Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 4 Chapter 21 - Last for year
Well honestly after reading it all I...kind of don't have anything proper that I can really use all I can say is that things have gotten a lot more dramatic since they abandoned the farm and like I said I would've liked it if the Minder was dead (damn you Minder!) but anyway it seems that the friendship between Victory, Andrew and Gwenda is getting slimmer now that their personalities are clashing which coincides with Gwenda not being able to cope with her past and the fact that she has to share her best friend.
So...sorry I took so long.
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 4 Chapter 21 - Last for year
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 4 Chapter 21 - Last for year
@Xmas Haze: It twas always my intention for things to get more dramatic once they left the farm, and expected things to get even more intense over the next few parts. Glad your enjoying it.
@GengarEatBanana: Glad your enjoying
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 4 Chapter 21 - Last for year
It’s been ages since I last saw and commented on this fic and gosh has it intensified in speed and excitement. I really enjoyed the escape chapter and it was good to see Gwenda’s point of view and general thoughts in chapter 18 then the battle in the subsequent chapter. I liked the Minder’s personality and nature though I find his constant reoccurrences annoying, repetitive and predictable and I see him becoming a somewhat ‘The Terminator’ character. The plot’s good although sometimes I feel that difficulties are resolved in an improbable way (eg. tickets, staryu).
Overall, I’ve really enjoyed it so far and find myself regularly laughing out loud while reading it.
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 4 Chapter 21 - Last for year
I am glad you enjoyed Gwenda's thoughts and actions during those chapters: I was quite proud of myself during them :P I'm afraid The Minder is sort of stuck in that role, as a lot of villains are, though I have never seen The Terminator so wouldn't know myself. I don't see what happens as improbable, more coincidences - probably not a lot better, but a lot more improbable and frankly impossible things have happened in stories in the past. I am glad you are enjoying it, though I didn't realise it was that funny... I hope you aren't laughing at anything that is meant to be serious.
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 4 Chapter 21 - Last for year
No, I'm just easily amused :-)
Originally Posted by AceTrainer14
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 4 Chapter 21 - Last for year
I don't see how slaves on the run for the lives can be that amusing, but oh well, to each one their own
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 4 Chapter 21 - Last for year
I finally caught up, lol. A lot has changed since the Jewel of Johto exploded and glad you have given Gwenda some quality focus as well as two new Pokémon. Deaths seems to be following them, I kinda feel sad for them. Anyway, keep it up! I'm looking forward to finding out whether their wishes really will come true or not.
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 4 Chapter 21 - Last for year
Glad you are enjoying it :D There won't be much focus on wishes during Part 4, but it will still be pretty exciting, and there will be more new Pokemon as well if you like that stuff :D And yes, Gwenda definitely needed some focus on her own and I am glad I was able to find the opportunity to give it to her.
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 4 Chapter 21 - Last for year
Happy New Year everyone: we are now 102 years past the adventures of our lovable trio! There is not a lot left of A Wish on Freedom, so I hope you all enjoy the last few months of them while you can before their adventures dry up. Onwards with Part Four!
Chapter Twenty Two: Friend
Victoria's scream echoed around the valley, and would surely attract the attention of anyone trying to follow them, but she simply didn't care at the moment as she marched towards a pile of rocks. Despite the fact the shoes she was wearing were rather flimsy and didn't offer much protection, Victoria angrily kicked out, sending the rocks sailing through the sky. Gwenda, Andrew and Millicent simply watched as she did this, not bothering to try and stop her as they could understand her pain.
They had gone over the map before and had noticed the desert on their map and had at the time been afraid it could prove a threat. However, there was no other route this way: Lavaridge Town, which was very nearby, was only accessible from this route by a steep mountain, and they would than have to climb another one to Mt Chimney and take a longer route to Fallarbor Town. Going through the desert was meant to be a lot quicker, and the group had decided that would be their back up route if the ferry fell through, thinking that just because it was sandy wouldn't mean it was particularly hazardous.
However, they hadn't expected there to be a constant storm raging across the sand. Even standing about thirty metres away they were being battered by flecks of sand that were being tossed into the air by the wind that continuously ripped through the valley. They could only see about half a metre into the desert, and even that was all taken up by sand. None of them were dressed properly for this: Victoria and Gwenda still wore dresses and Andrew's clothes were long and likely to drag. On top of that, it seemed you would need something to shield your eyes from the sand, and they only had the things in their suitcase. It would take a miracle they didn't have to cross the desert, so they were stuck.
A few seconds after kicking the rocks, Victoria stood in silence, watching the last of the rocks rolling before coming to a stop. She was tempted to run forwards and keep kicking them all, but her toes already hurt from that one kick and she knew it wouldn't help. However, as Victoria stood there staring viciously at the rocks as if it was all their fault this was happening to her, she began to feel tears building up. Before Victoria even knew it she had tipped forwards to the sand strewn ground, tears streaming down her face and the wretched sound of crying rising up. Victoria didn't want to cry, but she couldn't help herself as the crushing defeat that the desert bore washed over her. If they couldn't cross through the sandstorm, they couldn't make it to Lilycove City. All this time spent running and fighting and nearly getting killed in explosions all seemed worthless as she sat on the ground, her friends around her, their plans stopped simply due to sand.
Gwenda, Andrew and Millicent heard Victoria begin to cry, and Gwenda went to move and console her, but Andrew reached out and grabbed onto the sleeve of her dress, shaking his head.
"Why not?" Gwenda hissed so Victoria wouldn't hear, though her words were nearly lost in the roar from the sand.
"She needs to let it out, just leave her for a few minutes," Andrew said, eyeing Victoria carefully. They were all upset and had come to the same conclusion, but Andrew knew that he had to keep a clear head and focus on the path ahead. He didn't want them to give up after coming all this way, and thought it was best for Victoria to spend a few minutes crying while he thought of what they should do next. Andrew pushed all other thoughts from his head: the shock of both boats exploding, Victoria's illness, Gwenda's revelation about her family, the fact that the people on the boat might have stood a higher chance of surviving if he hadn't acted so quickly, his love for Victoria…
Focus! Andrew told himself, his mind beginning to stray towards the feelings stirring throughout his body. Think… there has to be a way! He reached into the suitcase and pulled the map out, which Millicent took one end of and peered over the surface with him. They had marked their two paths out before, and now that it seemed both were useless, Andrew began to search through for another route, focusing on their current area and wondering if there was another mountain path to get around the desert. Victoria continued to sob as he stared, and Gwenda felt terrible for leaving her friend like this. Making sure Andrew was still looking on the map, she leapt to her feet and scurried forwards.
"Oh Victoria, don't cry!" Gwenda said, getting on her knees and giving Victoria a big hug, glancing back and seeing Andrew was eyeing her angrily. "We'll find a way around this, don't worry!" She said reassuringly, but it didn't seem to help.
"How, there is no other way!" Victoria cried, tears streaming down her face and onto both her and Gwenda's dresses. "There is no way around this – it's all over! We escaped for nothing. We won't make it to Lilycove City and all because of some bloody sand!" Victoria continued to sob, and Gwenda and Andrew both wanted to offer reassuring words, but they couldn't help but agree with what she had said: there didn't appear to be another route to Lilycove, and their negativity would show through anything they tried to say to make her feel better.
They simply sat in silence, Andrew letting go of the map so it fluttered against Millicent, while Gwenda half heartedly held Victoria as she continued to sob. They all felt defeated and tired, and none of them had the strength to move from their current positions or to ignore the negativity in their minds. But none of them noticed the crunch of stones or the sound of footsteps, mostly due to the wind still roaring nearby, but something caught Millicent's eye as she began to adjust the map.
"Miltank Mil!" She exclaimed, pointing a hoof forwards. All eyes turned to where she was pointing, but as Andrew gasped and leapt to his feet and Gwenda clutched tighter to Victoria in fear, the figure approaching them laughed.
"Oh please, if I was here to kill you or rob you, you would know by now," the man said as he boomed with laughter. Andrew had been close to grabbing the Fast Ball containing his Electrike and Millicent had begun to rise, but it was clear that this man wasn't the Minder nor was here to harm them.
He was dressed like a lot of the hikers: long brown pants, a long sleeved green shirt, thick orange vest that looked hand knitted, faded, slightly torn hat that covered his greying black hair and had a pair of black glasses resting on a thick, beard covered face. The man appeared well built under his shirt, and carried a bag about thrice the size of their suitcase that was fit to bursting on his back as if it wasn't even there.
"The name is Jim," the hiker boomed once he had stopped laughing, which had been rather sudden. "I have been walking this area for many years now, and never have I seen two black girls out with a white boy in all my time here, especially not at your age, so would you mind telling me what your story is?" Victoria had stopped crying and began staring up at Jim with a sense of confusion: they had no idea who he was, and though he seemed friendly, she didn't want to tell him about why they were there. However, he was clearly dressed for travelling through the sandstorm, and Victoria noted his thick black boots and the way his glasses were tinted rather oddly and quite thick, possibly for protection. Should they reveal their story to this man simply to cross the desert?
