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Chapter 22 - Tensions Rising

Roxy sat on a low branch in a tree in the middle of the village, twiddling her paws anxiously.

She could hear yelling.

Well, perhaps it couldn't really be called yelling as much as 'heated discussion', but nonetheless she could hear it despite how far she was from the wise ones' mound. She could hear them quite well. Even though she couldn't hear their words, it wasn't hard to imagine what words they were saying.

The wise ones weren't happy.

Roxy sighed, feeling a cool breeze pass over her. She was pretty down in the dumps. She was the one who had accidentally let it slip that she and Taka were going to leave, and yet Taka was the one they kept yelling at. No-one had said a single cross word to her. It made her feel guilty.

Taka, on the other paw, wasn't speaking a single word to her at all. Whenever they crossed paths, he would ignore her questions and just give her a disapproving glare. He was obviously upset with her, but it was so much worse because he didn't say anything. His anger seemed loudest when expressed in silence.

This was bound to happen sooner or later, after all. Roxy knew that they weren't going to just sneak out of the village randomly one day without telling anybody. The truth would have come out eventually, but Roxy had said it too early. She didn't pretend to understand the reasons Taka had for holding off on the reveal, but she had still dropped the ball.

Roxy closed her eyes and leaned against the tree's trunk, feeling low. This wasn't how it was supposed to go. Going home was supposed to be a moment of happiness and triumph. Instead, it seemed like the whole village was ticked off.

Karizu said something angrily in the distance. Natoka half-yelled something. It was usually Natoka that she could hear.

Roxy remembered this TV show her master used to watch about young human girls in school. In a few episodes, they had been sent to the principal's office to get yelled at for doing something wrong. Roxy felt like she was waiting outside the village's own principal's office, and yet she was never called in.

No-one was really talking to her, but then no-one was really being standoffish to her either. It seemed like the village as a whole didn't know how to feel about her leaving. Taka, however, she could tell that no-one wanted him to leave.

She had been listening to the wise ones argue with Taka for more than an hour at this point. That is, if it could even be called arguing. Roxy hadn't heard a word from Taka, though perhaps he was just speaking low enough that his voice didn't carry. Either way, she hadn't heard him shout.

Roxy let out a hollow sigh, wishing she could cheer herself up. A part of her wanted to go over and listen to what the wise ones and Taka were talking about, but instead she just continued to sit there and ruminate. She began to worry what would happen if Taka was prevented from leaving. Would someone else be able to get her out of the forest?

She was starting to feel run down. It just seemed like setback after setback, almost as if the universe wanted to keep her there in the village for some reason. Roxy had lost track of how long she'd been lost in the forest, but she knew two whole seasons had passed. She dismally wondered if she would still be in the forest by the time it saw snow once more.

Her ears perked up as the voices began to grow louder. Was the arguing getting even worse? As she turned her head around to look behind her, she saw that wasn't the case. The voices were simply drawing closer to her.

Taka was marching along through the trees, looking straight ahead with a stoic, almost neutral look on his face. Roxy couldn't tell if he was irritated beyond belief and simply keeping his feelings bottled up inside, or just simply bored.

Following behind him were Karizu and Natoka, both of them saying things in rather heated tones. "You know you have responsibilities," Natoka practically shouted, "You can ignore us, but you cannot ignore them this time!"

Roxy gasped quietly to herself. Had Taka just up and walked away in the middle of an argument?

"Taka, be sensible," Karizu spoke. His voice was not quite as heated as his companion's. "There is a reason we forbade you to leave last time, and the reason has not changed. Your decision to abandon us last time does not paint you favourably either…"

Her eyes then opened wider as she remembered what she had been told about Taka's last journey. She had forgotten that Taka had just left in the middle of the night, not even saying goodbye to his own brother.

"You do realize that this is not a time to be letting our guard down?" Natoka barked.

"Our tribe has seen victory recently, yes, but victory and security never last forever."

Still, Taka simply continued to walk without saying anything. He wasn't even walking very quickly, but it was as if the two Raichu behind him didn't exist.

Natoka threw up his paws in exasperation and let out a huff of frustration. "Very well," he spat, "Go home. Do not bother giving us any respect, despite how much respect has always been given to you. The patrol members will not let you leave, in any case." The Raichu then turned and stormed off.

