Somehow, Accelgor dragged me out to town earlier today, through several brick and wooden buildings, and instead of her handling the bulk of our supply run, here I was, carrying bags of vials, potions, books, blades, powders, and ropes. My knees buckled as I heaved the load over my back.
"Thank you so very much, Greninja, dear!" Accelgor patted my side sweetly, but it nearly made me drop the whole set right on top of her. "Escavalier just finished with training a short while ago, so I'll be meeting him in a bit. Can you manage the rest on your own?"
"S-Sure, I've got it," I assured her, though failed to convince myself of anything.
"You're the best!" she thanked again, and happily wandered off into the town.
All she had to mention was that her husband wanted to take her out to dinner and I was an instant sucker for finishing the shopping trip. But then she had to pile it on, how they hadn't been together in years, how she's waited so long to see him again, if he remembered her favorite dish, that their anniversary was coming up, the king was holding a ball later this year, gush, gush, blah, romantics, swoon, blah, gush.
The bag slipped toward the right and I hobbled around to balance it back into place. My arms felt a huge weight and I didn't even want to estimate how much these bags ran for. It even rested heavily against my tongue and just behind my head!
Slowly, I tried to lift a foot up, but felt the whole load slide away again. Again, I bounced around and tried to keep it balanced, but it wouldn't stay put this time.
My eyes darted about, but it was late, and most townsfolk were either home or out to eat. I just happened to stop at the quietest part of this town.
With a shudder from my legs, I stumbled over to a wall and hoped that it could help me get everything up again. And then, abruptly, my back felt weightless as I crashed into the wall.
I felt around and realized that the sack of bags was pried right off from me. My eyes snapped open and I panicked as I scrambled up the wall. "All right, who—?!"
"Easy there," came a hearty laugh. I blinked and turned to find a dark blue sea lion with the sack in his hands, like it barely weighed a thing. "You seemed like you needed help."
"I…w-well, yes," I felt my face burn as my hand slid behind my head. "T-Thanks."
"My pleasure." Of course, it's fun to emasculate another guy…cool it, he's just being helpful. "You're from the castle, right?"
With a step forward, I straightened up and looked at him. "Yes, how did you know?"
"We just got two new ninjas there, and I take it you're one of them," he chuckled. "Name's Samurott."
"Ah…Greninja," I lifted my arm to shake hands with him, but then dropped it. He was still holding the bags as he shuffled forward a bit.
"Greninja the ninja, cute," he laughed. "You know, this feels like a lot for you to handle." Why he…! "You can't weigh more than one hundred pounds or forty kilos yourself."
"And what, you're well over that?" I snapped.
"Yes, actually," he spoke plainly, like it was matter of fact. "This isn't something you should kill yourself over. Why didn't you ask for help before you left the castle?"
"I had help, but…" Oh, what was I going to say? My partner abandoned me to go on a date with her husband? Have someone chastise the two later? "She was…tired and I, uh, offered to carry it on my own."
He stared blankly at me. "This is your fellow ninja with her husband around, right?"
"Um…yes…" I confessed. Was I that easy of a read? We'd be dead if this was a more hostile situation.
"No wonder," he laughed again. "She probably looked up and figured you could handle it based on size alone!"
"Not exactly…" Actually, she did just that.
"Bah, no need to lie to me," he insisted. "The two of you remind me of home."
That comment made me stop and I took another look at him. He had metal clad armor, with plates piled held together with fine strands of silk straps. Sheathed were a pair of swords along his arms. His helmet, a sturdy shell, reminded me of…
"Are you a samurai?" I asked.
"Took you long enough," he laughed.
"Sorry, I just…it's been a long day and I—"
"Don't worry about it!" he winked. "Just leave these to me, all right?"
"But I feel…well…"
"What? Like it's a burden? It's no trouble, honest," he persisted. "It's just a pleasure to be around a new face that those two mages."
"Delphox and Gardevoir?"
