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 A twilit morning

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PostSubject: A twilit morning   Tue Aug 08, 2017 8:28 am

Just north of town, within the basement of the spacious Grassveil Guild, the halls were still and quiet.  It was early in the morning, and save perhaps for the gentle sounds of one or two nocturnal Pokemon settling in after a night of wakefulness, the air was silent and serene...  It was the time of day that lent itself to deep, dream-filled sleep, the kind that arrives only at the end of a long night of rest, one last hour or two of peaceful reverie for the guild's members to enjoy before being greeted by the warm, shining sun.  With calmness heavy in the air, it seemed that the each of the Pokemon of Grassveil's guild were thoroughly enjoying their time in bed.  Each of them except, perhaps, for a certain small Pokemon, nestled deep within her basket of blankets and pillows, stirring softly and peeking her eyes open as she slowly woke up.

The Skitty yawned, then stretched out her body, slowly and tremulously.  She shook the blankets off of herself and sat upright as she blinked and took in her bedroom.  It was dark...  She could only scarcely see light behind the curtains to her right, and the outlines of the cozy little room's furnishings...  And of course, Alki, sleeping soundly in the bed just one or two feet away.

It was early in the morning.  Even for Darcy.  But as she recalled why she had woken this early...  A grin broke out across the Skitty's face.  This morning was special.  This was the day that she and her sister had set aside to visit her home...  She would get to see her family again.  It had only been weeks since her last visit, but...  Her family meant the world to her.  They were the ones who had taught her everything she knew, the ones she had spent her whole life with...  Being away from them at all was heartrending.  Had she not met Alki, and her other friends at the guild and in town, she would never have been able to bear it...

The thought of seeing them again made the Skitty's heart flutter.  She hopped onto the chest set against the far wall, then put her paws up on the windowsill, poking her head through the curtains and staring with bright eyes at the gardens outside, graced with dew and dimly lit by pink twilight.  A few lingering stars still twinkled in the sky up above, proof of how early it was, but...  Even so, Darcy couldn't bring herself to climb back into bed.  Not when there was so much to do, such an exciting day ahead of her...

She hopped back down, and took her bag from its hook near the door.  Her home was only three or four hours from town, but there was still some packing to be done.  Her favorite books to read to her little siblings once again, her map to show them, and of course her badge...  She tucked them all away as quietly as she could manage, and before long, she was done, her belongings in order and herself eager to leave...

...But of course...  She couldn't leave without Alki, still in bed and sleeping soundly...

Darcy put her bag down and climbed back into her bed.  She settled down and closed her eyes, hoping to fall asleep again until her best friend would be ready to go too.

...But...  Try as she might, the fluttering in her chest just wouldn't go away.  She blinked and glanced over at Alki with wide eyes, her tail restlessly flicking back and forth every now and then as she settled in to wait.

She didn't manage to wait for long, though. Perhaps five or ten minutes passed before the Skitty's excitement got the better of her and she hopped out of her bed once again.  "Good morning, Alki...  Rise and shine, okay..?" she murmured, settling down in front of the little Igglybuff's bed and gently nuzzling her with her nose.  "Do you remember what day it is?  I know it's early, but...  The sooner we leave, the sooner we'll get to see everyone, right..?"

She blinked and looked down at the ground, hoping Alki would be okay with such an early awakening.  As excited as she was, Darcy couldn't help but feel a little foolish and rude...  "Umm...  It's okay if you don't want to go yet...  I was just excited, is all.  I've been looking forward to this ever since my last visit..."

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PostSubject: Re: A twilit morning   Wed Aug 09, 2017 10:05 pm

As the night slowly transformed into day, a small Igglybuff remained asleep in the Grassveil guild. Despite the promises and excitement of the day to come, the young explorer still felt tired. The dreams that came to her weren’t pleasant. She suffered through the dreams of secrets and thievery and organizations she’d rather her best friend not find out about, so when her sister gently nuzzled her awake, she squeaked out a nervous, frightened cry, the sudden contrast between her dreams and reality startling the poor child.

“D-Darcy! Hi...” She managed, after a couple seconds of confusion. The dream had seemed so real, and she didn’t want Darcy to even know about the Vulpix she’d talked to in the woods, let alone anything they’d talked about. “S-Sorry, I was… j-just having a bit of a bad dream.” She mumbled an apology, unaware her blankets were still being clutched tightly in her shaking hands. “Never mind that, though, I’m awake now. We’re still visiting your family, right? You said they were really nice? I mean, I’m sure they are, if you come from that family, but… we should go soon!” She finished, as a smile began to appear on her face. All her other troubles could be set aside for a moment, she wouldn’t let them get in the way of her enjoying this time with Darcy. Suddenly, the thoughts of thievery left, and were instead replaced by visions of the Skitty’s family: Happy, supportive parents, siblings that loved Darcy, a nice and safe and happy home. A pang of regret filled Alki’s heart, but she couldn’t help but feel happy for Darcy at the same time. She simply had the luck that Alki only wished she would’ve had. And Darcy deserved it more than anyone in the world, certainly more than Alki.

“It’s fine though, really. I don’t mind you waking me up. You deserve to be excited, Darcy.” She said, smiling as she looked up at the older Pokemon. At first, Alki hadn’t understood why she’d be so excited to visit her parents. But as time went by, the Igglybuff began to understand that, even if her parents hated her, she was in the minority there. Most Pokemon she’d spoken to had fine parents, ones that loved them and supported them. And now, Alki couldn’t help but feel excited to see Darcy’s, to see what she had never had. What would her siblings be like? Was Alki younger than them too? What would they think of her? She hoped she’d impress them, but then again, a Pokemon this tiny wasn’t exactly impressive.

