Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
The leader lifted her head suddenly as the sound of rasping breaths reached her ears. Her companions followed her gaze upstream, staring intently at the weak, helpless body spluttering violently as it was washed down with the flow of the water. One of them rushed out without a second thought and, as gently as possible, pulled the battered kit out of the water by the scruff of his neck. The other subordinate spat rudely as his companion brought the newcomer before their leader.
"I can't believe we're actually letting this worthless piece of dirt into our clan," The voice hissed. The owner of the voice was, needless to say, utterly disgusted at the prospect of even looking at the wet creature that had been badly beaten by the rushing waters of the river. His companion gave him a meaningful look as he gently placed it under a dry patch of grass under a large oak tree.
"Loosen up, big brother. Cloud has done much to assist our clan in its time of need. Now that he's passed away, this is the least we can do to repay him." The canine nudged the shivering kit gently. "We better get this youngster back to camp before he catches a cold." He said. He looked toward their leader for a sign of approval.
The leader stayed silent before slowly shaking her head. "No, you two shall go back on your own. I will stay here to guard him until he wakes." When answered with questioning looks she replied, "Unlike you, Noru, not everyone in our clan will be as accepting. This kit was born in a human place, after all. It would be much easier for him if he arrived consciously instead of being taken there without knowing where he was."
Both subordinates bowed respectfully before taking their leave. As they slowly faded into the rainy forest like the ghosts within shadows, the clan leader fixed her eyes back on the child shivering under the tree. She sighed and nudged him closer to the shelter of the oak with her nose.
"Cloud meant well, and I will keep my promise to him. But I am not sure whether or not you will find a place among our kind." The unconscious form's breathing slowly came to an even pace as sleep overtook him. Even so, his expression was far from peaceful. "Good luck, young Frost."
Noru blinked as the rays of the morning sun penetrated the thick forest leaves that reached out over the camp, giving its occupants a warm stirring for the start of a new day. Though being a Ninetails and a fire type makes him rather susceptible to water, Noru nonetheless enjoyed the earthly smell of the forest after rainfall. His brother always complained that it stung his nose, but then again, his brother complained at everything.
He shook the last few bits of drowsiness out of his eyes as he stretched and yawned. Shaking himself a bit, he made his way out of his den and breathed in the fresh air of his clan's camp. The fire type raised his eyebrows in wonder when he saw his older brother pacing back and forth in the main area of the their den site.
"Good morning, big brother." Noru greeted, with a curious air. "What brings you up so early in the morning? You're usually the last one to wake up!" He giggled slightly to himself at the last comment.
His brother gave him a weak glare before heaving a large sigh. "First of all, quit calling me 'big brother.' We're twins and I'm only older than you by a few minutes." Noru opened his mouth to protest, but the older male quickly cut him off. "Second of all, what do you mean I'm the last one to get up? You make me sound like a lazy bag of fat!"
"Well it's kinda true…" Noru pouted quietly. His brother ignored him.
"And third of all," The older Ninetails' expression shifted to a disgusted frown. "I'm still at a complete lost to why the hell Dusk would let that damn Glaceon into our clan! It's a disgrace!"
"Kara!" Noru blurted his sibling's name out in shock. "Dusk is our Alpha! Show some respect!" His brother let out an irritated huff but said nothing. "And please don't give that Glaceon a hard time. That little guy isn't even here yet!"
The younger Ninetails sighed with a childish pout on his face as his brother continued to skulk. He trotted up to him and brushed up against Kara's pelt playfully with his tails. Noru giggled as his brother bit his lips to stop himself from laughing from the younger fire type's tickling. Kara's mouth finally curled up into a small grin when he received a friendly lick on the cheek.
"Great! I like it better when you smile," Noru laughed happily and nuzzled his neck in a friendly way before reluctantly scampered away from his brother's side to perform his daily duties. Kara watched his retreating back as he left. Although they were twins, they were not exactly identical. Noru was much younger looking that his brother, and retained a rather carefree and friendly look in his face over the years. His brother, on the other hand, was stern and looked like someone that you definitely wouldn't want to cross. His looks even scared a few newborn kits and pups back to their mothers' sides on more than a few occasions. And so they should be. Kara was one of the fiercest warriors of the pack, fiercer than Noru, fiercer than their Alpha, fiercer than anyone there was. Out of everyone in the pack, only Noru has ever seen the soft side of him. Smiling and laughing like he had been this morning was actually a rare thing, and Noru cherished it well.
