Saphire’s first day of training had gone rather poorly in her own opinion, but she couldn’t complain. It had been her dream since she was little to be a part of the guild association and now she was living that dream! The young Eevee waited nearby the gate to the guild as the sun began to set; waiting for Chanler to walk her back home like she promised earlier.
As she sat on the edge of the door, she shivered at the cold wind that buffed her fur as it rounded the tower of the guild. It was getting colder by the day, and already she couldn’t wait for summer to come back so that she could lie under the sun and sunbathe. After a few minutes longer, Chanler approached her from inside of the guild, walking from the northwest tower. "Sorry I'm a bit late, Saphire." Chanler apologized, coming to stand in front of her with her scarf wrapped around her neck and most of her face. "I know it sounds selfish of me, but I really was debating asking Johnny to come and pick us up so that I didn't have to walk in the cold."
The Pikachu grabbed the portion of her scarf that was around her face and unfurled it until it was snuggly woven around her neck and arms. Chanler smiled at Saphire softly, and then her attention quickly turned to the stairs to her left. Saphire followed her gaze to the stairs to find a Jolteon panting as he got to the top of the stairs. Remembering what Chanler told her about her evolutions, Jolteon was also a possible evolution that an Eevee can go to. Although in order to evolve into a Jolteon she would need to have access to a thunderstone like the ones Johnny and Chanler keep in their belts in cases of emergency.
Chanler looked at the newcomer and ran to his side. “Hey! Are you alright? What’s going on?” She asked him, a concerned look written across her face.
“I need to see the Guildmaster!” He told her, taking heavy breaths between words as he tried to catch his breath.
She patted his back and kneeled right next to him before pointing at the central staircase. “Right up those stairs there and you’ll be in front of him.”
The Jolteon would roll his eyes if he had the energy. “Great! More stairs!” He said sarcastically as he ran forward and towards the stairs across the practically empty gathering hall.
Saphire padded up next to Chanler and looked at her curiously. “He sure was tired for a Jolteon. I thought Jolteons were the fastest Pokémon ever."
She would scratch behind Saphire’s ear with her hand and let out a soft laugh. “They can be the fastest Pokémon, but they need a lot of training to do so. Generally, all electric type Pokémon are really fast. The secret is that we can course our electricity through our body and make it move faster. We can even make our brain work faster so that we have a faster reaction time.” Chanler smiled. “Though I don’t think anyone has a faster reaction time than Johnny. It’s as if he can tell where your attack comes from before you even throw it.”
The Eevee's eyes sparkled in awe momentarily as Chanler got back onto her feet. "Alright. Let's head home finally!" Chanler told her but stopped short as she began to turn around. Saphire watched as the Pikachu's expression changed from happiness to one of horror.
“What’s wrong, Ms. Chanler?” Saphire asked her, but Chanler wouldn’t get a chance to answer as Johnny appeared behind them both and touched their shoulders.
Without another word, Saphire felt the entire world shake around her, and a flash of green light in her vision before she realized that their surroundings changed. Now they were back in their house, and more specifically they were inside of Saphire’s room. Johnny moved forward and grabbed a large satchel that seemed to be brimming full of papers and other supplies. He then also grabbed a second bag and handed it to Chanler as he placed his hands on the two of them again.
Green filled her vision, and with a low hum, their surroundings changed once more. This time they were standing inside a circular room that was just barely bigger than Saphire's bedroom. The walls were constructed of a compacted sand-like stone that went up about seven feet in the air before it hit the ceiling. The only other objects in the room beside themselves that she could see was a heavy wooden door behind them, a small wooden table in front of them, and a heavy wooden trap door behind it.
Johnny walked forward and placed a hand on the metal ring that hung off of the trap door and lifted it up. “Calea! I’m coming down!” He yelled as he motioned for Chanler and Saphire to follow him down.
Saphire had a half walk half jog towards the trap door as Johnny tossed it back away from the table so that he didn’t have to hold it. She stood next to the door to see a set of stairs leading down to the left under the floor they were standing on. The walls surrounding the stairs and the floor and ceiling itself were all constructed of the same sandstone-like material leading down. When Chanler motioned for Saphire to follow her, she did and walked down the stairs a few steps behind her.
