Alien sounds echoed around Ardnak as she woke up among the misted covered woodlands. Stretching out the sores of sleeping on tree roots, she slowly rubbed her eyes and moisten her lips. In her drowzeeness, she called out “Xir! What time is it!” only to be replied by her echoing words.
“Xir!” She shouted again into the trees. There was a low cry of an unknown pokemon in the distance. Growling, the myst-touched human got back to her feet and began exploring her surroundings. She stomped through the undergrowth, calling out for her usual companion and getting angrier as time went on.
She then heard a whimper through the mist. Recognizing the cry, Ardnak ran off toward the sound. Running into a small clearing, she found her Tiamat sitting among a bed of ferns. The chimera was crying up into the sky before the general rushed in.
“Tiamat! What’s wrong girl?” She asked as she approached, the chimera’s expressing quickly changed as she leapt up into her trainer’s arms. Giggling as the pokemon licked her face happily, Ardnak cried, “Easy, easy girl! I missed you too but we need to figure out where we-”
Losing color in her face, the woman’s memories began to flood in. From casing the Ghost out of the castle town to running them into this dense woodlands. From losing the trail of her prey to the hour of wandering aimlessly through the woods. From meeting the massive shadow to passing out.
Embracing her pokemon tighter, she started to tremble. She couldn’t make out the pokemon, if it was one. The massive frame it had loomed over her almost dwarfing the trees that formed the canopy. From the silhouette was just an unending cloud of smoke that hid its true form from view.
The red eyes that she only meet for an instance still burned in her mind like twin pools of lava bubbling out of a volcano. Sweat stung at her eyes as the warm glow heated her body even from those memories.
A lick on her face brought Ardnak’s attention back to the present as she looked down at the worried face of Tiamat. “Sorry Tia,” she said, kneeling down to set her pokemon down, “I just remember how we got into this mess.” Looking at her shaking hand, she added, “Promise not to tell anyone that I’m scared and I won’t tell anyone you’re scared.”
The glare Tiamat returned brought a chuckle from the human. Scratching the pokemon underneath the chin, Ardnak replied, “I know you can’t speak to humans but the other pokemon will give me looks. And we can’t let them know that I’m weak.” Tiamat replied with a happy bark before running off to the edge of the fernbank.
Following shortly after, Ardnak said, “Let’s be on our guard and find a way out of here. Is your tracker nose still working girl?” The chimera nodded once before placing her nose to the earth and started to sniff around. It took the pokemon a bit to pick up the trail, barking happily once she did.
“Lead the way, girl,” Ardnak said walking after her. The trees were tall and wide at the base. What little she knew of trees still help her define the wooden giants as the grand red wood tree. The roots of the plants acted more akin to small hills, forcing them to scale them just to progress through the forest.
As the pair adventured further into the woodlands, it soon became apparent to them that even with Tiamat’s tracker sense, they were clearly lost. Ardnak took notice that they seem to pass a familiar rock at every single turn.
With her anger bubbling to the surface, she resorted to slashing at trees with her short blade as they passed. They seemed to work, for the moment, allowing them to take a different direction upon meeting a marked tree. But soon the marks began to disappear, allowing them to retread the same path as before.
Taking notice of this, she slashed another tree and stared at the cut for nearly 20 minutes. Slowly but surely, the long gash in the bark slowly faded away. The bark growing at an rate not seen elsewhere. Running her hand over the mended trunk, the mark she left was completely gone.
These occurrences helped Ardnak became increasingly aware of the malicious entity intent on trapping them within the confines of the trees. Letting out a scream of fury, she picked up her pokemon and sprinted as fast as she could, not letting even the largest of roots slow her down. But like before, she only found herself ending up in the same place as before.
After a good three hours of struggling to find a way out, the pair finally sat down to relax underneath the constant shade of trees. Padding herself down, Ardnak scowled before asking, “Did you happen to see any rivers or streams?” Tiamat simply replied with a low whine and a shake of her head. “You’re thirsty too, aren't ya girl?” Same replied but with a nod instead of a shake.
Looking around she started pointing out other problems, “While rain would be caught by most of those trees, we still need to find some sort of shelter from the cold. And even if we did find water, I haven’t seen a berry tree or signs other pokemon as we wandered aimlessly. We would have to resort to eating each other before three weeks were up.”
Tiamat scowled back at her trainer. “Don’t worry, I’m sure Xir will have a search party out looking for us by now. They’ll have plenty of food and water for us in no time. Besides, if anyone need to die to feed the other, I would at least chop off my own tail to by us a little more time.” As if to toy with the idea, Tiamat began to sniff the red flaming tail poking out the back of Ardnak’s pants.
“Not now you silly,” she chuckled picking up her pokemon and moving her away. “Besides, there is still one method we could try.” A curious look Tiamat gave was answered when the human pointed up the tree they sat beneath. There were several low hanging branches they could see. But even those would require quite the skill at climbing.
Voicing these concerns with her face, Tiamat licked her trainer’s face. “I’ll be fine,” Ardnak replied patting her pokemon’s head, “After all, I am the best climber this side of Galvin Heights!” With that, the woman turned to face the red wood. Taking a squatting position, she launched herself up the trunk a little, latching on with her nails. With careful and judged movements, she started to slowly escalate the tree. Tiamat could do nothing but watch and whine for her trainer’s safety.
As she expected, the climb was slow. The bark had little grip and it took her almost an hour to make it to the first branch. Out of breath upon reaching it, she sat down on the sturdy protrusion and scanned the area below. While her field of vision was certainly improved, it provided little improvement out her situation. The great trees stretched out as far as she could see, blocking out light to the sides. Looking up at the canopy, her hopes went further away. Not only did the roof of the forest seemed to be unmoving, the next branch she planned to climb up to was further out of reach than she remembered.
“Just how much control over this place does it have?” she asked herself before making the climb down. Her thoughts drifted back to the “thing” she had met before passing out. Those deep red eyes making her pause before she lost her grip. The fall was short but the landing was hard. Nearly crushed, Tiamat quickly went to her trainer’s side as Ardnak tended to her bruised tail.
“Not my best landing,” she smiled weakly as Tiamat began licking at the bruised body part. “I thought I told you not yet with taste testing?”
A snapping branch alerted the pair out of their rest. Jumping into action with blade and flame, the two scanned the treeline. “It probably know Hypnosis,” Ardnak said, “that’s how it was able to put us to sleep so quickly. Avoid the eyes and focus the limbs.” Tiamat barked in response before a figure appeared in the mist.