Karizu remained behind, still trailing Taka. "This would be a lot easier if you were more open to discussion," he commented, "Our decision would likely not change, but perhaps a compromise could be reached?"

Roxy didn't hear any more as the two moved out of her range of hearing. She was frowning even more now having witnessed that exchange. Taka was pretty much being a jerk to the two wise ones, but at the same time, it was his position that she sided with. She wanted to go home, but not if it meant breaking everybody's trust and abandoning them. She cared for the Pokémon in this village.

Then, both her eyes and her mind began to drift. She thought about how much she did care about the Thunder Clan. She had gotten to know so many of them very closely, and most of the village she would happily call her friends. She had become best friends with Miri, as well as great friends with the likes of Bamaka, Adi and his family, Roma'a and many more.

It hadn't really occurred to her until now. When she finally achieved her goal and escaped from the forest, she would be leaving them all behind. Once she made it home, she would probably never see anyone from the Thunder Clan ever again.

The thought left a bittersweet taste in her mouth.

She sat up there for a while more, though nothing else of interest happened. When she finally started to get restless, she climbed down from the tree and took a slow walk around the village.

What was to be done now? What was the next step? As she thought about it, she realized that one thing hadn't changed. She still had an unmet goal that was preventing her from leaving, even if the wise ones said it was okay. She still needed to teach someone Grass Knot.

Roxy kicked a pebble and watched it bounce away. The teaching of Grass Knot had been eating away at her mind. She was starting to run out of ideas, since it looked like no-one would be able to learn the Move.

Was Taka still mad at her, though? Was he mad at her at all? She had goofed up, but was he still going to train with her and work towards getting her home? A horrible sinking feeling overcame her as she thought about the possibility that he wouldn't want to take her anymore.

Roxy shook her head to clear away those dark thoughts. Taka wasn't petty like that. Even if she had royally ticked him off, that was no reason for him to go back on his word. It was silly to think like that in any case, since Taka wanted to leave the village anyway.

Eventually, her wayward paws took her back to her hut. Her mood hadn't gotten much better, and she ended up just sitting on the floor and sulking. "Why do things always go wrong…?" she muttered to herself, "Can't I just catch a break? Just once?"

She sighed heavily and glanced around. Being in such a depressed mood was digging up old wounds. She found herself painfully reminded that this used to be Makari's hut, and she had shared it with him. Such wonderful times she had shared with him. One of the happiest moments of her whole life had happened right where she was sitting now.

Roxy hugged herself and let out a distressed whine. In her current state, she started to miss Makari a lot more. Old dark thoughts started returning to her, threatening to make her cry again.

"What would you tell me?" she asked to the air around her, "What…what would you do?" She glanced up, as if looking at someone who was not actually there. "Would you have taken me home? If…If I can't teach Grass Knot to anyone…would you still take me home?" She closed her eyes, a single tear running down her cheeks. "Would you…have come home with me?" She sniffled. "…And stayed?"

No answer came to her, no matter how hard she hoped that she would somehow hear one.

"I gotta keep trying…" she said to herself, though she didn't have much conviction in her voice, "If stuff goes wrong, I can't just stop…Master is waiting for me…"

Roxy unceremoniously flopped down onto her side, a heavy frown on her face.

"…I hope…"







"…Miri?"

The Audino glanced up, slightly surprised from the sound of somebody at her door. "Oh! Roxy, I did not hear you…"

Roxy glanced in Mareepishly, not saying anything.

"…Is something wrong?" Miri asked, "Come in, come in. Talk to me."

Nodding softly, Roxy stepped past the leaves in the doorway and entered the Audino's hut. She walked forward until she was in front of Miri and stood there for a moment, glancing off to the side and fiddling with her paws. Finally, she sighed and asked her question.

"Is the tribe mad at me?"

"What??" Miri blurted out. Then she shook her head and composed herself. "No. No, heavens no… Why would you even think that?"

"Everyone's lookin' at me weird…"

"Aw, Roxy…" Miri said as she walked over and gave Roxy a quick hug, "No-one is mad at you. You have done nothing wrong. It is just that things are…tense, I suppose."

"Because Taka wants to leave and I stupidly said it out loud?"

