Ikarishipping Story: Light and Dark
Four silhouettes appear in the sky, each atop a Pidgeot, circling the remains of the irregularly-shaped plot, suddenly hesitating to touch down.
Traces of steam rose off the ground.
The group turned to each other, a palpable chill in the air.
"We've traveled this far—"
"I don't know—"
"We must! Who knows what could be down there?" The fourth man pointed toward the ground, eyes determined. "Are you unaware of the riches this island harbors?"
"…Remember the plan?" The same man spoke, facing his comrades, lips in a serious, thin line. "Check the bodies first, then the castle. The queen of the island was rumored to have kept an entire safe chock full of gold and diamonds! The safe is also rumored to be invincible! Imagine the money! The opportunity! The women! Now, let's make haste!"
The burly man commanded his Pidgeot to land. It cawed faithfully in response as it did so. The three men he left behind looked to each other for reassurance, and eventually followed their unofficial leader downward. He smiled as he grew closer to the ground, visions of immeasurable affluence and endless popularity that lie just within his grasp. Chuckling to himself in anticipation, he dug his hands deeper into Pidgeot's feathers as he finally touched land.
"Alright men, now let's—"
The three men behind him dismounted, but then froze in their tracks, noticing the uncharacteristic quiver in their leader's voice.
The ground was still hot. The forests were wiped out, and giant, dry holes, formerly lakes, sat in the ground. Houses were dilapidated, the only remains being parts of their wooden infrastructures. In unison, they all turned their attention to the melted frames of mothers holding onto smaller skeletons. Faceless lovers embraced one other, and bits of Pokemon were strewn everywhere. Every piece of the island, large and small, was caked in black ash, almost indistinguishable.
The party remained silent, but twitched at the continuous, nauseating crackling of bones and skin.
Hikari's eyes opened hastily. She shot upright, finding herself in the same king-sized bed. Trying to remember what happened to her, she patted every part of her body, making sure she was still clothed, and unscathed. The bruises from her fall on the stairs were still swelled, but she barely felt the pain anymore. She looked out the window, eyes dejected as she saw the familiar gray, overcast sky.
She looked away from the window, expecting to see the same, lifeless room before her, but instead, nearly lost her breath at the sight.
Every one of her dresses hung off a steel, mobile rack. Various knickknacks and personal belongings were thrown into open, cardboard boxes. When Hikari rose from the bed to explore, she found an entire box of just her cosmetics and accessories. She picked up a familiar silver clip that she received from a distant relative, frowning when she was not able to remember specifically who gave it to her. She found herself naturally gravitating to everything. She felt the length of her ornate party gowns, rubbed the wooden king and queen display she had received from a visiting royal family at age twelve, and warmly smiled at a photograph of her coronation day. She could not help but laugh at the picture, remembering that there was no official need for a coronation celebration when it came to being a princess, but her mother and father demanded it be a special occasion.
Hikari longed to dig deeper into the boxes and dive into memories past, but jumped back when the door opened. Fearing it was he at the door, she jumped into the bed and covered herself with the sheets.
"Oh, my apologies…I didn't mean to startle you, uh…your highness."
Hikari peered, and saw an older woman in an apron and simpler clothing holding a tray with assorted breakfast food. Uncontrollably widening her eyes in hunger, Hikari glanced between the tray and the woman a couple of times before the woman bowed, and spoke again.
"His majesty requested I bring this to you…"
Hikari grimaced at the thought, suddenly hesitating to indulge in the eggs, bacon, and toast, but then noticed the vase with the pink flower.
'The same as…' she began to think, then was interrupted.
"It is normally out of my element to speak this much in front of royalty, highness, but I must insist that you eat this!" She bowed in allegiance once more, closing her eyes in what seemed to be fear, but Hikari assumed it wasn't fear of her.
Then, Hikari smiled gently, "thank you, it looks delicious. Did you make this yourself?"