The difference did not pertain to only their personalities. While the younger sibling's fur had a nice, clean and shiny light to it, Kara's pelt had the same tint but darker considerable around the edges. Not only that, though they both shared the same deep red eyes, the younger sibling's were bright like flickering flames while Kara's were a deep blood red. Noru had heard superstitious elders talking about how twins like they usually ended up as enemies.
Ha! They didn't know how wrong they were, Noru thought cheerfully laughing to himself as he made his way toward the den of his apprentices. Though Kara was rather pushy and harsh, he was nonetheless his perfect brother. He only had that cold outer shell to protect him image as a strong warrior, but anyone could tell that he care deeply about his younger brother. Noru always felt all warm and bubbly around him, thankful knowing that would change his brother's affection toward him.
The Ninetails knocked on the entrance of the den three times before poking his head in and sighed in exasperation. His apprentices were all asleep except for Grey, who was missing from the scene and was probably in the medicine den with Fern. Ren was snoring like a foghorn as usual, but luckily his den-mates were all used to the Luxio's sleeping habits by now and were all undisturbed. Noru prodded Pine awake first, since he was the easiest to wake and the resulting noise would probably wake Ren up as well. The Linoone immediately jumped up and snapped out of his sleeping state when Noru prodded him with his nose. How the normal type woke up so quickly was beyond him, but he felt at lost when his apprentice bounced up and down off the den walls as his hyperactive nature took hold.
"Mmph…Pine, stop being such a brat and shut up! Some people are trying to sleep here..." Ren mumbled and buried his head in his nest of dry grass. The Linoone giggled before pouncing on his denmate.
"Aw come on Ren! It's morning! Besides, you're the only one still asleep!" Pine laughed while jumping up and down on his friend's back like it was a pillow.
"No…" The Luxio yawned sleepily. "There's Grey…"
"He's in the medicine den."
"He's with Grey."
"I'm right here," The Ninetails laughed.
Ren leaped up in surprise. "Wah? Sorry! Didn't know you were here already!" He yelped at his mentor, blushing lightly under his fur in embarrassment. Noru only laughed and ruffled his apprentice's fur.
"Geez, no need to freak out. It's not like this is the first time," The mentor smiled good-naturedly. "Just get ready, cuz today we're the ones on hunting patrol."
"Yes sir!" Ren bowed respectfully and made his way outside with Pine happily following. As they entered the main area of the camp, the wind of the forest stirred the many leaves that littered the ground sending them airborne and twirling in the sky. Other clan members had woken up as well and were all gathering in front of the large rock where their Alpha usually gave the rest of the clan their morning announcements. There was much whispering and excited chatter going around as the news of Dusk apparently leaving yesterday evening and not returning after dark spread through the clan.
Kara made his way to the rock and stood before the rest of the clan and cleared his throat. "For those of you who are wondering, our Alpha has gone off on a mission of sorts yesterday and will be returning shortly sometime today. For now, we shall tend to our regular duties until she comes back."
Murmurs and puzzled looks were well present through the crowd. Mission? What kind of mission? Many of the elders exchanged knowing nods while the younger warriors and apprentices were whispering possibilities of what such mission that would require the sole attention of their Alpha herself.
Kara waited patiently for the commotion to die down before continuing. "And also, we may expect a new clan member today." The Ninetails sneered. "When he arrives, let us all give him a…warm welcome."
Noru shot his brother a meaningful look. Was he trying to make things difficult? The chattering crowd slowly began to disperse as he walked up to his elder sibling.
"Big brother, why do you have to be such a grump?" Noru whined quietly so that no one would hear him. "At least try to sound like you care."
"I have no respect, nor patience for a useless piece of dirt like that," Kara hissed, clearly irritated. "What a disgrace it would be to our clan! Oh, and by the way," He shot a glare at his sibling as he walked away. "Stop calling me 'big brother!' It's demeaning!"
Noru smiled slightly to himself at his brother's retreating figure. It was quite fun to get under his fur like that. He shook his head and turned towards his apprentices, who were both waiting patiently at their meeting spot.
"Hey Noru, do you know anything about who the new person is?" Pine hopped up and down excitedly as his mentor walked up to them. The Ninetails sighed.