"Well come on, I don't have all day!" Jim boomed, raising his glasses to reveal green eyes that were alive with curiosity as they darted between them all. Victoria and Gwenda exchanged equally nervous looks, neither of them quite sure what to say, but they were both relieved and shocked when Andrew stepped forwards.
"My name is Andrew, and these are my father's slaves, Victoria and Gwenda," he explained, both slowly and nervously, looking over at the two girls as if expecting them to get angry. While they weren't pleased to be marked the slaves, they knew it was a smart idea: Jim would most likely believe the story, and Andrew clearly had a lie working out. "My father owns a hotel in Johto, and I was getting bored and wanted to come on a holiday. He allowed me to travel around the bottom half of Hoenn while he and my mother went to Lilycove City. I was meant to meet them at Fallarbor Town to go with them back to Lilycove, but none of us knew about this sandstorm and I am not prepared to go through!"
"Oh dear, that is a problem," Jim said sympathetically, resting his glasses on the brim of his hat and giving Andrew a strong pat on the back. Andrew was fit and muscled from his days working Miltank Meadows, but that didn't stop the blow from nearly knocking him over. Victoria and Gwenda got to their feet as Jim surveyed them, clearly stunned by what he came across.
"Whose Miltank is that," he asked, "and why were your girls crying?"
"Millicent belongs to them, and they asked my father if they could bring her with them on the trip in case we met any danger," Andrew explained quickly, "and they were crying because my father can be quite brutal to the slaves that work in our hotel and I think that seeing as I can't get through, they are afraid they may get blamed for it." Jim seemed rather stunned, and Victoria and Gwenda quickly played along, staring sadly down at their feet.
"He has a nasty whip and cane, and knows just how to hurt us properly," Gwenda whined, and Victoria sobbed before putting her head on Gwenda's shoulder. They felt bad for manipulating the hiker, but they were all secretly pleased that they may have found a way to carry on. Jim was shaking his head and tutting, looking fairly unimpressed.
"I never approved of slavery," he told them. "I saw my neighbours beating their slave to death when I was just twelve, and it was a truly haunting image. I thought most slaves had been released, but it is fairly disappointing to see some are still being held!" Andrew looked shocked for a second: what if Jim was so against slavery that he would turn down any pleas for help?
"I am not bad to them!" He said quickly. "Millicent and I were just looking at the map to try and find an alternative route so we could meet them in time and no one would get punished!"
"I can see that you're a good boy," Jim boomed, giving Andrew another hefty pat on the back. "A nasty slave driver would be beating the girls for crying, not just sitting there with a Miltank looking like a fool!" The hiker burst into laughter, and Andrew began to play along as if it was a big joke. Victoria and Gwenda wanted to give the impression they were feeling better and began laughing loudly as well, and soon Millicent had joined in, leading to them all roaring with laughter with only one of it true.
"Listen here," Jim said, his laughter stopping suddenly and forced the others to control theirs, "I may have a proposition for you. There is no faster way to get to Fallarbor Town than through the desert, and you lot will need help, yes?" Andrew nodded, barely containing his excitement at the fact they may have found a way to continue their journey. "It just so happens that I am heading through to Fallarbor Town as well," Jim continued, and Victoria and Gwenda exchanged wide beams of excitement, "though I am making a detour on the way."
"Detour?" Andrew asked, his excitement wavering slightly as Jim beamed at them all: it seemed that he was going to take them through the desert, but there seemed to be some conditions they hadn't seen coming. Jim's smile grew so wide that his mouth seemed to disappear into his beard, and he leant in close with his eyes dancing with life. The three slaves and Millicent bent in, curious and worried at the same time about what his condition was going to be.
"How would you kids like to help me find some treasure?"
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 4 Chapter 22
Chapter Twenty Three: Agreement
"I'm sorry, but… treasure?" Andrew asked, sounding rather confused and exchanging looks with the girls and Millicent. They had spent about half a minute in silence after Jim's suggestion, and only now had any of them talked: they were willing to help him with anything to get through to the train station on the other side, but the idea of treasure sounded a bit… strange. However, at Andrew's question the hiker simply began to boom with laughter once more.
"Have you never heard?" Jim said, his laughter echoing around the valley, though this time the slaves didn't join in, still confused by the statement about treasure. "So, you haven't?" Jim said, his laughter cutting off suddenly once more. "Well, let me explain very quickly then: basically, there is an old tale that a tower constructed entirely of sand stands in the desert we about to embark into. It is called the Mirage Tower because for many years people thought it was simply a mirage, but recently hikers and adventurers like myself have actually managed to make it inside the tower and have brought back reports of jewels and gold located inside, but they have never been able to bring anything back before the tower collapses.
"Now, we can't be certain that this is true or not, but I want to take my own stab at finding out if it is or isn't," Jim continued to explain, his speech becoming faster and a hungry look appearing in his eyes. "And if I do find it, I will need help getting some of the treasure out. So, if you three accompany me into the desert and we get inside the Mirage Tower and gather together some treasure, I will take you to Fallarbor Town and even give you girls a share of it – enough to start your own lives outside of slavery," and Jim finished his speech with a wink. Victoria and Gwenda were stunned by this, and they didn't even have to fake excitement at the idea: after years of having only a few changes of clothes and mild personal possessions, in a few hours they could have gold of their very own.
In an instant, images flooded both of their heads: fantasies of them on boats like the Johto Jewel with butlers and servants in fancy attire serving them drinks and food on sparkling platters. Images of them riding personal steam engines to holiday homes on their own personal island, images of them buying weapons and getting Pokemon and storming Miltank Meadows, images of them building their own prison out of hardened gold to keep Edmund and the Minder trapped for eternity.
"I think we need a moment to discuss this," Andrew's voice said, and the two girls snapped out of their fantasies as he and Millicent walked quickly towards them. Jim nodded and stared towards the desert fondly, not noticing as Andrew looked sternly at the two of them and moved them aside. "Are you actually considering his offer?" He said.
"Of course!" Gwenda shrieked, but quickly silenced herself as Jim glanced curiously over. "He is offering us TREASURE!" She continued in a whisper. "Think of what we can do with all of that gold and jewellery! We could buy our own house here in Hoenn!"
"It is an amazing offer Andrew," Victoria added a little less hysterically than Gwenda. "Why shouldn't we accept it?"
"I thought it was obvious!" Andrew snapped. "We've travelled all this way to make it to Lilycove and we've been through so much, and it's the only reason we need to cross this bloody sandbox, but your both willing to throw it away for some money!"
"What makes you think we'll throw it away?" Victoria snapped back indignantly, annoyed at the idea they would end this quest simply for some gold. "We'll carry onto the Lilycove as planned!"
"Remember Jim thinks you're my slaves," Andrew hissed. "What would he think if he passes your share over and you continue to travel with me?"
"Mil Mil," Millicent said with a nod, but Gwenda scoffed.
"What makes you think he is going to Lilycove as well? We can make it look like we're doing something else and then sneak onboard, and even if he does go with us we can make up some excuse, like Victoria and I know a boat out of there or something," Gwenda explained like it was obvious. Victoria knew both of them had good points, though she did feel bad at the idea of scamming the friendly hiker when he was going to help them out. She noticed Jim kept glancing back towards them, and she knew it was time to make a decision.
"Alright, here's the plan," Victoria said in an authoritative tone, desperate to move on from this and get over with travelling through the sand, as well as stopping Andrew and Gwenda from getting at loggerheads again. "We'll help him with the treasure and get towards the station, but once there we'll tell him the truth: he will either feel sorry for us and give us all some gold, or will be annoyed and give us none, but either way we will have gotten through the desert."
"I wanted treasure," Gwenda said with a pout, earning her a whack from Millicent.
"If you want treasure and you don't get any, than wish for some from Jirachi, alright?" Victoria snapped. "However, my plan is final, alright?" And with that Victoria stood up straight and smiled warmly at them all before walking forwards. She wasn't going to waste time sitting on the edge of a sandstorm discussing wheter to become rich or not: they needed to get to Lilycove and fast, and they couldn't afford to waste any more time.
"I take it you have a decision?" Jim said brightly as Victoria walked over, though even though he was anti slave his eyes turned towards Andrew. Victoria looked back and saw he and Gwenda were also wearing beams, though their eyes showed their continuing anger towards each other.
"Yes, we have," Andrew said brightly, "and we kindly accept your offer: going on a treasure hunt does sound like a lot of fun!" Andrew added the last part in a rather posh voice that made Victoria snort, though Jim didn't notice in his own excitement.
"Excellent!" He boomed, and instantly dived into his bag. Once everyone was together and Andrew had hold of the suitcase, the hiker had pulled out several leather pouches of water, large things that looked like cheap masks with string tied around the back, a length of rope and bulky metal helmets.
