A/N: I originally wrote this for a contest on the Serebii forums, but everything that's written gets put on here in some way, so… here we are! I don't own pokémon.
The Taming of the Northern Wind
That's what they call me; the incarnation of the Northern Wind itself, so swift and wild that none could catch or hope to pursue me.
But that doesn't seem to stop them. I've had so many humans come after me, even before they began to call themselves 'trainers'. They were attracted by my grace, my speed, my beauty. My pack-mates have their own Seekers, of course; for my sister, it's her hardiness, her undying will, and for my brother it's his majesty and power that draws them.
All of us—those of us that humans call 'Legendaries'—have Seekers in some way, some of them more dangerous than others, because their greed and ambition upsets the Balance of the world. It can be maddening at times, the superficial value humans place on things like beauty or power, the way that their own single-minded lust for them can cause so much pain. I have never understood it; I've simply accepted.
My sister doesn't understand them either, but she has far less tolerance than I. She tends to become annoyed at the attention, fleeing constantly so that no one will find her. My brother sometimes seems to, in some way, but he has never shared his insights. He appears to have accepted it as part of being what we are, but still he hides, only emerging when he's needed.
That is where I differ from them. I may not understand humans, but they are entertaining, and if nothing else I can urge them—subtly—towards strengths they never knew they had.
The ones that are willing to persist, that is.
And so I race across the world, appearing here and there, just long enough to rekindle their dying passion to pursue me again. Humans have a similar game, I believe, in which one cub runs and the others try to catch them, though my game is on a far grander scale. Some have come close, even challenged me, and occasionally I indulge them for a few minutes of their precious battles so that they may feel they've accomplished something. And then I am gone again.
My sister once, a long time ago, accused me of trying to understand them. I suppose that was true. I wanted to understand what drives them, what drives them to follow us everywhere we go in the faint hope of a glimpse, what makes us so valuable to them that they would choose to Stain themselves. That second one I feel I could always answer; humans have always liked power, although they do not like the responsibility, and it is that which I still don't understand, because that question could never be answered the way the others eventually were.
But I also wanted to understand my Kin, the Kin who choose to ally themselves with the humans, to become their companions, their bodyguards, even though so many of them are abused by those who are Stained. I don't begrudge them their choice, but back then I had never felt the urge to ally myself with a human. They were still cubs in my eyes.
At the same time, I want the humans to understand. I want to teach them what we strive to teach all our Kin, free or not; to learn their own limits, to learn the fights and causes they can and cannot win, when and where to use the power they have. That is one thing humans don't seem to understand at all: restraint. It saddened me then, and it still does.
I had played that game for years, for decades, for centuries, and I still hadn't found the answers I sought. Nor, it seemed, had any of my Seekers understood what I have been trying to teach them. What they Sought was different to what I knew.
And then I met Him.
I don't know his name; it would probably be nearly meaningless anyway, since he was a human, and he would have had a human name. Their names mean nothing to us, and we cannot pronounce them anyway.
At first I thought he was all the same. I heard from the wind and my Kin that there was a new human looking out for me, and my sister deigned to warn me of him. 'This one is different,' she said. 'This one, I think, will turn out Stained.'
By that she meant he would disrupt the Balance. I've had many Seekers who have done the same, and so has she, and so has our brother; so my first thought was that he wouldn't be so different after all.
But that isn't something I can judge until I've seen their eyes myself. Humans have a saying: 'the eyes are the window to the soul'. I've often wondered whether they know how true it is. One can almost always tell whether a Seeker will become Stained or not, simply by looking at their eyes in the first meeting.
When I saw his, I thought my sister was right. The kind of fervent excitement that was there, the complete, almost insane devotion, could only end up being destructive. And yet, it was not my place to put an end to him, not so soon in the beginning of the game, for it wasn't my choices which would make him what he would be. It was his. Everything on this world deserves a chance, and so I gave him the chance to play.
So passed our second and our third meetings, and each time the light in his eyes was the same; I was his reason for living, his ultimate mountain against which he could test his greatness. If he could conquer me, then he would have judged his life worthy.
Despite myself I began to avoid him. I didn't want to give him reason to become what so many of his kin had already turned into, for his protection, for mine, for my Kin's.
But he was more persistent than I gave him credit for. If a sighting of me was reported, he was always the first one there, no matter if the sighting had been meant for him or not, no matter how far he was away. He never gave up, and my lack of appearances only seemed to make him more determined. For the first time in a long time, I became genuinely concerned that perhaps this human was already too far gone and would become what I feared whether I tried to avoid it or not.
My sister met him, once. She hardly noticed him at first, because her brethren were in danger from those humans, the Seekers who chased after any one of us with no apparent reason and so often wore black to show their Stain inside and out. He was one of the humans who tried to help her, and their help she did end up needing, but only later did she realise who one of them had been.
To her it changed nothing. 'He is a Seeker,' she told me bluntly. 'Even Stained, he would not want other Stained to take me, and it is not me he is after. He came because I am your sister, and no other reason.'
And yet I wondered.
Life moved on. Seekers often come and go, brought down when they became dangerous or simply giving up, and so they did. Several years went by, precious years of a human's life, and I expected him to do the same as he aged, and my Kin that he had befriended with him. After all, humans don't live nearly as long as we do, and for them youth is a fleeting thing. Most young Seekers turn their ambitions to something else once I prove to be out of reach, not wanting to waste their life away in pursuit of something unattainable.
