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 Solitary Setbacks

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PostSubject: Solitary Setbacks   Mon Feb 20, 2017 1:16 am

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Cattail Marsh was not a pretty scene. It was hardly a tourist attraction and it was most assuredly not a popular hotspot. The air was muggy, humid and uncomfortable, the flatlands were mushy and heavy, and the waters that flooded the flatlands were rife with muck and grime, to say nothing of the many bug, poison, and water Pokemon that made their homes there. The dungeon itself was merely a passageway to the infinitely more deadly Misty Mire, harsher swamplands that were home to much more dangerous Pokemon. Cattail Marsh was the sort of dungeon you went to only if you had to go there for something.

Goro the Croagunk called it home. Croagunk themselves were not an uncommon sight in the swamplands, but ones that weren't feral certainly were. Goro himself made his home in the Marsh not because the conditions were particularly favorable, but because how little traffick the area saw. If anything could be said about Goro the Croagunk, then it would be that he valued his privacy. A mercenary by occupation and a hermit by nature, the Marsh was a natural sanctuary for him. After setting off on his own, he'd stumbled into the Marsh on his way to Rainfront Town, and had instantly fell in love with the desolate population and unpleasant environment.

Only one or two ferals been pokin' 'round here today. Good 'ta see they're learnin' their place. Goro liked to spend his time in the Marsh patrolling his territory, a stretch of swamp deep within the dungeon that he claimed for himself. There wasn't anything particularly special about his flatlands, other than an abandoned run-down shack perched up on a gloomy embankment of water. It was dour and damaged, with heavy cracks in the aged wood, empty windows and a missing door-- he loved it. Goro counted himself very fortunate to have found it, and immediately set about beating back any and all feral Pokemon in the area, establishing the area very firmly as his.

Which is what he was doing now. The Croagunk prowled through the swamplands back to his hovel with a satisfied air about him, having discovered only a few Pokemon still lingering in the area. They were learning quickly not to come anywhere near his residence, lest they find themselves on the wrong end of a harsh beating.

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Thu Jun 08, 2017 12:04 am

Alki jumped as the fire began to hiss and fizzle. She’d been quite content looking at it, she hoped it wouldn’t go out… would they be able to make another one? She observed as the liquid poison washed over the embers. She’d had a pretty bad experience with poison in Shadowhue Forest, and she’d learned since then that Fairies were hurt particularly bad by poison type moves. If what the Croagunk said was true though, there were certain types that she hurt just as badly as Poison type hurt her. And among those were dragons. Dragons! Alki wondered if he was right, she couldn’t ever see herself fighting a dragon and doing any sort of harm to it, let alone winning! But the way he’d been talking… Alki felt certain that he knew his stuff.

“S-So what you’re saying is… I need to learn as much as I can? I just… I never thought of things that way before... ” She began, staring at the fire which, despite the poison that had just been flung at it, was still going. Smaller than before, sure, but it was persistent. I always thought normal types were just… u-unlucky, like… we didn’t get to learn the cool water or poison or fire type moves… and I guess being a fairy is alright, it’s just… I wish I were something else sometimes. I guess you’re right though. There’s not much I can do to change it, huh?”

She stared at the fire, wondering what they could talk about next. The Croagunk’s words still swam in her mind. A bit of everything, huh? Well… she wasn’t sure she’d be smart enough to live up to that task. Still, if Goro was this sure about stuff, maybe he could help her?

“D-Do you think… Do you think you could teach me? F-Fight better or… f-find my job?” She asked, looking at him. He seemed almost… embarrassed? But why? He hadn’t said anything strange or… maybe he just wasn’t used to talking that much? “I-In any case… y-you really seem to know your stuff. Thank you!” She said, offering a small smile and a quiet compliment. She'd never thought of herself in that way. She figured that she didn't really have much of a job, and she certainly never thought she'd be useful in any way without her heal pulse, but coming from someone like the Croagunk beside her, she felt hopeful for her future at the guild. Maybe she wasn't the best at the moment, but with a bit of time... maybe she would find her job, like Goro said.

   Her gaze wandered towards her surroundings. The marshland was beginning to grow darker, and she remembered something that the Croagunk had said earlier. “You mentioned the I-Illumise and Volbeat… w-when do you think they’ll come out? Soon, I hope...” Who knew? She’d never been in the marshes at night before… she hoped it’d be pretty. It was hard to imagine the grossly humid and wet place to be pretty, but she’d seen stranger things.

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Fri Jun 09, 2017 8:04 pm

"It's gettin' pretty late-- any moment now."  True to form, there were already a few rising out of the shrubbery and wherever else they came from. The Firefly Pokémon congregated slowly but surely, the faint buzzing of their wings raising metaphorical hairs on the back of Goro's neck. It was unnerving to him, seeing feral Pokémon of those numbers group together on their own every evening. It wasn't any form of intelligence that brought them together, he didn't think, otherwise, they might do something more significant than light up the Dungeon at night. Still, they were easy to get used to, for how silent and solitary they tended to be. And the view they provided was beautiful.

"I'd show ya few things, lass, but I don't know the first thing about yer kind, honestly. I guess I could wing it, and show ya some pointers, see what works fer ya and what doesn't, but... well, ya don' even know my name. Ya sure ya wanna trust th' first Croagunk ya came by in th' marshlands that didn't happen ta be feral?" He gave her a puzzled frown, staring at her properly for the first time, aside from when he followed her back to his home. He still didn't plan on hurting her-- but by the legendaries, it wouldn't hurt for her to be a little less trusting. For all that he didn't make a habit of beating up lost children, Goro still didn't consider himself a good person.