"Now, I know this doesn't look particularly good, but it is rather necessary," Jim explained, slipping his own black glasses down back over his eyes. "These glasses were given to me by a friend at a science lab: they repel sand and protect your eyes and help with seeing ahead. They are the only pair I have and as I am leading the way, I will be wearing them. What I have here for you is something a lot of other people use: the masks will protect your face but gives eye, nose and mouth holes so you can still see and breathe, while the helmets will protect your ears and stop your hair from getting blown around. I'll hold one end of the rope and you three will hold on tightly so that you know where I am going, and the water is, well, water!" Jim began to laugh again at his joke, but the slaves all exchanged looks at the strange gear they had been given. It all looked a bit extravagant, and they all felt silly as the slid the masks on and put the bulky helmets on top. Instantly they could barely see or hear anything, and it was rather hard to breathe, but all three of them simply hoped it stayed to their task.
"See you soon Millicent," Victoria whispered, and brought the Miltank back whilst Jim was sorting the rope out for the other two. It was soon passed to her, and Victoria smiled through the mask as Jim tied the end of the rope around her waist.
"You two need to hold tightly onto the rope," Jim said, tying the other end around a strap of his bag, "because if you can't find me or Victoria, then you would have strayed too far off and we won't be able to find you, so just hang on tight." Andrew and Gwenda's faces were covered by the mask, but Victoria could see from the parts of their eyes she could see that they looked extremely nervous. "And Victoria," Jim continued, turning to her, "make sure you keep up with me: I don't want to be dragging you on your back through the sand. Now, are you all ready?"
"Yes," the three mumbled, feeling rather unenthusiastic about this as the mulled over his words and examined the rope between them and the strange things they were wearing: it was necessary to cross the desert, but they would rather feel reassured about it.
"Alright then: let's get going!" Jim said excitedly, his face so full of glee it reminded Victoria of the small children at the orphanage when they got their single Christmas gift. She felt rather better as they began to walk, knowing they were helping to make one man happy, and began to walk with pride as they began to step into the desert, thinking about how they were helping to change his life.
That pride disappeared the second they stepped into the desert.
One moment, Victoria's dress had only moved when she did, and she felt reasonably calm and happy. But stepping into the desert was truly terrible: only five steps in and suddenly Victoria's dress was blown to the sides and shooting up legs, exposing her skin beneath to the sand being blown around. The small particles felt like multiple tiny knives as they smacked into her legs and exposed parts of her arms, and Victoria had to clutch tightly onto her mask to stop particles getting in through her sides. Her limited vision caused by the mask suddenly turned into a swirling mass of dirty yellow, and Victoria couldn't even see Gwenda in front of her, only the rope tied around her waist. Her feet sank down in the sand and her clothes billowed violently.
Well… this is just great, Victoria thought bitterly to herself. She had half a mind to untie the rope and head backwards, but glancing back Victoria found she couldn't even see the rest of Route 111 they had just left. The rope pulled and Victoria began to turn with the movement of Jim's leadership, and she knew that if she had any hope of actually getting out of this hot, windy desert than she would have to stick with Jim: not just for her completing their task, but Victoria knew that if she split from the pack, she would get lost and be dead within days, and forced herself to keep on walking and hope for the best.
Little did Victoria know, death was closing in wheter she stuck with the group or not.
Back in the relative safety of Route 111, the Minder watched from the bushes as the slaves and Jim disappeared into the cloud of sand. A smile crept onto his face, glad that his arrival via teleportation had gone unnoticed, and even more pleased that his targets had entered the region's largest desert and their hopes all rested in one man. Lips curling up on his wizened face, the Minder began to walk forwards, slipping his own protective mask over his face, and wondering how if anyone would be able to hear them scream deep within the sand.
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 4 Chapter 23
Chapter Twenty Four: Sand
"NEXT TIME SOMEONE OFFERS TO TAKE US THROUGH A DESERT, LET'S JUST CLIMB A MOUNTAIN, ALRIGHT?"
Victoria wanted to laugh, but she was afraid sand might go through and only managed a closed mouth chuckle that would have been lost in the wind. The only reason she'd heard Gwenda anyway was that they had bunched up when Jim stopped to check directions, but now Gwenda was a metre in front and Victoria couldn't hear her own footsteps, so how was Gwenda meant to hear her speak?
With no watch to tell the time and the sun hidden away, Victoria had no idea how long they had been walking but it felt like a very long time. Her legs were sore from all the walking they had done in recent days and trying to move through sand wasn't the most comfortable thing with aching muscles. It was also still hard to walk with her dress billowing up around her body, either creating drag or being blown around so that Victoria came close to tripping on many occasions. The rope was tight around her stomach as Jim moved quickly, pulling them all forwards and causing the coarse material to rub against her. Victoria wanted nothing more but to sit down and take off the uncomfortable mask and heavy helmet, but she knew that tredging constantly through the sand was going to bring them closer to the treasure and closer to getting to Lilycove, and simply grinned and beared it.
It could be worse – we could still be back at Miltank Meadows being whipped and abused, Victoria told herself as she stumbled over a hole in the sand. She decided to focus on the view around her, but a quick glance told Victoria that the desert view was the same as it was when she came in: yellow, brown and specked. The constant moving sand made a thick blanket that was hard to walk through let along see through, and Victoria only caught sight of Gwenda when the others slowed down, even though she was only a few metres in front. Occasionally Victoria caught sight of a large rock of strange, weed like plant if they came near, or another person travelling through the desert, but that was only for a few seconds before the sand swallowed them up once more.
This is very boring, Victoria thought to herself, trying to keep her mind occupied. What to do, what to do… I could think about Lilycove… no, I have thought about too much. I just need to focus on this bloody desert for the time being, and once we're out of here and gotten Jim's darn treasure we can be free, and then I can focus on getting to Lilycove…
I wonder how Andrew and Gwenda are taking this? I can't hear anyone complaining, though this wind is too loud I am surprised I can hear myself think! Those two do need to stop squabbling though, it is beginning to get annoying. I'm pretty sure they were arguing and glaring about something when I was crying before – if they keep their disagreements up than I'll take the train to Lilycove without them! I don't need stress of their fighting added to the rest of it. I hope they don't put me in a situation where they seriously expect me to choose between them, because I can see that coming, and I am NOT sure what I would say to them...
I know Gwenda would expect me to choose her, and if things were different I would in a heartbeat. But… after all that has happened with Andrew… I know what I want, and I can't help but see myself in a few years time with Andrew by my side, possibly running our own farm with Millicent and his Electrike… a nicer place that Miltank Meadows, of course, with trees full of fruit and grounds bursting with vegetables, and many Miltank grazing the long green –
Focus Victoria! This isn't time to think of the future. I need to focus on the present and getting through this desert with only scratchy skin and nothing worse. The future comes after Lilycove, and Lilycove comes after the desert: when I am out of here, than I can think about Jirachi and making my wishes and dreams come true….
Victoria was so lost in her internal discussion that she hadn't noticed that the others in front of her had stopped, and she walked straight into Gwenda and nearly knocked them all over. Gwenda looked back and hissed something in annoyance, but the wind tossed it aside and Victoria raised her hands in apology. For the first time since they started walking Victoria could see Andrew, and moving a few steps forwards revealed Jim standing perfectly still, staring directly in front of them, a map clasped in one hand and the other over his eyes.
"THE MIRAGE TOWER SHOULD BE AROUND HERE!" Jim shouted over the wind, and Victoria was surprised he didn't choke on the sand that must have been blown into his mouth. The three slaves looked around, trying to stare through the sand in front of them, but they still couldn't see more than a metre in front, let along see a giant tower made of sand.
"I CAN'T SEE ANYTHING," Gwenda shouted. "ARE YOU SURE THIS IS THE RIGHT PLACE?"
"I AM POSITIVE," Jim yelled, his voice sounding uncertain though. "TRY LOOKING HARDER, OR MAYBE WE SHOULD MOVE –,"
"I SEE IT!" Andrew shouted suddenly, and everyone turned. They couldn't see his face through the mask but he was radiating excitement and pointing directly ahead. "I CAN SEE THE TOWER!" Victoria turned around and tried squinting and adjusting her mask to see ahead, but she couldn't see anything through the sand and began to wonder if Andrew was just suffering some sand-related hallucination.
"NOTHING'S THERE," Jim yelled angrily, making Victoria slightly more relieved that she didn't just have poor eyesight, though was becoming more concerned for Andrew and his possible hallucinations. He let out an irritated growl and walked forwards, pointing ahead but staring at them.
"IT IS RIGHT HERE!" He cried, though still no one else could see it. "FOR GOD'S SAKES, I'LL PROVE IT!"
"ANDREW, WAIT!" Victoria screamed, but in a blink of her eyes Andrew was gone into the sand, leaving his part of the rope behind as well as the suitcase. Gwenda hastily picked it up as Victoria clutched her chest, beginning to get concerned. What if Andrew had just seen a mirage none of them had and had just run off into a sandstorm? He could get lost, never to be found again, and all because of her plan to go to Lilycove meaning they had to go through here.
