Going For: Snover and Sneasel
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“Are you ready, youngin?”
The voice was old and fragile, but spoke with the authority of a man that knew his influence. The voice that responded was much younger, with the enthusiasm and self-confidence to match that youth.
“Yes, I am ready.”
“Very well, Candice.”
A thick mist surrounded Candice, reducing her visibility to zero. The murky grey fog clouded over everything, and Candice felt as though the mist was imposing itself over her body, pressing down and crushing her to the ground. The temperature had dropped radically, and chilled tendrils of the mist snaked around Candice.
In spite of the cold temperature, Candice wore only a shirt, with the sleeves rolled back to her elbows, and a short skirt. Beyond that, her only protection from the cold was a blue sweater, which she had decided to wrap around her waist.
This was by choice. Candice had known the cold temperature was coming, but she had chosen to stick to her favourite style of clothing. She wanted to master the cold, and if she was forced to succumb to it, she would never be able to master it fully.
“Snover, Sneasel, where are you?” Candice shouted. “Follow my voice!”
Candice's Pokemon returned to her side, emerging from the mist. From Candice's right, a small white Pokemon resembling a snow-covered tree came out – her Snover. While most of her body was white, she had two green hands, and she was brown from the torso down with two stumpy brown legs. Two green eyes poked out from underneath a triangular hat, darting everywhere in the mist.
From Candice's left, a black weasel came running towards her Trainer. This was her Sneasel, a quick and fiendish Pokemon. She had two pointed claws and eyes that were just as sharp, shiftily looking around. Three distinctive red feathers grew out of her back, and one more grew out of the left side of her head.
These were Candice's two Pokemon – both of the Ice-type she wished to master. They had been friends she discovered growing up in Snowpoint City, a popular haven for Ice-types, and now they were her partners in battle.
“We need to do something about this mist,” Candice said. “Snover, is your Snow Warning ability not working?”
Snover shook her head sadly. Her Snow Warning trait summoned hail from the sky whenever Snover was in battle, but it wasn't working. Candice presumed that the mist was too thick and too heavy for Snover's Snow Warning to override it. Either way, she had to work around it.
“Alright then,” Candice muttered, “we'll try something else instead. Both of you, use Icy Wind and blow away the mist!”
Snover and Sneasel both took in deep breaths, and blew a gust of wind around Candice. The mist retreated for a moment, but returned to its former state the instant Snover and Sneasel faltered.
“It won't work. Your Pokemon are too weak to blow away my mist.”
The old man's voice was as clear as ever in spite of the mist and his own age. Candice knew he was right – he, unlike her, had experience in using Ice-types. His Pokemon were much stronger. Going at his mist directly would be an impossible task for her, she would need a different strategy.
If she couldn't erase the mist, Candice knew that she would have to attack a different target. Her opponent's Pokemon was hiding somewhere in this mist, staying concealed and keeping the mist active. If she attacked the Pokemon directly, the mist should go away.
Candice didn't know exactly where her target was. However, if she attacked the mist, she would make contact eventually. If nothing else, she would draw an attack towards her, and she could take advantage of that by attacking the source of the attack.
“Okay! Snover, use Razor Leaf and scout out the mist,” Candice commanded.
Snover nodded, and flung multiple leaves in all directions. The leaves disappeared into the mist. Like herself, the target should have a hard time seeing in the mist, and Candice could use that to her advantage in that her attacks would be harder to spot in the mist.
As Snover's Razor Leaf was sent in all directions, Candice could hear the sound of the leaves whizzing through the mist. However, she couldn't hear the sound of contact. She frowned, and looked at Sneasel. Sneasel nodded, ready to jump in and parry any incoming retaliation attack.
However, no retaliation came. Candice was left holding her breath in the thick of the mist. Her Pokemon looked at her with the same confusion she was feeling. Unsure of what to do, she commanded Snover for another Razor Leaf.
“Again, Snover,” Candice instructed. Snover nodded again, and repeated the attack. Candice listened carefully. The leaves flew into the mist, whirring violently.
Then, Candice heard something – it was too faint to recognize through the mist, but it definitely wasn't a natural sound. She turned to Sneasel, giving the order to go, but the Pokemon was already ready.
“Quick Attack, Sneasel!” Sneasel took off, darting into the mist towards where the sound had come from.
Candice and Snover followed Sneasel through the mist. Hope breathed in Candice's heart – had she been able to overcome this challenge?
