The trail of blood was fresh.
Autumn leaves crackled under Yveltal's massive talons. She ducked under a branch, careful not to touch the delicate wood, and scanned the ground ahead. A small tuft of white fur showed her the way, and she continued down the path. Another spatter barely stood out against the red, teardrop-shaped leaves on the ground, but Yveltal was very keen on that kind of color.
Under the evening sun, everything was quiet; too early for the nocturnal Pokémon to rise, but too late to hear the diurnals. Long, dreary shadows blanketed the cooling forest floor, and Yveltal wondered if she would find what she was looking for at all.
A spark of white-yellow light answered her silent plea. It was tiny—it would have gone unnoticed had it been any dimmer. She walked gingerly toward that spark of light, stopping only when a quiet whimper confirmed her suspicions.
A little Pachirisu; young, but not too young. Old enough that it left the nest, but perhaps only recently. On its side, Pachirisu let out another quiet whimper. Dim lights reflected off of its eyes, and Yveltal realized that it was staring right at her. She lowered her head in respect; poor thing. A shame it wasn't lying in the opposite direction.
"It's okay," Yveltal said, her voice an ominous trill. With her words came a cruel, hollow breeze that kicked up dry leaves and dusted her body and blinded Pachirisu. Another whine, an arm reaching up to its face, but it was too weak.
Yveltal lowered her head—her beak was larger than the little thing—and brought a wing forward. Her tail's claws flexed on the ground, digging into the dirt absently. Almost on reflex, it drew away life from the nearby trees, but she quickly stopped herself.
It whined back, not recognizing her words. A wild Pokémon, no doubt, yet that didn't make it any less tragic to Yveltal. Life was draining from this one too early, and Yveltal wondered if she could bring this one to Xerneas. But not only was he too far away, but perhaps that would only lead to more suffering.
Morbid curiosity drove Yveltal to inspect Pachirisu closer. The wound was across its chest; some sort of slash. Must have gotten into a fight it simply couldn't win, perhaps falling prey to a predator. Yet it still managed to escape. It was strong, but not strong enough to escape the aftermath. The little one was too small; these wounds were far too grave, and there were hints of poison coursing through it, too.
Yveltal sighed, making another ominous trill, and gently picked Pachirisu up. Then, she began to sing. The song had no words—it would be meaningless to Pachirisu, after all—but the tune was slow and became slower, notes rising and falling with Pachirisu's chest. The harmony slowed the wind and settled the leaves; the sun set, making the sky just a little darker. Pachirisu relaxed in her claws, weakly snuggling against her massive wing.
On the final note, Yveltal gently ran her free wing's claw under Pachirisu's chin, then the cheek—it sparked, weakly, and Pachirisu smiled. Yveltal didn't care much for the tingling sensation, but she didn't stop her song. Finally, she moved it to Pachirisu's forehead, where a small, dark aura collected at the tip of her claw. Pachirisu, still smiling, stiffened, and then went limp. It was gone.
Yveltal set Pachirisu down after that, and the leaves surrounded the lifeless body. Yveltal stared for a while until more little, gleaming eyes to her left caught her attention. Two pairs of them. Two more Pachirisu, the same age as one whose life had just been extinguished. They looked at Pachirisu with little recognition of what had happened; did they understand death? On a primal level, they at least recognized Yveltal as a threat, because when she looked at them, they immediately backed away.
Speaking to them would be no use. She turned, her tail dragging a trail through the ground, and left the body alone. When far enough away, she took to the sky.
Moonlight Village was a humble abode settled in the middle of a small valley. North of the country, the winds often became cold and harsh when the leaves turned red. A cobblestone path divided the town in two, piercing through its heart. There, in the center of town, a small crowd of Pokémon gathered around a great, blue Pokémon with multicolored horns. Under the morning sun, they shimmered, though the shine faded rapidly to the brightening sky.
"Everyone, quiet, quiet," Xerneas said, stomping a hoof. "Now, from what I've been told, your village was recently hit by terrible rainfall, something you would have expected from Lugia's wrath. Now, while I don't agree with your decision to live in a valley where floods may happen… and while I also feel that my visit is completely needless… the Great Ancestor feels that I should at least give this town a proper rejuvenation." He harrumphed, tapping a hoof again. "So, I will humor you."