"I do, but all I can say to you two is to be nice. This newcomer has had some bad experiences, so I hope you two can make him feel more at home here in our clan." Noru said. Pine nodded, his kid-like face beaming. Ren, on the other hand, just rolled his eyes.
"Oh, so our Alpha's letting him in because she feels bad for him. I was hoping it was someone who was actually strong." The Luxio murmured with disappointment. "Never thought that our Alpha would let in a weakling."
"I said he's had some bad experiences, but I never said he was weak," Noru laughed. "Come on, let's get hunting. Otherwise Kara will have our heads." With a flick of his tails, the Ninetails was off with his apprentices at following closely.
The three of them bounded through the clearing that was their camp and into the wilderness of the forest. The smell of the trees and grass quickly swept over their noses and grew stronger the deeper they went.
Ren looked up suddenly and silently dropped to a crouch. Noru eyed him intently and hushed Pine, telling him to watch. The Luxio quietly crawled on his stomach, ignoring the tickling of the grass and moved towards a bush. Abruptly, with a roar, he launched himself forward and pounced on something behind the large plant.
"Nice catch," Noru commented when his apprentice stood up proudly, a squirrel caught neatly in his teeth. "But make sure to stay a little more downwind next time, Ren. Otherwise the squirrel would of smelled you before you could catch it."
"Yes sir," Ren bowed slightly before dropping the dead squirrel on the forest floor and burying it, keeping it hidden until they came back for it later. Their mentor cleared his throat to get both of their attention.
"Ok, so you two will continue hunting on your own. I trust that you'll manage?" Pine and Ren nodded in unison. Noru smiled pleasantly. "Good. There's something I need to do, so just catch as much as you can and meet me back here at noon. Got it?"
The two younger clan members nodded once more before making their way deeper into the forest. The Ninetails watched their retreating backs and waited until they were out of earshot before scampering north towards the mountain.
Dusk, their Alpha was not present in the clan at the moment, so it was important to make sure the clan's territory was secure and that no intruder would try and attack in their moment of weakness. Especially the Ishi, a clan that inhabited the mountains in the north. They have been the enemies of Noru's clan, the Carina for as long as the two clans had existed. There was no telling what they would be thinking if they hear that the Alpha of their enemy clan was absent from the area. Without Dusk's command, their clan would be without order, and the chance of a successful attack rose significantly. Noru was definitely not going to let that happen, so he took it upon himself to keep an eye on his adversaries.
The Ninetails inhaled deeply as he neared the borders of the clan territory. The trees near the base of the mountain were not as thick, allowing more air to flow and smells easily identified. There were scents of Ren and Pine, who both were probably still hunting nearby. But there was also that unfamiliar scent of members of the Ishi, still fresh. This can't be good.
"Hey you!" A raspy and rather unfriendly voice suddenly growled. Noru's hackles immediately rose as his muscles tensed, ready for a fight. He was instantly surrounded by five unfamiliar pokemon, all of them with bared teeth and clear aggression. "What is a Carina mutt doing so close to our territory?" It was not a question, but a demand.
"I was merely patrolling the border of my clan, which the four of you have clearly crossed," Noru snapped. "I am very curious as to why the members of your pack are so uneducated, to the point where you would ignore the Code of the Clans and enter others' territories without their permission. Your actions are liable to cause a war!"
The five intruders were taken aback, but quickly regained their composure. "If we kill you now, there'd be no witnesses," One of them smirked. The Ninetails took a quick glance around. There were two Arcanine, two Houndoom and a Houndour, which means four against one. The odds were definitely not on his side. If he were to fight them without any sort of backup whatsoever, the chances of winning are slim. Noru snarled threateningly as his adversaries circled closer like sharks around helpless prey.
"Noru! Sir, are you alright?" His attackers instinctively jumped out of the way as a large thunderbolt flew and landed right where they were standing moments before. The Ninetails heaved a sigh of relief as Ren came bounding along. "I was hunting around here when I heard you. So there are intruders huh?" The Luxio sneered, showing off his fangs. The apprenticed was literally itching for a fight. Noru could tell that they were getting somewhat unnerved from Ren's bloodlust.
The ground underneath one of the Arcanine's feet suddenly exploded, sending him flying. Where he once stood was a large hole that had been dug deep into the ground. Pine's laughing echoed through the forest as he came crawling out. "You guys weren't gonna have all the fun without me, were ya?"
