And here’s the next chapter. With this, as this is the last one that has been preemptively finished, updates will be much slower; however, the next chapter is closing in on completion. With luck it will be up within the week.
Chapter 2: Battling a Grudge
In all honesty, Iâ€™m shocked that Empyr didnâ€™t kill Zix that day. While I know what happened to me was not his fault, I was amazed at how well he understood. At least, that was what I thought. Maybe I was too blind to see it.â€
Seconds after the word echoed across the mountaintop, Leafblade rolled backwards, crossing his arms as a green, glittering wall of energy appeared before him, For this fight, itâ€™d be better to judge his opponentsâ€™ actions first. His partner, however, was already tossing gold bullets at the duo.
Believing that Zix could keep Empyr and Cielliene occupied, Leafblade hung back and lowered his barrier. He began a short, simple dance in a circle, working his arms with vigor, each movement slashing his bladed wrists together with a satisfying ring upon contact. A translucent sword formed just beyond his reach, growing more corporeal with each strike. Finally ending his small dance with a step forward and his arms crossed just where the hilt was located, the spectral sword dissipated, leaving an invigorating energy behind, sharpening his wrist blades.
Off at the corner of his vision, a jet of water surged towards his partner; however, it slammed into the rocks behind him. The Typhlosion, seeing the angle of impact, didnâ€™t bother trying to dodge it.
â€œZix, beneath you!â€ Leafblade shouted, seeing that the missed Hydro Pump distracted his partner enough for him to miss a column of earth rising up underneath him. He tried rolling out of the way, but it wasnâ€™t enough as he was launched into the air.
â€œUgh, a little quicker next time,â€ he shouted back, slinging two haphazard thorns before returning to the earth. With a pause in the projectile onslaught, Cielliene followed up with another heave in the ground, yet Zix managed to recover quick enough to roll out of the way. â€œEmpyr, focus on Zix for now, those thorns are becoming too much.â€ The penguin would have sent another torrent of water at him, yet, out of nowhere, Leafblade appeared out of thin air.
â€œWhat the–â€ Empyr started to say before the Sceptile in front of him slashed at the Empoleonâ€™s midsection; however, one of the penguinâ€™s massive fins rose up and deflected the blow, catching Leafblade off guard. Empyr followed up with a blast of water, driving the lizard into the nearby wall with a dizzying crash. â€œLeaf can teleport, Cielliene.â€
Dazed from the sudden blast, Leafblade wobbled his way back into a standing position in time to see Zix toss two more golden thorns at Empyr, driving him closer to his partner. Black streaks crossed in and out of his vision, yet Leafblade could see a wide smile etching itself over Zixâ€™s face as he threw two more at the penguin, nearly lining him up with his partner. He pulled out one final thorn, but before he threw it, it glowed with crackling energy. Zipping the energized projectile right at Empyr, the penguin unable to jump out of the way this time as it collided into him. Empyr spiraled into the ground, yet the gold thorn didnâ€™t stop with him; it zipped onward toward Cielliene, whom realized what Zixâ€™s ploy had been. In an effort to shield herself, she brought forth a column of earth, yet the thorn pierced through it and collided into her as well, narrowly missing her eye.
â€œAnd here you thought I was just throwing those thorns for good sport.â€ Zix was ready to throw another piece of energized gold, but he couldnâ€™t line up a clean shot as a collected mass of oak trees erupted between the Torterra and the Typhlosion, aligning themselves towards the fire type.
â€œIâ€™ve got it Zix. Focus on Empyr!â€ Leafblade called while a rumbling of vines sprouted from the ground behind him.
â€œEmpyr, take Leafblade down.â€ The Empoleon turned to face Leafblade, who was locked in concentration in fending off Ciellieneâ€™s frenzy plant with his own. Before the penguin could even summon a wake of water, the clouds darkened overhead, twisting into a calm, clear eye right above Zix. Mouth agape, a ball of fire formed and spiraled itself into a massive cone of fire aimed right for Cielliene. Oak trunks vanished, shrinking back from where they spawned, back to where a Torterra lay motionless on the ground, smoke rising amongst the burnt flowers that were unfortunate to be in the flameâ€™s path.
