And thus, the first stop of the story begins.
Note: Centered words in italics means that a track is supposed to play while reading the paragraphs below it. You know, to give it a real sense of realism…
I encourage all (new) Earthbound fans to read on, enjoy, and review.
Disclaimer: The author only owns the story. All property belongs to their respective owners... Geez, I am supposed to write this every chapter?
Chapter 2: Bounded to a New Earth
Near Snow Wood Boarding School
Earthbound - Snowman
Winters was a special place in all Eagleland where it was always under a thick layer of snow that covered the whole landscape. Scientists had reported that the area might have been greatly altered due to human intervention, but luckily, it did not cause any problematic issues to the environment. Animal life was pretty much tame and was never endangered by the cold climate, so it was a peaceful area.
That was, until Giygas' influence took hold of the animal life and twisted every-day objects into monsters. Only normal humans would notice the enraged animals, but as for the objects, they would go largely unnoticed till their chosen prey would pass nearby as orders from Giygas came to their newborn minds.
Over a hill of snow that overlooked the Snow Wood Boarding School, a portal opened, and a teenager and his tall Pokémon stumbled down into the cold floor, the portal closing behind them. Shivering at the sudden temperature change, Chris slowly stood back up, Lucario standing up faster than he did.
"We're here…" Lucario trailed off in disbelief. They had actually managed to transcend the boundaries of space, and possibly all logic itself, to make it into another universe. Granted, Lucario had done it already, but he never noticed it. He looked at his shivering trainer. "I'm glad nothing morbid happened when we did this…"
"I-if you haven't noticed already," Chris shivered, "I-I'm not wearing winter clothing!"
The Aura Pokémon shrugged. "I can't even feel that much cold," he pointed out.
"Well, duh! You've got fur! I got skin! Without the fur!" Chris complained. "I'm guessing that oversized hand is not going to help me out with this! I-I'm so getting a cold…"
Lucario looked worried, but then he noticed a portal opening up behind them. Standing back, Lucario saw Chris turning around and gasping. "Sorry!" Master Hand's voice came from the portal as a blue jacket was tossed out from it. "It seems you guys were taken to that specific area."
Chris regained his composure. He was never going to get used to looking at portals any time soon. Picking up the jacket that he swore was actually his, he cleared his throat to say, "C-couldn't you have dropped us off somewhere else warmer?"
"Sorry, but the current story timeline is taking place right there," Master Hand shouted. "There's no way to work around this. You COULD wait a bit for the events of that area to end, but I suspect that the Subspace Army has already noticed your presences!"
The teen did not like what he heard. "Meaning…"
"Yeah, leaving that area behind like nothing happened will most likely explode in the worst of cases," Master Hand said. After hearing the teen's shocked "EXPLODE" word, the hand said, "Well! Off you go now! Try not to get killed or else it'd be REEEEEEEEAL bad!"
"Get killed?!" Chris shouted bewildered as Lucario growled, but the portal closed down conveniently on the hand's favor. "W-what in the hell!" he complained loudly.
Lucario continued growling until he stopped, frowning. "Well, we did accept this task…" he trailed off.
His trainer buried his face into his hands. "I was so blind in meeting other people that I actually never considered DYING on the job much… I'm so ashamed…" he trailed off, but Lucario approached him and hung his right arm on Chris.
"You still have me," Lucario said. "If anybody lays a finger on you, they will pay with their pain."
"…" Chris sighed. "You do all the fighting while I go somewhere to find a stick to beat people with…"
"Seriously now," Lucario said in a deadpan tone.
"What do you expect me to do?" Chris asked, looking up at his Pokémon. "I was given this job system, yet the hand didn't even give me a single job! Unless I'm Freelancer right now…"
Lucario immediately said, "Jack of all trades, master of none?"
"Except there are NO trades!" Chris responded. Throwing his arms up, he sighed once more and looked around where they had landed, spotting a landscape of withered trees with snow covering the branches. "I think there's no use complaining right now… Let's just…go with the flow, I guess…"
Lucario surveyed the area with his eyes. He turned around to see the Snow Wood Boarding School. "I suppose we should head down there," he said, his trainer turning to the brick-fenced building.