Now the odds are more even, Noru gritted his teeth as rabid thoughts ran through his mind. And now Pine was using Substitute to add another fighter on their side. The apprentices, including the Substitute doppelganger, could take on the two Houndoom and Houndour while he himself took on the two Arcanine. The Ninetails didn't know how long they would last, but this would have to do.
With a roar, he launched himself at one of the large canine dogs while nine small embers formed on the tips of his tails. Knocking the intruder off his feet, Noru landed lightly and in a split second, the other Arcanine was enveloped in flames. The mentor glanced up slightly. His apprentices were doing well, exchanging bites and claws with their enemies. But however strong they were, the two of them were still apprentices. They would never be able to finish the Ishi clan members off, no matter how badly they're beaten. Noru frowned, his eyes clouded with worry as he watched his two apprentices fight.
A sudden snarl snapped him out of his thoughts. He was abruptly thrown to the ground when the angry canine beneath him recovered from his initial attack. He gasped in pain when he was firmly held down, rough claws digging into his shoulders. The Arcanine bared his fangs ferociously and lunged at the fox's throat for the killing blow. The Ninetails reacted quicker. With a swift breath, the firedog's eyes saw nothing but the heat of flames. He yowled in agony and scurried away with his tail between his legs. Without his eyes, he was finished.
Scrambling onto his feet, Noru prepared to fire another shot at the remaining Arcanine when a cold voice stopped him in his tracks.
The mentor froze, the flames in his mouth fading. Cold sweat dripped down his fur as he glared at the speaker. It seemed like Pine's Substitute was torn down. The Linoone, along with Ren were both pinned down by their attackers, blood dripping harshly out of their wounds. The two Houndoom sneered threateningly.
"Make any sudden movements and their heads come off." They snarled dangerously. Noru gulped. What was he to do? He couldn't bear to let his apprentices get hurt. Ren was already unconscious with a nasty bump on his head, while Pine was looking at him with pleading eyes.
Run! The normal type mouthed anxiously. It was like a stab in the Ninetails' heart. How could he think of running and leaving his students behind to die? It was unthinkable! But what was there to do? Noru gritted his teeth in frustration as the Arcanine behind him prepared a Flamethrower.
The next series of evens came so suddenly that the mentor couldn't even tell what was going on. Right as their attacker breathed out another fireball; a Razor Wind flew rapidly out of nowhere and extinguished it into a cloud of smoke. Another one came and threw the Houndoom on top of Ren high into the air, leaving the Luxio unscratched. Noru gasped in both surprise and relief to see their clan's Alpha dashing up to meet them. The Absol's long pelt gleamed in the sunlight as she launched another attack at the Arcanine beside him with ease, knocking him out as well.
Pine's captor panicked and, without thinking, lunged for his hostage's neck. The terrified Linoone let out a shriek, as the devil dog's fangs came inches away from his throat.
But the pain never came. In a split second, the Houndoom was knocked off his feet with his muzzle somehow sealed shut with a casing of ice. It stumbled backwards, eyes flickering around desperately trying to find his attacker, but was roughly struck on the head and slammed to the ground with an Iron Tail.
You would expect Pine to be quite shaken up by almost dying a few moments ago, but of curse, this is Pine we're talking about here. The little trooper's face broke into a childish grin and he immediately tackled his savior in a glomping hug, all the while screaming, "Oh my Arceus thank you thank you thank you thank you!" And so on.
Noru shook himself out of his daze and made his way towards his leader, Dusk, who was carefully tending to an unconscious Ren's wounds.
"Thank goodness you got here when you did, ma'am. I don't know what I would've done if you didn't…" He bowed politely. The Absol calmly looked up from the injured apprentice.
"There's no need to stand on ceremony here, dear Noru. We better get back to camp and take these three to our healers. They are much better at medicine than I am." Dusk said briskly. Noru nodded before gently picking up Ren by the scruff with his mouth and carefully placing him on his back. Noru's ears perked up slightly at the sound of his Alpha clearing her throat. "Oh, and please try and get Pine off of our newcomer. I don't want to have to carry a strangled body back to our camp."
Noru looked over at his younger apprentice. Pine was currently hugging the life out of a familiar looking Glaceon, who was desperately thrashing his paws around and gasping for air against the normal type's grip. He sighed in exasperation before walking over and nudging them with his nose.