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Sun Jun 11, 2017 8:31 pm

"Well... I mean, you haven't given me a reason not to trust you. She began. The question bothered her for some reason. It wasn't right to be so trusting. She knew that much. She'd opened herself up like this before, and the only thing she'd gotten was suffering in return. When she'd lived at the pond by herself, everyone manipulated her for their jokes and she'd never managed to make a friend. Her parents were supposed to be someone who she could always trust, but they'd hated her guts for as long as she could remember.

Still though. Everyone behaved logically, nobody did anything without a reason. Her parents hated her because she wasn't talented, she was a disappointment. The kids at the pond had made fun of her and manipulated her because she was gullible, but she wasn't anymore. She had at least some positive qualities now. Otherwise these new Pokemon she was meeting would hate her too. She didn't have any reason to not trust him, considering that. If he were going to do anything bad to her, he would've had plenty of chances already.

"You've been awfully nice to me, even though you saw me going into your house without permission." She started to explain to him, hoping he wouldn't mind how much she was talking. "You even gave me blankets, and you gave me that whole lesson a while ago, and you didn't have any reason to trust me either. And besides, if you'd have wanted to do anything to me, you could've done so plenty of times already. I'll... I-I'll take my chances, trusting you." She finished, drawing the blankets closer around her as the night air turned chilly. She'd finished her speech, so now she contented herself with listening to the crackling of the fire, and allowing herself to gaze at the Illumise and Volbeat. The lights they gave off were like little floating fires, and she felt amazement. The world was an awfully pretty place sometimes. The towns were awfully nice, but she'd never seen anything like this. The traveling had been worth it, both because of the sight in front of her, and the kindness of the Pokemon beside he.

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Wed Jun 14, 2017 1:42 am

He listened dutifully as Alki spoke, silent in his consideration of her words, even if they made him want to burst out in incredulous laughter. As it was, he couldn't hold back an amused snort.

"S'what I get fer bein' so nice, huh? I see." That was something he didn't think he'd ever hear. Him, Goro the Croagunk, an... awfully nice Pokémon? It was true enough he didn't storm into his place and throw the kid out, but she was shivering and cold and bouncy and--... pink. Who the hell would harm a hair on a kid like that? He'd hurt many other people, for his own material gain, sure, but other times that had nothing to do with it. Even putting that aside, he wasn't exactly charitable or nice. Alki was perhaps the only traveler he'd been hospitable to, to put it... nicely. "Yer awfully quick ta judge someone ya just met-- don't get yer hopes up, idjit."

"Anyways, I don't know much about teachin' ya, kiddo. 'Spose I could try, but I'm a fighter-type, and that's how I was trained. I know how ta punch and kick and put someone in a real mean submission hold, ya get me?" He'd never taught anyone else before. The closest he'd ever come was a few impromptu, friendly spars with a few other civilized Pokémon, but none of them needed instruction or help. And him teaching Alki the same way he was taught would be the last thing to help-- the poor Igglybuff barely had arms and legs to speak of. The best she could hope for was any natural abilities the fairy might have, along with her moves.  "I could show ya how ta battle, but I wouldn't be able to show ya how ta do it smart-like. That's all about yer moves, and how ta use 'em best. You'd know more about that then I would-- they're your moves, after all. If ya got any family or just any other Igglybuffs ya know, then ya can see what you can learn and go from there."

He trailed off for a moment, remembering why she was out here in the first place. Perhaps if she was running off to spend time in the Cattail Marsh, of all places, in her moment of duress, then maybe she didn't have anyone decent in the way of family. Still, in all of Grassveil, there had to be at least one family of balloon Pokémon. He mused silently while he stared upwards, the Firefly Pokémon finally starting to gather in earnest. The dungeon sky had gradually darkened to a dark, night blue while the Volbeat and Illumise congregated together with a synchronized swiftness that belied their feral nature. Gradually, they all lit up one by one, various hues of light contrasting against the night, reflecting off the murky swamp waters. It was nighttime in the Dungeon, but with the Firefly's light in the open air, you could see just as clear as if it were daytime. "Either way, kiddo, it's gettin' late. Ya got yerself a place ta stay, or are ya gonna start trekkin' back all the way ta Grassveil?"

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Thu Jun 15, 2017 7:02 am

Alki grabbed the blankets and wrapped them tighter around herself as the Croagunk responded. She wasn’t an idiot… it wasn’t dumb to trust someone. It’d payed off for her! He didn’t mean that, he was wrong… “I-I’m not… n-not an idiot...” She mumbled, looking down from the light-show in front of her. She focused on the small, sputtering fire instead. She wasn’t an idiot.... She rubbed her eyes, trying to calm herself down. It wasn’t a big deal, he didn’t mean anything by that word. She took a deep breath after a few seconds, tuning back into what the Croagunk was saying. He didn’t mean anything by it, she concluded. He was a bit strange, after all, living alone all the way out here, and she didn’t detect the venom that her parents had when they’d called her an idiot. It was just habit, probably. She hoped.

Best not to dwell on it, though, she supposed. As she listened to what else he had to say, she couldn’t help but have her spirits lifted just a tad. “No, I… I actually don't know if I should be going right now, it's dark and… well, I can't really see well in the dark. F-Ferals would probably still find me and all… anyways…  so I was thinking, erm, maybe I could wait 'till morning? H-Here?” She offered, shyly.