â€œIâ€™m sure you had that,â€ growled his partner.
The body was teleported away to the healing platform. Leafblade, exhausted from prolonging a rather taxing move on his body, crumpled to the ground to get his breath, leaving only Empyr and Zix capable of fighting for the moment. All Leafblade could do was watch as his body recuperated while a tickling feeling itched on the edges of his consciousness.
Blackness encased her thoughts before a cold chill weaved its way across her, followed by a sudden burst of intense heat. A flame that shocked her back into consciousness. From complete darkness, Cielliene gazed at nothing still. A vivid imprint however, surfaced back into her memory. She was concentrating on Zix with the frenzy oak, yet Leafblade managed to provide cover with his frenzy vines. She remembered being frustrated with the tactic and therefore missed where Zix had aligned himself. After that, all she recalled was a sudden rush of air and a collision of extreme heat before passing out.
â€œAh, good youâ€™re awake. How are you fee. . . oh?â€
Looking around, the perpetual black didnâ€™t go away. She tried reopening her eyes, only to realize that that wasnâ€™t the problem. She wasnâ€™t sure who may have been talking; she figured it was one of the medics, but the voice wasnâ€™t familiar.
â€œMedic. I canâ€™t see you. How bad is it?â€
â€œI was able to heal most of the burns; however, Zixâ€™s Eruption damaged more than I am capable of fixing, your scarf and your eyesight especially. Is there any pain?â€
â€œI donâ€™t think so. How long was I out?â€
â€œOnly a few minutes. Empyr is taking on Zix right now. You left Leafblade drained, so Empyr may still pull this off.â€
That was a relief. Whoever her healer was, she helped walk her to the edge of the platform. While she couldnâ€™t see, Cielliene could still feel the ripples of the battle still going on. The fluctuation of cool water and extreme fires could still be felt. Though she could not see who was winning the current duel, there was a slight shift in an ever-decreasing temperature. The flames were becoming less intense. Either Zix was getting tired, or Empyr was gaining the upper hand.
â€œEmpyr better start acting serious then. He underestimated before I went down. This is infuriating.â€
â€œZix wrongly harming you?â€
â€œNo, I hold no ill will for that. Empyr may, but this was a serious fight. Itâ€™s infuriating that I fell so quickly. The world thinks that Leafblade and myself are the strongest because we used to be human, yet I fall to one Eruption.â€
â€œYou are a strong one to not blame someone for blinding you. A true testament to your character.â€
Exhaustion washed over Cielliene. While she hadnâ€™t exerted too much effort before falling to Zix, her wounds were weighing heavily on her body. A fickle thought that her eyesight may return upon waking up again crossed her mind.
â€œIâ€™m going to lay back down; at least this time, itâ€™s voluntary. Donâ€™t wake me if anything happens; even if a winner is decided.â€
That last blast of water taken more out of him than he thought. He understood his duty though. Leafblade was still shaken up, and Zix was having doubts on whether he would get back up before Empyr knocked him out.
He reached down into his bag, only to come up grasping air. The rest of his thorns lying scattered across the mountaintop. Empyr had liberties to hurl a few back at them. None hit, but a few had left him unbalanced enough to leave him drenched in water shortly after. He let loose an arrow of flame, one of many in the past minutes. Quite frankly, it worried him that Leaf wasnâ€™t back in the fray. He didnâ€™t see him get hit from Empyrâ€™s blast, but the effects of that frenzy vine should have worn off.
His thoughts were interrupted and pushed away as another blast of water soared his way. The stream crashed into the nearby wall as he rolled into the ground. Sunlight vanished while soil parted in front of him. Zix could feel where Empyr was standing, having used Dig enough to feel where the soil above was heaviest. Finding it wasnâ€™t hard, heâ€™d remembered where Empyr was standing before plunging into the earth, and sure enough, he hadnâ€™t moved much farther. Forcing his concentration up, Zix shot out from the earth, aimed for right under the Empoeon; however, Empyr was not there.