"Pine, I know you really appreciate him for saving you, but if you keep squeezing him like that, he'll be the one that needs saving," The mentor chuckled as his apprentice jumped off of the Glaceon, who looked rather pale after being nearly suffocated. Noru watched the ice type wobbled unsteadily onto his feet. "Come on, let's get back to camp."
"But what about al the prey that we hunted?" The Linoone whined.
"Well come back to get it later. Right now we have to get your wounds treated before they get worse. Got it?"
"Fine…" He pouted and followed his mentor as the five of them, including Ren who was sleeping peacefully on Noru's back, strode down the thick forest path leading back to camp. Pine pranced cheerfully up next to his savior and began talking the childish, yet friendly tone that only he can achieve after a strenuous battle.
"So, what's you're name?" Pine asked with a grin. The Glaceon's ears drooped down shyly and the ice fox stared at his feet.
"Um, Frost. My name's Frost." He replied quickly. The ice type bit his lips in a nervous manner. Even Pine could tell that he wasn't going to say any more than what was already said. Nonetheless, the hyperactive Linoone stayed beside him to keep him with a friendly company. Frost, although saying nothing, looked rather appreciative at this act.
The two of them perked up as they heard a familiar groan. Ren was beginning to stir and rubbed his eyes weakly from atop his mentor's back. The wounds on his back had stopped bleeding and the swelling on his forehead had shrunk somewhat, but the Luxio still looked nonetheless badly beaten.
"Is the fight over?" He asked, trying his best to ignore the pain. He glanced over his shoulder and narrowed his eyes with dismay at Frost, who shrunk back slightly at the gesture. Pine missed the exchange and began babbling on rapidly about how Dusk arrived to save them.
"And Frost here was really strong!" The Linoone complimented, looking at the smaller male beside him with admiring eyes. "You beat that Houndoom without even getting hurt!"
"Really?" Ren said slowly, his voice dripping with an emotion Pine could not describe. Hate? No, they have only met for a couple of minutes. Ren couldn't possibly have such a strong dislike for the newcomer already, even if the Luxio was a jerk at times.. No, it was almost like… loathing.
Noru looked at his pupil with concern. He certainly hoped he wouldn't give Frost too much trouble. He shook his head as they neared their camp. They can sort that all out later. First they needed to get these three some medical treatment. Many eyes were steered towards them when they entered the camp, some with confusion, and others with awe. The Alpha has returned!
Dusk turned towards Noru with a strange look in her eyes. The Ninetails nodded his head at the silent message and looked over at Ren, who was still lying on his back.
"Can you stand?" The mentor whispered quietly. Ren nodded and wobbled off of his back, landing lightly on his feet. Apparently, he wasn't as hurt as he appeared to be. Noru ushered him, along with Pine and Frost, up to the Gathering Rock at the center of the den site where Dusk had already assembled the rest of the clan. Kara was already there, waiting for them. The older sibling cast Noru a worried glance at the sight of his wounds, but his expression quickly changed to irritation when he laid his yes on Frost. He opened his muzzle to say something but was cut off by Dusk, who had begun her announcement.
"My dear clan, I am sure you all have been wondering why I have been away from you all without notice, but I assure you that it was for a good reason." Whispering and chatter rose in volume after hearing the words of the Alpha. Dusk eyed them all patiently with a pause before continuing. "I have gone to receive us a new member, who will surely one day become a strong and loyal warrior and fight by our side with courage. His name is Frost."
The whispering rose to an excited conversing at the announcement. A new clanmate? Who could it be? Was he or she as strong as their Alpha claims to be? Frost flinched at the noise and bit his lip nervously. He was never good at meeting new people. Being thrown into such a situation was almost like placing him over a cliff with the pressure weighing down on him.
"Where is he from?" Someone piped up loudly. Frost froze at the spot and gulped. Then followed silence. A very still and heavy silence that pounded against every clan member's ears. One could have heard a blade of grass drop and land on the grassy forest floor. Kara smirked at Frost smugly, as if he was drinking down every drop of his discomfort with pleasure. Finally, someone broke the silence, but that person only managed to fill the newcomer with even more dread.
"Isn't it obvious?" Ren spat. "He's a filthy human pet. I can smell his stench all the way over here!"
Nervous murmuring filled the crowd. A human pet? Meaning a pokemon that was looked after by a human? How could their Alpha allow such a thing? Human pets were fat and lazy, said to have never raised a paw to work a day in their lives. How could such a creature become a warrior? Nervous sweat dripped down Frost's brow as words were exchanged between the many clan members.