Yet he didn't. He persevered, chasing after the mere rumour of my presence though I was often gone days before. Wherever I went he followed, sometimes weeks afterward. I couldn't understand it; how, when all other Seekers would have given up years before, how could he continue on?
Of course my sister had an answer to give. 'The Stained never give up,' she said simply. My brother said nothing at all, but there was something in his fire that made me wonder what he truly thought.
Yet somehow, I couldn't help feeling my sister was wrong. I began to watch this human, watch him closely and with concern for the next decade, for those times he thought I was on the other side of the region when in fact I was mere feet away, watching him and wondering. Not once did he display signs of a Stain, not once, and I realised that he never had.
Time continued to move. He grew older, should have grown wiser, and he should have ended the chase long ago but never did. I could have ended it, could have given him the satisfaction he wanted so he would go back to a proper human life and let me pass by as so many others did and still do, but I didn't. I didn't, and at the time I didn't even know why. All I knew was that with every one of our rare, fleeting meetings, his eyes would light up with the same pleasure and reverence as the one before, completely undimmed since the very first time I had shown myself to him, even though they became touched with familiarity.
Then one day I received a call from the wind, a call telling me that my Seeker was returning to the place where it all began.
My Seeker. I didn't even realise that I had begun calling him that, not then at least, and if I'd thought about it a little more I would have realised it was true. He was my friend, my companion, a constant shadow trailing inevitably after me, though we met but a few times.
I admit it; I was worried, worried and curious to see why he had broken off the pursuit he had spent so long in. So for once, I followed him, followed him back to the place where he'd first seen me, standing on a secluded lakeside far apart from any human dwelling. And when I got there, he was waiting.
I was shocked to see him. It had been years since I allowed him to catch a glimpse of me, and I still had in my mind the image of a slight young human with brown hair, wearing skins the colour of my mane and a cape that billowed like my tails. I always had found it amusing that he would dress in my colours, found it amusing and somehow touching.
The skins were the same, and the cape, but his hair had turned grey and his face was lined with age.
Then he stood from the rock on which he was seated, and I saw that though his face was different, the way he stood was exactly the same; unbowed by time or hardship, proud as I or any of my pack could be.
And I saw his eyes.
His eyes had changed.
They still sparkled at the sight of me, lighting up like the stars in the night sky, but there was something different there, something lost, and I knew the chase was over.
In that instant I hurt more than I thought any human could possibly make me hurt, felt betrayed in a way that was so completely unexpected, and for a moment I bristled with resentment that, after so long, so much effort and time on both our parts, he would just give up.
I honestly don't know whether I planned to attack him or not. My sister is the one with the volatile rages, my brother second to her on rarer occasions, but I had never lost my temper before and I didn't understand how this human could do it to me with something as simple as a decision that all of his kind had, inevitably, made.
That was when the wind brought it to me: his scent, so familiar, so comforting, something which had made my hearts race with anticipation and my paws long to fly whenever I smelled it.
He was dying.
He had reached the end of his life, and so the game was over.
He knew it too, I could see it. That was what had changed in his eyes, not something he had lost, but something he had gained: acceptance.
Acceptance of a fate not even we can avoid, acceptance of what I now know is the only thing which could have made him stop the chase.
And I understood, and my anger faded, and we regarded each other across the darkened clearing with both wariness and familiarity, as though we were pack who had not seen each other for a long, long time, before he spoke.
'I've found you at last, it seems,' he said lightly, his voice hoarse with age but still strong as ever. 'If I had known that curiosity would bring you to me so easily …' he trailed off and his eyes went distant, and for a moment I feared he would fail right there and then.
Then he came back, and smiled, and shook his head. 'If I had known, I would have chased you anyway.'
I felt like I'd been struck by a bolt from my sister's thundercloud.
Because that was when I realised something, something that I had somehow missed, so afraid was I that he would be Stained, so puzzled by his persistence, so taken with his determination. I had played a game with my Seekers, toying with them, luring them into following me until finally they found the game too hard.
But he … he had always played with me.
He was the only one who knew it was a game. He had made it one; it had been his life's sole purpose to play with me a game that stretched across regions, and he had enjoyed it, enjoyed at as much as I, though I hadn't even realized he was playing with me until then.
Perhaps he was a Seeker at first, but I know now that long before our final meeting he had found what he Sought, and hadn't been a Seeker at all for years.
'You win, I suppose,' he said with a twisted smile. 'I never did catch you, after all, as my colleagues predicted. What they don't understand is that I never expected to. For me it was always the chase. You know that, don't you?'
I do now, I wanted to tell him. I do now, but I didn't then, and I should have. And now it's too late.
I didn't even realise I was crying until a tear hit my paw. Because I had wasted so much time, and he had given himself completely over to the game that I had longed to play with someone.
And for the first time, I began to understand why my Kin chose humans over freedom. It was the final question I had left, because my first had already been answered.
So I gave him the only thing I could offer him back.
That was the first and last time I ever ran with a human. None of his kin ever saw; none of them would ever know. They'd never know about the man who had accomplished something that so many of them across so many years had tried and failed, and perhaps it is better that way, better that they didn't think they would have a chance to reach something they don't. He alone played a game I had created, a game I will continue to play in the memory of the only one who had beaten me, the only one who ever would.
In memory of the human who had managed to tame the Northern Wind.