"Well, I think many of us are actually grateful that you said it out loud," Miri said with a wry chuckle. When Roxy's expression didn't brighten at all, Miri invited her to come and sit next to her, which she did.

"I remember when he left…the first time," Miri explained, "First, everybody panicked. Then, everybody was worried. We thought he had been killed or abducted. Search parties were sent out to look for him, and none returned with success. There was even…a funeral for him. It was not until a nomadic Pokémon was passing peacefully through our borders that we learned the truth. The passing Pokémon told us that he had seen Taka, traveling in the opposite direction.

"So, to round things out, everybody was angry and upset. The whole tribe felt like Taka had abandoned us, and in a way he had. We felt as if he had just casually cast aside his entire family as if we were nothing. We had lost one of our finest warriors, and everybody was concerned. All in all, there was a horrible sense of betrayal that hovered above the village."

Miri then turned to look Roxy in the eye. "No-one wants that to happen again."

Roxy didn't reply, but she did nod in understanding.

"I think the village is angry at Taka, not at you. You are merely…how shall I say…associated?"

"Is that really any better?" Roxy muttered.

Miri patted Roxy on the back. "Young one," she spoke, "Everybody here knows you plan to go home. No-one has once believed that you would stay here forever. It is not a surprise that you are leaving. It is a surprise that Taka is leaving again."

Roxy whined softly.

"It is simply that looking at you reminds them of Taka."

"I guess…" Roxy mumbled, shrugging softly.

"Cheer up, Roxy. It is not as if you are leaving this coming night or anything."

Roxy shook her head. "No, definitely not. We're not ready…"

"Right." She then smiled. "It is a nice warm day outside. Take a walk and clear your mind. Things are uncertain right now, but just remember that we are not mad at you."

Getting to her paws, Roxy glanced up at the Audino. "Are you sure…?"

"I am positive."

Roxy then smiled half-heartedly. "Okay then. Thanks for this."

"Any time, Roxy."

She waved goodbye to the village healer, and then turned around and exited the hut. She was greeted with the warm spring air. Miri was right; it was definitely a nice day. She took in a deep breath of the fresh air and tried to calm her anxious nerves.

Truly, she didn't feel that much better about herself. Even if they weren't mad at her, Roxy still felt upset that everybody was mad at Taka. Was Taka therefore mad at everybody else? Roxy didn't want anybody to be mad. They were supposed to be happy and proud of her for finally being able to go home.

"Who'm I kidding…?" she whispered, "I'm never goin' home…No-one can learn Grass Knot."

She walked sullenly away from Miri's hut and past many other huts and treehouses. There were lots of Pokémon out and about, but Roxy didn't pay much attention to any of them. Her mood was simply too sour to care.

"Raaaawr!!"

Something suddenly latched onto her back, causing her to cry out in surprise. She quickly dropped down onto all fours and tried to reach for her spear, but whoever had jumped her was preventing her from reaching it. Her panic spiked, so she did the only other thing she could think of to get her attacker off. She let out another loud cry, and then rolled onto her side to try and dislodge the other Pokémon.

She ended up on her back, panting and sweating. Her attacker then leaned over and looked down at her. He flashed her a grin and laughed at her, causing her to let out a huge breath of relief.

"Adikai!" she said in a scolding tone, "What was that for? You scared me half to death!!"

The young Shinx laughed again. "I am practicing my great skills! Father says I excel at pouncing!"

"No kidding…" Roxy murmured as she stood herself up and brushed the dust off of her fur.

"What did you think?" Adikai asked, looking up at her with hopeful eyes.

Roxy briefly thought of scolding him further for scaring her like that, but her mood quickly softened. She gave him a smile instead. "It was very good," she said to him, "I didn't even hear you coming from behind me."

Adikai grinned widely in triumph. "Yes!!"

Watching the exuberant little cub, Roxy let out a tiny sigh. At least some folks in this village hadn't changed much since the 'news'. Adikai was just as adorable as ever.

"I cannot wait! I am so excited!" Adikai continued to gush, "They have no choice but to recognize my great pouncing skills!"

Roxy chuckled and reached over to tousle the fur on his head. "Excited for what?" she asked him.

"The next Marking Ceremony!" he replied excitedly, "I am going to receive my name!!"