Lining the wall was a groove on the outside of the stairs that had flames coming out of rocks that sat inside of the slot. As she looked at it, they now reminded her of what was used to light the range underneath the guild. Saphire reached the bottom of the stairs after a few moments and came to stand next to Chanler a few steps in front of them.
The room they stood in was more like three separate rooms rather than one large room. There was a central circle in the middle where they stood currently with three more circular rooms branching off in each compass direction. To the right was a room that held many wooden barrels with some unknown contents. There were signs above them in groups labeling some as ‘Latex Sap' and others as ‘Suit Tar.' In front of them stood many weird metal contraptions that looked like they did something, but she wasn't sure what they were for. Then to her left were shelves and posts that held quite a variety of shiny black suits and dull black objects.
"Johnny, what do you want? Don't you know it's my day of rest tonight?" A female voice asked him, and yawning afterward.
Saphire turned around to look to see who talked to them. Standing in the doorway to a room that had been tucked away behind the staircase was a weird looking Vulpix. Her head and tails looked like that of a regular Vulpix, yet she wore the same shiny black material she had seen in the last room she looked at. The article would reach up past the middle of her neck, and cover most of her torso and legs. There were two large diamond cut out: One in the middle of her back and one in the middle of her underbelly.
To answerer Calea’s question, Johnny approached her and whispered into the Vulpix’s ear. She seemed intent on listening before a growl suddenly rose out of her throat. “Damn them all!” Calea shouted quickly as she took a step away from Johnny. She looked at the floor for a moment. “Fine. I’ll look after her, but I expect to be paid this time because now I have to watch over Liam’s kid too.”
Johnny cocked his head to the side out of curiosity. “Theo is here?” He asked her.
Calea nodded her head and sighed. “Yes. Liam had come to see me earlier and exchange greetings when he was told something across telepathy. He didn’t tell me what it was about, but from what you just told me, I can guess you all heard the same thing.” She explained to him before shaking her head. “You two can’t be staying here any longer if that’s the case. You both need to get going and help Sylvia out.”
Saphire could hardly believe what she was hearing. Johnny and Chanler were going to leave her here with Calea for an entire week without telling her what was going on? She wasn’t going to have it and quickly ran in front of Johnny to bar his path.
He let out a sigh and looked at her with an unamused expression. “Saphire, please move. We don’t have time for this.”
She would shake her head as she stared at him in stubbornness. “No! I don’t want you to leave me here!”
Chanler walked to Johnny’s side, the same emotionless expression on her face. “Saphire, dear, we have to get going. If we don’t, a lot of Pokémon could get hurt.”
Calea then walked up closer to Saphire’s side and placed a foreleg on the Eevee’s back. With barely any effort she began to pull Saphire closer until she wasn’t standing in front of Johnny and Chanler. “Come on, kid. Let them do their job.”
Johnny and Chanler both looked at her with a weak smile. “Don’t worry, Saphire. We’ll be back as soon as we possibly can.” Chanler told her just before the two of them vanished into thin air.
Saphire continued to stare at where they had been for a few moments before Calea's shaking foreleg shook her out of her gaze. The Vulpix was yawning, and heavily at that as she lifted her leg off of Saphire's back and began to walk towards the room behind the staircase. Saphire sighed softly and grabbed the bag that Johnny had left that was full of papers and started to drag the large bag closer to the wall. She gave up once it was next to the wall and walked into the room Calea had stepped into.
Immediately she could feel a lot warmer air in the room than upstairs. Right directly in front of her sat a close to the ground bed that was plenty large as Calea laid on the far side of the bed near the wall. Closer to Saphire, and sleeping in the middle of the bed, was the Riolu from earlier in the day; his name was Theo. To her left was a small kitchen, emphasis on the small part as there was barely enough room for one Pokémon to stand in it. On the far side of the kitchen was a weird opening in the wall that held a metal grate in the bottom of the hole with some rocks sitting underneath it.
She looked back to the bed where Calea and Theo lie sleeping, and sleep began to claw at her own mind as well. Saphire walked over to the foot of the bed and hopped up onto it. There was enough room there for her to sleep comfortably and circled in the bed twice before laying down on her left side and curling her tail as close to her face as possible. Her eyes remained open for a few minutes after she first lay down, but soon sleep gripped her body as well, and she fell into a deep sleep.