I just want this bloody tower to appear so we can leave this retched desert! Victoria thought to herself as she shut her eyes, feeling a tear streaming down her cheek. I just want to get out of here! As she thought this, the wind made a strange noise like it was trying to blow through something heavy and Victoria felt the pull get stronger, and opened her eyes to see what was wrong.
And there was the Mirage Tower in front of her.
Victoria's jaw dropped as she stared at the structure. It was about four storeys high, with spaces for windows, a triangular roof with PokeBall designs etched into it, along with even more patterns and images appearing around the walls, and it was made entirely from sand. Victoria had no idea if it was even able to support people, but she knew she wanted to go in and marvel at the structure. Looking around, she saw that a patch of sand had been etched out in front of her leading towards the tower, and that Andrew was well ahead on his own path. Victoria hadn't even registered that the sand seemed to flow over the top of the path rather than straight through, and turned to the other two excitedly.
"Let's go!" Victoria said, stunned to find she didn't have to shout to hear herself anymore. However, Gwenda and Jim simply looked confused.
"YOUR NOT IMAGINING THINGS AS WELL, ARE YOU?" Gwenda shouted, sounding rather irritated, and Victoria noticed that Jim looked like he was about to set the sand on fire in his rage. Victoria couldn't understand why they couldn't see it and grabbed Gwenda's hand, pointing it forwards.
"Can you seriously not see it?" She said, wondering how the four storey building was somehow invisible to people. However, Gwenda's face lit up in shock, and Victoria knew that she could see it now. "Finally!" She cried and let go of her hand, making to walk towards Jim.
"WAIT – IT DISAPPEARED!" Gwenda shouted, following behind Victoria with the suitcase clanging into her legs. Victoria was surprised by this, but saw that Jim looked more delighted.
"NO ONE HAS EVER TRIED TO COME HERE IN A GROUP BEFORE!" He shouted. "MAYBE IT ONLY APPEARS TO SOME PEOPLE, BUT IT YOU HOLD OUR HANDS, THAN WE CAN SEE IT AS WELL!" Victoria didn't particularly want to spend the whole time holding their hands, but didn't let it show as she simply wanted to leave. Gwenda and Jim's hands clasped around hers, and the hiker's jaw dropped and his face lit up like a flame as he stared up at the Mirage Tower, an object of his dreams. Victoria's annoyance faded slightly as she saw how happy the tower was making Jim, though wondered why it hadn't appeared to either him or Gwenda, but that was something to worry about later.
"Let's get going!" Jim cried, walking straight forwards and towing Victoria and Gwenda behind. The two girls exchanged grins as they walked, knowing that soon they could take their stupid masks and helmets off and get being in the tower over with. Andrew was waving to them from an open entrance, and the trio rushed forwards to join him, eager to see what the Mirage Tower had to offer.
With all of them facing forwards, none of them noticed a well dressed man limping through the sand behind them, a torn and dirty white shirt wrapped around his face with only his spectacle covered eyes and nose uncovered. Beneath the sheet, the figure smiled as he saw the four entering the tower, and the Minder quickly began to follow.
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 4 Chapter 24
Chapter Twenty Five: Tower
Stepping one foot inside the Mirage Tower, Victoria knew it would be the most elegant building she would ever step inside, even if it was made of sand.
Andrew had moved inside after waving to them, so Victoria, Gwenda and Jim moved under an open, decorated archway with block-like versions of Pokemon at the top, the sandstorm instantly entirely cut off. They had their hands held tightly, but Jim and Gwenda used their free ones to remove their helmets and masks and discard them by Andrew's, allowing them to take in the fully beauty of what they had entered as they removed Victoria.
Entering the tower revealed just more of it's surprising architecture: there was a fabulous mantelpiece of sand bricks with an empty space where a fire should be, surrounding by sand versions of paintings and picture frames that were made of more block-like Pokemon. The walls themselves were a work of art, with giant images of Pokemon and humans encircling around symbols and shapes: there was a full length Onix circling round the entire open space, giant Solrock and Lunatone dancing in the stars, humans bowing down to Dragon Pokemon Victoria had only heard of in legends. The floor was one giant mural of three circles set out like a triangle: one showing humans cultivating the land with Golem and Tauros, another showing a ship sailing alongside Wailord and Wailmer, with the last one showing two people watching a flock of some Flying type soaring into the clouds.
Victoria didn't know what it was about this place, as it was bare asides from the artwork, yet somehow is felt warm and wholesome, as if she should just settle down and live here. She never got a chance to spare a thought for her home life, but being here brought back memories of nights by the fireplace as her parents read stories to her, and fantasies of fantastic family meals with fictional family members joining them for a feast. Victoria had craved a family, homely environment during all her years on the farm, and this open space somehow brought back images.
"Isn't this place amazing," Gwenda said in awe, and almost stepped forwards to join Andrew in twirling around the room, taking in all the sights. But Jim suddenly pushed her back towards Victoria before leading them towards Andrew, roughly knocking them out of their fantasies.
"I have been warned that you shouldn't stay on the first floor too long," the hiker explained once they were all together. "As you can tell, it becomes fairly distracting and makes you forget about going up, allowing the tower to began to feel you and know you." Victoria wanted to keep staring, but the idea that the tower was somehow alive and absorbing in information about her sent a shiver down her spine: was it going to build a defence against them using these facts?
"Going up is all very well and good, but do you see a ladder or staircase anyway?" Andrew pointed out, and a quick look around revealed the room was indeed quite bare asides from its artwork.
"That's just part of the tricks," Jim said with a smile, and he led them towards the centre of the room. He pulled Andrew in with his free hand and bunched them all together. There was a sound almost like clicking and whirring, and the three slaves watched as the roof above shuddered. From between Solrock and Lunatone came a step, which began to spiral down and grow into a full staircase. Jim moved them aside as their way up came to a thud in front of them, looking as stable as the rest of the building.
"Just a little precaution, I am told, to keep certain people out," Jim said with a smile, and made to lead Gwenda and Victoria forwards. Andrew went to follow behind, but suddenly yelled out and everyone turned around. Victoria and Gwenda expected the worst, but simply saw that what looked like a large, clay coloured bug had its powerful jaws clenched around Andrew's foot.
"What is that?" Victoria asked as she dragged them back towards him.
"That's a Trapinch, a Ground type," Jim explained and bent down, pulling Victoria down as well. Andrew looked pained, and Gwenda couldn't help but let out a little giggle that earned her a steely look. "I've never heard of a Pokemon getting in here before, but oh well," Jim added, and used his rough, dirty free hand to prise the Trapinch's jaw apart.
"Thank god!" Andrew groaned and lifted his foot up to examine it, nearly kicking Jim as he went to stand back up. "Bloody thing!" He growled and turned to face the Trapinch, but it was backing away and quickly scuttled off when Andrew made to approach.
"Let's just keep moving up, shall we?" Jim said, passing it off as a mild inconvenience and led them all back towards the staircase, moving particularly quickly. Victoria went to ask Andrew how he was, but paused as something caught her eye: for a second, she thought something moved by the arch, but when she looked back it was gone. Thinking it was just a shadow moving in the sandstorm, she focused back on climbing.
"How did you let such a small Pokemon grab hold of you?" Gwenda continued to tease as Jim led them up to the next floor.
"Oh be quiet," Andrew snapped, looking furious. He then glanced over at Jim to make sure he wasn't looking before leaning in and going into a whisper. "This tower is really strange: I am beginning to regret coming here."
"I have to agree," Victoria hissed back, her lips barely moving. "I don't like the fact it seems to detect our presence, like there is some weird eyes peering at us through the sand. I really just want to get the hell out of here!"
"Alright everyone, we need to get moving!" Jim boomed, almost as if interrupting their conversation. The three shared one last concerned look about their current situation, each of them wondering if there was a way to get out, but they didn't want to share their thoughts until they had a better plan. Instead, they straightened up and began to look around the new floor.
This floor was a lot smaller space wise, with the area in the middle one giant block of sand, leaving them standing in a narrow hallway. There were windows here, each topped off with one of the block like Pokemon that none of them could yet decipher. The hallway branched off around the wall of sand in front of them, and Jim began to lead them forwards.
"Where is the way up on this floor?" Gwenda asked.
"We have to find it," Jim said, a twinkle in his eye and excitement running through his voice. Victoria wondered how long Jim had been planning to come to the Mirage Tower as he was acting quite literally like a small child that had come across a toy they had been searching after for years. Even though it was getting them across the desert, Victoria couldn't help but think how foolish it had been to follow a stranger into a sandstorm without fully knowing what was in store for them. The Mirage Tower was clearly designed to test those that came inside it, and Jim had invited them along for some reason they possibly wouldn't find out.
"How exactly do you find something made of sand amongst stuff made of sand?" Gwenda whinged. "That's like trying to find a very specific piece of hay in a haystack." Victoria and Andrew began to laugh but all the hiker gave them was a rather serious scowl.