Instead, another blast of water was pounding away the ground he had emerged from. The mud cushioned the impact on his back, but the strain on his chest left him gasping for air. The freezing temperature of the water didnâ€™t help either. Mustering enough energy to focus into another Dig, Zix disappeared back into the ground and reappeared on the other end of the arena, mud clinging to various parts of his body.
His chest ached, and the taste of dirt stained his mouth. His end was near; a puff of smoke escaped from his back vent. His partner had yet to move, still hunched over. He needed to stall; he hadnâ€™t been able to land a single hit on Empyr, couldnâ€™t even slow the water assault. Even if Leafblade got back in the fight, doubts of their teamâ€™s success pervaded his thoughts.
A flash of light caught Zixâ€™s attention; Empyr was charging a massive sphere of light between his two fins. Zix tried rolling out of the way once Empyr hurled it at him, yet his body was acting sluggish. He ached and his body wanted nothing more than to just give up the effort and rest. The sphere of light caught him in the side, propelling him into the wall. Shades of darkness stretched their sinewy tendrils across his vision. Were it not for the fact that Leafblade was still sitting there motionless behind Empyr, Zix may have accepted his bodyâ€™s wishes.
So, he struggled to get at least into a bowed stance, trying to support his body on all fours. Ahead, Empyr was taking his time to traverse the distance between the two, not bothering to waste any more energy. They both knew he was done.
â€œThe way you took Cielliene out, Iâ€™d expected you to be a bit more of a challenge.â€ Empyr nearly blocked out Zixâ€™s view of his partner, but he was sure he saw a shudder of life flow back into his partner. Good. This battle wasnâ€™t over yet. â€œAll that boasting last night was nothing but a bravado, I see.â€
â€œHeh, come now Empyr, you didnâ€™t think I truly meant everything I said last night. Groudonâ€™s fire, I can barely even remember last night.â€
â€œThatâ€™s not surprising. I must say though, you caught me by surprise with that pierce shot. Probably how you knocked out Cielliene with that Eruption so easily. Speaking of which, it seems like victory is going to us today. Youâ€™re out, and Leafbladeâ€™s become a vegetable.â€
â€œNow thatâ€™s just insulting. You may want to consider rewording that by the way.â€ He couldnâ€™t resist a smile. Empyr was trying to sound tough, yet his words lacked conviction. At least, he hoped they did.
â€œAnd why is that?â€
Zix looked across, and relief flowed into his body. The shadowy tendrils were creeping further across his vision; his mind and body responding in relief at the coming rest. Yet, this relief was backed further by one thing. â€œBecause your victory over me is paled in comparison to the fight you have coming for you. And honestly, I pity you.â€ For sure enough, whatever spell that had descended over his partner must have lifted as he was again back on his feet. He felt a pound on his head before darkness enclosed his mind, and he felt no more.
He wasnâ€™t sure how much time passed before he woke back, but he awoke on the recovery platform with a Gardevoir kneeling over him. He tried sitting up, but his vision grew foggy as a sensation to vomit rose within him. It also helped that the nurse over him pressed him back to the wooden floor.
â€œYou need to lie still. Empyr whacked you pretty hard. Youâ€™ve got three puncture wounds where he knocked you out. Possible concussion and some bleeding.â€
Zix always knew that the Empoleon got down to business when in a fight, but to actually cause some serious harm was not expected. In fact, that worried him as thoughts of â€œwhat ifsâ€ crossed his mind regarding Leafâ€™s scar and Empyrâ€™s apparent new-found viciousness.
â€œHowâ€™s the battle going?â€
â€œI wouldnâ€™t know. Iâ€™ve been tending to you since you warped up here. Cielliene is lying down though. In fact, whereâ€™s the doctor that patched up her eyes? Weird. I donâ€™t see her anywhere.â€ Zix would have looked up and around to see where his assistant was looking, but the ensuing nausea that would have come with that simple movement wasnâ€™t worth it.
Empyrâ€™s words were ringing in his ears though. â€œ . . . nothing but a bravado.â€ He couldnâ€™t even land a single attack on Empyr. He hit him with a thorn. A thorn. No flame. No electric punch. Maybe he truly wasnâ€™t all that good. He almost wished the possible nausea would remove the growing shame he was feeling.
