Art: SpaceSmilodon (http://www.furaffinity.net/user/spacesmilodon/) and Vexxblack (http://vexxblack.deviantart.com/)
Characters (c) of Space and Vexx
Story: BRNQuil (https://brnquil.sofurry.com/) and myself. (https://arcane-reno.sofurry.com/)
Make sure to check out other work done by Space and Vexx, at http://pmdbtad.deviantart.com/
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:
A Mountain Of Trouble 7
“You have to admit, though,” Stuart forced a laugh out through the icy mist. “They gave us a good send-off!”
Despite Stuart’s outwardly good cheer, the persian ahead of him relentlessly padded onwards. Thomas’ sullen grunting in response to nearly everything he said was starting to make the leafeon weary - the persian was the only company he had, but far more importantly, it was only the cat’s sense of navigation that was keeping them sure of where they were going.
If they were sure at all. In the depths of this thick mist, even Stuart had some reservations… iIf Thomas was bottling out, and not able to find the way home, they were both going to be in danger when night fell. It was all that Stuart could do to keep trying to raise his spirits.
And so, he tried again.
“Come on,” he probed. “Didn’t you think they were all nice?”
It seemed like at least a few hours had passed since they had been escorted from the abomasnow tribe’s grotto - news of the outside world and their exotic presence had made them popular quickly among the kids and even elder snover - but fortunately, the sun still hung in the sky, and even the amber streaks in the sky heralding the approaching sunset had barely shaken Stuart’s good mood.
One of their few prized flowers rested in the tip of Stuart’s leaf. It was where a friendly young snover, waddling close enough for Stuart to feel the cold of her body, had pinned the stem with a spike of NevermeltIce. He remembered flinching and shivering as it had slid through his leaf, locking the flower in place.
But that wasn’t the only pain slowing him down.
As the pair of them arced around a ragged boulder, Stuart winced - shuffling his gait to keep the weight off newly-injured calf. Sucking icy breath through clenched teeth, the leafeon closed his eyes, resisting the urge to wipe his vision clear with that very leaf.
The leafeon ground his teeth, sharpening his will to press on. Nothing was more important than keeping it safe. Nothing was more important than getting back to Kemogami!
With the Flora, he could protect everyone!
Ahead of him, Thomas’ endless footfalls faltered - then paused. To Stuart’s surprise, the feline sat back on his hinds, glancing up at the white-out sky above. Even through the blasting gale that swirled between them, the leafeon could hear his companion sigh.
“The archetypal sweet, sorrowful parting, sure,” Thomas spat. “But I would have preferred it if the snovers hadn’t all had Snow Warning. I’m still shaking ice out of my fur.”
Stuart blinked - and caught up alongside the persian, quickly realising why Thomas had stopped. His paws grasped at the lip of a rough, ice-covered outcropping that the mist had disguised; beneath them both was a drop that fell away to white nothingness.
This isn’t right...
“Yep,” muttered the persian. “And now we have bigger problems.”
“That’s…” To Stuart, leaning over the edge, the drop seemed to go on for ever.
The view over the precipice was ethereal, and seemed to stretch out and around them to the sky itself. It seemed either infinity had fallen away before the Pokemon, or the mist and the snow below had blurred together into such a sea of white - just like the horizon long since had - that it had brought the very image of the sky down to meet them.
Thomas’ paw shifted quietly, knocking a scatter of pebbles over the edge. The two watched as they tumbled silently into oblivion.
“That’s a long way down…”
Stuart swallowed. He knew that they had meandered quite some distance off-course down the rough slope of the mountainside, powering through snowdrifts and clambering down rocky bluffs; the incorrigibly lifeless climate of the mountain peaks had long since knocked out any useful paths, and gravity itself manifested in irony; the best paths to clamber up were now the easiest to fall down, leaving them both struggling to find an acceptable route to descend. With the snow and ice making the trek downwards far more dangerous than the upwards climb, they had tried to take care of every step - and with good reason.
