((…hi. A few of you might remember me from before, about three or four years ago. Most of you probably don't, given that I haven't actually written for…well, that long. Honestly, what with family and psychological drama, and surviving high school long enough to make it into college, I really didn't think I'd ever be able to make a comeback here. By some odd twist of luck, though, these characters popped into my head about…what, half a year ago, and they still haven't left me alone. Snatches and periods of plotline pondering ensued as a result, and seeing as I've had about a chapter and a half stashed away for about two months now without coming to cringe at it like many of my other attempts at this newfangled 'writing', I figure maybe this is about as good an opportunity as ever for me to try and make a return to the writers' scene. I hope y'all will have me.
I feel it necessary to establish a few things before I take off. First, the world of the Silverveil fic is similar to PMD in that it's a Pokemon populated world with rescue guilds. That's about where it ends—this place is intentionally far more expansive and intricate with its history and geography and such, sort of along the vein of a typical 'fantasy'. As such, I will also end up making up little minor details about certain Pokemon species or concepts, to add an extra bit of flavor. Second, there will be points where the PoV switches between characters. I don't plan for this to happen more than once per chapter tops, and will more likely be restricting it to every few chapters as is needed to better clarify a point in the storyline. This'll be sort of an experiment for me, seeing how perspective can be stringed out. Finally, as most of my familiarity with the franchise ends with the 4th Generation, that is the domain which most of the fanfic will cover. I may occasionally make a nod to 5th Gen species, but any knowledge I have with 5th is quite minimal. I apologize if this means that the fanfic may already be a bit too 'outdated' for some.
All that said, please enjoy.))
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Silverveil
Dust and the smell of snapped nettles cloyed the hot afternoon air, seemingly determined to slow the travelers on what had already been a hard climb down the ravine which encased Bramble Run. The courier Hemlock stopped to gracelessly hawk up another coat of grit from the back of his throat.
"I must say, if I'd known beforehand what a dismal, Giver-forsaken place this dustbowl was, then doubtless I would have been one of the first to push with the Council for paving an actual road through here."
"If you think this is as bad as it gets," said the Ashhaven patrol escort, "then you should come back again and climb it in winter. You'll be glad to have done this in summer, when things are relatively calm, with no storms or ice." Feyes beat her wings to shake debris from her tan-and-cream colored plumage before deftly parting the next wall of thorns and undergrowth with her talons. A stray sunbeam flashed over her head, highlighting the russet-streaked crest and the black, curving points sharpening the back corners of her eyes. For a creature so obviously suited to the air, Feyes had proven to be considerably durable as an overland guide in the four days they had journeyed together, a testament to the hardy character of the patrol corps. The Pidgeotto had remained patient and uncomplaining during her time with the merchant, and her talons and curved beak were formidable for deterring the occasional wandering pest or scruffy would-be bandit. Still, for all that Hemlock was grateful for her protection, he found himself speculating—yet again—how much time could be saved simply by taking to the air.
Then again, considering the problem of his spikes, and the bandages he'd seen on some of the other flying patrol, perhaps it was also a good idea to stay on the ground.
Hemlock cleared his throat and ducked through the makeshift tunnel, wincing as thorns scratched against his funneled, teal-lined ears. By himself the lavender-skinned rodent was not without his own defenses. Besides the strong back legs for kicking and sprinting, there were also a multitude of barbs over his back and head, some more visible than others, and each secreting a small amount of a small natural venom. While the barbs might have been useful against hostile paw and claw, though, there was little they could do to keep dead bushes from poking at the exposed hide in between. Once through, he twisted to brush away stubborn bits of thorn and sticker nettle. He sniffed disdainfully at Feyes' words.
