literature

Sandy Issues

Deviation Actions

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Ardor had never felt a hint of homesickness or even nostalgia after he departed Ashior three years ago. The Geodan desert had brought up old memories of his homeland, since it closely resembled the Fȳrenian wasteland if not with a lot more sand, and more interesting rock formations on the nearby cliffs. The Quilava hadn’t realized that he had missed the intense heat from the sun or even the feel of hot sand beneath his feet. Though, the solar rays here seemed to be less harsh compared to Fȳren, but it was still considerably strong that Ardor decided to pull up his hood all the way down just to shield his eyes. He wasn’t bothered by the heat, being a ‘mon born in the desert after all, but it was a different story for Derek and Cael.

The Honedge was lying on the caravan wagon Ardor and Derek was guarding, looking quite miserable as he fanned himself with his long green tassel. Derek didn’t look too good himself. The Monferno looked really uncomfortable in the heat, perhaps attributed to his naturally dense fur. The chimp’s black scarf was hanging loosely around his shoulders, and the tip was dragging across the hot sand.

“How much further?” He panted, wiping his sweaty brow with the cloth of his scarf.

“Not for long now, I guess...” Replied the Gogoat who had been tasked to guard the wagon with Ardor’s team. She too, looked really uncomfortable in the heat. “We’ve been walking for miles, Cactus Fields should be nearby.” She reached into his satchel and took a long drag from her canteen. “How are you holding up, Mr. Ra’Ael?”

Ardor hummed. “I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.” He said, giving the goat a smile as he peered through the sandy horizon, eyeing the long line of wagons and ‘mons trailing through the Geodan desert. Explorers, Hunters, and Researchers who had participated in the dungeon exploration had set up camp right outside Basalt Halls exit as they waited for further instructions. Derek and Cael, who had went back to Andalusst to bring the troublemaking, holier-than-thou Whiscash back to the Hunters headquarters, reached the temporary camp just as night came in. It was still disconcerting for Ardor whenever he looked at Derek and saw a strong Monferno with icy blue eyes blinking back at you. He was just getting comfortable with the small, lithe form of a Chimchar with less intense eyes. Dear gods, those eyes were creepy. It was as if he was staring past his defenses and digging through his secrets… almost reminded him of a certain Lucario who had been getting on his nerves lately.

“You know Ardor, I'd say that you really do like Noir if you're going so far as to emulate him. Your brooding is just sad in comparison though.”

Startled, the Quilava whipped around, fist raised with Incinerate at the ready before he realized who it was. He let out an exasperated sigh and shook his head, dispersing the golden flames that had coated his paws. “Fancy for you to join us, Fennec... what's that supposed to mean?” He added with a hint of annoyance.

“Oh, I don’t know.” The otter sing-songed, grinning at Ardor. “I’ve been hearing how you’ve been paying a lot of attention to the Lucario lately.”  

Ardor groaned and rubbed his face with his paw. “No, no, not you too. It’s bad enough with that jackal

That ever annoying smug grin that refused to budge from the Dewott’s face. “Now, now, Ardy, I’m sure you’ll have a fun time.”

Rolling his eyes, the fire type scoffed. “I seriously doubt it with that stuck-up Lucario.”

“Oh, he can be a lot of fun with the right persuasion.” Fennec chuckled, moving closer to Ardor, leaning his head close to the stoat’s ears. “But you’ll have a much more enjoyable time with me.”

Ardor swore he hadn’t blushed this deep in his life. The hooded Quilava managed a weak chuckle as he coughed. “W-well, erm…”

Fennec had slung his arm over his shoulders, playing with the tips of the hood which was fastened to the collar of his vest. “You good tonight? I’ve booked a room in the Thirsty Cacturne of course.”

The damn otter seemed to be enjoying the sight of the blush that was quickly enveloping Ardor’s face. The fire type simply glared at the grinning Dewott and punched his shoulder.

“Ouch. That… didn’t hurt. At all.”