The next morning Saphire would have a rude awakening as a fist hit her side. Saphire yelped in surprise and pain as the force of the punch knocked her out of the room and all the way across the central chamber to tumble into one of the metal contraptions across the way. She shook her head of sleep, though most of it had gone away when she was punched across the room. Standing in front of the bed and slowly walking closer to her was Theo. He had his right arm out with his paw facing her while his left arm was bent at an angle and held out to his side. His advances were slow, right foot in front of the left as he’d slide his front foot forward, and then his back foot after that.
Calea, in the bedroom behind him, had begun to wake up when she heard Saphire scream. “Oi, What the hell are you kids doing?” She asked as she sat up in the bed and looked at Theo moving slowly towards Saphire in an attack stance. “Hey! Theo! What the hell are you doing?”
Without looking back at her, Theo answered as he kept moving closer to Saphire. "This stranger was in bed with us!"
The Vulpix quickly rolled out of bed and ran over to Theo and gripped his outstretched arm in her mouth, but not tight enough for her teeth to break the skin. “Theo. This is Saphire. She’s Johnny and Chanler’s foster child.” She told him, letting go of his arm when he stopped trying to threaten Saphire with his hands.
When she finally let go of his arm, Theo rubbed the part where her teeth were and looked to Saphire. “Sorry.” He stuttered, a bit ashamed that he attacked her now. “I didn’t know who you were. I thought you were going to hurt us.”
Saphire, who had been on the ground the whole time, stood up and shook her body off. Her side hurt quite a bit, and it showed when she would finish at the tiniest movement of her flank. "It's alright, Theo. Honest. Just don't hit me again, please. That last punch sort of hurt."
Theo let out a short giggle and smiled at her. “I promise.” Short and sweet the response he gave was.
Calea sighed and sat down on the ground next to them. “Well I don’t really have any money, but I don’t exactly have any food right now either.” She thought aloud as she looked at them. “But the two of you have to eat something. So come on. I’m taking you out to eat.”
The Riolu's eyes lit up, and he balled up his fists in front of his chest. "Awesome! Let's go!" He called out as he ran towards the curved staircase on the other side of the room.
Saphire watched him run away and looked to Calea. She stared back at the Eevee, and both formed a smile on their faces. After a moment they giggled and began to follow after him. Calea led the way up the stairs for them and walked through the open trap door. Once Theo and Saphire exited the stairs after her, Calea used her paw to lift the door up off of the ground and flip it over. The door made a loud boom in the room as it hit the floor and closed itself.
Calea led them once more toward the door on the other side of the room. Last night she hadn't really gotten a good look at the door, and the darkness in the room didn't help. It was a large wooden door with metal supports running the width of it. The style was very similar to the large double doors at the guild she thought as she watched Calea walk close to it. There was a metal rod of some kind on the left side of the door that looked almost like an ‘L' shaped handle. She placed her covered paw on the lever and pulled down on it. The sound of lots of metal shifting could be heard coming from inside of the wall, and after a moment it stopped.
Theo was the first one through the door though as he rushed to Calea's side and began to push the door open. For how small he still was Theo was sure strong as he pushed the heavy door open with only one arm. The door swung open and revealed a short alleyway that leads out to the street. Saphire could see the citizens of the city milling about, going on with their busy or not so busy lives. Calea walked out in front of them, and Theo followed her out.
Saphire walked out a bit more slowly and stopped just outside of the swing distance for the door. Calea had turned around and faced the door, closing it with her shoulder as the sound of metal moving came from inside of the wall once more. She would then turn and head back towards the street, and Saphire's gaze following her. On the wall, Saphire noticed a torch that didn't have a flame on it, and she wondered what the point of the torch as if it wasn't lit.
Theo didn’t give her much of a chance to ponder about it as he placed his hand on her back. “Hey! Come on! Let’s go and eat!” She smiled at Theo and nodded; letting him lead as they chased after Calea and rounded the corner to the right.
Together the trio made their way through the bustling streets of Great Usarus for quite some time before they found themselves in front of a metal gate. The gate and nearby fence surrounded a rather large flower garden, and at the other side of the garden was a wooden building. Calea walked through the open gate and followed the stone-laden path embedded into the dirt to the wooden structure ahead.