"Really?" Roxy asked, eyes widening a bit from the news, "That's great! Congratulations!"

"Yes! I am finally strong enough! I shall receive a strong, courageous name and a mark as the best pouncer in the forest!"

Roxy glanced down at the little Shinx cub, hopping around like there were springs on his paws. The more she looked, the more she realized that Adikai really wasn't a 'little Shinx cub' anymore. It had been just a few short months, but he had grown up a fair bit. Marks were so prevalent throughout the tribe that Roxy sometimes forgot that cubs didn't have any, as with Adikai standing before her.

"That's awesome, Adikai. I'm sure you'll get the perfect name." She smiled sweetly. "Your mother and father must be very proud."

That quieted the young Shinx down a little bit. "I…hope so," he said, a tad wistfully, "Father never gives praise where praise is not deserved." He paused and then added, "I will not know if he is proud until the mark is on my fur."

"Aww, c'mon now. No matter what mark you get, what name you get…even if he doesn't show it, Adi is definitely proud of you. You're his son!" She grinned at him, hoping he believed her words. Knowing Adi, though, she wasn't completely sure she believed them herself.

Adikai, now completely quiet and reserved, scuffed his paw in the dirt and turned his gaze up at her. "Roxy?" he spoke, a hopeful look in his eyes, "You…will be there…right?"

Roxy blinked at him. "What d'you mean…?" she asked, confused, "Of course I will be there. It's your big day! How could I miss it?"

Adikai glanced away. "Everybody says you are going to leave us…"

Her eyebrows shot up. "Oh! Ohhh, I see…" She skewed her lips a little, realizing what he meant. Did the villagers think she was going to be leaving that quickly? Perhaps they were all assuming things about her and Taka.

She bent down closer to his eye level and shook her head. "No, no. I'm not leaving yet," she explained, "Either way, it doesn't matter. I wouldn't miss your ceremony for anything, Adikai!"

That made the little Shinx brighten up a little. "Really? You mean it?"

Roxy nodded and smiled cheerfully. "Yup! I promise I'll be there, okay?"

"Yay!" Adikai jumped up excitedly. "Thank you, Roxy!"

"No problem. I can't wait to find out what your name will be."

"Neither can I!"

"I will have to get used to calling you by a different name."

Adikai gave her a big toothy grin. "Okay! I will see you there!"

Roxy nodded and gave him a wave as he ran off. "Bye!"

Once the cub had gone, she set off on her stroll once more. She had a little more pep in her step, the Shinx having uplifted her spirits a little. Things didn't seem as bad as she was making them out to be. She still had the same goal and the same obstacle to get through, and if Taka ended up not being able to go, then that would just be one more obstacle to get through.

Now, with her mood climbing higher, she was able to look back and see all of the obstacles that she had already conquered. Her anxiety usually meant that those accomplishments were clouded over by thoughts of all her failures and problems. It was unfortunately the way her brain worked, but when she was in a good mood those clouds shifted away.

Roxy had managed to escape death multiple times. Even faced against the Zangoose, she had managed to hold out long enough for Makari and Taka to rescue her, thanks to her swift paws and quick thinking. She had made plenty of friends in this village, and she had eventually managed to learn basic combat. She had even managed to save the village from an invasion of Ground-Types once. It was strange how easily she forgot about that.

Roxy's idle paws took her back to the training area, now quite familiar to her. She had spent more time in this place than she had ever thought she would by leagues. Glancing at the targets and the training weapons laying around, she already started thinking about what she could do with them. Skills she had not had when she had first arrived.

As she wandered into the training area, she really thought about the Pikachu she had been the last time she had been in her master's company. What was her master going to say about her now?

"Enough. Enough. I am sick and tired of listening to your endless voice."

Roxy's ears perked as she heard the approach of someone talking. She turned her head, realizing that it was someone walking past the back side of the training area, and they would be passing behind the tree she was standing in front of.

"But, Taka-"

"Stop," said the voice that Roxy realized belonged to Taka. She gasped and held still.

"Do not take that sort of tone with us," Natoka's voice warned him.

There was a short, tense pause before Taka spoke up once more. "Do you not understand…what she is going through?"

Roxy's paws shot up to her mouth to stifle the gasp. He was talking about her to the wise ones!

