So here it is, after much anticipation (the vast majority of which most likely comes from yours truly), my new fan fiction. I'm not really playing by all of the traditional rules here, but I hope you'll find it familiar nonetheless. Thanks for dropping in, and I hope you enjoy the story! (Rated Teen for fantasy violence)
Chapter 1: Taking Flight
The ocean rolled lazily in the distance, purring like a sleepy Persian. The golden disc of the sun had risen high into the sky and was still rising higher yet. A very light, salty breeze caressed the gentle hills and the town nestled among them. This was the vista over which a girl looked, as she took a deep breath of the fresh air and her pure white hair danced around her head. The similarly-colored sprite that stood next to her cooed, and she smiled and looked down at it.
“Yup, that's Baytown, all right!” the girl, Thalia, said. “We finally made it, Togetic.”
Togetic flapped its wings, lifting off from the ground, and nuzzled the side of her face. Thalia put one arm around her partner and let out a sigh of relief. “Now I just hope there's something here for me.”
Down in the town, she passed many people working and playing side-by-side with their Pokémon partners: a farmer with his Slowpoke, a child and his Pikachu playing tag with others, a carriage driver waiting for passengers with his Tauros, among many others.
“I've hardly seen this many people before,” Thalia said, reflexively feeling for the triangular blue clip that held her hair out of her eyes. “But there's gotta be work here, right?”
Togetic chirped in reply, eliciting a smile from Thalia. “Yeah,” she said. “You're right.”
She looked around, taking in the cobblestone streets, the quaint little merchant stalls set up along the sides of the street, and several storefronts set up on the ground floors of a handful of buildings. She would find work here, she reassured herself. She'd find a place to stay in town, or maybe on the outskirts.
She began by speaking to a rather rotund man in one of the many merchant stalls. “No work here, I'm afraid. You'll have to ask around,” he said, in a rather flat tone.
“Oh,” Thalia said, frowning. “Well, do you know of anyone else in town hiring?”
The man shook his head. “Not a lot of work right now. Tourists have been pretty scarce the past few weeks. You're the first new face in town I've seen in a while.”
“Oh. Well, thanks anyway!” Thalia said, forcing a smile. She waved politely and walked away, letting her head droop to her chest as she did.
It proceeded similarly several more times. Some of the merchants and farmers wished her luck in her search, which she was grateful for, but others almost ignored her entirely, acting as if she was nothing more than an annoyance.
“Who would've thought?” she muttered to herself. “Such a huge place, and nobody's hiring...” She sighed, her arms hanging down by her sides, shuffling along down a path. Her body was heavy, like all the energy had been drained from her it.
Togetic cooed to her, and she looked down at him and smiled weakly. “Sorry, Togetic, I just need to find a place to sit down for a little bit.”
And so she did, after what seemed like hours of walking, but was probably only a few minutes. A few blocks away, in fact, she found several wooden benches arranged around a fountain, which was currently full of foul-smelling, stagnant water. One of them was unoccupied, so she sat, planting herself firmly in the seat. Togetic hopped up onto the bench next to her.
And that, of course, was when she was thrown off the bench and onto the ground, with a very heavy... something... on her back. “Oh, sorry,” someone said. “I didn't mean to bump into you.”
“Owwww...” was all Thalia could say in reply. Then she felt the weight leave her back, and the next thing she knew, she was being picked up and placed back on her feet.
“Here, eat this,” the voice said, and she found a round yellow fruit with pink polka-dots in her hand. She shrugged, not really knowing what else to do, and took a bite.
Almost immediately, she could feel her energy coming back as the flavors of the fruit poured down her throat. She took another bite, and another, until the entire thing was gone. She let out a satisfied sigh, and stretched her back and her arms.
“Thanks,” she said, looking up to find a boy about her age standing there next to her. He had messy black hair and green eyes, and a crazy half-grin on his face. His magenta shirt and green cargo shorts seemed like an odd combination, until she saw the Grovyle standing next to him. She noticed that they both had a stalk of wheat hanging from their mouths.
“You're the one who gave me this, right?” She said, holding out the remains of the fruit.
“Yeah, it's a-” he began, only to be cut off by a swift and powerful right hook to the side of his face. He fell sideways, collapsing against the edge of the fountain. His Grovyle laughed.
Almost instantly, he was back on his feet. “Hey! What'd you do that for!?” he said, frowning.
