|(sorry if I can't get the image larger)|
|More Journal Entries|
Chapter 13: CampfireThe day following the meeting at the warehouse, Filaris spent the day visiting shops and spending time around the Guild doing busy work. He kept a keen eye out for any potential candidates for joining the coup. He was sensitive to conversations, listening in on anything that could potentially indicate defiance towards Evi. There wasn’t much spoken out in public due to the fear of Evi’s wrath. Small conversations of upset were snuffed out or dismissed immediately, Pokémon saying how they wished things were better were waived away or hushed by peers. Filaris noticed prying eyes glaring at everyone. Several Pokémon he recognized that served Evi were watching him closely. As he suspected. Some smiled at him, he often gave nods of acknowledgement. Filaris decided to pick up a few items during his investigation, rope, oran berries, and rawst berries. He did not like the idea of getting involved with fire again so soon after the Pignite, but it couldn’t be helped. He mindlessly clutched his chest remembering that fight, the memory of suffocating smoke made his lungs aching. He hoped that this night wouldn’t end the same.During his shopping, he encountered several shopkeepers slipping extra items into his purchases without any mention of it. Some of them gave a wink to Filaris. He could only assume that some of these shopkeepers were visited by Anoyna, due to a similar response occurring when he had made deliveries in the past. He had noticed this pattern with many Pokémon - when something good happened it often resulted in something good in turn. Filaris finished up gathering his resources and proceeded to go home to review the map of the farming district where his mission was. He looked over the access points, where the property ended, where other properties connected, and where the home building was located. Thankfully Draxi and Dew weren’t around to distract him. Something about Draxi going on a field trip to the docks. Filaris was thankful for the timing, Filaris needed to focus. This whole thing ruffled him, his morality conflicting with his determination. He knew this was wrong, he knew the consequences, but he needed to do this to prove himself to Evi. He had to get her to trust him. The more she trusted him, the more he could monitor her movements.Filaris was sure to leave home before Dew or Draxi could arrive, leaving a note telling where he had gone. He felt shame with how he was acting, shame with how he was assisting with this injustice. He spent some time at the local park, enjoying the last rays of light on his leaves. This seemed to calm his nerves. The heat of the day had subsided to a pleasant, cool, evening. The fresh, salted air whisked past his leaves and danced across his hide. It felt free. Liberating. There was a mixed flock of flying-types overhead, ranging from Starly to Noivern. Filaris closed his eyes to listen to the sound of leaves rustling in the wind. A loud scream was heard to the side of him, shocking him out of his trance and causing him to jump.“O-Oh,” Filaris turned to see a Lurantis looking quite frightened, “I-I’m so sorry. I-I thought you were a Corrupted Pokémon. I’m sorry sir.” They quickly shuffled away.Filaris felt quite confused. He knew that he shared similar characteristics of a Corrupted Pokémon but didn’t think someone would mistake him as such. It had never happened before, why now? Confusion settled to sorrow. He decided it best to head over to the Farming District before it got too late. During his trek, he found several Pokémon keeping their distance from him with fearful looks. Now, he wasn’t sure if it was because he was working with Evi or because he looked like a Corrupted Pokémon to others. How could such a mistake have been made? He caught his reflection in a metal building and examined it for a moment. He did share the same facial structure and jaw. Teeth didn’t help, either. But his eyes clearly had pupils in them. He shook his head and continued his walk, ignoring the frightened faces as best he could.As the sun sank below the sheer cliffs of the island, filling the sky with hues of purples, pinks, and oranges, Filaris approached his destination. He went through a few large trees on the property adjacent to their target, as was instructed, only to find several Pokémon positioned there. He could clearly see a Dartrix, Scorbunny, Beedrill, and the Sneasel. The same Sneasel from the docks, the one with a cut ear.