Hi everyone, csigamer1990 here! This is a little idea I came up with quite a while ago. I've been a major horror fan for many years, and I've always wanted to try my hand at writing horror. So here's the first chapter of a literally chilling ghost story of revenge from beyond the grave, ala Pokemon! Hope you all like it!
Thanks go out to ARCEUS-master for beta-reading this fic. Also, for any readers of ANCFA reading this, keep an eye out during your reading of this chapter; you might be pleasantly surprised! ;)
'By Arceus, I really do hate this stupid snow!' thought the hunter, clearly annoyed, as he slowly slogged his way through yet another particularly high snowdrift along the endless white that landscape that encompassed the pathway of Sinnoh Route 216. He sighed tiredly as he looked towards what passed as the route's 'road'. 'Why is there always so much of it along the path anyways!? You would think they'd want to keep the path as clear as possible to allow travelers a safe and easy passage through it, but nooooo… 'We don't have the manpower or the resources to keep the path clean!' 'We don't care if someone happens to get buried in a snowdrift or breaks a leg on a hidden tree root or falls off an icy bridge to their deaths! Lazy-ass city officials… may Giratina curse them!' he ranted mentally.
Needless to say, it had been a very rough trip so far for him. Having to walk from Snowpoint City down to the area in which he liked to hunt along Route 216 was an extremely draining affair physically. Sadly, walking was the only way to get there due to the heavy snowfall and the constant risk of blizzards coming down from Mt. Coronet preventing any and all forms of vehicular transport from making the trip safely.
And now, after spending most of the past two days in what proved to be a fruitless hunt, here he was, slogging his way through the knee-high snow and ice, feeling incredibly sweaty underneath his heavy snow gear, his hunting rifle and pack slung across his back, with nothing to show for the past couple days apart from a chilled body, sore feet, and a right fine black mood. He had not spotted a single Mamoswine this entire trip; they must've moved to a different area, perhaps having realized the danger in staying in the area the hunter frequented. Pokémon were a lot smarter than most people gave them credit for, and it was said that a great many of them were even smarter than humans. And the great mammoth-like Pokémon, while large and burly, were most certainly not dumb.
The fact that hunting Mamoswine was illegal didn't make much difference to the man. He knew how to effectively cover up his tracks from the law, so to speak, and there were collectors out there willing to pay extremely well for Mamoswine fur or their tusks. 'No such luck this time though, it seems,' the hunter thought sourly. 'Oh well, I guess it could be worse,' he thought to himself as he glanced up at the steely-gray overcast sky, 'it could be snowing!'
He had counted himself very lucky that on the trip down, as well as most of the time he had spent hunting on the snowy landscape encompassing the area surrounding Mount Coronet, that the weather had stayed relatively fair, aside from a couple showers of gently falling snow at some points. While the forecast had said as much before he left, it was well-known that the weather surrounding the areas around Mount Coronet could be extremely unpredictable, shifting from gently falling snow to a brutal hailstorm or blizzard at a moment's notice. Travelers going along Routes 216 and 217 were generally advised to take extreme precautions in the event of a blizzard happening. Indeed, many people had lost their lives along these perilous routes: Snowboarders and skiers hoping to find the ultimate thrill along Mt. Coronet's slopes, enterprising Pokémon trainers making the trip to Snowpoint City Gym to earn their next badge, or people traveling to and from Snowpoint City to visit relatives, like him.
However, as bad as his mood was currently, it was lightened somewhat as his eyes noticed the extremely welcome sight of Snowbound Lodge ahead.
Snowbound Lodge gave off the appearance of a modest mountain retreat. It wasn't grand or extravagant, but it certainly wasn't small or run-down looking. It was square-shaped in its layout, about thirty-four yards in length on each side. It was constructed of thick and sturdy oak logs, with a slate-gray arched roof strong enough to withstand even the harshest blizzard winds. Its entrance was situated on a porch, covered over by a wooden overhang which was in turn supported by thick wooden pillars placed at even distances situated on top of the railings lining the outer edge of the porch. The porch was, understandably, free from any of the things you'd usually find on a porch, chairs, tables and the like. Small, frosted four-pane windows lined the front and sides of the lodge at occasional points.