As they walked, Saphire took a look at all the flowers. They were in quite the array of colors ranging from the brightest red to the darkest purple and everything else in between. The structure of the garden had a circle of flowers centered in the middle with four triangles with their flat edges pointed towards the center. Saphire took the chance to breathe in the scent of the flowers as she walked by. The fragrance of all of the combined plants flooded her nose and made her feel happier while also giving her a sense of serenity.
Theo appeared to be enjoying the scenery too as he was looking at all of the flowers and taking a few sniffs of the air as well. Calea also was looking at the flowers, but her attention seemed to be more focused on the doorway ahead of them. Hanging from the roof that hung past the exterior wall of the building was a sign that read ‘Garden Cafe' in green paint.
As they approached, the doors opened, and a Lopunny was standing in the threshold. It smiled down at them and gave a short bow of its head. "Welcome back, Madam Calea." She greeted the vixen before looking at her two companions. The Lopunny crouched down lower in front of them and started looking between the two children. "And who might these two be?"
“Casidelia. These two are Saphire and Theo.” Calea told her, flicking her tail towards the Eevee and Riolu in turn. “They are the foster children of Johnny and Chanler, and Arias and Liam.”
The Lopunny rubbed the side of Theo's and Saphire's head and stood up. "Well, it's always a pleasure to see such young faces at my cafe!" Casidelia told them with an excited tone. "Come on in, and I'll get you all something to eat!"
Calea touched Saphire and Theo’s shoulders with a tail tip each and lead them in after the Lopunny. Inside was a well-lit room with plenty of tables inside and short stools at all of them. There weren’t many other Pokémon inside at the time, and any who were there were taller Pokémon than she was. It looked apparent that the cafe was most suited to Pokémon who could stand on two legs. Theo and Calea moved over to a table that was near one of the many windows in the room and sat down at a table meant for four. Saphire followed after them and sat at the seat across from Calea with Theo at her right side.
By the time they got situated at their table, Casidelia had approached the table with a notepad made of thin parchment and a feather quill. “What can I get for you?” She asked them.
Calea looked back at the Lopunny and answered. "Toasted berry mix-up. I'll also just take a Cherri-Rawst smoothie."
Casidelia jotted down what Calea ordered and looked on over to them. “Right you two probably don’t know what we serve here so I’ll give you an idea. We specialize in berries from across the world. Any berry you can think of we have.”
Saphire thought about it for a moment before ordering. “Can I have a berry sauce with all of the common berries?” She asked the Lopunny who nodded and looked to Theo.
He seemed to know exactly what he wanted when he spoke. “I’ll have a chopped up berry salad with some Mago berries added in! Oh, and I’ll also have a Mago juice!”
Casidelia nodded and smiled as she wrote down the last of the orders. “Alright. I’ll have our bartender and chef get everything set for you.” The Lopunny turned around and walked towards the bar counter on the other side of the room. Standing behind the counter was a Vaporeon who was spitting water out of his mouth to clean out a cup. She handed looked at her notepad and told him the two drinks that were ordered before moving onto the window that showed a Pignite and told him their food orders.
Now all they had to do was wait, but it seemed like Calea had other plans. “So, Saphire. Johnny told me that your first day at the guild was yesterday.” Calea stated as she looked at her, and Theo’s gaze soon followed to look at Saphire too. “So who is your trainer?”
Saphire looked at them both before centering on Calea. "He's a Ninetales, and his name is Karsel." When she said that, Saphire could swear that she saw Calea's eye twitch at the mention of his name.
“How did your test go? They do that on the first day now, right?” Calea asked her next.
In her chair, Saphire leaned back slightly so that her back was slouched backward. "Well, that is a bit of a long story." She began as her voice trailed off.
* * * * *
“Alright then.” Karsel started, looking between Jack and Saphire. “Time to test your skills in aim and control. So who wants to go first?”
"I'll go first," Jack told him as he stepped away from the wall. The Umbreon stepped forward and towards the range controls with Karsel at his side.
Together they began to talk to each other while Saphire's own curiosity made her eyes travel in different directions. In her own distraction, she hardly realized that she could see a flash of cream and pink out of the corner of her vision. Although just as she turned her head and gaze to look at it, there was nothing there. “There is definitely someone watching me. I need to tell Chanler about it when I get the chance.”
Suddenly Karsel’s voice broke into her thoughts. “Hey, Saphire. It’s your turn for target practice. Jack already hit the center of each target.” Saphire turned her head to look at the Umbreon who had already moved to sit next to the wall near the stairs once again. She could hardly believe that he hit the center on every target.