"I don't care what you say, I won't stand for having human scum in our clan!" Ren snarled angrily. The Luxio was well known throughout the clan for his short temper, as well as his title as the strongest apprentice. He approached Frost with a mocking glare, looking down at him with pure hatred. "In fact, scum like you don't even deserve to live!"
With a lash of lightning, the Glaceon was thrown back several feet and landed heavily on the forest floor. The rest of the clan members had moved out of their way and formed a circle, preventing escape. Noru frantically ran over to his Alpha's side.
"Dusk, you have to stop them from fighting! Ren is already hurt, and Frost is not match for him. If they start a fight right here, one of them might actually die!" The mentor blurted in panic. The sound of deep laughter interrupted him as Kara joined them
"No, let them be," The warrior grinned victoriously. "This is a good way to see if he really is worthy of being in our clan. And if he actually wins, this could be a chance to let him win the clan's respect."
Dusk paused silently before slowly nodding her head in approval. Noru growled at his brother in fury.
"How could you?" He glared. Kara ignored him and trotted away to watch the battle.
Ren was currently taunting an unmoving Frost on the ground and he stomped on his head relentlessly with his paws, pushing the helpless Glaceon's muzzle against the dirt. Then, with a roar, he picked the smaller male up by the scruff and threw him over his shoulder. A pained cry escaped Frost's throat as he landed painfully with a sickening thud. Ren sneered with satisfaction when he saw the small trickle of blood drip down the side of his enemy's forehead.
"Ha! And I thought that you were strong! Go back to that dump you called home, scum!" The Luxio snarled with a bestial voice. Frost's jaw line tightened for a moment, but forced himself to take a deep breath before struggling to stand. His head was pounding with agony, but he shook it off warily.
"I'd rather not…" The ice type answered quietly, while staring down at his paws.
"Heh, I'm sure your stupid little family back in that human place of yours is waiting for you. I doubt they'd expect you to last for more than a minute in the wild," Ren laughed cruelly . The Glaceon's deep blue eyes suddenly hardened, and his meek expression grew fierce with anger.
Ren abruptly found himself literally face to face with Frost, who was a good few yards away only a split second ago. The ice type leaped toward him and twisted his body in midair, sending the Luxio flying with an Iron Tail. The crowd around them gasped in surprise at the newcomer's sudden burst of strength.
Ren was quick to pick himself up and faced Frost once more with an angry snarl. Their eyes met, and within moments Ice Beam collided with Thunderbolt, filling the battlefield with dust and explosions. Though both the apprentice and the newcomer were fighting with all they got, Frost was definitely getting more and more exhausted. It took almost three blasts of his ice to detonate one blast of lightning. At this rate, he was going to get blown to pieces before he knew it!
"Ha! If you keep going like this, you'll just end up getting killed! Just give up, you won't be able to even touch me!" Apparently his fear was showing clearly because the Luxio took this chance to go right back to taunting him.
Frost snapped his muzzle shut to keep in a squeal of pain as Ren's next Thunderbolt smashed right through the rest of his attacks and exploded right at his feet. The rest of the clan watched in suspense as his entire side of the battlefield was enveloped in a cloud of smoke and dust. Was he all right? Was that human pet even still alive? Noru was the most worried out of all of his clanmates and he struggled to see through the smoke.
The Ninetails heaved a sigh of relief when Frost's quiet voice sounded out within the blanket of debris.
"You said that none of my attacks will touch you, right?" His tone sounded weak, but nonetheless confident. Even Ren was unnerved slightly and took a step back when the air around them dropped a good ten degrees. Suddenly, a maverick wind blew a tunnel through the smoke as Frost charged toward the Luxio like a speeding missile. The ice fox grinned slightly midway through his dash. "Cuz if that's true, I'll just fire point blank!"
Ren's throat tightened in fear as the fierce glow of the Glaceon came just inches away from his face. He was like a deer caught in the headlights of a car, completely frozen in fear. Frost grinned in triumph. I got him!
The ice type felt a sudden weight on his back, pushing him to the ground. He gasped in surprised as the wind was knocked out of him, along with his attack. A pair of strong tails shot forward and roughly flung Ren out of the way right as the ice blast whizzed past the spot where he was standing moments before. The stand of trees behind the group was immediately frozen solid.