Reaching the entrance, the hunter tromped heavily up the steps, knocking the snow off his boots and pants by doing so, and then entered through the sturdy wooden front door, feeling very grateful to step out of the cold and snow.
The main room of the lodge was wide and spacious, not to mention blissfully warm, courtesy of the blazing fire that crackled merrily in the stone hearth on the left side of the room. Several comfy looking chairs and a sofa were arranged around the hearth, with a lacquered wooden coffee table situated in the middle of the circle. A square ornamental rug lay underneath the coffee table. On the right side of the room was a long wooden table, with several plain wooden chairs situated around it for where one could eat his or her meals. In both the left and right corners on the entrance side of the room were two small square tables upon which lay a pair of electric lamps, which were used to provide additional lighting during the night besides the light from the hearth. Another long, more narrow rug ran from the entranceway at which the man was standing to the modest owner's desk at the other side of the room. On the left side of the desk was an archway which the man knew from previous visits led to small bedrooms in which guests were allowed to spend the night. On the right side was another archway which the man supposed led to the kitchen and the owner's personal bedroom, among other things, possibly. Overall, it was a perfect place to rest and recuperate along the route, and the hunter found himself wishing that there could've been a few more set along the route's path.
The only other people in the room were a couple hikers warming themselves by the fire, who only glanced briefly at the newcomer before returning their gaze to the fire, and the owner of the lodge sitting behind the desk, who looked up from the newspaper he was reading, a smile coming across his lips as he recognized the man.
Lowering the hood of his coat and pulling off his winter hat, which he put in the front pocket of his coat, the hunter then walked over towards the desk. The heat from the fire was already doing wonders in driving the chill from the man's body, and he gladly welcomed it after all the time he had spent outside.
"Ah, the proud and noble hunter returns," the elderly man greeted jokingly. He eyed the rifle slung across the man's shoulder. "Any luck?"
"Not even a single solitary Stantler, I'm afraid," the hunter answered disappointedly. Of course, he didn't reveal what he was really hunting. Unlike Mamoswine, hunting Stantler was legal. "I tell you, it's been a bad year for me; it's as if all the Pokémon know to avoid the areas I visit."
"Well, I'm sure your luck will turn eventually." the owner said encouragingly. "Are you hungry? I just made some hot and sour soup, should help to take the chill out of your bones."
"That'd be nice, thank you." the hunter answered curtly, nodding once as a smile grazed across his lips in appreciation. The owner smiled and nodded before turning and exiting the room through the right archway.
Peeling off his gloves and unzipping his coat before putting his gloves in the same pocket his hat was in, the hunter turned and headed over to the table, taking a seat, pulling his rifle off his shoulder and setting it against the side of the table. While the allure of the fire was tempting, he didn't feel like having to possibly deal with talking to the hikers; no doubt they would ask questions about his gun and his activities, and he did not like to be questioned. For all he knew, they could be Pokémon rights activists!
After a few minutes, the owner came back and laid a steaming bowl of soup along with a spoon on the table in front of him. "Are you planning on staying long, sir?" the owner asked as he did this.
Waiting for the soup to cool, the hunter supposed talking would be good to pass away some time. "No, I don't think so. I would like to get back to Snowpoint before nightfall, at the very latest, and I'll need to get back out there as soon as possible if I'm going to have any chance of doing that. I'm sure you know very well how bad Route 217 can get." The owner nodded solemnly at this. "Besides," the hunter said, continuing, "I told my wife I'd be back by Monday, and she gets worried if I'm even a day late."
"She certainly seems like the caring type." the lodge owner commented softly.
The hunter scoffed. "Yeah, but apparently not enough to come along with me to help on my hunting trips. Two hunters are better than one, and all that. But then, what woman is? Hunting is a man's thing, always has been, always will."