He felt another pulse of warmth on his head. â€œHowâ€™s that healing?â€
â€œWell enough. Better than Cielliene though. Sheâ€™s showing major incinerations around both her eyes. Itâ€™s unknown whether sheâ€™ll get her eyesight back. Thereâ€™s a lot of scarring.â€
As if losing so miserably to Empyr wasnâ€™t enough, to hear this crushed him more than Empyrâ€™s water had. What would she say when she awoke? What would anyone say to him? Somewhere in the distance, a metallic crash resonated off the mountaintop. Still battling. Like Cielliene must have done, he desired sleep, away from his troubled mind. He no longer cared who won; he wanted to forget. He closed his eyes, willing his mind to shut out the images of the fight.
Sleep never came.
He saw Empyr bludgeon his partner to the ground. While this fight was meant to be taken in all seriousness, a spark of rage burned in his chest. One strike too far.
â€œWas that necessary?â€ screamed Leafblade as Zix was warped to the healing area. Empyr turned to face him, fins rising into a defensive stance.
â€œThis is a fight to find who stands out amongst the rest of the world. Not just whoâ€™s the best team, but whoâ€™s the best period. Iâ€™ve waited a long time for this, too. Iâ€™m glad the battle worked itself to my luck.â€
â€œYou still hold that grudge against me?â€
â€œNo, but it never sat well with me that you escaped. I hear Dustshade has been making a name for himself, so it seems you were right. That doesnâ€™t mean, though, that I appreciated the treatment you gave me. Now, I can finally settle just who is the better.â€
A savage fury bubbled within him. This desire to react, violently; an instinct considered horrible by his human self, yet the desire to submit to his current mindâ€™s desire was a struggle to overcome. Taking two deep breaths, he felt the sunâ€™s rays on him, a comforting warmth as his remaining dizziness evaporated like water, even stemming the wild urge that permeated his thoughts. It seemed Empyr had anticipated this much already as a thin veil of water worked it way across his body. The bruise where Zixâ€™s thorn had hit earlier was already dulling considerably as each readied themselves for the finale of this fight.
â€œIf the only thing you want is to settle a grudge, then so be it. Letâ€™s see how well Dialga protects his chosen, shall we?â€
Digging his claws into the soil, Leafblade sprinted headlong at Empyr. He wouldnâ€™t even know what hit him since Empyr was merely bunkering down to stop him. Empyr went to swat him, yet met only air as Leafblade blinked right behind him. His arm blades hummed with light, swinging at Empyrâ€™s exposed back. The penguin turned to try and block the swing, but reacted too slowly, stumbling back a few feet, trying to guess where Leafblade would strike next.
Yet, his assault wouldnâ€™t stop there. Leafblade followed up with aiming for Empyrâ€™s left side, and the Empoleon predictably tried protecting that side. Instead, Leafblade teleported in front of Empyr, rolled, and sprang up and delivered two swift kicks, one to his midsection and the other right under chin. Empyr was lifted into the air, much to Leafbladeâ€™s frenzied satisfaction. The penguins arms flailed before crashing to the ground with a painful thud.
â€œYou know, that scarf was probably not the best choice. Youâ€™ve should have gone for something a little more effective.â€
â€œI never figured you for the taunting type,â€ Empyr said while struggling to get back on his feet; a sheen of metal glistened over his body with a wide smile across Empyrâ€™s face.
â€œOr a change in tactics.â€ A drop of water landed on Leafbladeâ€™s, and he spared a chance glance upward to see the sun beginning to hide behind storm clouds. Returning his gaze to Empyr, insuring that he wouldnâ€™t pock-shot him, he noticed just in time to see another coat of metal shine in the decreasing light. â€œCome now, just because you were human doesnâ€™t mean youâ€™re the only one adaptable. Now, dodge this.â€
Empyrâ€™s eyes flashed a shade of sea-blue, and water materialized all around him, raging like a hurricane until finally, the surf roiled its way towards Leafblade. Knowing that his gem wouldnâ€™t teleport him out, Leafblade brought his arms together as his wall of energy shimmered into existence in front of him. He quickly followed this up by swinging his right arm around, turning enough to create a dome to prevent the surge from bearing down on him from all angles.
