Cheren, Bel and I left together in the morning after a hearty breakfast at the old couple’s house. I got their number down since they seemed oddly attached to the three of us and as a parting favor we took their grandkids to a small pre-school on Route 3. I of course agreed since they’d given me a place to sleep, plenty of food and hospitality I honestly didn’t think I’d find anywhere. After all my own home was a cold and dark place almost all my life, what would have led me to think it was going to be any different? I figured that I’d find even worse people to be honest, only helping because it was the law and not because they honestly cared. I had a lot to think on at that time to be honest and it wasn’t easy for me at the time, especially not with Cheren and Bel around. Not because they didn’t want me to think on it, they of course had no idea what was going on through my head, but because when around them life felt…better somehow. Especially now that we were on the road, even if it was only a few days, the air between felt clearer like when my father was still around and my mother hadn’t lost her mind. It was a good feeling, a healthy feeling like we didn’t have to step on egg shells throughout the entire town. Even Bel seemed a little freer though just as ditzy without her father screaming at her about one thing or another though I think Cheren’s influence was helping her a good deal.
The walk was really not that far, but the kids seemed happy for the company and Bel was just tickled to be around. As could be expected from a young girl like herself, she adored children and honestly she was quite good with them. Cheren seemed a little irritated by the screaming and giggling but took it in stride though I think deep down he was just as happy to be around them as Bel, maybe because of her in fact. I on the other hand knew exactly how I felt about the situation and while I didn’t hate children I honestly thought the screaming was going to cut through my patience like a hot knight through butter. I made it to the Pre-School though and took a stop at the Day Care. The old lady was actually the owner of the day care and the Pre-School both, her daughter and her husband running the Pre-School while herself and her husband rand the day care and helped Pokémon and hold eggs that may come about. Cheren and Bel went to the Pre-School while I inspected the grounds, a few baby Pokémon were sick and I helped administer medicine to them with the elderly couple. I got thrown up on for my kind act by a very ill Patrat much to the embarrassment of the owners. They shuffled me off to their house for a change of clothing, though I’m not sure exactly why they had clothing for someone my age though from the pictures I managed to see as I was hurried to a room their Grandson was also on his journey and these were his clothing. I tried to explain to them I had clean clothing but they had none of it. It was here I came to the understanding that the elderly are scary and you shouldn’t refuse them when they get something into their head. You’re just going to lose and it’s not going to be pretty.
I ate with Cheren and Bel out front of the Pre-School; we’d promised to walk Grandma’s kids back at the end of the day, and chatted amongst us about what was next. Cheren and Bel were going to head to Nacrene City after they got back onto the road though I thought maybe I’d take a couple days and stick to the roads and see what I could see. We finished eating and waited for the kids but as the class got out the teacher, the daycare ladies kid, came out and asked us if we could stick around for a couple days. It seems the kids had heard we were trainers and wanted to learn how to catch Pokémon of their own. I was flatly against it merely on the principle that Pokémon weren’t for kids; they were a responsibility that children couldn’t take care of on their own. I remember the problems they caused in my family and I didn’t particularly want the kids here to grow up in a similar or worse environment that I had. Bel stood her ground and managed to convince Cheren onto her side, and that’s how I ended up getting roped into it. We stayed at Grandma’s place for three days, relaxing and enjoying the food and company at night and during the day we taught the kids how to groom and clean some Pokémon from the day care, what they ate and how to feed them and general other care issues that might come up. I was surprised how fast they learned it and how well they retained it and on the fourth day as we were finishing up our classes we helped them catch their first Pokémon. They wanted to battle of course once they got them, and we agreed to do so with them and honestly at the end of the day as the sun set slowly behind the hills it was a good bit of fun. The kids enjoyed themselves and it just looked natural for Bel, she took to the whole experience like a fish to water and for the first time she really looked like she was in her element. The ditzy girl we knew was replaced by a competent and caring person beyond the caring girl we knew and the children loved her to death, so much so she had to sneak out just to make sure they wouldn’t cry. Cheren went with her and told me we’d meet on the road near the Wellspring Cave. The teachers had scrounged some money up to pay us for our time but since Bel had to flee like a thief in the night and Cheren had already departed they handed it to me. I thanked them for the money, it honestly wasn’t expected, and went on my way. I met up with Cheren and Bel as promised and split the money before they went on their way.