She bounced up to her feet, allowing the blankets to fall to the ground. She didn't have anyone of her species she could talk to, but considering the only fight she'd ever gotten into she'd lost miserably, any sort of tutelage would do. “And, well, I'm lost, in terms of fighting and all… I got into one scrape once with another kid, he was a… a water type, of some sort, I'd just run aw--” she stopped herself. She was talking a lot, not to mention talking about things she'd rather not reveal about herself. It'd probably be better to keep it simple. “I was at a pond, I was really young, and he wiped the floor with me. I… I'm a new guild member, so I'd rather that not happen with me, on a job and stuff.” She finished, smiling coyly up at the Croagunk. Her round, red eyes gleamed with excitement, although she couldn't help but feel nervous at the same time.

“All of that to say… I would like to spar, to learn from you​, if you'd be alright with that?” She said, her shy and nervous voice accompanied only by the stillness of the marsh, and the crackling of the dwindling fire.

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Fri Jun 16, 2017 6:29 am

Goro tried his best to remain stoic when his guest curled in on herself and turned to the fire, suspiciously rubbing at her eyes after he called her idjit-- managing only to reel back and stare at her nervously, but inside, his stomach was curling and he felt a thread of panic stronger than any feral in the Marsh had inspired in him. Was she about to cry? A crying kid was the last thing in the world he was equipped to deal with. She was more fragile than he figured, and for a moment he incredulously wondered-- What kind of Guild takes in little crybaby kids for Explorers?

Thankfully, she pulled herself together, bouncing to her little feet as she launched into a story. He listened half-heartedly, musing on her asking to stay more than anything else. There wasn't much for him to do other than saying yes; What else was he able to do? Say no and send her off into Cattail Marsh in the middle of the night? His territory was safer than the rest of the dungeon, at least on this level, but eventually, she'd have to find her way back to the entrance and that wasn't a straight shot-- to say nothing of what might attack her on the way there. To do anything but help was as dropping her right into the Dungeon ferals' lap.

He almost pulled a double-take when she asked again for a spar, her light voice trailing off into the near-silent natural sounds of the Marsh. Dammit, what was he supposed to say? No, kid, I get that you got a bad hand, being born as a pink fluffy balloon, and you're trying to get stronger but I'm not about to help you? Well-- yes, that's what he was about to say until he looked over to turn her down, only to get hit with a pair of big, wide blue eyes, bright and earnest and trusting. Despite everything he just said. Alki had the strangest little shy smile on her face as if she knew all about the weapon she was pointing right at him, but that couldn't possibly be right.

"Well, I... Fine." The worst part of the deal was that he did want to help her. The Croagunk would be lying if he said he didn't see at least a little of himself in her. Still, that was the last thing she needed to know, seeing as he already found he was unable to turn her away or tell her no. Goro made a show of sneering at her, before surging up from his seat on the ground and irritably kicking dirt over the dying campfire, finally smothering it. "You can stay fer the night. And I 'spose it's possible that we might do some practice in the morning. Maybe. Don't git yer hopes up.

"Fer now, it's late enough that I'm turnin' in. No sense in fightin' the dark in case some critter gets a bright idea when we can't see past the Fireflies' light. You can get the straw bed if ya want-- just gimmie a few o' these. Don't stay up late, brat." He snatched all but a couple of the blankets from where they fell off of her earlier, stomping grumpily towards his shack. She'd take the rest of them with her, he was sure.

Despite himself, he wasn't displeased with how things turned out. Had Alki the Igglybuff been anyone else, he'd have stormed in on them and gave them a harsh lesson before booting them out of his territory, leaving them to the mercies of the Dungeon. Instead, he'd found a lost kid in over her head and actually did the good thing, giving her a place to stay and even promised to help her. They'd practice a little in the morning, and he'd give her some advice before taking her to Rainfront Town. She was an Explorer-- she could make it back home, or find someone who could help her in town.

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Sat Jun 17, 2017 6:07 am

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Meanwhile, a mangy, mud-soaked Skitty continued her slog through the dark and damp mire of Cattail marsh, painstakingly trying to navigate around the thick clumps of plants and the pools of water too deep for her to cross.  She had been at it for at least an hour or two, perhaps longer, and it was beginning to show.  Her once blue scarf was now the same color as her fur, matted and filthy from stumbling into so many deceptively deep patches of water, and her legs looked even worse, courtesy of the clinging mud that made every step forward a struggle.  Even her fluffy tail had become caked with dirt despite her efforts to keep it high above ground.  It was starting to look similar to the overgrown cattail plants that seemed so determined to block any paths forward...

But even so, what made the Skitty look miserable wasn't her filthy appearance.  It was her face, downcast as if on the verge of tears, and it was the way that each step forward seemed panicked and shaky.  Her breathing was fast and shallow, and each one of her skittery heartbeats filled her with a mixed sense of guilt and worry and fear.

She reached another dead end and came to a stop, blocked by another thicket of weed-like plants.  ...For a moment, she wondered if the Pokemon she'd asked back in town had really seen an Igglybuff heading towards this dark, wet, gloomy swathe of land.  Why would Alki be out here?  She hadn't been at home with the Skitty's sister, safe and dry, but...  Could she really have wandered into a place like this?

...Had the Skitty never told Alki that places outside of town were dangerous?  Or maybe she hadn't given the Igglybuff good enough instructions on where to find her sister, and she had gotten lost?  Arceus, if she really was in this marsh, and something happened to her..!