“For running into me, you idiot!” Thalia shouted back.
Suddenly, the boy regained his composure and began to dust off his shirt. “I said I was sorry, didn't I? I even gave you a Persim Berry to make up for it. Sheesh, what is it with city people?”
“Oh, whatever,” Thalia said, crossing her arms. “Thanks for the berry, though.”
“Oh yeah, no pro- Wait, you smell different than everyone else. You're not from around here, are you?” the boy said, leaning in close.
Thalia took a few steps back from him. “What do you mean? You can smell where I'm from?” she said, eyes wide.
“Uh, yeah, can't everyone? You smell more like the woods than the sea, though. Did you come from the mountains?” the boy asked, still leaning forward. Thalia noticed Grovyle was staring at her as well.
“Yeah...” Thalia said. “It's a long story...”
“Oh, well I don't really have time for long stories,” the boy said. “I'm supposed to find someone here and I haven't found him yet.”
Thalia knew she probably shouldn't ask, but she couldn't help herself. “Who are you looking for?”
The boy just shrugged. Thalia quickly brought the palm of her hand to her face.
“You don't know who you're looking for?”
The boy shook his head. “No, I know who I'm looking for. He's a wanted fugitive named Ignacio Perry, but I dunno what he's calling himself right now. Or what he looks like.”
Thalia squinted her eyes. “You're going after this guy... but you don't even know what he looks like? What are you, a rookie cop?”
“Nope,” the boy answered, folding his arms behind his head and looking up at the clouds as they passed overhead. “The police just hired us.”
“So... you're a cop,” Thalia insisted.
“No, it's a training exercise. The police said they couldn't get him themselves, so my master sent me to deal with this guy,” the boy answered, still staring vacantly at the sky.
Thalia raised one eyebrow. “Who are you, anyway?”
“My name's Morri. Grovyle's my partner,” the boy answered.
“Okay,” Thalia said, shifting her feet around. “So you're, like, a mercenary?”
“Nope,” Morri said.
“Then what are you?”
“I'm a boy.”
“You're impossible,” Thalia said, frowning.
“No, I'm Morri, and I'm a boy,” Morri said, crossing his arms. “Who are you?”
“I'm Thalia, and this is my partner, Togetic,” Thalia said, pointing to her partner, who was still watching the conversation. “Look, it was nice meeting you, but I'm sure you're in a hurry, and I know I'm in a hurry.”
“I'm not in a hurry,” Morri said, looking inquisitively back at Thalia.
“I... uh, okay. Anyways, I'm trying to find a job, and-”
“A job? What for?” Morri said, frowning.
“Uh, so I can eat and have a place to live,” Thalia answered, stone-faced.
“That's pretty lame. You should totally come with me!” Morri said, his crazy half-grin reappearing on his face.
“Do you know someone in this town who's hiring?” Thalia asked, perking up once again.
“Nope,” Morri said. “But if you need a place to stay and food to eat, I got you covered!”
Thalia's elation turned into deflation as she drooped again. “Oh... Sorry, but I have to refuse. I'm looking for a life that's a little less... unstable.”
Morri shrugged. “Hey, if you wanna live some boring old regular life, that's fine by me...”
Thalia balled her fists up, and began to reply when she realized Morri had turned around and was walking away. The leaves hanging from Grovyle's body fluttered in the breeze as it followed its human partner.
Thalia put her hands on her hips and stared after them. “Well, that was weird,” she said. Togetic chirped in reply.
Thalia's stomach growled with impotent rage. She groaned and folded her arms over her midsection and grimaced. Togetic looked up at her and cooed.
“Oh hush,” she said, shifting slightly in her seat. She was sitting in a wooden chair in front of a pub. Through the open door, she could hear the chatter of the diners and the clink of silverware, and, as much as she hated it, she could smell the tantalizing fragrance of grilling vegetables.
“You don't actually think I should've gone with that guy, do you?” Thalia said.
“That's totally crazy, Togetic,” Thalia said. “That guy's totally crazy.”
“I know beggars can't be choosers, but I don't wanna wind up on some psycho's hit list because I've been seen around some bounty hunter,” Thalia said.
Togetic rolled his eyes.
Thalia's stomach growled again. “I'm so hungry...”
Togetic responded by whistling the first few notes of a song, and nudged Thalia's leg with his wing.