Incredulously, the woman peered upwards to observe the girl. 'Such kindness…' she thought to herself, yet refrained to verbally respond.
Hikari grew uncomfortable from the prolonged stare. "Umm…yes well, you may place it wherever you wish…" she lightly laughed, motioning to the plethora of items in the room. "If you can find a space, that is!"
The maid gave a chuckle as well, but Hikari was confused by her own actions.
'Why do I choose to laugh?' She thought, warmly waving to the maid as she left. 'A better question is why does she…?'
The door quietly closed, and Hikari stared at the food in front of her. It was the exact meal she planned to have the day she discovered her mother's corpse.
But the flower drew her attention above anything else.
'How does he know that pink roses are—'
She halted her train of thought, slowly reaching for the stem, and gently observed its features for hidden cameras or recorders. There was no trace of security devices, only the supple petals and their vibrant pink shades. She sighed, and walked to the window, still holding the rose between her fingers, and began to remember what had transpired the previous night.
Those words still echoed in her mind, along with his pretentious face.
"Is that what they told you over there, highness?"
'What does that mean…what does HE mean…?' She grew tired of his torturous ambiguity and arrogant tone. Absent-mindedly fiddling with the stem of the rose, she attempted to piece together what has happened to her in the past few days.
'What is it about me that keeps me alive…?'
She remembered when he touched her cheek and said those words, but sadly, nothing much afterwards. She placed her hand on her cheek, attempting to recreate the feeling, but to no avail. She remembered his eyes, how they softened when he looked at her, and how sometimes, when he grabbed her chin, or her wrist, her arm, she could not remember the sting.
"It's getting cold."
She turned to see him standing directly behind her. Startled, she backed up against the wall, the stem of the rose wrapped within her trembling fingers. He noticed.
"Hm…" he muttered to himself, glancing out the window.
"Your…your highness…" she suddenly spoke up.
He cocked an amused eyebrow at this. Mockingly, he bent down to her eye level, not saying a word.
She never looked up from the carpet. "My, my possessions…h-how—"
He lifted her chin with his pointer finger, demanding eye contact. "Frankly, princess, you should be more concerned with the food my staff made for you. They went to quite the extent to match your mundane taste."
She blankly stared back at him, flabbergasted at how it seemed, to he, that nothing had transpired between them the previous night.
"What's the point of going to all this trouble of getting you here, keeping you here, then just letting you starve? If I expect any gratitude, it should be for this." He cupped her chin, digging his fingernails into her skin, making her flinch. It stung.
She gulped, then heard her stomach rumble. Ruddy-faced, she looked at her feet and listened to him walk out of the room. Slowly, she picked up the tray, carried it with her to the side of the bed, sat herself down, and lightly placed a morsel of scrambled egg into her mouth.
It was salty.
Suddenly, the leader bore his teeth. "What are you idiots standing around for?! Start looking!"
"But sir…" one spoke up, not having moved an inch, "everything is burnt to a crisp…"
"There must be something we can take! Now GO!"
All three men immediately saluted their unofficial boss, and scrambled toward what was left of the castle. The walls were left in pieces, bits of possessions thrown about, and it smelt of hot cement and burnt flesh. The former castle of the Island of Newfound Hope was destroyed to the point that the edge of the island was visible from all perspectives. They went silent as they stepped into the area, and started to loot the bodies of guards left in the hallways. Some items that were found were usable, but largely, their mission was not as successful as they had hoped.
"Goddamn…" one commented, mostly to himself. "I don't wanna get on the bad side of whoever did this," he ran his fingers through his dirty blonde hair, nervously chuckling.
"Yeah…apparently it went down in just one night." The second man cheekily smiled, pushing his black cap further over his dark brown hair. "I'll bet they never saw it coming…"
The two conversing men walked beside each other, watching their third comrade waltz between rooms, his thievery not increasing by much with each pass.