A silhouette appeared in the distance as Candice kept running. It was laid out on the ground, with something else standing over it. The murky shapes were hard to make out from the mist, however. Candice kept running closer, and-
“Piloswine, use Icy Wind!”
An icy burst of wind rushed by me, striking Snover behind me dead in the face. The Pokemon was forced to a stop, and toppled over.
Candice dropped to her knees in disappointment as the mist began to clear. The silhouettes revealed themselves to be Candice's Sneasel on the ground, with a large Pokemon covered completely in brown fur pressing it down. This Pokemon was a Piloswine. An impressive hump on its back and two small, pointed tusks distinguished this Pokemon from its much smaller and less developed pre-evolution, Swinub.
Standing not too far behind Piloswine was his Trainer and Candice's opponent. The old man stood with one hand on a cane, and unruly white hair stuck out of the back of his visibly aged head. He wore a long blue trench coat and a scarf the same colour as his hair. He stood with an aura of authority and wisdom, and Candice regarded this man with much respect. He was Pryce, the legendary Ice-type expert and the Gym Leader of Johto's Mahogany Gym.
The mist cleared away completely. A snowy forest replaced the previous backdrop of the thick mist, with a brilliant lake to their left. This was Sinnoh's Lake Acuity. It was directly west of Snowpoint City, Candice's home.
Sitting by the lake's edge, with his legs crossed, was another man. He was much younger than Pryce, but older than Candice. He was dressed in an odd blue robe that covered only the left side of his body, leaving the right side of his chest bare and exposed to the elements. Long slate blue hair fell gently to his neck, and he wore a distinctive bandana-like mask. This man carried himself similarly to Pryce, and Candice regarded him with an equal amount of respect. He was Brycen, also an Ice-type specialist and the Gym Leader of Unova's Icirrus Gym.
Candice sighed. Sinnoh was establishing its own gym system, and Pryce and Brycen had come to Snowpoint together at the request of the Pokemon League to search for and train a suitable leader for the eventual Snowpoint Gym. Pryce and Brycen were now giving Candice the opportunity to be that pupil, after many others had failed to catch their eyes during the evaluation exercises. However, they were exercises that, as Candice was learning now, were indicative of the very high hopes they had for their pupil. Even though Pryce had given her the advantage of using two Pokemon to his one, she had lost.
Pryce frowned. “That wasn't good enough, Candice. You were smart to regroup in the mist, but your mistake was when you chose to rely on blind attacks. Relying on blind attacks leads you to a situation where you lose control and anything can happen. What you should've done is recognize that, without any momentum in my mist, you needed to stay defensive and force me to come after you to create a situation where you have the momentum. Lashing out without control puts you in a vulnerable position, and it was easy for me to take advantage by drawing you to me. The moment you start chasing after your opponent is the moment you lose, Candice.”
Candice nodded, and Pryce's Piloswine stepped off of Sneasel. The Pokemon, relatively unharmed, returned to her feet and returned to Candice. Her Snover got back on her feet as well. The Icy Wind she had taken had only caused her to fall over – there was minimal damage done.
Brycen spoke up from the water's edge. “That wasn't bad for a first go, Candice. Pryce, take a break. It's my turn now, Candice.”
Pryce and Piloswine exchanged positions with Brycen. He pulled out a Pokeball, and smiled at Candice.
“I'm not the calculated, mind-game type that Pryce is. My style is pure endurance, an important attribute in the demanding hail that the Ice-type revels in. Tell your Snover to activate her Snow Warning ability, Candice – and expand the hailing area to include us as well.”
A little hesitantly, Candice nodded at her Snover. Small pieces of hail began to fall from the sky. Candice winced as a few nicked her body, but Brycen stood his ground, even as the hail chipped his bare chest.
“Don't wince, Candice,” Brycen chided, “bear with it! If you are an Ice-type Gym Leader, the hail is yours. It would be unbecoming to show a weakness to it.”
Candice nodded, and tried to keep her composure in spite of the hail bouncing off of her exposed arms and legs. She knew Brycen was right. It was the same situation as the mist – if she wanted to master it, she couldn't succumb to it. She had chosen to dress the way she liked to, and she had to make that a sign of strength rather than a very visible weak point. Brycen watched her for a moment more, then, seemingly satisfied, pulled out a Pokeball from inside his robe.
“Go, Beartic!” Brycen shouted, throwing the ball.