She hesitated. “I really hate to do this, but I guess you're right. Maybe someone will spare a few coins.” She shut her eyes and concentrated on translating the music Togetic had conjured in her brain into notes flowing from her lips.
There were no words to this song, but the deep, mournful tone of Thalia's voice communicated the emotions and meaning behind it far better than any words ever could. Thalia could hear the footsteps of people slowing as they passed her, enchanted by the hauntingly beautiful dirge. It was almost as if Thalia's voice was the wind, sweeping over the heart-wrenching sight of a once-pristine forest now in ashes. As the song wound down to its end, it took on an almost sinister edge until the final note rang out.
Thalia opened her eyes to see a man standing before her, clapping as his long black cloak billowed in the wind. He gave her a warm smile, and extended one gloved hand to her. She took it, and he pulled her to her feet.
“That was absolutely magnificent,” the man said, bowing and kissing her hand.
“Thank you,” Thalia said, looking confusedly down at the man.
“My name is Markus Vici, and I am a traveling magician. This is my partner, Houndoom,” the man said, as his partner stepped around the edge of his cloak. “Now, my lady, may I have the honor of knowing yours?”
Thalia blushed. “I'm Thalia.” She looked down at Togetic, who was staring curiously at Markus's Houndoom. “And this is Togetic. It's very nice to meet you.”
“The pleasure is all mine, Miss Thalia,” Markus said. “Might I buy you a meal? I would very much like to discuss potential employment opportunities with you.”
“Really?” Thalia said, her eyes widening with her excitement. She clenched her fists together in front of her chest, barely able to contain herself.
“Of course! What is a magician without his lovely assistant?” Markus said, gesturing toward the entrance of the pub. Thalia gladly followed Markus through the open doorway.
Inside, the aroma of sizzling fruits and vegetables was even more powerful, and there was a slight hint of fermenting barley on the air as well. The two sat at a table, and very soon, two plates of seared vegetables were set on the table. Two plates of similarly-prepared berries were placed next to them, for Houndoom and Togetic.
As the two Pokémon, plus Thalia, eagerly dug into their meals, Markus began to recount his tale.
“It all started, my dear, in a city far to the north. I was a young lad, living on the outskirts of town with my father, who was a lumberjack. He, of course, expected me to take up his place when the time came; I, however, was fascinated by the arcane. The tales of Darkrai the Trickster were always my favorites of all the bedtime stories my mother would tell me before she passed. These stories inspired me to become an illusionist, using my wits to make people happy. Father, of course, didn't approve.
“So when I bonded with a stray Houndour puppy, rather than one of the family Farfetch'd, he disowned me. I was fortunate enough that my mother's sister took me in as her own, as her only child had been stillborn. There, in the city, I impressed many with my feats, and even gained the companionship of a beautiful girl like yourself, though others grew envious of my popularity and profaned my name. One day, however, one of these bullies demanded to be used in one of my more elaborate setups, in order to see the trick up close and decry me as a fraud. There was a terrible accident, though. It was horrible. A trap door had failed to open, and the poor boy was burned to death by Houndour's flames.
“That was the last day anyone in the city asked to see me perform. They had all developed an irrational fear of me and my work, when I had done nothing malicious. It was simply a terribly unfortunate malfunction. I assured people over and over again that I'd checked and re-checked all of my equipment every day after that, to make sure it was all in good shape, but nobody trusted me.” Markus was becoming visibly upset. His face was flushed, and sweat was forming on his brow.
“Nobody trusted me, not even Nina, my assistant. She was gorgeous. Blonde hair, blue eyes, luscious lips, you know how it goes. One day, she came to visit me at my residence, for the first time in several days. She wanted so badly to understand, but she just couldn't comprehend what I was telling her. She had so much trouble trying to believe that everything had been an accident. She said so many people told her that I rigged the trapdoor to fail, so that the boy would be roasted alive, that I did it out of anger.” He sighed. “I won't deny some poetic justice in the accident, but it was still just that- an accident.” Markus was now holding his head in his hands, his formerly neat black hair now bunched between his fingers. His eyes were bloodshot and he looked like he might start crying. “You believe me, don't you?”
Thalia couldn't help but feel an almost overwhelming urge to just hug the poor guy. “Of course, Markus,” she said, patting him on the shoulder.