Stuart had already slipped once - and although Thomas had mocked him dryly at first for not sharing in the feline’s firm footing, the leafeon took some pleasure in the fact that the persian had quickly sunk into silence on seeing the gash carved into his thigh by a particularly violent tree-branch.
The red-stained fur looked far worse than the injury truly was, and it was no trouble to get moving again - but it had knocked some humility into them both, even if Stuart had found it hard to get Thomas’ attention ever since.
Well, he had such attention now, anyway.
“Yes, dear leader,” droned Thomas, repeating Stuart’s words slowly. “That is a long way down.”
Stuart grimaced, looking around. The sight of the sun had faded into the mist, and he longer had any grasp of how late in the day it had become - but he was cold. The evening was surely falling fast.
“Surely it’s just snow down there. We could jump-”
“Don’t be stupid, Stuart,” Thomas growled, looking away. “Or at least, not more so than usual. It could be fifty feet down onto rocks...and you aren’t jumping anywhere with your hind injured.”
Stuart bit back his exasperation. He had to keep Thomas’ spirits up… now wasn’t the time to argue. They were so close.
Deep inside, he knew it! The hail falling again, painful as it was, meant that they had passed out of Abomasnow-controlled turf. With how far they had descended in the passing hours, they must be in lowlands of the mountains by now, surely… if he could just convince Thomas to keep going…
But why is the weather so violent if we’ve come so far?
“How did we get here, Thomas?”, Stuart mused. “There was nothing like this on the way u-”
The persian’s paw shot upwards, cutting him off suddenly.
Stuart’s jaw dropped.
Oh, no. Thomas, you did not just ‘shh’ me.
“Thomas,” Stuart said, chewing on the two syllables. Holding back flaring frustration by gripping tighter around the icy edge of the rocky outcrop, he chose his words delicately. “I show you every respect. At least return the favour, don’t ever-”
The persian span around, his paw slamming down on top of Stuart’s own - claws edged out of their sheath, poking into his thin, frost-covered fur. The leafeon froze.
“Be quiet!” Thomas hissed.
Stuart noticed immediately that the persian’s voice, normally calm and controlled… it wavered. The leafeon blinked, gazing in surprise as the feline’s ears flicked from side to side, swishing around, scanning -- focusing on… something.
The sudden rush of realisation was almost as sharp as the claws threatening to stab into his paw.
“I knew it,” whispered Thomas. “Stuart, listen to me. This mist isn’t natural - it’s Mist. The sting of this hail? It’s Silver Wind. Do you understand me?”
Stuart nodded, blinking.
“Those crunches and pawfalls aren’t echoes of ours, Stuart, they-”
“-- they belong to other Pokemon,” the leafeon muttered. “We’ve been followed.”
“Heh,” Thomas grunted. “Good to see that you catch on.”
“And how simply di-vine to see,” trilled a contented voice, “that you’re not simple, stupid, prey-fare.”
The Mists parted.
Both Thomas and Stuart gasped together, scrabbling away from the icy brink of the outcropping. Even in the vague half-light of falling dusk, it was easy to recognise the West Forest -- and even easier to see that it was a hundred feet or more below them, a straight drop down.
It was a death drop.
“We’re on totally the wrong side of the mountain,” grimaced Stuart.
“I’ve been tricked…”, growled Thomas. His growling didn’t stop - the rumbling grew in the persian’s chest -
“I’ve been… tricked…”
- the thunderous growl rolled over in itself in a tumultous storm; Stuart edged away, watching ferality tear at the corners of Thomas’ eyes. The fury didn’t seem to stop swelling - and it exploded into a furious roar as the cream feline lunged to the side, diving towards the last vestiges of still-vanishing Mist, cream-coloured paws clawing ravenously at the snowy ground.
“Bastard! Show yourself-!”, the feline yelled.
“Thomas, please! Control yourself-”
“Shut up, Stuart! I’m sick of your nagging!” Thomas barked back.