The owner laughed at that. "I wouldn't be too sure of that. Keep in mind that one of the most wanted criminals in the greater Hoenn and Sinnoh regions is a woman who makes her living on hunting, capturing, and selling wild and even owned Pokémon."
"Ah, right. The infamous Hunter J," the hunter murmured. "Case in point there," he remarked further before he took a sip of the soup, blowing on it once beforehand. It tasted excellent; the owner of the lodge certainly knew how to make a good bowl of soup. "So what's the weather supposed to be like this evening? No sudden snowstorms or anything like that forecasted, I hope?" the hunter asked half-jokingly.
"No, looks like you'll be good; the weather radar showed no storm fronts approaching this evening last time I checked," the owner replied.
The man blew a quiet sigh of relief. "Well, that's good to hear," he said slowly, a glimmer of hope sparking within him at the news.
"Well, I'll let you eat your soup. Let me know if you need anything else," the owner said courteously.
"Thanks, I will," the hunter replied, nodding once in acknowledgement.
The owner then left to go sit back at his desk, where he proceeded to resume reading the paper he had put down. The hunter sat alone with his thoughts and his soup, taking his time in eating it, enjoying the warmth of the lodge while it lasted before he had to go back into the bitter cold outside. The side window afforded him a view of the barren snowscape outside.
When he had finished eating, the hunter got up from the table, took the bowl, and headed over to the owner's desk. Placing the bowl down on the desk, the man then zipped up his coat while saying, "Well, guess I'll be heading out now."
The owner peered over his newspaper at the man. "Well, you weren't lying when you said you wanted to leave as quickly as possible," he said jokingly.
The hunter smiled apologetically as he pulled his gloves and hat from his pocket and put them on. "Yeah, I just want to get home early tonight. It's kinda hard, not to mention extremely dangerous, to navigate Route 217 in the dark, after all. Thanks again for the soup," he said gratefully.
"Don't mention it," the owner said kindly.
The hunter then eyed the paper the lodge owner was reading. "Anything interesting in the news?" he asked. News from the rest of the world was rather hard to come by in Snowpoint City; the snowstorms and treacherous terrain made newspaper deliveries nonexistent. None of the people in Snowpoint owned a TV as well, for basically the same reasons. The hunter wondered how the owner was able to obtain one, and a recent one, at that, judging from the date below the paper's title, which was barely two or three days ago.
"Well, the Hoenn League Championship tournament is getting under way over there," the owner said while turning to the front page. "There's an awful lot of hype surrounding this year's tournament, it seems."
"Oh? Why is that?" the hunter asked curiously.
"Well, the hype seems to be mostly centered around one trainer in particular, a young boy from Kanto's Pallet Town named Ash Ketchum." The owner then showed the front page of the paper to the man; dominating the center of the page was a color photo of a grinning young boy giving a confident thumbs-up with messy jet-black hair, wearing a red and black cap with a half-Pokéball design in the middle, and a blue coat with a white hood. A Pikachu was perched on his shoulder, posing for the camera with arms crossed and a confident smirk on its features, as if daring the viewer of the photo to bring it on.
The hunter took ahold of the paper and stared at the photo of the young boy in disbelief. "Everybody's excited for this year's tournament just because of this kid? Get out of here, he looks barely older than ten!" he said incredulously.
"Twelve, to be precise. And I kid you not, that boy's the reason why everyone's so excited for this tournament," said the owner.
"And just why is that?" the hunter asked, still boggled as to how one twelve year old kid could possibly cause so much excitement in a tournament where generally only the more older and experienced trainers stood out.
"Because the kid owns a Legendary Pokémon," the owner said simply.
The hunter stared disbelievingly at the owner, his mouth hung open wide. He looked at the picture of the kid trainer, then back to the owner, then back to the picture, and back once more to the owner. He pointed at the picture and said slowly, "This kid here owns a Legendary Pokémon?"
"Yes. A Latios, to be specific." the owner said with an amused grin.
