A Legend's Rebirth
Ashes and mist, clouds and dust
Remade be the sword, ere it rust
The poisoned wound shall never heal
But fester and grow and life will steal
The chill of driving, freezing rain
The searing fire of burning pain
A flash of light in thunder's eye
The wilting stone shall slowly die
Alana felt hot, and sticky. It was humid, as if she was in the depths of a rain forest. Yet all around her was nothing but cold, dripping stone. She was in a cave, she knew that much. Beyond that was anyone's guess, hers not the most accurate. There was a tug at her side, and she glanced down to see her sword glowing faintly and pulling her forward. She stumbled along all the while wondering how she was able to see, there was no light source she could determine. Suddenly, she stumbled forward into a pool of water that had mysteriously appeared before her. There was a hiss of steam, and then her sword was in her hand, slashing out at some unseen menace, but nothing was there.
When she could open her eyes and see again, she was on an open plateau. In front of her flat rock stretched away until it abruptly cut off at the cliff. Alana started forward, hoping to find some escape off this strange landscape. Before she had gone more than ten feet, she was stopped by four vague forms appearing out of a mist that had suddenly arisen. Squinting through the fog, she suddenly realized the four shapes were of an Eevee and its evolutions. She could now make out the fluffy form of a Flareon, the jagged fur of a Jolteon, and the sleek body of a Vaporeon. Slightly behind was an Eevee, smaller than its evolved forms.
What happened next, Alana would not remember when she woke up. But as it happened, she could see everything so clearly, as if it had been a waking moment, and not some portentous vision.
The Vaporeon walked forward and suddenly convulsed in pain. There was a brief flash of blue light, then darkness. Alana became aware of a seeping cold, like standing in a pool until the chill penetrates to your very bones. There were faint tingling sensations on her bare skin, pinpricks of ice, and she realized it was snowing. She became aware of the Vaporeon again, only it wasn't quite the same anymore. A faintly glowing stone hovered above its body, a water stone. The Pokemon's mermaid tail elongated and straightened. The ridges along the sea creature's back disappeared into its body. Raising its front legs, the Vaporeon didn't seem to notice the increasingly uncomfortable weather that Alana was experiencing. Its forelegs stretched out and back, broadening, elongating. They became wings. It finally registered in Alana's head that this Pokemon had evolved into Articuno, the legendary ice Pokemon. It then flew up, meeting with the water stone and, joining with it, disappeared in a flash of light.
Similar things happened to the other two evolved Pokemon. With Flareon, the air grew warmer until there was verily a fire burning right beneath the plateau on which they stood. Its puffy tail and fur burst into flame and became feathers. All the while, a fire stone hovered over it as it completed its transformation. At the end, the two merged, and disappeared in the burning glory of the legendary Moltres.
As Jolteon stepped forward, Alana noticed thunderclouds overhead, bolts of lighting dropping to the open plateau frighteningly close to her exposed target. But as the Jolteon began glowing and parted with its thunderstone, the lightning was drawn to it and enveloped the Pokemon in a brilliant flash. The distinctive spikes of the Jolteon's fur became feathers, still charged with electricity. It became the shocking Zapdos. Then it flew up and, in a mighty crash of thunder, both it and its stone disappeared in the manner of the others.
Alana now noticed the small Eevee, looking so weak by itself on the empty plateau where even the wind threatened to blow it away. But it walked forward, slowly, with a solemn, funereal step. She saw that where each of the legendary birds had completed their transformations there was a crystal column with their respective colors: blue, red, yellow. At the top of each was an empty space, lacking each evolutionary stone. In the middle of this triangle was a dull brown rock. It was slightly round, but its curves and pits were more irregular than predictable. About the size of her fist, it lay alone at the center of the magnificent crystal pillars. On most plateaus it would be nothing interesting, a commonplace sight on such a geological structure, but the rest of this plain was completely free of loose pebbles.