He looked down at them all, greedy eyes, eager for just a small taste of his power. Gods, he hated being out in public. He never had a moment to himself the second he left his dwellings. And even then, there was always some bold explorer…
They were still staring at him. Some of them had that usual, indignant expectance in their eyes, particularly of a Tyranitar that kept rubbing at his arm, like it was sore. Oh, Tyranitar, was your arm hurting? Sprained from carrying too much weight? Is it such a great inconvenience to you, then, that you would ask a god to heal it? Is that how important it is to this village that you'd hint so obviously at it?
Xerneas should leave. He really should. They had no respect for him; they were only being nice because of his power.
Something pink floated in the sky. Long tail, tiny body, watching from far away while resting atop a violet bubble of Psychic energy.
Xerneas suppressed a snarl and turned it into a sigh. "Near or far, it won't matter; let me focus. One Geomancy for the town, just for you."
His antlers brightened, outpacing the morning light. Energy flowed from his antlers into his hooves, and then into the ground, where—perhaps as a spiteful side-effect—grass broke through the gaps in the cobblestone floor and overgrew around the feet of the crowd. Nearby trees resembled their springtime days in seconds; all the Pokémon nearby glowed with power, their chests and shoulders visibly rising.
Some of the Pokémon glowed particularly brightly. While this was no surprise to Xerneas, a few Pokémon gasped and cried out in celebration; when the light faded, three Pokémon evolved from the sheer jolt of energy. Cheers and hugs over the monumental occasion—the miracle, as far as they were concerned—didn't move Xerneas. After all, thanks to the miracle, they had completely forgotten about him, aside from a few in the crowd that gave him thankful nods and smiles.
To them, he at least smiled back. Because at least they knew to spare a few seconds to thank him. Looking up, Xerneas saw no pink Ancestor lording over him, so his job was done. Without another word, Xerneas left the town and its rejuvenated aura.
The chilling wind was calming after a long day. Without ceremony, Yveltal landed near her nest of dead leaves, prodded at a few perceived imperfections at the edges, and then hopped onto the center. It was large enough that, if desired, she could stretch out to her full wingspan and still have some nest to spare. The claws on her tail squeezed and gripped at a clump of the hay, then released it. She needed something harder to squeeze that didn't simply give way. Maybe somewhere in town they would have a big stress ball, or a mossy rock. A big, mossy rock. Oh, but she'd just kill the moss… Fake moss? Did they make those?
Idle thoughts distracted her until she drifted away. No blankets as there was no need; the cold was cozy for her. She admired the dead trees that had grown over a ruined town long since abandoned. She remembered exploring one of those crumbling buildings. There was a little toy left behind by a Pokémon that had escaped before the fire that had claimed it. But that had decayed to time, too. Maybe she could buy another that resembled it. It was squishy. Maybe they had a bigger version…
After emitting a soft trill—which killed a few nearby flowers—she fell asleep.
Though, it didn't last long. The sun had set recently, and based on the temperature and how her body still felt warm, it was not even close to the darkest point of night. But despite this, she heard something in the silence. She cracked one eye open and winced in preparation, wondering if it was some misguided Pokémon seeking revenge. She didn't want to kill someone tonight; she'd done enough of that already. Maybe if she stayed asleep, they'd get cold feet and leave without a word…
What if it was a blighted Pokémon? That could be dangerous. Perhaps the only thing truly dangerous to a Pokémon like her, at least aside from something foolish like defying Arceus. But she didn't feel any sort of corrupted aura in the air… No, it was just a bystander, perhaps, passing by on a nighttime stroll.
No, they were definitely getting closer, and this Pokémon was a lot larger than something she could ignore. She opened her eye more and focused, only to see, through the dark, the dimly glowing antlers of Xerneas. A mixture of relief and joy washed over her, and then a giggle.
"Xern," Yveltal greeted. "Long day?"
"Can I sleep here tonight?" Xerneas said with a hint of desperation in his voice.
"Let me guess." Yveltal lifted her wing, silently inviting Xerneas into her nest. "Eager visitors?"
He obliged with a relieved sigh, going around Yveltal, ducking under the wing, and then turning on his side. His body was so warm; smooth, soft blue fur trapped the heat even this far into the night.
"You don't know the half of it," Xerneas said, groaning and cuddling against the underside of Yveltal's wings. "I went to this town, ugh, what was it called, Moonplate or something. Apparently, someone got on Mew's good side because she insisted that I go there and take care of some of their villagers after some catastrophe, who cares what it was, you know how they are."