"With all due respect to your home region and fellow denizens, Miss Feyes, I daresay that luck forbid I ever return here, much less to endure conditions such as those you imply. Gaelthorn Valley was not much improved in the way of comfort, I'll grant, but it was an improvement. There was decent shelter to be had—decent, mind you, some right proper and sturdy bury-holes—and the other Pokemon were hospitable enough if surly, though I suppose you can't altogether blame them for life in such a worn-down place. But the whole note of this expedition has taken another drop altogether since we started down this run, what with a barely-existent 'trail' choked through with thorns and dust, and all other Pokemon between here and Ashhaven spitting eager to snatch away a body's possessions—"
Here, he moved a paw protectively to the satchel slung over his shoulder, the contents of a wooden box and several parcels secured by buckles and straps. "—and leave him battered who knows how badly to bake in the sun. Why the Council of Five has been so ignorant of this pass, I don't rightly know, but honestly, seeing as this is the larger half of the route connecting two profitable—small, mind you, but profitable, very respectable—merchant points over this mountain, one would of course expect—"
"You don't hike like this often, do you, sir?" Feyes' head appeared out of the bush. Her face tugged upwards briefly at the corners of her beak before the rest of her pushed through and flapped off bits of twig.
Hemlock blinked a few times, curt at having been interrupted from a good rail. "Well, er, no, I can't say I do. By customary pattern my business generally keeps my travels closer to Irida and the other cities."
"Can I ask what brought you out to Bramble Run, then?"
Hemlock stalled in giving an answer, fiddling needlessly with the buckles over his cargo. When he did speak he was reluctant, plain. "You know that I'm involved now in supplying the Tembeling Ides, the rescuers' guild in these parts."
"Well…you know, also, how lately there's been a trend of…considerable financial stress. Not just for us merchants, either—other guilds, too. The Rescue leaders have been hard pressed to keep their guilds pulling in a living. I understand that even the tundra lost its regional guild…"
Feyes' head jerked up higher, eyes sharpening in shock. "Not the Borealis Striders? Not Zoya's guild?" Such news would place the northerly Borealis' rescue league as the second to be disbanded in four years, following the Searhearts of volcanic Asil far to the east.
"Yes, most regrettable. And I've heard speculation that the guild in Farir desert may be next to go. It's the ones in the more barren and outlying places, you see, that are getting the worst of it. And at a time when criminal activity has gotten so high, and they're needed the most… Fortunately, I daresay the Ides seem secure for a while yet. But they've also lost a supporting supply point or two, and have got to compensate for those losses."
"Which is why you're here, then? To make business with Ashhaven and Mender's Glen?"
Hemlock nodded and patted the satchel again, unable to mask some bit of satisfaction with his winnings of herbs and medicines from Mender's Glen. "They may be small so far as settlements go, but there's no denying the quality in what they produce." He stumbled as loose gravel slid from under his paws. "My word…again, a road would be—Miss Feyes?"
The Nidoran reared to try and peer past Feyes as she stopped suddenly. The bird clicked her beak in annoyance and tapped a claw against an abrupt, towering ridge across the way which Hemlock had assumed from a distance to be just a sharp turn on the path.
"Blocked," Feyes said grimly. "The earth collapsed around here. Must have been in the last few days…"
Hemlock swallowed and craned his neck to scan the above cliffs of the ravine anxiously. Indeed, now that he looked, a hefty chunk had shattered loose from one of the rift walls to heap up inside of the pass, and no other route was visible to the merchant. More, he noted in dismay, the sun had dipped towards dusk—though it was still light enough up above, the angle of the light was such that the ravine was progressively steeping into shadow. Within just a couple more hours, they would have a difficult time trying to see where it was safe to step—or to catch sight of any approaching Pokemon. "There's—there's no detour we could take? No old paths, perhaps, from other patrols, no other way around?"
Feyes shook her head. "Any other trails would be gone from erosion and plant growth over the years. By myself I could probably just fly up and walk back across the ridge, but I wouldn't be able to do that and carry you, considering your spikes. Really, we've held onto this one for so long because it's the most direct onland route. Was, anyways." She began pacing alongside the mound of rubble, agitated for the first time even as her keen gaze roved over the blockage.