"Now listen here," he said, pointing a thick finger at Gwenda. "We need to get to the treasure and find it before the tower decides it doesn't want us here and collapses around us, and even though we will fall onto sand, I can assure you that it will probably bloody hurt." Gwenda became as stiff as a board at this, staring at the finger as if it was a knife being shoved against her face. Victoria was sick of the confusing nature of things, but before she could talk Jim had begun dragging them off.
"Jim!" She said, trying to sound as tough as she could. "We need more of an explanation about things if we are going to be of any use to you, and you should let us send our Pokemon out to help as well." Victoria wasn't actually sure if their Pokemon would be of any use, but she thought that if things turned bad, at least there would be a few extra faces on their side. As Jim came to a stop and pondered things, Victoria stared at Gwenda and then into towards her pocket and mouthed 'Millicent'.
"Well, I guess explaining some of these things could be useful," Jim said as Gwenda used her free hand to grab Millicent's Heavy Ball and passed it across to Andrew along with her Lure and Love Balls. "The ladder is hidden as part of the wall in order to test that we are worthy to go up," Jim explained, turning around and not noticing the suspicious fact that the two girls had PokeBalls. "If you don't find the ladder, you clearly are not meant to move upwards."
"That sounds fair," Victoria said. "Are there any challenges on the next floor?"
"You will find out when we get there," Jim said with a sly smile that worried Victoria. "Now, you can send your Pokemon out if you want, and then let's get moving!" Victoria and Gwenda weren't sure what they were meant to be looking for exactly as Jim dragged them forwards, but Gwenda moved her hand across the sandy bricks, trying to find something that would signal a ladder.
"If it was that obvious we could find it," Victoria said, and Gwenda nodded and decided to focus on staring. There were four clicks, and they looked back temporarily as Millicent, Scarlet, Petal and Electrike formed besides Andrew, all looking confused but he began to quickly explain things.
"Just tell them to look for a ladder, that's all they need to know!" Jim snapped, and Victoria and Gwenda exchanged another glance, wondering why Jim was being reluctant with dishing out his information. "Just bring yourself and those five Pokemon across and let's get started!"
"Wait, five Pokemon?" Victoria said, and looked back around: there was a Miltank, Staryu, Roselia and Electrike, and she didn't think there was a fifth until something called out behind Andrew.
"Tra Tra Pinch Pinch!" And they all looked as a Trapinch scuttled up towards them looking frightened.
"It's the one that bit me," Andrew said grumpily, but the Trapinch wasn't here to bite, instead looking behind and gesturing with his large head as he continued to jabber away.
"What is he on about?" Gwenda said. "It's almost as if something's frightened him, or maybe someone else is in the tower!" Just as Victoria remembered seeing the shadow moving outside and went to say it, a cold but familiar laugh rose up from behind them, and all eyes turned towards it.
"Great deduction skills Gwenda," the Minder laughed as he talk several steps forwards, his whip and cane at the ready. "It's just a pity you people never learn to not fall for my traps," and before they could say anything else, Victoria and Gwenda screamed as Skarmory shot around the corner, screeching metallicly as her twisted mouth opened and was aimed directly for the pair of them.
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 4 Chapter 25
Chapter Twenty Six: Weight
The two girls dived to the ground as Skarmory shot towards them, and for a second Victoria was sure the metal beast was going to get to them. However, the screech turned into a gargle, and Victoria glanced up to see Jim's muscular hands were wrapped around the Steel type's throat. Skarmory's wings and sharp feet were flailing madly as she struggled to break free from Jim's grip, yet Victoria and Gwenda remained unharmed from the attack. It seemed they would be able to flee, and Gwenda made to leap up but a moment later let out a gasp of shock that made Victoria turn: one of the talons had struck her leg, leaving a cut near knee and causing blood to stream down her leg.
"Gwenda!" Victoria gasped. Jim, who had a look like Skarmory had personally insulted him, saw the blood beginning to come from Gwenda's leg and angrily threw the Skarmory aside, sending her crashing into the floor next to the Minder. The old man had simply watched as his Pokemon was attacked, a smile creeping onto his face as Jim leapt down and tore the bottom of Gwenda's dress off and began to wrap it around the wound.
"Well well children, it looks as if you have finally found someone competent to do all the little things for you," the Minder sneered. Victoria had several choice words to say to the slave driver, but was more concerned for Gwenda who looked shaken at her sudden injury.
"The fabric should help to steam the bleeding, but I am not a medic so I am not too sure," Jim said, not being reassuring in the silence. Gwenda simply nodded, looking fairly shaken as the blood was already staining the fabric. "Now, who exactly is this wrinkled old bugger?" Jim boomed, standing up and puffing out his chest as he stared down at the Minder.
"The more important question is," Andrew said quickly as he and the Pokemon struggled not to start attacking straight away, "how exactly do you keep on surviving things you've caused and keep on finding us?" The Minder let out a laugh as his Skarmory squawked behind him, and Victoria signalled for Jim to help drag Gwenda backwards.
"You people seem to keep forgetting I have a teleporting Pokemon on my hands," the old man laughed. "It is fairly easy for escaping from anything, and I have found it particularly handy. This time, I teleported into a house that belongs to a work friend of Edmund's who I knew is currently away on holiday. Unfortunately for you, it is right on the edge of town, giving me a perfect view of anyone going up Route 111." Victoria gasped and looked across at Andrew, who was beginning to look fairly angry: after he had made them run so fast to try and evade capture, they had ended up being spotted by the last person they wanted to see them.
"I managed to find a police officer and reported two black girls and one white boy I had seen running away from the scene," the Minder replied with a vicious smile. "They thanked me for my information, so I expect you to be on the lookout for the police from now on – they are going to be as eager to catch you as I am.
After that, it was easy to teleport to Lavaridge Town which I have visited many times in the pass for its lovely hot spas, and I was able to see you and overhear your conversation from your carrying voices. I have travelled through the desert before, and teleported down so that I could swiftly follow after," the Minder said, and as he finished talking laughter erupted from his mouth, echoing around the sandy hallway. "You three stick out like an Onix amongst Pidgey! Any thief want to steal from you could have you stripped of that suitcase and your Apricorn Balls within five minutes if they so pleased! And now I have you trapped in a building made of sand that is about as stable as this convoluted plan you came up when you all escaped!"
"Escaped?" Jim said, staring curiously down at his travelling comrades. "I thought you were meeting with Andrew's parents – what is going on?" Victoria turned bright red as the Minder continued to laugh, leaning on his cane to hold himself up. She knew that at some point their lie would get exposed, but being at the mercy of the Minder made things even worse.
"Parents – HA! The closest thing these vermin have seen to parents is the back end of my cane," the Minder said, laughing so hard that it turned to a coughing fit. Victoria could see Gwenda was on the verge of tears while Andrew looked murderous, their Pokemon wanting to act but not sure how to. But the look from Jim was the worst: it was a mixture of confusion and disappointment, the child-like excitement fading from his eyes. Victoria wanted to tell the Minder exactly what she thought of him, but as she struggled to find the words his coughing got worse.
"You're getting weak," Victoria whispered, an idea quickly forming in her head. She got to her feet and pointed accusingly at the Minder, who looked confused. "All this chasing after us isn't doing any wonders for your health. Have you looked in the mirror lately? You've got bruises and cuts all around your faces and arms, and I can only imagine what chasing us through deserts is doing to your leg. Tell me Minder, how much longer do you think you can chase after us? Working the farms has given us strength that your whipping will never give you: we can keep on fleeing long after your cold, shrivelled little heart has finally given up!" The Minder was taken aback by this, but Victoria knew her point was sitting in: Andrew had hit him with two buckets during their escape, Millicent's Bide had hit him on the Johto Jewel and there had been the move explosion earlier that day. It was a miracle he was still able to walk, and Victoria's words seemed to be stirring something up.
"I may not be at my peak fitness," the old man said finally, his voice lacking its usual acid, "but I can still kill you before those dark little legs of yours have a chance to escape!" He was holding the whip tightly, and Victoria knew that when his confidence was down was the only way they could move.
"Attack him, go!" Victoria yelled, grabbing Gwenda by the shoulders and beginning to drag. The Minder raised the whip, but by this time the four Pokemon were all ready to move: Millicent started things off by charging forwards with a Zen Headbutt, and was joined by a Swift, Pin Missile and Spark. As Victoria rounded the corner, she watched as Millicent blasted the Minder's whip backwards as the other attacks slammed into Skarmory. Gwenda let out a groan and Victoria felt terrible after treating her friend like this.
"Don't worry, we'll be out of here soon," Victoria promised quickly as she looked towards the spiral staircase. But just as she wondered how to drag Gwenda down there, there was another shudder and suddenly the steps rose back up, leaving only smooth ground behind. "What the –,"
"GEOOOO!" Victoria screamed and turned around in time to see a Geodude leaping towards her. He clung onto her arm and began to pull her to the ground, and Victoria screamed for help. Andrew and the Trapinch rounded the corner and saw the struggle, just as the wall next to them whirred.
