Find Your Way

Content warnings: none needed.

The young boy cradled his Aron's pokeball, shivering and huddling behind a pile of rocks. He didn't bring any revives to his spelunking trip. Careless. Lack of foresight. He couldn't even use his flashlight for now, else the wild Pokemon become aggressive again. The flapping of Zubat wings was becoming more distant, but every stray echo, every reverberating screech, made him flinch.

It was fine. He was fine. The little movements he could hear, were surely just Sableye slinking around for gems to eat. The clattering of pebbles, probably other Aron shifting stones around in search of some tasty moss. The strange, whooshing sounds, were just sleeping Abra teleporting around subconsciously.

In theory, he could get through this. He just had to be smart. He had to put all those hours of studying to use. He had to be careful.

Analyse the situation.

Do we know where we are? Not really - in the panic of escaping the flock of Zubat, he hadn't kept track of which direction he had been headed. The priority was to escape unscathed.

Can we make an educated guess? Probably - before setting out, he had analysed research papers and maps made of this cave, not to mention ecological habitats of the Pokemon living within it. He regularly perused such things for fun, of course, but it's always good to refresh your knowledge.

What information do we currently have? If he could trust his analysis on the sounds of the cave based on prior knowledge, there's a few Pokemon he could pick out. The aforementioned Sableye, slow-moving but distinct if you were utterly silent. The wild Aron foraging, not just moving pebbles, but making very slight clinking noises as the stones made contact with their armoured body. The slow breathing of an Abra who had teleported nearby, still slumbering, yet still instinctively warping around. One final note - the soft grumblings of Geodude, a social species who would bond in groups. Judging from what he knew of this cave's ecosystems, he had to be very deep within it - especially if he couldn't see a thing.

What else? He slowly felt around the rocks nearby him. Judging from the textures and shapes, some were deep cave stalagmites, rising spindly and tall with a very rough texture, and some others were very large and chunky, smooth on the outside but with deep cracks that felt softer in-between. Oh- the large boulders, he recognised as a certain type of rock. It was one that was typically used as nests by wild Pokemon, as it could be hollowed out on the inside and still offer significant protection due to its tough outer shell. Eggs could be stored within, with a member of the group watching the entrance for intruders.

He could see the research papers in his mind - what species used these types of boulders as nests, deep in Granite Cave? One was certainly Geodude, and the other-

"-mmwh?"

"Oh-!"

He recoiled, bringing his hand back with him. A smooth texture, with hints of grit and sand. Not a Geodude. But, not aggressive. He must have accidentally found the entrance to their nest, and thus, the current guardian of it.

Apprehensively, he reached back towards the creature, feeling around a bit more. The smooth, sandy texture led into a protrusion, mostly smooth with stray cracks and dents, and two small crevices beside it. Unmistakeably, this was a Nosepass. A Nosepass that he had just touched the eye crevices of. Didn't your father teach you any manners?

"Mmmhh?" they mumbled at the boy, audibly confused by the sudden pat-down.

"Ah- I do apologise," he whispered, bowing his head instinctively. "I'm- I'm a little lost down here."

The Nosepass hummed to themself, and then- he felt them move away from his hand, retreating back into the nest. There were shuffling sounds, quiet mumbling, more shuffling, getting closer- and then, he felt a nudge at his hand. Insistent nudging. The Nosepass, they... they wanted him to follow them?

"Oh, but... your nest-"

"Mmh!" another Nosepass voice chirped from the boulder, distinctively different from his new friend.

"A-ah, I see..." he replied, a bit taken aback. "Um... may I?"

The Nosepass patiently waited as the boy used them as a support to get to his feet, seemingly happy to just hum quietly while the boy collected his bearings. Every pokeball was here, he had all his possessions- it was time to go.

"Please, lead the way," he said to the Nosepass, placing both hands upon their head.

Chirping in affirmation, the Nosepass slowly began to move, with the boy carefully moving along behind them. Nosepass weren't known for their agility, but in this case, it was a very helpful boon- it would certainly take some effort to lose track of where his new guide was.

It took several minutes of moving, of them shuffling along, but the Nosepass eventually stopped. The boy could see the slightest sliver of light from above, now, and after flicking on his flashlight to confirm it - yes, that was definitely the ladder leading out!

Sighing in relief, he turned back to the Nosepass - with the flashlight, he could see their light grey colouration and smooth edges, typical of a long-lived Hoennian Nosepass. Their nose, chipped and wonky in some places, was yet a deep orange colour.

"Th-thank you so much for your help," he stammered, bowing again out of gratitude. "I'll... I'll try to be more careful, next time."

The wild Nosepass chirped happily in response, and stayed standing there until the boy had climbed all the way up the ladder. Looking down through the passage, he heard them chirp one more time in farewell, before they turned back into the cavern and disappeared into the darkness.

From there, he quickly found the next ladder up into the higher reaches of the cave, where things were much more visible. From up high, the view was gorgeous - a wealth of earthy colours, of different shapes and textures of rocks, and of wild Pokemon living their lives. Certainly, a huge difference from the inky-blackness of the levels before. He couldn't help but chuckle seeing a pair of Makuhita sparring from up above, and from seeing some slightly less aggressive Zubat chase each other in circles, chittering happily.

Stepping carefully through the high ridges and stones, he made his way to another hidden opening on the upper level of the cave, and finally found it. The little pocket his father had told him about.

Stray holes in the ceiling lit up the room within, giving it a dappled pattern of light in places. In this isolated environment, he could see rare, undisturbed stones, beautiful in their natural formations. He could hear the sea of Dewford, the sound of the waves echoing softly in this isolated room. He felt... peaceful.

Steven Stone would come back to this cave many times over the years. He had finally found a quiet place.

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Page originally published on 1st November 2021 at 17:24 GMT.