"This place gives me the creeps…" the brunette commented under his breath, scrunching his nose at the invasive odor.
"Are you from around here, mate?" The dirty blonde asked, lightly touching his shoulder to grab his attention.
"Nah, I'm from up north. I heard about this opportunity mostly because it was so unprecedented and shocked everyone. What about you?"
"Ah, same here…" he looked down, and kicked at a piece of marble. "I have heard about these islands before though, when one of the kings was murdered—"
The two men jumped at the sudden burst, turning to where they presumed it originated. After a couple of seconds of smaller crashes and falls, their peer ran out of a room near the end of the hallway. His upper lip bled, but he was babbling, and jumping up and down in excitement. Curious, the two men followed him, and widened their eyes at the sight.
The room was thoroughly devastated, but the bleeding man in question allegedly fell back into a wall. The wall was already weak from the previous destruction, so despite his small frame, the wall caved in to reveal a hidden enclave. In it, sat a black box. It sat in its lonesome, located adjacent to the remnants of a king-sized bed, and the ashes of a night stand. Judging by the industrial, silver handle, the vessel appeared to be a safe, and it was in surprisingly good condition considering the damage of every other item around it. The three of them looked at one another and smiled, carelessly running through the remains of the bedroom to reach their treasure.
"Jackpot!" The third, a younger blonde, pumped his fist as the dirty blonde effortlessly jerked the damaged handle to reveal several undamaged, valuable possessions. Their smiles morphed into unyielding grins.
"You! Get the boss!" The brunette gestured to the youngest, to which he immediately bolted, boisterously shrieking for their leader. Meanwhile, the other two began scavenging through the various shapes and sizes of boxes and bags, finding copious amounts of gold and jewelry.
"Hey, what's this?"
The brunette noticed a lever at the back of the safe, and curiously tugged at it. Quizzically, he looked to his comrade, who gesticulated for him to continue. With a shrug, he resumed tugging at it, noticing that it gave way. With one final, swift pull, the lever flipped from horizontal to vertical. The back panel of the safe suddenly shifted to the side until it was no longer visible, exposing a secret compartment.
"Whoa…" the dirty blonde reacted, pulling out his flashlight so they could get a better look. It illuminated the inside of the now empty black box, but in the newly-discovered compartment, there was a single, wooden box in the far back. The brunette immediately grabbed at it, observing its features. They silently marveled the cryptic wooden structure and leather black loop, but frowned at the keyhole.
"Shit! How are we gonna open it?" The dirty blonde exclaimed, furrowing his brow.
The brunette holding the box started punching at it, and hitting it against what remained of the walls until it finally gave way. The top broke off its golden attachment from the back, and fell onto the floor with a pronounced thud. The robber holding the box began to investigate the entrails, while his buddy spoke to himself in a romantic frenzy.
"Do you think it's the key to a mansion? Or the key to another safe with even more money? I'll finally be able to pay off—"
"Hey, do you know who this is?"
He stopped daydreaming when he heard the question, and peered over his friend's shoulder to get a good look at what was in the box.
"Uh, no clue…remember, I haven't been around this area before until I heard about the whole island being blown up."
The other sighed, "yeah…honestly, this is a little creepy. It's like her eyes follow you." Shuddering, he handed the box to the dirty blonde.
"It's gotta be of some value…let's just take it."
"Yeah, before we know it, all these islands will be blown to smithereens."
"Why is that?"
The two men immediately stop conversing when they heard frightened yelps coming from outside. With their findings in hand, they made their way out of the bedroom, and sprinted outside to see their leader being restrained by an unanticipated visitor.
"Boss!" The two screamed out in unison. "Hey, where's the other guy?"
"He's already dead, don't bother looking."
The two men shivered at the iciness in the man's voice, but immediately regained their postures. "Who are you?"
Purple hair blew in the morning wind.
"Hand it over."