"The Snow Wood Boarding School…" Chris muttered. "I remember Jeff lives there...which means we're at the point of the story when Ness and Paula are trapped at the graveyard."
Lucario looked down at Chris. A closer look at his trainer made the Aura Pokémon look confused. "Uh… Chris…"
"What is it, Lucario?" Chris looked up to Lucario. The Pokémon didn't say a thing to let Chris tell what was wrong. A closer look at Lucario's face revealed that it had turned rather simplistic. The white of his eyes was gone, and only the red remained behind in the void of black that was his mask-looking pattern. "Oh…my…god…" he muttered.
"…Yes… I don't have any idea why we look like this…" Lucario muttered, seeing that Chris was also affected by some freak change. Chris's head was considerably larger, just as Lucario's, than the rest of his body. But by age standards, he still fit into the world's image of a teenager.
"We?" Chris touched his head with his heads. "Dear god, I'm a FREAK!" he shouted. "I-I'm a big-headed FREAK!"
Lucario looked serious. "Chris, keep your composure," he said. "I think that the world affected our appearance to make us match with the rest of the population."
"The big-headed population, you mean!" Chris said.
"What was that about going with the flow?" Lucario reminded his freaked trainer. "We should tough it up from here."
Not liking the fact that his head somehow had not put on a lot of weight to his frail body, Chris sighed yet again in defeat. "F-fine… At times like these, I wished Master Hand could've given us some pointers…"
"Like a manual?"
"I guess…" Chris turned back to the Snow Wood Boarding School. "No use complaining about anything else, now we somehow have to…uh…" He trailed off, unsure of what he was going to say.
"...Chris..." Lucario looked away.
His trainer turned around to face him. "What?"
"Was this...alright?" he asked, looking back at Chris.
"What was alright?"
Lucario closed his eyes. "Well... I was talking about your decision to do this adventure."
The trainer remained staring at Lucario before scratching his right shoulder, blushing a bit. "Well, I wanted to have something different…" he trailed off. "But… I don't know why I jumped at the proposal so suddenly. I mean… When I first saw that people like YOU could actually exist in the real world… I thought that it was possible for the rest of your 'universe' to do the same as well but with me going into their homes and then…well…"
Lucario asked, "But do you really think that this is the right decision?"
Chris looked away. "...I just don't know sometimes... I really wished to have an adventure with you, Lucario... Remember when you said yourself about going off somewhere with me like a trainer and his Pokémon?"
Lucario blinked. "Ah...yes, you and I said that before."
"…And to be honest," Chris chuckled, "I was thinking about meeting as many characters from the 'worlds beyond the real world' with you…" He shook his head. "I could make interesting friends if I get to talk with any of them…but…now that I think about it…" Once again, he looked worried. "It's not like I CAN really make friends with the protagonists of the worlds in just one single conversation! It took me like a year to get you to like me! To them, I'm…I'm a non-playable character who will keep saying the same thing over and over again if spoken to…"
"Uh…yes…" Lucario looked serious. "But this is completely different. I…I admit that I had a pretty bad case of a lone wolf attitude when I first looked at you. Not you, though," he said. "In my opinion, you have a likeable personality, and that's all you need to have any of them take a liking on you."
"…" Chris shifted his look to the sides, still feeling unsure. "…In that case, let's see if we can even get a secondary character like Jeff to take a liking on us."
Lucario gave him a hopeful smile and nodded. "Just as how you were optimistic in gaining my complete trust as your Pokémon, try to be optimistic," he said before hearing a faint sound that he could only hear. Turning back to the school, Lucario spotted two kids on the other side of the fenced gate. "I suppose this is where we take our first step into the mission…"
Chris nodded and walked forward, only to sink instantly inside the snow. Lucario gasped and felt that there was some kind of flat rock hidden inside the snow. There was a soft edge of snow that lacked the rocky surface. "C-c-cold!" his trainer shouted from the inside. The Aura Pokémon put up a tough look and dove into the snow to get him out.
