up and we haven’t found any trace of her since.” His eyes glazed over, and it was my turn to squeeze his shoulders. “There’s too many predators out there, not just beasts with claws and teeth; poisonous ones, and others that mess with your mind. I just can’t see her being okay out there for so long.”
I had no answer. What could I say? Yes, I knew Theravada was alive, but she wasn’t just hanging out in the forest. What would it benefit for Finni to learn that one of his old friends was being hunted like a wild beast? Besides, how would I be able to explain away actually running into her? Yes, I’m actually being hunted along with the girl you’re crying over, and we were arrested together along with a bandit who’s probably killed more people than you’ve ever met. No way at all that could backfire. Pick and choose your battles; I was only following Finni’s own advice.
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Sep 08, 14 at 11:16am ^re: Manifest Destiny - The Great Migration ("50th" Chapter!)
Surprise it's me!
I've been horrible. Somehow its easier to get this written during the school year than during the summer, not sure why.
Spoiler:Ky - 4
“I really don’t know about this.”
“Come on Ky, you promised!”
He was right, and it seemed like my single worst idea, ever. Rather than wait to cash in on my promise, he wanted to go ahead with our plan of playing pretend straight after dinner. In truth, I was hoping he’d just feel better and forget; kid was just too excited. Giving him something between a pout and an obscene expression, I slipped in to the next room over. Wouldn’t do to have anyone seeing me if they were supposed to be watching Kon.
“Dad! I’ve got something I want to show you!”
“What is it my boy?” D*mn*t, why didn’t he ever talk to me like that.
That was my cue, though it really didn’t take much to start my side of the deal. It was Kon’s responsibility to make sure he mimicked my movements, not the other way around. We’d practiced once or twice in the fields before dinner, and he had assured me he’d have it right. It wouldn’t do for father to think he was faking after all – this was his moment. There was nothing but the wind, Kon and the wind. It slipped through my fingers, no Kon’s fingers, flowing in a way water never could.
“Kon,” my father started, though we had only just begun, “What is this?”
“It’s a gift Father.” I could almost hear the pride in his voice, “I can still be someone without my bird.”
“Stop this.” His voice sounded stern, the same harshness that came through in his worst moments, “Stop this right now.”
“Father, I just – ow, what are you doing?!”
“We have to go see someone Kon. Kerrin, go find Ky – keep her out of this.”
No, Kon, what was going on? Had we broken something? What went wrong? There was no other way to get my answers. They were all still in that room after all; no! Why was the door sticking? This couldn’t be happening!
“Kon!” the scream slipped past my mouth as I shook the door, pleading it to open. The instant the wood began to budge I tried to push past, but was caught fast by my Mother. “Kon! What’s going on, where’s Father taking him?”
“Calm down, come on now Ky. Something happened with your brother. You probably won’t see him around much anymore.”
“What happened? Mom, what happened to Kon?!”
“That isn’t important Ky. Come on, stop that,” I’d started trying to push past her again, eyes fixed on the only other doorway in the room. “Come on, let’s go get you ready for bed; doesn’t that sound nice?”
“No!”I couldn’t help shouting, “Where’s he taking Kon?”
“He had to go away for a little while. Come on now, I’m sure your Hyca is waiting for you.”
“What are you doing?” The voice was my father’s this time, stern, but not nearly as scary as it had been a few minutes ago. I turned, needing to get past him. Kon; I have to find him.
“I hope you haven’t been treating your mother like this.” He’d caught my fist – my desperate attempt to get through him.
“He had to go lie down. Now, stop being unreasonable and go with your Mother.”
“This is not up for discussion.” With that, he turned and left the room again.
All I could do was stand there, still shaking a little bit. He knew what happened, and was keeping it from me. He didn’t want me to know, and that simple truth would keep me from finding out. I couldn’t do anything about it. My mother gently led me to my now-empty cavern, one hand on either shoulder. His things were already gone, leaving only my clothes, trinkets, and my bedroll.
“Try to get some rest little one. I’ll see you tomorrow morning.” She gave me a quick squeeze and a kiss on the forehead before leaving the cavern.
How was I supposed to sleep now? The sheer lack of another body in the room was haunting at best. Without him here, the room was somehow colder; the air was still and quiet even with the hustle and bustle down below. D*mnit Kon where are you?
