At the Cliffside
Stupid. I’m stupid. I scold myself over and over as I run, in hot pursuit of Lucas. Who knows what’s going on back in the town. We’re far enough away now that I can no longer hear the sounds of battle from Lilycove. Now it’s just Lucas, I, and the trees.
He’s far enough ahead of me that I lose sight of him here and there, but he’s making enough noise to be easily traceable. In addition, he seems to be going straight in one direction. I would expect him to be more strategic than this, if he’s trying to lose me. Is he trying to lead me somewhere?
Suddenly he stops ahead of me.
“Hey.” He calls back to me. I slow down., approaching him. His back is still turned, but his head is turned to look at me, watching me carefully with one eye. I stop a few feet from him, and all is silent in the woods. After a few moments, he turns to face me head-on.
“Fancy seeing you here.” His voice is snide. Confident.
“Lucas,” I growl, not caring to hide my aggression. “What are you doing here?” He smirks.
“Fair enough. Walk with me.” He turns back in the direction he had been walking, and doesn’t wait before resuming the trek. I tsk, and follow.
“Where are we going?”
“…or maybe you won’t. We’ll see.”
The walk is silent for a while. I’m not sure what he’s thinking, acting like this. What’s really scary is how calm he sounds. The old Lucas would have been shouting at me by now, possibly attacking me. But now he seems composed, as if nothing worries him. And he knows I want answers, so I won’t try to attack him or anything, and he doesn’t seem to have any aggression towards me at the moment. We’re at a bit of an impasse.
As we walk, all I can think of is Ariana. Toby seems to mean well, but I’m still doubting whether I can trust him with my sister. Sometimes I wonder if my ingrained need to protect her has made me a little paranoid, but in this case I think I’m in the right. Last I saw, the attack was still vicious, and Ariana doesn’t have a Pokemon to protect her. Toby at least has a Chinchou, so staying together doubles their odds.
“Don’t worry about her.”
“Your sister, Damian. Don’t worry about her. The P.F.H people are well-equipped to deal with such a situation, even if they were caught off-guard by it.”
“Why did you do it? Why did you have to cause that huge a commotion?”
“Honestly?” He says with a chuckle, “fun. It’s been so long since I’ve been able to punish anyone at a whim, and I just couldn’t stand it. The packs of Pokemon in Lilycove just happened to be a perfect opportunity. Besides…” he chuckles. “I’m protected.”
“What do you mean?”
“Unimportant. Besides, we’re almost there.”
“Almost where, Lucas?”
“Doesn’t matter. You’ll keep following.” Even from behind, I can see the movement of his face as he smirks. “You want answers, and you know I’m your only way of getting them.” What angers me about his statement isn’t his smugness or refusal to explain where we’re going, but that he’s right. I have to follow him if I want to know why he’s here. And I have to know.
We’re in a more lightly wooded area now, and some sunlight trickles down upon us as we walk. I can see something big in the distance, but can’t make out what it is. A mountain, perhaps?
As we near our mysterious destination, I consider my actions back at Lilycove. I don’t feel bad for leaving Ariana anymore - she can handle herself, and Toby seems like a good person. What concerns me is why I chose to leave Ariana in the first place. Normally I would have grabbed her by the hand and dragged her with me, but something made me change my mind. I tell myself again that she’s old enough to think for herself, and she seemed to trust Toby enough to stay with him. I just hope Lucas is right, and the attack is under control.
I’m so lost in my obnoxious little cloud of doubt that it takes me a minute to notice that the forest is now behind us. In front of me is a narrow strip of field that stretches onward, eventually curving, on the right, and tapers off to the left. On one side of us is the sea, and on the other lies forest and ruined buildings. The outskirts of Lilycove. But this isn’t what has my attention.
I was right about the brown mass in the distance. It’s a mountain, not incredibly tall but very wide, looming in front of us. It sits in a ring of choppy waves, washing in from the sea and then receding back just as quickly. What I can see of the mountains northern face is chipped and worn greatly, and is curved inwards. There are spots where large chunks of mountain seem to have been chipped away, long before.