Yveltal nodded understandingly, though with a small twinge of envy. Any time Xerneas was summoned, it was to see smiling and relieved faces, perhaps not unlike how Yveltal had greeted him tonight. And her? She saw nothing but fear in all those she met. Fear of what she could do to them if she wasn't in the right mood, as they saw it. Fear of her power. Fear of death. Everyone was like that. Even that Pachirisu's family, who saw how far gone the little one had been.
Xerneas let out one last groan and nipped at one of Yveltal's claws. "I'll get out of your nest in the morning."
"Oh, it's—you don't have to if you need extra time." Yveltal's heart fluttered, and Xerneas smirked, even with his eyes closed.
"If I feel like it," he said. "G'night, Yevvy."
Yveltal woke up with a start, accidentally squeezing Xerneas, though he didn't stir. Golden hooves stood at the edge of her nest.
"A-Arceus!" Yveltal tried to get up, but she was trapped under Xerneas; at some point during her slumber, he had gone on top of her wing rather than beneath, and now she couldn't move without getting Xerneas off—and, therefore, waking him up. She couldn't do that.
Reduced to looking up at Arceus, Yveltal gave him a nervous smile. "Um, hello. Is everything well?"
"You have an assignment. I left the details here." The god of gods tapped a large piece of paper next to her nest, kept down by a small rock. Primitive technology, but she was never good with those newfangled inventions anyway. Arceus probably felt the same.
"Tomorrow at the latest," he said, "and preferably today."
And you can't just do that yourself? Yveltal thought idly, but she knew how it always was. Procedures, policies, delegations, traditions. She wouldn't mind following Mew's delegation now and then instead…
"Take care." Arceus took two steps away, as he always did, and then disappeared in a flash of golden light. Fading orbs remained where he had stood before those, too, dissolved.
Yveltal didn't like the cold anymore. Slowly, she tugged her wing out from under Xerneas, praying to—well, that would probably just irritate him. She merely hoped that Xerneas wouldn't wake up.
Perhaps by a residual miracle from Arceus, she was able to break free unnoticed. She shuffled her wings, read over the assignment, and prepared for departure.
South, near the beach, there was a forest that hadn't seen a fire in at least a generation. A worrying amount of time, particularly when the rains were becoming less and less frequent. Perhaps it was due for floods in a few decades, but for now, the dryness was becoming a concern for the lives within and nearby. The smoke alone from a fire would snuff out all crops that surrounded the forest.
So, Yveltal's assignment was simple: Destroy the forest and let the overgrowth even itself out. No fire, no smoke, only dust and ash.
It was such a lush forest, filled with deep, full greens. Small Pokémon chirped in the branches—loud little creatures, even from so high up, eager to greet the morning sun. From the sky, her distinct shadow loomed over the trees.
Yveltal didn't feel guilty for what she knew she was about to do. This was just her job, part of the work that had to be done to keep this world, a world of Pokémon where everyone was capable of so much, in balance. What caused this overgrowth? Yveltal wasn't sure. But the Pokémon nearby had been neglectful of it and perhaps did not realize the doom they had caused themselves in the future; if anything, her arrival here was a blessing. She could let them start anew without the flames claiming them.
But she understood. Mortals were often short-sighted, and it was difficult and tiresome to teach them generation after generation, what with how often they died. A less involved god would leave them alone to fall to their own vices, but perhaps sometimes it was necessary to help them.
And so, Arceus had sent her here.
The morning dew atop the treetops didn't deter Yveltal's descent. She weaved through a large clearing and landed in the center with a firm whoosh. With loud spatters, the dewdrops on the heavy leaves rained down on her. She shook off most of it and outstretched her wings. Around her feet, grass already withered and wilted into nothing but gray mulch.
This part of the forest was already showing signs of overgrowth. Twisted vines competed with one another for sunlight. Flowers grew on top of and in between those. The tree trunks of some trees were completely covered in layers of moss so thick she could run her claws through them like fur.
This wasn't a normal overgrowth. This was the result of Pokémon sparring too often there; life energy flowing without restraint in the roots, through the trees. Frenzy Plant, Magical Leaf—those techniques energized the plants, and sometimes contributed to it. This area must have a high population of Grass Pokémon, if she had to guess.
It was a shame that they had too much of a good thing.
Something creaked above her. The tree was dying. Withering and rotting right where it stood. Leisurely, Yveltal stepped to the side. A branch fell, splintering into countless dry pieces, which themselves turned to dusty ash moments later.