And suddenly, Alki found that she couldn’t wait for answers to these questions. Darcy wouldn’t mind if she asked her a bit more about her family. The Igglybuff wanted to know what they were like before getting there. It was a few hours, at least! “B-Before we go, though, what are they like? Your siblings, and parents, and house. Will they be impressed with me? I’ve just… I’ve never been to anyone’s house before, so… I’m about as nervous as I am excited.” She mumbled, a sheepish smile possessing her. Alki wanted to make the best first impression she probably could, if Darcy was her new sister, then she wanted the Skitty’s parents to look upon Alki as favorably as Darcy did. The Igglybuff sat down, wrapping herself in her blankets as she waited for Darcy to tell her what her home life was like.
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PostSubject: Re: A twilit morning   Thu Aug 10, 2017 2:21 am

Darcy blinked with surprise at Alki's sudden, stuttered reaction, the little Igglybuff's breathing shallow and her hands tightly clutching the blankets wrapped around her.  Was something wrong..?  Maybe she had been startled, being nudged awake at such a strange time of day...

But Alki explained herself, and understanding settled over the Skitty.  She gazed at Alki with concern for a moment...
Then, slowly and carefully, Darcy stood to her feet and stepped over the edge of Alki's bed, settling down right beside her.  She gave her a warm, reassuring nuzzle with her cheek, and wrapped her fluffy tail around the other side of the little Igglybuff.  Bad dreams could be tormenting, of course...  But so often, they were about things that would never happen in real life, right?  Darcy hoped her presence could remind Alki of that.  That she was safe at home, and with someone who loved her...  Something Alki never needed to be afraid of losing.

And Alki did seem to cheer up, smiling and eagerly asking about their plans for today, her hands steadily trembling less and less.  Darcy smiled wider and gave the Igglybuff a nod, her tail wrapping around Alki a little more snugly.  "Well..." the Skitty began, excitement creeping into her voice as she wondered what to say, how she could describe her home and her family in just words...  "They really are nice.  I think you'll get along well.  And they'll all be excited to meet you.  I know that for sure."

She snuggled deeper into Alki's bed and gave the Igglybuff a sheepish glance.  "We live...  I mean, they live far away from town.  So having a visitor like you is always a special occasion.  And my mom and dad will want to meet you because you're my teammate.  They...  Ask me a lot of questions about the guild whenever I visit..." she said.

She paused for a moment, looking at the ground and feeling just a little guilty.  "Um, they all mean well.  But if it ever gets to be too much for you, just tug on my fur, alright?  I'll take you somewhere more private.  I used to share my bedroom with Hazel, but since she lives in Rainfront Town now, we'll have it all to ourselves.  I just hope my mom and dad won't...  Get carried away..."

She stared at the ground and flattened her ears.  But while something seemed to be bothering her, the palpable excitement in her voice didn't die down as she continued talking.  "Our house isn't too big, but it's nice.  And the yard and the forests are all so pretty.  Ohhhh, Alki, I have so, so many things I want to show you..." she said.  She squeezed her eyes shut and couldn't help but purr, her heart fluttering once again...  "This...  T-this means more to me than you might think.  I'm really, really happy that you're coming with me.  Are you ready to go now?  Or is there anything you need to do first?  It'll be a long walk, so...  Nothing you need to do is too small."

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PostSubject: Re: A twilit morning   Thu Aug 10, 2017 6:14 am

As Alki was hugged by Darcy, the Skitty’s body wrapping around her own, the death-grip on her blanket began to loosen. Caught between Darcy’s soft, fluffy tail on one end, and being nuzzled by her cheek on the other made her feel like the problems she faced weren’t so significant. Still, the threat of Darcy… hating her, or leaving her, or being ashamed of her, hung over her like a dark storm, and try as she might, she couldn’t shoo it away from her mind completely. Instead, the Igglybuff chose to grab onto Darcy’s tail, taking great care not to pull on it like she had on her first guild mission. She hugged it like a pillow, taking great, deep breaths, to calm herself down. “Ok… I’m better now. It was just… just a really bad dream.”

   True to her word, Alki released Darcy’s tail, and instead made herself sparse on her bed, as Darcy began to climb in as well. “T-That’s… that’s good. They’ll like me.” She said, that fear crumbling away much easier than her bigger ones. As much as she wanted to know about Darcy’s family, she had a feeling that Darcy wouldn’t be saying much more. Perhaps it was to preserve a sense of surprise? Either way, Alki didn’t much like surprises, but this one was sure to have a very good reward for waiting. “Sure! We can go soon, but… I mean, what about breakfast?” She asked, a tinge of nervousness present in her voice at the thought of leaving without eating first. “I-It’s just… well, travelling for four hours sounds… a bit tiring, is all.” She said, rising out of her bed and picking up her pillow. Underneath, there lay a ribbon, one that Alki had recently found, and one that she was certainly proud of. She had read that it had special properties, and she was certainly eager to show it off to her sister. She picked it up and held it up, her face glowing with pride.

“I found this the other day! It was really just a stroke of luck, but… I think it looks pretty. What do you think?” She asked, holding up the joy ribbon a few seconds more before placing it on her head. She adjusted it nervously, before flashing a shy grin at Darcy.

    Another item she'd recently come into possession of was also of interest to her: a Soothe Bell. She'd heard it was a rather precious item; it was certainly pleasant to have around. It lived up to it's name, some sort of… sensation that emanated from it did a good job of de-stressing Pokemon, Alki included. She'd also heard it was a rather precious item for her species specifically, and Alki had a few questions to ask Darcy on the subject. But it could wait. For now, more than anything, Alki felt hungry.