“Fancy seeing ya here,” the Sneasel said with a grin.“Seems we’ll be seeing more of each other,” Filaris replied.He looked around at the group. The Scorbunny looked nervous and skittish, twitchy even. Dartrix was quiet, calm, sunk into the shadows watching carefully. Beedrill was hard to read, their expressions always tended to be constant, but they were watching Filaris and Sneasel intently.“Glad to hear it. We were just waitin’ on ya, so we’re all set. To start, name’s Kitto. Plan is to take these-” Sneasel pulled a bag out of the bushes and opened it to reveal a bag of Wooloo fur, “and place them across the farm, sorta in a line. We’ve gotta center point that we have in mind. Biggest tree on the farm, gonna torch that sucka.” Sneasel drew a crude map of the farm in the dirt, “we’ll put the bulk here, then make lines going all ‘round, like so. Breaks,” the Sneasel pointed to the Dartrix, “will be keepin’ an eye in the sky to make sure no one tries to screw this up. We’ll be goin’ in teams. Filaris and Lex will be goin’ together to the south. Singe and I’ll take the north. We’ll go counterclockwise. Any questions?”Singe raised her paw. “D-Do we h-have to do this?” she stammered.The Kitto walked across the map towards Singe. She used her claws to jab Singe’s chest, “Ya’re on real thin ice, buddy. Ya don’t do this, you know the consequences. Evi gave ya this mission to make up for ya past failures.”“But it’s wrong!” Singe pleaded.“We ain’t here to debate morality. We’re here to do what we’re told,” Kitto grabbed a large clump of wool and threw it on the bunny, “now get to it.”Filaris walked over to the sack and picked it up. Breaks took to the sky as everyone headed to the center tree. As they got closer to the center, they noticed that the trees started to blend to create a large canopy. The starry, clear night was swallowed up by the cloud of leaves.“Take the lead, spore boy,” Kitto said to Filaris.Breloom and Shroomish were made for dark, dense, forest, so he could see quite clearly in the encroaching shadows, most likely why he and Kitto were chosen for this task, seeing as she was a dark-type. Filaris noticed behind him that Singe’s fur gave off a slight red glow, allowing the group to have limited vision, enough to follow him. The trees formed uneven lines, making it hard to find where the center is.“Follow the slashes on the trees,” Kitto directed.Filaris stopped to try and find what Kitto was referring to. Sure enough, there was the occasional slash on the tree. Kitto probably went ahead at some point to mark the path towards the center. Soon, Filaris saw there was a large, barked barrier before him. Once they got closer, he looked up to try to see how large the tree was, but he couldn’t see past the first layer. Filaris dropped the bag near the base of the tree and walked over to its trunk. He knew that babiri berry trees had dense foliage, but this was unseeable. He wondered if an arboreous Pokémon would even be able to navigate these trees. He ran his claws over the bark, he could feel how old this tree was and how healthy. He pressed his palm into the bark. A jolt of realization went through him. This tree was the center point to all the trees, all the other trees in this orchard came from this one.“Ya picked up on it, huh Filaris?” Kitto snorted a laugh, “this is one of the reasons why ya were picked. Grass-types are good with plants afta all. You’re gonna find the weak points of the entire farm. We’ll put the extra stuff there.”Filaris stared at her for a moment, processing the request. He turned back, lifting his talons off the tree and backed away. Seemed this would be a heavier loss than he thought. Filaris turned his attention back to the sack on the ground. Everyone had already taken a large chunk of the wool. Kitto and Singe were already heading to the north. Lex was staring at Filaris expectantly. He grabbed a large chunk of wool.“Let’s go,” Filaris said to Lex.“I’ll try, but I can’t see well,” Lex said softly.Filaris looked at the poison stingers of Lex. “Can you hang on to me with barbs?”“Not unless you got toxic heal or enjoy being poisoned.”Filaris quickly looked over Lex. “What if I were to wrap my tail around a part of your body, would it have the same effect?”“Nah, should be fine,” Lex said with a weak chuckle.Filaris wrapped his tail around one of Lex’s legs. The feeling of touching a poison-type sent a shiver over him. It felt like any moment now poison would bubble up from his tail, but he knew it wasn’t real. He shook his head, trying to get the feeling off himself.