She was careful. She didn't want to destroy the whole forest, after all. She walked slowly, one pace every five seconds, just like she'd practiced for so long for overgrowth containment. Ahead of her was a beautiful, grotesque collection of twisted flowers and struggling, damp vines. Behind her was rot and ash, the ends of a fire without any flames. Pokémon had fled from their dens shortly after her arrival, but she still saw a few scampering away from her presence.
A few were defensive, shooting Bullet Seeds and rocks her way, but they did nothing. Most of them turned to dust before they even had the chance to so much as dirty her feathers. And then, when she glanced at them, they shrieked and fled.
It wasn't a large forest, and she slowly increased the distance of her influence, even while she walked. She didn't know the full extent of the damage, now, aside from the general size, but that made it easier. By the time she was done with her assignment, the once circular forest would be more akin to a crescent moon.
The rot had outpaced her a while ago. Now, she only saw gray mud, though the horizon of the forest was still green, so her work was far from over. But there was something not ashen ahead. Out of caution, Yveltal folded her wings down and approached without any drain, though she clicked her beak worriedly once she got closer.
It was a Honchkrow, crumpled on the ground with a busted wing and leg. Feathers were messy and a few dewdrops were still intact. A gentle touch revealed the body was lukewarm beneath those badly kept feathers, and his eyes were still open, staring emptily at the sky.
She knew death well, and her pang of guilt left quickly. This one had been on death's door recently, and her power may have sapped the last of his life… but even if it didn't, she only cut short the suffering. The trail left behind suggested that he had tried to hobble away or fly, but failed each time.
Perhaps it was simply his time. Yveltal stepped around the body and continued along, but something caught her eye to her left, but she couldn't see the specifics. Whatever it was, it ran away for a while, so she didn't pay it any mind. Probably just some curious mortal; they didn't really matter now. If they were smart, they'd get out of her draining range. If not, well… survival of the smartest.
Yveltal resumed her drain, expanding her aura slowly, and finished her route.
The final part of her work was always tedious, not to mention out of her element. From what remained of the forest, Yveltal tore through the vines and the flowers and the fruits, gathering them in her claws and letting them collect on her feathers. Like holding her breath, she made sure she didn't drain the life from them. After feeling thoroughly filthy and heavy, she used some of her Legendary power to fly in the air—after all, her wings weren't flight worthy on their own by any means—and shook her body over parts of the ruined forest.
Trees had collapsed and fell away, leaving behind nothing but desolate lands. In their place, seeds scattered through the air and landed in the nutrient-rich soil. Now all it needed was a spark of life and time.
She was finished by sundown, landing at the forest's edge. The twilight cast long shadows over the dead forest, and it just occurred to Yveltal that these evergreens had shown no signs of autumn like the trees to the north. It was interesting how deceptive forests could be, showing nothing but health one decade, only for them to all go up in flames in the next… But those were slow patterns that normal Pokémon often ignored. Too gradual to care, at least, until it was too late.
One of the shadows was moving oddly. Yveltal suppressed a curious chirp and leaned to the left for a better look. Yes, that was definitely moving, but what—
The Honchkrow. Moving? No, it had been very definitely dead. She knew that more than anything.
No, there was something underneath it. A Murkrow was—
At the same time that the thought had hit her, a rock went flying to the back of her head. Its sheer speed made a whistle through the air and it shattered on her skull. With an annoyed twitch of her right eye, Yveltal glanced back to see a Machamp with three more rocks, one in each hand. Behind him were several other Pokémon, and far in the distance, she saw huts of a small village.
"Go away, you blight!" Machamp roared.
"Blight?" Yveltal said with an offended chirp. "I just saved you from a fire that would've destroyed everything within a—"
"Saved us? You destroyed the forest!" Machamp clenched one of the rocks and it shattered in his hands. "What sort of game is Arceus playing? Where are we going to get our food?"
"Aren't you near the ocean?" Yveltal waved dismissively, feeling too defensive to apologize. "The forest isn't the only thing left for you. And besides, I—"
A sniffle caught her attention. Beside her, taking a wide circle, was that same Murkrow carrying the limp body of Honchkrow.
"Then why'd you kill him, huh?" Machamp said. "You… you killed his brother!"