Shaking her head, Saphire walked up to the white line that marked where she couldn't pass. If she was going to do as good as Jack, she was going to have to clear her head. "Alright, I'm going to bring up targets in random groups at random distances. You need to hit as many of them as you can and as accurately as you can. You will get a total of twenty-five attacks to hit all twenty targets."
As Karsel explained the rules of the test, Saphire prepared her body to use one of the only long-range attacks she knew. “If I’m going to hit all of them, I need to be doing exactly what Chanler and Johnny taught me.” She shuffled her front paws to the sides until they were just past her shoulders, and then the same with her hind paws. "Paws spread out in a steady stance, back straight, head up," Saphire repeated to herself as she straightened her back out and leveled her head.
She inhaled and exhaled a few times deeply before nodding her head to Karsel. "Your test starts now," Karsel told her as he pressed his paw on a plate in front of her and depressed it. After a few moments, there were two metal clicks, and a pair of targets popped up on poles. They were rather large targets standing at least sixty feet away from her. Already Saphire was beginning to have doubts about the test as she has never tried to hit something that far away. “Do your best.”
Saphire looked over to him with an unsure expression. “Mister Karsel. I don’t know about this.” She admitted with a stutter. “Those things are really far away.”
Karsel only shook his head and smiled at her. “Don’t worry about it, Saphire. This test is just to evaluate where you are in your attack training.”
With Karsel telling her that, Saphire relaxed a little bit and nodded her head in understanding. She looked back at the targets and readied her body once again while opening her mouth. Slowly a black and gray sphere began to form in front of her maw. The very center of it was pitch black while the outer layer of the attack was a mix of rapidly spinning black and gray energy. It was a moderately sized ball, and as Saphire shot it forward, it was obvious the size was going to be a problem.
The Shadow Ball shot forward with little speed, and as it reached the fifteen-foot mark, the sphere began to dissipate. By the time it hit the twenty-five-foot mark the attack was gone completely. Saphire stared in disbelief that the move had disappeared right before her eyes. "What happened?" She asked aloud with a stutter in her voice.
Karsel looked out at the range for a moment before speaking. "Your attack isn't strong enough yet. You won't be able to hit that target until you get stronger." As Saphire listened to him, there was no sympathy in his voice, and the gravity of her situation weighed down heavily on her. "If you can't increase the range of your attacks you won't make it very far in this guild."
Even more so than before Saphire was feeling a sense of dread. “So if I can’t get better, I won’t be able to stay in the guild?” Jack said nothing as he left to head back up the stairs as he was clearly done hanging around them. Karsel touched one of his tail tips to Saphire’s back.
“Come on, Saphire. It’s about time we continue on with the tour.” He told her as he began to walk towards the stairs with Jack. Saphire hung her head and turned slowly to follow after him to go back to the gathering hall above them.
* * * * *
Saphire took the last mouthful of her berry sauce and swallowed it as she finished explaining what happened during the test. Theo looked a bit sympathetic after hearing that, but Calea only looked her straight on without emotion. "I see," Calea mumbled under her breath. "I can understand where he was coming from, but still that is a bit harsh to say to a kid who's still learning."
It didn’t matter how much Saphire tried to wrap it up; Karsel’s words still stung in her heart even if her mind knew that what he said was true. Theo smiled at Saphire and set his hand on her paw and shook it a little bit. “You’ll get better in no time, Saphire! I know you can do it!”
When Theo gave Saphire some words of encouragement, it lifted her spirits a bit, and she smiled at him. "Thank you, Theo. I needed that." He gave a bit of a wider grin back to her as he picked up his cup of Mago juice and gulped the rest of it down quickly.
"Alright, kids. Get ready to head back. I have work to do at home." Calea told them as she finished her own bowl of food and stepped off of her stool. She began to walk towards the door and waved her tail at Casidelia. "See you later, Casidelia. You can put this on my tab."
“Will do, Madam Calea. Have a nice day!” The Lopunny told Calea as she left the cafe. Theo waved to Casidelia as he followed after the Vulpix at a run. Saphire followed a bit more slowly and waved at Casidelia with her tail. “Goodbye Saphire!”
“Goodbye Miss Casidelia!” Saphire told her as she too walked out the door and followed Calea back to her house.