Back at the fenced gate of the school, the two children were looking up. Both of them wore the school's signature uniform, though that was the only similarity they shared. The hat-wearing, red-headed one on the left was there to help his best friend cross over the fence. The glasses-wearing, blond-headed one on the right was intent on the other side.
The red-headed one, whose name was Tony, crouched down. "Okay, ready here! I'm gonna give you a boost…" he said.
The blond-headed one, whose name was Jeff, nodded and put a foot on Tony's cupped hands. Struggling a lot, Tony only barely managed to push Jeff up enough for him to grab onto the top bar of the fence. Jeff luckily had no trouble putting his right foot on top to climb it up and fall on his feet on the other side. "I was a little worried for a moment there…" Jeff said, fixing his glasses. He turned back to Tony, hearing him sigh a tad depressed.
"Jeff, promise me you will be careful in your journey," Tony said. "It's not really that common for people like us to be leaving the school behind till we're older…"
"Thanks, Tony. I appreciate the support," Jeff told Tony. "I will do everything to save Paula and Ness. Cover for me in the classes."
Tony looked unsure. "I have absolutely no idea how I'm going to cover for you if you're not even here, but… I'll come up with something," he said nodding. "Oh! Jeff, maybe you can get help from your dad! He should be still living somewhere close to here, right?"
Jeff nodded. "I was considering looking for him. I sure hope he is around here somewhere… Not nearby," he said. "Also, if I recall, it's been 10 years ever since the school faculty saw him last…"
"Alright, then… I guess this is good-bye," Tony said. "Jeff, be very careful on your journey. We're still best friends forever no matter what. Sad to see you leaving a day before my birthday."
Jeff shrugged. "Yes, I guess so..."
Tony smiled a bit. "Doing this is far more important, though. Go save those two," he said. "Once you come back, we'll celebrate my birthday for real! It'll be the day when you return as a hero!"
Waving one last time at his friend, both boys turned their backs on each other and continued their separate ways. Jeff looked over his shoulder, watching Tony getting back inside, but not only before Tony gave him a reassuring smile and a hand-wave. Once he was gone, Jeff sighed under his breath and turned back to face the withered forest of snow. He could get a clear view of the lake across from where he was standing. The school grounds were on top of a large hill.
Jeff looked to his left, finding a convenience store. Thinking that there could be something helpful, he walked to the door to enter it. Just before entering, several feet away from him, Lucario and Chris emerged from the hill of snow, barely catching a glimpse of Jeff entering the store. "H-he went in there," Chris shivered.
"Yes, now we have to come up with a way for him to lead us to Ness," Lucario said. "I think I remember Winters is pretty far away from that graveyard Ness fell into…"
"W-what do you suggest?" Chris asked, dusting off the snow from his hair. "I really don't want to be too straightforward to him and say, 'Hey, we're here to save Ness from his horrible fate because there's a whole army bent on getting his head! Let's be insta-friends and join forces together!' or even lie to him…"
"That is a problem…" Lucario trailed off. "Not even saying the truth or a lie is…difficult."
Chris thought for a moment. "What if…we casually avoid saying a lie and telling the truth by being good Samaritans?" he asked.
"You mean… What he doesn't need to know from us won't hurt anybody?"
"S-something like that," Chris said shrugging. "This is so difficult… Alright, let's give this a shot." They both looked at the convenience store. "Here goes nothing…"
The duo approached the store, only for the front door to slide open with Jeff walking out…together with a bubble-chewing monkey that seemed to have taken interest in the smart boy. While the first duo was pondering what to say without having established eye contact with Jeff, the blond boy had already looked up at the menacing canine known as Lucario. "Hold on, you there," Jeff called out to Lucario.
Lucario was taken off-guard and so did Chris. They both came to a halt. "Uh, y-yes?" Chris shyly asked.
Jeff fixed his glasses on Lucario. "You don't get to see such a…person," he said the last word while staring at Lucario's hind legs," like him walking around these parts…"
"(And here I thought he was going to scream at my big head. I forgot Lucario is the only one looking so out of place!)" Chris thought in shock.
"Though his hostile look didn't really cause any kind of pain on me…yet," Jeff noted. At least the two world-hoppers could cross out the possibility of the blond boy running away screaming bloody murder. "Do you two live around these parts?"