The Skitty sat down and squeezed her eyes shut as she forced herself to take deep breaths.  She just had to keep going, right?  If she kept exploring the dungeon then she would find Alki sooner or later.  That mantra was what had kept her going for this long, at least.

And...  Maybe it would mean that following Alki to Rainfront Town had been a good decision after all.  She had felt guilty about promising the Igglybuff some time to herself, and then deciding not even half a day later to follow her, but...  If she ended up rescuing Alki, then surely she would forgive her, right?  ...Maybe she would even forgive her for the incident at the guild that had caused all of this...

She opened her eyes and stiffly forced herself upright, but just as she did, her nose twitched as she picked up a familiar scent.  It was nothing like the damp, murky scents of the swamp.  It smelled more like...  A campfire.  The Skitty's eyes widened as she looked up at the sky, and sure enough, amidst the firefly Pokemon dancing far overhead, she saw a thin trail of smoke snaking up towards the stars...

Anxiety and worry began pumping through her body once again.  Could that be Alki's fire?  Or maybe it belonged to someone who could help, someone who lived here?  She hoped so with all of her heart.  ...But why would anyone live in a place like this if they had no reason for it?  Rainfront Town wasn't far away...

...Maybe this would be the night that she finally met a true outlaw.  The ones she'd been warned about at the guild.  The reason that members were encouraged to only leave town in teams.

...She shakily stood to her feet.  She trembled even worse than before, but she forced her body to resume its trek through the mud and water, moving towards the smoke.  She could just...  Spy on whoever started it for a while, and see what they were like, right?  It seemed like the best thing to do.  She was scared, but...  How else would she ever find Alki in this swamp..? She was making no progress at all by hersef...

She wasn't sure how long the next stretch of her journey took.  The exhausting, messy process of pushing through mud and plants had made her entire trip into the marsh feel like one big blur.  The plants were sometimes so tall that they blocked her view of the smoke overhead, and she even lost sight of it entirely after a while...  But at length she stumbled across what must have been the right spot.  It was the back of a cabin!  Or at least what was left of a cabin.  She crept forward, glad to finally have found a stretch of dry ground...

And then she gasped as she heard a voice, very close by and getting closer.  In a panic she stumbled backward, hastily trying to hide behind a group of small plants before huddling down against the ground.  Her fur stood on end, and she tried to stay as still as she could manage, silently praying that this stranger hadn't noticed her..!

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Mon Jun 19, 2017 7:59 am

Alki watched with a mixture of excitement and nervousness as the Croagunk responded to her. Would her request be enough? She hoped it was alright. The Croagunk looked down at her, but after some thought, he seemed to agree. The Fine… was all she needed to hear, as her coy smile transformed into one of relief and excitement. He'd help her! She couldn't believe her good luck, running into this Pokemon.

    He made a show of kicking the dirt onto the already dying fire as he got up. Even if he did sneer at her, and even if he was making a big show of all of this, she felt strangely happy. She'd had all sorts of negative emotions targeted towards her, from hate to disgust to anger, but this time didn't feel like all those other times, although she couldn't quite figure out if it was because the Croagunk liked her, or if it was because of something else.

    “I won't stay up too late, I promise!” She said, following him back towards the shack. He'd picked up the blankets she'd dropped earlier, all but a couple. Alki grabbed them, and wrapped them around her like a cloak as they went back inside. She'd gone into the marshlands to run away from her problems. She'd found a good Pokemon that had given her advice and hope to confront those same problems instead.

She nodded, she'd love to sleep on the straw bed. First, though, she wanted to stay out and watch the marsh at night. The trees of the pecha forest she'd grown up in had done a good job of blocking the night sky from view, but here, everything was on display. Between the little floating fires the Pokemon of the marsh provided, and the starlight that rained down on her, Alki felt bathed in the light of the marsh. Seeing this, she couldn't help but wonder why she hadn't left her home sooner. Where had spectacles like this been all her life?

Splosh! Splosh! Splosh! Alki jumped and barely held in a squeal as she heard a sound that had definitely not come from herself or her company. “Hello? Who’s… who's there?” She called out, as loudly and clearly as she could manage. Maybe it was nothing? But still… better safe than sorry.

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Wed Jun 21, 2017 7:50 am

Try as he might, Goro couldn't help himself when his lips tugged themselves into a reluctant grin at Alki's words behind him. As soon as the first word was out of his mouth, she got what she wanted. And she knew it. By the legendaries, this kid was either very sly or cute enough that she was just used to it by now. Probably both. The Croagunk waved half-heartedly at the Igglybuff's reassurances that she wouldn't be up too long, not turning back to say anything else. Little brat was too sweet to look at. His gout had straightened into a relaxed stroll as he made his way back to his shack, half-taking in the sight of it surrounded by the Firefly Pokémon.

It was fortunate enough that he found shelter during his first outing in the Marsh; a half-broken down hovel wasn't much to brag about, but it was more than he could have hoped for when he decided to shack up in a dungeon of all places. He didn't know the first thing about construction or building-- this was perhaps the only option he'd ever had unless he hired out someone to do something better. As pathetic as it was, though, Goro was proud of the rotting hut and saw it as a sort of trophy for winning his stretch of territory from the ferals in this stretch of the dungeon. He'd fought tooth and nails those first few days, fending off wild Pokémon one after another, day after day, until they finally realized he wouldn't chase them too far outside of his designated "territory."