"That's not at all what happened," Yveltal said instantly. "I found his body already dead—the dew was on his feathers! I wouldn't just—"
Murkrow fell over, the weight too much. Yveltal leaned forward to help, claws outstretched—the villagers gasped and Machamp threw his third rock. That earned panicked pleas from the other villagers, and briefly, Yveltal wondered why she was humoring them. She was death. What insolent mind would try to drive her away when she was just doing her duty? Saving them?
No. No, mortals were short-sighted. And even then, some of them seemed to understand… But the circumstances of that Honchkrow… Of course they would think of it that way. But still, that gave them no right to throw rocks at her. Insolence…
Yveltal stepped away from the Murkrow, glaring at Machamp. His limbs tensed and his legs, try as he might to hide it, trembled.
"Just leave. You did what you had to do," Machamp said. Behind him, a Chesnaught and a Venusaur nervously glanced at one another. Further behind, two Bellossom and a Lilligant murmured about something. The Machamp continued to hold his ground, and eventually, Yveltal stepped forward and past Murkrow. She took advantage of her height.
"Hey—HEY! Get back!" Machamp roared, squeezing at his final rock, but he was frozen in place. Even if he wanted to, he didn't have the will to throw at her so close.
Yveltal reached a claw out to Machamp's hand, to the rock within, and tapped it with black energy. Lightless sparks coursed through the rock, turning it into dust within his grip. It washed over his arm and to the ground.
Machamp's face, up close, had a defiant snarl, but she saw in those bright eyes nothing but fear.
Good enough. She leaned close, her beak mere inches from his face. A few Pokémon behind him turned away, covering their eyes.
In her usual, ominous trill, she whispered to him, "Clean up after your forest. Too much overgrowth, and my arrival will be the least of your problems."
Machamp clenched his jaw, saying nothing. She looked at the many Grass Pokémon behind him; some looked down in shame. Others were more fearful than anything. A few seemed more defiant, as if they couldn't possibly have been to blame for the forest's overgrowth.
Whatever. If they did it again, maybe she'd burn it instead to show them what…
Yveltal shook her head. "Goodbye, then," she said, and did her best to ignore Murkrow when she took off.
Little, glowing lights, dewdrops filled with luminescent life energy, dripped from the leaves. The nighttime winds blew a few of the droplets off their leaves, where they spattered against the ground and trailed down small boulders like teardrops. Curled up on a bed of leaves, Xerneas heaved a sigh and tried to tune out the irritable thoughts of yet another day of tireless admirers.
His natural aura energizing those around him didn't help; it was a feedback loop of endless followers. They walked more than they normally could, because he provided them with the energy and longevity to do so.
At least they had the decency to leave him alone tonight. Either that or that Substitute of himself had been good enough to flee. With a giddy sigh at a night's silent sleep, he curled up a little tighter, only for a pang of dread to wash over him a second later.
Someone just landed. A big Pokémon, maybe some overeager dragon who happened to be the five hundredth "biggest fan" in the past decade. Maybe if he acted dead, they'd leave him alone. No, that was stupid, how could he die?
"Um—" whispered Yveltal. "Are you awake?"
The amount of relief that followed was enough for Xerneas to deflate. "Thank the light, it's you," he said, rolling. "You won't believe the day I—"
Yveltal sniffled, but it looked like she had been trying to hide it.
"Yevvy?" Xerneas asked, suddenly on his feet. "What happened?"
Yveltal curled up next to Xerneas and squeezed her wings around him, sobbing a little louder.
Xerneas curled his head around, careful that his antlers didn't prod Yveltal, and said again, "Yevvy, what's wrong?"
"The world hates me," Yveltal said between gasps. "I'm just a blight."
"Yevvy, don't say that," Xerneas said, awkwardly rubbing a hoof on her back. "You get rid of blights. You're essential to balance. Come on, you know what Ziggy always says, right? Life without death is suffering. The mortal realm isn't geared toward eternity. We need you to balance things out."
"Oh, enough," Yveltal said, shoving Xerneas away, but she barely even moved him. She wiped her eyes and tried to dry her beak of the tears that had fallen, but it wasn't working. Xerneas prodded her again, enough that Yveltal stopped pushing. "I'm sorry," Yveltal said quietly. "You're the only person who actually seems to care."
"Nonsense," Xerneas replied. "You know how it is. You've had your heroic moments, too, remember? When a real threat comes along, you're always the one sent over to get rid of it, be it a true blight, or… Well, you know how it is. Arceus wouldn't trust you with such a duty for nothing."