Frost growled angrily and struggled to stand up against the weight above him when it gently, but firmly, pushed him back down. He looked up to find that the one restraining him was none other than Noru.
"That is enough," The mentor said with an air of irritation. "You two have caused enough trouble for today. Pine," The Linoone standing within the crowd looked up excitedly. "Take Frost here to the medicine den. He's going to need to get his wounds treated. Meanwhile, I would like to have a word with Ren." The mentor glared at the crowd around them. "Well? What are you all waiting for? The show's over, get back to your duties!"
The Luxio looked up from his spot at the edge of the clearing with a smug air as the surrounding clan members bustled away to do their daily responsibilities. Had it been any other warrior who had who had wanted to see him, Ren would have been nervous as heck. But luckily, this was Noru. The Ninetails held a reputation as one of the softest mentors in the clan, which was pretty good news for him.
Ren shot an annoyed glance across the den site at Pine who was battering an exhausted Frost with rapid mouth as he lead him to the clan's healers. Well, if Ren couldn't kill him, at least there was a chance that Pine would talk him to death.
He shook his head wearily and straightened up as Noru approached. Before his mentor could say anything, the electric type sighed.
"I know what you're gonna say. I shouldn't have done what I did and I should treat all clan members both new and old with respect and all that good jazz," He recited while rolling his eyes. "You've told me this a thousand times."
"And have you ever wondered why I had to tell you a thousand times and I only had to tell Grey and Pine once?" The warrior tried his best to sound intimidating, but only ended up sounding like a female ranting at her pups, which Ren took notice of and had to bite his lips to stop himself from laughing out loud. Noru sighed. "You really need to be taught a lesson."
The broad shouldered Luxio gulped and suddenly stood up straighter. Noru rarely ever assigned any forms of punishment. If he was actually serious about assigning one now, it was highly likely that it wasn't going to be anything easy.
"I have decided to accept Frost as my apprentice." Ren's jaw dropped in utter shock. "Now he will be equals with you, Pine, and Grey. And he will be sharing dens with all of you."
"B-b-b-" The flabbergasted Luxio struggled to get his words out of his throat. "He's such a big weakling! Why the heck would you let him in our den?"
Noru laughed at his apprentice's reaction. "Ok, firstly, don't use that 'weakling' excuse. Kara said the same thing when the two of us were still apprentices like you were."
"What happened?" Ren asked.
"I got mad and sent him the medicine den with three broken bones," The mentor answered casually. "And secondly, the Glaceon is a lot of things, but a weakling? I don't think so."
The fire type trotted over to the stand of trees that had been frozen by Frost's attack and motioned for his apprentice to watch. With a gentle nudge, the tree branches immediately collapsed and crumbled into fine, white powder. Noru turned back towards Ren.
"See? If his attack had actually hit you, you would have been frozen to the core and that would be the end of that." The Ninetails stared hard into Ren's eyes. "You should probably know that Frost was mostly holding back until you insulted his family. I suggest you don't ever do that again."
"Why? Is his family really famous or something?" Ren asked curiously.
"No, his family is dead."
The Luxio gaped in shock. His guilt nudged him hard in the chest as he suddenly felt a heavy mental weight over his shoulders. "Oh. I didn't mean to-"
"Of course you didn't. You were only trying to kill him," Noru muttered sarcastically. Ren opened his mouth to speak, but his mentor gently covered it with one of his tails, wrapping the rest around the Luxio's broad shoulders supportively. "Ren, I'm not really the type of mentor to reprimand his students. So I'll only tell you this: be nice. I can tell he hates your guts already."
Ren stayed silent.
Grey cursed silently under his breath as he rummaged around the medicine den, knocking several wooden containers of herbs in the process. What's taking Fern so long to get a simple batch of herbs? He was supposed to be his mentor, so isn't he supposed to be able to do things quicker? The Umbreon's ears perked up slightly, the sound of pawsteps reaching his ears and adding to his current sense of annoyance.
"Don't bring anyone injured in here!" Grey snapped with irritation without looking up.
"But isn't that your job?" An oh so annoying yet familiar voice piped up before the Umbreon felt a sudden weight on his back as Pine playfully pounced on him.
Grey scowled. "Get off! We ran out of poppy seeds so, unless you want to wait for Fern to get back, you will all feel like you're in hell."