Which still surprised him, most days. He was far from an expert at dungeon-crawling and knew next to nothing about feral Pokémon and their ways, but he thought it was common enough knowledge that they weren't particularly intelligent. They could be sly and even strategic at times, especially the stronger ones, but there was a savage wildness to them that simply wasn't.... present in other Pokémon. But for them to recognize that he only pursued them so far, and to remember that stretch of land as being distinctly his...

It was held dear enough to him that he didn't exactly hesitate to deal with any intruders he found-- harshly. Alki not included, for obvious, fluffy, pink reasons. So it stood to reason when the Croagunk heard a very audible, sharp gasp from the other side of his shack, he tensed in shock and anger. It'd been.... some time since the last challenge he got from feral, and that sort of noise wasn't usually produced by a wild Pokémon. It ain't a what-- it's a who.

The blankets in his hand abruptly dropped from his fist, falling limply in a pile at the doorway to his hut, the fighting-poisoned hybrid turning towards the Igglybuff behind him, mouth open to warn the smaller Pokémon-- just before she foolishly called out to the mystery Pokémon for whatever reason. His jaw visibly dropped at her words, before he realized that yes, she really did just want to talk to whatever was trying to sneak up on them. His temper flared at the realization, even if it matched up with what he knew about her. Good way to get hurt. Better suit a lil' thing like you to run and hide.

"Whoever's slinkin' around behind my place, git yer sorry hide out here where I can see ya." His voice was harsh and sharp in way he hadn't spoke with Alki, his posture aggressive and fists clenched angrily. No chance of sneaking up on his mystery visitor if she knew exactly where Alki was-- and he wasn't so far gone as to use her as bait to get the jump on whatever just showed up. "Don't try boltin' off. You'll only be conscious long enough ta regret it."

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Thu Jun 22, 2017 10:30 pm

Darcy's body tensed up as she heard the second voice.  Her heart pounded and she had to sink her claws into the ground to keep herself steady.  That...  That was Alki.  There could be no mistaking it.  But who was she with?  And did they really know that they weren't alone..?

She flinched backwards as the other voice answered both of her questions, his words feeling like a blow to the stomach solely because of how violent they were.  The Skitty's heart fluttered and she found her body shaking again.  This Pokemon...  What on earth was such a person doing with Alki?

Her first instinct was to run away.  It was probably what she would have done, even in spite of this stranger's vague threats, but...  With Alki present, that wasn't an option.  There was only one thing she could do.  Reveal herself, and hope that she could get Alki out of here safely...

"O-okay.  Fine," she forced herself to say, anxiety leaking through into her voice.  The exhausted-looking Skitty forced herself to her feet and took a few steps forward, into the dancing light provided by the Volbeat up above, rounding the shack's corner and coming to a stop.  She got her first glimpse of the stranger right away...  And it didn't make her feel very good about the whole situation.  He was a good four inches taller than her, and he did not seem happy to see her.  But Alki was there too, not far behind him...

"W-what is going on here?  Alki, I'm really glad that you're safe.  But you were supposed to meet up with my sister hours ago..." she said, still shaking somewhat as her mind raced, trying to piece everything together.  Why was her friend out here in the middle of Cattail Marsh with a complete stranger?  Perhaps..?

She took a step towards the Croagunk, her fur bristling a little.  "D-did you drag her out here?  W-well, I don't know what you're up to, but she's coming home with me now!  S-she shouldn't be spending her free time in dungeons like this..."

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Fri Jun 23, 2017 7:06 am

The Igglybuff watched with a thinly veiled fear as the scene unfolded in front of her. Maybe it hadn’t been the best idea to call out into the darkness, announce where she was, how afraid she was. She’d seen ferals in this dungeon, even if they hadn’t seen her, so who was to say this noise wasn’t coming from a feral? It didn’t help that Alki’s eyes could hardly see into the dark where this Pokemon was, away from the bugs that lit up the night, instead surrounded by a thick, impenetrable darkness.
   
     Still, she couldn't help but feel a comforting aura, even if she couldn't see the Pokemon. She hadn't been in dungeons enough to really be able to know , but she had a feeling it wasn't a feral. She looked over to her company, and was taken aback by the sudden change in temperament. He'd seemed content, even relaxed with Alki, but those things had vanished and were replaced by aggression and violence.

  “O-Ok… fine…” The two words were all she needed to realize who it was. Darcy. Her teammate, friend, and the closest thing she'd probably ever get to family. She was here. Despite Alki telling her she needed some time to herself, she was here, as far away from Grassveil as she could get.

   Alki watched and listened with a mixture of feelings as the Skitty rounded the corner and allowed the light of the marsh to shine on her. There wasn't any doubt left at all. This was Darcy. The more she talked, the more accusatory she sounded, and the more Alki felt the need to butt in. Even if she'd have rather avoided conversation with the Skitty for a bit longer.

“D-Darcy, I'm… I'm… I didn't think you'd be out here.” She said, nodding at Goro to indicate that she knew this Pokemon. “It's nice to see you too, but… I mean, no offense, but when I said I needed time alone, well… I meant it. She said, before pausing to think on what came next.  “It's… I'm safe. I mean, Darcy, if your sister is anything like you, I'd love to meet her, just… just not today. After what happened at the guild, I needed time to think. By myself. Sort of...” she explained, glancing at the Croagunk. The Igglybuff couldn't stop a bit of betrayment seeping into her voice. When she'd said she wanted to be alone, she'd assumed that Darcy would let her. It would seem assumption wasn't something Alki could rely on, then.

