Individual RP: K'sariya [Enigma Ruins]

Dawn shines over the Enigma Ruins, with blue-gray clouds smeared over deep gold light like paint on a canvas. Distant rain turns the horizon soft, so that the colors drip together at the edges. Below, trees sway in the wind, throwing back the light in shimmers of bright amber. It’s a beautiful morning.

So thinks Margo Sterling looking down from sixty meters up, the only thing between her and the vast stretch of empty air being Mist, the Pelipper on whose back she’s laying, clinging to a lightweight harness. The view is absolutely incredible, and Margo drinks in the serene familiarity, because she has no idea what’s coming next. Mist is carrying her to the Enigma Ruins, where abnormal is the norm and the terrain can shift at a moment’s notice. It’s funny, Margo thinks as she watches Mist’s feathers shift to catch the winds. She’s been spending more time hopping through dimensions than in the Park proper, lately.

On the plus side, Margo doesn’t really have to come up with any sort of agenda for her Trainer today; the Enigma Ruins will no doubt have their own, unintelligible design. Instead, she’s free to drink in the beauty of the day, and reflect on the Trainer she’ll be escorting through the Ruins today.

Finch. It’s an unassuming name for a person who’s travelled the Park in the company of a Lugia. Curiously, Finch didn’t list the Lugia - Zenith, Margo thinks they’re called; the fact that she can remember the nickname of one of Finch’s Pokemon is proof positive of the reputation they’ve made for themself - on their team registration form. They’re actually bringing an unevolved Pokemon along, which is even more unusual. Most long-time, established Trainers keep their young Pokemon back from battles that might involve a full-grown one. Finch probably has a reason, but Margo is going to have to make sure to keep an eye out, just in case. The Pokemon in the Engima Ruins sometimes play a little rougher than those in the rest of the Park.

And things might be even more complicated by the Region Spray that Finch is bringing with them. The Type Repellents make conceptual sense - certain types of Pokemon are more affected by certain stimuli than others, it’s as simple as that - but Margo has no idea how in the world these new Region Sprays are being made. She suspects they alter the Enigma Ruins’ teleportation rather than attracting specific Pokemon species, but her main concern is that things stay safe, regardless of how these weird chemistry experiments actually work.

Mist lets out a low caw; Margo looks up and out, following Mist’s gaze. In the distance, she can pick out a few details - a hilly field, with one hill terminating abruptly in a steep gray rise of stone carved into a curved arch, which fades into deep black shadow below. Surrounding this arch is a herd of Deerling and Sawsbuck, grazing peacefully. Margo sighs. She’d rather not spook the Pokemon, but there’s not exactly another place to land.

“Draw in slowly,” Margo says. “Give them time for at least one of them to see or hear you, and then the rest of them will take off.” Mist agrees with another quiet caw, then begins her descent proper, circling widely around the herd to ensure that they have plenty of time to notice her. Sure enough, one of the Sawsbuck raises their ears, lifting their half-green, half-red-horned head to look up at the strange Pokemon descending toward them. They let out a loud bleat and take off bounding across the field; the rest of the herd scatters in seconds. This would be good for Margo and Mist were it not for the fact that one of the Deerling takes off directly into the archway, running headlong into the Enigma Ruins.

“Oh, crap,” Margo mutters, hopping off of Mist as soon as the Pelipper hits the ground. The little fawn could wind up nearly anywhere, and Margo can’t go in until Finch arrives. Five minutes, she decides. She’ll give Finch and their coutarie five minutes; if they don’t show by then, she’ll go in and make sure the Deerling didn’t get stuck at the top of Mt. Oktori or something.

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Goggles cling tight to olive eyes, water from the damp morning condensing on the outside of thick lenses, shed occasionally by a quick, erratic twitch of their head. Rolling droplets slide from water-repellent black coat. Their gloved hand clutches tightly to a steel handle upon their mount. The blade-winged bird gives a mighty, metallic scraw! as Finch guides the creature to dive. Forge's very carapace shifts slightly beneath him as the metal-bending bird shapes the steel of its body into a seat more supportive for descent. Nonetheless, Finch holds on tight, and lets out a jubilant laugh as their mount begins her descent.