"…Are you shitting me?!" the hunter spluttered incredulously.
The owner chuckled. "I shit you not. Read the story if you don't believe me," he said, nodding at the paper.
The hunter proceeded to do just that. After he was done, he handed the paper back to the owner while muttering, "Well, I'll be damned…to think someone that young could capture a Legendary Pokémon…"
"I hear that," the owner agreed. "Ever since he revealed his ownership of a Latios and proceeded to place third in last year's Johto League Silver Conference, the kid's become quite the celebrity."
"Heh, well, I certainly know who I'll be placing my money on to win that tournament," the man said jokingly. The owner chuckled in response.
"Well, besides that, anything else of note?" the hunter asked, just to see if there was anything else that he could be interested in knowing before heading out. After all, he reasoned, who knew when his next opportunity of hearing any good news might be?
"Eh, not much," the owner said while flipping through the pages of the newspaper. "Although… there have been reports of some rather strange happenings from all over the world." he finished, a faint but decidedly ominous tone deep in his voice.
"Oh? Things such as?" the hunter asked curiously, prompting the lodge owner to elaborate.
"Some very strange weather patterns are occurring at various points throughout the regions. People are reporting violent rainstorms, gale-force winds, and massive seismic activity, as well as very strange ocean currents and sudden changes in sea levels, all occurring seemingly at random points throughout the Kanto, Johto, and Hoenn regions, although most of it seems to be centered around the Hoenn region. Weather experts and scientists are baffled as to how or why they're occurring at all. There has also been an increase in sightings of Legendary Pokémon from around the world, not to mention a troubling article I saw in a recent paper stating that there has been steadily increasing reported activity from the group known as Team Rocket," the owner stated with a serious expression. "Worldwide authorities say they are doing their best to take action against them, trying to find out their purpose behind their increased activities, but…they can't figure anything out. Team Rocket has proven to be dozens of steps ahead of them so far."
"They're that criminal group that's rumored to capture or steal rare Pokémon and then sell them to the highest bidder, right?" the hunter asked. The irony that he pretty much did the same thing did not escape him, but he made sure not to let this realization visibly manifest.
"Yes, among other things that I'm not inclined to mention," the owner stated with a noticeable tone of disgust.
"Hmm…do you think these things might be related? Could these weather phenomenon and increased Legendary Pokémon sightings be linked with Team Rocket's increased presence?" the hunter pondered. He knew from various old myths and legends that the Legendaries could have a nasty effect on the weather patterns when they were angered or agitated.
"I've got no clue, honestly. But Team Rocket might be on the hunt for them… it's too much of a coincidence, Legendary Pokémon sightings spike at the same time Team Rocket's activity does. Although, I shudder to think of what a wicked organization such as Team Rocket would do if they did capture some of the Legendaries..." the owner said with a worried look.
"Well, hey, like you said, it might just be a coincidence; these incidents can't possibly be linked with them. I hardly doubt the Legendaries would voluntarily assist Team Rocket, in all their 'divine benevolence' and whatnot. This'll probably all blow over in the coming weeks or so, just you wait." the hunter said with a reassuring smile.
"I do hope you're right," the owner replied, doing his best to smile back, although there still remained a trace or worriedness about his features.
A bit awkwardly, the hunter then motioned towards the door and said, "Well, I'd better be off then." Turning around, he walked towards the door of the lodge, making sure to grab his rifle from where it was still leaning against the side of the table and sling it over his shoulder. Pausing at the door, the hunter turned around and said to the owner, "You have a good rest of the day, alright?"
The owner smiled and said, "You too. Stay safe and stay warm out there, and make sure not to get yourself lost!" It was his usual parting words he offered to the people leaving the lodge.