     The whole fiasco she'd caused with Morty’s introduction to the guild had messed with her more than she'd care to admit. She hoped Darcy wouldn't be mad at that. Then again, she'd made sure to not show it. Her embarrassment, and her desperate hopes that neither would hold a grudge towards her. Despite them reassuring her they wouldn't.


    “I just needed some time away from these things, is all, Darcy… I… I was fine in the dungeon, n-nothing and nobody hurt me. He's nice.” She finished, her voice notably less confident and more worried than it’d been before. She'd caused her sister to come out all the way to rainfront, all the way to the marshes. That was a 3 day trip, at least. And looking for her? That must've taken a while. For what? An I told you so? Alki knew she'd be mad...

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Fri Jun 23, 2017 10:23 pm

Goro wasn't sure what he expected to round the corner of his run-down little hut, but it sure as hell wasn't a filthy pink kitten. He started in surprise as Darcy shuffled forward, pausing a few steps into the Firefly Pokémon's light. The Croagunk took in her appearance with a sense of shock and disgruntlement. He didn't know this Pokémon, either.

It was a small Pokémon, although not much smaller than him, closely resembling a sort of cat. Dull pink fur and creamy skin peeked out from under a heavy coating of grime and muck, courtesy of the swamp waters.  There was a matted scarf wrapped around her, a hint of blue visible under the dirt caking it, and a tail trailing behind her not dissimilar in shape from the cattail plants that sprouted up all over the Marsh. She'd be almost cute if it wasn't for the sorry state she was in, clearly under the weather from traversing his dungeon for so long.

Goro's eyes flickered between his mystery visitor and his temporary guest, taking in the similarities in their posture and appearance, both visibly anxious and... pink. The feline Pokémon distinctly reminded him of Alki, and for a moment he felt a sense of relief that perhaps one of her family or friends decided to track the wayward kid down. But he remembered the Igglybuff's words from earlier-- "N-no one's looking for me,"-- so this couldn't possibly be the case. She'd spoken of a friend that she notified, someone she let down, but if that was the case then this Pokémon wouldn't be looking for her so gravely that she'd get torn up this badly by the Marsh.

But that's what's goin' on here, whether the kid likes it or not. Goro watched as the Skitty turned towards Alki, voicing concerns and worries, clearly fretting over the small Balloon Pokémon. The Croagunk was torn, unsure of how to treat this new arrival before she took a step towards him, her countenance shifting and fur bristling alarmingly. He blinked in shock as Darcy accused him of-- of kidnapping, of all things-- before declaring Alki was leaving with her immediately.

He was offended, incredibly so, but he felt a greater degree of shock. What the hell's attracting all the crazies to my place, today? Dimly, he registered Alki speaking up from behind him, explaining herself and coming to his defense, but he was much more concentrated with the incredibly rude Pokémon in front of him. Who the hell did this pussycat think she was, waltzing up to his stretch of marsh, sneaking up behind his shack, and accusing him of stealing the kid that she supposedly let run off?

"Shut yer trap, furball. I don't go 'round snatchin' up any snot-nosed brats. I found this one nappin' in my house when I came home." His face soured as he stared at the Skitty in front of him, fists curling and uncurling of their own volition in his anger, his posture growing aggressive and hostile. He took a step forward thoughtlessly before halting, not sure if he was wanted to hurt this figure who, for good or bad, obviously knew Alki. Especially right in front of her. "She was cold, shiverin' and filthy when I caught her, no better than yer mangy hide right now."

He stomped forward again, stopping only a pace away from the Kitten Pokémon, one hand shooting up to point a finger accusatorily at her face while the other was clenched angrily behind him. Unthinkingly, perhaps instinctively, he positioned himself between the Skitty and where Alki stood a ways behind him, blocking her path in case she got any bright ideas. "What I wanna know is where the hell you git off, lettin' her waltz right into a mystery dungeon of all places, then struttin' up actin' like it's my fault she ain't where ya want her ta be. Who and what are you, and what makes ya think you're her boss?"

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Sun Jun 25, 2017 7:05 am

Alki was the first Pokemon to step forward.  Without realizing it, Darcy exhaled and her muscles became a little less tight as her friend began speaking.  It finally started to sink in--Alki really was safe after all.  As that huge weight lifted from her shoulders, the Skitty's mood simmered down somewhat...  Although she didn't take her eyes off of the frog-like Pokemon in front of her.  She didn't know what his intentions were, but surely he must have been responsible for this somehow, right?  How else would Alki have found herself in the depths of Cattail Marsh, rather than safe at home with her sister?  No one's sense of direction was bad enough to end up so far afield.  Darcy quietly resolved to tell Alki to be more careful around Pokemon she didn't know.  The Skitty's parents had always told her the same thing, and it had always struck her as a little silly, but...  Perhaps now she was starting to understand how they felt, and why.  ...Alki had never been very close with her own parents, right?  Maybe this all was proof that she could use a little more guidance?  It was something the Skitty would feel honored to do...

But Alki's words quickly brought Darcy back to reality.  "No offense, but when I said I needed time alone, well... I meant it," the Igglybuff said.

The words shouldn't have come as a surprise.  Darcy knew that.  But the way Alki said them so bluntly, the moment they first met after such a long journey...  The Skitty knew that it was her own fault, but did her friend have to be so cold?