Thinking that he could block out any further attack Empyr would send his way, he was shocked when the ground beneath him ruptured and the six foot tall Empoleon emerged, driving himself within his protective barrier. A part of Empoleonâ€™s horn caught him on his right thigh, a spasm of pain and blood oozed with it, but the worst was the other side of the horn scraping perfectly with his scar. Hot flashes of memories and pain exploded within his mind and chest. Automatical reflex was to check to see how far along the scar the Emopleon had hit, only to come away with red on his claws and dripping to the ground.
His barrier dropped just as the tide gave way to air, yet it lasted long enough to slam him to the rocks again, face forward. He felt light headed, but at the same time, he felt a crushing weight of pain from his chest, leg and head, the impact jarring his mind to stay focused. Beside him, Empyr was lying in the dirt, hit by his own move, and both not wanting to pick themselves back up.
Leafblade recovered first, getting himself back to his feet. He was surprised to see Empyr still trying to get it; odd since he shouldnâ€™t have been hurt much from his own surf. Regardless, Leafblade intended to make the most of his advantage as he brought his arms to his side, a glowing ball of green growing between his claws. He fired it at the Empoleon, missing as Empyr managed to submerge back into the ground and appear farther away, standing, at the other end of the arena.
This is it, Leafblade thought as he knew both were only moments away from slipping into unconsciousness. Already, his vision was beginning to blur. The pain around his body was already subduing into a cold numbness. He readied two more balls of energy, one in each hand; focusing as much as he could on Empyr, paying attention to how the penguin would move, he saw that Empyr had formed to orbs of light in his claws, charging as much energy as he could into them.
Yet, just before he released his energy balls, his vision snapped and reshaped into a cloudy, dark terrain. Empyr was still before him, charging a flash cannon, but the mountaintop was gone, replaced by a barren wasteland devoid of sunlight with a palace made of silver on the horizon. It continued for a few more moments before the vision faded, the mountaintop reappearing, and Empyr letting loose his attack. The energy he had collected for his own attack, interrupted by whatever that was, dissipated leaving him with nothing left to do, no energy left to activate his gem or try and dodge Empyrâ€™s final move. He close his eyes and waited for the impact, his final thoughts lingering on that vision and a mental congratulations for Empyrâ€™s victory.
â€œEmpyr, donâ€™t!â€ Cielliene cried, awaking from her slumber. Darkness still surrounded her, but the last remnants of her dream remained clinging to her head. The dizziness she felt passed, the image fading into nothing, and image of Empyr standing over a body, ready to plunge one of his fins into it. She couldnâ€™t tell who he was standing over, only a silhouette amongst a landscape soaked in water and rock. She had felt weary, as if she had been running to get to the scene, only to find she was too late. Then it had ended.
It was only after the dizziness of her Scream truly left her thoughts that she became aware of a something touching her back. â€œItâ€™s alright, Iâ€™m here. What did you see?â€ Empyr asked.
In a way she felt relieved knowing he was watching over her, what after what she had seen, a lingering desire to push him away eroded into her thoughts as well. â€œItâ€™s nothing. Just a bad dream.â€ She wanted to tell him, but she wasnâ€™t sure if she should trust her vision or not; it was better to not mention in it.
â€œI trust you, but you said the same thing this morning.â€ Yet Empyr didnâ€™t inquire any further.
Instead he sat in silence; at least, Cielliene imagined him sitting. She could hear the medical staff assisting with everyone but her partner. Either he was already patched up and not needing care, or maybe. . . â€œEmpyr, did you win?â€ It felt wrong to say we; she didnâ€™t contribute much to the effort.
He sat quietly; maybe not. Tectonic must have won. It was to have been expected. Empyr was good, but then again, Tectonic was their superiors.
â€œIâ€™m sorry,â€ Empyr had started to say, only further convincing her that they indeed did lose. A growing disappointment rising in her for being knocked out so quickly. â€œBut Tectonic will not be considered the best team in the world. We will.â€ And as quickly as her doubts entered, they left, leaving euphoria where disappointment had been.