    “It looks good on me, right? The joy ribbon?” She said, adjusting it yet again. She stared at the currently closed door. She still hadn't gotten used to the sheer number of Pokemon in the guild, and even if she felt a bit of shame about it, she would still much prefer Darcy to lead her to the mess Hall where they ate than to go there herself. “And… can we go eat breakfast now?” She said, as she turned to face Darcy with an embarrassed look in her eyes.
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PostSubject: Re: A twilit morning   Fri Aug 11, 2017 6:20 pm

Darcy couldn't help but smile with relief as she watched Alki relax and return to her usual self, releasing the Skitty's tail, and steadily taking deep breaths until the dream that had been bothering her seemed like nothing but a distant memory.  She even seemed to be calm about meeting so many new Pokemon today, Pokemon that would no doubt want to shower her with attention.  Darcy sighed contentedly.  She was glad that Alki was okay with all of this...

...Although...  Now that Alki mentioned it, eating breakfast had completely slipped Darcy's mind.  She was hungry too, but being so excited had made her forget.  She laughed softly and couldn't help but grin.  "Yeah.  We should eat breakfast first," she said.  "Thanks for reminding me.  I would probably have passed out halfway to our house otherwise."

Alki stirred, and Darcy swept her tail aside to give her some more space.  She seemed to be rummaging around beneath her pillow...  Revealing a ribbon, sparkling and elegant as the little Igglybuff held it up, her eyes glowing with pride.  A shocked and fascinated expression came over Darcy's face.  She didn't know where Alki had found such a thing, but she could tell right away that there was something special about it...

"A joy ribbon..?" Darcy said breathlessly as Alki explained what it was and shyly put it on.  Joy ribbons...  She had heard about those before, no doubt...  "A-Alki, that's the kind of thing that the older guild members wear!" she said, her eyes sparkling and her entire body perking up.  "I've read about them before!  They're supposed to help you learn faster, if everything I've heard is true..."

She stared a moment longer, awestruck that Alki had found such a thing.  But eventually, her surprise was replaced with a wave of excitement and pride.  Perhaps it would help soothe Alki's nerves about working at the guild?  And maybe, if the rumors were true, it would help bring out the potential Darcy knew her best friend held inside of her...  "Take good care of it, Alki.  With how much you've grown lately, I don't think anyone deserves it more than you," she said, giggling and giving her sister a resolute nod.  "...Plus it looks nice on you.  You wear ribbons very well.  If you ever need help putting it on or taking it off, just let me know, alright?"

...But despite wearing such a rare artifact, Alki still didn't seem quite confident enough to lead the way to the mess hall.  That was okay though.  Darcy gave her an understanding nod, then rose to her feet and hopped out of Alki's bed.  She put on her bag, and took a moment to wrap her favorite blue scarf around her neck, the grey badge pinned to it gleaming brightly...  But she paused before opening the door, casting a sheepish glance back to Alki.

"Umm...  I think we're awake before any of the guild's staff, though..." she said.  "So there will be no one to get breakfast ready for us like usual.  And...  Umm...  I don't think they like it when Pokemon sneak into the kitchens and take food without asking first."

She looked down at the ground and fidgeted with her paws.  "I think they don't want anyone to take more than their fair share.  We won't be doing anything wrong, I think, since we won't be eating breakfast with everyone else later...  But maybe we should be quiet?  I-I don't want us to be stuck with more chores today or anything."

She looked up again and gave a shy laugh.  "You're always a little quiet, though, so I'm probably the only one who needs to worry.  I'm sure you'd be good at sneaking.  I'll try not to get us into trouble."

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PostSubject: Re: A twilit morning   Sat Aug 12, 2017 5:10 am

Alki grinned, the praise from Darcy petrifying her. She was sure there were plenty of Pokemon who deserved it just as much, if not more than her. The guild was full of good Pokemon, like Darcy, like her, Pokemon who could certainly make use of a ribbon like this. But that knowledge didn't sour the moment one bit for her. “I will, I'll take really good care of it Darcy… thank you!” She said, as she adjusted and readjusted the ribbon on top of her head. According to Darcy, she even wore it well. That was a relief to hear.

    And as Darcy began to speak about the guild staff, or lack thereof, she began to laugh. Darcy was asking her to steal! Even if she dressed it up as something else, and given the recent events in Alki's life, she found this coincidence hilarious. Even if she couldn't exactly tell Darcy why it was so funny, she gazed at Darcy, perhaps a bit melancholic, before smiling. “I’ve never thought of it that way…” She said, smiling. Considering what she planned to do soon, Darcy's… approval of her silence meant more than the Skitty could ever know.

    “Let's do it, then!” She whispered, her small, quiet voice filled with mischief. Perhaps this was the closest she'd ever get to showing Darcy what she'd be a part of. She planned to enjoy every second of it, and the potential for extra food on the side was too good to pass up. “We should be fine, as long as we don't make a habit of it.” She said, giggling at the joke only she could understand. She was just happy she got to be doing this with Darcy, at least once.

    With a newfound excitement, at both the prospect of food and excitement, Alki led the way, skittish and nervous at first, but her demeanor became bolder and bolder as she realized that there was nobody currently awake. She saw one Pokemon, nocturnal, who. she imagined was going to sleep, considering the early hours. She gave him a wide berth, and then there was no one. Although that was sure to change, soon enough, what with the night dying and the day coming. She looked at Darcy eagerly, as they arrived at the pantry. It was unguarded, the door unlocked. Alki imagined the guild had lacked trouble like this before. From mischievous Pokemon like them. She was sure there hadn't been any trouble of the sort since she'd arrived. But those sorts of things always came to an end, didn't they?

   She looked up at her sister, and then down the hall, the way they'd come. There still wasn't anyone awake, and that meant there was much less risk of being caught. Even so, Alki didn't want to risk anything at all, it was just a bit of food, and then they'd be going off to see Darcy's parents. But getting caught would be… they'd be off to do chores for the guild, or at worst they'd be off to see Faye, and under much less pleasant circumstances than the first time. She didn't want to allow that to happen, especially since the stakes and consequences would be much worse, going forward. “Hey, Darcy, keep watch, and gimme your bag, please. I'll get us some food and then we can eat it on our way, when… well, when we're a bit further away from the guild.” Alki looked up at the food, and then her mostly empty bag. She could busy herself filling her own up first, right? “Erm… I hope it's ok if I fill up my own, first…” She mumbled quietly, as she shuffled off to do exactly that.