A light, hard something brushed gently against my face, pulling a tear off my face. He was sitting there in front of my face, my little Hyca with wide violet eyes staring into my own. Clicking his beak, a single tear slid off it onto the floor. His head cocked slightly to the side, he leaned in again to rub another salty streak from my face before hopping closer to me, pushing his head under my chin. Fingers buried in his feathers, we lay there together for some time; but no matter my Hyca’s attentions I couldn’t slip past consciousness. He had to be here. Kon had to be here somewhere.
You know where he is.
Startled, I felt like jumping out of my own skin would have been an under reaction, though it was enough to send Hyca scrambling and flapping away. Just whose voice was that? I’d certainly never heard her voice before, calm and reassuring, but by no means passive. Who the h*ll was she? How did she get in my head?
You can find him.
So it wasn’t a one-and-done deal. Now I was hearing voices on top of everything else that was happening. “Anything else?” The question was more sarcastic as I began trying to calm my little Hyca. The voice however didn’t answer this time. It seemed everything else was on me, whether to act or not. I could try to go out and find him, or stay here and keep trying to fall asleep. Well, I’d been trying and failing for who knows how long; might as well give it a shot.
“Wait here.” I whispered, smoothing down his feathers on his head, “I’ll be back soon.”
He cooed a bit in response, but I had no thought left for his meaning. My mind had been made up, it was time to go. The tunnels and caverns were entirely empty. Whether it was luck or that it was just too late for anyone to be out anymore was beyond me; not that it really mattered. The way was clear and there was still that something tugging me on. He was here, somewhere. I’d never been down this deep into the caves of the cliff. Technically there weren’t any rules about it, but there was also no reason to be down here and there would be awkward questions if anyone found out.
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Mar 02, 15 at 9:06am ^re: Manifest Destiny - The Great Migration ("50th" Chapter!)
Still not dead!!
Spoiler:Chapter 52 - Wooden Toy Sword
Morning came charging in a flurry of wind and rain. Finni, as it turned out, hadn’t left the infirmary all night, just fell back on the cot he’d been sitting on and went right to sleep. Couldn’t say I blamed him, especially if the weather had started turning nasty. He was still fast asleep, sprawled out on the empty cot beside me. He looks surprisingly peaceful in sleep, considering how stressful yesterday had been. Slowly, I rolled over; checking to make sure basic movements wouldn’t make me dizzy again. Reassured, I sat up, stretching my arms over my head.
How’re you feeling there Brighteyes?
“Better,” I mumbled, reaching down to scratch the side of his neck. “Doesn’t hurt anymore.”
“That’s the best part about healing you know.” Finni’s voice floated across the room, “the wounds aren’t your own. Once you’ve got your energy back, it’s like nothing ever happened.”
“I thought you were still asleep.”
“Oh honey, I may rest my eyes, but I never sleep.”
He’s lying you know. PrettyBoy only just woke up.
“Figured” I whispered, then raised my voice so he could hear, “What’s the plan now?”
“Well there is absolutely no way I am taking you out in this storm.” He said, waving his hand in the air, still lying on the bed.
“So-“ I started.
“Stay in town, keep yourself safe, and please honey, please don’t get yourself in trouble.”
It wasn’t exactly hard to follow his word. Even back home we never tried to harvest during a rainstorm. The branches would get too slippery, and most of the orchard’s owners preferred a single day off to a whole season with injured workers. Seemed like the same was true out here. Outside the sheltered canopies and roofs, there was little to no activity. Rain fell upon untrampled ground, pooling and running across the forest floor.
No, there were still a few people out under the rain, and young boy and an older woman. The young one looked as if he’d only just seen his tenth summer, perched upon the fence at the edge of the town. The woman, at least four times his senior, seemed to be talking, no, arguing with him; pointing back towards the village. They went at it for a few more minutes before she threw her hands in the air, running back to the village. Only when she reached the cover of one of the ladders to the upper levels did she stop, turning back to watch the young boy.
“Is everything okay?” I asked, sliding down to meet her.
“Oh it’s okay,” she said, wiping her rain-soaked hair out of her face, “I just can’t get my son to come in out of the storm. He just sits there on the fence every day, rain or shine.”
“Why doesn’t he want to come in?” I asked, feeling rather stupid by asking such a simple question.
“Why don’t we talk inside Ranger, the rain is only going to get worse.”
Nodding, I followed her up the ladder, up to her little hut in the trees. It was relatively small, at least compared to the healing building I’d spent the night in. It was just one room under one roof. They didn’t have cots like the clinic – instead they had two hammocks hung from the ceiling, one large and one small. The floor instead was covered in leather and furs with a space cleared in the middle for what appeared to be a meal table. Strangely enough, there didn’t seem to be any traces of fire in the hut at all; no fireplace, nor place for a candle. How did they stay warm, or light their homes at night?