"TRAP!" The Trapinch cried and smashed his head into the ground, sending a shower of sand smashing into the Geodude. It had enough force to make him let go, and Andrew quickly grabbed his large head and threw the Pokemon behind. Petal and Electrike were suddenly sent flying as well, crashing into the wall and looking dazed as Millicent let out the loudest moo Victoria had ever heard.
"Are you alright?" Andrew asked, and Victoria nodded, though she looked at her arm and saw it was bright red and it hurt to move, leaving her to only wonder what Geodude might have done. "The Minder has released his Kadabra as well as there is a bit of a battle, Jim is going after him but is getting whipped back. You go up first and I'll help get Gwenda up, and will follow after, alright?"
"Sure," Victoria said, still in shock to really say anything. She was going to ask how she was meant to get up, but than Victoria remembered the second whirr and looked behind: only a few feet away from the where the spiral staircase had been was a ladder made of sand leading to a new hole in the ceiling. Despite what they wanted, the Mirage Tower seemed to want them to go up, and Victoria wondered if the slightly alive tower wanted to watch their battle continue.
With a slight groan, Victoria got to her feet and moved towards the ladder. A glance showed that Petal was consumed in a battle with Geodude, while Electrike had charged forwards and yellow flashes and squawks showed he was battling Skarmory. Victoria wondered how Millicent and Scarlett were doing, but Gwenda was losing blood and needed to get of the floor before a fight began. It was painful climbing the ladder with her sore arm, and Victoria was thankful for Andrew rushing over to give her a push, even though she began blushing furiously at his hands touching her thighs.
"Quickly, I can hear the Minder and Jim fighting!" Andrew said. He heaved Gwenda up by her arms, and Victoria was shocked to see blood had seeped through her dress, only the whites of her friends eyes showing through her half closed eyes. Victoria was quick to grab Gwenda's arms and Andrew gave a push as Victoria struggled to pull, but managed to get most of Gwenda's body through the hole and Andrew pushed her legs through.
"Find somewhere to hide, don't worry about us!" Andrew shouted, but there was an explosion that caused the tower to wobble in a way Victoria knew wasn't safe. She coughed as small yellow particles of sand rained down from above and she was blinded for a few seconds, but Victoria knew that she had to keep moving. It wasn't safe to stay near the ladder and she had to get Gwenda to a safe place to see what was wrong with her leg.
"Come on Gwenda, stay with me," Victoria said, giving her friend a little tap on the face to see how she was. Gwenda let out a groan that sounded almost like a gargle, but she remained in her position and didn't make anymore noise. Victoria quickly scanned the surroundings: she knew it was the third storey, leaving one more floor above them where the treasure presumably was. Based on what Jim had said, there was going to be another challenge on this floor to test them, and Victoria looked around for any clues, but the only thing different from the floor below was that some of the sand on this floor appeared to be a darker colour. More shouts and bangs came from below, but Victoria didn't have time to focus.
"Alright Gwenda, let's see what this floor has to offer," she said, getting to her feet and hooking her hands under Gwenda's shoulders. It didn't seem a particularly nice way of doing things, but Victoria was in a rush and she didn't want to push any more pressure of her friend's leg. Quickly she began to scuttle backwards, dragging Gwenda and trying to see if anything was behind her. The path was clear, but the sand beneath her feet felt stranger: it seemed to be less solid than that below, and felt to Victoria as if it was moving. She didn't want to worry about it, but just as Victoria slowed to turn a corner she felt a tearing sensation in her already sore arms and gasped.
"When did you get so heavy?" Victoria said with a slight laugh, and turned around to see why things had gotten harder. What she saw nearly made her drop Gwenda in shock: the ground Victoria had just walked on had disappeared, leaving Gwenda half on the edge of a more solid bit and half on the next floor. Petal had stopped battling in shock, but all it earned her was an easy target for Geodude to hit with a Rollout. Victoria was so surprised she had no idea what to do, but she quickly pulled herself together and began to heave Gwenda up, grabbing onto the side of her dress for an extra hold.
"What sort of tower is this," Victoria asked herself, rubbing her injured arm as Gwenda flopped fully onto the sand. Glancing down the sandy corridor as she caught her breath, Victoria began to notice something: there were yellow bits like the area they were currently on, and than there were darker areas like the one she had just run across and was now beginning to reform rapidly, as if sand was being poured in by an unknown source.
"Alright… this is going to be tricky," Victoria told herself, and stared down the hallway. It seemed much longer than she would have liked, and it was going to be a very long run to get across the sand. There were two areas before the end of the hallway, though the gap between them was too small for two people to sit on. Victoria wanted more time to think, but the tower swayed again as Millicent and Skarmory both cried out beneath them, and there were sounds coming a lot closer than before.
"I really wish we hadn't come in this bloody tower," Victoria complained to herself as she got to her feet. All she knew was that she was going to have to make it all the way to the other end without stopping, and dragging Gwenda wasn't going to achieve that. With a sigh and a rolling of eyes, Victoria bent down and heaved Gwenda up so both her arms were wrapped around Victoria's neck. Gwenda weighed more than Victoria but was at least shorter, but all Victoria knew was that she needed to start running.
"COME ON," she yelled to herself, taking off at a sprint. "LET'S FINISH THIS!" Her yell echoed around and was bound to attract attention, but Victoria didn't care as she ran with all her might. Her right arm was screaming with pain as she clung onto Gwenda, and the sand beneath her feet seemed to be slipping away, but Victoria didn't dare look in case it made her slow down.
But just as Victoria thought things were going well, two things happened that made her rethink that plan. Firstly, she ran onto the solid part but kept on running, and what seemed like a good idea ending up backfiring: the sudden change from collapsing ground to solid caused Victoria to start running off course, and she had no way of controlling herself as Gwenda's weight shifted. Just as Victoria began to gasp as she practically ran in a similar fashion to mad flailing across the sand as it collapsed more rapidly behind her, the second thing happened: with a jolt more powerful than before, the entire Mirage Tower swayed.
"AAAAARRRRGGGGHHH!" Victoria yelled as the force of the movement sent her flying to the side. If she crashed into the wall and bounced backwards, she would fall into the opening ground. Struggling to regain balance and stay on path, Victoria had to act quickly and did the only thing she knew how to do: she sprinted forwards and curved her back, making Gwenda's weight press down on her. But as sand slipped from her feet, Victoria pushed up with her arms and sent Gwenda sliding off. For a second Victoria thought it had backfired, therefore leaving Gwenda stranded with weight pressing down on her neck and back, but was relieved as her friend fell off with a grunt onto solid ground. Victoria was pleased, and for a moment thought she would make it across as well, but knew it wouldn't happen as a sensation rose up in her stomach.
"Damn," Victoria cried and jumped forwards, digging her fingers into the solid ground as the sand disappeared beneath her feet. The feeling of falling struck her stomach and feet, and Victoria tried not to glance down as shouts and explosions from colliding moves rose up from below. Her sore arm was screaming at her to let go, but Victoria clung on tightly and put most of the pressure on her left arm to get her to move up. But Victoria didn't have a good enough upper arm strength, and was tired from all their days walking and being on the run. For a moment, she was just tempted to let go and fall back into the battle and see where that took her…
"MILLLLLL!" A large hand smashed into Victoria's rear and tossed her upwards and forwards, leaving her to land right on the other side of Gwenda and roll forwards, nearly ending up on another area of loose sand.
"Thanks Millicent," Victoria called, and glance into the large hole showed the Miltank waving before turning back towards Skarmory as Scarlett and Electrike duelled with Kadabra alongside. Victoria felt bad for leaving them all below to battle, but she needed to keep moving and looked around the current area. The hallway was a lot darker, and Alaska realised there were no windows, simply two heavily decorated walls. But one thing that stood out was something standing in the middle: another sandy ladder, leading up to an even darker hole directly above it.
The treasure room, Victoria thought, and for a moment enjoyed more flashes of wealth and riches from taking the many jewels and money that resided inside. But she quickly snapped herself out of it as Gwenda let out a groan alongside. "Come on Gwenda, let's get moving," Victoria said. A shout rose up from the hole which still hadn't reformed yet, and then angry shouts from the end of the hallway that was followed up by Jim falling against the wall with a bloody hand. Victoria was shocked, and knew that they had to move quickly.
"Let's go Gwenda," Victoria said, lifting her friend back onto her back and nearly collapsing. She put a step forwards, excited to finally be near the treasure room, but screamed as she nearly toppled forwards: the second her foot touched the sand, it faded away, leaving a large hole far beneath. "Oh my god, this tower is such a nuisance!" Victoria fumed, on the verge of tears at how annoying and long this day was turning out to be. She wanted to collapse and give up, not even wanting to think about how to move across this sand. But just as Victoria was about to give up, her answer came in the form of a loud squawk.
"SKAAAAAR!" Victoria jumped as Skarmory was sent flying through the hole, urged on by some sort of combination move by Millicent and Scarlett, the latter still beating into the Armor Bird Pokemon. Victoria didn't want to go near Skarmory after Gwenda's horrifying injury, but she had an idea that just might work.