"Oh, so you've already meant the terrors," he murmured. "Well, better to get it out of the way sooner than later, I suppose."
Terrors? "I know they bicker, but doesn't that seem a little harsh?"
An explosion sounded from a shop around the corner and Samurott winced. "Sorry. You were so close to not dealing with them."
My head turned as I gave Samurott a puzzled look. From around the corner, both Gardevoir and Delphox appeared, with black ashes and soot over the former, and pink and glittering dust over the latter.
"Ha! Told you I'd win," laughed the ever-energetic Gardevoir.
"You didn't win a thing!" snapped the surly Delphox. "I had all eyes on me, and then you had to go big and dazzle—"
"Easy, Lady Delphox," soothed Samurott.
"WHO ARE YOU CALLING A LADY?!" thundered Delphox.
"A…Ah…s-sorry," Samurott's face went red and he backed up. "Might I say that you look quite, uh, ravishing, for a ma…mage?"
Delphox growled. "Right, that's exactly what you were thinking, I'm sure." He poked Samurott's stomach with his wand. "You louts make me sick with your lack of regard for differences in Pokemon's appearances. Not everything is black and white…or don't you know that?"
"L-Listen, I'm not—"
"Oh, Samurott," chimed in Gardevoir as she lifted a sack up. "You did rush off in quite the hurry from the store. I thought Earl Gallade requested you help us with our shopping. You know Delphox has a delicate figure, don't you?" Delphox snarled at the last bit, but held his tongue otherwise.
"Ah, o-of course," Samurott clawed at the back of his neck. "So sorry, I just—"
"Hey!" shouted a voice. "You two lady spell casters!"
"I'M NOT A LADY!" shrieked Delphox.
"Oh, it's Mr. Mime, our lovely shopkeeper," huffed Gardevoir as the Pokemon in question rounded the corner, alongside a red and blue oni pair in fighting robes. "Cute apron, by the way. I forgot to mention that earlier."
"You two didn't…" groaned Samurott.
"Did what?" I whispered to him, confused at the increasingly hostile shopkeeper.
"These two mages made a mess of my shop!" snapped Mr. Mime. "And they did so on purpose!"
A giggle sounded from Gardevoir. "Come now, that would mean the shop wasn't a black market pile of filth in the first place."
"Sawk! Throh!" Mr. Mime turned to his companions. "I believe these brats are in need of a lesson."
"Someone's in need of a lesson, that's certain," laughed Gardevoir. "Delphox, ready dear?"
Delphox let out a laugh. "This won't last long."
My leg slid forward as I readied myself into a fighting stance, but Samurott nudged me back.
"They can handle it," he murmured.
Their opponents rushed forward, with the Throh raising its arms to grab onto them and Sawk firing out two kicks.
Delphox and Gardevor leapt back, with Delphox murmuring an incantation over the wand.
"No need for Lucky Chants, Delphox," called Gardevoir as her eyes lit up.
Sawk jumped back, but a light blue aura encased Throh, who was hoisted into the air.
"Never send a fighter to mess with a Psychic mage," laughed Gardevoir as she punched a fist into the air.
In response, Throh soared through and went off into the distance. Sawk jumped forward again, to which Gardevoir spun around and away from him.
"Full moon tonight, Gardevoir," called Delphox.
Gardevoir giggled as her eyes began to glow again. A pink aura wrapped around her and she channeled a small ball of light in between her arms.
Quickly, Gardevoir launched a blast out at Sawk, who had tried to run, but was struck by the ball instead.
He rocketed off in the opposite direction of Throh and sailed off into the night as well. Gardevoir bowed to his departure.
"You miserable…!" was all that Mr. Mime let out as he lifted his hands. A mult-colored beam fired out from them and went flying toward Gardevoir.
Delphox intervened, and created a bright wall before himself to block the attack.
"Wonderful Light Screen, dear," complimented Gardevoir. "You ok?"