“Please, make yourself at home.” Somehow she produced two small stools out of the mess of fur at our feet.
“Thank you.” I answered, sitting gently on the carved wood before asking, “What’s going on exactly? Why won’t your son come in out of the rain?” and why is that such a big deal?
“It started half a year ago, when Ren’s father received word from the King’s Army.”
“Ren?” I couldn’t stop myself from asking, as it was an unusual name around these parts.
“Renshaw, my son.”
“Isn’t that a Central Kingdom name?” Typically within clans, names were almost as heavily protected as blood. Certain names belonged within certain lands, and children with more foreign names were often met with similar (albeit less) scorn as those born between clans.
“It is. His father insisted on it.” She paused, trying to hide the fact that she was wiping her eyes. “He was part of the King’s Army not too long ago. They didn’t separate their soldiers by clan back then. One of his greatest friends was Renshaw, a man from the Central Kingdom; they fought together for years. Their group was attacked on their way home. I don’t know what happened; he didn’t tell me anything, except that Renshaw saved his life and died in the process. He wanted to name his son after one of the best friends he ever had.”
“Can’t argue with that.”
“No, you really can’t; without him, I wouldn’t have Ren. He adores his father, but when the King’s Conscription came to the village there wasn’t anything we could do.”
“Ren’s father went back to the army?” I asked, needing to make sure I had the story right. I know the Rangers were being summoned, but I had no idea that the King needed a proper army again. Could the foreign ships be proving more of a problem than we thought?
“Yes. Ren wanted to go with him; he begged and cried, but you saw him Ranger. He’s just too young to fight, much less travel the region. I just want him to come in out of the rain, but he’s determined to wait by the fence until his father comes home.”
“Aren’t kids his age training to be hunters by now?” I asked, thinking of one of the students in my class at the Academy, already bearing the scarlet tattoos of slain blood.
“He wants to be a soldier, not a hunter. I’ve tried talking to him but I can’t change his mind.”
“I think I’ve got an idea, have you got a carving knife?”
The rain only just started to let up by the time I finished working. It was pooling on the forest floor, creating tiny lakes, covered in dead and dying leaves. The entire village simply smelled of mud and the little bugs determined to make it out before they drowned. Everyone it seemed was trying to wait out the rest of the storm; everyone except the boy on the fence. His hair and leathers were soaked, water running in streaks down his face and arms. If he saw me approaching, he didn’t say anything.
“Aren’t you cold out here?” I asked, still standing a little ways away from the fence.
Almost imperceptibly, he shook his head.
“I would be, if I’d been sitting here all day long.” I paused, half wondering if he’d answer. At his continued silence, I continued, “I don’t think we’ve met before. What’s your name?”
“I’ve heard about you Ren.” He looked up at me for the first time, clearly surprised. “You’re the boy who wants to be a soldier, right?”
Eyes wide, Ren’s nod was his only answer.
“Why do you want to be a soldier Ren? Don’t most people here want to be hunters?”
“My pa…” He whispered, mumbling whatever it was that came next.
“I see,” I answered, nodding as if I’d heard his whole statement, and understood completely. “Then why are you just sitting here.” Ren cocked his head to the side, obviously confused. “If you want to be a solider, you’ve got to train. Come on, get up” gesturing with my hand for him to stand up, “let’s take a look.”
He slid off the fencepost faster than I thought he would. Maybe he was a bit more serious about this than I’d given him credit for. Deliberately, I looked him up and down, not really taking in the details, but leading him on just the same.
Nodding as if I’d made up my mind, I told Ren, “You’ve got a good head on your shoulders, that’s for sure. With a little practice, I’m sure you’ll make a great soldier.”
“How’m I supposed to practice?” The question surprised me. It was the most I’d heard this boy talk, and the loudest he’d said anything. It was a good surprise.
“Sitting on that fence all day won’t do much, other than hone your patience. I think you’ve got a good handle on that by now, don’t you think? I have something for you, but you have to promise me something Ren.”
“What?” He was eager now, if not almost enthusiastic. It was hard to believe just a few sentences could pull him so far out of his shell. Maybe this was the real power dreams had over people.
“That if you’re serious about this, and I think you are, that you’ll practice hard. You’ll be able to make it, I’m sure, but you have to work for it. Can you do that Ren?”