In a burst of white light, a large white bear standing on his back legs appeared in front of Brycen. Three distinctive icicles grew from around his mouth. His small beady eyes locked on to Candice and her Pokemon, and Candice could see strength and power in them. Like Brycen had said, his style was very clearly a challenge of endurance – his Beartic was a prime example of physical strength. He would be able to take hits, and dish them out. The last man standing would win this one.
“No mind games here, you just have to defeat me,” Brycen announced. “However, that's easier said than done. Can you handle the hail, and still outlast myself and my Beartic?”
Candice knew she was in for a grueling duel here. The hail was already starting to leave her body sore, and the battle hadn't even started yet.
“Alright, let's make the first move!” she cried. “Snover, use Razor Leaf! Sneasel, use Metal Claw!”
Candice's Pokemon leapt into action, eager to do better this time around. Snover flung spinning leaves at Beartic, and Sneasel followed behind the leaves with one of her claws extended. The attacks Candice had chosen were calculated. As an Ice/Water-type, Beartic was resistant to Ice-type attacks, but damaged normally by Grass-type attacks and weak to Steel-type attacks. Snover's offensive movepool was limited, but she could use long-range Grass-type attacks and create an opening for Sneasel to follow up with a super-effective attack.
Brycen stood and watched as Snover's Razor Leaf zoomed in towards his Beartic. Candice waited for him to make an order, but found herself surprised when one never came. Beartic stood his ground and allowed the leaves to fly into his body. Then, as Sneasel ran in to strike, Brycen finally made his instruction.
“Beartic, use Slash!” Brycen commanded. Candice called for Sneasel to retreat, but it was too late and she could only watch as Beartic, with his longer reach, swiped at Sneasel with a large paw. He was seemingly unbothered by the razor sharp leaves embedded in his fur.
Sneasel was knocked backwards, and slid back to Candice and Snover. Candice rushed to her Pokemon quickly, helping her get back on to her feet.
“You underestimated me, Candice,” Brycen said matter-of-factly. “It'll take more than just your Snover's Razor Leaf to cause my Beartic to stutter. I told you my style was endurance, and the difference in strength between our Pokemon should be very obvious.”
Candice frowned, but Brycen was right. As he said himself, Brycen was very different than Pryce. Pryce had relied on the mist and the disarray it caused to force Candice into a tough situation, but Brycen was doing so on sheer strength. The way to respond to each of their different styles would have to be different as well.
“Alright, my turn,” Brycen said. “Beartic, let's attack! Use Blizzard!”
Candice's eyes immediately widened open hearing the command. Blizzard was one of the most powerful Ice-type moves in existence, and in the hailing conditions, it wouldn't miss. What were her options against such a move?
Beartic opened his maw wide, and a large blast of wind and snow was launched towards Candice and her Pokemon. Flustered, Candice called for both of her Pokemon to use their Icy Wind attack to try and block Beartic's Blizzard. However, Snover and Sneasel combined were hardly enough to even slow Beartic's attack, and Candice's Pokemon were felled.
Candice was caught in the blast as well, and ended up partially covered in freezing snow. In combination with the hail that was still falling on to her body, she felt completely overpowered against Brycen. This was his element, not hers – she couldn't match up to him. She looked at her Pokemon, groggy and struggling to get up. They were nearly out of health on the strength of that Blizzard alone, the minor injuries sustained in the battle with Pryce aside.
Candice had learned a lesson from that battle, however. After their battle, Pryce had given her important advice. Surely, some of that advice would apply even in this style of battle.
The moment you start chasing after your opponent is the moment you lose, Candice. Pryce's words floated back to her. He had told her not to chase the opponent and conform with what they wanted. Instead, he had told her to stay tight, and cause the opponent to play by her rules. Candice dusted herself off, and took a deep breath. Pryce was a legendary battler, and having his advice was invaluable in battle. With it, she could win.
“Let's get back on our feet, you guys,” Candice said, trying to inject some enthusiasm back into her Pokemon. “We can still fight!”
Slowly but surely, Candice's Pokemon got back up. Sneasel and Snover were clearly nearing their limit, but they had the will to keep fighting. They wanted to win and prove themselves just as much as Candice did.
Right now, Brycen had all the momentum in this battle. The hail was a condition of this test, and Candice wanted to prove herself to Brycen and Pryce under this pressure. However, catering to Brycen's endurance-style game was an entirely different matter. Candice wouldn't win if she got into a contest of endurance with Brycen, so she would have to change this to a different kind of battle.