Hikari hadn't eaten everything on the plate, but felt full. So, she decided to look through more of the items that were in the room, feeling some sort of happiness knowing that a part of her island was still with her. She stopped when she saw the familiar side-strap, egg-white dress, and as much as she wanted to change into it, she dreaded the thought of him barging in and seeing her naked. Not wanting to part with it, she made the bed, and laid the dress flat on top of the sheets.
She stared at it, memories flooding into her brain. She received the dress from her father when she was thirteen, and it did not fit. It would not until she was fifteen and fully filled out its curves. She traced her fingers along the modest hem, and grabbed at it, tight.
Feeling brave, she walked out of the bedroom, up to the glass wall, and looked to where her castle previously stood. Longingly, she put her hand to the glass, keeping the dress in her other. Her eyes ventured to the Island of Abundant Hope, jealous of how it still lived.
She then recalled the king touching her face again, and the strange way he looked at her in the spot where she stood.
'He looked…sad…' she thought to herself, 'why would he be sad? He's getting everything he wants, and has a front row seat to my suffering…' She paused.
'Why…am I still alive?'
Hikari yelped and turned around to find the same maid from before.
"I hate to startle you again, but his majesty made it explicitly clear that you mustn't leave his quarters." She was polite, but firm.
Hikari looked down at her feet. "I see…"
The maid gestured toward the bedroom, but before Hikari followed, she stopped, and looked at her straight in the eye.
"The breakfast was delicious, I appreciate your making it."
The dirty blonde growled. "Like hell we will! We were here first, there's no way we're giving this up for some asshole like you!"
The king lowered his head and sighed, looking at his captive, "these are your loyal servants?"
The leader gulped, noticing the knife in the teenager's free hand. "Please, just let us go, we won't tell anyone about what we've seen here!"
The two men widened their eyes. "Boss?"
"Just get out of here, would you?!" The leader suddenly screamed out, tears starting to collect in his beady eyes. "Leave everything, and get out of here!"
"Boss, our plan?!"
"Wasn't the whole point of coming out here to—"
"He's the one who—!"
With one swift motion, the leader's throat was slashed, and Shinji dropped the body to the ground like a rag doll. The two henchmen screamed at the sight, and slowly started backing away. Shinji felt the blood from his former advisor's neck uncontrollably spurt onto his ankles. It was warm.
Shinji started walking toward them, and never stopped. "It's a shame when one of your own disobeys your orders and goes to collect what isn't his, isn't it?" He closed his eyes and laughed to himself, hitting the blade of his knife against his palm. "Especially when he assembles an entire entourage of imbeciles to go along with it…"
The two men whimpered in terror, the previously flailing body of their boss now motionless and stiff. There was nowhere for them to run, and they soon found themselves on the edge of the island, the unforgiving ocean lapping at their feet.
"Now then…" Shinji opened his eyes, knife against palm, "hand it over."
"Your name is Tsubaki?" Hikari started, sitting onto the edge of the bed, having decided to change into the dress. Once she slipped the familiar fabric over her figure, it felt easier to breathe.
"Yes, I've been here since I was about your age, actually…" the maid sat beside her, hands folded on her lap.
"Wow…" Hikari marveled, then paused. "Thank you for retrieving all of my belongings..."
"Anything to make you more comfortable."
Hikari lightly smiled at the sentiment, "so, you've been here before he was king…"
"Yes, things were much different."
"How so?" Hikari leaned in, curious.
"Well, this island was much prouder to stand than it is now," the old woman looked up in nostalgia, "in fact, all three islands were very much at peace for a long while…"
Hikari leaned back, "…what caused the disparity they are at now?"
The old woman paused, closed her eyes, then looked back at the young princess, "to be frank, my dear, I honestly cannot answer that. Politics are such a complicated mess, I can barely wrap my brain around it."
Hikari looked down, saddened, "surely it was because he—"
"Yes, I know dear..." Tsubaki's voice lowered, "truly tragic, and none of us could anticipate it."