“Thank you. That's not even the worst of it, though. I told Nina it was an accident. I tried to convince her, but she just started crying and shaking her head. I told her she needed to sit down, but she refused. She was so upset, she didn't even notice Houndour lying on the floor behind her. She tripped, and fell right onto one of the swords I used to practice swallowing.” He stopped, with tears now rolling down his cheeks.
“Oh, you poor thing,” Thalia said. Togetic cooed in agreement.
“I knew everyone would blame it on me. The boy's death had been bad enough, but if I was still around when Nina's body was discovered, they'd have my head. So I packed up my bags and ran. I've been traveling ever since.”
“That's so sad,” Thalia said. She looked over this pathetic figure again. He was actually smaller-framed than he had appeared outside, and there were dark bags under his eyes.
“Thank you for your kindness,” Markus said. “I'm so undeserving.”
“Not at all,” Thalia said, giving Markus a reassuring smile. “What can I do to help?”
Later that afternoon, Markus took Thalia to a spot he'd picked out in town for his next performance, which he planned to start soon. The two humans and their Pokémon partners worked for the good part of an hour, setting up tall wooden beams that held torches, a rack of swords and spears that Markus had procured for his sword-swallowing act, and a large wooden sign that read “Markus the Magnificent” in swirling purple letters.
After the setup had been taken care of, Markus stood proudly in front of the makeshift stage, and called to the passersby, “Come one, come all! Come see Markus the Magnificent in a one-time-only show! The cost is a mere Silver piece! Come see as he and his beautiful assistant, Miss Thalia, perform feats that defy all logic!”
A small crowd was gathering in front of Markus, and there was a low growl of murmurs amongst the people. Markus looked back at Thalia, who was standing under the sign, and smiled, though Thalia could see the nervousness in his eyes.
“Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, to the greatest show on Earth! It is my pleasure to introduce to you all my lovely assistant, the beautiful Thalia,” Markus said, gesturing toward her. “It is also my pleasure to host such a large crowd this wonderful evening! From the bottom of my heart, thank you all for coming!”
The murmur of the crowd was growing louder. Their voices were a dull hum, and steadily growing louder. A voice rang out above the crowd, “I've heard of you! Everywhere you go, death follows! You pick up new assistants in every town you visit, and they always die in stage accidents!”
Thalia's eyes widened and her smile dropped into slack-jawed shock. The crowd's hum grew to a roar, as the people began to jeer.
“Wait! You've got it all wrong!” Markus pleaded. Thalia could feel overwhelming pity gnawing at her heart, but she couldn't stave off the feeling that the woman who had spoken up was telling the truth. She could feel her heartbeat rising. “No, no, please!” Markus cried.
He turned and began walking back toward Thalia. His eyes were red again, and he was visibly shaking. Thalia could feel her heart racing now, pounding in her ears.“I'm sorry, I don't know what to do,” he said. “But I'll prove to them that I've fixed everything. I've perfected my act. Now listen carefully to my instructions, Thalia. I promise there won't be another accident this time.” He reached out and grabbed a sword, inspecting it and wiping some dirt off the blade with his cloak. He looked at Thalia expectantly. Togetic stepped in front of Thalia, holding his arms out to his sides in a protective stance.
“There never has been an accident, has there?”
Markus, Thalia, and Togetic all looked over at the source of the voice, but Markus was quickly overcome by a powerful punch to the face. He dropped the sword in shock, and found his attacker: a boy with messy black hair and green eyes, wearing a magenta shirt and green cargo shorts.
“You!” Thalia gasped.
“Oh, hey Thalia!” Morri said, grinning and waving.
“You vermin! Houndoom!” Markus shouted. Houndoom was instantly at its masters side, head low, lips curled back in a snarl. Smoke was on its breath.
“No, my name's Morri, and I've been looking for you, Ignacio Perry,” Morri replied, pointing at Markus. Grovyle took a defensive stance in front of Morri.
“I don't know what you're talking about,” Markus hissed.
The crowd of people were backing away from the confrontation, and for good reason, as Houndoom unleashed a wall of flames from its mouth. Morri and Grovyle moved faster than Thalia's eyes could track, dodging around the attack's range with plenty of time to spare.
“A battle, huh? That's great! I haven't had a real workout in weeks!” Morri said. Almost immediately, Grovyle leapt into the air, and came down hard on Houndoom's shoulders with a Pound attack, all before Houndoom had even finished firing off its first attack.