“You doing ok there, sprouts?” Lex asked with a similar chuckle as before.Filaris cringed. “I have my reservations about poison-types.”Lex let out a chuckle, a little stronger than the others, and small mists of poison came from their mouth. “I’d imagine. You grass-type aren’t too keen on the idea of being in contact with poison or bug-types. I’m surprised you haven’t pulled away.”“That’s because we have a job to do.” Filaris had regained his composure, his imaginations of poison fading away.Filaris guided Lex through the trees, directing them on where to place the wool. There was a distinct line of wool that was shoved into some of the weaker trees or spread across the ground with kindling nearby. The two worked their way through the trees till they saw the faded light of evening up ahead. Filaris guided Lex towards the opening, thinking they may appreciate the light and he’d enjoy the break. Once they got through the tree line and the starry night sky overtook the sky again, Filaris released his hold on Lex. His tail trembled. He sat down and began to look over his tail to see if there were any signs of poison.“Thanks for the help,” Lex said woefully looking up at the clear night sky, “this whole thing is just… sad.”Filaris let out a deep sigh. “Such is how things are, but best to just keep moving forward. Do what we’re told, help where we can.”“I wish we didn’t have to,” Lex did that same weak chuckle, “I wish it could go back to the old days of the Guild. Only reason I’m doing this is because I’m afraid of what would happen if I didn’t. I’ve heard some horror stories.”Filaris looked up to Lex and stared at them intently. “Do you want this fairy-tale to end?”Lex, still looking up at the sky, responded, “I wish it could…”Filaris studied Lex trying to get any indication of intent, but it wasn’t his strong suit and the fact Lex was a Beedrill didn’t help. They didn’t really have any expressions, from what Filaris could see. So, he went back to trying to look himself over. The two shared silence. When Filaris was satisfied, he rose and walked over to Lex.“We should try to find a different method. I noticed all of us were chosen for specific purposes for this job, why were you chosen?”“I produce excessive amounts of poison for a Beedrill and it can be injected into trees to kill them off quickly,” they let out a soft chuckle, “to think it’d be used as such. Problem is I’m not sure if it’ll light, but that’s why there’s a fire-type, I suppose.”“You haven’t done so, though,” Filaris pointed out.“Yeah, I should, shouldn’t I?” Lex looked down. “Haven’t had the heart.”Filaris nodded. “It’s best if we follow directions.”“Yeah…” Lex continued to look down.“I think our best course of action is to have us start from the outer edges of the orchard and work inwards to the center. You can take out trees and open up some light,” Filaris said while drawing a diagram in the dirt.Lex nodded slowly in confirmation. Filaris' plan was a lot easier on them both, so he didn’t have to deal with the mental strain of guiding Lex. Halfway through their third pass, there was a loud commotion coming from the center. Filaris and Lex rushed towards the noise. Filaris looked back every so often to make sure Lex didn’t fall behind. When they got closer, the sound of cracking trees shattered the silence of the evening. When Filaris and Lex arrived, they saw Kitto had Singe pinned to the ground with Breaks. Breaks had his talons covering Singe’s head, pressing her to the dirt. Kitto was sitting on Singe’s back, claws to the throat. Singe was covered in fresh cuts that were seeping crimson.“W-We can’t do this!” Singe screamed out, “we can’t! The hospitals need the medicine after the Corrupted invaded! My friend needs that medicine or they’re going to die!” Tears started to roll down Singe’s face as she struggled to get up, but once Kitto pressed her claws to Singe’s neck, she stopped struggling.“We ain’t here to determine what is morally right. We’re here to follow ordas. Now, how ‘bout you start listenin’? Evi gave ordas, we follow ordas. And you ain’t followin’ them.”Filaris approached. “What is happening?” He said with a slight growl.