"What?" Karizu replied, confused.

"Have you once taken the time to stop and think about what is going on inside of her head?"

"Well-"

"Put yourself in her paws for a moment. Think carefully about what has happened to her."

Roxy was frozen in place, unable to stop herself from eavesdropping on this conversation. Taka's voice was so calm, never shouting, but there was a certain intensity to his voice that made even her shiver.

"Do either of you know just how badly she wants to go home? How it eats away at her day and night, knowing she cannot? No. You do not. No-one in this village can understand that, because none of you have ever felt it before.

"Everyone here has lived in this village their whole life. You do not know the sensation of wanting to go home because you have always been home. No matter what you do or where you roam, you are always a paw's length away from home. Not a single one of you can imagine what it feels like because none of you have left."

There was a pregnant pause before he continued. "I have felt that longing," he commented, "I can safely say mine was not as strong as hers, but I still felt that desire to go back home when I was gone. I understand the sensation of being away, and a part of your heart and soul always wants to go back."

Silence reigned for a moment before Karizu spoke. "Taka, we understand-"

"No," Taka cut him off, but without raising his voice, "You do not. Neither of you can truly empathize with Roxy. Your decisions regarding her will always be biased."

"Have you not been listening?" Natoka cut in somewhat gruffly, "We have no issue with Roxy leaving. It is your abandoning of this tribe, for a second time no less, that-"

"Yet, I seem to be the only one willing to bring her home."

A few silent seconds passed, but neither Raichu seemed to have an answer for that.

"If you will excuse me," Taka said, and then Roxy heard his pawsteps leading away.

After a moment that lasted a little too long, the two Raichu once more gave pursuit. "Taka, wait! Do not walk away from us!"

When they were gone, Roxy was still. She was so touched by what she had just heard that she didn't know what to do with herself. She had never heard Taka talk about her like that before, not even to her own face. Did Taka really feel that way, or was he just trying to persuade the wise ones to let him go? Either way, it was a side of Taka she had never seen before.

With a warm, somewhat bittersweet smile, Roxy held on to the hope that it was the former.







A few days passed, and nothing much happened.

The wise ones were still forbidding Taka to leave, but he didn't seem to be intending to rush off without their approval either. He had become a little bit distant from Roxy, but it wasn't like he was outright avoiding her. Roxy knew that he had a lot on his mind probably, so she didn't mind.

He wasn't the only one with a lot on his mind, though.

As the noonday sun passed overhead, its light filtering down through the trees, Roxy was seated at the bank of the river a fair distance away from the bathing area. She was trying to relax and calm her restless mind, letting the smell and the sound of the river soothe her weary head.

It was also an exercise she had imposed on herself. Both a spear and a bow and arrow were on the ground next to her. Though she was still well within the area where Thunder Clan patrols covered, she was still purposefully putting herself in a less than secure place. If she was to go marching through enemy territory with Taka on her way out of the forest, she needed to be more comfortable in unsafe environments so that she could focus on defending herself when and if something went wrong.

It was going well. She felt tense, but just enough so that she was aware of her surroundings and could reach for a weapon at the drop of a hat.

Roxy was depressed, though. She had no idea what was going to happen next, but she also really wanted to find out whatever it was. It felt like she was stuck in limbo at the moment, hovering aimlessly between paths that she could be led down. The atmosphere was so tense, and she was getting tired of it.

The worst part was that she was starting to wonder if not going home was the right idea after all. Hovering around her were worrying thoughts that she just wasn't meant to go home, and that her new place in life was here. Perhaps that's just the way life was meant to go and, no matter how awful it made her feel, it was just something she had to accept.

Roxy quickly shook her head, trying to rid herself of those thoughts. "I gotta go home…" she whispered to herself, "I gotta go home. No matter the cost, I gotta go home…" She clenched her eyes shut. "I can't stay out here forever…I just can't…I need to get back to master…"

"Pet."

Two things happened simultaneously. Roxy's heart jumped into her throat so hard it felt like it was going to get stuck there, and she swiftly stood up on her paws and swiveled around 180 degrees, picking up her spear along the way.

She relaxed once she saw who it was. "Oh," she said after letting out a breath of relief, "Hello, Natoka."