"Why not? The king isn't exactly—"
"The islands were working perfectly well together until that happened, at least, that's how it appeared…" Tsubaki pensively looked down at her hands.
"But, have you heard any reason as to why?" Hikari shifted in her position, suddenly feeling anxious. "Why did he do it? What did my father do? What did he ask of my father?"
Tsubaki's eyes changed, and Hikari immediately noticed.
"Tsubaki?" She gingerly asked, brows furrowed.
"That…is information that cannot be disclosed, your highness…at least, not yet."
Hikari grew irritated, "not yet? My island was burnt to the ground last night! Surely that is reason enough for me to know of your king's violent intentions!"
The maid longed to hold the girl's hand to calm her down, but knew better. Hikari rose to her feet, and began pulling out random pieces of her belongings, endlessly motioning to them.
"This is all I have left…I deserve to know! My father, my mother, Satoshi…I can't let them die in vain!"
The maid sighed as Hikari continued to sort through her things. "Everyone in this entire region knows that it was in fact, his majesty who committed the murder, but there isn't a soul that knows why. Perhaps, it is a secret your father has taken with him to the grave..." she did not make eye contact with Hikari, so she did not notice her pause.
"Wha—" she stared into the boxes, "I…"
The maid raised her head, "does something trouble you?"
"My Rapidash…the picture…"
Suddenly, Hikari launched into a frenzy, tossing miscellaneous items out of the boxes, incoherently mumbling to herself. "Father…mother…Satoshi!"
Tsubaki rose to her feet, apprehensively approaching the stressed princess from behind.
The two jumped as the door slammed open. Shinji stood with his arms crossed, wearing fitted black pants, a black button-up shirt, his chained black cape, and in his hands, a casual black bag. He thought nothing when he saw the blue-haired princess standing amid her things, but then narrowed his eyes at Tsubaki behind her, about to touch her shoulder. She appeared calm, but he noticed the fear in her eyes.
She retracted her hand and bowed, "your majesty—"
Without any semblance of a farewell, Tsubaki headed out the door, leaving Hikari alone with Shinji once more. The princess stretched out her hand to Tsubaki's back, as if a silent plea to stay, but to no avail. As her figure disappeared down the staircase, Hikari lowered her hand until she held the hem of her dress.
"That one is your favorite, right?"
Hikari did not respond. He grimaced.
"Modest…" he commented.
She remained quiet, but screamed out when she felt her wrist being grabbed.
"Are you not going to thank me for retrieving that, as well as all of your belongings?" He yanked her to her feet, and motioned to the stock around them with his open hand.
She widened her eyes, "it…was you?"
He frowned, "that's all, highness?" He leaned in, but she pulled back. "No venomous words, no heated insults? Is this your way of thanking me?"
Hikari closed her eyes in frustration. She hated his face, how he mocked her for being so easily intimidated, and how he had somehow wrapped her around his cold-blooded finger. She listened to him laugh at her, but also felt every one of his fingers tap on her wrist. Every touch suddenly repulsed her. She could not forget the look the two shared the previous night, but she knew that she had a responsibility as the last benevolent leader to save those in danger. The first, being herself.
She took a deep breath, and interrupted his monologue about gratitude.
"Why am I still alive?"
He immediately stopped, and let go of her wrist.
"I thought at first that you just wanted me as a hostage, and were attempting to expedite whatever request it was you've been terrorizing us with for months…" she began, "but…I don't think that's it anymore…you've murdered anyone worthy of negotiation."
He remained silent.
"You told me that you wished to destroy everything; to start anew." She gazed up at him, fists clenched, "but…your island still stands."
He furrowed his brow.
"It makes sense, since it is your home, but…the Island of Abundant Hope also stands…"
"It seems your goal was to destroy only my island," she began to feel nervous, watching him regain his composure from her sudden interrogation. "For…you've shown me that it is possible to eliminate an entire island in one night…why not just eliminate them all in one fell swoop?"