After so much contact with so many new people I honestly needed or two to rest on my own and the idea of running to a new city wasn’t really on my list of things to do right away. Haiiro and I hit the road and hiked up into the hills, making a small camp fire as the sun finally set. I called Grandma and told her I was safe as promised that morning and settled in. You think a lot when your alone, or at least when you didn’t have someone that could talk back to you. I let my Pokémon out of their balls to roam around though also because it seemed wild Pokémon weren’t brave enough to get into the camp when there were a lot of other Pokémon around in the first place. They all seemed to enjoy the chance to move about and played together though Haiiro was steadfast at my side, though a part of me figured it was also the blazing fire I’d started. I made dinner with some of the perishable items the old couple gave me, throwing them into a pot with some water Gojyo was more than happy to give me. It ended up being a lot and I shared what I could with my six Pokémon and sat in the majestic beauty of nature. The Pokémon bedded down early next to the fire though I let it die down a little so as not to risk them getting seriously injured as I fled into my tent. Sleeping in a tent is a lot different than sleeping in a nice warm bed with four walls and a roof around you, the rocks cutting into my back at every turn which drove me nuts. Haiiro joined me in the tent, he honestly seemed completely disinterested in sticking with the other five when I was around though there really wasn’t too much space to give him for himself. It seemed quite alright to him as he curled up on my back as I finally settled into a position where rocks weren’t cutting into my sides at every movement though the weight was way more than unwelcome. He’d slept at the foot of the bed the other nights at Grandma’s place but tonight he was unmoveable. I didn’t really relish the idea of cuddling with a Pokémon but he seemed to think my opinion in this matter wasn’t important, despite my few attempts to move him to a more comfortable location. I finally managed to get to sleep though I can’t say it was the best I’d ever had and as the sun crested over the horizon in the morning I peeked my head out of the tent long enough to get the fire burning again as it’d gone out during the night. I let my Pokémon out to get their own food when the fire was blazing enough to fight back the freezing morning air as I munched on an apple. I waited for the sun to warm the air a little before breaking camp though I felt like another hike.
The hike netted me a few chance sightings of some Pokémon, a Blitzle rummaging through the forest and blazing through it with speeds I couldn’t catch up with. I set up a trap with Yen and caught it and when I returned to my base camp it seemed as if Haiiro had battled and knocked out a Pidove all on his own. I caught it as well; it seemed a little silly to let the chance get away from me. With a few more Pokémon added to the dex I moved down further along the back to the road at a leisurely pace. By the time I managed to get back to the road proper the sun was already setting and I made camp closer by. I could have stopped by the day care but I honestly didn’t want to risk getting stuck on the road in the dead of night. The night was also fairly uneventful though the Wellspring Cave clearly had a family of Woobat sleeping there as they streamed into the air as the sun finally set which drove my entire team insane. I had to let them go just to get some peace and when they returned it was in a flurry just as they’d left. I had to follow them into the dark a ways until I found a downed Woobat. I caught it as well and figured when we got back to a town or city I’d reward them for their honest good work. The fire was thankfully visible for a fair distance away and by the look of it I’d climbed a bit higher than it and the rest of the local landscape and from my vantage point I could see tons of other fires blazing away in the distance. The number was staggering, like a thousand fire flies winking on black velvet. I don’t know what broke me from the revery of the scene, maybe it was the freezing cold wind or my Pokémon trying to urge me back to camp, but as I came to and stumbled back to my base it was like a dam had broken. Isshu was a fairly densely populated country, in fact we boasted some of the largest city centers in the entire world, but most of the population centers were around said cities. The small peninsula Nuvema Town and it’s two sister cities sat on, at the foot of a massive mountain range, was the least populated of the entire region. When I tell you it was dark out here, most of you won’t really understand what I mean.