They felt an odd sense of danger with the question Jeff posed to them.
"We…uh…n-no," Chris said. "We're…"
"Travelers," Lucario added all of a sudden. "We're travelers who just happened to…uh…be passing through here."
Jeff was mildly impressed that the six-foot tall canine could even talk. "Ah, you can talk English too," he said. Chris wondered why he was sweating bullets in the cold climate somehow. "You seem civilized, judging you haven't ripped your companion's limbs."
Lucario took that as an offense. "I would never do such a thing to Chris," he said.
"Okay, then," Jeff said, looking to the forest. "I have some other business to attend to. Might as well leave now…"
If Jeff left, the duo would lose the chance to aiding Ness against the Subspace Army. Chris was quickly trying to come up with something to convince Jeff from letting them come with him along for the ride. He was the only lead that would surely take them to Ness, anyway. "(T-think about the facts or something, quick!)" Chris thought to himself. "W-wait!" he hastily said.
"Yes?" Jeff raised an eyebrow.
"Uh… Are you going off alone into the wild?" Chris asked, putting up a worried look. "You're kind of too young to be going alone…" He eyed the Bubble Monkey. The animal was busy chewing on bubblegum to care about what was going on, but the monkey followed Jeff just because he carried a pack of gum with him. "…And, honestly, that monkey doesn't seem to be of much help…"
"Huh…" Jeff trailed off, grimacing a bit. "Well, I suppose you are right on that notion. I just got this monkey because the store clerks wanted to get rid of it." Dismaying the duo, Jeff turned back to the forest. "I'll see how things play out for me. Thank you for worrying about me."
Chris's nerves got the best of him.
"For crying out loud! I was implying that we wanted to come along with you so you can cross the woods safely!" Chris shouted. Lucario stared shocked at him for a small while.
Jeff stopped in his tracks and turned back to them. "If anything, I'm worried about what might happen to you if you came along. For reasons I'm not at liberty to say, the task I was tasked to do is…kind of beyond your wildest dreams," he said.
"(You don't get to hear something from a boy his age in my neighborhood,)" Chris thought, mildly freaked out. "E-even then! What could a kid your age get into?"
"Speak for yourself. You're a teenager," Jeff pointed out. Lucario hoped this wasn't going to drive into an argument. "I was taught that I shouldn't trust strangers (though to be honest to myself I trust two complete strangers…)"
Lucario stepped forward. "We wish to aid you," he said. "If you haven't noticed yet, there's a monkey following you."
"…True enough…" Jeff muttered in defeat. The Bubble Monkey looked kind of insulted with the grimace on his face. "…Well… Fine."
EarthBound – Winters White
The duo couldn't believe what they heard. "F-for real?" Chris asked.
"I suppose so…" Jeff said nodding. "Don't say I didn't warn you, though. At least you did say that you would help me cross the woods. After that, you're on your own." He approached them. "Do you accept my conditions?"
"Sure, sure…" Chris said. Turning to face Lucario, his trainer tapped his own head. "(Lucario, please, listen to me. We're going to make whatever means necessary to make him lead us to Ness.)"
Lucario used telepathy to hear Chris's idea. He just nodded.
Jeff & The Bubble Monkey temporarily joined your team!
"…What was that?" Chris asked all of a sudden.
"What was what?" Jeff asked.
"I don't know. It just felt like somebody announced something…" He shrugged. "A-anyway, we'll be happy to accompany you for a while. Lucario here is the muscle of our little team." Lucario preened a little with a small smile directed at Chris.
Jeff took out some sort of small gun from his shirt. "I have this Pop Gun to defend myself. I…am quite clumsy a bit, but the teachers of my school agree that I'm smart enough to make my own inventions," he pointed out. "If any of us happens to find a broken apparatus, please let me know. I can try to work overnight to repair whatever we get our hands on."
"I'd love to see that," Chris muttered with some doubts.
"Uh, n-nothing! Wh-why don't we move on now?" he asked. Jeff shrugged his shoulders and finally walked into the woods with the Bubble Monkey following close. The other duo exchanged relieved glances and followed them down. They all introduced each other while walking on the snowy path.
