Pokémon PI (Part 3 of 5)

This is a fanfiction. Pokémon is the intellectual property of Gamefreak. I am simply writing an original story in their world.

This fanfiction is rated PG-13 for mild language, frightening imagery, and scenes of violence.

I get away from the abandoned house as quickly as I can. A lot of people see me as callous, unemotional. They look at my collected demeanor and assume I’ve seen it all. Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of things in this line of work, but there are plenty more things to see out there. Every time I reach the point where I think I couldn’t possibly be surprised again, something new does it.

Watching a man slice his own throat is certainly a new experience for me.

I try to shake it off. Narcissa is somewhere in the Winding Woods, a place notorious for accidents. The woods are difficult to navigate, seeming to twist and turn in completely incomprehensible ways. Add to that the dangerous wild Pokémon living in the grass and trees, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Sissi is in serious danger, and right now I’m the only one who knows to help her.

I consider contacting Lee on my Holocaster, but then decide against it. He would never show me that kind of courtesy. No reason to help him out.

It gets darker as I step into the woods, the trees blocking out the light from the sun. These trees are very old – they are quite tall, but also bent and gnarled. Each one seems entwined with the next. They strike me as unnatural. It doesn’t seem that trees would grow this way. The leaves are wide and make it very difficult for any sunlight to filter through. The few places it does pierce through, it looks like a crack in an otherwise impenetrable veil of shadow.

There’s a large patch of undergrowth up ahead, grass tall enough to reach my waist. Towering in the midst of that grass is a large boulder, the top of it covered in emerald moss that seems to shimmer with hidden power. Ebony seems drawn to it, and I allow her to approach. She looks at it for a long moment, in a way that appears to me to be wistful. As if thinking about what might have been.

I know there are places in the world where simply being in their presence can alter a Pokémon. I suspect that this could be such a place. While an umbreon now, Ebony began life as an eevee, a sort of genetic blank slate that can very quickly evolve into different forms. Living with me, Ebony spent a lot of time hiding in the dark, and her body adjusted accordingly. In a place that like, she’d have become something different entirely. I kneel down beside her and run my fingers through her soft fur.

“I’m sorry, Ebony,” I say. “I’m sorry that you couldn’t grow up somewhere happier and more peaceful.” The bio-luminescent rings on her body glowed fiercely, the umbreon shaking her head and nuzzling me happily. When an eevee lives in darkness, evolution isn’t possible without true friendship. In the same way that having Ebony around made my days bearable, having me around helped her reach her full potential.

“We’re a pretty great team.”

I stand up and look around again. There’s a path straight head of me that’s shrouded in shadow. To my left, through the undergrowth and past the mossy rock, is a similar path. I’m unable to see where either one leads.

“Looks like we’re going to be doing some exploring,” I say to Ebony. Her red eyes furrow, not particularly excited by the prospect of wandering around the woods.

I head straight first, the path turning a corner and then ending in a grove full of thick grass. A particularly large and sturdy tree stands here, but there’s nowhere else to go and no evidence that Narcissa has been to this place. In the corner of my eye I see a shadow flit through the air above me. Looking up, I see nothing. I whirl around, trying to see whatever zipped past me. I can’t hear anything, which is odd – surely a Pokémon would have made some kind of noise. Beside me, Ebony raises a paw and points towards the tree. I look up to see that a noctowl has perched there, completely escaping my notice. My muscles relax; I’m familiar with this creature, and it’s no danger to me. Noctowl can fly soundlessly, explaining how I failed to hear it. They also don’t prey on humans, meaning I’m wasting my time.

I head back to the moss rock and take the other path, staying outside of the grass. There’s a distinct rustling sound coming from it and while the Pokémon inside may be harmless, I’m not taking any risks. The path leads to another thick patch of undergrowth and more forks in the road leading in more directions. While the trail looks complicated, I know I have a good sense of direction and can find my way back here whenever I need.

I hang a right and then take a left and end up in an open clearing surrounded by trees, with one massive tree standing in the center. Walking around the tree once, I see there’s no way to go, so I head back to where I started and head straight instead of turning right. That leads to a dead end, so I go right again but this time head right instead of left. I end up in another patch of undergrowth, with more paths branching off left and right. Both of those lead to dead ends, so I head back again. Seeing a path to my left, I take it and follow it straight for awhile…only to end up in the grove with the massive tree once more.

I curse under my breath. As a kid I explored the twisting and winding streets of Lumiose City all the time, and I learned them like that back of my hand. This shouldn’t be any more difficult, and yet here I am, getting turned around in the woods with a case on the line. I give Ebony a quick glance, but her defeated expression shows that she’s just as confused as me.

Suddenly, through the gaps in the trees, I notice a bright light. Like a flashlight or a torch. The light flashes only momentarily before disappearing, but there’ definitely something moving back where I just came from. I take off running after the light, trying to catch whoever else is here. There’s a small chance it could be Narcissa, but even if it isn’t it could be a park ranger, somebody who knows their way around.