    First, she started with the more normal food, berries and fruits. As hungry as she was, she couldn't help but indulge herself a bit as she worked. But after a few minutes of looking at which berries looked good, the absolute culinary freedom hit her. And there was one thing she knew she always wanted more of: cookies! First, she took a few of her own, and a few of Darcy's, but if only their own was missing then that would be a bit suspicious, wasn't it? Alki scanned all the different plates of cookies, set aside for all the guild members. She searched for whoever had the most cookies, someone who wouldn't miss it if a few extras were gone. Before long, one name stood out to her: Skylar. The name wasn't familiar at all to Darcy, which certainly made this action easier. But there were also more cookies than usual, a cursory glance showed that she, for whatever reason, got more than everyone else. Alki didn't feel like that was exactly fair… she glanced out towards Darcy, making sure she wasn't looking, before swiping Skylar's extra cookies, and the platters of cookies seemed a lot more equal. Alki smiled, satisfied with this result, as she went to grab Darcy's bag to repeat the process.
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PostSubject: Re: A twilit morning   Tue Aug 15, 2017 1:35 am

Alki's response caught Darcy by surprise.  She had expected the Igglybuff to by uncomfortable with the situation, perhaps afraid of being caught...  But that didn't seem to be the case at all.  Darcy blinked as her sister flashed a strange, bittersweet smile before giving her assent and perking up again, eagerly bouncing towards the door and leading the way.  The Skitty silently followed alongside her.  She was glad to see Alki in such a good mood...  But she couldn't help but feel that she was missing something, that she had touched on something she didn't know about Alki.  Maybe this felt like a game to her?  It would make sense.  Perhaps she would like to play hide-and-seek together in the future?

But in any case, this was a little more serious than a game.  This would be an awful day for them to get in trouble...  The Skitty stuck close to Alki and did her best to keep her footfalls silent, none too eager to compromise the trip they had planned for the day.  But as nervous as she was, the halls were dark and quiet.  They walked towards the stairs, passing closed door after closed door, each no doubt housing another exploration team, still fast asleep...  They did pass by one Pokemon, perhaps a nocturnal one going to bed, but he seemed to pay the two of them no mind. By the time they reached the lobby, Darcy's fears had subsided almost entirely.

Eventually, they reached the mess hall, and the pantries in the back.  ...There was an impressive amount of food there, enough to feed the entire guild for days, if not weeks...  But Alki drew Darcy's attention away from it, getting right to work and asking for her bag.  "O-oh.  Okay," Darcy said, nodding and handing it over.  Her bag was bigger than Alki's, and she hoped that the little Igglybuff wouldn't have a hard time filling it up by herself.  But they needed someone to keep watch, right?  And besides, she would have a difficult time helping, not having proper hands like Alki did...

"Umm...  So...  Just stay here, and make sure no one is coming..?" Darcy asked, stepping back into the mess hall and sitting down.  She scanned the room and the hallway beyond it, her tail twitching every now and then.  It was dark and empty, and the guild seemed as quiet as ever...

...A minute or two passed, and still she was greeted with nothing but silence.  It didn't take long for her to feel restless, and perhaps a little guilty, leaving all of the packing to Alki.  ...Maybe there was a better way she could help?  She turned back around, just in time to see Alki finish her bag and start working on Darcy's.  It was even darker inside of the pantry, though, out of sight of the mess hall's windows.  Surely it made Alki's work difficult.  But that was something Darcy knew she could help with!  She sat down beside the Igglybuff, then closed her eyes, focusing her mind.  Her excitement about showing Alki one of her new moves made it difficult to concentrate at first, but before long, the Skitty felt the telltale sensation of warmth flow through her whole body as she prepared to perform Flash...

Focusing that warmth to the best of her ability, the Skitty's tail twitched, and the tufts of fur at the tip began glowing with warm, ethereal light, like three tiny candles.  She took deep breaths as she opened her eyes and gave Alki an expectant smile, focusing on keeping the light gentle and subtle, not blindingly bright like she knew it could be.  "Ummm...  I learned this move a while ago.  I know it's nothing special, but, well...  Maybe you can see better now?"

She swept her tail in front of her, letting it illuminate the pantry, casting shadows as it filled the room with a warm glow.  "I, uhh, learned it from a TM, like how you learned Flamethrower," she said, flattening her ears shyly and hoping Alki would be at least a little impressed.  It was something she had been so proud at first, and so excited to show Alki, but after seeing the Igglybuff's Flamethrower...  Well, it felt a little childish...  "We'll be able to read together even after sunset now.  And, ummm, if you ever need to go anywhere at night, you can bring me with you.  This move is how I got through Cattail marsh before all of the Volbeat showed up," she said while she watched the Igglybuff work, embarrassed, but glad to finally have a chance to show this to her little sister...

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PostSubject: Re: A twilit morning   Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:49 pm

Alki froze, as the Skitty walked to her side. Had Darcy seen her take the cookies? She could return them, as long as it meant Darcy wouldn’t reproach her, get mad at her or scold her. Alki reached into her bag to do exactly that, but as the Skitty sat down next to her, without a word, she had a feeling that Darcy wasn’t there to scold her. Alki shot a sideways glance in her direction, and she saw the Skitty with her eyes closed in concentration, her body ever so slightly tensed up. What was she doing? Perhaps a new move? Her suspicions proved correct, as the Skitty began to light up the room with her tail , of all things. The little spheres on the end of her tail began to glow, like candles, little flames that lit up the room for her.