"And where do you live?" Jeff asked. "Where did you come from?"
Yet more questions that practically wanted to bury in their skulls like fatal bullet shots. "W-we come from a land far away from Eagleland," Chris said. He mentally punched himself for what he just said. "We're from…across the continent."
"Oh, foreigners," Jeff simply said. It felt like they had dodged the question. "That's quite interesting. I wonder if I can find people like Lucario if I ever take an exchange program down the line."
Lucario rolled his eyes. "(Not really,)" he thought.
"Judging how things are right now… I wouldn't be surprised," Jeff said, fixing his glasses.
"What do you mean by that?" Chris asked.
They passed down the thin shades of withered branches. The Bubble Monkey had now climbed the trees to hop from branch to branch. "The world has gone mad, apparently. Animals have turned hostile…while other unspeakable events have occurred all over Eagleland itself," the blond said, his glasses shining a bit. "Neighborhood dogs have attacked people, the possibility of there being zombies has actually been proven, and…inanimate objects somehow become mobile and turn against their owners."
"That is…" Lucario trailed off. Only then he felt that the area around them wasn't normal. He looked cautious, feeling an extremely stagnant presence covering the land. He was busy trying to comprehend their initial shock of having traveled through universes, but then he felt it clearly.
Not controlling his own nature as a proud fighter, Lucario growled. "Hmm?" Jeff looked up to the towering Lucario. "Hey, why are you growling all of a sudden?"
The Aura Pokémon thought it was fine to say it, even if Chris was giving him a worried look. "The entire land… It's been corrupted," Lucario said. Out of instinct, he pulled Chris close to him. To Jeff's surprise, Lucario glowed with potent aura, his eyes turning yellow. Through his eyes, he saw that the snowy land looked entirely different from its rather pacific environment. Everything, including the withered trees, was coated in a reddish aura that usually twisted itself in random spots. Widening his eyes, he sensed that the reddish aura seemed to be trying to strike them down by passing through their bodies, but they were unaffected by it.
"I…" Jeff trailed off, fixing his glasses, "I don't know how you can glow like that…"
While Lucario was busy growling and inspecting the surface area, Chris decided to speak next. "Lucario not only is a very strong fighter, but he has the ability to sense auras," he explained. "I'm guessing he just found a…uh…malevolent aura…right, Lucario?"
"Yes," Lucario said. "The land, all of it, is covered in a red aura trying to take over everything…and us, too."
"What in the world…?" Jeff muttered. "A red aura covering the land…and us? Huh, I've read a little bit about the supernatural force known as auras, but… This is kind of incredible."
Lucario stopped glowing, his eyes turning back to red. "Fortunately, the red aura can't even do anything to us. It's desperately trying to consume us whole, but to no avail…" Even without glowing, Lucario could tell at first glance that the red aura was particularly trying its best to strike Jeff down. "Jeff, it wants to take you down the most than any of us four. That is what I believe…"
Jeff shivered a bit at the thought. He really believed that the Aura Pokémon wasn't lying since he glowed with aura. "W-well, I don't feel inherently evil or anything. I'm not even feeling anything wrong with me," he said. "(If that's true then, this Paula might be telling the truth.)"
"Perhaps we're all immune to it," Lucario said. "It's so annoying… I can't shake off that feeling, but my aura is repelling it."
"Thanks for the little heads up," Jeff said.
Suddenly, Lucario felt that the red aura was gathering into a single point. Looking ahead of them, he spotted a goat eating some grass intact from the snow. It then rose its head up and stared at their way with deadpan eyes. "…Beware," Lucario warned them. "The red aura just took over that animal over there."
"That goat?" Jeff asked. The goat grunted loudly and charged at them. "Oh no, that news report about angered animals turned out to be true. Here it comes!"
Chris panicked. "H-how in the hell should I even fight it?" Before Lucario could tell him to fall back, Jeff tossed him a second Pop Gun. "What the…"
"I found a spare Pop Gun," Jeff said. "Use that to defend yourself. A-ah!"