â€œYou actually took on both and won?â€ Her excitement seeping through as she tried without luck to contain it. She could hear her partner chuckle before he replied.
â€œNot exactly. Leafblade was acting strange after Zix knocked you out. In fact, I wanted to ask him about that because I wouldnâ€™t have been able to defeat them both if it were not for his strange incapacitation. Are you well enough to walk? You could come and help me rub it in their faces.â€
So he wasnâ€™t aware of her current condition; this wasnâ€™t going to go well. It may be best to just. . .
â€œEmpyr, my eyesight is gone.â€ There.
She heard a creak in the floorboards as if Empyr had turned around to regard her again. He didnâ€™t speak for a bit, most likely looking at her in light. At length, he finally spoke up, yet she could feel a noticeable but slight drop in the temperature around her.
â€œI donâ€™t know, honestly? Maybe Zix, but Iâ€™ve taken fire blasts of all kinds before. All I know is that I felt a wave of heat and woke up here without my sight. Itâ€™s just the way it went; nothing anyone can do now or fix. Just gotta move on.â€
She felt the air return back to at least a bearable chill. Empyr had assisted in escorting her to where Leafblade and Zix were. As the two approached, there was something in the air, reeking of tension. She couldnâ€™t see it, but her suspicion was further justified when she felt a slight shudder from Empyrâ€™s fin on her shell. She could hear some of the medics whispering nearby.
â€œItâ€™s bad Zix. This is something none of us ever seen. I need you tell us how Leafblade got that gem of his. What is it exactly and how does it work?â€ Zix didnâ€™t immediately speak up, but this perked a gnawing curiosity of Ciellieneâ€™s. She was curious as to how Leafblade was able to use teleport anyways; now, she had a good idea that it had something to do with that gem he had worn.
Even without her eyesight, something was off, though. At first, she didnâ€™t quite feel it, but since she was too curious to figure out what was wrong, she started recognizing the tug of psychic energy. However, any further investigation was cut as Leafblade woke up, interestingly dissipating the energy that had been present.
â€œDonâ€™t worry about the gem.â€ Odd that he had seemed unconscious yet know that the recent discussion was about that gem and not him. â€œAnd Iâ€™m fine; Iâ€™ll tend to my wounds. Thank you, though,â€ Leafblade followed up, most likely trying to send away all the medics. Just how many others were around here?
â€œWell thatâ€™s good to hear, Leaf. At least you can see. Since Iâ€™ve regained conscious, it seems I only have four natural senses left available to me.â€
Silence broke out amongst everyone present. Even the nurses that had remained despite his small protest didnâ€™t bother trying to offer words of encouragement. Leafblade looked over at his longtime friend, only to see it pale as a Zangooseâ€™s fur. Thinking it was best to leave a certain two alone to talk this out, Leafblade motioned for Empyr to follow him. Getting back up so quickly was a mistake though. Soon as he was back on his feet, he looked down to see that his scar had reopened a bit. The nausea sensation didnâ€™t help either, but Leafblade was able to pluck one of the nodules on his back and use the fluid inside to cover the wound. It stung a bit, but the substance would be sticky enough to at least stem the blood flow and keep the cut clean.
â€œWhere are you two going?â€
â€œTo give you and Cielliene some time to talk. Besides, Leafblade and I need to discuss some things anyway.â€
Leafblade couldnâ€™t help but wonder as to what the Empoleon may have wanted to discuss. Granted, it was he who wanted to have Empyr stay out of Zixâ€™s and Ciellieneâ€™s coming discussion, but this was coming out of nowhere. Resigned to just follow Empyrâ€™s leave, the two of them moved off to the other end of the the platform. All around, people and Pokemon alike were filtering out of the stands by wings or by teleports. Some remained, talking among themselves about the battle. One conversation reached Leafbladeâ€™s ears, sounding something along the lines of â€œexciting.â€
Leafblade had expected to stop right at the fence separating the field from the wooden platform, but Empyr continued on in silence. It was apparent now that the raised platforms were now back on the ground, most likely brought down while he was still unconscious. They traversed across the beaten field. flowers stamped to the ground. Zixâ€™s Eruption line off in the middle, and the many circular holes from Ciellieneâ€™s Earth Power were scattered all over as well. Some of the Shaymin villagers were restoring what was left of the finale. Ahead, where a large iron wall used to be placed during the battle, a large opening in the mountainâ€™s outer wall displayed the other peaks within in Skyline Range.
