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Old 07-16-2012, 04:45 PM   #67
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Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: England
Posts: 603
Originally Posted by Talon87 View Post
The Labyrinth of Koros
Meetan: your little Torchic gathers all the strength in his legs he can possibly muster and pushes off the ground like a popcap, bouncing from the chamber floor on up to one of the footholds about twenty feet above you. Grabbing tightly onto the ledge with his tiny little feet, he perches like a sparrow on a cliffside and looks down, calling out to you encouragingly. It takes quite a bit of energy for him to grab onto the side of the wall like this but he's managing. You approach the face of the wall, look up for the farthest indentation within reach, and place your hands firmly along its basal edge. Then you bend your right leg up and plant the front of your foot firmly inside of the crevice. And then pushing off with all your strength in your right leg and gripping as tightly with your fingers as you can to the algae peppered rung, ...

... you bring your left leg up to meet your right, tucking your left toes into the inlet which before had felt adequately large yet now feels so tiny. Perched like a chimpanzee, your back hunches outwards, threatening to pull you backward and toppling down towards the ground. You can't stay in this position. You have to keep the upward momentum going or else. But this is the most dangerous part of the ascent. Now, while you're being pulled backward and down towards the ground, you have to swing your right arm up to one of the higher "rungs" and dig in with all your might. Then you have to swing your left arm up to meet it. Then , and only then, can you safely extend your legs and right yourself back into a standing position. You focus intensely on the task at hand and just barely manage to grip onto the rung above you with both hands, allowing you to stand yourself up to safety. You're only one rung up the ladder and already you take a break. No one can blame you: this is grueling, exhausting work. And you've got fifty-nine or so more of these to go.

"Torchic Tor!" he cries down to you. Breathing in mouthfuls of air, you crane your neck up to look at your feathery friend. He's still right where you saw him last and he's chirping enthusiastically at you, as if to say "You can do this, Alice!" Craning your neck back to level, you stare off at the right wall of the chamber, not really looking at it, your mind occupied instead entirely with thoughts of the task at hand and Torchic's cheering you on. I can do this, you say to yourself. You know you can. You must. You will.

And repeating the same motions as before -- first the swing of the right leg, then the pushoff and bringing the left leg up to meet it, next the escape from the hunched chimpanzee-like position by extending your right arm to a higher rung, and finally the liberating reach of the left arm which allows you to stand your body erectly and catch another breather -- bit by bit you inch your way up the 20-meter pit. When you get about fifteen feet off the ground, Torchic shakes his butt a little, scrunches down onto his feet, and with a mighty bounce ascends another twenty feet. "Torchic!" he cheaps to you. You grunt a half-smile, half-chuckle. Definitely would have been better to freeze a path over the ice, you keep telling yourself.

The ascent is dangerous, tiring work. The higher you get, the graver the penalty for losing your grip and falling off the ladder. You take an extended break once you reach the carved step where Torchic had been perched moments before. You've lost track of time but feel like you've already been at this for twenty to thirty minutes at least. Your arms are already starting to feel a little sore and achey. Your legs are begging for a chance to stretch into any other position besides the small handful you're able to allow them. As you ready yourself for the next big stretch, you suddenly hear it:


It's a loud, terrible roar, muffled only by the distance over which it has to travel. Owing to the twists and turns of the labyrinth you have no idea how far the stone clearing is from your present location but you hope that whatever just made that noise is at least as far away as, if not farther than, the grassy arena with the four stone statues. There's no time to rest, you realize: you have to press on. Now.