“We got ourselves a defiant one. Makin’ noise, not listenin’, spewin’ nonsense again.” Kitto took her claws away from Singe’s throat. “Probs gonna be a bad time with Evi.” She winked at Filaris.Lex moved forward, but Filaris raised his arm to stop them. He turned to Lex. “We need her. The fire-type is here to light the wool,” he turned back to Kitto, “correct?”Kitto let out a long whistle. “Look at this sharp one.” She crossed her legs and created a rest for her head using her arm on her knee. “So what do ya propose to fix this problem, new boy?”Filaris flicked his tail. “A discussion,” Filaris walked to the head of Singe, “and a request to take your claws off her head.”Breaks looked at Kitto, who nodded agreement. Breaks released his grip on Singe’s head and rested his talons on the ground. Filaris leaned down to Singe and whipped away her tears.“It’s important you follow directions. You can’t help your friend if you’re not there. Perhaps if you obey, keep your head down, and listen to Evi, she could maybe help you. But things aren’t free in life and you gotta pay your dues.”The tears from Singe poured, but she nodded slowly. Filaris looked up to see Kitto with a grin. Filaris stood back up.“Well well well, seems we got ourselves a smooth talka.” Kitto lifted themselves up off Singe. “Shall we get back to it?”Breaks lifted himself back up into the sky and charged into the canopy above, disappearing immediately. Kitto grabbed some more wool and headed off to the west.“Come-on smolda paws, let’s go.”Kitto walked off and Singe disheartenedly walked over to the sack and pulled out some wool, sniffling. Filaris watched as she disappeared after Kitto. He gritted his teeth, doing his best to hide his rage.“Seems you know how this game is played,” Lex said. “Can’t blame you, not a lot of hope for little guys like us anymore.”Filaris walked over to the bag of wool and grabbed a chunk. “Seems we need to look harder.”Filaris angrily charged to the east to finish up their mission, seething all the while. The remainder of the mission was done in silence, leaving Filaris to his thoughts. He needed to send these two to Anoyna or Agnes, but he needed to do so subtly. He spent his time debating what to do. He set the final bit of wool at the base of the center tree.“Seems we’re finished from our end,” Lex let out a single chuckle, releasing a cloud of poison.Filaris stared at the center tree, upset and anger filled him up to the brim. He turned back to approach Lex. Lex was hesitant and backed up at Filaris’ approach, Filaris shoved his snout towards Lex’s face and whispered,“Play along. In 2 days go to Agnes’ bar and tell her I sent you,” Filaris growled, “tell no one.”“Well well, playin’ nice Mista Silver Tongue?”Filaris turned to see Kitto and Singe come from the trees. “Making sure nothing goes awry.” Filaris responded.“Good, some of these klutzes need to learn. I think we ‘bout ready.” Kitto looked around. They pulled a sour face and walked over to the bag. They shuffled through it for a moment before throwing it to the side. Under the bag was a small, bright red feather with speckles of grey. Kitto noticed, picked it up, and traced their claw down the edge of the feather. Small sparks rose as Kitto’s claw traveled down, she smiled a toothy grin. “Hope y’all ready.” She went over to the tree and stuck the feather on the trunk. “Alright smolda paws, you’re up. Get your warm-up and kick the shit outta that fetha.”Singe’s ears hung low, but she started to run in place and quickly picked up the pace. As she moved, embers started sparking up around her nose and under her feet causing the grass around her to burn away. As flames began to engulf the bottom of Singe’s feet, she leaped towards the tree, aiming right for the feather. Filaris, realizing what would happen, grabbed Lex and rushed into the trees. Filaris noticed Kitto doing the same by rushing into the forest. The impact resulted in an explosion on fire, enveloping the center tree’s trunk and anything surrounding it. The wool ignited instantly, running a line of fire through the forest. He held tight, rushing forward as fast as he could. The flames took immediately to the dead trees that Lex’s poison took out. Filaris dashed over burning logs, dodged falling embers, and side-stepped falling branches. Green turned to red all around him as he ran, burning leaves raining down around him like a storm of fire. Filaris panicked, looking around trying to find a way out. He saw the flames warp and twist. He stopped to watch the fire twirl unnaturally. He stared intently as the fire twisted into vague shapes and patterns. The sound of crackling fire was replaced by mumbling murmurs as the flames took the