Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 4 Chapter 26 and 27
Chapter Twenty Eight: Falling
Victoria had no idea what was happening, but the light shone through hands and her eyelids as she tried to shield it out, Gwenda's screams sounding all around them. The entire tower was shaking and swaying from it, and Victoria could feel the water being violently splashed up against her. Shielding from it was pointless, and she simply outstretched a hand to her right where Andrew had been, desperately needing some sort of comfort as energy seemed to flow past, threatening to knock them out of the window. Finally Victoria found comfort from his touch and their fingers interlocked, his presence reassuring and Victoria felt safer. She grasped onto the side of the wall next to her and held tightly on Andrew, bracing themselves against the wave trying to push them out.
The wave carried on for another minute, but they finally found relief as the light seemed to subside and the wave disappeared. Victoria waited a few moments in case something else happened, but finally opened her eyes, her hand still entwined with Andrew's. However, it looked as if nothing had ever happened: all the jewels and gold were in the same places, no one seemed to have been injured, and even the water remained, though it was beginning to go through the floor and the ladder hole. Victoria walked forwards, turning around and wondering what could have happened. Her eyes finally settled on Gwenda, who was still clutching the book and staring at it as if she was holding a cannonball. The book was still sparking and seemed to be jumping around, but otherwise nothing had happened.
"That was…. interesting," Gwenda said at last, letting the book fall from her fingers and staring around at the others with a look as if to ask them what had just happened. But Victoria had no idea what had happened, but she had a feeling there was more to the book than meets the eye: it had given her the strange curse that had stopped Gwenda's wound from bleeding, and now it had gone and acted out. Victoria glanced at Andrew, and he merely shrugged, just as confused as the rest of them were.
"Right, now that that is over, let's get some treasure!" Jim suddenly said, leaping to his feet and clapping to get attention. However, all he got from the slaves and the Pokemon was a steely glare. "That is the reason why we came here, and I am not going to let some glowing book ruin what I have been planning for a while!" And to prove his point, the hiker moved towards where the suitcases were and picked one up. It was at that moment, now that Victoria's mind was free of stress from Gwenda's injury, that two things struck her.
"The Minder isn't here!" Andrew said, voicing one of her realizations.
"We aren't holding hands anymore," Victoria added, and raised both hands to prove it. Gwenda and Jim looked at theirs as well, almost as if for the first time they had noticed this. "I thought you guys couldn't see without it… what happened?" There was a confused silence with a lot of exchanging of looks, but Jim simply tutted and threw a suitcase towards Gwenda, which Millicent caught before it actually hit her.
"Let's focus people!" He snapped. "I guess the Mirage Tower simply decided we were allowed to be in here once we had gotten inside, and the Minder man would have just been knocked down the ladder or out the window! Now that that is settled, let's just grab some treasure!"
"I really dislike this guy now," Victoria mumbled to Andrew as the hiker looked around for something to grab, and Andrew smiled. "I am going to check on Gwenda, will you be fine?"
"Of course," Andrew said, and suddenly pecked her on the cheek. It was unexpected for Victoria and sudden for Andrew, and both of them blushed in response. "I have these two on my side anyway." Electrike and Trapinch smiled as they wandered through the wet sand and Victoria gasped in shock.
"Did you catch Trapinch?" She asked, and Andrew nodded.
"I thought he would come in handy so I nabbed him during the battle," he explained.
"Trap Pinch Pinch Tra!" Trapinch said with a chomp of his jaw, and Victoria left the trio smiling as she moved across the ground. She touched the place where Andrew had kissed her and was wearing a goofy grin on her face.
"What happened?" Gwenda asked, staring at Victoria's overly cheerful look.
"Oh, nothing," Victoria said quickly, though Gwenda gave her a look that clearly said she didn't believe her, a look that Millicent copied perfectly. "Enough about me, how is your leg? Did that book hurt you in any way?" Gwenda shook her head, bending down and picking the leather book up.
"I don't know why it did that, but I think there is more to this book and I actually want to find out more," Gwenda said, making Victoria gasp. "I've always enjoyed reading, and I just want to see what else there is to this. And my leg is fine, even if that gash is still there: look, I can even stand on it!" Victoria was uncertain about Gwenda taking the book, but didn't want to argue and was happy for her friend as she shakily stood on her injured leg but managed to stay upright.
"That's amazing!" Victoria said with a smile, and as Scarlet made her way back towards them, Gwenda threw her arms around her friend. Victoria knew it was for saving her, but words weren't need and she hugged her back. They ignored grunts as Jim tried lifting heavy blocks of gold and simply enjoyed each other's touch.
"Mil Mil!" Millicent said with a sob, and the girls looked around as the Miltank joined in on the hug. They laughed as she squeezed them tightly, and suddenly Scarlet and Petal had joined in as well. The five all began to laugh, ignoring an angry glare from Jim as he finally heaved his gold into the suitcase.
"Come on, grab some treasure!" He shouted, restoring to grabbing a pile of jewels and coins from nearby and shoving them in. The girls didn't particularly want to, and Victoria was going to snap at him again when the tower suddenly swayed: it wasn't one of the little sways, or like the one when Victoria had fallen over. Everyone yelled out as they shot across the room, Andrew and his Pokemon becoming pressed against the wall. Everyone was shocked, but before they had time to register it they were being thrown back to the other side.
"What's happening?" Victoria shrieked, but her answer came from the tower: the sand in the middle of the room was beginning to sink away, much like sand moving through the hourglass. However, it didn't take long for them all to realise that the sand seemed to be emptying into the middle, an area none of them knew what was within as it had been walled off on the lower two floors, but no one wanted to find out.
"DON'T RUN!" Jim yelled as the others began to move. "WE NEED TO GRAB TREASURE!" And to emphasize his point, the hiker scooped up a pile of evolutionary stones and goblets in one movement. But the others ignored him as they quickly moved, Gwenda getting some support from Victoria, towards the ladder.
"Do you really want to die?" Andrew cried as sand began to trinkle down from the ceiling. Victoria didn't want to think of dying in this giant sandy tomb, and she moved quickly despite the sand moving against her. But a quick glance down the ladder revealed the ground hadn't reformed, instead showing the Minder and Kadabra lying unconscious on the second floor.
"Millicent, you jump down and you can catch Gwenda," Victoria said quickly, not wanting to fuss over anything. Millicent and Gwenda both nodded, and the Miltank jumped down with a loud moo and landed a few seconds later, the entire tower shaking. Victoria glanced around and saw the whole in the middle was getting bigger as the ceiling and walls dripped more sand.
"See you on the other side," Gwenda said, and she propelled herself forwards. Victoria hoped the catch ended well, and she, Scarlet and Petal sighed with relief as Millicent caught her, Gwenda giving a thumbs up.
"Alright then, whose next?" Victoria said as Andrew arrived with Electrike and Trapinch on the suitcase. The tower suddenly rumbled again, and a scream rose up in response to Victoria's question: Millicent and Gwenda were falling alongside the Minder and Kadabra, the floor having disappeared beneath them.
"NOOOO!" Victoria yelled, watching in horror as her friends fell. She felt tears brewing and had no idea what to do next, but the tower seemed to decide for them: the floor around the ladder was slipping away, and suddenly Petal was falling with a shout, her tiny body getting lost as sand began to pour dramatically.
"We need to jump, it's our only choice!" Andrew yelled. Victoria looked behind as the sand from the roof began to fall as if it was raining, and could see Jim running around the edges. Jumping wasn't ideal, but it was their only choice and Victoria nodded.
"Why not," she growled, but before she could move she screamed as the floor disappeared underneath her and Scarlet. The Starmie's sharp arms didn't look fun to bound into, so Victoria quickly stretched out and pulled her close in a way that wouldn't harm her and would mean that they at least had someone near them. Scarlet flashed her jewel to show it was alright, and the two began to fall.
The feeling was strange and almost made Victoria want to be sick: she could feel her stomach rising up to her heart and her heart rising up to her throat. Everything was a giant sand coloured blur, with the outside world becoming completely obscured. Victoria felt like a bag caught in the wind as she spun and twirled around, hair flying in many directions and her dress flying up around her arms – it was immensely uncomfortable, a process made no easier by the fact her fate at the bottom was uncertain and unknown.
But as Victoria fell, she began to realise there would be something to land on: the entire tower was collapsing, sending sand that fell with her and began to blind her. All the floors had gone away and the walls were all collapsing as well, leaving Victoria completely enclosed in sand. She had no idea when the end would come, and simply shut her eyes and waited for impact.
After a rushed minute of falling, Victoria suddenly landed on her back with a bone shaking thud. The ground was soft but it had been the impact from falling from such a height that rattled her body, leaving Victoria groaning: her arms alright felt dead and her back had nearly broken from carrying Gwenda, and now all her muscles felt saw and she had accidentally held Scarlet more tightly and could feel her back imprinting on her chest. There were several shouts all around, and Victoria realised she should see how everyone else was rather than pitying herself.
But once Victoria opened her eyes, something shocking came across her.
The sandstorm had stopped.
Victoria blinked several times to get the sand out of her eyes, and it was then that she realised the sky was above her the colour of ink with stars twinkling in a friendly way. She had no idea it was night, but as Victoria sat up she was left gobsmacked at how the desert had changed around them: there was wind whistling through, but there was no sand being blown by it. In fact, there was no extra sand around Victoria, no remnants of the supposedly collapsed Mirage Tower. But the strangest thing was the fact the sand was wet.
"What the hell happened," Victoria whispered to herself. All around her the sand seemed to be wet, almost as if a wave had swept through here. It fully revealed the rough, exposed cliffs that towered above them, the rock weathered and beaten from years of being blasted by sand and wind. The desert suddenly seemed so huge and so bare, the roar of the sand blowing past no longer there, the wind simply blowing eerily past.
"Victoria!" A voice cried out, and Victoria quickly wheeled around. Andrew was rushing forwards with the suitcase, Electrike and Trapinch running alongside. Jim was stirring nearby, and a shuffling noise made Victoria turn to see Gwenda and Millicent getting up as well, the two having landed a further distance away.
"Thank god everyone is alright!" Victoria said, and she outstretched her arms with Scarlett still clutched in one hand. Andrew, Gwenda and Millicent joined in, and a tiny squeak revealed Petal rushing towards them and they laughed as they pulled her in.
"What is going on here?" Andrew said after several moments of silence, staring around the bare desert around them. No Pokemon or people seemed to be stirring under the darkening sky asides from them. Things were strangely silent after all the excitement inside the tower, and it was relaxing to be in a cool breeze with the stars shining overhead. Victoria could imagine herself in different circumstances, lying down on a beach with Andrew on a night like this: it felt romantic and made her feel happy, and she almost didn't want to leave.
But than they heard the whistle.
It sounded too far away in the distance to truly tell what direction it had come from, but they all heard it: the shrill but far away noise sounded high above the wind, and each of them knew roughly what it belonged to and where it would have come from. Victoria wanted to stay here for longer, but they hadn't come all this way to stop in a wet desert. They needed to reach Fallarbor Town and catch the next train to Lilycove before they ran out of time.
"We need to get moving, now," Victoria said. "We wasted too much time here: we need to get to Fallarbor now!" Andrew and Gwenda both nodded seriously: they knew the importance of catching the train and how long they had been travelling, and they weren't going to give up now. Victoria felt rather inspired by all the serious expressions on their Pokemon's faces, and she felt happier than ever as they began to walk through the sand.
"Wait up!" A voice yelled. Everyone turned around as Jim ran over, though he didn't have his golden suitcase with him and it looked as if he had been crying. Victoria noted that Gwenda still had the leather book with her and wondered where the suitcase was. "I said I would escort you to Fallarbor, and if you will still let I want to come with you." The three slaves exchanged curious looks, wondering what to do, but another whistle cut through the air and there wasn't any time to waste.
"Fine, come, but you owe us an explanation I feel," Victoria said. The hiker nodded, and a few seconds later they were all running: despite their injuries and the fact they were all extremely tired, each of them wanted to get out of this desert and get to that train. Victoria didn't even talk; focused entirely on making her sore body run forwards. She had come all this way and wasn't going to stop now: she was going to reach Lilycove.
But as everyone left, no one spared a thought for the Minder. No one wondered what had happened to him or had bothered to look. If they had paused for just a second, then they would have seen a figure stir behind them moments after they left, and than seen the figure violently being to cough up water. But the figure watched them, and the figure began to grab handfuls of the sand and angrily throw them after the group.
"I will get you," the Minder hissed. "I will find a way to stop you, and we'll see whose going to be the fittest in the end Miss Freeman… we'll see."
Part 4 shall conclude next time
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 4 Chapter 28
Chapter Twenty Nine: Station
The northern section of Route 111 had some truly breathtaking scenery. The cliffs that enclosed the route had not been as severely weathered as those within the wind struck desert, leaving them relatively whole pieces of natural artwork. Forests surrounded the steep area, providing homes for numerous Pokemon wishing to escape the harsh desert life that awaited them slightly south. It was a mix of green and brown from the cliffs to the trees and grass, and travelling through you wouldn't even think about the desert that was nearby.
However, as Victoria and the other ran, they hardly even noticed what was around.
The sound of the steam engines whistle was getting louder and louder with each footstep they took, and despite suffering from severe pain and tiredness, the group struggled on. Electrike and Petal led the way, being both agile and small and having an easy time getting up the steep part of Route 111 they hadn't seen coming. Andrew with the suitcase, Trapinch and Jim came up behind, while Victoria, Gwenda and Millicent holding Scarlett rushed behind. It was hard for Victoria and Gwenda to run, with Gwenda's injury still untreated and Victoria getting increasingly tired with each step, and they were forced to walk for a minute before running again, trying to catch their breathe but getting no time to.
They had no idea what the train timetable was as there hadn't been anything on it at Mauville (though they hadn't looked very hard in their rush to escape before being linked to the ferry explosion.) They didn't know if another train would come in one minute or one week, leaving the one they knew was arriving as their only possible option. Jim knew the way but he his back hurt from landing on the table and allowed Electrike and Petal to lead the way, knowing he would tell them which way to go when they needed it.