He nodded, eyes wide again in wonder as I pulled a fur-wrapped package from behind my back. Simply pulling off two twine strings let the package fall open in his hands, a crudely carved wooden sword. I am no woodworker, and the sword wasn’t very big, or sharp for that matter, but for the look on his face I might have given him the King’s own weapon. Tears rolled from his eyes as he struggled to form words, or at least they looked like tears. The rain made it difficult to tell for sure. This was his sword, his weapon, and his path to his own story. Tentatively, he took a swing, beaming and the wood slipped seamlessly through the air. Twice more he slashed, beaming, the knight of an epic waiting to be told.
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Mar 06, 15 at 8:51pm ^re: Manifest Destiny - The Great Migration ("50th" Chapter!)
Also not dead
Spoiler:Chapter 53 - The Great Forest
Once the rain had stopped, it didn’t take too long for the forest to dry out, relatively speaking. According to Finni, it was finally time to set out into the forest. After all, this was the reason why I was here. No, this was the reason they thought I was here, and why I was still here playing the part. Something was happening deep within the northern forest. The wild Pokémon were becoming noticeably more aggressive; experienced hunters were coming back horribly wounded, if they were coming back at all. Even Rangers, like Cesillie, veterans in their field were being faced with overwhelming circumstances that nobody seems fully able to explain.
“Of course I am.” Adding without voicing it; I’m no Ranger. If they’re getting hurt so badly, what chance do I have of coming out alive?
[i]You’re awfully good at playing the part, Brighteyes.
But you would have ended up here either way. Didn’t you say that Rena wanted you to work here?
No buts. The stars have aligned for you. One way or another, you’d have to do this job here today.
“I hate it when you’re right.”
And I love it when you say I’m right. Now get going, I’m sure PrettyBoy is waiting for you. I’ll be here until you two get back.
Rodromus was right, Finni was waiting for me just outside of the hut I’d been staying at. He seemed somehow more… dressed than usual. From his shoulders down to the ground he was covered in leathers and furs, creating some sort of armor. My face grew hot as I considered the rather thin robes I was wearing, the same robes from my hometown that I’d worn at the Academy. If nothing else, I felt rather underdressed.
“You ready?” He asked, tossing a leather pack to me.
“What’s this?” I asked, already fiddling with the straps to look inside.
“Remedies and antidotes.” My fingers froze, along with the rest of my body. Antidotes? “There’s a few other beasties out there that could give us a wee bit of trouble.”
“Just a wee bit?” I teased.
“Would you prefer I gave you more trouble?”
“Gods Finni, we do have a job to do.”
He just laughed, flashing that dumb toothy smile before saying, “I suppose you’re right. Let’s be off. Make sure you tie that pack on tight, we can’t afford to be without it out there.”
The plan, as I understood it, was to reach the Maidengrove, a small area in the northern part of the forest. We were to cleanse the area as was typically done every year. Finni had tried to explain the concept to me, but something still seemed a little off. He’d said that the Maidengrove housed the core of the forest, something that was responsible for keeping everything relatively under control. There were, however, two main challenges to go along with the task. First and most intimidating, the wild Pokemon were posing more and more of a threat with every passing day. Even Pokemon like the Rayevern, which already held the position of the most dangerous Pokemon in the forest so much so that it was considered the right of passage for any hunter, were now akin to death itself. Second, and more problematic on the planning side of things, was the fact that on the usual expedition the village made to the Maidengrove, nobody had been able to find it. Despite all their best maps and best scouts, the clearing seemed to have vanished. Something dark was at play here, and for the safety of the village, it was our job to set it right.
As he was more familiar with the forest, Finni lead the way. He never failed to surprise me, this time showing the fleet of foot prized back in my home-Clan. His steps lacked any sign of trepidation as he ran full speed along the weaving branches. The same was true of me, old habits die hard I suppose, especially when those old habits were your livelihood during your younger years. There was a reason good tree runners made good Rangers. We didn’t have to look down to know where our next step would fall. Rather, before our feet even left the earthy ground, we’d tuned into the rhythm of the forest. Our bodies guided us through each step. So long as we trusted them, and didn’t get in the way, everything would turn out okay.
“Just up ahead here – the Maidengrove should be somewhere to the right.” Finni yelled over his shoulder.
“What should I look for?”
“It’ll look like a nest, woven in the trees.”
We hadn’t continued on for a full minute before Finni gave the signal to stop.