The low-hanging clouds race past them as they break out into the beautiful gold of the sunrise. The brilliant sheen shimmers against Forge's armor in a way that makes the Skarmory seem to be a being of fire, long blades glowing like tongues of flame. Finch seeks out the familiar Ruins. As the wind whips less harshly at thier muffed ears, the remaining quiet leaves them with only their thoughts. In the peaceful descent, they feel heavily in their gut the last time they'd come here, along with the being they'd had with them.

Movement down below serves distracting enough; they see a herd of Deerling and Sawsbuck scatter away from the Ruins, booking it away from another descending figure far below. They assume that the figure is their Ranger, and they're relieved that they're right on time. Another spot of movement captures their eye--the verdant streak of a fawn taking straight off into the Ruins. Finch blinks, surprised, and then remembering the troubles that befell them last time, spurs Forge into a more urgent descent.

The pair alight beside the beefy Pelipper and their Trainer. Finch casts a quick glance over their Ranger; a quaint young woman with lovely tanned skin, a picture of warmth. They know not to underestimate the Rangers of this place, though--beneath every soft visage seemed to be a hardened survivor of these sometimes unpredictable wilds, and they anticipate this one to be no different. They offer a fleeting smile, but get straight to it:

"Hey, I saw that Deerling--we goin' in after it or what?" they ask, not even bothering to dismount. Forge gives a playful caw to the fellow mount, prodding sharp beak in the Pelipper's direction--but only to get a little better of a sniff. Metal clacks against metal as she works her jaw, still rearing and ready to go on whatever wild Deerling chase they were about to embark on. Feet shuffle against the wet grass, damp armor glimmering in the rising sun.

A silver shimmer in the sky draws Margo's attention. She turns skyward, a hand over her eyes to filter out the excess light. She recognizes the bright shape of a Skarmory - and the Skarmory's trajectory is rapidly changing, going from a lazy descent to a steep dive. Mist chirps in surprise and takes a step back; Margo follows suit. Even if Finch and their Pokemon are excellent aerialists, Margo finds it better to not unnecessarily risk getting full-body tackled by a Skarmory, as a rule.

"Hey, I saw that Deerling - we goin' in after it or what?" Margo can't help but smile at Finch's question. They're a person of action, and they care about the wild Pokemon. Margo gets the feeling that she's going to get on fabulously with them.

The metallic sounds coming from Forge's investigative beak seem to surprise Mist a bit; the Pelipper gives her fellow avian a greeting trill, but she still seems a bit shy of the huge bird in silver armor. Her neck and chest feathers fluff slightly as she turns nervously from Forge to the entrance of the Enigma Ruins and back again, caught between the humans' urgency and the looming, claustrophobic ingress to the Ruins.

"Easy, Mist," Margo soothes, placing a reassuring hand on the Pelipper's shoulder. "Don't worry, I won't make you go into the cave." She pulls out two Pokeballs; in a shower of red sparks, Mist vanishes, and a battle-scarred Manectric appears.

As soon as Spark has materialized, Margo starts to walk toward the cavern entrance, gesturing to Finch to follow along. "Do you smell a Deerling's trail?" Margo asks; Spark sniffs the air, ears and nose twitching, then lowers her head to the ground and begins stalking through the Ruin's entrance. Darkness envelops her quickly; Margo makes haste to follow, pulling out a flashlight so that they'll all have something to see by.

It's hard to see by the flashlight alone, but the Ranger-strong torch sheds a reasonable enough half-light down the tunnel. It's enough for Margo to be able to follow a bright yellow and blue dog, at least. To Finch, Margo says, "Don't worry. This isn't the first time something like this has happened, and it won't be the last. Tell the truth, I should've been more careful with my approach, but there's nothing to be done for it now except find the poor fawn. Once we find it, Spark's nose should be able to point us in the direction we'll need to corral it toward."

Thankfully, it's not a long walk. Before long, fog begins seeping into the tunnel; behind it, a dull blue glow illuminates a clearing up ahead. The mist is thick, thick enough that Spark slows her pace so that Margo can follow, and Margo does the same for Finch and Forge.

It's hard to tell when they actually leave the tunnel and enter one of the Enigma Ruins' proper corridors. While the sun is probably up in this ephemeral area, the light certainly isn't having much effect, only casting the mist a dull, dim blue-gray. Surrounding the group is a veritable wall of motionless pines and other trees, leafless and lifeless.