Victoria was tempted to collapse onto the ground and wait until morning came to worry about the train. It had been a long day since she had awoken at Doctor Granger's that morning, and she was very tempted to simply sleep and wait for her tired body to heal itself. They had been running for fifteen minutes as there was still a bit left to the route, and Victoria had no idea if this running would be worthwhile. The train had stopped whistling, so they had no idea of knowing if the train was still coming or if something had happened.
Don't think so negatively, Victoria snapped at herself. We wouldn't have made it this far if we were negative about everything. We need to get to Lilycove, I need to get to Lilycove, and the only way that will happen is if the train is there, so let's just focus on that! Victoria was proud at her mental pep talk and ran with new determination; only for it to disappear a few moments later as a cramp rose up her side and she struggled for breathe.
"I … just want… to die…," Gwenda wheezed alongside, clutching her head and wincing with pain every time her injured leg touched the ground. "Why can't… Andrew… and Jim… carry… us?"
"They… must be… tired… as well," Victoria replied, her head throbbing with every step. "If we don't… get to… that… station… I am… going… to die… myself!" Gwenda managed a weak smile, but gasped as water suddenly rushed over them. Victoria turned herself to get a faceful of a BubbleBeam shooting out of Scarlett.
"Mil Mil," Millicent said with a smile as she held Scarlett up and another BubbleBeam came out. Victoria and Gwenda's dresses already clung to them from sweat so the water was much more refreshing than annoying, giving them a new less and even allowing them to have a drink.
"Thank you!" Victoria said with a relieved smile. "I really… needed that," she added with a puff, clutching her side. She looked up to see that Electrike and Petal had disappeared from view, and Andrew and Jim were getting further ahead. There was no way Victoria and Gwenda could catch up by running and mental images of Andrew abandoning them and leaving herself entered her mind, terrifying her even though she knew that would never happen.
"We need to get up there and fast," Gwenda said, voicing Victoria's thoughts. Victoria merely nodded, trying to think of a possible way. Scarlett sent out more BubbleBeams, the water bursting across the back of their heads, and Victoria suddenly got an idea.
"Scarlett can use Surf!" Victoria said quickly. Gwenda looked confused and nodded, clearly wondering why this was being pointed out. "Think Gwenda: if Scarlett can produce a wave like she did at the Mirage Tower, than maybe we could hold onto her and she can carry us up towards the station, or at least until we get our breath back." Gwenda and Millicent both looked excited at this idea, and Scarlett flashed her jewel to show she was on board.
"Well than Scarlett," Gwenda said as she wrapped an arm around Millicent, Victoria grabbing onto the other, "let's use Surf!"
"Starmie Star," Scarlett said, her jewel flashing blue. Victoria clung on tightly as water erupted underneath, sending them all high up and Scarlett nudged forwards as if moving a boats controls, sending the wave speeding forwards. In five seconds they had covered more ground than they would if they had run for five minutes, and Victoria and Gwenda cheered as their hair was blown backwards and wind washed against them, taking the heat away with it. Up ahead Andrew and Jim turned around in shock at the sight of the sudden wave, but they were smiling by the time they were engulfed within the water, knowing it was a smart idea.
"Great work my friends!" Gwenda called to Victoria and Scarlett, and they all laughed as they moved between trees and past the cliffs. It felt like they were flying as the blue wave rose up, the moon sparkling in the reflection, and all the stress left them as they raced up the hill and Scarlett began to turn, sending them along another path.
Victoria finally was able to enjoy the sights, but was rather stunned by Route 113. The moon provided enough light for them to get a scale of what was in front of them: everything looked dead, with no trees or grass in sight and bare cliffs all around. Dull houses stuck out like oddly shaped rocks and the entire area seemed brown.
"What's up with this area?" Victoria shouted over the roar of the Surf, but Gwenda and Millicent were enjoying the rush of the water against their bodies to care. Electrike was up ahead with Petal on his back, standing next to a sign that seemed to point to the side. Victoria stared and saw a set of natural steps, leading up into the cliffs.
"Scarlett, stop here!" Victoria yelled. It was going to be disappointing to lose the cool water and wind blowing through their hair, but they couldn't arrive at the station with a giant wave behind them. Gwenda looked pouty as Scarlett pointed down, sending the Surf curving over and coming down near Electrike and Petal. Victoria put a foot out to steady herself, but misjudged the force of the Surf and was pulled away from Millicent, the remnants of the attack sending her rolling along the ground.
"VICTORIA!" Andrew shouted from afar, but Victoria was fine and merely coughed up a bit of water as she sat up. She looked up to find the others coming towards her, their footsteps not making any noise though as the Surf faded through the ground.
"I'm fine, I swear!" Victoria said, standing up with water dripping from her dress and hair, smiling to show she wasn't hurt. "The Surf was just what I needed to wake me up, especially before climbing those stairs. What is up with this area though? There's stuff under my feet but it doesn't seem to be grass."
"Its ash," Jim explained, scooping a handful up and showing it to them. "Mt Chimney is constantly spewing it out though scientists have never quite worked out the reason, asides from theories involving Groudon. It seems that quite a lot has been released: there are usually some signs of grass and the Pokemon that can live in this environment, but not today." As Jim spoke, the train's whistle sounded at its closest yet, and they were finally able to locate where it was coming from: directly ahead, up the stairs.
"I'd love to stay and chat about grass and ash, but I think we've got a train to catch," Gwenda said, and she took off first, hobbling ahead with the others taking off soon after. It was easy to catch up to her and Andrew and Jim gained ground once more, but despite feeling refreshed Victoria stayed by her friend, not wanting to leave her behind.
"ELEEEC!" Electrike yelled, sprinting ahead with Petal and Trapinch clinging on for dear life. He shot up the stairs and was halfway up before Jim or Andrew reached it, and had reached the top by the time Victoria and Gwenda made it
"Are you going to be alright?" Victoria asked, and Gwenda simply nodded, looking pained as she stepped up but managing to survive. Yellow sparks of electricity shot into the air high above, and as Victoria neared the top she began to hear voices. She was curious as to what was going on but waited at the top for Gwenda and Millicent who was still holding Scarlett. Once they were all up Victoria sprinted ahead, finding Andrew apologising to a guard a few feet away as Jim slammed money down at a ticket booth.
"This is extremely unorthodox!" The guard was huffing. Victoria wanted to stay and admire the station building alongside, which was painted a magnificent shade of blue and stood out from the natural rock that formed their area, but new they had to hurry on as the black tender engine leading the train of eleven coaches was sending grey smoke high into the night sky, clearly ready to leave.
"Thank you very much," Jim said to the young man at the ticket booth. Another boy barely older than them rushed forwards and opened a door to an empty compartment. Jim threw their suitcase in and leapt onboard, whilst Victoria smiled apologetically at the grumpy guard before helping Gwenda up. She climbed onboard herself, followed by Electrike and Millicent with their passengers, before Andrew leapt in as well. The guard slammed the door angrily and blew his own much quieter whistle. A second later the train gave a jerk forwards, and than slowly it began to move.
"I've never been in a train before! Well, not in a coach," Gwenda said excitedly as the station began to move away, her last comment making Jim give her a confused look. Victoria was excited about sitting on the luxury leather seats and wondered what was outside their compartment, but was so tired that she couldn't even bother. As the train gathered speed, causing the station to disappear and be replaced by rocks, all Victoria could do was sit back in her seat and shut her eyes, ready to sleep the pain of the day away. It had been one long day, and she was simply happy it was over and that they had all gotten out alive.
But Victoria was delighted at the fact that their next stop would be Lilycove, and her last thought before falling asleep was that their journey was nearly over.
Pain and anger was all the Minder could think about.
He had limped out of the desert about ten minutes after Scarlett had used Surf, meaning he saw no sign of them and had no idea how they had gotten away. The wind had began to dry the sand, the storm slowly rebuilding behind him and it was only by a miracle that he had gotten out in time.
The Minder had come off worse on this occasion. His cane was broken and he had spent nearly a minute coughing up water after getting hit by the surf. The old man had practically pulled himself out, and was now resting against a flat rock, listening as the train roared off into the distance, watching as the smoke rose above and wondered if the slaves were there, not that the Minder could do anything. All three of his Pokemon had fainted and he would have to trek to either Lavaridge or Fallarbor in order to heal them, meaning wasting a lot of time.
But as the Minder sat their, rage filled him. The slaves had escaped him for the second time that day and the fourth time overall, and they were making him look foolish and stupid. The Minder was supposed to strike fear into the hearts of those he met, but if he couldn't kill these three, what was left for him? The slaves at Miltank Meadows wouldn't fear him and Edmund would have no use for him, but wouldn't be able to simply let him leave in case he talked, meaning that if he was fired a death sentence would come with it.
There was only one possible option.
The next time the Minder saw them, he would simply have to kill them.
Part Four is over: Part Five shall soon begin!
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 4 Chapter 29
Part Five: The Star Festival
The Star Festival was an institution in Lilycove City.
Every year the city and the surrounding areas would come together for the giant festival every May in honour of Jirachi. No matter what was happening at the time between certain businesses or individuals, all differences were put aside. Asides from essential places such as the Pokemon Center and the medical facilities, all buildings and businesses would close in honour of the occasion. The Lilycove Department Store, the largest in Hoenn, shut its doors and the retailers would spread out onto Main Street. They are joined by a number of stalls that come up just for events like this, selling special foods, potions and themed items all connected to the Star Festival.
It seemed like an odd thing to celebrate, but Lilycove City was one of the only places that was able to see an annual event that lit up the sky: a flash of white tearing through the night sky and shone as brightly as the sun. Many people said it was a shooting star or a meteorite, but most people liked to think that it was Jirachi flying overhead and wishing them luck. It was said that if you whispered a wish to yourself as the star shone overhead, something small and not to extravagant, than your wish was meant to come true.
While many people didn't believe it was a legendary Pokemon soaring above them, they did enjoy coming together and having a large celebration. People came from all of the regions to take part in the event to enjoy the food, buy the memorabilia and listen to the music and generally absorb in the atmosphere. And though many people wouldn't dare to admit it, many of them were there simply to see if their wishes could come true.
Chapter Thirty: Train
When Victoria awoke with a jolt, she felt more relaxed than she had in days.
It took her a few moments for her vision to adjust and for her to work out where she was, but than it all came back to her as she saw Gwenda, Andrew and their Pokemon asleep throughout the compartment, almost in reverse: running up the stairs, riding the wave, falling through sand, Gwenda getting injured, finding Jim, the ferry exploding… yesterday had been a very long day, and Victoria was absolutely stunned that she had managed to survive. Even as she stretched Victoria felt pains through her arms from lugging Gwenda around and she could feel itchy from where the sand had gotten into her dress. It would take a while to recover from the pain, and Victoria was desperate to change clothes and wash the stink of sweat off her, but at the moment she was just amazed they had managed to escape.
Victoria stared out the window, wondering how far the train had travelled overnight and how much longer it would take until they reached Lilycove. However, it seemed that they were still in a mountainous area, with high cliffs brown cliffs surrounding them rather ominously. Victoria had hoped for a nice view but all see could see was the rocks and cliffs and found nothing particularly attractive about them. It was still dark around them but when Victoria pressed her face against the class she could see in the distance: yellow light shone in the direction they were going, showing that it must be morning, though Victoria had no method of telling the time. She also noticed that the train seemed to have stopped a large wooden tower, a pipe leading from it into the engine itself.
"What is that?" Victoria murmured aloud, moving back into her seat and flicking her dress to get sand out.
"I presume it is a water tower. It would be a reason why we stopped," a gruff voice said that stunned Victoria. She looked around to see Jim sitting opposite her, his eyes barely open but enough to stare across at her. Victoria had completely forgotten he had joined them, and while she recovered from the shock and smiled, she realized that they were going to have to tell him their back story at some point now that he was on the way to Lilycove with them.
"Good sleep?" The hiker asked, yawning and stretching himself.
"I feel a bit stiff from yesterday but I bet I could sleep for a few more hours until we reach Lilycove," Victoria said with a slight laugh. "That was a very long day yesterday and I must say that I am very glad it is over."
"I can imagine," Jim said with a nod. "The Mirage Tower didn't quite go how I would have liked it to, but you get that sometimes." He sighed and stared longingly out the windows, causing pity to stir up within Victoria's heart. She was still annoyed that he had slightly tricked them, but could understand that the hiker must have wanted to go into the sandy tower for ages, only to come out of with no treasure, injuries and a group of slaves that were lying to him. Victoria took the moment he spent looking out the window to examine her friends: Gwenda and Millicent were asleep side by side, the former with her injured leg up on the opposite seat next to Andrew. Petal, Electrike and Trapinch were together on the suitcase curled up and fast asleep, and Scarlett lay next to them, her jewel not saying if she was asleep or awake. Victoria was overwhelmed that they had all made it through the day without losing anyone, and knew that hopefully in a few hours or a day they would be able to enter Lilycove and have their wishes come true.
"I am sorry for tricking you," Jim said suddenly, and Victoria turned back around to see the hiker was still staring out the window, a mournful look on his face.
"You shouldn't be Jim, we did lie to you as well," Victoria pointed out, smiling warmly, but was stunned when Jim shook his head.
"Even if you had told me the truth, whatever your truth is, I probably still would have taken you," he explained. "I was told that the Mirage Tower doesn't let you in if it thinks you want the treasure. If you say you want to get in for some reason other than robbing it, than the tower will let you in. I knew that my vision would be clouded by the treasure and I needed someone to help lead me in." Victoria was surprised by this but could see some truth in it: Andrew hadn't really wanted to see the tower, only to help Jim so they could reach the station, while Victoria had first seen the tower after telling herself she wanted to get out o there. Gwenda had been obsessed with the idea of becoming rich that she must have joined Jim in not seeing the tower until Victoria led them in.
"But than you were able to let go of my hand," she said, wondering if the hiker had answers for this puzzle.