"I-I know.  I just, well..." she murmured while shrinking backward and flattening her ears.  She had just wanted to make sure Alki would arrive in town safely.  The Skitty had been sick with worry ever since Alki's departure, and, well...  It had seemed harmless to just visit Rainfront too, and to check in with Alki and her sister, right?  She didn't mind the journey too much.  There were always interesting Pokemon to meet on the road, travelling between the two towns.  And...  Maybe it would have given her a chance to apologize, if she could find the right words...

But before she could say anything coherent she was sent stumbling back a few steps by a verbal outburst from the stranger.  Her heart pounded again as she stared up at the Croagunk stomping towards her, every word from his mouth stinging her pelt like venom.  His sheer intensity shocked her into silence, too stunned to do anything but sit in place and take everything he was saying.

She flinched sharply as he pointed a finger at her, half expecting him to hit her.  ...But he didn't, and eventually his verbal assault came to an end.  She glanced up at him as she tried to process everything he had said, but she couldn't match his seething gaze for very long.

She found herself shaking again.  But not entirely out of fear.  It was...  Because of his last sentence.

"I...  I-I'm..." she stammered, looking away.  ...What exactly was she, to Alki?  'I'm her sister,' the Skitty wanted to say.  But was that really the truth?  Her reception tonight, being so instantly and intensely turned away after the past four days of worry and loneliness and fear...  It gave her pause about this for the first time she could remember.

...Did Alki actually like being with her?  It would have seemed like a silly question even a few hours ago, but...  Alki had always been so shy and polite that she would never say otherwise.  ...Maybe the incident at the guild had simply...  Pushed her over the edge, to the point that she finally wanted to stand up for herself?  It would explain a lot.  Why the incident had bothered her so much, why she had wanted to be alone, and now why she didn't even want to talk, despite gladly consorting with such a mean, scary Pokemon...

Darcy looked up again, but at Alki this time, just visible behind the Croagunk looming in front of her.  Alki, the one that the Skitty had spent hours thinking about every day since their meeting, the one who made her feel happy and warm just by being close, the one that she had poured her heart out to so many times...  Had those feelings ever been mutual?  Or...  Or had she just been too thoughtless and stupid to realize it all had been a sham, nothing more than herself taking advantage of the most helpless Pokemon she could find so that she wouldn't have to feel lonely again?  Someone who couldn't say no?  Someone who couldn't leave her?

Darcy stared at the ground and squeezed her eyes shut.  She felt tears start to form, and she sank her claws deep into the ground to steady herself.  No, that couldn't be true.  It had all been real, right?  Alki cared about her, and they were friends, weren't they?  She clung to that belief as tightly as she could.  There was no way that such a big part of her heart, such a big part of her life, could have been so misguided.  Was there?

"A-Alki is my friend!" the Skitty finally said, perhaps more forcefully than she needed to.  She stood to her feet and met the Croagunk's eyes, doing everything she could to seem confident and composed even in spite of their size difference and the tears in her eyes.  "I-I'm...  I'm sorry for thinking that you brought her out here.  But I still want her to come home with me."

She tried looking back to the Igglybuff behind him, but couldn't hold her gaze for long, glancing away as she felt a rush of shame.  "A-Alki, I'm...  I-I'm sorry for following you.  I know I said that it was okay for you to have some time to yourself.  B-but, I, well...  I-I...  I have some stuff that...  I think we need to talk about."

She sat down and stared at the ground.  "...A-and...  M-maybe I'm acting out of line.  But I would feel a lot better if I knew that you were somewhere safe.  I don't want you to stay out here with a stranger tonight.  P-please come with me.  Okay?"

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Sun Jun 25, 2017 9:06 am

If it weren't for the fact that this Croagunk had done nothing but help her since they'd met, she might’ve been much more eager to yell back at him. He was yelling at her sister, for Arceus’ sake! Darcy visibly recoiled as he yelled. More than a few times, Alki was ready to come to Darcy’s aid, the way his fists tightened and relaxed made her fear a fight could break out at any moment. Sure, she couldn't fight. Sure, this Croagunk understood fighting and battling in a way Alki still didn't understand, but if he hit Darcy, none of that would matter. So when the words slowed and stopped, Alki felt nothing but relief; the fight hadn't started, and Alki felt sure they'd gotten through the worst of it. Now she could reply with words of her own, and maybe those words would help everyone feel better.

    But as Alki opened her mouth to speak, she couldn't help but notice the state her friend was in. Cold, filthy, tired, shaking, all around, Darcy seemed miserable. And the way Alki had thanked her was with rejection. What sort of sister was she? A bad one. Maybe a bit like Melanie? Darcy deserved better. She stared at Darcy, trying to force these unpleasant thoughts back into whatever unpleasant corner of her mind they'd come from. But despite her best efforts, they all came exploding back up, and all the resistance she'd mounted failed when she looked into her sister's eyes.

    When the whole situation at the guild had resolved, Alki had promised she'd do her best to live up to expectations. To not let her teammates down. This was something else entirely. She hadn't just let Darcy down , with the emotion behind those eyes, Alki couldn't help but feel as though she'd destroyed something that she might not be able to fix.

    “A-Alki is my friend!” The Skitty said, but Alki sensed that the Croagunk wasn't the only Pokemon she was trying to convince. The force behind those words shook Alki. It hadn't been long at all since she'd run away from home, but in that short time, she'd met so many wonderful friends. But Darcy was the one she lived with, the one who'd shown her how the guild worked, the one who'd taught her how to read, and if she said the wrong words, she might wound that relationship in a way nothing would be able to heal.


