Chapter Twenty One – Reinforcement.
Torok flew though the air. The day was wonderful. The sky was clear and crisp. Birds sang to wake up the word. The sun crept up into the sky, as if it were unsure if it was time, or perhaps just lackadaisical
about its job.
His scales hurt and did not slide smoothly as he moved, but that was okay. As he drew near to his destination they grew more cooperative. His joints were stiff and did not bend easily, but that was okay. As he drew near to his destination, they became loose and pliant. His muscles were tight and knotted, but that was okay. As he drew near to his destination, they relaxed and untied themselves.
Torok landed. Technically, the area he was in was known as Route 10. It served as a path between Cerulean City and Lavender Town. There was a massive tunnel carved through the rock that served as most of the route. Trainers loved to fight and explore the deep cave. It was also home to several species of rock Pokémon.
It was also remote. Torok did not land at the entrance to the Rock Tunnel. He landed on top of it. The mountain had any number of caves in its sides. Some were shallow and small, while others were deeper. Once such cave was his. He had spent enough time there that his scent, which was akin to slowly roasted cedar, now lingered there as a nearly permanent feature. It did well to deter any wildlife from entering.
The interior was spacious enough to fit him. It was smooth and dry, both due to its natural formation as well as steady effort on Torok’s part to adapt it to serve his needs. It was remote. It was close to an hours hours flight from Saffron City, and four times that if one were to walk. Torok saved time off the trip by flying over the rock faces that encased Lavender town, as opposed to flying through it. A part of him hated Lavender Town. Another part of him longed for it.
At the back of the cave was the reasons for his trip. A heavy strongbox sat with its back against the wall. A large lock with a large dial held it shut. He had it made for him, using Saji’s method of flattering rather than threatening. The box was black and hardened. IT did not bare his family sigil or any other identifying markings. Torok had made sure that it was unadorned and functional. IT was decorative in minimalist way. It was functional. It was strong.
A six number combination gained him access. Inside was the remainder of the Ghoul’s Dust, as well as measuring tools and a metal bowl. It had become routine. One gram exactly, no more and no less. The dust was placed into the bowl. The bowl in turn was placed on the floor, and the box was closed to protect its contents from accidental ignition. Torok pressed his tongue to the back of his mouth. Turpentine drooled out of his mouth and into the bowl. It was a wonderful smell. It was a wonderful taste. The dust was slowly subsumed into the glob of turpentine. While this happened, the bag around Torok’s back was set down. Soon the Double Bass was set up on its stand The acoustics were wonderful. The cave was far from Saffron City. It was far from the Saffron Institute of the Mind. It was far from Saji.
Torok clicked his tongue off the roof of his mouth. A small ball fo fire spat out of his mouth and landed in the bowl. There was a flash, and the smoke billowed upwards. Torok breathed in deeply. The guitar started to play. Fate started to laugh.
Torok’s soul flew over Lavender town, freed from his mortal body. Fate would insist that the Pokémon tower was their first stop. There were a great number of restless spirits in the tower. The souls of newly deceased Pokémon. They did not understand what had happened to them, or what was going to happen next. With Fate’s guidance, Torok brought them understanding. There was to faces to the afterlife of a Pokémon. The first was true death and rebirth. The spirit would accept that their life was over. Their soul would return to the well of all souls, to be absorbed into the life force that fuels all life. The soul would cease to exist as an individual and be absorbed back into the whole. Then, when the time came, new souls would be drawn from the well and places into eggs, giving birth to new Pokémon. This was the cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth. Seeing it with his own mind, Torok found he no longer feared his own death, or its inevitability. Fate had promised that when Torok’s death came Fate would be there to guide him.
But there was a second option. Some souls refused to accept death. No matter how many times they were told, or how much they were shown, they refused to accept that they were dead. This led to a second option. This lead to a second fate. Souls that did not return to the well would eventually break down. That is why Pokémon had to die in the first place. The body as well as the soul wore out and broke. When the soul can not exist any longer is becomes something else. It becomes a ghost. It becomes a Ghastly. Torok tended to the restless spirits. He comforted the old, reassured the young, and played with the children. He loved this. He didn’t know exactly why but he loved it. Fate loved it.
There were times when he was unable to help them. He met a marowak that refused to move on. She knew she was dead and had accepted it, so she wouldn’t be reborn as a ghastly. However, she would not leave to the afterlife. One day, Torok watched as a kid, One of Professor Oak’s Dexters, brought a cuebone to the tower. After seeing her child was safe, she was able to move on. Torok found himself wanting to try and find his sister again. Was she still clinging to unlife? Was she back at Cinnabar Island? Torok wanted to go there. He wanted to search for her and make sure that she was at peace. Fate however, advised against it. He would not let Torok stray too far from his physical form. He would not let Torok die in order to make sure that Kin’iro was truly dead.
Eventually it was time to leave. The clerics and seers that maintained the tower would find him eventually, and try to drive him away. The second place that Torok visits is Cerulean City. He wants to visit Saffron, but he knows he can’t. He wants to watch Mance go about his day, but he can’t. He wants to watch the twins and make sure they are safe, but he can’t. He wants to watch Noctua chase after Saji, but he can’t. Saji will see him. She will know him. She will know what he is doing… She will stop him.
Torok floats gleefully over Cerulean City. He sees everyone. He feels them. He feels their lives and their hopes and their dreams and their fears and their desires and everything and everything. It is wonderful. It is so liberating. Fate Laughs.
There, a child is walking. She has a Pokéball with a Goldeen in it. She is going to let him out to swim with her in the river. Across town, a baker is opening his shop. The morning work is done and fresh bread and pastries are ready for the breakfast crowd. Business is doing well. He will be able to afford the vacation he is planning. At the local hotel, a trainer is waking up. He lost to the gym leader yesterday evening. He will go home today and train even harder. At the Pokémon Center, an orderly is cleaning a room. He saw a strange Pokémon yesterday. It was lizard-like and wore baggy pants. He will look it up in the medical archive during lunch, to see what it is. Over near a bridge is a group of cyclists. They call them-
Torok twists in the air and refocuses. He pours into the mind of the orderly, causing him some discomfort in the process. The image was clear. An orange lizard with a black belly. A red crest sits on his head and a single red scale appears on his tail. Loose fitting skin hangs around his waist, which he wears like pants. A Scrafty. A Scrafty in Kanto. A Scrafty.
Torok falls backwards, knocking over the double base. It tumbles to the ground and the music stops. Like waking from a dream, his head if clouded. The smoke has almost dissipated. Fate laughs, and returns to Torok’s shadow. His familiar weight presses down on the Charizard’s back. Torok stands. He picks up the double bass and begins to pack it away. He has places to go. He has to go to Cerulean City. Lacerta is there. Lacerta is alive. Lacerta is alive and is somewhere in Cerulean City.