As you continue up the final forty feet, each foot you gain takes more effort than the last. You can feel gravity gently tugging back on you, inviting you to just let go, to relax those tired muscles. But you push the cruel temptress aside and carry on. Right foot up. Right foot puuuuuuuuush, left foot up. Brace self, right arm swiiiiiing, left arm uuuuuuuup, exteeeeeeeeeend. Exhale. Bit by tiring bit, you make your way up. As you near Torchic, once again he shakes his feathery tush, scrunches down on his thin wiry feet, and spriiiiiiings up into the air with another great bounce. He just barely rises up over the ledge of the wall and flits himself over to safety. Disappearing from view momentarily, he then cocks his head back over the edge and calls down to you. This is the final stretch. You've already ascended over forty feet. Just twenty feet more to go. You push on, and on, and on again, until finally ...

It feels so, so good to swing your right arm this time not up towards a pocket into which to stick your fingers, claw-like, and grab on for dear life, but onto the white stone bricks that line the surface edge of the pit wall. You swing your left arm up to meet it and with a great final push from your right quad and a mighty heave from both your arms, you pull yourself upward and ... saaaaaafe! *phew* You throw yourself over onto the bricks, laying down on them with arms and legs outstretched like you're ready to make snow angels. That was truly grueling. It would have been one thing if they had been metal rungs on a ladder like the ones you see in military facilities. It would have been quite another if they had been stairs instead of ladders. But they had to be grooves carved into the face of the wall. What you just accomplished was half going down and up a ladder and half mountain climbing. But you did it, you exhale deeply, contentedly looking up at the swirling pink and gold sky. You made it.


The source of that dreadful noise has gotten closer. You feel like any second now it might round the corner and peek through the opened door with the blue diamond. The pit of your stomach sinks ten feet. You dart your gaze over towards Torchic. Like a cat on edge, he's staring squarely in the direction of the sound of the roaring, his feathers on edge, his muscles tense.

There is an exit ten feet away in the opposite direction of the cliff face you just climbed up. There are tendrils of spider webbing from the Spinaraks' highway seven or eight feet away from you towards the left wall but aside from that there's no sign of any Pokemon here except for Torchic who is breathing somewhat heavily.

What do you do?

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Why she could not just have summoned Swinub to save her this problem, Alice did not know, and every five seconds she contemplated this issue as she climbed the makeshift ladder. She had never before been able to rock climb. Absailing was another thing: she was more than capable of just falling backwards off a cliff, which made this whole endeavor a lot more worrying. There was a small, entertaining comfort through the whole ascent, though: the fact that she had picked the hard option. Her friends always criticised her for being so awkward and a bit dim at times, somehow turning simple tasks into the most complex missions. Ironically, complicated things were simple for her most of the time. It was just how she was.

"Cross the river, you can do it." The girl whisper sung under her breath to herself after one of Torchic's cheers, quoting an idol song she liked. Torchic probably had no idea how helpful he was right now. Adrenaline was pulsing through her veins, certainly, but she was so, so frightened and so, so tired. It seemed like, as painful and utterly morbid as the crash would be, falling would be an easier end-all solution. But he kept her spirits going, and kept reminding her: if anything bad happened, what would become of her Pokemon?


The sound coaxed a gasp from the human, and wide eyed, Alice shot a look up at Torchic, who resembled a Deerling in headlights. That thing was close, and coming. Suddenly, the speed at which the ascent was happening had become faster. All of a sudden, again, the girl was at the top, flopping onto her stomach and heaving. "If I don't lose any weight after this, some creator or manipulator of physics and life in general is going to effing pay." She gasped out, rolling onto her back and looking round. Rest was bad, there wasn't time to get comfortable, but as much stamina as she had, this was a workout.



Alice looked over at her Pokemon, who looked just as alarmed as she did. He was tiring too, like Bagon. If things kept up like this, they would not be able to protect her when the time came, and she was convinced that the beast could not be beaten by her alone. Behind her there was another pathway, and the teenager gathered Torchic into her arms, pressed a comforting kiss to his forehead, and scrambled up.

"Come on, honey. I don't think I need to tell you that we've got to go." With this, she started at a light, but urgent, jog for the road that awaited them. If Swinub was a Mamoswine, or Bagon a Salamence, this would have been so much easier than on foot!

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