He seemed frustrated, running his hand through his hair, “We’re going in circles.”
“What makes you say that?”
“I know this forest, and we’ve passed the same group of trees three times now. Something’s wrong.”
“We haven’t made any turns or changes. We’ve just been going North. How could we pass them so many times?”
“That’s the problem isn’t it. Something’s either changing the forest, or the way we’re seeing it.”
“Mind Magic?” A pit fell through my stomach, remembering my last experience. “Wait that can’t be right. Whoever was causing it wouldn’t let us talk so freely.”
“Maybe, maybe not. There are powerful psychic Pokemon that live here; it’s one of the reasons it’s so hard to get any help from the outside. What they do isn’t exactly Mind Magic, but from what we understand of them, they’re pretty similar.” He gestured lightly around his head, “they look a lot like people, but with no hair and grey skin. They have these ribbon-like feelers growing out of their head instead.”
“What do they do?” I asked. I hadn’t ever had a run in with any psychic Pokemon, and really didn’t understand what exactly they could do.
“Usually it’s a teleportation loop. We travel so far into their trap, and are sent back to the beginning, but we’ve also been able to confirm them causing various forms of head-sickness.”
“So how do we get out?”
“We find the little buggers, and make them let us go. They have to be somewhere in here to make it work.”
“Did you want to split up?”
“Absolutely not! Tationair aren’t the only dangerous ones out here missy. Just follow along, and keep your eyes open.”
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Aug 19, 15 at 12:43am ^re: Manifest Destiny - The Great Migration ("50th" Chapter!)
I swear to Luceatto I'm not dead.
Also, remember from ItA how Moran hadn't had a forest fire in a few hundred years....
Spoiler:The Great Fire
“If we really are stuck in a teleportation loop, this’ll be an easy way to figure it out.” Finni said, reaching into his own pack for what looked like a small bag of powder.
“Powder, isn’t that more for climbing?”
“Climbing won’t tell us where the boundaries are, but the powder can tell us exactly where we’ve been. If we use this to mark our trail, we can mark where the boundaries are and search from there.”
We set off walking in a straight line, marking the path in a bright, even trail in the dirt behind us. While we wouldn’t be guaranteed to know exactly where the barriers were from this alone, we could see if we hit the same spot again without turning. How long it would take to hit the same spot could give us some clue as to how large an area we were working with.
“Keep an eye out.” Finni called, scattering another handful of dust over a patch of grass. “When we hit the barrier, some things should look distorted or fuzzy. Tationair’s abilities aren’t perfect; they’ll have to join up edges that don’t quite match up. That’s how we’ll catch it.”
Again, we pushed through the forest. It didn’t take long to find where we’d started, marked with sparkling powder on the ground.
“Shouldn’t we have seen the barrier?” I asked, picking up a small pinch of powder and rubbing it between my fingers.
“Theoretically yes, but it’s not always the easiest thing to see. Come on, let’s follow the path again.” He paused a moment, looking at a point somewhere over my shoulder.
“Ssh.” He hissed, “Don’t move.”
My bones immediately froze, holding me still in place. What was going on? Was it one of the little ones, with a poison potent enough to kill within minutes, or the great horned Rayevern, ready to pounce? All at once, all the fears felt real, like everything was bearing down on us, just barely out of sight. Before I was aware of it, my legs were shaking, knees knocking together and threatening to give out at any second.
“Easy now,” he whispered, and for a moment I was convinced he was talking to me. That is until a bright reflection of light caught my eye.
His staff was considerably shorter than mine, only about two hand-lengths long with a relatively short gemstone set into the very top. It seemed more suited to the forest, as something with a longer handle would more than likely get caught on nettles or branches while patrolling. He was projecting something, gemstone flashing very brightly, very quickly in a multitude of colors. This, it seemed, was true communication. One single emotion or intent could not convey something so complicated, and as sacred as this forest seemed, its guardians would take some persuading. Was it really this close to us?
I couldn’t turn my head to look around, but maybe there was another way to tell exactly where it was. Just like the Shaman’s Village, as well as the old Ranger Tower, I closed my eyes, and simply tried to see without looking. For a moment, everything was simply the inside of my eyelids. Calm, I must be calm; everything is at peace. Muddy shapes and mindless colors swept across of plane of view before I was called back to myself.
“You can turn around now; it’s okay.” Finni called out, pointing somewhere behind to my left. “You’ve probably never seen one of these guys before.”