Brycen and Beartic were a strong combination, but they had to have their weaknesses. They wanted to play a tiring, hit-swapping game. But, if Candice refused to swap hits with them, how would they react to that? Between her two Pokemon, she could go for a more confusing and agitative kind of game – just like Pryce had played with the mist earlier. Brycen had said that wasn't his style of battle, so if he had to play that style, how would he fare? Candice could force Brycen and Beartic to chase after her just to land a hit, just as she had chased after Pryce.
“Alright Sneasel, use Quick Attack!” Candice cried. “Snover, use Mist!”
Sneasel nodded, and disappeared in a blur. In seconds, she had zipped up to Beartic. The Pokemon looked down in surprise, but Sneasel dealt a quick jab to his stomach and ran off. Beartic hardly flinched, but the attack served its purpose – Beartic was now looking for Sneasel, but a thick mist had clouded the area and Sneasel was well hidden from Beartic's eyes.
“So, you're trying the old man Pryce's trick.” Candice heard Brycen's voice, and while there wasn't much enthusiasm in his voice, he didn't seemed bothered either. “I wonder, how long can you play mind games in the hail?”
Brycen made a good point. Candice was beginning to wear out from the hail – time was not on her side here. She had to make her move quickly. Brycen and Beartic didn't know where they were, so this was the time to pick them apart. If Candice could provoke them to lash out, she could ambush them in the mist and knock Beartic out with a surprise attack from where he least expected.
Candice stayed by Snover's side, and followed the Pokemon closer to Beartic. She knew where she was going in her own mist – a very different situation than in Pryce's mist. Elsewhere in the mist, Sneasel was laying low and waiting for new orders.
“Alright Snover, it's your turn to attack. Use Powder Snow!” Candice whispered.
Snover opened her mouth, and blew a large gust of cold wind and snow at Beartic. Beartic roared in displeasure a little deeper into the mist as the attack struck, with the sudden cold wind breezing by him.
Powder Snow was an attack that covered a very wide range, which would make it difficult for Beartic and Brycen to pinpoint where Candice and Snover were. She wanted to lure them into an ambush, but she couldn't risk being obvious. Brycen had already seen Pryce lure Candice to him, and would be expecting a similar strategy from Candice. If she was going to bait Brycen, it would have to be more subtly. In this case, Brycen could at least get a sense of the general direction she was in.
Sneasel suddenly appeared out of the mist beside Candice. The Pokemon must have recognized their combined scent in the mist.
“Good job so far, Sneasel,” Candice said, patting her on the head. “Alright you two, let's wrap this up. Sneasel, use Metal Claw. Whether or not the attack lands, make sure to run away in a different direction.”
Sneasel ran off into the mist, a claw outstretched.
Candice felt like this decision was a bit of a gamble, but she felt good in the clues she had left for Brycen. She knew that Brycen wouldn't hear her instruct Sneasel, which would tell him that she had been within speaking range of Sneasel. When Sneasel came towards Beartic, Brycen would see Sneasel come from a direction after receiving an order. Sneasel would then run off in a different direction after the attack, as though to try and throw Brycen off. Candice knew Brycen wouldn't get thrown off, and would instead come in the direction Sneasel came from, expecting to find herself in an unprepared situation. However, she would be ready for him.
Moments later, Candice heard a roar. Sneasel must have landed the attack. She turned to Snover.
“When Beartic comes, use Grasswhistle,” she instructed. Grasswhistle was an attack that put the target to sleep. If Candice could force Beartic to fall asleep, that should be enough to end this exercise. Grasswhistle was normally a low accuracy attack, but Beartic would be close enough for it to succeed.
Candice held her breath, and began to wait. She couldn't see in the mist, but she would definitely be able to hear Beartic coming.
The low, thumping sound of Beartic's feet hitting the ground was easy to hear, and it was clearly getting louder and louder. The large bear was making his way towards Candice and Snover. Candice looked at Snover and the Pokemon nodded with a look of determination on in her eyes. She knew what was on the line here, just like her Trainer.
A shadow appeared in the mist – Beartic. The moment she spotted it, Snover made her move. She opened her mouth and began whistling a smooth tune. High notes transitioned seamlessly, and Candice found herself struggling to keep her eyes wide open. It must be even worse for Beartic, she figured – this was a Pokemon attack that was more effective against Pokemon.
“Beartic, use Icicle Crash!”
An icicle was flung at Snover, and the melody halted immediately as the icicle smacked right into Snover's head, knocking it over. Beartic came bursting out of the mist, and Brycen followed him.