"Oh, of course, eliminating threats," Yveltal said. "that went wonderfully last time. I nearly killed an innocent Dunsparce…"
"L-let's think about the other times," Xerneas said quickly. "Remember Darkrai, how he asked for help against those odd Pokémon? Or, or, or how about all those times you've helped Pokémon die peacefully? Morbid, but…"
Yveltal loosened a little. "It doesn't matter what I've done. I know what I do is right. I just… know that it's never going to be appreciated." She sighed. "I envy you, Xerneas, having Pokémon so thrilled to be with you. I don't understand how you can detest them."
"Believe me, after a while, you start to hate it."
Yveltal laughed, leaning against him. "I wish I could have a day where they would like me."
"Wish…" Xerneas said, narrowing his eyes thoughtfully.
"I'm not tired anymore," Xerneas said, standing up.
Yveltal chirped and hopped away. "What do you mean?"
"It's not fair that you have to go through that, so maybe we can see if someone else can help," Xerneas said. "Arceus is probably just gonna shrug and say it's part of the duty—you know how he is. And I'm not talking to Mew. But you know who might be able to help?"
Yveltal frowned. "Who?"
Blue crystals embedded walls of solid obsidian in unnatural yet beautiful patterns. The sole inhabitant of these great depths often renovated with his powers, using his domain over desire to gently alter reality. It was often for petty, little things that did no harm or help one way or the other. After all, what was a little perk now and then for all the help and research he worked on?
Far to the southeast, the air was humid and salty with the nearby ocean. Yveltal didn't care for the nighttime travel, but at least it wasn't particularly far from Xerneas' home down south. More importantly, she was surprised they were even able to sneak into Jirachi's home at all. Perhaps they got lucky; it was nighttime, after all, and the barriers only kept mortals away when Jirachi wasn't interested in socializing.
Would be nice if Xerneas got the same, but apparently he was supposed to be more on call than the Wishmaker. A pang of sympathy ran through her; perhaps Xerneas had a point. Still, having that kind of attention…
"Just ahead, there he is," Xerneas said, pointing a hoof forward.
Floating in midair, curled in his own ribbons, was the star-headed Psychic. He rolled peacefully in his sleep, and Yveltal wondered if it would be rude to wake him.
Then again, he apparently enjoyed his naps too often, anyway.
"Jirachi?" Yveltal called.
"Jirachi, wake up," Xerneas said. "You've been sleeping for five days. I checked."
"How do you know that?" Yveltal asked.
"His assistant has a log that I took a peek at," Xerneas whispered back. "Jirachi! Rise and shine!"
"But it's night," Yveltal whispered again.
"Just let me wake him up," Xerneas growled back. He went closer and jabbed Jirachi with his horn, but nothing happened.
"Maybe we need to attack him," Yveltal suggested. "I think I'll try just a little strike."
"With your death powers? Are you sure?" Xerneas replied. "Bad idea. Let me do it. Stand aside."
Xerneas found his footing and crouched down. His antlers glowed with Bug energy, and with a dash and a thrust, he jammed his horns into Jirachi's stomach.
Jirachi screamed in surprise and his eyes shot open—all three of them, including the giant one on his belly.
"Jirachi! Are you aw—"
A Psychic blast sent Xerneas skidding backward, though it didn't seem to hurt him very much. He shook it off with an annoyed grunt, but then crouched down again for another strike. Jirachi's belly-eye glowed again, but this time, no Psychic blast followed, and Jirachi yawned.
Xerneas skidded to a stop. "Is he awake?" he said with an unsteady breath. "Good. Then I don't have to wake him as hard."
Yveltal sighed. "That was reckless."
"As if you had a better idea," Xerneas said with a smirk. While Yveltal had no counter, she did smack him on the side with her wing, pushing him away. He stumbled, but his smirk didn't waver. If anything, it grew.
"Mmmnn… How many days this time—oh." Jirachi blinked to clear up his vision. "Wait, who—why are you two here? How did you sneak past—"
"Jirachi, can we ask a wish from you?"
"Excuse me? You come in here, wake me up, and then expect me to—"
"You were asleep for five days, by the way," Xerneas said.
"F-FIVE DAYS?!" Jirachi floated several feet in the air until he was at eye-level with Xerneas. "Why? That's far too long! When I took up this position I specifically asked that I wouldn't sleep for that long, I—"
"Were you overworking yourself again?" Xerneas said. "Last I checked, if you work too hard, your body makes up for it by sleeping."