It made her job a lot easier, but Alki didn’t return to work right away. She gazed at the Skitty’s tail-ends, entranced by the soft, warm glow they gave off. “It’s… it’s great, Darcy.” She mumbled, as she touched one little, glowing ball. It felt warm, too. Alki slowly turned away, before getting back to work. She packed the last few food-stuffs, before closing both of their bags, and returning one to Darcy. “H-Here, I’ve… I think I went and got enough, plus a little extra, y’know… j-just in case.” She said, holding her own bag tightly. Alki spoke in a hushed, excited voice. “That new move, you learned, Darcy… It’s really cool. I like it...” The Igglybuff bounced towards the door, not stepping out into the hallway quite yet. It’d be rather bad for both of them if they were caught leaving the pantry with a bag full of food. Alki waited, listening for foot-falls or noise from any Pokemon that might be up by then. Once satisfied they were safe, she bounded out into the hallway, her eyes confirming what her hearing had led her to believe: the guild halls were still empty. Alki smiled. They were safe, and they wouldn’t be caught. Not anymore. Alki began to bounce away from the pantry, towards the exit. The lack of people was really something else. Maybe she should get up earlier, just to savor this? The emptiness was a very welcome change…

“So… are… are we off, then?” Alki asked, smiling at the Skitty. That had been fun. There hadn’t been any trouble at all, and even though that probably wouldn’t be the case in her future endeavors… doing it with Darcy was something that she might never get to do again. They were sisters. Alki hoped she wouldn’t ever lose that. Maybe they’d never work in this way together, again. But the guild would always be there for her. Right? A room, and a bed… “Oh! Right… there’s one other thing I need to show you. Can we go up to our room, and then… then I’ll show ya. I think you might like it...” Alki said, as she begun to bounce towards their room.

The Soothe Bell would certainly be of interest to Darcy, wouldn’t it? She evolved with it! She’d learned that much, while reading. She’d learned a lot of things, and even if she didn’t have the skills to be as competent, she at least had the fundamental knowledge every guild member was supposed to have, by now. And competence came with time, and practice, right? She’d been there a couple months, and she’d never even left her home for most of her life. Her incompetence wouldn’t last forever, right? With guild missions and looking after herself. She was already making progress, she had flamethrower to prove it. She’d learn, one way or another. Maybe they should take another mission? That might be a good idea, she still wanted to be a guild-member, after all, and it’d be nice, to not be an apprentice anymore.

As she came to the door, Alki grinned at the thought of what Darcy’s reaction might be. Alki moved towards a small box, she’d kept by her bed for a while now. Alki picked up the box containing the soothe bell, and bounced towards Darcy, holding it proudly in her hands. She offered it up to the Skitty, eager to see what she’d think of it. “O-One more surprise, for you, I got it at a shop in town recently, I think… I think it’s something that’s really useful for me. Go on! Check it out!” She said, pushing the box towards Darcy. Alki was sure the Skitty would be impressed, and Alki wanted to show her before packing her bag. Alki could hardly wait three or four hours till they got to Darcy’s parent’s house.
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PostSubject: Re: A twilit morning   Sat Aug 19, 2017 7:34 pm

Darcy smiled as she accepted her bag, wagging her tail while she put it on.  Alki thought that her new move was cool too!  It had been one of the cheapest TMs she could find for sale in town, one of the very few she thought she could spare the money for...  But learning a new move at all felt like an accomplishment, perhaps something that would bring her a little closer to being a good team leader.  Maybe someday, she would be able to use moves like Flamethrower...  But for now, she was just glad that Alki shared her excitement about her smaller accomplishments.  Simply earning money for this TM by working at the guild made her feel a little more confident.  Truthfully, she wasn't sure that she'd ever even be able to manage that...

As they left the mess hall, Darcy let the light in her tail fade and nodded in response to Alki's question.  Now that their packing was done, they were all ready to go...  But just as Darcy was about to lead the way outside, her sister remembered one last thing she needed to do.  "Alright.  Like I said, nothing's too small..." the Skitty said, giggling a little and following Alki back downstairs towards their room.  What could be on her mind?

They returned to their bedroom, Darcy shutting the door behind them as Alki excitedly bounced over to her belongings.  It didn't take long for the Igglybuff to find what she was looking for, a tiny box, which she placed right in front of her teammate.  Darcy grinned at her sister's explanation--whatever this was, it must have been what Alki had spent her own share of money on.  "Well, let's see what it is..." Darcy said with a giggle as she settled prone on the ground and carefully nudged the box open with her nose...

Cradled within the box was...  A small, silver bell, with a ribbon tied in a loop near the top.  It was elegant, and finely detailed, the kind of thing that you would expect to see owned by only wealthy Pokemon...  Darcy stared at it curiously, fascinated by its beauty, but also wondering about any effects it might hold.  It would be useful, Alki had said...

Carefully but excitedly, Darcy picked the bell up by its ribbon using her mouth, and gave it a few little shakes.  And as beautiful as the bell was, the soft, reassuring chimes that it filled the room with were even more captivating, like they were permeating straight through the Skitty's body and into her soul, filling it with a serene sense of tranquility.

Giggling again, Darcy carefully placed it back into its box.  Alki was right--this wasn't a normal bell.  "It's really, really beautiful, Alki..." she said as she nosed the box shut and nudged it back towards her little sister.  "Umm...  Is it supposed to calm Pokemon down?  Maybe we should hang it above our door so it will ring whenever we come home or leave.  Or...  Is there more to it than just that..?"

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PostSubject: Re: A twilit morning   Sun Aug 27, 2017 4:35 pm

The Igglybuff closed her eyes as the soft, gentle chimes of the bell rang around their room. She felt her muscles relax, and her mind calming down and focusing only on the tranquil noise the bell gave off. She closed her eyes. Alki inched towards the bell, eagerly gazing at it, before Darcy asked what it did. Hang it up on their door? Alki shook her head vigorously, looking up at Darcy shyly. She didn’t want to come off as mean! She cleared her throat and objected in a small, nervous voice.