“Keep up with me for once, or find your own way home!”
Dark shadows twirled in the mist. A shrieking laughter rippled through the snow; an ominous wind grew, ruffling their fur. Thomas stood his ground, ears flattened against his head - cream fur ruffling in the furious gale of a full-force Silver Wind.
Stuart clenched his eyes shut, terror clenching at his gut - this wasn’t it! This couldn’t be it! On the side of a forsaken mountain at the end of the world, carrying the very gift that could save so many lives, this couldn’t be it, no, no way, not now...
The fear carried him back to his days as an eevee, forever defeated. Wasn’t there anything he could do..?
The Silver Wind was unleashed just as the mists parted; shining scales drilled through darkened wind, slicing through fur and flesh alike. With his eyes clenched shut, all he could hear was Thomas growling, gales searing, scales fluttering in the wind…
Thomas’ growl become a pained yowl.The sound struck him, deeper than anything else.
You’re stronger than before, Stuart.
The leafeon’s eyes burst open. Get in there!
The enemies were ahead; dark, unresolved shadows in the Silver Wind breeze. Thomas was everything. Snow was white. Evening was falling. The flower was heavy on his head. The feeling of fear; the scent of adrenaline. Ah… I remember.
He searched inside himself for the powers he held as he dived in front of Thomas, a Silver Wind scale slicing razor-sharp against the flesh of his cream-coloured ear; another razing against his tail---
A brilliant particle of light burst ahead of him, sweeping in every direction around his body. Scales bounced and clattered off the barrier; Stuart held firm, holding Thomas behind him - second by painful second wearing down the strength of his shield…
I can keep this up for as long as I need to, grimaced the leafeon. I know I can...
Then it was over. “Stop,” breathed a voice; the same silken voice from before.
Every noise was silenced; the clatter of scales against his shield fell to nothing. The snowfall was silent, and barely registered. For Stuart, the resurging sight of burgeoning nightfall made his heart sink once; glancing behind himself at Thomas, his heart sunk lower still.
The Persian’s fur was bloodied. Razor cuts covered his face and forearms; his ears were ragged, like the mane creeping down the back of his neck. His eyes, both open, were furious - but Stuart could see that even he was scared.
Why did you go in without me, Thomas…
“Don’t have the decency to look at your hosts?”, tittered the voice. “I should throw you off this cliff… maybe you’d learn manners on the way down. Look at me, leafeon.”
Stuart grimaced, tearing his gaze away from Thomas.
With the mists parted, and light snowfall now obscuring only the very horizon, there was nothing to stop him from meeting the eyes of the leader of their attackers.
Attackers… plural, thought Stuart. Today gets better and better.
There were five of them, standing together.
Left-most, a makuhita posed proudly.
A twitching breloom stood to his right, grinning far too wide.
Right-most, a silent ursaring
To his left, a butterfree hovered, giggling quietly. A tattered red scarf fragment was wrapped around her left antenna like a bizarre bandage, fluttering in the breeze that her own wings were causing.
And in the centre of all five, a proud mightyena bared his sharp teeth in a victorious grimace.
“That’s right,” intoned the canine, dragging out each word. “Meet the eyes of your new master, like a good b--... oh?”
The mightyena’s eyes slid upwards from Stuart’s face, locking onto something above him. The leafeon blinked quietly, not comprehending.
“That flower in your leaf, little one. Is that what I…”
“No,” squeaked Stuart. “No, no.”
“Don’t lie to me, boy. It is, isn’t it…” the wolf wolf-whistled. “Frostbite Flora… not seen outside the peak for a hundred or so years, eh? Not since those mamoswine gave up their land to the first folk to challenge ‘em? Gotta be worth a pretty penny, maybe even more than you both, if you know what I’m saying...”.
The canine licked its lips; the sight of its scarred tongue made Stuart balk.
Behind him, Thomas stirred. Picking himself up painfully, he limped to Stuart’s side.