I realize where we are. I remember coming here for a funeral when I was very young, before Ariana had even been born. I don’t remember who had died. But I remember the fields of gravestones, the monument to Hoenn’s legendary Pokemon at the mountain’s head, and the eerie miasma that floated about the place. Mt. Pyre.
But one thing is very different now. The head of the mountain is jagged - not just naturally rocky, but spiked. Spears of earth stick up at odd angles, jutting out in many directions. There’s also a huge amount of rubble, as if some of these enormous spikes had been swiped at by an enormous claw. It looks as if there’s been a battle here, but I can’t imagine what could have caused something like this.
“Wow,” Lucas comments, roaming off to the right to get a better view, “it’s worse than I thought. Something really went to town up there.”
“Is that where we’re going?” I ask. “Into the mountain?” I can’t see the entrance from here, but I doubt it’s fared well.
“Oh, no.” Lucas says, with a snide little laugh. “Or at least you’re not. This is the end of the line for you.”
I tense up, hands clenched into fists. Stupid. STUPID! He lured my guard down, knowing I would follow him if he just held some information in front of him like a carrot in front of a Ponyta. And it worked.
I hear footsteps, too small and quick to be human, and whip around. There’s Lucas’ Houndoor, snarling and ready to tear into me.
“What will killing me accomplish?” I ask, quickly becoming desperate but not wanting to show it.
“What will it accomplish? Excuse me, but who was the one who ratted Malakai out to the cops? Oh, that’s right, it was YOU.”
“How do you know about that? I was promised confidentiality.”
“Promises don’t mean a lot these days,” Lucas says, pacing about lazily. “I’m sure whoever told you you’d be confidential had their fingers crossed behind their back.” He cackles out loud at his own joke.
“So I ratted you out. You can’t exactly blame me for wanting freedom.”
“That’s true, I suppose. But I can still be really mad at you, and covertly abuse my power to get rid of you. I really just want to settle this grudge.” He shrugs his backpack off his shoulders, unzipping it and rooting around inside it. His eyes stay locked on me.
“What power? Who are you working for?” He just laughs, but then his face becomes stony, completely serious. A bit more similar to old Lucas.
“Just how stupid do you think I am.” He drops the bag on the ground, leaving his hand clutching a silver handgun. He turns toward the forest, pointing it at something I can’t see.
“Come out nice and slowly, hands behind your head!” He shouts into the trees. After a pause, two figures make their way slowly and carefully out of the forest, as my stomach sinks into my feet. An expressionless Toby, followed by Ariana, eyes wide with fright.
The Poocheyna and Mighteyna have been pushed back by the time we return to the fight, and most of the dogs have fled. A few still struggle to fight the trainers, but as I watch, two trainers are making an enormous dent in the remaining dogs. The two trainers are young, maybe in their mid-teens. One has a Lunatone, the other a Solrock. I recognize them, but I can’t think of where from.
“We have to find Damian.” Ariana’s words cut through my pondering of the two trainers.
“He’s in danger. Like we already told you, Lucas is very dangerous. We need to hurry.” She wears a face of firm determination. In what I really hope won’t turn out to be a bad decision, I decide she’s right.
“Okay, you’re right. But let’s not rush in without thinking. We need a plan of action.”
We trek through the forest quickly but carefully, following Damian and Lucas’ footprints in the dirt. Ariana notices a set of paw prints a ways off, running roughly parallel to the path Damian and Lucas’ path. It seems like some sort of trap has already been set for Damian.
“He seems too smart to fall into that sort of thing.” I say, wondering what kind of situation we’re about to walk into.
“Oh, he’s walked into it.” Ariana says, resigned. “He lets his drive to get what he wants blind him, and doesn’t realize it.”
This girl keeps surprising me with the way she speaks and acts when Damian isn’t around. She’s far more mature than she lets on.
“Well then,” I say with a smile. “It’s a good thing we’re ready.” She nods, but doesn’t smile. She just walks faster. I follow, bracing myself for what’s to come. It won’t be pretty.