“Oh wow,” Thalia said. Togetic cooed in agreement.
Houndoom snarled, and chomped at Grovyle, who just managed to dart back, out of the way, and began dancing back and forth, slapping Houndoom across the face with the leaves hanging from his elbows.
“Houndoom, stop fooling around and fry that lizard!” Markus said, with rage plain on his face.
Houndoom's head jerked backwards and then forwards as it belched forth a jet of fire. Grovyle launched itself into the air, over the stream, and stomped Houndoom's head into the ground, slamming its jaws shut around the Flamethrower attack. Grovyle jumped back away from Houndoom as it swiped at him with a foreleg.
Houndoom clambered back to its feet, shook its head, and opened its mouth, where a visible ball of flame began to form and grow. The ball shot from Houndoom's gaping jaws and spread out into a five-limbed figure. Grovyle lunged straight at it, passing between the figure's bottom legs, and came out right in front of Houndoom, landing an uppercut to the jaw that tossed the fire-type back onto its backside.
Houndoom climbed back to its feet, but before it could attack again, Grovyle grabbed one of its horns, and lifted, flipping Houndoom over his shoulder. Houndoom hit the ground hard on its back.
Markus screamed in frustration and grabbed his sword from the ground.
“Oh no,” Thalia said. “Togetic, use Trick and steal that sword away!” Togetic chirped and hopped into the air.
Before Togetic could even get close, however, Grovyle looked back at Morri, and the two nodded to each other. Markus kicked Houndoom aside, causing it to yelp in pain, and Grovyle darted forward and barrel-rolled, leaves glowing and slicing through the sword, straight into Markus's chest. The sword shattered into several clean pieces as it fell from Markus's hand, and Markus fell onto his back.
“And that's the power of Leaf Blade,” Morri said, giving the v-for-victory sign.
Grovyle, standing on Markus's chest, gave Morri that same crazy half-grin Morri had given Thalia earlier that day, and Morri mirrored it and gave his partner a thumbs-up as well. Houndoom whined, and began to lick its master's face, much to Markus's apparent chagrin.
“So, Thalia, have you been holding some sort of idiot-ball all day or what?” Morri said, frowning.
Thalia raised an eyebrow. “Excuse me?”
“Well, yeah. I'm surprised you didn't figure it out yourself earlier. I mean, that's how these things go, right? The pretty girl meets a mysterious stranger, he tells her his tragic past, she agrees to help him, and then he tries to kill her,” Morri said.
“Wait, how did you-”
“Seen it all before,” Morri interrupted, shrugging his shoulders. Thalia tried hard to ignore Grovyle's laughing. Togetic fluttered back to Thalia's side.
“Whatever,” Thalia said, sighing. “I'm just ready to get out of this place.”
A police officer in a blue suit came up to Morri. “You're the one who subdued this man?”
Morri grinned, putting his hands on his hips and puffing out his chest. “Yup. Me and Grovyle, anyway.”
“His appearance matches our portrait of Ignacio Perry, the young man wanted for the murder of Nina Smith and David Hughes in North City,” the officer said.
“I didn't murder them!” Markus cried, his voice cracking. “I didn't mean to...” With that, the pitiful man burst into tears.
The officer shook his head. “Sad. I heard Perry was always a bright boy. Thank you for your help, Mr....”
“Oh, I don't have a last name. You can just call me Morri. My master sent me here to stop him,” Morri said.
“I see,” the officer said. He held up a small burlap bag tied with a thin brown rope and placed it in Morri's hand. “Well, Morri, here's the bounty. 500 gold pieces.”
“Five hundred Gold!?” Thalia almost shrieked.
Togetic looked up at her, and chirped. “You hush. I am not getting all up in a tizzy.” Togetic rolled his eyes, which Thalia mimicked.
“All right, Thalia, let's go!” Morri said, rushing up to her and grabbing her by the hand and then running off faster than Thalia thought was possible. He still had that crazy half-grin on his face.
“Wait a minute! Morri, where are you taking me!?” Thalia cried, as Togetic tried his hardest to keep up.
“To Master Solon's place, of course!” Morri said. Grovyle bounded ahead.
“Wait, I never agreed to that!”
“You didn't have to! I saw it in your face! Besides, that's how stories like this start, right!?”