The hunter chuckled. "Don't worry, I will and I won't." Opening the door, the hunter then stepped back outside. Immediately, the extreme cold greeted him, sending an involuntary shiver through his body despite his winter clothes at the sudden temperature change. It was like the reaction one got going in the pool after spending some time in the hot tub. Courteously, he quickly shut the door behind him. Tromping back down the lodge steps, the hunter then turned to the left and headed in the direction he knew the trail for Route 217 began. Sure enough, a little ways from the lodge, the hunter sighted a small, battered-looking signpost with snow covering its top slightly ahead and to his left. Coming up to it, the hunter observed the words upon it: "Route 217 - To Snowpoint City – 18 mi." Beside the message was an upward pointing arrow right after the words facing towards the long path.
Underneath this indicator was another smaller, albeit more ominous message which read:
WARNING – AVALANCE AREA: Travelers are highly advised to refrain from making any loud noises while walking along Route 217. Please make sure to silence any loud noisemaking devices you may be carrying, and to keep your speaking voices to a reasonable level at all times. Also, Pokémon trainers are advised to refrain from battling while within this area.
Duly taking note of this, as he did whenever he began this trek of his journey, the hunter turned in the direction the sign indicated for Route 217, and slightly shifting his rifle slung across his shoulder, he began his trek out into the frozen tundra.
'How many times have I said that I really, really hate this route?'
The hunter had been hiking along the route trail now for about an hour and a half, occasionally having to slog his way through snowdrifts that nearly reached his knees. One would've thought he'd bring snowshoes to help travel across such terrain, but the hunter was never one for snowshoes. He thought them cumbersome, not to mention a pain in the ass to get on and off. Whenever the hunter went out on one of his hunting trips, the only things he usually brought were his snow gear, his rifle, and a small pack with enough provisions to last him a day or two.
Route 217 generally didn't have a trail for people to follow along; what was the point in shoveling out a trail in the snow only for it to be filled in within one or two weeks? Therefore travelers were forced to endure walking across the snowy tundra without a trail to guide them. The best they got were wooden signs posted about every mile or so pointing them in the right direction. And travelers had to take care not to lose their direction along this sign dotted 'path', lest they risk getting lost in the frozen wasteland, which would almost certainly result in an unfortunate end as they either froze or starved to death, whichever came first. Knowing this, it was generally advisable to bring a compass along with you for the journey, so as to be sure you were traveling in a northerly direction at all times. Sadly, not everyone knew of the warnings. Route 217 would forever keep its infamy as Sinnoh's most dangerous route.
Being an experienced traveler of this route, the hunter knew this fact all too well. Taking a moment to stop and rest his legs a while, he pulled out his own compass from his coat pocket and checked it to confirm that he was still heading in the right direction. After doing so, he replaced the compass in his pocket before taking a moment to look around.
Not that there was much to look at. To his left and behind him was nothing but endless snowy wastes. To his right Mt. Coronet loomed, its jagged, rocky slopes and snowcapped peak looking quite sinister and foreboding even set against the relatively clear blue sky. And lastly, in front of him, he could just make out the beginnings of the Acuity Forest in the distance, with its immense pine trees, the only kind of trees that filled it. It was believed by some people in Snowpoint that the trees acted as silent sentinels and guardians for the lake which the forest was named after, Lake Acuity. The residents of Snowpoint believed that Lake Acuity and its surrounding forest had long been the home of Uxie, the legendary Pokémon who was said to be the guardian and creator of all knowledge past, present, and future, and who, along with his siblings Azelf and Mesprit, provided both human and Pokémon kind (after their creation via the combined efforts of the Almighty Arceus and His eternal mate, Mew, the Goddess of Life) with the gifts of intelligence, willpower, and the ability to feel the various emotions of the psyche, respectively. As the townsfolk were wont to claim, people who sought to visit Lake Acuity were judged in mind and spirit by the forest itself (an ability said to be imbued into the trees by none other than Uxie himself). If the forest found you to be pure of heart and strong of will, you were allowed to proceed to the lake itself. If it judged you unworthy however, if it judged your spirit and intentions to be less than noble, you would never find your way to the lake. People had told stories of how they had gone seeking the lake, being sure they were heading in the right direction, only to somehow find themselves somehow inexplicably turned around, back where they had first entered the forest. Quite the tale, to be sure, if one believed in that sort of thing. The Sinnoh Region had always been branded with the most mysterious of tales.