“Well… Well, you know how I’ve been reading the guild’s books a lot recently? I… I read about this thingy… it’s called a soothe bell. And I think it helps me evolve!” She said. Her eyes widened as she said the last sentence, and her voice trembled in eagerness. “I want to keep it with me until I evolve. I’d be a better team-member if I did, and I wouldn’t be a baby-pokemon anymore. So… I’d like to have that happen sooner rather than later, you know?” She said. That much was true, ever since she’d obtained the soothe bell and learned about what it meant for her, she’d been looking forward to evolution. She’d be a better match for her biological sister, too, she wouldn’t be a weakling anymore, and perhaps that’d mean she’d turn into a bit  less of a coward, too.

“But, that’s about all I wanted to show you. I’m gonna take it along with me, and… I don’t know. It’ll happen sooner if I’m around it more, I think.” She said, as she placed the box into her bag, in a separate, smaller pouch than where all of her food was. She didn’t have anything else to do, now that she’d shown everything she had to Darcy. And the Skitty had reacted so positively! But now that there was nothing left to show, it was time for them to begin their trek towards Darcy’s house. “Unless there’s anything you’d like to do, I suppose I’m ready, Darcy. Anything you want to do, though? Like you said, nothing too small.”

Alki looked up at the Skitty with fondness. Even just a couple months ago, Alki could hardly speak without stuttering like she had a speech problem. Now, she… she certainly wasn’t perfect, still far from it, but she’d made so much progress, too! That wasn’t because of her, it was because of this amazing Pokemon she’d had the amazing luck of knowing. “Thank you, by the way, Darcy.” She said, rubbing her eyes as a sudden wave of emotion hit her. Alki wondered for just a second what the Skitty would say, if she just told her everything. About Synd’r and about the things she was going to do. But she knew exactly what would happen: The skitty would either get mad at her, at the very least she’d be very disappointed in her, and Darcy would see Alki in a completely different, darker light. Her first, and perhaps best friend would be lost to her. So she said nothing, and looked up at Darcy keeping the smile on her face even if she didn’t exactly feel like grinning anymore. “L-Like I said, I’m ready.”
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PostSubject: Re: A twilit morning   Fri Sep 01, 2017 6:45 am

Alki shook her head, giving the Skitty a shy glance.  She didn't want to hang it above their door, then... So perhaps there was more to this bell than just being able to calm Pokemon down.  It made Darcy grow more excited, her tail swishing back and forth as Alki opened her mouth to explain herself...

But the Skitty's body locked in place the moment Alki said a certain word.  "Evolve".

Suddenly Darcy had a hard time thinking straight.  She barely heard the rest of her sister's explanation as a rush of confusing emotions welled up inside of her with the strength of a pounding waterfall.  This little bell...  Alki must have viewed it the way Darcy had always viewed Moonstones.  A rare, elusive item, almost legendary to a Skitty like herself.  A vague promise that somehow, maybe, she was more than just a pink ball of fur, the kind of Pokemon that might only ever be able to help the guild or her family in the smallest and simplest of ways.  It was the kind of thing she dreamed about.  The kind of thing she dared not get her hopes up for.

And now...  Here was Alki's Moonstone, right in front of them.

Darcy stared wordlessly as the Igglybuff gathered up her belongings and said that she was ready to go.  But the Skitty barely heard any of it.  Her breathing grew shallow, and it took effort to keep her body from shaking.  Unbidden, tears crept into her eyes as she regarded the little Pokemon in front of her.  The one who had come to mean the world to her.

"I-I..." she said before sniffing and turning around, surprised by how tremulous her voice was.  This wasn't the time to get choked up and emotional!  Alki was ready to go, right?  She needed someone who would be supportive and give her a big smile.  Not someone who would get gooey and sentimental at the mere thought of anything changing...

"I'm sorry," she said as she stared at the wall and made herself take deep breaths.  "You're going to evolve soon, huh?  That's great.  You'll be a Jigglypuff.  Y-you won't be so small anymore.  A-and, um...  A-and..."

She opened her mouth, trying to find something encouraging to say, but just couldn't do it.  No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't stop herself from turning around and throwing her forepaws around the Igglybuff in a half-hug, half tackle.  "Y-you're gonna do great things, Alki," Darcy said, blinking tears out of her eyes and smiling wider than she had all morning as she squeezed her sister tight against her cheek.  "You've come so far, and you've been so, so brave.  I know you were scared when you joined the guild.  And I-I know it's been hard sometimes.  But I don't think I could ever in a million years feel more proud of you and everything you've done."

She hugged Alki tighter.  "Y-you deserve this.  More than anyone.  I'm really, really happy for you."

She held Alki there for a long moment.  She wanted to never let go.  But as she realized just how tightly she was squeezing her best friend, she blushed and forced herself to pull away, settling onto her haunches and smiling at the ground.

"I'm sorry.  I-I'm a big softy, aren't I," she said, swishing her tail back and forth shyly.  "I just love you, Alki.  You're my best friend in the whole world.  A-and when I think about you getting an opportunity like this, well..."  She looked up again, smiling and blinking more tears out of her eyes.  "It makes me so, so happy."

The Skitty stepped forward and settled prone on the ground, nuzzling her cheek against Alki, breathing deeply and finally getting a handle on her tears.  "...Sorry for being weird.  I'm ready to go now too, alright?  I really can't wait to show you the place I grew up at. I've wanted to bring you there for a long time."

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PostSubject: Re: A twilit morning   Sun Sep 10, 2017 8:49 pm

Alki watched the Skitty. Darcy began to grow pale and her mouth opened ever so slightly. She was on edge, nervous, or perhaps shocked? She… she was crying. Had it been something she'd said? Maybe Darcy wanted her to stay an Igglybuff. She'd do that if Darcy wanted her to, there was no question about it. Alki opened her mouth to tell her sister this, but was cut short by a sudden wave of emotional words from her big sister. The Skitty was taking deep breaths, trying to keep herself from shaking and sobbing, she supposed.

