The ocean churned gently beneath the bow of the boat, blowing a cool, refreshing breeze onto the tiny coast of the island. I stared into its depths, mesmerized by the deep blue color and the perpetual motion. For some reason, the sea here seemed more welcoming than it did back home in Canalave City.
"Nice place for a picnic," I commented absently. Thus I remembered why I was here, and turned back to look at my parents. As soon as the thought of food had entered my mind, I recalled how anxious I was for a good outdoor lunch.
We headed a short distance into the trees and encountered a small clearing perfect for spreading a blanket. However, being an eleven-year-old at the time, I had no desire to help with the setup. Instead, I continued deeper into the woods to explore.
All I could hear was the soft wind through the branches. Strangely, no bird Pokémon seemed to live here; if they did, none of them had a voice. The light filtering through the leaves and needles soon faded, and my vision grew poor. Just as my brain told me to turn back, I ran headlong into a tree.
At least, I thought it was a tree initially. After stepping back and recovering from the shock of the collision, I noticed that this was no tree, but a living being. It was difficult to tell in the shadows, but from what I could gather it was a man. He had round blue eyes the color of freshly frozen ice, and hair with the color and consistency of smoke. He appeared to be wearing a dark cape, but it was hard to see exactly who he was in the gloom; only his eyes reflected much light back to me.
"Oh, excuse me. Hello there," I greeted cautiously, in an attempt to be a polite little girl. I gave a quick bow of my head to accentuate. "You're not lost, are you?"
He shook his head slowly, but gave no audible answer. He kept his gaze on me the entire time.
"My name is Lucidia. I'm pleased to meet you. What's your name?" Hopefully now he would respond.
Despite my invitation to speak, he uttered only one word: "Akumu."
"Would you like to have a picnic with us, Akumu?" I offered with a faint smile. "That way you won't have to be alone in the dark anymore."
A dim light illuminated his unblinking icy eyes. I thought that he would definitely accept and follow me back to the clearing, but nothing of the sort happened. Instead, he vanished.
Yes, vanished. In an instant, into the shadows of the trees. I had never seen a person disappear so suddenly. I didn't know what to think – maybe I was offended that he refused so blatantly, or relieved that I didn't have to talk to a stranger anymore. Either way I spent a few moments staring into the space where Akumu had been. When I finally gathered my senses, I turned on my toes and headed back. Perhaps if I forgot about the experience, I could pretend that it never happened.
The lunch was delicious, accompanied by sunlight and the ocean breeze, although now I can't even recall what I ate. I had returned home later that night, as the boat trip lasted an hour or two. I never figured out why my family had decided to take me somewhere so isolated, but I was grateful to be able to spend the day in relaxation.
The evening was not such a normal experience. I was studying in my bedroom – not for school, but for Pokémon. I was pursuing the career of being a Coordinator, of taking Pokémon companions to faraway places in order to compete in beauty and conformation. Of course, I couldn't just head out and decide to go to a contest; I needed an idea of what I would do at the actual contest first.
I had been immersed in a book for a few minutes, scanning over the procedure of Contests, when a familiar voice echoed from behind me: "It's awfully quiet in here."
I started out of my chair and turned around, expecting to see my father standing there. Instead, a strange young man was sitting cross-legged on the floor and leaning against my bedpost. He couldn't have been older than sixteen at the most; he had watchful, icy blue eyes and hair the color of smoke that hung over his face, concealing the entire right side. In contrast, all of his clothes were an ominous, sooty black, apart from a bright crimson collar encircling his neck. He was entirely unfamiliar to me, but at the same time I couldn't help feeling that I had met him before.
"Are you Akumu?" I guessed, standing over him as straight as I could. Maybe I was actually a little bit afraid of him at the time.
"Hi, Lucidia!" He grinned widely and waved one of his sturdy hands. At first glance he appeared dark, but I could already tell that his personality was the opposite. If I were in an anime I probably would have sweatdropped.
"How did you get here?" I questioned anxiously. "Moreover, why do you look different? I thought you were wider before."
"I followed you, just like you told me to – in your shadow," Akumu chuckled, crossing his arms. "It's quite easy for me to do, really."
A strange idea entered my mind. Weren't Pokémon the only creatures who could do such things as hide in shadows? I knew a little bit about Pokémon so far, but it was common sense that Pokémon liked to disguise themselves as mostly human when they were around other people. Perhaps Akumu was secretly a Pokémon?
"Are you a Pokémon?" I asked, repeating the question echoing in my head.
"Sure I am." Akumu rose to his feet slowly, the smile clinging to his lips. I flinched; at his full height he was at least a few inches taller than me. "Everyone calls me Akumu, but my real name is Darkrai."
"Darkrai?" I echoed. "The Pokémon in the legends about the two moon beings? I thought you were only a fairy tale."
"You got it!" he congratulated. Akumu looked as though he was about to give me a high-five. "Although, I really am standing here. You can try to push me if you don't believe me."
I blinked; for being an antagonist in folklore, Akumu was awfully cheerful. "Why did you follow me all the way home anyway? In human society, that's considered pretty creepy."
Suddenly Akumu sank to one knee and crossed one arm over his front. "Because you look like you travel a lot. I figured if I went with you, I'd be able to see the world like other Pokémon. Pokémon like me don't get out of our homes much, but I would really like to move around more without worrying about anybody chasing me. Would you take me with you on your journeys?"
He lifted his freezing blue eyes to mine. They were filled with pleading and shined like snow on a mountain; it sent an icicle through my heart, but it melted so quickly that I wondered whether I had really felt anything.
"Yes, Akumu," I accepted slowly. "I'll take you with me. I'm going to need a Pokémon to help me go around on my own anyway."
"That works out perfectly," he commented, standing up once more. "As long as you keep my identity a secret, I'll be able to do lots of things for you."
"Of course," I responded. "You can help me find another Pokémon… but the hardest part will be keeping you from my mother."