“Let's call it here,” Brycen said, looking at the dazed Snover.
Candice bit her lip bitterly, but it was Brycen's call to make. She looked at Snover, and it was evident that the Pokemon wouldn't have been able to take another attack from Brycen's Beartic. Brycen didn't want to have to do more damage to her Pokemon, and in this situation, she couldn't do anything more to his Pokemon. Somehow, Brycen had gotten out of her checkmate, and when that happened, it was over.
As Snover recovered, the mist faded away. The lakefront reappeared in front of Candice, with the lake resting behind her back. Sneasel came running on all fours towards Candice and Snover, a sombre look on her face as she realized what had happened. But, it was over.
“Good battle,” Brycen said, “you nearly won that one. Ultimately, it was just a matter of your Pokemon being weaker than mine and not being able to put Beartic to sleep fast enough. However, you had a very good strategy in mind, and intelligence is harder to develop than strength.”
Pryce joined Brycen and Candice. “I agree. You showed us something there, Candice. You used my mist strategy, and while it wasn't your own strategy, you showed to us that you learn well, and that you have some degree of upside.”
Candice's heart lifted, hearing the praise of Brycen and Pryce. However, things weren't final yet. Was she or was she not accepted as a gym leader-in-training?
“Give us a moment to make our final decision,” Pryce said. On that, he turned and walked out of earshot with Brycen in tail.
Candice looked at her Pokemon. They didn't seem to look too hopeful, and she knew how they felt. Together, they hadn't made a great impression. Would they have showed enough?
“We did our best,” Candice said, trying to comfort herself as much as her Pokemon. “We learned a lot, and even if we don't make it, we'll be better prepared for the next opportunity.”
Snover and Sneasel nodded half-heartedly, and Candice felt just as they looked. Regardless of what she said and how she reasoned this, she was too emotionally invested for anything other than a yes.
Pryce and Brycen returned. It was impossible to read anything from their faces, and Candice could only hold her breath to prevent her heart from hopping straight out of her throat.
Pryce shifted his cane. “You've got potential, Candice. But... potential isn't substantial enough for us in this situation. We need someone a little more polished, someone that doesn't depend on our training to become good enough to defend their gym. You still have some work to do. If you can develop properly, you could be something special. But at this time, with the forming of Sinnoh's gym system imminent, we need something more than 'could'. Therefore, with our condolences, we'll have to say no to you.”
Candice's heart immediately plummeted. She thought she would have felt disappointed if she were denied. She was wrong; she felt crushed to the dirt. It took all of her strength to keep from literally dropping to the ground in tears.
“Thanks for your time,” Candice muttered, trying not to look Pryce, Brycen, or her Pokemon directly in the eye.
“If it's any consolation, you're welcome to try again in the future if the position is ever open,” Brycen said. “And-”
Brycen trailed off. Candice looked up. Both Brycen and Pryce seemed to be looking behind Candice. Curious, she turned.
Behind her, hovering above the lake, was a small pixie. It had a pale blue body and was roughly the size of Candice's forearm. It had a distinctive gold face, with a creased helmet of the same colour covering most of its head. Two long tails floated behind it, with two red jewels marking each.
Candice gasped. This was the deity of knowledge that resided deep within Lake Acuity – the legendary Pokemon Uxie.
Behind her, Pryce and Brycen could be heard in their surprise as well. Though they were not from Sinnoh, they seemed to know of the legendary Pokemon that resided here.
“This is Uxie, the Knowledge Pokemon,” Brycen remarked in a breathless voice. “Never would I have expected to be graced by its presence...”
Pryce held his silence for a moment, then pondered aloud. “Why is it revealing itself to us, however? As the deity of knowledge... Does it want to say something?”
As if on cue, Uxie floated forward. The Pokemon flew to the edge of the lake, right up to Candice. It hovered over her head – then landed on it.
For seconds, Candice waited. She waited for the next shoe to drop, her heart almost shattering in the suspense. What was Uxie doing here, and what was it doing right now?
Then, Uxie disappeared. It teleported away, disappearing as quickly as it had appeared.
Candice was left dumbfounded. What had Uxie's brief appearance meant? She turned to Pryce and Brycen, looking for answers. Pryce and Brycen were whispering in each other's ears, discussing something furiously. Candice watched them in silence for a moment, then spoke up nervously.
“What... What do you think that was all about?” Candice asked.