"When your friend showed up and went to attack you, my mind moved towards stopping him," Jim explained. "Attacking the Skarmory took my mind of treasure, meaning I could be inside without holding your hand, and than I became distracted by fighting him as well. I imagine Gwenda would have gone into shock and thought only about her pain, allowing her to stay in as well."
"That does make some sense," Victoria said with a nod.
"But again I am truly sorry," Jim added, finally turning towards her. "I knew that there were going to be tests that were meant to prevent people from stealing the treasure and I should have warned you about them, but I have wanted to get into the Mirage Tower for so long that it clouded my better judgement. I saw three people sitting hopelessly in front of me and I knew I could take advantage." Victoria was stunned by the emotion in the hiker's voice and knew he felt genuinely guilty about what he had done. She reached across and patted his hand softly, smiling warmly at him.
"Thank you for apologising," she whispered, "but you didn't take advantage of us. It was more we took advantage of you." Jim was stunned by this, and Victoria paused as she took a deep breath, readying herself to relive everything that had happened.
She began to explain their story: how they had been orphans that were tricked into becoming slaves for a cruel farmer, how Victoria had always wanted to see the Star Festival, how seeing a fellow slave getting beaten had pushed her over the edge. She explained her and Gwenda's dramatic escape that Andrew got caught up in, how they stole the suitcase and tickets and went onboard the Johto Jewel¸ only for the Minder to follow them there. She explained how a fight caused the ship to blow up, but the four that were behind it were the only ones to escape, and how the trio had been forced to walk towards Mauville but only for Victoria to become ill. She finally explained how Gwenda was forced into battle with the Minder at the ferry, eventually leading to more people being killed and sending them towards Route 111.
Jim's jaw dropped and eyes bulged throughout the story, clearly stunned by what he was being told. Victoria had no idea how he would react but knew that he deserved to know after the Minder following them nearly got him killed and lost his treasure. Once she explained up to the desert Victoria stopped, breathing deeply and tensing up as she waited to see how he would react.
"Well…," Jim said after nearly two minutes of silence, "that sounds a lot more dramatic than anything I've ever done!" Victoria was taken aback by this, having expected questions or some degree of shock or disgust. She was so surprised that she tipped her head back and laughed. Jim looked stunned as well, but Victoria simply continued to laugh, not sure if it was because she was tired or suffering from some sort of delusion, but for whatever reason she began to laugh. Once Jim had recovered from the shock he began laughing as well, and soon the noise echoed throughout their tiny compartment. Eyes began to flicker open, and soon everyone was staring at the two with confused looks.
"Would you mind keeping it down?" Gwenda grunted, rubbing her eyes and trying to adjust some of Millicent's body to make a pillow. Victoria and Jim managed to get control of themselves, but Victoria still sniggered into her dress as Andrew shot her a confused look.
"What?" She replied teasingly, only to send her into another fit of laughter. The Pokemon all grumbled and tried to get back to sleep, but the train suddenly jolted and Petal rolled over, whacking into Electrike and Trapinch.
"Looks like we're off again," Jim said, staring out through the window again as the rocks slowly began to move past. Victoria turned eagerly towards the window, excited to see they were finally off again and waiting to see the view. "So you are going to the Star Festival in Lilycove, yes?"
"Yes," Victoria replied with a mild glance back, but turned back again when she caught sight of the look Andrew was giving her. It seemed to be a mix of shock and anger, but Victoria wasn't sure what to make of it and wondered if he was just tired, but her attention turned away as, out of the corner of her eye, she noticed that things had changed outside.
The rocks had temporarily slid aside, and the world seemed to have completely changed: Victoria watched in amazement as the brown turned to green, the rocks being replaced by trees that seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see. They had only been in the desert for a few hours but it felt to Victoria that she hadn't seen trees for weeks, and even though they were far away she couldn't help but see their beauty. What looked like flocks of Taillow and Swellow were soaring out through the branches whilst other Pokemon she couldn't make out frolicked around the trees and Victoria could imagine them being happy. She stared out into the distance and saw the green continued to stretch on, with hints of buildings, routes and water spread throughout. Victoria wasn't sure if her imagination was playing tricks on her, but as she squinted into the distance, she had a feeling that she could see a tall building near the horizon and knew it had to come from Lilycove City.
"Yes, we are," Victoria repeated, leaning back into her seat and smiling. Andrew still looked angry and Gwenda had fallen back asleep, but Victoria couldn't help but continue to smile and stare out at the trees: their journey was nearly over; they were nearly at Lilycove City.
Finally, Victoria could have her wishes.
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 5 Chapter 30
Ha, I finally caught up. :D
And I must say, I knew that Staryu was going to evolve since the moment she fell in the pile of evolutionary stones. :P
Seems like we're approaching the finale. Keep it up! :D
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 5 Chapter 30
Well, evolutionary stones is probably going to lead to evolution :P And yes, finale is nearly here! Thanks for the feedback
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 5 Chapter 30
I went to post Chapter 32 and totally forgot that I hadnt put Chapter 31 up here yet :P That's a bit awkward.... well, enjoy now :D
Chapter Thirty One: Bridge
The train travelled for the rest of the day, stopping at two stations to collect passengers, once for more water and coal and was forced to halt when an injured Tropius came stuck along the tracks. Jim several workers and other men to heave the flying beast off the line using ropes and nearby trees, and Victoria and Gwenda watched the dramatic rescue take place. It felt as if they were fully engrossed in nature and out of the way of any drama, and the presence of helpful people and much less people giving them questioning looks made Victoria feel her happiest in weeks.
They were able to use the bathroom to wash the previous few days' dirt and grime off and Victoria and Gwenda put on clean peach dresses. There wasn't a lot to do after that, so they began to teach their Pokemon new moves from the TM's they had. Andrew had disappeared during the Tropius rescue, so Victoria went ahead and taught Electrike and Trapinch new moves as well. Jim provided input on which moves to use and shared some tips from Pokemon training he had learnt as a child, though explained he had passed his Golem on to a nephew and focused more on treasure hunting than Pokemon gathering.
Victoria was stunned that Jim hadn't overreacted to them being slaves, but she remembered how he had stated before the desert he wasn't a fan of slavery and presumed that he pitied them rather than be shocked at all that had happened. Jim ended up being quite nice now that things were settled between them, and he shared tales of treasures he had gone after but failed to find and humorous incidents that had happened in bars. Victoria and Gwenda had never been exposed to this kind of humour before and found it scandalous but hilarious, resorting to hysterical laughter that the Pokemon seemed to find confusing.
"I do hope you can make it to Lilycove in time for this festival," Jim said at one point when they weren't all laughing. "You all seem like good kids and, after the life you've been through; you deserve to have something good happen to you." Victoria was shocked to hear him say this and a glance showed Gwenda was equally as stunned. The hiker stretched his arms out and the two girls leaned in for a hug. Millicent seemed to think this was a good idea and joined in, and soon they were all hugging, causing Victoria to feel rather emotional.
"That was sweet of Jim," Gwenda said about ten minutes later as the girls walked down the hallway. It was getting late with a low orange sun shining through the compartment windows, and they were trying to find Andrew before they ordered food from the dining coach. They were at the very back of the train and were starting down this end first rather than working their way through the front coaches. "You wouldn't have expected to see this side of him, especially as he is a hiker." Victoria nodded along but remained silent, and it was only when Gwenda looked at her friend she saw she was crying. "Oh Victoria, what's wrong?"
"It… it's nothing," she insisted, wiping the tears away, but looked up to find Gwenda staring at her with a knowing look that saw through the lie. "Well… when Jim said we deserved it, I couldn't help but wonder… so many have died because of us: the cruise ship and the ferry, and I can't help but imagine what is happening at Miltank Meadows at the moment. I just… I know we want it, but do we really deserve to have our wishes come true?"
"Victoria!" Gwenda gasped. "Don't say that! After all we've been through trying to get this far, I think we have done more than enough to deserve having our wishes come true. I mean, I try not to think about all the people that have died, but none of those deaths were directly our fault… right?" Victoria turned to see the happy smile had left her friend's face, replaced with a grim look, the question hanging in the air.
"I'm being silly!" Victoria said, wiping the tears away and forcing a smile. "I shouldn't have said anything, I am just overreacting! Come on: I'm hungry and we can't eat until we find Andrew." Gwenda nodded, putting a smile on as well, but neither girl admitted the terrible realization seeping through their minds. They quickly moved silently down the hallway, approaching the door at the end.
Stepping out onto the balcony suddenly made it seem as if they were truly on the train: the sway of the coach as it rattled along the tracks became more obvious, and the trees moving past seemed more blurred and to be moving away quicker. Gwenda winced as she put her injured leg out, having to grasp onto the railing: a doctor onboard had kindly stitched the wound together, but it didn't magically heal it or stop the pain, and trying to balance on it was hard. Victoria helped Gwenda move forwards, but was so focused on her friend and distracted by her moral questioning she didn't notice someone standing there.
"I wondered how long it would be until you came looking for me." Victoria looked up with a gasp, eyeing Andrew as he gave the two the briefest of glances before continuing to lean grouchily against the railing.
"Andrew, have you been out here all this time?" Victoria said, walking forwards as Gwenda limped behind. "Well, it is nearly time for dinner so you need to come back to the compartment with us if you want any food." Victoria was smiling warmly, but was stunned to see how furious Andrew looked. "Are you mad about something, is that why you're out here?" Andrew remained silent and stared back at the sunset. Victoria wanted to push on but knew it wouldn't amount to much, and merely shrugged at Gwenda. However, Gwenda looked just as grumpy as Andrew and moved forwards, kicking him in the thigh with her good leg.
"We've come looking for you when we could have just forgotten about you!" She snapped as Andrew stumbled. "I have a bad leg I shouldn't be walking on, but I have been walking to come looking for you, so why don't you show some gratitude and at least tell us why you won't come back?" Andrew clearly looked annoyed at being confronted and was rubbing the spot where he'd been kicked. Victoria seemed rather pleased that Gwenda had done the kicking and stared with an 'I'm waiting' look on her face.
"I should be the one that's annoyed!" Andrew snapped as the low sun cast half his face into semi darkness. "You shouldn't have told Jim about our past without consulting us first!"
"What?" Victoria gasped. "Why should I have to consult you all first?" However, she turned nervously to Gwenda, wondering if her friend would be angry, and felt relieved to see she was putting her anger towards Andrew.
"Jim can't be trusted!" Andrew snapped, pointing a finger towards Victoria. "He displayed that back at the Mirage Tower when he didn't warn us about –,"
"He explained that to me when you were asleep," Victoria explained, trying to keep her cool. "He just needed help getting inside the tower. Jim does feel guilty about it."
"I don't care what he is telling you, it could just be more lies!" Andrew hissed. "What's to make you think he won't just go to the police at the next station and tell them about the runaway slaves and try to get some money out of them in return?"
"That is absurd!" Gwenda hissed, looking outraged.
"You don't know that!" Andrew growled, taking a step towards them. He looked angrier than Victoria had ever seen and she felt rather scared, making her tempted to grab Gwenda and race back into the coach. "What if it was lies what he said about liking slaves in order to get us to help him with the Mirage Tower? We wouldn't help someone who went 'all black people need to be enslaved', would we? It was stupid to tell someone that could possibly sell us out, and I am not getting arrested or sent back to Johto when we've been through so much and come so close to the end because of a stupid mistake!" Victoria was shocked, feeling on the verge of tears: she had never expected Andrew to speak to her like this, and it made all the romantic feelings she felt for him begin to melt away. She didn't want to cry though but knew she had to do something, but was stunned when Gwenda suddenly slapped him across the cheek. Andrew stumbled and crashed into the railing, nearly falling over the edge.
"How dare you talk to us like that!" Gwenda said angrily. "This was meant to be our journey to Lilycove, not yours, and while we appreciate all your help we don't need you trying to control what happens! I trust Jim, and if Victoria trusts him as well, than she had every right to say whatever she wanted!" Victoria was shocked at Andrew lying on the metal floor, but her affection for him at the moment was at the same level for one of the dozens of Taillow flying high above them. She glared down at him as Andrew glared back up, not sure quite what to say, but knowing that she was hurt and wanted him to know that.
At that point, the train left solid earth and began to move across a bridge. This bridge connected the top of Hoenn together across a large river that came in from the ocean, travelled through Route 119 and came out into the oceans in the south. It was a giant wooden structure that stretched from one side of the river to the other, allowing the train to be suspended about a hundred metres into the air.
It was strange for the slaves to suddenly find the ground beneath them disappear, leaving them with only the tracks and the wood holding them up. Victoria couldn't help but be distracted though, staring down into the beautiful blue water flowing calmly beneath them, the sun's reflections shimmering on the moving blue. She could see Water Pokemon of all varieties swimming beneath, and her jaw dropped as a long, serpentine Pokemon dived out of the water, cream scales glowing in the single second it remained in the air. It was simply beautiful, and Victoria wanted to savour this memory rather than have it brought down by anger.
"Let's go," she said to Gwenda, turning away from Andrew so she didn't have to look at him. "I am feeling a bit hungry, aren't you?" Gwenda nodded, glaring back at Andrew as she turned around, wrapping her right arm around Victoria's left. Victoria hoped Andrew would see sense and come around, but she knew he was stubborn and seemed particularly angry at the moment for some reason. Maybe it was just a lack of sleep or feeling sore from the previous day, but whatever it was; Victoria just wanted to focus on the happy memory of the river and wondering what they would have for dinner.
However, dinner never came.
Victoria and Gwenda had barely stepped foot back into the coach when there was a violent jolt. They thought it was nothing, but this was followed by about three more that shook the entire train. Victoria screamed out as she fell sideways, crashing into the window of the door shoulder first. She gasped as pain shot through her arms, but suddenly realised there wasn't a grip on her left arm.
"GWENDA?" Victoria yelled, but cried out as their coach seemed to lift off the ground and jump to the right. Victoria was sent flying, sprawling over something at her feet and bumping her head on the door in front. Thankfully she wasn't knocked out, but as she landed Victoria felt her forehead and knew a bruise would be there. She then looked at her arm and saw the dress had been torn and there seemed to be blood, but the shattered window had only nicked her. Victoria clutched the wound to try and stop it bleeding before staring down at what she had tripped over.