Jeff – Chris - Lucario
48 – 79 – 489
There was absolutely no explanation to what had happened, but Chris and Lucario felt that they had been dragged off somewhere else. They could see the snowy plains, but there was a part of them that had been ripped off from existence itself. Looking at Jeff, the blond boy seemed unfazed. "What is this weird feeling?" Lucario asked, mildly horrified.
"I-I don't know!" Chris said disturbed. "B-but let's not think about that for now. We've got a gruff goat to fight!"
"Y-yes," Lucario said, his fists flaring up with aura.
Gruff Goat stomps on Jeff!
There was simply no way for the duo to stop the goat from stomping on Jeff's frail body. Lucario was completely baffled by how he was unable to run.
Jeff receives 8 damage!
"H-holy crap, Jeff!" Chris said, seeing the gruff goat stepping back.
Jeff whimpered a bit. "I regret…not taking P.E. class…" he trailed off, but even then he picked himself up and shot the gruff goat.
Gruff Goat receives 18 HP of damage!
"Did it just stand there to receive the hit?" Chris asked, shaking his head in bewilderment. "Aw, screw this!"
"A-all yours, Lucario!" Chris said. He was actually crouching down, his arms covering his head. The Bubble Monkey so casually landed on him and spat on the goat.
Bubble monkey spits in Gruff Goat's eyes!
Gruff Coat receives 12 HP of damage!
Jeff stared at the whimpering goat, helplessly trying to shake off the spit on its eyes. "I cannot fathom how spitting on its eyes is really damaging," he said.
Gruff Goat receives 1,098 HP of damage! Actually, its head just blasted off into the sky!
Jeff and company receive 20 EXP points!
Jeff's level goes up by 2!
HP goes up by 4!
Offense goes up by 2!
Defense goes up by 1!
Speed goes up by 3!
Oh baby! Guts goes up by 5!
Luck goes up by 1!
Vitality goes up by 3!
Oh baby! IQ goes up 6!
To say the least, the world seemed to go back to normal to the newcomers, but that didn't stop them from seeing the brutal hit Lucario had delivered to the goat. What lied down in front of Lucario was the corpse of the goat with the missing head having blasted off high into the sky, leaving a trail of blood behind as it disappeared far away from the naked eye.
Jeff, Chris, and the Bubble Monkey all turned a sickening shade of blue (a feat Chris knew was impossible in the real world). Shaking his head, Jeff uttered "M-my word…" and dove behind a tree to puke. Chris felt an extreme case of vertigo and shivered at the morbid scene. The Bubble Monkey swallowed his gum by accident, staring with great horror at the bleeding corpse.
It took a few seconds for the serious Lucario, his flaring fist still stretched, to digest what he had done. He looked down and gasped, pulling back his fist and stepping back from the corpse. "Uh…" Lucario wisely trailed off.
His trainer wisely summarized the situation with a loud, "YUUUUUUCK! WHAT THE HELL, LUCARIO!"
"I-I-I'm really sorry! H-honest!" Lucario said, approaching his disgusted trainer. "I took it very seriously! I-I was just trying to protect you all!"
"By LITERALLY beheading it?!" Chris asked, Lucario sensing his body shaking in horror. Jeff overheard the fact and went back to puke a little harder than before. "DAMN! I know the thought is what matters, but this is BEYOND ridiculous!"
Lucario knelt down in shame, bowing his head to Chris. "I will control the extent of my strength next time so this doesn't happen again…"
"I have naaaaaaagging feeling you're going to do it again…" Chris turned back to face Jeff. He briefly saw the still expression on the Bubble Monkey's face. "U-um… Jeff?"
"I'm okay…" The blond boy limped a bit back to them, clutching his stomach. "I'm just not used to seeing people behead animals…"
Lucario stood back up, still looking ashamed. "You have my sincere apologies," he said.
"Honestly… I didn't think you were THIS strong," Jeff said, mildly regaining his composure. "You are certainly an incredible individual…"
The Aura Pokémon smiled a bit, but then his face fell when Chris gave him a deadpan look that implied, "Don't get too cocky or else you'll get it." He sighed instead.