It was here at the edge of the summit where Empyr had finally stopped. Both stood for a while more in silence, gazing at the beautiful range before them. A waterfall was pouring out one of the mountains close by, cascading into a small ravine of lustrous trees. Even from this height, Leafblade could see Tailows and Pidgeys flying amongst the trees, readying for the swiftly approaching night.
â€œBeautiful, isnâ€™t it,â€ Empyr said, breaking the silence again.
â€œItâ€™s more than that. This seems so secluded from the troubles of the world. If someone told me now that there is no such thing as peace on this planet, I can say now that they are wrong.â€
Stars were beginning to dot the sky. Back home, there wasnâ€™t really any good place to marvel the sky without having something obstructing oneâ€™s view. Here, Leafblade looked up in wonder at the amount of twinkling lights above. He felt insignificant, bound to a planet he knew didnâ€™t take up much of the universe.
â€œEver since Project P opened up the pass here some five years ago, Iâ€™ve come here often, gazing out at this very spot. I wonâ€™t deny that I am cursed with a warriorâ€™s heart. Where others of my kind would gather into social communities, I find that I want to be out fighting something. When I was younger, I yearned for adventure, the desire to find new things and tackle anything that stood in my way of getting there. My abduction to Ciellieneâ€™s time period didnâ€™t help temper my fighting spirit, only fueling it more to the point I itched for a good fight. Here, looking out over the range, I donâ€™t feel that pull. Itâ€™s nice to not feel so alert.â€
â€œSo whatâ€™s this got to do with what you really want to tell me?â€
The makings of a smile broke across the Empoleonâ€™s face, and a small chuckle escaped his beak shortly after. â€œYou canâ€™t fool me Leafblade,â€ he said as he turned to face the Sceptile. â€œMy point is that I know when anyone is holding back. And I can see youâ€™ve been holding yourself back for a while. Thereâ€™s something you havenâ€™t come to terms within yourself. Right? I noticed when we first met, but I wasnâ€™t sure of it until after this fight.â€
So he could see it. Well, there was no point in lying to him. After all, it may actually help to hear someoneâ€™s opinion on it. â€œI guess you can say Iâ€™m struggling with an identity crisis. Part of me wants to just accept the fact that Iâ€™m no longer human, but I canâ€™t. Ever since the Meteor Catastrophe, my spare thoughts have on that particular subject.â€
â€œIâ€™m not following.â€
â€œIâ€™ve been doubting why I was ever transformed in the first place. Honestly, I donâ€™t feel like I did anything worthy. I feel like Iâ€™ve been living the biggest lie in history. If I wasnâ€™t transformed, Zix and I wouldnâ€™t have confronted Rayquaza about the meteor. Even then, we had to fight just to get her to look up. Hell, we didnâ€™t win.â€
â€œWhy do I get the feeling Iâ€™m about to hear something Iâ€™ll most likely regret?â€
Leafblade didnâ€™t answer back immediately. Already, he was regretting even bringing this up to begin with. He gaze back across mountain range, now devoid of sunlight. A light fog was rolling over the valley below while a gentle breeze filled the air. Taking a deep breath, he continued, completely ignoring Empyrâ€™s question, â€œIf youâ€™re in any way familiar with events of that time, youâ€™ll know that Team ACT had ventured into Groudonâ€™s lair to quell the earthquakes spawned from him reawakening. Everybody had underrated Zix and myself, but the combination of us wanting to relax a bit after our exile and us not wanting to insult ACTâ€™s strength made us sit that fight out. When it was becoming clear that their team was taking much too long, another team went in to extract them and defeat Groudon should the opportunity arise. Eventually, Zix and I had our shot and succeeded.