"Gwenda!" She gasped, getting off her friend and spinning her over face first to examine her. It seemed Gwenda had been knocked out, a slight cut across her forehead suggesting she'd hit the edge. Victoria checked she was badly injured otherwise and, once she knew her friend was safe, got back to her feet, planning to find a doctor and learn what the jolts had been.
But as Victoria got to her feet, she found them sliding backwards. She screamed as she felt the entire coach tilting and turned around clutching onto the wall and staring out through the open door. Victoria instantly saw Andrew lying unconscious against the railing, and while she was shocked, Victoria saw something else that made her scream.
It seemed the jolt had been the coach leaving the tracks, and it was now off the rails and leaning over the edge. But there was no bridge or railing beneath them to catch: the coach was beginning to slide over the edge, and the only thing beneath them was the river, and Victoria knew enough to know that if they went down, they weren't coming back up.
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 5 Chapter 31
Since I was one the judges that judged your story during the awards, I figured I'd show you the scores I had given your story along with an explanation of why that score was given. If you have any questions feel free to contact me.
This story had one of the best plots among the nominees. It was fast-paced, exciting and managed to keep you on the edge of your seat throughout most of the story. While slavery is a touchy subject to write about (especially in the squeaky-clean world of pokemon), you managed to do it well enough without causing any problems. But your biggest problem was plot development, with use of Dues Ex Machina to further the plot forward most of the time. Examples are as follows:
1- The slaves just after getting away, manage to find a suitcase with four tickets for the boat on the same day, a bag of apricorn balls, clean clothes and cash.
2- Most the pokemon they caught was because that pokemon happened to be very nice and allowed themselves to be caught.
3- The good doctor happened to give them a bag with clothes and TMs for some of the best moves in existence (I.E. flamethrower, psychic,… ) among other necessities.
4- Gwenda is injured and they happen to find a fire stone that heals an injury by telling it to “heal” while pressing it on the wound.
The extreme overuse of such as mentioned above, along with other minor instances, prevented a good plot from becoming a great one.
The characters were okay. They served their purpose well in the story and they managed to keep you engaged in the story. However, they lacked depth of character. Not to mention it got a bit annoying sometimes with their hugging and crying sessions. As characters that had such hard lives, you would expect them to be hardened and tough. Nevertheless, they were good characters overall.
The setting was a good one. They lived in a turbulent time in the past where many things were changing, and you do a good job with that overall, describing the people’s reactions, and paying attention to the little details here and there, such as using apricorn balls rather than pokeballs. But I felt that you maybe toned it down a bit, with some of the circumstantial characters like Jim and the doctor not displaying any racism at all. The setting in general wasn’t as good as some of the other nominees.
You’re technically superior to most of the other writers in technicalities. Your writing style is more developed than others and do a good job in description overall. I particularly enjoyed those little introductory paragraphs you had written in the beginning; describing the location and such. It made it easier to envision the setting of the events. However, you do suffer from the occasional typo, and sometimes don’t notice details. For instance, you made a contradicting description of the Parrish brothers in the earlier chapters. The two descriptions were hugely different, which could’ve been fixed with a simple re-read.
Summary: One of the better stories among the nominees. It benefits from a strong and solid plot, but has issues in term of plot development, commonly resorting to Dues Ex Machina or adding events that shouldn’t take place under the circumstances. The characters are good but not great, as they lack depth. The writer does a good job of portraying the time period that the story takes place in and is technically superior to other writers with a good writing style and minimal typos or mistakes.
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 5 Chapter 31
Thanks for the feedback @Jinoga :) The use of the leather book and the spell used to heal Gwenda is part of a larger aspect of my universe: something that isn't particularly clear in this story, but the event of Gwenda taking the book with her is a larger aspect of it. I had thought I had given my characters more depth and the setting more focus (I didn't want to focus too much on the racism around them, as I thought of it as a larger aspect that had the potential to distract from the rest of the plot), but I can see your points and respect your views. I was unaware of this mistake with the brothers: would you be able to point out which chapters they were in? But thank you for your feedback and I will put it towards my future stories :)
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 5 Chapter 31
Chapter Thirty Two: Uphill
Victoria's heart pounded against her chest as she stared down at the valley below: despite all that had happened on their journey, she never failed to be frightened by what was put before them to deal with, and what could be more frightening and twisted than clinging for dear life onto the one thing that could soon become your coffin. The coach creaked as it swayed back and forth, the river and banks appearing to move than the coach itself. Victoria had no way of knowing what had happened to the train or what do: all she knew was that there were two unconscious figures around her and they had to leave before things became unstable.
However, Victoria didn't know how this could be achieved. Getting to the front of the coach was going to be like walking up a flat hill made of polished wood, and she would somehow have to drag her two friends up as well. She could always get into one of the compartments, but, again, Victoria had no way of knowing what state they would be in. She also had no idea how she was supposed to get to Andrew, whose arms and legs had fallen between the gaps in the railing and it would be too risky to grab him. There were too many questions and no ideas or solutions, and Victoria began to freak out as the coach continued to sway, dust trickling away beneath them.
Focus! Victoria told herself as she stared desperately between compartments, Gwenda, Andrew and the entrance up ahead. There has to be a way out of here: calm down and try and think rationally! Victoria took several deep and quick breathes as she glanced around, trying to think of a way to get out of this situation. There were several compartments nearby that they could get to, and Victoria sighed with relief as she realised something: no one had entered into the corridor to try and escape, meaning that people were either unconscious or could easily escape through their windows or side doors.
"Perfect!" Victoria said, hoping that it was the latter option. Her heart and mind were still racing, but she wasn't going to linger around and wait for the coach to fall down below. She had learnt that moving quickly, sensibly and calmly was the best way to achieve this in these situations, and the same had to be said for today.
Victoria pulled herself up, arms screaming with pain, until she was leaning against a wall that formed part of this coaches bathroom, which extended out further then the compartments. Leaning against it for support, she leaned across and hooked Gwenda around the middle with her foot. It wasn't the most comfortable way of doing things, but Victoria had to move quickly and couldn't help Gwenda any other way. Her entire body still hurt from yesterday, but Victoria tried her best to heave her friend around until she was able to bend down and reach her.
Damn, Victoria cursed as she leaned down and grabbed Gwenda's shoulders, her shoulders and arms feeling like they were about to shatter, not helped by the blood trickling down from her wound, no longer being prevented as Victoria's hands were needed elsewhere. Gwenda's dress began to get flecked with blood as it dripped down, sickening Victoria slightly, but she forced herself to focus on the task at hand and struggled to pull Gwenda up and stay safe at the same time. The coach continued to creak and Victoria nearly let go of Gwenda as she felt it slide forwards a little bit, and for a few moments paused in fear at the creaking.
Come on, focus! She told herself firmly, and, with one last great heave, managed to get Gwenda up to her level. Her friend was groaning and stirring slightly, and the cut on her head looked like it could get worse very quickly. Victoria forced herself not to focus on it and pushed herself to her feet, wobbly slightly at the unstable ground she was on. The nearest door was only a few feet away, and Victoria was relieved that it opened easily, hopefully implying that its occupants hadn't been trapped inside.
Victoria peered in once the door had swung open, looking around at the suitcase, plates of food and a board game that had become scattered around from the derailment. However, the door leading out of the carriage remained closed: the occupants had either teleported away like the Minder usually did or hadn't been in the room at the time of the crash.
"No!" Victoria gasped, now not sure what she was going to do. She had hoped to have the door open and easily drag Gwenda and Andrew out before leaving herself, but now she couldn't be sure. In an ideal situation, Victoria could have easily moved through the compartment and checked, but as the coach continued to sway and creak, she realised that she would have to rescue Andrew first.
"Sorry Gwenda, I'll be back in a minute," Victoria whispered, heaving Gwenda up and sliding her into the carriage with more strain on her arms. Gwenda thumped against the wall under the seat and Victoria could only hope she would be alright. But as she turned to leave, shouts began to sound from all around. Victoria turned around in hope and relief, glad that someone could potentially come to her rescue and aide her rescue attempts, but saw that the shouts were coming through a crack in the window, not from inside the coach itself. It wasn't as good, but Victoria did find another solution for it: she searched around the upturned suitcase on the floor, and grasped the first heavy object she could find. It turned out to be a box of empty Apricorn Balls, and though they weren't as ideal as something larger, Victoria knew she didn't have the strength to throw anything heavier even if she found it.
"Alright, here we go," she mumbled, and threw one towards the window. It didn't fully shatter it, only making the cracks go bigger, so Victoria grabbed another handful and threw them. The next two didn't do anything, but finally the fourth ball she threw shattered the class. Victoria was relieved, but the sound wasn't as loud as she would have hoped for to get attention, and threw the last three in the box in hopes that someone saw them. The coach continued to sway and slid forwards once more, nearly making Victoria lose her footing, and she knew she had to get to Andrew before the coach took him away, leaving her no time to check if her plan had worked.
But how am I supposed to rescue him? Victoria asked herself, changing from supportive and encouraging to now questioning herself. But she turned and stared down through the open door before her, down to where Andrew lay on a few pieces of metal that were saving his life. How was Victoria supposed to get down there and save him? There was nothing to hold onto and the slope was difficult to control: horrible mental images of slipping and falling into the ravine below flashed through her mind, and Victoria seized up in fright. There was little way she could get down there without endangering herself and ultimately failing, and her fear and rapid, uneasy breathing began to come back. Escaping this situation seemed impossible, and Victoria was on the verge of tears as she leaned back into the compartment, clutching her head in agony as she tried to think of what to do.
"What's this?" Victoria asked herself suddenly, her thoughts temporarily distracted as she felt something soft beneath her head when she thought she'd leant against the suitcase. She turned and looked down, surprised to find it was a bundled up sheet. Whoever stayed here seemed to have come prepared for several sleeps, and Victoria could see they had brought their own pillows and a robe with them. But Victoria's attention was only on the sheet, and she had an idea of just how to use it.
Grabbing it and sliding down to the bathroom wall, Victoria leaned over and faced Andrew once again. She was going to have to wake him up in order for this to work, but that would be easy compared to dealing with the emotional pain of leaving him behind to die. She lowered the sheet down towards him so that, once he was awake, Andrew would be able to hold on and be hauled back up. However, the sheet fell short, stopping about a metre short.
"Damnit!" Victoria cursed, and uneasily clutched onto the wall as she began to shimmy her way towards the door. The coach creaked and slipped again, but Victoria tried hard to ignore this and focus on a positive outcome instead. "ANDREW, WAKE UP!" She yelled, and carefully slid down towards the door. The second her feet touched the frame the coach swayed again, and Victoria nearly froze up in shock to think that there was a chance there was no longer any ground beneath her. But she had a task to do, and felt reassured by the fact that the sheet was now touching Andrew.
"ANDREW!" She shouted as she tied the sheet around the bathroom door handle to try and give a bit of stability. "ANDREW, YOU NEED TO WAKE UP!" Victoria shouted, and she dangled the sheet so that it tickled his face in hopes that that would stir him. There was a groan and Victoria felt reassured, hanging tightly onto the sheet as the coach continued to sway.
"Victoria…. Is that you?" Andrew groaned, wiggling his body and putting a hand to his head. His eyes slowly came open, finding the sheet dangling directly in his face. "What's going on? What… why are you on a slope?" He asked, staring up at Victoria in shock.
"I'll explain later, but right now you need to grab onto the sheet so I can pull you up!" Victoria called. "We are running out of time, so this has to be quick."
"What do you mean we're running out of time?" Andrew groaned. "Why do I need pulling up anyway? What is going on Victoria?" Victoria was getting stressed out as the coach continued to sway, and she didn't have any patience to try and explain the situation.
"Andrew, just grab onto the sheet! You need to trust me!" She yelled desperately. "I swear I will explain everything as soon as you up the sheet, but you just need to believe me right now! Oh, and looking down may not be the best idea…," she added a bit weakly, Andrew's eyes bulging at this point. He looked a bit uncertain and nervous, but Victoria sighed with relief as he grasped onto the sheet.
"I think trusting you is the only thing I can do right now," Andrew said, and he began to haul himself up, pushing against the coach floor to hold himself up. Victoria was so happy he was moving that she forgot that she should be helping, but quickly helped to pull the sheet up. Her arms began to scream again and Victoria wondered if they were ever going to heal now, but there was more important matters: the coach was still swaying on the edge, sliding forwards a few more feet. It was lucky that Victoria had managed to stir Andrew now, as it seemed that the entire coach would be lost within the next few minutes.
Andrew was struggling to pull himself up, and Victoria equally struggled tugging on the sheet, but their combined effort was managing to make some progress. Andrew was now close to getting into the door and to safety, but if he fell now than there was a chance he could still go over the edge, so Victoria tried her hardest to heave him up.
"Take my hand," she yelled once he was near the doorway. She leant down, hanging tightly onto the sheet with her other for balance, and Andrew stretched one hand up as far as he could. It was a lot tougher holding onto his weight this directly, but Victoria pushed against the frame to heave him in. Andrew reached out and clung onto the frame with his other hand, and Victoria felt relief as he let go and heaved himself back inside the coach. He got one brief glance of the valley below before Victoria kicked the door shut, the slam causing it to slip a few more feet. Silence filled the room between them asides from their heavy breathing, and Victoria and Andrew merely stared at each other, thinking about what had nearly happened.
"So… I am guessing the coach is leaning over the edge?" Andrew asked quietly, and Victoria nodded as she continued to gather her breathe back. Andrew looked shocked to have this confirmed, but he quickly pulled himself together. "Well, I guess we will have to find a way out then, won't we?"
"I guess so," Victoria replied, not realizing the coldness that slipped into her tone. Now that Andrew was relatively safe, Victoria had time to think about what had happened just before the violent jolts that had put them in this situation. She wouldn't forgive Andrew until he apologized properly for what he said, and it didn't seem like that was going to happen any time soon.