The Eevee approached the small stone. It turned its eyes toward each column in turn, imploring its brothers to return. Then it slowly touched the rock. To Alana's surprise, the stone glowed purple and the Eevee flashed white. In seconds, it had shifted shape, but instead of becoming a bird like the others, its tail became long and thin. Before its transformation was complete, however, the glow suddenly faded, leaving in the center of the circle the Eevee as it had been before, lying forlorn and dead.
With the death of the Eevee, Alana seemed also to fall into darkness. She came to lying in the damp cave again. But this time there was no comforting and guiding glow. Simply impenetrable black around, behind, above, beneath her. She could hear quiet drips in the distance, but feeling around led her to discovering no cave wall near her. She groped along the ground, finding smooth stone beneath her fingers, cool and dry. Drawing her knees to her chest, she closed her eyes, unable to think of a solution to her predicament.
* * *
Alana sat up when Elvan poked her arm, which was hanging off the side of her bed. Morpheus stood at the edge, gazing at her in grave concern. Double seemed uncaring, sliding contentedly along the windowsill. Her room faced west which gave a beautiful view of the sunset, but soothing dimness in the morning.
"Wha . . . ?" she asked in confusion. Her dream had been quite vivid, although she didn't remember anything but the cave.
«You had troubled dreams.» Morpheus had learned through the years not to probe his master's thoughts and subconscious although their telepathic link was unbreakable.
Alana shook her head, as if trying to clear it of her troubling thoughts. "A cave . . . a sword . . . I have to go see Koga about it. 'Remade be the sword, ere it rust', I remember those words. And my sword," she reached for the scabbard at the foot of the bed, "It guided me, and I fought something with it, but it wasn't there . . . "
"I've never heard you this incoherent before. Do you remember anything clearly, or is it all vague?" Double still sounded skeptical.
"There were Pokemon," Alana recalled with an effort. "They changed--"
"No, something one of a kind, their final evolutions, and stones . . . " She held her head in her hands and shook them in frustration. "It was so clear, why can't I remember anymore?"
«Prophetic dreams are often vivid while experienced but vague once the dreamer awakes,» the Drowzee suggested. «With time, as the destiny carries through to its end, the right information will be revealed.»
Narya muttered bitterly, "That's the way prophecies work out, all right. And seers ask why nothing ever turns out the way they want. Well, if they were a little more informative, they might actually get results."
"They are doing their best with conflicting interests," Vilya objected. "They're trying to preserve sacred information, they can't divulge everything. Yet they have to help you succeed in saving the world."
"You're blowing this way out of proportion," Alana snapped. "I'm not going on any quest to save the world, I'm staying here, where I belong."
"But you don't. Not here, they don't want you around anymore," Nenya sighed gloomily. "We might as well all leave and risk our lives on some hopeless quest. At least we'll be trying to do something useful."
"It feels all wrong . . . " Alana trailed off. Then she stood and started preparing for the day as if nothing was out of the ordinary. "Well, we're doing nothing useful to anyone just sitting around and speculating. Let's go pay Koga a visit and ask about my sword before we draw any hasty conclusions."
«Sometimes speculations are the key to a puzzle,» Morpheus warned as he was drawn into Alana's pokéball.
* * *
Aiya couldn't concentrate. She quickly ducked another punch from Koga and as he advanced she cautiously fell back into a defensive crouch. Focus, she thought, keep your eyes open, your body responsive to commands. She had to find an opening in her brother's offensive...
Whack! Aiya took a blow to her shoulder and stumbled backwards. To her horror she tripped in a rare show of imbalance. She fell on her back, eyes staring at the ceiling in open surprise.
Koga towered over her and extended an arm down to pull her up. He scowled at her in disapproval.
"You must focus on your enemy, Aiya. In war you cannot allow other matters to distract you."
She nodded contritely. "It's just that Alana--" she noticed the figure in the doorway, "Alana!"