"Okay, so maybe I made a few strong wishes to help things out, but—"
Suddenly, flashes of intense light shined around Xerneas, exploding all at once. He shrieked in pain and collapsed to a kneel, gasping for breath. His cross-shaped pupils were crossed themselves, unfocused. Yveltal rushed to his side to keep him held, and he was grateful, leaning against her.
"Whoops!" Jirachi said. "Sorry! Must've done Doom Desire when I woke up…"
"I'm filled… with so much hate…" Xerneas wheezed, finally standing again. Yveltal backed away, fearful that her natural powers would drain away more of Xerneas' energy. "Thank you," he said to her. "I'm fine."
He slowly stood on his own while Jirachi floated there awkwardly.
"What do you want?" Jirachi said, finally breaking the silence. "And just because you guys are also Legends doesn't mean I'm gonna listen to you!" He crossed his tiny arms and turned his head away. "I've got standards."
"Didn't you once wish for chocolate because you were too lazy to go to the market for some?" Xerneas questioned, narrowing his eyes.
"That," Jirachi said, holding up a hand with superiority, "was a reward for a job well done. It's different if it's my own wishes."
"Irresponsible cretin," Yveltal murmured under her breath.
"What was that?" Jirachi said.
"I said," Yveltal said, "are you certain?"
"Certain about what?"
"That you'd be able to grant wishes after just waking up?" Yveltal asked.
Xerneas glanced at her, impressed. Nice save, said his eyes.
Hush, said hers.
"Hmm…" Jirachi twirled around. "Guess it depends on what you guys wish for. If you guys just want some items, I usually just do some Teleport trickery for it, but if you actually want something, you know, substantial…"
"Yveltal wanted to wish for mortals to like her more," Xerneas said.
Jirachi blinked. "Look, I grant wishes, but I'm not a miracle w—AAH!" He dove out of the way, narrowly avoiding a beam of deadly energy from Yveltal.
"Choose your words carefully," Yveltal growled. "I've had a very bad day."
"Y-y-y-yes! Well—it's just, mortals just naturally don't like death, you know?! I may be Psychic and I may be the Wishmaker but I can't just change people like that!"
"Rrgh, well, you owe us for that Doom Desire," Xerneas said.
"Excuse me? You woke me up! That's not a fair comparison!"
"Is—is there really nothing you can do?" Yveltal asked, the gravity of what Jirachi was implying finally catching up to her.
"Look, I'm sorry, but I meant what I said," Jirachi said. "That's such an abstract wish, so broad. I can't just change how people feel. My wishes are usually more material than that, you know? The amount of power required to warp or even nudge reality for something like that is… it's astronomical!" Jirachi shook his head and spread his arms wide. "Usually, with something like that, I say that their wish will be granted eventually, and maybe teleport a few things around or call in a few favors, you know? Fortune tellers do it all the time, making vague promises!"
"Rrgh… Then I suppose there's no use," Xerneas said. "I suppose I'll just have to tell Arceus that you attacked me with Doom Desire."
Jirachi blanched. "W-wait! Wait, um, you don't have to do that! A-and if you do, I'll just say you trespassed in my home and assaulted me! So, there!"
Xerneas tilted his head left and right leisurely. "I suppose I'll also have to tell him about that little favor I did for you as well with my power, hm?"
"Noooo no no, there's no need for that!" Jirachi said.
"Xern, what are you—"
"Nothing!" Jirachi said instantly. "Nothing! Just a small favor!"
"Jirachi needed a little pep for a little friend of his," Xerneas said, "and asked if I could give him some help with… vitality. He wouldn't want that getting out, would he?"
Jirachi froze, fiddling with his hands nervously, while Yveltal narrowed her eyes disapprovingly. For such petty needs… Shameful! Perhaps she should counteract that endurance of his…
"So, Jirachi, do you want the truth to come out… or will we be getting that favor of yours?"
Yveltal frowned, wondering if it was really worth it. This was essentially blackmail, wasn't it? She was about to ask Xerneas to relent when Jirachi finally sighed.
"Okay, okay, I have one idea that might work. But I'm being honest when I say it's beyond me. But… I don't know, if you want to be liked a little more… How about I pull one favor for you guys?"
"Mhm." Xerneas didn't show it, but Yveltal could tell from his tone that he was pleased. "And the favor?"
"I'll Teleport you over to Manaphy."