However, as Victoria began to feel her anger rise up again, a shout sounded from the compartment closest to them. She snapped out her anger and forced herself to focus on the situation they where in. There were several bangs, and Victoria and Andrew scrambled forwards into the messy compartment, watching as the door began to crack severely with each bang.
"What's going on?" Gwenda mumbled from the floor, rubbing around her cut as she began to stir.
"I'll explain in a moment, just don't push yourself," Victoria said, bending down and smiling reassuringly, though it didn't take long for Gwenda to realize that they were in a strange compartment on a slope and remember the slope.
"There was a crash, wasn't there?" She gasped. "Victoria, what's going on?" Victoria felt bad about not telling them the truth, but she was mostly keeping quiet as she had no idea how to put their situation into words: it wasn't exactly normal and it would only make Gwenda freak out like Victoria had when she had first realized. Andrew was staring down suspiciously as if waiting for an answer as well, but Victoria was saved as the door suddenly shattered, causing them all to duck as splinters flew across the compartment.
"MILTANK MIL MIL!" A familiar voice cried, and Victoria's heart skipped in delight as she saw Millicent was standing in the open space, smiling widely and mooing towards another group. Things suddenly seemed so optimistic, and for the first time Victoria felt certain they were all about to get out alive.
"Move asides Millicent, you're going to be a bit too big for this ride," another voice said, and suddenly Jim appeared alongside, beaming almost as brightly as he had in the treasure room. Victoria was so relieved that they were going to get out that she felt a bit light headed, and she and Gwenda exchanged joyful beams.
"You three need to get out of here quickly!" The hiker told them, reaching in and clearing aside some of the mess to give them a clear path. "There's a builder further up the carriage that says it's only a few minutes until the whole thing falls, so we have to move quickly!"
"Falls?" Gwenda asked nervously, her eyes bulging with fear, but Victoria pushed her forwards to avoid any awkward questions, eager in a rather bad way to get out and find out what had happened. Andrew had put on the same surly face he had worn before the jolts, and Victoria was angry to see he was still annoyed at Jim's presence.
"Just be glad he is going to save us!" Victoria snarled as she walked past, heading for the door as Jim helped Gwenda down.
"Funnily enough, I get out of a door on my own," Andrew replied icily, but Victoria ignored him as Jim extended a hand and helped her down. Millicent rushed forwards as soon as her feet were planted firmly on the ground, pulling her into a tight hug, and several of the cries showed that the other Pokemon were nearby.
"Thanks girl," Victoria said, hugging her back and letting all of her tension escape, relieved to finally be out of the coach. However, she still had no idea what had happened, and carefully pushed Millicent away and turned to face the damage.
It was worse than she expected.
It appeared that the entire train had come off the tracks, and not all of the coaches had been as lucky as theirs. The one nearest to them that their compartment had been in had merely derailed, but the next three were all on their sides, their windows cracked and people and Pokemon trapped within. Men were clambering onto the sides and wrenching doors open, helping to lift people out of their compartments. One further down had landed upside down in the trees, and a fire seemed to be raging in the distance. Tears from women and children accompanied the sounds of flickering flames and the shouts of men passing on orders. There were cries of people trying to find loved ones, while other people either wept hysterically about the situation or sat perfectly still in silence, staring at the destruction with almost dead eyes. It was truly haunting scene, and Victoria could only imagine situations like this happening around the 118 Ferry and the Johto Jewel: people rushing around, trying to save lives and fix a situation that seemed unfixable. Victoria clung onto Millicent for support, watching in horror as a body was taken away on a door, glass piercing the screaming man's body.
"This is horrible… how did this happen?" Victoria asked quietly, looking around at Jim for answers. The hiker had just helped a moody Andrew down, who was instantly surrounded by Electrike and Trapinch, and the burly man turned towards Victoria as he heard her question. His face looked grim, and Victoria knew that whatever the reason was she wouldn't like it. However, before he could even open her mouth, a scream sounded from inside the coach.
"HELP ME!" A voice yelled, and Victoria, Andrew, Jim and Millicent stared through the compartment they had just moved through. It sounded like a woman, and she was banging desperately on the door opposite them, somehow stuck in her own compartment. Victoria gaped in shock, the woman's fate suddenly thrust in their hands as everyone else around was busy with other people. She had no idea what to do, as the coach was moving ever closer to the edge, but Jim suddenly bounded forwards.
"Hold onto the coach, make sure it doesn't fall until she is out," the hiker said firmly, and he began to walk through the mess, struggling to move properly on the slant.
"Jim, it's too risky!" Victoria shouted after him, admiring his bravery but at the same time wondering what he was thinking. She looked at the others for help, but Andrew, his Pokemon and Millicent were rushing away. The Miltank moved towards the end of the coach, which people had stupidly decided not to stabilize, and she grabbed onto the buffer beam and lowered it down. Andrew explained to some men what was happening, and they seemed relieved as they were able to get some stragglers out of the coach.
"What is Jim doing?" Gwenda asked in shock as she, Scarlett and Petal rushed over. "It is far too risky to be in there!" Victoria could only nod, watching in stunned silence as Jim kicked the door down with explosive force: he was risking his life to save a woman he didn't even know. Jim had let his rather trusting and nice side out during this train trip, and Victoria couldn't help but wonder how she would react in the same situation. Would she be the person rushing around helping others, or would she be staring blankly into space like the silent people?
"Everyone else is off this coach!" One of the men who looked like he simply lifted weights for a living shouted. "Once that guy is off the coach we'll have to let it go, we can't worry about stabilizing it when there are more people to help!" The other workers seemed to agree, and Victoria could only hope Jim could get out before they decided to let go. It seemed he was checking the woman before bringing her out, and Victoria watched tensely, ignoring Gwenda's questions and all other noises as she hoped for Jim to escape.
"TAAAANK!" Millicent suddenly yelled, and Victoria turned around, partly as her Pokemon and friend seemed to be in pain and partly because this couldn't be good news. The Miltank was struggling to hold onto the coach it seemed, and the entire thing was shaking up and down as she tried to hold on. Andrew and his Pokemon were trying to weigh it down, and the workers rushed over and tried to hold on, but their strength wasn't going to be enough to hold on to a heavy wooden structure that had slipt far too much.
"JIM, YOU HAVE TO HURRY!" Victoria screamed frantically, watching as the doorway of the compartment started to slip away. There was a very real possibility that they could lose a friend and helper, and Victoria wasn't sure if she could handle this. "We have to help: what were the moves we taught our Pokemon? Can one of them help?" She said, turning suddenly towards Gwenda.
"Ummm…," Gwenda mumbled, taken by surprise and not sure what to say. "There is… um… there was…"
"Come on Gwenda, think faster!" Victoria wailed nearly on the verge of tears. She turned around and gasped in relief, watching as Jim ran forwards with the woman on his shoulders. She was bleeding and didn't look well, and Victoria rushed forwards to help them down.
"VICTORIA, DON'T GO NEAR IT!" Andrew suddenly yelled. "THE ENTIRE COACH IS BREAKING!" Victoria was shocked, but the words only made her want to help more. She stretched her arms out and Jim practically threw the woman towards her, and the force would have knocked her over if Gwenda hadn't come for support. The woman collapsed to the ground and Victoria quickly moved her aside, caring little for her injuries at the moment as she turned for Jim.
However, Victoria found one of the most heartbreaking images of her life unfold before her.
Jim had tripped over in the mess as he had thrown the woman, and lay tangled on the floor as he tried to get himself up. But there was no way he could make it: the coach was beginning to slip over the edge, and the doorway was already hanging over. Millicent and the men were trying their hardest, but the more weight that slipped over the edge the less chance they had of holding on. Jim seemed to realize this, and he looked up at Victoria with eyes that shimmered with sadness.
"NOOOO!" Victoria screamed, and tried to leap forwards towards the doorway, but Andrew's arms wrapped around her waist and pulled her backwards. She tried to break free and lashed out with vicious kicks, tears streaming down her cheeks all the same, but nothing was going to work. The coach slipped about ten centimetres, Jim's fate now sealed even if he could free himself.
"I hope you all make it to Lilycove," he called out, a single tear streaming down an otherwise burly face. Victoria continued to try and free herself, screaming and beating Andrew as much as he could, but there was nothing that could work. She could only watch as the coach suddenly slid away, the view of the hiker that had helped them get this far disappearing from view forever. As the last of the coach disappeared over the edge, Victoria collapsed into Andrew's arms, tears streaming down her face and her sob silencing all that was around her. Despite the tension between them, Andrew slowly stroked her hair and rubbed her back, but nothing was going to console Victoria: just when things had been looking up, just when it seemed that they would reach Lilycove without anymore dramas, this derailment had gone and happened. Victoria wasn't sure if there was any space left in her mind for any more sadness and guilt, but yet her memories of Jim, which should have been fond memories of a man who had actually cared for them and had helped them through a tough place no matter his true intentions, would be plagued with sadness and regret for a man taken before his time and who had only tried to spread his help.
For a note, the cause of the crash will be revealed in the next chapter before anyone asks.
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 5 Chapter 32
Chapter Thirty Three: Memories
Only a few hours after watching a friend plummet to his death, Victoria found herself staring towards a pitch black sky that perfectly reflected her mood.
For nearly fifteen minutes, Victoria lay beside the track as tears streamed down her face and towards the ground below. Gwenda stayed with her with arms wrapped around as a sign of friendship and comfort, but Victoria wasn't sure what use it was. It was too hard to focus on the touch when she couldn't help but feel guilty about being uselessly flopped on the ground, watching all the drama around them. It seemed as if the action around the train crash had stopped now that their coach had fallen, but there were still people trapped inside their coaches, still fires to be put out, still injuries than needing tending to and dead that needed to be respected. Andrew, Millicent and the other Pokemon descended into the chaos, willing to help in whatever way possible, leaving Victoria and Gwenda along with each other.
A tank engine that had been in a shed nearby was brought down about half an hour after the crash, bringing with it more men, strong Pokemon and better supplies to deal with the situation. Andrew emerged with blood soaked clothing and a slight scorch mark from getting too close to a fire, but managed to hold himself together and look calm. Victoria envied how he never got as emotional as they did, simply looking surly and tough in the face of danger and death. He told them that another train would be bringing the survivors back to a large area of bare field to the east, and Victoria let Gwenda speak for her, too shaken and too depressed to say anything else.
They left twenty minutes later when the train arrived, waiting for the nearly a hundred passengers to climb onboard, and the engine sped towards the fields in order to head back quickly to gather the remaining survivors. Victoria was nearly separated from the others as a surge of passengers left the coaches, being directed by volunteers from Lilycove and the surrounding routes to head to different areas. She wanted to just be alone and away from all the screaming and crying, the horrific sights of burnt bodies being whisked away to a large white tent only making the unhealed wounds sting more. However, Gwenda and Andrew were unwilling to let her out of their sights, and quickly appeared on either side of her.
"Let's try and find somewhere to sit down," Gwenda said warmly with a soft smile on her face, and Victoria merely nodded along. She tried to avoid eye contact with Andrew as he led the way, carrying the suitcase with him. It all seemed to be his fault that Jim had been on that coach as it fell off, and would forever lay within its walls: if Andrew hadn't gone into hiding and tried to avoid them, than maybe Jim wouldn't have died, maybe none of them would have been injured.
These 'what if's' circled around her mind as the sky got progressively darker, and Victoria simply sat on the end of a fold out bed and stared up towards the stars as they twinkled above. Gwenda had been escorted away by a helper who thought her head and leg injury seemed nastier than first thought, and Andrew was resided to staying sulky and Victoria was happy to just leave him there. It seemed funny that only a few days ago that Victoria couldn't imagine life without him, waking up to find him by her side at Doctor Granger's, being next to him near the boiler of the Johto Jewel. Their relationship had seemed so destined to be perfect after all the hardship they had gone through, and Victoria had been ready for this happiness.
But now they sat metres apart, doing their best to ignore each other. Part of Victoria still wanted to regain that connection with him, but most of her knew that Jim's death could be tied back to Andrew and his sulking. She had not expected this angry, moody, untrusting side of him, having always seen him as the muscular and kind hearted soul that would sometimes say hello to her as they tended to the fields of a sociopath. Every time Andrew snapped about something, every time he threw an accusation or insult around, Victoria could feel part of that image slipping away, and it hurt her to think that a relationship she had always wanted might not come to fruition.
But as Victoria stared towards the stars and the inky black ocean in the distance, trying to block out the sounds of crying and speeding steam engines behind her, there was one aspect she couldn't help but shake from her mind: why had the death shaken her like this? It wasn't as if Gwenda, Andrew or one of their Pokemon (who were currently being healed by a volunteer nurse) had fallen into the ravine below. Jim was someone Victoria had only known for less than two days, and he had tricked them for several hours before letting his softer side out, so why was it affecting her so much? Did Victoria partly blame herself for the death? Should she have checked the other compartments before leaving, or tried to help hold on or help Jim escape? Something was buzzing around her mind, and Victoria couldn't help but question both her reasons for crying and whether or not the blame could partly be shifted onto her.
"I'm going for a walk," Andrew said suddenly, and Victoria glanced over in time to see him walking quickly off through the maze of beds that stood behind them. More people had joined since Victoria had walked through: many people were in groups, some with families trying to silence distressed children, others friends trying to console each other over injuries and losses. It was easy to pick out the ones who had lost the person they had been travelling with: they either wept hysterically to themselves with passer-bys leaving them be, or otherwise sat quietly and stared rather blankly at the grass in front of them, trying to accept what had happened. The scene was tragic, and staring around managed to soften Victoria's surly and downtrodden mood, wondering what dreams these people had had ruined by the accident, who they had lost and whether any of them were blaming themselves for the death of another.
"Oh, hello," Victoria said absently, turning around to briefly glance at whoever was talking to her. However, she had to do a double take and nearly leapt off her bed in fright: an Absol was standing directly in front of her, sniffing around several beds that had been set up but were currently unoccupied. Victoria didn't know a lot about Hoenn Pokemon, but Absol was one they had always been warned about as children.