The named stepped in, bowing in apology to the siblings. "Sorry to disrupt your training right now, but I have a possibly urgent matter to discuss with you, Koga."
The dismay showed in Aiya's face; she had been expecting a reconciliation with her close friend. Mumbling assurances that she wouldn't intrude, she left them standing in the gym.
Koga gazed after her retreating figure. "What's wrong with the two of you? She avoids you like the plague and you ignore her existence. Has she been after you about gym policies?"
"You could say that. But all her insistences might be unnecessary if this business proves serious." She proceeded to tell the gym leader about her dream and the part that the sword had played in it all. "I can't remember what happened in the middle, it was all a blur. But it was this sword that led me into it," she concluded, touching the blade at her side.
He studied the patterns on the blade, the sinuous snakes and elegant dragons with their jeweled eyes, a deadly weapon veiled in beauty.
"I don't know much about this sword, actually. It came from your own family, an older generation, I believe. When no one in your line followed the way of the sword, they gave it to the gym as an artifact and gift of gratitude. There's a long history of favors between your family and the Fuschia gym." Koga smiled at the teenager. "It was our turn when your family asked us to take you in. I thought it would be fitting that you inherit the sword of your lineage. Before it returned to you it simply hung on the wall in the display room, an ornament. It would be a dishonor to your family for one of another blood to fight with it."
Alana looked dismayed. "I was hoping you could help me, otherwise I have no idea where to start. Yet I'm sure this dream was meant to send me on a quest, just at the same time as Aiya asked me to leave. So where to start now, I don't know."
"'Ashes and mist', you said. A fragment of the poem in your dream. Perhaps it means fire and water, when they meet. A quenched fire leaves ashes behind and when fire meets water, there is steam, and mist." Koga stared at the sword in concentration, racking his brain for clues and conclusions. "And in a cave . . . maybe a mountain. Mount Moon?"
Alana nodded. "That might be a good place to start. I guess I should thank you, then, for your generosity in allowing me to stay here for so long. And apologize, for leaving so abruptly. I'll go to Mount Moon then, and what I find there will hopefully lead me further."
The ninja gym leader smiled agreeably. "We owe a debt to your family, it was a pleasure repaying it in this way. Oh, and you might want to have a word with Aiya before you leave. Begin a journey in joy with no worries and the more likely it is to end that way. Keep your mind clear and focus on what's important, when you discover what that may be."
* * *
Alana sat in her room, slowly gathering her things. With his three heads, Elvan was able to carry her articles over to her bag and deposit them with three times the efficiency. Morpheus had teamed up with Double, who had transformed into some unfathomable machine that was actually helping with her packing.
«You should go settle things first, then prepare for departure,» the Drowzee intoned.
«I will, I will,» Alana responded, without the other Pokemon hearing. «But how can I face her now? She urged me to leave and I left her, in a storm of anger. And she turns out to be right.»
«It's best that she learns it from you, than anyone else.»
Sighing, Alana stood up, halfway through with her packing.
Morpheus tactfully suggested, «We'll continue working, you can take care of the other details.»
Alana acknowledged him with an absent nod and walked through the door. Going down the hallway, she ran into Aiya, who was rushing towards her room.
"I heard you were leaving," Aiya began slowly and rather breathlessly. "No one seems to know why or to where."
"I--I'm sorry about yesterday. I should've listened to you better," Alana responded. "I had--"
"Alana, I don't want you to leave just because I asked you to. If you think you belong here more, and want to stay, please do. I'd enjoy your company, I was just thinking of you when I suggested it to you."
"It's okay, I had a dream last night..." Alana summarized her vision as clearly as she could with the vague details she remembered. "I think I was meant to leave right now on this quest."
Uncomfortably, Aiya shifted and then added, "Well, I wish you luck then. And remember, I--we're always here for you. You can come back whenever you feel like it."
"Then it's off to Mount Moon for me, I suppose." Alana smiled at her friend whom she might not see again. At least not for a long while.