A Girl And Her Misdreavus

We were lost in Ilex Forest.

That's a rather matter-of-fact statement, but the fact was that we (meaning my friend, Thomas, and I) had taken a wrong turning while travelling through the forest to Goldenrod City. And, no matter which direction we tried, we always seemed to end up back in the same spot. We were supposed to be on a journey to conquer the Johto League, but we'd be lucky if we got to take on any Gym Leaders after Falkner and Bugsy at this rate.

"Are you sure this is the correct path?" I asked Thomas, who was walking a little way in front of me, his Minun perched on his shoulder.

"Of course I'm sure, Lesley," he called over his shoulder.

"As sure as you were the last twelve times I asked?" I retorted. That was the trouble with boys; they always thought they were right until someone or something proved otherwise. And Thomas was convinced that he could lead us out of here, in spite of the fact that we had been walking round in circles for what must have been hours. To use the old cliche, we were getting nowhere fast. I would have sent my Chatot to scout round for the right path, but she was resting in her Poke Ball after a tough battle just before we entered this arboreal maze. And Thomas didn't have any Flying Pokemon on his team, which consisted of Machoke, Charmeleon, Minun, Rhyhorn, Heracross and Buizel. So that was no help to us.

But, since the only alternative was staying where I was, I had no choice but to follow Thomas, a classic case of the blind leading the blind. So, with a quick glance at the Balls containing my Pokemon (Chatot, Sandshrew, Teddiursa, Octillery, Carnivine and Elekid) I hurried after him. "This is getting beyond a joke," I thought to myself, as I pushed branches aside. When we left our homes in Cherrygrove City, we had planned to come back as Thomas and Lesley, conquerors of the Johto League. But now . . . Now we were lost in the vast forest which lay between Azalea Town and Goldenrod City - and it was starting to get dark.

Soon, we passed a stand of trees, one I was pretty sure we had passed at least twice before. I was getting sick of constantly walking round in circles by now and decided that, male pride or not, I would have to let Thomas know what I was thinking. But how to get his attention? So far, all my attempts to get him to admit that we were lost had been ignored or greeted with a flippant: "Don't worry."

"Well," I thought to myself as I readied my Carnivine's Poke Ball, "I'll make sure you can't ignore me this time." Then, I threw the Ball, calling: "Carnivine, go!" as I did so. There was a flash of light and my Carnivine materialised before me. "Carnivine, Vine Whip!" I called, pointing in Thomas's direction. And Carnivine threw back his leaf-like arms and sent two long vines lashing towards Thomas; they coiled round his ankles, stopping him in his tracks and causing his Minun to leap down from his shoulder.

"Hey!" he shouted. "Lesley, what's the big idea! Get this thing off of me!"

I walked over to him, grinning. "Not until you admit we're lost."

"We're not lost!" he retorted. "We're just . . . not sure . . ." He trailed off and the last few words were an incoherent mumble. I sighed; we had been wandering around in this forest all day and it looked as though we could look forward to (if "look forward to" is the correct expression for our current circumstances) at least another day of walking round in circles tomorrow. In the meantime, it looked like we would be spending the night in the forest.

"Well, since you won't say it, I will," I said, recalling Carnivine as I spoke. "We are lost. L - O - S - T! And it looks like . . ." I broke off as I suddenly saw a pair of eyes watching from behind a nearby bush. "Who . . . who's there?!" I called, trying to control the shake in my voice and keeping a tight grip on Carnivine's Poke Ball. Probably a wild Pokemon, I thought to myself once the first shock had passed; part of the reason we got lost in the first place was because Thomas had been on the trail of an Oddish when we accidentally walked into a Beedrill nest. And we'd disturbed the Beedrills, which had ended up chasing after us for what felt like miles; as a result, Thomas lost the Oddish's trail and both of us lost our way.

Soon, the owner of the eyes emerged, revealing a creature consisting of what looked like a disembodied girl's head, blue-grey except for the tips of the "hair", which were pink. The "neck" was marked by dark pink orbs, a large one in the middle and several smaller ones, giving the effect of a pearl necklace. A Misdreavus, I recalled, pulling out my Pokedex and pointing it at the creature hovering before me.

"Misdreavus," the mechanical voice intoned. "The screech Pokemon. It is a mischievous Pokemon which delights in startling travellers."

Thomas and I looked at each other, both of us thinking the same thing. Misdreavus did not live in Ilex Forest - the Johto League Guide Book was clear on that point - so this one had to belong to someone. But who? Was its trainer anywhere nearby? I was just wondering this when, as if from nowhere, a young girl appeared. That in itself wasn't unusual, but her appearance was. She wore an old-fashioned white dress, similar to one I'd seen my great great grandmother wearing in a picture of her when she was my age, and her hair was a mass of tightly curled ringlets surrounding a slightly rounded face. But the odd thing was that she seemed to be glowing with an unnatural light.