He sneered, "easily, yes. I told you it amounted to nothing—"
"But, I am a part of that island," she pointed at herself, "I always will be, no matter what you say."
He kept the sneer on his face, "oh?"
"You even threatened to kill my Pokemon without any wasted breath, so…" she gulped, "it is my family and friends…those were the ones you wished to destroy? That was your request?"
He shoved his hands in his pocket, fiddling with his knife in one hand, a key in the other.
"You say these boxes contain my personal belongings, but...there are no traces of Satoshi, my mother, my father...it's as if you've wiped them out of my existence."
She started to fidget, unable to maintain eye contact with him anymore. "So why am I…"
"Don't strain yourself, highness," he commented.
She closed her eyes in frustration, attempting to sound him out, "were you attempting to isolate me?"
Even she was dubious about her own statement, but took his silence as a cue to continue. "I haven't forgotten that other thing you said…about me being the opportunity you've longed for…" she kept her eyes closed, "although, I don't know what that means…"
Shinji watched her exert her anxiety into her clenched fists, and he could not help but chuckle as she began to shake.
"What is it that I have that others did not?" She ignored his audible amusement, opening her eyes, but looking at her feet. "Why did others die, but I get to live? You said yourself, I have no knowledge of the throne, I'm just a helpless princess…you just…mock me, openly!"
He walked up to her, but she does not notice.
"How can I be of any worth when the bravest soldiers I know, the most intrepid of leaders, Satoshi, my father, my mother…they meant nothing to you?" Her voice wavered, but she shook it off. "I cannot bear to live with myself if this truly is just a game to you…I don't want to live in fear, I just need answers…"
She felt his fingers under her chin again, and as he forced eye contact, she saw that look in his eyes again. This time, however, she was a stranger to it. She rejected the weakening feeling, and stubbornly stood in place. He noticed her face tighten, and felt his chest grow sore at the sight of her glowing eyes. Flinching back, he felt himself start to sweat, feeling his façade shed piece by piece.
"Is this all just a game to you?" She spoke sternly, refusing to break eye contact.
"No," he heard himself speak, not taking his eyes off her.
"Then what is it?"
He kept eye contact with her, expecting her to break into tears. To his surprise, however, she remained calm, but he became rapt in her eyes again. Slowly, he pulled the key out of his pocket. She gathers herself together when he walks away from her, toward the door. He exits, to her relief, but he immediately comes back in, locking the door behind him. She watches him meander to the windows, open them, and chuck the key out into the forest below. Hikari recognized the situation immediately, and backed up against a wall, her prior bravery following the key out the window.
As he closes the window panes and turns to her, his face darkened. She noticed, and pressed her back against the wall more when he crossed the bed to face her. Gulping, she looked up at his face, any semblance of that softened look, gone. The glow in her eyes was gone, and Shinji sighed as he reached into the bag, and pulled out the damaged wooden box.
Silently, he offered the box to her, watching her pupils dilate in confusion. She was tentative of his sudden cryptic nature, but skeptically took the box into one hand. He watched her observe its insides, throwing the bag to a corner in the room. Delicately, she took one of the several pieces of paper out, and unfolded it; her eyes widen, and she drops the box, the papers flying everywhere. She looks up at him, dumbfounded, but his face is cold.
"Do you speak so enamored of your island now?"
Hello! ^.^ sorry about that cliff doe.
It feels good to be back! I've been so caught up in school and work that I've forgotten about this life lol. Idk how I still love this ship so much, almost a decade after its peak. Oh well.
Anyway, to those who stuck around, wow thanks ~ ! You're the best!
I'm playing around with bits of Elements, and Sunday will have another chapter soon, hopefully.
The next chapter is what I've been wanting to write for ages, so maybe it'll go up sooner than this one did, haha. Definitely stick around though!