"Poppy seeds?" A quiet voice said curiously. Grey looked up, his half lidded gray eyes squinting slightly.
"So, you're that new guy I heard everyone talking about. What's your name?" The healer asked bluntly.
"Um, it's Frost." The ice type answered nervously. Grey raised his eyebrows.
"Judging by your name and the smell of an Eon, I'm guessing that you're a Glaceon, right?"
"Um, yeah I am," Frost said, tilting his head curiously. The lighting in the medicine den wasn't that dark. In fact, the sun was shining right through the grassy walls at them. The healer should be able to see him just fine. So why-?
"I'm blind, if that's what you're wondering," Grey muttered quietly while rearranging the wooden bowls around him. He sighed heavily and turned to face Frost. "Name's Grey. You can probably tell where I got it from." He said, emphasizing his dull, colorless eyes.
"Yeah! And he holds the record for being the grumpiest person at camp!" Pine piped up. The healer glared at the other apprentice and stomped out of the den in a huff. Pine frowned and hopped after him worriedly. "Wait! I was kidding, I'm sorry! Where are you going?"
Grey didn't look back, although there was no need to. "Everyone just kids around, don't they? No one really cares about a blind and useless healer like me."
"Actually," Frost said suddenly. "I'm kinda jealous."
The Umbreon's ears perked up and his half lidded eyes narrowed. "Of what?" He questioned testily.
"Of being blind," The ice type answered, smiling wide. "At least you don't have to look at Ren's face."
The edges of the healer's mouth twitched slightly as he tried not to smile. "Yeah, maybe that's the only good thing." He sighed and walked off.
"Hey, wait up! You still haven't told us where we're going!" Pine pouted and bounded after him with Frost following closely.
"I'm looking for Fern. That moron still hasn't gotten back yet." Grey muttered, rolling his eyes. "Feel free to come with me if you want. I could use the company- Ugh, what's he doing here?"
The other two apprentices looked up to see Ren slowly walking up towards them. Frost flinched slightly as the broad shouldered Luxio came closer. He was definitely not one of his favorite people.
"What do you want?" Grey snapped bluntly. Ren blinked.
"What? I'm injured too you know. Fighting thugs from the Ishi is not as easy as it looks. But of course, I beat them no problem!" The electric type puffed out his mane proudly. Frost rolled his eyes.
"Tough talk for the guy who got knocked out," He said mockingly.
"Excuse me?" Ren snarled, clearly annoyed. Grey smirked slightly as he listened to the exchange, laughing to himself when he felt the Luxio's heart rate go up in embarrassment.
"Come on, enough bickering. We're supposed to be going to find Fern, remember?"
The two rivals let out a huff and refused to look at each other. Pine had to push them along so that Grey wouldn't leave them behind. For someone who was blind, Grey navigated rather accurately through the forest and he stepped over several large stones and leapt over rocks. The Umbreon was definitely not going to let his disability slow him down.
They eventually decided to split up and search. This Fern person was certainly pretty elusive. Grey suggested searching the sunny spots of the forest, which was where poppy flowers were more likely to be found.
Frost was currently looking through a small, open field a little to the south of where they had fought their battle this morning. His ears perked up as he spotted a figure among the tall grass. She had her back turn to him, but nonetheless, he could tell that it was a Leafeon. Her feminine frame was hard to miss, even if it blended in perfectly with their surroundings. Frost blushed slightly. She looked rather pretty.
"Um, excuse me Miss-"
Grey's eyebrows twitched in annoyance as he heard a loud scream echoing through the woods, which was promptly followed by a large Solar Beam that probably left a crater or two in the fields. Maybe he should have warned the newbie about Fern before sending him off to search.
Pine stood on his hind legs to look through the tall bramble. "Sounds like he found Fern!" He laughed cheerfully. Ren raised his eyebrows in amusement while Grey rushed off toward the ruckus, tripping over several tree branches in his haste.
When the three apprentices arrived at the scene, they found Fern beating the living daylights out of poor Frost, screaming something along the lines of, "I'M A GUY, DAMMIT! WHY THE HELL DOES EVERY SINGLE PERSON I MEET THINK I'M A FRICKIN' GIRL?"
Ren, Grey, and Pine awkwardly watched from the sidelines of this strange predicament while the ice type got the crap kicked out of him; by a healer, no less. This was going to be a long day.