Hemlock snapped his mouth closed before words could tumble out. If the bird was searching for some way to reduce or climb over the rubble, then he reasoned it would be best to stay quiet and out of the way so she could think. So he settled instead for shuffling over to the shelter of a low (stable, he hoped) ledge in the rock wall. The break from traveling brought forth a deep, dull soreness from the shoulder that had been carrying the satchel. For the past four days he'd been lugging his goods around almost nonstop… Hemlock toyed briefly with the idea of taking off the bag just for a moment, and almost had the strap over his head before changing his mind. It would be a fine thing, after all, to have brought such precious cargo all this way only to lose it in a few minutes to carelessness and a sneaking, sticky-fingered Pokemon. Best to keep it safe in his hands, then, and endure the ache for another day more. To make it a little more tolerable, he leaned his side against the wall of the alcove to leave some slack in the strap.
By now Feyes appeared to have hit upon an idea, and was picking and nudging experimentally at spots or cracks in the blockage. Watching her work lulled Hemlock into a dull feeling of familiar calm and normality, and soon he was pondering wistfully on the snug bury-hole (the Nidoran species as a whole tended to refer to dwelling spaces of any sort as 'holes', and simply tacked on a prefix as suited to the structure of a specific hole) and clean cafes he had left behind in the city of Irida. Oh, to be back in white-paved streets and grand library halls or buzzing market squares, rather than dragging his paws down this cloudless, dismal mountainside of nothing but dust, rock, and dead brush! How he would've so dearly loved the chance right then for a cool herbal soak, followed with a hearty dinner of fresh salad greens and hot, steaming nutbread (anything besides those tough, sticky berries they'd been chewing as they traveled!) and then a deep sleep on a real bed of soft, fragrant grasses! Prior arrangements had been made that he would reside in Ashhaven for three months to ensure solid trade with Mender's Glen, and he found himself wondering next about the conditions waiting for him there. Most likely Ashhaven would be one of those traditional villages where Pokemon made accomodations for each species to bed down as was most comfortable to themselves, unlike some lazier hostels which simply tossed down lumps of straw onto a hard floor and called it "bed". Whatever the case, Ashhaven had to be an improvement from the sandy, bare scratch-hole that Linoone had fashioned for him back in Gaelthorn Valley—
His ear twitched. He frowned, almost certain he'd heard a clatter of gravel not from Feyes.
"Aha! I've got it!"
Hemlock sat up straight, suddenly conscious of the tense prickle under his spikes. "Miss Feyes?" His voice came out sounding tight and nasally. "Is—"
"And here I was, thinking we'd have to climb over it somehow or backtrack to Gaelthorn until the removal squad broke through. But nope! Just a few stones pulled out from here, a bit of digging there, and then if I just do a quick hop over to the other side and push from the top…" Feyes was already probing and plucking bits and pieces from the heap, the resulting noise erasing Hemlock's tentative question. The puffs of loose dirt and low groan of shifting rocks reminded him uncomfortably that, should it happen to come down his way, he could easily end up blocked inside his current alcove.
"Miss Feyes!" The satchel lodged briefly between ground and overhang, causing Hemlock a second of panic as he yanked it free and scurried out into the middle of the ravine. "Will you please leave off a moment and—"
"Oh, sir, it'll be fine. This isn't the first landslide I've had to clear. Just make sure you stand well back when I—"
A quick flicker of motion on the cliffs above—a darker shadow against shadow. He was sure now he hadn't imagined it. How on earth had Feyes not noticed?
In retrospect, his squeak came out more shrill than he would have liked. "There is something here!"
Feyes dropped a stone and riveted her sharp gaze on him, feathers bristling about her hackles in shock. It was there, in that second of registration, that two things happened, both so quick that Hemlock wasn't quite sure whether they'd happened simultaneously or in sequence. Hemlock felt the plunge and squeeze of talons into his back, prompting a squeal from him and a scream from the assailant as the volatile barbs forced it to jerk back out of him. And the landslide further sagged and broke, crashing down unguided and uncontrolled towards merchant and patrol.
TBC. . .