Ardor was this close to sock the Water type's face. “Fennec…”

“Alright, alright.” Raising his arms in a mock surrender, Fennec sauntered away from the caravan wagon, but not before pulling Ardor in for a quick peck. “Later, stud.”

Awkward silence followed when the Dewott was finally gone. 

“You know… your boyfriend is really cute.”

The next second, Cael had found himself buried halfway into the sand dune, blinking in bewilderment. Derek couldn't help but laugh at the spectacle, and went to pull his friend as Ardor let out an annoyed grunt and dusted his paws off as he trudged back to the wagon, with the Gogoat sending him a bemused look.

***

Logan groaned as he pushed himself up, wincing as his broken arm throb painfully beneath the bandages and sling. Apparently, he had slept right over the injured limb and the pain had woken him up.

“Easy there. Don’t move too much.” came Tristan’s voice.

Blinking, Logan took in his surroundings blearily before he nodded. He was still in the large canvas wagon with a multitude of supplies taken from the dungeons, along with Tristan and Tor. He sighed as he went to lie on the sleeping roll. He squinted his eyes as the harsh sunlight penetrated through the small gaps in the canvas fabric right to his face. A thought suddenly occured to him.

“Er… where’s Theoden?”

Tor jabbed a paw towards the front of the wagon, where a pair of strong Donphans were pulling the wagon accompanied by two ‘mons who acted as guards. Theoden Arifex’s strong and confident form was unmistakable. Logan noticed that the Gabite had taken off his thick cargo vest, revealing the bloodstained bandages underneath the harness which various dungeoneering tools were clipped on. Every movement seemed to be quite painful for the Dragon type, but what boggled Logan is how Theoden was able to laugh and grin at the Sceptile he was partnered with.

He remembered the number of lashes, cuts, and wounds the dragon had received when he was protecting Logan from the trap which the Barboaches had activated. The Buizel’s face darkened at that thought. Bloody useful he was…

Tristan’s nudge pulled the Buizel out of his thoughts. “Don’t feel so bad of yourself.” The penguin replied, looking knowingly at Logan, who just blinked in surprise. “People make mistakes, and besides, it’s your first dungeon.” He said, giving Logan a pat on the shoulder. “Besides, Theo isn’t blaming you or anything.”

“But I—” Logan began, but was cut off by Tor, who let out an impatient grunt.

“Come on, kid. Pull yourself together. It’s not like you messed up big time.”

Logan shifted on his bedroll, not looking convinced. “Those Barboach guards still destroyed that tunnel… Ow!” He jerked when Tor gave him a light smack the back of his head, which kinda hurt.

“It’s their fault. Not yours.” Tor rolled his eyes at Logan. That kid really need a get over his guilt trip. “Feeling sorry for yourself won’t get you nowhere. You failed to secure the room, true, but you did get those construction workers to safety with Theo.” He jerked his thumb to the Gabite in front of the wagon.

“Barely...” The young Buizel muttered as he rested his head on his arms.

“Then you train!” The Luxio snapped, jerking Logan to surprise. “If you feel you’re weak, then train until you break. Challenge yourself, if you’re willing.” He folded his arms, glaring at Logan as if daring him to interrupt. “If you feel you’re weakling and useless, then you’ll become one. A complete and utterly useless weakling. Oh, sure you have some disadvantages and weaknesses, so what? Would you let it block your path just like that? No, you don’t. All you gotta do, is to train yourself, mind and body, until you overcome those weaknesses.”

Tristan rested his flipper on Logan’s shoulder and gave it a slight squeeze. “My friend is right, you know… don’t be too hard on yourself.” He hummed thoughtfully when the Buizel turned his eyes on the Prinplup. “Well, if you want, you can come and train with us.” He offered with a smile. “I’m sure Tor wouldn’t mind, right Tor?”

The feline grunted. “‘Course I won’t.”

“W-what? I mean… you sure?”

“Yes, yes, you deaf or what?” Tor pursed his lips in annoyance before he turned to Tristan. “Both of us can help you, only if you are willing.”