Ebony darts ahead of me as we chase the light, her loping form carrying her past me. The light seems to stay just ahead of us, leading down a path I hadn’t noticed during my earlier rounds. The trail is tucked away between a close grouping of trees, visible only from just the right angle. Ebony runs down the new path with me close on her heels, and we emerge into another clearing with a large tree standing in the center. However, I can clearly see a path heading beyond the tree.

We follow that path and then veer off to the left, ending up in yet another clearing with yet another large tree. This time there is no path, and the lights have suddenly stopped. Ebony is looking around confused while I quickly make my way around to the other side of the tree. Nothing, simply more trees all tangled together too closely to continue forward. The only way we can go is back from where we came. Too late, I realize what we were following.

“Will-o-wisp,” I mutter, along with a few four-letter words. Many ghost Pokémon have the power to create phantom flames, and they use them to lure travelers off of the path and into dangerous situations. It’s a trick I’ve seen before a dozen times, and I should have recognized it even when I wasn’t expecting it. The flames confirm something I had already begun to suspect.

A ghost is responsible for Narcissa’s disappearance.

I walk back to the area before the clearing. There’s a path straight ahead and one to my left. I decide to head left, Ebony walking more cautiously alongside me this time. The trail turns a corner, leading me to a set of stairs formed naturally into a hillside. I make my way up the stairs and find myself looking at a large expanse of grass, rustling in a few places to indicate the Pokémon living inside. In the distance I can see more trees, but not clearly enough to tell if there is a path or not.

Suddenly I feel a wrenching pain in my left arm. I cry out in agony and look down to see what happened. There’s a huge piercing as if I’d just been stabbed with a dagger, and blood is pouring from the wound. I drop to one knee and quickly look through my trench coat for my medicine pouch, though it’s slow going with only one arm. I manage to get the bag out and grab a bottle of Potion. I spray the medicine onto the wound, biting my lip to stop myself from groaning loudly at the pain. Ebony helps me by applying pressure to the wound as I slowly wrap my arm in gauze. She then holds it in place while I rip off a piece of medical tape. I use it to secure the gauze, which is already blossoming red thanks to my bleeding arm.

Another ghost trick, this one much more potent. If I don’t find the culprit soon, I’ll keep getting wounds like this until it kills me. The only way to break the curse is to stop the ghost that cast it on me. On the bright side, casting the curse will have weakened it quite a bit – once I find it, Ebony should be able to take care of it quite quickly.

I try to find the balance between urgency and caution, pushing through the tall grass around my waist to check the wall of trees for a pathway through. Nothing. All around me the trees are linking their branches together, their trunks huddled tightly and blocking any possible passage beyond them. I’d suspected supernatural influence over the trees when I first came to the woods – I’m sure of it now.

I head to the edge of the hill and look back down at the path. I notice that it continues on past the stairs, and I could follow it to a different part of the woods. I turn and run for the stairs, but am interrupted halfway there when my leg suddenly feels a searing pain. It gives out and I collapse on the ground, Ebony quickly coming over and lifting me up with her body. She’s not strong enough to carry me, but she does get me off the ground so I can treat my leg.

Part of me feels that trying to treat the wound is a waste of time, but I know that it’s important I be able to move quickly. In the long run, a useless leg will kill me faster than taking a few minutes of rest.

I head down the stairs three at a time and then run down the path I discovered, Ebony running right alongside me. The path only leads me a few feet ahead before ending abruptly in a wall of trees. I have to scramble to stop myself, and I scream curses at the sky. No time to waste, though. I turn about and run back, only to find that I’m no longer on the path by the staircase, but in a more open area with some tall grass and multiple paths splitting off to the left, right, and straight ahead.

On my right side, two Pokémon are waiting for me.

One resembles a gnarled tree, with thick roots and twisted branches. The top of its head and its wrists are ringed with thick patches of foliage. A shadowy substance connects the tree’s trunk with its arms, and a single red eye peers from the creature’s face. I recognize this Pokémon as a trevenant, and it is no doubt the source of the will-o-wisp and the curse on my body. Trevenant are normally peaceful and only attack those who harm the forest, but the creature standing behind it explains why this one broke the rules.

Humanoid in appearance with pale violet skin, this Pokémon’s body is black as night and has formations on its head that resemble hair buns. At the base of its torso, its flesh flares out to form a sort of skirt. Bright white bows adorn its “hair” and “dress,” and the creature has massive blue eyes. Those eyes are staring directly into mine, but my blackglasses are preventing any psychic intrusions. I can feel the Pokémon trying to get in, though, trying to read and manipulate my mind as it has no doubt done to so many others.

This is a gothorita, known as the manipulation Pokémon. The rap sheet on these things includes kidnapping children and brainwashing other Pokémon, all in the interest of having playmates. Chances are Narcissa is somewhere nearby, and this thing is why she wandered into the woods in the first place.