"That was nothing," chuckled Delphox as he shook his hands. "This, you'll enjoy."
He lifted his rod and a red and purple fireball swirled around the tip. The same colored flames burst from the ground and burned across Mr. Mime.
"YAAAH!" screamed the shopkeeper as he raced off across the streets and out of our sight.
"Bye now! Next time, use your rotten money to just fix the shop," Gardevoir called to him, and shared a laugh with Delphox right after.
Samurott shook his head. "If you two deal with illicit activity, you should report it to a town guard. Just because we work at the castle doesn't mean we can take the law into our hands."
"Oh please," huffed Delphox. "You should have seen the dark arts scrolls he had in that shop. And he left in the middle of a transaction to go around back and make a shifty deal."
"The funny part was him thinking that we wouldn't notice or care," added Gardevoir.
"We still have a place," insisted Samurott, "and it's not—"
"Oh, protecting the Pokemon of the town?" piped up Delphox. "Or, how about the whole kingdom? If they can't look to us to keep these places safe, who will?"
Samurott dug his left foot against the ground. "W-Well…"
"Forget it, Samurott," Gardevoir waved him off. "We're right and you know it." She then glided over to me and scooped up my hands. "And you, Greninja, darling! How very brave of you, noble even, to get ready to assist us!"
"Wait, you noticed that?" I questioned.
"There was a slight skid to your foot," explained Delphox. "The streets here are a little louder than you're used to, I'd imagine. We heard the movement perfectly." He brushed off his rod and looked to me with a smile. "You'll get used to it quickly."
Sheepishly, I nodded; nothing good can come from a ninja that isn't stealthy.
And yet, Gardevoir bounced around, still holding onto my arms. "See Samurott? The proper action is to assist a lady and her company when they're in trouble."
Samurott shrugged. "You had it handled."
Gardevoir dropped my arms and shook her hand at Samurott. "Tut-tut, and what would Earl Gallade think of such a comment?"
"That I'm allowing his lady to handle herself in a dangerous situation, rather than coddling her defensively and possibly appear possessive of her before the Earl?" challenged Samurott.
"Hmm," pondered Gardevoir. "Interesting take, but still lacking in the chivalrous department, sir."
"Forgive me, then, lady," bowed a sarcastic Samurott, almost tipping the bag of items out onto Gardevoir. "I was most assured that your…delicate Delphox had you covered."
"Ooh, don't you test me," grumbled Delphox.
"What say you?" Samurott contested. "My sword against your rod?"
Gardevoir burst out with laughter while I coughed to hide mine. Delphox rolled his eyes as Samurott shook his head.
"My, how crude of a lady," scorned Samurott.
"Oh hush," Gardevoir breathed in. "That was simply too perfect, and you know it."
"I think you need to get home to your Earl…" mumbled Delpox.
She folded her arms and turned her head. "You fools need to lighten up," Gardevoir chastised. "Wouldn't you agree, Greninja?"
"Oh, well, I…" I stammered out and turned my attention across the street. As if it were planned, there was Chesnaught, strolling past us. He was in such a hurry that he didn't notice us.
"Ah! One of the knights!" exclaimed Gardevoir. She rushed forward a bit and waved. "Hey! You there!" We walked over to where she stood, as Chesnaught disappeared around a corner. Gardevoir rested a hand on her hip and puffed out her cheek. "Ugh. He didn't even glance back. I swear chivalry is already dead."
"You just lack poise and grace to garner a male's attention," teased Delphox, to which Gardevoir snatched his stick and whacked him over the head with it.
"Where could he be off to?" I wondered aloud.
"Why don't we follow him?" suggested Gardevoir. "Ooh, yes! Let's do just that!"
Before I could get the argument out of my throat, she dragged me along through the streets, and we charged after Chesnaught. Delphox and Samurott ran behind us by a bit of a distance.
"So," Gardevoir whispered as we barreled through the streets, "you had your eyes locked nice and tight on that knight."
