It was late in the evening; late enough that not one soul or pokemon roamed the streets of Castelia City, but early enough that lights still illuminated the houses scattering the streets.
"Phan-Phan," White scolded, trying to keep her energetic young squirrel by her feet. "Phan-Phan, stop trying to wander off!" When her Emolga did nothing but blissfully squeak and try to climb a building, White put her hands on her hips. "Okay young man," she smirked, lightly tugging the creature's tail. "Am I going to have to put you in your poke ball?"
Phan-Phan didn't respond, seeming to be distracted. He was peeking around a billboard, spotting a small figure hunched over sitting on a lamp post. He gave his owner a confused squeak, and White squeezed her head through the sign as well.
"Why, that's N!" She blinked, eyes squinting slightly when she noticed how far he was hunched over. That wasn't like him; he usually sat up straight, staring off into the clouds with a longing look on his face. (Probably thinking of liberating all pokemon.) Holding her Emolga tightly, White made her way towards the young King. She feigned a smile to hide her concern as she approached him. "N, hi!"
"Good evening, White." He didn't even look up, which was something else alarming. N always gave her his full undivided attention. He stayed hunched over, and as she got closer, she held back a gasp. His eyes were puffy and tears had dried on his cheeks, leaving wet glossy trails behind. White was reluctant to come forward. "Um...N? Are you o-"
He cut her off. "Don't you have another city to get to?" His voice never wavered from that gentle and silky tone. Only now did White realize that it sounded slightly hoarse.
She stood there awkwardly, allowing Phan-Phan to climb down from her arms and onto N's lap. "The gyms aren't open this late at night..."
The young Emolga tried to curl into N's arms, confused as to why the young king wasn't touching him. He'd usually pet him and nuzzle him like he was his own. N seemed scared to move. He stared up at the dried tears and gave a concerned squeak. Carefully, Phan Phan scurried off N's lap and behind him, about to climb the man's back. He blinked in confusion when he saw long red streaks on the king's back. The little squirrel took precaution as he placed his little paws on a part of N's back not stained, and with his animal instincts, carefully licked the wounds clean.
White stepped back in alarm as N's entire body twisted forward as he cried out, the hint of further tears clinging to his eyelashes. He only cried out in further pain as he jerked suddenly. Quickly, White snatched Phan-Phan off N's back, who's little pink tongue was coated with blood. "N!" she cried out, backing up in fear.
N fell back into that hunched position, gripping the lamp post in an attempt to endure the pain, holding so tightly his knuckles turned white. Well, whiter than usual.
White's eyes were mesmerized by the red streaks she managed to get a quick glimpse of, before he turned away from her. She leaned over to get a better look at the marks – praying she was seeing things, and was met with the gruesome sight of long bloody lash marks on his back. The blood was still wet and glistening; it was fresh. Whatever this poor boy had endured happened very recently.
"U-um, N," White's voice was trembling as she spoke. "You're really bleeding!"
N's eyes darkened for a minute, and his bitter tone caught her completely off guard. "What else is new?"
"N!" a voice as sharp as a knife bellowed from the entrance to the city. "Where are you!"
The look that came to N's face was almost comical; it was like a young toddler dreading the thought of being chastised. His usually nonchalant eyes were wide with childish fear, and White could note a slight shakiness as he gripped the post.
She decided to break the tense silence with the serious question nagging at her mind. "N, were you whi-" Before she could even finish her sentence, N with great and painful difficulty – hopped off the post and took a firm hold of both her arms, standing so his serious and rather fierce green eyes burned into hers.
"Listen to me, White." His voice was so sharp and demanding, that she flinched; it wasn't like N's usually soft and sweet tone. "Ghetsis is patrolling the streets tonight, looking for injured pokemon" Or so he thought... "I want you to get to the next city and go now!" He didn't know if his father would do anything to White if he found her, and no, he wasn't chancing a thing happening to her. "You must leave now!" His grip tightened on her arms, crouching slightly so they were now completely face to face and eye to eye.
"N!" Ghetsis's voice was heard snarling, and was dreadfully closer now. "I said GET OUT HERE!"
N's eyes were squinted tightly, he looked really afraid; this was so scary to see on a face that usually held such innocence and softness. He grimaced as White tightened her grip on his arms and pulled back when he felt Phan-Phan on his shoulder again, trying to futilely lick away the blood and pain from his lash wounds.
"But, N-!" White didn't even know half of what went on in N's life, but she had gradually been able to see that N was indeed not the enemy. She didn't know how she figured that, as he was bent on liberating all pokemon, but there was something going on.. Something she didn't know and so diligently needed to know... All she did know was that someone had badly hurt N, and she didn't want him going back to Ghetsis.
N quickly pulled his arm from her grasp and – still with those fearful sea green eyes – went off to face his father.
The long and slender throne room echoed with the sound of a thunderous boom as Ghetsis slammed his fist down on the arm of the throne chair. "Who gave you permission to leave your room, N?" the elderly sage snarled, leering at his young son with a look that could kill.
N forced his expression into one of total calmness, making sure not to show a single ounce of fear. However, his Zoroark and Concordia could see him weeping and pleading for forgiveness on the inside, like the young child he was. "I-I'm sorry, Ghetsis." No, don't stammer."Concordia was cleaning my room earlier and she said the solution in the bottle she used to clean was rather poisonous, so she told me to go outs-" Before he even finished his sentence, Ghetsis's hand collided hard with the side of his face. N had trained himself pretty much from toddler age not to cry or scream during one of his father's beatings, and thus he barely flinched at being slapped. The sheer force of this slap however propelled him nearly into the wall. He got up immediately.