Pryce responded. “Uxie appears on its own very rarely. As the deity of knowledge, it only appears around those it considers to be highly intelligent. We believe that Uxie sees promise in you... and gave you its blessing.”
Candice was shocked. The legendary Pokemon Uxie, the Pokemon that represented knowledge, no less, had chosen her to give its blessing to. Suddenly, her emotions soared. A legendary Pokemon had given her its blessing! Pryce and Brycen had spoke of her potential, and now Uxie had recognized it! Surely, this was a sign of big things in her future.
Brycen turned to Pryce, and whispered something into his ears. Pryce's reaction resembled one of mild surprise – but not disagreement. He nodded.
“With this having happened, we would like to reassess you with one more test,” Brycen said. “We don't often offer reassessments, but this is a completely unique situation. With the legendary Pokemon Uxie offering its support for your talent, we would like to take one more look at you.”
Candice opened her mouth, the answer jumping to her mouth. Then, she closed her mouth. She turned to her Pokemon. They were exhausted, and yet, Candice could see that they wanted this just as much as she did. However...
“I'm sorry. I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity, but I'm going to refuse your offer,” Candice said, bowing her head.
Pryce and Brycen nodded, accepting her answer. Candice shook their hands, thanked them each and left quickly. This way, she couldn't change her mind.
“Great job today, you guys,” Candice said to her Pokemon. “You guys deserve a break. We'll get this gym leader position one day.” With that, she returned them to their Pokeballs.
Candice inhaled. The cold air of northern Sinnoh seeped into her lungs. She walked along a path worn down – by nature, not by the feet of travellers. Rarely did people travel to Snowpoint City, as doing so meant traversing through the harsh and unforgiving cold. However, this area was where Candice had grown up, and she felt at home in the harsh cold. Her body was sore of the pelts caused from the hail, but the low temperature was quickly numbing the pain. The trees stood tall around her. They didn't intimidate her; instead, they guarded her. Candice began to walk back home to Snowpoint City, taking her time and enjoying the nature of the Acuity Lakefront.
Maybe her decision would come to haunt her one day. Candice knew she was turning down a huge opportunity here. One more chance to prove herself to two of the most elite experts in the field of Ice-type Pokemon, and this time, she would have the faith of a legendary Pokemon on her side. And yet, Candice genuinely felt she had made the most intelligent decision – just as she knew Uxie would've hoped.
When Pryce had turned her down, he had told her that she lacked polish, and still had work to do to develop. He had said that they had been looking for so one that wasn't reliant on their tutelage to be able to defend their gym.
Uxie's appearance changed nothing – she was knowledgeable enough already to know this. All Uxie had done was signify her potential, the same thing Pryce and Brycen had already done, and then wish her luck in recognizing that potential. It had been an emotional uplift, but it didn't make her any better of a Trainer in the present. She was still lacking polish, and still had work to do to develop. If she ended up earning the title of Snowpoint Gym Leader now, she would struggle to defend it and possibly find herself removed from the gym very quickly.
No, Candice had been able to learn from this experience, and more than just being able to take advantage of the Mist attack. She had learned that she still had much more to learn. However, she had also learned of her ceiling. She learned that she could be, as Pryce put it, “something special”. Uxie, the deity of knowledge, had recognized her. She had to prove to Uxie that its faith had been placed in the right person, and do this by becoming the best that she could be.
Candice stopped walking. Ahead of her, the trees came to a stop. Snowpoint City's port could be seen in the distance, and the city was not much farther away. Candice took another big breath, allowing the fresh air to circulate through her lungs. After such an exhausting day, the cold air felt cleansing.
Candice's phone vibrated in the pocket of the sweater tied around her waist, and Candice fumbled as her cold fingers struggled to grasp the small device. Looking at the device, she smiled. It was a very close friend.
“Hey, Maylene,” Candice said, putting the phone to her ear. “What's up?”
“Did they accept you?” A loud and energetic voice responded back; its owner being Candice's best friend, Maylene.
“No, they didn't,” Candice responded. "but-"
Maylene rushed into comforting her friend, but Candice laughed it off. “Don't worry! I learned a lot, and I actually feel good about the way things went! Besides, Chuck and Brawly didn't accept you either, so we're equals. We'll work harder and become good enough to be Gym Leaders, okay?”
Maylene was skeptical, but Candice said her goodbyes and disconnected from the call. Looking out over the port, she smiled. She genuinely did feel uplifted after today. Things had turned out far from how she had intended them to, but in spite of the end result, they may have gone better than Candice could have ever hoped for.