He was absolutely right, I’d never seen anything like it before, if this really was a Pokemon. By all rights, it resembled a small child of probably about six or seven summers, both in height and stature. Unlike most children however, it stood completely naked, save for several sets of feelers; two extending from where eyebrows belonged, one around each wrist, and one wrapping around the waist. Their color was gently shifting between a pale blue and green, complementing the silver-blue skin the creature possessed. Most interesting of all were the eyes, closed tighly but still somehow giving the feeling of looking directly at you.
“What is it?”
“It’s called a Tanien; a young psychic Pokemon with a bit of a mischievous streak. The little ones don’t ever mean any trouble, they just want to play.”
As if in response, the little one nodded, before leaping back into the trees. As graceful as it seemed, something felt off. The trees hadn’t made a sound when it had run off. The leaves, as dry as they were below our feet hadn’t cracked or crunched at all. One warning sign after another, it didn’t add up.
“You noticed too?” Finni asked, my doubts echoed on his face.
“Trees aren’t ever this quiet. Something’s wrong.”
Neither one of us had a chance to voice our opinions any farther. New shadows had been cast at our feet. Not the shadows of predators stalking strangers in the forest, nor skittish Pokemon fleeing unfamiliar sounds. These shadows were our own, thrown in sharp relief against a forest floor, now glowing with an ominous orange glow.
It didn’t occur to me to voice any further worries to Finni, to try to make a plan, or even to tell him what I was planning on doing. Moments like these needed no words and required no plans. Stopping for either took away precious time. I bolted; adrenaline and fear flooding my system in equal measure.
Growing up around so many orchards, I’d only witnessed one fire. It had been close to the plantation I’d worked, but we still saw the damage, the smoke, and above all else, the blaze itself. The Rangers of our area were working around the clock, even with extra help from the Central Kingdom, to make sure the fire didn’t spread to any of the other farms. Even so, the owner lost his crop for the next several seasons, and everyone suffered from the smoke, ash, and paranoia of anything like it ever happening again.
The fire of those years past might as well have been cooking embers compared to this. Just the smoke was enough to suffocate, to burn the eyes and chest. The temperature was shooting up with no sign of faltering. The air itself couldn’t burst into flame, could it? It howled as if in pain, or that might have been the fire itself, devouring all in its way. My feet couldn’t move fast enough. I had to get away. This wasn’t something I could just turn around and fight.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could a glimpse of a figure running alongside me. He was waving his arms frantically, gesturing somewhere to my left. I followed Finni’s lead as best as I could. Brambles yet to break into blazes often blocked our path, causing us to have to stop and untangle or find another route. The forest seemed to go on forever, with new spots of flame popping up in the most unexpected places, forcing us to constantly change direction.
It seemed like a race against time. Finni might be able to keep running forever, but I most certainly couldn’t. My legs were already starting to tense up, and my lungs seared with pain at every panting breath. I’d been good at running tree branches before I’d attended the academy, but I wasn’t built for races like this.
Once more, the hem of my robe caught in a nest of nettles, catching quickly and sending my sprawling on the forest floor. I didn’t stop to untangle myself, both because after so many instances of getting caught the fabric finally tore away; and because I’d all but worn away my stamina. My legs shook violently and I felt like I could lose my stomach at any moment. Someone, probably Finni, was tugging at my wrist. I knew I had to get up and keep running but I just couldn’t seem to get my legs underneath me. He was shouting something now, grabbing my arm and shaking me, but I couldn’t make it out over the fire.
I was on my feet again and as if something clicked I was running. This time I was ahead of Finni. He was reaching out, trying to grab me. Didn’t he understand that we’d be toast, more than literally, if we stopped?
He managed to catch hold of my wrist one more time. Why was he stopping me? Why was he pulling back? I wasn’t going to die here in the fire! Twisting and pulling I kept trying to run, to move, anything to put more distance between me and the inferno.
Until there was no more floor under my feet.
Don’t drop me Finni, please don’t drop me! My fingers tightened around his wrist while my free hand clawed at the cliff face. I had to find a hold, something, anything. His hand was slippery as was mine. Sweat; the forest was too hot to think that sweat wouldn’t be a problem. Please don’t drop me. My fingers dug into a small indent until the dirt and rock crumbled away; falling somewhere below obscured by smoke and ash.
He was saying something, eyes full of an urgent fear that drowned out his usual carefree shine. What I wouldn’t give to know what he was trying to say. I could guess, but I’d never know for sure.
“I’ve almost got you.”
“Don’t let go.”
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