   She nodded at the Skitty’s final words, and bounced slowly towards her. Darcy was staring at the ground in a way Alki knew all too well. She'd been there far more times than she would've liked. Hopefully, Alki would be able to help Darcy. After all, the Skitty had done the same for her countless times.

    She sat down, leaning on the Skitty's front leg. She was crying. Darcy, the bubbly, eternally cheerful Pokemon was crying. “We can talk now, Darcy...” She began, her soft, fragile words trailing away in the night air. “I… I don't think this should wait any longer. I was a bit mean, I just really didn't expect to see you here. I do appreciate it though. Really, I do. You cared about me enough to take a 3 day journey, and then you went looking through the marshes for me, just to make sure I was safe… it was mean of me to not thank you sooner. I really do appreciate you caring about me so much. She said, placing her small hand over Darcy's paw. “I lied to you, I didn't intend to meet with your sister at all, so I'm also sorry about that. I just wanted to run away from this conversation. I was afraid you'd still be mad at me, I wanted… I wanted to wait for things to cool off before talking to you and Morty. I caused both of you a lot of trouble and I felt it'd be better for the three of us if I left for a bit… I should've been honest from the start. I'm sorry."

   Alki paused for a few seconds, and those seconds turned into a minute. A minute that felt like an eternity. How would she address the elephant in the room? After this… this had caused much more trouble than it had avoided. For Goro, for Alki, and for Darcy. But if Darcy really was questioning their relationship… it'd be best to address that before it turned into a problem too large to handle.

    “Darcy, you mean the world to me. I know recently I haven't shown that too well. But when I was alone… afraid… lost, you gave me a place to stay. You let me join your team. You gave me a place in the world. You'll always be my big sister, no matter what happens… no matter what I mess up, I hope you'll always view me as a little sister… She finished, both her hands unconsciously making their way around the leg of the Skitty. Losing her sister was something that would crush her. She knew that. And now that she was faced with that risk… she wanted to hold onto her for as long as she could. For the first time, she realized she was crying too, but at that moment, she didn't care.

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Sun Jun 25, 2017 8:00 pm

Goro watched his quarry carefully, impressed despite himself when the feline Pokémon in front of him held his gaze resolutely, at least for a few moments. It was wet, filthy, shivering cold and likely extremely tired, the Cattail Marsh taking a huge toll on it. If not for the situation she found herself in, Goro wouldn't be surprised if this one was also looking for a safe place to rest, like Alki was. Of course, he hadn't any indication of what the mysterious Pokémon was thinking, despite obviously being here for Alki, but either way, he knew he didn't like her. Even if he was grudgingly impressed at her nerve.

He knew he didn't catch all of what Alki said, his blood still boiling and fists itching for conflict, but he did see the effect of what her words had on the Kitten Pokémon in front of him. She shrunk backward miserably, ears flattening pitifully against her skull, and for a moment she looked so terribly small despite her standing up to the Croagunk in front of her. And he'd be lying if he said he hadn't felt a small thread of guilt when the Skitty flinched back sharply when he thrust his finger in her face accusingly, aggressively, and it occurred to him that despite the location of this little family spat, he felt terribly out of place.

He'd known the Igglybuff behind him for perhaps one evening if he was being generous. And yet, despite that, he felt feelings of protectiveness and care that he hadn't ever felt before. The kid was miserable when he found her, and honestly, she probably still looked that way with the way he was treating her... whoever this Pokémon was, to her. For one, bittersweet fleeting moment, he felt nothing but regret and shame that he couldn't just thrash the Skitty in front of him, sour that he didn't want Alki to see it.

The Croagunk snorted dismissively when the Skitty tried to meet his gaze again, a moment later, before skirting away, staring at the ground miserably as she tried and failed to collect herself in a way that reminded him of the Igglybuff when he spoke to her earlier that evening. He felt a vindictive sense of pleasure when the first tears started to pool in her eyes, and he thought perhaps now she'd finally give up and go home. Maybe take the brat with her. But she stood her ground, shooting to her feet and whipping her head up to stare at his with such an intensity and fierce protectiveness that, despite himself, Goro took a half-step backward and rose both eyebrows. Her friend, huh... Whatever it was that invigorated the Skitty in front of him vanished nearly as quick as it came, Darcy again dropping her gaze when she tried to hold eyes with Alki behind him.

Her words washed over Goro quickly, and he felt a sudden sense of wrongness come over him. What the hell was he doing here, in a spat with a couple of pink fluffy children? He sighed nearly silently when Alki bounced forward right past him, comforting the Skitty in a maternal, caring way he hadn't seen from her before. Of course. I ain't known the brat but for a day. They can run off together, for all I care.

He stepped away from the two as Alki comforted the Skitty, placing his hands on his hips, turning his back to them so he didn't have to hear the soppy conversation, and to give them a sense of privacy. He'd leave them to cry and snot all over each other while they talked about feelings. If the Igglybuff really knew and cared for this Skitty that came for her, then all was well. All he really gave a shit about was whether or not she wanted to go with her-- and he had his answer. Either way, he hadn't been looking forward to taking the baby fairy Pokémon all the way back to Rainfront, or worse - Grassveil. This way was for the best.

Still, he hoped that Alki wouldn't be too cross with him for nearly throttling this Pokémon she cared so much about. He bared a real part of himself to her when they'd talked earlier, over the campfire, and he was sincere when he mentioned helping her getting stronger. He thought they'd made a connection, and there was a bit of himself that he could see in her. Goro still wanted to help her reach her goal of getting stronger, despite the drama show that was taking place.

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