From Everland to Reborn ~ Episode 65
I stared at the direction of the thudding sound, and soon the bathroom door opened. With an amount of steam that made me wonder if someone had been cooking themselves in there, came out a figure dressed in a white bathrobe. No, it was not the dead man. It was someone much, much worse. The worst possible scenario, right in front of my eyes.
“Oh. My. Goodness. Look who’s here! You appear now when I just took a relaxing shower, and totally evaded me while I looked for you months on end?”
Jasmin, looking dramatically different from how she looks with a face full of make-up, was now standing just a couple of meters from me.
“I didn’t think I’d find you here,” I said.
“Of course not. But isn’t it obvious that I’d come here, to the last place my boyfriend-” she paused and grinned widely, almost as if she were imitating Cheshire. “I mean, your boyfriend, was known to inhabit before he mysteriously disappeared?”
I knew she was only saying this to upset me; she had always been this sort of person. Yet, she was managing to do just that, and it took every inch of my concentration not to show it outwardly.
She stared at my eyes, perhaps searching for proof that I was distressed. After an unnatural pause, she stroked her long wet hair and asked: “Now, you wouldn’t know what happened to him, would you?”
I forced myself to keep a straight face, but I don’t know if I succeeded. Turns out tensing facial muscles on command might not be the best way to look unfazed. In any case, my effort wasn’t enough to fool one with a keen sixth sense, a product of a purist lineage of police officers and commanders.
“You don’t have to tell me, if you don’t want to,” she waved her hands. “Now that I’ve found you, I care not if Aladdin comes back or not. Our duty was to bring you back to Everland for a proper trial, and if he doesn’t come back with us, that’d just be more credit to me.”
“You’re sickening. Don’t think you’ll catch me just because you found me,” I said, and reached to one of my pokeballs.
However, just as I’d grasped one, a purple ribbon wrapped around my wrist and pulled my arm, making me drop the pokeball to the floor. I looked back at Jasmin, and widened my eyes in disbelief.
The purple ribbon that had caught my wrist was nothing other than the ribbon tied to Jasmin’s hair.
“Having my secret revealed to my enemy isn’t very elegant of me, is it?”
The other end of Jasmin’s ribbon moved in almost invisible speed and wrapped around my other wrist. I tugged with all my strength, but neither side would let go or rip. Instead, it wrapped around even tighter, which I thought would end up severing my hands.
“I like hearing you scream in pain. It feels rewarding when punishment befalls criminals, you know?”
Since she said that, I clenched my teeth so that I wouldn’t give her the pleasure. She noticed, and grinned even wider than before.
“Now, behave. If you don’t resist me, I won’t have to tighten my ribbon around you so strongly.”
She pulled my arms with force, and that momentum made me fall forward onto my knees.
I didn’t want it to end there. I still had to fight alongside the people I cared about. I still needed to return to Everland and overthrow the Queen.
I wouldn’t be able to do either of those things from jail, or worse, from death.
Right at that moment, Pikachu, who had been hiding behind me the whole time, leaped forward using my back as a springboard. It was like that time, when he had jumped towards Solaris’ large blue dragon in order to save my neck. However, this time was different. Pikachu used the move Astonish on Jasmin, and instead of Pikachu, she crumbled to the floor. The ribbons on my arms loosened for a moment, and that was enough for me to pull my arms away. I called Pikachu to run, and we ran with the fastest speed we could toward the room’s doorway and then the building’s exit. I could hear Jasmin’s angry shouts following me, and perhaps her ribbons might have actually caught my hair a couple of times, had it not been for Pikachu who slapped the ribbons away with his ghastly arms.
Running outside of the apartment complex was going to be a problem, however, because of the perpetual snow on Ametrine City’s ground. Fortunately, that turned out to be an advantage I could exploit against Jasmin, who was still wearing her bathrobe and slippers. She tried following me for a couple of meters, but then withdrew to the building because she could not handle the cold on her almost-bare feet. I turned around briefly to confirm that she was standing at the building’s entrance, with a glare that told me the next time we met would not be a clean meeting.
Now, I had to quickly decide where I would head to, before Jasmin could change her clothes and come looking for me again. My drive to find out about Aladdin’s thought process was at an all-time low now, given that he had evidently planned a trap that extended well beyond his last breath. However, I also didn’t want to go back to the circus, without having accomplished anything here in Ametrine.
My head throbbed as I considered my options, and tried to choose the best option that increased my chances of escaping unharmed from Jasmin. My instinct was to just run through Ametrine Mountain full speed, but given my lack of judgment on several occasions, I wasn’t too sure that was the correct answer. Exiting Ametrine through the mountain’s interior was the most predictable route. Even the idiots of Team Meteor knew that, and placed the PULSE Avalugg to block that passage.
Was there another path to leave Ametrine City? I glanced behind.
No, but I could make one.
I ran over to the edge of the cliff that had one large protruding rock. This had been the place Aladdin and I battled, and the rock the one that I deposited my entire life onto while we swung from my bubblegum dress. It was also the place where Aladdin had fallen God knows how many meters to his demise.
“Pikachu, I saw you parachuting Shelly to safety once, when we were crossing the bridges to get to Calcenon City,” I said. “What do you say? Want to try taking another leap of faith?”
Pikachu looked at me, then took a sneak peak at the bottom of the cliff, and jumped backward. Then he restlessly moved back and forth, perhaps trying to think of an alternative that didn’t result in our deaths. However, he must know that I already considered my options, and at least this path had some chance of survival, compared to the other one that was absolutely nil after angering Jasmin thus. Once Pikachu calmed down, he began stretching his disguise, which gave me another idea. After all, he wasn’t the only one with stretchy clothing.