Darkness in and around cities is a fairly different affair, a soft orange or yellow glow at the horizon if you live far away from the city or a constant wash of light from the ground level if you’re actually central to the city itself. But not out here where there were street lights or billboards miles away that cast their warm glow into the nether that is the sky at night. Only the stars stretched out before you above and the inky black of night around you that a camp fire couldn’t combat. It’s a very isolating feeling being in such a state, the sounds of nature sound distant even though the local insect symphony is only yards away from you at any given time. The calls of Pokémon in the night sound lonely and forlorn even if they’re the friendliest of creatures any other time, even wild. And when I was on that large hill, overlooking so many other trainers who were dealing with the cold with fires of their own I started thinking what teams they might have. Why were they so deep in the wilderness and what were they doing at that very moment as I was looking down on them? And then I started to think about if they had people like the old couple I met, or the daycare people or any other number of trainers I’d met on the road so far and did those trainers camp fires I saw. Did they all have people that cared for them so fiercly after only having met them in such a short amount of time? What about families, did they come from a home like mine or were their families together, thinking about their children right now instead of placing their lost dreams on their shoulders. It was some sobering thoughts and what little I could voice at that time was fielded at Haiiro as we finally crawled into our tent. At that point the cuddling and contact wasn’t so bad, and Fred even managed to sneak in and cuddle up with me as well. Even if I set foot on Route 1 thinking that I’d do this with no strings attached I could tell that it wouldn’t be that easy. The pokemon I’d caught already saw me as their leader, their friend and I couldn’t fight feeling that maybe…just maybe they were my friends as well. It was a pleasant thought to go to sleep on.
What wasn’t pleasant to wake up to however were the shrill screams of Bel and my tent being ripped open by said shriller. It was a shock she was even here but as I got up and threw a shirt on I caught the jist of what was going on. She’d been called by the day care and rushed over from Nacrene City in the early morning to see what the matter was. She had one of the Pre-School children with her and it looked as if they’d both been crying, the hysterical sobbing was also a dead giveaway though. Cheren also seemed to have come with her, his face flushed with anger. It was rare to see Cheren in such a state but I figured he’d be the one to ask if I really wanted to know, so we had a quick breakfast and he told me what was up. Someone had stolen the little girl’s Lillipup that night and I honestly was a little upset with myself that I didn’t march to the Pre-School. Cheren and I promised Bel and the girl we’d go and get her Lillipup back. It seemed that the Wellspring Cave, a good hike though not to far from my camp, was where the culprit was hiding, Cheren and I wasting no time as we bust into the small and mostly water filled cave. What we found though was a shock, though in hindsight we really should have seen it coming. Four members of “Team Plasma” were discussing among themselves how they’d stolen a good number of Pokémon from trainers in the area and before I could stop him Cheren had dashed out to confront them. I cursed his cavalier attitude in situations like this and went out into the open next to him.
Cheren gave the four a fairly good scolding if I do say so myself, and it seemed one of Team Plasma’s plans was to kidnap and “free” Pokémon from their trainers though it didn’t look like they were freeing them to me. It also came as a surprise that people so dedicated to freeing Pokémon from humans would use them and keep them in pokeballs, a sin according to them, but it seemed they did and much to my annoyance they tried to battle us. They were pathetic and as the first two fell back the next pair dashed at us, ready and willing to double team either of us. Luckily we brought back up and the two on two match went faster than a greased lightning. Cheren and I made a pretty solid team and the pairs tactics were…well the Pre-School kids were honestly better trainers after a day then these guys. We got the Lillipup back as “Team Plasma” ran off and returned it to its rightful owner. Bel and Cheren left after that and I walked the kid back to the Pre-School, where I spent the rest of the day just in case those jerks decided to come back for some easy pickings. I went back to the Wellspring Caves to look around a little the next morning and caught myself a Roggenrola and even headed back to Striaton City to rework my team since I’d got a few new allies under my belt. I figured a rounded team was better than focusing on a single type, keeping Haiiro, Yen and Gojyo but decided my Bliztle, Cherry and my new Roggenrola would make good additions to my team. With all that done I headed back to Route 3, I’d stalled for two days and I’m sure by this point Cheren had already got his next badge. No way I was going to be shown up.