And in the center, Deerling cowers. Its knobby knees shake as it walks around the clearing, bleating in sorrowful confusion, obviously lost. Pity twinges in Margo's gut. There's no way the poor thing knows where it is, except that it isn't home. As Margo walks a bit closer, she feels a twig snapping beneath her shoe; the sound causes Deerling to jump straight into the air, its ears shooting upright in shock. It turns toward the party and gives a valiant attempt at a warning bray, though the menace is rather mitigated by Deerling's obvious terror.

Margo clicks her tongue; Spark returns to heel. With the obvious predator out of the way, Margo hopes the Deerling can be a little more at ease. But the most important thing is... "If we're going to herd it back home, I'll need your help. Unless you're interested in giving it a new home?"

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Watching Margo's interaction with the Pellipper, Finch can't help but smile. They see the bird shift nervously as they look at the cave, and watch carefully as Margo notices the signs. Which, it's good that she does so quickly and doesn't try to take the Flying type into the cave--Finch would have looked like a real know-it-all trying to point it out to her, and they didn't want that kind of Awkward this early in the morning.

The creature that emerges instead is a little less in their element. If anything, the Manectric makes them a little nervous--they trust their Ranger, but they've seen those kinds of fangs tear into plenty of birds before. While the electricity-charged strikes at least self-cauterized, the way it coursed through their little bodies, and the way their fragile bones, so light to allow for flight, crumpled beneath those powerful jaws...

Finch suppresses the shudder that threatens the course of their spine. They can't completely keep the sudden grimace off of their face, but at least in the whole two seconds it takes them to notice it, they pull a hand to hover across their midriff protectively, at least pretending that they've got like, indigestion or something. Having the shits on your outdoor camping trip was definitely less awkward than talking about your... discomforts around Electric types to the Electric-type-owning person you have to travel in a cave with for the next few hours. Right? Right. Forge gives a concerned croon, craning her neck around to clack her beak at where their hand hovers like she can just peck the discomfort away, but they bat her away good-naturedly. They just hope Margo doesn't ask them if they need to pull over or something. Maybe this wasn't such a good plan.

Fortunately, they let Spark's nose do the work and soon enough, they're stepping beneath the looming lip of the cave. Finch takes a deep breath of the fresh air outside of it as they do so. They hated this part. Enigma Ruins was the only real tolerable cave they could deal with, if only because they knew the wizard-y voodoo fo the Ruins would liberate them from it within a few minutes of stepping in. Forge's metallic feet clack against the stone, echoing gently.

At some point, the darkness of the cave gradually transitions to a blue-gray mist. Columnous figures emerge from the haze, defining themselves soon as the trunks of trees. Forge's clacking feet fade, replaced with whispery rustles as their claws sift through the thick underbed of pine bristles. Due to the low visibility, i's only when the twig snaps beneath Margo's feet and the (albeit pitiful) bray is sent there way that they realize the Deerling is in front of them. They guide Forge to a halt, freezing her where she stands, careful not to make any sudden movements.

Margo's words reach their ears, dampened by the persistent fog. They shake their head at the last question. "Let's get this little one home." They weren't in the market for a flightless deer, and this poor thing would probably be terrified to death of half of the aerial predators Finch happened to have on their lineup.

"Stay put, Forge," they whisper gently, removing a different ball from their bag. This one is much more fresh than the rest, less scratched and dinged, with the vibrant red top of a plain Poke Ball. From it materializes a tiny shape, one that immediately spreads its wings and flutters straight to Finch's shoulder. "Hey there, Vanish," they practically chirrup at the wide-beaked blue bird. They reach out to deftly dig out a little brown treat from their pocket, offering it to the Taillow. He snaps it up immediately, then rests analytic gaze on the terrified Deerling.

"We need you to send it this way. To play, yeah? Don't terrify it too much, you lil' monster," they chuckle playfully, softly to their tiny companion. The bird chirps an affirmative and soars deftly up to the branches above. Tiny feet clench the branch, then he hops to the next, and then the next in rapid succession. Head twists rapidly as they position themselves, branch-hopping with small wing-flutters until they were on the other side of the Deerling. Finch waits for a long moment, then nods to Vanish.