“We’ll let you think about it.” Said Tristan with a small nod. “Don’t worry. For now, let’s just focus on what the guild has in store for us next. You should try to talk to Theoden by the way.” He suggested.

Logan looked away. "I-I'll think about it." He replied.

Tristan gave the Buizel a knowing nod and glanced out of the window flap. “Huh, looks like we are arriving.” 

"Really?" Logan went to look out of the wagon, noticing the looming figure of the largest cactus he had ever seen in the distance. He couldn't help but gape in awe. 

***

A few wagons away, right by the Researchers’ general area, a series of odd plinking and plunking could be heard, along with random musical hums, which came from a ruffled looking Zigzagoon, who was currently sitting on the floor of the wagon with a violin between his neck and left paw.

“Jim, you can probably stop plinking your violin.” Leo half groaned from his sleeping roll. He had wish he could get some sleep after being guided through the labyrinth known as Basalt Halls. They weren’t kidding when they said Mystery Dungeons liked to shift their layout around. The Vaporeon did not get any such rest however, courtesy of his teammate.

“Shh! Thinking.” Came the flat reply from Jim, who was staring into nothing in particular.

Leo harrumphed and rubbed his face with his paw. “You’ve been doing that for ages.” He said slowly, looking at Jim straight on. “What’s bothering you?”

The young researcher let out a sigh, continued plunking and plinking the strings into an odd sort of tune, before he stopped. Sitting up straight, Jim reached into his vest pocket and pulled out a folded piece of envelope. Leo quickly took it once the racoon slid the yellowing paper across the floor to him.

It was an odd envelope, which was definitely made of parchment. It only had one sentence written on it, addressing it to one ‘Esteemed Antheia Holford’. Raising an eyebrow at his roommate, Leo turned the envelope around and took out the note inside. It was made of paper, but a rather thick one, and it has a faint pink hue to it, Leo realized. It didn’t have anything to point Leo to the sender as it was unsigned, and it wasn’t dated.

“Read it, if you want.” Jim intoned lightly.

Shrugging, the middle aged Vaporeon turned his eyes on the letters written on the note. He had to admit, it was the tidiest cursive writing he had ever seen, and by the looks of it, had been written using a fountain pen. “Huh…” He blinked as he read the letter.

“In three weeks time, by the chime of midnight at the full moon, my client who desires to consult you of a matter of the utmost importance will arrive by your residence. Your recent services to the Ancient and Noble House of Yvor have shown that you are one who may safely be trusted with matters which are of an importance which can hardly be exaggerated or known by the press. Be in your chamber then at that hour, and do not be offended if your visitor insists to wear a mask.”

The first thought that occurred to Leo was Jim had somehow sneaked into his sister’s office, through several levels of security, and snatched the letter from the impeccable Linoone’s richly ornate desk.  “How did you—”

“Antheia relayed it to me.” Came Jim’s prompt reply. “And if you’re thinking I had stole that letter from her, don’t start.” He added quickly, sounding somewhat offended. “Anyway, she’s figured out who will be her visitor in three weeks time, but she felt that she might require me and Spencer’s presence in her little meeting.” He said, plucking the strings again. “You’re welcome to join of course.”

Leo stared. “And… why so?”

“Because this will be an interesting case.” Jim was smiling. His pale blue eyes had an odd glint to it. “Why three weeks? And at the full moon no less. Also, this client insisted to hide his or her identity.”

Leo hummed, trying to form a guess, which he came out blank.

Jim let out a sigh as he glanced out from the wagon’s canvas flaps, surveying the dry and sandy scenery outside. “Don’t try to formulate what it means, Leo. We have little to no data. It’s impossible to try and theorize anything before one has sufficient amount of data. One can’t make bricks without clay…”

“...and you’ll begin to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” Leo finished, waving his paw. “Yes, you’ve told me that a thousand times already. The real question is…” he gestured to the letter. “What did you deduce of it?”

“What can you deduce out of it?” Jim sent Leo a smirk.

Rolling his eyes, the doctor took the paper and examined it closely, first by bringing it to the sunlight coming through the canvas flaps, and then the paper itself, frowning as he tried to piece together details and facts.