Jeff adjusted his glasses, having slipped off from his little private time behind the trees. "On the bright side…I suppose our survival is pretty much guaranteed. I really wouldn't mind if you did accompany me beyond crossing the forest…" the two gasped mentally, "…AS LONG AS YOU DON'T BEHEAD ANYTHING ELSE."
"W-we don't mind, really!" Chris said, brightening up. "If you wish, you can hire Lucario as a guardian for the time being! Of course, I also come with the package…"
"I don't like the sound of hiring, but whatever," Jeff said. The Bubble Monkey pulled his sleeve a bit, wanting to have more gum. The blond gave him some gum, the monkey happily taking it. "Let's move on, making sure we avoid confronting any other goats…" He shuddered once he spotted the trail of blood left behind by the head. He nearly wanted to puke once seeing the fresh corpse on the snowy ground. Chris felt the same and so did the monkey, the latter who tried not to swallow the gum whole. They all quickly hastened their pace around the murder scene and walked down the path.
Several seconds later, after they were out of sight, a random hunter spotted the goat's corpse as he came from the same direction they came from. "Dunno what happened here but we're havin' a feast tonight!" he merrily said, pulling the succulent corpse away with him.
Back with the group, they suddenly came across some camping spots occupied by tents. "We should be nearing Lake Tessie that's assumed to have the legendary monster Tessie," Jeff pointed out. "I reckon that there's the Tessie Watching Club nearby, too."
"Oh! Maybe we could rest inside a tent if they let us," Chris said.
The first tent's owners allowed them to rest for a bit before moving down further along the road, where there were more tents stationed before Lake Tessie. Surprisingly, the lake wasn't frozen at all. Seeing a real lake, Chris was the first one to approach it, Lucario following him from behind. "…There is something big inside the water," Lucario said, his aura feeling another aura moving close to the shore of the lake.
"Tessie, perhaps?" Chris asked. "Please tell me we're not fighting a monster…"
"I won't behead it."
"Don't you even say that word!" Jeff said.
"Seriously…" Chris agreed.
The Bubble Monkey hopped up and down before rushing to a stretched portion of the shore, standing on a spot of dirt. He clapped his hands as if he was trying to do something special. "What is that monkey trying t-" Jeff was interrupted as ripples of water started to form right in front of them all.
Gloriously, a purple monster with a bright look on its face rose up from the water and howled playfully to the Bubble Monkey. In a second, the Tessie Watching Club members emerged from the tents and started taking photos and writing a whole lot of wild mass guessing in their notes. "You people act so fast," Chris said.
Jeff, not minding the public behind their backs, noticed that they needed to cross the lake. When they were resting back at the first tent, Jeff kept to himself that somebody named Paula had used a psychic call telling him that he needed to head south. The lake was in the way, so he assumed that they needed to cross it. The sides of the lake were surrounded by tall cliffs, after all. "We need to cross… Hmm, I wonder…" The blond calmly walked to the shore with the Bubble Monkey and looked up to Tessie. The crowd behind them gasped loudly.
"He's getting eaten whole, isn't he…" Chris trailed off.
"From what I read from Tessie's mind, it's a vegetarian," Lucario said. His trainer stared at him with an odd look. "…It only thinks about food all the time."
Tessie stared down at Jeff with what Chris thought was a very dopey smile. "Huh, it's pretty docile," Jeff noted, to which many of the club happily dotted down in their notepads. "We could probably ride it to cross the lake."
The duo carefully approached the legend. "…Oh, it's a vegetarian, alright," Chris said. The watchers also noted the fact down. They saw as Tessie lowered its head for them to climb over. Not wanting to say that Tessie had quite a flat head, the four stepped on top of its head, and then Tessie slowly swam through the cold lake. The four looked back to the watchers as they helplessly tried to snap as many photos as possible.
"Remember! We're editing the guy in the BLUE dog suit out! We don't want to make this look stupid so keep the kids and the monkey in the shot for extra points in cuteness!" one of them called out. Lucario overheard them and grunted, showing a few fangs.