After 5 minutes of intensive work, we were left with two parachute-size clothes, which I combined together using the last two magical stones on my bubblegum dress. Now, we were ready to try out the life-or-death maneuver. I must say that, even though I had high hopes for this to work, it wasn’t easy taking that step down to the abyss, when I couldn’t guarantee my or Pikachu’s safety to the 100%.
“Ready, Pikachu?” I said, trying to control the trembling of my hands. “Let’s do it.”
We jumped off at the same time. The parachute worked in the sense that it didn’t just make us fall at 9.8 m/s^2, but given that the two sticky stones that held them together only did so in two spots, air still could pass between the sheets and we fell at a faster rate than anticipated. Pikachu noticed, and used one of his long arms to hold the two cloths’ gap, but still, the parachute wasn’t perfect. The other thing was controlling the landing spot; due to the air current, we did not fall in a straight line but instead in all directions, and I did my best to avoid plunging into the cliffside by kicking it when we got too close.
In the end, we fell into part of the forest, not too far from the cliff. The landing was catastrophic because the tree branch I stepped on broke under our and the parachute’s weight and so we fell and got scratched all over with tree branches. Luckily, we didn’t hit the ground because the parachute got entangled in the branches and held us like a bouncy hammock.
I cut through my dress to escape the bubblegum mess, and Pikachu also shrunk(?!) his disguise to normal size. The scratches hurt but I had suffered worse injuries in the past. Some sprays of Full Heal should do it for now.
We walked through the forest, half-looking for the path to access either Agate Circus or Calcenon from the bottom of Ametrine Mountain, and half-looking for Aladdin’s corpse. That was all I could do in the present moment, for I didn’t know when Jasmin would be leaving the infamous apartment, where perhaps I could gather the information that, I had to admit, I was desperate to obtain.
However, I could not find the corpse, perhaps owing to the layered snow.
I was about to give up my search and focus on just leaving Ametrine all together, when I heard the sound of a branch break near me. The sound made my heart jump and instantly increased my heart rate by three fold. I thought that somehow against all odds, Jasmin had found out that I jumped off a cliff, and was now proximal to me; however, I was, to my relief, wrong. The person who approached me was not someone I knew. She appeared to be walking her dog, a large stoutland.
“Is someone there?” she asked.
I remained silent, because I didn’t care to chat with a stranger.
She continued walking, the dog guiding her towards me. Even when she was within a 5 metre radius of me, though, she repeated herself louder.
“Is someone there?” Then she added, “Sorry, I’m blind. I am looking for someone, and I thought you might be them.”
Only when she said this, it dawned on me that her eyes were out of focus.
“Yes, I am here, but I’m likely not the one you’re looking for.”
“Oh, let’s see. You don’t happen to be Vanilla, or know someone named Vanilla, would you?”
The question caught me off-guard, and I couldn’t reply straight away. How would she know who I was? Was she a member of the Everland Police looking for me like Aladdin and Jasmin? It was improbable. They wouldn’t hire a blind person precisely to look for me, would they?
“Why are you looking for her?” I said, still precautious.
“About a week ago, Mocha here found an articuno and a boy lying on the snow,” she said, patting her stoutland. “Both were cold but still breathing, so my dad and brother helped me to carry them to our house.”
“Aladdin!” I exclaimed but I checked my tone. “So he survived the fall. Roaches always refuse to die.”
“Dunno about roaches, but dad said he probably fell from Ametrine Mountain and his articuno tried to save him. It’s not often, thankfully, but we’ve found dead peeps around these parts before. I wish they wouldn’t choose Ametrine Mountain for sucide spot, or more like, I wish they didn’t choose suicide at all!”
“Aladdin didn’t commit suicide, although he might as well have.”
I don’t know why I said that. The girl looked at me funnily, though her eyes were not looking in my direction at all.
“You seem to know this guy an awful lot better than I expected,” she said. “I think I’ll have to add to my previous statement that I wish angry girlfriends wouldn’t push their boyfriends off cliffs to solve their conflicts!”
I flinched, but this was not the moment to flinch.
“That’s not at all how it happened. But again, why should I explain things to a stranger? Just take me to where he is already.”
“Stranger? Oh, that’s right! I haven’t introduced myself yet,” the girl said, smiling this time. “My name is Hazel, and my stoutland is Mocha. I think Aladdin might be asleep right now, since he still has a fever, but I’m sure he’d be happy to see you if you caught him awake. He’s in a much better shape than we found him in. At least that’s what Arthur says, since, you know, I can’t really see if he’s in a better shape. His fever did feel like it’s gone down a notch, though. Follow us, Vanilla. Our house is nearby.”
“I didn’t say that I’m Vanilla,” I reminded her.
“There wasn’t a need. I knew you were, when you said you were the guy’s girlfriend. Even in his feverish state, he didn’t stop calling for you.”
“I didn’t say I was his girlfriend, either,” I corrected her with slight annoyance. “If he did that, it’s probably because mine was the last face he saw.”
“You didn’t need to say anything. I already know everything. You see, since I don’t have my eyesight, I have a sharp sixth sense instead. You paint yourself as the one who attempted murder on him, but I doubt it. Why would you sound so happy when I said he was still alive? Pretty sure a killer wouldn’t be happy to know their target didn’t get killed after all.”
I tried to correct Hazel’s misunderstandings all throughout the time we walked to her house, but my efforts were futile. What she lacked in both vision and sixth sense, she made up for in her stubbornness.
VANILLA RATES: REBORN(?) CHARACTERS
Yep. Just introduced a new OC out of the blue, and don't ask me why.