"SCARLETT!" Victoria yelled, and the Staryu flashed its jewel to signal it had heard. "Push Skarmory towards us and then around the corner, keep her upright!" Scarlett seemed to have heard as she continued spinning but did so in a way that pushed Skarmory forwards.
"Yuuuu!" Scarlett cried, and unleashed a series of golden stars that pushed Skarmory forwards. The Flying type was nearly unconscious and didn't notice the Swifts, nor when Victoria grabbed onto her neck with Gwenda once again around her neck. The weight unbalanced Skarmory and Scarlett had to fire more Swifts and even a BubbleBeam, leaving Victoria clinging desperately onto her sharp neck. Despite their efforts though, the metallic bird was beginning to sink and Victoria had to act fast: she pushed down on Skarmory and sent her towards the ground, and than used her body as a springboard that sent her towards the ladder.
Her sore arm grasped on as Skarmory hit the floor, sinking straight through and leaving nothing below the ladder. Scarlett propelled herself forwards as Victoria desperately and painfully began to drag herself and Gwenda's weight up the ladder. Victoria literally felt as if her arms were about to tear from their sockets, and had no idea why she was making herself enter the treasure room asides from it being the only safe place at the moment. But as the tower swayed again and nearly shook her off, something rolled near the hole: Victoria used her curiosity at what it was to fuel her, and pulled herself up into the open hole with a painful grunt.
It was in that moment that Victoria finally caught sight of Jim's goal: the treasure.
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 4 Chapter 25
Chapter Twenty Seven: Treasure
In an instant, Victoria forgot about the pain in her right arm and the stress of the battle below. She even forgot her best friend was on her back and fighting for her life as blood poured from her leg. The only thing in Victoria's mind was the room she had just entered, and the fact that it seemed to have answers to all her problems.
All around her was treasures beyond her wildest imaginations. Light shone in and bounced off all of the treasure here, making the entire room shine. There were piles of jewels coloured blue, red, green, yellow, purple, orange and some that simply shone a dazzling white. Gold was piled all around in various forms: coins that could fit into a hand, varying sized blocks that would probably push Victoria's pain to its limit if she tried to hold, goblets, plates, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, pendants, staffs, all sorts of items with small jewels and designs encrusted into the gold. Piles of silver and bronze coins were stacked around as well, almost as if they had been tossed here. There were a large pile of rocks that Victoria faintly recognized from an old children's book as being evolutionary aides for Pokemon, alongside magnificently coloured phials and jugs and elegantly decorated pottery.
The treasure was not just contained to jewels and gold. Elegant dresses and smart suits were piled around gold encrusted suitcases, paintings and artwork that were of a quality high above anything Victoria had seen in the rest of the tower, pieces of wooden furniture set out like a family living room, each piece looking as if it had been hand crafted over hundreds of years. There was even a dark, leather bound book sitting on a sand pedestal that looked rather out of place, but Victoria wasn't in the mood to question. She simply stared around in awe as dozens of different coloured lights shone onto her skin: for several moments, Victoria became lost in the riches around her, sucked into the glamour and excitement that the jewellery and riches posed. All she wanted to do was grab of much of it as she could and jump out of the window onto the sandy desert below, ready to enjoy life for the first time in years.
"Yu Star Star!" A hurried cry snapped Victoria out of it as Scarlet pushed herself upwards into the treasure room using Swift. Victoria had forgotten all about Gwenda on her back, and was quick to spin around and place her friend on the ground, where golden and green glows struck her face.
"Gwenda, can you hear me?" Victoria said, slapping her friend's face again, but all that she got was a gargled groan that didn't sound healthy in the slightest. The tower swayed again, and there were shouts sounding a lot closer that made Victoria's happiness slip away entirely: Gwenda couldn't be left here, not when the battle was coming so close. Victoria quickly put her hands under Gwenda's shoulders, her entire back now screaming as she dragged her towards a leather couch near the book on the opposite side of the room. She heaved Gwenda on by herself as Scarlet fired a Swift down the ladder, earning a shout for her troubles.
"Nice work," Victoria called out as she lifted Gwenda's legs up. Gwenda groaned as her legs were lowered onto the couch, and Victoria felt bad as she pulled away the dressing Jim had put on. Blood had seeped through the cheap material and left it completely soaked, making Victoria retch but she held it in. However, she nearly couldn't contain herself as she looked down and saw Gwenda's cut: you could tell it had been deep, with dark red blood that was almost black continuing to spurt out and pour down her leg, the blood now reaching her heel and already staining the couch.
"Oh my god Gwenda," Victoria said, dropping the blood soaked material as she wiped away tears that were already building up. She wanted to give her friend a hug, but the tower suddenly swayed so violently that Victoria yelled out as she toppled backwards. Her outstretched arm whacked into the book and it landed heavily on her chest as her head narrowly avoided whacking into the leg of the table.
"Staryu Star Star Yu!" Scarlett cried, suddenly moving rapidly away from the hole. Victoria groaned as she looked up, moving the book that had fallen open off her chest and looking towards the hole. Petal's green spiked head was beginning to come up, with a voice that sounded like Jim's telling her to hurry up.
"Scarlett, go over there and help them and then try and bring Jim here, alright?" Victoria said, and Scarlett nodded and moved quickly back. Victoria got to her feet, picking the book up and making to place it back on its pedestal as she tried to think of how to save Gwenda. But just as the words 'stopping the blood' entered her mind, Victoria gasped a she saw them directly in front of her.
"What the…," Victoria murmured, placing the book on the table and staring down at the page in front of her. It took a moment to relocate it, but than she saw the words in front of her: To stop the flow of blood from the wound, thou must place a Fire Stone on the cut and simply ask it to heal. Victoria reread it several times, rather surprised by what it said: why did the Mirage Tower have a herbal remedy book deep within its treasure room? However, Gwenda let out a groan that chilled Victoria to her heart, and she knew she owed it to her friend to at least try it, knowing Gwenda would do the same for her.
Victoria quickly rushed back to near the ladder, having seen the evolutionary aides over there. Petal was now standing alongside Scarlet, and Millicent's head was beginning to poke through the hole. As Victoria searched through the stones to find the yellow one with a red gash that was a Fire Stone, she caught sight of Jim wandering around behind her: if he had been a child waiting for their presents before, he was now the child that had received their best gift ever and had no idea what to do. The large burly hiker simply stood in the middle of the room, mouth open and eyes wide, staring and turning around as the different lights reflected onto him.
"Don't you have any Pokemon Jim?" Victoria cried as she finally found the Fire Stone and snatched it up. The hiker didn't hear her, and Victoria had to run across and whack him on the shoulder. "Do you have any Pokemon to help fight?" Jim stared down at her as if she had just asked him for his brain, and Victoria sighed and ran back as Millicent climbed through the hole. "How did you make it through anyway?"
"After Skarmory fell through the ground, Millicent began to lift the Pokemon up through the hole," Jim explained as his excitement died down. "Andrew, his Electrike and the Trapinch got through as well, but I fought that old guy and managed to get across the sand and left him behind. Andrew is still fighting him and his Kadabra – I think the Geodude got knocked out or something."
"Roselia Ro Eli!" Petal cried proudly, and Victoria managed a short laugh. However, Gwenda was continuing to groan and Victoria knew she had to focus. She knew it would look silly to do this, but she placed the Fire Stone down on Gwenda's cut all the same. The stone felt like it was beginning to heat up, but Victoria didn't care as tears began to flow as she stared down at Gwenda's paling, pained face.
"Cut, stop!" Victoria said firmly. Several seconds passed and nothing happened. Victoria wondered if she had said the wrong thing, and could feel every eye staring curiously at her. She went to pull the stone away and wondered if these dresses would hold better when suddenly her hand felt like it was on fire: Victoria gasped and looked down to see yellow light shining through her fingers.
"Ooooowwwww," Gwenda suddenly moaned, and Victoria gasped, wondering how painful this spell was. Scarlet and Petal made to rush across, and Jim watched in shock. Victoria tried to pull the Fire Stone away as it got hotter, but it seemed to be stuck there, leaving Gwenda writhing in pain and shaking violently. Victoria continued to cry, mostly from shock at what was happening, no idea what to do. Just when it seemed things couldn't get any worse, a cry came up from the ladder.
"THE MINDER TELEPORTED, HE IS COMING UP THERE!" Andrew yelled, the suitcase being thrown up with Electrike and Trapinch clinging on. Millicent looked furiously, while Jim acted as if he had received a shock and bounded forwards, trying to decide what treasure to grab. Victoria didn't want Gwenda to be stuck bleeding on a couch when the Minder arrived, but was stunned to find her hand was cooling down, the light behind to stop. With a hard tug that made her sore arms scream, Victoria finally pulled the Fire Stone away. She wheeled around and grabbed one of the dresses from nearby and used it to wipe blood away from around the wound: no more was coming out, but it simply revealed the large cut that made Victoria retch again as she saw white that could only be bone deep within the injury.
