Evan groaned as he went to remove the kunai from the edge of the target board. He had to admit he found it a bit odd that Samuel just happened to have it stored away. Evan could understand him making one and giving to a dojo for training purposes, but it didn't make sense for him to just keep it.
Not that it really mattered now, as Evan had been using it over the past few weeks to practice with the kunai. Wrapping his claws around the weapon, he yanked it out with a grunt. He frowned as he examined his grip on the object. This was about as close as he could get to making a fist. Anything more and he would be stabbing himself with his claws. It was going to take some time, but he was hoping to have a pair of gloves made so that he could carry the kunai in one of them. With his wrist movement being somewhat limited, he figured he could carry it on the inside of his arm with little to no risk of damaging the glove or cutting himself. Then he could flick it out with his thumb and fling it when needed. The whole concept seemed like a good idea in his head, but it was going to take some practical application to know for certain.
“Still trying to work out the kinks?”
Evan turned to find his partner, Kate, approaching him. The Sneasel was wearing her matching yellow and red bracelets, and seemed to be in a cheery mood. Evan nodded in reply to her inquiry. “Yeah. I think I've got it mostly figured out, though. Anyways, any news on the expedition?”
Kate sighed. “You're really eager for that to get started, aren't you?”
Evan twirled the kunai in his claws. “Of course I am! I mean, how long has it been since we found the dungeon entrance? A few weeks?” He looked back at Kate, who had a nervous expression on her face. “They're still making preparations, aren't they?”
Kate nodded. “Yep, still getting ready.”
Catching the end of the kunai with his thumb, Evan flung it at the target. He grumbled as it once again hit the edge. Kate watched as he went to retrieve it. “You know, I think you're getting a bit too antsy about this.”
Evan sighed. “Well, it has been a while now. You'd think they'd be ready by now.”
“True, but I think we both know by now that there's more to being in the guild than exploring.”
“That doesn't change the fact that we're still waiting.”
Kate held up a slip of paper. “Well, maybe this will help take your mind off of it.”
Evan glanced at the paper. “A festival? Now?”
Kate nodded. “Apparently the Hunters are holding it in honor of the Iaponese Ambassador. It sounds like a lot of fun!”
Evan looked over the list of activities. “Sports, story-telling, dancing, apple-bobbing-”
“I don't think that's a proper way to say it.....”
“-taste-testing, face painting?”
“Don't forget the ice sculpting contest,” Samuel added, coming up behind them. The Dewott clacked his trademark shells together. “Been awhile since I worked with anything other than wood.”
Evan looked back and forth between the two. “Well, you guys have have fun with that.”
Kate stared at him. “Evan, that's the whole point! Having fun is exactly what we're supposed to do!”
“Well, it sure doesn't sound like fun to me.” Evan turned back to the target, but was stopped by a hand on his arm.
Samuel looked at him sternly. “Evan, to be quite honest, I think you're taking your work too seriously. What you need to do is loosen up a little.” The Dewott casually flung one of his shells at the target, striking it dead center.
Evan watched as Samuel retrieved his shell and headed back toward the hut. He turned back to Kate, who stood there awkwardly. “So, are you coming?” she asked.
The three arrived at the Avalodge, the site of the festival. Pokémon were everywhere, each partaking in one of the many activities in and around the lodge. Evan had never felt so small.
Samuel walked up to a large chunk of ice. “Well, I suppose I should get started. Why don't you two take a look around?” And with that, he went to work on the ice.
Evan followed Kate as she went about checking just about everything there was to do. Her enthusiasm was certainly something to be admired, but it made Evan feel somewhat uneasy. He wanted to say something, to introduce himself rather than let Kate do it, but the words simply wouldn't come out. Then again, with Kate doing most of the talking from the start, it was hard to get in the first word. To say he felt awkward would be an understatement.
As he looked around, he happened to notice a Vigoroth staring at him. The Pokémon quickly disappeared into an alleyway without saying anything. Suspicious, Evan made to inform Kate of the observer. But when he looked around, he couldn't find her.
Evan's ears perked up. What was that?!
Evan's eyes went wide. Someone's.....calling me?.....
He looked around again, and noticed several Pokémon were now staring at him. But their mouths weren't moving. Realizing they weren't the source of the voices, he quickly turned around.
He was greeted by a face. But this face was not that of a Pokémon. It had no form or structure. It was stared at him, sending a chill down the Zangoose's spine.
Evan suddenly felt numb. What was it talking about? Failure? He turned again and was greeted by more faces, each one staring with cold, dead eyes.
His body began twitching.
The word was repeated over and over. The world around him started to melt into a black abyss. He covered his ears as blood-curdling screams entered them. The faces closed in from every direction.
He fell to his knees as his legs buckled. G-go away.....
He shut his eyes. L-leave me a-alone.....
Evan gasped, his eyes flying open as he felt something grab his arm. He turned his head and found Kate standing over him. “Evan, are you alright?!” There was a hint of panic in her voice.
Looking around, Evan noticed several onlookers giving him odd stares and murmuring to each other. He looked at the ground again, trying to avoid them. Kate must have sensed his unease, as she quickly pulled him up and led him away from the small crowd. She pulled him into an alley and set him against a wall, where he promptly slumped down again, breathing heavily. Kate put her hands on his shoulders. “Evan, what happened?”
The Zangoose hesitated, replying the only way he could think of. “F-faces.....”
Kate looked confused. “Faces?”
“They were calling me. They kept saying that I.....that I.....failed.....” He let out a series of coughs as his body shuddered again.
The next thing he knew, Kate's arms were wrapped tightly around him. “Evan, it's alright. Calm down.” Her voice was soft and comforting. Evan took several deep breaths, his body slowly relaxing. She did not speak again until he had sufficiently calmed. Pulling him back to his feet, she offered no complaint as he leaned on her for support, his legs still a bit shaky. “Come on, we should get you home.”
His head still reeling from the vision, Evan simply nodded.
“Well, that was an interesting development.”
“He certainly didn't look like the guy we met earlier.”
“Hmm, this might be easier than I thought it would be.....”