The Raichu simply nodded in answer, his forelimbs crossed and a nonplussed look on his face.

Roxy frowned. Of all the company she could have wished for, Natoka was on the bottom of the list. It wasn't that she disliked him, but he seemed to really dislike her. The two had never really gotten along, he had always looked down at her with an angry expression on his muzzle, and he was by far the most volatile of the Thunder Clan members when it came to emotions. If someone was yelling, then it was probably Natoka.

She had never really tried to get along with Natoka, as opposed to what she had done with other more distant villagers such as Taka, mostly because he frightened her. As would probably be the case for the rest of her life, Roxy was still a little bit frightened of Raichu. Natoka, especially, was frightening to her because of all the old scars on his body. Every time she looked at the thunderbolt shape on his tail, half of it bitten off, a shiver ran up her spine. She couldn't imagine going through something like that.

Natoka simply gazed at her with a slightly furrowed brow and a frown on his lips. He didn't seem happy to see her, but then again he never seemed happy. Roxy had done her best to keep distant from him, and likewise, he had seemingly done the same. Yet, here he was, all by himself.

Roxy gulped, and then spoke to him. "Can I…help you?"

The Raichu just stood there, staring at her. He stood there without moving or saying anything for a good two or three minutes, making Roxy feel more and more uncomfortable. Was he mad at her? Had she done something wrong? What did he want?!

"Umm…Is this your spot…or something?" she asked somewhat timidly.

"I understand that you are planning to travel to the forest's edge with Taka."

She flinched slightly, having not expected his sudden answer. She gulped once more upon hearing the touchy subject, smiled awkwardly, and said, "Yeah…I, um…Sorta…"

Natoka narrowed his eyes just slightly, but only for a few seconds. He shifted his weight onto his other hind paw, and then spoke once more. "I also understand that neither of you are leaving until someone in this village learns your…power."

Roxy frowned once more. "Yeah…" she lamented, "Taka was pretty serious about that. I've tried teaching…almost everybody in this whole tribe. It's not working."

Again, Natoka was silent for a relatively long while, making Roxy squirm. His presence was so intimidating that she wished he would just say his piece and get it over with.

"I see," he said at last, "That is certainly commendable…if nothing else." He then took a few steps over to the side and sat down, facing Roxy.

"Teach me," he said.

Roxy nearly did a double take. "Wh- Huh?"

He didn't repeat himself.

"You…" Roxy mumbled, "You want to try to learn Grass Knot?" she asked. Then, after a moment's thought, she realized that Natoka was the only one she had never tried teaching. It had completely slipped her mind.

"Whether or not Taka leaves, which he cannot," Natoka said, "there is great value in passing this technique to somebody else. So, teach me."

Roxy gulped, sizing up the Raichu once more. Her intimidation hadn't gone away even a little. "Um…Y-You know that, uh…it probably won't work…right? I mean, I've tried with everyone! I don't think it's a thing that can be done."

Natoka didn't say anything to that. The implication hung in the air that he was commanding her to teach him and not fail. She wasn't sure if that was his actual intent or not, but it certainly put a lot of pressure onto her.

"Well, uh…Okay then," she said with a small shrug.

The Raichu simply nodded.

There was a brief silence. "…Oh! Right now?" Roxy babbled.

Natoka raised an eyebrow.

"Right, uh…Okay, let's see…" Roxy glanced away for a moment and held a paw to her forehead, trying to remember the steps she had taken in her previous failed attempts at this. She had no confidence whatsoever, but Natoka was clearly a Pokémon who wouldn't take 'no' for an answer. What kind of a student would he turn out to be?

"Um…Close your eyes?" she asked meekly.

Natoka immediately heeded her instructions and closed his eyes.

This managed to take a little bit of the stress off of her shoulders. "Right! Okay, good…Now um…" She closed her eyes in thought for a moment. "You have to focus. Like, really hard. You need to shut out the outside world entirely, because what you're looking for is very, very hard to grasp."

She opened her eyes and looked up to see that he hadn't moved an inch. She had no idea what was going on inside of his head. Was Natoka even the meditative type? Roxy frowned, already starting to wonder if it was even worth bothering. Nothing had worked in the past, so if she wanted to have any hope of success this time, she would need to take things a step further.