"At least the bleeding stopped," Victoria reminded herself. Gwenda continued to groan, but her eyes were flickering more with life and Victoria beamed with relief as she through the stone away and pulled her friend into a hug.
"Wh-wh-what happened… where are we?" Gwenda groaned, but Victoria shushed her and simply held her tightly as Millicent, Scarlett and Petal rushed over.
"Its fine, it's just a cut, it's stopped bleeding," she told her reassuring. "We're in the treasure room now, and I found some weird spell that stopped the bleeding. Now we just need to get out of here before the Minder returns."
"We'll leave when we got what we came for," Jim suddenly boomed from across the room, and Victoria looked tearfully up to see he was grabbing one of the golden suitcases and flicking it open hurriedly, just as Andrew pulled himself through the hole to join them here. He froze in shock as he also took in the room around, and didn't notice as Victoria ran over, past Jim as he ran around examining the treasures, and pulled him into a hug.
"Oh – hey, what's wrong?" Andrew said in shock as he hugged her back but noticed the tears pouring down her face.
"I thought Gwenda was going to die," Victoria explained through sobs. "She is better now, but I thought this spell I was using to fix her was making her worse. I really don't like this tower Andrew, I really want to get out of here." Jim had run past them as he was trying to find things to grab and turned around as Andrew stroked Victoria's hair.
"As I said, we'll leave when I got what we came here for," the hiker explained, beginning to sound furious as he looked around and tried to find what to grab.
"You don't need to snap!" Andrew replied icily. "She is allowed to be a little distraught: her best friend nearly bled to death after Skarmory scratched her whilst you were strangling her!"
"If I hadn't strangled the bloody bird than it would have killed both your little slaves, if they really are your slaves!" Jim snapped back, turning around and pointing accusingly at them. "I don't know what you're playing out, but it doesn't take a genius to know part of your story is a complete lie! That Minder man clearly has some issue with you all and is willing to kill you, and I don't appreciate being tricked into guarding you from him!"
"We tricked you?" Victoria hissed. "You didn't tell us there were going to be any challenges here! A warning about the collapsing sand would have been handy – Gwenda and I could have fallen through and been killed in the crossfire!" Jim looked like he was going to say something, but simply groaned and lashed out at a pile of jewels, sending them scattering across the floor and making Electrike bare his teeth. Silence fell between them, and Victoria gave Andrew a tug that pulled him out of the angry glare he was giving Jim's back.
"Let's check on Gwenda," she whispered, and Andrew nodded and made to pick up the suitcase, causing Electrike and Trapinch to jump off. But as they made to turn, Victoria wondering how they would fix the wound with the Minder setting the police after them, there was a white flash. Millicent, Scarlett and Petal wheeled around as Gwenda tried to sit up, Jim dropped piles of jewels he had picked up and Andrew quickly pointed at the flash.
"Thunder Wave, go!" He yelled to Electrike. The green Electric type moved in to strike, but the white light was fading, revealing a large golden arm clutching a spoon, cutting through the air.
"ELEC!" Electrike yelled as he was sent flying across the room and crashed into a pile of golden objects. The light fully faded, revealing the Minder standing arm-in-arm with his Kadabra. Everyone froze, not sure what to say or do, and the Minder smiled widely as he nodded at his Kadabra. The spoon was raised, and Victoria and Gwenda screamed as they were all lifted up into the air with no clue what was going on.
"Kadabra Abara Ka!" Kadabra cried, and he swung his arm around. Everyone was suddenly spinning around the room, and Victoria could only scream as it seemed she and Andrew were going to head out the window, only to turn at the last second. The two lovers, Trapinch and the suitcase ended up crashing through a pile of jewels, while Jim crashed onto the table and Electrike hit the roof and landed with a thud alongside. Victoria didn't need any more pain through her body, but she heard Gwenda shriek in shock and looked up to see her friend clutching her leg as she lay atop a pile of silver and bronze coins. Millicent had crashed into a pile of jewels as well, Petal lying on top, while Scarlett had fallen into the pile of evolutionary stones.
"My my, this is fun," the Minder said with a laugh that echoed within the room. He turned around to face Victoria as Electrike stirred before them. Victoria didn't want to give him the satisfaction of knowing she was nearly beat, but her arms felt like they were about to fall off and her back hurt with every little movement she made. "Funny Victoria: I have been thinking about what you said earlier and how I possibly am becoming a lot weaker," the Minder said, "but than while I was bringing my Pokemon back after teleporting away, I realised that I have the advantage when it comes to defeating you. With a Psychic type, I can just stand back and let all the work be done for me." The Minder began to laugh once more, and Victoria and Andrew were hopeless as Kadabra began to lift them into the air. Gwenda and Jim were both groaning, and Millicent was struggling to get to her feet as a suit of armour Victoria hadn't seen in the shadows before had toppled onto her. They were all sitting ducks, none of them able to do anything against a Psychic type that could send them flying with a casual flick of the wrist.
But as Victoria and Andrew rose up to window height, the Minder's laughter pounding into their heads, there was a sudden clinking and shuffling behind them. Victoria strained to turn around, but her jaw dropped as a new Pokemon emerged from beneath the evolutionary stones: the Pokemon looked very similar to Staryu, except it was bigger, purple, and had more arms that made it looked like a magnificent twinkling star.
"Starmie Star Starmie," Scarlet said in a majestic voice that made the Minder turn around in shock. Gwenda was too in pain to notice her Pokemon's evolution, but Starmie didn't mind as a wispy purple and black ball formed in her new larger, more elegant jewel. It suddenly began to move forwards in quite an airy way, making sudden turns and spinning around for no apparent reason. But Kadabra had no idea what it was as it reached the Psi Pokemon and spun around his head, turning into a giant circular blur that eventually touched his head with a light flash. Victoria and Andrew cried out as they dropped to the ground, but the Minder remained speechless as Kadabra began to wobble around.
"He's been confused!" Andrew cried ecstatically, and Millicent and Petal cheered. Gwenda had finally noticed what was going on and her face lit up in delight.
"Great job Scarlet!" She yelled, and Victoria was stunned to see she had the leather bound book in her hands, waving it around in her delight. Scarlet gave a slight nod of her arms, but she continued to stare with her jewel towards the Minder as he remained shock at his loss of superiority.
"Me Star Star," Scarlet said, and everyone's delight turned to surprise as water rose up from beneath her, and that surprise turned to startled fleeing to higher ground as a large wave rose up.
"No, the treasure!" Jim screamed, but Scarlet ignored him and unleashed her Surf on the Minder and Kadabra. They became caught in swell, which was becoming rapidly dirty from the sand it was picking up, and the two were pushed across the room. Jim watched in horror as all of his gold and jewels, coins and objects, were all sent floating throughout the room, while Victoria, Andrew, Electrike and Trapinch scrambled onto the window ledges, balancing precariously over the side from falling.
"GWENDA!" Victoria shouted, and was pleased to see her friend, Millicent and Petal balancing on a second sofa, the water sloshing over the sides. Relieved, Victoria quickly turned to Andrew who was wearing a serious expression. "We need to move out of here before the Surf leaks into the other floors." Andrew shook his head, a smile creeping onto his face that made Victoria nervous.
"I think we need to make sure he doesn't stand a chance of following us again," Andrew said wit a smile. Victoria had no idea what he was doing, but her love picked up Electrike and held her over the water. "Spark, go!"
"Eleeeeeec Trike Trike!" Electrike exclaimed, glowing yellow and forming a ball of sparking electricity. The Minder was spinning around by the force of the Surf close to Gwenda, and once Electrike had located him he fired.
"This could go wrong Andrew: what if it hits Gwenda?" Victoria yelled. Andrew merely shrugged, but Victoria turned and watched in horror as the Spark shot across the water's surface and headed directly towards where the Minder was. It seemed for a second that Andrew's plan would work, but than the truth was revealed: the Minder had been holding on to a pile of jewels with his cane, but was losing his grip and became forced to let go. This left the Spark to head directly for the couch, and Victoria screamed out as she whacked Andrew on the arm.
"AAAAAHHHHH!" Gwenda screamed, and she held the water soaked leather book up in defence. The Spark crashed into it, and Victoria gasped, wondering if it would actually be able to hold. She clutched at her chest as the Spark exploded, simply leaving sparks flying from the book. Her relief ended after a moment and she looked back towards Andrew, ready to tell him off. But as the argument rose up, Gwenda screamed once more and Victoria nearly fall forwards into the water in surprise: the book was glowing a dazzling white, sparks flying from its surface as it opened in Gwenda's hands.
"Get rid of it!" Victoria yelled, but Gwenda simply shook her head as the dazzling light got brighter and wider.
"I CAN'T!" She screamed, and a second later yelled out as the entire room became engulfed in light, and Victoria and Andrew were left to shield their eyes, having no idea what was about to happen.
Eagle-eyed GalacticVerse readers may be able to register where that book has been seen before ;)