"Concordia?" Ghetsis sneered. "And when did HER word become LAW?" He slammed his fist down harder. "You are not to leave this castle – your room- without permission from ME, you horrible boy!"
The young king said nothing, raising his emotionless eyes to his father's, his cheek red and stinging. He looked to Concordia, who was holding back tears and the urge to run and help him. The moment he turned back to his father – there was a vicious blur rushing to his face – and N was on the ground, his other cheek beet red and stinging.
"You look at me when I'm talking to you!" the sage snarled, his hand risen to strike him again.
Holding back a cry as he stretched the lash wounds, N stood, staring at his father as ordered.
"..." Ghetsis snorted and flicked his wrist in dismissal and disgust. He turned to The Shadow Triad. "Take your Lord N to the galleries," he ordered, almost smirking when the young king's head shot up.
The Shadow Triad exchanged looks; nobody could see their expressions and never knew what they were thinking under those cloaks, but they obediently marched over to N, each taking an arm.
N kept his eyes on the ground, trembling as they took his arms. He did not fight back. He had learned at the very early age of five not to fight back.
"My Lord, please!" Concordia pleaded, near tears as she approached Ghetsis. She could not keep silent any longer. "Please – it wasn't Lord N's fault! I am the one that should have come to you for permission! Please take me there instead!"
A grim rueful smile came to the corrupted sage's face. "Don't worry, Concordia, you're next. For now, I suggest you wait in N's room with medical supplies; he'll be needing it direly when he returns."
She paled. Not because of the pain she was in for, but knowing that no matter what she did, she couldn't save that innocent child from it.
Through the entire walk to the galleries, N didn't speak a word or resist as The Shadow Triad yanked him swiftly down the corridor. At last, they approached the dreaded room. It was as dark and cold as usual, with the long slender bench in the very middle of the cement floor. A member of The Shadow Triad was kind enough to pull him over the long benches – though roughly – by his arm, rather than push him by his wounded back.
N grunted as he fell hard on his stomach. He gripped the bench shakily and waited for the first stroke. The whip whistled through the air, and what happened next was an explosion of blue fire agony that spread over his already wounded back and intensified to degrees that could not be described. N held back a scream as the whip sliced deeper into his fresh wounds, lurching over the bench.
The member of The Shadow Triad grimaced, though it could not be seen under the mask. He lashed the whip down a second time, and a restrained strangled sob came from N. The unwanted cold air eagerly swooped down and into every new open wound, stinging and burning him further with its presence.
Shaking fiercely, N tried to think of anything – ANYTHING to get his mind off the increasing inferno consuming his back. Right now, he realized he didn't even care what was happening to him, just as long as White was alright. He just had to save White, and he had saved her from Ghetsis's wrath.
Each time The Shadow Triad let the whip fall, different sounds were coming from N. Whimpers gradually turned into soft restrained wails, and finally pitiful screams of desperate anguish near the end of that god-awful punishment.
Incoherent and unaware of anything that was happening, feeling nothing but the fire on his back and blood trickling, N was almost thankful that The Shadow Triad didn't use his screams and cries as a means of fueling their desire further to increase the severity of the lashing, like his father did. His face was a mess of sweat and tears, while his jacket was now stained crimson, and with his tears. He whimpered loudly as the Shadow Triad pulled him back up off the bench and wordlessly escorted him back to his room.
Concordia awaited, sitting by her young lord's favorite skateboard, bandages and ointment in hand. She watched as The Triad rather shoved the silent king into the room, and shut his door behind them. Quietly, she stood, bandages tight in hand, and looked at him.
Holding onto the door frame for support, N silently looked at her and flinched as she took a motherly hold of his hand. He raised his frightened tear filled eyes to hers. "You don't...have the stinging medicine, do you?"
Like a four year old, Concordia thought to herself, and she gently coaxed the young king to sit on the skateboard as she pulled up his shirt and tended to his back, gingerly rubbing in the medicine. Every so often, she heard childish hiccups and restrained sobs from her young lord. She could tell he was trying to hold it back and be strong. "We're completely alone, my Lord," she said softly, smoothing his hair slightly. "It is perfectly alright to let it out.."
N didn't hold back, but he never cried loudly, even as a child his sobs were very soft. He lay there, exhausted, crying softly into his arms, though it was more out of fear than anything.
Concordia wanted so badly to put her arms around him, but she had been strictly told her care taking relationship and duties was to be perfectly formal; she was there to look after him, do the standard give him food, make sure he was healthy – and nothing more. N wasn't allowed to be shown human affection, but it never stopped her from occasional slip ups of smoothing his hair, and sometimes rubbing his back.
"A-at least I-I saved her, Concordia..." he managed to get out between quiet sobs, sounding like a sniffling toddler. "-c-cause'a me Gh-Ghetsis never hit her.."
"Who, my lord?"
Condordia did not think for a second that Ghetsis – as cruel and a demon as he was – would mindlessly seize White, drag her back to the castle and just mercilessly whip the girl, but she wouldn't communicate her doubts to the distraught young king. She only lightly rested a hand on an un-whipped part of his back, hoping he felt the comfort in the only gesture she was permitted to give.
N breathed out a sob, burying his face into his pokemon as they came near. "S-some day..I'll save you all too."
Concordia closed her eyes. And I'll save you...
(Well..I am weirdly proud of this. I thought I may as well feed my pokemon addiction for as long as it lasts. XD
So, with how vicious and heartless Ghetsis is, I don't imagine N had a very easy childhood, and didn't have typical punishments we are all probably accustomed too... Plus, I also love Concordia's line in the game "I give peace and comfort to N", and I thought I'd have a bit of her doing just that in here. )