"You… you're… you bring bad luck!" Victoria stumbled, trying to back away as all thoughts of the accident left her mind as she stared at the sharp sickle rising out of Absol's head that was as dark as the night's sky around them. The Pokemon, who had a shaggy white coat covering the rest of his body, gave Victoria a judgemental look.
Oh, I'm a bad luck charm am I? I never knew! The Absol replied in a rather sarcastic manner. Victoria was even more shaken by the fact the Absol could talk, and felt like calling for help. Let me just clarify this straight away: I am not a bringer of bad luck, something that my species has been labelled with for many centuries. Absol's have the ability to sense danger and destruction, and we use this gift to try and warn humans about the dangers before them. However, this gift has become a curse, and whenever the bad things occur, our appearance has been connected towards said incident.
"How can you talk?" Victoria asked nervously, still taken aback to have a random Pokemon approach her and start a conversation.
An elder in the pack I use to stay in taught us to manipulate some of the Psychic powers we were given, the Absol explained. However, it is a rather draining ability due to the pressure it puts on our minds: unlike Psychic Pokemon or ones that can learn the move Psychic, we are forced to get our abilities from our natural powers that come with foreseeing the future. Victoria was rather stunned by this, never hearing of a Pokemon with a special gift that was also a bit of a hindrance. However, she was beginning to put the pieces together, and felt a sense of dread washing throughout her body.
"Why are you here?" Victoria asked timidly. "Is… is it because of me? Is there going to be some sort of disaster?" There wasn't anything Victoria could think of that could be worse than a train crash, an exploding cruise ship and ferry or a collapsing sand tower, but the rather awkward look that appeared on the Absol's face seemed to imply that there was something.
I am not sure how you are involved, but I had a vision only a short time ago, Absol explained. I just saw images of something burning, possibly bonfires or some arson attack, and the ground was shaking violently. People were all running in one direction, but I could see you running against the grain, towards a point in the distance, away from all of this drama. I think… I think someone may have been standing there, possibly two or three people, I am not sure.
"Well that's not that helpful!" Victoria snapped, stunning the Absol. "Where is this meant to be taking place? Do you know what any of those people look like? For someone trying to predict the future, you aren't doing a particularly good job!" The Absol looked rather shocked and Victoria calmed down, rather appalled herself at how she had just reacted. "I'm sorry… I didn't mean it to come out that way…. I just….,"
I understand, the Absol interrupted, smiling kindly. It must be irritating to receive this very vague premonition, but it was a rather blurred and confusing vision, and I only came over here because I recognized you. I was just making my way from the crash site, and –
"You were at the train crash?" Victoria said, thoughts of Jim and her anger at Andrew quickly rushing back. "Are you sure you aren't a bad luck sign?" The Absol smirked at this and Victoria did as well, but she was beginning to understand why these Pokemon had such a bad reputation
Well, you could say that, Absol replied. I did indeed have a vision about a man damaging the tracks, therefore causing the train to derail, and I ran towards the scene in an attempt to stop it but arrived to watch the engine coming off and crashing straight through a tree nearby.
"What do you 'a man damaging the tracks'?" Victoria asked suspiciously. She had never found out what had caused the train to derail, and had wondered if anyone knew what had caused it, never expecting a Pokemon to give her the answers.
I am not sure how to properly describe him, Absol replied, looking a bit confused. He was old and seemed rather weak, leaning against a cane as a Skarmory and Graveller damaged a large section of the track. However, I am not here to discuss the past, even though it may have affected you. I came to warn you about the possible disaster that could soon be occurring, and how you may be involved. Are you even listening to me? The Absol asked grumpily, as Victoria was staring at the ground in front of him with a shocked look across her face that was difficult to read.
"No, it can't be…," she whispered fearfully. The description of the old man and his Pokemon was all too familiar, but it was something Victoria hadn't truly been worrying about or expecting: had he even emerged from beneath the sand before they had reached the train? How did he even know they were onboard? And now there was Absol's prediction: Victoria looked around, eyeing all of the beds and huts that had been hastily arranged by the local volunteers before the survivors arrived. There were a lot of people here, all trapped in one place, similar sounding to how Absol had described things…
"We have to move, now!" Victoria cried, suddenly leaping up and grabbing the suitcase nearby. She quickly opened it up, checking everything was in there: spare clothes, the map, the articles, the mirror, the book that contained the spell that healed Gwenda, the last Apricorn ball they had. Victoria glanced towards the lonely Level Ball, thinking of how they had so quickly used all the Apricorn Balls they had stolen, and how she had just been given a chance to use the last one.
Why do we have to leave? The Absol asked, sounding fairly confused. Victoria had partially forgotten he was right there, and turned quickly towards him in a rather jumpy manner.
"I think that your premonition is about to come true unless we leave here quickly," Victoria explained, closing the suitcase but holding onto the Level Ball. "If I am correct, than the same person who caused the train crash is about to launch an assault on the camp, and we need to move."
How do you know he is going to come here, or if it is even him? Absol asked, moving in front of Victoria as she turned towards the rows of beds. My vision was not particularly clear, but I don't think it was this area…
"The description of the man you gave matches someone that wants me dead, and I have a feeling that he will be here soon to finish the deed, whether as part of your vision or not," Victoria explained quickly. "My friends and I need to leave now to prevent us from being killed. However, I don't want to leave you behind when you came up to me and warned me of this," Victoria added, holding the Level Ball up. The Absol looked rather surprised by this, staring towards the yellow and black coloured ball with wide eyes of surprise.
I've never been asked to join a team before… everyone just presumes I am going to bring their team bad luck, Absol explained, sounding rather emotional. I mean, I don't even know your name, or any of your friends. I only just saw you running through a crowd and thought I would come and warn you: why do you want me on your team?
"Because," Victoria said, leaning down with the first smile to cross her face since that morning, "the fact that you came across to warn me shows that you were brave enough to talk to humans even after always being rejected, and I would like to have a brave Pokemon on my side for whatever horrors are about to occur. Besides, I don't think it would be possible for me to get any worse bad luck." Absol smiled at this, and Victoria extended the Lever Ball towards him. "My name is Victoria, and I would love for you to join my team… though you're going to need a nickname – Absol won't cut it in this world!" The Absol smiled and laughed, and Victoria was surprised to find herself laughing after all that had happened.
I would love to join you, Absol said, and he touched his sickle to the button on the ball. Victoria watched as he turned into energy as was brought inside, the ball beginning to move along her hand as it decided upon the capture or not. And then, for the first time since seeing the train the previous night, Victoria felt proud and relieved as the Level Ball flashed: Absol had been captured.
"Yes!" Victoria said to herself, the boost of meeting a new Pokemon and capturing it pulling her out of her rage. She looked up towards the rows of beds before her, knowing it was time to start moving. She pushed asides her anger with Andrew and herself and her sadness about Jim's death, knowing that it was time to focus and get moving again. With the suitcase in hand, Victoria began to march forwards through the crowd, on the lookout for the medical tent: it was time to find Gwenda and get out of her before the Minder found them.
The Minder had to find the slaves before it was too late.
He limped through the train wreckage, admiring how he was still able to cause so much damage even at his old age and in his near feeble state. It had been a long and difficult day trying to make it towardsFallarborTownin his condition, but the Minder had managed to pull through and heal his Pokemon, just at the right time to steal a new cane from an elderly woman who was minding her granddaughter and overhear several gossiping railway employees, leading him on this path. He trained his Pokemon after teleporting to the side of the railway, Geodude's evolution giving a nice advantage to what was about to happen.
The Minder had watched from afar and in delight as the train derailed before him, the screams sounding from shattered glass as coaches rolled into the trees and bushes on either side. The dancing flames had only made him laugh, but he had been forced to hide from nearby lumberjacks that lived in the middle of the forest. It would have been nearly impossible for the Minder to fight off the muscular men in his weakened state, and he was forced to watch as the rescue operation unfolded before him, rather intrigued by the fact these men were willing to put their lives on the line to rescue people they probably didn't know… the science being these random acts was something that didn't register to the frail old man, and it was something he would probably never understand.
The Minder waited patiently for the opportunity to move down and find a way to get the three slaves and whisk them away without making a scene, but was taken aback by the sudden arrival of the tank engine to take the injured away. The sudden movement of passengers towards the waiting coaches sparked a thought in the old man's mind: what if the slaves escaped before he could get to them? What if they were already onboard the train, ready to be taken to a safe place? And, what if they had never been onboard and the information he had overheard was wrong?
The Minder didn't care at all about causing the accident, but he was concerned that if, after all of this trouble he had gone to, the slaves had escaped from him and had become a lot more difficult to find. He wanted to move down and begin searching for them now, but the number of people moving around would make snooping difficult and the Minder wanted to stay calm and collected.
It wasn't until nightfall that he began moving through the wreckage that lay scattered below, pushing his cane over bits of broken wood and shattered glass, impressed by his handiwork but at the same time concerned for his possible loss. The Minder did not like to lose, and he had let them escape him too many times in the past: if they managed to flee now, he wasn't quite sure how he would react. There was no sign of any human bodies around the coaches, and the Minder grumbled at the pain of pointlessly walking and putting pressure on his body, now turning his attentions towards the dead bodies that had been piled up near the tracks. If the three were still anywhere, they would be there. It wasn't quite how the Minder would have liked them to die, but at least it would have still been at his hands…
"Excuse me sir but can I help you?" The Minder was stunned when a man appeared before him, sweat and burn marks covering his shirtless chest that seemed to rise above the elderly man. He was wearing a suspicious look on his face, and the Minder cursed as he realised he should have concocted a lie before coming down, and annoyed that he had failed to notice this man approaching him.
"Oh, hello there young sir," the Minder said, putting on his kindest and frailest voice. "I heard about this terrible accident and was very appalled to hear about it and planned to come and see if there was anything I could do, but my neighbour at Fortree, James McAdams, told me that his grandson and two coloured friends had been playing around here and thought they might have been injured in the crash. I promised to check for him; you haven't seen a young white boy and two coloured girls around, have you?"
"We don't need any help sir, though we appreciate the offer," the man replied to his earlier point, clearly unsure about this frail man even walking, "however, I believe I saw two coloured girls around a coach that tipped over the side of the cliff, and then they caught the… first train, I think, to the grounds we set up. Its just a few kilometres down the line to the west," the man explained, pointing in the direction.
"Oh thank you young man, bless you," the Minder replied with a smile that didn't quite match his elderly persona. "Thank you for all the work you are doing!" The man smiled and turned away, the relief on his face visible as he fled from the discussion. The Minder continued to smile, simply standing there with a wide beam on his face: if the two had been so easy to pull out in a hectic situation like this, they must be some of the only blacks still alive.
The man glanced back after he had walked several metres, wondering if the old man was alright. But he was stunned to see the man was no longer there and came to a halt, wondering where he could have possibly gone. He had no way of knowing that the old man had teleported away, nor that he was on his way to finish the plan he had had in motion for many days now and finally complete the task he had set out to do.
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 5 Chapter 33
Chapter Thirty Four: Departure
"Gwenda, wake up!"
Gwenda's eyes flickered open with a start, but she remained perfectly still and showed no sign to the person that had just spoken that was awake. She had never been this easily startled a few weeks ago, but after all that had happened to them over the past few weeks, it was no surprise that it took only three whispered emerging from the darkness to make her seize up in worry. It could be anyone, and Gwenda was still a bit disorientated from the medicine they had given her before stitching her wound up that she didn't want to try and challenge them. However, a hand grasped onto her shoulder, and Gwenda instinctively gasped and turned around to face the person looming over her.
"Oh thank goodness, it's just you!" Gwenda sighed with relief, clutching her chest and breathing deeply once she caught Victoria's face and hair in the dim lamplight coming from a desk a few metres away. Gwenda's worry disappeared for a moment and she began to laugh at her reaction, but the humour quickly stopped once she saw the look across her friend's face. "What is it? Has something happened?"
"We have to leave – NOW!" Victoria hissed, her hand leaving Gwenda's shoulder and grasping her hands. Gwenda gasped as she was lifted up, the blanket given to her by the nurse falling down to the grass below.
"I can't go anywhere Victoria! The medicine they gave me has made me too tired and weak," Gwenda explained, the mostly dark image before her swaying as her head throbbed painfully. But once her eyes and brain had focused on the scene properly, Gwenda silently gasped and tried to move backwards as she saw the flowing white fur of an Absol. "Victoria, what is going on? You can't just come and wake a sick person up and instruct them to leave and bring a bad omen along for the ride!"
"Apollo isn't a bad omen!" Victoria hissed, casting a nervous eye to the other sleeping or moaning patients that were spread around the white medical tent. There was a definite sense of worry in her eyes and across her face, and she seemed rather nervous about being here. "I can't tell you in here, there are too many people," and before Gwenda could object, the Absol called Apollo was leading them through the row of beds and towards the flap that made their exit. Several volunteer nurses and family members cast their eyes upon them as they left, but Victoria ignored them as she walked determinedly towards the exit.
It was a lot noisier outside, and Gwenda knew it would have been impossible for her to sleep out in the open with all the people talking, screaming, moaning and crying around her. She took a quick scope of the scene she had only briefly seen before: rows and rows of people that weren't injured badly enough to warrant going into the white tents, forced to remain in the cold night as they possibly mourned the loss of friends and family and wondered about those inside the tents. Gwenda felt teary just staring at them, and turned back towards Victoria and her Absol.
"Victoria, what is going –,"
"We need to leave because I think the Minder is about to arrive here," Victoria explained, grabbing the suitcase from where she had left it against the side of the tent. She turned back towards Gwenda and was a little bit pleased to see her friend had fallen silent, staring at Victoria in shock. "I knew that would get your attention," she said with a slight smirk, though stopped as Gwenda shot back a glare.
Quickly Victoria explained what Apollo had told her and how she had drawn the conclusions about the Minder coming here. She didn't add that it wasn't confirmed yet as Gwenda may be less willing to leave on a mere whim, but Victoria focussed more on the possibility of it than worrying about questions.