Jeff and Chris sat down to rest. "We're lucky Tessie allowed us to travel across…" Jeff noted. "Just a few more ways ahead till I reach Ness and Paula… Oh," he turned to face the rest. "I guess I said that out loud."
Just for the sake of sounding interested, Chris asked, "Who are those two?" already knowing full well who they were.
"It's kind of crazy to believe this, but…" The duo felt that they were getting somewhere out of sheer luck. "There are these two other people who contacted me through my mind while I was sleeping. They're the reason why I even set out on my own to begin with."
"…So, you just…walked out from your home because two complete strangers told you to?" Lucario asked.
Jeff blushed slightly, small waves of water moving away from the trail Tessie left behind as it swam down south. "I know this sounds strange, but there's this feeling I got when I was called by Paula to help them. It's just as if I received an epiphany…" He moved up his glasses. "Call it a hunch if you may. There was this feeling inside me that told me to do this. And I just…jumped at the call or something."
"That's kind of…mystical?" Chris replied, not really sure how to put it.
"Perhaps, perhaps not," Jeff said. "Hmm, it seems we're getting to the other side already…"
Tessie was now slowing down close to a small eastern coast. It slowly moved down its head to the ground to let them step down. Rising up its neck, Tessie calmly swam away, not before waving a small fin to them as it sank back down into the water. The Bubble Monkey waved at it.
"I don't know how I'm going to make it, but Ness and Paula are both very far away from here…" Jeff said.
"If you're really worried, then perhaps we can accompany you all the way to where they are," Lucario said. Chris sighed to himself, feeling nice for having heard the suggestion.
"This isn't going to distract you from…whatever you explorers do, right?"
"Not at all. It will probably help us explore the land better with some sort of guide."
"I don't know that much about Eagleland, but… It's okay," Jeff said nodding as they resumed their walk. The teen was happy to know that there was a safe lead to tag along with Ness. Now they just needed to convince Ness and Paula from letting them come…
Several minutes later, the group of four came to a stop, finding a dead end to the left side of the coast. "Well, I think we can surmise that Tessie knows nothing of…" Jeff faced to the right where an entrance to a cave lied. "…landmarks."
"Actually, Jeff…" Chris looked to the left where the land wasn't stopped by a dead end. In fact, they could jump down a small fence of ground and continue down the road. The random gray pencil sticking out from the ground just behind their backs was a topic none of them wanted to get into. "We can continue down through there."
"Oh, sorry," Jeff said, cleaning his glasses. "My glasses were kind of foggy. I didn't see clearly."
Just before they could even go down the path, Lucario suddenly grunted as he faced the cave. His grunting was unsettling Chris. "Lucario? W-what's wrong?"
"More of that evil aura you're able to sense?" Jeff asked.
"No," Lucario said. "There's another different red aura that doesn't seem familiar inside the cave… Grrrr…" Out of pure instinct, Lucario ran inside the cave. Feeling very vulnerable, Chris gasped and followed the Aura Pokémon. The Bubble Monkey thought they were playing a game so he gave chase as well, leaving a deadpan Jeff behind.
"Oh goodness," Jeff said. "I could head down alone, but they seem resourceful enough…" Sighing to himself, the blond entered the cave…
TO BE CONTINUED…
"Odder Oddness. Such a fitting title," Jeff said.
"Are we like finally going to appear?" Ness asked.
"It looks like it," Paula said. "There's a bigger chance of dying horribly, sadly."
"I loooooove this world…" Chris sarcastically said.
Would you like to save your data?
Chris, Lucario, Jeff, Bubble Monkey
You might be wondering where this last part of the chapter came from. It's just a little extra like adding music track suggestions to make the story stand out like you were playing a game. (Sadly, dropping out before you get to "save" your current progress in the chapters won't keep anything… Just kidding).
Originally, this chapter was a lot shorter and pretty rushed. There's a good chance many of the next chapters ahead will be longer versions of what they used to be. You can only tell if I do point things out, though.
Next chapter, the first (or second) official Smasher shall appear at last.
I encourage all goat hunters to review, or else the story will be responsible of killing goats.
Ness: That's bad for you, you know.
Oh crap, you're right.