“The one who wrote this must be a wealthy person.” He began, glancing at Jim. “This kind of parchment isn’t exactly cheap, not to mention the quality of the ink and the apparent fountain pen this ‘mon used…” He then turned to the paper, which he ran through his paw digits. “The paper is peculiarly stiff…”

Jim snapped his paws, surprising Leo a bit. “Peculiar. That’s it.”

“...So?”

“That paper and parchment isn’t from anywhere around Andalusst or its surroundings at all.” Jim began, taking the envelope and note from his roommate and team partner’s paws. “And see here. There’s this watermark…” he held it against the sunlight.

Leo nodded. “Yes, I noticed it too.” He pointed to the watermarked letters ‘So. P. Gt’ stamped with an invisible ink on the lower corner of the note. “That one, I can’t make of.”

Jim chuckled. “Understandable, seeing you’re not from this time frame. It’s German abbreviation. The 'Gt' stands for ‘Gesellschaft,’ which means ‘Company’, and as for the ‘P,’ it stands for ‘Papier.’ Now for the ‘So’... hmm, must be the town where it was produced. Let’s see here…” He pulled out a small, but thick leather bound book which Leo recognized as Jim’s personal list of towns and cities in Parai, and began flapping through the pages. “Ah, here it is. Solendorf. It says here that it’s a ‘German speaking country located on the northwestern Misty Hills, famous for its numerous glass-factories and paper-mills.’” Jim grinned.

“So Antheia’s visitor comes from this Solendorf.” Leo concluded.

“Precisely, or rather, somewhere around it. Her client might be visiting that town when they wrote this letter, but my instincts tells me it’s the former. ” Jim grinned. “He or she is probably a member of the aristocratic families residing there, judging by the precise curves and lines… and it seems that we’ve arrived.”

Turning to look through the window flaps, Leo saw that the previously bare, sandy desert was not dotted with numerous stalks of cacti of various shapes and sizes. Some of them were small and round with multiple protrusions, some were like oversized grass leaves, some were tall and thin like sticks, and there were some which were as tall as a three storied house and easily as big as well. Leo was utterly dumbstruck.

Jim plunked his violin again. “Interesting shapes. I wonder how the locals manage to learn to hollow out those cacti and kept it alive.”

The whole caravan soon stopped, and soon, every Pokemon was out of their wagons and began to heaving supply crates off the carts, setting up camp supplies, or convening with their Guild Leaders. Leo soon found himself staring at the largest cactus in the field, which turns out to be the inn called Thirsty Cacturne.

“That is a big cactus.” The Water type whistled and shook his head as he turned his gaze away from the inn and focused on helping Jim with setting up their tent. He was a bit surprised that the Zigzagoon had a difficulty to set the whole thing upright, despite his vast knowledge on a lot of things. Chuckling to himself, Leo set the supplies he had gotten off the wagon and set to help a frustrated looking Jim.

“Shut up, Leo.” The Zigzagoon grumbled when he finally noticed the smirk on the doctor’s face.


:iconpmdunity:

My first entry for Cactus Fields, featuring all four of my teams. Originally, I wanted to post this as a two parter, but after looking at how long Part 1 is gonna be, I decided to split it into three (or maybe four) parts. And this has been quite fun to write. Enjoy folks!

Team App Links:
Explorers Guild - Stormfront
Explorers Guild - Aecor
Hunters Guild - Scorch Recon
Researchers Guild - Datum

Personal NPCs:
Caelus "Cael" Prodromus the Honedge
Theoden Arifex the Gabite

Cameos:
Fennec Sharpe © Nox-Nemoris 

Part 1| Part 2Part 3
© 2015 - 2022 Quarteon01
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GabladeRunner's avatar
I have been out of PMDU for quite some time now - feels like ages - but stories like this really make me miss it. I must commend you on your world building and establishment of characters! Even though I know little to none about the teams provided, the characters were described well and their interactions with each other felt both natural and explained enough about them so I didn't feel too out of the loop. Very nice work.