"I used Apollo to guide me towards your bed, but he can't talk now as his telepathic abilities are draining his energy," Victoria said in a whisper, eyeing a haggled looking mum as she walked close to them with two buckets of water. "But now that you're here, we can get on our way: I have all of our stuff and have already gotten our Pokemon from the nurses, so we can start moving!" Gwenda simply nodded along, still trying to process all the information that had just been given to her. "We do have to leave soon Gwenda," Victoria said softly, placing her hands on her friend's shoulder and smiling reassuringly. "If we don't, then the Minder may –,"
"How do you even know if it is the Minder?" Gwenda asked in a quiet voice, leaning against the side of the tent as she looked up at Victoria with rather teary eyes. "I don't want to have to keep running. If we stay here, then we can have protection and company, get food, water and a place to sleep. My head and leg both hurt and I really don't want to keep running, so please tell me you actually know the Minder is coming before we start running again." Victoria was rather taken aback by this, having hoped Gwenda would have just started running. She had never looked at it this way, but could see that her friend did have a point: she watched as a local doctor and nurse rushed to deal with an elderly man that had collapsed, and knew that staying here could provide them with the care they needed.
"I don't want to keep running either, and I can't tell you that it is the Minder and that he is coming here," Victoria explained, putting her hands on her friends shoulders and trying to smile reassuringly, "but I don't want to take that chance either. Frankly, I would rather stay here and think about Jim and how he died because of us, but that isn't going to help anyone." She spun around and faced east, pointing towards the stars glistening over the horizon. "Lilycove City is not that far away at all. If we start moving now, we will make it there by the end of tomorrow, and we will be there in time for the Star Festival. We can't just stop our journey now when we've come so close!" Excitement had crept into Victoria's face and shone through her eyes as she spoke, and her happiness was too much for Gwenda to ignore when her friend turned back towards her.
"I guess if we can make it to Lilycove and see Jirachi, than it may just all be worth it," Gwenda whispered, managing a smile across her face. "I think it is what Jim would have wanted as well: he would have stayed with us until our wishes had been granted."
"I am sure he would have," Victoria replied with a sad smile, passing across the Apricorn Balls containing Scarlett and Petal. Gwenda slipped them inside her dress, and there was nothing left to stop them from carrying on. "Apollo, would you mind leading the way?"
Certainly, the Absol said, startling Gwenda a bit, but she recovered in time to follow after the Disaster Pokemon as he took off into the night.
It was a challenge trying to negotiate through the rows of beds, with very few people sleeping and a lot of legs stuck out that had to be clambered over. However, Victoria didn't mind nearly leaping over children as they played games and trying to avoid people who lay on the grass staring up at the stars: though it was rather dark circumstances they were leaving under with a sense of depression and sadness hanging over them, Victoria couldn't help but be a little bit excited. They were now closer than ever to reaching Lilycove City and have their dreams come true, and Victoria couldn't help but feel excited about it.
Apollo led them silently through the beds, and they emerged from the rows into an empty area that hadn't yet been inhabited. A short slope led down to a dirt path below, and Victoria was able to make out in the moonlight a sign pointing east.
"I think this is the way to Lilycove," she told Gwenda happily, and tossed the suitcase down the slope. Gwenda was beginning to look rather excited at the prospect of their journey nearly being over, and she beamed at Victoria as the two friends helped each other down the grassy hill. Victoria spared a glance back at the campsite: there was no security or anyone telling them to stay, as clearly anyone had the option to go if they chose too, and Victoria couldn't help but pity the people unable to move on themselves.
"Goodbye Jim," Victoria whispered to herself as Gwenda helped Apollo down. She probably wouldn't get a chance to spare the hiker a thought as they made their way towards the festival and then celebrated, and it seemed as if now she was leaving him behind. Victoria still couldn't shake the guiltiness about his passing or wonder why it had affected her so much, but there was a new path to focus on and they had to get moving.
The journey should not be terribly long, Apollo explained as Victoria heaved up the suitcase. Based on what the sign says, we should be there by midday.
"Thanks Apollo," Victoria replied, pulling the Level Ball out of her pocket. "You can take a rest now, if you want." Apollo nodded at this and Victoria pressed the button, the telepathic Pokemon turning to energy and being absorbed inside.
"Why the name Apollo?" Gwenda asked as they began walking a moment later, a sea breeze blowing across them as they went.
"Oh, it was just something I read in a book a while ago," Victoria explained. "It came to me when I was trying to decide on what to call him: it sounds a bit similar and Apollo was something to do with prophecy, so it all seemed appropriate." Gwenda nodded, and the two walked the next few metres in silence. It was very cold and eerie walking along the dusty, moonlit path, not a single sound to be heard. Victoria wrapped her left arm around Gwenda's right for comfort, and the two both felt more reassured as they wandered down the path. It began to feel more peaceful, and it was one of the more relaxed times Victoria had experienced in quite some time.
But, like all the other times of peace and quiet, it was not to last.
"Forgetting something?" An angry, bitter voice called through the night, cutting through the calm and silence like a knife. The two girls came to a halt, and Victoria sighed and tried to contain herself as she turned back to face Andrew. He was walking briskly forwards, the same angry expression he had worn on the train shaping his emotions.
"I completely forgot about him!" Gwenda gasped.
"I didn't," Victoria said grumpily, and she tensed up as Andrew came to a halt a few metres in front of them, breathing deeply and looking furious.
"Oh, so you purposely left me behind?" He snapped, having heard the exchange. "What was I supposed to do with having nowhere to go, no Pokemon to protect me and no items on my possession?"
"Well, you should have thought of that when you went and had your little whinge!" Victoria snarled. "Jim probably wouldn't have died if you hadn't run off like that!" Andrew was rather taken aback by this, and Victoria turned to Gwenda for support but was surprised to see she looked stunned by this as well.
"You're blaming me for his death?" Andrew said quietly, looking appalled. "That is outrageous and stupid Victoria and you should know it!" He continued, his voice rising once again. "I didn't make Jim jump into the coach and save that woman, and if you remember I did try and hold onto the coach so it didn't fall over the edge!"
"But Jim wouldn't have gone anywhere near that coach if we hadn't gone to look for you down there!" Victoria shouted back. "I still don't even know why you ran off like that! It was childish, immature and pathetic!"
"I only went out there because I care about you and want to protect you, but I can't if you just tell our story, our secrets, to whoever wants to listen!" Andrew growled back. "We didn't know if we could trust Jim, but you just blurted all our secrets out to him! I don't want anyone else to stand the chance of hurting us and causing us any more trouble because I love you too much for that to happen, but I don't know what to do when your just telling everyone who listens what our troubles are!" Silence fell at the end of his words as Andrew awaited a response, but Victoria was too shaken to reply. She had stopped listening after Andrew uttered five words she hadn't expected from this argument: I love you too much. Was this truly the reason why Andrew had gone out onto the balcony, because his love for Victoria and desire to protect her made him angry at her telling their story? She stared over at Andrew, whose breathing was becoming more normal as he began to calm down, a slight smile crossing his face.
"I don't need protecting," Victoria mumbled, unable to think of what else to say. She reached into her pocket and tossed Electrike and Trapinch's balls across, which Andrew easily caught as a disappointed look replaced his smile. Victoria felt guilty to see this look appear on his handsome face, but she did not want to have to think about him or her feelings right now.
"If you want to come with us than that's fine," Victoria said in a slight monotone, and she turned back around and continued walking, the suitcase whacking into her leg as she moved quickly off. Tears were beginning to stream down her face, and Victoria cursed at how easy it was for her to get emotional. She listened carefully and felt reassured to hear Gwenda walking alongside, but listened closer to make sure Andrew was following as well. She wanted to tell him how she felt, but Victoria wasn't going to let anything get in there way now that they were so close to Lilycove and the festival, and she couldn't shake the nagging feeling that Jim's death was still their fault.
As the three walked silently and awkwardly down the route, Victoria was unable to stop thinking about the fact she had escaped and gone on this journey in order to get revenge and get her freedom, but now that they were so close, it seemed more that this journey was only hurting more people than it was helping, and Victoria hoped she hadn't hurt her friends enough to make them finally just stop following her.
And as the three walked silently down the route, the Minder watched them from atop the hill they had all gone down to get onto the route. He had arrived at the edge of the field and had seen Victoria, Gwenda and Apollo move, followed shortly after by Andrew was he spotted them from across the way. The old man was delighted that they hadn't escaped his sights yet, and would love the chance to finally put a stop to them, but he had a chance to make one final impression on them.
"Come along," the Minder said, stretching his hand out to be grasped by his Kadabra waiting alongside, "let's make sure Miss Freeman never forgets her trip to Lilycove City."
There are only five chapters left in the series! I am very excited to be nearing the end and I hope you will all enjoy the final events that I have planned!
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 5 Chapter 34
Wow, so much has happened. I'm also looking forward to the finale and seeing what you have in store for us!
Keep it up!
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 5 Chapter 34
Thanks, and I am glad you are excited for the finale :D It will definitely be quite a large send off
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 5 Chapter 34
Chapter Thirty Five: Arrival
"We're here…. we've made it!"
Victoria, Gwenda and Andrew came to a stop, their night and day of walking coming to an abrupt halt as they came across a large wooden sign before them. It was about twice their height and painted in bright colours so that it was still legible even as the sun once again began to set, every wonderful word legible before them.
WELCOME TO LILYCOVE CITY – WHERE THE LAND ENDS AND THE SEA BEGINS!
It didn't seem real, and Victoria was convinced that she was simply imagining things, her tiredness fiddling with her mind. But there was no making up these details: a row of buildings taller than any tree they'd encountered, reaching heights only the Mirage Tower could achieve, with smaller houses only one or two storeys high spread out across the city. The sun was reflecting in the distance, looking as if it was melting into the ocean as it cast a brilliant orange light against the still surface. There were little trees around but instead wide roads made out of grey stone starting a few metres before them, leaving the dirt track behind and giving the city a sophisticated look.
But Victoria's attention was drawn to how modern and beautiful the city was. She was turning eagerly around, looking for the signs that this journey had been worthwhile, and there it was: up ahead were two rows of stalls, one on each side of the road, stretching out as far as the water's edge. People were beginning to gather in the streets, walking in pairs or groups and wearing their best evening wear. And, hanging high above between two buildings, was a banner bearing the words Victoria had waited so long to see: WELCOME TO THE 1910 LILYCOVE STAR FESTIVAL.
Finally, they had made it.
"I can't believe it," Victoria gasped, feeling tears brewing as she looked up at the banner. "I didn't think we were actually going to make it here, with everything that the Minder has done to try and defeat us, but we've made! We've actually reached Lilycove!" Tears of joy began to stream down her face, and Gwenda began to get emotional as well. Victoria pulled her into a hug, smiling widely at her friend. "I don't think I would have made it here without your help!"
"You had the determination to get here, I'm sure you could have conquered anything that came in your way by yourself," Gwenda replied with a sniff, and the two girls cried from joy into each other's shoulders, glancing around at the city that lay before them. It seemed so unrealistic that they were actually here after all the exploding boats, collapsing towers and derailing trains they had dealt with. For days it seemed they would never actually make it, everything they came across seeming to be another obstacle that refused to let them carry on. But they had managed to pull through despite the emotional turmoil, the illnesses and injuries, and the loss of Jim, and here there were, about to achieve the dream that Victoria had first conjured up in what seemed like a lifetime ago back at the Miltank Meadows. But tonight, Jirachi would appear at her festival, and tonight, their dreams would come true.
"Well, shall we go in then?" Gwenda asked as the two pulled out of the hug.
"Not much point going through all of that to turn back now," Victoria replied, causing the two to laugh as they wiped away their tears. Victoria bent down to grab the suitcase, ready to move inside, but found it was already off the ground. She looked up to see Andrew holding it, a slight smile on his face. Victoria smiled back weakly, but the tension between the two was only strengthened by her small reaction. They hadn't spoken since leaving the camp, and any conversation attempts had been ignored. Victoria didn't want to say anything as she had no idea what to feel let along what words to use: part of her knew she loved him too, but there was the nagging feeling in the back of her brain caused by Jim's death. There was no way of truly saying whose fault it was, and trying to point the finger wouldn't make anything better.
Unfortunately, Andrew was at the end of his leash. His smile turned to a frown and he passed the suitcase over a little more aggressively than intended, nearly pushing Victoria over. But without another word, Andrew swerved past them and marched towards the city, leaving a shocked and confused Victoria behind.
"I'm going to have a look around," Andrew said quietly. "See you both later."
"Andrew, wait!" Victoria yelled, turning to watch him as he walked quickly away. He came to a stop and turned around to face her, and it was only now Victoria realized she still didn't have anything to say to him and merely froze, staring sadly over at him as he lingered on the other side of the city boundaries.
"Don't worry about me," he called back, sounding scorned. "This is your wish, not mine, so don't let me hold you back." And with that, Andrew wandered off into the gathering crowd, the growing number of people quickly swallowing him up. Victoria watched him until he was properly out of sight, the excitement and happiness she had felt a few moments ago quickly fading away. It was painful to watch him walking away after all they had been through together, all of his help in allowing her to get this far, and Victoria wanted to run after him and call out and beg him to stay, but would she be able to say the three words he was waiting for her to say back to him?
"Come on Victoria, don't get upset about him," Gwenda said soothingly, taking the suitcase from her and softly pushing her forwards. "This is what you've wanted all this time: don't stop now just because of a bit of marital difficulties." Victoria smiled at this, and knew that her friend was right: the festival was waiting for them and it was time to enjoy herself now that they were out of the path of danger.
"Race you to the first stall," she said cheekily and took off before Gwenda even knew it, finally stepping into foot into the product of her dreams.
Andrew, Jim and all the disasters and lost lives they'd faced on the way never left the back of her mind, but Victoria forced herself to find some enjoyment. It would be even more pointless if they had come all this way to simply wander around being depressed, not taking in any of the wonderful world they had stepped into. Victoria couldn't help but feel guilty, but was willing to enjoy herself and savour the festival life.