"H-Huh?" came my startled cry.
She slammed me against a wall and used a telekinetic hand wave to force the others to follow her lead.
"Not so loud," quietly cautioned Gardevoir, and she peered around the wall. "Ok, he's still a bit of distance ahead. Come!"
And she pulled our party back out into the streets and after Chesnaught. We followed him to the edge of town, where he slowed to a stop near a garden in front of a dimly lit green and brown house.
He lifted his head and slightly turned back, to which I grabbed Gardevoir and shoved her into the shadows of the nearest building. She telekinetically pulled Delphox and Samurott right along.
"Will you cut that out?!" hissed Delphox.
Chesnaught focused his attention to our direction, but merely shrugged and walked up the house's steps. He knocked on the door.
A plant-like creature with a large red flower on its head opened the door. "Chesnaught!" she cheered and wrapped her leafy hands around him. "I've missed you! Come on in, please!"
"Thank you, Lady Lilligant," he grinned, showed her a red flower to elicit another cheer, and followed her inside.
My heart sank and a pang hit my stomach. Of course he had a lady. Slowly, my hands slipped off of Gardevoir's and I slid down against the building.
"You all right, Greninja?" asked Samurott.
"Yes," I forced out. "Just…glad we weren't caught right there."
"What were we following him for anyway?" demanded Delphox.
Gardevoir sank down beside me and watched me for a moment. "Well, I don't know about any of you, but I was curious," she huffed and folded her arms together.
"Surprise, surprise, a knight has a girlfriend," mocked Delphox. "I wonder if he'll actually keep her or move on to another one soon."
"Hey, we're not all that bad," chimed in Samurott.
"Right, there's the king and his…" Delphox trailed off for a moment and picked back up. "Well, besides them, the Earl is rather set on Gardevoir, that's no secret. And magically, Escavalier is still happily married." He paused again and studied Samurott a bit. "Come to think of it, I haven't seen you out hustling for a date."
"W-Well, I'm picky," insisted Samurott as he and Delpox began to walk off, back to the castle. Gardevoir pushed off from the ground and offered a hand.
I hesitated for a moment before I took it and she helped me up. "Thank you."
She nodded. "Sorry about…well, him." Gardevoir jabbed her thumb to the house. "You, um, seemed like—"
"It was nothing," I asserted. "He just piqued my curiosity."
We trudged off after the others, and judging by the glances she gave me, I felt that I hadn't convinced her of such.
Lilligant potted the red geranium and set it aside with the other flowers of the same breed. She clapped her leafy hands together and admired the planets.
"Another set completed!" she cheered. "Thank you so much, Chesnaught! Did you know they symbolize friendship?"
"Yep, you've told me," I laughed, which slowly died into a sigh. Lilligant turned and gave me a worried look.
"Is everything all right?" she inquired.
"I…I don't know," I admitted. "There are these ninjas that joined the army at the castle, and, well…they've been on my mind a lot, lately."
"They," repeated Lilligant, and specifically isolated that word.
We held a long stare for a minute and I let out a heavier sigh.
"Ok, one of them," I realized. "He's…I don't know how to put it, really."
"Captivating?" suggested Lilligant and I jumped.
"Ah…I don't know about that…" I forced out.
She studied me a bit and shrugged. "If you insist. But if I were you, I'd try talking to him or something. Maybe you can be…friends."
"You're more bold than I am," I laughed.
Lilligant strolled about and tapped on a potted blue flowers, which looked like they had yet to bloom.
"Do you want to stay for a bit?" she asked. "I feel like something's coming up with your army and I don't want to have you disappear for a few months before we catch up again."
I nodded. "Sure, I think I can spend a little time here."
We walked over to a table and sat down as she chattered about town news and listened as I discussed what the knights had been up to.
Two hours later into the starry morning, I rushed out and scurried back to the castle as she bid me farewell from her porch.