"Well, at least I'm getting close. Shouldn't be much longer before I reach the forest," the hunter mused to himself.
However, just as he was getting ready to begin his trek again, something inexplicable happened. It was almost imperceptible, at first, but nonetheless the hunter noticed it, and it stopped him dead in his tracks.
'Is it just me, or did it suddenly just get a lot colder?' he thought to himself, shivering despite the thick coat he was wearing. His breath, originally appearing as slightly visible puffs of steam in front of him, suddenly appeared much more pronounced and visible with each exhalation.
As the hunter continued pondering this, he was caught off guard when a sudden, vicious blast of icy wind rippled past him, stirring up the snow surrounding him and making him throw up a hand to protect his face. He gritted his teeth as the chilling wind continued to buffet him, wondering where the hell the sudden wind had sprung from, considering he had not encountered any such blasts of wind on his trek until now.
However, almost as sudden as the wind had sprung up, it just as suddenly died away, leaving a bewildered hunter looking around in confusion. As his mind tried to make sense of what had just happened, he was struck by something. When the wind was blowing around him, he had heard something. It was faint, just on the edge of hearing, almost completely drowned out by the wind's howling, but still he had heard it. It had sounded like…someone crying.
But that was silly. There was no one out here but him. It must've just been his mind playing tricks on him. Yes, that must've been it, it had to be. Just some wind, nothing more than that.
Putting the event behind him, the hunter again got ready to continue his trek, but before he even took a single step, something else caught his eye.
Right in front of him, the hunter observed a lone fleck of white as it lazily spiraled down to the ground, where it was lost amid the unbroken sheet of white already laid across the route's path. But almost as soon as that fleck disappeared, it was replaced by two more identical pieces of white as they too drifted gently down to the ground in front of the hunter. And even before those had reached the ground, four more took their place. Then six more. Then nine more.
Holding out a gloved hand, the hunter watched as one of the flecks came to rest on his palm, briefly resting there before it disintegrated into nothingness. Looking up, the hunter observed in surprised wonderment the vast field of white aerial specks that were gently drifting down towards him set against a gray, overcast sky.
It had started to snow.
If the previous events had proved a minor puzzlement for the hunter, what he was experiencing right now totally baffled him. Where had this snow come from, or more appropriately, where had the clouds that were producing it come from? Hadn't the sky been clear just a couple minutes ago? And didn't the owner of the lodge say that there had been no snow forecasted for the rest of the day? It was all too weird.
'Well, this has certainly turned out to be an unusual day,' the hunter remarked to himself, even as he shrugged off the strangely foreboding sense of disease that threatened to creep through him. 'That old coot at the lodge must've read the weather radar wrong or something. Still, at least it's just snow and not a blizzard. I don't want to get caught in one of those out here.'
The man turned his gaze towards the distant tree line ahead of him, which was a bit more difficult to make out against the falling snow. 'Regardless, I'd better try to make it to the forest quickly, just in case the wind decides to pick up and does turn this snowfall into a blizzard. It would offer me some shelter, if it does happen. But hopefully this snow will let up by the time I reach there.' He sighed inwardly to himself. 'Of all the days the laws of nature decide to give Arceus the middle finger…'
Clutching his coat tighter around him, the hunter resumed him walk, albeit at a slightly more quickened pace, doing his best to ignore the elements as he soldiered on towards the outer fringes of Acuity Forest.
So focused was the hunter on his goal, that he failed to notice the gradually increasing degree of snowfall in the sky, nor the increasing chill in the air as the temperature continued to drop, both of which increased and decreased respectively with each passing mile as got closer to the forest.
So how'd you all like it? Please leave a review with your thoughts. And stay tuned, there's two more chapter to this story, and the next one's gonna have all the good scary stuff! :D
Until next time!