The Taillow seeks to swoop down to a few feet from the Deerling, fluttering side to side with raucous chirruping. In seconds, the creature's movements seem to be leaving doubles, and then triples as the Taillow uses the concealing mist to trick the eye into materializing multiple of its own forms, darting in and out of the fog. A mighty Growl echoes from one Double Team copy, and then the other, and then the other as Vanish works his little wings overtime to upkeep the illusion. Finch shuffles Forge well out of the way, trying to leave a wide berth to let it dart back the way it'd come.


Some kind of upset seems to grip Finch as the group walks through the tunnel and into the Enigma Ruins proper. There are a number of things this could be attributed to - nerves, claustrophobia, some sort of other physical discomfort... Margo wouldn't hold it against Finch regardless, but she'd definitely understand if they're feeling a bit jumpy. If she hadn't done a fair bit of spelunking in her life - the region of Hoenn is famed primarily for its prodigious waters, meaning that its plethora of gorgeous caves and caverns is often shamelessly glossed over - she would probably be nervous in a cave like this, too. Then again... As far as she can remember, every Pokemon on Finch's park roster is some sort of flier. Is Finch, like the avians they raise, uncomfortable with an earthy roof over their head because they're just that in tune with the element of air? 

Regardless, if Finch needs help, Margo trusts them to speak up. Unless they're in clear, proper distress, then prying into their feelings isn't Margo's business. Instead, she decides to pick up the pace a little. She'll try to move Finch more quickly through the enclosed areas of the Ruins, and otherwise do her best to make them more comfortable with the landscape.

All that said, when Margo sees Vanish so easily syncing up with Finch's wishes, she's pretty sure that her last guess about Finch's claustrophobia was bang-on. Her plan had been to have one of Finch's Pokemon help Spark flank the Deerling - which definitely would have scared the fawn, but a few moments of fear are preferable to stranding a Deerling in the middle of the Enigma Ruins - but Vanish proves himself to be up to the task all on his own.

All on his own in a sense, anyway. He flits toward Deerling and chirps at it cheerfully; the fawn turns, cowering slightly with ears slicked back. However, it becomes distracted as Vanish keeps on jumping, its fear turning to confusion and curiosity as the hopping continues; then, Deerling flinches in surprise as Vanish takes flight, mist curling around his wings and forming illusory mirrors of Vanish's body. A blurred Taillow turns into the shadows of a flock, a flock that quickly begins to raise a boisterous outcry. To all appearances, Deerling is surrounded by a wheeling swarm of chirruping Taillow, with only one way out - right toward the tunnel it had come from.

And Deerling takes this as its cue. Following the one escape route it has, it bounds away. Spark and Forge's distance from the tunnel entrance helps keep the Deerling moving; it barely seems to notice either of the predators flanking it, or anything except the ground beneath its hooves and the exit up ahead. 

Once Deerling is gone, Vanish slows quickly. While he's no worse for wear, he's transparently tired from working so hard, and as a result he alights back on Finch's shoulder quickly. He quickly shows himself to not be exhausted - he eagerly bumps his head against Finch's chin and lets out a quiet peep, a shameless solicitation of praise.

Margo takes a moment to smile at the cuteness before pointing Spark toward the tunnel again. She nods obediently, then lowers her head to sniff at the earth. She follows the scent a few steps into the tunnel, then nods, turning back toward Margo with an affirmative bark. "Sounds like Deerling went in the right direction," says Margo, reaching out to scratch behind Spark's ears. "It should find its way home easily enough. Good job."

Spark's ears lift and her head swings around, raising her tail and staring at a fixed point somewhere across the clearing. Margo follows the Manectric's gaze, and while she doesn't see anything, she feels something - she's exceedingly grateful she's wearing her sweater, because a cold breeze is blowing. Slowly, the fog begins to clear before the wintry wind. Spark lets out a curious huff and walks against the chilly wind; she seems to disappear into the lingering mist until Margo hears a loud bark calling back.

Margo follows, making sure to give Finch plenty of time to keep up and tend to their party. Slowly but surely, the object of Spark's interest becomes clear. The Manectric stands beside a place where the pines part. Behind them, the thick trunks are packed together even more densely, with needle-laden branches laced together into a rough roof. Another tunnel, Margo thinks, putting her chilly fingers in her pockets.

This time, Margo tries to make conversation. It's dark and chilly, sure, but that's no reason to be grim. "You and your Taillow - Vanish, right? - seem really in sync. I didn't think they were flock Pokemon, but Vanish seems really well-socialized."

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