She was trying to encourage her. Alki's smile transformed from a forced one into a genuine one. She was happy for her! She didn't want her to stay the way she was. That wasn't what was going on, and Alki breathed a sigh of relief upon realizing this.

She would be a Jigglypuff! She certainly wouldn't be so small anymore, she'd be grown up and taller and wouldn't have to bounce everywhere anymore and --

Alki's thoughts were cut short as she found herself smothered by the Skitty. She stumbled backwards, taken aback at the sudden tackle. It was a hug! A very emotional, sudden hug. Alki returned it, grinning as she felt tears coming into her eyes. She hadn't even evolved yet! Arceus, she was every bit as emotional as the Skitty, but as they hugged in the room they'd shared since forever, hugged like it was the last time they'd see each other, Alki didn't care.

Alki let her sister speak. She didn't want to interrupt this. Alki felt the Skitty's words of pride wash over her, and some of it soaked into her, through her thin coat of fur, and then her skin and bones and all the way to her heart. She couldn't help but feel proud of herself too. There were certainly Pokemon who deserved it just as much as her, if not more. But she wanted to let herself believe she deserved it too. It was a nice feeling. She felt good about herself, hearing Darcy praise her.

“Thank you, Darcy… I… it means a lot to me. But there are a lot of Pokemon who deserve it too. You, for instance.” She said, smiling as the Skitty stepped back. She couldn't help but feel a tad relieved. She'd never been held so tightly like that. It was a strange combination of physically unpleasant, but emotionally blissful.

Alki froze when she heard the Skitty say she loved her. It wasn't the first time. With a bit of luck, it wouldn't be the last either, she knew Darcy was open like that. But it always made her feel a bit shy about herself. She was loved. Darcy didn't care she'd done nothing to deserve it, nothing to deserve being her best friend. Darcy loved her all the same.

“I… it's ok, Darcy, you're not a softie, or anything like that.” Alki mumbled, slightly embarrassed. “It's… you're the best Pokemon I could've ever asked to meet. I'm really thankful we met, Darcy, and I'm really lucky you like me.” Alki’s foot kicked at the wooden ground, abashed and perhaps even a bit ashamed. It didn’t feel right, acting so nice and sweet like everything was normal, when she was going to act as an outlaw! Alki looked up at the Skitty, nervous.

“This… this is one of those things that’ll stay the same, right?” She said, tears still wet in her eyes, both from joy and from fear. “You’ll… Y-You’ll always like me, right? I… I don’t know. It’s a… It’s a stupid question, but… I don’t know.” Alki said, feeling afraid as she waited for an answer. If she was going to be a thief, that’d certainly deal quite a blow to their relationship, assuming she found out. The Igglybuff didn’t exactly have faith in her abilities as a thief either. She couldn’t avoid being found out eternally. It’d require a miracle! Arceus probably wasn’t the sort of legendary to be inclined to help outlaws, anyways. “Y-You promise you’ll always, erm, l-like me?” She mumbled, as she looked up at her sister.
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PostSubject: Re: A twilit morning   Mon Sep 11, 2017 11:21 pm

The way Alki reflected Darcy's praise right back at her made the Skitty glow, unable to stop smiling as a warm feeling of contentment welled up in her belly.  She knew she should give Alki some space, but she sat beside the Igglybuff and gave her another hug anyway, trying to be more gentle this time.  "...Thanks, Alki.  I'm really, really happy that we met, too," she murmured.  "It's the best thing that's ever happened to me."

She let go, and settled prone on the ground, sighing happily as she regarded her sister, and her closest friend.  There were tears in Alki's eyes.  But there were tears in the Skitty's own eyes as well.  She had gotten carried away again, making a big deal out of things, but...  The Igglybuff didn't seem to mind too much.  She was kind and patient enough to put up with moments like this.  ...Something Darcy appreciated from the depths of her heart.  Alki was a wonderful Pokemon.

But then the little pink Pokemon looked up into her sister's eyes, her voice quiet and trembling as she asked Darcy a strange question.  Would they always be friends?  "...Of course I will, Alki," the Skitty murmured, blinking with surprise.  "For as long as I'm alive.  You're my sister, and...  No matter what happens, or what you do, I'll always be here for you.  I promise."

It seemed that Alki was still nervous sometimes, but...  That was okay.  The Skitty fell silent, putting a paw around Alki and giving the Igglybuff a gentle nuzzle with her cheek.  ...Still, this question had come out of nowhere...  Maybe it was nothing important, just some of Alki's lingering anxiety, but...  Maybe there was something more serious going on.  Something she needed help with.

"...Is everything okay?  Is there anything you want to talk about..?" Darcy murmured, a trace of concern leaking into her voice.  "I, umm...  I know you've been on your own a lot lately.  I'm proud that you've had the courage for it.  But...  Have things been going okay?  Have Pokemon been nice to you?  I-it's okay for you to have private time, but...  If anything ever bothers you...  You can always talk to me, alright..?"

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PostSubject: Re: A twilit morning   Sat Sep 16, 2017 2:48 am

The Skitty’s words inspired an immense feeling of comfort in the Igglybuff. She closed her eyes, allowing herself to absorb and enjoy the Skitty’s promise that they would always, always be sisters. She would always be there for her, no matter what. No matter what Alki might choose to do, no matter what mistakes she might make or decisions she might commit to, the Skitty would love her. The guild member smiled as she listened to this. Sure, she was soon to be a thief. She’d be a thief-in-training for quite a while, wouldn’t she? It would take a while to learn, to be truly good at it, great, even. There was a large gap between a novice like her and someone like Synd’r. But no matter how good she got, or how disapproving the Skitty might be, she’d still be her sister. Perhaps, even if she told Darcy one day, about why she did it, why she chose to be an outlaw, she’d understand. But all the while, no matter what, they’d be sisters. And that meant the world to Alki.