Forgetting our manners, Thomas and I gaped at her for several seconds. "Who . . . who are you?" Thomas finally managed to say, his voice an octave higher than normal.

The girl smiled. "I'm Ada," she replied. "And that's my Misdreavus, Missy," she added, nodding in the direction of the Misdreavus. Missy floated over to her and hovered by her side. "Now, tell me. Who are you?" She paused and waited for us to reply.

"I'm Lesley and he's Thomas." I pointed to my friend, then continued. "We were on our way to Goldenrod, but we got lost."

Ada looked at us, a strangely sad expression on her face. "Yes, it is easy to get lost in this forest," she told us. "I heard you arguing earlier."

I thought about saying something along the lines of: "Well, why didn't you show yourself before?!" But something, some deep instinct that I can't quite explain in words, told me not to, that there was a reason Ada had not shown herself until now. Instead, I simply said: "Can you help us?"

"Of course, but you'll have to beat me in a Pokemon battle first."

We took a few moments to establish the rules of the battle. Since Ada only had Missy, this would have to be a one-on-one battle in order to keep it fair. Thomas, we all agreed, would act as referee, while I battled Ada using one of my Pokemon. Then, with the rules decided, Ada led us to a clearing, where we prepared to face off, to pit our Pokemon skills against each other. As I stood opposite her, I began to wonder who she was and where she had come from. Was she on a Pokemon journey herself? If so, why did she only have a Misdreavus? Had she chosen to specialise in Ghost Type Pokemon? Why did she wear such old-fashioned clothes?

But I did not have long to think about these questions before I heard Thomas's voice shout: "Begin!" Pushing my curiousity aside, I turned my attention to my Pokemon. Which one should I send out? I had never battled a Ghost Pokemon before, but I knew they could be tricky to fight, able to hypnotise and Confuse their opponents. Still, this would be good practice for when I came to take on Morty . . .

In the end, I made my decision and pulled out a Poke Ball. "I choose . . . Elekid!" I called, as I sent the Ball spinning through the air. It burst open and my Elekid emerged in a flash of light, flexing his arms in preparation for the battle ahead.

"Go, Missy!" Ada called from across the clearing. "Start with your Screech Attack!"

And Missy opened her mouth to emit a hideous screeching sound, a sound which seemed to pierce through my very soul. Elekid staggered for a moment, but I told him to fight it and use his Thundershock; he began spinning his arms in circles, building up electricity as his black-and-yellow body emitted several sparks. Then, with one burst, he let fly with a bolt of electricity.

"Dodge it, Missy!" Ada called. "And use Confuse Ray!"

The largest of the orbs around Missy's neck began to glow with an eerie purple light - Confuse Ray. I recognised the move from the battle I'd had earlier in the day; my opponent's Ninetales used it against my Chatot and ended up Confusing her to the point where she could no longer fly straight. Well, I wasn't going to let another of my Pokemon get hit by a Confuse Ray. "Elekid!" I shouted. "Double Team!"

"Elekid!" Suddenly, there was another Elekid standing next to mine, then another, then another . . . Double Team is a great evasive manoeuvre, allowing a Pokemon to create copies of itself in order to confuse its opponent and cause the opponent to waste energy trying to attack the fakes. In this case, Missy paused and looked around uncertainly, clearly wondering which Elekid she should aim her Confuse Ray at. While she was distracted, I told Elekid to stand his ground and prepare another Thundershock.

"Missy! Use Psybeam!" Ada called. And Missy fired a beam of purple light at the nearest Elekid, which vanished in an instant; it was one of the Double Team copies. The Misdreavus then went on to fire Psybeam after Psybeam, hitting one of Elekid's duplicates each time but scoring no hits on Elekid himself. Nonetheless, I knew I had to counter-attack before all the duplicates were wiped out and only the real Elekid was left.

"You ready?" I asked, once only one duplicate remained.

"Kid!" replied Elekid. A bolt of electricity shot out of the horns on his head, arcing straight towards Missy. This time, she didn't have chance to dodge, but she seemed to take little damage and was soon floating in mid-air once more, ready to attack.

Ada smiled. "Missy won't give up that easily," she said, pointing across the field at Elekid. "Missy! Shadow Ball!" A ball of purple-black energy began to form above the Misdreavus, growing steadily larger until it was almost as large as she was. Ada then told her to use her Psychic powers to direct the Shadow Ball and make sure it hit. I had to think fast, had to come up with a means of counter-attacking before Missy's Shadow Ball caused Elekid any damage.

"Elekid! Thunderbolt!" I ordered, as the purple-black ball of energy was launched in my Electric Pokemon's direction. "Try to hit that Shadow Ball!" Once more, Elekid began charging energy, taking slightly longer than he had when I'd told him to use Thundershock; Thunderbolt is a more powerful Attack, one which Elekid had only recently learned, but I hoped it would be enough to knock Missy's Shadow Ball out of the air. Then, Elekid, his body crackling with electricity, fired off his Thunderbolt, which struck the Shadow Ball dead on and caused it to explode.