It wasn't difficult to find happiness inside the festival: it was a hive of activity and excitement, and the joyful buzz in the air was enough to suck Victoria and Gwenda in. The city was more decorated than expected, the main sight being multicoloured star shaped lanterns hanging between the stalls and buildings, casting a brilliant glow to make up for the diminishing sunlight. They criss-crossed across all of Lilycove, highlighting everything beneath them.
Victoria and Gwenda grinned like little children as they wandered wide-eyed through the main street, staring around at the many stalls around them. Food and drinks were being sold, with many soups, pastries and baked delights being swallowed up by the crowd, yet the biggest seller were star-shaped biscuits that was a local bakery's speciality, and Victoria and Gwenda were pleased to take the free samples handed out as they were running low on money. This didn't stop them from gaping at beautiful dresses and elegant scarves hanging from one area, or hardcover novels and poetry at another that was amazing to read. Ornaments designed to help bring you wishes and 'bring Jirachi into your home' were high sellers, and Victoria wondered if any of them actually resembled the legend she was here to see. There were game stalls spread out around the place, and Gwenda spared a few cents for a game where she had to toss a ring onto a star, and managed to win a bottle of cider for the two.
"This is amazing!" Gwenda gasped after having a sip and practically forced it down Victoria's throat. It was one of the greatest things she had ever tasted, and Victoria struggled not to drink it all. Gwenda pulled it away, causing part of it to pour down her dress. The two paused and stared down at the stain, before looking up at each other and bursting into laughter. Passer-by's glared at the two as they collapsed into a nearby seat, looking at them as if they were immature girls getting drunk off their faces. But the two were merely enjoying themselves: this was the first time they were actually getting to experience life since going to the orphanage in Ecruteak and then to Miltank Meadows. Neither Victoria nor Gwenda got to properly have a childhood, and since leaving the farm things had been marred by the Minder chasing them. The Star Festival would not only give Victoria a chance to get her wish from Jirachi: it was giving her the chance to fully live her life, and that was all she had ever wanted.
"We need to find some money," Gwenda said once the two had stopped laughter and managed to calm down. The sun had set now and the stars were out in force, almost as if they knew there was a festival happening below and had all come to watch, the moon casting light down in their honour. The lanterns provided the majority of the light in the form of a yellow glow that was ultimately pleasant and relaxing. Accompanied by music floating around the city from a live band playing in the next street, it caused a calming effect and allowed Victoria to return to normal, trying not to bring herself down with thoughts of the past.
"I think your right," she said, nodding even though it had been a few moments too late. "There has to be somewhere we could borrow money maybe, or possibly trade an item?" Victoria suggested quickly so Gwenda wouldn't look suspicious. A woman was examining a series of scarves in the stall next to them and turned around, the swish of her long blue dress grabbing their attention.
"Pardon me for eavesdropping on your conversation," she said in a rich but polite voice, "but I heard your plight and it reminded me of a stall I passed by on my way down the lane. I believe it was a pawn broker who is willing to take items in return for money."
"That is perfect!" Gwenda said, leaping up and nearly spilling the cider across the suitcase and quickly took off.
"Thank you," Victoria said with a smile, the women appearing stunned by Gwenda's sudden departure. "I think she is just after some money, a bit too desperately maybe." The women nodded and smiled in an understanding way, but Victoria still felt embarrassed as she set off through the crowd. It was hard pushing through the mass of people, and Victoria's mind briefly wandered back to Andrew, wondering how he might be coping with the situation. The crowd was so thick that she nearly missed the stall, but Victoria caught sight of Gwenda's dark skin and burst through the crowd, taking a breath of a relief as she appeared next to her friend.
They had correctly ended up at the pawn broker's stall, and Victoria was surprised by the variety of stuff on display that could put the other stalls out of business. Everything seemed to be sold here, from jewellery to furnishings, tattered books to leather bound encyclopaedias, suits and dresses that varied in quality, glass bottles and paintings, pots and pans: if there was something you could think of, chances are it was underneath the blue canopy and dark wooden frame.
Gwenda hadn't even noticed her friend as she was opening up the suitcase, showing the items inside to the pawnbroker himself. He was a tall and slim man wearing a well tailored suit that fitted in with the expensive items he surrounded himself with. Victoria had been expecting an older man, but could see how a youthful pawnbroker could come in handy: any woman would be more willing to part with their items and take whatever money came their way when the blue eyed man charmed them into it.
"Hello my dear," the pawnbroker purred in a voice that sounded a lot older than he looked, turning towards Victoria for the first time. "How are you? They call me Mr Goods, but I have not learnt your name or that of your lovely friend here."
"I'm Victoria and she's Gwenda," Victoria replied, feeling herself already charmed by his attitude. "What sort of name is Mr Goods?" The pawnbroker smiled and winked mysteriously, but before he could reply Gwenda let out an agitated grunt as she threw some clothes and the map of Hoenn onto the table.
"I swear we had something valuable in here!" She fumed, turning between Victoria, Mr Goods and the suitcase. Victoria frowned, having had high hopes for getting some money from the stall, and peered through the clothes in case something had been overlooked, but all they came across were the hedge cutters, their old books and newspaper clippings and Victoria's hand mirror.
"I am so sorry my sweet, but nothing in here is worth any value," Mr Goods explained in a sweet voice, staring down at the items laid out before him. "The hedge cutters could earn you're a dollar or two, the hand mirror as well, but unless you…," but the pawnbroker trailed off, his eyes staring down into the suitcase. Gwenda stopped looking annoyed as she caught the look and turned excitedly towards Victoria, the two friends exchanging beams.
"What has caught your eye?" Gwenda asked eagerly, peering into the suitcase with him. Mr Goods seemed startled to be spoken to and glanced up at them, reminding Victoria of a frightful Zigzagoon that had snuck into the Parrish's house one night. She had no idea why he seemed so shook up, but watched as Mr Goods suddenly lifted something up: it was the strange book they had taken from the Mirage Tower, the one with the apparent spell that cured Gwenda's wound.
"Where did you get this from?" He asked, sounding almost breathless, his youthful appearance fading away as his eyes bulged out at them. Victoria was rather put off by this and wanted to leave, the strange reaction unnerving, but as she leaned forwards to tell Gwenda this her friend stepped forwards.
"Actually, that book isn't for sale," she said, trying to sound polite but Victoria could sense the fierceness in her tone and knew why: they had taken the book to find out more about it, and Gwenda was hardly going to give it away before she worked out the secrets inside that had led to her miraculous recovery. She reached across to grab it, but Victoria and Gwenda were both startled as Mr Goods pulled it closer.
"No, you can't take this away from me!" He hissed. "Do you even know what this book is? Do you even know the power it has?"
"That's what I want to know!" Gwenda said angrily and lunged for the book.
"Don't fight over it!" Victoria gasped; noticing the crowd pausing to stare at them, yet the two people she spoke to ignored her: Gwenda clung onto the book as Mr Goods tried to drag it away, pulling her across the table. She reached into her dress and grabbed onto both of her Apricorn Balls, needing to stop this fight before it got too violent. But before Victoria could call for Millicent and Apollo, she was forced to leap aside as the front table flipped over. A mirror shattered, boxes of jewellery bounced open and the wooden table nearly fell onto Victoria's legs. She watched as Gwenda fell backwards and the suitcase crashed to the floor, feeling the Apricorn balls fly from her hands and listening to the gasp of the crowd as she herself fell to the hard ground with a body-jolting shudder.
"Bastard!" Gwenda yelled barely a second after Victoria fell, and she had barely let out a moan of complaint before watching Gwenda leap up to her feet. By the time Victoria was up on her feet, Gwenda was running down the road shouting after Mr Goods, who seemed to have left the stalls behind and was crossing open ground.
"GWENDA!" Victoria yelled after her friend, but got no response as Gwenda disappeared through the crowd. She was tempted to go after her, but there was a pain in her back from where she'd fallen, and she suddenly noticed the number of people rushing forwards to steal from the unattended stall. Victoria wouldn't have minded after Mr Goods reaction, but some of their stuff was still there and she quickly had to pick it up.
"Back off, this ain't for stealing!" She snapped at one youth who tried taking the suitcase. Victoria grabbed the hedge cutters, hand mirror, books and clippings and put them back in. She felt as if there was something she was missing, but Victoria couldn't see anything as the crowd turned to a stampede, picking up every priceless object they could lay their hands on, every leg blending into the next.
"Mil Miltank Mil," a voice said in her ear, and Victoria found herself being pulled away to the opposite side of the street with tremendous force, but wasn't surprised by who it was. She turned towards her Miltank and Absol, the two Pokemon standing besides their respective Apricorn Balls. The crowd had all moved towards the stall or left the commotion behind, leaving Victoria and her Pokemon the only ones there.
"Thanks for getting me out of there, I thought I was going to get stood on!" Victoria said with a smile. Millicent beamed and nodded and extended her hand, holding something out. "The map!" Victoria gasped, taking the detailed drawing. Their path was still marked out, starting at Slateport City and ending where they were standing right now in Lilycove City. Once again, it felt like a lifetime since they had come across this route, and it seemed like it had taken years to cross to it. Victoria knew the map was relatively pointless now they were here, but she had no desire to get rid of it, a memento of the journey they had been on.
"Thank you for bringing this back to me," Victoria said tearfully, and she wrapped her arms around Millicent. "I am so glad that you came on this journey with us: I seem to be saying this a lot, but I don't think I could have possibly gotten this far without your amazing power and skill, as well as your undeniable friendship and loyalty."
"Tank Tank Mil," Millicent replied softly and pulled Victoria into one of her trademark back crushing hugs that nearly made her eyes bulge, but Victoria managed to smirk once her feet were back on the ground. She looked down at Apollo, who sat alongside silently, staring around at the crowd without any comment on what was going on before them.
"I should thank you as well Apollo," Victoria called out. "You may not have been with us for very long, but your warning about the incoming attack was vital, and I cannot thank you enough for it!" She smiled down at the Absol, but was rather stunned to get no response. He simply continued to sit there, looking around at all the stalls as if he was just another patron. "Apollo, can you here me?" Victoria said, Millicent pulling out of the hug, and now the white haired Pokemon turned around: there was a sense of urgency in his eyes that was all too clear, and Victoria was stunned to see this expression. "What is it, what's wrong?" She asked seriously, but the answer seemed all too obvious.
I am afraid that we have made a wrong call, Apollo replied quickly, glancing around as the crowd parted from the pawnbroker's stall. This street, this city, these stalls… they all look too familiar, yet I have never been to Lilycove before.
"No, it can't be… not here, not now!" Victoria whispered, staring around at Millicent and the city around them. There was no chance that this could happen now, not after all that had already happened to them, not when the dream seemed so close. Victoria wheeled around, looking at all the stalls, the buildings, the lanterns, the people, the stars: where they all doomed? Was fleeing from the camp the worst move they could have made?
"Gwenda, where did Gwenda go?" Victoria said breathlessly, turning towards where her friend had gone. "And Andrew, we can't forget about him! This cannot be happening, not here! Apollo, your vision must be false, it must be!"
My visions have always come true, the Absol replied solemnly. Whenever I think I have found the first one to prove to this theory wrong, whatever I saw in my mind unfolds before my eyes. We have to leave now, before we can be afflicted.
"No, we can't leave, not without Gwenda and Andrew!" Victoria cried, tears streaming down her face from annoyance and desperation, and for the sheer fact that now, after everything that had happened, her dream was about to end.
Then the world was torn apart.
The explosion rippled through the air behind them, and Victoria would have been knocked to the ground if Millicent hadn't leapt in front of her. The heat and energy still tore through as the noise deafened her, and Victoria shut her eyes as she felt the wave of fire wash over them. Screams sounded all around them that were barely audible over the explosion, and Victoria could only imagine how many people would be harmed by the terror tearing through the festival.
The explosion lasted only ten seconds, and Victoria could feel relief as the force of the blast stopped pushing Millicent forwards. She opened her eyes and looked down at Apollo, relieved to see the Absol had hidden by her legs to avoid both the explosion and the debris that was now raining across the street. It was a lot darker, the strings of lanterns torn from their brackets and their flames cancelled by the blast, and the sound of music was replaced with terrified screams from the festival goers. They were already running away from the explosion, stall owners leaving their goods behind as everyone tried to flee. It was a harrowing sight, and Victoria pitied the people whose nights had been ruined by this event, their lives possibly torn apart as well.
However, she had to turn around.
Victoria, Millicent and Apollo turned towards the source of the explosion. The crowd of people couldn't hide the flames burning out from one of the skyscrapers near the end of the road, the orange, red and yellow casting a harsh light and long shadows across the festival. Rubble lay all around where the building had been blown apart, and all nearby stalls burnt down to ash, nothing able to be contained. Victoria was speechless and breathless, staring across at the raging fire: the perfect dream, the chance for her wishes to come true, had come crashing down. Fire had followed them on this journey, from the ring of flames that encircled them as they tried to flee Miltank Meadows, to the exploding ships and crashing train, all building up to this: one final act, one last terrible action that would stop their dreams from coming true.
As Victoria watched the building burn helplessly, trying not to get knocked over as people fled from the scene, tears streaming down her cheek, she saw something that made her heart stop. The flames flickered for a moment, parting just enough to show what lay on the other side, away from the joy that had been so easily crushed. Victoria had been unsure just how much more pain she could take, but there was her final test waiting on the other side of flames, the last test that would somehow prove just how much she wanted her dreams.
The Minder stood on the other side, the laughter on his face visible even from this distance, knowing that this game they had started was finally his.
And there, chained up and barely conscious in his arms, was Andrew.
Sorry for the delay, school has gotten in the way, which is another reason if it may seem a bit jumpy in quality due to spending three days away from the computer due to a trip, but I hope the second half comes together nicely! :D The conclusion is gearing up now, so I hope you enjoy the last few chapters! And for future references to the spell book, look out for it in the GalacticVerse ;)
Re: A Wish on Freedom- Part 5 Chapter 35
I'm seriously sick of Minder. :/
BUT, it seems like this was the introduction for the finale battle! Looking forward to seeing how this unfolds! I have this bad feeling that Andrew is going to die, or maybe Victoria? :(