The small thief grabbed the Skitty’s paw tentatively, feeling the soft fur touch her own. She looked up into Darcy’s eyes and smiled, rubbing away her tears as she gazed at this amazing pokemon fondly. For as long as she lived, she’d love her. She changed her life, for the better, and even if she still remained a bit of a coward, a bit unsure, being around Darcy made her feel capable, smart, strong, and all those things that she knew she wasn’t. She asked one more question, carefully, almost protectively, as Darcy looked down at her.

“Is everything ok?” She repeated, giggling a bit. “It’s wonderful, Darcy, it’s just… y-you know me. I ask dumb questions sometimes. I’ve made plenty of friends, and… they’re all really nice, although in different ways. It’s… it’s good for me. It’s made me feel better, feel good, y’know? I appreciate the concern though, really, I do… you’re amazing too, Darcy. You put me up on a pedestal, but I don’t think you give yourself enough credit either.” She said, bouncing towards the Skitty as she spoke in her small, timid voice. She hugged the Skitty, trying to wrap her short, stubby arms around the kitten. She was far too small, but the warmth made her feel so safe and secure in herself. Like she was worth something, which, little by little, she’d started to believe. She felt herself tearing up again, but she sniffed and stopped herself, blinking rapidly. Evolved Pokemon didn’t cry. Especially not thieves, outlaws. That was what she’d be one day, right? An honest to Arceus thief.

The long, warm, sweet silence continued for seconds that felt like minutes. They felt like the sweetest minutes of her life. “You are getting a bit ahead of yourself, though.” She said, giggling as she finally released herself from the Skitty. “I-I’m still an unimpressive Igglybuff, after all. But who knows? Maybe soon.” She said, smiling broadly as she placed the box containing the soothe bell into her bag, and picked up her pack off of the ground. It had been so nice, these moments. She looked up at the Skitty, the earlier melancholy from her eyes completely erased by then, as she gazed at her with only warmth and admiration. She’d be a thief one day. But that wouldn’t matter. Not when it came to this. “I… I nabbed some extra food, by the way. Earlier. I hope that’s ok, I just thought… I don’t know. I really like cookies. They’re sugary. It’s nice...” She said, her eyes beginning to dull, slightly ashamed, but at the same time, proud at not being caught.She opened the door just a tad. “I… anything else you need? I’ve… I’m all ready to go, if you are!” She said, smiling as she placed one foot out the door, gazing at the Skitty eagerly. They’d be at her house soon! How amazing would that be?
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PostSubject: Re: A twilit morning   Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:05 am

Darcy gazed down at the little Igglybuff, still unable to banish the concern in her heart.  Alki really had been on her own a lot lately.  And on some days, she didn't seem to want to talk very much about where she had been, what she had been up to...  It was normal to want some privacy, of course.  That was something Darcy had to keep reminding herself of.  But still, the Skitty couldn't help but worry that perhaps she should have been keeping a closer eye on Alki, and that the Igglybuff's question had been a sign that she hadn't been doing well lately...

...So her words came as a relief.  The concern on Darcy's face melted into a warm smile as her sister said that she was fine, that she was making friends, that she had been feeling good lately...  The knowledge made Darcy feel good, too.  ...But most of all, what made her feel good were Alki's kind words, and the hug that came next.  Alki thought she was amazing?  That was silly, she was nothing special...  But between the warmth in the Igglybuff's words, and her sudden embrace, it was impossible not to believe it.  Somehow, for some reason, Alki felt the same way towards the childish, unremarkable Skitty as she had always felt towards Alki.  All Darcy had ever done was ask Alki to join her team, in part to keep the Igglybuff safe and give her somewhere to stay, but also in part simply to keep herself from being alone...  Alki was the one who had made the past few weeks among the best of the Skitty's life.  The one who had kept her company almost every night since, the one who had given her someone to keep her chin up for when she was feeling discouraged, the one who had made her room at the guild feel like a real home...

And all the same, Alki thought that she was amazing.  Darcy let out an exasperated little laugh and squeezed her eyes shut as she hugged her sister back.  "Thanks, Alki.  That...  You know, that means a lot..." she said.  "...I-I'm really glad you like having me around."  She fell silent too, allowing Alki's words to wash over her like afternoon sunshine.  She had never met a better Pokemon.  She sighed and pulled Alki closer, gratitude filling her heart and making her feel warm from the inside out...

But of course, nothing could last forever.  Eventually Alki pulled away, and Darcy let her, smiling and blinking her eyes open.  "You're right.  I guess you still have a little more time as an Igglybuff, huh..." she said with a small giggle, standing up and plodding over to her own side of the room, slinging her bag around her shoulder and putting on her favorite scarf.  She didn't know how long it would take for Alki's soothe bell to work, but...  She wanted her sister's last days or weeks as an Igglybuff to be the best ones she could imagine.  And that meant making this trip a good one!

...Alki seemed determined to have a good time too, admitting to having taken some extra food earlier.  "Well...  I guess it's fine, just this once...  But promise you won't make a habit of it, okay?" Darcy said, shaking her head and giggling some more.  They really shouldn't have taken any more than their usual share...  That was against the rules!  Faye would be mad if she found out...

...But this was a special occasion, and, well...  One of their last trips together before Alki's evolution seemed like it warranted some celebration.  If Alki came back as a Jigglypuff, Faye would surely understand.  Darcy stepped towards the door too, giving Alki a smile and a resolute nod.  "I'm ready too!  It's a long walk, so we'd better get going..." she said as she stepped outside, ready to lead the way to her childhood home...

To be continued here!:
 

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