“Who,” he gasped. “in the hell… do these twits… think th-.. think they are?”
“Still here, dear leader,” Thomas chuckled. “Still here…”
A quiet pause.
“Thanks for coming after me.”
The mightyena stepped forwards, crashing his forepaw into the ground - snow leaped up around the entire group,and a far-off mountain rumbled.
“If you lovebirds are done wasting my fucking time,” he spat, “we’re done here. So let me tell you what’s about to happen.”
His tongue ran around the edges of his muzzle twice more.
“Plantboy, queer-kitten, you’re now mine, until I sell you both. And that flower o’ yours is mine too. Surrender now,” laughed the mightyena, “and I might break less bones for your rudeness!”
The breloom behind the black-furred canine giggled maniacally to his words.
“Or surely, you could always fight us off!”, laughed the mightyena.
Stuart looked round at Thomas, as the feline met his gaze. The leafeon blinked.
I know what you want to do…
… and Stuart nodded.
Thomas smirked, the coin on his head beginning to glow, as the two Pokemon faced their attackers.
“I’ve got a very different idea, mightyena-” grimaced Thomas.
“Not today!” yelled Stuart, twisting quickly, leaping over the persian - as a barrage of metal shot from the feline’s coin, blasting out in a cone that struck all five of the red-scarfed team. The Butterfree fell to the ground, struck in the face by medallions-
Stuart’s paws hit the ground, but he was already dashing - dodging a swath of Bullet Seeds from the breloom, he fired a Trump Card right back at him, striking the fighting-type’s left paw. Trump Card One!
Thomas’s Pay Day finished, drawing to a close; the mightyena dashed towards him, but a quickly cast and weak Shadow Ball caught him in the face, disorientating the mightyena just enough to make the canine miss with a rapid Crunch.
The makuhita waddled closer as the canine and feline scrabbled for dominance; Stuart dashed around the outside of the battle, dodging a swiping Fury Cutter from the Ursaring - and fired another Trump Card from the sidelines.
Bullet Seed ripped through the fight, flying off ineffectually over the side of the cliff. It was all the distraction Stuart needed to re-position one more time..-
The flying Trump Card struck the mightyena right in the side of the head, just as he tried to Crunch Thomas once more - making the massive canine flinch. Trump Card Two!
At that moment, the leafeon was praising himself for the hit.
The next, he was suddenly flying backwards.
His paws scrabbled at empty air until a sickening crunch rang out. Stuart’s back slammed into the rock of a boulder - the butterfree sang out in a victorious chitter. He’d forgotten about the Flying-type and her Gust; he’d been picked up and thrown by the wind itself!
Augh… it hurt… Stuart slumped to the ground, struggling to pick himself back up.
Thomas was having no better luck. A fast Foul Play almost knocked the makuhita over, but its bulk was just too much - and a hefty paw had grasped the feline’s forethigh, keeping him locked in place as the breloom re-focused, aiming for a third Bullet Seed. The mightyena, dazed, had changed his attention to Stuart.
“You’ll pay for that, y’grass-type pansy-fucker!”
Trump Card Three!
The Trump Card slammed into the mightyena’s face, giving Stuart enough time to flee to the side--
Pursuit! Undeterred, the canine had slammed into Stuart’s side with double power. The breath flushed from the leafeon’s chest; he’d been winded badly.
Falling to his side, dots danced in front of his eyes - and he desperately tried to refocus, to pick himself back up, to get up and fight…
Instead, he found himself staring straight at Thomas on the other side of the battlefield.
Thomas, pinned by the makuhita, was spasming over and over again - as the furious breloom leant over his writhing body, firing Bullet Seed after Bullet Seed into the persian’s chest, face, belly, giggling and cackling--
Thomas was long since knocked out, and his unconscious body made a mute doll for the laughing breloom.
It was the last thing he saw before a Stomp on Stuart’s head knocked him down into the icy ground, and out cold.