One of her ears perked up as she had a sudden bolt of inspiration. "Listen to the river," she instructed, "Take a moment and focus on the sound of the river. It's constant, it's steady, and it's flowing. Keep me with you, but block out everything else." She closed her eyes once more, listening to the river herself as well. "Just listen to the river for a while…as the sound keeps going…until it's just background noise."

Roxy once again began the process of gathering up the energy for a Grass Knot, as it was easier to explain while she was in the process of doing it.

"Feel the ground," she spoke, softly but loud enough to be heard over the din of the river, "Feel the dirt, the earth, the grass… There's…an energy there. It's in the ground, but it's very faint. It's spread out so thinly across the entire Earth that it's hard to feel, but it's there. That's what you're looking for."

Some of the villagers, when attempting to learn the move, had commented to her that everything in the world had an energy. Living and dead, moving and still, every single thing had some sort of energy somewhere inside of it. Roxy could only imagine that would make it all the more difficult to pick out this specific type of energy, especially without the knowledge gained from the TM.

"If you find it," she continued, "then that is all you need. When you find it, don't lose it. Draw it up from within the ground, and allow it to fill your own body. It is…very nice…but very fickle. And, once you've gathered enough, you'll be able to do Grass Knot."

Roxy opened her eyes and waved her paw, and a circle of grass blades formed around where she was sitting. She twirled a digit and they all twisted themselves and moved to form an unbroken line that encircled her. Practicing the Move so much now let her initiate the Move a lot quicker than before.

She glanced up at Natoka, seeing that he still hadn't moved at all. This was pretty much the extent of what she could teach. She had never figured out a better way to explain what to do or what the energy was like, which was probably why everyone else had so much trouble learning it. It was just too hard to explain.

Natoka furrowed his brow slightly, and his frown grew a tad larger. Roxy grimaced upon seeing the distressed look on his face. Many of her past 'students' had gotten that same look before they had given up.

She sighed. "Sorry," she muttered, "I tried. I really, really did. I just don't think it can be done, y'know?"

Natoka continued to have that same look on his face.

"If you can't do it, don't worry about it…No-one else could either. You need the TM, and that's something we just don't have."

Then, Natoka did something that she didn't expect. He shifted forward in his sitting position and placed his forepaws down firmly on the ground, forming a sort of slouched forward position. It almost looked like he was trying to push the ground itself downwards. The grimace on his face had gotten worse. It looked like he was struggling.

"…Natoka?" Roxy spoke up in concern, "Are you okay?"

He didn't move.

"Are you gonna be sick or something? What is it?"

Still he didn't answer, and a few minutes of tense silence passed between the two. Roxy, stuck between being confused and being concerned, didn't know what to do or say.

Then, she suddenly jumped back in fright and let out a surprised scream as something erupted from the ground between the two of them.

Once her brief panic vanished, she lowered her paws down from in front of her face and looked at the Raichu to see what had happened. Her jaw nearly dropped to the ground as she stared at the single, very large and very thick blade of grass that had sprouted up in front of him.

Natoka himself didn't change his position or expression even after this had happened. A couple of seconds later, some more grass blades erupted from around him. These weren't as big as the first one, but at least eight of them could be seen.

Roxy stared in shock for a while, not quite believing what she was seeing. Had he just done it? Had Natoka just accomplished what no-one else in the whole village had been able to do?

The Raichu let out a huff of air, and then opened a single eye. Immediately all of the grass blades faltered and wilted a bit, but they all remained standing. He gazed at them curiously. Seeing that they had wilted, Natoka grit his teeth and growled softly. A moment later, the blades all stood tall once more.

"I…don't believe it…" Roxy whispered, her own Grass Knot dispelling.

"This is…it?" Natoka spoke, strain clearly evident in his voice.

Roxy was awestruck for a few more seconds before she realized she'd been asked a question. "Ah- Yes! Yes, it is! You…" She shook her head softly just to make sure she wasn't seeing things. "…You've done it."

Natoka closed his eyes once more and seemed to focus on something. More than a full minute of silence passed, but then Roxy saw the grass start to move. It began to inch its way forward through the air like an Ekans. He could control them too.