shape of a large pig. Filaris’ eyes went wide as he recognized that form. It was the Pignite he had fought on the streets. He backed up, stopping at the feeling of heat on his back. The Pignite was flailing in the fire, preparing to charge. The vision charged forward at Filaris. He looked around in a frenzy, trying to find a way out but the forest was engulfed in fire. Filaris lifted one of his arms to block the impact, but felt a soft paw grab his claws,“Come on! You guys can’t stay in this heat!”His arm lowered as his body was being pulled in a direction, revealing Singe. Filaris blinked as he ran after her, he turned back to find the Pignite to see it had disappeared completely. Singe kicked the ground, tossing up sand that extinguished the fire and created a path out. Filaris looked down to see how Lex was faring, they looked paralyzed with fear, but no severe injuries from what he could see. Filaris picked up the pace, allowing Singe to guide them out a lot quicker. Soon, the flames ebbed away with the trees, revealing the night’s sky without a star in sight. Filaris collapsed to his knees, dropping Lex.“Thanks,” Filaris sighed to Singe.“Yeah…” Singe rubbed her arm awkwardly.Filaris looked down at Lex, who was also recovering from the sweltering heat.“What happened? Why were you standing there?” Singe asked.“I saw the Pignite I fought the other day. It was most likely a hallucination created from the smoke, heat, and trauma.” Filaris picked himself up to look at the burning orchard. The night sky had transformed into black from smoke and ash, with the red and orange flames contrasting against it.Singe gave a small grin. “You say that so nonchalantly.”Filaris looked back to Signe. “It’s a fact. Not much more to it. There was also something I would like to ask you,” Filaris walked over and past Singe, “follow me.”A few feet away from Lex, Filaris turned back to Singe and whispered, “I want you to go see Agnes in 4 days’ time. Tell her I sent you and don’t tell anyone.”“W-Why?” Singe looked quite scared.“It’s to help, but we can’t let Evi know or your friend will never get help.” Filaris gave a reassuring smile, the best he could.It seemed his smile failed to reassure, Singe looked more nervous than before. “I-I’ll go, please stop smiling.”Filaris face dropped. “Very well. We should find Kitto, however. I know you don’t want to, but we must.”Singe nodded. Filaris went back to Lex to look them over. Thankfully they seem to have recovered enough and were sitting up. “Are you good to move?”Lex chuckled. “Y-Yeah, I caught my breath.”“Good, can you fly up and look for them?”“No need.” Lex pointed upward.Filaris looked up to see Breaks had been circling above. He prayed he didn’t suspect anything. Filaris looked around to see if he could see Kitto. He spotted a small, dark dot traveling over the distant hills of the farmlands. He looked back up to see Breaks descending from the sky down towards the group. When he landed, Kitto had caught up with everyone. Filaris approached.“Are you alright?”Kitto pantted. “Peachy…Anyone die?”“We’re all here and intact,” Filaris said, moving to the side for Kitto.Kitto moved past Filaris to address everyone. “Alright, wea done ‘er. Everyone get back home before dawn breaks. Should be in a half hour or so.” Kitto started to walk away from the group back to town, followed by Breaks.Filaris watched them move, he looked over to Singe and Lex. “Do either of you need help getting home?”Lex shook their head. Singe looked down, refusing to make eye contact.Filaris walked over to Singe. “Will you be alright? I know you had your reservations about this, but don’t do anything foolish. There is not the time nor the place for action.”Singe looked up at Filaris, eyes watery and weak. Her brow furrowed at his words. Determination filled the little Scorbunny’s face as they nodded in confirmation. She nodded at Filaris and followed Kitto’s lead heading home.Lex chuckled. “I don’t know what your game is, Breloom, but I can’t sense a bad bone in your body. Strange you’re here.”“Unfortunate circumstances have befallen us all. That’s why you’re here as well, isn’t it?” Filaris turned to look at Lex.Lex let out a stronger chuckle. “Yeah, you’re right. Let’s hope it’ll end.”Filaris stared intently at Lex. “Hope won’t save us. But having hope will.”Lex shifted their head to look directly at Filaris. They didn’t say anything. Filaris looked away and began to head back home. A new dawn was about to rise, after all.