â€œYet on that spire atop the world, recent history repeated itself. . . to an extent. Zix and I were on our last legs. One of Raquazaâ€™s Hyper Beams nearly threw Zix off the edge of the summit. Were it not for me risking my own life to save him, he would have fell off. Of course, I saved him, but that left the dragon to recharge and ready another beam. Just before she fired it, a shockwave bared down on us all, crushing Zix and I to the ground and caused the beam to miss us completely.
â€œShe didnâ€™t know how that was possible, but I was able to muster enough strength to yell â€˜Look up.â€™ She finally understood our trespassing, but by then, we were beyond succeeding without personal harm. The meteor was too close and any further Hyper Beams would have caused repercussions on the surrounding environment, mainly ourselves. I donâ€™t know how we lived, and I donâ€™t care. What I think about though is what if Zix and I werenâ€™t there. No doubt Rayquaza would have known to look up and saw the meteor and strike it down.
â€œSo why was I turned into a Pokemon in the first place. I tried getting my memories restored, but Iâ€™m starting to suspect Jirachi knew something more and didnâ€™t tell me. They should have come back to me by now, at least more so than what little I do remember.â€
â€œThatâ€™s a nice story and all, you questioning your place in the world, but that doesnâ€™t answer my question as to why you hold yourself back.â€
â€œYouâ€™re right; it doesnâ€™t. But it leads me to the answer. When I went into that fight, I knew that I needed to hold nothing back. To do so would be certain defeat. And I followed through with that. . . almost. I slipped into acting on instinct, letting my new mind and body do what was natural. What I saw though was that I was distancing myself from my apparent humanity. It wasnâ€™t natural. I should be thinking, strategizing and relying on instinct was counter to these. I started to fear that if I allowed myself to do so again and again, I would truly forget that I was human. So I promised myself that I would never allow that to happen; my quest to return my memory was the result of that.â€
Leafblade chanced a sideways glance at Empyr, finding that, like he, was again gazing back at the mountains. The moon was rising over the eastern peaks. Curious, Leafblade looked behind him and saw that everyone had left now. All except Zix and Cielline, both of whom were standing by the entrance to the dungeons beneath, waiting for the two to finish their conversation.
â€œI see. I guess that confirms my suspicion.â€
â€œAnd what is that, penguin?â€
Empyr had turned away from the scene, ready to head back. He stared straight into Leafbladeâ€™s eyes, seeming to judge everything that laid within before answering, â€œIt confirms that I should have lost our fight. For whatever reason, you may not have notice, but I did. The energy you had collected for your final attack before you dissipated it would have overpowered mine and left me unconscious. Something happened, I know it. I wonâ€™t prod further, but know that even though ceremony dictates that Team Pokepals won this year, Iâ€™ll know that it should be you and Zix on tomorrowâ€™s podium and not Cielliene and me.â€
And without another word, he stalked back to the other two, leaving Leafblade with his thoughts or lack thereof. He wasnâ€™t quite sure if he was just smacked in the face or complemented. Probably both yet maybe neither. He didnâ€™t know. Above, a shooting star faded in and out of existence. He stared up at the cosmos, thinking of absolutely nothing. Just letting his mind stare at the glittering lights that decorated the night sky before following ensuite back with the rest.
There was some discussion on how to get back down, and it was quickly decided to use Leafbladeâ€™s Teleport Gem. Sure to his prediction, he had enough energy left in it to teleport the entire group to the base of the mountain. Each said their good nights before retiring to their tents. His body was exhausted, his scar pulsing with a dull pain, but as much as he wanted and needed it, sleep did not come quickly. He laid there awake for hours, his thoughts on Empyrâ€™s and his discussion, his vision before the end of the fight, and the disturbing one he had right after Cielliene had fainted.
The first nightmare of a vision he had seen when Zix was contending Empyr gripped his mind with agonizing claws; it was a scene distorted beyond recognition, but he could clearly hear the screams of Pokemon and a loud crackling of fire on wood. He tried shutting the scene out, yet his mind was adamant in not letting it go.