Gothorita is holding a single hand over trevenant‘s head, gently moving her hand back and forth to cause the tree to sway. She’s controlling it like a puppetmaster, and with a broad sweep of her hand the ghost Pokémon moves the nearby trees. They all close together, branches wrapping around one another and blocking off every possible escape route. She thinks she’s trapping me.

But I’ve got no plans to run.

I cry out in agony as a third wound appears in the small of my back. Meanwhile, Ebony jumps forward to engage with the other Pokémon. The puppetmaster uses trevenant as a shield, having it swipe and scratch at my protector to keep her at bay. But Ebony is a skilled fighter, blocking each shot and carefully placing her blows to go past the tree Pokémon and instead strike the gothorita. I’m scrambling through my pack to try and get a Potion, but my vision is starting to get blurry. I’ve lost a lot of blood and the effects are setting in.

I manage to grab the Potion and I try to angle it to spray on my back. The first spray misses, but there’s plenty of medicine in the bottle and I manage to get it onto my wound. It stings like hell, but this medicine is about all I’ll be able to muster. I ball up my remaining gauze and press it against the wound, applying as much pressure as I can in such an awkward spot.

Ebony’s rings are glowing in erratic patterns, the flashing lights throwing off the gothorita and preventing her from aiming properly. This gives my umbreon the opening that she needs. She steps behind the tree Pokémon and reaches up with her paw to deliver a powerful smack to the puppetmaster’s face, sending the creature sprawling along the ground. The spell on trevenant broken, it turns to face its tormentor. The ghost seems to fade temporarily out of existence, the gothorita suddenly stricken with terrible fear. She tries to run, but Ebony easily catches her and tackles her. The puppetmaster is sent staggering right into the grasp of the reappeared trevenant, the ghost dragging its psychic attacker away into a portal of shadow.

Ebony darts over to me and bends down beside me, trying to help me up. I can’t move, though, my wounds hurting me too badly. Any moment now another one will appear and finish me off.

Suddenly, trevenant is there again, bending down in front of me and laying down a series of juicy yellow berries. At the base they look like turnips, but I recognize these as sitrus berries. The healing properties of these things are quite potent. I gratefully pick up the berries and begin eating, feeling as the pain from my wounds starts to ease.

“Apology accepted,” I say. The trevenant bows one more time before once again fading into shadow. Beyond where the battle took place, a path has opened in the trees, and I can see sunlight at last. After a few minutes, I have the strength to get up, and I head for the light.

The Winding Woods end with this path, opening up to a huge field covered in flowers of all colors. There’s a lot to look at, from the beautiful flowers to a flowing river to a massive cliff with a cave at the base. All around, Pokémon are running and playing happily, most of them appearing not to be local species. There are a lot of humans here as well, many of them wearing police uniforms.

“What are these people doing here?” I say to Ebony. She seems just as confused as me.

A woman notices me and runs over. I recognize her as Cora, my client.

“You’re finally here!” she says. Finally? “We found Narcissa. Lee noticed some footprints underneath her bedroom window and followed them to the woods. He searched high and low until he found her here near the cave.”

“Lee found her?” I ask, appalled. “What was she doing out here?”

“It’s the weirdest thing,” Cora says. “She was playing by the cave, drawing in the dirt with a stick and singing to herself. Lee believes that some Pokémon called gothorita had her under a spell.”

“Yes,” I nod, “I just defeated her.”

Cora smiles widely. “That’s great! We’ve been looking for it! Come talk to Lee and see Sissi.”

Cora leads me past all the police officers to where Lee is standing smugly with Slim watching casually behind him. Narcissa is sitting on the ground in a daze. She’s wearing a pink dress with bows that reminds me of gothorita. It disturbs me, so soon after my own encounter with the creature.

“I did it, Milli,” Lee smirks. “I found her. Isn’t that right, Sissi?”

She just keeps staring at the ground, muttering under her breath.

“She’s pretty shaken by what happened,” Cora says. “Understandably so.”

I bend down next to Narcissa and carefully place a finger beneath her chin, tilting her face up to look at me.

“Hi,” I say, smiling. “I’m Detective Milliarde. Can you tell me something, Sissi? Can you tell me what made you come all the way out here? What did you see?” Narcissa’s expression as she looks at me is lifeless.

“Violet eyes,” she says. “I saw violet eyes.”

My encounter with the psychic floods back into my mind. He’d said that violet eyes were telling him things, helping him know things he shouldn’t. That this mind was so powerful it twisted the Winding Woods into their incomprehensible structure.

I grab Lee’s arm and pull him to the side.

“I don’t think this case is closed,” I say. He laughs at me.

“Milli,” he begins, “I know you hate to be outdone, but face the facts. I’m here. I saved the girl. Way before you ever showed up.”

“It’s not over,” I insist. “Narcissa is saying violet eyes lured her here.”

“So what?” Lee asks.

I’m talking faster as my thoughts collect. The implications of my realization frighten me. “Cora told me that you all suspect gothorita was the kidnapper. Well I fought that Pokémon on my way here, Lee. I fought it, I defeated it, and I saw what it looked like.”

Gothorita‘s eyes were blue.”

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