It'll take too long to describe that battle blow-by-blow, so I'll just give a brief summary of what happened during the next few turns.

Ada and I soon settled into a routine of attack and counter-attack, Missy employing a mix of Ghost and Psychic Attacks, which I countered by having Elekid dodge out of the way or with techniques such as Double Team or Protect. Then, I would have Elekid use one of his Electric Attacks. Ada responded to this with some dodging techniques of her own; once, Missy managed to get right up close to Elekid and would have hit him with a Shadow Ball fired at pointblank range had I not told him to use Protect. He did so and the Shadow Ball ended up hitting an invisible forcefield around Elekid. Nonetheless, both Pokemon took hits during that battle and they were soon facing each other, clearly running out of energy.

"Missy! Perish Song!" Ada called. And Missy opened her mouth and began to sing (if "sing" is the right word) a "song" which consisted of several discordant notes, the sound reminding me of an out-of-tune violin being played by a tone deaf Infernape. The sound seemed to go right through me; it was even worse than the Screech Attack which Missy had used as her opening move in this battle. Then, I noticed something odd; both Pokemon seemed to be weakening. What was Ada up to?

I took out my Pokedex and used it to check the effect of Perish Song, a move I'd never encountered before now. "Perish Song," the mechanical voice said. "A move which causes all Pokemon in battle at the time of its use to faint after three turns."

I digested this news in silence; clearly, Ada was trying to end the battle quickly, even if it meant sacrificing her own Pokemon. I could have countered by recalling Elekid and sending out another Pokemon, one which wouldn't be affected by the Perish Song. But it had been agreed that this would be a one-on-one battle; I couldn't change the rules now. Instead, I racked my brains, trying to think of a way to take Missy out before she knocked herself out with Perish Song and took Elekid down with her.

Then, it hit me. "Elekid! Thunderpunch!" I shouted, knowing the close quarters from which a Thunderpunch is delivered would add to the shocking power of this move. Elekid managed to shake off the effects of Perish Song long enough to charge towards Missy, his fist crackling with electricity. Wham! He slammed his fist right into the Misdreavus's face, knocking her to the ground, where she lay struggling to rise. After a few moments, however, she slowly sank down, exhausted.

Thomas, raised his hand. "Misdreavus is unable to battle! Lesley is the winner!"

I recalled Elekid, told him to "take a long rest" and turned to Ada. "Well, I beat you," I told her. "Now, you have to show us the way out of here."

Ada smiled her enigmatic smile. "Of course. Follow me."

Ada, with Missy floating beside her, led us through the trees. I still did not know who she was or where she came from, but I instinctively trusted her. Although it had to be admitted that there was something strange, something not quite of this world, about her - that unnatural light around her for one thing. Even so, she was our only chance of getting out of this forest any time soon, so we continued to follow her.

Presently, we arrived at a clearing. "There," Ada said, pointing directly ahead. "The road to Goldenrod City. And, here, I must leave you," she added, turning to go back into the trees, with Missy floating behind her.

"Wait!" I called after her. She turned round. "Will we ever see you again?" I asked.

She smiled that strange smile of hers. "Perhaps," was all she said. And, with that, she slipped off into the trees, disappearing as abruptly as she had appeared. The last word I heard her say was a whispered: "Farewell." Then, Missy followed her.

When Thomas and I arrived in Goldenrod, we found a guest house to stay at overnight. Tomorrow, we would have a look at the city before going to the Gym to take on Whitney, but, for now, we needed to get some rest after our long trek through the forest. The guest house we stayed at was an old-fashioned establishment, with sepia photographs hanging on the walls. Passing one of these photographs, I stopped in my tracks and went to take a closer look. It showed a young girl in clothing from about a hundred years ago, a Misdreavus at her side, but that wasn't what attracted my attention. The girl in the photo was Ada: she even had the same enigmatic smile.

The landlady, who had been showing Thomas and me to our rooms, noticed my interest. "That's a picture of my Great-aunt Ada," she told us in response to my questioning look. "The Misdreavus was her favourite Pokemon; she used to train her in Ilex Forest. Of course, this was long before I was born, but my grandfather told me she would have become the first female in our family to go on a Pokemon journey - had she lived."

"What do you mean, "had she lived"?" I asked, feeling a shiver go up my spine.

"She died, soon after that picture was taken, fell ill and . . . never recovered. Her Misdreavus disappeared soon after and started hanging round in the part of the forest where Ada used to train her. They thought she was waiting for her trainer to come back, but . . . Well, Misdreavus are Ghost Pokemon . . ."

"So you think Ada continued to train her Misdreavus from beyond the grave?" I asked, recalling her otherworldly appearance. Then another question occured to me. "And did she call her Misdreavus Missy?"

"Yes," replied the landlady. "But how did you know that?"

Thomas and I exchanged glances, but decided this question would be best left unanswered. After all, while no-one could deny that Ghost Pokemon did exist, the ghosts of humans were another matter altogether.