Then, something slipped and the grassy blades all twitched and wilted. In a flash, the spectacle was gone, leaving Natoka sitting alone on the ground. He blinked open his eyes and regarded her.

"You did it," Roxy repeated, "You actually did it. You- That was Grass Knot!"

"…Fascinating," Natoka spoke, seeming out of breath.

"I didn't think it was possible. Nobody else could…but you…" A moment of silence passed, and then a huge grin began to form on Roxy's face as she realized what all of this meant. "You did it!" she then exclaimed, "You learned Grass Knot! Oh my gosh, I could hug you right now!"

"Please do not."

Roxy happily hopped on her hind legs a few times, grinning cheek to cheek. "It finally happened. Someone learned Grass Knot. I was so sure that it wasn't going to happen! Yes! This is so good! This means so much!"

Then she calmed down a bit and turned back to regard the Raichu. "I just…Wow!" she murmured, "I don't understand. Why just you? Why did I have to try every single other villager without any success, but you're able to do it?"

Natoka glanced away and sighed softly. "My father."

Roxy tilted her head. "Pardon?"

"I believe the reason for my success is because of my father," he explained, "He was a Breloom."

"Oh," Roxy said, and then she suddenly understood. "Oh! Of course…!" Roxy knew from the encyclopaedias that Breloom could learn Grass Knot naturally. Perhaps there was something in Natoka's genes that made the energy easier to pick up.

"That makes sense…" she spoke, "It wasn't an Egg Move, but still…"

"That is the technique, then?" Natoka asked, his voice still rather gruff, "Nothing more?"

"Uhh…Yeah, pretty much. I guess you'd have to practice, like I did, to get really good at it, but you found the energy and no-one else could find it. You could find it again, right?"

Natoka scoffed. "I did not realize it was this simple."

Roxy's next response died on her lips upon hearing this. "…What?!"

"I have felt that energy before," he went on to say, "Never have tried to interact with it before, though. You are right, it is a very fickle thing and difficult to grasp…"

"Wait, wait, wait. What d'you mean, simple? I tried teaching everybody in this damn village how to do it, and none of them even came close to finding the energy!"

Natoka turned his gaze down at her, making her shrink back a little. "Then, you should have asked me sooner."

"…But-" Roxy cut herself off. She had been about to retort that Natoka could've come to her sooner as well, but she decided to bite her tongue. "I guess," she settled on instead.

Natoka then stood up. "I will practice this now. I shall return to you if I have questions." Then, without even awaiting a response, Natoka turned and walked away.

Roxy stood there a moment, having been left alone rather unceremoniously. She stared after the strange Raichu who had just gotten a little bit stranger in her books. Then, as if some invisible person had slapped her across the face and yelled at her, she suddenly remembered that she was supposed to be excited.

As a grin spread across her face, she hefted a paw up into the air and leapt for joy. "Woo!!" Elation like she had never felt before was flooding through her. This was it. The last checkmark had been ticked off! Someone in the tribe knew Grass Knot now, and Natoka could pass it on to others.

Her excitement didn't last for too long, though. She sombrely realized a minute later that another checkmark had been added to her list as well. All of Taka's requirements were met, but now she needed to convince the others to let him leave.

Roxy sighed in frustration, trying to hold onto the happiness that was slipping away. This was, after all, an exciting accomplishment. She had overcome something that she had thought impossible. Sure there was yet another obstacle in her way, but even if it seemed impossible, then she could probably overcome that too.

The smile returned to her. "Yeah…!" she said to herself, "And any other obstacles this stupid forest decides to throw at me." She then turned over her shoulder and glanced upwards, as if looking at some invisible deity of the forest. "You hear me? I'm goin' home, whether you want me to or not!!"
GOOGLE DOCS LINK

The Thunder Clan

A Pokémon by Giga Bowser

Pokémon and all related characters © Game Freak & Nintendo

This work of fiction, its setting, characters, and ideas are © Giga Bowser.

Do not use without permission

---


Roxy the Pikachu is not part of a Pokémon Trainer's team. She does not take part in Pokémon battles. No, she is happy to spend her days relaxing at home and enjoying the company of her loving human master.

So when Roxy somehow ends up in the middle of the wilderness, surrounded by dangerous wild Pokémon, suffice to say her entire world is flipped upside-down.
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